Bangalore: Fast rising defence and particularly aerospace sector expenditure has the potential to create a large demand for IT services. No wonder IT firms like Wipro, Infosys, Satyam and TCS have all set up stalls at the Aero India 2007 air show being held at Yelahanka Air Force Base, Bangalore.
Wipro for example, already has a general manager for manufacturing solutions in the aerospace and defense industries, in the shape of Vittal Vashist. He said that in IT services, the IT services major offers application development and maintenance, application integration and enterprise business integration. Its services span a wide range of pure IT services - including portals and content management - as well as ERP implementation and infrastructure services management. It also has the expertise to offer IT services for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of civilian aircraft, and is already offering these services to some of its international clients.
India's aggressive defence procurement plans have opened up a huge opportunity for local firms, including IT firms, to bag big contracts in the hi-tech defence manufacturing area. Among those that stand to benefit from this almost immediately is the IT services firms, as a combination of nearshore, onsite and offshore services for Aerospace OEMs and their suppliers.
It firms will be able to offer services in PLM and engineering design, such as CAD, CAE, CAM, as also in the compiling of technical publications for various industry segments within the Aerospace and Defense area. Industry sources expect a significant growth in outsourced design services in defence and aerospace for several years to come.
Some companies are already working with aerospace industry clients in areas such as design, engineering and analysis of macrostructures, as well as technical documentation. This business is presently at the component level, but the immediate next step would be the design of complete sub-systems. Other areas of promise are design management, managing the product information life cycle, reducing design cycle time, integrating global partners, managing complex applications, ensuring collaborative platforms across geographies, and reducing costs required to meet stringent process and regulatory compliance requirements.
Wipro plans to set up a Center of Excellence (COE) for Network Centric Operations (NCO). NCO is the next generation battlefield management environment, in which all components of the military force - equipment, command and control, as well as logistics, is integrated into a seamless operation. Most contenders for the multi-role combat aircraft purchase proposal, for example, tout the ability of their fighters to engage in networked warfare as a major selling point.
Thales, IAI (Israel) ST-Engineering and Lockheed Martin are among the bidders for the IAF's Optical Data Link (ODL) project, which is a part of the proposed overall NCO. The request for proposal (RFP) for this project, spanning all phases, has already been issued and is likely to be in excess of Rs1,000 crore. Pre-bid negotiations are on. The project is in three phases; 10 aircraft will be data-linked in the first phase, 350 in the second and the rest of the fleet in the third phase.
Several Indian IT firms are scrambling to acquire expertise in communication and electronics design areas such as avionics systems, cabin electronics, power supply, control systems, inflight entertainment, cockpit communications, GSM communications and IP-based networking for aerospace sector. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a very large one indeed.