Buddy, I like many of your posts but I can't agree to these views. You very well know that IAF contested the price offered by HAL and how it was going to be higher than Pilatus in the longrun. IAF was completely wrong. They ensured that the requirement becomes critical thru delays and than force a willing govt to import Pilatus. ACM Browne ensured just that. The Pilatus deal included options which were cancelled by BJP govt. The import of Pilatus is totally due to IAF. I myself do not have a very high opinion of HAL but we must give them their due where they rightly deserve it.
While corruption was involved when Pilatus was chosen, the fact is the HTT-40 wouldn't have become available anyway. That's why the contract was split into HTT-40 and an import back in 2008-10 itself.
IAF has bought and imported aicraft in even IOC condition, Folland GNAT and M2K are two prime examples. HAL was correct to ask for the clearance to produce the aicraft in IOC condition. Even F-35 entered production after IOC only. HAL asked for it to reduce the time to induct the aircraft. HTT-40 was cleared for IOC after completion of spin test last year itself. The orders should have been placed then itself to avoid delays. After the IOC, the FOC required completion of certain number of aircraft hours only as this was supposed to be a non weaponised platform but HAL built in it the capability for even weapon carriage and firing which was not demanded by IAF and Pilatus does not have.
A fighter jet entering production in IOC is very different from a basic trainer entering IOC. IOC implies the full envelope is not open for a fighter jet. You are a pilot yourself, what training would you receive on a basic trainer without its full flight envelope. Of course, if the full envelope is open, then it's fine, but I doubt cadets will begin flying until FOC is complete. Until then only the instructors are going to fly it.
Overall, HTT-40 is a far superior platform compared to the PC-7, there's no doubt about that. But then it was designed as an upgrade over existing trainers anyway. No different from Rafale import and AMCA development.
Your timelines are out. The go ahead for project was given by Late Parrikar in end 2015 and first prototype flew in 2016. Bulk orders allow for faster production and reduced costs. HAL has never ever got orders in bulk like imported stuff in its history. Even Marut aircraft suffered the same fate.
Design stage started in 2013 using HAL's own funds and was completed in 2015. The go ahead was for the FSED stage which involved the construction of prototypes, which the govt had to approve anyway, or nothing would move foward without it. HAL's goal was to finish flight testing in 2 years, that is 2017. So IOC was scheduled in end 2017. That's why the article pointed towards first delivery in 2018 with serial production deliveries starting from 2019. PC-7's last delivery from the first contract was expected to finish in mid-2018, which it did, and the options would have continued after that. But HAL hijacked the deal by pushing their view with totally unrealistic deadlines. All DPSUs do this.
IAF knew that it was impossible for HAL to keep to those timelines, which is why they pushed for the continuation of the PC-7 line for the remaining options. And that was a correct decision. While HTT-40 was being developed, the IAF would have taken delivery of the remaining PC-7s and training would have continued as usual. The only reason the options died back in 2018 is because of corruption, not because IAF had hopes that HAL was magically gonna deliver the trainers overnight.
Everything I've pointed out over the last 2-3 years have all come true. Now the HTT-40 will need another year to achieve FOC, after which numbers need to come in for basic training to start. So that's basically 2022+. My entire argument on the forum was that HAL sucks and will happily delay the trainer by many years, and it turned out to be correct.
Think about it, right now, the IAF is imparting basic training with less than half of their actual requirement. How does that work out for them?
And this is not even counting the time it will take to create the full length course material for training once the instructors have familiarised themselves with the aircraft. Incredibly, IAF is still of the belief that it will take at least 2+ years for HAL to deliver the first 20 trainers in order to begin basic training of rookies. So push it to 2023. One person I spoke to (ex-test pilot) in fact said it will take at least 4 years from contract before training actually begins, but what does he know, most of the forum members here have decided that it's all done and dusted now with the DAC approval. The only thing working in the IAF's favour is they are actually competent enough to make up for HAL's inadequacies.