In an important but long overdue step for India’s indigenous military aviation technology, the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) started spin flight testing on Monday in Bengaluru. The HJT-36 ‘Sitara’, as it is known, is a subsonic IJT built for use by both the Indian Air Force and Navy.
Designed and developed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), it has already been tested for parameters like altitude, speed and load factor and its integration with bombs and drop tanks has also been achieved.
Spin testing is the next key phase of flight testing to assess the plane’s behaviour.
HJT-36 will replace the ageing Kiran Jet trainer aircraft fleet which the IAF has been using for Stage 2 training of pilots. According to HAL, IJT combines the simplicity needed for ease of conversion from Basic Piston Trainer with the sophistication required for a speedy conversion to the complexities of an Advanced Jet Trainer.
As the name suggests, the IJT’s capabilities lie between that of a basic trainer and an advanced jet trainer.
The IJT’s roles include pilot training; general flying; navigation formation flying, instrument and cloud flying, basic air to ground and air to air weapon aiming; tactical flying; and night flying.
A brief history of the IJT
The IJT programme in its modern avatar was given the go-ahead in 1999, and the first prototype took to the skies in less than four years.
To its credit, HAL used Numerical Master Geometry which was made available for various functions such as aerodynamics and wind tunnel testing.