IAF is already exploring options of leasing mid-air refuelling aircraft, which it is in urgent need of

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at leasing training aircraft and Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) for short duration till the indigenous platforms under development are inducted into service, said IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh on Wednesday. The recently released Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 allows leasing of military platforms.

“The IAF is in the process of sending out Request for Information (RFI) for leasing trainer aircraft for relatively short period,” Air Marshal Singh said at a webinar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The IAF is already exploring options of leasing mid-air refuelling aircraft, which it is in urgent need of.

With Kiran trainers being obsolete and indigenous HTT-40 being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in advanced trails, the IAF is looking to plug the gaps for a short term through leasing. About 20-30 aircraft could be leased for 4-5 years. The indigenous LUH, being developed by HAL, has completed development trials and its limited series development is expected to begin soon.

Navy’s Needs

Speaking at the webinar, Vice Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ashok Kumar said the Navy was looking to lease operational support assets and auxiliaries to enhance operational capabilities and avoid huge investments in manning and maintaining them. “The Indian Navy is planning to lease certain assets in the medium term to mitigate critical operational capability gap”.

On leasing of mid-air refuelers, Air Marshal Singh said that even before the DAP-2020 was issued, they had sent out preliminary RFIs for wet and dry lease of such aircraft. “We have good inputs for both options and we are in the process of analysing the options for making the Statement of Case (SoC),” he noted.

The IAF presently has six Russian IL-78 tankers and has been looking to procure six new aircraft but the deal has been repeatedly delayed.

Air Marshal Singh said that broadly wet lease of platforms could be used for peacetime use and dry leasing for operational requirements. The Services were also exploring options of leasing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and surveillance aircraft.