BATL's Rs 1000-cr expansion plan

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Feb 11 2009, 07:33am hrs
BATL (BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd), the integration complex of Indo-Russian Missile JV BrahMos, counts on growing to a Rs 1000-crore facility within five years. The only caveat is that its land acquisiton glitches should blow over at the earliest.

It is barely over an year since BrahMos had carved out BATL out of a Kerala PSU Keltec stuck in BIFR net. Its order books bursting at the seams, productivity has been trebled.

"The precision fabrication manpower could fill in a vacuum in aerospace industry," Union defence minister AK Antony said, laying stone for a Rs 75-crore state-of-the-art integraion complex facility. This is part of Rs 150-crore investment in a year or two. BrahMos has its fabrication unit in Kerala capital, assembly unit in Hyderabad and training support from the Russian partners. For the second phase, it is getting adjacent land from IAF.

A third phase expansion is also in the pipeline. This would depend on how fast Kerala government would make a pre-identified 50 acres of land available. State outfit Kinfra was at work on this, anticipating the Rs 1000-crore expansion of BATL making the area an aerospace hub, Kerala industry minister Elamaram Karim said.

Feeding on the growing demand from DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation), ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and DAE (Department of Atomic Energy), the unit had already blossomed into Rs 26 crore turnover in the current fiscal. In 2007-2008, the turnover was only Rs 17 crore.

Recently customised robotic arms for handling raw material for Bhaba Atomic Research Centre's nuclear reactors were made at BATL. So were the specification boosters for Shourya, India's latest surface-to-surface missile.

"BATL had a key role in components as Mission Chandrayan took Indian tricolour to the moon," ISRO Chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair said. From four PSLV launches per year, ISRO is revving up productivity to 10 PSLV launches per year. This would mean corresponding growth for BATL too.

International demand for expertise of BrahMos team was yet to be made the most of because of tactical reasons, Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO, BrahMos said. But to keep quality competitiveness, it was crucial to get AS 90001 certification. BATL is expected to get this validation by March 31, he said.

BrahMos is also doubling up on air-to-surface missiles. Its supersonic cruise missile is already the world's fastest at 2.8 mach speed. "But competition is probably fast catching up and so we need to sharpen our BATL knives too," quips Dr Pillai.