Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bharat Dynamics Limited’s Export Potential Unlimited

By Staff Correspondent

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSUs), was established on July 16, 1970, in Hyderabad with the sole purpose of manufacturing missiles and allied equipment for the Indian Army. Today, the company has evolved as a multi-product, multi-located enterprise serving the defence requirements of all the three services of the Armed Forces. 

BDL has established itself not only as the backbone of India’s missile arsenal, but also for weapon systems as prime integrator. BDL is now shifting gears to go from making weapons and weapon systems for the Indian tri-services to producing them for export. The Miniratna Category-I, Public Sector Enterprise, is capitalising on the ‘Make in India’ policy and the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ approach of the Government of India to venture into the global markets. The company is focused on manufacturing weapons and weapon systems for armed forces of friendly countries, leveraging its indigenous technology of advanced missile systems.

To meet the growing demands and provide cutting-edge weaponry to the Armed Forces, BDL is prioritising infrastructure development and investing in modernisation requirements. The company is also actively exploring partnerships and collaborations with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to develop new weapons under transfer technology in addition to its existing Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) programmes for bridging any gaps in the requirements of the Armed Forces. These initiatives are focused in line with the GoI Policy of Make in India, Make for the Globe.

BDL’s robust order book remains a testament to its impressive track record, with multiple orders from both domestic and international players. The company’s commitment to innovation, coupled with its strategic vision, positions it as a formidable player in the global defence industry.

Wide Variety of Products Offered

CMDS from helicopter; Photo Courtesy BDL

The company boasts an impressive portfolio of products, including Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) such as Man Portable ATGM, Amogha-III, Nag, and Konkurs-M; Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) such as the Akash Weapon System; Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) such as the Astra Weapon System; Air-to-Surface weapons including the Smart Anti-Air Field Weapon (SAAW) and HELINA; Torpedoes (Light Weight and Heavy Weight torpedoes) ; and Counter Measure Systems like the Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS). Additionally, BDL provides refurbishment and life extension services for missiles.

In recent years, BDL has made significant strides in new areas, such as drone-delivered payloads like missiles, loitering ammunition etc.. The company’s cutting-edge technologies have earned it accolades, with the Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) recently inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army, and Varunastra, the Heavy Weight Torpedo, handed over to the Indian Navy in 2020.

BDL’s commitment to innovation is further evinced by its launch of multiple products in recent years, including:

  1. Semi-Active Laser Seeker Homing ATGM for BMP-II and Drone Delivered Missile (Jishnu) at Aero India 2023.
  2. A Light Weight Vehicle Mounted Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) System, Sangramika, and an Armoured Vehicle mounted Laser Guided Short Range Anti-Aircraft Weapon System, called Sanharika, launched at Defexpo 2022 apart from ATGM for the Main Battle Tank (MBT) ARJUN.
  3. Dishani and Garudastra at Aero India 2021
  4. Amogha-III at Defexpo 2020.

With its extensive product range and constant innovation, BDL is well-positioned to remain a key player in India’s defence industry for years to come.

Varunastra in action; Photo Courtesy BDL

Indigenisation

BDL has placed a strong emphasis on the concept of indigenisation across all of its programmes. With an average indigenisation percentage ranging between 80-90%, the company’s philosophy has helped it reduce import costs and offer competitively priced products to the Indian Armed Forces. This has been a crucial factor in ensuring that the Armed Forces receive the latest products with assured product lifecycle support from BDL.

In line with the Indian government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, BDL has taken its indigenisation processes a step further. The company has involved several vendors, including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to give a filip to indigenization of items. 

BDL’s R&D expenses have also seen significant growth in recent years, with the company acknowledging that the development of new products will enable it to diversify its offerings and mitigate product dependencies.

BDL has also established a missile development group with the objective of designing and developing project while simultaneously developing AI-based products. The company is committed to maintaining synergy between industry and academia to sustain a balance between experience and knowledge in the industry.

BDL has established several cutting-edge facilities to enhance the nation’s self-reliance goals further.

Konkurs-M being fired; Photo Courtesy BDL

New Infrastructure

Among its new facilities is a state-of-the-art warhead manufacturing unit at its Bhanur location, catering to both present and future missile needs.

In addition, BDL has also established an integrated RF Seeker Facility Centre for the production and testing of RF seekers. This critical subsystem enables target tracking in all future missiles. With indigenous manufacturing of the seeker, BDL has made significant strides towards Atmanirbharta, highlighting its role in creating a complete indigenous solutions in the field of Missiles and weapon systems.

Furthermore, BDL has also set up a Surface-Mount Technology (SMT) facility, a high-performance computing facility, and a central storage facility equipped with modern storage systems. These new facilities will enable BDL to produce electronic circuits directly onto printed circuit boards inhouse, conduct aerodynamic and structural analysis faster, and cater to its storage needs respectively. BDL has some major expansion plans underway, too.

Astra Weapons System; Photo Courtesy BDL

Expansion Plans

GOIs has taken various initiatives such as Atmanirbhar Bharat, Make in India and has improved the Ease of doing Business. Various state Governments have also made use of these policies in creating Defence Corridors and Industrial parks. BDL as it looks to meet the growing demand from both domestic and export markets, has acquired land at the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor (UPDIC) in Jhansi to set up its sixth unit in the country, first in North India. The new facility will manufacture propulsion systems that will be used in all ATGMs and futuristic missiles produced by the company.

This marks a significant step in BDL’s backward integration plan, as the company seeks to strengthen its capabilities and deliver world-class weapon systems to customers. The establishment of the new unit is expected to create numerous employment opportunities in the region, and ancillary units for MSMEs are likely to be established once BDL’s Jhansi unit becomes operational.

In yet another significant move, BDL has signed an agreement with MBDA to establish a new facility for the final assembly, integration, and testing of Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM) in India. Under the licensing agreement, MBDA will transfer equipment and knowledge to BDL for establishing the facility, providing India with the ability to carry out the final assembly, integration, and test of ASRAAM missiles.

The second phase of infrastructure development at its new unit at Ibrahimpatnam, Hyderabad is in progress which shall cater for assembly and testing of newer missiles including those with larger dimensions. Further, this facility also houses the Warhead test facility to complement the warhead manufacturing facility at Bhanur, Hyderabad.

Finally, BDL is also setting up a first-of-its-kind environmental test facility at its Visakhapatnam unit, which will enhance its testing infrastructure for torpedoes and underwater weapons.

Automation

BDL has been consistently upgrading its manufacturing technologies and processes to state-of-the-art standards, including the latest industry 4.0, robotics-operated workshops, and surface-mounted device assembly lines. These efforts have led to significant reductions in production costs, benchmarking of productivity norms, and modernisation of management systems, resulting in less dependence on imported technology. BDL is committed to further automating its production systems, where feasible, to increase productivity and efficiency.

Akash Weapon System; Photo Courtesy BDL 

Eyeing the Export Market

BDL boasts an impressive order book position of Rs 13,600 Crores (as on 28 February 2023), with more orders expected as approvals are at various stages in the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Further, the company has taken a lead in GoI’s initiative in enhancing exports. 

 The company has already made inroads by exporting its Light Weight Torpedoes to a friendly foreign nation and contracts to the tune of UD$ 300 million have been signed in the current FY.

With its portfolio of high-quality and innovative products, BDL is well-positioned to cater to the needs of friendly foreign countries seeking advanced defence solutions. Its product offerings include a diverse range of ATGMs, SAMs, AAMs, Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs) and Weapons, Torpedoes, and Counter Measure Systems. BDL is poised to strengthen its global presence by aggressively promoting its products abroad and solidifying its position as a leading defence technology provider.

Collaborations

In keeping with the Government’s policy of Athmanirbharta and Make in India for the Globe the company has established numerous partnerships with both foreign defence manufacturers. The range of organisations, that BDL is engaged with, include Thales (UK & Belgium), Naval Group, MBDA Missile Systems Limited (France & UK), Rafael Advanced Defence System Ltd (Naval Division), Dassault Aviation Private Limited, SAAB etc.  With these initiatives BDL is perched to not only make some of he state of Art Weapon systems in India for our Armed forces but also for Armed Forces of Friendly Foreign Countries.

Further, BDL closely works with the various DPSUs and PSUs like HAL, BEL, BEML, AVNL, MIL, IOL, AWEIL, etc. to synergise the Indigenous efforts to provide state of the Art weapon systems to our Armed Forces. Apart from the coordination with DPSUs/PSUs, BDL has also established MoUs and partnerships with several Indian Private Partners to enhance the Indigenous Defence Industry and tap the immense strength of the local private industry and Academia. These include, such as Larson and Toubro (L&T), Mahindra Defence Ltd., Ashok Leyland Defence Systems Ltd, and Newspace Technologies Pvt Ltd., DRDO, Bharat Forge Ltd, Dhruva Space Pvt Ltd., Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (TIDCO), Indian Institute of Technology-Ropar (IIT-Ropar) and Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M).

Customer Support

With the increased product range and BDL supplied weapon systems with the Armed forces, BDL has set up a dedicated team called Product Support Group, for Product Support. The robust Product Support rendered by BDL is one of its USP and has been highly appreciated by the User.

BDL aims to synergise innovative ideas and capabilities with its expertise through these collaborations to create novel solutions for the country’s defence needs.

With over five decades of experience, BDL has evolved from a missile manufacturer to a Weapon System Integrator, committed to making the Indian Armed Forces self-reliant and exporting its ‘Made in India’ products to friendly nations. Guided by the quest for technological excellence, BDL lives up to its moniker, ‘The Force Behind Peace’.


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