Friday, April 23, 2010

Indian Hawk Program Under Fire For Delays

NEW DELHI — Controversy continues to surround India’s delayed effort to purchase Hawk Mk. 132 trainer aircraft.
Charges and countercharges have been made over the past year between vendor BAE Systems and Indian government defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.(HAL), which had promised to manufacture a certain share of the Advanced Jet Trainer after BAE delivered the initial batch.
Of the 66 Hawks ordered, BAE Systems has delivered all 24 aircraft in flyaway condition promised to the Indian air force. Delivery of the remaining 42 AJTs was scheduled from 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 in a phased manner.
To date, HAL has manufactured 12 aircraft. “Delivery delays have been an exasperation for the Indian air force,” an official told Aviation Week.
Answering a question in parliament April 22 on why deliveries have been delayed, Minister of State for Defense M.M. Pallam Raju said three aircraft were to be built from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits, three from completely knocked down (CKD) kits and 36 from the raw material phase.
“The CKD and SKD kits were assembled on schedule,Raju said. “When production in raw material phase was taken up, it was found that the equipment supplied by the OEM had various shortcomings. The assembly jigs that were supplied did not meet the requirements, there was mismatch in the kits/components supplied, there were defects
in major assemblies like the wing spar, etc. These problems took time to overcome and hence affected the production schedule at HAL.”
BAE has in the past rejected HAL’s assertion that BAE had not delivered all material stipulated under terms of the license-build program. Reacting to Raju’s statement that BAE had supplied defective equipment, a BAE spokesman told Aviation Week:“BAE Systems’ Hawk AJT is performing well in the service of the Indian air force and delivering excellent training to future frontline pilots and superior serviceabilty. BAE Systems is confident in its performance on the Hawk contract and has made it clear to HAL it is willing to assist them in any aspect of their Hawk contract. We would be happy to also discuss this with [the defense ministry] and address any concerns.”
Raju said the air force was not facing any acute shortage of trained pilots and the delay in delivery of the HAL-built Hawks was not affecting training. “[The] Indian air force is meeting its requirement by utilizing the existing resources for training of pilots,” he added.

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