A light advanced multipurpose vehicle developed by India's Tata Motors is displayed Feb. 6 at DefExpo 2014 in New Delhi. Tata Motors is part of the Tata Group, a private-sector Indian company that says it expects to see a 40 percent increase in defense sales this year. (AFP)
NEW DELHI — India’s $97 billion Tata Group has projected a 40 percent jump in defense sales in 2014 on the back of outsourcing of work related to the Indian Air Force’s purchase of six C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin and sales of helicopter spares for US firm Sikosky Aircraft, officials with the privately held company said ahead of Defexpo, held Feb. 6-9.
Tata Advanced Systems, a subsidiary that has a joint venture with Sikorsky, is manufacturing cabin assembly wire harnesses for Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopters and producing empennage and center wire box assemblies for the Lockheed C-130 J.
Mukund Rajan, the group’s brand custodian, said the Tata order book is more than $1.3 billion and sales in 2014 will increase from $283 million to $400 million, jumping 40 percent.
Rajan said Tata expects to clinch more defense orders including mini UAVs for the Indian Army; radar systems for the Navy; homeland security systems for the Army and the paramilitary forces; military vehicles; and sub systems for missiles, including launchers for the nuclear-capable Agni-5 and India’s homegrown Prithvi air defense system .
Rahul Chaudhary, CEO of Tata Power, said that subsidiary hopes to get an order for launchers for India’s ongoing missile programs, including the Prahar short-range system being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Chaudhary said the company filled the gap in developing missile seeker system technology denied to India by overseas companies because of home countries’ restrictions on technology transfer. He declined to specify the seeker systems the company has developed for India.
In 2012, Tata Power became the first private-sector company to best an overseas defense major, Italy’s Selex, by winning the $260 million contract for modernizingairfields for the Indian Air Force.
Tata Power has also backed a contract for electronic warfare systems and combat management systems for the Navy’s Indigenous Aircraft Carrier.
Tata Power has for the first time built an Indian prototype of a 155/52mm caliber mounted artillery gun system that is 65 percent indigenous.
Tata Group operates 14 defense companies in India and is engaged in the production of sub-systems of missiles, launchers, radars, artillery systems, air defense systems, military vehicles, radars, military electronics systems, UAVs, aero structures and electronic warfare systems, and is attempting to become a global single-source supplier and full-fledged defense systems integrator.
To accomplish its goals, however, Tata must focus more on defense research and development, product innovation and system integration rather than relying on defense offset contracts, analyst Nitin Mehta said. Tata Group also must create synergy among its defense companies, he said.
In addition to its work on the Sikorsky S-92 and Lockheed’s C-130J, Tata Advanced Systems has set up a 450,000 square-foot facility where it builds command-and-control systems for the Indian-Israeli Medium Range Surface to Air Missile; developst and assembles missiles and mission control centers for Indian missile defense systems; manufactures radar, UAVs and homeland security systems; and assembles electro-optics and night-vision systems, company director Sukaran Singh said. The subsidiary is also opening an assembly line to make components and systems for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
Tata Advanced Systems has an order book of $666.6 million and exports defense products worth $50 million annually, Singh said.
Tata Motors, which has supplied more than 100,000 military vehicles to India in the past 60 years, is working on a DRDO-funded project for a wheeled armored amphibious platform, which will be ready in about two years. Vice President Vernon Noronha said Tata Motors is also ready with a light- armored multirole vehicle, the first of its kind to be produced in the country.
The company won a $36.6 million contract from the United Nations to supply specialized vehicles. With an annual defense revenue of $166.6 million, Tata Motors is also exporting military vehicles worth $16.6 million to more than a dozen countries.
The Tata Group also works on big-ticket projects such as India’s Tactical Communication System, battle management systems, Future Infantry Soldier System, software-defined radios, the future infantry vehicle and UAV programs.