NEW DELHI --- Upset over problems relating to spares supply for British Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs), India has shelved plans to place follow-on orders for the aircraft and instead floated new tenders to supplement its trainer fleet.
Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said here on Tuesday that the new tenders -- Request for Proposals (RFP) in defence parlance -- were issued about a month ago to six global aircraft manufacturers.
Surprisingly, UK-based Hawks manufacturer BAE Systems finds a place among the six companies which had received the fresh tenders. But it was being approached for an upgraded version of the AJTs, sources said.
Others trainers that the IAF has shown interest in and sent the tender papers to were Italy’s Alenia for the M-346, Korean T-50s, the Chez L-159, Russian YAK-130 and MiG AT Trainer, sources said.
After a procurement process that lasted nearly 20 years, India finally entered a contract for the delivery of 66 Hawks trainers with BAE in 2004. The contract had an in-built provision for a follow-on order for 40 more aircraft.
But the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had been finding it difficult to maintain the production lines for the aircraft at its facility due to considerable delays in spares supplies, sources said.
The move of the IAF to go in for a new brand of trainer aircraft came as a surprise, as it had originally planned to have a single type of trainers in the fleet to train future fighter pilots.