Companies coming to build in India: Dr. Kota Harinarayana

In the context of the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the Aero India 2015 will be dramatically different from all previous air shows. Scientist, designer and architect of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Dr Kota Harinarayana, puts the latest air show in perspective: “Earlier, people and companies would only come to the air show, but now they are coming to manufacture. They are mentally prepared to manufacture – that if they have to retain the India market, they have to manufacture in India. It is a coming with a purpose.”Dr. Kota Harinarayana, who has been with the Tejas LCA since its inception almost forty years ago, says Aero India 2015 is a paradigm shift for India as well as companies coming from abroad. “Aircraft majors know that they will have to manufacture in India to have a foothold in the market. Either they have to do this on their own or by finding a partner. What they have also realised is that doing it on their own may be far costlier than doing it with a partner. Now, they are busy scouting for partners to not lose the market. The biggest difference between previous shows and this one is that everyone is coming to India knowing well that they have to come to manufacture.” The senior scientist says that finding a partner who can absorb technology fast is by far an easier task than doing things on their own. So, Indian partners will benefit directly. It is also crucial that the first LCA was given to the IAF earlier this month by the Aeronautical Development Authority (ADA), the lead agency for designing the aircraft.“This is a vital development because the production of the aircraft has started. Though initially six, eight or ten aircraft may be produced, HAL has promised 16 aircraft per year. This is the first time that an aircraft in production is being flown and exhibited at the air show. This is also the first time that an aircraft completely designed and built and developed in India is flying in an airshow after the second clearance.” According to Narayana, the LCA is clearly a fourth-generation aircraft which will be taking to the skies, well beyond the MiG-21 in terms of technology and performance. “The LCA is a great technology demonstrator.”The scientist is confident that the LCA will pass the test of the final operational clearance of the IAF. “It will happen in another six months or within the year, give or take a few months. The only things we have to do now is to make it more combat-ready than it already is. That is not a worrying point for us, as all the other critical aspects like the fly-by-wire systems have been taken care of. By year-end we will have our own indigenously built combat aircraft ready to operate in live conditions.”

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