Pilatus PC-7 MK II clinches India basic trainer contract: reports

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Media reports from India indicate that the Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the purchase of 75 Pilatus PC-7 MK II basic trainers, a major step to filling the Indian air force's profound capability gap in training.

The committee, headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh, reportedly approved the basic trainer deal in its weekly Thursday meeting.

If the news is confirmed, it will be welcome news for the Indian air force, which stands to receive 75 PC-7 MK IIs produced by Pilatus in Switzerland, followed by an additional 106 produced locally by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

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

©Pilatus

The selection comes just one week after India's defence ministry announced that it dismissed an 11th hour protest by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) about the selection procedure.

Last year, an industry source familiar with the competition told Flightglobal that Pilatus had surprised rivals by pitching the PC-7 MK II, a less advanced - and less expensive - basic trainer than the company's PC-21.

Other types that underwent technical trials by the Indian air force include the Airbus Military-promoted PZL-130 Orlik, Alenia Aermacchi M-311, Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, Grob G120TP, KAI KT-1 and Raytheon T-6 Texan.

Separately, defence minister AK Antony told parliament that the air force is increasing its simulator capabilities. The force has procured four simulators for the BAE Systems Hawk 132 advanced jet trainer.

The air force has also contracted for eight simulators for the HAL HJT-36 intermediate jet trainer (IJT), although this type's service entry continues to suffer delays.

India also wants to develop an indigenous replacement for the HPT-32. At 2011's 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 of up to 19,700ft.