Thursday, April 03, 2008

Update on HAL's programmes

HAL chairman Ashok Baweja held his annual press conference yesterday. Here's a press release update of what he said about HAL's projects:

ALH new versions: Mr Baweja said the new ALH Mk III, with the Shakti engine, will be equipped with a second generation vibration system and glass cockpit. “This would make the multi-role and weaponised versions extremely efficient in high altitudes,” he said, adding: “The Home Ministry has placed an order for six ALHs.” He said the company is also thinking on the lines of a rotary UAV under joint development

But he hasn't said anything about the the Naval ALH, and whether HAL is (a) fixing the problem or (b) going to waste everyone's time by reinventing the wheel again.

Indian Hawk to fly soon: On the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawk, the Chairman said the first Indian-built Hawk would be delivered to the Indian Air Force shortly. ``Twenty systems have been made at HAL from raw material and we have promised to deliver 14 Hawks this year. By end of April or early May, the first Indian Hawk will be rolled out,’’ he said.

Amazing how HAL still counts meeting deadlines on the assembling of completely knocked-down kits (CKDs) and semi knocked-down kits (SKDs) as part of its annual accomplishments. Everyone waits for the day they're well and truly doing their own thing.

IJT by 2009: The IJT, which will be fitted with a Russian engine, will be ready soon and is expected to be inducted into the IAF by 2009 end.

LCA & LCH: He said the LCA had so far completed over 840 flights. “Making more aircraft and getting them airborne is a step towards certification,” he added

What he's silent about: the fact that the IAF has placed on record that the GE F-404 engines are going to be grossly insufficient to meet the IAF's thurst requirements. Two weeks ago, a terse report was forwarded from Western Command, via Vayu Bhawan, to the Aeronautical Development Establishment pointing to a "point of no return" for the IAF if development on the Kaveri continues "in the direction it is currently going". Of course, Mr Baweja has nothing to do with that abysmally non-performing lab we all know as GTRE, but the LCA is his.

On the design and development of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), he said the first trial run will be done in December 2008.

Now here's a promise the IAF can warm to!

MRTA: HAL has tied up with Ilyushin for the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft, a 60-tonne class aircraft, and a 30-member team had already been designated for it. “The $600 million cost of development would be on a 50-50 basis with the Russian company,” Mr Baweja said.

4 comments :

Ankur said...

Shiv,

Thanks for the info - have been dying to hear of HAL developments.

They seem to be doing an okay job on the LCH - but that may be because they have had little to trip up on so far! And they seem to have no terribly pressing deadlines yet. One can only hope that after delivering the Dhruv, the second design/development cycle is much easier. Also - you mentioned a naval version. I was surprised to hear about it - where can I learn more?

Regarding the LCA engines, what are the realistic alternatives? I realise that the Russians have slipped up on the delivery of their promised engines. Are they anywhere near completing them? And what is the actual Airforce and HAL line on that? Do we stick to the delay, or take the painfully long joint-development route?

This bird is too heavily invested in to simply kill off. And it is a matter of pride too, I guess. I simply cannot wait until they get the damn things on the production lines and move on to MarkII and the MCA.

Shiv Aroor said...

ankur: i've posted before about the ALH Navy being in trouble. Here it is: http://livefist.blogspot.com/2007/10/alh-naval-variant-in-trouble.html

since then the navy chief has come on record to say that the ALH Naval variant does not suit the Navy's needs because the Navy needs greater payload capacity and less vibrations, and HAL has said it is "addressing these needs of the Navy".

Regarding your second question, there have been rumours floating around that the air force is unhappy even with the specs of the engine that GTRE would finally make of the Kaveri with a foreign partnership, and that it has been recommended that technology of a higher thrust engine be scouted for and bought outright for license production. highly unlikely that this will happen however. the DRDO lobby on the kaveri goes down as one of the most amazingly wasteful forces in existence. almost all engine manufacturers abroad want a piece of the action. that much we can safely assume!

MCA.. yeah, definitely. I can't wait either. Somehow, I'm not holding my breath just yet. Though I should tell you, the new pics of the LCA in the air really put a lump in my throat! :)

Left wing nut job said...

What new pics of the LCA in the air? Will you be posting them? :)

Ankur said...

Shiv,

Thanks for the prompt reply and link. Interesting to hear that the ALH does not meet specification for load capacity! How the hell does something like that happen unless there is a lack of info, or somebody shifts the goalposts?

I agree - the Kaveri program is now beyond embarrassing. It is important - so let the buggers carry on developing it - but given how wasteful it is, why not join forces with experienced hands? I must say that a tech buy-out will be an expensive short-term option, but will at least deliver a credible aircraft to the primary user.

Why the hell did we not have any oversight on the project to keep this thing from dragging for so long?!

And I second left wing nut job's question about the latest LCA pictures!

Thanks a lot in advance.