February 11, 2009: India is undergoing a crises in training new fighter pilots, because half its Hawk jet trainer aircraft are not available. By now, there were supposed to be 39 Hawk trainers in service, but only 18 are available for use, because of delays in deliveries and chronic shortages of spare parts. These delays and shortages are endemic in the Indian military. There is a growing effort to eliminate this problem, but progress is slow.
Five years ago, after two decades of effort, BAE Systems finally sold 66 Hawk jet trainers to India, at a cost of some $25 million each. The delays were caused by the governments unwillingness to spend the money, plus the efforts of French, Russian, Czech and American aircraft manufacturers to put forward their own candidates. Finally, the growing number of Indian MiG-21 aircraft lost, partly due to inadequately trained pilots, forced the government to close the deal.
The Hawk advanced jet trainers are the most successful Western aircraft of this type, at least in terms of sales (over 800 have been sold). The US Navy uses the Hawk, and India felt the Hawk was the most suitable for training MiG-21 pilots. The nine ton aircraft are used to train pilots who will eventually fly jet fighters. The Hawk can also be armed and used for ground attack.