India's National Cadets Corps (NCC), the country's official youth outfit for military training, is procuring 110 microlite aircraft to train its air wing cadets in flying techniques, apart from providing them with an adventure activity that will literally take them to the skies.
These aircraft would be bought off-the-shelf. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for these planes was issued in May 2010 to global microlite manufacturers.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is helping the NCC in procuring these microlite planes and a decision on the winner of the deal will be announced within a few months from now.
"We are getting many new microlites planes so they (cadets) get more hands-on flying training and it will give them some exposure to the air force too," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne said after visiting the NCC Republic Day camp here.
Responding to a query on the measures taken by the IAF for improving training of NCC’s air wing cadets, Browne said by the time the cadets get selected and come up for IAF selection, they will be more experienced in flying and also in understanding IAF better once the microlites are inducted into the corps.
He said the training will also improve the standard of adventure activities of NCC, which trains school and college students for a career in armed forces.
The first set of 30 microlites is expected to be inducted into the NCC Air Wings before end of this year. The remaining 80 aircraft would be inducted in batches before June 2014.
Once the 110 aircraft are inducted and the performance of these flying machines have been certified, the NCC is expected to go in for a follow-on order of another 55 microlite by end of 2014, NCC officers told defencenow.com.
The NCC has stipulated that the microlites should be of latest design, weigh about 450 kg, twin-seaters with dual controls in the cockpit, and with single piston engine.
The aircraft, which can tough speeds of 90 kmph, would be capable of operating on paved, hard grassy surfaces and from Advanced Landing Grounds, disused airfields, all with a runway length of 1,000 metres and up to airfield elevation of 1,700 metres.
It would have an endurance of one-and-a-half hour with full fuel, with additional fuel tanks to complement endurance by another one-and-a-half hour.
"The NCC is hopeful of using these aircraft for the next 20 years to train the cadets," the officer said.
The NCC, a tri-service defence organisation for the youth with units in schools and colleges, trains its air wing cadets in gliding and microlite flying, apart from normal drill and weapon training.
The NCC Air Wing squadrons are tasked to achieve 1,000 launches on gliders or 200 hours on microlites, or a combination of 500 launches and 100 hours if it has both gliders and microlites.