Hyderabad: The IAF training academy at Dundigal on Friday witnessed the induction of basic trainer aircraft Pilatus, PC-7 Mk-II, in the Air Force. Union Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh unveiled the Swiss made aircraft at a ceremony in Hyderabad.
Led by Group Captain RS Nandedkar, three PC-7 MK II aircraft put up an air display for dignitaries, including Chief Secretary Andhra Pradesh PK Mohanty, Swiss ambassador Linus Van Castelmur and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh. Jitendra Singh was flown on the aircraft on a sortie.
This marked the first formal flight of the trainer aircraft at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, Hyderabad. "The induction of PC-7 MK II as basic trainer aircraft into IAF is a very important landmark in our nation's quest to modernise armed forces," the minister said.
"Pilatus will prove to be the ideal platform that will train ab-initio trainees about nuances of basic flying and expose them to modern avionics and navigation aids. It will provide a solid foundation and facilitate a seamless transition from ab-initio stage through intermediate and advanced stages into full-fledged operational flying for all streams," Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said.
The aircraft would be used for basic training of all IAF pilots, in addition to those of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Until recently, this role was performed by the reliable but ageing workhorse, HJT-16 Kiran aircraft.
A comprehensive infrastructure upgrade is already underway at the Air Force Academy which will receive a total of 75 aircraft from Pilatus, Switzerland. The government approved the procurement of the aircraft in May 2012.
The first batch arrived at the academy in February as a part of an accelerated induction plan. The first batch of flight cadets will start training from July onwards.