Monday, May 07, 2012

After Basic, Intermediate Trainer Crisis Looms For IAF

HAL HJT-36 Sitara | Photo Courtesy Vayu Aerospace
Just about the time the Indian Air Force has begun to feel a little reassured that it will be able to conclude a contract for desperately needed basic propeller trainers, another equally daunting challenge has popped up. By early 2014, the IAF's 81 HJT-16 Kiran Mk.1 & Mk.2 intermediate jet trainers will stop flying, reaching the end of their total technical life. Now the Kiran's replacement, the HJT-36 Sitara, was supposed to have begun deliveries in June this year. The programme hasn't even achieved initial operational clearance (IOC), originally scheduled for July 2011, a milestone indefinitely put off after a prototype crash three months before it.

Now here's the thing: the IAF had hoped the induction of the HJT-36 and the phase out of the Kiran would overlap, allowing for a small period of time when both aircraft would be operational together. This, now, almost certainly won't be the case, say sources, considering the substantial proving work the HJT-36 still has ahead of it before it is ready for final operational clearance. And under no circumstances can the Kirans be pushed beyond early 2014. Therefore, the prospect (hopefully) of having a small number of new propeller trainers, a full fleet of advanced jet trainers and no Stage-2 aircraft is becoming increasingly real. In fact, the IAF is already accounting for such a scenario. The IAF has no plans to buy intermediate trainers from abroad. But remember, that's precisely what they once said about basic trainers as well.

The IAF signed a contract with HAL for 12 Limited Series Production (LSP) HJT-36 aircraft in March 2006 and 73 fully certified aircraft in March 2010 with deliveries scheduled from June 2012. As the IAF said to a recent Parliamentary committee, "The project is running behind schedule."

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why does HAL have to do everything?It time to break the monopoly of HAL and induct additional players.

Anonymous said...

One attribute we Indians should learn from West is "Time is precious". Come on guys, dint you see this coming all this while????

IAF is to be equally blamed, as this shows that they are not tracking on the project where they are the major stakeholder. Please stop being a ZOZO and nail such failures. If cooperate India can do, so do a great organization like IAF. I wouldnt say that about HAL or ADA.

Thanks!

Sachin

Anonymous said...

Why is it always a "Crisis" with the IAF? They may chose to blame the DRDO/HAL but the fact is their long term planning sucks!

To plan for only a 1 or 2 overlap between old/new IJTs was asking for trouble right from the outset given the long time the LCA has taken.

As the defender of our skies if they can't get this planning right I am definitely not feeling secure (no disrespect to the actual pilots).

The IAF planning guts need to be sacked!

KVR said...

Wot ? NO comments from anyone ? No conspiracy theories ?

Anonymous said...

when the country is claiming to be successful in developing 4-gen fighter(tejas),4.5-gen (rafale) and also 5-gen(fgfa,amca)in near future then why they are unable to produce a simple basic or intermediate jet trainer. forget trainers a basic simulator cannot be made in india. Only solution is to convert the airforce into a total UAV force.

Anonymous said...

K-8 karakorum is currently the best intermediate jet trainer in the world.

Anonymous said...

Haven't heard much about Sitara since the crash.. Hope they are preparing new prototypes and fixing the rolling issues..

Anonymous said...

This story of delays by HAL is all too familiar. I'm not sure how the project review mechanism is done within HAL, but it's clear, that it's not done keeping the customers requirements and timelines in mind. And the root cause is that HAL is Government owned, and contracting for the Government.

This puts the IAF in a big predicament. Cause on one side, that cannot buy from outside as the Govt will not scanction this, and on the other side, their prepardness to be battle ready is compromised.

Time has come for the Govt, to evalutate HAL's competency to meet and run important projects requirements. It's one thing good to be self reliant, but self relaince with no positive outcome should not lead to compromising the Nation's security.

sntata said...

HJT-36 should have been in service by now but for IAF's objection that the French Larzac engine is under-powered. HAL has to search for another engine. Russia took three more years to produce its Saturn NPO for HJT-36. Let us hope Sitara will by the end of the year.

Mr. Ra said...

The HJT-36 Sitara is creating such an eerie silence that it has got either to be in its hibernation or nearing end times. Sorry state of affairs.

Joy said...

The alternative to not having intermidiate trainers could potentially result in more crashes of advance jets and jet trainers. IAF has to consier if the risk of not having intermidiate trainers for the said period is well worth taking and risking the lives of rookie pilots and jets versus spending more money to buy from outside. Personally I dont think IAF is running short of funds, just victim of poor planning which is incriminating.

Anonymous said...

One must always follow the rule of two when working with DRDO / HAL. The rule of two states: DRDO / HAL will deliver a product at twice the budgeted cost, twice the budgeted time, and half of the budgeted capability. When DRDO designs AND HAL manufactures the product, then replace two with four. This rule will solve lot of the army's problems when ordering products designed and / or manufactured by DRDO / HAL.

Joy said...

And its always cheaper for IAF blame everything on pilot error then to invest in trainers to solve their major issue with high attrition rates.

Mr. Ra said...

BTW the HJT-36 Sitara may no more be required under the latest scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

Most of the blame for delay in LCA goes for Airforce and ADA.. not HAL. The delay in IJT is mostly to the russians for the engines and help from the crash..

Anonymous said...

HAL have a long and realistic history of no to R & D. This philosophy is supported by the wise men and women ( politicians, IAF and defence related personals).

Many of the above comments with HAL and wise individual's philosophy prove , we are an incompetent nation in R & D . All we can do is gathere the incomplete requirement from defence mag. and throw the same in media.

May be its high time we bring down all the defence related organization and manufacturing unit and give bulk order of defence purchase to foreign organisation.

If there are defects we can blame the foreign organisation and throw more money at the foreign organisation door steps.
May be we have to windup the technical instutions to make the foreign player happy; this will help us to have complete kit with foreign technicians .

May be replace the armed forces with foreign armed forces while we warm our bottom.

Anonymous said...

Cons-pee-racy theory:
Netas, babus, HAL walas, are colluding to make sure that the domestic effort is sabotaged.
So there is a reason to procure 'phorein' maal with due kickbacks deposited in the cayman islands or swiss banks.
The IAF will cry foul when they don't get trainers, who knows a wink will be directed at some of the top IAF walas also - who knows. Anything is possible these days.
The netas will shed their crocodile tears and in the 'best interest of the security of the nation' procure from videsh as a stopgap measure.
Please note, this 'emergency' procurement from videsh will be made at the 11th hour, and so the prices will naturally be jacked up. Not much leeway for the price negotiation walas to do much after all, now then.
wink wink

Anonymous said...

It is sad that HAL cannot undertake anything of its own.It is an organisation which does only screwdriver technology.It is pathetic they could not design a basic trainer.The IJT project is going at snail's pace with an engine AL 55 which is totally dependent on Russia's mercy. They should change the engine to Honeywell. They better put up a decent IJT and stop blaming IAF for it. The mirage upgrade is costing 41 million $ a piece which is exorbitant and it a cost of a new LCA and for which HAL and ADA are to be blamed.These mirages would not fly after next few years and it a wasteful investment.I feel HAL is still living on the Mark II and Mark IV psyche where they change the grill and little bit of appearance and call that next model. If the LCA would have come on time we do not need MMRCA and how come the 10 billion bill now becomes 20 plus billion, someone is making huge money and instead of putting blame I feel IAF should take the responsibility as to what they want. I feel it would be good choice to have F=35 in same money and develop Tejas to its full potential with Mark 2 fully ready with IN 20 engine and replace it with F414 IN5S6 engine as when it comes so that everything is in place and fully computerized assembly line is ready so that mass production can begin. Rafale is extremely expensive and did not perform well in Libyan missions and french are known to exploit the situation and demand exorbitant money for everything.Scorpene deal signed with no mention of engine and then charging exorbitantly for it. Who would sell and sign a contract of submarine without engine. Enough is enough it is sheer waste to spend 41 million $ per plane for a upgrade that has a questionable engine that may not fly for evan a year.

Anonymous said...

Whats the problem with IAF? They find GE404 underpowered, they find kaveri underpowered and now they find HJT-36 Larzac engine underpowered, in fact Adour engines of Jaguars where also underpowered for them and they realised it after almost 2 decades of commissioning Jaguars :D . Is it realy a technical issue or just IAF rank holders and babu trying to generate another opportunity to eat money by taking it to import such aircrafts. Ridiculous.

Rohan said...

I have a feeling that the words "Crisis" and "Armed Forces" will be used in the same sentence far too frequently in coming months and years. The Govt has neglected the Army and Air Force for far too long and let our offensive capabilities degrade to laughable levels.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where the needs are massive and the investment unsustainable but the threat is immediate....

Gautam said...

NOTE: Here is where the boot-polishers, toilet cleaners and peons from Bharat Rakshak come and defend HAL's almightly government babus and try to blame everything on the IAF even where there is nothing that can be blamed on them; not the development, not the production delays.

Take my advice: You and your families can continue being the PSU's shoeshine boys, peons and toilet cleaners for generations to come. You're fit for nothing better. But kindly leave us sane humans in peace.

Anonymous said...

IJT is delayed basically because of the crash. After the crash investigation that took around a year, design improvements were done. Now flight testing has resumed. Its on the way to IOC.