India has selected the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II to answer its requirement for a basic trainer. The procurement of the new aircraft was hastened by the grounding of the piston-powered HAL HPT-32 Deepak fleet in July 2009, following 17 crashes. While waiting for the new trainer to enter service, India’s pilots have begun their instruction in the jet-powered HAL Kiran Mk II or BAE Systems Hawk advanced trainers.
Seven companies responded to India’s urgent request for information, including Aermacchi (M311) and Embraer (Super Tucano). Five were invited to trials and were issued with a request for proposals.
Last October, the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II, EADS PZL-130 Orlik TC-II, Grob G-120TP, Hawker Beechcraft T-6C and Korean Aerospace Industries KT-1B were put through their paces in a five-day evaluation at Jamnagar air base, with trials being conducted by test pilots and Indian Air Force instructors.
Following the evaluations a shortlist of the PC-7, T-6 and KT-1 was reportedly drawn up, after which acquisition proposals were examined, leading to the selection of Pilatus, announced last week, as reportedly the lowest bidder. The deal is in the final stages of negotiation and a contract is expected to be signed soon.
The initial requirement covers 75 aircraft, procured off the shelf as dictated by the program’s urgency. However, the vast training requirement of the IAF could lead to up to 200 being acquired. The first aircraft are expected to be delivered within six months of the contract award.
The Indian selection represents potentially the biggest single deal in Switzerland-based Pilatus’s history, and is believed to be worth about $1 billion. The company is thought to have initially offered proposals based on all three of its turboprop trainer designs: PC-7 Mk II, PC-9 and PC-21. The selection is the PC-7 Mk II’s second success of the year, Botswana having ordered five in April to replace its first-generation PC-7s.