Indian Air Force gifted a IAF trainer HPT-32 'Deepak' that was decommissioned from service to Raman Science Centre, Nagpur on December 15, 2017. The aircraft was formally handed over to Raman Science Centre by Air Marshal Hemant Sharma Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command.
An aerospace Pavilion is also being set up at the museum at Raman Science Centre where the TV2117 aero-engine of Mi-8 helicopter and AI-9V APU of Mi-17 helicopter which was also gifted to Raman Science Centre will be positioned for knowledge and exposure to children.
Many school children were invited for witnessing the handing over ceremony of the aircraft and the Air Marshal interacted with them. To their delight Air Marshal Hemant Sharma explained the children about the parts of the aircraft and how the aircraft flies. The students were amazed as their curiosity were addressed by the AOC-in-C himself. The Air Marshal was given a preview of Science of Sphere (SoS), which is a state of the art system of studying various planets, as also the earth. Air Marshal keenly observed the imagery and movement of air traffic across the globe. Shri N Ramdas Iyer, Project Coordinator, explained the capabilities of SoS and details of various activities of Raman Science Centre.
India's indigenously built HPT-32 'Deepak' by HAL was used for initial pilot training and other utility tasks. The 'Deepak' was developed by HAL for the IAF to replace the tandem two-seat HT-2 basic trainer and to undertake a range of other utility roles like armed patrol, observation, liaison work, supply dropping, SAR recon, glider, target towing, weapon training and even for light weight strike. 'Deepak' first flew in 1981 and was delivered to IAF Training Command in 1984 for formal instructions in basic flying. Notably, many of the top IAF Officers have trained on HPT-32.
The prototype first flew on January 6, 1977, followed by a second on March 1979. Further, the aircraft was re-designed with various aerodynamic changes and underwent a weight reduction programme. The third prototype, built to the definitive production standard, flew in July 1981. The first production batch of 24 aircraft was followed by successive re-orders up to 120 aircraft delivered through early 1980s.
- Wg Cdr Samir S Gangakhedkar