HAL’s aircraft division will make, upgrade and overhaul over seven aircraft types by 2015
Bangalore: HAL’s Aircraft Division at Bangalore complex is slated to handle a number of important projects in the coming years. The biggest and most complex of these will be the license manufacture of at least 108 numbers of the selected type for the Indian Air Force (IAF) contract for a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). This will be followed by Serial Production of the ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), its variants and also developmental activities for LCA Mk 2.
Production of The HJT-36 ‘Sitara’ Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) in the near term and in the longer term, the Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) will also begin.
Along with this will be license manufacture of the Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer’s (AJT), Mirage-2000 upgrade and Jaguar strike fighter DARIN 3 upgrade. Of course overhaul and maintenance work on all the above aircraft and Kiran Mk-1/1A, Kiran Mk-2 has already been performed at the Aircraft Division in Bangalore or will begin in due course of time. If one excludes license production of the Sukhoi PMF (FGFA) which will begin after SU-30 MKI the line is closed and overhaul work on the MiG-21/MiG-27, then almost all the IAF and Indian Navy jet trainers and approximately 60 per cent of the IAF’s fighter and strike aircraft fleet are manufactured and maintained at Aircraft Division Bangalore! The division was established in 1940 and has so far manufactured over 2000 aircraft of various types with strength of 8728 employees, at present.
Responding to a questionnaire from FORCE on the status of their aircraft programmes, the division updated that it had already produced 33 Hawk AJT and the order for all 42 aircraft is expected to be completed by this year. The first order was for a total of 66 aircraft with 24 already delivered by BAE. Deliveries against an additional 57 aircraft order (40 for IAF and 17 for Indian Navy) will start from 2013-14 onwards, and the Hawk aircraft production line is expected to last till 2016-17 with the present orders. On completion of production of the Hawk, this line will switch to license manufacture of the MMRCA. Site selection & preparation for manufacture of the MMRCA is already underway.
The Division has also set up a dedicated LCA-Production Group (LCA-PG) that has been established for the production of the ‘Tejas’ LCA in Bangalore Complex. The group has produced seven Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft so far and the first batch of aircraft in Series Production (SP) is under progress. Facilities are being established to operate the aircraft initially from Bangalore by the IAF, before shifting the aircraft to the IAF base at Sulur, which has been designated as the first base to operate the ‘Tejas’. HAL has been the major design partner for Tejas with 50 per cent of the aircraft design being done by HAL along with basic structural design. The Bangalore complex will also play a significant role in the LCA Mk-2 which is almost a new design looking at the quantum of changes being envisaged. If the Tejas is to have a successful tenure as an operational fighter with the IAF and Indian Navy, it would require a whole hearted effort and substantial allocation of resources by HAL.
HAL’s Bangalore complex is also the only facility in the world, outside France, that is permitted to undertake major inspection and overhaul of the Mirage 2000 fighter by Dassault since 1998. Mirage overhaul is carried out in various phases. The major processes include stripping of aircraft wings, other components, inspection & repair of damaged parts and re-assembly of removed components, system and functional checks and painting, followed by Flight Trials first by HAL Test Pilots and then, by the customer pilot. During the period when the Inspection and Repairs are being carried out on the airframe, the rotables are sent to various Accessories Overhaul facilities for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) activities. The total Cycle Time for all these activities ranges from 40 to 52 weeks, depending on the condition of the aircraft on induction.
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