Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ananth Technologies: Leveraging India’s Space & Defence Manufacturing, Opening Doors To Business Opportunities

 By Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri

Interdependency Of The Sectors

In India, the space sector was predominantly driven by the Department of Space (DoS)/Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for decades. The space industry includes hundreds of private suppliers; however, the sector, due to its structure of governance, had a very insignificant role for private players till recently.

With the path-breaking reforms to liberalise the space sector and enhance private sector contribution in line with the western economies, the union minister has called for working towards the development of futuristic technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Big-data and Block-chain for the overall development of the nation both for space and defence. 

Military and defence organisations worldwide have steadily increased reliance on critical space assets, which include applications ranging from communication, imagery, navigation, signal/electronic intelligence, early warning and meteorology etc., across a wide range of satellite sizes, constellations and orbits. India’s space sector has a lot of potential to add strategic depth to the defence capabilities of the nation by facilitating regulatory and policy support.

The space ecosystem in India has the potential to generate new disruptive applications to cater to modern defence needs and solutions critical for intelligence, such as high-resolution imagery, surveillance and reconnaissance, besides navigation and communication. Satellites provide critical sensor information for the global observation that are more difficult to disrupt, degrade and deny than similar sensors in other domains.  

The fast-evolving geopolitical context requires planning and execution, integrating space capabilities into an overall defence strategy.  

The government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ policies aim at encouraging indigenous manufacturing and making India a manufacturing hub. Defence and space sectors have a target to achieve a $25 Billion and $50 Billion market by 2025 and 2030, respectively, with a similar growth trajectory of a 17% compounded annual growth rate. 

Both Defence and Space sectors can meet these ambitious targets and can potentially aid in meeting the overall export target of $1 Trillion by 2025.

Role Of The Private Sector In India

The private space sector has shown immense enthusiasm and stepped up to meet the needs. There are several companies that are involved in both space and Defence sectors viz., Ananth Technologies, Airbus, Mahindra Aerospace, Thales, Tata, Centum, MTAR, Godrej, and L&T Defence to name a few.. These companies are the leading manufacturers of various space-related products and components serving the space and defence industry, and many start-up companies are also coming up.

Incorporated in 1992, Ananth Technologies is a leader in this segment and, through their vast engagement in various aspects of Launch, Satellites, payloads, and applications, has a notable presence in the national and international space industry. Their offerings in critical aerospace systems and high-value geospatial services have been internationally certified (AS 9100C & ISO 9001:2008) and recognised by reputed clients across the globe.

Ananth Technologies has been a part of every single Indian space program and has an in-house design and development team for embedded systems. With over 30+ years of design and development experience, Ananth designed systems are used in aircraft, and helicopters. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), parachutes and ground communication systems.

The company’s domain expertise includes airborne/ground radio communication systems, radars (TR modules, digital receivers, EW systems (EW simulator), satellite ground communication (MSS terminal), airborne/ground/space telemetry and underwater communication.

Ananth Technologies expertise in power systems includes telemetry /telecommand, core power systems, power distribution, attitude and Orbital Control, electro-optic Sensors, payloads, mechanisms and integration.

 It is the only Indian company audited and certified by EADS to manufacture subsystems for its satellites. It has a space heritage of contributing to 88 satellite and 68 Launch programs which have helped Ananth Technologies cement its place in the strategic defence and aerospace supply chain globally.  

From mission computers to control systems, sensors to communication systems, Ananth is the largest contributor of subsystems to the Indian space program and has been part of every single Indian space program since its inception. It contributed to the successful launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles and its different stages harnessed, integrated, tested, and qualified by ATL.

Ananth Technologies has so far contributed to 91 Satellites and 71 launch Vehicles of ISRO and many more in the offing. This growth and heritage have been supported by labs spread over 50,000 Sq. m area with state-of-the-art facilities to meet large-scale production needs with AS-certified quality standards having facilities like class 100000 cleanrooms, AIT Facilities etc. and 1600 strong manpower across its Plants at Hyderabad, Bangalore and Trivandrum.

Facility In Hyderabad

Ananth Technologies is headquartered in Madhapur, Hyderabad. 

Facility In Bengaluru

Ananth has a large facility at KIADB Aerospace Park, Bengaluru, which is a massive 15,000 square metre “Spacecraft manufacturing” unit. It is India’s first such facility in the private sector which holds the capability to assemble, integrate and test 4 enormous spacecraft at the same time.

Facility In Thiruvananthapuram

The newly constructed facility of Ananth Technologies [ATL] at the KINFRA Park at Menamkulam, Thiruvananthapuram, is committed to launch vehicle technologies integration. The unit is to develop avionics packages and integration of Launch Vehicles for space missions.

In the 3 decades since its inception, Ananth Technologies Ltd has secured a strategic space in the defence and aerospace supply chain globally, with its business spread across multiple countries. 

Ananth Technologies Deals

Ananth Technologies building; Photo Courtesy Anand Technologies 

Ananth Technologies is the first private Indian company to build satellites for non-Indian organisations following the Government of India’s decision to liberalise the space sector in India to permit private sector companies to build satellites and rockets and offer launch services.

Since 2020, Ananth Technologies has signed deals with several international companies to build and launch two communication satellites. As per Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri, Chairman and Managing Director, Ananth Technologies Limited, India stands the advantage to build and launch in the most cost-effective way as against the West. 

The company works with VSSC on the PSLV- missions. Ananth Technologies conducted stage integration and checkout on the PSLV missions (PSLV C51,52,53 and 54 and many in progress), marking the first time that ISRO had contracted a private sector company to undertake the task.

Australian firm Space Machines Company and Ananth Technologies have formed a collaboration on product integration, testing, technology development and joint space missions. Ananth and Space Machines have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a multi-year spacecraft technological partnership around enabling visions for Space.

Ananth Technologies has also signed MoU with Indian start-ups Space Machine and GalaxyEye as part of their collaborative effort to bring the world’s first satellite/constellation with both SAR and optical payloads to revolutionise Geospatial Imaging. The datasets delivered by such a satellite will be of immense value to defence applications.

Ananth Technologies along with a software platform company Antaris and XDLINX is up for a breakthrough solution for a multi-payload satellite imaging constellation. 

Although firms like Ananth Technologies and many start-ups are engaged in defence and space manufacturing and applications, however, due to a lack of regulatory and policy support, there has been stunted growth in the sectors.

Regulatory Changes Needed In India

In India, space and defence sectors together can gain immensely from cross-industry collaborative policies where the sectors can naturally exchange research activities, technologies, processes and ideas and mutually benefit from such exchanges. Leveraging space power would include the exploitation of space to enhance defence capabilities and protection of our national space assets.

Facilitating policies can combine existing technologies in a more prolific manner and lead to the development of state-of-the-art applications and enhance the indigenous manufacturing capacity in a more cost-effective manner and with better commercial traction.

India needs to develop policies to promote dual-use technologies for both military and civilian agencies and speed up research and development for manufacturing state-of-the-art defence and space platforms. The country needs to keep pace with global advancements, and our policymakers and strategists need to effectively meet the enormous challenges driven by the transformation.

Defence applications need to maintain a high degree of confidentiality; hence, indigenous development of defence space products is of great importance. As discussed, space assets are critical for defence missions as well as counter-space activities and space sector manufacturing can bring self-reliance to defence manufacturing.

India can have its own critical satellite constellations from a strategic and security point of view and reduce its dependency on countries like Russia, France, Israel, and the US, among others, for imports which is not only an unfavourable strategy but also hamper modernisation and operational preparedness.

Additionally, a favourable tax and Investment environment would attract international companies to establish manufacturing plants in India. The Govt. has liberalised Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the space sector up to 100% in satellites-establishment and operation, subject to the sectoral guidelines of the DoS and plans to further liberalise the FDI rules soon. In the defence sector, the FDI limit is enhanced up to 74% through the automatic route for companies seeking new defence industrial licenses and up to 100% by the government route. 

Communication satellites in GEO; need orbital positions and expect government to enable access to orbital slots through a mechanism of PPP or otherwise. This will highly encourage the companies in both sectors to collaborate in the form of  joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions and help strengthen and develop a strong indigenous defence and space industrial base and enhance exports. Such measures will leverage the synergies between defence and space industries in enhancing indigenous manufacturing capabilities, cutting down the imports and achieving the export targets of the government. 

 Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri is the President of SIA-India & CMD of Ananth Technologies

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