New LCA Mk1A facility will be fully functional from FY 21-22 - R Madhavan, CMD, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
By Rohit Srivastava
On LCA Tejas program
CMD - HAL has orders for delivering 16 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) block fighters to Indian Air Force (IAF) out of which the first FOC Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) aircraft has joined Sqn 18 of IAF in May 2020. Flight testing has started for two more aircraft and another six aircraft are in the advanced stages of system integration and testing. The structural assembly manufacturing is underway for the remaining seven aircraft from the FOC batch. The Company is striving to wrap the FOC production in the next financial year.
HAL is geared up to take production of 83 LCA order. HAL is augmenting production capacity to 16 LCAs per year by establishing one more production line at one of our sister divisions in Bangalore and has also developed partners for supply of major structural assemblies, beside the dedicated production line already established at LCA Tejas Division for the delivery rate of eight to ten aircraft per year.
HAL in LCA Tejas programme follows the system integrator model and has created a national ecosystem with the participation of approximately 140 design agencies and 100 production agencies which encompasses all the facets of aircraft design and manufacturing.
In this facility, structural assemblies of an advanced variant of Tejas namely LCA Mk1A are going to be produced. LCA-Mk 1A which is an advanced variant of its predecessors is deemed as a potential job creator, which will contribute considerably to the economic development of our country. The new facility will be fully operational from FY2021-22 onwards.
On Mirage 2000 upgrade
CMD - The upgrade of the Mirage aircraft has been taken up to enhance the operational capabilities of the Mirage 2000 aircraft, with the support of the French Dassault Aviation and Thales. The upgrade program was taken up in two phases, Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) upgrade by the French OEMs and FOC upgrade by HAL. Subsequent to IOC, the FOC has been received by HAL on May 29, 2018. HAL has a contract for series upgrade of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft, which is now progressing at HAL.
CMD - All required testing to demonstrate PSQR compliance has been completed, including confirmatory Spin Trials without Anti Spin Protection System. The spin characteristics are being refined to make it ideal for a rookie pilot.
Request for Quotation (RFQ) is awaited from IAF, to commence production. Certification will be completed against the finalised Staff Qualitative Requirements (SQR) issued with the Request for Proposal (RFP) by IAF.
On delivery of the first Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)
The IOC of LCH for limited serial production (LSP) for the IAF and Indian Army versions was accorded on August 24, 2017 and February 15, 2019 respectively. HAL has proactively taken up production of LCH anticipating orders.
We are yet to get order in our hand but we have pursued with Air Force and Army to give us a Letter of Intent (LoI) so that few helicopters can be offered to them for early exploitation pending contract finalisation. We have received LoI from both Air Force and Army for five helicopters each and this financial year we have planned to deliver three LCH.
Chief of Air Staff made his maiden flight in LCH on November 20 and expressed his satisfaction with the helicopter performance and progress made on the project. His positive feedback encourages HAL to move forward with passion in design and development of indigenous rotary wing platforms.
On Light Utility Helicopter
CMD - In case of LUH, all certification activities involving ground testing, ground test vehicle endurance runs, system testing, hot weather trials, cold weather trials, sea level trials and hot weather-high altitude trials have been completed. We have received IOC for Air Force version on February 7, last year, and the IOC from Army is expected soon.
LUH production activities have been taken up concurrently with design and development. HAL is also setting up a new helicopter factory in 615 acres of land at Tumakuru which will take up LUH production. New helicopter factory will have initial capacity of 30 helicopters per annum which can be expanded to 60 per annum based on the customer requirements.
For the initial batch of 12 Limited Series Production (LSP) LUH, HAL has planned to deliver first four helicopters within one year from date of signing of contract followed by eight more in the subsequent year.
We hope that we will roll out first of the LSP chopper from new helicopter factory by August 15, 2022.
On latest version of ALH Dhruv
The newly built Advanced Light Helicopter Mk-III wheeled variant for Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is integrated with nineteen additional equipment / sensors / systems for coastal security roles. All the trials needed towards certification of the new systems were completed during November at Goa. As required by the contract, final certification of the helicopters with 19 new systems by RCMA / CEMILAC (certification body) is in the final stages. After completing the certification and Signalling Out Certification (SOC) by RDAQA, the helicopters will be cleared for deployment on board Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessels. By design, the helicopters are cleared for ship borne operations.
HAL has two orders for ALH Mk-III wheeled variant which includes 16 helicopters for Indian Coast Guard and 16 for the Indian Navy. The Navy and ICG variants of ALH Mk-III are built with capability for manual folding of rotor blades, meeting the contract requirement of dimensions and time.
On participation in Aero India-21 Show
CMD - The primary focus is to showcase HAL’s prowess in the Aerospace and Defence arena to the world by display of indigenously designed and developed fixed & rotary wing platforms, technologies covering power plants, Avionics, etc.
- India Pavilion - With the central theme of the India Pavilion being Rotary wing capability in India, HAL’s Rotary platform Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) will be the center piece of the display with scaled models of IMRH, ALH, LUH, LCH and the Indian helicopter manufacturing ecosystem / supply chain partners around it.
- Indoor Display – The HAL Stall in Hall ‘E’ will display our capability and contribution in line with HAL’s central theme “CONCEIVE-INDIGENISE-COLLABORATE”. Future generation combat capable airborne solutions will be displayed here.
- Outdoor Display – The Outdoor display adjacent to HAL stall will feature Rotary wing products namely LCH, ALH Mk IV Rudra and ALH Civil variant.
- Static & Flying Display – Display of the range of indigenous HAL platforms by participating in static and flying display including as part of “Aatmanirbhar Formation” flight. Both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft namely Su-30, Do-228, Hawk-i, HTT-40, ALH, LCH, LUH will be showcased in flying display. Static display will have HTT-40 aircraft, LUH, ALH Mk III and Do-228. Customer demo flights will be offered to select customers, on need basis.
- Signing of MoUs/ Agreements with global aerospace majors/associates who are looking for capacity and capability to address the requirements of Indian Defence and global markets. HAL has planned to sign various MoUs/ agreements with both foreign and Indian companies.
- Product Launch / Handing over / Major announcements on reaching key milestones are also planned, like handing over of first hardware of Semi-Cryo development project of ISRO.