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Arun Jaitley bats for domestic production of defence equipment

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-08-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: Union minister of finance, defence and corporate affairs Arun Jaitley on Saturday launched the production of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) 5.8-tonne category Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and dedicated the role change design upgrade program of the new combat capable Hawk-i (India) to the nation.

The Hawk-i programme is part of HAL’s efforts to develop products on its own and take it to potential buyers—a contrast to its earlier practised policy of developing according to requirements of our armed forces.

HAL produced its 100th Hawk jet trainer aircraft with designation as Hawk-i (Hawk-India).

“In the present geopolitical situation, India is located somewhat sensitively,” Jaitley said on Saturday in Bengaluru. Stating that India had dealt with threats in the past, Jaitley said that the country has to ensure it never falls behind on (defence) preparedness. “It is extremely necessary that we came out of this mindset that India will always be a buyer of defence equipment. Our narrow policies also contributed to this,” he said.

Jaitley said that India needed to graduate from being a buyer into a major manufacturer and supplier to other countries in the world.

Between 2012 and 2016, India accounted for 13% of the global arms imports, according to a 2017 report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute—a group that tracks global arms purchases. India had topped the list which included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Algeria, the report had stated.

“It is clear that we are systematically moving in a direction where we wish make ourselves a major manufacturing hub, not only for supplying for ourselves (but) for the rest of the world,” he said.

The Union defence minister also inaugurated an Academy of Excellence and two test ranges at Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).

The Hawk-i aircraft, manufactured originally under licence from British defence major BAE Systems Plc, is the first indigenously upgraded aircraft which has integrated new sub-systems or modifications, obsolescence management of avionics systems and enhance the aircraft operational and training capabilities.

“The aircraft is upgraded with indigenously designed avionics hardware, software and system architecture enhancing operational role from a trainer aircraft into a combat-ready platform with improved quality and depth of training by Large Force Engagement (LFE) tactics through Electronic Virtual Training System (EVTS),” HAL said in a statement on Saturday.

HAL said that the Hawk upgradation programme witnessed the substitution of imported mission computer and data transfer units by those designed by HAL. The upgraded version also provides embedded virtual training system, secured voice communication and data link capability by integration of softnet radio and pilots can configure and select cockpit Human Machine Interface for different aircraft platforms.

The LCH—designed and developed by HAL—is a key armoured addition to the air fleet of the Indian armed forces.

HAL said that it has indigenously developed technologies (for LCH) which include integrated dynamic system, bearing less Tail Rotor, anti-resonance vibration isolation system, crash worthy landing gear, smart glass cockpit, hinge less main rotor, armour protection and stealth features from visual, aural, radar and IR signatures, the company said in a statement.

The helicopter is also equipped with heavy firepower which includes the 20mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket, air-to-air Missile, EO-Pod and Helmet pointing system. “The helicopter can carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes from sea level, hot weather desert, cold weather and Himalayan altitudes,” HAL said.

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