India is set to buy 194 microlights from Pipistrel, a Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer, for ab initio flying training, surveillance, aerial photography and high-altitude operations. The deal is likely to be inked shortly.
It is not clear as to which one of a series of light aircraft would be procured but in all probability, it would be a variant of the Pipistrel’s Virus SW 80/100. The aircraft to be provided to Indian users has been specially tweaked to meet the buyers’ requirements.
A report said that the aircraft is likely to be designated SW-80 Garud in India.
The deal is being inked after four years of protracted negotiations, with the Slovenian company meeting all the requirements put forth by the Indian customer.
In India these aircraft will be operated by the IAF (72), Indian Navy (12) and the NCC (110).
According to the report, the SW 80/100 is made from state-of-the-art composite material. It is lightweight, robust, allowing an unprecedented useful payload of more than 300 kg (660 lbs) and has earned itself a name for being the most economic high-speed cruiser and the fastest high-wing aeroplane in its category. The SW 80/100 is able to operate at all elevations from sea-level up to 15.000 feet with short take-off/landing run
The aircraft boasts of speed, efficiency and an ultra-long range. It can cruise at 260 kmph (140 kts) at heights up to 22,000 ft and has a range of close to 1,500 km (800 nautical miles).
With such performance characteristics, the aircraft would be capable to operate even from high-altitude airfields, such as Leh and Thoise and could easily loiter over the Siachen Glacier.
The aircraft can also be adapted for special missions including Visual/IR camera gimbals, geographical surveys, trans-oceanic flights etc. The aircraft could be economically used for bird watching duties to enhance safe operations over and around the military airfields
The aircraft has high glide ratio of 17:1 and can glide further in emergency than most aeroplanes in its class.
The aircraft can be powered by either the Rotax 912 UL2 (80 hp) or 912 ULS (100 hp) power plants and has a large variety of avionics options. The 80 HP SW 80/100 can cruise at 246 km/h (133 kts), burning less than 13.6 liters per hour. At 75 per cent cruise-power-setting the 100 HP version can fly at an astonishing 273 km/h (147 kts).
More than 100 SW80/100 have been already sold worldwide in different continents.
Pipistrel was the first private aircraft company in the erstwhile Yugoslavia. Till date, the company has produced 1,000 plus aircraft and 500 plus hang-gliders. Its stable of different types of aircraft includes Alpha Trainer, Virus SW, Sinus, Apis/Bee, Taurus, Surveyor, Panthera, etc.
With the rising demand of its products, Pipistrel is building a new factory in Italy near the town of Gorizia.