Warplanes: India Doubles Down On Hawk


July 31, 2010: India is buying another 57 British Hawk jet trainers. This is the second order, as 66 were bought six years ago. Only 24 of the first order were built in Britain, the rest were assembled in India, largely using British engines and components. The new order will all be assembled in India, and cost about $19 million each. Indian firms assemble a wide variety of aircraft, and Indian firms are gradually achieving the ability to produce all aircraft components, including engines and electronics.

India still has problems with a cumbersome government bureaucracy and business managers who have a hard time coping. For example, 18 months ago, half its Hawk jet trainer aircraft were not available for service. There were supposed to be 39 Hawk trainers in service, but only 18 were available for use, because of delays in deliveries and chronic shortages of spare parts. These delays and shortages are endemic in the Indian military. There is a growing effort to eliminate this problem, but progress is slow.

Six years ago, after two decades of effort, BAE Systems finally sold 66 Hawk jet trainers to India, at a cost of some $25 million each. The delays were caused by the governments unwillingness to spend the money, plus the efforts of French, Russian, Czech and American aircraft manufacturers to put forward their own candidates. Finally, the growing number of Indian MiG-21 aircraft lost, partly due to inadequately trained pilots, forced the government to close the deal.

The Hawk advanced jet trainers are the most successful Western aircraft of this type, at least in terms of sales (over 900 so far). The US Navy uses the Hawk, and India felt the Hawk was the most suitable for training MiG-21 pilots. The nine ton aircraft are used to train pilots who will eventually fly jet fighters. The Hawk can also be armed and used for ground attack.




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