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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

India's defence goals hinge on 'over-extended' firm

AFP  Bangalore, February 13, 2013
First Published: 11:10 IST(13/2/2013) | Last Updated: 11:24 IST(13/2/2013)

India wants to throw off the tag of world's biggest arms importer and produce its own top-class weaponry, but its ambitions hinge on a state-run group renowned for its inefficiencies.

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HAL, or Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, has a near-monopoly in the country's aerospace industry and its presence was unmissable at this year's India air show, which wrapped up in Bangalore on Sunday.

Its huge stand and ubiquitous branding underlined the scale of a company that already produces under licence the British-supplied Hawk trainer aircraft, Russia's SU-30 multi-role fighter jets, and European helicopters among others.

It is also the crucial player in the world's biggest arms deal for 126 Rafale fighter planes, the first of which will be made in France by Dassault Aviation with the remaining 108 to be assembled by HAL in India until 2018.

The government is forcing foreign arms suppliers to share their technology with HAL in the hope that it can one day manufacture its own products of the same calibre.

But an Indian industrialist, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, was scathing in describing the management culture of the heavily unionised public sector giant and its 35,000 employees.

"What could be done in 10 minutes may take 10 months. Nobody takes responsibility," he said.


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