Bengaluru, June 03: Smart Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) flying out of the hangars of Defence Public Sector Undertaking Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) could be a striking possibility in future.
Speaking on the sidelines of BEL’s annual press conference held in Bengaluru on Wednesday, BEL Director (R&D) Dr Ajit T Kalghatgi said that the thought process of developing UAVs has already begun in the Company.
“We are already supporting the activities of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in their UAV missions. Many of our systems are on board the current UAVs being developed by the Aeronautics Development Establishment (ADE). We are looking for partners to take the idea forward,” Dr Kalghatgi said.
This is for the first time that a BEL official has gone on record announcing the Company’s foray into the UAV segment, hitherto an area commanded by the DRDO. The DRDO has already developed Nishant UAV, while the Rustom-1 and Rustom-II projects running concurrently in various stages of development. The flight trials of Rustom-1, II are actively been undertaken in Kolar by ADE.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) too had announced its interest in the UAV segment couple of years back. HAL had said in 2013 that a separate wing would be established for the UAV segment to cater to the needs of police and the paramilitary forces.
Dr Kalghatgi said that BEL will be entering the fray in the Medium Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAV segment. “It’s in a very initial stage now,” he added.
BEL Chairman and Managing Director S K Sharma said that the company is expecting additional orders for the Akash Missile System. To a specific query on the Akash Mk-II version, Sharma gave a vague reply.
He said BEL would set aside Rs 1500 crore for R&D in the next 3 years. “We are coming with a Greenfield Weapon Systems facility in Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh at a cost of Rs 500 crore. We have already acquired the land for the same,” Sharma said.
He said a separate wing for Make in India has already started functioning in the Company.
Missile installation in Anantapur: The Company said that its new installation for missiles will be coming up in Andhra Pradesh in the next three years.
“We have acquired around 950 acres of land in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh for the purpose of setting up a Greenfield Weapon Systems facility. The new facility will focus on the design and development and production of weapon systems of various kinds. We will take up weapon upgrade programmes as well,” CMD Sharma said.
The new facility is being planned at the Lepakshi industrial belt in Anantapur district. “It is coming in Palasmudram village in Gorantla Mandal, near Lepakshi,” he added.
BEL had announced about the project during Aero India 2015, but it was for the first time officially the Company gave out so many details of its new missile installation.
Giving further details on the project, Dr Ajit T Kalghatgi said that the new facility would act as a state-of-the-art missile integration centre.
“We have been doing the integration of Akash Missile System. The new facility would eventually deal with different kinds of missiles, their fire control and systems. We will also make missiles at the new centre,” Dr Kalghatgi said.
From the logistics point of view, BEL officials say that the new centre will have a huge advantage considering its proximity to the Kempe Gowda International Airport, Bengaluru. Anantapur town is around 190 km from the airport.
(This is acombined report from OneIndia & Mathrubhumi)