Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II turbo trainer aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a ceremony held at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal near Hyderabad on Friday.

The aircraft, which meets all basic training functions of ab-initio pilots including aerobatics, tactical and night flying, has been customised to meet the requirements of IAF.

Dedicating the aircraft in the service of the nation, Union Minister of State for Defence Jintendra Singh said that the unveiling of basic training aircraft would “usher in a new era”. Imparting high-quality flying training to our budding pilots would ensure proficient handling of a more advanced aircraft in their demanding role. He assured that no efforts would be spared to equip IAF with the latest training aids and infrastructure.

Addressing the media later, Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal N.A.K. Browne described the induction as an important event in the history of IAF. He said 12 aircraft had so far been delivered and all the 75 were expected to be delivered by Pilatus company by August 2015.

Since there was a requirement for 173 trainer aircraft the IAF might exercise the option of procuring another 37 PC-7 Mk-II aircraft. Replying to a question he said the initial operational clearance (IOC)–II for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was expected by November this year and it would be with the Air Force by the end of next year.

Earlier, 3 PC-7 Mk-II aircraft were symbolically welcomed by water salute and a fly past by Chetak, Kiran and Hawk aircraft in separate formations. Later, there was also a display of the three PC-7 Mk-II aircraft.

The minister, Mr. Jitendra singh, later undertook a sortie to have a feel of the aircraft. Ambassador of Switzerland Linus Van Caftermur and Vice-President of Pilatus Company Jim Roche were also present on the occasion.

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