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Hawk-i Advanced Jet Trainer [AJT]

The Indian air force agreed to buy 66 Hawk trainer fighter jets from the UK with designation as Hawk-i; (Hawk-India). In February 2003, India awarded a $1.7bn contract to supply the trainer fighter jets to the UK company, BAE Systems. The Hawk beat a rival bid from a state-run Czech firm. India would buy 24 Hawks outright and build the rest under BAE licence in the southern city of Bangalore. Negotiations over the possible British sale of Hawk jets to India went on for over a decade. In September 2003, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee decided to go ahead with the deal given recent MiG-21 crashes. The IAF had been asking for trainers for 20 years and had purchased 27 second-hand MiG-21 trainers from Krygystan as a temporary solution.

The contract for supply of the Hawk AJT was signed between the IAF and BAE Systems in 2004. The deal envisaged a supply of 66 aircraft, 24 built in the UK and 42 license produced by HAL at Bangalore. IAF pilots and technicians were trained at BAE Systems facilities at Warton and Brough in UK. Of the 66 trainer, it was finally decided that 22 would be delivered in "fly-away" condition and the rest would be manufactured in India under license under a technology-transfer deal. The IAF had originally wanted 160 AJTs but reduced that number to 66 due to budget constraints.

The Hawk 132 is equipped with advanced and reliable navigation systems and the capability to deploy an impressive array of weaponry including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground rockets, bombs and guns. It can also carry two extra fuel tanks under the wing, which extend its considerable strike range further. The HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) system on the control column and throttle allows the pilot to make weapon selections without moving his hands from the controls.

On 23 February 2008, when the Honourable Raksha Mantri Shri AK Antony formally inducted the Hawk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) into service, an important milestone in the history of the IAF would be reached. This event will mark the fulfillment of a long-standing requirement of the IAF for an AJT that will effectively bridge the gap between the slow jet trainer such as the Kiran and the advanced fighter aircraft currently in IAF’s inventory.

The initial four Hawk aircraft were flown from Warton to Bidar by a combined team of BAE Systems’ and IAF pilots. Bidar airfield, located in the North West of Karnataka, approx 150 Km from Hyderabad, was chosen as the main operating base for the Hawk. This base has been a training establishment for budding fighter pilots of the IAF since 1963. To ensure the smooth induction of the Hawk, the Air Warriors under the command of Air Commodore Ramesh Rai have worked tirelessly to put the required infrastructure in place. They were, at all stages, assisted by the local civil authorities and population. The work services included extension of the two runways, improvement in landing facilities and creation of servicing facilities for the technology intensive Hawk aircraft. The first two aircraft arrived at Bidar on 12 November 2007.

The Hawk AJT – which India finalised after a 20-year drawn out drama – encountered turbulence shortly after it was selected by the IAF. Upset over Britain’s inability – or perhaps unwillingness – to supply spares to HAL, which is assembling the Hawk in India, the IAF shelved plans to place follow-on orders and instead floated a new tender in 2009.

The Indian Navy inducted the Hawk 132, a fourth generation Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft, on 06 November 2013 at an impressive ceremony held at Naval Air Station INS Dega. Admiral DK Joshi, Chief of the Naval Staff, was the chief guest at the event. Four aircraft had been delivered to the Navy, marking the beginning of seventeen such fighter trainers to be acquired over the next few years.

The induction of this highly capable aircraft provided the much needed fillip to the training of combat pilots in the Navy by bridging the gap between basic flying training and advanced fighter flying. The Hawk will provide the ab initio naval pilots with an ideal platform to hone their skills before they graduate to flying high performance aircraft and carrier based fighter jets, thereby making them available operationally in a shorter span of time.

British engineering company Rolls Royce, which produces the Hawk, was accused of bribing officials at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, an Indian state-owned company, between 2005 and 2009, acting as middlemen by ensuring that the Air Force used them to source Adour Mk aero engines engines for the 132 British Hawk advanced jet trainers. In early January 2016, the company had to pay more than $800 million after being accused of bribing allegations that implicated “intermediaries in a number of overseas markets” including the UK, Brazil and the US.

An investigation by the BBC uncovered evidence suggesting that £100 million (about $125,540,000) was passed to companies that are connected to Indian arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie. A lawyer for Choudrie stated that his client "has never paid bribes to government officials or acted as an illegal middleman in defence deals." Following the settlement, Rolls Royce CEO Warren East issued an apology saying, "The behaviour uncovered in the course of the investigations by the (UK’s) Serious Fraud Office and other authorities is completely unacceptable and we apologise unreservedly for it…Along with colleagues around the world, I share a sense of disappointment and anger at how some people within our company behaved."

By September 2016 India was poised to place an order for an additional batch of Hawk advanced jet trainers under a Rs 3,500-crore deal to meet requirements of the Air Force and Navy. The new deal for 32 jet trainers would add to the 123 aircraft already ordered for the Indian armed forces. The Navy had a requirement of at least eight more Hawks to train fighter pilots for the MiG 29K fleet, and the Air Force required additional planes for its Suryakiran aerobatic team that had been reconstituted after a long break.

By early 2017 India had contracted 123 Hawk Mk-132 AJT aircraft from BAE Systems for the IAF and the Navy. Another order for 20 aircraft to equip the Surya Kiran aerobatics team was in an advanced stage. HAL was assembling the Hawks in India under a license.

A senior official with IAF told Defense News 23 February 2017, "We will not make any formal request for the Advanced Hawk to HAL, and the program will be officially shelved. This is because the MoD does not want [to] give additional orders for engines to tainted Rolls-Royce for the Advanced Hawk program…"IAF has no intentions to place any order for the Advanced Hawk trainers."

With its increased thrust towards technology development, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited achieved a milestone February 7, 2018 with the first flight of Hawk-i with indigenous Real Time Operating System (RTOS) developed by it. It is the first indigenous RTOS that had been developed in the country from scratch. It is also the first instance that an indigenous RTOS has been certified by CEMILAC, said Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL. The RTOS is the system software which provides a standard run-time environment for real-time applications execution in a safe and reliable manner. “The RTOS is a key technology for concurrent execution of multiple applications and optimal use of hardware resources which is of paramount importance for increased complexity of modern avionics software”, Mr. Raju added. Advanced modules like network stack and file system have been co-developed with IIT- Kharagpur which also carried out formal method based verification of the RTOS kernel. Currently, avionics systems in India are developed using commercial RTOS procured from foreign suppliers. The import of technology leads to high cost, provides very limited flexibility in incorporating new features and adaptation to new hardware platforms. The imported RTOS may also be vulnerable to cyber-attacks which may compromise the safety and security of the avionics system. To overcome this dependency and achieve self-reliance, HAL had taken up the onus of designing an indigenous RTOS for safety-critical and mission-critical avionics systems. The HAL-RTOS provides a comprehensive feature set based on international specification - ARINC-653 - to support Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture. Key features include address, space and time partitioning, priority pre-emptive process scheduling and health monitoring. The RTOS performance has been validated on the Mission Computer of HAL’s Hawk-i trainer aircraft. The complete Operational Flight Program, which includes real-time sensor data processing, navigation algorithm computations, controls and display management and interface management was ported and the RTOS was able to meet all its design requirements during the flight.

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Page last modified: 01-03-2018 18:35:42 ZULU