New Delhi. The Indian Air Force (IAF)
will buy 40 more Hawk Advanced Jet trainers (AJTs).
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F H Major
told India Strategic
that IAF's original plan was to induct 122 AJTs
but the acquisition got delayed by nearly a quarter
of the century, and when the deal was signed in
March 2004, it was only for 66 aircraft.
IAF needs more AJTs, and they would be acquired
in accordance with the emerging requirements and
acquisition of newer medium and air dominance
fighters, he said.
Of the 66 AJTs that IAF has contracted to buy
from the British BAE Systems, 24 are being acquired
in a flyaway condition and the rest in Semi Knocked
Down (SKD) and Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kits
for progressive manufacture within India using
BAE Systems has already begun transferring technology
and equipment to the public sector aviation giant
HAL at its Bangalore facility under the deal.
Naval sources indicated that the Indian Navy
was also acquiring the same Hawks to maintain
commonality with IAF, rather than its navalized
T-45 Goshawk version built by the US Boeing company
in collaboration with the BAE Systems.
The Goshawk imparts actual aircraft carrier
training, but the Indian Navy has opted to prefer
the Hawk, and is likely to buy 16 to 20 of these
aircraft. The figure mentioned though is for 17
The US Navy has trained several Indian Navy
pilots on Goshawks since 2006 at its Pensacola
Naval Air Station in Florida.
The Indian naval Hawks would be modified slightly
for simulated carrier landings, but on the ground.
The Navy should be expecting its Gorshkov aircraft
carrier from Russia in two to three years along
with Mig 29K aircraft, and training of the pilots
for them has to commence well in time. It takes
five years to train a fighter pilot from the induction
Air Chief Marshal Major said that while the future
requirements would be defined with emerging needs,
both the air force and navy would place order
for the newer jets with HAL, which is tasked with
He described the Hawk 132 that India is buying
to its specifications as an excellent aircraft.
Pointing out to its ultra-modern glass cockpit,
he said that a pilot trained on a Hawk could easily
walk into another modern aircraft like the SU
30, or the coming Medium-Multi Role Combat Jets
without much conversion training.
The Air Chief described training as a very important
element of combat, pointing out that today, every
system from radar to missiles to aircraft was
coming with simulators.
He said that the IAF Flying Training Establishment
(FTE) at Bidar, the designated home of the Hawks
in Karnataka, was a futuristic flight training
academy with new equipment and a 9000 feet runway,
much different than it was just a few years ago.
the 66 aircraft would be based there.
"Framing of the flying and operating procedures
in the local flying area will take top priority,"
according to Air Officer Commanding Air Commodore
The first two twin-seater Hawks had reached
Bidar on November 12, flown by a mix crew of BAE
Systems and IAF pilots from BAE Systems’
Technical Training Academy at Warton in UK. After
some preliminary formalities, instructor's conversion
began on them right away.
Wg Cdr Pankaj Jain and Sqd Ldr Tarun Hindwani
were the first two pilots to land the aircraft
in India at Jamnagar, from where they moved to
By Feb-end, 10 of the newer gleaming jets would
at this base. BAE Systems and HAL are scheduled
to complete supply of all the 66 aircraft by 2011.
According to Air Marshal Satish Inamdar (Retd),
who had worked on the AJT project, India could
eventually acquire or build at least 200 of the
Hawk jets. “They have potential for growth
in line with modernisation of the Indian Air Force.”
It may be noted that IAF suffered several accidents
in the late 1970s and early 1980s as fighter pilots
graduated from basic jet trainers to the supersonic
Mig 21 without intermediary - or Stage III - training.
When the then Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal
Dilbagh Singh, drew prime minister Indira Gandhi's
attention to it, she immediately called for action.
Due to political and bureaucratic delays, their
supplies have only begun now.
Air Chief Marshal Major said that IAF had trained
12 instructors and 75 pilots in Britain, and that
all of them had excelled in flying.
BAE Systems Managing Director Training Solutions,
Mark Parkinson, says that the British firm also
trained 100 engineers.
A company statement quoted him as saying: 'We
have completed conversion training of experienced
IAF Flying Instructors to become instructor pilots
on the Indian Hawk - these instructors are returning
to India to train the Indian Air Force's next
generation of frontline pilots.'
BAE Systems sold more that US$ 27 billion worth
of military hardware and services in 2006.