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14 Jul 2008 | Ref. FI003/2008

Farnborough, UK – The final four Indian Air Force pilots have graduated from an innovative joint RAF-BAE Systems training programme based at RAF Valley in Wales, marking the last chapter in a unique four-year project which has trained over 70 top-quality pilots for front-line duty.

In total, 72 Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were trained under the Hawk India Interim Flying Training (HIIFT) programme, each spending 11 months at RAF Valley before returning to India to join one of their front-line squadrons. During the intense training course, BAE Systems provided ground school training and synthetic training at its Hawk Synthetic Training Facility at RAF Valley, before the students were given advanced flight training by the RAF's 208 Squadron followed by tactics and weapons training by 19 Squadron.

Addressing the final graduating class, IAF Air Marshall VR Iyer, Air Officer Commander-in-Chief Training Command, praised the work the RAF and BAE Systems had put into making a successful programme. "The training imparted at RAF Valley has been of a very high standard indeed and we have benefited immensely from that," he said, adding that the previous graduates who were now serving with front-line squadrons in India were "performing very creditably".

Michael Christie, Senior Vice President, Hawk International at BAE Systems, added: "This unique training programme, delivered in partnership with the RAF, has been a tremendous success. The Indian students have demonstrated their dedication and aptitude in successfully graduating from a testing course, and this, combined with their excellent attitude makes them a credit to the Indian Air Force.

"The programme illustrates the capabilities BAE Systems possesses in terms of developing and delivering a tailored pilot training system to meet the needs of our customers."

The HIIFT programme was part of the contract to supply 66 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers to the Indian Air Force. In addition to the HIIFT programme BAE Systems has also converted a number of IAF instructors and Hindustan Aeronauctics Limited (HAL) test pilots to the Hawk aircraft, and delivered training to over 100 IAF technicians who are supporting the aircraft that are now in-service.

About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 97,500 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15.7 billion (US$ $31.4 billion) in 2007.

For further information contact:
Paul Earnshaw, BAE Systems
Tel: +44 (0) 1772 856992 Fax: +44 (0) 1772 856524

Guy Douglas, BAE Systems
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 384841 Mob: +44 (0)7736 810490

Issued by:
BAE Systems, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6YU, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 384719 Fax: +44 (0) 1252 383947
24hr media hotline: + 44 (0) 7801 717739

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