India’s HAL supplies parts for US fighter jet
New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) The public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has begun supplying fuselage parts for the formidable Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jet in what is seen as global recognition for the Indian aeronautical industry.
HAL has already sent five sets of the Super Hornet’s gun bay doors (GBDs) to Boeing and 13 more are under manufacture as part of an initial contract, according to a report in the coming issue of India Strategic defence magazine.
The report quotes HAL chairman and managing director Ashok Nayak as saying that the company, which had plans to invest 280 billion ($6 billion) to modernize its factories in the coming years, was looking for bigger business in the worldwide military and civil aviation market as leading aircraft manufacturers increase their share of the Indian market due to the country’s requirement of modern, fuel-efficient military and civil aircraft.
HAL has supplied parts for the British Jaguar aircraft that the Indian Air Force acquired in the 1970s, including the over-wing pylon for the French Matra missiles that it carries. It has supplied aircraft doors to both Boeing and EADS Airbus in the past, but this is the first time that parts for a US fighter jet are being sourced from India.
Vivek Lall, vice president and country head for Boeing Defense, Space and Security (Boeing DSS) in New Delhi, told India Strategic that the current order to HAL was not tied to India buying the F-18 Super Hornet but was part of a Boeing initiative to source $1 one billion worth of parts and services from HAL.
As part of this, Boeing is also sourcing wire harnesses for the F-18 from HAL.
A second order for GBDs is in the offing, Lal confirmed adding: “I believe HAL and Boeing share a great working together partnership for many years now that will continue to grow very significantly in support of the national industrial policy of the country.”
While the value of the contract was not available, discussions with HAL were continuing on gradually increasing the orders.
The GBD covers the Super Hornet’s six-barrel 20mm, externally powered M61A2 Gatling gun system that can fire 4,000-6,000 rounds per minute. Made by US military systems giant General Dynamics, the gun, however, carries only about 600 rounds.
The gun can be used in a dogfight if it erupts, although the aircraft is loaded with long-range precision strike weapons and missiles as the emphasis now is on beyond visual range (BVR) engagement.
So far, Boeing has been sourcing GBDs from the Czech Republic’s AERO Vodochody, which has already supplied more than 300.
Nayak pointed out that last year, HAL had also supplied the rear fuselage for the Gulfstream 150 business jet as part of its globalization strategy and increase its annual turnover three times from around 47 billion at present.
Gulfstream is also owned by General Dynamics, which had developed the F-16 fighter but later sold it to Lockheed Martin.