NEW DELHI — BAE Systems and India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) are considering establishing a joint venture to co-produce variants of the Hawk trainer, upgrade the Jaguar aircraft and establish a partnership focused on logistics and producing spares in India.
T. Suvarna Raju, HAL chairman and managing director, said, "We are in active dialogue with BAE Systems for exploring long-term opportunities to provide upgrades and logistics and spares support solutions for both Hawk trainer and Jaguar combat aircraft [which are already license-produced by HAL] for a worldwide market."
HAL and BAE have also decided to showcase a static display of the Combat Hawk in the Aero India air show in 2017, Raju added.
Dave Corfield, head of Hawk India, Military Air & Information, BAE Systems, said, "Our goal is to combine our strengths with HAL’s to co-develop and co-produce a more capable version of Hawk for use in India and also to export from India to the worldwide market. A joint study by BAE Systems and HAL has indicated significant market potential for this class of aircraft. This more capable version of the Hawk is the Advanced Combat Hawk, or 'Dream Hawk,' combining improved maneuver performance with laser designation, precision smart weapons and state-of-the-art synthetic training."
An Indian Air Force official said they have not considered ordering the Combat Hawk.
With no confirmed market for the Combat Hawk trainer, analysts question the sustainability of the proposed tie-up.
"Only time will tell if a Combat Hawk will be produced at HAL," said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.
Another analyst, Vivek Rae, former director general procurement of the Indian Defence Ministry, said, "HAL has set up [jont ventures] JV in the past. Their experience needs to be evaluated. What are the lessons learnt from past experience? Since management control will remain with HAL, it is unlikely that BAE will part with its intellectual property, except at high cost."
The proposed Combat Hawk, which is still in the study stage, could be fitted with the advanced short-range air-to-air missile and the Brimstone, an air-launched ground attack missile to be supplied by MBDA of France. The aircraft will be used to coordinate armed reconnaissance and for close air support missions.
A HAL source said his company has been exploring how to provide service support for Hawk trainer and Jaguar aircraft and to jointly produce Combat Hawk for the worldwide market.
"We are aiming to set up a joint venture for this purpose," he said, but gave no timeline.
Currently HAL is license-producing 123 Hawk trainers in Bangalore and wants to use the assembly line to co-produce the Combat Hawk trainer, the source added.