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India Goes Local for Battle System

Indigenous Firms To Be Allowed to Tie Up With Overseas Majors

Aug. 5, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI   |   Comments
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NEW DELHI — The Indian Defence Ministry has decided the Army’s new battlefield management system (BMS) will be acquired as a “Make India” program, under which only domestic companies are allowed to participate.

Producing the US $5 billion project continues the MoD’s policy of boosting the local defense industry.

The BMS, which is part of the Army’s network-centric warfare program, will link infantry-level troops on the battlefield to command headquarters.

While the BMS program has been under consideration by the MoD for more than four years, policymakers were weighing whether to acquire the systems on world markets or to nominate state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), which had been lobbying for the big-ticket program, MoD sources said.

In the month ahead, expressions of interest (EOIs) will be sent to more than a dozen Indian defense companies, private and state-owned, inviting them to participate in the program.

The EOIs will be sent to BEL, Electronics Corporation of India, Computer Maintenance Corporation, ITI, domestic private-sector major Tata Power SED, Rolta India, Wipro, Larsen & Toubro, HCL, Punj Lloyd, Bharat Forge, Tata Consultancy, Info Systems and Tech Mahindra.

While only domestic defense companies will be allowed to compete for BMS, these companies will forge ties with overseas defense majors to acquire advanced technologies, an MoD official said.

The overseas defense companies expected to compete include Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Elbit of Israel; Thales and Nexter of France; Rhode & Schwartz of Germany; BAE Systems of the UK; Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics of the US; and Selex of Italy.

The government expects to select two vendors after four months of evaluation of the EOIs. Each of those two companies will be asked to develop four BMS prototypes for mountain, jungle, plains and desert operations.

The development of the prototypes is projected to cost about $67 million with the MoD covering 80 percent of the expense and the shortlisted domestic company 20 percent.

The prototypes will be put through extensive field trials and the selected defense company will be asked to produce more than 500 systems in India for an estimated $5 billion, said sources. It will take up to three years for the final bidder to be selected before production begins.

The BMS project aims to link troops in the battlefield with command headquarters through rugged computers, providing a near real-time tactical picture.

The system will integrate all surveillance resources at the unit level of the infantry, including UAVs and ground sensors, and provide instant location of the troops and important weapon platforms, an Army official said.

The BMS will also receive and transmit data, voice and images from multiple sources including radars, cameras and laser range finders, simultaneously providing a soldier on the battlefield with the same information received by command headquarters.

Hand-held computers for individual soldiers and tactical computers at battle group headquarters and on combat vehicles will comprise the system.

The BMS will also provide a variety of intelligence, such as terrain analysis, details of friendly and enemy troops, resources and weapon systems, the Indian Army official added.

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