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HAL aims to make indigenous AJTs
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
Having secured contracts from the Airbus Industries and the Bell Helicopters earlier during the year, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is now looking at arming the IAF with indigenously designed and manufactured Advance Jet Trainers (AJTs), which would perform alongside the British Aerospace (BAE) Hawks being purchased by India.

Speaking to journalists after presenting the dividend cheque of almost Rs 82 crore to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, HAL Chairman N. R. Mohanty said his team was already working on the design and concept of an indigenous AJT, which he was hoping to produce after 2010.

Mr Mohanty hopes to get the government clearance for the AJT by next year, a few months after a detail specification report is presented to the Ministry of Defence and hopes to start production once the local production of Hawks gets over by 2010. While the first of the Hawks would be delivered to the IAF by 2007, HAL starts the local manufacturing of the 44 Hawks from 2008 and complete it by 2010, after which the indigenous AJT would be on roll.

According to Mr Mohanty, the first prototype of the indigenous AJT would be ready within 39 months from the day of the government clearance. He pointed out that not only was the government serious about the project, even the IAF was supporting the HAL.

The indigenous AJT would be superior to the Hawks but would have twin engines and have more of composite ingredient than metal. It would also be able to double up as a fighter aircraft in the time of need.

Incidentally, the HAL has already developed an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), which would eventually replace the Kiran trainers with the IAF presently. Having been designed by the HAL itself, the company also set an international benchmark of producing the first IJT prototype within 20 months of its clearance.

HAL is hoping that the IJT would be inducted into the IAF by 2007, the year by which it also hopes to start the delivery of Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) designed by the Bangalore-based company. While the three prototypes of the LCA have already undertaken 270 flight tests, they are all now also flying at supersonic speed.

Seeing its progress, the IAF has also placed a limited series production order of eight aircraft with the HAL, which it hopes to start delivering by 2007.

However, Mr Mohanty was sceptical about the indigenously developed Kaveri engine for Tejas. The engine has been undergoing tests but according to the HAL chairman, the DRDO is still struggling with it.

Meanwhile, India and Israel, having become strategic partners in the field of defence, have now tied up for the marketing of the HAL-designed and produced multi-role advance light helicopter, Dhruv.

This was disclosed here today by Mr N.R. Mohanty. He said an agreement had been reached with IAI of Israel for incorporating their avionics on board the Dhruv for the countries which make a demand for it. Admitting that India was a new player in the international sale arena, he said Israel had been chosen as it has very advance avionics, which is recognised the world over.

The HAL, which has also tied up for the design and production of a high-powered engine for Dhruv, is hoping to achieve good sales in the international market.


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