Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be getting to manufacture another light trainer cum combat aircraft that will take the program that HAL has begged as the default manufacturer in the Indian Aerospace programs to four. HAL might have a rich history of local license manufacturing many aircraft and fighter jets since independence it also has a bad track record of never delivering products on time and the quality of the product sometimes were questionable.

Often HAL has been accused of rushing to meet its production target by compromising on the quality of work. The hawk-132 AJT program was such an example when programs suffered several delays due to poor workmanship and often delivered aircraft was not airworthy and had to be reinspected and many issues had to be fixed by IAF’s BRO to make them airworthy again.

LCA-Tejas program also suffered considerable delays due to HALs failure to ramp up the production line even when the appropriate funds were provided. It took 6 years for HAL to supply 32 aircraft from 2016 onwards with an average of just over 5 aircraft in a year even though it often claimed that it had a production capacity of 8 aircraft per year. After the start of the second LCA division, again HAL made tall claims that it can now make 16 LCA-Tejas aircraft per year but it still has not delivered even single LCA-Trainers that went into production in 2021 out of the 18 that were ordered.

Last but not the least, Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) christened as HJT-36 is another program that has been going on for the last 20 years since its inception. Several times HAL has claimed that it has fixed design issues on the aircraft but till now it has not cleared all the mandatory tests even 3 years after the modified aircraft flew.

Can HAL remain the lead integrator and manufacturer of four projects in parallel? it is a big gamble that IAF is taking and recent comments made by Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari on tight program deadlines and records, HAL needs to decentralize and let private sector companies take the lead in the future program while it remains an operational integrator of all these programs.

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