The Indian air force has commenced training with the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II, marking the recommencement of basic training for future air force pilots.
The resumption of training involves more than 80 cadets and follows delivery of the air force's 14th PC-7 Mk II in June 2013, Pilatus says. The company adds that it has already provided training to Indian instructor pilots and maintainers on the type, which will operate from the Indian air force academy at Dundigal, Hyderabad. It also has "delivered a complete logistics support package".
In May 2012, New Delhi signed a deal worth over Swfr500 million ($526 million) for 75 aircraft. The successful conclusion of the deal was of great importance to the air force, which has suffered from a severe shortage of modern trainers.
Deliveries are due to conclude during 2015, says Flightglobal's MiliCAS database, which also lists India as having an option for a follow-on batch of 37 aircraft.
India's government-owned aircraft maker, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), has proposed developing its own basic trainer, the HTT-40, for the Indian air force's basic training needs. However, the service has resisted this initiative, contending that buying a proven trainer overseas is more economical than developing one.
The new PC-7s replace the air force's HAL-built HPT-32 Deepak primary trainers, which were grounded in 2009, following a spate of crashes.