Indigenous jet trainer may operate by year-end: Antony
India's indigenous jet trainer aircraft 'Sitara' is likely to be operational by the end of this year, Defence Minister A.K. Antony informed parliament Monday.
In a written reply to Lok Sabha, Antony said Jet Trainer Sitara is likely to be operational by the year-end.
"All efforts are being made for achieving final operation clearance by December 2014. Production of the aircraft will commence immidiately thereafter," Antony said.
The aircraft's development is in "advanced stages of certification with more than 800 test flights completed so far", he added.
Antony said the progress of the project was affected "due to loss of prototype during flight testing which necessitated major changes like total redesign of flight control system and associated increased number of design iteration for recovery and resolution".
Sitara is a subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. HAL started design work on an intermediate jet trainer in 1997 to replace the Kiran aircraft.
HAL was sanctioned Rs.180 crore in July 1999 to develop the aircraft and build two flying prototypes. The first prototype flew in 2003. In 2005, the budget was raised to Rs.467 crore to order a more powerful engine from Russia and to build an all-glass cockpit.
Eventually, the aircraft's development has cost Rs 634.23 crore.
These aircraft are likely to be based at the IAF flying school coming up in Deesa, in Gujarat and in Tambaram, where the IAF trains flying instructors.
Sitara will replace old aircraft like HPT-32 and Kiran.
Pilots are trained in three stages - on a basic trainer aircraft (BTA), on an IJT and finally on an advanced jet trainer (AJT).
(Posted on 10-02-2014)