SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
India’s HAL has initiated the process of developing a new Hindustan Lead-in Fighter Trainer (HLFT-42) aircraft eyeing the export market for ultra-low-cost trainer aircraft that can also double up as fighter bombers. HLFT-42 will be a metal aircraft that will be easy to manufacture and will have low input cost for it to be used as a fighter that is even lower than Tejas Mk1 which was just over $40 million per unit.
HAL Management seems to have realized early that there is a market of ultra-low-cost fighter trainer aircraft that needs to be priced below $15 million per unit cost to make it saleable to countries that are still interested in aircraft to replace old legacy fighters like the J-7/F-7 and Mig-21.
HLFT-42 will attract three main classes of potential customers, one that wants a small jet capable of carrying out a variety of strike and intelligence-gathering missions, and who has never flown a combat jet before or is looking to replace older vintage aircraft.
Second, countries that can afford high-end fighter jets but want ultra-low-cost trainer aircraft that can be used to train their future fighter pilots which will have no or minimal usage in actual combat.
Third, countries that have very low-risk environments to work in won’t mind procuring jets like the HLFT-42 class of jets that can be used on simpler missions over combat zones with no air defense system.
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