Indian government has decided to not extend the contract to maintain the Air Force’s 75 PC-7 Turbo Trainers which was expired in December 2016.
Manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland, the aircraft were acquired in 2012. "The follow-on guarantee of further 36 months beyond December 2016 is not being cleared by MoD on grounds of steep price," the MoD official was quoted as saying by The Hindustan Times Thursday.
Even Pilatus is not extending the contract because the MoD decided against buying additional PC-7 Turbo Trainers, "which were earlier agreed upon", an Indian air force official said.
"Due to no maintenance contract, IAF is using its own resources and resorting to buying parts from the local market to maintain the Pilatus fleet," the Air Force official said.
The PC-7 trainers were purchased by the outgoing government despite opposition to the foreign purchase by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. HAL had wanted a contract for the HTT-40 basic trainer that it was developing.
However the National Democratic Alliance government, after coming to power in 2014 took stance that the Air Force's future needs would only be met the HTT-40, which is still under development and is likely to be certified in the coming year, ensuring end to the purchase of Pilatus turbo trainers.
Currently, in the Air Force's training fleet, the Pilatus strength is 75, and an order for the HTT-40 trainers is for at least 60.
The MoD, under the current rule of the NDA government, is not likely to give support for a major contract for spares of Pilatus, and IAF has to maintain the fleet within the existing budget for the entire fleet, the IAF official said.