Small companies like Zeus Numerix at cutting edge of Make in India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 22 February 2019

Small companies like Zeus Numerix at cutting edge of Make in India

Amongst over 200 high-tech R&D projects, Zeus did the separation studies for integrating BrahMos missile onto the Sukhoi-30MKI

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd Feb 19

In Aero India 2019, Indian exhibitors pay vast amounts to showcase weapons and equipment they are building with technologies licensed from foreign vendors, there are also a handful of Indian innovators with such technological confidence that they do not even bother to rent a display booth.

One such company is Zeus Numerix, whose co-founders, Abhishek Jain and Basant Kumar Gupta move from one client meeting to another. For a company with just 40 employees, their impressive string of technological innovations makes them sought after by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), BrahMos Aerospace, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the most challenging simulation and design projects.

In 2005, Zeus Numerix moved out of a small room in the aerospace department of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and started competing for design projects. Since then, they have logged success in projects like integrating the BrahMos missile on the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter (specifically the separation of the missile from the fighter), detecting and deceiving laser guided bombs and designing a ramjet engine for South Korea for missile applications.

Former HAL chairman, RK Tyagi, says that Russia asked for Rs 1,300 crore to integrate the BrahMos missile onto the Sukhoi-30MKI, but Indian firms like Zeus managed to do this for just Rs 80 crore. 

Signalling Zeus’ credentials in genuine research and development (R&D), in 2004 it became the first and only Indian company to develop software in the complex field of computational fluid dynamics, especially its most cutting edge application in hypersonic missiles.

In 2007, they developed India’s first and only prediction software for stealth, which makes an aircraft or warship near-invisible to enemy radar. Their code for stealth is being used in the most advanced Make in India projects – such as the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft and in fine-tuning missile seekers to home onto their targets more effectively.

Partnering Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in designing an inshore patrol vessel, Zeus reduced its stealth signature by 70 per cent.

Along the way, they won the Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Medal, which is a highly competitive programme for honouring innovation in India and helping to commercialise successful innovations.

“Very early, we recognized the need to indigenize more deeply, by not just accumulating manufacturing know how, but mastering the process of designing those products and improving them,” says Jain. 

In 2009, they won their first design and development order, for a testing facility for the DRDO, which incorporates a rocket sled that moves at a velocity of 1,800 kilometres per hour – the only such facility in Asia.

By 2010, top scientists in DRDO, BrahMos and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) saw the potential of Zeus’ young team and began mentoring them in developing advanced technologies that fed into projects like the integration of the BrahMos missile onto the Sukhoi-30MKI.

To work in this field requires the highest levels of aerospace certification and this was accorded to Zeus by the DRDO’s certification agency, Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).

In March 2018, Zeus became the first small company to be awarded a project under the defence ministry’s Technology Development Fund to develop a sea water pump made of composite materials that are lighter and do not corrode. This pump is currently being tested; if it is successful, Zeus will be the world’s second company – after US firm, SIMSITE – to have succeeded in this.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) has recognised Zeus as an R&D company, which brings in tax benefits and opportunities to work in government-funded R&D programmes with foreign collaborators.

Already, Zeus has executed over 200 assignments in defence for DRDO, DPSUs and major private defence firms in India. These include designing a framework for “low noise aircraft wing” for Airbus Innovation Works – which funds futuristic technologies.

Underscoring its focus on cutting-edge R&D, the company is guided by a technology team composed of IIT Bombay professors and alumni. It has raised money once from an Angel investor, but now says its on-going projects provide all the funds they need.


  1. They must incubate more such projects with ISRAEL. It is the mecca of innovation.

    Keep it up Zeus.

  2. Russia would have had 3 Brahmos on Su-30 MKI and just not one on the center line as done by Zeus numerix.
    So for the same power projection, we would need 3 times the number of SU-30 MKI's. Is that worth the difference of 1220 crores???
    The pessimist in me keeps saying that even after we built more than 200 SU-30 MKI, we could not figure out what parts of the SU-30 MKI frames need to be strengthened to carry 3 Brahmos.

  3. There is a lesson in this. It clears up that a public sector company can not attract TOP rung talent any longer.
    This is the way to future, for all those who dream of govt/PSU jobs .
    I hope we produce more such Engineers in the country.

    I hope the Govt policies esp. on Tax encourage such businessmen.
    This is the reason why countries like USA/S korea/Scandinavian region are world leaders in technology with no public sector .

  4. Once we put one. Further studies and analysis will help us put three. Russians have the complete design details of the a/c and a long experience. Let's not belittle the small achievement which will give confidence to our young designers and help them become young leaders. We will be a country of largest young people in the world.

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