Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is all set to expand its defence component manufacturing facility in the district and set up an exclusive factory on its Malumichampatti campus at a cost of Rs 500 crore to manufacture rocket motors for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Mr J D Patil, director, defence, L&T, said the factory would be ready within this financial year. “We have produced motors for Akash, which is an all-weather medium range surface-to-air missile system indigenously developed in India. Now, we plan to set up this factory to exclusively manufacture for ISRO. Their rocket motors are different from Akash, as the diameter is 2.8m and 3.2m and are massive. We will produce at least 10-12 sets a year which equals to nearly 50 sections of the motors,” he said.
According to Mr Patil, the industry and the ecosystem here were good enough to produce precision equipment. “Earlier, we were only able to produce at our facility at Powai near Pune that was set up in 1940. Slowly, that entire unit will be shifted to Coimbatore. Even various orders from Baroda facility will be shifted to the district. We are going to take the number of factories to five here,” he said.Patil said they would manufacture various components of satellites such as heat shields and other components that form the basic structural part of a satellite. “Currently, we are manufacturing these components in Baroda and we will shift all this to Coimbatore,” he added.L&T would also produce space air frames for Brahmos Missile. Dr S Christopher, chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said they were working on unmanned aircraft project and various other missile programmes. About their association with ISRO, he said they were working together on a project named Kautilya. “We are also using the profit from the Brahmos programme to run an extended range programme,” he said. About their production, he said, they had so far catered to the requirements of Air Force. “Army also has further requirement of Akash, however in 0.5 version. DRDO has already taken up the development. All these will be taken up from 2021 onwards. This product will have orders in another 3-4 years. The facility at Coimbatore will support us,” Dr Christopher said. After the central government’s Make in India drive to ‘Indianis’e all products, he said, the growth had gone up in the past 50 years by 60%. “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are localised facilities and not integrated facilities. Corridors will help various individual MSMEs with their special expertise. Defence wants precision products and quality is very important. They can help in producing small fabrications and various components that can be integrated. Also, the government needs to invest to set up integrated defence manufacturing facilities,” Dr Christopher said.