The IAF’s Big Snipe At HAL

It’s understandable that the Indian Air Force enjoys displaying its newest acquisitions at Aero India. But this year, they’re showing off the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainer (see photo), a decision I thought was dumb beyond description. They decided not to showcase the AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP copter, presumably as a result of the recent controversy surrounding its contracting. Why in the world would you display a trainer aircraft that represents — if nothing else — India’s complete inability to build even a basic airplane for its armed forces. It occurred to me then that that is probably precisely why the IAF has the PC-7 on the flightline. As a mocking jibe, perhaps, at HAL which will unveil a mockup (see photo) of its all-but-dead HTT-40 basic trainer concept. (Read update after my question to the IAF chief here).
The PC-7 is a fine aircraft, and the Indian government is already in the process of contracting for over 30 more aircraft, taking the total order to over 100 airplanes — the Swiss firm’s largest order by many units, ever. But is the IAF backing off support when HAL needs it most? Or is HAL trying to muscle its way in with a concept that just wont meet time and cost lines? Remember the IJT? The arrival of the PC-7 may solve a lot of training problems. Ironically, it also accentuates them. It should have been quietly training pilots in Dundigal. It doesn’t belong at Aero India.

17 thoughts on “The IAF’s Big Snipe At HAL”

  1. The IAF jokers at senior level do not realise that later generations will laugh at their antics. I still believe that all indigenous systems should be given to another force which has to be created afresh. The existing fellows should retire along with their imported machines.

  2. Sad indeed. I am not a fan of HAL but at the same time failure of HPT is failure of IAF too. IAF should learn from complex tech projects executed by tech firms. Failed projects are as much a responsibility of vendor as they are of the consumer. More complex the technology the more it is true. IAF is not biting HAL, it is the nation getting bitten. IAF is not serving any purpose by constant bickering with defence agencies. To be fair, we only get to hear the views of all non HAL entities. Was reading somewhere about IJT troubles. Was aghast to find that what is ostensibly leading to the trouble. If IAF is so wise it could have definitely asked for course correction. Like HAL, IAF too needs to undergo program management training. Infosys campus at Mysore should be a good starting point for both.

  3. Why are you so pissed off with the IAF? Their decision to display their basic trainer acquisition is just to show the HAL wallahs how mediocre they are that they can't even come up with a good basic trainer after being in existence for donkey years as the numero uno agency for aircraft research, development and production in India.

    Where tiny countries such as Switzerland could produce a state of the art trainer aircraft, these dumbos are still showcasing a mockup of the HTT-40. Their lackadaisical attitude and penchant for gloating over their monopoly of assembling CKD packages of Russian aircraft has made them lose their competitive edge as well as the pride to compete and produce modern fighters or commercial aircraft at par with other nations.

    The blame goes not only to HAL but the MOD and the GOI for not making them deliver aircraft on time. The chalta hai attitude of most PSUs are reminiscent of the shoddy work culture of the MOD and GOI.

  4. HAL is a useless organization, its time Private sector should be preferred for indigenous development project…All HAL is interested is in Build to Print Jobs…any thing related to R&D does not make their Balance sheets look good…They neglected LCA for so many years…IJT is a testimony to their Lack of Technical Acumen…Time for Govt. to snub HAL and give contracts to companies like TATA, L&T, Mahindra, Godrej…

  5. why not show the pilatus?
    because it implies a shameful failure?
    that's not pilatus' fault.
    it's a fine plane in IAF service.
    subjugating even airshows to political considerations doesn't achieve anything substantial.
    everybody and every country has failures, admitting them shouldn't be a problem. learning from them so that failure can be productively integrated into future endeavors is the challenge.

  6. Biggest blunder was to not persue development of HTT-35 after that it was nothing but taxpayers sweet and blood at disposal.

    Paradox at bream: Homegrown Fifth gen concept, 2000 plus flight logged 4th gen on flying display, Armed copter which could go never before heights and imported WW2 air frame with modern goodies….what a sight!

  7. All those who want to bash the IAF should think about these. The IAF is the HAL's biggest customer and pays really big money, but has absolutely no say in HAL functioning, program management or even timeline management of those products that it pays through it's nose for. Further, HAL can get away with years of delay in deliveries which the IAF not only has to suffer but also wonder of wonders held accountable for. To resolve the issue IAF proposed that a serving three star officer head the HAL and then there would be true integration and cooperation but that was vehemently opposed by HAL for obvious reasons and by the ministry for not so obvious reasons. NOW THE READER CAN DECIDE WHETHER IAF BASHING IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

  8. The fault is more on part of management,leadership,lack of vision and inconsistent policies.We seem almost schizoid in our achievements.While we can develop and produce some of the most advanced satellites,launchers,naval vessels we have faltered on very basic items like primary trainers and quality small arms.Somehow we have never garnered our ample resources in certain areas.One cannot blame the IAF as of all the services,they require the most reliable and safe systems.Military aviation is not very tolerant of mistakes and design faults.We have to synergies all assets available in India be it private or public.Above all good leadership and consistent policy with a vision is paramount.

  9. A lot of advanced countries do not make their own basic trainers. Sometimes, its just cheaper to buy it off the shelf. No need to invent everything in India. HTT-40 shows HAL can build it, but it cannot sell it as cheaply as Pilatus and the MoD did the right thing by canceling the project.


  10. Yes..The IAF wanted to it kept HALs proposal pending for developing a basic trainer right from 1986, then in 1995, 2003 and then 2009.
    How it managed to buy a 550 SHP engine aircraft which can never be weaponised like all Light Attack Aircrafts world over…and how the swiss denied it sating this will be used in Anti Humanitarian ops like Kashmir and North east…
    How it managed to not quote the MTOT and then get rid of the Korean objections and also how it tied HALs hand, legs and eyes tied and asks it to fight the exit clause..
    To show how unlike its neighbours its all set to kill Indian Aerospace Industry…As how 30.5 crores of import is cheaper than 34.3 crores of HTT 40 out of which only 6.5 crores is import content( the engine and Ejection seat…
    Thanks to live fist and all who comment to support IAF and Pilatus…IAF or not HTT would be made and well guess who would be the first customer..the Indian Naval Aviation wing which trains its pilots on The T6C at US….

  11. Ok, 75 PC-7 were emergency imports. No more should be allowed. HTT-40 needs to thrust down IAF's throat, why just have firangi airplane, we can go whole hog and get a firangi air-chief too.Am sure will be better than the present loud mouth

  12. Isn't it enough to give Swiss banks so much black money and then add this on top??
    IAF needs to be a good shepherd and behave like the Pentagon. Come up with requirements, find local partners to develop prototypes and then buy it.

    The Swiss are screwing Indians a million times over everyday with their banking rules. They kill ten fold more Indians than Pakistan has in all wars combined. Hunger is a great weapon!

  13. it does seem like a good idea to compare import prices vs. indigenous prices by consider the amount of money that indigenous purchases will recycle back into the economy, and thus government budget, as compared to imports (where spending in foreign economies is much less cycled back into indian economy, although this would vary depending on the foreign country in question). that isn't even discriminating between one or the other, it is looking at the actual effects on government finances, which is what mere price comparisons are meant to do, this does the same but in a more accurate comprehensive way. of course, if foreign deals are subject to offsets and ToT, those should also be factored in it's favor, economic-wise.

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