IAF to support HAL on 5th generation fighter aircraft

Indian Air Force (IAF) (Representative Image)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday said it would stand behind the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in indigenous development of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft AMCA and basic trainer HTT-40 rather than importing such platforms.

The IAF has shelved its plan of developing fifth-generation fighter aircraft in collaboration with Russia and importing more Pilatus basic trainer from Switzerland. Instead, the thrust is to handhold the HAL and DRDO in a big way on the AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) project and wait for the aircraft manufacturer to complete the trials on the homegrown basic trainer aircraft.

“The plan to purchase 38 more Pilatus has been dropped. The HTT-40 will come to the IAF. Spin trials (of HTT-40) have just started. A lot of things are to be done before the Final Operational Clearance is granted to the aircraft. But it will be inducted,” Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria said here on Friday at a press interaction ahead of the Air Force Day (Oct 8).

HTT-40 began its spin testing on November 2018. In June 2019, a HAL spokesperson issued a statement that the programme was on track as the manufacturer had not heard anything from the IAF on the closure of the project.

The Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 programme has a disappointing past because of which the IAF till recently rooted for importing the basic trainers.

Purchase of 38 additional Pilatus was approved by the Defence Ministry in March 2015 as it was found that the indigenous platform was not only in the development stage, but was more expensive too when compared to Pilatus.

Bhadauria said AMCA was very much in the IAF scheme of things to tackle the issue of depleting squadron strength. In addition, price negotiations to buy 83 Tejas LCA Mark-1 was in an advanced stage and a programme to buy 21 more refurbished MiG-29 is in place.

“We will also be ordering 12 more Su-30 MKI besides launching an uplift programme for these Russian fighters with nrw radar and weapons,” Bhadauria said.

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