New Delhi: State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has approached the Indian Air Force (IAF) and has pitched for an order to manufacture four additional squadrons of the Su-30 MKI jets. The order would serve the purpose of quickly meeting the gaps in fighter squadron strength. However, the IAF seems to be keen on only ordering replacements for aircraft that have been lost in accidents.
IAF says not keen
The proposal mooted by HAL was for manufacturing 72 additional fighter jets to the current order for 272, which has already been assigned to the defence PSU. However, official said that the IAF has not shown interest due to budgetary issues.
HAL’s main concern
What’s a major concern for HAL is that if orders for the Sukhoi jets are not placed this year, its manufacturing line in Nasik will go defunct and the base of Indian vendors that it has created over the past decades will get disrupted. HAL currently produces the jets for around Rs 450 crore each.
HAL is hoping that an order for at least 10 additional aircraft is placed this year so that its Sukhoi manufacturing plant in Nasik does not fall idle.
“If the order does not come this year, there will be a two year gap before the line can be restarted as we have to order kits and other parts. The vendor base will be out of business and the ramp up after the gap will be both costly and time consuming,” HAL Chairman R Madhavan said.
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“If we are looking at a strength of 42 squadrons for the air force, the fastest means of getting it is to go for more Light Combat Aircraft and the Su-30 MKI jets. We are currently making 12 of the fighters per year at the Nasik plant,” the CMD said.