Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is planning to upgrade the 110 Mirage-2000 and Jaguar jets, the Tribune India reports. The Mirage-2000 crash, which led to the death of two pilots - Squadron leaders Samir Abrol and Sidhharth Negi - who were attached to the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE).
The duo was testing the flight which may have been re-allocated to the squadron in the Air Force. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Ministry of Defence are expected to review soon the upgrades and the new parameters that are likely to be introduced to speed up the programme.
An inquiry in-court has also been launched. Currently, only 11 of the 51 Dassault Aviation manufactured-Mirage-2000 jets are upgraded. The manufacturer improved four of them, two in its France-based plant and the rest in the HAL headquarters in Bengaluru.
HAL has the contract to upgrade 47 Mirage-2000s and is already running two years behind schedule. The entire lot was supposed to be enhanced by July 2021, and the deadline was rescheduled to December 2022. According to the contract, the 25 planes needed to have been upgraded and delivered to the IAF by now.
Until now, HAL has upgraded nine planes, with two upgraded by Dassault in Bengaluru. The crashed plane was the 10th jet that was upgraded by the public sector giant.
HAL signed a contract in 2009 to upgrade 61 Jaguars with military standard ‘Darin 3’. But, due to the choice of engine, the jet was mostly in cold storage. According to the contract, HAL had to deliver the first jet with the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) was in February, but has failed to do so. Going by the current pace, HAL will not be able to deliver on upgrading the 61 jets by the scheduled target of 2024.
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