Bengaluru: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Basic Trainer Aircraft, the HTT-40, made its maiden flight on Friday, just three years since its design phase, a record of sorts for the public sector company which has otherwise been associated with long delays in aircraft development.
Built at a cost of Rs.350 crore, the HTT-40 will help the Indian Air Force (IAF), HAL’s primary customer, meet its demand for more trainer aircraft.
The IAF’s existing strength of trainer aircraft is 253, as against a sanctioned strength of 430, according to a 16 December 2015 report by the Standing Committee on Defence presented in the Parliament.
“The indigenous content of HTT-40 is very high, about 75-80%, and the IAF is very keen on this aircraft. They have given their full backing,” said Manohar Parrikar, defence minister, who witnessed the inaugural flight.
In an earlier interview with Mint, T. Suvarna Raju, chairman and managing director of HAL, said that the company had developed the aircraft with its own money.
The Defence Acquisition Committee has signed a letter of Intent for 72 aircraft but this could go up to around 200, depending on demand, Parrikar said.
The HTT-40 will now undergo certifications which are expected to be complete by 2018, Raju said. The project would require an additional Rs.200 crore to complete, he added.
The aircraft also has the potential to be exported. Parrikar said that HAL has full freedom to export the aircraft to friendly countries after the needs of the Indian defence forces are met.