Hindustan Aeronautics developed the Ajeet lightweight jet fighter from the Folland/ Hawker Siddeley Gnat which HAL license-produced.
The prototype Ajeet first flew in March 1975 and the first production aircraft (E1956) followed in September 1976.
The main changes from the Gnat are improved navigation and communications systems and the use of new wing fuel tanks which replace the previous underwing tanks. The last feature allows an increased warload to be carried, although drop-tanks can still be carried underwing on two of the four stations for longer range. Armament comprises two 30 mm Aden cannon and rockets or bombs. Maximum speed with the 4,500 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Orpheus 701-01 turbojet remains subsonic at Mach 0.96.
Deliveries began to the Indian Air Force in 1976. Of the approximately 80 aircraft ordered for the Indian Air Force about one-third had been delivered by early 1980.
Developed from the single-seat Ajeet lightweight fighter, the prototype trainer version flew on September 20, 1982. After the crash of this aircraft in December 1982, the project assumed a low priority for several years. A second prototype flew in September 1983.
Compared with the Ajeet fighter, the Trainer has a 1.4m fuselage extension to accommodate the second seat. Two fuel tanks are deleted, but the space provided for the twin 30mm Aden cannon installation can be used for additional tankage.
Engine: 4,500 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Orpheus 701-01 turbojet
Maximum speed: Mach 0.96 / 716 mph / 1,152 km/h
Wing span: 22 ft 1 in (6.73 m).