1.India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has been getting delayed, what is the latest update and what is happening with the naval version?
Ans:LCA is a prestigious national project in which HAL is the lead production agency and ADA is the lead designer. At present the design and production activities are going concurrently. However, HAL is geared up to commence delivery against the current order for LCA within three to six months of the aircraft certification (Initial Operation Clearance - IOC). We hope that ADA achieves IOC by the second quarter of 2013.
We have already initiated proactive action pertaining to tooling, assembly jigs and build requirements and we are in the process of streamlining various productionization activities which would lead to ramping up of production rate.
The maiden flight of the Naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), NP-1, was carried out successfully on April 27, 2012. Flight with undercarriage retraction was carried out on June 27, 2012. Presently the Naval LCA is being prepared for shore based testing facility trials.
2.Media reports indicate that HAL cannot and does not have the capacity to take in work orders and deliver on time when the 126 MMRCA deal is finalised. Your comments.
Ans:We are fully ready and geared up for MMRCA assignment. It is important to know that over the last 70 years of existence HAL has designed and manufactured 29 types of aircraft. This proves that the fundamental are in place to take-up any project including MMRCA.
HAL has taken up many programs under Licence manufacturing and has successfully absorbed the technology and completed the programs. And are confident that if the documentation is complete and there are no mismatches, we will be able to absorb the technology quickly and meet the challenging program timelines.
The price negotiations of the MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) project have begun. HAL has been designated as the lead production agency. The process for setting up the required infrastructure for the project has already been initiated by HAL to meet the challenging timelines. A dedicated team under the leadership of a General Manager has already been put in place to co-ordinate and oversee all the activities pertaining to the MMRCA project. HAL has finalized the factory sites at Bangalore for the manufacture of aircraft and engine and activities for infrastructural build up are under progress.
3.How many Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) 'Dhruv' been exported so far? Latin American countries are very keen to buy these helicopters, is this correct.
Ans:HAL so far has exported 10 "Dhruv" helicopters ; 7 to Ecuador, 2 to Nepal and 1 to Mauritius. In addition, one ALH is in operation in Maldives. ALH is considered one of the best helicopters in 5.5 tones class in the world.
Yes, quite a few Latin American countries viz. Chile, Brazil, Columbia etc have evinced keen interest in the “Dhruv” helicopter. HAL is actively following the leads to expand the footprints of the “Dhruv” helicopter in the global market.
4.'What are your expansion plans for HAL?
HAL has adopted two-pronged strategy towards new business development. First approach is to consolidate our existing businesses and the second is to explore new opportunities and businesses. A new strategic electronic factory was recently inaugurated in Kasaragod, Kerala in November 2012, which will be engaged in production of avionics systems.
We have planned state of the art manufacturing facilities for MMRCA, LUH and the Medium Lift Helicopters projects.
Centres of Excellence in Transmission and Composites and a separate factory for manufacturing engines for helicopters exclusively are also being conceived.
LCA production facilities will be augmented to increase the production up to 16 aircraft per year. Helicopter Division facilities will be augmented to take up the production of LCH in addition to the current ALH production.
In addition, the Company is in the process of finalizing the Modernisation Plan considering the current and new programs, the delivery schedules and the required rate of production. The plan would provide a road map for creation of new facilities, induction of new technologies, augmentation/upgradation of existing facilities to cater to the Design & Development and manufacturing activities.
Outsourcing is being planned in a big way and HAL has drawn up plans to outsource more than 30% of the manufacturing task. This strategy would enable HAL ease the capacity and will allow us to focus on high value addition jobs or new business opportunities. The company is also exploring to enter into allied fields to widen its product and service profile. Also, we are pursuing strategic business alliances through partnership, Joint Ventures, with OEMs to gain access to technology and access to the global market, and we aim to leverage the Indian market to gain access to the global market.
5.In November 2012, the govt announced 10% disinvestment and restructuring of HAL --- what has happened since then?
Ans:The decisions related to disinvestment are taken at the Governmental levels. The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) had informed in September 2011 that Defence Minister has consented for disinvestment of 10% stake in HAL through an Initial Public Offer (IPO). The MoD had thereafter, constituted an Expert Group in October 2011 under the Chairmanship of B K Chaturvedi, former Cabinet Secretary and Member Planning Commission on Strengthening and Restructuring of HAL. The Group submitted its report along with recommendations to the Government on 7th September 2012, which is under consideration of the Ministry.
6.Why did the MoD reject HAL's proposal to build basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF)?
Ans:MOD has not rejected HAL’s proposal. The sanction for the design and development of the Basic Trainer Aircraft is awaited. To save on the timelines, HAL has initiated the development activities with its own funding. Most of the preliminary design activities including configuration studies & sizing, cockpit layout finalization, wind tunnel model testing have been completed. Fabrication of a full scale functional mock-up is under progress. We are planning to showcase a mock-up of HTT-40 during the upcoming Aero-India 2013.
On the cost front, the estimated cost of HAL built trainer is comparable with the other basic trainer aircraft available today and not the twice as claimed by some. The cost comparison should be done by taking into account “life cycle cost or through life sustainment cost” ensuring the maintenance support to the fleet for the next 30 years in which HAL will be competitive.
7.What about the project to build an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) which has been delayed for 13 years already.
Ans:The IJT project of HAL is presently in at an advanced stage of development. Two prototype aircraft and three Limited Series production aircraft are being flight tested towards obtaining IOC. The design modifications have been made on IJT and flight testing has recommenced since February 2012.
I do feel that the loss of any aircraft needs to be avoided, however, such incidents of loss of prototypes have occurred in many such development programs undertaken in other countries as well. We have faced major delays in getting the new Russian engines for IJT. These issues are being sorted out.
HAL is making all out efforts to achieve the IOC as quickly as possible. The project is being closely monitored to ensure that any support / decisions required are given in a fast track mode. More than 600 flights have been completed so far. However, considering the number of test flights that need to be completed, the IOC is expected during the second half of 2013.
8. The indigenisation of the Sukhoi aircraft has more or less remained a pipe dream. It was supposed to reach an indigenisation level of 50-55 per cent in Phase IV of the delivery schedule. Your comments
Ans:The 1st phase-IV Su-30 aircraft was delivered in the fiscal 2010-11. The Transfer of Technology as planned in each of the four Phases has been completed. The level of indigenization has now exceeded 50%. In fact, we signed a contract for 42 numbers of Su-30 MKI frontline Fighter Aircraft with the Ministry of Defence and Russian firm Rosoboronexport in New Delhi on December 24, 2012. HAL’s total responsibility for this supersonic multirole aircraft has now gone up to 222. This will further boost our confidence and operations as we have already delivered 119 Su-30 aircraft to the Air Force. The Su-30 MKI project provides solid platform to indigenous manufacturing and technical competence creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. HAL’s hand-holding with private entrepreneurs has also ensured creation of strong infrastructure and quality avionics products. Today, 157 Indian vendors are involved in providing 13,350 components of the aircraft while another 19,450 components are manufactured at HAL’s Nasik and Koraput Divisions.
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