February 11, 2008

Indian Airforce to induct Advanced Jet Trainer HAWK-132 on Feb 23


On 23 Feb 2008, when the Honourable Raksha Mantri Shri AK Antony formally inducts the Hawk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) into service, an important milestone in the history of the IAF will be reached. This event will mark the fulfillment 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.

The need for an AJT was first articulated by the IAF in 1982 and ever since has remained high on IAF’s agenda for procurement. The IAF felt that there existed a quantum difference in the skill and judgement levels required of a yong 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 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, dentification Friend or Foe (IFF) system and the radio altimeter. In addition to being an advanced jet trainer, Hawk 132 is fully combat capable and can carry air to air missile and air to ground armament. It could also be used as a lightweight fighter.

The contract for supply of the Hawk AJT was signed between the IAF and BAE Systems in 2004. The deal envisaged a supply of 66 aircraft, 24 built in the UK and 42 license produced by HAL at Bangalore. IAF pilots and technicians were trained at BAE Systems facilities at Warton and Brough in UK. 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 the North West of 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. To ensure the smooth induction of the Hawk, the Air Warriors under the command of Air Commodore Ramesh Rai have worked tirelessly to put the required infrastructure in place. They were, at all stages, assisted by the local civil authorities and population. The work services included extension of the two runways, improvement in landing facilities and creation of servicing facilities for the technology intensive Hawk aircraft.

The first two aircraft arrived at Bidar on 12 Nov 2007 and were welcomed to Indian skies by Air Marshal GS Chaudhry, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, IAF, Bangalore. 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 132 on 23 Feb 2008 by the Honourable Raksh Mantri Shri AK Antony marks the operationalisation of the aircraft. It will be an important milestone in training of future fighter pilots.

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