The air force has been scouting for a new basic trainer to replace the 1988-vintage, single-piston-engine HPT-32s, which were grounded in 2009 following a series of fatal crashes. The air force is currently training its young pilots on the Kiran Mark-II, an intermediate jet trainer.
The IAF has lost 33 combat jets and 12 helicopters in the past four years. Thirty-five defense officials, including 13 pilots, have lost their lives in these accidents.
The IAF is expected to begin training courses on the new turboprop aircraft starting in July, the IAF official says.
Pilatus photo: Pilatus Aircraft