HAL: Boosting Indigenisation and Strategic Partnerships

By Editor 10-Mar-2020


HAL, one of the largest Defence Public Sector Undertakings in Asia, is exploring opportunity for design and manufacture of fixed wing and rotary UAVs through collaboration with reputed global players, says R Madhavan, CMD, HAL, in an interview with Aeromag prior to DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow.HAL’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas has drawn the attention of many Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Excerpts from the interview:

Could you brief us on the highlights of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s participation at the upcoming DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow?
HAL’s participation will focus on technological excellence under its business verticals such as fighters, trainers, transport aircraft, helicopters, engines, systems and avionics besides projecting the company’s futuristic programs. The models of LCA, LCH, ALH, Do-228, HTT-40 and Hawk are likely to be showcased during the DefExpo 2020.
An upgraded Su-30 MKI Cockpit Simulator will also be displayed during the event. Avionics/accessories/components/products such as Indigenous Digital Map Generator (i-DMG), Engine and Flight Display Unit, GTEG-60 Engine, Air Producer Engine, Glass Cockpit for Do-228, Automatic  Target Recognition (ATR), Digital Sand Rapid Prototyping Technology etc. will be displayed in the HAL stall.
Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is planned to be showcased in the Outdoor Display area. The event is an excellent opportunity to showcase the latest products and be a part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government. It is a platform to forge relationship with other manufacturers in the industry and have first-hand feel of the technological advancements taking place in the industry.

The Central Government recently announced in Parliament that HAL has the biggest order book among the defence public sector undertakings in India. Please give us the details.
 The majority of existing orders in the order book of HAL for supply of aircraft and helicopters are expected to be liquidated by 2021-22 which includes orders of LCA for IAF, ALH for Army, Indian Navy, CG and Chetak for Indian Navy. HAL is one of the largest DPSUs in Asia with a turnover of more than Rs. 19,000 Crs. The current order book size will only suffice for the next three years. Considering the fact that cycle time for production of aircraft/ helicopter from raw material stage varies from 18 months to 36 months, order book of 4-5 times of turnover is needed for uninterrupted production and smooth planning.
Presently, Su-30MKI program is on the verge of completion and in the absence of new orders HAL is considering redeployment of the manpower as well as provisioning some of the future workloads of other divisions to Nashik so that the infrastructure is effectively utilised.
Nashik Division was originally planned to be utilized for manufacture of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) which has not materialised. Similarly, the MMRCA program, with HAL as the Lead production agency, and the MTA program didn’t materialize as planned. These have led to lack of fresh orders at Aircraft Manufacturing Division Nashik Division, Aircraft Division Bangalore and Transport Aircraft Division Kanpur.
The attack helicopter LCH has attained operational clearance after completion of all the trials including weapon integration and is ready for induction to the services. HAL has submitted quotation for supply of 15 LCH LSP helicopters and 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft and orders are awaited. Additional orders for on-going programs like ALH, LCA, Hawk, Do-228 and Su-30 MKI as well as fresh production orders for new platforms like Do-228 Civil variant, LCH, HTT 40, LUH, Hawk-I etc would help in utilization of production capacities and sustaining growth of the organisation in the coming years.

For the first time, a serving Air Chief has flown in an aircraft developed by HAL at the prototype stage when Air Marshal R K S Bhaduria took to the skies recently in an HTT 40. Kindly share more details in this regard and the subsequent developments?
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff was accompanied by HAL’s Chief Test Pilot (FW), Gp Capt (Retd) KK Venugopal. He is the first serving Chief of the Air Staff to fly in a HAL-developed aircraft at the prototype stage showing customer’s confidence in HAL’s capabilities. The design team at HAL is also highly motivated with the Chief of the Air Staff’s sortie.
During the sortie he assessed the aircraft’s flying characteristics including stall and spin. He expressed his satisfaction with the aircraft performance and appreciated the design, project and flight test teams for having achieved commendable progress. The project now needs to be speeded up for certification and HAL must target setting of modern manufacturing facilities with high production rate from the beginning, he added.
The HTT-40 has completed over 340 test flights subsequent to the successful maiden flight in May 2016. The program has progressed well, having demonstrated all Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) stipulated performance requirements including six turn spin, stall tests, engine relights, inverted flying, acrobatic flying and systems testing. Configuration of HTT-40 aircraft is now frozen and flight trials towards Operational Clearance are progressing. DAC has approved acquisition of HTT-40 and RFP is awaited.
The Tejas LCA is a landmark project of HAL. What is the latest regarding this programme, especially Mark 2?
The order for first 40 Tejas aircraft is categorized into two tranches of 20 each viz. Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) and Final Operation Clearance (FOC) with 16 fighters and 4 trainers in each of the batch. The production of first sixteen (16) fighter aircraft in IOC configuration was already completed in March 2019. Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for fighter variant was issued to HAL in February, 2019. Subsequently, HAL has undertaken the production of 16 Tejas fighter in FOC configuration and will be completing it in 2021.
In June 2019, the provisional design document for LCA Twin Seat Trainer has been provided and subsequently HAL has proactively initiated the preparatory production activities. ADA is the Program Management Agency for LCA Mk2 program.

The Singapore Defence Minister had praised HAL’s Light Combat Aircraft after flying in it. What progress has been achieved in export of LCA?
LCA Tejas has drawn the attention of many Asian countries -- Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka due to its capability and price competitiveness over its contemporaries and has a significant export potential. As far as Singapore’s requirement is concerned, a formal RFI from them is still awaited.

HAL has played a key role in making the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme successful. Could you elaborate?
HAL with its mission of achieving “self-reliance in design, development, manufacturing, upgrade and maintenance of aerospace equipment” has been contributing to ‘Make in India’ since its inception by way of manufacturing aircraft/ helicopter, aero engines, systems and accessories within the country both from in-house R&D efforts and under license from OEMs. HAL so far has indigenously designed and developed 17 types of aircraft/ helicopters, and another 14 platforms have been license manufactured in the country by HAL.
HAL also undertakes indigenization of various high value systems and equipment of foreign origin fitted on HAL platforms to reduce dependence on imports and manage obsolescence, thus fostering self-reliance. Every year HAL indigenizes more than 1000 items with Foreign Exchange (FE) savings of above 100 Crs comprising of critical LRU’s, sub-assemblies and parts in the effort to provide continued support for sustenance of the fleets. In order to accord thrust to indigenization/ Import Substitution, HAL has set up Indigenization Cells at each Division and an Indigenization Department is established at corporate level to overlook the activities company-wide.
To ensure inclusive growth by encouraging Indian private sector participation in the indigenization/ Make in India efforts, the following have been hosted in the ‘Make in India’ portal on HAL website:
More than 500 Nos of Systems and sub systems of mechanical, electrical, avionics, instrumentation for various HAL projects for indigenous development.
Further, over 100 TTGE (Tools Testers and Ground Equipment) items of Su-30 MKI aircraft have also been hosted, which can be taken up by private companies for maintenance, repair and indigenisation.
Also over 85 types of test facilities available at HAL which could be utilised by the Indian industries, thus furthering the indigenous development efforts have also been listed on HAL website. These facilities are being extensively utilised by both government organizations and Indian private companies.
Implementation of Govt Policies for promoting Make in India:
HAL has implemented the Purchase Preference Policy (Preference to Make in India), Order 2017 for Public Procurement from July 1, 2018 to encourage ‘Make in India’ and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India. This will help in reduction in import content and create aerospace ecosystem in the country. This policy shall be applicable for evaluation of offers and placement of orders when the tender is issued to both foreign and Indian supplier. This policy will facilitate Indian supplier with 20% purchase preference subject to minimum 50% local content.
Make-II’ Procedure: A Framework for implementation of ‘Make-II’ Procedure at DPSUs/ OFB has been issued by MoD in February 2019. In line with Make-II framework, HAL Make - II procedure has been formulated and implemented at HAL.

HAL is reportedly doing extensive work related to unmanned combat air vehicles. Can you share the highlights of this programme?
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle programs are an important upcoming business area for HAL. HAL is involved in Depot level maintenance of Airframe, Engine and LRUs of Heron, Searcher-I and Searcher-II UAVs, the main unmanned platforms presently available with Indian Armed Forces. HAL Kanpur division is responsible for maintenance of airframes and engines, Hyderabad and Korwa divisions are involved in avionics and payload servicing.
HAL and BEL are the production partners for DRDO-ADE’s MALE class Rustom UAV. HAL is actively supporting ADE in carrying out various tests and design of structural elements. Coming to design and development, based on the successful technology demonstration of a 10kg class Rotary UAV (RUAV), HAL has embarked on the development of a 200kg RUAV in-house with involvement of IIT Kanpur. Co-development and co-manufacture of a 2000kg class RUAV is also on the cards.
HAL is also foraying into design of a next generation Combat Air Teaming System (network centric) which will include a variety of different class of UAVs (both ground and Air launched) for future warfare requirements to guard against the sophisticated Surface to Air Missile shields of the enemy.
HAL is also exploring opportunity for design and manufacture of fixed wing and rotary UAVs through collaboration with reputed global players.

HAL has collaborations with major OEMs around the world. Could you brief us on the upcoming plans for joint projects?
In past few years, HAL collaborated with major foreign OEMs and established following Joint Ventures in India for manufacturing of defence use products:
i)       Helicopter Engines MRO Private Limited (HE-MRO) – HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines (Safran HE) established HE-MRO in  August 2016 with its registered office located in Bengaluru, Karnataka. HAL and Safran HE have shareholding of 50% each in the JV. HE-MRO was incorporated to provide support, maintenance, repair and overhaul services for Safran’s helicopter engines directly to civil and defence customers.
ii)     Indo-Russian Helicopter Limited (IRHL): IRHL was incorporated in May, 2017 in Bangalore between HAL, Russian Helicopters and Rosoboronexport with shareholding of 50.5%, 42% and 7.5% respectively. IRHL is established under an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed in 2015 between the Govt. of India and the Govt. of the Russian Federation for supply of 200 Kamov 226T helicopters to Indian Defence Services (Army & IAF).
HAL is exploring the opportunities to collaborate with NAL for Saras II program. HAL is also exploring opportunity for design and manufacture of fixed wing and rotary UAVs through collaboration with reputed global players.

Could you share the major initiatives of HAL in Civil Aviation and Space sector?
Civil Segment: The Dornier Do-228 is a twin turboprop, high wing aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear. The cabin, in commuter transport role, can accommodate 15/19 passengers.  The aircraft is powered by two Garrett TPE-331-5 engines. This aircraft can be produced in different roles like Commuter Transport, VIP Transport, Troop Transport, Para Jumping, Surveillance Roles, Air Observation Role, Calibration of Airport Navaids, Air Ambulance, Cargo and Logistics Support, Airborne Survey Role supporting aerial photography.
HAL has manufactured over 140 Do-228 aircraft which are in operation with various customers including export customers. HAL Do-228 is the only platform currently under “Make in India” category towards RCS-UDAN scheme of Government to provide affordable and sustainable regional air connectivity. Certificate of Airworthiness has been received from DGCA for HAL-manufactured Dornier Do-228 Civil Variant aircraft on December 21, 2017 to enable its use as a passenger transport aircraft to cater the requirements arising from RCS-UDAN scheme. Two civil Do-228 aircraft have been manufactured and discussions are in progress with airline operators for commencement of operations.
HAL is exploring the opportunities to collaborate with NAL for production of 19-seater Saras II aircraft to cater to both military and civil customers.
 Aerospace Segment: HAL is currently supplying structures and tankages for aerospace launch vehicles and satellites of ISRO through its dedicated aerospace division. Infrastructure has also been set up to undertake completed assembly of the strap-on L-40 stage booster.  Structures for GSLV Mk.III, Mars Mission, Chandrayan II and Human crew module have been supplied by HAL to ISRO. HAL is also setting up dedicated facility for manufacture of cryogenic engines for ISRO’s GSLV program.

Could you share your vision for HAL?
I am committed on converting the R&D programmes related to LCA Mk1A, LCH, LUH and HTT-40 into new revenue lines for the company by achieving the full design capability of each product to meet the customer requirement. In order to realize revenues from these projects, support of MoD will be required to receive initial orders at the earliest. Further, my focus is on the current production programme such as Su-30 MkI, LCA, Do-228, ALH and Cheetal to ensure deliveries to the customer is as per contracted schedule. My focus is also on also on getting order for the current products including Hawk to ensure full utilization of existing production facilities. We are also working on exploring the export opportunities for our products and making concerted efforts to realize orders to enter into the identified markets.
In the recent years, we have noticed the growing demand for ROH, upgrades and other after sales supports. So I am prioritizing on providing better ROH and other after sales support to our customers to the best of our capabilities for aircraft/ helicopters and engines etc to enhance the level of serviceability of our customers’ fleet.
I am also focused on making entry into engine segment by building indigenous capability of design, development and manufacture of engines for aircraft and helicopters, and civil aviation segment with civil variant of Do-228, which will cater to the requirements arising from RCS-UDAN scheme. Additionally we also look forward to enter into UAV segment in India as well as International market and towards this we will be establishing collaborations/ alliances in future.