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Home » Focus » India Begins Trials For Basic Trainer Aircraft:Self-Reliance In Reverse Gear -D Raghunandan

India Begins Trials For Basic Trainer Aircraft:Self-Reliance In

Reverse Gear -D Raghunandan
• September 20, 2010 11:19 am

• Focus, Science & Technology

• no comments

What do you say when one of the developing world’s leading

industrial and technological nations, an emerging Asian giant knocking on the doors of global power status, goes shopping for the
most rudimentary of aircraft? And this when the nation has a huge state-sector aircraft manufacturing industry, among the largest in
the world, coupled with an impressive (at least on paper) design-development capability poised to take on challenges in fourth and
even fifth generation fighter aircraft? Well, what one says is that the story of the Indian aircraft industry is one of self-reliance now
fully in reverse gear, at best a story of incompetence and mismanagement, at worst a massive con job even in the vital defence

The Defence Ministry announced last week that trials were about to commence in Jamnagar in Gujarat for evaluating 6 rival
contenders for an Indian Air Force order for 75 Basic Trainer aircraft with a possible additional 106 aircraft to be manufactured by
the defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) through technology transfer. The Ministry’s Request for Proposal (RFP) calls for
bids for “recently certified aircraft” indicating that the IAF wants these trainer aircraft to remain in its inventory for around two to three

India has already acquired Hawk-132 Advanced Jet Trainers from the UK and, while the nation anxiously awaits the indigenous
Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) from HAL, the Basic Trainer order will complete the modernization of the Trainer fleet of the IAF. At
the same time, the long-delayed modernization of the active duty fleet is gathering momentum rapidly, what with the expanding SU-
30 MKI fleet, the forthcoming upgradation of the Mirage 2000 and the highly anticipated acquisition of 126 or more Medium Multi-
Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). But all kinds of uncertainty surrounds the ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), and the soon-to-be-
signed deals for development of a Fifth Generation Fighter as well as a Multi-Role Transport Aircraft are essentially Russian
ventures with a fig leaf of co-development by India. All these involve at best some local manufacture under license and will not
translate into building of design-development capability in India. In any case, with the Air Force requirements for the next several
decades rapidly being filled through the foreign acquisition route, it appears that virtually the last door to self-reliant growth of the
Indian aircraft industry has now been shut for several decades to come if not permanently, since the gap between indigenous
capability and the demands of advanced aviation will only widen further.

Crisis in Trainers The crisis in Trainer aircraft has been many years in the making, and advanced planning could have averted it
while also promoting indigenous capability and self-reliance. Fighter pilots are trained in stages, each stage calling for a more
advanced type of aircraft. The Stage-1 basic or ab-initio training in which a recruit first learns how to fly is conducted in a Basic
Trainer, usually a light propeller aircraft but with good aerobatic capabilities so that the rookie pilot can be put through his or her
paces over a fairly wide range. Stage-2 or intermediate training is done on a jet aircraft which takes pilot capability to the next level
whereas Stage-3 training is done on an Advanced Jet Trainer which prepares the pilot for the faster and more demanding fighter
aircraft actually to be flown into action, each type of such active-service aircraft also having its own trainer version.

The massive and tragic upsurge in MiG-21 crashes and loss of young pilots’ lives in the ‘90s happened not because the aircraft
were “flying coffins” as largely uninformed critics had unfairly labeled them, but because young pilots were sent out to fly MiGs with
inadequate preparedness due to the lack of AJTs with the IAF. The pilots were forced to leap from HAL’s HJT-16 (Hindustan Jet
Trainer) ‘Kiran’ Stage-2 Trainers into the fast and demanding MiG-21s. Despite full knowledge of this problem over more than a
decade, no steps had been taken to indigenously build an advanced trainer, criminally ignoring the deaths of so many young pilots
and the longer-term issue of building design-development capability. Even acquisitions were inordinately delayed. Discussions
about the Hawk AJTs went on aimlessly for close to two decades, that sorry chapter at last being closed with the Hawk acquisition in
2008, although at much higher cost in both money and lives.

The crisis in training came to flashpoint when a safety team ordered the total grounding of the over 100-strong Basic Trainer fleet of
HPT-32s (Hindustan Piston Trainer), after the latest in a long series of crashes in Medak in July 2009, killing both the experienced
trainer pilots of the IAF Academy.
The Defence Ministry was left with no option but to approve a fast-track acquisition of proven Basic Trainers from the international
market. Not for the first time, one may add. Repeatedly the aircraft industry boffins, defence ministry bureaucrats and an ignorant or
uncaring political leadership have slept over shortages, failed to build up self-reliant capability through the many technology transfer
and license manufacture agreements, did not develop indigenous upgrades or replacements, dilly-dallied over essential acquisitions
and finally, when severe force depletion in the IAF reaches its worst and bargaining position is at its weakest, have gone in for
massive foreign acquisitions at exorbitant costs, killing domestic capability in the process.
One may condone acquisitions of some high-end aircraft along with some license manufacturing, certainly as part of an overall
process of indigenous capacity-building while maintaining and augmenting defence capability. But can there be any excuse in the
case of simple propeller driven aircraft which nowadays are even sold abroad in kit form?

Trainer aircraft is one area in which the Indian aircraft industry has had reasonable success. The HPT-32 ‘Deepak’ had been
designed and built in HAL in the 1970s at a time when at least some effort at building a self-reliant capability was being made. The
HJT-16 ‘Kiran’ intermediate jet trainer made in the 1960s has been a reliable and consistent if unspectacular performer for the IAF
and remains even today the mainstay of the IAF’s Stage-2 training. Its successor the HJT-36 ‘Sitara’ is undergoing prototype
development and had its maiden test flight in 2009 but its future has been somewhat clouded by two crashes, one during the
prestigious Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore. Anyway, that is another story, let us now get back to the HPT-32 Basic trainer.
The simple propeller-driven plane was powered by the venerable US-made AVCO Lycoming O-540 series engine which also
powered many popular aircraft internationally for decades. From the very start, however, there were problems with the aircraft-
engine combination in the HPT-32 especially in fuel supply under certain conditions which, combined with the total inability of the
aircraft to glide even short distances in the absence of power, rendered it extremely vulnerable.
Over the years, over 70 HPT-32 accidents occurred and the IAF lost 19 pilots in 17 crashes due to engine failures and fuel
transmission problems. HAL’s attempts to tinker with the engine proved to be a cure worse than the disease, so much so that
Lycoming refused to re-enter the picture unless the myriad modifications made were first undone, an impossible job! The grounding
of the HPT-32s has completely crippled the IAF’s training programme. The IAF and Defence Ministry were so desperate that they
are even considering the extreme measure of retro-fitting parachutes to the entire aircraft, a highly dubious scheme being quite

As it usually does, HAL did indeed make noises over the years claiming to be developing a new and better Basic Trainer to replace
the ageing and problematic HPT-32. True to form, none of these came to fruition if indeed the efforts if any were more than just a

At the renowned Farnborough International Air Show in 1984, HAL unveiled a prototype of the HTT-34 (Hindustan Turbo-Trainer)
which was meant to be an upgraded version of the HPT-32. The HTT-34 airframe, which was only a slightly modified version of the
HPT-32, was fitted with an Allison 250 series turboprop engine. HAL rolled out a pre-production prototype in Kanpur in 1989 and
announced that the Nigerian Air Force had ordered 48 aircraft. But nothing has been heard since then on the HTT-34 even though
HAL’s website continues to list it among the aircraft developed by the company!

As late as in 2009, HAL declared its intention to “co-develop” a new HTT-40 Basic Trainer along with a foreign partner, and even put
out Requests for Information (RFI) in March 2010 for engines and compatible propellers. Senior HAL officials told the press that
whereas it would take 4-5 years to develop a Trainer on its own — why it had not done so in over two decades being besides the
point! — roping in an established partner who has already designed a similar trainer would not only shorten time frames but also
offer the IAF a top-of-the-line product. HAL spokespersons said they hoped to finalize the trainer’s specifications and our partner by
March 2010.
It now appears that the fiction of this “indigenous” Trainer continues to be maintained. Even the current Basic Trainer acquisition is
being touted as an order for 75 bought-out aircraft while a further 106 aircraft would be “co-developed” with HAL. Clearly, this is only
poor camouflage for the fact that 75 aircraft would be purchased outright while the remaining 106 would be manufactured in HAL
under license and simply re-christened HTT-40!

Trainers on offer The 6 aircraft being tried out in Jamnagar are the Grob 120 TP from Germany (see photo), Embraer EMB 312
‘Super Tucano’ from Brazil, the KT-1 from Korean Aerospace Industries, Pilatus PC-7 from Switzerland and the Finmeccanica M-
311 of Italy.

In the opinion of this writer, the frontrunner on merits should be the German Grob 120 TP, while the Italian M-311 should not have
been included in the trials in the first place since it is a jet aircraft not suitable as an ab-initio trainer.

The Grob is already in service with Germany, Canada, France and Israel. It has advanced capabilities allowing the training envelope
to be stretched into segments usually reserved for Stage-2 training. What may also be of interest to India is the offer which Grob is
likely to make to make India a partner in its global manufacturing and supply chain for major components of the aircraft, especially
airframe elements made of composite materials in which India is building good capabilities as well as in avionics in which Elbit of
Israel and HAL already have a joint venture called HALBIT. The Grob also has additional desirable features such as a glass cockpit
and ejection seats for both pilots, and is believed to have serious price advantages compared with other contenders.

Readers should take note of the fact that, yet again, India is in the position of considering an offer from Brazil’s Embraer, this time
for Basic Trainer. India has already acquired 4 Embraer aircraft for its VVIP fleet and is considering the possibility of using an
Embraer platform for some of its reconnaissance and early warning aircraft. True, Brazil and Argentina in South America have an
old aircraft tradition dating back almost to the Wright Brothers era, and some of its industrial sectors are comparable to their
European counterparts. But it is equally true that, whereas Brazil and India had aircraft industries of equivalent size, technological
level and manufacturing capability about half a century ago, Brazil has moved far ahead of India. Embraer is now a serious global
aviation major and has a strong presence in short-medium range passenger aircraft, no mean achievement considering the highly
competitive environment and the stringent safety requirements and international regulatory standards for civilian aircraft. Embraer’s
small aircraft for a variety of applications, trainers and executive jets are increasingly making a mark internationally.

India could easily have done the same but has failed. The acquisition of basic trainers for the IAF is the latest stark reminder of this
monumental and continuing failure to build capabilities in the Indian aircraft industry.
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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

Type State-owned enterprise

Industry Aerospace and defense

Founded 1940 (in 1964, company took on current name)

Headquart Bangalore, Karnataka, India


Key people Ashok Nayak (Chairman)

PV Deshmukh MD (MiG) SK Jha MD (A) P Sounder

Rajan (Director-Corporate planning and Marketing)

D.Shivmurti (Director-Finance)

Products Aerospace equipment

Military aircraft

Communication & Navigation equipment

Space systems

Revenue ▲ US$2.35 billion (FY 2007)

Employees 30,000


Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (Hindi: िहनदुसतान एरनॅिटकस िलिमटेड) (HAL) (Hindi: िह ए िल,) based in Bangalore, India, is

one of Asia's largest aerospace companies. Under the management of the Indian Ministry of Defence, this state-

owned company is mainly involved in aerospace industry, which includes manufacturing and assembling aircraft,

navigation and related communication equipment, as well as operating airports.

HAL built the first military aircraft in South Asia and is currently involved in the design, fabrication and assembly

of aircraft, jet engines, and helicopters, as well as their components and spares. It has several facilities throughout

India including Nasik,Korwa, Kanpur, Koraput, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The German engineerKurt

Tank designed the HF-24 Marut fighter-bomber, the first fighter aircraft made in India.

Hindustan Aeronautics has a long history of collaboration with several other international and domestic aerospace

agencies such as Airbus, Boeing, Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, Israel Aircraft Industries, RSK MiG, BAE

Systems, Rolls-Royce plc,Dassault Aviation, Dornier Flugzeugwerke, the Indian Aeronautical Development

Agencyand the Indian Space Research Organisation.


• 1 History

• 2 Operations
○ 2.1 Internation

al deals

○ 2.2 Domestic


• 3 In-house developed


○ 3.1 Fighter


○ 3.2 Helicopters

○ 3.3 Engines

○ 3.4 Light

trainer aircraft

○ 3.5 Transport


○ 3.6 Passenger


○ 3.7 Glider

○ 3.8 Unmanned

Aerial Vehicles

• 4 Licenced production

• 5 Gallery

• 6 See also

• 7 References

• 8 External links

Production line of the HAL Dhruv atBangalore.

HAL was established as Hindustan Aircraft in Bangalore in 1940 by Walchand Hirachandto produce military aircraft

for the Royal Indian Air Force. The initiative was actively encouraged by the Kingdom of Mysore, especially by the

Diwan, Sir Mirza Ismail and it also had financial help from the Indian Government. The organisation and equipment

for the factory at Banglore was set up by William D. Pawley of the Intercontinental Aircraft Corporation of New York,

who were an exporter of American aircraft to the region. Pawley managed to obtain a large number of machine-tools

and equipment from the United States.

The Indian Government bought a one-third stake in the company and by April 1941 as it believed this to be a

strategic imperative. The decision by the government was primairly motivated to boost British military hardware

supplies in Asia to counter the increasing threat posed by Imperial Japan during Second World War. On the 2 April

1942 the government announced that the company had been nationalised when it had bought out the stakes of

Walchand Hirachand and other promoters so that it can act freely. The Mysore Kingdom refused to sell its stake in

the company but yielded the management control over to the Indian Government.

In 1943 the Bangalore factory was handed over to the United States Army Air Force but still using HAL management.

The factory expanded rapidly and became the centre for major overhaul and repair of American aircraft and was

known as the 84th Air Depot. The first aircraft to be overhauled was a PBY Catalina followed by every type of aircraft

operated in Indian and Burma. When returned to Indian control two-years later the factory had become one of the

largest overhaul and repair organisations in the East.

Prototype in its hangar.

After India gained independence in 1947, the management of the company was passed over to the Government of

India and was renamed as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Though HAL was not used actively for developing

newer models of fighter jets, the company has played a crucial role in modernization of the Indian Air Force. In 1957

company started manufacturing Jet engines (Orpheus) under license from Rolls-Royce at new factory located in

Bangalore. During the 1980s, HAL's operations saw a rapid increase which resulted in the development of new

indigenous aircraft such as HAL Tejasand HAL Dhruv. HAL also developed an advanced version of the MiG-21,

known as MiG-21 Bison, which increased its life-span by more than 20 years. HAL has also obtained several multi-

million dollar contracts from leading international aerospace firms such asAirbus, Boeing and Honeywell to

manufacture aircraft spare parts and engines.


HAL is one of the largest aerospace companies in Asia with its annual turnover to be running above US$2 billion.

More than 40% of HAL's revenues come from international deals to manufacture aircraft engines, spare parts, and

other aircraft materials. Below is a partial list of major operations being undertaken by HAL:

[edit]International deals

HAL Dhruv helicopters of the Ecuadorian Air Force in 2009 Aero India.
An IAF BAe Hawk being license-produced at the HAL Hawk production facility in Bangalore.

 The US$10 billion fifth-generation fighter jet program with the Sukhoi Corporation of Russia.[1][2]

 US$1 billion contract to manufacture aircraft parts for Boeing.[3]

 Multi-role transport aircraft project with Ilyushin of Russia worth US$600 million.[4]

 120 RD-33MK turbofan engines to be manufactured for MiG-29K by HAL for US$250 million.[5]

 Contract to manufacture 1,000 TPE331 aircraft engines for Honeywell worthUS$200,000 each (estimates put

total value of deal at US$200 million).[6]

 US$120 million deal to manufacture Dornier 228 for RUAG of Switzerland.[7]

 Manufacture of aircraft parts for Airbus Industries worth US$150 million.[8]

 US$100 million contract to export composite materials to Israel Aircraft Industries.[9]

 US$65 million joint-research facility with Honeywell and planned production of Garrett TPE331 engines.[10]

 US$50.7 million contract to supply Advanced Light Helicopter to Ecuadorian Air Force.[11] HAL will also open a

maintenance base in the country.[12]

 US$30 million contract to supply avionics for Malaysian Su-30MKM.[13]

 US$20 million contract to supply ambulance version of HAL Dhruv to Peru.[14]

 Contract of 3 HAL Dhruv helicopters from Turkey worth US$20 million.[15]

 US$10 million order from Namibia for HAL Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.[16]
 Supply of HAL Dhruv helicopters to Mauritius' National Police in a deal worth US$7 million.[17]

 Unmanned helicopter development project with Israel Aircraft Industries.[18]

[edit]Domestic deals

 180 Sukhoi Su-30MKI being manufactured at HAL's facilities in Nasik and Bangalore. The total contract, which

also involves Russia's Sukhoi Aerospace, is worth US$3.2 billion.

 200 HAL Light Combat Helicopters for Indian Air Force and 500 HAL Dhruv helicopters worth US$5.83 billion.

 US$900 million aerospace hub in Andhra Pradesh.[19]

 US$57 million upgrade of SEPECAT Jaguar fleet of the Indian Air Force.[20]

 US$55 million fighter training school in Bangalore in collaboration with Canada's CAE.[21]

 64 MiG-29s to be upgraded by HAL and Russia's MiG Corporation in a program worth US$960 million.[22]

 Licensed production of 82 BAe Hawk 132.

[edit]In-house developed products

[edit]Fighter aircraft

HAL Tejas performing an inverted pass maneuver.

 HF-24 Marut — Mk1 and Mk1T

 Tejas — Light Combat Aircraft

 Su-30MKI — a derivative of Sukhoi Su-27 co-developed with Sukhoi Corporation

 FGFA — under joint-development with the Sukhoi Corporation

 MCA — India's indigenous stealth fighter

HAL Dhruv of the Indian Army

 Dhruv — Advanced Light Helicopter

 Light Combat Helicopter (under development)

 Light Observation Helicopter (under development)

 Indian Multi-role Helicopter (under development)


 GTRE GTX-35VS Kaveri- Co-developed with GTRE(DRDO)(under development)

 PTAE-7- For indegeniously designed Lakshya PTA

[edit]Light trainer aircraft

Closeup of a HAL Kiran aircraft.

 HT-2

 HPT-32 Deepak

 HUL-26 Pushpak

 HAOP-27 Krishak

 HA-31 Basant
 HJT-16 Kiran — Mk1, Mk1A and Mk2

 HJT-36 Sitara — Intermediate Jet Trainer (under development)

[edit]Transport aircraft

Saras, developed by HAL and National Aerospace Laboratories.

 Saras — under joint development with the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL)

 HAL Multirole Transport Aircraft — under joint-development with Ilyushin Design Bureau

[edit]Passenger Aircraft

 Indian Regional Jet (IRJ) of 70-100 seater capacity to be jointly developed with NAL.


 HAL G-1 — HAL's first original design, dating from 1941. Only one was built.

 Ardhra — training glider

[edit]Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

 Lakshya PTA — Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

[edit]Licenced production

HAL licenced-built Su-30 MKI

 Harlow PC-5 — first aircraft assembled by HAL

 Percival Prentice — 66 built by HAL

 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 — FL, M, Bis and Bison upgrades variants

 HAL Ajeet — improved version of the Folland Gnat

 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-27 — M variant

 SEPECAT Jaguar— IS, IB and IM variants

 BAE Hawk — scheduled production run of 42 aircraft

 Sukhoi Su-30 — MKI variant

 Dornier Do 228 — Also providing equipment for production of the upgraded Do 228 NGvariant

 Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama — HAL Cheetah, Lancer, Cheetal Variants

 Aerospatiale SA 316B Alouette III — HAL Chetak, Chetan Variants

 HAL HS 748 Avro — Modified for military usage, includes Series 2M variant with large freight door

 Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 811 — Engine for SEPECAT Jaguar

 Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 871 — Engine for BAE Hawk Mk 132

 Garrett TPE331-5 — Engine for Dornier Do 228


HAL license manufactured MiG- HAL license manufactured Jaguar

HAL overhauled Mirage 2000
27 IS Hawk production facility at HAL,


[edit]See also


 HAL Airport

 Indian Air Force

 Indian Space Research Organisation

 Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company

 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited SC


1. ^

2. ^

3. ^ Boeing to export up to $1 billion in work to India | | Tacoma, WA

4. ^ : Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Ilyushin start work on multi-role transport aircraft

5. ^ Aviation Week : India Signs Contract For $964M MiG-29 Upgrade

6. ^ HAL to make 1,000 Honeywell engines - The Financial Express

7. ^ HAL to make new generation Dornier aircraft

8. ^ The Hindu : National : HAL bags $150-million Airbus order

9. ^ Israel News : Israel outsources $100-mn composites for UAVs to India

10. ^ Honeywell opens $65m R&D facility in Bangalore

11. ^ Hindustan Aeronautics gets $50.7 mln helicopter contract from Ecuador air force -

12. ^

13. ^ TajaNews

14. ^ : HAL secures order for ambulance version of ALH Dhruv from Peru

15. ^

16. ^ HAL bags $10 mn order for Chetak, Cheetah from Namibia

17. ^ India signs pact for supply of Dhruv helicopters to Mauritius

18. ^ 'India, Israel developing unmanned helicopter' -Gulf-World-The Times of India

19. ^

20. ^ HAL to upgrade Indian Jaguar fleet

21. ^ Hindustan Aeronautics to set up pilot training school-India Business-Business-The Times of India

22. ^ AFP: India awards Russia billion dollar MiG-29 upgrade

[edit]External links

 Official website
Companies portal


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