BENGALURU: State-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) is setting up a Rs.500-crore defence systems integration complex in Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh.
Touted to be the largest of its kind facility in the country, the 900-acre complex at Palasamudram in the Rayalaseema region of the neighbouring state will help BEL to explore emerging business opportunities in the defence sector. It is about 120 km from here across the state border.
"We will expand our missile systems business by manufacturing and integrating more of them for current and new projects at the upcoming complex," BEL chairman and managing director S.K. Sharma said in a statement ahead of its foundation stone laying by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday.
The high-tech complex, when commissioned by 2018, will have assembly hangars and hard stands for radars and weapons integration, RF (radio frequency) radiation sources for target simulation and automatic test equipment among other things.
"We are strengthening our infrastructure for night vision technologies and elements of multifunction radars. New surface-to-air missile (SAM) programmes for quick reaction, long range and medium range will be built with network centric communication and electronic warfare systems," Sharma said.
For the defence behemoth, which makes missiles and integrates them for systemic checks at its Bengaluru plant, the new complex will cater to large needs of futuristic SAM systems, missiles and associated electronic sub-systems and components.
"We envisage a military industrial complex in the new facility to make electronic components and equipment for defence projects in partnership with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as part of the government's 'Made in India' progamme," Sharma said.
As part of diversification and business growth, BEL plans new generation SAM systems, high end image intensifier tubes and thermal imaging detectors for night vision devices, inertial navigation systems, electronic ammunition fuses, air traffic management radars, intelligent traffic management systems and solar power plants.
"We need indigenous research and development for self-reliance in defence though we have an R&D investment policy and have a collaborative research with private SMEs cross the country," added Sharma.
About 80 percent of BEL's sales revenue (Rs.6,671 crore) comes from its R&D, for which it has unveiled a product development and innovation centre in Bengaluru.
The public sector undertaking also makes supersonic Akash missile systems (AMS) for Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army for short-range targets.
Designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Akash is capable of engaging in aerial threats from enemy aircraft, helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
BEL also supplies radars, control centres, simulators, associated maintenance vehicles and integrated software to the air force.
Testing and integration of missile systems involves deployment of air surveillance radars, fire control radars, control centres, missile launchers and support systems to validate detection, tracking, command and communication link parameters.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, central Ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu (urban development), P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju (civil aviation), Nirmala Sitharaman (commerce and industry) and Y.S. Chowdary (science and technology) will be present on the occasion.