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THALES EMERGES WINNER IN INDIAN CONTRACT

THALES EMERGES WINNER IN INDIAN LLTR CONTRACT
By Bulbul Singh

19 Jan 09. India’s accelerated drive to purchase weaponry and equipment
in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has helped
the Indian Air Force get the long needed Low Level Transportable Radar (LLTR). The defence ministry has completed all procedural work on the $100m global tender to purchase 20 LLTR systems in which Thales of France has emerged as the lowest bidder.

Elta of Israel and Thales were the short-listed competitors
for the LLTR tender floated in 2006. The LLTR will be made by Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), Bangalore, under technology transfer .

Indian defence forces sources said,”The tender is likely to be inked within the next month after completing all necessary formalities.”

LLTR provides cover against aerial threats, operating at low levels, i.e. up to a height of 2 kilometers and has a range of up to 150 kilometers. “These radars have an early warning role”, said a senior Indian Air Force officer.

Indian defence planners projected a more than 100% increase in the number of LLTR sbetween the period 1987-2007 and a 280 per cent increase by the year 2010. However, latest reports by India’s Comptroller and Auditor General,(CAG) noted that Indian Air Force’s
holdings of LLTR’s was even lower than the approved holding for the year 1971 (1971). The CAG report has noted that Indian
Air Force as on August 2007 was holding only 24 per cent
of its projected requirements in 1987-2000 plan. The shortfall
is likely to persist, creating gaping holes in the air defence
system.

An Indian Air Force officer admitted that the IAF does not possess adequate numbers of surveillance radars requireed to provide efficient Air Defence.

The current LLTRS tender was floated as earlier as 2002, from which Thalesemerged as the single vendor as Israel’s Elta was disqualified from technical trials in 2004; thus the French firm’s radar was the only one tested. As such the tender was floated again in 2006, in which Thales and Elta were shortlisted.

A defence ministry official said,”Even the homegrown effort to develop the LLTR has not produced results as the homegrown LLTR had a poor detection range and also failed to work in a network mode. The Indian Air Force official said,”At a target height of 100 meters the 40 kilometers detection range of the homegrown radars was very low.”

The Indian defence ministry official said,”Shortfall in the availability of radars and supporting systems is a matter of
concern regarding air defence systems’ capability, but added that efforts are being made to procure the required radars on urgent basis.

It is estimated that a variety of radars worth over $1.5bn are to be procured in the next five to seven years to strengthen the country’s air defence network. These include the purchase of Medium Power Radars(MPR). The 3-D MPRs can detect aerial threats at a height of 2 kilometers and above and have a range of 300 kilometers. There is acute shortage of these radars within the Indian Air Defence system.

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