The Air Force plans to buy another 60 Hawk advanced jet trainers topping its existing order of 66, Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal D.C. Kumaria said here on Friday, on the sidelines of an aerospace medicine conference.
Of the new lot of the AJTs, 20 would be to form an aerobatics team to replace the popular Suryakirans.
Stressing the need to have a phased training structure for IAF’s trainees, Air Marshal Kumaria said that the indigenous IJT being developed by HAL would fit in between the basic trainer and the Hawk AJT that has been procured from BAe Systems, U.K.
At the basic level, “the PC-7 [Swiss-made Pilatus] is coming to us in a very quick time. The first aircraft will be with us in March next year and the first course will start in July,” he said.
With that, he said, “The shortages [in trainer aircraft that] we have had in the past year-and-a-half or two will be made good to a very large extent.” The Pilatus instructors are to be trained in Switzerland. The government has signed a contract to acquire 75 PC-7 Pilatus Mk-II trainers. The eventual trainer aircraft line-up would be, “PC-7 in the long term; Kiran in the short term and then Kiran will be replaced by the IJT.”
Considering the urgency to have the trainers, he said, “We have positioned a team at HAL headed by an air marshal [as the] interface.”
Without wishing to discuss the IJT’s delivery schedule, he said, “We are keeping a close check on the IJT programme. The testing is in full swing and we hope that it joins the Air Force as early as possible. I won’t like to put a time-frame.”