IAF Hawk trainers’ induction Feb 23


New Delhi : Defence Minister A.K. Antony will formally induct the Indian Air Force’s Hawk-132 advanced jet trainer (AJT) into service Feb 23, an event that has been described as an “important milestone” in the history of the 75-year-old force.

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“This event will mark the fulfilment of a long-standing requirement of the IAF for an AJT that will effectively bridge the gap between the slow jet trainer such as the Kiran and the advanced fighter aircraft currently in IAF’s inventory,” a defence ministry statement Monday said.

The induction ceremony will be held at the Bidar Air Force Station in Karnataka, where the Hawks will be permanently based.

The IAF has purchased 66 Hawks from Britain’s BAE Systems. The first two aircraft arrived in November and four more in January.

“Since then, IAF pilots and technicians have been hard at work coming up to operational status on this combat capable aircraft. The formal induction of the Hawk…also marks the operationalisation of the aircraft,” the statement said.

The need for an AJT was first articulated by the IAF in 1982 and ever since has remained high on its agenda for procurement. The IAF felt that there existed a quantum difference in the skill and judgement levels required of a young fighter pilot as he transited to state-of-the-art fighters such as the Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29.

“The Hawk-132 would adequately serve as lead in trainer for these advanced aircraft,” the statement said.

The Hawk-132 is a variant of the highly successful BAE Systems Hawk. It incorporates an open architecture mission computer, glass cockpit and a state of the art avionics suite including a new generation inertial navigation system with GPS (INGPS).

It is also equipped with several Indian made components such as the communication sets, the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system and the radio altimeter. The aircraft is fully combat capable and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground armament. It can also be used as a lightweight fighter.

IAF and BAE Systems signed the contract for the aircraft in 2004, with 24 to be built in Britain and 42 license produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Bangalore.

IAF pilots and technicians were trained at BAE Systems facilities at Warton and Brough in Britain. The initial four Hawk aircraft were flown from Warton to Bidar by a combined team of BAE Systems’ and IAF pilots.

“Bidar airfield, located in northwest Karnataka, approx 150 km from Hyderabad, was chosen as the main operating base for the Hawk. This base has been a training establishment for budding fighter pilots of the IAF since 1963,” the statement said.