NEW DELHI: In a probable setback to the Make in India initiative, the Indian Air force has declined the India-United Kingdom jointly developed upgraded advanced Hawk trainer jets. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s BAE systems jointly developed a combat ready aircraft which will be launched in the upcoming 11th edition of Aero India to be held in Bengaluru from February 14.
While the advanced dual version of the Hawk trainer jet will debut in next week’s air show, sources in the Indian Air force (IAF) claim that it has shown no interest in the combat variant of the aircraft.
“So far, we have no intensions to place any order for the upgraded version of Hawk trainers,” said a senior IAF officer. IAF operates around 123 Hawk Mk.132 jets that provide Stage-III training before pilots’ progress to operational fighters like the Mirage 2000, Su-30MKI, MiG-29 or Jaguar. Indian air force and Indian navy are flying Hawk Mk 132 variants for training with over 100,000 flying hours.
Besides the IAF, even the Navy has not yet worked out a plan to place an order for the upgraded combat ready variant of Hawk. If no orders are placed, it may be manufactured and exported to neighboring countries, according to a HAL source.
The Advanced Hawk has been in the works for two years under a unique model with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and BAE, as both entities signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) in 2015 during the Aero India show.
Sources said that the advanced Hawk will reduce training demands on more expensive frontline aircrafts creating additional capacity for operational tasks. The Hawk jet will include air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, rockets and bombs to transform it into a combat platform.
Sources in HAL and BAE systems revealed that advanced training comprises several latest features to give the aircraft additional agility, extra power and the ability to carry a range of conventional and precision weapons for an operational role.
Stephen Timms, Managing Director - Defence Information, Training & Services said “The Advanced Hawk is a testimonial of our commitment to sharing technology, capability and knowledge to build advanced systems in India, for India, and from India. Together with HAL, we are looking forward to show this industry-funded demonstrator to the Indian and other Air Forces and seeking their feedback on the combination of features that will better prepare student combat pilots for the demands of frontline aircrafts.”