PM Modi's Visit Timing Key as HAL Gains Spotlight Amid Indian Air Force's Plans for Additional Fighter Jets, Light Combat Helicopters, and Sukhoi-30 Upgrades.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru on today, where he will conduct a comprehensive review of the state-run aircraft manufacturer’s operations and tour various manufacturing facilities. This visit coincides with increased attention on HAL, following the Indian Air Force’s announcement of plans to acquire additional fighter jets, light combat helicopters, and upgrades for Sukhoi-30s, amounting to substantial contracts.
A focal point of the visit is the inspection of HAL’s manufacturing facility, specifically the one dedicated to Tejas jets, aligning with Modi’s emphasis on fostering indigenous production within the defense sector. The Indian government, under Modi’s leadership, has emphasized the expansion of manufacturing capabilities in India and the subsequent boost in defense exports.
HAL’s current spotlight is intensified by ongoing collaborations, such as the joint venture with French firm Safran to design and develop helicopter engines. Simultaneously, negotiations are underway with US-based GE Aerospace for the joint production of fighter jet engines within the country.
In preparation for fulfilling the Indian Air Force’s growing demands, HAL is gearing up to activate new production lines in Nashik, focusing on LCA Mk-1A and Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) planes. This strategic move aims to expedite the delivery of 83 LCA Mk-1As ordered in February 2021, and an additional order for 97 LCA Mk-1As, as announced by Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari in October.
The impending order for upgrading the Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30s is anticipated to be valued at Rs. 65,000 crore. The upgrade involves incorporating indigenous technology such as the Uttam active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, electronic warfare suites, weapon control systems, avionics, and new weapons.
HAL is also diversifying its focus by creating a new vertical dedicated to exports. This strategic move aims to explore opportunities for selling fighter jets and helicopters to countries like Argentina, Nigeria, Egypt, and the Philippines, expressing interest in HAL’s Mk-1A jets and advanced light helicopters. The proposed restructuring involves establishing the vertical under a CEO-ranked officer who will directly report to the chairman, reflecting HAL’s ambitions for international market penetration.