HAL’s HJT-36 Sitara Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) has run into a further round of trouble with the company declaring it officially overweight.
The Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC), which handles design and development of fixed wing platforms at HAL, has released a request for information (RFI) calling for a “Partnership / technical assistance / consultancy from a well experienced airframe design house.”
The firm HAL appoints will assist in a comprehensive weight reduction/optimisation study encompassing structure, mechanical systems and electrical avionics systems for the HJT-36.
The HJT-36 weighs approximately 4150kg with two pilots, full internal fuel and without any external stores. The target weight for the type is around 3,700-3,800kg.
The weight reduction programme could take up to three years. Weight savings will be applied to the 73 HJT-36s slated for serial production. So far, just five HJT-36s have been produced. A further 12 are in limited series production.
According to a recently retired senior official who was deeply involved in design and development programmes at HAL, “The move will be costly, time consuming and infructuous, leading to further delays in certification and service entry of the Sitara into the Indian air force”
In February India’s Defence ministry issued an RFI for a new IJT, on the back of repeated delays with the HJT-36 programme.