India on Monday signed a Rs 130 crore deal for 194 microlight aircraft from Slovenian company Pipistrel Aircraft, for use by its National Cadet Corps (NCC), Air Force and Navy.
The contract was inked by Pipistrel CEO, Ivo Boscarol with the MoD. Talking to FE, Wg Cdr (retd) Sanjay Thapar said: “This is the largest single order for microlight aircraft placed on any aircraft manufacturer in the world.”
With the IAF as the lead agency to evaluate, select and buy these 194 planes, the microlight aircraft chosen for the purchase is the Pipistrel Aircraft’s Virus SW80,” and is tentatively christened the ‘Garuda’ in the Indian service.
At the Defence Acquisition Council meeting chaired by defence minister Manohar Parrikar in July, the nod was given for buying and staggering the microlight aircraft from Slovenian Aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel.
The company offers a large range of advance light aircraft the world over to be used for civilian and military applications. This includes self launching gliders, motor gliders, microlights, high performance cruisers and the revolutionary hybrid four seater aircraft. The delivery of the aircraft will be in two phases, the first would take care of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) requirement of 110 aircraft and the second part of the deal is for supplying 84 of these microlight aircraft to the IAF and the Navy.
The company’s website states the `Virus SW 80/100′ is the “most economic high speed cruiser and definitely the fastest high-wing plane” in its category. Made from state-of-the-art composite materials, it is lightweight and features an unprecedented useful payload of more than 300 kg. Virus SW 80/100 is able to operate at all elevations from sea-level up to 15,000 feet, take-off and land from short runways and over obstacles thanks to unique air-brakes, is the quietest light aircraft and has one of the lowest operating costs. Pipistrel Aircraft said Virus SW 80/100 is ideal for high speed cross-country flying, surveillance, extre-me manoeuvre training, aerial photography and mountain operations.