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    First HAL-built Hawk-MK132 aircraft handed over to IAF

    Bangalore (PTI): The first indigenously built Hawk-MK132 trainer aircraft was on Thursday formally handed over to the Indian Air Force at the HAL airport here.

    Built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the trainer aircraft was formally handed over to the Air Force Chief at a function here today.

    It would help the pilots to get training in state-of-the-art aircraft, Air Chief Marshall F H Major said.

    The BAE system-designed Hawk-MK132 is a transonic tandem-seat ground attack trainer, powered by a single Rolls-Royce Adour MK871 turbo fan engine.

    It can be used to provide basic, advanced and weapons training to the pilots. In its operational role, it can also be utilised for ground attack, capable of carrying and delivering a large selection of modern weapons. When armed with air-to-air missiles, it has an air defence capability.

    HAL Chairman Ashok K Baweja handed over the aircraft which is a part of the 42 jets that HAL is building to be inducted into the airforce.

    The Defence Acquisition Council has approved procurement of additional 57 aircraft, out of which 17 would be for the navy and 40 for the airforce, Major said.

    The IAF is acquiring 66 Hawk Mk 132-AJT aircraft to meet its training needs. Twenty four of these would be supplied by BAE Systems in flyaway condition to IAF and the rest by HAL Aircraft Division, Bangalore under licence in three phases.

    "HAL plans to roll out 100 aircraft in matter of six years. The first set of 42 would be completed by 2011," Baweja said after a stunning display of the first HAL-built aircraft at the HAL complex.

    Hailing it as a red-letter day for the IAF and the HAL, Major described the aircraft as a "landmark achievement". The aircraft would help a trainee pilot in going through a smooth transition from training to front line operations.

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