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IAF to buy 20 more Hawk AJTs for aerobatics

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force is planning to buy 20 more Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft from British firm BAE Systems for its aerobatic team Surya Kiran which has been grounded since last year.

The Surya Kiran team, which was using the Kiran Mk II aircraft, had to be grounded last year due to requirement of its planes for training Air Force's cadets.

"BAE Systems has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft.

"The aircraft, to be built by HAL in Bangalore, will fulfil the Indian Air Force's requirement for its prestigious aerobatic team," BAE Systems said in a release on Friday.

The HAL carries out the licence production of the British-origin aircraft for the IAF at its facilities in Bangalore.

With this order, the total number of Hawks on order by India would be 143.

India had first signed a deal for 66 Hawks in 2004 and then about two years back, placed an order for 57 more of which 17 would be used by the Navy for its training purposes.

Commenting on the development, BAE MD International Guy Griffiths said, "This is a tremendous opportunity to build on the success of Hawk in India.

"Together with HAL, we look forward to giving the Indian Air Force's display team a fantastic aircraft."

The procurement for these 20 additional Hawks for the Surya Kiran team was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony in November 2011.

The cost of the Hawk project, which is likely to be completed in next four to five years, is expected to be more than Rs 20,000 crore.

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