HAL to make 57 more jet trainers for IAF, navy (Lead)

August 14th, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 14 (IANS) The Indian defence acquisition council has approved procurement of 57 additional Hawks, the advanced jet trainers (AJTs), for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the navy from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major said here Thursday. Of the 57 additional Hawks, to be manufactured by the HAL aircraft division in its Bangalore complex, the air force will induct 40 and the navy 17 of the naval variant in phases.

“The fresh order will strengthen our Hawk fleet, which will have 66 aircraft by 2011-12, including 24 in fly-away condition from its original manufacturer British BAE Systems and 42 to be built by HAL over the next three years. HAL will also maintain the fleet,” Major told reporters here after taking the delivery of the first indigenously-built Hawk AJT from HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja at a function.

Major and Baweja, however, did not disclose the cost of the additional acquisition as price negotiations were still on.

For the present deal, the Indian government paid Rs.80 billion ($1.85 billion) to buy and produce the aircraft under the license agreement signed in March 2004 after years of negotiations and evaluation process.

“We have been conducting the Hawk training course for our rookie pilots to transcend from sub-sonic to super-sonic frontline fighter aircraft since March with the first batch of eight AJTs delivered by BAE. The induction of more Hawks will enable us to train more pilots to the complexities of operational combat flying,” Major pointed out.

The Hawks will replace the Russian-built MiG-21 jets currently being used for advanced training at operational units of the air force.

“The induction of Hawks is based on the recommendation of the La Fontaine committee, which found the co-relation between the pattern of our training and the aircraft accidents. It had then (1982) recommended the acquisition of suitable operational transitional aircraft to bridge the performance gap of the pilots to fly the frontline fighter aircraft,” Major recalled.

The procurement of additional Hawks also assumes significance, as the IAF is evaluating bids of global aerospace majors to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) at an estimated $10 billion in place of the ageing MiG-21 fleet and its upgraded versions - MiG-27 and MiG-29.

“The Hawk meets our long-standing desire to fill the gap in training our pilots for present and future needs. It will go a long way in improving the quality of our pilots and prepare them well.

“In the operation of the modern state-of-the-art fighter induction, we expect the Hawk to smoothen the process of transition from a trainer aircraft to frontline fighter by providing the pilots with progressive increase in performance and execution of complex acts,” Major pointed out.

For the manufacture of 42 Hawk Mk 132 aircraft, BAE has supplied to HAL fuselage, kits for equipping them, wings, accessories and materials for 20 defined assemblies. HAL’s avionics divisions at Hyderabad and Korwa will provide the integrated navigation and attack system.

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