With more than two decades of its presence in India, Collins Aerospace – a Raytheon Technologies company, is one of the nation’s largest exporters of aerospace products and also offers breadth and depth in aviation products and capabilities. It considers India as an important market for future growth and is expanding its presence with investment in people and infrastructure.
In a freewheeling conversation with Editor, Raksha Anirveda, Collins Aerospace’s Managing Director – Customer & Account Management, Sunil Raina provided a detailed account of the company’s footprint, experience in India, future plans and the pivotal role it has been playing to empower India….
RA. What are the major advantages that AI offers in military decision-making? Would you call application of AI in the military domain a revolutionary step forward? Can it change the nature of warfare?
SR. Artificial Intelligence is impacting nearly every industry sector, driving emerging technologies like big data, robotics and IoT.
According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, AI and ML (machine learning) will create trillions in value for verticals like marketing and sales, manufacturing, and supply chain planning.
These technologies can be a boon to modernize the defence industry. As the future heads towards unmanned systems, AI can play a role across military applications, from tactical, operational, to strategic-level planning and execution. India has a leadership position in IT and we should leverage that expertise to reshape our economy and our defence.
India’s Ministry of Defence has prepared a road map to promote AI in national security, and the development of 25 defence specific AI products by 2024. In DefExpo 2018 Prime Minister Modi had stressed on the transformative power of emerging technologies like AI and robotics and said that these technologies would perhaps be key to the defensive and offensive capabilities of any defence force of the future
AI can go through massive amounts of data in seconds and it can be used to prepare early warning algorithms that will pick up conflict signals much faster than humans. Using AI and ML technologies our military forces can efficiently coordinate movement, flows, and supplies as well make informed decisions. These systems can also be used to navigate unmanned aerial systems (drones) and ground vehicles (UAVs).
India’s Ministry of Defence has prepared a road map to promote AI in national security, and the development of 25 defence specific AI products by 2024. In DefExpo 2018 Prime Minister Modi had stressed on the transformative power of emerging technologies like AI and robotics and said that these technologies would perhaps be key to the defensive and offensive capabilities of any defence force of the future.
RA. What is the direction that new communication systems are taking in the military domain? What factors are being kept in mind while developing cutting-edge communication systems?
SR. In the modern battlespace, one of the critical success factors is to keep defence forces connected, even in complex and rapidly changing environments. It is also important that communication systems span the entire operational spectrum and integrate seamlessly with existing platforms cost effectively.
Our modernized military communication systems and sophisticated software-defined radio technologies provide advanced effectiveness within and between domains. And not only do our solutions span the entire operational spectrum, they integrate seamlessly with existing platforms at very low operating costs.
For example, Collins Aerospace’s TruNetTM – the most advanced, integrated software-defined communications solution available – gives ground, airborne and mobile forces the power to network and share critical data, image, voice and video, securely and in real time.
Our TruNet™ AR-1500 networked communications airborne radio delivers software-defined capabilities for country-specific customization. It’s designed to stay advanced as needs and missions change. This powerful radio is in broad use today, providing secure and highly adaptable communications worldwide. A powerful feature of the radio is its customizability to host-country needs. From sovereign waveforms to multinational interoperability and advanced encryption security, the AR-1500 offers tailorable functionality in a form factor that also makes it easier, faster and more cost-effective to integrate.
RA. In the domain of cyber solutions, platforms and components are become increasingly connected. But it is being felt that the issue of cyber security is not being adequately addressed and may remain to be the ‘Achilles Heel’. What do you feel?
SR. With the ever-increasing number and complexity of threats to information networks at critical infrastructure facilities worldwide, proactive cybersecurity solutions that support continuity of operations are more critical than ever. Collins Aerospace ARINC cybersecurity solutions encompasses system assessment, design and build. Our fully managed Cybersecurity Operations Center (CSOC) is located in Annapolis, Maryland and the latest services and solutions offered include:
INCIDENT RESPONSE: We have extensive experience protecting mission-critical systems on the local, state and federal levels. We use mature cyber playbooks and courses of action to detect, respond to and contain threats. Our recovery process determines the ingress path of threat, closes it off and returns the critical system to operation.
COTS TECHNOLOGY: Our comprehensive solutions leverage mature, proven commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies featuring endpoint protection, next-generation firewalls, IDS/IPS, SIEM, whitelisting and trusted hardening techniques to mitigate identified threats and risks in the most effective way possible.
SECURITY PERFORMANCE AND COMPLIANCE TESTING: We use real-world test scenarios and dynamic requirements traceability tools to validate our solutions against the threats and regulatory guidelines of the system.
TRAINING AND ON-SITE SERVICES: From general awareness to policy and procedure training, to administrator and maintenance training for specific components, our field staff will equip you with the skills and knowledge to make the most effective use of our cybersecurity solutions.
VULNERABILITY MANAGEMENT SERVICES: Our experience and proven processes in mitigating hundreds of vulnerabilities in critical systems and preventing them from being exposed enables us to consistently validate and deliver patches and updates without affecting system performance.
Our extensive experience providing security solutions to nuclear power plants, railroads, the DoD and other critical infrastructures gives us the strategic perspective to leverage best practices across industries and build industry-specific solutions based on our customers’ specific needs.
RA. How soon do you see products and platforms that will provide seamless integration of military platforms and systems in all domains, in other words, platforms for multi-domain warfare? Is the military industrial complex working on this line?
SR. The solutions are already available today, and our unique ability to leverage technologies across our commercial and military market segments provides increased flexibility as well as reduced total lifecycle and acquisition costs through open systems and commercial off-the-shelf technology solutions. We are also backed by a global network of service and support to promote mission readiness.
India remains a strategic and important market for Collins Aerospace. We will continue to bring advanced solutions and value-add to support the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and are looking for opportunities to increase our local partnerships to provide seamless integration of military platforms and systems in all domains
Collins Aerospace creates and deploys targeting and C2 solutions that provide the awareness and connectivity needed to quicken the pace of battle and to dominate the battlespace. Integrating advance technologies provides a new level of battlefield integration. From precision joint targeting solutions to countrywide command and control, Collins provide solutions for modern warfare.
Apart from command and control solutions, we also continue to pursue opportunities in other areas such as interior systems, displays and mechanical systems (e.g. wheels and brakes, landing systems and actuators)
India remains a strategic and important market for Collins Aerospace. We will continue to bring advanced solutions and value-add to support the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and are looking for opportunities to increase our local partnerships to provide seamless integration of military platforms and systems in all domains.
RA. Collins Aerospace recently demonstrated advanced communication, mission computing and sensor technologies to support Joint All Domain Command and Control and Advanced Battle Management System initiatives on a KC-135 Stratotanker. Tell us more about it. Do you have any plan to showcase it with IAF in near future?
SR. In collaboration with 151st Air Refueling Wing, our demonstration showed how integrated technologies and joint connectivity can provide warfighters with the actionable data and increased situational awareness they need to make informed, split-second decisions in evolving threat conditions against cyber-sophisticated adversaries.
The demonstration took place on a Block 45 retrofitted KC-135 featuring Collins’ real-time information in the cockpit (RTIC) system and included live-fly elements that simulated a forward deployed element as the primary information gathering source and an airborne relay element. Once the forward deployed element identified and processed key target information, it transmitted collected data over the Collins Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) mesh network directly to the flight deck.
Collins’ Rosetta message processing software and Multiple Level Security (MLS) system captured this data and encrypted the incoming messages to ensure they retained their respective security levels. Then the software seamlessly sent the messages to those leading and/or executing the mission in the moment.
The ability to distribute secure data to those in different security areas is a key differentiator of the Collins MLS system and solves a major challenge in maintaining secure dataflow communication across the congested battlespace.
We are not able to reveal details of any local pursuits on this due to confidentiality reasons.
How has been Collins Aerospace’s experience in India? Does Collins Aerospace India play a significant role in the overall global entity? How has been the India design centre and global engineering centre performance? Kindly elaborate on Collins contribution in India’s aerospace and defense capabilities.
Collins Aerospace has about 5,000 employees in India and has had an established presence in the country since 1997. We are building an end‑to‑end global manufacturing, engineering and avionics supply chain, including the India Design Center in Hyderabad and the Global Engineering Center in Bengaluru. Collins is one of the nation’s largest exporters of aerospace products and also offers breadth and depth in aviation products and capabilities.
Collins Aerospace supports local Indian and international governments, aerospace original equipment manufacturers and defence contractors in avionics, communications, navigation and electronic solutions:
● Assembles and tests commercial aircraft interiors including evacuation systems, water solutions, lighting and seating
● Mechanical systems including cargo and actuation, and avionics including sensors, cockpit displays and smoke detectors
● Mission systems including wire harnesses and testing of various functions including vibration and power door operating systems
● Manufacture and assembly of electronic components including box builds and wiring harnesses
● Mechanical component assembly such as gluing, riveting and bonding
● Cutting, sewing, joining, finishing and bonding of special fabric and silicone heaters, and special processes such as chemical processing and digital radiography
● Engineering services that include avionics, aerostructures, power and controls, mechanical systems, mission systems and interiors
We’ve also received the following accolades from the industry:
● The Airbus SQIP award for lighting, named Best US Company in the Manufacturing Sector by IACC, won an Excellence in Innovation Award for engineering from NASSCOM and was awarded by ET and Frost & Sullivan for its manufacturing and supply chain excellence.
● As a safe and equal opportunity employer, Collins Aerospace earned the Golden Peacock Occupational Health & Safety Award; National Safety Award, Unnatha Suraksha Puraskara, 2019; Best Employer Brand Award in 2017, 2018 and 2019; and was named one of the Top 100 Companies in India for Working Women.
RA. Kindly provide insights into your future plans for the Indian market along with your thoughts regarding government policies for the sector.
SR. India is a very important and strategic market for Collins Aerospace, and we remain committed to supporting our customers here no matter what challenges the future brings.
We are also looking to invest in people and infrastructure in order to create disruptive solutions for the aerospace, defense and space sectors.
The Indian aviation industry was impacted much like every country around the world due to the pandemic. Despite that, today there are multiple initiatives being undertaken to bring the sector back to speed. We understand that the government is focused on the development of aviation infrastructure and we look forward to contributing to the growth of the sector in areas such as the connected aviation ecosystem for India’s aviation infrastructure requirements.
We are also trusted by multiple government and military missions to provide flight support services every day irrespective of where they are flying to and we will continue to be a trusted partner for our clients and government in India.
In addition, we have a sizable portion of our attention and revenues that go towards building a better more empowered India and to that end we will continue our extensive CSR activations in the country.
Over the last couple of months, we have conducted various initiatives to help the underprivileged and those most impacted by the pandemic. Collins Aerospace will continue to contribute to the health and safety of the community in our fight against the COVID in both Urban and Rural areas as we move forward.
Our efforts are part of Raytheon Technologies’ larger response to India’s COVID-19 crisis (Collins Aerospace is a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp.) To date, the company has donated four mobile oxygen trucks, 1.2 million pieces of personal protective equipment, along with funding for 1,000 oxygen concentrators and assistance to local relief organizations.
We are also matching employee donations to numerous nonprofits supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. Recently, Collins Aerospace joined hands with AerCap, Pratt & Whitney, and SMBC Aviation Capital in a group effort to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations in low-income countries via a collective $400,000 USD contribution to the Gavi COVAX Advanced Market commitment (COVAX AMC), the multilateral mechanism, that provides access to donor-funded vaccine doses to 92 lower-income nations.