The Air Force will acquire 75 Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft to replace the ageing Kiran aircraft at a cost of over Rs.2900 crore.
“The deal was finalised two months ago. The aircraft will help impart better training to cadets,” Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said here on Saturday.
He was talking to journalists on the sidelines of the combined graduationparade of 216 flight cadets at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal.
Air Chief Marshal Browne said the Kiran aircraft would be used only for stage II training of cadets after the acquisition of the Swiss aircraft.
In January 2013, a few such aircraft would be inducted into the IAF. From then on, two aircraft would be added every month, and by 2014 all the basic training for flight cadets would be on these aircraft, he said adding a team of 75 pilots and technicians would visit Switzerland in October for training.
Earlier, the 216 flying officers, including 46 women, were commissioned into the IAF at the Air Force Academy. The President’s Plaque and the Chief of the Air Staff Sword of Honour was bagged by Flying Officer Naveen Lather for standing first in the overall order of merit in pilot’s course .
A traditional flypast by Hawk, AN-32, Dornier and Kiran aircraft left the audience at the academy spellbound. There was a huge applause when a Su-30 MKI performed low-level aerobatic displays.
The Air Force’s popular aerobatic team, Surya Kiran, would now have to perform their stunts on Hawk aircraft as the IAF has decided to phase out the Kiran.