Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA July-August 2017 Contents GUY MARTIN / JOHANNESBURG
TAKING STUDENTS TO NEW HEIGHTS:
ASIA-PACIFIC TRAINER AIRCRAFT
With the acquisition of new combat aircraft in the Asia-Pacific comes a push towards rejuvenating trainer fleets. This
is through foreign acquisition and domestic programmes – as trainers are much less complex and more affordable than
bigger and faster aircraft, many countries in the region are producing their own, and exporting them as well.
India is pursuing a dual strategy of domestic
production and overseas acquisitions. On 20 May
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) flew the second
of its HTT-40 (Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40) aircraft, a
year after the first prototype. HAL hopes to supply the
aircraft to train pilots from all three military branches,
replacing the grounded HPT-32 Deepak. Operational
clearance is optimistically planned for 2018. The
2,800 kg aircraft is powered by a Honeywell TPE-
The HTT-40 programme was nearly scrapped over
price and weight concerns, especially since the Indian
Air Force (IAF) received 75 PC-7 Mk II trainers from
Pilatus between 2013 and 2015, but the IAF may
get at least 70 HTT-40s. India exercised an option for
another 38 PC-7s but this is yet to proceed due to
bogged down price negotiations.
Another indigenous design, the HAL HJT-36 Sitara,
is due to replace HAL HJT-16 Kiran intermediate
trainers. Although the HJT-36 first flew in March 2003,
it may take another five years to fix serious design
flaws. In March it was declared unfit for service but
HAL is pushing ahead with its own funding. The
original schedule called for 73 production aircraft to
have been delivered between 2013-2017 but only half
a dozen early production aircraft have been built.
The other main Indian military trainer is the BAE
Systems Hawk Mk 132 - 124 of which were ordered
between 2004 and 2010 for the Air Force and Navy.
HAL built 100 under license. Purchase of another 30
is under consideration. Although BAE Systems and
HAL unveiled the Advanced Hawk Mk 132+ light
combat aircraft at Aero India 2017, the Ministry of
Defence has indicated it will not be ordering the type
due to bribery issues regarding Rolls Royce engines.
China is developing a host of trainers as it strengthens
its military. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force
(PLAAF) is the largest air force in Asia and the third
largest in the world, and requires a significant number
of trainers to support it. Pilot training is carried out
with the Shenyang JJ-6 basic trainer, Hongdu K-8
jet and then the MiG-21-based Guizhou JJ-7. The
Chinese military may eventually receive the Hongdu
CJ-7 (L-7) primary trainer, based on the Yak-152K and
developed with assistance from Yakovlev, to replace
the antiquated JJ-6. The piston engine aircraft features
a glass cockpit and rocket extraction system and first
flew on 31 December 2010. However, it does not
seem to have entered production for China, but has
been selected as Russia’s new primary trainer.
In October 2015 the PLAAF Aviation University
began using the Guizhou JL-9 Mountain Eagle to train
pilots (the navy also uses the type). The JJ-7-based JL-
9, which first flew in December 2003, is also known
as the FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle. The type has a top
speed of 1800 km/h and payload of over 2000 kg.
It is suitable for training third generation fighter pilots
– it appears the more advanced JL-10 will be used
for fourth and fifth generation fighter training. The FTC-
2000 has also been exported, with six being delivered
Both the JL-9 and JL-10 are replacing ageing JJ-7s.
The Hongdu L-15 (JL-10) is in mass production for
the PLAAF and appears to have entered service by
September 2016. With the Chinese air force and navy
projected to have 1,200 fourth and fifth-generation
fighters by 2030, hundreds of JL-10s are likely to
be produced. The L-15 Falcon advanced jet trainer/
lead-in fighter, built with assistance from the Yak-130
development team, first flew in March 2006.
In May this year China unveiled the L-15B attack
version, with afterburning engines giving a top speed
of Mach 1.4 and ability to carry three tons of weapons,
including HJ-10 anti-tank missiles, guided bombs and
air-to-air missiles (including radar-guided missiles).
Hongdu exported six L-15s to the Zambian Air Force
and Venezuela has apparently ordered the type.
DefenceReviewAsia | JULY/AUG 2017 9
K-8 (Avic photo)
22/06/2017 1:10 PM
Links Archive DRA May-June 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page