IAF to adopt two aircraft-three stage training process

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to adopt a new training process, under which pilots will train on two aircraft, as the indigenous intermediary jet trainer (IJT) has been further delayed.

Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said India will adopt a two aircraft-three stage training programme for its new pilots, using Pilatus PC-7 and Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers.

This comes as IJT Kiran is set to be phased out in another couple of years.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8, Raha said 10 cadets were being trained on Pilatus, and the results were encouraging.

“Ten cadets are training on stage two on PC-7,” Raha said.

“The IJT is well 10 years behind the schedule. There are issues with spinning and stalling, and engine,” Raha said, adding that it could not be used unless these issues were resolved.

“Even well established aircraft manufacturers take two to three years to solve issue of spinning and stalling. I need to have options prepared,” he said.

“Having said that, we don’t have the IJT, which is supposed to be indigenously built and supposed to replace Kiran which is going to retire in about two-three years. Since the replacement is not coming, we are already working on a three-stages two-aircraft programme. The scheme has already been put in place,” he said.

He said the two aircraft-three stage training was followed by “several professional air forces across the world”.

The IJT Sitara is a subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

HAL started design work on an intermediate jet trainer in 1997 to replace the Kiran aircraft and was sanctioned Rs.180 crore in July 1999 to develop the aircraft and build two flying prototypes.

The first prototype flew in 2003. In 2005, the budget was raised to Rs.467 crore to order a more powerful engine from Russia and to build an all-glass cockpit.

Eventually, the development has cost Rs 634.23 crore.

The aircraft has missed several deadlines, and it was last indicated that the trainer may be ready by this year-end. However there have been technical issues in the tests and the completion of the project does not appear to be happening anytime soon.

Last year, the CAG had slammed Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the 14-year delay in developing the intermediate jet trainer (IJT).

The auditor said it was “adversely affecting” the stage-II training of Air Force pilots – who are forced to train on obsolete and ageing Kiran aircraft.

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