India completes basic trainer trials

Singapore
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India has completed flight trials for its new basic trainer aircraft, with the country's ministry of defence now considering the air force's flight evaluations.

"The flight evaluations are over, the reports are with the ministry, and the next step will be contract negotiations," says the Indian air force.

The service adds that a selection should be made quickly, although it did not provide a specific date. "We require trainers more than anything else, so the selection will be expedited."

In contention for the planned 75-aircraft deal are the Airbus Military-promoted PZL-130 Orlik, Alenia Aermacchi M-311, Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, Grob G120TP, Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1 and Pilatus PC-7.

Indian media reports have suggested the Beechcraft T-6C is also in contention, but the US manufacturer has not confirmed this.

The Indian defence ministry's initial request for proposals in early 2010 called for 75 aircraft to be purchased "off-the-shelf", and another 106 to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics under a joint venture.

Under current plans, the selected manufacturer will be required to deliver an initial batch of 12 aircraft within two years of a contract signature.

The air force's HAL HPT-32 Deepak basic trainers were grounded in July 2009 following a spate of crashes.

India also wants to develop and indigenous replacement to the HPT-32. At the recent Aero India show, a model of the proposed HTT-40 was on display at the HAL stand.

The HTT-40 will have an 11m (36ft) wing span, a fuselage length of 11.3m and a maximum take-off weight of 2,800kg (6,170lb). The type will be capable of flying at a maximum speed of 243kt (450km/h) and at altitudes up to 19,700ft.