Letters

HAL and defence preparedness

Pavan K. Varma’s article, “ >Under-armed and underprepared” (Editorial page, June 4, 2015), reflected little understanding of the aerospace industry and the workings of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., which has indigenously produced 15 types of aircraft and helicopters. For example, the article criticises HAL-produced trainers like the HPT 32 without considering that this trainer aircraft is one that has served the Indian Air Force (IAF) from 1984 to 1997. HAL produced nearly 150 of them. The type logged around four lakh hours of flying and thousands of IAF pilots have trained on it, although its subsequent grounding could be a separate topic to deliberate on. HAL has supplied, and even now supports, nearly 75 per cent of the IAF’s trainer aircraft needs.

The Kiran Mk-II has been the mainstay of the IAF since 1984. In fact, during the ‘Aero India 2015’ air show in February in Bengaluru, an announcement of an extension of its maintenance for a further three to four years was made.

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), is the most misunderstood project. There is little awareness of the initial challenges the project faced, especially the complexities involved in producing a fighter plane without technological help from the developed world.

The project belonged to the era when the West denied technology to India. Apart from HAL, several major agencies from India are involved in the LCA’s design and development.

The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is in an advanced stage of development and undergoing testing at HAL; there are three prototypes that are flying. Approximately 500 flights, of more than 350 flight hours, have been completed on these prototypes towards certification of the platform. The basic platform is proven. The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) is being targeted by the end of this year, with limited series production being planned in 2016-17 after this.

HAL has constantly worked towards strengthening India’s defence preparedness. It supports the maintenance of age-old platforms of the country’s defence forces through indigenisation.

The company’s activities in this area include development and import substitution efforts, needed in the manufacture as well as in the repair and overhaul of aircraft, engines and associated systems. Every year, more than 2,000 items are indigenised, with considerable foreign exchange savings.

Gopal Sutar,

Chief of Media Communications,

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited,

Bengaluru

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 5:53:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/hal-and-defence-preparedness/article7282988.ece

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