January 24, 2008

Tejas Light Combat Aircraft : French Firm Safran Seeks To Ramp Up Indian Footprint


Thursday 24th of January 2008

India is one of the three countries where French aerospace and defence major Safran is seeking to ramp up its footprint as it increasingly engages the country's burgeoning military and civil aviation markets, the company said Thursday.

In September 2007 Sukhoi rolled out the new Superjet
100 regional jet at its plant in eastern Russia, in front of an international crowd. Safran is a partner in this exciting new program.

'India is one of the three countries where we are seeking to expand our global footprint. We will be making significant investments here over the next few years,' Paris-based Safran CEO Jean-Paul Herteman said at a news conference here.

He, however, declined to put a figure to the planned investments. Herteman will be a member of the high-powered business delegation accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy on his visit to India Jan 25-26.

Safran, which recorded global sales of 12 billion euros in 2007, has a 50-year presence in the country since the Indian Air Force (IAF) first purchased the Ouragan fighter that was powered by engines manufactured by the company.

Today, through its group companies, Safran is 'heavily involved', as Herteman put it, in Indian defence programmes like the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) and the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), as also the Indian Army's Pinaka rocket launcher and the Arjun main battle tank (MBT).

In addition, engines and avionics manufactured by Safran power a number of jets in the IAF fleet like the Mirage-2000, the Jaguar, the MiG-27, the MiG-29, the Sukhoi Su-30 and the newly inducted Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT).

In the civil aviation sector, 250 CFM-56 engines manufactured by a joint venture between Safran and General Electric power the Boeing-737s being flown by state-owned Air India and a number of private domestic carriers. Another 350 are on order.

'Considering the installed base and the needs of Indian carriers over the next 15 years, which we estimate at 1,100 aircraft, we have decided to establish a MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) facility for the CFM-56 engines in partnership with Indian industry,' Herteman said.

'This will be supported by the opening of a training centre for airline engineers and mechanics,' he added.

Also on Thursday, Herteman inaugurated a 300-employee high capacity facility for manufacturing SIM cards for mobile phones in the Indian and Asian markets. The plant is located at Noida on the capital's outskirts.

Set up at a cost of Rs.1 billion, the facility has an annual capacity of 100 million cards that will be increased to 300 million cards by 2009-end. The new factory adds to the five Safran already operates in India with a total workforce of 1,500 that includes some 1,000 R&D engineers.

Globally, Safran has over 63,000 employees spread over 30 countries

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