“Jet Trainer, Sitara, is likely to be operational by the year-end. Production of the aircraft will begin soon thereafter,” Antony told the Lok Sabha in response to a question.
He added that the aircraft’s development is in “advanced stages of certification”.
“Over 800 test flights have so far been completed,” Antony said.
Sitara is a subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. HAL started design work on an intermediate jet trainer in 1997 to replace the Kiran aircraft.
HAL was sanctioned Rs.180 crore in July 1999 to develop the aircraft and build two flying prototypes. The first prototype flew in 2003. In 2005, the budget was raised to Rs.467 crore to order a more powerful engine from Russia and to build an all-glass cockpit.
Eventually, development has cost Rs 634.23 crore.
These aircraft are likely to be based at the IAF flying school coming up in Deesa, in Gujarat and in Tambaram, where the IAF trains flying instructors.
Sitara will replace old aircraft like HPT-32 and Kiran.
Pilots are trained in three stages – on a basic trainer aircraft (BTA), on an IJT and finally on an advanced jet trainer (AJT).