Tuesday, May 15, 2012

India's Hansa Trainer To Go Unmanned

Photo / NAL
If you thought India had way too many unmanned air vehicle programmes, here's reason for you to sigh again: The makers of the Hansa are looking to spin off an unmanned version of the trainer/general purpose aircraft. The state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), which developed the Hansa, has entered into an agreement with private firm Kadet Defence Systems to convert the aircraft into an optionally unmanned platform. The agreement also includes joint development of a new tactical UAV (yes, another!).

Do remember that the Indian Air Force looked abroad and will now spend close to a billion dollars to buy new propeller trainers, even when the Hansa has proven that such an aircraft can be built in the country. Therefore, apart from a smattering of flying clubs around the country, the Hansa remains just  that -- a swan.

There's an appalling lack of resource and research synergy between HAL, NAL, the DRDO and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), all of which appear to be either developing (or, in HAL's case, marketing) UAVs with areas of obvious technological overlap. Weirdly, beyond the meaningless paper seminars and lofty presentations, none of these laboratories or agencies actually cooperate to deliver even a single, capable unmanned system to the armed forces. All we ever get to hear about is new UAVs, or old UAVs with new names. Someone needs to do something about this.


Mr. Ra said...

Sometimes decentralized efforts may attain better competition and capture of widespread knowledge. The wise men are free to coordinate them at any time for consolidation. But who is that wise.

Anonymous said...

HAL, NAL, OFB and other Indian government agencies except some DRDO Labs have proven to useless in providing any usable defense platforms.

I fail to understand that why MOD chooses to spend Billions and import UAV's from abroad, when we have the talent to design and manufacture better systems in India.

In my opinion HAL,NAL are wasting taxpayers money. It is time we should provide R&D funds to Private Sector companies like Larsen & Toubro , Tata, Mahindra etc. These companies have the potential to be the next Boeing's and Lockheed Martin's of India.

Anonymous said...

The amusing thing is that except for PTA, that is used as a target for missiles, not a single indigeneous UAV/RPA has matured enough to be inducted in the services. Everyone loves 'local' we wud love to see our forces using homemade ware. But there has to be limit on wasted expenditure in the name of indegenisation.

tza2z said...

First of armed forces should freeze the minimum specifications of the UAV they would be able to utilize. Then and only then would it make sense for other agencies to start such projects. May be, have an open competition among private and public agencies. Then select the best specimen, for further development.

Anonymous said...

kill them all - the people, the paper and the toys...

AJ said...

Ajai Shuklaji had emphasized an Aerospace Agency. I think you have come to the same conclusion.

AJ said...

Ajai Shuklaji emphasized a need for Aerospace agency and do away with R&D of HAL, NAL and DRDO and combine them into one. But India is India, Egos still stay and never go away.

Anonymous said...

Shiv Aroor I think it is a stupid comment to say that yet another UAV research program should make others slap their heads. I believe you are only showing your own abject ignorance.
After all the Hansa is a ready-made platform that is known to fly - and nothing like that for a UAV, Designing a new one means making an aircraft that flies or buying someone else's kit.

I thought it is a good idea and your comment is silly

My name is shiv too


Anonymous said...

what to do sir...we have so many lousy journalists; all we can do is complain

Anonymous said...

Sale ek manned jahaj toh bana nahi parahen hai thickse aur chale hai ek aur unmanned jahaj banane.

Rohan said...

More useless projects for these boffins to spend their money on...why do we have all these different PSU's and research divisions anyway? None of them ever do anything productive, if you fold them into HAL at least you might get SOME results. Best option of course would be to open defense to private players in a full way but we know thats not going to happen anytime soon

the terminator said...

You are on the dot where these entities are concerned. They would guard their turf like some rabid dobermans rather than work for the good of the nation by bringing in synergies through cooperation. Egos are aplenty in our defence organizations especially the PSUs such as HAL.

Since HAL is the only anointed PSU to dispense with aeronautical products in the country, they feel they are the masters and need not work in hand with any other body. HAL has become such a monopolistic mammoth because the MOD did not pull it up for slippage of timelines and escalation of prices.
They have become truly unaccountable to no one.

This sad state of affairs can only happen in India where the PSUs have become untouchable as they are the vote banks for the politicos in the country.

It is high time they are pulled up to perform, failing which they should be revamped thoroughly or better still privatized.

AKS said...

I wish any of these agencies make some Unmanned Auto Rickshaw for Chennai especially.

AKS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It is generally known that NAL, DRDO, HAL & ADA are being used by its employees as a spring board for getting a plum aboard jobs or for an admission in elite institutions in US. For that purpose, they use tax payers money to fund the so-called research aimed only at publications in mediocre journals with no actual usable end products. NAL comes top in that practice with no usable product so far. There is no fault in that practice, if their research has some usefulness to the forces.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shiv,
So the process of making "Jack of All Trades but Master of None" has begun. What lies next?Unmanned Sukhoi,unmanned Vikramaditya and unmanned Tejas. Also my friend asks for manned Brahmos so that he can make in time to office.
Why can't we simply concentrate on one thing and make it work instead of playing "MAN" and "UNMAN"? Let us take a project, reach to pinnacle and then move to second stage.
By the way why are we "UNMANNING" a trainer? So that computer can learn to fly better?

Shiv Aroor said...

@NOOB: Agree with you in full.

As simple as that said...

I may understand your frustration. However science advances up on a smooth slope. The newfound knowledge and insight always comes in patches..

So all effort is good effort.

Abhiman said...

What was the IAF thinking when it floated awarded a tender for the Pilatus, when the indigenous Hansa was already available ?

This proves that there is absolutely ZERO synchronization between the IAF on one hand, and ADA, NAL and DRDO on the other.

But HAL and IAF are partners in crime :

1. HAL needs to xerox-copy foreign aircraft.

2. IAF is always glad to obtain any foreign-made flying object, be it Pilatus or so-called FGFA.

Add up the two points above, and we have a superb Import-Machine, while DRDO and ADA are completely sidelined.

Anonymous said...

dude waiting for your article on nirbhay missile...its high time you upload it....at least put the as to when u r gonna upload....

Anonymous said...

first plz make the HAL unmanned.

Anonymous said...

Some one should compare the specs of this plane with Pilatus and shiv you should ask that question on your news channel.

If Pilatus is better specked then there is no case, if not -questions need to asked weather Hansa was looked at - if no, then why not.

Btw, Iaf is once bitten, twice shy when it comes to Hal who would have made this plane if this did get ordered, so I am not surprised.

Anonymous said...


This is probably not going towards making a deploy-able platform, but is targeted towards capability building. The software/hw needed to make Hansa unmanned can then be moved over to other, more sophisticated and weaponized platforms once the submodules are realized.

When we started to make LCA, we had not even a single entity in the country that had mastery of the required technologies. I think its a sign of the depth of aviation industry in the country today, that when the transition happens from manned to unmanned air combat vehicles, there will be multiple agencies, competing for development of these next gen weapons.


Anonymous said...

Exactly right! As a journalist you are better placed than all of us to take this message to the people that matter. This is so important that the very future of the country could be at stake. There is no question of talent. However, the culture of cooperation between branches (companies, Universities and the Govt) is painfully missing. The net result will be funds flowing out the country to buy technology and expertise, all which could be had right here in this country. By fostering such cooperation there could be a cultural-shift which will benefit the country as well as its citizens in the long run.
Good article!

Anonymous said...

Hansa is in a different class compared to HPT-32 or the Pilatus PC-7 MkII. Hence the IAF is right in rejecting it.

Anonymous said...

Why are we buying Pilatus PC-7 when we have Hansa...is it too different! I am sure IAF is not going to use Pilatus PC-7 as its frontline fighter for air dominance!

Abhiman said...

The IAF shouldNot have bought the Pilatus, because Hansa is already available.

Though its true that Hans and Pilatus are not the same class of trainers, had the IAF adopted a 3-stage training process like the RAF or USAF there is NO NEED for Pilatus.

USAF used the Firefly for ab-initio training. Firefly's specs are pretty much the same as Hansa's. Then USAF pilots probably proceeded to an IJT and AJT.

What does IAF do ? It buys Pilatus -- a hybrid between the ab-initio Hansa and the Kiran Mk.1. It also ditches the Saras Mk.2** for slight delays, but doesn't mind waiting for 30 years to buy the Hawk.

HAL is of course happy to copy-paste Pilatus and Hawks.

Great going IAF and HAL !

** Saras Mk.2 is for advanced training. Mk.1 was the actual IJT.

Anonymous said...

Can the author please indicate any other Tactical UAV program in the pipe line? the answer to that is none.

The Conversion of the HANSA is to achieve a an Optionally piloted aircraft and not just an Unmanned version. This is being done because today the MALE and other UAV systems in existence are not allowed to fly in the national airspace as there is no sense and avoid system in the UAV to avoid collisions.
2) Given the Indian Scenario a platform such as the HANSA will easily blend into the general aviation landscape and thereby reducing the furore a UAV would cause while flying over civilian areas.
3) The platform will not need new infrastrucutre and will use existing airports/airstrips.
4) Payload capacity will be 150 kG thereby beating any and every MALE or similar platform in exiatence.
5) the platform would cost 1/5th price of a comparable MALE minus the sensor package.
6) O&M would also be cheaper when compared to a UAV
Reasons are plenty please do some research and you will find that in the future all US manned transport platform will have to have an optionally piloted configuaration. If India does not get into R&D now it will again stand in the door step of the OEM's begging for tech.

Gautam said...

Bah. After almost 2 years NAL can't even deliver the Netra handheld UAV which is little more than a toy. How many decades are they gonna take for this?

There are many private firms in India with promising UAV projects just waiting for orders. Sure, they may be mere mortals and not heavenly DRDO babus(for the bootlicking Ratshakers ready to heap more praise on NAL/DRDO/OFB in response to this) but in the real world, they can DELIVER.

Anonymous said...

Dear Folks, no point fretting amongst ourselves. We need all the senior management of HAL. NAL ADA, GTRA and DRDO to read this blog. Above all the 'BIGGEST DUMB CASE' AK Antony and MM pallam raju must read this blog. I am sure most of these guys barely know how to check emails let alone visit blogs. We need to write a letter to Prime Minister's Office for Creating a DARPA like prganisation in India. The letter must be copied to all the Directors of PSU's AK anotny, MM pallam Raju and MOST IMPORTANT we need to CC that letter to a well know RTI activist. RTI activists are very helpful in keeping track of letter send to our DUMB PM's Office.

Anonymous said...

Why not cocentrate all resources in making only one multirole UAV?(combat,reconaissance all included), why so many projects(rustom,AURA,HANSA) ???

Anonymous said...

Why not cocentrate all resources in making only one multirole UAV?(combat,reconaissance all included), why so many projects(rustom,AURA,HANSA) ???