Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India is advancing a basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) through the "HTT-40" initiative. This falls in line with a more self-sustained Indian military industry that has since produced various homegrown products such as the "Arjun" Main Battle Tank (MBT) and the INSAS automatic weapon now making up portions of the Indian military inventory. As of this writing (2016), the HTT-40 remains in active development with a single prototype having been completed (rolled out in early February 2016). The product is expected to succeed the since-retired fleet of HAL HPT-32 "Deepak" trainers of the late-1970s.
Additionally, the HTT-40 series will be fielded alongside a fleet of 113 Swiss-originated Pilatus PC-7 Mk II series trainers - Indian authorities citing cost-per-unit as the primary reason for this. Of note is that the initial HAL design offered for the HTT-40 was rejected by the Indian Air Force.
The HTT-40's design follows traditional basic trainer qualities such as a twin-seat, tandem cockpit set under a largely unobstructed canopy offering excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The turboprop engine is installed in the nose and will power a four-bladed propeller. The wings are mounted low at midships and are straight with clipped tips. The tail unit is made up of a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. A tricycle undercarriage (retractable) also figures into the design.
Sixty-eight HHT-40 aircraft have been ordered by the Indian Air Force from an announcement made in February of 2015. During June of that same year, the American-originated Honeywell Garrett TPE331-12B series turboprop engine (of about 950-1,000 horsepower output) was selected by HAL to power the new trainer. The first prototype was unveiled on February 2nd, 2016 showcasing a commitment to the HHT-40 initiative on the part of HAL.
As proposed, the HHT-40 will feature a maximum speed of 375 miles per hour with a range out to 620 miles. Its service ceiling is set to reach just under 20,000 feet. A light attack function may also be added to the base design allowing the platform to carry gun pods, rocket pods and conventional drop bombs.
Basic trainers are used by modern military air services to introduce "green" airmen to the basics of flight before the transition can be made to more advanced jet-powered trainers. If successful, the HHT-40 stands to enjoy a long history with the IAF and may also evolved into a marketed export product.
May 2016 - An HTT-40 prototype completed a first-flight on May 31st, 2016 with promising results. The flight lasted 30 minutes.
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