A Pakistani Trainer Jet For The Indian Air Force?April 13, 2010
Here is a chance that India blew to send a strong message for peace with both Pakistan and China. An Egyptian diplomat based in New Delhi apparently offered recently to help Indian Air Force overcome its shabby pilot training program.
According to a report by the Indian magazine Business Standard, the Egyptian official offered a novel solution: An Egyptian Air Force training crew flown from Egypt to India to train Indian pilots using Karakoram-8, the multirole trainer jointly developed by both Pakistan and China and now used by a growing list of countries, including Egypt, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Namibia, not to mention the air forces of both Pakistan and China.
Says the Indian magazine: “Since the offer was not followed up in writing, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was spared the embarrassment of having to reply.”
But the Egyptian diplomat was not playing dumb. He knew what he was saying. The Egyptians are no novices in diplomacy. Maybe he was just hoping to make a small indirect breakthrough in India’s tense relationship with both Pakistan and China. Cairo enjoys excellent relations with Islamabad and Beijing.
It would have been a smart move had the Indian air force accepted the offer. New Delhi has close ties to Egypt and extensive military-to-military relations. So there is no question of trust deficit. Using a trainer developed by Pakistan and China would have said a lot about how confident India is about itself. The move would have also made financial and practical sense. Despite India’s massive military procurement program, it’s pilot training record is downright embarrassing. Again, here’s a quote from the same report: “… the IAF’s notoriously unreliable basic trainer, the HPT-32 Deepak, was grounded after a horrific crash that killed two experienced pilots. In 17 Deepak crashes so far, 19 pilots have died.”
This move would have done good where Indian diplomacy in recent years has done little to improve relations with its two neighbors.
The list of Indian hostile messages to Pakistan and China is long [acquiring Pakistan-specific weapon systems, building Pakistan- and China-specific bases near the two borders, quietly supporting terrorism inside China in Tibet in Xinjiang and Inside Pakistan’s Balochistan and in cities close to Pakistan’s border with India.
The Karakoram-8, and its several recent upgraded models, is jointly developed and produced by China Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. The plane is called K-8 Karakorum after the mountain range that separates China and Pakistan. Although it is a trainer, the jet can be used for light air-to-ground combat roles with easy modifications. [See specifications here].