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Avionics & Communication

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Past trends depicts Avionics sub-systems have been mainly procured from Foreign OEMs, however recent successful development of certain avionic and communication systems on the indigenous front offer a scope for Indian industry…

Avionics are the electronic systems and devices that are used on various land, sea and air based platforms like tanks, ships, aircrafts, helicopters, artificial satellites, and spacecraft; however its major utility/usage is seen in aviation sector on aerospace platforms. The vertical includes communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems, and the hundreds of systems that are fitted on platforms to perform individual functions. Avionics operation are gradually becoming essential in the new age aircraft domain. In addition to that, the expense of avionic systems too has undergone changes and now is equal to almost one-third of the total platform cost i.e. around 30 to 40% of the cost of a platform (aircrafts, helicopters).

Service providers of avionics systems today have introduced advanced avionics solutions. Some of the key global players in this segment include Thales, Honeywell and L3-Communications etc. The services provided comprises of software and hardware engineering, mechanical avionics design and development, control systems and instrumentation engineering, engineering analysis, automated test equipments, manufacturing engineering, simulation software development, technical publications and manufacturing. In addition, the service providers also offer their clients with a complete range of all-inclusive testing life cycle assurance than the mere black and white box testing. Refer Table:

Knowledge of comprehensive hardware and software design, testing, integration and implementation has become even more essential, besides segment specific manufacturing engineering and works towards merging electronic hardware fabrication and embedded software technology to provide a complete product portfolio for embedded system utilizing “design to build” methodology,  is essential.

 

Indigenous Development

The Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), a laboratory of the DRDO is basically involved in the indigenous Research & Development of avionics and communication systems/sub-systems.

As far as the manufacturing of various avionics & communication systems is concerned, this has been majorly undertaken by DPSUs, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). Refer Table above.

Though, there has been successful development of certain avionic and communication systems on the indigenous front, however with limited success only.

Some of the private companies such as Samtel, Rolta, TATA etc. have entered into the fray& even have tied-up with foreign entities. Refer Table.

Avionics Market

As the Defence Services continue on the road to modernizing, the technological investment in the sector of avionics & communication is worth highlighting. There are no two thoughts about the fact that the Indian Armed Forces are spending heavily on avionics & communication networking technologies with an average spend of 5% allocation annually in the capital budget. In India, till date, owing to the lack of indigenous designing and manufacturing of avionics and communication systems and sub systems, these have been mainly being imported from countries like France, Israel, Russia, Netherlands, Italy, US & Israel in the past to meet the growing requirements. Rather, India has imported approx $10500 Million worth avionics and communication systems since 2009 accounting over 4 percent of the total imports. See Fig.

Some of the companies in the segment are Punj Lloyd aviation, Maini Precision Products, Dynamic Technologies, SEC Industries, Taneja Aerospace, Infotech Enterprises, Mahindra & Mahindra, Rolta, Samtel, TPSED, Tata Advanced Systems, Axis Aerospace and Larsen & Toubro.

The procurement for aerospace platforms alone is expected to exceed $28 billion (Rs154000 Crores) in the coming decade. Furthermore, projections depicts that the defence communication network programmes of Indian Armed Forces will roughly amounts to over $14.5 Billion (Rs 80000 Crores). The defence communication network programs like Army Wide Area Network (AWAN Phase II), ASCON, BMS do not come alone rather come in package with other communication entities like Software Defined Radio (SDR), High Frequency Radio Handsets, TR modules for RADAR, Electronic Fuses, equipments for) etc and this is where the private sector  SMEs/MSMEs can look to grab a share. Furthermore, there is an ever expanding list of airborne platforms for Defence in India such as C-130J, Naval Multi Role Helicopters, NLUH, Recconnainse and observation helicopters requiring new airborne electronic systems such as AESA radars, Net Centric warfare, Electro optical sensors in day light, U/V, IR range, unified electronic warfare systems etc. which would augment the demand even more.

Considering that around 35 percent is the share of avionics & communication systems, this means that around Rs 81812.50 Crores ($15 Billion) will be spent on avionics and communication systems/sub-systems in the next 10 years. Some of the major aerospace & communication programs that will be requiring avionics & communication systems/sub-systems are listed in the Table.

Apart from the above mentioned programmes, demand for various avionics and communication systems/sub-systems such as EW Systems for different terrains, Long Range Electro Optical Surveillance Systems, Thermal Imager based Sights for Tanks & Weapons and Image Intensifier based Passive Night Vision Devices are seen from Army & Navy for their various platforms which will further augment the market size.

Estimations depicts that from a period between 2016-2022, India is anticipated to spend Rs 31255 Crores on avionics and communication systems and sub systems. Refer Fig.

 

Industry Opportunity

Things seem to be brighter for the avionics and communication market as India is emerging as a lucrative destination for global aircraft manufacturers. Not just as a market but also as a key outsourcing hub for design, development and production of avionics hardware and software. Till a few years ago, it was mainly verification and validation kind of work which was coming to India. Unit testing, integration testing, coding, and other low-end work like documentation was sourced from India. Recently, however, major aircraft makers are sourcing system design work, too. Now, Indian IT firms are involved right from the systems requirement stage, all the way till systems testing and certification support. Other areas of work being outsourced here are hardware engineering, embedded software engineering pertaining to system development and support and maintenance, and mechanical engineering like modeling, detailing, etc. Going forward, opportunities for Indian IT firms exist in developing hardware and software in various aero sub-domains like flight management systems, flight control systems, cockpit display and information systems, flight warning system, engine control systems, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management, etc. However, setting up in avionics is not easy. It takes at least a year to develop a product and a few more to test it on systems that cost about $1-2 Million (Rs 5-10 Crores). Then there are several certifications that serve as obstacles to enter this capital intensive industry.

Considering the procurements in pipeline we can easily say that the avionics market is shaping up to be the most dynamic and strengthening market, however still it will take probably next 10 to 15 years to reach maturity.

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