(This was originally posted in Economic Times by Manu Pubby)
BENGALURU: Close to Rs 9,000 crore worth of orders are set to go to MSMEs and private sector partners as India starts producing its next generation Light Combat Aircraft after the air force signed an order for 83 fighter jets.
India’s premier aerospace company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has said that it plans to heavily involve the private sector, with five major tier one partners who will supply key components and parts of the fuselage and encouraging smaller players to shore up capability.
“At present, the indigenous content is above 52 percent, we will have to see how to increase the indigenous content. We want to improve to 65 percent provided that some of the vendors can come up and provide us finished units,” HAL Chairman R Madhavan said at the AeroIndia show.
The top executive said that there are likely to be close to 600 suppliers of all shapes and sizes for the LCA Mk 1A program by the end of this year as production in ramped up to meet the requirements of the air force. With the Rs 48,000 crore deal signed at the air show, HAL now has three years to deliver the first aircraft and then ramp up production capability to 16 jets a year at twin production lines.
Madhavan said that additional lines can be easily set up to ramp up production further if the need arises, given potential export orders for the LCA Mk1A fighter. With India pitching the jet for exports in the neighbourhood, HAL believes that the LCA Mk1A has a good possibility for additional orders. “We hope we can conclude something very quickly. There has been a lot of interest, mostly from South East Asian nations for the Mk1A version,” the chairman said.
Beyond the LCA, the state owned company is now looking at getting orders for its indigenous HTT 40 basic trainer, which is on offer to the armed forces for pilot training. The air force handed over a formal request for proposals to HAL at the aero show for the HTT 40, getting a step closer to inducting the aircraft.
HAL said that the plan is to start with 70 aircraft for the air force and navy, with the total number likely to go up to 106. The aircraft will initially be made in Bangalore but the main production line will come up in Nasik once the formal orders are placed.