With India taking a fresh look at securing its coastline in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai last November, US defence major Raytheon SAS is positioning its Airborne Standoff Radar (Astor) as the ideal solution for the country's homeland security.
"This may be something of interest to India. There's a lot of opportunity here," Mike Henchey, Raytheon's vice-president for space and airborne systems, said. Pointing to the success achieved by the British defence ministry in operating the system, Henchey, who is in Bangalore for the AeroIndia 2009, said he hoped to discuss its benefits with Indian officials during the five-day international air show.
Raytheon says the Astor system, provides highly effective 24-hour surveillance and target acquisition capability. It delivers wide area, all weather surveillance and reconnaissance imagery in near real time for peacekeeping, war fighting and homeland security needs.
Raytheon, which has had a presence in India for the past 60 years, views India's new 'offset' policy for procuring military hardware as an opportunity for building long term partnerships that would benefit the country economically and industrially. "We see this as a long-term benefit for India. We have a great future together from the economic and industrial standpoint," Henchey said.
The offsets clause in the Defence Procurement Procedure-2008 enunciated last year mandates the reinvestment in India of 30 per cent of all defence deals valued at over Rs300 crore. "We see this as an opening to pave the way for the exchange of technical know-how," Henchey said, adding, "We are open to joint development (of products) and are talking to a lot of people and government."
Raytheon has already signed memorandums of understanding with eight Indian companies - Tata Power, Larsen & Toubro, Godrej & Boyce, Data Patterns, Precision Electronics, Astra Microwave, and Amphenol India - in the private sector and with state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd.
"We are still in discussions with these companies and therefore have not yet finalised the specifics of our agreements. Broadly speaking, we do expect the work will be in the areas of electronics manufacturing and defence services," said Ron Colman, manager (integrated communications) at Raytheon SAS.
The company, which provided the antenna, transmitter, analog receiver and software for the Mini-RF sensor system aboard India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-1, is also a partner in two big-ticket defence deals.
The first of these relates to an Indian Air Force order for 126 combat jets, with Raytheon supplying radars and missiles for the two US aircraft that are in the fray - the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper.
Raytheon missiles are also mounted on two other aircraft in the running: the Swedish Grippen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The other two aircraft are the French Rafale and the Russian MiG-35.
The two US aircraft come with the cutting-edge technology advanced extended search array (AESA) radar that enables the plane function in the manner of an airborne warning and control system (AWACS), greatly enhancing its battlefield capabilities.
"For the missles, we have the AMRAM, the Sidewinder, the Harm, the Paveway, and the Maverick. We have a great portfolio and we're looking forward to that opportunity," Henchey pointed out.
The other deal, which has already been signed, relates to the purchase of eight Boeing P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft by the Indian Navy. Raytheon will provide eight AN/APY-10 radars along with plus spares for the aircraft, pending final clearance of the contract from US authorities.
"It's not just the initial sale, we're here for providing long-term support," Henchey said.