Jupiter to induct Thales as strategic investor

Friday, 22 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Former BPL Mobile chief Rajeev Chandrasekhar's Jupiter Strategic Technologies has roped in France's Thales as a strategic investor with an eye on the emerging $650 million market for air traffic management in India.

"We had earlier bid together with Jupiter - it's a Bangalore based company - for the air traffic management (ATM) contracts for the new airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore," said Francois Dupont, Thales country director for India.

"We are taking the partnership forward with a strategic investment by Thales in Jupiter to extend the complete suite of products and solutions in the area of air space management and surveillance," said Dupont.

With the government proposing to upgrade 36 airports in the country in addition to building four new ones in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, the market for air traffic management and systems is expected at $650 million, Dupont said.

Thales - along with Raytheon of the US, Selex of Italy and Indra of Spain - had been short-listed for the estimated $35 million air traffic management system and radar contract for the new Bangalore airport.

Jupiter, which operates in the area of defense and homeland security, has been developing solutions and customizing products for Thales and intends to raise its headcount of 100 engineers to 250 by end-2007 and 500 by 2008.

According to officials at Thales Australia - the group company that overseas the air traffic systems market for this region, including India - their systems and solutions are used in as many as 170 countries.

"India is a strategic and growth market for us, not just for solutions but also for software, and research and development work," Bachu Murthi, vice president, Thales Australia Air Systems told Indian journalists in Melbourne recently.

"We understand that 400 new aircraft set to join India's domestic airspace over the next few years. So the current navigation services and traffic management infrastructure and procedures need a complete overhaul," Murthi said.

This will cover the entire area of managing the air space - from automation of terminals and surveillance to communications and navigation aids - both ground and satellite-based systems.

"We are also in the process of hiring 30-40 professionals at the Thales research center in Chennai to exclusively help in the research and development activities for air traffic management systems."

Company officials said, the group has recently won a $5 million contract from the Airports Authority of India (AI) for distance measuring equipment - a total of 45 systems proposed in airports across the country.

Thales has also emerged the lowest bidder for a tender for instrument landing systems valued at around $3.5 million and is eyeing another tender for altitude measuring systems from the AAI which is expected to be floated next year.
Source: IANS
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