Few coompanies can lay claim to having as many as 10 aircraft planned or under development simultaneously, but India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is doing just that. However, while the Bangalore-based group’s ambitions may be laudable, it remains to be seen how it will face the formidable challenges of its current and planned projects.
Indian Air Force
Team Rafale has won the $10 billion-plus Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition to supply 126 aircraft. The news emerged unofficially from the Indian Ministry of Defence after the Dassault representative was told that the Rafale had finally scored its first export success. The French jet beat the Eurofighter Typhoon in the final MMRCA evaluation round.
According to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) it has flown more than 5,500 strike sorties over the country’s troubled tribal regions since May 2008. In a rare glimpse into Pakistan’s attempt to counter domestic terrorism from the air, the commander of the PAF described some lessons learned to the Air Chiefs Conference here in Dubai on Saturday.
Military aircraft requirements in the Middle East and Asia worth billions of dollars remain unresolved, and will be a major talking point at next week’s Dubai Air Show. Most of the major aerospace companies will have a presence at the show, although the venue is unlikely to provide confirmation of any major order.
India confirmed that it will upgrade its 51 Mirage 2000H fighters, and entered final negotiations with Thales, which will act as prime contractor. The long-delayed deal has been controversial in India because of cost, and the 20- to 25-year age of most of the airframes. Thales would not comment on Indian media reports that the contract could be worth $2.4 billion.
The commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF) said that the IAF would likely acquire at least six more Boeing C-17s and another six Lockheed Martin C-130J airlifters. The first two of six C-130Js already ordered by the IAF have been delivered, and the order for an initial 10 C-17s has been finalized, according to ACM P. V. Naik, who was interviewed for the latest edition of India Strategic magazine.
MBDA Deutschland conducted three firing trials of its PARS 3 LR fire-and-forget precision missile in late April as part of its campaign to sell the weapon to India. Performed at the Vidsel range in Sweden, the test firings were undertaken from a German Eurocopter Tiger UHT helicopter, for which PARS 3 LR has been selected by the German army.
India has selected the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II to answer its requirement for a basic trainer. The procurement of the new aircraft was hastened by the grounding of the piston-powered HAL HPT-32 Deepak fleet in July 2009, following 17 crashes. While waiting for the new trainer to enter service, India’s pilots have begun their instruction in the jet-powered HAL Kiran Mk II or BAE Systems Hawk advanced trainers.
India’s growing helicopter market is fueling the need for helicopter MRO services, and Indian companies are stepping in to meet the demand.
India’s civil aviation authority, the DGCA, is considering grounding all Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Dhruvs until the airframe is modified around the intermediate gearbox (IGB) in the tail fin. In some helicopters, “cracks were observed on the rib bottom of the IGB [and an associated area],” according to a proposed airworthiness directive issued in March.