Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari flew a sortie in the Pilatus PC-7 MkII to mark the completion of over two lakh flying hours of the aircraft
On April 12, 2023, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari flew a sortie in the Pilatus PC-7 MkII aircraft at Air Force Academy, Dundigal, Hyderabad. The sortie was performed to commemorate the completion of over two lakh flying hours in a decade of operations by the Pilatus PC-7 MkII.
The Indian Air Force tweeted about the occasion and also shared pictures of the IAF chief aboard the aircraft.
The deal for 75 PC-7 MkII turboprop trainer aircraft from Swiss firm Pilatus was signed on May 24 in 2012 with the first aircraft being delivered in 2013. In a deal worth $523 million (approximately 2,800 crore), all the 75 aircraft were to be manufactured in Switzerland, with a 30 per cent offset commitment to Indian industry. The contract also included an integrated ground-based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package. India had worked on an options clause allowing it purchase 30 more PC-7 MkII aircraft within three years under identical technocommercial terms.
This was the Swiss company’s single largest contract ever at that time. This was also the largest contract for the Indian defence establishment for acquiring an aircraft through commercial route in open competition; despite the dictates of India’s labyrinthine and arduous Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) at the time. The following year, in July 2013, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd had also announced the first Indian Air Force basic flight training course using the PC-7 MkII aircraft at the Indian Air Force (IAF) Academy at Dundigal, training over 80 cadets. The details of the entire deal, right from inception to implementation, were reported extensively in the June 2012 Issue of SP’s Aviation (SP’s Aviation 6/2012, https://www.sps-aviation.com/story/?id=983&h=Its-signed-now).
In a deal worth $523 million (approximately 2,800 crore) all the 75 aircraft were to be manufactured in Switzerland, with a 30 per cent offset commitment to Indian industry
The aircraft flown by the Air Chief is installed with Pratt & Whitney manufactured 25-C series Turboprop engines. Pilatus PC-7 MkII is a turboprop, tandem seating, basic trainer aircraft of the IAF. It is equipped with a glass cockpit, and modern navigation aids and is used for ab-initio training of flight cadets at the Air Force Academy and being used for basic training of all pilots of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. The last and final 75th aircraft was delivered by the firm in 2018.
“The Indian Air Force joined more than 30 other countries to modernise its training pipeline with the most modern, capable and cost-effective system for basic flying training on the market today. The decision to select the PC-7 MkII training system was made after a thorough evaluation by the Indian Air Force, which looked at all available options. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd views this contract for the Indian Air Force as a major success and believes it will encourage other forces to take a close look at our pilot training solution,” Oscar J. Schwenk, CEO of Pilatus Aircraft had said at the time of the deal.