Make in India is a great initiative. The initiative aims to reduce the dependence on foreign technology and products for India’s security needs. In spirit, through this initiative, India wishes to have access to the core enabling IP of the system to ensure safety and security of the system and to modify and upgrade it as and when needed in future says Tarun Gupta Business Development Manager |Aerospace & Defense – EMEIA | National Instruments. Edited Nub
- What are the new architectures and capabilities needed to solve new challenges in application areas such as Electronic Warfare (EW) systems?
In this highly complex and innovative area, customer requires things like:
- Multi-channel, phase-coherent RF measurements in frequency bands up to 40+GHz
- The ability to stream large amounts of data across a bus, backplane, or even over the air
- The capability to perform real-time, deterministic, inline signal processing on multiple channels in parallel
- The ability to create or simulate dozens to potentially thousands of multi-emitter scenarios to test and validate RADAR or EW system performance
- High dynamic range to detect both large and small signals within a single system
- High instantaneous bandwidth to be able to monitor, process, and/or create signals across a wide spectrum of frequencies simultaneously.
2. What are the new trends that you see evolving in test & measurement for the Aerospace and Defense sector?
- Digital Transformation – the need to acquire, process, store, and analyze extremely large amounts of data to extract insights that will improve operational efficiency, as well as the need to connect and remotely manage dozens to potentially thousands of test assets and systems across the enterprise.
- Electrification – the migration towards More-Electric and All-Electric Aircraft (MEA and AEA), and the associated test and simulation challenges.
- Standardization – driving leverage and re-use across organizations by standardizing test architectures across divisions, projects, or programs
3. What are the key factors driving the current A&D industry and how is NI aligning to them?
- Defense budgets and passenger air travel are at all-time highs. Investments in RADAR/EW innovation are at all-time highs. The “race to space” is heating up with more and more countries planning manned missions to the moon and beyond. Space/satellite innovations and the trend towards smallsats/cubesats are changing the long-standing paradigms of the satellite industry.
- NI continues to invest in and build upon a modular, scalable, software-defined platform for the automated test and automated measurement of components and subsystems within aerospace and defense. We deliver a better, more flexible way for our customers to test and validate the functionality of their mission-critical assets, ensuring their quality and reliability, and ultimately helping keep our customers on time and on budget.
4. What scope does the Indian A&D sector offer to T&M players today? What are the major challenges in the space?
Globally, A&D and even Space systems are becoming more complex. These systems work on higher bandwidths, are software-centric and inter-connected. Such systems pose significant test challenges to T&M vendors as the conventional approach of rack and stack instruments with vendor-defined measurements is no more relevant. T&M vendors face the same challenges in India as well but with an additional fact that defense expenditure in India has been consistently growing and there is a significant business opportunity. Big defense programs in India like LCA, AMCA, UAV, Aircraft Carrier, AEW&CS, etc. offer lot of opportunities to T&M vendors.
Another fact worth mentioning is that Indian A&D and Space sector is moving towards more indigenous content in systems and control over the IP. This is required of T&M systems as well. There is a growing focus towards instruments that can be programmed by users and the IP retained locally.
Finally, Indian A&D research agencies, though working on some cutting-edge technologies itself, is very willing to learn from the best practices followed by T&M vendors in other developed countries like US and in Europe. For example, the standardization initiatives in US have been going on for past two decades and have gone through multiple iterations. Some of those experiences and case studies can be very helpful for Indian organizations.
5. After the Make in India campaign, the Indian Government has focused on the A&D segment much more than in the past. How do you see India as a market for your products and what, in your opinion, still needs to be done to match the global scenario?
Make in India is a great initiative. The initiative aims to reduce the dependence on foreign technology and products for India’s security needs. In spirit, through this initiative, India wishes to have access to the core enabling IP of the system to ensure safety and security of the system and to modify and upgrade it as and when needed in future. This falls in line with National Instruments’ approach of Software Defined T&M solutions based on open platforms. We provide our users with open platform and tools to program them so that they can develop their own test and measurement solutions. We have also invested in developing a local ecosystem of partners to offer turnkey solutions based on open and well-published – PXI platform. The IP is developed locally and thus can be modified in the future. With this approach, we have been gaining traction in many A&D programs for T&M requirements.
Ownership of IP comes at a cost. Government must be prepared to offer some competitive advantage to vendors who develop IP locally as compared to foreign vendors who have already recovered the NRE and can offer systems at a lower cost. This also means that private vendors may have to work very closely with Government entities and come out with specifications of systems to be developed. The existing procurement procedures do not support such initiatives.
6. What is your flagship product for A&D segment?
Vector Signal transceiver from NI has been doing very well for Indian A&D industry. NI recently launched (release attached) a Vector Signal Transceiver extending the frequency range up to 40GHz. With an on-board FPGA and Vector Signal Analyses/ Generation Capabilities, this product opens-up several new frontiers for NI. What differentiates this product is its capability to make real-time measurements on wideband signals and also run complex models on its FPGAs to simulate real-world operational scenarios for System-level validation of RADAR and EW systems.