Monday, February 11, 2013

IAF Furious Over HAL's Star Trainer

An aircraft conspicuous by its absence at Aero India this year was HAL's intermediate jet trainer, the HJT-36 Sitara. Not surprising. With the amount of derision the aircraft's intended customer, the Indian Air Force, has (quite justifiably) poured on the programme recently, HAL considered it prudent to restrict the aircraft's presence at the show to a tiny model (see photo) tucked away in a corner of its otherwise quite expansive pavilion.

A day after HAL chairman R.K. Tyagi's press conference at Aero India, where he described the HJT-36's turnaround (645 total test flights, of which 185 were in 2012, 25 in January 2013 alone -- and a targeted initial operational clearance 10 months from now) and professed confidence in the platform, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne responded. In response to a question I asked him about the HJT-36, Browne said, "We have been disappointed. It has been in development for 8-9 years, and has now been stalled for so long. There are engine issues too. It has only been cleared for 100 hours of flying before overhaul. It needs to be expanded to 1,200-1,400 hours." (Flight International's Greg Waldron quotes me in his detailed report on the HAL-IAF trainer spat).

The IJT programme, to be fair, has had truly rotten luck: Two take-off/landing accidents and a full-blown prototype crash that grounded the programme nearly indefinitely. There are those who believe the programme is one crash/accident away from being shelved. There have been reports about the very real possibility that the IAF may already be working out a Plan B in case the IJT simply doesn't materialise -- either by reconfiguring its training regimen to dispense with Stage-2 training, or to simply look for suitable jet-powered aircraft from abroad. The situation hasn't been lost on aircraft manufacturers the world over. The Italians, Russians, British and Americans are fully in touch with just where this could go.

13 comments :

Rahul Devnath said...

Sitara, not so long ago was the real "pole" star in the HAL's portfolio; today, its truly sad state of affairs. IAF's at least with the IJT cannot be blamed. After all how many more years for a subsonic jet trainer that too with a sourced engine?

Anonymous said...

If HAL cannot design the HTT40 then they have to blame themselves. The IJT is also not a very difficult technology as needless to say HAL is definitely buying some videshi engine. When designing a plane A reliable engine is selected and around it the plane is designed. HAL made wrong choice here in engine selection as AL 55 is not a proven engine and has few bugs that would get fixed over time. I feel when a very reliable engine Honeywell F-124 without the after burner is would have been great choice and could have been manufactured in India. If HAL does not give results in 6 months assume that IJT is also gone and if they produce it late than nobody would buy it. I feel there are many bad decisions made at project planning and at administrative level for which IAF is made to suffer and ultimately would affect the local development and production at HAL.There has to be some accountability and those who were responsible for IJT and HTT 40 projects must face an inquiry.I can understand delay in Tajas but a plane like HTT 40 was designed 70 years ago in 19 months and IJT is also not a very difficult technology and should not take that long.

TIMBAKTOO

rustom said...

If an pilot training academy is found wanting in equipment and trainers and have a casualty rate due to lack of these, then the company can face a murder charge due to negligence. To avoid loss of life, training academies all over the world have to go thru stringent quality tests in terms of training and equipment.

The reason for IAF pilots and rookie pilots loosing their life is that the I.A.F is found wanting in training in terms of equipment.The irony is that it is not the IAF's fault and in fact the I.AF has been taking steps to correct the faultine due to H.A.L, N.A.L , DRDO.
It does not need to do so, because once it tries to correct the attrition rate due to faulty equipment, it is taking the onus of murdering young rookie pilots.

It is high time that the IAF tells the political and bureaucratic class that it no longer wants to be responsible for training young people who could be assets to the country on outdated, ill performing equipment as it gets them murdered thru negligence of not having proper equipment. The I.A.F also should make it clear that due to faulty equipment due to faulty planning ,not many are interested to waste their lives dying because the Chiefs do not have the balls to stop the political and bureaucratic class from plundering the armed forces.

2) Indians as tax payers have a right to country's security. If the political class starting from the President and the P.M cannot buy proper equipment to defend us, they have no right to collect our money. Also this amounts to cheating as taxes our collected by telling us they are procuring arms whilst not even a basic trainer is available after collecting the money for the same and the chief are only aiding in this type of cheating.IF the IAF has allocated 600 crores to HAL without any fruitful end result, they have thrown away our money. A separate fund for R n D should be made out. The survival of HAL/NAL DRDO should be based on its end results and not on usurping our money reserved for upgrading our security.

As of now HAL/NAL/DRDO absolve themselves of any criminal negligence as they will put the ONUS on the IAF for not having the right equipment yet asking people to come to them,the MOD will state they are not military people and thus cannot be held responsible and the political class will off shoulder the responsibility easily.

The Air Marshals have successfully achieved 4 things in their years of not providing the basic right of a trainee

1) Make the IAF responsible for the deaths of rookie pilots due to its own negligence of not having the right equipment. No govt, babu can force the chief to agree.

2) Give a bad name to the IAF as under its aegis young lives have been lost, just because they could not stand up to the deficient policy of the babu

3) Give fighter aircrafts used as trainers a bad name as the rookies are not supposed t train on them

4) Further aid in attrition and loss of money as fighters that are not trainers are lost due to rookie pilots being forced to fly in them


Every one understands the bureaucratically and political pressures on the chiefs, yet it is high time that the chief's realize that they are not postmen, who would chanellise the unforgivable un military, detrimental dictat of non military personnel like the political and babu class thru the armed forces, but to chanelise and counsel the political and bureacratical class towards the decission of the armed forces

KVR said...

HAL = Have (Here's) Another Lemon !!! No wonder the IAF is furious over so many Lemons being brought out by HAL.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on being quoted by FlightGlobal. You sound chuffed. Happy?

Rahul said...

Ball is in HAL's half, hope it doesn't self goal.

Anonymous said...

Truly, HAL is giving many reasons for IAF to import some more goodies. Our rookie pilots need to start from cycles to learn about dynamic balancing. For that some fancy racing bikes are needed. Then for higher speed enough BMWs will be needed, followed by four wheeled performance vehicles. I guess Porsche's will do fine. The father-in-law (MoD) is always there to satisfy all the cravings of the spoilt brats in the IAF.

Anonymous said...

Possibly another opportunity for the airforce brass to buy abroad and fatten their swiss accounts!

nikdash said...

This really adds confirmation that HAL cannot develop planes. They have been for years taught to bolt together or refurbish foreign planes.
ADA or DRDO really need to take up development and HAL should focus on achieving manufacturing efficiencies.
T-O-T does not teach you how to design-test-certify planes.

Anonymous said...

NO OTHER AIR FORCE HAS AN 'INTERMEDIATE' JET TRAINER - WE DONT NEED IT EITHER . PERIOD !!!

Anonymous said...

Wake up people...The HJt has completed the sea level trials now..results been perfect, the Night flying has commenced..11 done till date starting from Feb 1...the stall tests resumed with AOA of 18 degress achieved....now remains the spin tests alone and the IOC will be certainly there by Dec 2013...Airforce can forget about buying a intermediate trainer as well..

as Far as HTT goes..Why no one questions Mr Brown now...the most buys are in his period...MMRCA, C130, the apache...etc..and yes his baby Pilatus...how many of us know that the PSQR for the buy category was changed to suit the Pilatus Pc7...they were awarded the contract despite the fact that koreans contested that the life cycle cost section M3 and M4 were empty....for sure he will go to the same line as Mr Tyagi has.....and no wonder he was dying to place the repeat orders as well...is the media listening??

HAL is going ahead with its own money and will get the HTT airborne by 2015...

Anonymous said...

Lack of accountability is what leads to this sort of mess. If the HTT-40 does not take off in time we should know who to be asked questions and who has to commit Hara Kirii if guilty.
The americans have a public hearing on such critical issues. The CIA boss had to explain in detail the Drone strikes. He sits on a chair and the whole Nation grills him to their satisfaction.

Manash Debroy said...

What do you expect from these 3rd or 4th grade talents of Indian academic system based on quota raj since last 65 years. These talented crops of our political system can only make prototypes and models without delivering the promised results for year after year to secure their 60 years retirement plan with trunk load of tax payers money from Govt. Long live caste and religion based quota raj in Indian political and social sector ..............