Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and its predominant customer, Indian Air Force, have decided to work out ‘joint plans’ to deal with the military aircraft projects that are on between them. The move is aimed at ironing out issues related to the projects and their prompt delivery. Project-specific plans and teams are expected to get under way in a month’s time, according to senior HAL officials.

A HAL release on Saturday said the decision was an outcome of the half-yearly commanders’ conference held at the Air Headquarters in New Delhi on Friday.

Top IAF commanders, officials of the Ministry of Defence and HAL’s top management reviewed the ongoing IAF projects being handled by the HAL, and the challenges related to them. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, was quoted as saying, “Hand-holding is important considering the challenges involved on the manufacturing and operational fronts.”

HAL Chairman R.K. Tyagi suggested that a new, single group be formed to deal with foreign OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) on all matters of equipment bought by the three defence wings and other agencies. A successful example for this is Russia’s military commercial arm Rosoboronexport.

Currently OEMs supply products to multiple agencies such as the Air Force, the Army, the Navy and the Coast Guard but generally at different prices and terms.

According to Mr. Tyagi: “There [can be] greater cohesion, understanding and mutual benefits when the OEMs are dealt with from one platform.” HAL makes or maintains 80 per cent of the IAF’s inventory.

The conference discussed issues related to the fighter planes, namely the MiGs (21, 27, 29); Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage and Jaguar; trainer aircraft Hawk, Kiran and the recently acquired Swiss-made Pilatus; transport planes Avro and Dornier; helicopters Chetak/Cheetah, Cheetal and the Dhruv light helicopter, besides remotely piloted or unmanned aircraft and the target practice vehicle Lakshya, among others.

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