Will use India ops as springboard to reach across Asia-Pacific

Written by Huma Siddiqui | Updated: Feb 6 2013, 07:41am hrs
Cassidian, the defence and security division of EuropeanAeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), is developing its Indian operations into a regional hub for tapping growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific markets. Recently, the company appointed Peter Gutsmiedl as the first head of Asia-Pacific in addition to his role as CEO India. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Huma Siddiqui.

You have been given an additional responsibility. How does that change your role

As head of Asia-Pacific, I am now also responsible for expanding Cassidians Indian operations into a regional hub. This additional task reflects a realignment of our global business structure. To better tap growth opportunities, Cassidian has reorganised its newly integrated sales and international operations division along the lines of three major regions Asia-Pacific, Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa). Within Asia, India plays a strategic role and continues to be our main focus. But we see considerable additional potential in this region. Using our India operations as a springboard to spread our reach across the Asia-Pacific region will further enhance Indias importance for Cassidian.

In 2011, Cassidian inaugurated Indias first defence-oriented engineering centre owned by a foreign company in Bengaluru. How satisfied are you with its progress

I am very satisfied with what we have achieved. We have made a lot of progress towards integrating Bengaluru into Cassidians global technology network. Some examples will give you an idea of the cutting-edge work underway at this centre: Our staff there designed and engineered a high accuracy air pressure measurement system. This critical on-board sensor provides pilots with highly accurate altitude readings. This contributes to a safe operation of the aircraft in reduced vertical separation minimum fly zones. We also engineered a structurally integrated antenna for satellite and GPS communication in military aircraft. This technology helps reduce aerodynamic drag and enhances stealth of aircraft.

Both examples underline our endeavor to develop Cassidians Indian engineering centre into a global centre of excellence for certain defence and security technologies. Importantly, the engineering capabilities we have established here also allow us to customise global products to local requirements, in close collaboration with the customer. This gives us a competitive advantage in India, and potentially also in other regional markets which we could support from here.

Cassidians stated goal is to have a comprehensive partnership with India, which does not treat the country as a mere market. Have you managed to establish such a partnership

It is true that Cassidian regards India as much more than an important market. Our engineering centre in Bengaluru is an excellent example of how we are embedding India into our global value chain. Our strategy to establish a comprehensive partnership with India does not stop there. Another case in point is our close collaboration with the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO). We are sharing defence and security related technologies and knowhow with India, which truly support its indigenisation efforts. Another pillar of our strategy is our cooperation with Indias private and public sector defence companies to produce products locally. Another concrete example of our continuing efforts to deepen our engagement is that Cassidian India was awarded the globally recognized aerospace industry quality certification EN/AS 9100.

Can you elaborate on the nature of your collaboration with the DRDO

We have a number of consultancy projects with the DRDO. And we are consulting Aeronautical & Development Agency (ADA) on LCA related topics. We have a contract with DRDO to supply consulting services for reviewing an indigenous Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system. We have successfully partnered Defence Avionics & Research Establishment (DARE) to develop a missile approach warning sensor for Indian rotary and wide-body aircraft. The sensor has been certified indigenous and is expected to be produced locally for integration with Indias helicopter fleet.

What does this partnership with India mean to you without an MMRCA win

The strategic significance of India for Cassidian does not depend on the outcome of any single tender, even as large as MMRCA. In all the fields in which our company operates, we have much to offer as we are here for long term.

Besides Eurofighter Typhoon, what are you offering India

Our company is recognised as a global leader in fields such as airborne solutions, land & joint systems, maritime security & dominance, secure networks, public safety, just to name few. All are relevant for Indias security needs.

We have acquired a majority share in South African electronic warfare specialist Grintek Ewation and the respected Optronics division of Germanys Carl Zeiss. This allows us to offer India highly advanced security electronics and sensor solutions. Currently, we see particular potential in the fields of UAVs, radar solutions and security systems, customised at our engineering centre.

What are you showcasing at Aero India 2013

We are showcasing a wide-range of technologies and products which give visitors a glimpse of Cassidians technology leadership in the defence and security domain. The high accuracy air pressure measurement system and the structurally integrated antenna designed and engineered in India will be on display. We will also show the missile approach warning system developed in cooperation with the DRDOs DARE. From our global portfolio of UAVs, we are bringing the man-portable, fixed wing, mini UAV tracker, the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV Harfang and the tactical vertical takeoff & landing (VTOL) UAV Tanan.