IAF floats RFI for intermediate trainer


The in­evitable has hap­pened. With the Hindustan Aero­nau­tics Ltd (HAL) HJT-36 intermediate jet trainer (IJT) de­layed be­yond the In­dian Air Force’s (IAF) planned in­duc­tion sched­ule, a global re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) has been floated re­quest­ing global orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers (OEMs) to pitch their prod­ucts for a pos­si­ble fu­ture ac­qui­si­tion. The IAF cur­rently has Pi­la­tus PC-7 Mk-II train­ers for ba­sic train­ing and Hawk Mk.132 train­ers for ad­vanced lead-in train­ing. With its age­ing Ki­rans on their way out, the IAF des­per­ately needs new intermediate Stage-II train­ers to fill the yawn­ing gap. HAL’s HJT-36 was to have joined the train­ing fleet in June 2012, but has been de­layed for a plethora of rea­sons, in­clud­ing a se­ries of ac­ci­dents and so-far in­sur­mount­able odds in prov­ing cru­cial safety and re­cov­ery fea­tures in field tri­als.

The IAF has stip­u­lated: The air­craft should be easy to fly and have good con­trol re­sponse/agility. The fly­ing qual­i­ties should prefer­ably con­form to Mil-F-8785C and Mil Std 1797-A. The air­craft should demon­strate the fol­low­ing qual­i­ties: (a) Stalling. An un­mis­tak­able nat­u­ral stall warn­ing should be avail­able, ir­re­spec­tive of the con­fig­u­ra­tion. (b) Spin­ning. The air­craft must be re­sis­tant to spin but it should be pos­si­ble to per­form in­ten­tional spin upto six turns to ei­ther side and re­cover safely there­after. The air­craft be­hav­iour in the spin should be pre­dictable and con­sis­tent. (c) Aer­o­bat­ics. The IJT should be ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing loops, bar­rel rolls, rolls, com­bi­na­tion ma­noeu­vres and neg­a­tive ‘g’ flight with­out ad­verse ef­fects on the en­gine and air­craft struc­ture. The air­craft should be ca­pa­ble of sus­tained in­verted flight for at least 30 sec­onds at sea level at max­i­mum take-off power.

The air­craft has also been specif­i­cally de­scribed as a coun­terin­sur­gency plat­form in the RFI. To that end, the IAF has also stipu- lated that the air­craft should be ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing at least 1,000 kg of ex­ter­nal load. The air­craft should be equipped with a min­i­mum of five hard points and each hard point on the wing should be stressed to carry at least 300 kg stores. The air­craft should be free from buf­fet, dutch roll, snaking and wing rock dur­ing air to ground weapon train­ing. The air­craft should be ca­pa­ble of em­ploy­ing the fol­low­ing ar­ma­ment: (a) Gun. A light weight gun/ gun-pod with ad­e­quate am­mu­ni­tion for at least 5 sec of fir­ing time. (b) Rocket Pods. Re­us­able rocket pods. (c) Bombs. Should be able to carry at least 4 x 250 kg re­tarded or bal­lis­tic bombs. The sta­tions should be ca­pa­ble of em­ploy­ing Car­rier Bomb Light Stores (CBLS) type of dis­pensers for car­riage of prac­tice bombs (25 lbs and 3 kg).

Given con­cerns over the per­for­mance of the HJT-36, the IAF has gone into great de­tail over the flight en­ve­lope re­quire­ments of the de­sired air­craft. Ac­cord­ing to the RFI, the air­craft should be safely op­er­a­ble ac­cel­er­a­tions of up to +7.0 g and -2.5 ‘g’ in Nor­mal Train­ing Con­fig­u­ra­tion (NTC). With ex­ter­nal stores (other than empty drop tank) the air­craft should be cleared for op­er­a­tions at ac­cel­er­a­tions upto +5 g and -1.5 g. Ser­vice ceil­ing should be at least 9,000 me­tres. In the NTC, the max­i­mum speed in flight must not be less than 750 kmph CAS and the ac should not dis­play any marked com­press­ibil­ity ef­fects up to 0.75 me­tres. The max­i­mum sus­tained speed at sea level must be at least 700 kmph in NTC and 550 kmph at max­i­mum AUW. In clean con­fig­u­ra­tion, the 1’g’ stalling speed must not ex­ceed 175 kmph with all ser­vices re­tracted. In the NTC, the IJT should have a glide ra­tio of 1:12 or bet­ter.

Ven­dors likely to re­spond to the RFI by April 4 in­clude Yakovlev, Ale­nia Aer­ma­chhi, Korea Aero­space In­dus­tries (KAI), Boe­ing, Saab, Northrop-Grum­man and Beechcraft.

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