HAL’s trainer aircraft headed for disaster as development costs soar

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, May 27, 2013.



    Sep 22, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Detroit MI
    The plan to build a Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) at home is headed for a nosedive as defence ministry has to take a crucial call on going ahead with the project because of high costs involved and a shaky delivery deadline promised by the aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

    The IAF, which is in dire need of basic trainers for rookie pilots, had projected requirement for more than 180 of these aircraft to smoothly run its problem-ridden flying training programme.

    The government gave the go-ahead to buy 75 BTAs from foreign vendor and the remaining was to be delivered by Bangalore-based HAL which attempted to make a new aircraft, named HTT-40.

    The IAF ordered 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 trainers last year of which 14 have been delivered on a fast-track basis as they were required urgently.

    These aircraft would be formally inducted into IAF on May 31 by junior defence minister Jitender Singh, paving the way for starting training from July onwards.

    All 75 aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2015, as per the contract terms.

    The delay

    Even as the new aircraft started arriving, the HAL’s plan to build the basic trainer has not made much headway.

    As per the project report submitted by the company in 2011, it had promised to deliver two aircraft by 2019 and 10 by 2021.

    At this rate, the IAF can begin training on home-built BTAs only by 2022. The delay has already forced IAF to begin the process to exercise “option clause” with Pilatus to buy another 38 aircraft.

    The Defence Acquisition Council had mandated IAF to exercise the clause to buy more aircraft from the foreign vendor only if HAL’s HTT-40 does not take off before the delivery of first Pilatus PC-7.

    With first Pilatus arriving in February and HTT-40 nowhere in sight, the IAF will go for 38 more PC-7s. The defence ministry has also been made aware that HTT-40 is going to cost at least the double the amount charged by the Swiss company for PC-7.

    A detailed cost analysis showed that a Pilatus PC-7 was purchased for Rs 30 crore per aircraft.

    Whereas HAL’s own cost structure showed that at 2011 price for 106 aircraft, each HTT-40 will cost Rs 34.9 crore. If capital cost is added then the price tag goes up to Rs 37.95 crore.

    By adding design and development cost along with per annum escalation, the final cost of HTT-40 comes to Rs 67.6 crore per aircraft, double the price of PC-7.

    The HAL insists that unlike Pilatus PC-7, its BTA will have a multi-role capability as it could be armed for weapon training.

    It raises a question if a multi-role capability was required at all in a basic trainer. The defence ministry will also have to grapple with the issue of duplicity of trainers, which will escalate infrastructure costs further.

    It will also go into the aspect if HTT-40 is based on a Beechraft aircraft which had lost bid to Pilatus. The IAF has been managing its pilot training programme without a basic trainer for some years.

    HAL's trainer aircraft headed for disaster as development costs soar | Mail Online

Share This Page