The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Wednesday, July 27 signed a USD 100-million contract with the US-based Honeywell for 88 engines to power the indigenous HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft, even as the state-owned plane manufacturer eyes a contract from the Indian Air Force for such aircraft.
The contract was exchanged by Eric Walters, Senior Director OE Sales, Honeywell Defense & Space, and B Krishna Kumar, Executive Director (E & IMGT) in the presence of R Madhavan, Chairman & Managing Director, HAL.
“HAL has successfully developed the basic trainer aircraft (HTT-40) to address the training requirements of IAF. There is a potential requirement of 70 aircraft. The contract with IAF for the same is in an advanced stage of approval.”R Madhavan, Chairman, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd
The TPE331-12B engine is a single shaft turboprop engine with an integral inlet and gearbox, two-stage centrifugal compressor, power turbine, gearbox, three-stage axial turbine and turbine exhaust diffuser.
Besides, it displays reliable power and outstanding operational characteristics. The HTT-40 prototypes are powered by TPE331-12B engines and have been serving well since 2014.
“We are proud of our four-decade-long partnership with HAL and happy to extend our relationship with this new order.
The TPE331-12 family of engines has proven itself in operations all over the world, and we have committed to support and deliver engines as well as kits within the stipulated schedule to meet the requirements of the IAF.
Honeywell is committed to support export of HTT-40 aircraft in coming years along with other engine programmes which are currently on radar. This contract would pave the way for future collaboration between HAL and Honeywell.”Eric Walters, Senior Director, Sales, Honeywell Defense & Space
The central government has imposed a phased ban on the import of 310 different types of weapons and systems to boost self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector, and basic trainers feature on that list.
Rookie pilots in the IAF go through a three-stage training process involving the Pilatus PC-7 MkII basic trainers, Surya Kiran trainers and finally the British-origin Hawk advanced jet trainers before they can fly fighter jets.
In August 2020, the defence ministry gave a go-ahead for the purchase of indigenous basic trainer aircraft for IAF to provide a push to the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) vision.
The defence acquisition council (DAC) accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) to buy 106 HTT-40 aircraft from HAL. Under India’s defence procurement rules, an AoN by the council is the first step toward buying military hardware. The IAF plans to order the basic trainers in two batches – 70 and 36.
The IAF, which currently imparts basic training to army and navy pilots in addition to its own, calculates that it needs 181 basic trainer aircraft.
It has already bought 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mark-II trainers. After building and inducting 72 HTT-40s in IAF training schools, there will still be a requirement for 34 more basic trainers. If the HTT-40 performs well, that order will also go to HAL.
The HTT-40 aircraft has undergone a string of elaborate tests at HAL to demonstrate that it is safe for rookie pilots and meets the IAF’s exacting standards for trainer planes.
HAL and Honeywell are exploring other areas such as 1MW Turbo Generators, manufacturing, Repair & Overhaul of TPE 331-10GP / 12JR engines for variants of Dornier.
Cover Image – Ajai Shukla