Sunday, May 16, 2010

IAF to Use Improved HPT-32 Deepak Till New basic Trainers Arrive

To improve the confidence of HPT-32 Deepak pilots, enhance survivability during an emergency in the air and prevent the trainer from dropping out of the sky like a stone, Indian Air Force has given clearance for a parachute recovery system (PRS) to be fitted on the Hindustan Piston Trainer-32 (HPT-32) Deepak.

IAF hope that this decision will revive the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-designed and manufactured primary trainer HPT-32 Deepak which became operational with the defence forces in 1984. HPT-32 was grounded last year in July after the unfortunate incident that killed two senior flight instructors near Medak district of Andhra Pradesh. HPT-32 Deepak has suffered more than 70 incidents between 1988 and 1995.During its service with IAF aircraft's have suffered around 90 engine switches off in mid-air and when this is combined with the HPT-32's poor gliding ability, its results can be very catastrophic.

At the same time IAF faces another problem that it has no other aircrafts available to provide basic training to its cadets. Therefore IAF is doesn’t have any other option but to revive its HPT-32. Until last year around 140-150 cadets of IAF were trained on the HPT-32 before moving to next stage of intermediate flight and weapons training. HTP-32 Deepak was designed by HAL in late 1970s and introduce as a basic trainer for IAF’s stage-I course in the flying branch in 1984.

Parachute recovery system would require a parachute to be fitted on HPT-32 which can be deployed during emergency by the pilot to bring the trainer down in one piece. Two foreign vendors have been connected in this regard and are asked to give their proposals. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will fit around 100 HPT-32 airframes with parachutes under license from the preferred vender. This whole process of assessing the proposals and choosing the preferred vender is likely to be completed within next four months before first HPT-32 fitted with the parachute recovery system.

To implement these modifications airframe of the HPT-32 Deepak would need strengthening, to avoid any kind of structural damage once parachute is deployed in air. HPT-32 Deepak would have to undergo extensive testing once the Parachute recovery system is installed and its engine is overhauled because whole IAF fleet of HPT-32 Deepak has been grounded for nearly nine months. Parachute recovery system on HPT-32 Deepak will have to be designed in such a way that can ensure that the aircraft comes down horizontally and not nose or tail first.

IAF had already issued a global tender to manufacturers of basic trainer aircraft such as Tucano, PC-9, T-6 Texan, M-311, PZL-130-TC-11 Orik and KT-1 to buy 75 basic trainer aircraft “off-the-shelf" and another 106 to be built by HAL. "Manufactures of these aircrafts have already submitted their responses in March this year and the tenders are likely to be decided by end of this year following trials. IAF plans to induct first lot of new basic trainers within two years.

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