Thursday, August 19, 2010

India to get 57 more Hawk jet trainers for Rs 9,400 crore

India to get 57 more Hawk jet trainers for Rs 9,400 crore

25 July, 2010, TNN, TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: With British PM David Cameron slated to come visiting next week, India is getting all set to order another 57 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers) in a project worth around Rs 9,400 crore.

As reported by TOI earlier, this will be "a follow-on" order to the ongoing Rs 8,000-crore AJT project, finalized in March 2004 with BAE Systems, under which IAF is already getting 66 Hawk AJTs.

The AJT project has been dogged by some controversy, hit as the Hawks were by the disruption in the supply of some spares from BAE Systems. But the glitches seem to have been ironed out now.

As per the original contract, while IAF received 24 of the twin-seater trainers in "flyaway condition" from BAE Systems, the other 42 are being progressively manufactured indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd under transfer of technology.

The Navy will get 17 of the 57 new Hawks, which will also be manfactured by HAL, for its own aircraft carrier-based fighter training. Towards this, Navy inked a Rs 3,042-crore deal with HAL on Friday. "We will get the delivery over 36 months from 2013 onwards," said a Navy officer.

The Hawks already inducted at the Bidar airbase are being used to train rookie IAF pilots on the intricacies of combat fighter jet flying.

The AJTs help the young pilots to bridge the quantum jump from flying sub-sonic aircraft like HPT-32 and Kiran trainers to directly handling the supersonic 'highly-unforgiving' MiG-21s, without any transitional training to improve inadequate flying skills as was the norm earlier.

Apart from their sheer usefulness in training rookie pilots, the Hawks can also be used as ground attack or air defence aircraft in times of war, capable as they are of carrying 6,800 pounds of weapons, rockets, bombs and air-to-air missiles.

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