IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th December, 2023 Security


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  • Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were killed after their Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainer aircraft crashed during a routine training sortie from the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, Telangana.


Specifications of Pilatus PC-7 Mk II

  • Manufacturer: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Switzerland
  • Type: Low-wing, turbo-prop aircraft with tandem seating
  • Introduced: Mk II version in the 1990s
  • Engine: Pratt & Whitney turbo-prop engine
  • Maximum Speed: 412 km/h
  • Maximum Altitude: Slightly over 10,000 meters
  • Range: 1,200 km without external tanks (approximately 4 hours of flying time)

Reason for IAF's procurement of PC-7 Mk II

  • The IAF obtained 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk II aircraft to address the critical shortage of trainer aircraft.
  • This shortage arose after the grounding of the indigenously developed HPT-32 aircraft due to fatal crashes.
  • The PC-7 Mk II was chosen to fulfill the need for basic flying training for IAF pilots.

What is a trainer aircraft?

  • A trainer aircraft is specifically designed for pilot and aircrew training purposes.
  • These aircraft are instrumental in helping trainees learn the basics of flying before they move on to more complex and advanced military aircraft.
  • Trainer planes are designed to be forgiving, easier to handle, and less complex than the high-performance planes that military pilots eventually operate.
  • They assist in teaching fundamental flight maneuvers, navigation, and other essential skills to aspiring pilots.

Types of trainer aircraft operated by the Air Force:

The Indian Air Force (IAF) operates various trainer aircraft:

  • Pilatus PC-7 Mk II: Used for basic training, these aircraft serve as the initial stage in a cadet's flight training. 75 of these aircraft are in service with the IAF.
  • HAL Kiran: An intermediate jet-powered indigenous trainer aircraft.
  • BAE Hawk: A British jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. The IAF currently operates 78 Kiran and 102 Hawk aircraft.
  • Pipistrel Virus: Used by the IAF, Navy, and National Cadet Corps as a basic trainer for Flight Safety and Air Wing Cadets. Currently, there are 194 of these aircraft in service, with 72 in the IAF.

India's indigenous trainer aircraft

  • In a move towards indigenous production, the Defence Ministry signed a contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to procure 70 HTT-40 aircraft.
  • The HTT-40, designed indigenously, is a basic trainer aircraft with modern features such as air-conditioned cockpit, modern avionics, hot refueling, and zero-zero ejection seats.
  • These aircraft are scheduled to be delivered over a period of six years and are meant to replace or supplement existing trainer aircraft like the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II in the IAF.


Q. Discuss the role and significance of trainer aircraft in the context of military aviation. Highlight the types of trainer aircraft used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and their respective roles in pilot training. (250 Words)