BEML signs MOU to co-develop two-seater trainer aircraft and other high-tech products in the aerospace sector at the Aero India 2021 air show

Published : February 07, 2021 14:48 IST

The IAF stall at Aero India 2021. Photo: MURALI KUMAR K.

With a turnover of more than Rs.3,500 crore, defence public sector enterprise (DPSE) BEML Limited (formerly Bharat Earth Movers Limited) plays a pivotal role with top-draw services in core sectors like defence, railways, power, mining, and infrastructure and is India’s leading mining and construction equipment manufacturer, offering a comprehensive range of mining machinery. Even while continuing to ramp up production and sales of its hydraulic excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks, the DPSE has extended its gaze to the aerospace sector over the past dozen years in a bid to take advantage of the global and domestic opportunities in the fast-expanding aerospace market.

At Aero India 2021, BEML’s foray into the aerospace business was the cynosure of all eyes, with the company announcing a joint venture with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL) to co-develop a two-seater trainer aircraft through the transfer of technology (ToT) route. Also on display at Aero India 2021 were BEML’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the Primoco UAV One 150, which is designed for civilian and military use, and two other smaller UAVs.

The company also showcased its Transporter Landing System (TLS) and a variety of equipment and critical components in the aerospace sector. The TLS is a ground-based precision landing system which can improve access to airports where terrain constraints make instrument landing system (ILS) installation infeasible or prohibitively costly. The TLS works over any terrain using directional antennas and can be installed even on short runways ending with water or other obstructions. BEML would be manufacturing the TLS in India in collaboration with the United States-based Advanced Navigation and Positioning Corporation.

Talking to Frontline, BEML’s M.V. Rajasekhar, Director, Mining and Construction, (he has also taken additional charge as Chairman and Managing Director of the company), and A.K. Srivastav, Director, Defence, were of the view that unmanned aerial vehicles were the future.

Said Rajasekhar: “UAVs are a totally unexplored sector and business. Not only will they find great use in military applications both for surveillance and in an offence mode given that future wars will be unmanned and remote controlled, but also in civilian applications in areas like aerial mapping, reconnaissance, remote weather watch, and so on. BEML has entered into an agreement with Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur to develop a 25-kg class tactical UAV, which has a range of 200 km and an endurance in excess of three to four hours. The Primoco UAV, which we are developing along with Primoco UAV SE of the Czech Republic, has an endurance of 15 hours and a range of 200 kms. The ‘BEML Primco One 150’ is built to take off and land autonomously even in poor weather conditions. It can fly continuously for 15 hours, has a payload capacity of 1-30 kgs and has a 200 km-radio range. This UAV can be used for surveillance, monitoring, border patrolling and law enforcement. The platform is ready, with BEML and Primoco working to fine-tune it to Indian conditions. We are now looking at trials by potential customers.”

BEML has entered into a partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur for joint indigenous development and manufacture of a 25-kg class tactical UAV for the Armed forces. BEML has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SKAT Systems, Russia, for joint manufacture of high altitude UAVs for Indian and global requirements and another with S’YOMKA S VOZDUHA, Russia, for the manufacture of marine drones and anti-drone systems.

Rajasekhar estimates that there will be a demand for around 50,000 to 100,000 small to big UAVs from both the military and civil sectors. He disclosed that BEML has also ventured into the space arena, manufacturing products for ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III.

At Aero India 2021, BEML signed an MoU with CSIR-NAL for cooperation in the areas of advance composite and autoclaves, mini unmanned aerial vehicles and design and analysis of aircraft structure and systems. This will help BEML to increase its footprint in the aerospace sector.

Also, on display at Aero India 2021 was BEML’s Medium Bullet Proof Vehicle (MBPV)-MkII, a boon for paramilitary forces like the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The bullet proof vehicle protects crew and troops from ballistic arm fire, hand grenades and fragment simulated projectiles, allowing troops to be transported and made operational in any counter-insurgency environment.

BEML is offering the Indian Army their Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)-powered Medical Health Diagnostic System (MHDS), a mobile health and diagnostic station housed in a 20 feet container on a high mobility platform (the BEML TATRA 8x8/6x6 truck). In order to cover the medical diagnostic needs of troops in forward posts, especially in high altitude areas, the MHDS diagnostic station has a plethora of high-tech medical equipment.

During the Aero India 2021 air show, BEML entered into a number of MOUs with foreign and Indian companies. It has also entered into an MoU with Adani Defence Systems & Technologies Limited to provide mobility systems for armed vehicles such as wheels, armoured personal carriers, infantry combat vehicles, and main battle tanks, in addition to the development and production of jigs and fixtures for UAVs, air-borne structures, ground handling, and ground support equipment for airports.

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