English name: Star

TYPE: Basic jet trainer/light attack jet.

PROGRAMME: Revealed at Singapore Air Show. February 1998; design started 1997. Conceived as successor to IAF HJT-16 Kiran. In design development stage: mockup, with Thales (Sextant) avionics suite, exhibited at Air India Show in December 1998, differed considerably in appearance from general arrangement released at Singapore. Indian dovernment Rs1.8 billion (US$42 million) contract awarded in July 1999, covering completion, flight test and certification of two prototypes. First metal cut July 2001; systems integration started December 2002; first taxi tests February 2003. Maiden flight of first prototype (S3466) 7 March 2003; 'inaugural' (official) first flight 21 March 2003 was seventh sortie; second prototype to have full 'glass cockpit' and digital avionics and to fly in second half of same year. Trainer reportedly to be named Sitara (Glorious Star).

CUSTOMERS: Indian Air Force and Navy as replacement for existing fleet of approximately 170 Kirans from about 2005. Government approval for 211 awarded in January 2001, including 24 for Indian Navy. Initial contract (16 for Indian Air Force) announced 6 February 2003, of which 12 targeted for delivery by end of 2004.

DESIGN FEATURES: Capable of high-speed training, but with simple handling at low speeds; cockpit layout compatible with current combat aircraft; some 25 per cent of LRUs are common with ADA LCA. Conventional, low-wing CAD/CAM design with moderate (15o) wing leading-edge sweepback and 2o dihedral.

FLYING CONTROLS: Conventional and manual, with three-axis trim (rudder and each aileron); horn-balanced elevators.

STRUCTURE: All-metal. Intended fatigue life of more than 7,500 hours, extendable to 10,000 hours.

LANDING GEAR: Retractable tricycle type. Inward-retracting main units, rearward-retracting twin nosewheels.

POWER PLANT: Prototypes each powered by one 14.12 kN (3,175 lb st) SNECMA Larzac 04-H20 non-afterburning turbofan in rear fuselage, fed by bifurcated air intake.

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two in tandem, on Zvezda K-36LT lightweight zero/zero ejection seats; rear (instructor's) seat raised. One-piece canopy opens sideways to starboard.

AVIONICS: Integrated system, supplied by French, German and Indian manufacturers, comprising dual V/UHF comms, open systems architecture mission computer, HUD, HUD repeater, GPS, VOR/DME, AHRS, AM, LCDs (Thales), air data computers and rear cockpit data entry panel.

ARMAMENT: One underfuselage and four underwing weapons pylons for bombs, rocket pods and gun pods.