MoD Backs HAL in Turf War With Air Force on BTA Project
In the ongoing turf war between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL)and the Indian Air Force(IAF) over the development of the indigenous Basic Trainer Aircraft(BTA), the Ministry of Defence(MoD) winds seem to be blowing the public sector undertaking’s way.
Following a year-long public spat between HAL supremo R K Tyagi and the then IAF chief N A K Browne, the MoD has acquiesced to the HAL continuing with the BTA project despite the IAF stand that it was no longer interested in the ambitious programme.
In fact,the MoD has come up with funds from its internal resources to aid the project undertaken by the defence PSU instead of asking the IAF to bankroll it. And the ministry’s abiding interest in the programme is particularly significant since no formal approval has been given for the same.
Interestingly, the new twist to the HAL-IAF tussle came after Browne, who vociferously rejected the HAL’s HTT-40 for a BTA, retired in December and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha succeeded him as IAF chief.
And an MoD representative told a Parliamentary Standing Committee recently that the HAL was going ahead with the development of the BTA with the help of its internal resources. This was clearly in line with the view of the HAL chief, who has been pushing for the HTT-40 project. However, the MoD representative said the revised detailed project report of HTT-40 “is yet to be approved” by the Director General (Acquisition).
HAL had informed the MoD that it felt the aircraft would be less expensive compared to the imported BTA on life cycle cost basis and the funding would be borne by the PSU internally.