By Kamal Shah
Tanya Altmann, Managing Director of HENSOLDT Optronics, in a one-to-one with Indian Aerospace and Defence, talks about the company’s staunch support for Make in India.
In April 2023, Tanya Altmann was appointed the Managing Director of HENSOLDT Optronics GmbH and Head of Optronics & Land Solutions. As former president for the global bus business of the Skoda Group and Managing Director for Skoda Transportation Deutschland GmbH, CEO at General Electric Power Conversion in Berlin, as well as through various project management roles at train builder Alstom and Airbus Military, including involvement in the A400M, Tanya Altmann brought more than 20 years of experience from various industries to the company. For HENSOLDT, the 46-year-old sees many exciting opportunities in India, especially in the field of optical self-protection and reconnaissance sensor technology.
Q. Ms Altmann, can you introduce your company to us in a few words?
Ans: HENSOLDT Optronics is specialising in the development and manufacturing of optical and optronic systems and components. The company is part of the HENSOLDT Group, a leading supplier of defence and security related technologies. Our company offers a wide range of products and solutions for military applications, security agencies, and civil markets. Our products include optronic sensors, sighting and targeting systems, periscopes and optronic mast systems, laser target illuminators, as well as different applications for our space and industrial business.
As a technology champion, we are leaders in the field of sensor data fusion. With the help of our smart multi-domain sensor technology and artificial intelligence-based data networking, we are able to render complex combat situations in a simple and understandable way for users.
Q. As the Managing Director of HENSOLDT Optronics, how do you perceive the Indian market’s potential for HENSOLDT’s future growth?
Ans: India holds a paramount position as an international market for HENSOLDT. Recently, we have observed a rapid transformation in India’s armed procurement processes. We wholeheartedly comprehend the necessity for the Indian Armed Forces to diversify their procurements and upgrade their military equipment. In this context, our objective is to establish ourselves as trusted partners, offering cutting-edge Defence Electronics Sensors Technology to meet the requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
Q. How do you assess the ‘Make in India’ requirements, and what strategies do you have in place to address them?
Ans: From HENSOLDT’s perspective, as a prominent European sensors company, we wholeheartedly acknowledge India’s efforts to achieve self-reliance in the production of military goods. HENSOLDT is fully committed to the vision of ‘Make in India,’ and our business plans revolve around Transfer of Technology (ToT), local production, and joint development through industrial collaborations. This is proven by our track record of successful cooperation with Indian companies.
Our approach goes far beyond traditional Built-to-Print (BtP) manufacturing. We have introduced a unique and pioneering industrial collaboration model specifically tailored for certain products, fostering partnerships with Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). These collaborations involve transferring design and manufacturing capabilities to India, including sharing Design and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) as well as co-developing products in conjunction with various Indian IPRs for both the Indian and global markets.
With encouraging indigenous manufacturing, we aim for a substantial content to be produced domestically. Moreover, we are actively exploring ways to leverage the potential of India’s industrial base for specific export markets or as suppliers of HENSOLDT.
Q. How has HENSOLDT contributed to and supported Indian defence capability, particularly in the field of aircraft protective sensors and systems?
Ans: HENSOLDT has a long legacy of providing protective sensors and systems for all kinds of aircraft. In Optronics, we both manufacture missile and laser warners, which we offer along with a suite of other protective measures.
In this field we also have a strong history of “Made in India” and supporting Indian defence capability. HENSOLDT also has exciting investments in new technology to ensure we stay on the cutting edge, particularly in the field of missile warning sensors.
Q. So why do you consider cooperation useful for local companies?
Ans: Cooperation between us and Indian companies offers numerous advantages. India is a large and growing market relevant to HENSOLDT. India’s technological expertise and innovation culture offer German companies the opportunity to benefit from research and development opportunities, as we already do by our local presence in the Bangalore region. As a strategic location, India allows us to expand our global business activities and be present in the region.
Cooperation also promotes cultural exchange and offers the chance to develop innovative solutions. Nevertheless, cultural differences and legal aspects should be taken into account to ensure successful partnerships.
Q. Which HENSOLDT products are being offered to the Indian market?
Ans: We are currently maturing our industrial partnership network to offer a number of products to Indian Customers under the provisions of Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 issued by Ministry of Defence, Government of India. According to existing and upcoming requirements of the armed forces, we see substantial interest in Obstacle Avoidance Systems consisting of LiDAR Sensor and Pilot Assistance System for Degraded Visual Environment conditions, EW/Self Protection Suites for Airborne Platforms comprising various types of Sensors, sensor suites for Mission Aircraft and UAVs as well as Periscopes and Optronics Mast Systems for Submarines. In the Land domain there is an urgent requirement for Active Protection suites and Situational Awareness Systems and furthermore Integrated EW Systems.
Q. Especially in the field of smart land sensor technology, you recently achieved another important milestone, right?
Ans: Within the scope of a technology demonstration at the German Army Combat Training Centre (GÜZ), we successfully demonstrated the operational capability of our land-based networked sensors with the technology demonstration vehicle “MUV”. Its assisted and automated reconnaissance capabilities could be compared against the real-time situation display of the “AGDUS” duel simulator used at the GÜZ.
During the non-controlled application scenario, it was possible for the first time to detect and classify objects using machine learning algorithms. With the “Ceretron” computing unit, the sensor network was able to detect real camouflaged combat vehicles under attack, to reconnoitre them and to transfer them assisted to a command-and-control information system networked with a headquarters. The successful demonstration has shown that our idea of sensor data fusion, also with a view to the digitalisation of land-based operations, is forward-looking.
Q. So, in conclusion, and based on your success story so far, how do you see the future of HENSOLDT in India?
Ans: India is an important, if not the most important, strategic partner for Europe and also for Germany, thus also for our company. And consequently, we have to treat it as such. HENSOLDT, as an important German trading partner, is prepared to intensify its existing ties to India to jointly develop solutions for the necessities of the modern battlefield. I am therefore convinced that our company, in cooperation with our customers, is heading towards a good and sustainably successful German-Indian future.
HENSOLDT is a leading company in the European defence industry with global reach. Based in Taufkirchen near Munich, the company develops complete sensor solutions for defence and security applications. As a technology leader, HENSOLDT drives the development of defence electronics and optronics and is continuously expanding its portfolio based on innovative approaches to data management, robotics and cyber security. With more than 6,500 employees, HENSOLDT achieved a turnover of 1.7 billion Euros in 2022. HENSOLDT is listed in the MDAX of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.