January 30, 2014

Tatas look for bigger pie in defence sector

Armed with the capability to produce drones, wheel-armoured amphibious vehicles and other sophisticated equipment, diversified Tata group is gearing up for a bigger play in the defence segment.

The group that garnered a revenue of Rs 1,700 crore in FY'13 is aiming for about 40 per cent growth in the ongoing fiscal to touch about Rs 2,300-2,400 crore.

"We believe, as a group, we are ready to enter into any defence sector that the government opens up," Mukund Rajan, Member - Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons told reporters here.

Out of the over 100 operating companies that the group has, 14 entities, including , Tata Advanced Systems and (Strategic Engineering Division), are currently suppliers for various Indian defence requirements.

"The order book size is in the excess of Rs 8,000 crore and these are to be fulfilled in the next one to four years," Rajan added.

Highlighting the advancement that the group has achieved in various areas of defence sector, he said some of the group companies have become exclusive suppliers to global original defence equipment makers apart from playing strategic roles in India's missile programmes.

Tata Advanced Systems has been selected as supplier for mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) by Northern Command of .

It is addressing RFPs (request for proposal) for Indian , including infantry RFP opportunity, Tata Advanced Systems Director Sukaran Singh said.

"We would need to have a separate unit, possibly expansion at our existing facility in Bangalore, to produce the UAV," he said.

The group's other major firm Tata Motors, which has been supplying vehicles to Indian defence sector for nearly 60 years, is also looking for a major leap in the segment.

"Our aim is to operate in the entire range, from back up logistics vehicle segment to the battle front with frontline armoured vehicles," Tata Motors Vice-President (Defence & Government Business) Vernon Noronha said.

He said the company is working on a DRDO funded project for wheel-armoured amphibious platform, which will be ready in about two years.

This is a modular vehicle with interchangeable snap-in modules, powered by a 600 horse power engine coupled to automatic transmission, he added.

Noronha said the company is also ready with a light armoured multi-role vehicle, which is used mostly in recce missions.

When asked if the Land Rover's platform could be brought for use in Indian defence sector, Noronha replied in the negative saying the specifications do not match and the company is not considering it as of now.

Business standard

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