BEL’s research spend up 10% of revenue

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 31, 2017

Defence electronics equipment maker files for over 12 patents

State-run defence company BEL’s research and development spend has soared to an all-time high with 10 per cent of revenues going into research. BEL had spent 8.5 per cent of its revenues on R&D, last year.

Aiming to increase the level of indigenisation, the defence electronics equipment manufacturer has filed for over 12 patents.

To help maintain its pre-eminence in defence electronics, the company has many research and development (R&D) programmes in collaboration with Indian as well as foreign R&D institutes. In 2015-2016, the state enterprise spent around ₹704 crore in R&D, and has more than ₹1,000 crore worth projects lined up in R&D for FY-18.

“The aim is to increase the level of indigenisation," said a senior BEL official. “Our constant effort on indigenous development has helped us achieve 86 per cent of our turnover from indigenous products. Only 14 per cent of our revenue came from products manufactured through technology transfer from foreign OEMs,” he added.

BEL has also launched collaborative R&D with private SME firms in the country. It has developed over 750 private vendors, a significant number from among MSMEs. More than 40 per cent of input materials are sourced from Indian private industries.

Apart from in-house efforts, BEL has close co-operation with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as well as other R&D agencies. The firm has also teamed up with state enterprise Bharat Dynamics Ltd to supply sensors and command-and-control systems for the Indian Army's Akash missile programme.

BEL's upcoming Defence Systems Integration complex at Palasamudram in Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh is set to help the firm expand its missile systems business.

At the facility, BEL will carry out manufacturing and integration for ongoing and upcoming projects such as QRSAM (quick-reaction surface-to-air missile), and MRSAM (medium-range surface-to-air missile) developed by the DRDO.

"BEL is associating with the DRDO in the joint development of the indigenous QRSAM system and it is progressing well," said the official.

The QRSAM weapon system, currently under development, is an indigenous missile system, which will have canister launchers and is expected to be a highly mobile air defence system.

The official added that the company is in discussions with the DRDO for the joint development of the next-generation Akash Missile system. "This will have a new radar and seeker with better range as compared to the Akash Missile System inducted by the IAF and Army," added the official. The order for the next-generation Akash missile system is expected to be worth $1 billion.

The official said the Palasamudram facility "will be built in 3-4 phases as various projects mature, and the estimated investment will be about ₹800 crore over the next three-four years."

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Published on March 31, 2017
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