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‘Opportunity for SMEs in country’s defence sector’

Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) and Defence Innovators and Industries Association (DIIA) jointly organized a G2K Seminar on “SAAB-Barracuda Camouflage Systems” .

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Vidarbha may get an opportunity to be part of defence technology development of the country.

Regional Director and Adviser of SAAB-Barracuda Camouflage Systems India, Mr Mohan Phadke addressed the participants. He said the Swedish defence technology company has 80% global market share in the business of providing camouflage technologies to armed forces of various countries, and is now looking to cater to India as well.

Mr Phadke said Vidarbha has an opportunity to take part in the defence sector. “We have the biggest window to have a partnership in India, and are open to fabrication of our camouflage systems in India. This business alone is worth Rs.600 crores.” The Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) and the Dhanush howitzer are currently carrying camouflage fabrics made by SAAB-Barracuda, informed Mr Phadke. The camouflage system has also been tested on the Arjun main battle tank with remarkable results.

“We use the latest technology in designing our products. Our systems have managed to achieve 90% camouflage abilities in real world tests,” said Mr Phadke. He informs that the camouflage has to be tailored to suit specific requirements of each armed forces and weapon. For example, the main problem is to be able to conceal the heat emitted from a battle tank’s exhaust, turret and cannon. The polymer fabric specifically designed for tanks has been successful in deceiving thermal imaging radars (TIR).

According to Mr Phadke the materials for making the camouflage equipment can be made available to the company’s partners for manufacture. He cautioned entrepreneurs eager to venture into the defence sector and said, “Never commit to 100% supply to the defence sector because there is immense risk involved. Many companies in the sector have had to close because of this.”

Mr Phadke believes there is huge scope for his company’s technology after the Indian Army was successful in cracking the deal for the 155mm Bofors howitzer. “Over the next few years the Army is going to receive 3,500 guns and at least 20% of them will be in need of camouflage. That is about three to four million square meters of the fabric.”

Mr Phadke believes that development in the country’s defence infrastructure since last 30 years has been lacking in camouflage. “I am aware of cases where jute bags have been used to cover tanks in desert areas. The government still believes that painting military equipment like the immediate surroundings is enough.” “Not being visible to the enemy has become crucial for survival of defence personnel in the battle zone. The enemy will try to create better systems to detect you while you try to outsmart them.”

Earlier, Mr Atul Pande, President – VIA welcomed the Guest speaker with floral bouquet and in his welcome address, he said VIA is focusing on the Defence Sector and Vidarbha has natural strategic region. Vidarbha is ideal for defence production with its skilled manpower and strong leadership and also hoped that the SMEs and MSMEs from Nagpur would take advantage. He further said big giants will also setting up their units here.  Dr Suhas Buddhe, Hon. Secretary – VIA conducted the proceedings and also proposed a formal vote of thanks.  Ms Anita Rao, Past Chairperson of LEW; Mr Shiraz Doongaji, EC Member; and representatives from industries attended the program.

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