New Delhi: Highlighting the role of unmanned aircraft in future warfare, the Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane has encouraged the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to collaborate with other private companies to develop new platforms, the Ministry of Defence said.

He inspected the manufacturing range of various engines and test beds and also paid a visit to HAL's Aerospace Division.

Aramane inaugurated a new design and test facility at the Aero Engine Research and Development Centre (AERDC) of HAL on December 29.

According to Ministry of Defence, the AERDC is currently involved in the design and development of several new engines, including two strategic engines -- Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine (HTFE) of 25 kN thrust for powering trainers, UAV's, twin engine small fighter aircraft or regional jets and Hindustan Turbo Shaft Engine (HTSE) of 1200 kN thrust for powering light and medium weight helicopters (3.5 to 6.5 ton in single/ twin engine configuration).

The Ministry of Defence said that the new state-of-the-art facility, spanning over 10,000 square metre, houses special machines, advanced set-ups leveraging on computational tools, in-house fabrication facility and two test beds for testing HTFE-25 and one test bed each for testing HTSE-1200 and upcoming JV engine for IMRH to be co-developed by Safran, France and HAL.

In addition, the newly developed facility has set-ups for testing Air producer of Jaguar, Gas Turbine Starter Unit (GTSU) - 110 M2 and 127E of Light Combat Aircraft, Auxiliary Power Units of Indian Multi-Role Helicopter and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, Gas Turbine Electrical Generator (GTEG)-60 for An-32 aircraft.

Set-ups to carry out various critical tests for engine components and Line Replacement Units (LRUs) have also been established within the new facility, an official added.

The Defence Secretary said, "the government trusts the capability of the Defence PSU to deliver and make the country self-reliant. Manufacturing sector is the future of the country and in the coming decades, the HAL should focus on mastering technologies for all types of aircraft. Think ahead as the entire paradigm of warfare is changing."

C.B. Ananthakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director (Additional Charge) of HAL, said, "The development of this facility marks a key milestone in HAL's growth trajectory. It is a testimony of our commitment towards achieving 'Atmanirbharta' in aero-engine design and development."

The Centre, established in the 1960s, holds the unique distinction of being the only design house that has developed test beds for engines of both Western and Russian origin.

The Centre has successfully developed and certified PTAE-7 engine, the first indigenous turbojet engine of India powering Lakshya (unmanned aircraft), Gas Turbine Electrical Generator GTEG-60 for starting An-32 aircraft, Air starter ATS 37 and Air producer for starting Adour-Mk 804E/811 on Jaguar Aircraft and Shakti engine for powering ALH to support Ad804/811 engine of Jaguar aircraft, the official added.