NEW DELHI — Much against the wishes of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Defence Ministry has decided that only state-owned monopoly Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will meet the service's future basic trainer requirements through its HTT-40 trainer, which is still under development.

However, to meet the Air Force's immediate needs, until of IAF, till the homemade HTT-40 (cq) is inducted, MoD has ordered another a final batch of 38 numbers of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 Mark-IIs to top the 75 Pilatus trainer ordered by the outgoing government in 2012.

The Air Force IAF wanted to buy only the purchase of only Pilatus basic trainers from overseas and put the ting on hold HAL's HTT-40 trainer project on hold, said an Air Force IAF official.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the top weapon purchasing highest body in the MoD, headed by the Defense Minister, and responsible for clearing weapon purchases,at its February 28 meeting ordered 38 additional Pilatus trainers at its Feb.ruary 28 meeting at a cost of $250 million by exercising the additional purchase clause tied to the original order of when it ordered 75 Pilatus trainers in 2012. But the service's The remaining trainer needs needs of IAF will be met through the procurement of HTT-40, basic trainers, the DAC ruled.

"Bureaucrats in MoD, while taking the decision to depend wholly on HAL's HTT-40 basic trainer, overlooked the recommendations of the actual user — the IAF — which had strongly recommended in 2013 to put on hold the homemade HTT-40 trainer project and instead procure 106 additional Pilatus trainers to meet the training needs of the IAF," said a retired Air Force official. of the IAF, who refused to be named.

"HAL should have a competitor and not be overprotected despite their poor record," he said.

A MoD official without being named said the decision to procure the HTT-40 for basic trainer needs in addition to the Pilatus was made to boost a homemade aircraft that which he claimed would be cheaper than Pilatus in the long run because it would be less costly to cheaper to maintain and upgrade. than a foreign aircraft.

In 2013, the Air Force IAF had recommended the to MoD to procure only Pilatus basic trainers because it was cheaper to buy and is available immediately, while compared to the HTT-40 trainer which is unlikely to be inducted before 2017-18.

The Air Force IAF had also argued Pilatus would be that it is economical and easier to operate and with only one basic trainer it would simplify only manage one line of basic training as the logistic and maintenance needs. for only one line can be taken care efficiently.

The retired Air Force IAF official said, "the latest decision to promote state-owned defense companies, at any cost, is a climb down in expectations from the current Narendra Modi (cq) government as military officers were hoping that their voice would will be heard more than the bureaucrats in weapons procurement."

"The homemade light combat aircraft (LCA) by HAL is delayed by over 15 years, and we are not sure if the ongoing discussions on the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) in which Rafale of France is the selected aircraft will be ever be concluded because of differences between Dassault Aviation and HAL," said another IAF official.

No HAL official would comment on the status of the HTT-40 trainer under development .

"The IAF now fears that it will be forced to wait for HAL's intermediate jet trainer [IJT],(Sitara) which is under development since 1997 with no date fixed for final operational clearance," the second Air Force IAF official said.

After the Air Force insisted IAF insistence not to depend on HAL's the delayed HAL's IJT project, the MoD in mid-2014 floated a global request for information (RFI) to procure intermediate jet trainers.IJTs. Expressions of interest were sent to Russia's Yakovlev; Italy's Alenia Aermacchi; Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) of South Korea, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman and Beechcraft of the US; and Saab of Sweden.

"The latest decision of MoD to force a HAL-made trainer on IAF indicates that the [request]RFI to procure IJTs from overseas on a technology-transfer basis will never be turned into a formal tender and IAF will have to wait only for the HAL-made IJT Sitara," (cq)" said Bhim Singh, (cq), retired IAF Wing Commander.

No MoD official would comment on the fate of the request for information.RFI.