While the Defence Ministry ponders over the IAF's recommendation that the HTT-40 basic trainer project be foreclosed, HAL is fighting back. At a recent annual general meeting of the Aeronautical Society of India, which includes influential voices from the veteran communities of the IAF and aerospace industry, HAL sought to project the HTT-40 trainer effort as a possible light attack platform.
Deputy Project Manager Prashant Bhadoria informed the audience, "The trainers of today cannot only be deployed for basic training to ab initio pilots but have also undergone systems and weapons upgradation to include functionality of fourth generation fighter aircraft. This enables them to double up as light attack and reconnaissance aircraft. A significant amount of systems training to be provided at the intermediate and advanced phase of training can be covered by the basic trainer itself, leading to enormous reduction of cost and platform fatigue." HAL, incidentally, is also seeking to weaponise the intermediate jet trainer HJT-36 Sitara with gun-pods. The company recently said in a statement, "The matter is before the competent authorities and there are no comments to offer on this subject in particular. HAL continues to whole heartedly support the progress of Indian Air Force and highly values its relationship with IAF."