HAL produced Dornier (DO-228) aircraft ‘Nabhratna’ has been handed over to Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) ahead of schedule in Kanpur.

Dr R K Tyagi, Chairman, HAL presented the keys of the aircraft to Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister in presence of senior officers from HAL, DRDO and other establishments.

Speaking on the occasion, Chander hailed HAL for being proactive and delivering the aircraft six months ahead of schedule. “We needed this aircraft much more than anything else for testing of radar in air as we had to depend on others to loan the aircraft. Thanks to HAL, our dream has now been realised. The use of flying test bed (FTB) aircraft will reduce the cycle time for development for airborne system,” he said.

“Money invested for the aircraft will give us returns many times more as the aircraft will prove its worth in the months to come”, he added.

Assuring the continued support of HAL, Dr Tyagi said the aircraft is aptly named Nabhratna and DRDO will find it extremely useful. “The aircraft will be used by Bangalore based Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) as flying test bed (FTB) for evaluation of performance of various radars being developed by LRDE. This aircraft is equipped with indigenous synthetic Aperture Radar and state-of-the-art avionics and communication system,” he added.

Needs of LRDE fulfilled

Whenever LRDE needed to test any radar under development, they would approach Indian Navy or Indian Coast Guard for loan allotment of DO-228 aircraft for limited period. It was difficult to spare the aircraft because of operational needs resulting in delay in the development of radars. In view of this LRDE decided to procure one DO-228 aircraft on their own for testing of radar in air. The LRDE aircraft has been produced by HAL in little less than a year since finalisation of agreement.