Tata Motors’s Vernon Noronha on the firm’s defence manufacturing strategy
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Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd is gearing up for a bigger role in defence. It is among the Tata group companies participating in the five-day Aero India show. In an interview, Vernon Noronha, vice-president of defence and government business at Tata Motors, said the firm is aiming to be a strategic partner with the ministry of defence in providing defence mobility solutions. Edited excerpts:
What kind of opportunities does the new defence procurement policy (DPP) open up for Indian companies? How do you plan to tap into it?
The new DPP is a step in the right direction as it encourages private companies to conduct business in the defence space. We are particularly encouraged by the issue related to single-vendor situation, which will now be accepted under certain conditions.
Secondly, it enables DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) to choose partners before they start design and development, which means, if a private industry (firm) is chosen as a manufacturing partner, there will be reverse pressure from the industry on DRDO to speed up the development process.
Apart from the industry, the new DPP will benefit the end user i.e. the Indian Army. The new DPP will also encourage companies like Tata Motors to invest and win more international business in the defence space.
How critical will the futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICV) order be for Tata Motors as and when the winner of the bids is announced. You have also talked about plans of exporting them.
At Tata Motors, we are transitioning from combat support to a full-range combat vehicle player, with a clear ambition to be a strategic partner to the Indian MoD (ministry of defence) in defence mobility solutions. Having said that, winning the FICV order is a critical milestone for Tata Motors... as it is mobility-oriented and established by the fact that three of the five core technologies and 19 of the 34 critical technologies are mobility-related, such as engines, transmission and running gear, which are core to Tata Motors.
Which segments are you participating in?
Besides the FICV, Tata Motors is also participating in other combat vehicle programmes by the MoD like the FRCV (Future Ready Combat Vehicle), to replace the T-72 battle tank and the FMBT (Future Main Battle Tank).
Tata Motors’ technical capabilities, R&D investments, fixed assets and relevant project experience in the defence mobility space has resulted in the development of an amphibious platform for a futuristic combat vehicle-the Wheeled ICV, Tata Kestrel. Tata Motors recently demonstrated its combat vehicle capabilities at the DefenceExpo 2016 in Goa.
The ICV Kestrel was jointly developed by Tata Motors with DRDO, in a competitive tender process, in a record period of 18 months. The Wheeled ICV Kestrel platform will now be offered by the DRDO to the mechanized forces of the Indian army, for UATT (User- assisted technical trials).With over 50,000 combat vehicles across the world facing replacement, we see a great opportunity to export FICVs. We will divulge details at an opportune time.
Tata Motors bagged an order for the Safari Storme SUV that was to replace the Gypsy. If you could please update.
We have submitted our proposal for an order for 3,192 units of the Safari Storme from the Indian Armed Forces, under a new category of vehicles - GS800 (General Service 800).
The category had opened a bid for vehicles with three basic criteria–minimum payload capacity of 800kg, hard roof and air conditioning. Developed indigenously, the Tata Safari Storme has been tested in various terrains across the country, demonstrating supreme performance in the most demanding conditions with capabilities of coping with extreme on or off-road loads.
While the initial order is of 3,192 units, we see a huge potential given over 35,000 Gypsies are due for replacement in the coming years.