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HAL prepares to manufacture Rafale combat jet in India
Gulshan Luthra
New Delhi (IANS) Feb 13 , 2012

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is getting ready to progressively manufacture the Dassault Rafale combat jet that has apparently been chosen by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for its $10.4 billion order for 126 planes.

HAL officiating Chairman and Managing Director P.V. Deshmukh told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that the company had already earmarked its own land near Bangalore, where it is headquartered, to produce some of the aircraft's major components and integrate the overall aircraft and systems.

The first 18 aircraft would come in fly-away condition, within three years of signing of the contract and meanwhile, HAL would get the production tooling, expertise and technical know-how under transfer of technology from the French.

The remaining 108 aircraft would initially be progressively manufactured from SKD (semi-knocked-down) and CKD (completely knocked-down) kits. Gradually, HAL would start producing the fuselage and other parts from the raw materials. Dassault engineers would assist in technology transfer and production plants.

HAL has been preparing for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) project in terms of allocation of funds and organisational changes needed to launch and deliver the targets on time. Three phases have been earmarked for HAL's goalposts in manufacturing this highly-sophisticated aircraft.

Deshmukh, who was earlier managing director of HAL's MiG complex at Nasik, said that over the next 10 years, the Rafale project should generate business approximating $4-5 billion. "It is a huge project for us," he observed.

He disclosed that HAL already had Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Dassault and engine-maker Snecma to produce some of the designated parts. "HAL has been preparing for the MMRCA project in terms of allocation of funds and organizational changes needed to launch and deliver the MMRCA project targets on time."

Separate divisions have been planned for the aircraft and engine of the MMRCA at Bangalore, and two locations have been shortlisted within the HAL estate there for setting up the airframe and engine divisions.

Pre-planning activities with respect to conceptual design of plant layout for the aircraft and engine production units are under progress. Accessory production has been planned at HAL divisions at Hyderabad, Lucknow and Korwa (Uttar Pradesh).

Deshmukh described the Rafale as a state-of-the-art multi-role combat aircraft capable of a wide range of missions such as air defence, air superiority, close air support, air-to-ground precision strikes, interdiction, maritime roles and nuclear strikes. It has an integrated suite of avionics, electronic sensors, AESA Radar and active/passive counter measures.

"HAL is the designated lead production agency for the airframe, aero-engine and systems integration of the aircraft. Out of the 126 aircraft,, 18 aircraft will be directly supplied by Dassault Aviation and 108 aircraft will be built at HAL in three phases. "In the next four years, the Rafale aircraft deliveries would commence from HAL to the Indian Air Force as per the agreed schedule. HAL envisages a business volume of about Rs.20,000 to Rs.25,000 crores ($4-5 billion) in the MMRCA project over the next 10 years."

Deshmukh said that the offset requirement of the MMRCA programme being 50 percent of the foreign exchange content, HAL is also looking forward to active participation in this industrial effort up to around 30 percent of the offset value.

(Gulshan Luthra writes on strategic affairs. He can be reached at gulshan.luthra@indiastrategic.in)

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