It will offer rookie pilots a feel of handling the mean machine

Picture a trainer aircraft with on-board simulation that can offer rookie pilots hands-on experience of flying frontline fighter jets with state-of-the art avionics suits.

BAE Systems, original manufacturers of the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Mk-132, will bid along with Israeli Elbit for a virtual training system (VTS) for the Indian Air Force, which can be retrofitted on the Hawks in service.

Extolling the virtues of VTS, referred to as transferable cockpit, Wing Commander Kevin Marsh of the Royal Air Force said the embedded system had revolutionised training, as it offered trainee pilots a feel of handling ‘real systems’ of advanced fighters like Tornado and Typhoon without live weapons or modern avionics suits.

IAF’s call

Michael Christie, senior vice-president-India, BAE Systems, said the company was awaiting request for proposal from the Air Force.

BAE Systems would bid for the 20 aircraft being contracted by HAL, on behalf of the Air Force, for the Surya Kiran aerobatics team, up for rebranding soon. “With the third batch of 20 aircraft — besides the 22 bought off the shelf, 42 made by HAL and the 57 currently under production — we will be able to break global barrier of 1,000 Hawk aircraft,” he said.

Of the second batch of 57 being built under license by HAL, 17 will be naval aircraft, for which a facility is being set up at INS Dega in Visakhapatnam.

Meet next month

BAE, Mr. Christie said, is supporting the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) programme by way of offering consultancy in aerodynamics design and flight envelope expansion. The Hawk User Group, comprising Air Forces of 16 customer countries, would descend on Bangalore March-end for a meet hosted by the Indian Air Force. “The meet will [concentrate on] the pilot focus group besides recording user requirements, which would help us plan product development accordingly.”

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