New Delhi, Nov 6 : Defence Minister A. K. Antony has asked defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to be more competitive and modernize with the changing times.
Addressing the meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his ministry held in New Delhi today, the Minister expressed the hope that with vast experience behind it, there is no doubt that the company will rise to the occasion in meeting the future needs of the services.
Giving an overview of the company, the Minister said HAL is a Navratna Company which is supporting the Defence Forces through its indigenous and licence production programmes.
Antony said the company has proposed development of Light Utility Helicopter and Medium Lift Helicopter to complete the full range of helicopters.
The Minister informed the members that with a view to increase focus on Rotary Wing Aircraft, a separate division is being created in the company which will be headed by a Managing Director.
Members of Parliament appreciated the achievements and role of the company in country's defence aviation sector. However, some of them expressed apprehension about the poor finishing of ALH Dhruv and suggested an improvement in this. While one member was of the opinion that company should go for diversification, another member suggested that instead of going for diversification the company should stick to its main role of providing hardware to country's armed forces, especially the Air Force.
A member suggested that company should go for more indigenisation. There was a suggestion from one member that HAL should strengthen its helicopter training school keeping in view the future needs of helicopter pilots in the country.
Earlier, Ashok Baweja, CMD HAL gave a detailed presentation about the company. He informed the members that company's sales during the current financial year is likely to the tune of Rs. 10250 crores while it was Rs. 8625 crores during 2007-08. He said during the last financial year company exported items worth Rs. 341 crore.
Baweja informed the members that indigenous content in sales has gone up from 73.5 percent in 2005-06 to 76 percent in 2007-08. Giving details of the major programmes being undertaken by the company the CMD said the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) programme is progressing well and its two prototypes have done 396 flights so far.
He said AL551 engine from Russia is likely to be integrated in IJT this month and its initial operation clearance is likely to be obtained by the end of next year. Talking about Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Baweja informed that manufacture of prototype is underway and its first flight is likely to take place in March next year.
The Members of Parliament who attended today's meeting included Naveen Jindal, M.A. Kharabela Swain, Jayaben B Thakkar, Sanjay Dhotre, Shankhlal Majhi, M Shivanna, Braja Kishore Tripathi and Madhu Goud Yaskhi from Lok Sabha and Syed Azees Pasha, Vinay Katiiyar, Dharam Pal Sabharwal, PR Rajan from Rajya Sabha.