India inks deal with BAE for 57 Hawk aircrafts

Bangalore: Giving a boost to Indo-British defence ties, India today inked a 700 million pound (Rs 9,500 crore)-deal for purchase of an additional 57 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer Aircraft from British Aerospace Systems (BAE).

This is the second tranche of the purchase by India since 2004 when it had finalised a deal to buy 66 HAWKs.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Chairman and Managing Director Ashok Nayak and Karnataka Minister for Home V S Acharya.

Of the 57 Hawks to be manufactured at HAL's facility, 40 would be inducted into IAF and 17 into the Navy, BAE System Managing Director & Chief Executive (India) Andrew Gallagher told reporters.

This is the first time that the Indian Navy is getting HAWKs, he said.

The deal was signed by HAL Dierector, Corporate Planning P Sounder Rajan, BAE's Group Managing Director Guy Griffths and Rolls-Royce Sales and Commercial Director Chris Awade.

Awade said Rolls-Royce, which supplies engines to BAE sytems, would supply components to HAL which would produce engines for Hawks.

The terms of the contract were also inked today, he said.

Under the first deal which involved purchase of 66 Hawks, 24 are to be flown from BAE and the remaining 42 manufactured by HAL which has so far built 15 of them. After visiting software major Infosys, Cameron arrived at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to a rousing reception.

Nayak took him into the overhaul division where the BAE manufactured Jaguar aircraft was on display, besides the Intermediate Jet Trainer, ALH Mk-IV, Tejas trainer aircraft (LCA) and Light Combat Helicopter.

Later answering queries from reporters, Gallagher said the BAE system would begin a discussion with HAL on making it a hub for its global marketing.

"We are looking forward to develop the global relationship on the Hawk deal and we have to begin discussions with HAL on this. We are looking at global market, particularly the Middle East," he said.

"We are going to develop a business plan and marketing plan with HAL and take it to the global market as we see it."

Seeking to further boost BAE's relations with HAL, Gallagher said it was also looking at opportunities to service the older aircraft, as it has already sold more than 900 of them so far.

The current joint venture with HAL on software development will be further expanded, he said.

To a query, he said the problems that had cropped over spares earlier had been "sorted out".

Awade described the signing of the agreement as a "special event for Rolls-Royce" and remarked "we have the best engines in the trainer jet aircraft market".

For Rolls-Royce the deal is worth 200 million pounds and it would soon finalise negotiations in terms of the contract, he said.

The final contract agreement on the 57 Hawks was expected to be signed sometime in this August, Gallagher said.