Indo-Russian fighter aircraft project regains speed: HAL

Bengaluru :HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju today said the Indo-Russia Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project has “regained its speed” and the company hoped to know about a decision on it in next six months.

“The FGFA programme has regained its speed. Discussions are on. Hopefully, we should know a decision in next six months,” Raju told reporters here.

The statement comes when the final design contract, under which the Russian and Indian governments were to contribute an initial USD 6 billion each for prototype development and production, has not been signed between the two countries.

The proposal awaits a decision from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin for the annual India-Russia summit this week.

The project, which costs an estimated USD 30 billion, involves Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Under the project, single-seat fighters will be made in India.

Asked whether the topic will come up for discussions during the Russia visit, Raju said, “I cannot answer it. The Ministry of External Affairs and Defence handle the matter.”
However, HAL has done the preliminary design, contract of which was signed for USD 295 million in 2010, Raju said.

“The next 25 years’ road map would be challenging. We aim to be in the league of top ten aerospace companies in the world,” he said.

HAL also aims to achieve a Maharatna status in near future and focus on diversifying its customer profile to non-defence sector, Raju said.

The HAL Chairman said the helicopter business segment is “expected to grow manifold and the company will make efforts to see helicopters operate in many parts of the world.”

He also said the company intended to build brand India civil aircraft for regional transportation.
“A year and a half back, HAL took the initiative and proposed that it would like to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). Now we are looking at two ways—brand India aircraft or co-develop a Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA),” Raju said.

The HAL and National Aeronautical Limited (NAL) had taken the lead to build this 70-90 seater aircraft on a public private partnership (PPP) model with a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to steer this project.