Path ahead: Focus on light combat aircraft, choppers, unmanned aerial vehicles & upgrades
BANGALORE: Ramping up production of fighter aircraft, helicopters and UAVs, aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is gearing up for an overall investment of Rs 17,500 crore in the next five years. They are involved at the cutting edge of India’s military and to an extent, civil aviation. From frontline fighters to basic trainers to designing doors for civil liners, the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is India’s biggest plane-maker.
Responding to media queries at the Aero India 2017 here, HAL chairman and managing director T Suvarna Raju said the company may go in for bank loans to fund the projects.
Here’s his update on projects undertaken by HAL, both indigenously and in collaboration with foreign partners.
HAL the lead agency for Sukhoi 30 MKI upgrade. Will have back to back contracts with Sukhoi Design Bureau. Two phase upgrade. First phase to start within 90 days. HAL supplied 183 Sukhoi-MKI multi-role fighter aircraft to the IAF till January 2017. The remaining aircraft, out of an order for 222 planes, would be delivered by 2019-20.
As the lead agency for the aircraft’s upgrade, HAL will ink contracts with the Sukhoi Design Bureau for a two-phase upgrade. The first phase will start in 90 days, Raju said.
Three aircraft were delivered to IAF, which operationalised its first squadron, “Flying Daggers”. The delivery of all the 40 LCA Mk-1 aircraft will be completed by 2019-20.
LCA TEJAS MARK 1A
The project will go on an overdrive to cater to IAF’s procurement of 83 LCA Mk1A aircraft with enhanced capabilities of AESA Radar, BVR missile, self-protection jammer and air-to-air refuelling.
The production will be increased from the current eight per year to 16 a year with increased stress on outsourcing, said Raju. “The trials for LCA Mk1A will be completed by 2018.”
ADVANCED LIGHT HELICOPTER DHRUVS
On the Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv), Raju said HAL has built 231 copters till January 2017. “Of the 159 wanted, 136 delivered and all will be done by 2017-18. Additional order for 73 concluded. The contract will be signed within a few days for our armed services,” he said.
The defence PSU has also produced 135 Dornier-228 aircraft. The Navy has placed orders for 12 more. The task will be completed by 2019-20.
Light Utility Helicopter
The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), which had its maiden flight in September 2016 and flew again at the airshow inaugural, is expected to complete the certification process by 2018. Deliveries could begin by 2019-20.
HAL till date produced 360 Cheetah and 28 Chetal till date.
Light Combat Helicopter
The Defence Acquisition Council, he said, has cleared procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH). Ten of these are for IAF and five for the Army. HAL is also producing 20 Cheeta helicopters for the Army and 10 more are in the pipeline for IAF. LCH has done 850 flights and basic configuration has been frozen. Limited Series Production cleared (10 to IAF and 5 to Army). It is the only combat chopper which can operate at 20,000 ft.
Besides, HAL will undertake upgrades of 61 Jaguars and 51 Mirage fighter aircraft. CMD said that DARIN III upgrade designed by HAL and all requirement of Initial Operational Clearance completed. HAL will be upgrading 61 JAGUAR to DARIN III standard.
IOC upgrade at France and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) done and 51 MIRAGE aircraft to be done by HAL.
HAWK I is the 100th produced aircraft by HAL which is owned and upgraded by HAL.
HTT 40 – Basic trainer
On the Hindustan Turboprop Trainer (HTT), Raju said the company expected orders for 106 aircraft, to be used for basic training, aerobatics, instrument flying and close-formation flights. Our basic trainer had its first flight in June 2016. An order of 106 planes from the IAF is expected. We are entering the stall and spin trial and once done, we will take a managerial decision to produce. It has been funded by us.
INTERMEDIATE JET TRAINER: It will come out of the grey and much-delayed stall and spin will be accomplished too. This year you will see it.
FIFTH GENERATION FIGHTER AIRCRAFT PROGRAMME WITH RUSSIA: The committee has submitted its commercial and contractual report to the contract government committee. We hope our government will move on a positive note in the next few months. FGFA our discussion is complete. From our side, confident that this opportunity will not be missed in participating in FGFA.
INDIAN MULTI ROLE HELICOPTER: A full scale mock up of Indian Multi Role Helicopter at our stall and we want it to have a service ceiling of 20,000 ft with carrying capacity of 24 people. Can do all roles including VIP duties.
Progressing on the Mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) front, HAL has developed an 80-kg product with a 15-km day/night range capability. “It is now production-ready for the police, paramilitary services and armed forces,” informed Raju. Mini UAV of 80 kg ready for production. It can do day and night surveillance. Development of 10kg rotary UAV taken up. December 16, 2015 the first flight was done. Upto 500kg class rotary UAVs we want to build, he said.
HAL is investing Rs 210 crore on Rustom-2 with Aeronautical Defence Establishment as partner. It has already partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur to develop a rotary UAV. “Our plan is to get into the 50, 200 and 500 kg class UAVs.”
HAL has notched up its highest ever turnover of Rs 16,736 crore for 2015-16, a 7.14% growth over the previous year. “Profit before tax was Rs 3,288 crore. The current year’s target is Rs 17,100 crore. Our sales till January stood at Rs 10,086 crore,” the CMD informed.
INDO RUSSIA MTA IS DEAD: Multi-role Transport Aircraft is not progressing well. It is currently on a stop mode. No work is going on over the MTA. It was a JV formed with Russia and both governments have put in their money. It will be a collective decision.
SERVICEABILITY: Every HAL supplied platform has 65 per cent serviceability and Sukhoi 30 MKI maximum serviceability of 68 per cent. We have given a proposal to MoD to become Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for Sukhoi in India.
COMMONALITIES OF PARTS FOR HELICOPTERS: Commonality of parts achieved in helicopters is a lot. Except the Light Combat Helicopter, all helicopters have a lot of commonalities.
R & D AT HAL: 6.5 per cent of our budget committed to R&D. Over Rs 1000 cr is the R&D budget. We are the largest among defence PSUs investing in R&D.KAMOV 226T – The shareholding brief has been signed before President Putin and PM Modi during BRICS. We are now awaiting the Russian Presidential clearance and then MoD will lay down the process of making Kamov 226T.