The Indian Air Force will receive the first two advance jet trainers (AJT) Hawk from British Aerospace (BAE Systems) by mid-November to train its pilots to fly supersonic fighters, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said in Bangalore on Tuesday.
"The first batch of two Hawk trainer aircraft will arrive in India from Britain in a fortnight and will be stationed at the Bidar airbase in north Karnataka for advanced training. The remaining trainer jets (22) will join the fleet in batches, including six by this year-end," Major told IANS on the sidelines of a function.
As part of the Rs 80 billion ($2 billion) deal IAF signed with BAE Systems in 2004 for 66 Hawks, the British firm will supply 24 in fly-away condition and the remaining 42 will be manufactured under license-production by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at its Bangalore complex in a phased manner.
"About 60 of our pilots have undergone training in batches at the RAF Valley in Britain to operate the Hawk, and other pilots will be trained from the Bidar airbase," Major said on the sidelines of a conference on Helicopter Technology, organised by the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies & Industries and HAL.
IAF has chosen the Bidar airbase, about 750 km from Bangalore, as the hub for training all its pilots in fighter aircraft. Currently, its rookie pilots are trained on the sub-sonic Kiran-Mark II aircraft at the Bidar flying school. Training on MiG-21 and other fighter jets is conducted from IAF air bases at Bhuj, Jamnagar, Nalia and Tezpur.
"We have already upgraded the facilities at the Bidar station and extended the runway. New hangars and parking bays have been added at the airbase to station the Hawk fleet. We will formally induct the AJTs after we receive the second batch of six Hawks," Major added.