Bangalore: Delivering the first built-in-India Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer to the Indian Air Force on Thursday, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited marked a milestone in its history on the eve of the 61st Independence Day.

HAL Chairman Ashok K. Baweja handed over to Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major, documents relating to the first of the 82 such aircraft to be supplied to the IAF. The event was held at the HAL Airport here.

Mr. Baweja said on the occasion that HAL would try to deliver the remaining 81 aircraft over the next six years. About 41 of these would be delivered by mid-2011. Also, 17 aircraft would be supplied to the Navy after 2011. The Hawk Mk-132, designed by British defence and aerospace company BAE Systems, is powered by a Rolls-Royce engine.

The air chief said HAL’s light combat aircraft, or LCA, would fly in March 2009.

The intermediate jet trainer, the IJT, will fly this year; deliveries will begin in 2009.

Mr. Baweja told mediapersons that HAL had orders for nine Dhruv advanced light helicopters from Ecuador and three from Turkey. Negotiations are on with Jordan, Bolivia and Peru, too. He said the indigenously built Dhruv had made an impact in the international market with its performance. HAL is adding to Dhruv features such as high-altitude flying capability and a state-of-the-art cockpit, he said.

Progress in building the IJT, which is expected to replace the aging Kiran series trainers, is going as planned. HAL will start acquiring a Russian engine for the aircraft shortly, he said.
Asked about the cost of a Hawk Mk-132, Mr Baweja said: “The cost is between the customer and the industry.”

The event was preceded by an air display by Squadron Leader Baldev Singh, HAL’s Chief Test Pilot, on the Hawk