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Defense PSUs Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) in its Annual Report 2021-22 confirmed that under the company’s new initiatives it has started the development of the Hindustan Lead in fighter Trainer (HLFT-42) program. HLFT-42 being a LIFT aircraft it was assumed that it will be based on the Baseline LCA-Tejas Trainer since HAL earlier had shown the LCA Trainer in the LIFT Concept.

Jayadeva E.P, Director (Operations) at HAL at the Investor meeting said that HLFT-42 will be a low-cost alternative to the LCA-Tejas Trainer which will be all metal and will not have a Digital fly by wire (FBW) system, instead, it will have a power-assisted flight controls system (FCS).

LCA-LIFT and HLFT-42 both are being offered by HAL to IAF to be used as Lead In fighter Trainers that can be used to train newbie fighter pilots before they fly the fighter type they will be deputed to after joining their squadrons. Both LCA-LIFT and HLFT-42 aircraft will be able to simulate aircraft handlings, speeds, and performance that give similar feedback as the aircraft they will eventually fly to get prior experience before they fly them.

Jayadeva confirmed that HLFT-42 will have high indigenous content except for maybe engines, it will have all Indian-made systems and subsystems and will be a highly cost-effective training solution.

It’s still not clear whether HLFT-42 will be a new design or still will be based on LCA-Tejas Trainer minus Composites and Digital Fly by Wire (FBW) but since LCA has a double delta wing configuration that makes it is an inherently unstable aircraft. But much before the Digital FBW system arrived there did exist delta wings fighter jets like Convair F-106 Delta Dart, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, and Saab 35 Draken that had all mechanical power-assisted flight controls system.

Defense Expert Ranesh Rajan told that HLFT-42 without a Digital FBW system will be seen as a major weakness of the platform since all LIFT aircraft in the segment like American T-7A Red Hawk or Chinese Hongdu JL-10 incorporate Digital Fly by Wire (FBW) system. Rajan feels that HAL likely will incorporate Digital Fly by Wire (FBW) system once detailed studies on the program start since even the HJT-36 Sirata Intermediate Jet Trainer has Digital Fly by Wire system.

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