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New Delhi eyes local production of PC-7 basic trainer

India’s defence ministry has issued a request for information for the procurement of an additional 106 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 MK II Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA).

The trainers will be acquired under the ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ category as per India’s defence procurement policy, says the RFI.

Stating that the trainers “are required to be inducted urgently into the IAF”, the RFI calls for delivery of aircraft and equipment to begin by 2015-16, with all 106 PC-7 MK II’s to be delivered by 2020-21.

The last date for receipt of responses for the RFI is 21 April, following which an RFP would be issued to all the short-listed vendors.

The RFI calls for an Indian vendor to “supply certain number of PC-7 Mk II aircraft in flyaway condition as the ‘buy’ portion followed by licensed production/indigenous manufacture in India under the ‘make’ portion.”

Also included are three fixed based full mission simulators (FBFMS), two cockpit procedure trainers and three avionics part task Trainers. The aircraft and associated equipment are to be in the same configuration as PC-7 MK II’s already in service with the Indian air force.

The decision to acquire the additional 106 PC-7 MK II’s under ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ category, means that Pilatus will have to form a joint venture or establish a production arrangement with an Indian company to execute the contract.

Since the aircraft is to be license produced in India, it must have a minimum of 50% indigenous content on cost basis (for a specified list of items). A minimum of 30% indigenous Indian content for applicable items is also required. However, no minimum indigenous content is needed for the ‘buy’ portion of the contract.

If India does go ahead with the order for 106 PC-7 MK II’s, it could severely impact HAL’s plans for its Hindustan Turbo Trainer 40 (HTT-40).

The state owned airframer had said that development of the type was expected to be completed next year. Deliveries were expected to commence from 2017, with all 106 trainers being delivered by 2024, as per HAL estimates.

Last month also saw the Indian air force releasing an RFI for a new intermediate jet trainer (IJT), on the back of repeated delays with HAL’s indigenously developed HJT-36 ‘Sitara’ IJT.

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