Discussions between BAE Systems and India's Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) linked to future production and support of the Hawk advanced jet trainer have "gained momentum", according to a senior official within the UK company, who adds: "We expect to be able to talk more about it towards the end of this year."

Although discussions are described as still at the exploratory stage, a possible joint venture between the companies now appears more likely, given New Delhi's recent commitment to expand its 66-aircraft Hawk AJT project by an additional 57 airframes for the Indian air force and navy. An agreement would focus on manufacturing and in-service support for the Indian fleet, says the official. BAE last month announced 450 redundancies at its Brough site in Yorkshire, with this linked to a shortfall of Hawk orders from next year.

BAE hopes to move further into the Indian defence sector within the next few years on the back of products such as the Hawk, land vehicles and potentially the Eurofighter Typhoon, having identified the country as a possible seventh home market, to follow its current presence in Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Defence spending in India is expected to match or exceed that of the UK within the next decade, says BAE.

Meanwhile, a UK industry source has revealed that the Indian air force has shown early interest in acquiring a new short-range air-to-air missile to potentially provide some of its Hawk 132s and HAL-built Jaguar strike aircraft with a limited air defence capability. If advanced, the requirement could lead to a broad contest between multiple suppliers from Europe, Russia and the USA.


Source: Flight International