It is ba­sic….. We need to en­sure high-level train­ing

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

First, it is good news that the In­dian Air Force (IAF) has in­ducted fi­nally the much needed ba­sic trainer – Pi­la­tus PC-7 MkII. With­out a ba­sic trainer for a cou­ple of years, af­ter the ground­ing of the HPT-32 Deepak, there was yawn­ing gap in train­ing of pi­lots and the is­sue of plane ac­ci­dent rate cropped up in many a de­bate.

The Min­istry of De­fence which re­leased fig­ures re­cently in the Par­lia­ment men­tions that the IAF loses the equiv­a­lent of one fighter squadron (16-18) fight­ers in crashes ev­ery two years. In the last five years (end­ing March 31, 2013), a to­tal of 50 IAF air­craft have crashed, killing in all 17 pi­lots and 18 ser­vice per­son­nel. Ob­vi­ously, this threw up ques­tions on ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing, as ‘hu­man er­ror’ ap­peared top on the list of prob­a­ble causes.

The IAF, till now, has been man­ag­ing with the aged HJT-16 Ki­ran for both Stage-I and Stage-II fighter train­ing, while there was a clam­our for fo­cus­ing on ba­sic train­ing stan­dards of young fighter air­crew. Fol­low­ing the in­duc­tion of Pi­la­tus PC-7 at IAF’s pre­mier Acad­emy, lo­cated at Dundi­gal, Hyderabad, the first batch of IAF pi­lots will be­gin ba­sic train­ing in July. This trainer is ex­pected to pro­vide a solid foun­da­tion and fa­cil­i­tate a seam­less tran­si­tion from ab ini­tio stage through in­ter­me­di­ate and ad­vanced stages into fullfledged op­er­a­tional fly­ing for all streams. The IAF now has in place ba­sic train­ers, in­ter­me­di­ate and ad­vanced jet train­ers (Bri­tish Hawk AJTs) which we be­lieve will en­hance the train­ing stan­dards of the pi­lots to sub­se­quently fly highly ad­vanced com­bat jets.

The De­fence Min­is­ter A.K.Antony has rightly said that with the un­veil­ing of the trainer, In­dia ‘ush­ers in a new era’. “The in­duc­tion of PC-7 MkII as ba­sic trainer air­craft in the IAF is a very im­por­tant land­mark in our na­tion’s quest to mod­ernise its armed forces.”

In pur­suit of the mod­erni­sa­tion goal, In­dia and Ja­pan moved a step closer to the sign­ing of the am­phibi­ous air­craft deal. The Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Man­mo­han Singh took this de­ci­sion dur­ing his visit to Ja­pan re­cently. “We at­tach par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal dia­logue and strate­gic con­sul­ta­tions and pro­gres­sively strength­en­ing de­fence re­la­tions, in­clud­ing through naval ex­er­cises and col­lab­o­ra­tion in de­fence tech­nol­ogy,” Dr. Singh noted.

An­other heart­en­ing as­pect has been that the foun­da­tion stone was laid for the In­dian National De­fence Univer­sity (INDU) at Bi­nola, Gur­gaon, near Delhi. INDU should help in de­fence pol­icy for­mu­la­tion.

Gen­eral Atomics of USA re­cently made a pre­sen­ta­tion on the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and fea­tures of its elec­tro­mag­netic air­craft launch sys­tem (EMALS) and ad­vanced ar­rest­ing gear (AAG) in New Delhi. A re­port on it by Rear Adim­ral (Retd) Sushil Ram­say has been in­cluded in this is­sue.

United Na­tions ap­proved the first-ever global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with an aim to reg­u­late the $70-bil­lion arms trade. In­dia ab­stained from vot­ing and In­dia’s Ambassador ar­gued in the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly that the treaty falls short on many counts and will not at­tract univer­sal ad­her­ence. Air Mar­shal (Retd) Anil Cho­pra analy­ses the pros and cons of the treaty.

In his frank and forth­right col­umn, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has talked about the proxy war that China is onto in the In­dian ter­ri­tory, even while diplo­matic pos­tures keep hap­pen­ing to show ‘ev­ery­thing is all right’. It is not. How­ever, we would like your feed­back on the is­sues we cover as to sharpen our cov­er­age of events and anal­y­sis.

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