5 Agustus 2007
BEL BFSR-SR display at Aero India-2007. The Display unit is seen in the background. This BFSR unit has an integrated Thermal imaging camera on top of the Radar Array. The power battery is suspended from the tripod for added stability (photo : Wikipedia)
NEW DELHI: Striving for long to break into the lucrative arms export market, India has finally managed to get a toehold by bagging an order forsale of short-range battle field surveillance radar to Indonesia.
The sale order is eventful as the Indian company, which won the order, was in strong competition with some of the world's leading radar and electronic warfare equipment manufacturers like American Raytheon and European consortium Thales.
The contract for the sale of man-portable battery- powered surveillance and acquisition radar has been won by public sector blue chip company Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) for which it will be a maiden test in export. The company recently won the coveted 'Navaratna' title and in the last fiscal reported a turn over of Rs 4,240 crore logging a profit of Rs 724.55 crore.
Though the successive NDA and UPA governments have year in and year out set ambitious arms export targets, these have repeatedly fallen short of the mark. In 2003-04, the NDA government had set up a weapon export target of a modest Rs 1,000 crore and even that was never reached.
And the reasons appear not too hard to locate as so far Indian arms companies, all of which are state-owned, have only been allowed to peddle old arms.
The companies were exporting only weapons systems which were on the verge of being phased out, like old Vijayanta tanks, light artillery guns and other systems, by the country's armed forces. "This is for the first time that India has managed to sell a world class product with superior features compared to similar products available from international manufacturers," a top BEL officer said.
The radars being sold are capable of detecting moving targets like foot-patrols, army and civil vehicles, tanks and artillery pieces. "These are ideal for checking illegal incursion on borders of all terrain".
BEL officials were not forthcoming on the number of radar systems being sold. But Defence Ministry sources said the initial order could be anything up to 100 systems. BEL has recently set up an extensive facility for manufacture of such radars as already it has a big contract for such systems from the Indian Army.
Battle Field Surveillance Radar- Short Range (BFSR-SR) with the display unit (photo : Wikipedia)
The man-packed battle field surveillance radar indigenously developed by DRDO are being used by army successfully in detecting and confronting infiltration across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in tandem with sensors and hand-held thermals imported from Israel.
"Supplies to India Army began in March 2005," the BEL official said adding the mobile radars can be carried in three man-packs for deployment to any location.
Radars are light weight, man-portable and can be quickly deployed. They can operate 24-hours a day under all weather conditions, officials said. Radars have low probability of interception, can track 50 targets at the same time, can also classify targets, based on audio doppler signature and have the provisions to network with other radar systems for wider area coverage.
The new systems, a force multiplier for security forces in their hunt for terrorists in tough tarrain, have the capability of picking up armed groups five km away and moving vehicles from a distance of eight km.
"There is a sharp demand for these systems in anti-infiltration operations," an army official said adding after Jammu and Kashmir the radar would be needed to be deployed on Indo-Bangladesh border in the Northeast.
"These can also be ideally used against naxalities," the official said.