Following a three-year break, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has resumed flight tests of the HJT-36 Sitara twin-seat aircraft developed for the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) program. The latter aims to produce a direct replacement for the Indian Air Force Kiran, of which production was terminated in 1989 with nearly 200 built. The resumption took place in late April involving a prototype aircraft serialed S3854. “The flight was flawless and its success is an important step in the IJT program,” reported the manufacturer.
With over 800 flights performed since March 2003 on the PT-1 and PT-2 prototypes (serialed S3474 and S3466, respectively), the IJT effort appeared to be well on its way to serial production, with the Indian air force looking to procure between 200 and 250, until unsuccessful spin testing in 2016. Issues necessitated a major redesign of the aircraft’s tail section. The aircraft that flew recently features a repositioned vertical fin moved aft and other design changes. It is understood that, if the new configuration proves up to customer expectations, the Indian air force may buy 73 serial examples. Although far below the initial requirement, already met in part through the purchase of 146 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 132s contracted in 2004-2012, such an order would bring HAL a business worth Rs 5,000 crore ($719.2 million). click here to read more.