The Indian Navy on Monday received the first of 17 Hawk advanced jet trainers assembled by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, becoming the third naval operator of the Hawk after the US Navy and UK navies.
The handing-over event was held at HAL's aircraft division in Bangalore, with Vice Admiral and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Pradeep K Chatterjee receiving the documents.
The 17 Hawk aircraft ordered by the Indian Navy form part of a contract for 57 aircraft signed with manufacturer BAE Systems in 2010, of which 40 are for the Indian Air Force.
Among its 18 customers worldwide, India is the largest operator of the Hawk advanced jet trainer with 123 aircraft ordered to date, of which over 70 have been delivered to the Indian Air Force. Hawk trainers already in service with the Indian Air Force are performing well.
Adding to the Indian Navy's fleet of aircraft, the Hawk provides the ideal platform for pilots to transition smoothly to the Navy's frontline aircraft.
In a release, HAL chairman R K Tyagi said, the company built the naval variant of Hawk within the stipulated time. The remaining four Hawks will be delivered this fiscal and the rest in the next three years.
Chatterjee said the Navy and HAL will continue to work shoulder to shoulder for all current and future programmes.
''The Hawks delivered on Monday will have a place of pride in the Navy's fleet. Given the fruitful association with HAL we will even think of reviving past projects,'' he said in the release.
In a separate release, BAE Systems said the Hawk effectively integrates air and ground-based elements, offering the most efficient and cost effective method of training pilots.
''The introduction of the Hawk to a new user marks another significant milestone in our longstanding partnership with HAL, which has established a track record operating a world class Hawk production capability. We are committed to strengthening our relationship with HAL,'' Guy Griffiths, Group managing director (international), BAE Systems, said.