One of the three PC-7 Mark II trainers that Pilatus has delivered to the Indian air force (IAF) was on display at Aero India. It was assembled at the IAF Academy in Hyderabad, and shown in Pilatus corporate livery with Indian air force insignia.
Pilatus is scheduled to deliver 14 aircraft by June, so that the first squadron can be formed and begin pilot training. All 75 aircraft on order are slated for delivery by the end of 2015. A follow-on order for 37 is expected. The PC-7 Mark II is replacing aging HAL HPT-32 Deepaks, which are suffering from engine and other failures.
HAL is competing for the remainder of the IAF requirement with the HHT-40 design. With mockup inspection and tunnel testing completed, HAL will cut metal on the first flyable aircraft “shortly.” HAL asserts the home-grown airplane will be superior to the Swiss rival and less expensive both to acquire and to operate. Engines and ejection seats will be imported. Swiss government rules that prevent the Pilatus model being armed also provide a competitive edge for the HAL product. The HTT-40 will have six weapons stations in addition to a hardpoint under the fuselage for a targeting/reconnaissance pod. However, when Indian defense minister A.K. Antony inspected the PC-7 at the show, accompanied by IAF chief of staff N.A.K. Browne, he voiced his preference for the Swiss type, dismissing the HAL project as “unnecessary.”