The pandemic period has been a particularly odd time. How has the A&D sector fared in the past year, in your opinion? As an example, can you elaborate on how your organisation adapted to the industry low falls?
The past year has brought in a lot of new challenges for all sectors, including aerospace & defence. Of specific importance are limited mobility of personnel and limited imports. Fortunately, the sector has higher growth potential due to threats from external forces as well our resolve as a country to go ‘Aatmanirbhar’.
Grene is connected globally and has been operating remotely for the past four to five years, so adaptation has not been an issue. We are also experiencing the demand slowly growing back on track, and hopefully, it will improve in the next FY.
There is a forecast of India becoming the global aerospace hub. Your opinion? How can the government aid company, such as yours, in the journey?
Self-reliance in the A&D space is the first step. The government has already put dozens of technologies in the non-import category. But we believe more can be done. Our A&D industry is largely driven by the ancient thought process of TOT and absolute ownership of IP. The need is to create new technology unicorns in the country. Innovators such as us need to queue up in the corridors of defence research agencies and PSUs enter into the sector. There needs to be a level playing field.
Unmanned aircraft are a hot topic both from India's commercial & defence (government) perspective. Does your organisation plan on venturing into this segment? If yes, what strategies do you plan to put in place to compete with pre-existing players?
Unmanned aircraft have great potential to disrupt the role of aircraft and, to a lesser extent, other surveillance assets. The use of drones for logistics and incendiary material delivery is being established. We have been delving into the surveillance space and intend to use a very wide variety of drone assets as a part of our C4ISRT offerings.
There is huge potential for these applications ranging from border protection to forest conservation, as an integrated part of our solution offering.
There are a lot of start-ups entering India’s A&D segment. How can industry majors and start-ups collaborate to ensure India becomes the A&D hub for the globe?
India is just beginning to understand that a lot of dedicated start-ups, with a 15-20 year vision, will need to be nurtured. The A&D space needs a lot more start-ups before it can be turned into an A&D power in the world.
For this to happen, registration and protection of IP will need to be simplified. In today’s business set-up in ten A&D spaces, anyone who gets the order demands transfer of IP from collaborators. This needs to stop. The PSUs can assume the role of SIs and solution providers and collaborate with technology start-ups on a more even basis. The Israeli model is the way to go. The government and end-users must also scrutinise this aspect if we truly need the A&D industry to grow.
What does India in 2022 look like for the A&D sector, according to you? What strategies need to be instilled to ensure your organisation is a contributor to the Indian economy?
There have been delivery backlogs over the past two years. Plus, the fact that more items will come under the import ban by 2025 provides the Indian industry with an opportunity for tremendous growth. The government needs to balance the requirement vs delivery in the A&D segment to accommodate the learning curve of the Indian industry.
We, currently, are focused on being the overarching wheel for many emerging technologies in the C4 ISRT space. We are constantly bringing more elements under the Grene Defense OS platform, be it in drones, revolutionary radar and common tech or Artificial Intelligence-powered autonomous systems. Last-mile C4I and connected soldier are two of our focus areas for 2022.