Thales teams up with Bharat Dynamics for STARStreak air defence system for India

Photo: Thales’ STARStreak air defence system.

New Delhi: European military systems firm Thales and India’s missile-maker Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have signed a teaming agreement to partner on the STARStreak air defence system for the South Asian nation, with support for this tie-up from India and the United Kingdom governments.

The teaming agreement was signed by Thales and BDL in the presence of United Kingdom and India government representatives in a virtual ceremony yesterday, a statement from the European firm said.

BDL Director (Technical) N. P. Diwakar, Thales chief executive officer in the UK Alex Cresswell and Thales in India vice president and country director Emmanuel de Roquefeuil signed the agreement in the presence of BDL Chairman and Managing Director Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retired).

The representatives from the UK who witnessed the signature included Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and Head of UK Defence and Security Exports Mark Goldsack. From India, the Director General Army Air Defence and representative from Army Design Bureau, Indian Army, witnessed the ceremony.

“Co-operation between the UK and India continues to develop at pace with much closer ties within our defence equipment programmes and systems. The signing marks the start of the next-generation of missile systems for the Indian Army and reinforces our commitment to work with international partners,” Jeremy Quin said on the occasion.

Through the agreement, BDL will become a part of the STARStreak global supply chain, providing the opportunity for export of Indian manufactured components to existing and future STARStreak air defence customers, including the UK armed forces.

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BDL was established in Hyderabad in 1970 as a manufacturing base for guided missiles and allied defence equipment. In 2017, Thales and BDL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assess the opportunity for the transfer of technology for STARStreak. The signing of this teaming agreement confirms a positive outcome from that exploration process.

The agreement will also provide the opportunity for BDL to offer a ‘Make in India‘ STARStreak solution to the Indian Government, with a capability that will match the immediate air defence needs of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, and with 60 per cent of the system manufactured in India.

It also represents an opportunity for further UK and Indian industrial co-operation and will cement the ambition for closer collaboration and co-development between our two nations, supporting the ambitions of our governments’ recently signed Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation MoU.

“The signing is a significant milestone for all parties concerned and I look forward to Thales and BDL developing a close working relationship. This is good news for our business in Belfast in Northern Ireland, for the strong supply chain of UK Small and Medium Enterprises with whom we work and for our teams in India,” Alex Cresswell said.

“The UK and India have a strong tradition of industrial partnership in defence, innovation and sharing technology and we are thankful to both the governments for their strong support to this excellent initiative.”

Commodore Siddharth Mishra, in his address, said that the partnership between Thales and BDL in this project with transfer of technology for STARStreak will create a new business opportunity for BDL and its spply chain partners in India.

“BDL will be able to enhance its footprints in the export market in addition to domestic market with this new business opportunity. The Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ programme, the ‘ease of doing business’ and the recent ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ initiatives have created a congenial ecosystem for the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers to tie up with Indian industries like BDL to establish the production facility in India,” Mishra said.

The STARStreak missile system is in service in the British Army and has been procured by defence forces worldwide. The fastest missile in its category, STARStreak is unique due to its three laser-guided darts, which cannot be jammed by any known countermeasure. It has the capability to defeat any air target — even armoured helicopters — as the last line of defence.

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