INDIA’S INTERMEDIATE JET TRAINER COMES UNDER CLOUD
By Bulbul Singh, India
29 Jul 05. India will purchase several components from overseas markets to accelerate the pace of the homegrown Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), (HJT-36). The decision follows strong criticism from the Standing Committee on Defense of the Indian Parliament. In its latest report the Committee notes, ” Though the prototypes of the trainer have so far completed 150 flights towards its development plan, the results have not been found to be satisfactory”. A total of 500 flights are to be performed for the final operational clearance of the IJT trainer.
The Standing Committee which includes around 20 Members of Indian Parliament has also recommended the development of an indigenous version of the engine for the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT). The flight testing of the prototypes is being undertaken with the French Larzac engine .
“Even after the passage of six years the final operational clearance of the trainer has not yet taken place”, notes the report.
A senior official of state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)which is developing the IJT said to speed up the project HAL has already signed a contract with U.K’s Smith’s Aerospace for the design and development of the Integrated Avionics System for the IJT. The system consists of a mission computer, head up display, HUD repeater, rear data entry panel, attitude and heading reference system and air data computers. Without giving details the official said more tie ups will be forged and off the shelf components bought for the project.
The Indian government approved the HJT-36 project to be undertaken by HAL in 1999 as a replacement of the ageing Kiran aircraft. HAL has designed the IJT and has produced prototypes. The first flight of the IJT took place in March 2003 and the second flight of the prototype in March 2004. The two prototypes have completed m ore than 150 flights. However several tasks still need to be completed before Final Operational Clearance of the aircraft is received.
Some of the tasks which need to be completed on the IJT include the integration of the high thrust engine with the airframe for flight testing and certification of the engine for production phase of the aircraft. Another task pertains to weight reduction program for improvement of performance.
Until recently the IJT was also engulfed in controversy surrounding the choice f engine, with the Indian defense ministry opting to replace the French Larzac engine with a Russian engine.
IJT was initially developed based on the French engine, Snecma’s Larzac but the decision was taken recently to replace the engine with more powerful AL-55 of Russia.
India signed a contract with Russia’s NPO Saturn for $200 million. Under the contract the Russian company will supply the AL-55 engines to HAL costing around $1 million each and also sell a $30 million licence for the manufacture of engines at HAL NPO Saturn beat Snecma of France for the IJT engine contract. The Russian engine costs about $1 million a piece, lower than the French quotation.
The IJT with a speed of 750 Kilometers per hour is capable to carry out 1000 kilogram weapon load and has a flying operational life of 10,000 hours.
Giving details of the configuration of the IJT an HAL official said, IJT has large cockpits, providing a spacious environment and has a large side opening canopy, with two individual bubbles for the front and rear cockpits.
IJT is fitted with zero-zero K36LT ejection seats provided by M/s Zvesda of Russia based on the seats of the Russian SU-30 seats .
The IJT would introduce trainee pilots to the glass-cockpit layout in just their second stage of flying training. Trainee pilots would benefit as adaptation would be easy when they move on to aircraft like the AJT (when acquired) and modern fighters. Main display for the pilot is the Smith’s Head-Up-Dis