NEW DELHI: India’s indigenous basic trainer aircraft, the Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), on Tuesday made its maiden flight after much delay.
The aircraft, the prototype of which was rolled out in January, is aimed at being used for the first stage training for all flying cadets of the three services.
Built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), HTT-40 had completed ground runs phase last week.
While the HTT-40 programme was almost junked during UPA rule, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar went after both IAF and HAL to ensure development of the trainer.
IAF has already committed to purchasing at least 70 aircraft.
“It is a good start as it is better late than never. HAL should ensure good programme management as it is the key to ensure timely flights tests and setting up of a parallel production line,” Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), a distinguished fellow at the centre for Air Power Studies, told PTI.
IAF had blocked funding for the HTT-40 by telling the Defence Ministry that the aircraft would be too expensive, heavy and that it will not meet their need.
IAF had backed a Swiss trainer, the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II.
The Air Force had purchased 75 of Pilatus in 2012 under a controversial deal but the requirement was for over 106 more planes.
Parrikar had cut this down and cleared a plan to purchase another 38 of Pilatus aircraft. However, the contract is still stuck on pricing issues.