The Hawk brings a huge step-up in capability as a training aircraft, bridging the gap between the basic piston-engined trainer and the high performance flying of an advanced fighter aircraft.
Situated around 160km from Hyderabad, the small town of Bidar is host to one of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) five Flying Training Establishments. Here, trainee pilots fresh from the Air Force Academy are taught the skills and techniques required of a modern fighter pilot before being assigned to one of the combat units of the world’s fourth-largest air force.
Bidar has been an IAF training base since the early 1960s but has been remodelled and refurbished for the arrival of the BAE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer. The runway has been extended to 9,000 feet to make it more in tune for training requirements, new facilities for aircraft and engine maintenance and testing have been built and a new computer-based learning syllabus introduced.
The responsibility for this new era of training for the IAF has recently been inherited by a new Commanding Officer at the base, Air Commodore Dharkar, who shares the reasons behind the Hawk’s selection.
‘The Hawk is an exceptional training platform with good hands-on training capability. It provides a good introduction to new pilots of the electronic cockpit so that when trainees go on to fly other platforms they have prior knowledge of how to use them effectively. The Hawk is a good bridge from a low capability to a very high capability platform.’
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