Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) expects an additional order of one squadron of about 20 frontline Sukhoi-30MKI fighters to keep its fighter production lines going till it starts manufacturing 83 Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mark 1A fighters by 2023.

HAL Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) R. Madhavan made these announcements at Aero India to dispel the impression that it’s facing an existential dilemma after the production run of its cash cow, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI comes to an end in 2020-21. Madhavan and his top brass also sought to play down the financial distress at HAL, claiming that there was only a problem of “cash flows” which will be sorted out soon. “We hope to get an order for another squadron of Su-30MKI.

We have made a proposal to the Government,” the HAL chief announced.

Madhavan and his Director (Engineering R&D) Arup Chatterjee also laid out a blueprint for the future of fighter production, which has been HAL’s mainstay for decades. They expressed belief that it is best placed to build India’s next multi-role fighter, the process for acquiring 114 of which has commenced. Another 57 are required by the Navy. HAL has already entered into a tripartite arrangement with Boeing and Mahindra to offer the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

“We expect the order for 83 Mark 1A LCA Tejas fighters in one or two months,” the HAL CMD further announced. The problem is that the Mark 1A variant has not yet been developed. But HAL believes that this is not a big hurdle, now that Mark 1 has been certified for combat capability with a Final Operational Clearance (FOC). The Mark 1A variant requires retro-fitment of an AESA radar, and expansion of the avionics envelope.

Madhavan also dispelled doomsayers with the assertion that HAL still has an order book worth `65,000 crore. ‘With the 83 Tejas fighters and helicopter orders, we should be comfortable,” he said. HAL expects a Limited Series Production order for 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) soon. “The LCH orders will go up to 180,” Madhavan claimed. He also expects additional orders for the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. Then, there are plans to upgrade the 45 MiG-29K deck-borne fighters of the Indian Navy. HAL’s is aiming for certification of its Basic Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 this year. There’s a requirement for 70 trainers for the IAF.

IDN Wishes to thank Mr. Vishal Thapar for this news