State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which is India’s only Major Aerospace company seems to have jumped into the bandwagon in providing cover fire to the INC President Rahul Gandhi in spreading his falsehood on the purchase of 36 Rafale jet directly from France, while trying to oversell its capacity of the organization which for years only has disappointed Indian Air force its lonely customer.

While Rahul Gandhi and his supporters are Happy to provide you a list of aircraft which were assembled by HAL over the years after India’s independence, but what they will not inform is how each aircraft assembled by HAL were subjected to overpricing, poor workmanship, delays in delivery, the slow pace of manufacturing as frustrated air-force had no other place to look at due to lack of competition in the sector and due to simple monopoly of the organization in the aerospace sector in India.

IAF for last decade or so had advocated increasing participation of the Private defense companies in the Aerospace sector in India which will not only reduce HAL’s Monopoly in the country but also promote Healthy competition in the sector, resulting in a win-win situation for country’s Air force. Losing fighter aircraft division which literally is Cash-cow for the organization is the primary reason while left-leaning Trade unions of the Government employees of the organization are openly supporting Rahul Gandhi.

HAL claims it can manufacture Dassault Rafale on its own, but Timothy Roemer who was American ambassador to India back in UPA-2 time had raised critical questions about low-quality standards at the HAL to even manufacture 70’s developed F-16 at their Plants. Roemer’s confidential report to the then US administration under President Barack Obama, just before his tenure as ambassador ended in 2011, said in clear terms that the HAL was not competent to be a partner of either of the two American companies – Boeing and Lockheed Martin – that were keen to bid for India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), purely because it did not meet the quality standards the two US giants sought.

US defense major Boeing in 2015 terminated a contract with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) for component supplies to the former’s war and commercial planes being inducted into the Indian Navy. $4.7-million contract signed with Boeing in 2010, HAL was to provide weapons bay doors for eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft that the former would supply to the Indian Navy. The contract with HAL for equipment for the P8I, through its avionics division in Hyderabad, was the first P-8I offset package that Boeing had directly executed with India’s largest aerospace company. While HAL continues to cry that it didn’t get a major share in the offset of the Dassault Rafale deal, HAL lost the contract to Tata Advanced Materials (TAML) which has been receiving all major chunk of all American offset contract obligation for all previous defense deals done by UPA government, yet nobody questioned why TAML which had no experience building aircraft or its components were cornering off-set contracts worth crores under UPA and same criteria doesn’t hold for Reliance group which recently starting building small warships and Arjun Main Battle Tank Turrets and Hull for the armed forces.

While HAL is trying to save its ass from getting burned down by tactically supporting a Political party against its own government even fully knowing its shortfalls and not so impressive records in development of aircraft, it is slowly but steadily creating a rift between its only customer that is Indian Air Force. IAF is very keen that both AMCA and Tejas Mk-2 fighter jet programs have heavy participation of the Private sector companies so that HAL’s Monopoly is undermined and help create competition in a sector leading to better services and affordable cost. IAF is already paying at least Rs 60 to Rs 70 crore extra for each Sukhoi-30 MKI it buys from HAL due to the absolute monopoly in the sector over Russian Manufactures. If there was heavy Private participation IAF had an opportunity to negotiate further to reduce the cost but that it simply not possible if HAL has no competition in India.

Some of the controversial products of the HAL

HAL HPT-32 Deepak: Prop-driven primary trainer manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited which had to be prematurely retired from the Indian Air force after it killed 23 pilots in 17 crashes due to persistent fuel supply problem leading to 108 engine cuts.

HAL HJT-36 Sitara: Subsonic intermediate jet trainer in development for the last 18 years but yet to be inducted due to faulty designs and problem is yet to be fixed even after spending crores in its development.

SEPECAT Jaguar: Assembled and local build by HAL but not same as the original aircraft since HAL was not able to get all the blueprints of the aircraft from the OEM at the time. Jaguar is a great example of the Jugaad culture displayed at HAL in length.

LCA-Tejas: HAL backed away from developing LCA-Tejas at its time of its inception leading to DRDO steping in and creating a design agency called Aeronautical Development Agency which went on to design and develop LCA-Tejas. HAL even after being appointed Manufacture of the LCA-Tejas as been accused of giving it step-motherly treatment and also delayed setting up of manufacturing plant by 3 years by showing lack of urgency to execute the project.

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