The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to assemble and develop a trainer aircraft instead of relying on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indian Public Sector Unit assembling and manufacturing defence systems.
The news was announced by Air Marshal P Kanakaraj, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command during the IAF's 81st Annual Day on Monday. "We will develop a trainer aircraft. Manufacturing will take a longer time but it will be a milestone for IAF," he said, reported PTI.
The 11 Base Repair Depot (BRD) of the Head Quarters Maintenance Command (MC) in Nashik in Maharashtra will be developing the indigenous trainer aircraft.
"HAL, which was manufacturing the fighter aircraft for armed forces, is overloaded with indent and therefore IAF has decided to go for manufacturing indigenously at its Nashik BRD," Kanakaraj added.
HAL built basic trainer HPT-32 that was used to train the rookie pilots in the initial years. However, with repeated engine failures and death of two instructors in 2009, the aircraft was grounded.
HAL was then given the task of designing and developing a basic trainer in 2009. However, the IAF was not happy with the results it produced during the Aero India 2013 said retired Air Marshal Anil Copra, former head of IAF's HR and Training, in an opinion article published by Business Line.
India has now gone for acquisition of 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk basic trainer aircraft to address the shortage of trainer aircraft.
Currently, the IAF trains its pilots on HJT-16 names as Kiran Mk I for intermediate flight training and Kiran Mk II for advanced flight and weapons training. The IAF has procured the Hawk Mk 132 (BAE) for advance training which will replace Kiran Mk II.