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Monday, November 7, 2011

108 MMRCAS will roll out from Bangalore; cool HAL waits for the big winner

By Anantha Krishnan M

Express News Serivce
Bangalore:  Plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chose not to jump into the MMRCA madness, even as aviation pundits world over are tracking every bit of news on the opening of a bumper commercial bid. While the Ministry of Defence officials scanned macro price points along with Typhoon (Eurofighter) and Rafale (Dassault) representatives in Delhi, senior officials of HAL remained cool as a cucumber. They probably knew, who ever bags the $10.4 b order, they will be the biggest winner.
Out of the 126 combat MMRCA fighters, HAL will manufacture 108 aircraft (make category) at the Aircraft Division in Bangalore, while the first 18 (buy category) will come in a fly-away condition from the hangars of the winner. “First we will make few planes from a semi-knocked-down kit, then from completely knocked-down kit and finally from absolute raw material phase. Once, we are clear with the rules of the game, we will start parallel activities,” HAL sources said.
When asked how significant will be the MMRCA project to HAL, the official said: “It will be a huge learning curve for us as we lay our hands on the next-level of fighter jet. It will also give us some learning points for our Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project. We will be able to extrapolate the MMRCA knowledge to FGFA. Definitely it is an exciting prospect to get involved with Western aircraft technology.”
Currently HAL’s Hawk production line is abuzz with activities and they are hoping to complete the delivery of the remaining 15 aircraft (out of a total 42 made under licence) by the end of 2011-2012. “This line will be busy for couple of years more as we have an additional order of 57 aircraft. So, MMRCA will be a separate production line, with likely additional manpower,” sources said. HAL’s Engine Division in Bangalore will also play a key role in the MMRCA project.
While it is very sketchy to predict when the Indian Air Force will get the first HAL-built MMRCA, the company is seeing this as an opportunity to raise the bar of professional work sphere. ”We need to possibly empower our managers and encourage them to take risks fearlessly. Risk-taking and ability to take swift decisions are vital when we work on a massive project like MMRCA,” the official said.
(Copyright@The New Indian Express. The above piece
appeared on November 5th edition of Express.)

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