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IAF releases RFI for 106 PC-7 MK II Basic Trainers to be procured under the 'Buy & Make (Indian)' category

Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force (IAF) released a Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of an additional 106 Swiss made Pilatus PC-7 MK II Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) in March. The additional 106 trainers are to be ‘supplied in the same configuration/specifications and scale as was contracted with M/s Pilatus Aircraft Ltd earlier’ says the RFI.

The decision has been taken as the IAF had expressed reservations over acquiring the HTT-40 developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and recast its proposal from ‘Make’ category to ‘Buy and Make’ category to procure the balance 106 BTAs.

The ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ decision means purchase from an Indian vendor (including an Indian company forming joint venture/establishing production arrangement with Original Equipment Manufacturer), followed by licensed production in the country. The IAF will acquire “a certain number of PC-7 Mk II aircraft in flyaway condition along with requisite associated equipment as the ‘Buy’ portion followed by licensed production/indigenous manufacture in India under the ‘Make’ portion.”, according to the RFI.

The trainers are ‘required to be inducted urgently into the IAF’ and hence, induction of aircraft and equipment is to begin by 2015-2016, with all deliveries to be completed by 2020-2021 (approximately 21 trainers a year, over five years). The IAF has been very pleased with the performance of its existing fleet of PC-7 MK IIs, with sustainability of the aircraft on the flight line and maintainability being termed as ‘very good’.

Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Gill AVSM VM, who heads the IAF Training Command, told FORCE in an interview late last year that, “the response that we have been getting from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is excellent, it is after all a new machine and there would be teething problems. However, when anything goes wrong, they act in quick order and have been professionally sound in accepting responsibility, in case there is an issue from their side. As a result we have been able to maintain a very high availability rate on the aircraft and this is very encouraging.”

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