Last year, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had revealed plans to convert aging HJT-16 Kiran, a two-seat intermediate jet-powered trainer aircraft into pilotless manned aircraft, and according to the latest tender documents, it has started that process of the conversion. The youngest of the Kiran aircraft is 32 years old and the average age of the fleet is now nearing the 40s, with most of the older Mk1 jets being retired after completing their airframe life. 

Informed sources close to have said that indent is to test some of the basic new technologies that will find its way into use on next-generation unmanned combat aircraft that the company is designing and not as suicide drones or to be used as flying decoy in some risky missions, as reported in the media. Aircraft selected for the conversion are all retired and have been kept in storage for a while now and hints are they are probably the older Kiran Mk1 jets that were retired from IAF sometime back.

DRDO is developing long-range air-to-air missiles is also looking out for targets that are more maneuverable than target drone Banshee that are usually used to test new air-to-air missiles with live warheads. pilotless Kiran can be used as targets in air-to-air weapons testing when HAL is done testing out some of the technologies it wants to test. 

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