Thales, Samtel form joint venture for avionics

May 8th, 2008 - 8:02 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) French defence and aerospace major Thales and the city-based Samtel group Wednesday announced a joint venture to design, manufacture and sell avionics systems in the Indian market. Samtel and Thales will hold 74:26 in the venture that was started with a capital of $12.5 million with more investments to be pumped in as the joint development efforts progress, officials of the two firms said at a press conference here.

Helmet-mounted sight and display, for use in defence and civilian aircraft, helicopters and fighters, will be the one of the main areas of operations for the new venture - named Samtel Thales Avionics.

“We will develop and manufacture the products within the new joint venture with the aim of creating truly Indian systems,” said Francois Quentin, senior vice president for Thales in charge of aerospace activities.

“Thales is a truly local player in India and the next step will be to solidify this cooperation. It will be winning the first contract,” Quentin said, adding that the Mirage 2000 upgrade for the Indian Air Force could be one potential customer.

The officials said the investment in the new venture may also serve to adhere to the offsets clause of the Indian defence establishment, under which 30 percent of the value of contracts has to be invested within the country.

The two companies are also working closely for the supply of advanced helmets to the Indian Navy for the MiG 29K combat aircraft. Samtel also supplies cathode tubes to Thales for avionics displays.

Satish Kaura, chairman and managing director of Samtel, said the joint venture will capitalise on the mutual strengths of the two companies in avionics. He said his company already works with Hindustan Aeronautics in this area.

“Samtel and Hindustan Aeronautics are jointly working on display systems for the light combat aircraft programme,” added Rajesh Kakkar, Samtel’s vice president for strategic planning and business development.

Thales is in race for the upgrade of avionics of Mirage 2000 fleet of the Indian Air Force, as also the fleet-operational capability and the air-to-air and the air-to-ground missile superiority for taking on multiple targets.

The upgrade features will include multi-target, multi-mode radar, multi-channel digital video and data recording, mission data processing unit, mass memory, LCD glass cockpit and improved tactical and long-range weapon firing.

“We have had several rounds of discussions on the Mirage 2000 upgrade. We hope to move forward by this fall,” Quentin said, referring to the upgrade programme for the fleet of over 50 such aircraft of the IAF.

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