An ‘Eye-in-the-Sky’

Alpha-Elsec Aerospace Systems to supply opto-electronic systems and UAVs to Indian armed forces

Rohan Ramesh

Alpha-Elsec Aerospace Systems to supply opto-electronic systems and UAVs to Indian armed forcesBengaluru: The progress of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ has been a matter of debate in the political and industrial circles, but away from public gaze, in the defence sector, there have been green shoots, which may grow into trees that will yield fruit in the coming years.

One of them is the Bengaluru-based Alpha-Elsec Aerospace Systems, an Indo-Israeli joint venture between Alpha Design Technologies (ADTL) and Elbit of Israel that plans to produce state-of-the-art opto-electronic defence systems and small UAVs. With ADTL holding 51 per cent of the stock and with a majority of Indian directors on the board, Alpha-Elsec is considered an Indian company.

The JV is to be a major platform for manufacturing and supplying state-of-the-art opto-electronics and UAVs to the Indian and international markets. The JV has also set up factories and R&D centres at Indiranagar and Peenya in Bengaluru, as also at Hyderabad. It has also set up Repair, Maintenance and Installation centres in Delhi, Dehradun, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

ADTL has already supplied more than 2000 Thermal Imager-based Fire Control Systems for T-72 tanks and BMPs, Laser Target Designators, Night Vision Devices, Tactical Communication systems, EW, simulators and airframes for SU-30s and LCAs.

Elbit of Israel is a USD2.5 billion company, which recently acquired the USD2.1bn IMI. As a group, it is considered the biggest in Israel and is ranked among the top 20 defence firms globally. Its UAVs are considered as top-of-the-line internationally, with its next-generation Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Hermes 900 making waves in the international market.

Originally established in 2004, as a partnership with International Technologies Lasers (ITL), an Israeli company, it was eventually bought over by Elbit Systems, which governed ITL under one of its major subsidiaries namely Elbit Security Systems. As a result of the takeover by Elbit, the JV became Alpha Elbit Security Systems with 74 per cent equity in the hands of ADTL and the remaining 26 per cent under Elbit.

The ADTL-ELSEC partnership was one of the main results of the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the current government.

“Once the current government came to power, it increased FDIs from foreign firms to 49 per cent and thus a price was worked out between ADTL and Elbit transferring 23 per cent additional shares to the Israeli firm, thereby working out a 49 per cent (Elbit) and 51 per cent (ADTL) deal,” Col H.S. Shankar, VSM (retd), Chairman and Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies Limited, told FORCE in an interview.

“This agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Prime Minister’s visit to Israel in 2017”, he said. “Following this an ultra-modern R&D and production was established in Peenya, Bengaluru and inaugurated in September this year,” he added.

The JV aims at being a major platform for undertaking manufacture and supply state-of-the-art opto-electronics and UAVs to Indian and international markets in probably 50:50 ratio. Alpha-Elsec has more than USD20 million assured orders for exports and aims at reaching USD100 million in the next five years and equal USD100 million for the Indian market. The JV plans to produce critical technologies for Indian and international market including critical space cameras at its R&D centre.

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