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IAF, HAL tussle on trainer aircraft development continues

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Indian Air Force PC-7 MkII. Photo: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Despite insistence by state-owned HAL to produce a basic trainer aircraft indigenously, the IAF has decided to procure such planes from abroad to train its rookie pilots.

While HAL has been insisting on producing the aircraft locally since 2009 citing a Defence Ministry decision to do so, IAF has now floated a Request for Information (RFI) for procuring 106 more Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers manufactured in Switzerland.

IAF has already procured 75 Pilatus aircraft from Switzerland and has been opposing the development of HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft by HAL, which claims that its aircraft would be superior to the imported plane.

IAF has initiated the procurement process saying the Pilatus PC-7 aircraft would be manufactured in India where a local vendor would partner the Swiss aircraft maker in the programme.

Senior HAL sources said despite IAF initiating the process to procure more Pilatus aircraft, it would continue to develop its HTT-40 aircraft as per the directive issued to it by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in 2009.

IAF and HAL have been debating on the issue for a long time now but it came to fore when then IAF Chief NAK Browne wrote to Defence Minister AK Antony, asking the government to procure the Pilatus instead of the one proposed by HAL.

He had also told the government that cost of the HTT-40 aircraft being developed by HAL would be higher than that of the Pilatus aircraft.

IAF has also told government that the indigenous aircraft would be 25 per cent more expensive than the imported Pilatus.

HAL has told the government that the aircraft proposed by it would be much more advanced than the Pilatus as it will have weapon firing capabilities also along with other advancements.

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IAF  HAL  Aircraft  
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