Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a Government of India enterprise and Thales UK have signed a Teaming Agreement to work in partnership on the STARStreak Air Defence system with the support of both the Governments of India and the United Kingdom. N P Diwakar, Director (Technical), BDL, Alex Cresswell, CEO Thales in the UK and Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, VP and Country Director, Thales in India, signed the agreement in the presence of Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, BDL. Jeremy Quin (Minister for Defence Procurement) and Mark Goldsack (Head of UK Defence & Security Exports) witnessed the signing ceremony in the UK. From India, the ceremony was witnessed by both the Director General of Army Air Defence and a representative from the Army Design Bureau. The Teaming Agreement was signed by Thales and BDL in the presence of UK and Indian Government representatives in a virtual ceremony on January 13th 2021.
Alex Cresswell, CEO of Thales in the UK said: “Today’s signing is a significant milestone for all parties concerned and I look forward to Thales and BDL developing a close working relationship. This is good news for our business in Belfast in Northern Ireland, for the strong supply chain of UK SMEs with whom we work and for our teams in India. The UK and India have a strong tradition of industrial partnership in defence, innovation and sharing technology and we are thankful to both the Governments for their strong support to this excellent initiative.”
Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Dynamics Limited, in his address stated that “partnership between Thales and BDL in this project with Transfer of Technology for STARStreak will create a new business opportunity for BDL and its Supply Chain Partners in India. BDL will be able to enhance its footprints in the export market in addition to domestic market with this new business opportunity. The Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ programme, the ‘ease of doing business’ and recent ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives have created a congenial ecosystem for the foreign OEMs to tie up with Indian Industries like BDL to establish the production facility in India,” he added.
The agreement will also provide the opportunity for BDL to offer a ‘Make in India’ STARStreak solution to the Indian Government, with a capability that will match the immediate air defence needs of the Indian Army and Air force, and with 60% of the system manufactured in India. Through the agreement, BDL will become a part of the STARStreak global supply chain, providing the opportunity for export of Indian manufactured components to existing and future STARStreak Air Defence customers, including the UK Armed Forces. BDL was established in Hyderabad in 1970 as a manufacturing base for guided missiles and allied defence equipment. In 2017, Thales and BDL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assess the opportunity for the transfer of technology for STARStreak. The signing of this teaming agreement confirms a positive outcome from that exploration process.
STARStreak is a British short range man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) manufactured by Thales Air Defence (formerly Shorts Missile Systems), in Belfast. It is also known as STARStreak HVM (High Velocity Missile). Development on the missile began in the early 1980s after an evaluation of missile and gun options to increase air defence capabilities showed that a high-velocity missile system would best meet the needs and could also replace existing shoulder-launched missiles. After launch, the missile accelerates to more than Mach 4, making it the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world. It then launches three laser beam riding submunitions, increasing the likelihood of a successful hit on the target. STARStreak has been in service with the British Army since 1997. In 2012, Thales rebranded the system under the ForceSHIELD banner.
STARStreak has a number of advantages over infrared homing guided, radar homing guided, and radio command guidance MCLOS/SACLOS missiles:
- It cannot be jammed by infrared countermeasures or radar/radio countermeasures.
- It is optimised to engage pop up Attack Helicopters and its speed and armour penetration make it exceptionally difficult for pilots to evade.
- It cannot be suppressed with anti-radar missiles.
- Three submunitions increase the size of the lethal area, increasing the probability that the target will be hit by at least one submunition.
- Its high speed reduces the amount of time for effective usage of any potential countermeasure, such as the beam manoeuvring or illuminating the guidance laser source with a dazzling battlefield laser.