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