Adani’s defence footprint: Small arms, UAVs, and more

    The Adani Group, a relatively new entrant in the defence sector, has charted an extraordinary growth journey over the last five years, with new subsidiaries diversifying its defence offerings, through acquisitions of both new and legacy companies in the strategic space, as well as through partnerships with foreign private firms.

    Subsidiaries, acquisitions

    The defence footprint of the Adani Group is spread across multiple companies such as Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd, Ordefence Systems Ltd, Adani Aerospace and Defence Ltd, Adani Naval Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd, Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, along with PLR Systems Pvt Ltd and Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd.

    The first four of these were incorporated starting 2015. In 2019, Adani Defence Systems acquired the 2003-incorporated Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd. In 2020, it acquired a majority stake in PLR Systems Private Ltd, making it a joint venture with Israel Weapon Industries (IWI).

    In 2018, the group started the joint venture company Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd with Israeli firm Elbit Systems.

    The Adani Group is currently in the process of acquiring Air Works, one of India’s oldest maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) units, which will cement its foothold in MRO activities.

    Range of products

    The group actively started its defence businesses in 2018, and has since expanded its offerings in air defence systems, UAVs for various purposes including Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance, and small arms and ammunition — all of which are of vital importance to the Indian armed forces.

    Most of the group’s defence businesses over the last few years have been carried out by Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd, Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, and PLR Systems Pvt Ltd. Besides the Indian armed forces, and central paramilitary and state police forces, the group’s customers include the armed forces of some foreign countries, including Israel.

    “Within a short time, the Company built a comprehensive ecosystem of defence products across small arms, precision guided munitions, unmanned aerial systems, structures, electronics, radars, EW systems and simulators, among others,” the annual report of the company for 2021-22 said.

    According to the annual report, the company had bagged contracts for over Rs1,000 crore from the Indian armed forces, including the first ever small arms contract awarded to a private sector manufacturer of small arms; besides separate contracts for the delivery of 56 air defence radars to the Army by 2024, and for the supply of seekers for the medium range surface to air missile (MRSAM).

    Small arms, ammo

    PLR Systems Pvt Ltd manufactures a range of small arms such as TAVOR X95 assault rifles, NEGEV light machine guns and Galil sniper rifles, which are already in service with the Indian armed forces. The PLR Systems website says the TAVOR and Galil rifles were used by Indian special forces during the surgical strikes of 2016. Some of these weapons were earlier imported by India from Israel.

    Last year the Adani group announced an investment of almost Rs 1,500 crore to set up South Asia’s largest ammunition manufacturing facility in the Uttar Pradesh Defence Corridor.

    Adani Defence has also ventured into the highly technical sphere of manufacturing long range glide bombs for the Indian Air Force, as well as the Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) System and other precision guided munition as a development and production partner with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

    Aerospace and avionics

    As per the annual report of Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL), Alpha Design Technologies Ltd (ADTL) — which is involved in manufacturing satellite and ground equipment, electronic warfare and military communications equipment, and aerospace assembly — has operationalised a simulator for the IAF’s MiG-29 aircraft in Adampur under a 20-year Build Operate Maintain contract.

    Last year, Elbit Systems and the Bangalore-based ADTL formed a joint venture company called Vignan Technologies, which has started a facility for R&D and innovation.

    ADTL is also the first Indian offset partner for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for production of Air Defence Fire Control Radars, 66 of which have been delivered to the Army. ADTL is also understood to be manufacturing combat net radio sets for the Army’s armoured vehicles, and upgrading its old radio sets.

    The Adani-Elbit joint venture is manufacturing a range of unmanned platforms, including the Hermes 900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV, which it looks to export, as well as offer to the Indian armed forces when the services issue a Request for Proposal.

    Adani Defence and Elbit set up a private UAV facility in 2018 in Hyderabad for manufacturing the Hermes 900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV.

    The Adani group is also manufacturing counter-drone systems. It conducted the first live demonstration of the state-of-the-art Rudrav counter drone system at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport.

    The company had been in partnership talks with the Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab in 2017 to make the Gripen E fighter in India. However, last month Saab said it will not go ahead with the agreement.

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