The Indian Navy inducted the Hawk 132, a fourth generation Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft, on November 6, 2013 at an impressive ceremony held at Naval Air Station INS Dega. Admiral D.K. Joshi, Chief of the Naval Staff, who was the chief guest at the event, inducted the aircraft in the presence of Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command. The ceremony was attended by various Flag Officers and senior officers of the Navy, as well as senior management from HAL and representatives of British Aerospace (BAe) and Rolls Royce. The aircraft is licensed to be built by HAL, Bengaluru with transfer of technology (ToT) from British Aerospace (BAe), UK. Four aircraft have been delivered to the Navy, marking the beginning of seventeen such fighter trainers to be acquired over the next few years.
The Hawk 132 is equipped with advanced and reliable navigation systems and the capability to deploy an impressive array of weaponry including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground rockets, bombs and guns. It can also carry two extra fuel tanks under the wing, which extend its considerable strike range further. The hands on throttle and stick (HOTAS) system on the control column and throttle allows the pilot to make weapon selections without moving his hands from the controls. The Hawk 132 is a proven aircraft operating with over 24 nations around the world. The Indian Air Force is also operating these aircraft for training of their pilots.
The induction of this highly capable aircraft will provide the much needed fillip to the training of combat pilots in the Navy by bridging the gap between basic flying training and advanced fighter flying. The Hawk will provide the ab initio naval pilots with an ideal platform to hone their skills before they graduate to flying high performance aircraft and carrier based fighter jets, thereby making them available operationally in a shorter span of time.
The induction heralds a new beginning for INS Dega as well, since jet aircraft would be based here for the first time. Whilst an array of maritime reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters operate from this premier Naval Air Station on the Eastern seaboard, this will be the first time that a fighter squadron will be based here, leading to a quantum jump in its operational versatility.