Paris Air Show

India will boost itsjet training fleet

 - December 13, 2006, 9:51 AM

India’s lack of air force training capacity has taken its toll in high accident rates over the years but the recent selection of the BAE Systems’ Hawk advanced jet trainer marked an important step in reversing this trend. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is to assemble and then produce the Hawk but meanwhile has developed the HJT-36 intermediate jet trainer (IJT), which will become the natural step between the propeller-driven HPT basic trainer and the Hawk.

Both of the IJT prototypes are here at the show; one is in the HAL static display while the other is disporting itself in the daily flying program. A third aircraft incorporating design refinements to production configuration will join the other models later this year.

Although the Indian air force has expressed interest in the IJT, which is seen to be a replacement for the aging Kiran jet trainer, strictly speaking an official order is not expected before certification in 2007. Nevertheless, interest from potential export customers could speed up the development process.

The tandem-seat IJT has a maximum speed of Mach 0.7, and with five hard points, the aircraft can carry a variety of weapons for use in combat training. As well as formation and instrument training, the HJT-36 is also offered for blind and night flying.

The Dhruv helicopter with which the IJT shares display space, sports eight LAHAT air-to-ground laser homing missiles, as well as a radar warning receiver and decoy launcher and Israeli avionics.

However, examples of the Dhruv delivered to the Indian forces do not have Israeli equipment, although this is offered to export customers. A Giat M621 20mm gun turret can be fitted in place of the H-MOSP sensor pod installed on the demonstrator.

Cheetal offers Extra Power

The third exhibit from HAL is the Cheetal light helicopter, which is an upgraded and re-engined version of the venerable Cheetah (SA 315 Lama). Although the skeletal fuselage suggests an earlier period in helicopter design, the Cheetal boasts an enhanced performance resulting from the extra power from its single Turbomeca TM333 2M2 engine fitted with a FADEC modified for single-engine control.

Agile and maneuverable, the Cheetal is claimed to be the only helicopter that can carry an underslung load equivalent to its own weight. Its altitude performance was demonstrated last November when it set a world record landing at 21,150 feet on Saser Kangri in the Himalayas.