Indian companies showcase cutting edge technologies at Aero India 2021

Published : February 04, 2021 18:41 IST

Various drones on exhibition at Aero India 2021, in Bengaluru on February 4. Photo: MURALI KUMAR K.

Ringing out loud and clear at the ongoing Aero India 2021air show were the words “Make in India” and “Atmanirbhar Bharat”(self-reliance). The theme and tone of the conferences and confabulations at the jamboree were no longer one of India being just a buyer or license manufacturer of defence equipment. Rather, it was one of Indian entities, both from the public and private sectors, being partners with global defence and aerospace players, of their involvement right from the design and development stage as co-developers and co-producers of cutting edge technology and equipment.

As delegates at the United States-India Defence Collaboration conference averred, the time has come for Indian companies to move from manufacturing part components to entire defence and aerospace platforms. No longer are global original equipment manufactures (OEMs) looking at offset obligations as obligations, but as opportunities.

Given this line of thinking, one of the busiest and most visited areas at the air show was the India Pavilion. As has been often repeated, “Make in India, For the World” is the new catchphrase. Today, a large number of Indian companies are working on innovative technologies in the defence realm, with and without assistance from foreign OEMs.

Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria, and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh visited the India Pavilion on day 1 of the air show. They went round the exhibits, giving a fillip to not just India’s march towards self-reliance and defence capabilities, but also to the energy levels of several big and small companies who enthusiastically presented their products and solutions.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, with names like Mapbot Lite, Zuppa, Rakshak, and Endure 15, were the cynosure of all eyes at the India Pavilion. The Tata group, one the biggest players in the in the defence and aerospace sphere, presented Rakshak VTOL, a fully autonomous vertical takeoff and landing UAV. This UAV takes off like a quadcopter, transitions into fixed wing mode for long distance flight and lands back like a quadcopter. Rakshak is ideal for operations in restricted areas such as jungles, hill tops, ships, and so on.

The Tata groups’ Tata Lockheed Martin Aerostructures Limited (TLMAL), a joint venture between Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics established in 2010, has the distinction of being the single global source of C-130J empennage assemblies that are installed on all new Super Hercules aircraft produced in Marietta, Georgia, U.S. It is a prime example of the “make in India for the global market” kind of product.

Dynamatic Technologies Limited exhibited Endure 15, an autonomous drone. A product of a joint collaboration between Dynamatic, Endure Systems and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, the Endure 15 UAV is a high speed compact helicopter drone powered by a gasoline engine with an extended flight time. Take-off, en-route flight and landing are completely automatic. The diagnostics, flight mission and remote control can be performed through a wireless network connection. Endure 15’s field of applications include video surveillance and monitoring, payload delivery and autonomous transportation, crowd monitoring and control, convoy monitoring and search and rescue.

Zuppa Geo Navigation Technologies Pvt Ltd, a Chennai-based firm. presented their Zuppa UAV Autopilot. Compatible with both rotary and fixed wing drones, the Zuppa UAV Autopilot is designed from ground up, so it can be modified right from the printed circuit boards itself. The components UAV are fully functional under extreme climatic conditions.

Mapbot Lite, another drone, was the prize offering of ZMotion Autonomous Systems. The winner of the Defence India Startup Challenge, Mapbot Lite has a three km operational range, 50 minutes of endurance time, 1.85 kg take-off weight and is post-processing kinematic (PPK) enabled.

Leaving drones aside, the Mumbai-based Parallax Labs showcased India’s first full-scale indigenous VR Simulator for rotary wing platforms. Its Virtual Reality Aircraft Simulator is equipped with a state-of-the-art engine for accurate aerodynamics, AAA-level real time graphics, gamified VR training, a real-size flight controller with throttle and dual rudder system and a six degree of freedom virtual reality platform. The simulator includes a 1:1 scale simulation for Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The simulator, which can also simulate Dassault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30 and many other airborne platforms currently in use by the Indian Air Force, is capable of reducing training costs by up to 99 per cent according to the company.

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