Hawks Fly Away With India’s Jet Trainer v2 CompetitionFeb 07, 2013 14:43 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
The induction of advanced jet trainers into India’s Air Force has been a long and difficult process. After a number of false starts, and indigenous efforts like HAL’s Ajeet that didn’t quite live up to expectations, a 20-year procurement process came to an end in 2004, when India selected BAE’s Hawk as its future advanced jet trainer. The 66-plane order was worth about $1.2 billion, and included options for another 40 aircraft. The first 24 Hawk Mk.132 AJTs have already been delivered by BAE; the other 42 are being license-built by Hindustan Aeronautics, Ltd. in India, who have been behind on the delivery schedule.
Those difficulties had consequences. In March 2009, the Press Trust of India reported that India’s Air Force had elected not to pick up the Hawk’s follow-on option. In and of itself, that wasn’t unusual. What was unusual, was a follow-on competition for advanced jet trainers that was thrown open to international firms, via a February 2009 RFP. In the end, BAE’s Hawk won again, adding the Indian Navy to its customer list. Is a 3rd, aerobatic win in the cards?
Contracts & Key Events
2012 – 2013
That allows pilots to conduct advanced combat training in the air, using simulated scenarios, in less expensive trainer jets instead of front-line fighters. BAE Systems | Elbit’s Embedded Virtual Avionics page.
Sept 14/12: Aerobatic. No, there’s no done deal yet. BAE announces that:
“We have received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft. The aircraft, to be built by HAL in Bengaluru, will fulfill the Indian Air Force’s requirement for its prestigious aerobatic team.”
A 20-plane order would bring India’s Hawk fleet to 143, making them the world’s 3rd largest Hawk operator behind the US Navy and Britain. The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) disbanded in 2011, due to a shortage of working HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 jet trainers in the air force. If reconstituted with Hawk Mk.132s, they would become the 2nd 9-Hawk formation team in the world, after the RAF’s Red Arrows. There are also reports that the team may receive a new title, possibly going back to their “Thunderbolts” moniker when they operated the excellent Hawker Hunter. BAE | Livefist.
June 11/12: Why so many crashes? India’s IDSA raises an interesting issue for the IAF:
“The IAF still has one of the highest accident rates in the world. This translates into a loss of between half and one complete squadron of aircraft per year apart from aircrew losses due to injuries or fatalities. Earlier, this high accident rate was attributed to the lack of an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), which forms the link between trainer aircraft and fast jet fighters. However, IAF aircrew have been training on the British Aerospace Hawk AJT for at least five years now. Yet, the accident rate does not reflect a major reduction in spite of the Hawk being in service and in use… That the induction of the AJT has not reduced the accident rate significantly indicates that the problem lies elsewhere. The IAF may consider sanctioning an external audit of its functioning to identify the cause(s) of this slow attrition.”
May 6/12: Aerobatic? The Times of India reports that India has bought another 20 Hawk AJTs, for the Surya Kiran (SKAT) aerobatics team. The Hawks would replace the 1980s-era HJT-16 Kiran jets currently in use:
“After first ordering 66 twin-seat Hawks in March 2004 and then another 57 in July 2010, at a combined overall project cost running into Rs 16,000 crore, India has now ordered another 20 AJTs… At present, IAF has inducted over 60 Hawks. The overall AJT project, with 24 supplied directly by BAE Systems and 122 to be licensed manufactured by HAL in India, will cost well over Rs 20,000 crore by the time it’s completed in 2016-2017.”
The report turns out to be premature, but the general direction is correct.
2010 – 2011
Dec 12/11: BAE spares & support. BAE Systems announces a GBP 59 million (currently $92 million) contract for IAF Hawk AJT spares and ground support equipment, adding that “This brings the total value of Hawk related contracts won in India to more than [GBP] 600 million in the last 18 months” – vid. also coverage below.
The Hawk Mk 132 is manufactured in India under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, with materials, parts and support services provided by BAE Systems.
Feb 9/11: Support. GE Aviation Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announce a 30-year contract that covers licenses to carry out repairs and overhaul of various GE avionics, instruments and hydraulic products for India’s Hawk Mk. 132. As part of the license agreement, GE will develop, supply and commission the test equipment and supply technical data. The agreement also includes training, technical support, post design services for one year, and spares services.
This license will provide in-house repair and overhaul capabilities to HAL for GE Aviation products, cutting the turn-around-time for the repairs. HAL will build its maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities at its Bangalore (hydraulics) and Korwa (avionics) facilities. GE
July 28/10: Hawk, again. BAE Systems announces a new GBP 500 million (about $773 million) order to supply India with another 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft, to be built under licence in India for the Indian Air Force (40) and Indian Navy (17). The aircraft will be manufactured at HAL’s facilities in Bangalore, and BAE Systems will provide specialist engineering services, the raw materials and equipment necessary for airframe production, and the support package for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
Rolls-Royce also confirms a finalized contract for Adour Mk871 engines to power the 57 Hawk AJT trainers. The Rolls-Royce engine contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is worth up to GBP 200 million (about $310 million), and the engines will be assembled in Bangalore, India, in partnership with HAL. That partnership began with the licensed production of engines in 1956, and in March 2010 the 2 firms announced their International Aerospace Manufacturing Private Ltd. joint venture.
IAF/ Navy: 57 Hawks
July 23/10: India’s air force hasn’t made any moves yet, but its navy reportedly has, via a reported Rs 3,042 crore (about $643 million/ GBP 414 million) deal with BAE Systems for 17 new Hawk trainers. The jets will reportedly be delivered from HAL’s Hawk production line, though it isn’t yet clear whether the naval training Hawks will involve final assembly or full manufacturing. Hawk variants are already used for advanced naval aviation training, vid. the US Navy’s Adour F405 powered T-45 Goshawk.
Some sources say that the deal is part of a 57 plane, Rs 9,400 crore (about $2 billion/ GBP 1.3 billion) combined follow-on purchase by the IAF and navy, to be announced during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s upcoming visit to India. Note that the total value of the deal from India’s perspective would include HAL, so those figures may differ from the total deal value to BAE and Rolls Royce.
The Indian Navy is currently training its pilots at the Indian Air Force academy, but it expects to induct the new trainers from 2013, and will set up a parallel training academy for pilots as they prepare to fly its MiG-27K and Tejas Naval fighters. Economic Times of India | Indian Express | Times of India | BBC | The Guardian | Bloomberg.
April 26/10: A London Times article covering Iraq’s trainer aircraft competition mentions that:
“India is set to order another 60 Hawks in addition to the 66 it has already booked. That deal could be announced within weeks.”
April 22/10: Hawk delays. In response to a Parliamentary inquiry by Rajya Sabha representative Smt Mohsina Kidwa, Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju continues to blame BAE Systems for HAL’s late delivery of Hawk AJT jet trainers, and also claims that IAF training is not being compromised:
“Delivery of 42 (Hawk-AJT) aircraft was scheduled from 2007-2008 to 2010-2011 in a phased manner. Three aircraft were to be built from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits, three from completely knocked down (CKD) kits and 36 from raw material phase. The CKD and SKD kits were assembled on schedule. When production in raw material phase was taken up, it was found that the equipment supplied by the OEM had various shortcomings. The assembly jigs that were supplied did not meet the requirements, there was mismatch in the kits/components supplied, there were defects in major assemblies like the wing spar etc. These problems took time to overcome and hence affected the production schedule at HAL.
HAL has manufactured 12 aircraft till now, three in the year 2008-2009 and nine in the year 2009-2010, including the first aircraft from raw material phase. The Air Force is not facing any acute shortage of trained pilots and the delay in delivery schedule of AJTs by HAL is not affecting the Air Force. Indian Air Force is meeting its requirement by utilizing the existing resources for training of pilots.”
When asked by DID to respond, BAE Systems had this comment:
“The BAE Systems Hawk AJT is performing well in the service of the IAF and delivering excellent training to future frontline pilots and superior serviceabilty. BAE Systems is confident in its performance on the Hawk contract and has made it clear to HAL it is willing to assist them in any aspect of their Hawk contract. We would be happy to also discuss this with MoD and address any concerns.”
That places India’s current Hawk Mk.132 fleet at 36 aircraft: 24 delivered direct from BAE, 6 built from kits, and 6 HAL-built planes.
Nov 5/09: All HAL now. BAE announces that it has delivered the 24th and final BAE-assembled Hawk AJT to India. It’s actually a bit of a technicality, because HT001 was the first IAF Hawk to be built, and served for 3 years as a UK flight test platform, instructor training program, and proving ground for integrating new components into the IAF Hawk fleet.
The first IAF Hawk delivery took place in November 2007, and other than this final development aircraft, deliveries of the other 23 to India were completed in 2008. The Hawk fleet is based at Air Force Station Bidar, located lightly NW of Hyderabad in Karnataka state (formerly Mysore), south central India.
Meanwhile, the international follow-on competition continues.
Last all-BAE Hawk
Oct 2/09: An Indian Express report says that India is urgently seeking up to 180 trainer aircraft to replace or augment its trainer fleet at all levels, in the wake of problems with the lower-tier HPT-32 fleet and contract issues with its upper-tier Hawk AJT program.
The report adds that a plan to buy 40 additional Hawk AJTs has hit a roadblock, due to differences over price between BAE and the IAF.
Oct 1/09: Basic trainer problems. Plans to phase out India’s grounded HPT-32 basic trainer fleet will intensify India’s needs for trainer aircraft at all levels. Indian Express quotes Air Chief Marshal P V Naik:
“The IAF lost two experienced instructors in a fatal crash of HPT-32 this year. We have ordered an inquiry and a study on the aircraft, as we have had a lot of problems since their induction in 1984. We hope to use it only till 2013-14″…
Sept 2/09: Training choking. India’s Business Standard:
“The Indian Air Force (IAF) is desperately short of aircraft for training its flight cadets. With the entire fleet of basic trainers – the HPT-32 Deepak – grounded after a series of crashes, advanced training is suffering equally due to unexpected delays in the manufacture of the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) in India… According to the contracted schedule, the first 15 Hawks should have already been built in Bangalore. Instead, only five have been completed.”
Now Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Chairman Ashok Nayak, under sharp attack for the delays, blames BAE Systems for supplying key tools and frames for the wrong version of the Hawk trainers. He adds that that resolution has been slow because the BAE Systems team stationed at the Hawk assembly line has to refer back to the UK for decisions. Meanwhile, items like the aircrafts’ windscreens must be shipped to the UK and back for quality certification, adding more delays. India’s Business Standard adds that:
“Guy Douglas, BAE Systems’ spokesperson in India, strongly refutes HAL’s version. In an emailed response, he states “BAE Systems does not accept that the programme delays being experienced by HAL, on their contract with the government of India, are materially down to BAE Systems. BAE Systems has completed all hardware deliveries to support the licence-build programme. BAE Systems has repeatedly made clear that it stands ready to assist HAL, should they require it. In this respect, a number of proposals have been made by BAE Systems to HAL and we await their response.”
In summary: HAL claims that BAE has made mistakes, and has a corporate structure that is not addressing issues very well. BAE responds that HAL’s own bureaucracy and failure to respond in timely ways is the core problem. One of them could be right, or both could. At present, however, HAL is the only viable game in town for technology transfer and the manufacture of advanced jet aircraft in India. Under those circumstances, they’re likely to build any follow-on AJT order, whether or not the contract goes to BAE Systems.
March 17/09: Follow-on competition. The Press Trust of India reports that supply delays to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which is supposed to assemble a number of the Hawks in India, have resulted in an international competition for India’s follow-on order of up to 57 Lead-In Fighter Trainers.
The RFP was reportedly sent to the Czech Republic’s Aero Vodochody (L-159), Italy’s Alenia (M-346), BAE (Hawk, but it would be a more advanced variant), Korea’s KAI (T-50s), and Russia (either the YAK-130 variant of the M346 joint project, or the MiG AT). PTI News | Indian Express | Flight International.
Round 2 is a competition
- BAE Systems – Hawk
- Vector Site – The BAE Hawk
- Air Force Technology – Hawk Trainer / Light Combat Aircraft, United Kingdom
- Air Force Technology – T-50 Golden Eagle Jet Trainer and Light Attack Aircraft, South Korea
- DID FOCUS – Korea’s T-50 Spreads Its Wings
- Air Force Technology – M-346 Advanced Fighter Trainer, Italy
- Air Force Technology – Yak-130 Combat Trainer, Russia. The M-346 project’s other fork.
- Air Force Technology – MiG-AT – Advanced Flight and Combat Trainer Aircraft, Russia
- Air Force Technology – L159 ALCA Advanced Light Combat Aircraft, Czech Republic
- DID – Czech L-159s: Cheap to Good Home
- Bharat Rakshak – HAL Kiran Mk.I/IA/II. The IAF’s intermediate trainer, delivered between 1985-89; see also photo album.
- Bharat Rakshak – HAL Intermediate Jet Trainer HJT-36. Was intended to replace the HJT-16 Kiran; some sources now say that the BAE Hawks are slated to do that.
- Air Force Technology – HJT-36 Sitara Intermediate Jet Trainer, India
- Bharat Rakshak – HAL HPT-32 Deepak. India’s basic trainer fleet.
- BBC (Oct 23/09) – Crucial Indian defence deals delayed. These include the Navy’s submarine and aircraft carrier projects, advanced trainers for the air force, and coastal surveillance plans. “For its part, the government has been slow in responding to criticism – even from its auditing organisation. When it comes to defence issues in India, speed does not seem to be of paramount importance.”