Thales teams up with BDL to manufacture precision rockets in India

Thales FZ275 LGR - Thales Belgium
Thales FZ275 LGR - Thales Belgium

French defence company Thales will be partnering with India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to set up local manufacturing of the former’s Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ) 275 70 mm/2.75 inch laser-guided rockets (LGRs) in India, the two companies announced during the Aero India 2023 exhibition in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.

The joint announcement noted that anticipated memorandum of understanding (MoU) will provide an opportunity for BDL to offer locally produced FZ275 LGRs for the Indian armed forces’ growing fleet of indigenously developed Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) and Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs).

Thales also said that BDL is also expected to become a part of the FZ275 LGR global supply chain, providing components to existing and future customers around the world.

The FZ275 is a semi-active laser (SAL) folding fin aerial rocket (FFAR) that measures 1.75 m long and has a loaded weight of around 12.5 kg and range of between 1.5 and 6 km.

The FZ275 LGR’s SAL seeker is compatible with NATO standard (STANAG 3733) laser pulse repetition frequency codes, although other laser codes can also be integrated for non-NATO customers.

The standard FZ275 LGR is equipped with the FZ71 high explosive general purpose warhead, although other types of warheads – such as the FZ319 high explosive armour piercing and the FZ181 flash/illuminating – are also available. The rocket can be used to engage light-armoured vehicles and other soft-skinned vehicles and infrastructure.

Thales and BDL also signed a separate agreement in January 2021 to integrate the Hyderabad-based company into the global supply chain for the Starstreak short-range air-defence system. The arrangement would also enable BDL to offer the weapon to local customers with a high-level of indigenous content as required under the Indian government’s ‘Make In India’ imperative.

by Jr Ng