MI2Watch: Opto-electronics on Samtel radar; 100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

Written by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M
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AFS Yelahanka (Bengaluru), Feb 16: Samtel Avionics is among the few companies that got on to the Make in India wagon almost a decade ago, before such a concentrated campaign was launched in the country. Samtel's MoU with the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), a DRDO lab in Bengaluru way back in 2004, set the pace for the company to get into the Make in India mode, delivering home-grown products.

In a freewheeling interview ahead of the 10th edition of Aero India, set to begin at AFS Yelahanka on February 18, Puneet Kaura, Executive Director, Samtel Avionics, told OneIndia that the MoU with DARE opened up new avenues for the company.

100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

"The MoU was to develop indigenous technologies to facilitate production of rugged multifunction displays (MFDs) in India. This technology was successfully deployed on Su-30 MKIs under the Samtel-HAL JV. Later, we formed a JV with HAL to address the avionics requirements including Test Benches and Systems for all HAL star platforms - both fixed and rotary wing," Puneet said.

An early bird to Make in India concept

"Today over 100 sets of MFDs have been delivered by Samtel-HAL JV for induction on Su-30 MKIs are already flying. Sicne 2007, Samtel has successfully teamed up with global players such as Honeywell, Curtiss-Wright, and General Dynamics Canada and became part of their global supply chain aso as to manufacture their products in India for their international customers," Puneet added.

He said while the government is stressing upon Indian companies to begin exporting to global customers now, Samtel has already been doing the exercise for many years.

100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

"We are the sole source for Honeywell worldwide for avionics equipment for their General Aviation range in the US. These displays have been in serial production for many years with the supplies going regularly to Honeywell for integration," Puneet added.

Over the years, Samtel has developed a range of products under the aegis of DRDO, using the indigenous ruggedisation technology. "Samtel and DRDO have been able to indigenously develop the technology to ruggedize Bare AMLCD COTS panel to withstand harsh avionics environment by maintaining high level of optical and functional performance of these displays during the operation.

The technology developed over an exigent five-year long development and qualification journey, is not product specific, and can be laterally deployed on any fixed or rotary platform," he said.

Turnover to touch Rs 200 crore

Puneet, one of the youngest and visible faces in India's aerospace and defence, admitted that the gestation periods are very longer in this sector.

"Even though we started in 2004, our supplies to HAL began only in October 2010. The first full year of revenue was 2010-11, when we had a turnover of Rs 50 crore. Total consolidated growth in last five years has been 400per cent, with the turnover projected to grow to 200 crore in 2015-16," he said.

100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

At the AeroIndia exhibition, Puneet said that the company would aim to showcase a range of its star MFDs products and advanced avionics systems for military and non-military market.

"Focusing on the Make in India theme, we plan to demonstrate our competencies and our synergies with leading Indian and international players, which underscores our strength to deliver in accordance with global standards. Our booth will provide an insight into Samtel's ‘Push and Pull' strategy of partnering with global system integrators which leverages our joint strengths to cater to the Indian and international markets," he added.

New areas on Samtel's radar

Puneet said Samtel has already moved forward from being a display manufacturing company to a multiple-product, high-end technology company.

"One area of growth which will be the future focus of Samtel is opto-electronics. We have a very strong division in opto-electronics, where there is a lot of traction. We are also developing competency in Ruggedised Military Electronics - which is going to be a major focus area in the coming few years," he said.

He said the BTP (Built-to-Print) activities are also expected to drive the business into the future.

100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

"We have also developed and supplied Automated Test Equipment (ATEs) to IAF, and as there is a huge demand in this domain, we are building capabilities in this as well. Our partnership with General Dynamics Canada is for co-production and co-marketing of products for military and ground market, for armoured and commercial vehicles - a relatively new area for Samtel," he added.

Products for Indian armed forces

* Samtel-HAL JV has supplied approximately 100 sets of multifunction displays to HAL which are currently flying on Su-30 MKI aircraft.
* Samtel HAL Display Systems has received the PO for supply of MFD for LCH from HAL (MCSRDC). Post development phase, there is a requirement of supplying around 750 MFDs for LCH.
* After the successful integration on LCH, Samtel says an opportunity might arise to integrate the same MFD on ALH, thus replacing the imported MFDs.
* Samtel has supplied 3ATI units to BEL for the Tarang programme. These units are meant for radar and missile warning receiver systems which will be integrated on many platforms such as Su-30 MKI, MIG 29, Jaguar, Tejas, IL-76 and MI-25.
* Supplied 19" rugged displays to BEL for the Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS) for Indian Army. These displays were required inside the command and control shelters to display a variety of information.
* Received the PO from CVRDE for Arjun Main Battle Tank's (Mk II) Commander Sight Displays. These displays would be integrated with Arjun MBT Mk II (124 Tanks) and Futuristic Main Battle Tank (124 tanks).

Products to be exhibited at Aero India 2015

* NVIS compatible Multifunction Displays
* Airborne indicators with inbuilt graphics
* Ruggedised land and naval Naval displays
* Large area, high definition ruggedised airborne displays
* Airborne Panel PC
* Wearable and hand-held displays
* Products for armoured vehicles by Samtel & General Dynamics Canada
* Live demo of TopOwl® Helmet-Mounted Sight & Display by Samtel Thales Avionics

100 Sukhois now flying with desi MFDs

(Make in India Watch [MI2Watch] is a series on OneIndia focusing on the aerospace and defence might of India's private and domestic industries. It also aims to capture the voices of leaders spearheading various projects.)

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)

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