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HAL Plans ‘Sport’ Supersonic Trainer for Next Gen Fighters

The aircraft is aimed at training pilots before their induction into a front-line fighter squadron like the Rafale.

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Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) has announced the development of a 4++ generation trainer aircraft to train Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots on modern aircraft. Titled Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SPORT), the aircraft is aimed at training pilots before their induction into a front-line fighter squadron like the Rafale.

Talking to The Quint, HAL’s Deputy Chief Test Pilot (Fixed Wing) Group Captain HV Thakur said the aircraft can perform training duties during peace time and combat duties during war. “The aircraft fills in all the roles – training, combat, and augmented – which are required for new-generation fighters. The intent is to give IAF a very high-performance trainer which can train air force pilots after advanced jet training.”

Currently, the advance training of fighter pilots is done on Hawk aircraft, however, these aircraft don’t give the pilot the experience of using modern avionics. “Fighter pilots in the Air Force go through basic training, intermediate training and thereafter advanced jet training. After the advanced jet training, they jump into a very high-performance aircraft like a Rafale or a Mirage 2000 or MiG-29. The gap between these two is quite a bit, especially technologically. During the advanced training period on the Advanced Jet Trainer like the Hawk aircraft, they do not have these high-performance devices like the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD), Laser Designation Pod (LDP) or a laser-guided bomb or cruise missile,” Thakur added.

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A simulator of the aircraft was showcased at Aero India. Explaining the potential market for the aircraft, Wing Commander S Chaki said, “Right now, the proposed role of this aircraft is carried out by Jaguar training squadron or a SU-30 training squadron and once Rafale comes, lot of hours go in training the pilots. There will be a lot of guys who will be training on modern jets for the first time, the guys who go from hawks have never seen a radar and will be operating it for the first time. Would you rather have him getting used to a radar in a complex, costly aircraft like Rafale or would you do it with a cheaper aircraft?” he asked.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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