Friday, May 24, 2024

Ratan Tata’s Dream: Aircraft Manufacturing & Defence Mobility

By Girish Linganna

Girish Linganna, Dir. ADD Engineering Components India Pvt Ltd, Aerospace & Defence analyst

In October, Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts, praised the creation of the TATA-Airbus joint venture for the manufacturing of C-295 aircraft in India. The establishment of the factory fulfils Ratan Tata’s ten-year-old dream of a private aircraft production facility. Under the leadership of Ratan Tata, who served as Chairman of the TATA Group from 1991 until his retirement on December 28, 2012, the TATA Group invested in defence production facilities.

The Tata Group’s involvement with the Defense sector dates back to the 1940s when it supplied armoured steel to support the war effort during World War II. The Tata Group also created the Tatanagar, a Wheeled Armoured Carrier – Indian Pattern , or ACV-IP. Since India’s independence in 1947, the group has assisted in meeting India’s defence mobility needs through Tata Motors.

Tata Motors is currently the largest private sector mobility participant in India’s Defence industry, with a wide range of goods working across the whole military spectrum, from Logistics to front-line combat. The company’s range of mobility solutions has expanded to include all vehicle classes, from light to heavy, as well as the whole Defense, Paramilitary, and Police mobility market. Tata Motors has provided over 100,000+ vehicles to various Paramilitary & State Police forces and is the sole OEM with the greatest selection of vehicles in over 10 DGS&D Rate Contracts. In addition to being a key provider of mobility solutions to the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, and Paramilitary forces, the firm exports its specialised Defense vehicles to SAARC, ASEAN, African states, and the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Africa’s war zones.

Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, a subsidiary of Tata Sons, created a joint venture with Lockheed Martin Corp in 2011 to build Lockheed’s C-130 aircraft aerostructures in India.

In April 2018, when Tata Sons began merging its many businesses throughout the aerospace and defence sectors under a single organisation Tata Aerospace & Defence (Tata A&D) – a comprehensive understanding of Ratan Tata’s efforts in the defence sector became available. Tata A&D began to leverage the breadth of the group’s expertise, experience, and capabilities in land mobility solutions, aircraft, weapon systems, sensors, and command, control, communication, computers, and intelligence (C4I).

Several organisations integrated into Tata A&D already had strong, established ties with top aerospace and defence companies and are part of the global supply chain. Occasionally, they are also a global single-source provider. Tata A&D would also invest heavily in developing indigenous systems specifically suited for the Indian defence forces, which is the core of Tata A&D’s current long-term plan. Tata A&D suggested combining over 6,000 personnel and establishing production facilities in Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra, in addition to its growing list of joint ventures and cooperation with premier global equipment manufacturers.

Chairman of Tata Sons N Chandrasekaran stated that the formation of Tata A&D, a single consolidated business, would help the group to effectively target emerging opportunities in aerospace and defence, as well as connect holistically with clients in India and throughout the world.

Banmali Agrawala, head of the infrastructure and defence & aerospace divisions of Tata Sons, stated that Tata A&D will be better suited to execute larger and more complex projects and will be more globally competitive as a component of the global supply chain. The business has developed integrated offerings across Land mobility, airborne platforms and systems, weapons systems, and C4I, in addition to delivering individual products. Tata has established a defence industrial base in India that is intended to complement and integrate with the work of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and defence public sector organisations (PSU).

After the merger, the comprehensive portfolio of integrated solutions offered by Tata A&D expanded to encompass three distinct industries.

In the Land mobility sector, the TATA group produced Multi-axle combat support vehicles, light support vehicles, light armoured vehicles, mine-protected vehicle s (MPV), wheeled armoured amphibious platforms (WHAP), light armoured multi-role combat vehicles and tracked amphibious platforms like the future ready combat vehicle (FRCV) and futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV). Tata Motors is the first private sector original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in India to produce WhAP jointly with the DRDO, an Infantry Combat Vehicle optimised for survivability, all-terrain performance, and lethality.

In the Airborne platforms and systems sector, the company manufactures rotary platforms, fixed-wing platforms, Unmanned systems, mission systems, and avionics, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – mini and micro and safety-critical airborne computer systems and associated applications for both manned and unmanned platforms.

Radars, sonars, electronics for land systems, electro-optics systems, comprehensive border management systems, homeland security sensors, and integration for design, development, and production of command control and tactical communication system, including for air defence and naval combat, are manufactured by the group in the Weapon systems, sensors, C4I sector.

Tata A&D derived synergies from Tata Motors’ Defence Division, Tata Power’s Strategic Engineering Division, TAL Manufacturing Solutions Limited (a subsidiary of Tata Motors), Tata Advanced Materials Limited, and Tata Advanced Systems Limited following the consolidation.

Ratan Tata is a visionary, and there is no dispute about that if one examines his tenure at Tata. Much is talked about him in his management and leadership. Let this be a tribute to him in the defence sector.

Girish Linganna is the Director of ADD Engineering Pvt Ltd, and is an aerospace & defence analyst

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