The government has come down hard on UK defence contractor BAE Systems for delaying the production of Hawk advanced jet trainers in India.
Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that shortcomings in equipment supplied by the defence contractor had affected Hawk’s production schedule at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Raju said shortcomings were found in the equipment supplied when production was taken up in the raw material phase.
A BAE Systems India spokesperson said the firm was confident about its performance on the contract and was willing to assist HAL. “We will be happy to also discuss this with the ministry of defence and address any concerns,” he said.
India had signed a contract with BAE Systems in March 2004 for acquiring 66 Hawk AJTs at a cost of around Rs 6,750 crore.
The first 24 aircraft were to build by BAE Systems while HAL was to manufacture the remaining 42 under licence by 2010-11.
The HAL has so far manufactured only 12 aircraft, including ones built from semi-knocked down and completely knocked down kits.
Raju said the assembly jigs supplied did not meet the requirements, there was mismatch in the kits supplied, and there were defects in major assemblies. “These problems took time to overcome and hence affected the production schedule at HAL,” he said.