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India expands ammunition production with Adani–Thales collaboration

10th July 2024 - 12:17 GMT | by Neelam Mathews in New Delhi

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NATO-standard 70mm calibre ammunition, currently in use in Ukraine, will be produced at a 500-acre facility in Kanpur. (Image: Thales Belgium)

Adani Defence & Aerospace has teamed up with Thales Belgium to manufacture and assemble NATO-standard 70mm calibre ammunition, strengthening India's self-reliance in defence production.

India’s Adani Defence & Aerospace has affiliated with Thales Belgium to manufacture components and assemble unguided and guided NATO-standard 70mm (2.75 inch) calibre ammunition currently being used in Ukraine.

The medium-calibre ammunition production for India’s attack helicopters forms part of the second phase of the expansion of a 500-acre facility in Kanpur in the northern state of Uttah Pradesh. The factory is South Asia’s largest integrated ammunition manufacturing facility.

An immediate requirement of small arms due to an increasing shortage of small arms, which was stage one of the facility’s upgrade, has seen the production and export of small ammunition begin. Clients include the Indian military, paramilitary and police. During phase three of the expansion, large calibre artillery guns have been planned for production for the military.

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Ashish Saraf, VP and country head in India for Thales remarked: “The collaboration [with Adani] exemplifies our support to ‘Make in India’ and the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant) vision.

“This partnership with Adani Defence not only aligns with India’s vision of self-reliance in defence manufacturing but also integrates Adani Defence into Thales’ global supply chain.”

In June, Adani signed a cooperation agreement with the UAE’s Edge Group to bring together joint core product portfolios for global and local customers. This included missiles and weapons ammunition, unmanned aerial systems, loitering munitions, counter drone systems, unmanned ground vehicles and electronic warfare. At Eurosatory in Paris last month, Edge displayed many of these platforms including the logistics Air Truck UAV.

Thales Herstal Belgium 70mm laser-guided rockets Indian Army
Thales has opened a new assembly line in Herstal Belgium to vastly increase produce of 70mm laser-guided rockets. (Photo: Indian Army)

Adani Defence has set an implicit mandate to export 50% of the defence products it manufactures. Shephard has learned its partnerships will be based on the model it has with Elbit Systems.

The Hermes 900 drones are assembled at its facility along with Elbit engineers for export. Scaling up is carried out gradually.

A variant of the Hermes 900 has been developed and described by Adani as the “indigenously manufactured Drishti 10 Starliner Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for the Indian Navy”.

Thales also has a role to play related to technology transfer. Adani Defence will follow the original specifications of the present rocket, with the rocket programme utilising local support for the integration and training of maintenance and operational personnel, as well as an integrated logistic support carried out jointly by Adani and Thales.

Both the Indian Army and Air Force await clearance to acquire 90 and 66 Prachand light combat helicopters (LCH) built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), respectively. Firing and trials late last year were completed for the 70mm rocket and 20mm turret guns of the LCH by day and night for real-time validation for an Army Aviation LCH Squadron.

The LCH, designed for operations on India’s rugged borders with China and Pakistan, can take off and land at an altitude of 16,400 feet. HALs Rudra, a weaponised version of the Dhruv ALH has, along with the LCH, been integrated into a rocket tube of 7, 12 and 19 configurations. Shephard has discovered but could not confirm that the Apache AH-64 equipped with the Hydra 70mm unguided rocket could be replaced by a Thales upgraded laser-guided rocket to maintain commonality.

Thales, the only manufacturer of these munitions in Europe, recently opened a new assembly line in Herstal Belgium “to accommodate a five-fold increase in the production of 70mm laser-guided rockets”.

Belgium minister of defence Ludivine Dedonder said that the expansion of Herstal’s facility was a “a response to rapidly growing international demand, as well as to the needs of defence, due to a worrying global security situation”.

Meanwhile, with the Adani entry, the fate and future role of government-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd who had partnered with Thales to set up manufacturing facilities in India for 70mm laser-guided rockets (FZ275 LGR), remained unclear.

Hermes 900

FZ275 LGR

Air Truck

Neelam Mathews

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Neelam Mathews


Neelam Mathews was born in India and completed her education in London.

She has written for …

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