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For Bharat Forge, aerospace and defence is the way ahead

The company is leveraging its metallurgical knowledge to bring mine protected vehicles to Indian Security Forces

Rajinder Singh Bhatia, CEO, Defence and Aerospace, Bharat Forge
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Rajinder Singh Bhatia, CEO, Defence and Aerospace, Bharat Forge

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Bharat Forge, manufacturer of airframes structural and engine parts for aeroplanes of various makes and models, has a large portfolio of defence products in aerospace, artillery, small arms, protected vehicles, missile and air defence, ammunition and defence electronics. "Our large play is in missiles and small arms and ammunition which are also in our export list. Engines and gas turbines are our forward play. Bharat Forge is bullish about the company's prospects in the aerospace and defence sector," Rajinder Singh Bhatia, CEO, Defence and Aerospace, Bharat Forge, tells Bizz Buzz in an exclusive interview

We have strengthened our market position by establishing presence in key global markets, with 10 manufacturing sites in five countries across three continents. This ensures wider reach, better understanding of customer needs, easier communication and trust-building, more reliable delivery, and a rich source of innovative diversity

We would like to be self-sufficient in the manufacturing of engines. It is a national mission. The company has a long-term partnership with Safran SA., the French manufacturer of aircraft engines and related technologies to supply forged and machined commercial-aircraft components to Safran and its affiliates' operations worldwide

How has Bharat Forge evolved in the aerospace business?

Kalyani Group's flagship company Bharat Forge aspires to make the Indian defence sector self-reliant and lead the 'Make in India' narrative. It is a marathon. It's like running on the treadmill without going anywhere. Despite challenging policies, we have remained sanguine. But now we see green shoots and we have many projects in the pipeline. Over the years, Bharat Forge continues to invest in state-of-the-art facilities harbouring world-class products, facilities and capabilities which has not only made the company a renowned aircraft compressor and turbine manufacturer in India, but also one of the best aircraft fan blade manufacturer in India.

What is the status of Bharat Forge in the aerospace and defence industry?

BFL manufactures airframes, structural and engine parts for aeroplanes of various makes and models. As an aircraft turbine and compressor manufacturer India, the company manufactures high end shafts, LPC discs and HP discs for airlines. Aero engine components such blisk blades, OGV blades and fan blades manufactured by us are made in keeping with the latest technology and design trends while maintaining high quality standards. This has made us a renowned aircraft fan blade manufacturer in the aviation sector in India. Their products include: fan blade compressor & turbine aero structure landing gear components. They also have a range of facilities like aeroshop facilities, machining facilities and capabilities like process capabilities and testing capabilities. The company has a large portfolio of defence products in aerospace, artillery, small arms, protected vehicles, missile and air defence, ammunition and defence electronics. Our large play is in missiles, small arms and ammunition which are also in our export list. Engines and gas turbines are our forward play.

What is your progress in the manufacture of engines?

We would like to be self-sufficient in the manufacturing of engines. It is a national mission. Engines can't be manufactured by one company. It should be a national endeavor. The company has a long-term partnership with Safran SA, the French manufacturer of aircraft engines and related technologies to supply forged and machined commercial-aircraft components to Safran and its affiliates' operations worldwide. The companies have indicated their intention "to explore and address other opportunities in the Indian aerospace for civil and military sectors. Bharat Forge is considered to be the world's largest forging company," with manufacturing in India, China, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the US. The group's aerospace business unit forges components for airframes, structural systems, and aircraft engine parts. We manufacture turbo chargers, smaller engines and critical components for big engines. These capabilities will help us in our quest to manufacture engines.

How does Bharat Forge plan to leverage its technological expertise?

Kalyani Group's unmatched metallurgical knowledge, design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities has carved the path to establishing its presence in prominent sectors of national interest like defence and aerospace. We have strengthened our market position by establishing presence in key global markets, with 10 manufacturing sites in five countries across three continents. This ensures wider reach, better understanding of customer needs, easier communication and trust-building, more reliable delivery, and a rich source of innovative diversity.

How would you rate your prospects for exports?

We have won prestigious orders on multiple platforms and have built a unique portfolio that makes us more competitive and creates growth opportunities. In our defence profile, Bharat Forge has expertise in design, development, engineering and manufacturing in systems and sub-systems space for artillery guns, armoured fighting vehicles, protected vehicles, ammunition, defence electronics and small arms. There is good scope for defence and aerospace components, where the demand is relatively stable. Our company has diversified its presence across markets through a series of overseas acquisitions and transformed its business model from being a forgings-based auto-components company with domestic market presence to an entity with global scale and customer base and has diversified its presence in the non-automotive applications. Our biggest strength in defence is our land systems- MArG Extended Range, which is a 155mm/52 cal ultra-light howitzer; Garuda-105 V2, which is a 105mm gun mounted on their own "Go Anywhere Vehicle"; and 4x4 MGS, which is a 155mm/39 cal gun system mounted on a 4x4 platform. All three-gun platforms, and the "Go Anywhere Vehicle" have been indigenously designed and developed by Kalyani Group incorporating niche and advanced technologies.

One of the greatest challenges in combating terror is ensuring the safety of the security personnel while dealing with the terrorists in combat situations. The use of mine protected vehicles in areas of unrest offers security to the forces besides giving them an edge over the terrorists due to their superior firepower and mobility. Bharat Forge is leveraging its metallurgical knowledge and technology in partnership with market leaders to bring these to Indian security forces. From being a traditional supplier of components and subsystems to Indian defence, we are now becoming a complete system and solutions provider, thus enabling a dedicated and focused approach towards realizing the aim of becoming a leading defence player in the world.

What are your views on the Make in India programme?

Any country which is a net importer of security equipment requires to be self-reliant. The policy is a step in the right direction, but it has to be implemented well. Kalyani Group's unmatched metallurgical knowledge, design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities has carved the path to establishing its presence in prominent sectors of national interest like defence and aerospace. Kalyani Group's flagship company Bharat Forge aspires to make the Indian defence sector a self-reliant and lead the 'Make in India' narrative.

How does Bharat Forge aim to compete with leading Indian and foreign competition?

The opportunities in the aerospace and defence sectors have led many to rush into the field. Many of the less experienced players with no strong technological base and manufacturing capabilities will bow out of the market and only the best will remain. We are here for the long run and we will always remain in the fray. As far as foreign competition we are the best both in terms of quality, cost and scale of operations. Besides our Indian markets are good enough.

Vincent Fernandes
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