India to buy 20 more Hawk jets for aerobatics team

September 14th, 2012 - 4:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) India has initiated the process of buying 20 additional Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) from British aerospace major BAE Systems for over Rs.2,000 crore ($340 million) to equip the Surya Kiran aerobatics team of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has issued a tender (Request for Proposal or RFP in defence parlance) to BAE Systems for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of the 20 Hawks in the near future, according to the British firm.

“BAE Systems has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft,” the company said in a release here.

“The aircraft, to be built by HAL in Bangalore, will fulfill the Indian Air Force’s requirement for its prestigious aerobatic team,” it said.

The Surya Kiran team, which was temporarily disbanded, was using the HAL-built, indigenous Kiran MkII jets that are now being used to train rookie pilots following the July 2009 grounding of the entire HPT-32 piston-engined planes in the backdrop of an air crash.

When the tender fructifies, the order will be the third that India will place for Hawks with BAE Systems. The first for 66 planes was in 2004 and the second for 57 planes in 2010. The first two orders are cumulatively worth over Rs.12,300 crore (over $2 billion).

BAE Systems had recently completed delivery of products and services for the first batch of 66 Hawks for the IAF to help it train rookie fighter pilots in the stage three flying training before they graduate on to supersonic planes such as the MiG-21s.

The 2004 order comprised supply of 24 Hawk aircraft in fly-away condition by BAE Systems and 42 aircraft built under license by HAL.

“Under these contracts, BAE Systems has worked closely with the Indian ministry of defence and HAL to establish a production line in India, where the aircraft are now assembled,” the firm said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to build on the success of the Hawk in India and demonstrates the progress we are making in capturing significant opportunities to address the defence modernization requirements of the Indian government. Together with HAL, we look forward to giving the Indian Air Force’s display team a fantastic aircraft,” BAE Systems’ group managing director (international) Guy Griffiths said.

The world-renowned Red Arrows aerobatics team of the Royal Air Force also performs with the Hawks.

The potential addition to the Indian fleet, one of the largest fleets of Hawks anywhere in the world, would take the number of such aircraft ordered worldwide to over 1,000.

Apart from India and Britain, the Hawk is flown in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

BAE Systems and HAL are also holding discussions on exploring long-term sustainable business opportunities globally.

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