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.

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