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Aero India 2023: HAL strengthening R&D for new aircraft projects

The Indian Air Force displayed both domestically and internationally produced aircraft at the Aero India 2023 show in Bangalore. New Delhi's mantra of self-reliance is pushing HAL to increase investment in developing its own aircraft. (Janes/Amit Kalra)

Amid criticism about delayed deliveries, poor quality, and lacklustre sales, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said it is pouring greater funding and focus into research and development (R&D) to develop new aircraft projects for international and domestic military markets.

Speaking during a press conference at Aero India 2023, which was held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February, C B Ananthakrishnan, the chairman and managing director of HAL, said the company is breaking with decades of practice to launch new products without a prior expression of interest from customers.

“Initially, we began some projects with the sanction of customers,” Ananthakrishnan said. “Now, we are convinced about our capabilities and the need for our products. We are going ahead with research [and] development [of new projects] without sanction.”

Ananthakrishnan said HAL is formulating this new strategy based on the belief that once its projects mature and “become proven” customers will take interest in the aircraft.

To support the strategy, HAL said it is building an industrial ecosystem with the private sector to enhance manufacturing and funding. HAL told Janes that for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme alone, the company adopted the “system integrator model and has created a national aerospace ecosystem with the participation of approximately 140 design agencies and 100+ production agencies”.

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