Wednesday, 19 December 2012

MoD rejects HAL’s proposal to build basic trainer



With the HTT-40 now dead, the IAF's Rs 2,900 crore buy of 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk II could rise to 181 trainers

By Ajai Shukla
Bangalore
Business Standard, 18th Dec 12

In a sharp rebuff to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the Defence Ministry (MoD) has rejected the public sector aerospace company’s proposal to build basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). This after the MoD discovered that HAL-built trainers would cost twice as much as proven aircraft procured from the international market.

After a fatal crash in July 2009, the IAF had grounded its entire basic trainer fleet of vintage HPT-32 Deepak aircraft. To train rookie pilots, the IAF initiated a fast-track procurement of 75 trainers on the international market. Sensing an opportunity, HAL entered the fray, proposing that it develop an indigenous trainer aircraft, dubbed the Hindustan Turbo Trainer - 40 (HTT-40), and manufacture 106 of those for the IAF.

But when the MoD compared prices, it found that thousands of crore extra would be paid for HAL-built trainers. In September, the MoD summarily scrapped HAL’s proposal to build the HTT-40.

“Why should we pay HAL Rs 60 crore per basic trainer, when we can buy proven trainers from abroad for Rs 30 crore?” said a top MoD official to Business Standard.

“We would be willing to pay higher rates to build indigenous capability in strategic defence equipment. But can HAL argue that the capability to build basic trainers is strategically vital,” noted the official.

On May 24, 2012, the MoD signed a contract with Swiss aerospace manufacturer, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, to buy 75 PC-7 Mark II basic trainers for some Rs 2,900 crore, defence minister AK Antony told parliament in August.

Now, with HAL’s proposal to build 106 trainers rejected, as many as 181 Pilatus trainers may be bought.

Contacted for comments, HAL did not deny that its trainer aircraft project had been shot down. “We treat all MOD issues/proposals as confidential… All our projects are conceived with national interest in mind though at times some of them take time to fructify,” responded a HAL spokesperson by email.

But HAL continues to dabble, so far unsuccessfully, in developing a trainer. Its long-running project to build an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) has sputtered along for 13 years already. The IJT project --- which had its first flight in 2003 --- underwent a serious setback last year when a trainer crashed, fortunately without loss of life.

The IJT, to which pilots will graduate after completing “Stage-1” training on the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II trainer, is intended to replace the obsolescent Kiran Mark II. After “Stage-2” training on the IJT, pilots will graduate to “Stage-3” training on the Hawk advanced jet trainer. Only after that will they fly IAF frontline combat aircraft.

The decision to buy the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II has had its own share of controversy. One of the contenders for this contract, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), protested in writing that Pilatus should be disqualified, as it had submitted an incomplete bid. That would have given KAI the contract, as the next-cheapest, fully-compliant bidder. For ten months, the contract was on hold as the MoD investigated KAI’s complaint.

Seoul piled on the pressure, with South Korean defence minister, Kim Kwan-jin, personally writing to Antony requesting a “high-level review” of the “allegations on irregularity” in the deal. But that did not work. On May 2, 2012, Antony informed parliament that KAI’s petition “has been found to be devoid of merit.”

The Pilatus PC-7 Mark II is expected to overcome key drawbacks in the HPT-32, which did not have an ejection system; in emergencies, pilots ejected manually. Poor instrumentation and avionics restricted training to good weather. The HPT-32 had no recording equipment, so instructors never knew when trainee pilots, flying solo, had violated flying procedures. The PC-7 Mark II is capable of aerobatics, instrument and night flying and tactical operations. It is a hybrid aircraft, with a PC-9 airframe mated with a smaller, PC-7 engine to lower procurement, flying and maintenance costs. It is in service with several air forces, including South Africa and Malaysia.

32 comments:

Abid said...

Failed IJT Sitara is a big lesson to us. The HAL has not been even able to setup production line for LCA Tejas.
Even if HAL would have been allowed to develop a basic trainer; the Turboprop engine should have to be imported and mated with HAL designed airframe. We all very well know the success story (sic!) of GTRE kaveri.
At least the IAF will be able to get a proven aircraft, and its basic trainig is not compromised, even it would have been at the equal per unit cost.,

Sathish said...

Good decision on part of the MOD. HAL should be stopped taking on additional projects until they deliver the products that have been delayed - costly delays that are avoidable. It's a shame the HAL's management is not taken to task for the Tejas and IJT mis-management.

Prodyut said...

Some babu once did the same thing to ISRO i.e. shot down a proposal. Unfortunately for him he had to tangle with Satish Dhawan who wrote a minute about what would happen if the satellite was NOT funded. The funds were sanctioned.

It is not for a bureaucrat to decide whether the HPTT 40 is going to build aeronautical capability.This should be left to HAL. Without getting onto my favourite hobby horse I maintain that such small "doable" projects are better at building aeronautical capability than "glamour bus" projects which awe the poor chap ( usually another bureaucrat pretending to be an Engineer)so much that he ends up with a mess of high Technology.Like good cooking Aircraft design is not all ingredients- Love and Knowledge has the bigger role.
All the famous fighter designers- Camm,Messerschmitt, Tank. Yakovlev- the list is as long as my arm- started off designing Trainers.
I think HAL should do a Satish Dhawan and tell the Bureaucrat to keep his opinions in his own field of expertise!

joydeep ghosh said...

@Ajai sir

its a good news

now is the time to scrape the IJT deal also

instead now HAL should concentrate on enhancing current facilities used to make or repair Su30MKI in more numbers, as well as setup Rafale manufacturing at faster rate.

Also HAL should now concentrate developing Tejas Mk1 into a LIFT (lead in fighter trainer) as it makes no sense to keep 2 squadrons of underpowered aircrafts flying when they cant be used in combat

Whats more needed is increasing the supply of parts for AJT (just heard news 25% of AJTs are grounded for want of parts)

hope HAL finally wakes up from slumber and churns out aircrafts at fast pace

thanks

Joydeep Ghosh

sents said...

Because proven trainers are exported to other countries and the countries that manufactures it also bought it in large numbers. So the price came down. Its always quite the opposite in India. So without R&D we will forever depend on other countries, not a good decision.
Need to give them some time to get matured or hire some country for consultancy. We need to develop domestic knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Would just like to know why HAL continues to tender for critical parts of the aircraft, like ejections seats, OBOGs. There are even tenders for raw materials to build the plane.

Will greatly appreciate the clarity.

Thank you.

Indranil

Satish said...

A welcome decision. People might argue that focus should be on developing such capability in-house. But the question to be asked is: has HAL, or most defence PSUs for that matter, ever considered indigenization as a challenge bestowed upon it for the sake of national interest? For them, such on-paper projects are means of securing continuous funding. Barring a few exceptions, have they ever showed signs of sincerity and dedication, let alone accountability? Some of them have even acted as middleman for foreign firms. It is high time that they are given a clear message - they can't take nation for granted just because they are PSUs.

Anonymous said...

Great news - HAL cannot be rewarded for incompetency - be it tejas, IJT or the basic trainer

HAL - first deliver on the jobs given to you...

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah!!

This must be a Christmas miracle if the MOD is finally going to tell HAL to "shove it!" when they try to scam more public money for their disgraceful and failed products.

Hind said...

The interests of the country is paramount. In this respect, HAL MUST NOT be equated as India. While it is important that as a nation we develop our own aircraft manufacturing capability, it must not be pre-supposed that the aircraft manufacturing can only be done by HAL. We recently had a demonstration of the capability of our private companies manufacturing prowess when TATA made an artillery gun for the Indian Army. Granted that the TATA must the have only taken the technology from some foreign company and then only carried out basic manufacturing and assembly within the country. But its a step in the right direction and we can follow a similar part in this preset case too by inviting our private sector companies to make a much needed basic trainer for the IAF.

Anonymous said...

HAL has lately found out... that they sorely miss... basic aircraft development skills... since they were happy to do... cut and paste job... during a golden oppurtunity to learn... from pioneer Tank... still doing the cut and paste jobs... hawk... su-30... jaguar... mig 21 23 27 29... cheetah... chetak... Do228... so this endeavour... HTT-40...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Satish and Abid. Only thing I would add is though we should continue to import for our needs in such situations where local product is either not cost effective or is just not available, but MOD should continue to fund either HAL, NAL, or private partners to keep the innovation efforts going. I personally feel that all the agencies should work together on such development projects as this could be an investment for the future of Indian aviation. Such projects could also be funded through educations programs to help develope and maintain interest in this field.

If we step-away completely, then all that we have gained LCA and other projects that may be considered as failed projects, however insignificant that it may seem, it needs to be further developed. At the very least it could become and example of how not to do things for the future generations.

We have relied on TOT as a way to build our capabilities. Clearly that has failed. For MMRCA competition, people everywhere felt that we should buy from a partner that offers the most screwdrivers. We have justified buying from the Russians for the very same reason, but what have we gained. No real technology, and in fact we can't even set-up a real assembly line for Tejas etc. TOT that results in higher cost and provides no significant gains is just not worth the time and effort. The highly educated work-force that spends time assembling TOT stuff could be better utilized elsewhere, such as R&D. And, when importing, we should consider purchasing the product that is most efficient (meets requirements at the lowest price, do hell with TOT, we gained nothing from it so might as well let the contractor build it for us, especially if they can do it faster and at a lower cost. The savings can be focused towards new ideas, however small they may seem at first.

Anonymous said...

They will be opening champagne bottles in the pilatus office in Switzerland. Now they can suck the money out of India. Hardcore lobbying pays dividends. HAL should use own funds to compete with Pilatus and fly a proto a/c before the first batch of 75 PC7 s are delivered to IAF. Maybe that will make them sit up and take notice.

Anonymous said...

Poster at 09:53.

Are you Prof. Prodyut Das?

Indranil Roy

Mr. RA said...

Now MOD, HAL and IAF should be combined in spirit and proceed with the development and production of Tejas Mk1-(LIFT). This will be the best option carried forward on well proven track and shall compensate for all the previous errors made in our trainer aircraft developments.

Prodyut said...

Without anyway compromising my earlier post I was wondering on this "anomaly" which I would like to share.

The cost of Labour is the single biggest component in the cost of an aircraft today.This is more so in a simple type. How did it come about that HAL managed to get a price twice that of Pilatus who as Swiss are allegedly genetically programmed to charge heavily ?!

It has been my experience career wise as Mr.Jekyll- that apart from the material cost which is known fairly exactly the rest is in muddy doubt. The direct manpower cost is less well known- and is often grossly over estimated -"just to be safe"- in several stages and when it comes to "overheads" -everyone knows the figure but no one knows the basis!
In fact "the quality of Information" can often be a heavy tail to wag the project dog.
A few years back we were asked to quote for a "secret " Aeronautical project and I remember we could scale our initial estimate down by four times simply by insisting on better quality of Information inputs required for teh cost estimate. We won the contract,needless to say.

Anonymous said...

I don't why u all keep praising the firangs ,I agree it takes us time to build such aircrafts ,even we might fail to make them but it is very important to learn .we learn better when we fail,if there is a war and we need some important parts for the imported aircrafts and the procuring country tells us that this guy has put some sanctions on you so we can't supply the aircraft.what do u do.its better to eat ur mothers food at home than go to a restaurant!

Prodyut said...

Indranil
If you promise not to tell any one
yes

Anonymous said...

Is the HAL or MoD even aware of real world prices ? 60 or even 30 crores for a basic trainer is preposterous. You can make kit based jets with ultra modern electronics for $100 K which is about 50 lac rupees. and these turboprops which would be mass manufactured are supposed to cost 100 times more ? how much are the cuts in the defence industry these days ? any accountability left anywhere ?

Anonymous said...

Prof. Prodyut Das, I have always enjoyed your articles.

I also have the same question how is the HAL HTT-40 TWICE as expensive?

I see tenders continuing to flow from HAL for HTT. I think they would revise their price similar to your case.

Indranil

Anonymous said...

@Prodyut... 19 December 2012 09:53... HAL can't/couldn't learn from tank... any amount of projects won't/wouldn't... either help... what do you do... with such a student... fail him/her... and make way for... brighter... newer students... one's failure shouldn't be... as ransom to a nation... let brighter... newer... students succed... in place of failed students... let darwinsm succeed... for a brighter... India...

Anonymous said...

Why Indians pay for government run companies is beyond comprehension.

Anonymous said...

PSU prices are ridiculously marked up,with standard margins of profit and costing that have survived only with govt.patronage.What is more,the goods delivered are also abysmal in quality compared to the prices charged,

Guru said...

This could actually be a good opportunity for HAL. With a revenue of close to $3 Billion and profits of $500 Million, HAL could take this opportunity to finance the development of the HTT-40 as an in-house project and once successful,without even making a dent in its profits, choose to either market this internationally or nationally.

But this takes (in descending order of importance) balls, confidence in your product and people, a visionary leader who can motivate his people to scale greater heights and money.

The realist in me says HAL can't do this and if HAL does not seize an opportunity like this, it is just another organization like BSNL or MTNL, waiting for its death in the hands of some private organization.The idealist in me hopes HAL can put up an ONGC/SBI act.

Guru

Abhiman said...

HAL's MONOPOLY MUST BE ENDED. THIS COMPANY IS SINGLY RESPONSIBLE FOR STYMYIENG THE AEROSPACE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION.

SINCE THE LAST FEW DECADES, ALL THAT HINDUSTAN AERONAUTICS HAS DONE IS LICENSE ASSEMBLY OF FOREIGN AIRCRAFT. ITS MONOPOLY OVER THE IAF HAS ALLOWED IT TO NEVER EVER UNDERTAKE SERIOUS DESIGN WORK OF ITS OWN OR ITS OWN R&D.

IN THE PAST 60 YEARS OF ITS FUTILE EXISTENCE, HINDUSTAN AERONATICS HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO DEVELOP A SINGLE AIRLINER, A SINGLE TRANSPORTER OR A SINGLE FIGHTER JET.

HAL SIMPLY IMPORTS READY-MADE KITS FROM ABROAD, AND FIXES THE THE NUTS-BOLTS TO ASSEMBLE THE AIRCRAFT BEFORE MAKING THE DELIVERY TO THE IAF.

THOUGH DHRUV IS A SUCCESS (AND A PROUD ONE AT THAT), IT IS A LONE EXCEPTION. THE MOST MISMANAGED PROJECT IS IJT-SITARA, UNFORTUNATELY.

AND BECAUSE OF ITS PET PROJECTS, DHRUV AND SITARA HAL HAS NEGLECTED THE TEJAS PRODUCTION WITH ADA. IT DEEMS IT OF A LOWER PRIORITY !

HAL MUST EITHER BE DIVESTED TO PRIVATE SECTOR, OR IT MUST BE SPLIT UP (JUST LIKE CHINESE AEROSPACE COMPANIES FIERCELY COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER, THOUGH ALL OF THEM ARE STATE-OWNED).

THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL INDIA'S AEROSPACE INDUSTRY PROSPER.

HAL'S UNILATERAL MONOPOLY WILL KEEP STIFFLING INDIAN AEROSPACE SECTOR.

Anonymous said...

@23 December 2012 00:33...
"IT MUST BE SPLIT UP "...

Excellent Point... second that... to the hilt...

Sainulabid Pothangodan said...

Just reverse engg the pilatus,

RAJEEV AGARWAL said...

IT IS THIRD GRADED SLAVE MENTALITY THAT INDIA COULD NOT PRODUCED AN INTERNATIONALLY SALABLE SCOOTER OR CAR OR COMPUTER CHIP OR OPERATING SYSTEM , WHY TO TALK ABOUT AIRCRAFT. IT IS ONLY HAL WHO COULD PRODUCE INTERNATIONAL CLASS AIRCRAFTS AND EXPORT THEM TOO. FIRST LET US LEARN TO APPRECIATE OUR PRODUCTS OUR PEOPLE AND OUR SPIRIT. THE PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT CHINA PLEASE SEE THEIR LIFE STYLE AND THEIR DEDICATION FOR DOMESTIC PRODUCTS HERE PEOPLE FEEL THAT TATA IS A SUB STANDARD CAR.

Anonymous said...

SOMEWHERE IN ABOVE COMMENT THIS APPEARED THAT HAL COULD NOT PRODUCE WORLD CLASS AIRCRAFT IN 60 YEARS. THIS IS TO BE APPRECIATED THAT TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IS NOT A FUNCTION OF TIME BUT R&D FUNDING AND TALENT AVAILABILITY. WHAT HAL HAS PRODUCED IN THROUGHAWAY FUNDING , NO ONE ELSE CAN MATCH AROUND THE WORLD. WHO CAN IMAGINE THAT SALARIES UNDER DEFENCE PUBLIC SECTORS INVOLVED IN DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION OF INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS ARE LESSER THAN PSUs OPERATING PROCESS INDUSTRY.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ajai is the most respected thinker and writer on defence issues today. He is also a great patriot as I know him. I Feel that his article should bring some cheer and appreciation to fellow citizens working for well being of Indian defence. Experienced defence analysts should give a right direction to our policy makers and which should not be in direction like Pakistan where every aircraft is imported and maintained by foreign companies.

Prodyut said...

This is a delayed posting but for what it is worth....
My take is that the challenge of the technology is not stumbling block. We all have enough examples.
The crux is who is the captain of the project.An Engineer is a person who will rather see his 'plane fly than eat his dinner.They DO go through tension but they press on ahead. If you read Kapil Bharghava he writes about Willy Messerschmitt's hands trembling even as he was drinking the champagne after the HA 300's first flight.Here we weed out those types somewhere in the middle and instead project the "Good managerial ability" types which means people who are pleasant to his superior and has the rule book for a heart. None of the problems of the LCA-weight,AoA,spin test etc are even difficult but no one wants to run the risk of a crash in HIS watch. I feel this business of "collaboration" with foreign companies for "expediting" trials is not because of technology but possibly because of the fact there will be someone who can underwrite the crash if it comes. The HJT 36 has been sitting like a F**t in a trance because no one wants another crash- it was a flat spin judging by the wreck and fairly easy to cure but why bother.

Anonymous said...

i think govt is neglecting ideginization.In Hal due to production load many good design engineer are working in shopfloor.HAL Management should form a best team now and make better trainer plane.a time period of 6 months should be given HAL to prove itself. we indians work our best in pressure. AN INDIAN to be engineer.