With IAF increasing its order of LCAs forcing HAL to manufacture 108 aircraft for six squadrons, the defence PSU is scaling up quality and speed.
A robotic drilling machine in the final assembly hangar has reduced the time taken to drill a hole on the wing skin to just over a minute from 25-35 minutes it took manually.
The machine, which needs to drill around 8,000 holes, can manage 66% with the remaining done manually. “That will change soon; we’ll soon have more efficiency,” LCA division general manager V Sridharan told TOI. HAL is using Bengaluru-based 3D printing for some components. “A proposal to acquire such a printer is being prepared but now, we’re outsourcing it,” he said.
Sources in HAL said given the Centre’s Make in India campaign and to save on time, outsourcing some manufacturing has happened and a few other projects are in the pipeline. The wing assembly has been outsourced to L&T, while 10 vendors will be in the fray for the centre and rear fuselage, for which tenders will be floated soon. “Outsourcing of 33 electrical panels, six mechanical assembly projects making of fin and rudder, etc is under way,” they said.
Stating that the second Series Pro duction Tejas is in the final stages of assembly and will be ready for IAF in the next 45 days, Sridharan said: “By the fourth or fifth aircraft, we should be able further reduce the time.”
Earlier this year, HAL handed over an aircraft to the IAF, which is undergoing some changes. The second in the series is almost ready . To enhance the rate of production, HAL had late last year sent a proposal to the defence ministry for setting up a second production line.A senior official said the ministry is likely to clear it by February.
HAL has invested Rs 150 crore for capacity augmentation. According to the proposal, HAL is expected to invest 50% of the Rs 1,200-crore estimated cost, while the IAF and the Navy will invest 25% each.