The Indian Air Force is our biggest customer, but we are working with another French company DCNS on the Indian Naval ships and are providing periscope for the naval ships.
Over the past years, Safran, a French supplier of systems and equipment for aerospace, defence and security, has embarked on a series of intensive engineering and manufacturing collaborations in India. In 1950s, Safran started its operations in India with the sale of equipments for airplanes and helicopters. Very quickly, the business evolved to include long-term partnerships with local industry, based on production and support licences for airplane, helicopter and rocket engines, as well as landing gear, navigation systems and associated support services. “The Group employs more than 2,600 highly skilled employees in the country with an average annual workforce growth of 30% in the last decade. Our strategy is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Come to India, Make in India vision,” says Stéphane Lauret, CEO, Safran India. In an exclusive interview with Huma Siddiqui, Lauret outlines the group’s presence in India and the future plans. Excerpts:
What are the R&D collaborations with Indian institutions?
Last year, Safran announced the R&D Development collaborations with Foundation for Innovation & Technology Transfer (IIT, Delhi), and Society for Innovation & Development (IISc, Bengaluru) to initiate research and development in the field of advanced avionics systems for the development of next generation aerospace technologies. In the initial stage, the projects are slated to involve the development of advanced, safe and secure multicore architectures and the evolution of advanced machine learning algorithms with low computational requirements. The contribution from these projects is expected to significantly enhance advanced avionics and security applications. And it also reinforces our company’s commitment towards India’s education sector.
France is among the world leaders in building smart cities. Is your group associated with any of the programmes?
Safran through its subsidiary Morpho, a world leader in biometrics technology, has been one of the key partners in India’s Aadhaar project under the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Morpho has partnered with the UIDAI to provide the necessary technology, define policies and procedures, set up infrastructure and systems and lead the enrollment, issuance and ecosystem adoption. We are making almost 80% SIMs for the smart cards which are being manufactured locally in Noida and are exported as well. Morpho, a market leader in computer tomography based baggage scanning solution & in explosive detection solutions, has deployed the CT (Computer Tomography) baggage scanning solution in DIAL, MIAL, BIAL and our explosive detection solution is deployed at various defense locations and at various critical installations. The company has been responsible for providing easy traffic management systems, transportation solutions, smart identification, real time facial recognition, vehicle screening and CCTV camera coverage and making police forces more efficient in many cities worldwide.
What programmes are you part of in India?
We have been working with the PSUs, and private sector across the country both in the defence and civil sectors. In 2012, Safran opened a subsidiary, Safran India Private Limited, to expand operations and strengthen relations with local partners. We are the leading supplier of jet engines and carbon brakes for all airlines operating in India, contributing significantly to the development of India’s air transport industry. Safran has been a supplier to the Indian armed forces since the 1950s, providing engines and/or equipment for combat airplanes and helicopters, including Jaguar and Mirage 2000 fighter fleets, Hawk trainers, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Advanced Light helicopter Dhruv and Cheetah helicopters. Turbomeca (Safran) has tied up with HAL to develop the Shakti engine for the Dhruv helicopter. There are 1,400 engines powering HAL helicopters. Arrangements have been finalised to provide power plants for the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) to be manufactured by the Indian company HAL. Sagem, (Safran), is present here through its local subsidiary Sagem Services India, providing a wide range of avionics equipment (inertial navigation systems, flight control systems and autopilots) and optronics systems for a number of combat platforms, including aircraft, submarines, artillery systems and tanks.
The company is also looking to participate in the Indian Army’s Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) and are in discussions with the Indian industry to be involved in other defence and security programmes.
Who is your biggest customer?
The Indian Air Force is our biggest customer, but we are working with another French company DCNS on the Indian Naval ships and are providing periscope for the naval ships. We are providing maintenance for the Mirage-2000 engines and helping creating skilled, besides being involved in some programmes of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, we are providing all solutions to the Indian Army and are working on the Main battle Tank Arjun.
Almost all Indian military aircraft use Sigma 95N navigation systems as a result of a long-standing partnership with HAL. Sagem Services India provides maintenance and customer support for these systems. The Sigma 95N navigation system was also selected for the first prototypes of the MALE (medium-altitude, long-endurance) drone being developed by India. The recent announcement by Prime minister Modi during his visit to Paris for buying 36 Rafales for IAF features major Safran systems, including the engine, landing gear, and the inertial navigation system.
Are there plans to set up MRO in India?
The civil fleet in India is not as big as it could be. However, we are thinking of developing an MRO to provide support on military and civil engines and defence equipment.