BEL Supporting the Nation’s Safety and Security - Mr M V Gowtama, Chairman & Managing Director, BEL

By Editor 2017

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The Navaratna PSU, Bharat Electronic Ltd primarily manufactures advanced electronic products for the Indian Armed Forces. BEL is one of nine PSUs under the Ministry of Defence.

Starting from a single Unit in Jalahalli, Bangalore, BEL has established its presence across the country by setting up eight other Units – in Ghaziabad, Pune, Machilipatnam, Panchkula, Kotdwara, Navi Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Each Unit has a specific product mix and customer focus. BEL has also set up a wide network of offices and service centres countrywide as well as two overseas offices – in New York and Singapore.

BEL was established to meet the specialised electronic equipment requirements of the Indian Defence Services. While this continues to be its prime focus, the Company has a significant presence in the civilian market, too. BEL exports some of its products and services to a number of countries as well.

In this interview, Mr M V Gowtama, Chairman & Managing Director, BEL outlines his priorities and BEL’s preparations for Aero India.

Can you tell us about the main features of BEL’s participation in Aero India 2017?

BEL will showcase its capabilities spanning every domain of its business – Electronic Warfare & Avionics, C4I Systems, Communication Systems, Electro-Optics, Radars, C4I solutions, Energy Shelters and Missile Systems.  BEL will also display its R&D capabilities by demonstrating some of its new products/technologies.

Electronic Warfare & airborne products on display will include avionics for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Light Weight ESM System for Helicopters and LRUs for Rustom Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Communication systems on display will include the Software Defined Radio – Airborne & AFV versions (with Live Display), Radio on The Move (ROTM), Stars V Mk-III, CNR MK-II, SATCOM terminal Manpack & Handheld and Advanced Landing Ground Communication Terminal. Also on display will be the complete range of Electro-Optics being demonstrated live.

BEL will display a host of new radars –Ground Penetrating Radar, Through Wall Radar, Schilka Weapon System, Weapon Locating Radar and Mine Field Recording System. A C4I Systems capability demonstration will be showcased in a live Customer Experience Centre during the Exhibition. Naval Systems capability will be showcased through Advanced Composite Communication System.

The highlight of BEL’s outdoor display will be the Army version of the Akash Missile System, including the Troop Level Radar, Troop Control Centre, Troop Power Supply Vehicle. Mast and Energy Shelter will also be on the show.

Please share with us your recent successful supplies to the Indian armed forces?

BEL has successfully executed many notable orders for the Indian Armed forces. These include Akash Weapon Systems for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, 3D Tactical Radar for the Army, Passive Night Vision Devices, Low-Level Light Weight Radar for the Air Force, Fire Control Systems for the Navy, Ship Data Network and new generation Sonars for the Navy.

Significant orders received by BEL in the recent past include Integrated Air Command Control System, Weapon Locating Radar, Hand Held Thermal Imager with Laser Range Finder, Ground Based Mobile ELINT, Integrated Communication System, Sonars for Submarines, Electronic Ammunition Fuzes, Armoured Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle and EW System for IAC.

Give us an update on Akash and other missile programmes where BEL is actively involved?

Akash is the first indigenously developed air defence missile system in our country, realised by DRDO with support from BEL, BDL & private players. It is a massive, state-of-the-art missile system, which has been realised through professional project management spearheaded by BEL. While the Radars, Control Centres, Simulators, associated maintenance vehicles and the integrated software for the System are supplied by BEL, the missiles are from BDL, Squadron Control Centre is from ECIL and the Launchers are supplied by Tata Power SED and L&T. There are around 500 vendors, out of which 108 are MSMEs. 

BEL with nine Strategic Business Units (SBUs) in its Bangalore plant and others in eight more Units across India, sourced many systems / sub-systems for Akash from various SBUs specialising in a particular segment of the company’s product portfolio. The three level R&D structure and CMMi Level 5 certified Software Development Centre of BEL have significantly helped in overcoming many critical sourcing problems at critical phases of the project. BEL is also assisted by its overseas offices in US and Singapore for sourcing imported components.

Tell us about your ongoing projects for the Indian Air Force?

BEL has manufacturing Units at 9 locations pan India. Seven of our Strategic Business Units are certified for AS9100 Rev C Aerospace standard. The facilities for manufacturing of avionics products are also spread across our different units as follows:

The Bangalore Unit has been instrumental in engineering, manufacturing and supply of products like Radar Warning Receiver, Avionics Package Components, e.g. Digital Flight Control Computer, Air Data Computer, Function Sensor Display Unit, Stores Interface Box, Pylon Interface Box, etc in large numbers to HAL/ Indian Air Force.

Presently, BEL is also exploring both indigenous development options / Collaboration with foreign partners for servicing the EW suite requirement of various other Air / Helicopter Platforms. BEL is involved in the development of payloads for RUSTAM UAV along with DRDO and other similar programs.

BEL’s Ghaziabad Unit is involved in supplying the IFF Mk IX (Identification Friend and Foe) systems for Boeing aircraft for the Navy. It is developing the IFF Mk XII systems which will be used in all military aircraft.

The manufacturing Unit at Panchkula has developed Head Up Display (HUD) systems for LCA and HJT in association with CSIO. It has also designed the Night Flying system for LCA (AF) and LCA (N) which aids in both internal and external illumination of aircraft. These are being supplied to LCA of the Air Force. In future, the Unit plans to manufacture products like Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) for helicopters and aircraft, LED-based Taxi / Landing lights, Aircraft Navigation Lights for LCA and Su 30 aircraft.

Our Chennai Unit manufactures the Compact Multipurpose Advanced Stabilised Platform (CoMPASS), which is a highly stabilised, multi-sensor, electro-optical payload having EO elements like thermal imager, colour TV camera, laser range finder/designator. Till now the Unit has supplied these systems for ALH and Mi 17 platforms.   

BEL is working in many new strategic areas such as AESA based modern Multi-mode Radars for Airborne applications, Next Generation Electronic Warfare suites for fighter Aircraft & Helicopters, sensors and data links for UAVs, Integrated EW systems for various terrains / ships, AESA based Air Defence Surveillance and Fire Control Radars, Tactical Communication Systems, Battlefield Management Systems, Multi-sensor Stabilisation Systems with sensors, Electronic suites for Gun upgrade and new gun program with Target acquisition and Fire Control capabilities.

The important projects that BEL is doing for the Indian Air Force as Offset Exports are:

AVRO Aircraft Replacement Program: BEL will supply Defensive Aid Systems (DAS) for this program which consists of the integration of Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Missile Approach Warning Systems (MAWS) from BEL and Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS) from M/s BDL.

Survey and Target Towing Aircraft program: BEL will supply Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) for this program. This program is under TEC stage.

Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft Program:  BEL will supply Trilink, IFFI Mk XII, Software Defined Radio (SDR), EOS CoMPASS and Ku-Band SATCOM for this program.

Direct procurement of Rafale Aircraft from M/s Dassault, France: BEL is interacting with M/s Dassault and M/s Thales for Electronic Warfare Suite and Radar required for Rafale Aircraft program.

Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) i.e. Fully Active Phased Array Radar LLTR (Low-Level Transportable Radar) is under Production under ToT from Thales, France.

Please elaborate on the latest achievements in the development of indigenous radar systems.

DRDO Lab LRDE is our strategic design partner in this success. BEL has also successfully inducted Rohini’s variant 3D-Tactical Control Radar in the Indian Army and Revathi in the Indian Navy.

Similarly, 3D portable radar, Aslesha, is a great success. BEL has secured business of its variant called Bharani-II. BEL is also developing the mountain version of Aslesha radar, Aslesha Mk-II. New developments with DRDO are in the field of 4 Dimensional, Medium range, Fully Active Phased Array Radars like Arudhra Radar, Mountain Radar and Ashwini Radar. BEL is also working with Thales through Joint Venture Company, BEL Thales Systems Limited, on the development of Long Range High Power Radar and Multi Function Radar Pharos.

BEL has extensive experience in modernization of legacy IAF systems. Please provide some of the latest examples in this regard?

BEL with its three-tier R&D approach and commitment to the user  is able to address the obsolescence of the legacy radars and maintain the system beyond its expected life, viz THD 1955 and TRS 2215 for the last 40 and 30 years, respectively.

BEL is actively working on the following programs: Self Protection Suite comprising of Mi17 upgrade (MLH) Program; EW Suite for MiG-29 Upgrade Program; CAIMAN Pod for Mirage Upgrade Program; and Self Protection Suite for AVRO Replacement Program.

How does BEL intend to further increase its export?

BEL has a dedicated International Marketing Division for providing a focus for harnessing the export potential of defence electronics products and systems. BEL has been exporting various products and services to various countries such as USA, Germany, France, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Italy, Namibia and Honduras.

To increase the export business, BEL is continuously interacting with current and prospective customers for future business development and giving major thrust for a long-term relationship. BEL is trying to understand the customer’s requirement and offering the latest products and services. BEL is also taking initiatives to modify its current range of products and services to suit the requirement of various customers.

Bell has entered into various joint ventures with companies abroad. Can you share the details of these projects?  

BEL has two Joint Venture companies – one with General Electric, USA, and the other with Thales, France. The JVC with GE, GE-BE Pvt Ltd, manufactures medical equipment like CT Max and X-ray tubes and recorded a turnover of Rs.79.5 crores in the year 2015-16. BEL has 74% holding in the JVC with Thales, BEL-Thales Systems Ltd. This JVC is involved in the design, development, marketing and supply of civilian and select defence radars for the Indian and global market. This JV is jointly developing Multi-Target Tracking Radar.

BEL is looking for similar Joint Venture partnerships with reputed companies having complementary strengths in technology to address emerging new business. The company is also in the process of forming a Special Purpose Company with Rolta to address the Battlefield Management System program.

Tell us about BEL’s Make in India initiatives?

BEL recognises outsourcing as one of the strategic tools to achieve cost benefits. It also complements the strengths of the private sector to build a strong industrial base. Such initiatives will help BEL to focus more on core areas and R&D.

BEL has been taking several initiatives in order to broaden the domestic vendor base by formulating a long-term outsourcing and vendor development policy, implementing online vendor registration and e-procurement processes. As a policy, MoD is encouraging all DPSUs to have common vendor base. BEL is working towards this.

BEL has prepared the list of 358 items reserved for purchase from MSMEs and this is uploaded on its website. Nodal officers are nominated specifically for outsourcing and vendor development at all of its 9 manufacturing Units.

Collaborative R&D process is put in place to further augment BEL’s R&D and product design efforts and also bridge the technology gaps. About 120 projects have already been identified for collaborative R&D and 180 partners including 75 MSMEs are empanelled.