French defence major Thales has offered an across-the-board technology transfer to India in state-of-art radar knowhow to help New Delhi move speedily towards bridging the gaps in its air space coverage, specially in detecting low flying intrusions.
Undeterred by the recent US efforts at political level to muscle into the lucrative Indian market, Thales with an almost 50 year presence in India has set up an Indian subsidiary and is also offering to set up joint ventures in the country.
Jean Paul Perrier, Chief Executive of the 13 billion Euro multi-European company, Thales said his company was now offering to India its latest three dimension Herakles multi-function radars for the Indian Navy's latest range of lethal indigenous P15 and P17 type frigates.
"The radars have the capability to detect incoming missiles, aircraft, helicopters as well as low-flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV'S) as well as guide missiles and other weapons to deal with these threats," Perrier told visiting Indian newsmen as the company unveiled the latest range of radars at Lnemore facility in the city suburbs.
The Herakles MFR-30 can perform in any weather conditions and have back scanning capability enabling it to release missiles to intercept incoming missiles threats, a capability which Indian armed forces lack so far.
"French companies will not shy away from competition. All we want is a level playing field to let our weapons platform and systems speak for themselves," he said.
Apparently brave words from a Chief Executive whose company recently had to face the unheard of re-tendering in the project to supply low-level transportable radars (LLTR) to India on full technology transfer, that too after completing price negotiations and the approval of the deal by the Indian Defence Ministry under the erstwhile NDA regime.
An unperturbed Perrier told reporters that his company was ready to bid again for the project as the French were offering the most sophisticated systems. He said the Thales offer included giving rights to Bharat Electronics to sell the radars in third countries.
"We were pitted against the Israelis, who could not match our systems and we are confident that we can outmatch any new bidders" Perrier said.
India was to procure 19 LLTR's under the deal with the rest to be manufactured by BEL under full technology transfer. Though there is no no official word from the Defence Ministry, high-level defence officials said the Israeli bid was rejected as it did not not meet Indian qualitative standards.
For over four years Indian Air Force has been clamouring for these radars to enable it to bridge atleaset the airspace coverage gaps along the Western and Eastern Frontiers, specially threat from the low flying intrusions. also negotiating with US Defence Communication majors Life Northcorp and Raytheon.
Besides the Radars, Thales is into major deals with Indian Army in providing terrorist communication intercept systems as well as new state-of-art systems for the army.
The Company has recently supplied Indian Army with 500 Hand Held Thermals for anti-insurgency night operations in Jammu and Kashmir. The thermals called sophie cameras are also under evaluation by the Home Ministry and the Border Security Force for electronic surveillance of frontiers.
Thales is also involved in a major way in installing night fighting visions for frontline Indian T-90 tanks and is bidding to retro-fit similar sights for over 1000 T-72 tanks under two major projects, he said.
Thales has also provided expertise and specialist equipment to the Indian Army to break into terrorist radio networks operating across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
Perrier said the company was also bidding for Indian Army's major global communication retrofit programme that should start in 2007.
"We have already put in our bids for major sub-systems for the project, including line of sight microwave high data links," he said.