HAL's CMD CB Ananthakrishnan shares insights in the exclusive series "On the Shop Floor", hosted by renowned defence analyst Nitin A Gokhale, underscoring the company's strategic move to bolster its production capacity and position it as a prominent global exporter

Nitin Gokhale began the interview by saying that the order book of HAL is full for the next 3 to 4 years. C B Ananthakrishnan stressed that there is an existing order for 83 TEJAS MK-1A (HAL has also received an order for an additional 97 TEJAS MK-1A), 34 numbers of DHRUV advanced chopper, 70 numbers of basic trainer aircraft, 80 number of RD-33 engines which powers the MIG-29 IAF/Navy jets and finally 240 AL-31FP turbofan engines which powers the Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets. He further went on to add that these orders will be fulfilled in the next 3 to 4 years. A third line in Nashik has also been commissioned to fulfil the growing demands of the armed forces.

He went to add that the increase in expectations of timely delivery to the stake holders, HAL has decided to construct new units which cater to deliver 16 TEJAS jets (instead of the current 8) per annum to the Air Force. This is possible since HAL is partnering with private industry for the supply of key components such as rear, front, centre fuselage, wings etc.

According to CB Ananthakrishnan, HAL aims to deliver 83 TEJAS a year ahead before the contracted schedule of 2028-29. TEJAS MK-2 manufacturing will commence when the current TEJAS MK-1A project is completed.

Export Orders

For the LCH "Prachand" HAL CMD made a special mention of the Philippines expressing keen interest to acquire this system among other chopper platforms of HAL. Prachand he said is an all encompassing system with advanced weapons already tested and integrated and is in use with the Indian armed forces.

“We are in the advanced stages of discussions with the Philippines, and hopefully, we will be successful there. We are in discussion with Egypt. Recently, discussions with Nigeria gained momentum,” he said, hoping that “with the HAL and government initiatives, we will have one breakthrough order sooner or later.”, CB Ananthakrishnan further added.

In 2023, the Philippines Coast Guard inked its first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its Indian counterpart, paving the way for more information sharing in the maritime domain. The Philippines has displayed a keen interest in the military hardware India has to offer, including the DHRUV MK-II and indigenously built warships.

During the first-ever visit of a Filipino Coast Guard chief to India last year, he conducted a Customer Demonstration Flight onboard Advanced Light Helicopter MK-III at Goa.

“We will have a breakthrough sooner or later. Helicopters will have more demand,” the HAL CMD added. DHRUV has been one of the major success stories for HAL, which has supplied 300 plus of these rotary-wing aircraft to the Indian forces. Now, the helicopter has an MK-4 variant that is an armed version.

It is worthy to note that, The Prachand is the only helicopter which can operate over 5,000 meters with a considerable load of weapons and fuel. Prachand currently operated at the Siachen Glacier. The defence establishment wanted to build a lighter, stealthier and more manoeuvrable attack helicopter in the wake of Russian fleet of helicopters proved to ineffective during the Kargil war with Pakistan.

HAL wants to be a full-spectrum technology company, creating and owning IPs, collaborating with private companies in the Indian defence sector, and undertaking research and development for futuristic products. The government’s emphasis on self-reliance in defence has given HAL new impetus in achieving its goals.

(With Inputs From Team Bharatshakti)