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Aero India 2017: IAI consolidates presence in India

Illustrating its continued contribution to India's defence industry, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed two agreements on 15 February, the second day of Aero India 2017, in Bangalore. One involved mini-UAVs and the other crashworthy seats.

IAI signed an agreement with Dynamatic Technologies relating to mini-UAVs 'to jointly address the needs of the Indian UAV market' in terms of production, assembly and support. IAI would agree to transfer technology to aid the government's 'Make in India' policy.

The specific target is the Indian Army, with IAI already having supplied significant numbers of the larger Searcher and Heron UAVs to the Indian air force and navy.

In the second MoU, IAI's Golan Industries subsidiary signed a cooperative agreement with Taneja Aerospace & Aviation to develop, produce and market crashworthy seats for both the defence and civil sectors.

Eli Alfassi, executive vice president of marketing at IAI, said his company has been active in India for the past 25-30 years, particularly in strategic and sub-strategic systems.

One example is three Ilyushin Il-76TD-based airborne early warning aircraft fitted with IAI's EL/W-2090 Phalcon radar and mission control systems supplied in the previous decade. IAI acted as prime contractor for this project.

Shephard understands that India is currently in discussions with IAI to order two further Il-76-based Phalcon systems, with a decision to be finalised 'in the near future'.

IAI has already provided aerostats and radars to India. Alfassi said various other RfIs for aerostats had been issued in the past 18 months, and that IAI was in 'deep discussions with local companies' to help meet 'Make in India' requirements.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is leading another project in which both IAI and HAL are involved to create an unmanned version of the Chetak helicopter for the Indian Navy (IN). The project is entitled the Naval Rotary Unmanned Air Vehicle (NRUAV).

These unmanned Chetaks would be used from ships for over-the-horizon surveillance. The Chetak is thought to be a

suitable platform for this capability since it will be supportable for years to come, and it is a light and easily convertible airframe. The project is still in the definition and workshare planning stage as all parties are waiting for a renewed requirement to be issued by the IN.

The Indian Army could also benefit from this project. For example, elderly Cheetah helicopters could transport cargo to high mountains. IAI mused that HAL's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) currently under development might also make a suitable candidate for future unmanned platform too.

The Barak 8 surface-to-air missile project, also known as the SR-SAM and MR-SAM, is another key joint development project between Israel and India. Alfassi said it was a 'flag programme' for both countries. IAI and Rafael are both involved.

The Barak 8 missiles with 70km range are being supplied to the IN and Indian Air Force, with the Indian Army set to receive it too in the near future. The missile is in the production stage, although minor development still needs to occur to suit the missile to various ship classes, for example. Bharat Dynamics Limited will produce it in India.

Alfassi said IAI is involved in 'dozens of projects' in India, and it continues to prepare itself for the future as the Indian government stipulates primarily 'Make in India' requirements.

This explains why IAI was expecting to sign at least three agreements, including the two aforementioned ones, with local partners during Aero India 2017.

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