The Indian air force (IAF) will start taking deliveries of Swiss Pilatus PC-7 MK II turboprop aircraft beginning in February 2013.

Deliveries of the 75 trainer aircraft will last until August 2015, Defense Minister A.K. Antony told the Indian parliament.

The contract, signed in May, is worth more than 500 million Swiss francs ($520 million). It also covers an integrated, ground-based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package.

In accordance with Indian defense procurement policy, Pilatus has also entered into a separate offset contract with the Indian government representing 30% of the contract’s value.

The Swiss manufacturer will also establish in-country, depot-level maintenance capabilities, which includes the required transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to enable in-country maintenance of the aircraft throughout its service life of more than 30 years.

The PC-7 is a low-wing, tandem-seat training aircraft, capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument, tactical and night flying.

The air force has been scouting for a new basic trainer. Pilatus’ aircraft will replace the 1988-vintage, single-piston-engine HPT-32s, which were grounded in 2009 following a series of fatal crashes. The air force is currently training its young pilots on the Kiran Mark-II, an intermediate jet trainer.

Antony also says that there is a shortfall of more than 600 trained pilots in the IAF. “The present strength of pilots as of August 1 is 3,261 against the sanctioned strength of 3,294,” Antony says. However, “the available strength of pilots in IAF is sufficient to meet the current requirement,” he adds.