BEL GETS REPEAT ORDER FOR INDIAN ARMY EW PROGRAMME
By Bulbul Singh
10 Oct 13. India has given a repeat order worth over $200 million for its homegrown Electronic Warfare (EW) system named Himshakti to state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for use by the Indian Army. The mountain EW system would be deployed along the Chinese border. The Indian defence ministry had earlier decided to award Electronic Warfare projects only to state-owned companies citing reasons of ‘strategy interest.’
However, several domestic private sector defence electronics companies have written to the Indian defence ministry against this policy, saying they have been participating in hi-tech and high value projects of the Indian defence forces and as such they should not be excluded from building the Electronic Warfare projects for the Indian defence forces.
To support their argument, an executive of private sector defence major Tata Power said they have been selected to develop and supply of Two Integrated EW for Mountainous terrain (IEWS-MT) for the Indian Army.
Tata Power SED beat Elta of Israel in an open competition, Out of the four vendors earlier shortlisted for the trials, two vendors Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) had failed to clear the technical trials.
Tata Power SED executive said this is a major breakthrough for the private sector to be a System Integrator in big ticket EW programs which till now was the exclusive domain of the Indian state-owned companies and is expected to open up a larger market for future EW systems for the private players.
Meanwhile, the repeat for the Himshakti comes two years after the first order was placed to BEL. DRDO is the nodal integration agency and BEL and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) as the production consortium partners. Private sector defence companies, would be allowed to participate in Himshakti the project but this would be done only at the third tier stage, where the overseas companies would be allowed to build sub systems for the designated state-owned defence companies who will be developing the project.
A DRDO scientist said Himshakti will contain several key systems including ultraviolet very high frequency directional finders, ultraviolet very high frequency jammers, high frequency direction finders, high frequency direction jammers, stand alone jammers. These systems will be mounted on 80 vehicles which will constitute a complete Himshakti system. Himshakti will also be capable of operating cellular interception systems, satellite intercept systems, special information warfare system. The system will operate in 0.5 to 40 GHz frequency both for Directional Finding and jamming purposes. The communication and non-communication of the EW system will be controlled by counter measure control system.
The Indian defence forces are developing two more mountain EW project which are currently at different levels of development. These include Integrated Electronics Warfare Systems, a $250 million project which is tactical, shelter based mobile vehicle mounted integrated electronic warfare system capable of efficient and accurate functioning in mountain terrains in India. Another mountain EW project is called the Mountain Electronic Warfare (EW) System. The $130 million project to be acquired from overseas will have new generation GPS receivers which will provide automated intelligence analysis, battlefield visualization, management of EW systems on ground, and production and dissemination of intelligence to war fighting commanders and troops deployed on the frontline areas.