Caine said Thales Group is aiming at expanding its overall footprint in India in a number of segments, including in areas of cyber security, artificial intelligence and digital solutions
NEW DELHI: Leading French defence major Thales Group is planning to focus significantly on addressing requirements of the Indian armed forces for new-age cyber security solutions, artificial intelligence and advanced capabilities in big data analytics.
Chairman and CEO of Thales Group Patrice Caine said the company has been looking at expanding its overall footprint in India, particularly in the areas of emerging technologies that will be crucial for the armed forces.
The Indian Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force have been focusing on acquiring futuristic technologies like nanotechnology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, swarm drones and robotic technologies to deal with future security challenges.
Caine said Thales Group is aiming at expanding its overall footprint in India in a number of segments, including in areas of cyber security, artificial intelligence and digital solutions.
“We are also looking at bringing some key pieces of equipment and systems to contribute to raise our level of involvement in sharing defence technologies with India’s defence sector in the field of sonar, radars and other platforms,” he told PTI.
However, he refused to share the details.
Caine said that India’s defence manufacturing sector is moving in the right direction riding on a series of policy initiatives by the government and Thales would like to be a key partner of the country in its quest to become a key producer of military platforms and solutions.
“We are totally committed to help India expand its defence production under the ‘Make in India Initiative’ by producing equipment either on our own or with our partners.
India has a good talent pool to develop cyber-security solutions, AI applications and big data analytics,” he said.
India is expected to spend close to USD 300 billion in the next five years in procuring defence equipment and almost all major global defence firms are eyeing a slice of it.
The Thales Chairman and CEO also indicated that the company is looking at having joint ventures with a number of Indian companies for a range of products and military solutions but refused to share details.
He said India is now considered as a key country for sourcing various raw materials for the company’s global production line and it is going to double procurement from the country in the next five years.
“India is now a key and reliable country in our global supply chain,” he said.
Thales is part of the French firms that provided key components for the Rafale jets procured by India.
As part of Thales’ offsets commitments under the Rafale deal, the company helped Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) in producing modules for the RBE2 radar.
Thales has been providing avionics and other equipment to the state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for over four decades and is involved in supplying equipment for various other key military projects.
Present in India since 1953, Thales has offices in New Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai, among others.
Over 600 employees are working with Thales and its joint ventures in India.
Caine also complimented India’s reform measures aimed at boosting defence manufacturing.
The government has initiated a series of measures in the last couple of years to encourage the domestic defence industry.
In August last year, it was announced that India will stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems by 2024. A second negative list, putting import restrictions on 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars, was issued recently.
In May last year, the government announced increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route in the defence sector. The government has been focusing on reducing dependence on imported military platforms and has decided to support domestic defence manufacturing.
The Defence Ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing by 2025 that included an export target of USD 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.