Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is emphasising the operational viability of its products at AERO India, instead of focusing on shiny models with little or no future potential in the Indian context. The state-owned airframer bagged a much-awaited contract for 83 TEJAS Mk-1A light fighters on the inaugural day and opened a new second production facility to ramp up production on Tuesday.

TEJAS is now the company’s sole fighter production programme, for which it is gunning to deliver 16 Mk-1A examples a year, with the first deliveries expected in 2024. The airframer has publicly stated that all 83 aircraft will be delivered by the end of the decade; however, a more realistic delivery schedule will see all aircraft being delivered over an 8–10 year production run. This means the final TEJAS Mk-1A aircraft on order will only be delivered around 2032.

HAL has also speedily completed development of its 3t-class Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) with Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Army version to be announced at the show. Production of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is underway without a formal contract, and the first of 15 limited series production examples is on display at the show. HAL will also deliver the first DHRUV ALH MKIII helicopters to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard tomorrow.

License production of 222 Sukhoi SU-30 MKI aircraft has been completed, with the final two aircraft to be delivered shortly. The airframer is expecting orders for an additional 12 SU-30 MKIs with new systems, but deliveries will commence only around 2024. HAL is now planning to build the new HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft in Nashik, once SU-30 MKI production is concluded.

Atul Chandra in Bangalore for MON

Helicopters form a major component of HAL’s overall production programme. (Photo via author)

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