T Suvarna Raju

Chairman and Managing Director Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

Interview

June 29, 2015

/ By

Biz@India

June 2015



HAL to Become An Integrator

T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

Research & Development is the new focus of the oldest aeronautics company in India, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as it launches several projects to meet India’s defence needs, says T Suvarna Raju.
 
How has HAL adopted Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign?
 
HAL, as a major aerospace defence public sector under Ministry of Defence, has initiated several steps to adopt “Make in India” concept and accordingly strategies are being implemented at HAL for indigenous development of aircraft, helicopters, aero engines, UAVs, aircraft systems such as avionics, mechanical systems etc. Some of the indigenous development program that are underway at HAL include light combat aircraft (LCA) – Tejas, Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH -WSI).

Our indigenisation activities include development and import substitution efforts. In order to attain higher level of self-reliance, HAL has been making efforts on indigenisation of components, accessories and systems required for manufacture as well as repair and overhaul of aircraft, engine and associated systems. I am glad to inform you that every year more than 2000 items are indigenised with considerable foreign exchange savings.

On the external front, HAL and DRDO labs have been collaborating on a number of design and development programs in aeronautical sector. There are various forums existing currently to provide a common platform for industry and R&D organizations to synergize HAL and DRDO efforts. HAL is engaged with various DRDO labs and organizations in the various Research and Development field for several projects such as LCA, IJT, Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and SU-30 MKI.

 

Tejas (light combat aircraft) is one of the indigenous development programmes undertaken by HAL

Tejas (light combat aircraft) is one of the indigenous development programmes undertaken by HAL

We also believe in involving academia for technology development. We are strategically partnering with academic institutions for various projects. HAL has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with academic institutes and created chairs at Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) for technology collaboration. We have initiated technologies jointly with academic institutions in the areas like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Rotary Wing UAVs, transmission assembly, material development and production of aero engine blades etc.

The development of domestic vendors has always been part of our exercise. The aerospace sector is expanding globally and India is emerging as one of the largest defence markets. With the opening of Indian defence sector and the encouragement to private sector participation, the private sector, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), is expected to grow. HAL is playing a proactive role in helping these businesses for the ultimate benefit of the country. HAL is currently outsourcing its manufacturing activities to the Indian private industries and around 25 pc of the total Standard Man-hours (SMH) is outsourced and it will be increased in the coming years.

What I am trying to explain is HAL would maximise its outsourcing of manufacturing activities to private industries and take a role of an integrator. HAL would support private industries by ensuring long term business, and lend its expertise in development and production, testing, certification and training.

Are you planning any change in the design and in the R&D team gearing itself up to meet the new challenges in the air?

R&D is the thrust area at HAL and to ensure concerted efforts towards this the Company has created an R&D corpus towards which 10 pc of Operational Profit is allocated each year. The Company has reviewed its R&D policy to streamline various activities involved and a comprehensive R&D manual has been issued last year. A Committee of Institutions Network (COIN) headed by Director (Engg, R&D) has been formed unifying all the in-house R&D units under one technical leadership to have desired synergy in R&D efforts.

HAL has also collaborated and established faculty chairs at IITs at Roorkee, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai and IISc Bangalore with the objective to conduct applied research and tackle multi-disciplinary problems in the field of aerospace technology and its applications. HAL is also working on the idea of establishing an exclusive Aerospace University.

How far has the indigensation of Su-30MKI progressed? Are we stilldepending on Russia for spares and service for this fighter?

As per the contractual terms for manufacturing of Su30 MKI under Transfer of Technology (ToT), raw materials and ready-made articles (RMA) necessary for full batch of production are supplied by Russians. However, HAL has taken up indigenisation of non-TOT items and succeeded in reducing dependency on Russians. The indigenous content of Su-30MKI is approximately 73 pc at present.

Have you succeeded in the integration of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile with SU 30.

HAL took up the challenging task of integration of 2.5 ton class BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and has successfully modified one aircraft with the help of IAF and BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL). Missile integration and launch trials have been carried out with the support from HAL. There is a plan to modify second aircraft by December 2015.

There doesn’t seem to be much headway in the development of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Technology. What is the present status?

You will be pleased to know that the LCH is currently at an advanced stage of development/testing at HAL with three prototypes flying. A fourth prototype is being built and is expected to take flight in next few months. Approximately 500 flights totalling more than 350 flight hours have been completed on the three prototypes towards certification of the platform. The major task remaining is on Weapons and Mission Systems Integration/ Testing. With four prototypes, the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) is targeted by the end of this year. We plan to take up the limited series production after receipt of IOC in the production year 2016-17.

 

HAL will showcase its helicopter, Rudra, at Paris Air Show 2015

HAL will showcase its helicopter, Rudra, at Paris Air Show 2015

And the progress in the upgrade programs for both Jaguar and Mirage fighters?

The Jaguar upgrade program pertains to the upgrade of aircraft avionics and introduction of new weapons on the Darin I aircraft earlier produced by HAL to Darin III. The programme is presently in the design and development phase where three aircraft (one each of maritime, strike and trainer) are being upgraded and flight trials are under progress for operational clearance. This will be followed by series upgrade of 58 aircraft.

It is important to know that initially, Jaguar aircraft procured from BAE Systems, UK during the late 1970s were fitted with Navigation and Weapon Aiming Sub-Systems (NavWASS) standard avionics. Subsequently, HAL-manufactured Jaguar aircraft in the mid ’80s were fitted with an improved nav-attack system called DARIN (Display Attack Ranging & Inertial Navigation). Over a period of time, both the NaVWASS and DARIN system have become obsolete and are also affected by serious growth limitations. As a result, NavWASS in Jaguar aircraft have been subsequently upgraded to the contemporary system DARINII with user-friendly interfaces and excellent operational performance. The DARIN-II system was accorded Full Operational Clearance (FOC) in 2006 and is in use with IAF squadrons.

The Mirage upgrade program of IAF is in two phases: Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by French OEMs (Dassault Aviation & Thales) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) & series upgrade of the fleet by HAL. Two aircraft have been upgraded to IOC standard by French OEMs and handed over to IAF. Further, two aircraft are being upgraded to IOC standard at HAL with support from French OEMs. The activities related to the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) are under progress and will be taken-up on the OEM-upgraded IOC aircraft once these are received from IAF.

What is HAL’s present focus area? How far have you gone in the design and development of aero engines and UAVs?

HAL has identified R&D as a thrust area and is concentrating on increasing its indigenous portfolio of products with indigenous programs like IJT, HTT-40, ALH-WSI, LCH and LUH in full swing. Regarding the development of aero engines, HAL is presently working on developing a 25 kW turbofan engine suitable for trainer aircraft and also a 1200 kW turbo shaft engine primarily for use on helicopters. In view of tremendous potential on the UAV front, HAL has formed a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) for managing the UAV business. HAL has developed an 8 kg category mini-UAV which is under flight testing. Also, HAL is partnering with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) on design, development and production of Rustom II MALE UAV.

As a manufacturer, what will HAL bring to Le Bourget, the Paris Air show?

Paris Air Show is one of the most important biennial international aerospace exhibitions in the world. This air show provides an excellent opportunity to meet senior delegations from various countries and also officials from worldwide aerospace industries with a view to enhancing export promotional activities. Incidentally this year also happens to be the 75th year of unstinted service by HAL in meeting the airpower needs of India.

HAL will be showcasing its ALHWSI (ALH Weapon Systems Integrated) ‘Rudra’ and LCH models at the event as we feel that there are significant opportunities for promotion of both these helicopters keeping in view the expanding market for competitive weaponised platforms to deal with challenges of insurgency, terrorism and home-land security fronts in different parts of the world.

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