Gen VK Singh doubts HAL’s ability

ST CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, 14 February 2019

General VK Singh said that in order to get an engine for the HF 24, India then approached the USA, which gave ‘over parred’ engine which led to the pilot casualties.

PUNE: Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh has raised doubts over the ability to carry out work at State-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). To justify this, he referred to the recent deaths of two pilots in the crash of Mirage-2000 fighter in Bengaluru.

Singh was addressing a press conference in the city on Wednesday. Reacting to the allegation by the Congress that the government pressurised Dassault to do way with HAL as a strategic offset partner in the Rafale deal, Singh said, “It is the French firm which decided the offset firm.”

“The objective of the offset is to allow the industry to thrive here. If their firm is not satisfied with HAL, it is their decision. It is not the decision of the Indian Government,” said Gen Singh.

“Look at the condition of HAL. Our two pilots died. Sorry to say, but the programmes at HAL are running late by 3.5 years, where they have managed to refurbish 8th aircraft. The parts of aircraft are falling off on the runway. Is this the capability? On the other hand, we say that HAL is not getting orders,” he said.

Defending the Rafale deal, Gen Singh said the Opposition is trying to rake up the issue as a counter to the Bofors scam.

The former Army chief said, “We, in the 1960s, came up with an indigenous design of Hindustan Fighter (HF) 24 - Marut, but Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), which was assigned to develop an engine for the aircraft, failed to do so. We had to import the engine.” 

He said that in order to get an engine for the HF 24, India then approached the USA, which gave ‘over parred’ engine which led to the pilot casualties. 

“After the French had approached and our government allowed them to have a look of a static aircraft, they clicked several photos of the aircraft and later started the series of Mirage aircraft,” the minister informed. 

He said that if the then government would have compelled the Gas Turbine Research Establishment to develop the engine, the country could have had its own aircraft and with advancements in technology, the country’s indigenous aircraft would have been better than Rafale.

“If they are accusing the present government in the Rafale deal, then the blame for the failure of HF-24 should go to the then government. I would like to call it treason as the entire data of HF-24 was wiped out without anybody’s knowledge,” Gen Singh added.

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