Thales, a global technology player in aerospace, transport, defence and security, is eyeing India for offering its latest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems and radars in view of the growing demand for them in the country. Thales is in talks with its partners in India which needs around 200 UAVs, a top company official said during a recent media interaction at the company’s facilities at Bretigny and Rouen in France. “We are in discussions with a couple of companies in India and checking what can we do with them,” said Thibault Trancart, Vice President, Marketing and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Strategic Projects of Thales. “We have got BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), a Joint Venture Company between Bharat Electronics Limited and Thales, where we are developing a fire control radar for both gun and missile systems,” he said.
“We are doing some radars locally with some industries and transferring some know how for the benefit of the Indian market,” Trancart said. Historically speaking, Thales has been present in India in the defence sector and later moved to the transportation sector and the aerospace business, he said. There are several players in the UAV market, which is organising itself. Many of them will disappear in five years, Trancart said. “There has been a shift in the last seven to eight years. Today, the civilian domain is pulling the military domain. Now, there are many innovations made by the civilian domain, to be used by the military domain,” he said.
The Thales official also spoke about a “major interest” from South East Asia for the company’s ‘Searchmaster’ radar which combines the benefits of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna technology in a lightweight and modular design. “India could be a major customer for Searchmaster,” he said. “There are queries for specifications on installing our radars in patrol aircraft and helicopters,” Trancart said. Thales also announced that it will deliver to India 36 state-of-the-art RBE2 AESA radars aboard Rafale aircraft, from 2019.
Thales will deliver the first batch of ‘Spy’ Ranger fixed-wing UAVs to the French armament procurement agency next year, the company’s product line manager of UAVs, Pascal Secretin, said. Each system consists of three vehicles and a ground control station. The mini-UAV has an operating range of 30 km, delivers a high-definition, day-and-night capability. It has a wing span of 3.8 metre, weighs 14.5 kg, and can stay aloft for two and a half hours.
The company has 64,000 employees spread across 56 countries. It has been present in India since 1953 and has over 300 employees working with its wholly-owned Indian subsidiary, Thales India Pvt Ltd. Thales has been associated with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and has formed joint ventures with Samtel, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and L&T Technology Services. A member of the Rafale team, Thales has also delivered four upgraded Mirage 2000 to the Indian Air Force.