In 2020, Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd. turned 80 and they have dedicated all these years working extensively to strengthen the Indian Armed Forces. Termed as the backbone of the Indian Air Force, HAL provides two-thirds of the IAF’s combat aircraft inventory. They are presently, manufacturing the Tejas 4th generation light combat aircraft, incorporating advanced avionics and weapons, the heavier Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft of Russian-origin, currently from raw materials, the Jaguar strike fighter with major up-gradation and the Mirage 2000 air superiority fighter.
As far as the design and development part is concerned, HAL has been vigorously involved in various programmes such as basic piston-engine trainers (HT-2, HPT-32), jet trainers (HJT-16 Kiran Mk I and Mk II), supersonic fighter (HF-24 Marut) and agricultural aircraft (Basant). It has also played a pivotal role in upgrading various fighters of the IAF, they have manufactured various aircraft types over the decades beginning with the Vampire, then the Gnat, Jaguar, MiG-21 variants, MiG-27 and all these aircraft have served the IAF for a long period, in peace and war. All these years, HAL was the major partner in the IAF’s induction of new aircraft and weapon platforms.
As a result of recent Chinese aggression in Ladakh, Indian Air Force has now deployed its best assets along China and Pakistan borders since India is preparing for a possible collusive threat from them since they are allies. Accordingly, about half-a-dozen Tejas aircraft, all of the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard, have been doing stints at various bases in the western sector including at two locations that will host Tejas Mk 1A squadrons in the future.
Since its foundation in December 1940, HAL has grown from strength to strength and is now a world-recognised entity with 11 research and development centres, 20 production units and a workforce of 29,300. HAL is ranked as 34th amongst the top 100 global aerospace industries and has produced or overhauled over 3500 aircraft, both indigenous and under licence and also close to 5,015 aero engines, the turnover of the company during 2017-2018 was Rs.18,284 crore. In the last five years, HAL’s contribution to the exchequer has been Rs.30,429 crores (dividend including taxes paid to the Central and State governments) and the PSU has made a (cumulative) profit of Rs.16,884 crores.
HAL has been actively manufacturing aircraft for the IAF in the past as well, it has pioneered in developing and inducting aircraft such as HF-24 Marut, HAL Advance Light Helicopter Dhruv, HAL Light Utility Helicopter, HAL Light Combat Helicopter etc. into the Indian Air Force.
In order to ramp up defence production and export to $5 billion dollars by 2025, HAL has carved out a plan to setup logistic bases in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam with priority target for Southeast Asia, West Asia and North African markets. In this sense, it is aligning itself to the central government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.