SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
South Korea recently contracted an order for 48 FA-50 combat aircraft from Poland with deliveries to commence in 2023. News coming in from Malaysia also confirms that the contract for 18 Lead in Fighter Trainers might be also going to Koreans. FA-50 has been winning fresh orders due to past orders and multiple operators of the jets while India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has a plan to develop a low-cost Hindustan Lead-in Fighter Trainer (HLFT-42) market is already getting crowded with more countries entering the segment.
Turkey plans to enter the advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft market with its supersonic-capable Hürjet jet trainer and things are already getting heated up Boeing-Saab developed T-7A Red Hawk right under the $ 20 million per unit mark that will give some competition to present market leader FA-50.
HLFT-42 is based on LCA-Tejas Two-seater Variant but is being designed and reserved for use as dedicated Basic and Advanced Flight training aircraft. HAL has not disclosed any official timeline for the HLFT-42 program it needs to become reality if it ever wants to compete in the International market that is already getting crowded.
The predecessor to HLFT-42 was first publically revealed in 2019 and three years are enough to get going hopefully HAL has commenced work on the development of the first aircraft that is designed for advanced flight training of the pilots. The era of light combat aircraft is more or less shrunk over the years as even the Chinese have found how difficult is it to find a market for its JF-17 fighter jets.
Countries now prefer Lead-in Fighter Trainer that can also be used as a light combat fighter aircraft when required while the focus now has shifted to procuring medium and heavy class multi-role fighter jets for active combat patrols. The market for Light Combat aircraft type LCA-Tejas is nearly negligible but it can make some mark in the Lead-in Fighter Trainer market for which execution of the HLFT-42 program is crucial that to in time.
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