Friday, April 9, 2021

#AtoZChallenge - HAL

(This month, each day, except the four Sundays, I will be blogging about interesting features associated with Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge)

India's defence sector for a long time was largely dependent on foreign countries, mostly what was then the USSR, and to lesser extents the US and France. Since around the 1980s, India has been making indigenous products, and the dependence on foreign nations reduced considerably.

The sole driver of the defence industry is the HAL or the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Bengaluru-headquartered government-owned company, manufacturing aviation-related products mainly to the Indian Air Force. 

The company has been doing well over the years. For example, according to this Business Standard report, it achieved a record turnover of more than Rs 21,100 crore (approx: USD 2.82 billion) for 2019-20, which is 7% more than the previous year's figure.

Image source: HAL website

The entity was set up as Hindustan Aircraft Limited in Bangalore in 1940, seven years before India became independent, by an industrialist named Walchand Hirachand, who has done pioneering work in many fields as diverse as shipping, engineering, and sugarcane plantations. 

It was established in association with the then government of the princely state of Mysore. A year later, the government of India became shareholders, and in 1951, it came under the control of independent India's ministry of defence.

Image source: Business Standard

In 1964, Hindustan Aircraft Limited was merged with another government-owned company called Aeronautics India Limited, to form the current Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The HAL makes many aviation-related accessories like undercarriages and hydraulic and air-conditioning equipment, panel instruments, ejection seats, engine fuel systems, etc, besides a range of trainer aircraft for the Indian Airforce, and private flying clubs. 

Other products include engines, reconnaissance aircraft, transport aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, gliders, etc.   

Some of the helicopters are Dhruv, Rudra and LCH (Light Combat Helicopter). HF-Marut was the first fighter aircraft in 1964, which has since been retired. Different variants of Tejas are under development, with one batch of an earlier version delivered to the IAF in 2019.

The relatively new Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum, set up in 2001, showcases the story of the Indian aviation industry and is a popular tourist attraction.

(Tomorrow, we look at another Bengaluru-based mega institution, which is driving India's thriving space industry)


  1. Very interesting. I would like to visit the Aerospace Museum. Just curious. Is the Indian Air Force Gnat manufactured here?

  2. Hari OM
    I have always been interested in aviation, military and civil, so this was most interesting! YAM xx

  3. Oh, this is fascinating. Thank you!

  4. Another subject I discover about Bangalore, thanks for the interesting facts. It's funny because I know HAL, but not for Hindustan Aircraft Limited, but for Hyper Article en Ligne (open archive for academic publishing works)... yes I know, nothing related ;)
    Quilting Patchwork & Appliqué

  5. This was interesting to read Pradeep. Learnt a lot about the history of HAL today.

  6. Hi Pradeep - I bet that museum is fascinating to visit and to appreciate the history of India's aviation industry. Love the sound of it - cheers Hilary

  7. Kind of an unfortunate acronym (my brain went to 2001: A Space Odyssey), but a fascinating company.