Defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will embark on two more indigenous projects - a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and a Combat Attack Trainer (CAT) - for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the global market subsequently.
HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja told a news conference Thursday at the Aero India exhibition that the public sector company had proposed to IAF a dedicated LCH, which would be an upgraded version of the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) for combat operations.
"The LCH proposal is at an advanced stage of consideration by IAF, which is our main customer in the domestic market. We have designed and developed a mock-up model to showcase its capabilities and strengths in battlefield. We are awaiting clearance to go ahead with the project," Baweja said.
Though HAL will be currently focusing on its first three indigenously built aircraft, namely the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and the ALH, it has drawn up plans to take up the LCH and CAT projects over the next five years.
"We have displayed a mock-up model of the CAT at Aero India for consideration by the IAF as well as global customers. It is an advanced aircraft, modelled on the twin-engine, tandem seater IJT. It will be positioned between the British Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and the LCA.
"We have submitted a concept report to the IAF for considering CAT as a design and development project. Besides the three existing products, HAL will be engaged in developing the next two indigenous projects (LCH and CAT) during the next 5-10 years," Baweja disclosed.
Meanwhile, HAL has taken up weaponisation of ALH to carry guns, rockets and missiles. They will be inducted by the three defence services -- IAF, Indian Army and Indian Navy.
"We have also taken up a massive upgradation programme for the various aircraft which are being operated by the three services. For instance, the MiG-21 is being upgraded as MiG-21BIS with the latest cockpit, mission controls and avionics.
"Similarly, Jaguar, MiG-27 and MiG-29 of the IAF will be upgraded. Chetak and Cheetah helicopters, which are being used by all the three services, are also being upgraded as Chetan and Cheetal. Sea Harriers of the Indian Navy are due for upgradation," Baweja added.