The long-pending demand of the IAF for an AJT, which provides strategic edge to the force, would be finally accomplished when Defence Minister A K Antony formally inducts it into service. According to a release here today, the IAF would witness another important milestone with the induction of the AJT, bridging the gap between Slow Jet Trainer such as 'Kiran' and Advanced Fighter Aircraft currently in IAF's inventory. The Bidar Airfield was chosen as the main operating base for 'Hawk' since it has been a training establishment for budding fighter pilots since 1963.
The UK-based BAE Systems, which had won the tender to supply AJT in 2004, had to supply 66 aircraft-- 24 built in the UK and 42 at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, under licence.
IAF pilots and technicians were trained at BAE systems facilities at Warton and Brough in the UK. The initial four 'Hawk' aircraft were flown from Waton to Bidar by a combined team of BAE systems and IAF pilots in November 2007.
The Hawk-132 is a variant of the highly successful BAE Systems Hawk, incorporated with an open architecture mission computer, glass cockpit and a state-of-the-art avionics suite, including a new generation Inertial Navigation System with GPS (INGPS). It is also equipped with several Indian-made components, including communication sets, Identification Friend of Foe (IFF) system and radio altimeter.
The need to have AJT was felt to address the existing quantum of difference in the skill and judgment levels required of a young fighter pilot as he transisted to state-of-the-art fighters such as the Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29. The Hawk-132 would adequately serve as a leader in trainer for these advanced aircraft.
To ensure a smooth induction, infrastructure facilities, including extension of the two runways, improvement in landing facilities and creation of servicing facilities for the technology- intensive Hawk, were completed at the Bidar Airfield, the release added.