IAF to upgrade its trainer fleet soon


“The trials for the replacement of HPT 32 will begin in September in Bangalore. There are five vendors in competition,” said a senior IAF officer.

Major aviation companies like Embraer (Tucano), Lockheed Martin (KT-1) and Pliatas (PC-21) are in the fray.

Since July 31, 2009, the IAF has grounded its entire HPT-32 following a fatal accident. As a result, the force is compelled to use even advanced Kiran Mk-II fighters for basic training.

Flying experience

Earlier the rookie pilots used to get their first-hand flying experience on HPT-32 after which they would graduate to either Kiran MK-II or MiG-21 trainer.

While the IAF is using Hawks for advanced training, the HPT route for basic training has been abandoned following the accident in Hyderabad in which two flight instructors were killed.

Trainees are undergoing full training of their flying courses (stage1 and 2) on Kiran trainer aircraft, because of which Surya Kiran aerobatics team — that used Kiran MK-II — has stopped its displays to ensure maximum number of Kiran MK-II is available for the new comers.

A technical committee headed by Air Vice Marshal Pradeep Singh probed the fatal accident and suggested certain remedial measures.

Few HPT-32s, modified as per the recommendations, are now flying by the instructors at Kanpur. If those flying by the test pilots were satisfactory, the HPT-32 would be brought back for the rookie pilots, said an officer.

Temporary option

However, HPT, in any case, would be a temporary option as the IAF plans to replace the vintage aircraft. The government will procure 75 basic trainer aircraft from the selected vendor directly whereas 106 aircraft will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The HAL-made intermediate jet trainer (IJT) by December 2010 is likely to get the initial operational clearance by December 2010.

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