India's Hansa Trainer To Go Unmanned

Photo / NAL
If you thought India had way too many unmanned air vehicle programmes, here's reason for you to sigh again: The makers of the Hansa are looking to spin off an unmanned version of the trainer/general purpose aircraft. The state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), which developed the Hansa, has entered into an agreement with private firm Kadet Defence Systems to convert the aircraft into an optionally unmanned platform. The agreement also includes joint development of a new tactical UAV (yes, another!).

Do remember that the Indian Air Force looked abroad and will now spend close to a billion dollars to buy new propeller trainers, even when the Hansa has proven that such an aircraft can be built in the country. Therefore, apart from a smattering of flying clubs around the country, the Hansa remains just  that -- a swan.

There's an appalling lack of resource and research synergy between HAL, NAL, the DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), all of which appear to be either developing (or, in HAL's case, marketing) UAVs with areas of obvious technological overlap. Weirdly, beyond the meaningless paper seminars and lofty presentations, none of these laboratories or agencies actually cooperate to deliver even a single, capable unmanned system to the armed forces. All we ever get to hear about is new UAVs, or old UAVs with new names. Someone needs to do something about this.

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