The Indian Air Force on February 23 inducted British-built Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawk as trainer aircraft for its fighter pilots.
The AJTs, purchased after a much-debated bidding process, were inducted at the Air Force Station in Bidar, nearly 150 kms from Hyderabad, a region known as a cradle of fighter pilot training.
A breathtaking display of air manoeuvres using the AJT marked the induction ceremony attended by Defence Minister A K Antony, Air Chief Fali H Major and a host of officers and dignitaries.
The induction of the Hawk aircraft fulfils a long-pending requirement of the Indian Air Force for an Advanced Jet Trainer.With its proven design and advanced avionics, the Hawk-132 aircraft is expected to bridge the gap between the performance spectrum of the Intermediate trainer and frontline fighter aircraft which trainee pilots would finally fly, an official said.
The aircraft is expected to greatly enhance flight safety and will have a beneficial impact on the quality of training being imparted to fighter pilots, he said.
The contract for purchase of 66 AJTs was signed in 2004 amid furore over frequent crashes of the MiG-21 fighter aircraft which had earned the sobriquet "flying coffins".
Of the 66 AJT Hawk-132 aircraft, 24 will be bought from the British Aerospace Systems (BAE) while the remaining 42 will be manufactured under license by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at Nashik and Bangalore.