Source: Economic Times

Bolstered by the success of the Rafale deal, French firm Thales, which is a major partner in the fighter aircraft project, has said the sentiment is positive in France on India’s ability to handle large military deals and that the company is eyeing a 500-million, or over Rs 3,300-crore market for smart city project in the country.

“We are looking at two projects —making cities safe first with technology for both citizens and security agencies and then providing tools for a smart, integrated city.  We are talking about an addressable market of roughly 500-600 million with integrated solutions and added value systems,” Yan Levy, business development director at Thales told ET. Top Thales executives — speaking to the media for the first time since the Rafale contract was announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his recent visit to France pushed the deal to buy 36 fighters off the shelf — said the programme has the potential of transferring cutting edge aviation and military technology to India and that details on finalising Indian partners are being worked out.

“The French industry is very happy and there are a lot of players involved. This opens the way to transfer technology when the deal is finalised and will leverage the capability of our partners in India,” Levy said.

Company executives said the Rafale deal is a positive indicator for global players that India is capable of closing a major deal. “Earlier, there was a sentiment among the industry, questioning the capability of India to manage a large programme effectively and timely. This is a good sign to all firms that India can make things happen,” Thales’ vice-president-secure communications Paolo Salvato said. As reported by ET, the Rafale deal could see an opportunity of over 2-billion (about Rs 12,500-crore) investments in India from French firms in order to meet technology transfer or offset obligations.

The government is also contemplating a joint venture with an Indian firm to produce a larger number of the fighters in India, opening up a massive opportunity for the private sector.

Firms like Thales, which are associated with the project and provide avionics and radars for the fighter, are likely to tie up with Indian players in the coming months.