French and German defence firms have evinced interest in collaborating with the Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron), the State Government undertaking which manufactures sonar systems for the Navy.
Teams from Atlas Elektronik, Germany, its parent company HDW, Germany, and French defence firm Thales have visited Keltron’s facility at Aroor-Keltron Controls - and held discussions, Keltron officials here said. The tie-up is planned as part of the 30 per cent defence offset policy incorporated in the Defence Procurement Procedure and only in the event of the European firms winning orders from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Keltron managing director C Prasannakumar said.
“We are exploring the possibility. Since strategic technologies are involved, the final word must come from the MoD,” he said.
Keltron builds sonars, used for navigation and detection purposes in naval ships and submarines, using technology developed by the Naval Physical and Oceanography Laboratory (NPOL). At present, Keltron is the lone manufacturer of sonars in the country. In the long run, Keltron has plans to upgrade Keltron Controls at Aroor to handle manufacturing, testing and maintenance of sonar systems at a cost of Rs 33.8 crore.
Its products are currently undergoing sea trials with the Navy which now use imported sonars, but the force will require more in future. If the collaborative venture does indeed materialise, Keltron will be able to offer the offset partner an assembling and testing facility at Aroor.