India’s defence ministry has issued a request for information for a new intermediate jet trainer (IJT), in the latest sign of its displeasure with the long-delayed Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) HJT-36 Sitara.
The RFI follows a defence ministry statement in mid-February that said delays to the HJT-36 would oblige the air force to keep flying its ageing Kiran Mk 1 trainers until 2017-2018. HAL officials, for their part, have said that the HJT-36 will receive initial operational clearance (IOC) this year.
The Indian air force calls for a single-engined, two-seat trainer with a secondary light attack capability – similar to the specifications of the HJT-36. Submissions are due on 4 April.
The RFI also calls for vendors to provide cost details for the “direct purchase of IJT for batch sizes of 10, 20, 30 and 50 aircraft.” It makes no mention of local production of the type, although the acquisition, if it moves forward, would carry India’s standard 30% offset requirement.
Manufacturers who respond to any request for proposals (RFP) in regard to the requirement would need to send their aircraft for field trials in India, the RFI adds.
In the Indian air force, the IJT occupies a spot between a basic trainer and an advanced jet trainer. The service has received 26 Pilatus PC-7 MK IIs for the basic trainer role, out of a total order for 75 aircraft. HAL is trying to develop its own HTT-40 turboprop for the basic trainer role, but the air force has been openly critical of its design.
The advanced jet trainer role is filled by another foreign aircraft, the BAE Systems Hawk 132, which HAL produces under licence in Bengaluru.