Playing the mediator between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) over who should supply basic trainer aircraft for the IAF, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) Saturday said HAL as well as Pilatus Aircraft would supply the remaining trainers. DAC, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, gave the green signal for buying 38 trainer aircraft from the Swiss manufacturer and added that the rest of the requirement would be met through HAL.
“38 aircraft would be bought from Pilatus using option clause. The remaining requirement would be met by HAL with indigenous development of HTT- 40,” said a Defence Ministry official.
The matter pertains to a requirement of 181 basic trainer aircraft (BTA) for basic training of IAF pilots at Air Force Academy (AFA). The IAF had placed an order for buying 75 Pilatus PC- 7 Mk II aircraft in 2012. While HAL had shown interest in supplying the remaining 106 aircraft by offering its HTT- 40 trainer, IAF had expressed “reservations” over HTT- 40, according to a disclosure in Parliament in 2013.
The deadlock was resolved Saturday by Parrikar who has now decided that 38 of the pending 106 trainers would be bought from Pilatus and remaining 68 from HAL. Interestingly, DAC has also cleared the way to make HTT- 40 “commercially viable”. “Adequate orders will be given to HAL to make this a commercially viable project. The numbers may increase and the project shall be monitored by a committee. The committee will periodically give its review to the DAC,” the official said. The DAC also cleared the way for procurement of 12 Mine Counter Measures Vessels for the Navy at Rs 32,000 crore from Goa Shipyards Ltd.