Anil Ambani-led Reliance Unmanned Systems has signed a pact with Singapore-based Augur Overseas Operation to manufacture aerostats and airships in India.
Augur Overseas Operation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Augur Aeronautical Centre (AAC), a leading aerostat and airship designer, builder and supplier globally.
Augur Aeronautical Centre has already tied up with Pipavav Defence, a company acquired by Reliance Group.
“This is part of strategic technical partnership to collaborate on new technologies both for the civil and military market as part of ‘Make in India’ policy,” a statement by the Reliance Group said.
Under the agreement, the two companies will form a joint venture company, with Reliance controlling 51 per cent stake, consistent with the current Government regulations.
The joint venture (JV) will be involved in development, production, sales, modification and life support for different sizes of aerostats, airships and lighter than air systems.
This JV will address the requirements of domestic market and also the regional and global markets.
As part of the existing arrangement, the first medium size Aerostat envelope was delivered recently, the statement said.
This was after successful acceptance tests were performed at Pipavav facilities.
The tests included integration and simulated mooring; verification of equipment and functioning of Aerostat envelope together with pressurisation system.
In the present changing security scenario in the Indian context, there is a constant need of monitoring as the country has almost 14,000 km long international border, including a nearly 7,500 km coast line.
Aerostat radars are a force multiplier as they are deployed extensively in the surveillance, reconnaissance and communication roles by the armed forces. These are also useful in detecting low-flying fighter aircraft.
As per the latest market research report, the aerostat market is projected to rise from Rs 25,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 65,000 crore by 2020, the statement said.
The present estimated requirement by the armed forces including the paramilitary forces is estimated to be around 40 systems in the next 5 years with an estimated expenditure in excess of Rs 12,000 crore to meet its operational roles.
In natural disasters and other situations where infrastructure is non-existent, the aerostats could be used to bring in emergency supplies – food, water and blankets.
Recently, the use of aerostats has seen a sharp rise in the tourism industry which is expected to be around Rs 6,000 crore.
Major players in this field include TCOM-LP, Lockheed Martin, along with AAC.
With the indigenous aerostat programme fully operational, India would join a select group of nations having developed such capabilities, including US, Germany and France.
Earlier this week, Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd and Russia’s JSC Ship Repairing Centre Zvyozdochka had signed an agreement to jointly refit and certify submarines of the EKM 877 category at an estimated Rs 11,000 crore.
This also marked the first time the work for refit of submarines is being considered for the private sector in India.
India currently has a fleet of nine EKM submarines, an export version of Russia’s kilo-class vessels. Of these, eight were bought during 1986-1990 and have completed 25 years of designated service life.
Pipavav Defence have also been shortlisted by a top government committee to compete for about Rs 60,000 crore project to build next set of submarines for the navy.