Roche also is promoting the PC-24 aircraft to India. “It is a twin-jet aircraft. We believe it will also be ideal for Indian market, though the first aircraft will roll out in production line only in 2017,” he says. “There are significant opportunities for us and we are here for the long term.”
Meanwhile, India on May 31 inducted the first set of PC-7 aircraft into the Indian air force (IAF). The Swiss firm is supplying 75 basic training PC-7 aircraft to the IAF. This marked the first formal flight of the basic trainer aircraft over the skies at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad, in southern India.
Deliveries started last February and will continue until August 2015. The IAF is likely to receive at least two aircraft every month.
“We had signed the agreement in May last and already we received 12 aircraft. By end of this year we will have 30,” says Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne.
The contract for 75 trainers, signed in May 2012, is worth more than 500 million Swiss francs ($520 million). It also covers an integrated, ground-based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package.
Pilatus has entered into a separate offset contract with the Indian government, tallying 30% of the trainer contract’s value in accordance with Indian defense procurement policy.
As part of that offset, Pilatus plans to establish in-country, depot-level maintenance capabilities, which includes the required transfer of technology to HAL to enable in-country maintenance of the aircraft throughout its service life of more than 30 years.
The PC-7 is a low-wing, tandem-seat training aircraft, capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument, tactical and night flying. “With the induction of the PC-7 Mk-II aircraft, the IAF will be able to meet the longstanding need of having a basic trainer aircraft,” says another official of the defense ministry. “We are planning to get more of these aircraft,” he adds, without giving further details.
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 Mk. 2, an intermediate jet trainer.