Revolution in Training Affairs
New inductions have ushered in state-of-the-art training methods in the IAF and IN


The induction of the Pilatus PC-7 MK-II Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) and BAE Systems Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) have ushered in the latest generation of training platforms and systems across the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Naval Aviation. Both aircraft are vital to the IAF’s training roadmap for an increased intake of trainees from the present 480 to 750 trainees in the near future.

The Hawk was recently inducted into the Indian Navy at INS Dega, Vishakhapatnam, with four aircraft being delivered (out of 17 on order). The IAF Hawk AJTs are located in Bidar (Karnataka) and Kalaikunda (West Bengal). The IAF now undertakes post commissioning (Stage-3) training of all fighter pilots exclusively on Hawk aircraft. All 66 aircraft from the initial order were delivered in 2012 and delivery of the 40 additional aircraft is now underway for the IAF. Twenty Hawk Mk 132s will also be procured for the ‘Surya Kiran’ display team, making an IAF inventory of 126 Hawks.

With regards to the PC-7 MK-II, 22 of the BTAs are now flying with the IAF and all 75 aircraft order will be delivered by 2015, under an accelerated delivery schedule with two aircraft being delivered every month. The HPT-32 ‘Deepak’ trainers were grounded in 2009 and with a satisfactory technical solution not being obtained for the mid-air engine cuts, the entire fleet has been permanently grounded. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had sanctioned an amount of Rs 176.93 crore for preliminary design phase and detailed design phase activities of Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) aircraft, which was meant to replace the HPT-32. However, the IAF which has serious reservations against acquiring the HTT-40 developed by HAL, has recast its proposal from ‘Make’ category to ‘Buy and Make’ category to procure the balance 106 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA), that it requires. The IAF had projected a total requirement of 181 BTAs to meet its Basic Trainer needs. Out of these, orders have been placed for 75 PC-7 MK-IIs with an additional order for 36 likely, taking the total to 111. However, this would reduce the order for HAL’s proposed HTT-40 to only 70 aircraft.

Also, troubling are continued delays with HAL’s Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), the HJT-36 ‘Sitara’ which could result in the IAF having to revert to two stage training using the Hawk Mk 132 and the PC-7 MK-II. This is a very real possibility as the Kirans are due to be retired in a few years (2016-2018). The Sitara was due to have obtained its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) in December, last year, a target which was missed. The initial delays were related to the change of the engine to the United Engine Corporation (UEC) AL-55I engines, but now the challenges are aerodynamically related, with ‘stall’ and ‘spin’ behaviour, remaining unresolved. Ten AL-55I engines have already been delivered and a further eight were due to have been delivered last year. For the IAF, requirement of 85 IJTs, HAL has plans to build 12 limited series production (LSP) aircraft, before beginning series production for 73 aircraft.
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