Giving a boost to the Indian Air Force’s training capacity, Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II, Swiss-manufactured basic trainer aircraft, was inducted into IAF at a ceremonial event held at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal near here, on Friday.

Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh, who unveiled the aircraft which is capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, tactical and night flying, said: “The induction of PC-Mk-II is a very important landmark in our nation’s quest for modernising its armed forces.” As part of the ongoing transformation, the IAF was being equipped with cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art aircraft and systems. “However, the need to train our ab initio pilots on modern trainers is crucial to prepare them for the requirements of combat flying.”

PC-7 and associated training infrastructure, comprising simulators and training modules, promised higher safety standards, while developing critical skills in military aviation. The government would spare no effort to equip IAF with the latest training aids and infrastructure,” said Mr. Singh.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal, N.A.K. Browne described the induction as a significant milestone in the IAF’s transformation into a modern multispectrum strategic force. “Pilatus will prove to be the ideal platform that will train the ab initio trainees on the nuances of basic flying and expose them to modern avionics and navigation aids.” PC-7 would provide a solid foundation and facilitate a seamless transition from the ab initio stage through intermediate and advanced stages into full-fledged operational flying for all streams.

Later in a symbolic welcome to the new trainer, there was a flypast by Chetak, Kiran and Hawk in separate formations. This was followed by takeoff, vic formation display and landing by three PC-7 Mk-II. As the PC-7 aircraft approached the parking bay, they were given a water salute.

Addressing mediapersons, Air Chief Marshal Browne said so far 12 PC-7 aircraft had been delivered by Pilatus. A total of 75 aircraft had been contracted for at a cost of Rs. 3,500 crore and all were expected to be handed over by August 2015. As the total requirements for providing basic training to pilots were 173 aircraft, the IAF might exercise the option of procuring an additional 37 PC-7 as part of the first contract. The matter was with the Defence Ministry, he said.

Ambassador of Switzerland Linus von Castelmur and Air Force Commanding-in-Chief Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh were present at the induction ceremony.