LONDON – The Northern Ireland arm of Thales UK has struck a partnering arrangement with Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) as part of its effort to secure a deal with the Indian military to purchase the British-developed Starstreak man-portable, air-defense system.
In a statement the two companies said the tie-up will see BDL become a “part of the Starstreak global supply chain, providing the opportunity for export of Indian-manufactured components to existing and future Starstreak air defense customers, including the UK armed forces.”
The agreement also provides the opportunity for BDL to “offer a ‘Make in India’ solution to the Indian government, with a capability that will match the immediate air defence needs of the Indian Army and Air force, and with 60 percent of the system manufactured in India,” said the two companies.
The tie-up is the culmination of a four-year effort by Thales and BDL to explore a possible technology-transfer deal following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2017.
The items in line for building by the Indian state-owned BDL include electronic and mechanical components with sub-system and system assembly, Thales UK officials told Defense News.
The industry teaming agreement was signed in a virtual ceremony in Britain and India on Jan. 13 with British defense procurement minister Jeremy Quin and the Indian Army’s director general of air defense in attendance.
“Today’s signing marks the start of the next-generation of missile systems for the Indian Army and reinforces our commitment to work with international partners,” Quin said.
The partnership follows the two governments’ recent signing of a defense-technology and industrial-cooperation memorandum of understanding.
To date Starstreak has not participated in any Indian competition for a man-portable, air-defense weapon.
The high-velocity, Mach 3-plus weapon, which can be man-portable or platform-mounted, has been in service with the British Army since 1997 and has been exported to several nations, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The weapon is unique in that it employs three laser guided darts as its warhead.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.