The Indian Air Force (IAF) sought quotation from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to make its basic Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) for training its pilots, a top official said on Thursday.
“We have received RFQ (request for quotation) from the IAF to make HTT-40 aircraft for basic training of its rookie pilots, HAL Chairman R. Madhavan told reporters on the margins of the 13th biennial Aero India 2021 at the Yelahanka air base of the IAF on the city’s northern outskirts.
The defence acquisition council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on August 11, 2020 approved the purchase of 106 HTT-40 trainers for the IAF at a cost of Rs 7,600 crore.
The RFQ came six years after the IAF was to buy more Pilatus basic trainer aircraft (PC 7 MkII) from the Swiss maker, which the defence ministry in July 2019 blacklisted for allegedly violating the Indian weapon procurement rules.
With the BJP-led NDA government also stressing on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India), the IAF has opted for the indigenous basic trainer.
“Of the 106 basic trainers the IAF needs, we are expecting an order to deliver 70 of them in the first phase,” said Madhavan on the occasion.
The IAF has been training its rookie pilots in the 75 Pilatus it bought from the Swiss aerospace major since 2014-15 till 2018.
Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on November 14, 2019 flew in a prototype of HTT-40 in this aerospace hub and tested its flying capabilities, including stall and spin during an hour-long sortie.
The city-based defence behemoth will deliver the remaining 36 trainers after the IAF inducts the 75 aircraft in its fleet.