The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to acquire 15 indigenous Saras aircraft from National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) to train pilots to fly cargo aircraft.

The Deccan Herald quoted NAL acting director Shyam Chetty as saying: “NAL signed a memorandum of understanding with IAF to sell 15 Saras aircraft. The Kanpur unit of Hindustan Aeronautics will manufacture these planes.”

The Saras aircraft is a 14-seater multirole transport aircraft fitted with two rear-mounted turbo-prop Pratt & Whitney engines.

The air force will use the jets for coastal surveillance and to train pilots to fly cargo aircraft such as Boeing C-17s, Ilyushin Il-76s and Antonov An-3s.

The delivery of the first three aircraft is expected to take place in 2014, with another four to be delivered yearly over the next three years.