New Delhi will procure Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) HTT-40 basic trainers, and cap the further import of foreign-built aircraft.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made the announcement during a visit to Bangalore to witness the first public flight of the indigenously designed and developed, tandem seat, turboprop trainer.
“Stage II training is now also being handled by BTAs and therefore the requirement for the total number will increase from 181 to approximately 210,” Parrikar said.
HAL received an order for 68 HTT-40s in 2015, the minimum number of airframes for the project to be economically viable. Orders could rise as high as 120.
Parrikar also made it clear that there would be no further import of basic trainers, meaning no more orders will be forthcoming for the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 MKII, of which 75 are in operational service. An options clause for an additional 38 of the type was cleared by the defence acquisition council (DAC) in March 2015.
India’s current government has espoused a “Make-In-India” policy, which is intended to strengthen the country’s indigenous production capabilities across a range of industries, including defence and aerospace.
Design and development work on the HTT-40 commenced in August 2013, when Hindustan Aeronautics’ decided to proceed with the programme using internal funding. The type conducted its maiden flight on 31 May 2015, and the second prototype is scheduled to fly in December.
“The initial performance of the HTT-40 has been up to expectations and further flying testing is under progress to further expand the aircraft’s performance envelope,” says HAL chairman T Suvarna Raju.
Developmental flight testing will comprise 350 flights, with a third and final prototype to be built in series production configuration. Wind tunnel trials for stall and spin testing are already underway.
“Concurrent manufacturing tasks are expected to commence and receive approval for production in 2017,” says Raju.
The planned weaponised variant of the HTT-40 will have two in-board and two outboard stations to carry weapons. A Heads-Up Display is being considered.
The HTT-40 is fitted with Martin Baker Zero-Zero MK16A ejection seats.