HAL HJT-36 Sitara
|Manufacturer||Hindustan Aeronautics Limited|
|First flight||7 March 2003|
|Status||Limited series production|
|Primary user||Indian Air Force
The HAL HJT-36 Sitara (Hindi: सितारा, Sitārā: "star") is a subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The HJT-36 will replace the HAL HJT-16 Kiran as the Stage-2 trainer for the two forces.
The Sitara is a conventional jet trainer with low swept wings, tandem cockpit and small air intakes on either side of its fuselage. It entered limited series production by 2010, with initial operational capability expected by mid-2011.[dated info]
HAL started design work on an intermediate jet trainer in 1997. The concept was developed as a successor to HAL's earlier trainer, the HJT-16 Kiran, introduced in 1968. In 1999, following reviews by the Indian Air Force, the Government of India awarded HAL a contract for development, testing and certification of two prototype IJT aircraft.
The first and second prototypes of the HJT-36, labelled PT-1 and PT-2, flew on 7 March 2003 and in March 2004, respectively. The program was then delayed with the Air Force assessing the SNECMA Turbomeca Larzac engine, with 14.1 kN of thrust, as under-powered. In response, in August 2005, HAL reached a deal to replace the SNECMA engine with the NPO Saturn AL-55I with 16.9 kN of thrust. The deal also provided for license-production of the engine in India by HAL.
Further delays were caused by delays in delivery of the NPO Saturn engine by 2 years, as well as due to two accidents in February 2007 and in February 2009 involving each of the prototypes, which grounded the aircraft for repairs and investigations.
The first AL-55I engine was received from Russia on 28 December 2008, 2 years later than committed, and was installed on PT-1. Following ground taxiing trials, flight tests with the new engine started on 9 May 2009.
After further development and extensive testing, the Indian Air Force placed an order for 73 aircraft. After over 280 test flights, the aircraft entered limited series production in 2009 for the first 12 aircraft to be delivered to the Air Force. The first flight test for the limited series aircraft occurred in January 2010, and initial operational capability is expected by July 2011. The Air Force order is expected to grow to over 200 aircraft. The third Prototype in development phase. On 27 July 2012 it performed first Engine Ground Run. 
As of March 13, 2013 the contract for 12 LSP and 73 Full Rate production aircraft is delayed till 2014. 
HJT-36 uses light alloys and composites, with a conventional low wing design with 18° leading edge sweepback and a 9.8m wingspan. It features a hydraulically retractable tricycle-type landing gear. The single-wheeled main units retract inward and the twin nose wheel unit retracts forward. About a quarter of the aircraft's line replaceable units are common between it and the HAL Tejas trainer variant.
In the cockpit, the HJT-36 has a conventional tandem two-seat configuration with the trainee pilot forward and the instructor in the raised seat to the rear. The single-piece canopy gives both pilots good, all-round vision. The prototype aircraft used Zvezda K-26LT lightweight zero-zero ejection seats. However, these may be replaced with Martin-Baker Mk.16 IN16S seats, due to a price escalation of the former. The pilots have both conventional and manual flight controls.
The trainer has a full glass cockpit with a layout similar to current generation combat aircraft. It uses an integrated digital avionics system from GE Aviation Systems. Active matrix liquid crystal multi-function displays from Thales and GE Aviation were evaluated. Head-up display and repeater is sourced from Elbit Systems. The instructor's station in the rear cockpit has a data entry display panel. The aircraft also has dual VHF and UHF communications systems.
The aircraft has five external hardpoints for weapons-training. There is one centre-line hardpoint under the fuselage and two weapon pylons under each wing for carrying rockets, gun pods and bombs. The maximum external payload is 1,000 kg.
The prototype aircraft were initially powered by a SNECMA Turbomeca Larzac 04-H-20 non-afterburning turbofan developing 14.12 kN of thrust. All production models will use the more powerful NPO Saturn AL-55I engine with about 16.9 kN of thrust, as stipulated by the 2005 air staff requirements from the Air Force.
In February 2007 at the Aero India show at the Yelahanka air base near Bangalore, PT-1, the first prototype aircraft suffered serious damage when its canopy flew open during takeoff causing the aircraft to veer to the right off the runway. This caused the aircraft to tilt, which damaged the starboard wing. When the pilot tried to regain control of the aircraft, and pulled back on to the runway, one of the tyres burst. The program's chief test pilot and the pilot of the aircraft, Squadron Leader Baldev Singh, was unharmed in the incident. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service.
On 4 February 2009, PT-2 landed on its belly after a routine aerobatic sortie. The aircraft was co-piloted by Squadron Leader Baldev Singh and IAF test pilot, Wing Commander C. Subramaniam, who were unharmed. There was structural damage to the undercarriage and one of the wing tips.
Specifications (HJT-36, prototypes)
- Crew: 2, student and instructor
- Length: 10.91m (36 ft 1 in)
- Wingspan: 10.00 m (32 ft 10 in)
- Height: 4.13m (14 ft 5 in)
- Max. takeoff weight: 4,600 kg (10,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × NPO Saturn AL-55I non-afterburning turbofan, 16.9kN (4,500 lbf)
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.80 (1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph))
- Range: 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) ()
- Service ceiling: 9,000 metres (30,000 ft) ()
- Endurance: 3 hours
- Maximum Dive Speed: 950 km/h
- Maximum Load Factor: +7.0/-2.5 g
- 4 57mm Rocket pods on under wing stations
- 1 × 12.7 mm Gun Pod * 4 250kg Retarder or ballistic bombs on under wing stations
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries
- Report in The Hindu
- Russian engines coming today for intermediate jet trainer
- "HAL’s intermediate jet trainer HJT-36 makes maiden flight with Russian engine". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 14 May 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "Indigenous jet trainer to get initial clearance by July". The Times Of India. 10 February 2011.
- Vayu aerospace article
- Major suppliers to the HAL HJT-36 Sitara aircraft program
- Rao, Radhakrishna. "Crew ejects as Indian Sitara prototype crashes". Flight Global. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to HAL HJT-36 Sitara.|
- HAL Intermediate Jet Trainer HJT-36 by Wg.Cdr Kukke Suresh VrC(Retd.) @ Bharat-rakshak.com
- Bharat-Rakshak Monitor: Sitara - Intermediate Jet Trainer - HJT-36 by H. Niranjan Rao
- Photos of the two prototypes @ Bharat-rakshak.com
- ACIG Exclusive: 15 Photos of two HJT-36 prototypes and its cockpit