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India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will start in May flight tests
India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will start in May flight tests of a new jet trainer equipped with Russian AL-55 I engines, The Hindu newspaper said on Wednesday.

The Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) is expected to go into service in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

According to the paper, the trainer has been certified by the IAF to replace the obsolete Kiran aircraft as a stage-2 trainer. The IAF has placed an initial order for 12 IJT trainers.

"The IJT has a state-of-the-art cockpit, override and failure simulation from the rear instructor cockpit, a sortie debrief facility, a modern and modular fuel-efficient engine, a light alloy airframe structure with a total life close to 10,000 hours, zero-zero ejection seats, designed to facilitate easy maintenance, and capability to carry 1,000 kg of armament load for training," the newspaper said.

The AL-55 I engine was specifically designed for the IAF by Russia's Saturn aircraft engine maker. HAL will produce the engine under license at its engine plant near the southeast Indian town of Koraput.

The Indian Air Force trains pilots in three stages using different aircraft. Stage 1 primary training is on a simple propeller aircraft, now HAL's HPT-32 aircraft. Stage 2 is undertaken on a basic jet trainer with a higher degree of complexity to enable the trainee to master the art of flying. Stage 3 is conducted on an advanced jet trainer, comprising all phases of combat training, the paper said.

The IAF may order a total of over 200 IJT trainers to replace some 250 Kiran aircraft acquired between 1967 and 1989.


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