When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the UK next week, one of the points of discussion could be a light attack aircraft developed on the basic Hawk trainers jets which India has bought from BAE Systems.
Ahead of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was quote in agency reports as saying, "We see scope for a much greater government to government relationship in defence equipment, playing into the Make in India programme, where we have significant British defence contractors and British defence IP that can be played into that agenda for developing the Indian defence industry to the benefit of both countries. Hawk trainers will be one of the subjects within the defence package we will want to talk about."
Sources familiar with the Indian Hawk program said the two sides could well be carrying further discussion the development of a "Combat Hawk", a light weaponized version of the Hawk trainer. The concept had been proposed by BAE Systems and HAL earlier this year but no further progress has been made.
The combat hawk, or light attack aircraft is meant to be positioned below the light combat aircraft (LCA) of which the Indian Air Force(IAF) has ordered some 100 planes.
India has some 90 Hawk 132 model trainers in service with the IAF and navy, while some 33 planes are being manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India has bought a further 20 aircraft for its Surya Kiran Aerobatics team.
The Make in India program could mean not just weaponization but to offer the Indian-made Hawk for export to markets around the world. For this BAE Systems would want the Indian manufacturing entity to upgrade its manufacturing standards to those of its own.