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IAF to get 40 more Hawk AJTs

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A file photo of a Hawk advanced jet trainer.
A file photo of a Hawk advanced jet trainer.

Ravi Sharma

Under a $1.75 b. contract, India is already buying 66 of these

BANGALORE: The Air Force, which is acquiring 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) designed and developed by BAE Systems, has prevailed upon the government to allow it to procure another 40 out of the 57 additional Hawks that are to be bought. The Navy will get 17.

Under a contract worth around $1.75 billion signed in March 2004, India is already buying 66 Hawk AJTs, with 24 of these aircraft being built in the United Kingdom by BAE Systems, and the remaining 42 manufactured under ‘licence build’ in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

While HAL is hoping to complete manufacturing the initial batch of 42 Hawks in 36 months — with the first aircraft scheduled to roll out in March — official sources told The Hindu that work on the other 57 could start in 2011-12.

But officials at HAL also admit that to manufacture 42 Hawks between 2008 and 2010-11 is an extremely challenging task. Under the schedule, the Hawk production, which has been divided into three phases, will peak during the second phase (starting 2009-end) with HAL hoping to turn out one aircraft every month during this phase. This phase will undoubtedly be the most technically challenging since HAL will have to indigenise a number of components and systems during it.

The first two Hawks manufactured for the Air Force flew into India from the BAE Systems facilities in Brough, East Yorkshire, and made their maiden landing in India at Air Force Station, Jamnagar (Gujarat), in mid November, before flying to their designated base at Air Force Station Bidar (Karnataka).

Ten more British built (direct supply) Hawks are scheduled to be inducted into the Air Force by mid February. Training of Hawk air crew has already begun in England and Wales.

While HAL will benefit from the additional order, it is also an indication that the Air Force is apprehensive over the long delay in the delivery of the HAL designed and developed intermediate jet trainer (IJT), the Hindustan Jet Trainer (HJT) -36. The HJT-36 which is expected to become the backbone of the Air Force’s pilot training programme will replace the aging workhorse, the Kiran HJT-16. But HAL, which received an order for 12 aircraft, has been unable to meet even revised delivery schedules.

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