Thursday, February 9, 2023

BDL: Leveraging Indigenous Technology For Achieving’ Atmanirbharta’

Staff Correspondent

Headquartered in Hyderabad, India, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), is a premier Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) under the Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India. Incorporated in 1970, BDL, during its formative years, started working in collaboration with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to manufacture and supply various missiles and allied equipment for the Indian Armed Forces.

VL SR SAM launch; Varunastra Firing;

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme launched by the Government of India in the 1980s to develop indigenous, sophisticated and contemporary missiles opened up a plethora of opportunities for BDL to assimilate advanced manufacturing and programme management technologies and skills in close association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) wherein BDL was identified as the Prime Production Agency. 

BDL graduated from being a missile manufacturer to a Weapon System Integrator and has emerged as a complete solution provider for the Indian Armed Forces.

Varunastra Firing; Photo Courtesy BDL

BDL today has evolved into a multi-product, multi-located enterprise meeting the growing needs of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. BDL today offers Surface-to-Air Missiles, Air-to-Air Missiles, Air-to-Surface Weapons, Launchers, Test Equipment, Underwater Weapons, Counter Measure Systems in addition to Anti-Tank Guided Missiles to the armed forces. The company also offers Product Life Cycle Support and Refurbishment/Life Extension of vintage Missiles. The company is giving more thrust to offer AI-based products to its customers by harnessing next-generation technologies.

BDL is also making inroads into new areas, such as drone-delivered payloads like Bombs and Missiles, Mines etc. Thrust is being given to exploring a tie-up with foreign OEMs for new weapons for potential Transfer of Technology, in addition to DRDO programmes.

With over five decades of manufacturing experience in the field of missiles and allied equipment, BDL has forayed into the international market by offering its exportable range of products to friendly countries. BDL is offering Akash Weapon System (Surface-to-Air Missile), Astra Weapon System (Air-to-Air Missile), SAAW (Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon) and Helina (Air-to-Surface Weapon), Light Weight Torpedo and Heavy Weight Torpedo (Underwater weapons), Counter Measures Dispensing System and Anti-Submarine Warfare Suite (Counter Measure Systems) and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles namely Nag, Konkurs-M and MILAN-2T for exports. BDL has already exported the Light Weight Torpedo to a friendly country and is receiving leads from several countries for the export of the Akash Weapon System and other products being offered for exports.

TAL Firing; Photo Courtesy BDL

Adding to its wide range of product lines, last year, BDL launched two new products for the Indian Navy – the ‘Dishani’ and ‘Garudastra’.

Garudastra is an advanced anti-submarine self-guided state-of-the-art homing torpedo being designed and developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), DRDO, with BDL as the development and production partner.

Dishani, an expendable air-deployed ASW sonobuoy system being designed and developed by Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), DRDO with BDL, is the development and production partner.

During DefExpo 2022, BDL launched three products viz., ‘Anti-Tank Guided Missile for MBT ARJUN’, the ‘Sangramika’, a Light Weight Vehicle Mounted Anti -Tank Guided Weapon System and the ‘Sanharika’, an Armoured Vehicle mounted Laser Guided Short Range Anti-Aircraft Weapon System.

BDL currently has manufacturing facilities at Hyderabad, Bhanur, and Ibrahimpatnam, all three in Telangana State and the fourth at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The Visakhapatnam Unit has been set up exclusively to manufacture underwater weapons by the company.

To cater to the growing demands of the Indian Armed Forces and friendly foreign nations, BDL is setting up two more units – one at Amravati in Maharashtra and another at Jhansi in the Uttar Pradesh – Defence Corridor.

Akash, CP-IGMP, Design and Engineering, Electronics Divisions of Kanchanbagh Unit, Vizag Unit and Bhanur Unit of BDL have been certified for AS 9100D Aerospace Quality Management System. The Company’s Corporate Office is Certified for ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System.

The Kanchanbagh, Bhanur and Visakhapatnam Units have been certified with ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System. Electronics Labs of MILAN Division and Bhanur Unit have been accredited for ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 (NABL) Certification in the discipline of Electro-Technical calibration of Electronic Measuring Equipment. Material Testing Lab of Bhanur Unit has been accredited for ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 (NABL) Certification in the field of testing.

BDL has constantly been upgrading its manufacturing technologies and processes to state-of-the-art, including industry 4.0, Robotics operated workshops, latest Surface Mounted Devices (SMD) assembly lines and has always maintained the highest quality standards in its products by adopting to best QA practices like AS 9100, Zero defect, etc. The pursuit has resulted in a reduction in production cost, benchmarking of productivity norms and modernisation of management system and less dependence on imported technology.

C-303 Anti-Torpedo System; Photo Courtesy BDL

As a part of its ongoing initiatives to contribute towards the realisation of India’s self-reliance in the Defence sector, BDL has set up a warhead manufacturing facilityat its Bhanur Unit recently. The facility will be used both for its current as well as futuristic missiles.

BDL has also recently established an integrated RF Seeker Facility Centre for the production and testing of RF seekers. Seeker is a critical, technology-intensive subsystem which will be used in all future Missiles for target tracking. BDL is manufacturing Ku Band seekers, which is the first of its kind by BDL. The indigenous manufacturing of the seeker, which is around half the cost of the missile, is a significant demonstration of Atmanirbharta and the contribution of BDL in creating a complete indigenous vendor ecosystem in India. Setting up this facility has made BDL join the elite club of select few companies across the globe to have the capability to produce the seekers.

The state-of-the-art Central Storage facility established at BDL, Visakhapatnam, is equipped with a modern storage system consisting of a vertical Carousel System, Mechanical Compactor and Motorised Compactor, which can cater for the entire storage needs of the Unit. The facility has state-of-the-art features for real-time transactions of the items and Inventory monitoring.

BDL, while fulfilling its basic role as a guided weapon system manufacturer, has built up a strong in-house Research and Development (R&D) Division primarily focused on Design and Engineering activities. This approach has resulted in significant achievements in the avenues of Indigenisation and realisation of value-added products and product variants such as Fagot Launcher Adapted for Milan Equipment (FLAME), Konkurs Missile Test Equipment, Konkurs Launcher Test Equipment, Counter Measure Dispensing System and Amogha, the third generation ATGM.

Taking into cognisance modern-age warfare, BDL is leveraging emerging technologies to develop futuristic weapons for the armed forces. In pursuit of this, BDL is laying emphasis on the automation of its manufacturing facilities, indigenisation of critical items and equipping its human resources with advanced skills to tap the emerging technologies more effectively for developing indigenously designed and manufactured advanced weapons for the armed forces. The in-house R&D Division of the Company has recently developed theArtificial Inteligence (AI)-enabled Counter Measure Dispensing System, which was launched during July this year.

MR SAM Launch; Photo Courtesy BDL

BDL is giving a lot of thrust on indigenisation as a measure to achieve self-reliance in its manufacturing and offer competitively priced products to its customers. In the foreign collaboration programs that BDL has entered into, the company has been successful in indigenising several items, over and above the contracted indigenisation content percentage, with the support of OEMs. The average percentage of indigenisation across BDL is between 80 to 90 percent.

With the Government of India’s policy of ‘Ease of doing business’, several opportunities have emerged to explore tie-ups with foreign OEMs for the Transfer of Technology (ToT). With this, BDL is not only progressing towards self-reliance in developing cutting-edge missile systems but also aims to partner in the missile system’s global supply chain. In this direction, BDL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MBDA recently to manufacture Mistral Missiles in India. In addition to this, BDL has signed a licence agreement with MBDA to establish a facility for the Final Assembly, Integration and Test of Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air missiles in India. Under the licensing agreement, MBDA will transfer the equipment and knowledge to BDL for establishing the facility.   

The quest for technological excellence has been the guiding principle of BDL and living up to the sobriquet, ‘The Force Behind Peace’.

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