Nov 13: Former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said on Monday, “This will be a red letter day for us” as after a long-long waiting, finally India has got two Advanced Jet Trainer, AJTs for the purpose of third stage training to its newly commissioned pilot that was not available so far and Indian Air Force, IAF has been demanding it from more than two decades. The defence deal was finalised during the tenure of S P Tyagi, who signed the deal of $2b in March 2004.
The first two brand new twin-seater AJT, Hawk MK-132 from the proposed squad of 66 aircraft landed at the Bidar airbase of North Karnataka on Monday after numerous refuelling and several stoppages. Wing Commander Pankaj Jain and Squadron leader Tarun Hindwani are the first Indian pilots from the Indian Air Force wing who flown the AJT plane from Warton airbase of United Kingdom with the help of IAF crew and BAE System pilots.
Air Marshal G S Chaudhry, Air officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command and Air Commodore Ramesh Rai, AOC AFS Bidar were the honoured persons who welcomed the debut arrival of the aircraft.
According to the Defence agreement a deal of worth Rs. 8000 crore completed in March 2004 between India and UK. As per the agreement UK would provide 66 BAE System based AJTs, out of that 24 are being developed, built and supplied by BAE Systems, while remaining 42 aircrafts will be developed in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under licence in India while Britain will provide the developing technology. The joining of all the proposed aircraft is scheduled by 2010-2011.
Four more Hawks will be reached by the end of this year, while six more are scheduled to arrive by mid-February, 2008.
The new aircraft would be very beneficial for IAF as now the trainee pilots will not have to jump from the very beginning stage to very advance stage that becomes the cause of aircraft crashes in the lack of proper training as it is assumed. Earlier the trainee pilots fly subsonic aircraft like HPT-32 and Kiran trainers that have the take-off and landing speeds of 130-200 kmph and then directly jump to a very advance stage of highly-demanding supersonic MiG-21s that have the speed of 340 kmph and also reduced the rate of air crashes that earlier were blamed to improper training, an IAF official said.
The Hawks will fill up the gap of this long jump by working as a bridge of training that have the speed of 250 kmps.
Bidar has been proposed of setting up the airbase of Hawk, which is also the airbase of Russian super aircraft Suryakiran. The restructuring of Bidar is going on as government is planning to make the hub of the entire fighter training at Bidar and the airbase of Tezpur, Bhuj, Jamnagar and Nalia would be gradually dispersed.
According to Bidar airbase official, “Bidar is ready for being the aircraft hub. The runway has been extended upto 9000 feet and all the required technical facilities have been provided to accommodate the fleet. The instructor’s conversion will also begin in right earnest after some preliminary formalities, within the next few days”, said Ramesh Rai, Air officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command and Air Commodore at Bidar.