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Top Indian Air Force officials to hold talks with HAL

The Indian Air Force will hold talks with top Hindustan Aeronautics Limited officials on issues of production and upgradation of aircraft at the IAF commanders’ conference, amid questions being raised about its capabilities against the backdrop of the Rafale jet deal.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2018 23:19 IST
HT Correspondent
Indian Air Force,HAL,Rafale
Last week, IAF chief BS Dhanoa questioned the ability of HAL to deliver fighter jets on schedule, detailing the time overrun in several crucial programmes including the Sukhoi-30s, Jaguars, Mirage-2000s and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). (AP/File Photo)

The Indian Air Force brass will hold talks with top Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) officials on issues of production and upgradation of aircraft at the IAF commanders’ conference, amid questions being raised about the state-run plane maker’s capabilities against the backdrop of the Rafale jet deal.

Indigenisation and design and development of aircraft and other equipment will also be discussed at the two-day biannual conference that began on Thursday, an IAF spokesperson said. Last week, IAF chief BS Dhanoa questioned the ability of HAL to deliver fighter jets on schedule, detailing the time overrun in several crucial programmes including the Sukhoi-30s, Jaguars, Mirage-2000s and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

Dhanoa was responding to questions on a September 20 report in Hindustan Times in which former HAL chairman T Suvarna Raju had said that HAL could have built Rafale jets in India had the government managed to close the original negotiations with Dassault Aviation for 126 fighters.

The NDA government’s decision to enter into a government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes was announced in April 2015 with the deal signed a little over a year later. This replaced the UPA regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by HAL using parts imported from France.

“The IAF’s resolve to wholeheartedly support the indigenous LCA programme by committing to procure 18 squadrons of LCA and its variants endorsing its capability is notable and praiseworthy,” said the minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre inaugurated the conference.

The LCA (initial operational clearance configuration) programme is running five years behind schedule. Bhamre said the IAF has the most technologically intensive and quickest military response available to the government for furthering India’s leverage. Dhanoa highlighted the need to hold an operational edge over India’s adversaries through focused operational training.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 23:19 IST