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HAL: total indigenisation of Sukhoi fighter next year

Vladimir Radyuhin

Now it is testing locally produced engine for the plane

MOSCOW: The first fully indigenous Su-30MKI fighter plane will roll off Indian assembly lines in 2010, a top executive at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited said on Wednesday.

“Next year, HAL will achieve 100 per cent indigenisation of the Sukhoi aircraft — from the production of raw materials to the final plane assembly,” V. Balakrishnan, general manager, Aircraft Manufacturing Division, told The Hindu here.

A five-member HAL delegation is taking part in MAKS-2009, Russia’s international air show now under way here.

Out of the 230 Su-30MKI air superiority multirole fighters the Indian Air Force plans to induct by 2015, 140 aircraft are to be built in India. License production began in 2004, with the first planes assembled from knockdown kits supplied by Russia. The programme provided for a gradual increase in the number of parts and components produced locally.

Challenging phase

Last year, HAL mastered the manufacture of the wing and the tail. This year, it started producing the fuselage and raw materials, Mr. Balakrishnan said. The final and most challenging phase involved the indigenous manufacture of the engine.

“We’re currently testing the locally produced engine for the Su-30MKI and are planning to launch its production in 2010.” HAL would manufacture 60 Su-30MKI fighters in the full production cycle till 2015, he said.

India also plans to sign an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with Russia for supply of HAL-manufactured Sukhoi airframes for third countries. It is already supplying some avionics equipment for Sukhoi aircraft Russia is building for third countries.

Later this year, India and Russia would sign a design accord for a fifth generation fighter aircraft they agreed to build jointly in 2007. India would be responsible for the manufacture of composite-material parts of the airframe, avionics and software packages, Mr. Balakrishnan said.

The Russian single-seat version of the fifth generation fighter plane is expected to make its maiden flight in the coming winter. India will induct a twin-seat version.

Under another IGA accord that may be signed this year, India and Russia will set up a joint venture for designing and building a medium transport aircraft for their air forces. It would take a maximum of five years to design and develop the plane, he said.

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