Indian media reports indicate that investigations are underway into New Delhi’s May 2012 purchase of 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II basic trainers.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is apparently looking into corruption allegations related to the basic trainer aircraft contract worth approximately US$523 million, following the completion of a three-year inquiry into the deal.
Pilatus declined to comment when FlightGlobal asked about the matter.
Another challenge with the Indian PC-7 fleet comes from the failure of Indian negotiators to conclude the Follow-on Support Contract (FoSC) and Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT) contract with Pilatus.
Pilatus provided maintenance support for a two-year warranty period, but this ended on 31 January 2018.
Had the support contract been signed, Hindustan Aeronautics would have sustained the fleet. The air force has instead tried to support the type.
Despite the air force’s efforts, a February 2019 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report indicated that overall serviceability of the 75 strong PC-7 MKII fleet has been severely impacted, with a substantial portion of the fleet grounded.
The corruption allegations could also derail the Swiss airframer’s hopes of gaining an order for 38 additional aircraft (options under the original contract), which was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in January 2016.
Following a contract signing in May 2012, Pilatus completed delivery of all 75 basic trainers between February 2013 and November 2015.
“The initial lots of aircraft were utilized at a greater than average rate of 300 hours per year,” reported the defence ministry to the CAG.
The PC-7 MKII was selected as a replacement for the air force’s HAL built HPT-32s; overcoming competition from Hawker Beechcraft’s T-6C and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KT-1.
The entire HPT-32 fleet was grounded in July 2009 due to an unacceptably high accident rate.
Hindustan Aeronautics is currently developing the indigenous HTT-40 to meet the air force requirement for 106 additional basic trainer aircraft.