From “don’t want or need it” to “yes, okay, we’ll take 68 of those“, it’s been a shaky flight for HAL’s HTT-40 basic propeller trainer platform. After some delays, the type took its first flight into Bengaluru’s skies on Tuesday morning with all systems go. HAL has been conspicuously silent about the debut flight, though Livefist can confirm it went without a hitch. Aiming to be fully capable and in service by 2018, the HTT-40 has had a bitter birthing, with the erstwhile IAF leadership practically calling for it to be destroyed before it could roll. HAL, which bankrolled the project alone — and not just without IAF money, but with IAF hostility — will now need to rapidly mature the aircraft and see it proven into academy service by 2018-19. The IAF, which currently operates 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II has exercised options for 38 more. HAL will be banking big on an export market for light interdictors, and is known to already be in discussion with a handful of countries.
It isn’t fully clear why HAL has decided to go silent on the first flight. Livefist is in touch with the company for more details, so updates soon.