BAE India looking at building ships

September 4th, 2008 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) BAE Systems India, subsidiary of the Britain-based global defence company BAE Systems, is planning a foray into shipbuilding besides expanding operations in India with more joint ventures and partnerships, a top company official said here Thursday.”We are open to shipbuilding and will explore it. Our team will start working on it from the year end,” Julian Scopes, the newly appointed president of BAE Systems India, told reporters.

“We are working out plans for more strategic tie-ups in India. We are no more an aircraft company,” he added.

BAE has a partnership with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in Bangalore since 1983.

Scopes said BAE was waiting for the Indian government’s clearance for its strategic tie-up with the auto giant Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) to manufacture heavy armed land vehicles besides artillery equipment.

“Once we get the consent of the Indian government, our shares in the company would go up from 26 percent to 49 percent. This will give us a better economic recognition,” he said.

BAE is also working on more partnerships with the state-owned Indian firms involved in defence research and development.

“We want to expand in India. We are now limited to selling Hawks and linked to other smaller programmes concerning defence sector,” Scopes said.

The company delivered over 12 advanced jet trainers ‘Hawk’ to the Indian Air Force (IAF) this year. Scopes, however, refused to comment on an incident where a Hawk trainer skidded off the runway.

By this month-end, the IAF is hopeful of getting 24 of these trainer jets to start its first advanced pilot training course.

Under the deal, India is buying 24 Hawks off the shelf and remaining 42 fighters will be assembled at the HAL facility in Bangalore under technology transfer from BAE systems.

The first HAL built Hawk trainer was inducted by the IAF on Aug 15.

BAE Systems and HAL are scheduled to complete the delivery of all 66 aircraft by 2011.

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