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HAL basic trainer project on despite IAF scepticism
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Kochi, August 14
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will go ahead with the design and development of the HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft despite the IAF not being keen for the indigenous trainer, preferring instead to opt for further numbers of the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 trainer.

Defence Minister AK Antony said that as far as the Ministry of Defence was concerned, HAL’s basic trainer aircraft project is still on. “The issue about the IAF seeking to procure additional Pilatus trainers from Switzerland has not come before the Defence Acquisition Council so far,” he said. “When it comes to the council, we will discuss it and take appropriate decision at that time,” he added.

HAL’s HTT-40 project is still on the drawing boards and is proposed to be a replacement for the HTP-32 basic trainer, the entire fleet of which had to be grounded, and subsequently retired, a few years ago due to technical problems. Last year, HAL had proposed to build 106 of these tandem-seat turbo-props.

Last year itself the IAF ordered 75 Swiss PC-7 Mark-II trainers, the first of which began arrived in India in May this year. Under the terms of the agreement signed with the Swiss supplier, the IAF has an option for procuring another 38 trainers. According to reports, the IAF is in favour of procuring the foreign aircraft over indigenously manufactured ones.

The IAF has a requirement of 180 trainer aircraft. The IAF had been looking for a basic trainer since 2009 after the HTP 32 was grounded. The IAF has lost about 200 pilots in 500 crashes since 1970 - raising issues of training and flight safety.





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