Defence Matters-5


G.S.Jamadagni, retired from HAL in 2001 as General manager(Quality Assurance),Corporate Office after Forty years of service, who has penned a column on HAL in The Hindu, writes,’Two-thirds of the IAF’s workhorse aircraft are from HAL. Today, HAL manufactures the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas with advanced technologies; and the 25-tonne Sukhoi-30 MKI fourth generation fighter aircraft of Russian origin right from raw materials.’ However, I can’t agree that HAL has manufactured Sukhoi-30. I wish Shri.Jamadagni or someone with knowledge of HAL clarifies few points. Were the production engineering, design of jigs and fixtures and decisions of equipment for manufacturing and quality control used for the manufacture of Sukhoi-30 done by HAL? Was it a serial production line setup by HAL? What was the annual production rate? Were the frame components and other mechanical parts indigenised from local parts manufacturers? The way HAL has progressed on producing LCA Tejas after it got the order of at least 40 aircrafts raises many doubts.The chairman stated through media two years ago that HAL is getting all major frame components indigenised through a number of reliable India vendors. He also announced the setting up of all together three assembly lines to push ahead the production rate with considerable investment agreed to the government.Nothing has been heard about that very lately, and hardly one or two LCA Tejas MK-1 has been produced and handed over in this fiscal year. The country men have hardly heard any technically sound statement on its problem from HAL. We all agree and know that the defence ministry and IAF have not been very enthusiastic about indigenised LCA and its evolved variants of MK-2 or ultimately AMCA, but HAL being an autonomous listed company must make its position clear at least about its technical and management capability.It must justify its performance.Will Mr. Jamadagni or some one throw light on it?


Made in India Artillery Guns have a now a new competitor: As Ajai Shukla of BS reports, “Last September, the Kalyani Group and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) claimed world records by firing their in-development artillery guns to a distance of over 47 km. Their Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) comfortably surpassed the maximum ranges of 40-45 km, currently achieved by similar 155-millimetre, 52-calibre guns in service worldwide. However, a new American artillery gun is comfortably surpassing ATAGS. Also known by an acronym, the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) has achieved a mind-boggling range of 62 km.” Will Bharat Forge and Tata power that built the guns in collaboration with DRDO take up the challenge? If they don’t, Indian Army will be the first to demand the import of the American guns on because of its superiority. Indian Army that has ordered a small number to India private sector will now ask the manufacturers to match American guns’ performance. It has been unfortunately deciding this way in the past. Let us see.


Chairman-HAL, Must Speak: Time and again, columnists of all hues keep on writing about HAL’s performance some criticising its capability, some showing sympathy. Unfortunately, HAL never makes press statements at least every six month giving its performance against the targets. The people who are knowledgeable about HAL at least at this moment will like to know about the actual production vs. the annual targets of the production of fighters such as LCA MK-1 and helicopters for which the country very often resorts to import and the media keep on giving a feel as if HAL just can’t manufacture even the required number of already developed fighters and helicopters. HAL must also indicate if it after some years will meet the domestic requirements and the country will not have to depend on every such machines to be imported. Imports must be limited to some very special lots in small numbers.HAL is failing to project its image about its potentials and programmes. It is causing a lot of negativity in the minds of people interested in the subject.


As per the media report in ET, UAE has shown a keen interest in Tejas, the light combat aircraft made by HAL.The UAE’s minister of state for defence, Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falacy,will be visiting the facilities of defence PSUs, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), on October 17. Even Sri Lanka, Egypt and Singapore have evinced interest in the indigenous fighter jet. But HAL will first have to meet the demands of the IAF. It is trying to meet IAF’s demand for 123 Tejas. The IAF is also looking at inducting more than 200 Tejas Mark 2. Will the defence ministry and the Prime Minister who takes personal interest in many things of national importance, put their best in getting HAL perform as a world class company to deliver the quality and quantity to the seekers?


Rahul Gone Crazy: As per media report, Congress President Rahul Gandhi is slated to meet on October 13 employees of the HAL, and address them on Rafale deal. Is RaGa within his senses to take such steps? Naturally, RaGa will speak out as political leader and many things will be hardly truth but certainly affect the morale of the employees of this strategic DPSU.It will be certainly like a union leader addressing the employees of a company and instigating them. I don’t know if such things have happened in the past and if there is any rule or law about it. However,it is pretty dangerous for the future of the country and for defence industry. Should EC take cognition or Some PIL come in SC?


A model for collaboration on defence production is the BrahMos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) entity which was set up in February 1998 to design, develop, produce and deliver the highly versatile, universal BRAHMOS weapon system*. However, all other projects such as those for manufacturing MiG or Sukhoi fighters didn’t follow that route. HAL kept on working as assembly integrator of the MiG and Sukhoi fighters with almost all components imported from Soviet Union. It didn’t help in strengthening of the eco-system through modification for integrating new technologies developed by Indian agencies such as DRDO or indigenisation of components and systems to help HAL to become a strong OEM.Today, India has much better ecosystem for aircraft component manufacturing with many private sector big and medium enterprises supplying to most of the big global players, some with tie up with them. A number of Indian design and engineering companies are also working for the global aerospace companies. Today, IAF is still hunting for 100 odd Medium Multirole Combat Aircrafts under MMCA 2 under Strategic Partnership Policy with a foreign manufacturer partnering with one Indian one to manufacture in a plant set up in India#. But as it appears the order will be limited to one selected model and to a particular quantity, and will not aim at having design, development facilities to make it a full fledged fighter manufacturing facility for years to come.In one such option Boeing proposed to work with Mahindra and HAL. I don’t think it would serve the ultimate goal of make in India. Instead Indian government must pursue the foreign company to set up an additional regional manufacturing plant to sell to Indian Defence as well as export.Indian partner in SPP must get facilitated by the collaborating foreign partner to grow as OEM of future. Further,HAL may outsource the total manufacturing of fighters ( and helicopters) to some private manufacturing company if interested.With their strength and inclination, TASL or Dynamatic can certainly grow as a full-fledged helicopter manufacturing companies.HAL must also become a lean and mean designing, developing, prototyping and manufacturing special fighting machines.At the same time, a manufacturing company must come up for the development of major units of aircrafts and helicopters such as engines, etc.The Indian government must take up a serious view of our weaknesses and do every thing to become a great defence manufacturing nation if we wish to become a respected economy of the world.


# In July 2018, four firms namely Boeing F-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and United Aircraft Corporation had proposed selling their twin-engine fighter jets for the project worth $19 billion while Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and SAAB’s Gripen were single-engine fighters.The tender for 110 combat aircraft mandates the building of at least 85 percent of the order locally.


Russian President came in, talked with Modi and took away a business of at least 5 billion US $ for exporting S-400 air-defence shield systems from Russia.Every time such deals happen with one or the other countries, the member of Security Council I feel bad and morose about it, as I have been a manufacturing engineer even now. A question crops up: Can India be called a Superpower ever with such one way dependence on the two-three present Superpowers? Where has the drum beating of Make in India Policy gone? Will ever the Indian PM visit a country and sell some pricy wares? We shall keep on buying frigates,helicopters, nuclear plants, and our PSUs such as HAL or naval dockyards and even Atomic Energy Commission that established locally built plants will never be able to grow big enough and reliable enough to manufacture and export these critical technologies based wares.India is destined to remain laggard for years to come. These purchases are just against the policy of strategically critical Make in India policy. It seems those who are deciding these purchases hardly understand how it damages the future of Indian manufacturing and the pride of a country.


I saw A good article in India Express today that should let the government realise that it must not agree to the crazy needs rather demands of the defence forces to import everything- missiles, totally weaponised aircrafts, helicopters, tanks, FRCVs, ships and submarines instead of getting them manufactured in DPSUs, dockyards in public as well as private sector units. Let there be top level discussions on these topics and up the challenge of developing and manufacturing in the country.Let the government understand appreciate that till the time India keep on importing its all defence requirements from US, Russia, France and even UAE under the pressure from those governments, it must not even dare to call a superpower and a seat in security council. I wrote comment for the article, “India can be the source for global artillery requirements if the government so wishes. The guns from Tata Power as well as Bharat Forge manufactured from DRDO technologies were found to be superior than many global supplies. Ordnance factories Dhanush is also good. However, L&T and Mahindra are also manufacturing them with a tie up with South Korea and US respectively. But for the lust for import of India Defence, many defence equipment can be manufactured in India.”


If this is true, HAL has produced only one Tejas in last six months. Either HAL is incapable or there is some conflicts of interests that has caused this situation. The defence minister and even PMO must take a notice of it and come out with corrective steps. Nirmala Sitaraman must come out with a statement on the subject.


Shekhar Gupta, the well- known journalist on last published a column in Business Standard on last Saturday that must be read by everyone interested in working of the defence ministry and particularly that of HAL: “HAL has a simple business model: The government buys a foreign plane, adds a co-production deal and gifts it to HAL.It’s done a great job in many areas, also as an ally of ISRO and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), but self-reliance is a big NO. It’s just a PSU bureaucracy fattened on “room service”, or what we’d call in Hindi, “paki-pakayi”. The IAF has a healthy scepticism of its abilities. Don’t be taken in by the current chief saying he will buy 12 squadrons of the Tejas. What he isn’t telling you is, that given HAL’s record, by the time half of these are delivered, manned fighters will be obsolete, at least in the Tejas category.” For a reference, I shall include an older story at HAL facility that HAL itself has forgotten: “ Prime Minister Nehru brought in the legendary German aircraft designer, Dr Kurt Tank, to head the design effort for India. He brought his core team, and created an exceptional design capability for HAL in a short span of time. It is another matter that the country squandered that wealth of capability and experience created. The HF-24 was an exceptionally advanced design for its time. Dr Kurt Tank’s leadership and programme management was outstanding. At a time when technical wherewithal in India was extremely limited, he ensured that the programme was managed very efficiently. The first flight of the prototype took just four years from the drawing board, and the series production commenced in less than 10 years.” Will Modi Government be able to make HAL a world class aerospace co competing with the global biggies in next ten years and always look for importing all fighters and helicopters?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s