Bangalore: In a gesture suited to the occasion, Indian aerospace and defence manufacturing giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) delivered the first indigenously-built, Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer to the Indian Air Force on the eve of the 61st Independence Day. The handing over ceremony at the HAL airport here marked another milestone in the history of the organisation, which has adapted itself to manufacturing a vast range of products for its chief client, the Indian Air Force.
Chairman, HAL, Ashok K Baweja handed over documents related to the first of the 82 such aircraft to be supplied to the IAF to chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major. The Hawk Mk-132, designed by British defence and aerospace company BAE Systems, is powered by a Rolls-Royce engine.
On the occasion the HAL chairman said that HAL would try and deliver the remaining 81 aircraft over the next six years. Of these, about 41 would be delivered by mid-2011. The Indian Navy would receive about 17of these trainers after 2011.
The air chief said HAL's intermediate jet trainer, the IJT, will fly this year with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2009.
Baweja spoke about the recent successes of HAL in the international arena with the organization securing orders for nine indigenously-built Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALH) from Ecuador and three from Turkey. He said negotiations for the sale of these helicopters were currently on with Jordan, Bolivia and Peru, as well.
Baweja said the Dhruv's performance had made an impact in the international market and that HAL would add features such as high-altitude flying capability and a state-of-the-art cockpit to the Dhruv.
As for the IJT, which will replace the ageing Kiran series trainers, development work is proceeding as planned and a Russian engine would be acquired for the aircraft shortly, he said.