HAL HJT-36 Sitara

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HJT-36 Sitara
Hindustan HJT-36 Sitara Krivchikov 2007.jpg
Role Intermediate Trainer
Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
First flight 7 March 2003
Status Limited series production
Primary users Indian Air Force
Indian Navy
Number built 6[1]

The HAL HJT-36 Sitara (Hindi: सितारा, Sitārā: "star"[2]) 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 for the engine on either side of its fuselage. It entered limited series production by 2010 but according to the Indian Air Force officials it remains "unfit" for service due to technological issues (as of March 2017).[3]


Prototype IJT in its hangar

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.[4]

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.[5][6]

The first AL-55I engine was received from Russia on 28 December 2008, 2 years later than committed, and was installed on PT-1.[7] Following ground taxiing trials, flight tests with the new engine started on 9 May 2009.[8][9]

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,[10] and initial operational capability is expected by July 2011.[11][12] 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.[13]

As of 13 March 2013 the contract for 12 LSP and 73 Full Rate production aircraft is delayed till 2014.[14] In December 2013, HAL declared that Sitara was 'weeks' from certification.[15]

On 19 February 2014 the Indian MOD submitted a statement that the development of IJT is in the advanced stages of certification with more than 800 test flights completed so far. The activities are progressing well with completion of sea level trials, night flying trials, high altitude trials as well as weapon and drop tank trials. The activities left for obtaining Final Operational Clearance (FOC) are the refinement of stall characteristics and spin testing which will be commenced as soon as stall characteristics are refined.All efforts are being made to achieve FOC by December 2014. Production of aircraft will commence immediately thereafter.[16] However the stall cannot be tested until HAL redesigns the entire aircraft to correct its "inherent asymmetry".[17] BAE was consulted on certain design changes, specifically the tail.[18] Afterwards the design was put to mathematical and wind tunnel tests. The modified aircraft is expected to complete the spin tests in September 2015 and the production of 85 aircraft for the Indian Air Force to begin.[19] The initial spin trials in 2016 were a success.[20] However, in March 2017 Jane's reported that due to the HJT-36's "unresolvable" issues associated with critical stall and spin characteristics the aircraft is not ready to serve as an intermediate jet trainer for Indian Air Force pilots.[3]


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.[21][22] The pilots have both conventional and manual flight controls.[4]

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. Head-up display and repeater is produced by Elbit Systems.[22]

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.[5] The aircraft was repaired and returned to service.[23]

On 4 February 2009, PT-2 landed on its belly after a routine aerobatic sortie. There was structural damage to the undercarriage and one of the wing tips.[6]

On 28 April 2011, a prototype Sitara crashed in Tamil Nadu. Both crew ejected safely.[23]

Specifications (HJT-36, prototypes)[edit]

Profil HAL HJT-36.png

Data from airforce-techonology.com[24]

General characteristics


  • 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

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ http://defence-blog.com/news/indian-air-force-orders-hal-to-redesign-hjt-36.html
  2. ^ Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries
  3. ^ a b Bedi, Rahul. "India's HJT-36 Sitara remains 'unfit' for use as intermediate jet trainer". Jane's 360. IHS. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/hjttrainer/[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ a b Report in The Hindu
  6. ^ a b http://theasiandefence.blogspot.com/2009/02/intermediate-jet-trainer-lands-on-belly.html
  7. ^ Russian engines coming today for intermediate jet trainer
  8. ^ http://www.deagel.com/Trainers-and-Light-Attack-Aircraft/IJT_a000076001.aspx
  9. ^ "HAL's intermediate jet trainer HJT-36 makes maiden flight with Russian engine". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  10. ^ http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/jsp_includes/articlePrint.jsp?storyID=news/awx/2010/05/28/awx_05_28_2010_p0-230737.xml&headLine=India%20Thought%20Leaders:%20HAL%20Chairman%20Sets%20Firm%20Agenda%20For%20Aggressive%20Export%20Sales
  11. ^ "Indigenous jet trainer to get initial clearance by July". The Times Of India. 10 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Vayu aerospace article
  13. ^ http://www.hal-india.com/MSM/VOL-5_MSM-94.pdf
  14. ^ http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=93617
  15. ^ http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/in-tejas-shadow-sitara-trainer-also-poised-to-enter-service-113122000026_1.html
  16. ^ HJT-36 target foc by dec 2014
  17. ^ Simha, Rakesh Krishnan (24 February 2014). "Flameout: Why the IAF won't accept HAL's jet trainer". indrus.in. Российская газета. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  18. ^ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/spin-trials-to-revive-intermediate-jet-trainer-programme-soon/articleshow/56209445.cms
  19. ^ IAF’s IJT set for spin test
  20. ^ "HJT-36 Intermediate jet trainer programme update". idrw.org. Retrieved 2016-03-24. 
  21. ^ http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/1378/hal3.jpg
  22. ^ a b Major suppliers to the HAL HJT-36 Sitara aircraft program
  23. ^ a b Rao, Radhakrishna. "Crew ejects as Indian Sitara prototype crashes". Flight Global. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  24. ^ http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/hjttrainer/specs.html[unreliable source?]

External links[edit]