By PK Ghosh
Hyderabad. “Today’s event is a very important event. Around one and half to two years back we secured order from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which started bearing the fruits now,” said Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd. (KRAS) CEO Rudra B Jadeja.
He was speaking in his introductory remarks addressing media persons at the Kalyani-Rafael joint venture facility in Hyderabad on March 16 while announcing the roll out of the first delivery of 1000 MRSAM missile kits for the Indian Army (IA) and Indian Air Force (IAF). The present roll-out is in consonance with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Make in India.
“For Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), Indian Army and Indian Air Force are the main customers from whom we received the order for procurement of the same.” MRSAM is basically a Government-to-Government (G-to-G) programme. From the Israel side Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is the Government representative and the Indian side is represented by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is also the custodian of this programme.
The two like-minded nations India and Israel came together to ensure peace in the region and so is the genesis of this programme. Kalyani Group and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems entered into an agreement to make a joint venture (JV) Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd. (KRAS) to make missile subsystems.
“I must say that we found a good partner in Rafael. The Israeli company stood by us when we together started exploring the Indian market and customers for the MRSAM here,” Jadeja noted.
Baba Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director, Kalyani Group, said, “This is beginning of a new era, filled with self-confidence, a marked step-change in technological expertise and a collective demonstration of capability to be the global manufacturing hub for defence products. We are confident to complete the order far ahead of the stipulated time, and support the armed forces with the best in class missile kits. Apart from the missile kits, we will extend our support in Maintenance and Repair Operations (MRO) as in-service Air Defence Missile System for the armed forces.”
Asked whether a planned Research & Development (R&D) Centre will come up in the same facility of KRAS, Bharat Forge President and CEO Rajinder Bhatia told Raksha Anirveda that the work is on in this direction, and the JV between Rafael and Kalyani Group, KRAS, is a high technology company. Its R&D, design and engineering will altogether be a separate facility.
“More projects are coming up, and we have decided not only manufacturing the missile sub-systems but also of providing design, development and service facilities as well. One such facility has already been established which was founded in 2015 and the next year in 2016, it became operational,” Bhatia stated.
“We have also planned for establishing six technological centres with 35-40 engineers in an R&D centre, and any increase in numbers and expansion of facility will depend on orders,” he observed.
“Our R&D work will mainly focus on RF and Microwave Engineering, but all these are very small steps as of now. As far as R&D work is concerned, it is totally in control of Kalyani Group as of now.”
Answering on identification of 100 MSMEs with which Kalyani Group is planning to collaborate with, KRAS CEO Rudra B Jadeja told Raksha Anirveda, “When we are planning to collaborate with MSMEs, MSMEs will also grow with us. Capabilities will be put together to create a defence ecosystem. We also plan to integrate six section of missiles. But this all will depend on order and environment support. We are also in talks with Telangana Government.”
On creating integrated defence ecosystem he said, “When we are creating defence ecosystem and leveraging our partners’ capabilities, this covers all gamut of activities – production, integration, development, supply chain, services, etc.”
Speaking on the occasion, Brig. Gen. Pinhas Yungman (Res.), Head of Air and Missile Defense Systems division of Rafael Advanced Defense System said, “Because of Covid restrictions we asked KRAS to lead from the front to get the order and the result is here. We are planning to bring maintenance (MRO) service by 2021.”
“KRAS is planning to bring more and more capabilities to design and production table, and has planned for investment in Indian markets and of exports too.” KRAS is a strategic business asset and it is to bring business from all around the world not only Israel, Brig Gen Yungman observed.
“We have been a reliable partner to the Indian armed forces for almost three decades, and these missile kits are a testimony of our commitment to ‘Make in India’ cause. We are confident KRAS will not only build products for the Indian armed forces but will, at the same time, trigger and help achieve Indian Government’s vision of exports from India.”
Replying to a question, Bhatia said, “KRAS wants to expand the facility whether it is production, MRO, R&D but a lot more will depend upon if the customers coming back to us.”
The KRAS CEO informed that as of now the current roll-out of missile sub-systems manufacturing is 100 per cent for Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF). If everything settles on Covid front, there will be more scope of work. As of now, only 20-30 per cent indigenous content is there in Rafael-designed kits.
The roll-out event marked KRAS’ commitment to deliver more than 1000 MRSAM ‘missile kits’ for the Indian Army and Air Force over the coming years. These missile sections will then be ‘forwarded’ to India’s state-run defence miniratna Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for further and future integration.
Also, the event designated the beginning of the journey of a MSME Indian company which is committed not only to the Make in India concept, but taking its own stride towards the larger ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ idea (self-reliance) as well. In this effort the company has fused Rafael’s state-of the-art technology with the engineering excellence of the Kalyani Group.
The event was being attended by dignitaries from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Indian Army, Indian Air Force, DRDO, BDL, and the Israeli delegation including EVP, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Pinhas (Pini) Yungman, Head of Air and Missile Defense Systems division of Rafael. The Kalyani delegation was being led by Rajinder Bhatia, President and CEO of BFL Defence and also by representatives from the IAI, Israel.
KRAS is India’s pioneering private sector MSME with advanced manufacturing capabilities and facilities dedicated to especially address the assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of the state-of the-art weapon systems being inducted by the defence forces. Parallel with manufacturing, KRAS is maturing to address Maintenance and Repair Operations (MRO) too, that of a major in-service Air Defence Missile System for the Indian Air Force. As part of its Make in India efforts, KRAS has also expanded its scope to include development of Advanced Defence Systems and Remotely-Controlled Weapon System.
The Joint Venture, thus, is a testament to the enhanced and deep cooperation between Israel and India in the strategic defence sector space, as coming together it leverages and conflates the technology of Rafael and engineering strength of the Kalyani Group.