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Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40)
Basic Turboprop Trainer Aircraft

By 2009 preliminary design work on the turbo prop trainer aircraft had already commenced in the Aircraft Research & Design Centre of HAL. By some accounts, another 106 basic trainer aircrafts, named the Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40, were to be designed and manufactured by state-owned defence undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). But the MoD compared prices and found that HAL-built trainers would cost twice as much as proven aircraft procured from the international market - Rs 60 crore per basic trainer versus Rs 30 crore. Other calculations suggested that each HTT-40 would be costlier than Pilatus by Rs 2-5 crore, In September 2012, the MoD scrapped HAL’s proposal to build the HTT-40.

Training in the Indian Air Force is conducted on Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II, Kiran Mk-I/A and Hawk Mk-132 aircraft. The HTT-40, like Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II is a basic trainer aircraft, while Kiran Mk-I/A and Hawk Mk-132 aircraft are used for second and third stage of training respectively.

The IAF trains its fighter pilots in three phases. Stage-1 training of rookies, done on propeller-driven basic trainers on the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II and the HTT-40, when it joins the fleet. Next, pilots graduate to Stage-2 training on the Sitara intermediate jet trainer (IJT), which is completing development. Then pilots do Stage-3 training on the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT), which HAL builds under licence from BAE Systems.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has issued a requirement for 183 basic trainer aircraft like the Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II. As of 2016 IAF possessed 75 Swiss manufactured PC-7 Mk-II while the procurement of an additional 38 PC-7 MK II aircraft was likely to be concluded in the current financial year (2016-17).

India's first indigenous basic trainer aircraft, the Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) produced by HAL will fulfill the quota requirements. The aircraft is manufactured by state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

In 2013 IAF expressed reservations over acquiring the HTT-40 developed by HAL and recast its proposal from ‘Make’ category to ‘Buy and Make’ category to procure the balance 106 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA). The Base Repair Depots (BRDs) are primarily repair and overhaul agencies. Presently, IAF BRDs had the requisite capability, expertise and infrastructure to integrate, repair and overhaul various types of aircraft.

The HTT-40 project is alive because, even as the IAF insisted on a Swiss trainer --- the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II --- and on shutting the HTT-40 project to buy more Pilatus trainers; Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) proceeded with the Indian alternative.

With HAL’s proposal to build 106 trainers rejected, as many as 181 Pilatus trainers may be bought. HAL had moved proposals thrice for supplying basic trainers for the IAF, but all those proposals were shot down. Suvarna Raju, chief of HAL’s design and development section, speaking at the Aero India 07 February 2013, said air force pilots were trained in two stages the world over, but in India this was done in three stages-basic flying training followed by intermediate training and finally advanced jet training. The Hindustan Turbo Trainer 40 (HTT 40) still being developed by HAL would contain features that would enable it to double up for stage 2 (intermediate training).

HAL claimed that the the HTT would cost less than Pilatus. Moreover, it would have weapons training and other features that would enable the pilots to graduate to an advanced jet trainer (AJT) directly from the basic trainer without requiring to go through training aboard an IJT. Pilatus did not have the features of intermediate training like the ones HTT 40 would have, HAL's Raju said.

HAL was tasked to deliver 70 basic trainer aircraft to fulfill the requirements of the Indian Air Force. HAL was likely to build the first two HTT-40 in 2018 and then from 2020 onward 20 aircraft would be delivered every year. India also aimed to export a weapon equppied version of HTT-40 to countries like Myanmar and various African nations.

On 31 May 2016 the indigenously developed HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft took off and landed smoothly at Bengaluru, marking a key milestone towards its delivery and use. The HTT-40 had a smooth take-off at around 8 a.m. and landed safely in Bengaluru. The HTT-40 took off and landed but more trials will be conducted. HAL Spokesperson Gopal Sutar says, "We are not saying much right now. They were all trials, when the flight takes off formally, we will confirm it."

The cost of the HTT-40 project stands at around 54 million dollars. By December 2013 HAL had sanctioned an amount of Rs.176.93 crore for preliminary design phase and detailed design phase activities of Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) aircraft.

On 11 August 2020, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of defence equipment for an approximate cost of USD 2 billion, including 106 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft for the Bharatiya Vayu Sena (IAF, Indian Air Force). The certification process is well underway for the new trainer. 70 HTT-40s will initially be procured, while a second group of 36 will be procured after operationalisation of the HTT-40 within the Indian Air Force.

The announcement of this basic trainer procurement comes a few days after the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) published its first list of 101 weapon systems and equipment it will no longer purchase from abroad. The expansive list covers a large spectrum of hardware, including transport aircraft, artillery guns, combat helicopters, radar systems, simulators, assault rifles, warships and more. The first set of items will be banned from import starting December 2020, followed by another set from December 2021 and a third from December 2022.

This will definitely mean that no further Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft will be procured. In August 2019, Scramble Magazine Facebook News (SFN) reported on the investigating of the Swiss company Pilatus for corruption allegations and the subsequent ban on all Indian dealings with Pilatus for at least a year.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:50:32 ZULU