The Indian Army has placed a $77 million order with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) for 20 Cheetal helicopters, a re-engined variant of the Aerospatiale SA 316B Lama that was built under license in India as the Cheetah. The order is a short-term measure for logistics support to the Indian troops on the Siachen Glacier because of delays to the twice-bid competition for 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters (RSH).
Indian Air Force
India’s indigenous airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system made its debut at Aero India 2013. The Embraer 145 flew on the opening day and remained in the static for two more days. A cutaway scale model on display revealed the operator positions and equipment placement, and further details were made available by the Center for Air Borne Systems of Defense Research and Development Organization (CABS-DRDO).
Indian light helicopter requirements remain subject to a bureaucratic procurement process. The program to acquire 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters (RSH) is close to being scrapped, but Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has inked a contract for 187 light utility helicopters (LUH). HAL is also proposing the LUH for a new Indian Navy requirement. Meanwhile, HAL continues to develop its light combat helicopter (LCH), which first flew in March 2010.
The integration of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile on 40 of the Indian air force (IAF) Su-30MKI fleet of combat aircraft is proceeding this year. The land- and ship-launched version of the highly maneuverable, supersonic, anti-ship cruise missile have already been tested successfully.
One of the three PC-7 Mark II trainers that Pilatus has delivered to the Indian air force (IAF) was on display at Aero India. It was assembled at the IAF Academy in Hyderabad, and shown in Pilatus corporate livery with Indian air force insignia.
Pilatus is scheduled to deliver 14 aircraft by June, so that the first squadron can be formed and begin pilot training. All 75 aircraft on order are slated for delivery by the end of 2015. A follow-on order for 37 is expected. The PC-7 Mark II is replacing aging HAL HPT-32 Deepaks, which are suffering from engine and other failures.
Defense contractors flocked to Bangalore for the Aero India show this week, even as the Indian government confirmed that the years of plenty might be over. Defense minister A.K. Anthony confirmed that his spending would be cut in the fiscal year that starts in April, although not on “operational preparedness.”
The Indo-Russian joint venture Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd. (MTAL) exhibited for the first time at Aero India in Bangalore this week. Under the leadership of general director N.C. Agarwal, the company was established by a framework agreement signed in October 2012 between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and United Aircraft Corporation’s Transport Aircraft division.
Rosoboronexport reported a new Indian order for 12 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters at the Aero India show this week amid hopes that some 200 of them could eventually be sold to India. To date, Russian Helicopters has delivered 36 of the 80 machines that were ordered in 2008 in a deal worth more than $1.3 billion. Deliveries to the Indian Air Force commenced in 2011. The latest order comprises three in VIP transport configuration, and nine for the Indian Coast Guard.
Embraer believes it stands to benefit from the Indian military’s desire to maximize commonality in its fleet of aircraft in a bid to control maintenance costs. Five of the Brazilian manufacturer’s Legacy jets are in use with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Border Security Force for functions such as transporting government officials and visiting foreign dignitaries.
Following Indian defense minister A.K Antony’s revelation to AIN yesterday that the country’s defense budget will be cut for the next fiscal year beginning in April, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne has laid out the Indian Air Force priorities for procurement.