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Adani Defence & Aerospace has joined forces with French powerhouse Thales Group to light up skies with homegrown rockets. Announced at the buzzing Eurosatory 2024 event, this partnership isn’t just another business deal—it’s a rocket-fueled boost for India’s ambitious “Make in India” program.

Thales & Adani Defence Join Hands 

Adani Defence & Aerospace, the defense arm of Adani Group, has signed an agreement with Thales Group to manufacture rockets in India. This marks a significant advancement for the government’s “Make in India” program.

The partnership was announced at ‘Eurosatory 2024,’ with both Thales and Adani Defence & Aerospace highlighting their commitment to strengthening their presence in India’s 70mm rocket market.

Ashish Rajvanshi, CEO of Adani Defence & Aerospace, described the partnership as a crucial step in expanding their offerings for the Indian Armed Forces and international markets.

Thales Group 

Thales Group is a French multinational company specializing in designing, developing, and manufacturing electrical systems and devices for the aerospace, defense, transportation, and security sectors. The company is headquartered in Paris’ business district, La Défense. Thales Defense and Security is renowned as one of the leading manufacturers of tactical communications equipment.

Expanding Footprint: From Paris To Pune

Just last year, Thales announced their plans to expand their presence in India.

Thales, the French multinational known for its electrical wizardry in aerospace and defense, has been quietly conquering Indian hearts since 1953. The company’s Indian headquarters is located in Noida, with additional operational offices and sites in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune.

Thales employs 2,200 people in India, including those working in joint ventures. The company operates two engineering competence centers in India: one in Delhi NCR focused on digital identity and security, and another in Bengaluru focused on defense and aerospace, employing over 1,500 engineers.

In April 2024, Thales announced plans to establish a Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Delhi-NCR by March 2025, with a ‘multi-million-euro’ investment.

Pascale Sourisse, CEO of Thales International, stated, “Thales is investing multi-million Euros in an MRO set up in Gurgaon, India, to provide world-class service efficiency to its airline customers.”

Strategic Collaborations

Thales has been actively forming partnerships, teaming up with major Indian public sector undertakings (PSUs) and private players such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Reliance, and more.

From jointly developing radars to producing precision-strike rockets, Thales is dedicated to solidifying its position as India’s preferred French collaborator.

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL): Thales has been working closely with HAL for over 50 years, providing high-end avionics for HAL-designed platforms. French engine manufacturer Safran is expanding its partnership with HAL to transfer more technology for the Shakti engine and jointly develop a new power plant for the Indian multi-role helicopter program.

  • BEL-Thales Systems Limited: Incorporated in August 2014 as BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), this joint venture focuses on civilian and select ground-based military radars for both Indian and international markets. Currently, the company is co-developing a multi-target tracking radar with Thales Netherlands to meet upcoming Indian weapon systems projects and global needs. Additionally, BTSL provides technical and product support for Air Traffic Management Radars.

  • Thales Reliance Defence Systems (TRDS): This is a 51:49 joint venture between Thales and Reliance Aerostructure Limited. Located in Nagpur, it is Thales’ only facility outside France with full integration capabilities for AESA Radar, Spectra EW Suite, and maintenance support for Front Section Optronics (FSO) for Rafale aircraft. It also serves as the Group’s global production center for airport navigational aids.

  • Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL): In February 2023, Thales and BDL, a Government of India enterprise, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up manufacturing facilities in India for precision-strike 70mm laser-guided rockets (FZ275 LGR). This agreement enables BDL to offer a ‘Make in India’ 70mm laser-guided rocket solution for the existing fleet of Advanced Light Helicopters (WSI) and Light Combat Helicopters of the Indian Government.

  • Kalyani Group: In April 2019, Kalyani Group and Thales formalized a new collaboration to design, develop, and manufacture next-generation weapons systems for the defense and law enforcement sectors in India and abroad. This partnership leverages Thales’s over 100 years of experience in designing and manufacturing leading defense systems in Australia.

  • MKU: In February 2020, Thales and MKU, headquartered in Kanpur, announced the co-development of the ELFIE Night Vision Device (NVD) for armed forces in India and worldwide. This collaboration builds on an MoU signed in 2018 for strategic cooperation on developing optronic devices, which are being co-developed at MKU’s facility in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Thales is also exploring the Indian market for drones. In June 2023, it was reported that Thales was in preliminary discussions with Indian conglomerates Adani Group and Reliance Industries Ltd to collaborate on an unmanned air traffic management system for drones.

Adani Group

Enter Adani Defence & Aerospace, the muscular arm of the Adani Group that’s flexing its way through India’s defense sector since 2015.  Its key offerings span missiles and weapons for airborne, surface, infantry, ammunition, and air defense applications.

The company also specializes in platforms and systems such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), loitering munitions, counter-drone systems, unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), electronic warfare (EW), and cyber technologies.

The Adani Group has allocated $2-2.5 billion for acquisitions in the defense sector over the next 2-3 years. It collaborates with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on various projects, including naval anti-ship missiles.

The group has partnered with leading defense technology companies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia to bring advanced technologies into the defense sector. Adani plans to increase investments in unmanned systems, small arms, and missiles while venturing into the production of indigenous artillery guns. The group is also focused on establishing maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) solutions in India.

Earlier this month, Adani Defence and Aerospace signed a landmark agreement with EDGE Group, a leading advanced technology and defense company based in the UAE. This partnership aims to create a global platform that leverages the combined defense and aerospace capabilities of both companies.

The focus will be on integrating their product portfolios to meet the needs of both global and local markets. The Adani-EDGE agreement includes plans to establish research and development facilities in India and the UAE. It will also explore setting up development, production, and maintenance facilities for defense and aerospace solutions, targeting not only the domestic markets of India and the UAE but also Southeast Asian and global markets.

Adani’s Focus On Drone Technology

Adani is targeting drone technology companies in Bengaluru and Hyderabad as potential acquisition targets for reconnaissance in hostile environments. Talks are ongoing with these firms, and a deal is expected in the coming months.

Adani’s range of counter-drone systems is designed for challenging and hostile territories to minimize human casualties, enabling defense forces to conduct remote reconnaissance activities. Adani is actively seeking advanced technologies and anticipates acquisitions to bridge gaps in its offerings. The company has announced a ₹1,000 crore investment in Telangana to establish counter-drone and missile facilities.

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Last year, Adani Defence launched the indigenously manufactured Drishti 10, an advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform, in Porbandar. It also inaugurated a serial production line for missile systems in Hyderabad.

The partnership between Adani Defence & Aerospace and Thales Group marks a significant milestone for India’s defense manufacturing capabilities under the “Make in India” initiative. By collaborating to manufacture rockets locally, these two industry leaders are not only bolstering national defense but also advancing technological prowess in aerospace.

One thought on “From Paris To Pune, French Defense Giant Thales Aggressively Forges Ties With Key Firms Under ‘Make In India’”
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