The HAL Ajeet (Sanskrit: अजित, for Invincible or Unconquerable) was a development of the British Folland Gnat fighter that was built under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Design and developmentEdit
The Indian Air Force (IAF) operated the Folland Gnat light jet fighter from 1958, with over 200 aircraft being license built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The aircraft proved successful in combat in both the 1965 and the 1971 War with Pakistan, both in the low-level air superiority role and for short range ground attack missions, while being inexpensive to build and operate.
It had unreliable systems, particularly the control system, however, and was difficult to maintain. The Indian Air Force therefore issued a requirement for an improved Gnat in 1972. Although the original requirement called for an interceptor, it was later modified to include a secondary ground-attack role. The aircraft was given the name "Ajeet", Sanskrit for "Invincible" or "Unconquered".
The changes from the original Gnat were considerable.
- Improvements to the hydraulics and control systems (these had been a source of difficulties in the Gnat).
- Fitting of improved Martin-Baker GF4 ejection seats.
- Upgraded avionics.
- The addition of slab tail control surfaces.
- Improvements to the landing gear.
- Additional internal fuel capacity, with wet wings to free the underwing pylons normally carried by the Gnat for weapons.
- Installation of two more underwing hardpoints.