NEW DELHI — Much against the wishes of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Defence Ministry has decided that only state-owned monopoly Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will meet the service’s future basic trainer requirements through its HTT-40 trainer, which is still under development.
However, to meet the Air Force’s immediate needs, until the homemade HTT-40 is inducted, MoD has ordered another 38 Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 Mark-IIs to top the 75 ordered by the outgoing government in 2012.
The Air Force wanted to buy only the Pilatus and put the HTT-40 project on hold, said an Air Force official.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the top weapon purchasing body in the MoD, ordered 38 additional Pilatus trainers at its Feb. 28 meeting at a cost of $250 million by exercising the additional purchase clause tied to the original order of 75 trainers in 2012. But the service’s remaining trainer needs will be met through the HTT-40, the DAC ruled.
“Bureaucrats in MoD, while taking the decision to depend wholly on HAL’s HTT-40 basic trainer, overlooked the recommendations of the actual user — the IAF — which had strongly recommended in 2013 to put on hold the homemade HTT-40 trainer project and instead procure 106 additional Pilatus trainers to meet the training needs of the IAF,” said a retired Air Force official.