Wikileaks: India’s HAL hacks own Hawks?

hal Hawk.jpgTwo years ago, the Indian Air Force blamed BAE Systems for a one-year delay in the assembly of 42 Hawk advanced jet trainers at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). BAE released a statement defending itself, but provided no details.

Thanks to Julian Assange’s latest dump of US State Department cables, BAE’s side of the story emerges a bit more clearly. In a 24 February 2010 cable marked “confidential”, the US Embassy in New Dehli describe Ambassador Timothy Roemer’s tour of HAL’s factory complex in Bangalaru, and concludes with this anecdote.


The potential for HAL to successfully partner with U.S. firms on a truly advanced aircraft remains untested and suspect. The Hawk program,  which involves the assembly of aircraft from kits supplied by BAE, is well behind schedule. BAE has told Embassy staff that the Indian Air Force did not order sufficient spare parts for the first batch of Hawks that were delivered fully assembled from England. BAE technicians supervising work at HAL became aware that parts were being taken from the kits

intended to assemble new aircraft and used instead as replacement parts for aircraft already delivered. Lack of controls left BAE unsure what parts were now missing from the kits. When BAE confronted HAL regarding the problem, the BAE technical staff was asked to leave HAL. Clearly, despite the progress evident within the Indian Defense sector, American firms need to approach partnerships carefully to understand the management and technological experience of Indian firms. Cost, schedule and quality will be key challenges for any company engaging in JOINT production ventures.





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6 Responses to Wikileaks: India’s HAL hacks own Hawks?

  1. Aussie Digger 11 September, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Er, that sounds like the fairly standard practice of cannabilising parts from aircraft to ensure others can fly…

    It’s not ideal obviously, but sometimes it’s necessary if you need to get an aircraft into the air for a sortie…

    This is hardly the frst instance of insufficient support (regardless of fault) being available for aircraft in a fairly new aircraft program…

  2. Gareth Jones 13 September, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    True, but that usually applies to in fleet aircraft.

    In this case BAe could not force the Indian government to purchase an adequate stock of spare parts, but were being blamed for the delays in assembling locally produced aircraft. If HAL felt it appropriate to take parts from the assembly kits they should have made it clear that they were responsible for the subsequent delay on new aircraft assembly.

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