HAL – In Ser­vice of the Na­tion

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Gopal Su­tar

BAN­GA­LORE. Hindustan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL), one of Asia’s largest aerospace Com­pa­nies and a Navratna Public Sec­tor En­ter­prise un­der the Min­istry of De­fence is the back­bone of In­dian de­fence forces. It has evolved into a premier aero­nau­ti­cal com­plex with 20 pro­duc­tion di­vi­sions and 11 R& D Cen­tres with ex­per­tise en­com­pass­ing de­sign, pro­duc­tion, re­pair, over­haul and up­grade of Air­craft, He­li­copters, Aero-en­gines, Ac­ces­sories, Avion­ics and Sys­tems.

HAL be­gan its op­er­a­tions as a ma­jor cen­tre for main­te­nance, re­pair and over­haul of bombers, aero-en­gines, and trans­port air­craft and was a strate­gic over­haul cen­tre dur­ing World War II. Hav­ing gained sig­nif­i­cant ex­per­tise in aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing, and pur­su­ing sel­f­re­liance, HAL trans­formed it­self into a prin­ci­pal de­sign cen­tre suc­cess­fully rolling out train­ers such as Hindustan Trainer (HT)-2, Hindustan Pis­ton Trainer ( HPT)- 32 ‘ Deepak’ and fighter air­craft Hindustan Fighter (HF)-24 ‘Marut’ con­stantly sup­port­ing the needs of the In­dian Armed Forces par­tic­u­larly the In­dian Air Force (IAF).

In the past 75-year his­tory, HAL’s en­deav­ors have pri­mar­ily been on meet­ing the var­ied re­quire­ments of In­dia’s De­fence Forces. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully pro­duced a trainer HT- 2, HAL went on to de­sign and man­u­fac­ture Hindustan Jet Trainer (HJT)-16 ‘Ki­ran’ for training pur­pose. HAL played its part in the cre­ation of IAF’s aer­o­batic team ‘Surya Ki­ran’ that has en­thralled mil­lions of en­thu­si­asts around the world since its for­ma­tion in 1996. Apart from its in­dige­nous for­ays, HAL took up li­cense pro­duc­tion of jet fighter Vam­pire, the Fol­land Gnat and trans­port air­craft Avro HS-748 and Do-228.

HAL later took up li­cense pro­duc­tion of MiG- 21 vari­ants, MiG- 23, MiG-27 and MiG-29 pro­vid­ing cru­cial com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity to the In­dian Air Force. The IAF has been us­ing these Rus­sian ori­gin fighter air­craft since the 60s.

HAL for­ayed into ro­tary wing pro­duc­tion to ad­dress IAF’s re­quire­ment of a light and high­alti­tude he­li­copter in early 70s. It started the pro­duc­tion of Chee­tah/ Chetak he­li­copters un­der ToT from France and these he­li­copters

have been the main­stay of In­dian De­fence Forces ever since. Against the back­drop of this suc­cess, HAL de­signed, de­vel­oped and started the pro­duc­tion of the Ad­vanced Light He­li­copter ( ALH) Dhruv ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing in chal­leng­ing ge­o­graph­i­cal ter­rains. ALH, the work horse of In­dian De­fence Forces has be­come a bench­mark for the ro­tor­craft in­dus­try and its suc­cess­ful in­duc­tion has fur­ther led to weaponised ver­sion - ‘Ru­dra’ (ALH-WSI). Based on the ex­pe­ri­ence on this valu­able plat­form, HAL de­signed and de­vel­oped Light Com­bat He­li­copter (LCH) and Light Util­ity He­li­copter (LUH).

Con­tin­u­ing its quest for sel­f­re­liance, HAL took up the Light Com­bat Air­craft ( LCA- Te­jas) pro­gramme in the early 80s with other agen­cies to ad­dress two pri­mary pur­poses, one to de­velop a re­place­ment for In­dia’s age­ing MiG-21 fight­ers and se­condly to pro­vide im­pe­tus for ad­vance­ment of In­dia’s do­mes­tic avi­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity. LCA Te­jas was in­ducted into IAF squadron on July 1, 2016.

The pro­duc­tion of Sukhoi - 30 MKI was a cru­cial chal­lenge taken up by HAL and it pro­vides the IAF a lead­ing edge in its strike ca­pa­bil­ity. HAL’s tech­ni­cal know- how, its in­fra­struc­ture and its ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­vide life­time sup­port has been a de­ci­sive fac­tor in pro­duc­tion of Su-30 MKI.

HAL has de­vel­oped ex­per­tise in air­craft up­grade over the pe­riod of time with suc­cess­ful pro­grammes like Jaguar NAVWASS air­craft to DARIN- II Stan­dard, MiG- 21 BIS, MiG- 27M, Sea Har­rier, HS- 748 ( Avro), Do- 228, Chee­tah and Chetak he­li­copter re-en­gin­ing and up­grade. Cur­rently, de­sign and de­vel­op­ment is pro­gress­ing on the up­grades of Jaguar air­craft (DARINIII) and Mi­rage 2000.

HAL to­day pro­vides on­estop so­lu­tions for all the de­sign needs of air­craft and he­li­copters in air­frames, air­frame sys­tems, avion­ics, mis­sion and com­bat sys­tems us­ing ad­vanced de­sign tools. The pro­duc­tion di­vi­sions of HAL are equipped with mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture for pro­duc­tion of fighter, trainer, trans­port air­craft and he­li­copters. HAL sup­ports over 75 per cent of the en­tire fleet of the In­dian Air Force. The cur­rent work­force is around 30,000 with over 50 per cent hav­ing more than a decade of air­craft in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence.

HAL has built strong plat­forms in the In­dian aerospace in­dus­try. Its thrust on R& D, mean­ing­ful part­ner­ships with pri­vate sec­tor, and co-de­vel­op­ment/co-pro­duc­tion of air­craft, en­gines, and equip­ment with lead­ing global aerospace com­pa­nies will not just meet In­dia’s de­fence re­quire­ments but also in­crease ex­ports of aerospace prod­ucts in the years to come.

With the in­dige­nous de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of Light Util­ity He­li­copter ( LUH) and Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 pro­gress­ing, HAL’s ex­tra­or­di­nary jour­ney is poised to fur­ther shape the fu­ture of In­dian De­fence and meet the grow­ing as­pi­ra­tions of a self-re­liant In­dia by boost­ing the Govern­ment’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme in the de­fence sec­tor.

T Su­varna Raju Chair­man and Manag­ing Direc­tor of Hindustan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited

Su-30

ALH Dhruv LCA Mk-I Te­jas twin-seat ver­sion Ru­dra: Weaponised ver­sion of Dhruv HTT40

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