HAL manufacturing unit for Single Aisle (SA) forward passenger doors for Airbus
As force levels of the IAF’s fighter fleet spirals downwards, there have been time and cost slippages on the part of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to produce the SU-30 frontline combat aircraft as well as the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH).
Against a contract order for supply of 180 aircraft by 2013-14, HAL has produced 150 aircraft, while only 78 ALH helicopters have been produced against the mandate to supply 138 by 2013-14, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has observed in its latest report.
The slack in production of critical aircraft comes in the backdrop of the process to procure modern aircraft hanging fire for the past several years and the older generation aircraft being retired on becoming obsolete. The IAF requires at least 45 fighter squadrons to counter a two front collusive threat. However, the IAF at present has 35 active fighter squadrons as against the government authorised strength of 42. This, too, could be reduced to just 25 squadrons if the present state of affairs continues.
The IAF has contracted 272 Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft to form 13 squadrons. Three more squadrons would be equipped with the SU-30 in the next 4-5 years. If all procurements, including the Light Combat Aircraft, Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, fructify as planned, the IAF is likely to achieve the authorised strength of 42 squadrons only by the end of 15th Plan Period.
According to HAL, it operates a “Batch Mode of Production” and does not work on the concept of mass production.