HAL : Harbinger of self-reliant India’’- CB Ananthkrishnan, CMD
India is rapidly moving on the path of self-reliance. India is using all indigenous technologies in the field of defence. India wants to become the centre of defence production It is the visionary thinking of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India should reduce the import of defence equipment and defence technology from abroad. Uday India spoke to CB Anantkrishnan , CMD, HAL. Excerpts.
I want to ask you, how is Hindustan Aeronautic Limited working to fulfil the dream of our prime minister Narendra Modi for an ‘AtmaNirbharBhaarat’ in the Defense sector.
We’ve started involving more and more private sectors. There are more than 300 MSMEs which are actively involved in the LCH programme. We are very keen to see that the private industry which is now developing as far as the defence sector is concerned, HAL will be supporting them and see that these industries play a major role in all our future defence programmes. In fact the first of its kind in one of our future programmes is what we’re now thinking of, the IMR (Indian Multi Role Helicopter) Medium lift helicopter.
We’re thinking of having a public-private partnership so that the opportunities available in the defence sector will be fully utilised not only by HAL but also by involving the private sectors.
Now we can also become a defence manufacturing hub so that these products can become available for exports to various countries in future.
For AtmaNirbhar Bharat one needs to strengthen the research and development wing of HAL. How is the R&D division working to get strengthened?
Today if you see the international norms for research and development, if you do the big names in the defence sector like Lockheed Martin, Airbus and all the big defence industries, their research and development is roughly around 6-7 percent.
In HAL we’ve been incurring research and development expenditure to be almost 6-7 per cent consistently year after year for the last 6-7 years, which would mean how the R&D sector is turning out to be successful and developing.
You also mentioned that HAL is working in PPP mode. So please enlighten us about the major companies that are collaborating to make it more successful in the line of Atmanirbhar Bharat. As of now we’ve already been collaborating with certain private industries within the country as well as one of the public sectors for instance, for our LCA mark 1A program we’ve got ‘L&T’ ( Larsen and Toubro), one company with whom we’ve joined hands. We’ve initiated the process of entering into a public-private partnership because the magnitude of the project is so huge that we want to involve the private Sector also.
Do you really face any bottlenecks in this process of going towards the Atmanirbhar Bharat? If yes, What are they?
No, absolutely there are no bottlenecks in this process as it is a very good opportunity as an initiative. We are trying to develop an ecosystem in the private sector to see how the private industry will also get developed and more importantly, the national objective of becoming self -reliant and to safeguard the security of the nation.
It’s a new thing coming up as we’re trying to develop products within the country so there will be very minor pickups which we don’t think will become an Impediment in our objective. Today we’ve learnt a lot from the past difficulties, we know how to approach them and thus we feel that we’ll be able to overcome them to achieve success.
HAL always promises to deliver products. But unfortunately it has failed many times. What are the agents and what steps is HAL taking in that direction?
Yes, this has been one of the limitations of HAL in the past. But I can assure you that in the recent 3-years or so, we’ve really been focusing on avoiding these delays. In the last programmes, the LUH, the LCH programme, the HTT program (Hindustan Turbo Trainer), what we’ve done is that we didn’t really wait for the contract to get signed and we didn’t wait for the sanctions from the research and development to come. Internally we’ve taken our board approval to go ahead and incur the expenditure and start designing and developing the product so that the moment the contracts get signed we will start delivering products. Similarly in case of production of aircraft and helicopters also we’ve been funding the programmes in advance without waiting for the contracts to be signed.
This way we’ve been proactively taking actions to avoid delays.
Now let’s discuss the recently launched LCH Prachanda. How was the challenge before HAL? When can India actually export it and make it a business, please tell.
LCH is something which has been successfully inducted in the Air Force . There has been a lot of appreciation from the customers towards this product for its capabilities, versatility of design and the ease of operation. The product has been an extremely good product which has been vouched by all the customers. Now having said that, we have faced some challenges because this was the first attack helicopter exclusively. India is one of the very few countries who have indigenously designed and developed this helicopter.