New Delhi: In a bid to plug a major loophole in its training equipment for pilots of the Indian Air Force the ministry of defence is atlast moving on a long-standing demand to acquire training aircraft meant to initiate rookie pilots into the intricacies of flying jet aircraft before they move on to more advanced models. Apparently, the acquisition is now being fast-tracked.
Like most defence requirements this too has been pending for a few decades atleast. This has resulted in rookie pilots moving from inadequate training platforms provided by HAL's ageing HPT and Kiran models, to flying highly complex combat fighter aircraft, such as the MiG-21's, leading to disorientation and a very high number of casualties.
Reports suggest that a Rs2,900 crore deal for acquiring 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 turbo basic trainers has now moved into the final stages, with a "note" prepared for the Cabinet Committee on Security being "vetted" by the finance ministry.
Without any major objections, reports suggest, the deal is likely to be signed this year itself.
The Pilatus trainer emerged the cheapest among other contenders like American Hawker-Beechcraft's T-6C Texan-II and Korean Aerospace's KT-1 after flight trials.
The IAF's Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers) are meant for advanced combat training.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is developing the HJT-36 Sitara to replace the Kirans for intermediate-level training.