Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-developed Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), India’s indigenous basic trainer aircraft, made its maiden flight after much delay on Tuesday.
The aircraft, the prototype of which was rolled out in January, is aimed at being used for the first stage training for all flying cadets of the three services. HTT-40 had completed ground runs phase last week.
The HTT-40 design was adapted to a final decision on engine selection in May 2015 and the first prototype manufacturing was completed.
Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) also touts HTT 40 as the first ever prototype to be manufactured completely based on a digital mock-up and also by using laser tracked jigs and metal tooling at proto phase itself.
“With advanced features like zero-zero ejection seats and multi-function displays, HTT-40 can also be adapted as a light attack aircraft. Its role includes basic flying training, aerobatics, instrument flying, navigation, night flying, close formation etc,” claims HAL.
While the HTT-40 programme was almost junked during UPA rule, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar went after both IAF and HAL to ensure development of the trainer.
IAF has already committed to purchasing at least 70 aircraft.
“It is a good start as it is better late than never. HAL should ensure good programme management as it is the key to ensure timely flights tests and setting up of a parallel production line,” Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), a distinguished fellow at the centre for Air Power Studies, told PTI.
IAF had blocked funding for the HTT-40 by telling the Defence Ministry that the aircraft would be too expensive, heavy and that it will not meet their need.
IAF had backed a Swiss trainer, the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II.
The Air Force had purchased 75 of Pilatus in 2012 under a controversial deal but the requirement was for over 106 more planes.
Parrikar had cut this down and cleared a plan to purchase another 38 of Pilatus aircraft. However, the contract is still stuck on pricing issues.
(With inputs from PTI)