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French help in India's terror war

Thales Research and Tech Centre has developed high-tech tools that the Indian troops use to fight insurgency.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2006 16:59 IST

When it comes to fight against terror in Jammu and Kashmir, name like US and UK come to our minds. But the story has a French angle to it as well.

The Thales Research and Technology Centre on the outskirts of Paris is the place where some of the high-tech tools that Indian troops use to combat insurgents from Pakistan have been devised and developed.

For instance, it is at this centre on the campus of the Ecole Polytenchnique, about an hour's drive from Paris, that Thales, the French electronics, defence and aerospace major, developed the Sophie, a hand-held thermal imager, that helps Indian troops detect cross-border incursions of terrorists from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir.

The Army already possesses some 600 such devices, deployed mostly in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Border Security Force is also believed to be interested in the imager that detects infiltrators as far as two to three kilometers away using the radiation their bodies emit.

The Sophie, which utilises a 288 x 4 CdHgTe detector array, could be handheld or tripod-mounted and is the size of a handycam. And its external video and control interfaces allow it to be operated autonomously in applications demanding remote control and monitoring.

All these technical details came from Jean-Pascal Duchemin, a senior scientist at the centre. On Monday, he took a team of visiting Indian journalists around the facility.

"Some of the most state-of-the art equipment in the field of optronics is being developed here," said Duchemin.

It is in this facility that Thales also developed the night vision equipment that are now part of the Army's T-90 and T-72 tanks.

And the company has also provided specialist equipment to the Indian Army to break into terrorist radio networks operating across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, and also devices using electronic counter-counter measures (ECCM) that prevent its own networks from being jammed.