|Pilatus PC-7 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)|
The IAF’s premier Academy located at Dundigal, Hyderabad on 31 May 2013 witnessed the unveiling of Pilatus, PC 7 Mk II, by the honorable Raksha Rajya Mantri, Shri Jitendra Singh thereby formally inducting the aircraft into the service. Three PC-7 MK II aircraft got airborne in a vic formation led by Group Captain RS Nandedkar to put up a brief display for the audience. This marked the first formal flight of the Basic Trainer Aircraft over the skies at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad. This was followed by handing over of technical documents of the aircraft by Air Commodore Nagesh Kapoor, Chief Instructor (Flying) to Hon'ble RRM, Shri Jitendra Singh.
After unveiling the new Basic Trainer aircraft, the Hon'ble Raksha Rajya Mantri said, “The induction of PC-7Mk II as Basic Trainer Aircraft in Indian Air Force is a very important landmark in our nation’s quest to modernise its Armed Forces.
As part of the ongoing transformation, IAF is being equipped with cutting edge technology and state of the art aircraft and systems. However, the need to train our ab-initio pilots on modern trainers is crucial to prepare them for the exacting requirements of combat flying.
With unveiling of Basic Training Aircraft (BTA), we usher in a new era. Imparting high quality flying training to our budding pilots will ensure proficient handling of more sophisticated aircraft in their demanding roles. PC-7 MK-II and its associated training infrastructure comprising of simulators and training modules promises higher safety standards while developing the critical skills in military aviation. The aircraft, with its excellent handling characteristics, user friendly onboard instrumentation and modern navigation systems, is ideally suited for IAF’s training requirements.
On behalf of the Government, I assure the nation that no effort will be spared to equip IAF with the latest training aids and infrastructure. Funds will never be an impediment and today’s induction is one such instance to prove this”.
Noting the induction of PC7 MK II as IAF’s Basic Trainer Aircraft to be a proud moment, the Air Chief said, “This event is a significant milestone in IAF’s transformation into a modern multi-spectrum strategic force. It is my responsibility to ensure that our pilots and technicians operate the best trainer in the world, the nation can afford. Pilatus will prove to be the ideal platform that will train the ab-initio trainees about the nuances of basic flying and expose them to modern avionics and nav aids. This trainer will provide a solid foundation and facilitate a seamless transition from ab-initio stage through intermediate and advanced stages into full-fledged operational flying for all streams.
I take this opportunity to thank the government and in particular the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri for recognizing IAF’s urgent training requirements and for extending a very prompt response to the same. A special mention to MoD for providing an active interface with all stakeholders and facilitating fruition of the project in record time.”
The PC-7 MK II aircraft would be used for Basic Training of all pilots of the Indian Air Force, in addition to the pilots of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Till now this role was performed by the reliable but ageing workhorse, the HJT-16 Kiran aircraft. Ready to receive the new Basic Trainer that will bring in a much awaited augumentation of IAF’s training capacity, a comprehensive infrastructure upgrade is already underway at the Air Force Academy.
A total of 75 aircraft have been contracted from Pilatus, Switzerland. The procurement of PC 7 MkII was approved by the government in May 2012 and the first batch of PC-7 Mk II arrived at the Academy in February this year as a part of accelerated induction plan. The first batch of Flight Cadets would start their training on PC-7 MK II from July onwards.
Also present on the occasion were service and civil dignitaries including Chief Secretary Andhra Pradesh, Dr PK Mohanty, Ambassador of Switzerland Mr Linus Van Castelmur and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh.