NEW DELHI — Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has awarded a $100 million contract to American firm Honeywell for the supply and manufacture of 88 TPE331-12B engines for the HTT-40 trainer aircraft, the Indian state-run company announced Wednesday.

HAL plans to offer the HTT-40, which comes in at about $7 million per unit, to the Indian Air Force and other overseas customers. A senior HAL executive told Defense News that the company is hoping to secure a $490 million deal in October with the Air Force for 70 of the basic trainers.

HAL originally developed the HTT-40 to address the basic training requirements of the Indian Air Force, for which a potential contract “is under advanced stage of approval,” company Chairman Ramakrishnan Madhavan said in a statement.

But while the HTT-40 basic trainer meets the Air Force’s basic flying requirements, it is more expensive than Swiss PC-12 MKII basic trainers currently in service, according to a senior Air Force official, speaking on the condition of anonymity as the individual was not authorized to discuss this with the media.

The senior HAL executive, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, noted the company is exploring HTT-40 export opportunities with Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.

HAL is working closely with Honeywell on potential export deals, a company statement said.

The Indian business has spent $85 million on the design and development of the aircraft project, and it developed two prototypes and performed 550 test flights.

HAL will host two manufacturing lines — one each at Bangalore and Nasik — for the HTT-40. Aircraft deliveries could be complete in three years.

The HTT-40 can be used for basic flight training, aerobatics and close-formation flights.

The Indian government blacklisted Pilatus Aircraft Limited in July 2019 over an allegation that it paid bribes to secure a $390 million contract for 75 PC-12 MKII basic trainers. Currently, the Air Force operates 260 trainer aircraft — both basic and advanced trainers — against the projected demand of 388 trainers total.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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