NEW DELHI — India’s top decision-maker on defense matters has endorsed the purchase of 70 locally made HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft for $388.5 million.

Defence Minister Rajnath Sigh tweeted on Wednesday that the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the procurement plan.

The government will sign a contract for the HTT-40 aircraft later this month, the Ministry of Defence told Defense News.

The new aircraft will complement the existing basic training fleet of Swiss-made PC-12 Mark II basic trainers with the Indian Air Force. The service currently operates 260 trainer aircraft — a combination of basic and advanced trainers — against the requirement for 388.

The MoD said the aircraft will help with a shortage of basic trainer aircraft of the Air Force as it trains newly inducted pilots.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. will provide 70 HTT-40 aircraft, associated equipment and training aids, including simulators, over a period of six years, the ministry said. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The HTT-40 program is supported by a supply chain of more than 100 domestic, private, small-scale enterprises that will provide 1,500 direct and 3,000 indirect employment opportunities through local suppliers, according to the ministry.

The aircraft currently includes up of 56% of Indian-made systems and components, and the ministry expects that to increase to 60%. The acquisition of the HTT-40 provides a fillip to the Indian aerospace defense ecosystem and boosts India’s efforts to become self-reliant, the ministry added.

India will use its HTT-40 aircraft for basic flight training, aerobatics, instrument flying and close formation flights, with secondary roles including navigation and night flying, HAL said.

This fully aerobatic tandem-seat turbo trainer has an air-conditioned cockpit, modern avionics and hot refueling capabilities. It also features zero-zero ejection seats, meaning they function as zero altitude and zero airspeed.

Costing about $7 million per unit, HAL also plans to offer the HTT-40 to foreign customers, a company executive told Defense News on the condition of anonymity, as the individual was not authorized to speak to the media.

The executive also said HAL spent $85 million on the design and development of the HTT-40, which included the creation of two porotypes and at least 550 test flights.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

More In Training & Sim