The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the procurement of 70 HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force at a cost of ₹6,828.36 crore. The aircraft will be supplied over a period of six years. The decision is being taken in a bid to provide a boost towards the government's 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' program in the Indian Aerospace Defence ecosystem, according to an official statement. 

"The HTT-40 is a turboprop aircraft and is designed to have good low-speed handling qualities and provide better training effectiveness. This fully aerobatic tandem seat turbo trainer has an air-conditioned cockpit, modern avionics, hot refueling, running change over, and zero-zero ejection seats," the ministry of defence said. The aircraft will meet the shortage of basic trainer aircraft of IAF for the training of newly inducted pilots. The procurement will include associated equipment and training aids including simulators. Being indigenous, the aircraft is configurable for upgrades to incorporate the futuristic requirements of the Indian Armed Forces, according to the ministry. 

The HTT-40 contains approximately 56% indigenous content which will progressively increase to over 60% through indigenisation of major components and subsystems. "The HAL would engage Indian private industry, including MSMEs, in its supply chain. The procurement has the potential to provide direct employment to approximately 1,500 personnel and indirect employment for up to 3,000 people spread over more than 100 MSMEs," the ministry said. 

Apart from this, the cabinet also approved the acquisition of three Cadet Training Ships from Larsen & Toubro Limited at an overall cost of ₹3,108.09 crore, under Buy Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (Indian-IDDM) category. The delivery of ships is scheduled to start in 2026. According to the ministry, the ships will be indigenously designed, developed and constructed at L&T shipyard in Kattupalli, Chennai and the project will generate employment of 22.5 lakh man-days over a period of four-and-half years. 

"These ships will cater to the training of officer cadets, including women, at sea after their basic training to meet the future requirements of the Indian Navy. The ships would also provide training to cadets from friendly countries with the aim to strengthen diplomatic relations. The ships can also be deployed for evacuation of people and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)," the ministry said. 

Last month, Rajnath Singh, the Union Minister of Defence said that 75% of the defence outlay or around ₹1 lakh crore will be spent on procurement from domestic defence manufacturers beginning FY2023-24. In the union budget for FY2023-24, the government allocated ₹5.94 lakh crore for the Ministry of Defence, which is 13.18% of the country’s total outlay of ₹45.03 lakh crore. Singh had said that the decision will strengthen the defence sector and minimize import dependency.

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