The recent Aero India show was a magnet for many international aerospace companies that are chasing various Indian procurements. In the airlift category, Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six C-130Js that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will use especially for the transport of special forces. The manufacturer signed a joint venture with Tata to produce C-130J airframe parts, amid suggestions that the IAF might buy another six Hercules.
Indian Air Force
India's indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), the Tejas, was flown in formation at the Aero India show this month, with a two-seat version was on display in the static park. The Tejas MkI received initial operational clearance in January, and full operational clearance is due next year. Changes in weapons, sensors and avionics will be made according to Indian Air Force (IAF) requirements.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has an ambitious plan to design, develop and manufacture 1,500 helicopters in next 10 years. According to a senior HAL official, "100 of those will be advanced light helicopters (ALH), 300 will be light utility helicopters (LUH) and the rest will be multi-role helicopters (MRH)." HAL will invest $4.4 billion to modernize and expand its capacity to execute current orders worth $22 billion.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) selected the General Electric F414 turbofan engine to power the second batch of indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), also known as the Tejas. GE’s bid was lower than that of rival contender Eurojet for supply of the EJ200, the DRDO said. The American company previously supplied 41 F404 engines to power the development and initial production LCA Mk Is.
India will join Russia in the development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) as well as a multirole transport aircraft (MTA). At a meeting in Delhi, the defense ministers of both countries confirmed the projects, although India has not yet signed a draft $300 million preliminary design contract for the FGFA. The MTA agreement was signed last month, when Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
India signed a contract for 57 more BAE Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs), all to be manufactured under license at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) factory in Bangalore. A previous contract provided 24 Hawk AJTs from the BAE Systems production line in the UK, six more in kit form for assembly by HAL, and 36 to be license-built.
Sweden is advancing its own Gripen development path alongside that of the Gripen Next Generation aircraft intended for export, which is currently awaiting the outcome of major competitions in Brazil and India. The Swedish air force is now talking openly about a JAS 39E/F version that would draw on many of the technologies being applied to the NG program.
This week’s Farnborough airshow will provide the closest look yet at what Irkut Corp. plans to deliver when it completes development of its MC-21 airliner family. The Russian company has had an almost full-scale mockup of the single-aisle transport produced in the U.S. and it will unveil it here today.
HAL on March 29 made the first flight of its light combat helicopter (LCH) prototype, conducting hover tests for around 15 minutes at Bangalore, India. At the controls were group captain Unni Pillai and group captain Hari Nair. Ground runs began in early February.
Potential bidders for a 75-aircraft Indian air force basic trainer requirement met this week for a pre-bid conference. India has issued a dozen manufacturers a request for proposals, with responses due by March 17. Delivery of the first 12 aircraft is expected within two years of a contract award, ruling out anything other than an off-the-shelf purchase.