BANGALORE: Even as the IAF Training Command is hit by shortage of trainer aircraft, the government is yet to procure more trainer jets.
The IAF which is left with the aeging Kiran fleet which is also dwindling in numbers has been forced to revamp its training syllabus.
“The syllabus for basic flying training has been reduced keeping in mind the available resources. However, flying hours have been increased in other stages of flying,” a Minis try of Defence official said.
The IAF is keen on procurement of new aircraft so as to facilitate even its future requirements. The Centre had shortlisted Pilatus Aircraft Limited, Switzerland’s proposal to supply 75 Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft worth Rs 1,850 crore. However, the deal has not been cleared as it has been stuck at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The CCS headed by the Prime Minister has refused to give consent for the purchase of aircraft despite the IAF’s pressure, especially in the last few months.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Air Marshal B K Pandey, former Air Officer Commanding-in-chief, Training Command said: “The Centre has to make a decision at the earliest to lift up IAF’s training programme.”
Sources said the reasons of withholding the deal are not clear. “We do not know if the Finance Minister, due to genuine financial constraints want the deal to be cleared in the new financial year (2012-13) or if there are some other pressures acting upon the government,” one of the sources said.
Whatever the reason be, the IAF continues to suffer. And the fact that HAL’s Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), envisaged to replace the grounded HTP-32 Deepak aircraft fleet has been a non-starter even after three years since the announcement is of no help.
HAL, which had decided the specifications of the aircraft has come up with a basic design has been unable to make any progress with the project.
According to HAL, the basic roles of the proposed aircraft would be basic flying training, aerobatics, instrument flying, navigation, night flying and close formation. The aircraft is expected to weigh 2,800 kg and have a speed of 450 km/hr and a range of 1,000 km.
A requirement of 106 such aircraft had been conveyed.