Monday, April 19, 2021

HAL to flaunt local aircraft at Aero India in ‘Aatmanirbhar’ formation

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Locally produced aircraft and choppers will form part of the air display at the upcoming Aero India 2021, Asia’s largest air show, with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Friday announcing that its indigenous aircraft will fly in the “Aatmanirbhar formation” at the event, showcasing India’s focus on becoming self-reliant in the defence sector.

The air show will be staged at Yelahanka, outside Bengaluru, from February 3-5.

“HAL will showcase its prowess in defence and aerospace centered on the theme ‘Conceive. Indigenise. Collaborate’,” the state-owned plane maker said in a statement.

The “Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight” in the trainer segment will feature the light combat aircraft (LCA) trainer, Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) jets, the intermediate jet trainer, advanced Hawk Mk-132 aircraft (Hawk-i) and the Dornier-228 transport plane, the statement said.

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More than 600 exhibitors are taking part in the biennial show, including 78 foreign exhibitors. A 48,000 crore deal for 83 advanced LCA aircraft for the Indian Air Force could be signed during the air show, officials familiar with the development said.

“Sukhoi 30 MKI, advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, light combat helicopter (LCH), light utility helicopter (LUH) will also take part in the flying display,” HAL said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government has taken various steps to boost self-reliance in the defence sector and India will be known as a producer of military equipment, instead of being a market. India has set a target of $5 billion worth of defence exports by 2024.

On January 13, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by the Prime Minister, approved a much-awaited 48,000 crore proposal to buy 83 advanced Tejas jets to bolster the IAF’s combat potential.

The aircraft to be ordered include 73 Mk-1A fighter jets and 10 LCA Mk-1 trainer aircraft. The deal could be signed at the show next week, the officials said.

HAL is expected to provide the first Mk-1A deliveries to the IAF three years after the deal is signed, with all the aircraft likely to be delivered by 2028-29. The Mk-1A programme is expected to generate thousands of jobs and will involve the participation of more than 500 Indian companies.

The deal for the 83 Mk-1A jets will take the total number of Tejas variants ordered to 123.

The 40 LCAs already ordered by the IAF are in the initial operational clearance (IOC) and the more advanced final operational clearance (FOC) configurations. The LCA Mk-1A will come with additional improvements over the FOC aircraft, making it the most advanced Tejas variant so far.

The Mk-1A variant will come with digital radar warning receivers, external self-protection jammer pods, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, advanced beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles and significantly improved maintainability.

In August, the defence ministry gave its go-ahead for the purchase of military equipment worth 8,722 crore, including 106 locally made HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft for the IAF to provide a push to the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (self-reliant India movement).

Basic trainers figure in the government’s negative import list that seeks to ban the import of 101 different types of weapons, systems and ammunition over the next five years.

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