Readers' Poll:Which basic trainer should the IAF buy: Pilatus PC-7 Mk II; or Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Thursday 12 April 2012

Readers' Poll:Which basic trainer should the IAF buy: Pilatus PC-7 Mk II; or Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1

Left: The South Korean KAI KT-1 (crtsy and Below: The Swiss Pilatus PC-7 Mark II (courtesy

What should the IAF buy: the lowest cost option? Or the option of a long-term strategic aerospace partnership with South Korea?

The lowest-bid (L-1) for the IAF Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) tender, which is for the off-the-shelf purchase of 75 trainers, has been submitted by Swiss company, Pilatus, for its PC-7 Mk II, which is essentially the Pilatus PC-9, with a derated engine to lower procurement and operating costs.

The second-lowest bid (L-2) has been submitted by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for its KT-1 trainer, which is a more contemporary and more powerful aircraft. KAI has also offered to work with HAL in developing the HTT-40, an indigenous basic trainer which the IAF wants to buy 106 of.

Which do you think is the better option? Remember, the IAF finds both these aircraft suitable for its needs. The Pilatus PC-7 Mark II has been selected on the basis of its lower price.


  1. Definetly the south Korean option as it's powerful and long term. Besides I dobro trust the Europeans.

  2. "Strategic Partnership" with S. Korea in Aerospace ! Indeed. Since when is S.Korea an aviation power at all ?.

    We really dont need the Koreans. Makes sense to go with L1 and a proven aircraft.

    As for HTT-40, that should have been 30 years ago when it was first proposed by HAL. But, IAF, as usual was simply blind and couldn't ask them to develop trainers back in the 80s, so instead of developing follow on trainers to what we had (HPT-36 and HJT-16 and the Folland Gnat/Ajeet), we let that capability rot and 30 years later are out shopping for the same things again (the BAE hawk is the follow up trainer after Folland Gnat!)

    Another 40 years from now, we will be out shopping again. Somethings can never change, because there are too many vested interests that will prevent it from changing.

    Sure, get the Pilatus by all means, but make sure that the Indian versions are built by the private sector and not HAL. Atleast that way, you can get somebody other than HAL into the airframe business.

  3. Should be based on IAF recommendation for the larger picture.

  4. I say we go for the cheapest. Technology transfer and other benefits of the South Korean offer are nice. This will allow for private industry to come up with its own indigenous products, with little or no foreign IPR involved in it.

    In fact the basic trainer sounds like the best platform to aim for, if you are trying to kick start a nascent aviation industry.

    Allowing easier acquisition of pilots licenses, and encouraging organizations such as the NCC to dish out flying lessons, will probably help increase the popularity of flying, and allow for a large HR pool for the Defense services to draw upon.

  5. KT-1 trainer, which is a more contemporary and more powerful aircraft. (KAI has also offered to work with HAL in developing the HTT-40, an indigenous basic trainer which the IAF wants to buy 106 of.)if it suites then go with this plane

  6. What the Indian Airforce Want should be given to them....

    Why ask funny questions to your readers?

    Before the IAF give their choice these questions should be put to them. After all they are not stones. They are an organisation with a future and also comprises of responsible citizens of the country having economic, financial, development and futuristic concerns. They are capable of prioritising these. Why only ghoose taking MoD Babus (Joshi with 300 crores cash)

  7. I think they should utilize the cheapest option and develop HTT-40 alone or with ADA. For now we can use Pilatus until we develop htt-40. We will have enough time to develop as well cos training would be not be hampered for the time being.

  8. Which ever u buy, buy them quiclky !!

  9. Seriously get over this and buy the swiss trainer. I hope you realize Col. that even though you know these affairs in all their complexity.. you are not doing a service to this nation by trying to create a public opinion contre the decision of the Govt. Thus further delaying the purchase.

  10. Well ideally We should have our own trainer.

  11. 'KAI has also offered to work with HAL in developing the HTT-40, an indigenous basic trainer which the IAF wants to buy 106 of.' Thhis would be a better option in the long run :D

  12. Purely from a short-term financial perspective, Pilatus may seem like a better deal, but this would be rather myopic. Given India's well known deficiencies in defence manufacturing, any offer which allows sharing of technology is heaven sent and we should grab it with both hands. The long-term cost reduction of indigenisation (cough cough..Tatra..cough), the benefits of jobs on Indian soil, preservation of foreign exchange and strategic benefit of having a robust indigenous defence base is far too easily overlooked in our rush to L1. Hence I feel that even if more expensive, KAI KT-1 would be a far more prudent choice for India in the long run.

  13. havnt IAF already decided on Pilatus .Is there any chance of KT coming from backdoor? why this question ?

  14. Everyone is missing the point here.

    Every airforce in the world has only two types of trainers : basic and advanced. There is no intermediate trainer anywhere.

    They however undergo some training in an adhoc trainer before they fly the basic trainer.

    Now these basic trainers are quite advanced. They are more similar to the HAL Kiran than the HAL Deepak.
    Ofcourse only the IAF uses jet engines for a basic trainer like Kiran or Sitara.

    The HAL Deepak is for all intents and purposes an ADHOC trainer. NOT, a basic trainer.

    Therefore what we REALLY NEED is an ADHOC trainer. The HAL Sitara if and when it arrives will be our basic trainer.

    Now, if you look at the trainer competition, there were only TWO trainers which had ADHOC characteristics.

    ONE was the Grob 120 TP or Grob 115.

    TWO was the PILATUS PC-7.

    The other planes manufactured by pilatus like the Pilatus PC-9 on which the American T6 texan II is based are NOT adhoc trainers. They are BASIC trainers.

    Now, the Pilatus PC-7 is an interesting plane. It is a hybrid between an ADHOC trainer and a BASIC trainer. It can also take some of the roles of HAL Kiran. Not all roles mind you.

    The PC-7 is thus perfect for the IAF.

    @Ajai Shukla / @Broadsword :
    Sir, am I atleast partially correct with my facts ?


  15. Please replace ADHOC in my previous post with AB INITIO.

    Terrible mistake !!

    If the IAF chooses the KAI KT-1, then it has to buy ABINITIO aircraft like the Diamond DA-20 or Grob or 3X55 Trener.

    The only indigenous AB INITIO aircraft in the country is NAL Hansa. And we all know that it is just a rebadged version of the HAL Deepak. And with the Deepak grounded permanently, there is no chance we'll use the Hansa's.

    Again, please replace ADHOC in my previous post with AB INITIO.

  16. Korea is also a baby in the aerospace industry.pilatus is a proven aircraft and well known with better quality of avionics compared to unknown quality of KAI.We should immediately go for Pilatus after taking the opinion of not like the types of mysoora reddy but with the opinion of our IAF topguns.

  17. Hi,

    I do not know what India can gain strategically or technology wise from this deal. Let IAF choose it, they are the one's who are going to train young recruits. Perhaps, IAF knows the young recruits preference (Assuming, young recruits have flown with their training pilots these two planes). When it comes to camlin or nataraj pencil, let the choice be from the user (IAF). What the government should/can do is expedite the induction of these planes.

    I need detailed analysis Ajai, I need an article,

    Thank you in advance,

  18. The preference of foreign manufactured products over indigenously developed products is wide spread among defense forces. This is due to favour extended by the agents of the foreign manufacturers or simply due to the attraction of visiting a foreign country for few days for the purpose of meeting/negotiation or training.
    What is the status of IJT Sitara. Why have HAL slowed down the activities required for obtaining IOC. Defense forces must realize that a vast majority of Indians are still very poor. The nation is losing its respect for the armed forces due to series of bad and unreasonable decisions and activities. HAL has too many activities at its Bangalore and Hyderabad centers. It needs decentralization. The total developmental infrastructure of IJT Sitara, along with associated manpower, need to be transferred to either HAL Kanpur or HAL Nashik for infusing productivity. HAL must continuously manufacture this aircraft incorporating improvements in a continuous manner. This will make the IJT Sitara one of the best aircrafts in its class and save huge amount of foreign exchange.
    Further, it is not out of place to suggest that HAL must also manufacture immediately six aircrafts of the trainer version of LCA Tejas and hand over them to IAF.

  19. Looks like someone has some vested interests in asking such questions :D Why not go for the Super Tucano. Proven stuff!

  20. So trivial a subject. I am not able to accept that Ajai you believe that buying basic trainer aircraft will have strategic benefits, please re-think I am sure you will also give not so much importance only if you rethink it just once.
    Also neither Swiss nor South Korea hold any significant strategic defence benefits.

    The whole topic is too small and should not just be deliberated in such a out of proportion importance attached to it.

  21. India should NOT buy anything instead create its OWN trainer. Meanwhile just RENT the trainers per hour basis. India need to go through the offset manufacturing or be bothered about malfunctioning or bogus TOT.

  22. Stick with the Pilatus. We don't need any more tech transfers and co-development agreements - We just need a policy change from the government and Korea can't help us with that.


  23. Get the Pilatus which has been the tried and trusted choice for scores of airforces around the world, and be done with this. Don't let this fester around like a blister while the airforce hemorrhages for want of a basic trainer !

  24. Ask Air force

  25. BT is not something where HAL should ask for any help. HAL is after all part of a team which is developing 5th gen fighters. Won't it be shame if KT-1 is selected just because Korians have offered help in developing a BT? Furthermore what is the point in buying a relatively superior BT which is otherwise going to serve as low tech assistant to HTT-40 just 4-5 years into service?

    In my view buy L-1 and divert saved money towards HTT-40. Lets make HAl accountable, set time lines and mandate 50% private industry participation.

  26. I fully agree with P.K. Chaudhuri.

    I agree that both, the Pilatus and KAI are not Ab-Initio trainers.

    In India, we already have the NAL Hansa, which is a basic ab-inito trainer. Even the USAF also uses similar trainers to get rookie pilots trained

    So why does the IAF have to Import ?

    Why can't it use NAL Hansa for Ab-inito training, and then graduate to IJT Sitara for medium training ? Is there a Tatra-like deal in this too ?

    Too bad the media the lay public and even CAG hawks cannot understand simple technicalities to question such Dubious deals !

  27. ofcourse... we have seen... even if you have a vastly superior airplatform... dosen't matter... if the pilot has the skills... when the basic skills are developed... it should be on a solid grounding... even we have a strong aerospace industry... and our pilots lack the solid grounding in developing... their skills... no use of having an air force...

  28. The Swiss originally proposed the PC-21 for this tender. And yes, Mr Shooklaw himself reported this. Check out the post below-

    However, when the tender results were announced, the PC-7 was announced as the lowest bidder. Knock Knock, where did the PC-7 come from? How can a company change its tender offering after the tender has been submitted?

    The PC-21 is a state-of-the-art trainer with avionics that parallel fighter jets. The PC-7 on the other hand is a 1960's product and at the fag end of its PLC (Product life cycle). However, this is the F-16 of trainer aircraft. Sasta, Sundar, Tikau. Pilatus, the maker of the PC-7 and the PC-21 is a company with huge expertise in making turbo-prop trainers.

    It would be best if we could get the PC-21 as originally envisioned. PC-21 and the Super Tucano are the best trainer aircraft in the world today, but will not be the cheapest ala Rafale/Eurofighter vs Mig 35/F-16.

    Regarding HAL and its forever going on TT (is it a coincidence TT is a cheap underwear brand too?) for even a propeller aircraft, it is money down the drain. They can only do screw driving. The organization is so sick, lethargic and down in the dumps that any money spent there is money wasted. Btw-What happened to the IJT, HAL? Did it go into hibernation?

    Give a private sector player the contract to produce the HTT 40 (Taneja, Mahindra anyone) and start reforming the Indian Aerospace industry.


  29. I would've gone for the KT-1 since South Korea as a strategic partner to India is an attractive option. They have strengths in armoured vehicles and artillery that India can tap into and the offer of assisting in the development of the HTT-40 is also better than the nothing that we'll get from a Swiss Pilatus company. There is nothing to be gained from buying a Swiss basic trainer so there is merit in the South Korean offer. Besides, the IAF was fast asleep when they knew that the HPT-32 was having troubles and a requirement for a new basic trainer should've been floated several years ago..why did they wait till the very last moment when an indigenous alternative wasn't going to be available in time? What kind of long term planning is that? Now they're forcing the MoD's hand in this matter citing urgency so that their choice goes through. But really, the basic trainer could be the KT-1 as the PC-7 MkII really offers no revolutionary capabilities over the KT-1. Its not a combat jet after all and as long as its reliable and easily maintainable, and trains new cadets, the job is done. the IAF's insistence on the PC-7 MkII is really strange in this matter.

  30. The others are right in suggesting that the MoD and the IAF missed out on an opportunity to get a private player like L&T or M&M or Tatas into the airframe design and manufacturing business with the basic trainer. the IAF could've encouraged them to tie up with a foreign manufacturer and get a new basic trainer built for India with help from HAL. But the IAF shows zero strategic foresight and so does the MoD. An opportunity missed out big time. Even Turkey which hasn't anything like the LCA or IJT programs ongoing, will have its own Hurkus trainer first. And here we are, looking to import a basic trainer. Shame on IAF and MoD.

  31. Typical training of IAF cadet is as following:

    1. Turbprop trainer : For introduction to basic flying training. Each and every flying cadet gets it.

    2. Intermediate Jet trainer: Everyone who completes BFT gets this training. After completion of this stage depending upon the skills displayed / marks secured a cadets is allotted a stream namely Fighter, Transport and Helicopter.

    3. Advance Training: At this stage cadets belonging to fighter stream trains on AJTs, Transport/Logistic wing cadets train on AVRO, AN-32 Dornier etc and Helicopter on Chetak/Cheetah.

    So now the obvious question (raised by many here) arises, Why IAF needs such high performance Turboprop trainer when lot of it's features exceeds syllabus? Why IAF wants these trainers to be as good as IJT when it has dedicated IJT stage? I don't know if IAF has changed syllabus or not. May be it has changed but if not then this deal is either another scam in making or else just shows IAF attitude towards foreign stuff. Only God know for sure which one of two it is but if it is former then i would say this scam actually started with cancellation of HPT-36.

  32. @Abhiman :

    NAL Hansa is just a clone of HAL Deepak.

    HAL Deepak is already grounded. So Hansa is useless for ab initio training.

    Diamond DA20 or Grob 120 TP would have been good choices and cheap.

    But IAF preferred an ab-initio + basic trainer.

  33. @Abhiman

    Pilatus PC-7 Mk II is an ab-initio trainer.

    First customer was south africa.
    next it was IAF.

    The Pilatus PC-7 was a popular ab-initio trainer and used by more than 20 airforces.

    But it is too old a model. So Pilatus has replaced PC-7 with PC-7 Mk II.

    On the other hand the Pilatus PC-9 (on which T-6 Texan II is based) is a basic trainer. It has no abinitio capabilties.

  34. go for the Korean aitcraft

    we have to look at the strategic options that can open up in collobarating witht the South Koreans .. arty, tanks, ships, aircraft..


  35. we should ask Koreans to match L1 price for the basic trainer...and follow on HTT40 project in collaboration.

  36. Vizagite, I disagree with you.

    The Slingsby T67 Firefly has been used by various Air Forces and especially the US Air Force as an ab-initio trainer.

    Now, if you see its physical specs, they are nearly IDENTICAL to those of the Hansa. If the USAF, and even RAF can train its pilots on the Firefly, why can't the IAF initiate its pilots on the Hansa ?

    On the other hand, the Pilatus is only marketed as an "ab-initio" trainer. Except for its turboprops, its clearly in the class of Surya-Kiran and almost IJT.

    I don't know whether there is an anti-indigenous wave within the IAF, or someone is making piles of money by facilitating these imports.

    I think its both.

  37. Pilatus shall be the most suitable choice.

    IJT must have gone out of the track so Hawk has to fill the vacuum created by it.


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last