Interview | Air Officer Commanding-In-Chief, Training Command, Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, AVSM VRC VSM ADC

We have introduced a disruptive pattern of training… All trainees are being imparted knowledge about other branches to make them multiskilled and more adaptable

Air Marshal Manavendra Singh


What are your main priorities as the AOC-in-C Training Command?

To train young men and women to be physically fit, professionally competent, confident and highly disciplined air warriors and in the process teach them our core values of mission, integrity and excellence. To ensure that the training curriculum for all branches of officers and airmen is aligned to the operational requirements of the IAF. Also, the training should be contemporary and have the growth potential to address the demands of future operations. To modernise the training infrastructure and aids on a regular basis to absorb the latest technological changes in the field of aviation and adapt to the cutting-edge methods of teaching so as to improve the learning outcomes. At the end of the training my command must deliver unit ready air warriors to operational upstream units.


How has IAF revamped its pilot training syllabus over the last 10 years?

The objective of revamping the syllabus is to bridge the gap between training and operations. In this endeavour, over the last 10 years basic training has moved on from piston/analog HPT-32 to turboprop/glass cockpit PC-7 MKII with latest avionics. Similarly, in helicopter training, we have moved the advanced training phase from legacy Mi-8 to Mi-17, which is also the workhorse of the IAF.

Basic transport training has recently been shifted entirely to the Dornier aircraft. Infrastructure is getting ready to induct the latest glass cockpit version of the Dornier for ab initio transport training of young pilots. In line with this a modern full motion Dornier flying simulator is being commissioned to usher in glass cockpit training in transport fleet also. The major change has been the induction of simulators in almost all the fleets. Even in legacy fleets like the Kiran and Chetak which did not have simulators.

In the last one year the erstwhile cockpit procedure trainers have given way to VR-based simulators, the benefits of which have been immense. This has provided us with an opportunity to rationalise the flying requirements while ensuring that the requisite standards are maintained. We are in the process of acquiring similar low cost VR-based simulators for almost all the fleets involved in training. The syllabi across all streams have been rationalised and aligned to match with the evolving operational and upstream requirements.


What are the challenges for the training command regarding pilot-intake and training of technical personnel for the IAF?

Pilot trainee intake has nearly doubled in recent times. Despite the increase, through syllabus rationalisation, increasing rigour of training and optimisation of training resources we have not only absorbed the increased intake but also passed them out without any dilution in training standards. The challenge is to train freshers coming from the civil street for the disruptive nature and challenges of futuristic fast changing warfare. The challenges of technical training also include faster adaptation to the demands of newer systems being inducted into the IAF and a review of the in-service training requirements to adapt to evolving technologies.


What are some of the noteworthy initiatives underway at the Training Command?

We have introduced virtual reality-based simulators in the legacy fleets of Kiran and Chetak from the Spring Term 2022. This has resulted in drastic reduction in flying training and significant improvement in skill levels. This successful endeavour has now encouraged us to introduce the VR Sim-based training in other aircraft fleets also. Smart tablets along with interactive and contemporary online knowledge portals have been made available to all trainees. These has enabled the ‘anytime anywhere’ access to knowledge and information to the trainees thereby enhancing learning outcomes. We are working towards making all examinations online with random question paper generation, auto checking of answer sheets and uploading of marks. This will ensure objective assessment and better knowledge assimilation. The introduction of electronic flight bags has facilitated training in flight planning and management in a digitized environment.

Also, to meet the challenges of the present-day security dynamics we have introduced a disruptive pattern of training in all training establishments and institutes. All trainees are being imparted training/knowledge about other branches/trades to make them multiskilled and more adaptable. Greater emphasis is being laid on physical fitness under all conditions to achieve much higher physical standards. For this, in-house courses for physical fitness trainers are being conducted every month wherein nearly 30 instructors are produced. Besides this, instructors are also being trained at ‘Centres of Excellence of other services.’ All out efforts are being made to achieve very high standards of discipline, accountability and involvement. Also, very low threshold is maintained for any misconduct.


The IAF’s Kiran fleet continues to provide yeoman service. Provide an update and progress of the HAL IJT which is to be its replacement?

The Kiran Mk1 is likely to continue till 2025 at least. The sustenance of Kiran MkII engines is being addressed by the HAL. This is expected to provide the necessary support to the depleting Mk-1 fleet by bringing in Kiran MkII into training. IJT is in its final phases of Spin evaluation and certification and final decision would be taken after successful completion of the development process.


Please provide an update on the PC-7 MkII fleet and also progress on the HTT-40 induction plans?

Recently a major achievement has been the conclusion of the follow-on Support Contract (FOSC) with the OEM, M/s Pilatus. This will be helpful in sustenance of the fleet and fulfilling the training requirements of the IAF. Keeping in line with the Aatmanirbhar initiative,83 lines for PC-7 MkII are in the process of being indigenised. This will further add to fleet sustainability. All pre-contract aspects with respect to HTT-40 are in place. Once the government sanction is available and contract is awarded, we can expect delivery to start after 30 months.


What are the plans for the Hawk fleet and please elaborate on the upgrades planned for the aircraft and its training systems?

The Hawk fleet continues to be the bridge for rookie fighter pilots graduating to 4 and 4.5 generation platforms. The cockpit and capabilities are contemporary. At an appropriate time in future upgrade to the aircraft and its training systems will be undertaken.


What is the update on the increased use of simulation and training within the IAF as also future plans?

As mentioned earlier, the VR Sim embedded training has recently been introduced in legacy fleets that do not have simulators. Even modern fleets with simulators are also being considered for VR based simulators to complement existing simulator efforts. This has not only reduced the wastage rates, but also enhanced the flying skills in the physical as well as cognitive domains. The first of the two state of the art Mi-17V5 simulators has been made operational while work is on for the second one. The existing HATSOFF simulator is being used for the ALH Fleet.

A full motion simulator is being shortly commissioned for initial transport training at Yelahanka. This will lead to migration of training in the near future to advanced glass cockpit version of the Dornier-228. Level D simulators for the C-17 and the C-130J are already imparting training as per best practices worldwide. Similarly, a hi-tech simulator will be set up shortly for the C-295 aircraft. The IAF has full mission simulators (FMS) for most of its modern fleets such as the Su-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Rafale, while the Mirage 2000 upgrade and Jaguar Darin III simulators should be operationalised soon in the near future. The IAF is also exploring the induction of modern multi dome air combat simulator.

The ultra-modern simulator for the LCA Tejas is fully operational at the air force station in Sulur. This being fully indigenous has the capability for continuous upgradation alongside additions and upgrades to the aircraft. Other highly important simulators for training, including the ejection procedure Sim, spatial disorientation Sim and high speed human centrifuge Sim are already operational in the IAF. Software based maintenance simulators are also being set up for training technicians on aircraft as well as other systems.


What is the update on the training being imparted to transport and helicopter crew at the Training Command?

In transport training the entire stage-III has been migrated to the Dornier-228 with revamping of the syllabus to meet the requirements of higher platforms such as the C-130, C-17 and C-295. Modern CRM concepts of Pilot Flying (PF)/Pilot Monitoring (PM) have been implemented in both transport aircraft as well as helicopters, thus aligning our procedures with modern multi crew platform aviation concepts.

In the last five years, the IAF has extended additional ab-initio training slots to other services/CAPF and friendly foreign countries (FFC) as was already being done in the transport fleet. Specific training modules that include VR simulators, disorientation simulators and level ‘D’ simulators have been incorporated to enhance the ability of helicopter aircrew to train and operate in all-weather conditions.



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