Bangalore: State-run defence equipment makers Bharat Electronics Ltd and Bharat Dynamics Ltd and three private sector entities, including Larsen and Toubro Ltd, or L&T, and Tata Power Ltd, are in the running to share a Rs2,000 crore Indian Air Force order for the Akash missile system.
The public sector firms will produce radars and missiles, while L&T, Tata Power and Walchandnagar Industries Ltd would build systems such as mobile launchers, engines and software control systems, a senior defence official said.
“These five (companies) are the main players, there are 40 more small firms who will build subsystems,” said Prahlada, chief controller, research and development, at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He uses only one name.
The air force is committed to placing orders for two squadrons of the medium-range, surface-to-air missile system, developed indigenously by DRDO. An air force spokesperson declined to comment.
Prahlada did not say how the Rs2,000 crore order, the first by the air force for a locally developed tactical missile system, would be split between the firms. The order is likely be placed in July and the first squadron, to replace the ageing Russian-built Pechora missile system, is scheduled for delivery to the air force by 2011.
“Involving the industry (for production) is the way to move forward,” said Ratan Shrivastava, director of aerospace and defence at research firm Frost and Sullivan. “These firms will gain confidence as they mature in absorbing the techn-ology.”
The Akash missile, 6m-long and weighing 730kg, has been in the works for nearly two decades, making it among the most delayed missile projects undertaken by DRDO.
The air force has asked for an upgrade of the missile systems and radar in the version that will go into production, a person familiar with the development said.
Bharat Electronics chairman and managing director V.V.R. Sastry declined to comment, while spokespersons of L&T and Bharat Dynamics could not be reached.