India has firmed up plans to buy 57 more British Hawk-132 advanced jet trainers in a deal valued at upwards of Rs 8,000 crore.
This will be a follow-on order to a previous contract with defence and aerospace major BAE Systems for 66 Hawk aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
The Hawks will simplify pilot training by serving as a bridge between subsonic trainers and supersonic fighters such as Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and MiG variants that Indian combat pilots finally fly.
But the fresh order is not just for the air force, which will induct only 40 of them. The rest will be assigned to the navy. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will build all the 57 aircraft from raw material stage.
HAL Chairman Ashok Nayak confirmed to HT that India was on the verge of buying 57 additional Hawks. India had earlier blamed BAE Systems for delaying the indigenous production of Hawks from the raw material stage. The defence ministry had said there were shortcomings in the equipment supplied by the defence contractor.
Nayak said, “We have ironed out all niggles with BAE Systems. The deal is going to be signed soon.” He said the contract could be signed during British PM David Cameron’s visit to New Delhi this month.
Out of the 66 aircraft contracted, BAE supplied 24 in ‘flyaway condition’ and the rest 42 were to be built by HAL in India.