Bharat Electronics Limited : India’s Pride
Vol 11 Issue 3 Jul - Aug 2017
A feature on BEL’s superlative performance and QA with Director Marketing, Mrs Anandi Ramalingam
Friday, July 21, 2017
Soon after independence, the Government of India entrusted the task of establishing a Radar and Electronics factory to the Ministry of Defence in 1948 to build self-reliance in this field. Thus, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), today a Navratna Defence PSU, was set up in Bangalore in 1954. BEL is a pioneer in India in the field of Radars; the Company has been designing and manufacturing land-based, airborne and shipborne radars for Defence and civilian applications for over six decades.
Radar has traditionally been one of BEL’s biggest business segments. With an array of radar projects starting from 3D Static Surveillance Radar (IRMA) of the ’70s and 3D Transportable Radar of the ’80s, 2D Low-Level Surveillance Radar (INDRA II), 3D Transportable Radar, 2D Surveillance Radar Element SRE, Battery Level Radar, 3D Central Acquisition Radar (Rohini), 3D Low Level Light Weight Radar (Aslesha), 3D Tactical Control Radar, Passive Phased Array Radars like Flight Level Radar, Weapon Locating Radar, Troop Level Radar, and Active Phased Array Radars like Low Level Tracking Radar, BEL has, in collaboration with DRDO, made immense contributions to the growth of India’s military prowess in this domain.
In recent years, BEL has made giant strides in this field with the induction of state-of-the-art radars like the Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) and 3D Tactical Control Radar (TCR).
Weapon Locating Radar: It was the Kargil war that exposed a chink in the armour of the Indian armed forces — the lack of a weapon locating radar. The Pakistani forces, armed with AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder Weapon Locating System, were able to accurately pin down and destroy the Indian artillery batteries and shell-firing guns. It was during this time that the Army struck upon the idea of using a derivative of the Rajendra radar in the artillery locating role. During the tests for a missile system at Chandipur, DRDO scientists noticed that the Rajendra Radar was able to detect and track artillery shells being test fired at a nearby range. This led to the development of the indigenous Weapon Locating Radar.
BEL, along with technical support from LRDE, initiated the indigenous development of WLR in May 2002 and completed realisation of the engineered model in 2010, incorporating new technologies/techniques like flexible waveforms through Digital Pulse Compression, improving the average power of transmitter for higher duty cycle, software improvements for better clutter handling and incorporation of Power PC-based Programmable Signal Processing Unit and weight reduction.
The system sailed through all the five phases of trials: firing trials in the forward ranges of Pokhran and high altitudes of Sikkim, EMI/EMC evaluation by MCE, Mhow, maintainability evaluation by MAG and environmental evaluation by DGQA — and came out with flying colours in November 2011. The project also won the prestigious Raksha Mantri’s Award for ‘Import Substitution’ in 2011.
BEL signed a contract for supply of 30 WLR systems to the Indian Army on December 30, 2015. The First off Production Model of WLR came out in February 2016, with the proactive involvement of DGQA agencies, MAG and User Directorate. The radar system is configured on two Tatra vehicles: Radar Vehicle and Power Source-cum-BITE Vehicle.
BEL’s WLR is a field artillery radar system capable of locating enemy artillery batteries or shell-firing guns, mortars and rocket launchers with great precision and guiding own artillery fire to neutralise the enemy targets. It stands its ground on the strength of its field-proven performance as well as effective customer support, when compared to its main competitors. Some of the USPs of BEL’s WLR are automatic height correction using digital map, automatic data transmission, flexible wave form generation and frequency agility, user-friendly HMI developed incorporating all the user feedbacks, and most importantly, tailor-made for the Indian Army keeping in mind Indian terrain conditions.
3D Tactical Control Radar: BEL’s Ghaziabad Unit has been manufacturing Tactical Control Radars for the Indian Army for the past five decades. However, all the initial radars like the Indra I, Stentor, Flycatcher and Reporter were 2D Antenna Systems. With its long land borders and coastlines, India faced air threat from its adversaries, which called for ‘gap-free, round-the-clock’ air surveillance, particularly at low altitudes. The 3D Central Acquisition Radar (Rohini), developed by LRDE, DRDO, and concurrently engineered and productionised by BEL as part of a modernisation drive of the Indian Air Force met this challenge. The 3D Tactical Control Radar was conceived as a variant of Rohini and a successor of TC Reporter radar with minimum signature on the ground for the Indian Army. Till 2006, the Army Air Defence had only 2D radars in their inventory. In January 2007, LRDE and BEL made a proposal to offer a variant of 3D CAR meeting the Army’s requirements. The Army accepted the proposal with a rider: BEL and DRDO would have to field the prototype by May 2008, failing which the Army would go for the import option. Taking on the challenge, the prototype was fielded in time at Suratgarh for the summer trials. By December 2009, the summer trials, ECCM trials (in Gwalior) and winter trials (in Leh) were completed. In January 2009, evaluations by MET and DGQA were also completed. Post GS evaluations, an RFP was put up to the Army.
BEL handed over its 3-D TCR, a state-of-the-art medium-range air surveillance and tracking radar, to the Indian Army in 2014. The 3D TCR, jointly designed by LRDE and BEL-Ghaziabad, is a state-of-art Medium range Surveillance & Tracking Radar. The radar, which is mounted on a mobile platform, has a capability of Track-While-Scan of medium range airborne targets such as fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Its main function is to tactically provide a Control over Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems through Medium Range Surveillance for aerial targets, 3D target parameter estimation, 3D target data transmission to weapon locations, etc. It comes with Electronic Counter-Counter Measures features and can establish the target’s identity: friend or foe.
The fully automated radar is configured on two High Mobility Vehicles – one for radar and second for power source.
Gun Upgrade from BEL: The L-70 Gun Upgrade is the first Gun Upgrade programme of BEL. BEL undertook the upgradation of L-70 Gun jointly with Ordnance Factory Board. The Indian Army, in 2005, issued a global RFP for the upgrade of L-70 Gun. BEL, which front-ended the programme, was responsible for Electronic Upgrades while OFB carried out the all mechanical modifications. BEL and OFB successfully completed the trials and BEL, as the prime contractor, won the contract.
The first two upgraded L70 Guns, designed, developed and manufactured by BEL were flagged off from Chennai Unit on October 30, 2015. The two upgraded guns were rolled out well ahead of the stipulated timeline of nine months. So far, about 80 plus guns have been upgraded.
The L70 gun upgrade is a fusion of the latest technologies in the areas of electrical servo drives, Electro Optical Fire Control System and video tracking, which only a few global companies have mastered. Right from designing the upgrade to establishing a production line, the project was meticulously executed. Each building block of the gun upgrade — processor and interface boards, stabilized pedestal, high precision mechanical subsystems, video tracker and fire control solutions with day and night cameras — were designed in house. BEL, with the support of Ordnance Factory Board, is all set to deliver 200 upgraded guns within the stipulated time of three years.