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Dhruv, Tejas impress Badawi

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, DEC. 23. After watching an impressive display of aerial manoeuvres by a helicopter and two jets at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) here on Thursday, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, indicated that he is keen on cooperation with India in avionics.

"We have a fruitful cooperation and it will go further. I am very happy to have seen the aerial display," he told reporters before moving on to a static display of the aircraft.

Ashok Baweja, HAL chairman and managing director, said HAL has a continuing business relationship with the Royal Malaysian Air Force. HAL's Nasik unit is servicing Malaysia's fleet of MIG 29s, he said.

The visiting Prime Minister first witnessed the flight of the intermediate jet trainer, PT2, which has been developed by HAL to replace the aging fleet of Kirans now in the Indian Air Force. Squadron leader Balwant Singh, a flight-training expert, flew the intermediate jet trainer executing a figure-of-eight deftly. The jet is capable of reaching speeds of 700 km an hour. It is capable of being fitted with any armament and with modifications can even become an advanced jet trainer.

The Sarang team (the Sanskrit word for peacock) executed manoeuvres on three advanced light helicopters, now known as Dhruv (the polestar), led by Wing Commander Hari Nair. This light helicopter has landed at altitudes of 19,000 feet. It can reach speeds of 300 km a hour and can carry 14 personnel or six casualties. Its advanced avionics include automatic flight control systems. Dhruv has been developed for use by the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. HAL is now working on its variation, a light combat helicopter, along with IAF.

Dhruv was demonstrated at the Paris air show in June 2003. Malaysia showed interest in the helicopter. HAL also offered to upgrade the Malaysian Air Force's Alouette III fleet.

Next to be demonstrated was the light combat aircraft, Tejas, developed together by HAL and the Aeronautics Development Agency. The jet flown by Wing Commander Vikram Singh has reached a speed of Mach 1.4 and altitude of 9 km. The dexterity of this supersonic jet was shown by executing 360-degree rolls. It comes with digital fly-by-wire control systems and uses composite material.

Closer ties

Mr. Badawi called for fostering closer ties between Malaysia and India in the areas of information technology (IT), biotechnology (BT), communications and education.

"We need to establish company-to-company linkages and university-to-university linkages," he said during his visit to Infosys, here today. He was accompanied by a large delegate of ministers and private investors.

His visit to Infosys lasted 45 minutes. He visited part of the campus, attended a corporate presentation of the company and planted a sapling.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies Ltd., said it was an honour to receive the Malaysian Prime Minister.

Earlier, the Malaysian Prime Minister visited Biocon's human insulin plant and attended a corporate presentation.

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Sivananda Ashram


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