Intelligence and Terrorism News
HAL designing new attack helicopter
Jun 9, 2006, 14:39 GMT
New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Aircraft major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said Friday it was designing a new attack helicopter and development of a home grown jet fighter was proceeding on schedule.
'It'll be a dedicated light attack helicopter. It's a brand new design,' HAL chairman Ashok Baveja told reporters on the sidelines of a defence awards function here.
'Work has started in (HAL headquarters) Bangalore. We are already seven-eight months into the project,' he added.
'The prototype will be rolled out two years from now. The cycle time (from designing to rollout) will be less because now we're getting more experience in this,' Baveja said.
Asked how the Indian version would compare with those flying worldwide, he stated: 'Comparisons? There are none whatsoever.'
Pointing out that other helicopters are heavier, he said: 'We want our attack helicopters to operate at altitudes of over 15,000 feet. When you are operating at high altitudes you must have lighter machines. You can't have a 10-tonne helicopter operating at those heights.'
Baveja confirmed that three indigenously manufactured Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALH) were flying with the Indian Air Force (IAF) after being grounded since November when a machine sold to the Jharkhand government had crashed due to tail rotor failure.
'Three are flying with the IAF. We are progressively handing back the machines at the rate of 12 a month,' the HAL chief said.
Some 45 Dhruvs are flying with the army, navy and air force. HAL says it has firm orders for another 72.
The Dhruv fleet was grounded following the Nov 25 crash but there are differing versions on why the incident occurred.
Baveja insisted the problem lay with the tail rotor but Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been quoted as saying there was a problem with the tail rotor gearbox. IAF Director General (Inspections and Safety) Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia has also ascribed the crash to a gearbox problem.
'The problem was with the tail rotor, not the gearbox,' Baveja maintained Friday.
'He (Mukherjee) never said that (the fault lay with the gearbox). He was repeating a position that was a bit old. So then we clarified to the ministry that he may be updated. Within two-three months, we have got out of it,' he added.
Baveja said that the development of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) was proceeding on schedule and denied there had been delays in integrating the fighter's weapons systems.
'The Tejas weapons system is not getting done now. It's getting done a little later,' he stated.
'We're further opening the flight envelope. We're putting new systems on board. So Tejas weapons system is not this year, there's no delay. It's a progressive step. We have to certify the aircraft by 2010 and we'll do so,' he maintained.
HAL claimed four of the nine awards that were given away.
Among institutional awards, it was cited for excellence in performance and for best performance in exports. HAL's Aircraft Research and Design Centre was awarded for import substitution by developing software for a fighter aircraft's mission computer. It's Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre received an award for innovation for re-engineering the armed forces' Cheetah helicopter.
Bharat Electronics Limited received three awards, and the Ordinance Factory Chanda and MIDHANI Melt Group one each.
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service