May 06, 2009
- Kiran aircraft to be replaced with IJT as stage-2 trainer of IAF
- IAF trains pilots using different aircraft
- Order for 12 aircraft placed with HAL
KOLLAM: The stage is set for replacing the Kiran aircraft with the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) as the stage-2 trainer of the Indian Air Force, with the Russian AL-55 I engine being integrated with the airplane designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Highly placed sources connected with the project told The Hindu that HAL would start flight tests of the IJT with the Russian engine in May. The IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment would conduct the tests to evaluate the airplane’s induction into the force. The IAF, having acquired over the years capability in all areas of aircraft design, conceptualised the new stage-2 trainer replacement.
The sources said the IAF had already certified the aircraft, yet to be christened, and an order for 12 had been placed with the HAL. More orders would follow as HAL furnished the flight certificate.
The IAF trains pilots in three stages using different aircraft. Stage 1 primary training is on a simple propeller aircraft, now HAL’s HPT-32 aircraft. Stage 2 is undertaken on a basic jet trainer with a higher degree of complexity to enable the trainee to master flying. Stage 3 is conducted on an advanced jet trainer, comprising all phases of combat training.
Kiran was designed and developed by HAL’s research and design centre in the late 1950s and the aircraft first flew in 1964. Between 1967 and 1989, the IAF acquired approximately 250 Kiran aircraft in various marks, becoming the backbone of the stage-2 training fleet. The firsts of these aircraft in the IAF are nearing their total exploitable life of over 6,000 hours. Therefore, there is need to replace them with a contemporary aircraft designed and developed using state-of-the-art technologies comprising future generation avionics and systems for the next three or four decades.
The IJT will have a state-of-the-art cockpit, override and failure simulation from the rear instructor cockpit, a sortie debrief facility, a modern and modular fuel-efficient engine, a light alloy airframe structure with a total life close to 10,000 hours, zero-zero ejection seats, designed to facilitate easy maintenance, and capability to carry 1,000 kg of armament load for training.
The sources said HAL had created a record in the design and development of the IJT — the time taken from the drawing board to the first flight was two years.
However, after the initial flight-test phase, there were delays in identifying a state-of-the-art engine to meet the specific requirements of the aircraft.
This was met with the Russian option of the totally new engine AL-55 I specifically designed for the IAF.
The Hindu : National : HAL to flight-test jet trainer