India is likely to place an order for an additional batch of Hawk advanced jet trainers under a Rs 3,500-crore deal to meet requirements of the Air Force and Navy. The new deal for 32 jet trainers will add to the 123 aircraft already ordered for the Indian armed forces.
Sources in the defence ministry told ET that the Hawk deal, which had been stuck for several months on pricing issues, is now moving forward with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited expected to get the order within a few months. Hawk aircraft are the primary advanced trainers for combat pilots in India and have been used extensively due to a deficiency of intermediate jet trainers.
While the Navy has a requirement of at least eight more Hawks to train fighter pilots for the MiG 29K fleet, the Air Force requires additional planes for its Suryakiran aerobatic team that has been reconstituted after a long break. The new order would keep HAL’s Hawk line running for a few more years. An eight point upgrade of the trainers is being planned with assistance from its original manufacturer BAE to make then capable of training operations for new generation fighters. HAL is the largest producer of the Hawk outside of the UK and also has export plans in the future for a weaponised version of the aircraft.
Officials connected with the program have told ET that an Indian-made combat version of the Hawk aircraft could be displayed at the Aero India show in February 2017 for demonstration. The Combat Hawk, for which interest has been shown by potential clients to undertake light attack missions, is currently under development jointly with BAE. HAL is looking to integrate a new engine, weapon systems and possibly a radar to the trainer.