New Delhi (Sputnik) — Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has started manufacturing the combat-ready version of Hawk trainer aircraft under the Indian government's indigenous role change development program. The upgrade is being jointly carried out by original manufacturers HAL and UK's BAE Systems.
Rechristened as Hawk-i, the combat-ready aircraft is capable of carrying the load of up to 3000 kilograms and delivering precise munitions including air-to-air missiles; air-to-surface missiles; air-to-surface rocket and bombs. The platform would provide support to troops into low-level threat zone.
"The aircraft is upgraded with indigenously designed avionics hardware, software and system architecture enhancing operational role from a trainer aircraft into a combat-ready platform with improved quality and depth of training by large force engagement (LFE) tactics through Electronic virtual training system (EVTS). Hawk-i is capable of delivering precision munitions including Air to Ground and close combat weapons, self defense capabilities through electronic warfare (EW) systems, digital map generator and operational reliability through new dual hot standby mission computer avionics architecture supported by indigenous high accuracy and high altitude radio altimeter, IFF MKXII, data transfer system, CMDS and RWR," read a statement by HAL.
Earlier in June this year, HAL-BAE had rolled out an advanced version of Hawk trainer aircraft meant to train pilots to handle fifth generation fighter jets. The joint venture says it aims to sell approximately 300 Advanced Hawks across the world from India or UK or from both the plant depending upon the demand from buyers. The Indian Air Force currently operates 123 Hawk MK-132 jets for advanced training.