Plugging the Gap
The IAF issues RFI for IJT on account of repeated delays with HJT-36 ‘Sitara’

HAL’s IJT awaiting initial operational clearance

The Indian Air Force (IAF) released a Request for Information (RFI) for an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) for Stage-II flying training in the last week of February. The development is surprising, considering that the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) designed and developed HJT-36 ‘Sitara’ IJT was to have been obtained by December this year (albeit after repeated delays). The IAF is, obviously, upset with the pace of the Sitara programme and has now decided to scout the international market for options for an IJT.

In an interview with FORCE late last year, Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Gill AVSM VM, who heads the IAF Training Command, said, that “It is already eight years behind schedule. We are hoping that IOC will be obtained by end of this year, as by 2015 our Kiran assets will start dwindling.” He was responding to a question on IJT.

He added, “However, by 2015 we need to have a replacement for the Kiran, so either the IJT comes up or we approach the government for an alternative.” He went on to state that “there are issues related to the stall and spin characteristics that need to be resolved and HAL is trying to resolve this”. HAL had looked to concurrently begin production of the HJT-36 for the IAF’s requirement of 12 Limited Series Production (LSP) and 73 Serial Production (SP) IJTs, as soon as an IOC had been obtained,

In its RFI, the IAF has specified the primary role of the IJT to be of Stage-II pilot training with a secondary counter-insurgency role. It asked that vendors provide technical details and cost for direct purchase of batches of ‘10, 20, 30 and 50 aircraft along with product support proposals’. The IAF intends to utilise the IJT at a rate of 30 hours per aircraft per month, with a maximum of 300 hours per aircraft per year. One Fixed Base Full Motion Simulator (FBFMS), to be acquired under direct purchase, will also be required.

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