At a ceremony on 20 February 2019 at the 2019 Aero India defense exhibition in Bengaluru, India, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems CEO, Major General (ret.) Yoav Har-Even, presented Chief Operations Officer of Astra Rafael COMSYS PVT LTD (ARC), Brigadier Ravi Hariharan with a $30 million purchase order for the manufacture, test-before-integration, and lifecycle support management for a complete set of the BNet Software Defined Radio (SDR) system for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This order is the first contract for ARC, the joint venture between Rafael and India’s Astra Microwave Products Ltd.
In 2017, Rafael was awarded a contract to supply BNet SDRs to the IAF. ARC will manufacture and integrate these advanced radio systems onboard IAF aircraft, allowing for the digital exchange of tactical information. As a force multiplier, the systems will enable IAF pilots to engage the enemy beyond visual range, without being detected by their on-board sensors.
Acquired by both the Brazilian and Colombian Air Forces, in Brazilian service, the BNet carries the air force’s proprietary Link-BR2 airborne V/UHF tactical handle L-band (1-2 GHz) communications datalink (TDL) to support air operations. This radio was also acquired by the Israeli Air Force. The radio can include transmit data rates of up to 2mbps and 10mbps transmit with reception speeds of 100mbps and 500 mwgabits per second.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Har-Even emphasised ARC's commitment to the operational readiness of the Indian Air Force (IAF) radio network: “We at Rafael are proud of our role - not only in ARC- but also of our participation in Make in India, and our strong relationship with the vibrant talent across India’s defense industry. As we mark this important milestone, we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with Astra Microwave Products as well as with our many other partners within India.”
In 2013, as part of the 'Make in India' initiative, Rafael paired with Astra Microwave Products LTD to form ARC, looking at opportunities for indigenous production and supply of strategic electronics in the form of system and subsystems in the high technology domain of Tactical Communication Systems, Electronic Warfare and SIGINT. Located in Hyderabad, India, ARC employs roughly 200 local technical experts, and is a 49:51 shareholding in favor of Astra Microwave.
Additionally, Rafael entered into a Joint Venture with Kalyani Strategic Systems, forming KRAS – Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems, in 2017. KRAS is able undertake the integration and testing of equipment as per Mil Standards for weapon systems used for airborne applications. This works towards developing weapon systems required by the Indian Defence Forces, as well as for export. Keeping with its commitment to 'Make in India,' the partnership is a 49:51 division in favor of the Indian partner. KRAS is expected to employ roughly 250 technical experts by the year 2023.