New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Security on Thursday cleared the Indian Air Force trainer jets deal, which has been a major IAF requirement. The government cleared the Rs 2900-crore worth deal to procure 75 Pilatus basic aircraft trainer for IAF.
The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The lack of a basic trainer since 2009 has been a serious setback in pilot training. Although the Swiss Pilatus was selected in 2011 itself, a competing Korean aircraft maker had objected, setting off a vicious dogfight.
The aircraft are being procured by the IAF to provide training to its rookie pilots and replace the HPT-32 trainer aircraft which have been grounded for over two years after a fatal accident in 2009, Defence Ministry officials said.
The delivery of the planes is expected to begin by the middle of 2013.
The deal is critical for IAF's training requirements as in the next two years, there will be a shortage of Kiran Mk II trainer aircraft which are being used to impart flying lessons to the new trainee cadets in the flying branch of the IAF.
Recently, the Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence also highlighted the "critical deficiency" of trainer aircraft for the young IAF pilots.
The Committee had also noted that the deficiency of trainer aircraft has resulted in inadequate training of the pilots.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)