Monday, January 07, 2019

Slugfest apart, HAL key to future aviation projects

New Delhi: Even as the BJP and the Congress continue to spar over the role of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Rafale jet deal or ‘Make in India’, the Bengaluru-headquartered public sector undertaking holds key to India’s future aviation projects, be it fighter jets, helicopters or aero-engines.
On HAL’s success hinges New Delhi self-reliance targets in military aviation. Having multi-crore (see chart) turnover, HAL is a public listed company with the Ministry of Defence holding majority stake.
In case of fighter jets, the HAL is listed to make 123 Tejas planes; of these 20 are called the initial operational clearance (IOC) version and another 20 the FOC version. The IOC version is already being supplied to the IAF while the FOC version production would commence by this year-end. The remaining 83 are the Tejas Mark 1A, which will come with 43 improvements.
The future is the twin-engined Tejas Mark II that will have more powerful engine and some 201 of these are to be produced. Apart from this, the government has tasked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with developing an advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) and flying a prototype by 2020. The HAL is listed to be the lead integrator of the plane.
The big story is of helicopters: The armed forces have projected the need for some 800 light-utility, armed and attack versions of choppers.
06/01/19 Ajay Banerjee/Tribune