Indian Air Force [Interviews & News]


ACCESS: Confidential
29 January 2006
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‘ The Request For Proposal for 126 Combat Aircraft, is likely to be Issued in May 2006 '

FORCE May -2006

Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff

According to the recent ministry of defence's annual report 05-06, the IAF has laid emphasis on ‘core competencies', ‘joint operations' and ‘asymmetric nature of warfare'. What exactly is meant by these three phrases, and what role does the air force see for itself in these?

Core Competencies

Any organisation is created for a purpose and to meet that purpose it is endowed with certain ‘essential capabilities’. These are what may be termed as ‘core competencies’; or those disciplines that the organisation must master, those essential capabilities that it must posses in order to justify its ‘raison d’etre’. The IAF’s ‘core competencies’ are ‘air defence’, ‘precision strike’, ‘over the hill vision or ISR’, and ‘air lift’. In other words, the IAF must defend any airspace given to it, from hostile intent and prevent damage to protected assets. Strike the enemy with accuracy where and when required (usually beyond the reach of ground based weapons). Conduct surveillance and reconnaissance of enemy locations towards intelligence-gathering, beyond the view of ground-based sensors. Lastly, lend its capability of ‘long reach’ to whatever it carries, from one place to another. To be able to implement those ‘competencies’ in practice, the IAF would need to master many sub-disciplines and related capabilities, such as air traffic control, or airborne weapons, etc. ‘Core competencies’ therefore, lead to a number of related competencies.
In a way these competencies might well apply to most air forces; I therefore must state that the IAF has distinguished itself in two areas. The first of which is operations in the most diverse terrains in the world; from the heights of Siachen to deserts and oceans. This requires special skills and attention. The other is management of a diverse inventory of platforms of different origins and different generations, which tremendously impacts operational utilisation, maintenance and logistic practices. Going back a bit, to develop its ‘core’, the IAF has acquired or is in the process of acquiring in some cases, aerial refuelling capability, to extend reach; long range smart weapons, for safe precision strike; AWACS, for better early warning and assured air defence; net-centricity, for better Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Interoperability (C4I2); heavy-lift helicopters, for support of the army and civil tasks; better training institutions etc.

Joint Operations

This phrase really needs no introduction, but it refers to operations carried out with elements of the other forces. Operations both in peace and war could be conducted ‘jointly’ with the army or navy, or both. This is no new subject; it has only gained in importance over the years, due to heightened awareness and past battle experiences. So how do we do it?

Quite obviously we have to understand each other, plan together, exercise together, train and assimilate together. We need to use each force’s ‘core competencies’ to the fullest, according to the situation. Over the years, we have considerably enhanced our ‘jointness’. We plan to have more realistic joint exercises in future. In this, Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff and joint training institutions play an important role.

While technically ‘Joint Operations’ refers to military forces only; ‘Combined Operations’ would include para-military or police forces; but the concept of jointness is relevant in many contexts. To use the term a little loosely, we need jointness at all levels of operations, even at the ministerial level. The MoD, the MHA and MEA must think as one, on matters of national security and formulate ‘joint approaches’. I guess the ministry of finance has to be in it too.

Asymmetric Warfare

‘Asymmetric Warfare’ is warfare between unequal adversaries, between two states or between a state and non-state combatant. A weaker force would not tackle a superior one head on; it would resort to unconventional tactics or face certain destruction. Simply put, it would resort to ‘asymmetric’ methods. It would look for an ‘Achilles’ Heel’ to fell ‘Goliath’. On the flip side, a superior force’s standard tactics may not yield results. How to tackle insurgents/guerrillas, that don’t have a logistic footprint and can live off the land, has been an old problem. Thus, in an insurgency both sides have to resort to asymmetric warfare. The powerful ‘state’ could imaginatively utilise its technological superiority to best the insurgent, while the latter may do a 9/11 to hurt the state. The weaker force would aim to challenge the national will, use the media and shape public opinion.

Given that India faces considerable ‘asymmetric’ challenges, the defence forces will surely have to play a significant role in meeting them; mainly the army but also the IAF. The IAF’s role in such operations would be providing ‘lift’, or ‘destruction’, or ‘surveillance’. We therefore need to develop/acquire requisite capabilities, such as low calibre smart weapons, airborne surveillance sensors, night vision devices, enhanced heli-lift and attack helicopter capability, COMINT capability etc.

While waiting for the government decision on the ‘Aerospace Command’, the IAF has gone ahead with setting up of an ‘Aerospace Directorate’ in the Southern Air Command (SAC). What is the organisation of this Directorate, how and in which areas will it interact with ISRO, and how will it eventually merge with the Aerospace Command when formed?

There is an error in the premise of this question. The IAF has not set-up any ‘Directorate’ at Southern Air Command to shepherd ‘space’ matters. Yes, we had intended to add the responsibilities of ‘space’ to SAC, in our proposal last year. The reasons why SAC was chosen were two-fold; firstly that SAC’s current operational tasks were somewhat limited, compared to that of other Commands. Secondly, we felt that giving SAC additional responsibility might be the quicker path, which might therefore lead to a quicker integration of ‘space’ into air operations. It is our endeavour to evolve into an ‘aerospace force’. I might add, lest it be misperceived, that SAC has an important role for which it was set-up. This role is likely to become ‘busier’ as our interests southward expand and if our capabilities keep pace.

In Delhi ‘officialese’ a directorate is a part of an apex organisation and not of others. At Air HQ, we have had a ‘directorate’ managing ‘space affairs’ for years now. What we have done is to increase its strength a bit. The Air Headquarters element would always remain, even if a ‘Command’ or ‘Group’ comes up. This is because all capabilities must be represented at the Air Headquarters. We are considering the option of an independent body called an ‘Aerospace Group’ instead of the SAC option.

Our ‘Aerospace Group’, if approved and when it comes up would interact with the Department of Space to obtain available space-based capabilities in the areas of SATCOM, Remote Sensing (imagery) of various kinds, Meteorology, Search and Rescue of downed pilots through signals picked up by satellites and on issues related to Position and Navigation, currently available through the US GPS Satellites.

The combat strength of the IAF is coming down: total authorised combat squadrons are 39.5; at present there are 35 squadrons (FORCE interview with CAS in November 2005); according to the Standing Committee on Defence (2005-06), there will be 29 Squadrons at the end of 10th defence plan (2002-07). How do you propose to arrest this downslide in combat strength?

In order to arrest the depletion caused due to the phasing out of the MiG 21 and MiG 23 fleets, the IAF has planned upgrades on its MiG 21 Bis, MiG 27, MiG 29 and Mirage 2000 fleets. While some are nearing completion in this plan period, a major portion would be completed in the 11th Plan period (2007-2012).

Additionally, the proposed compression of delivery schedule of HAL built SU-30 MKI aircraft would considerably check the depletion. A total of seven squadrons of these would be in operational service in the IAF by the end of the 11th Plan period and an additional two squadrons by the middle of the 12th plan period (2012-2017).

The contract for Tejas (LCA) aircraft has been signed on 31 March 2006 for a quantity of 20 aircraft in the IOC configuration. By the end of the 11th Plan, one squadron of LCA would be in operational service in the IAF. An additional two squadron are expected to be in operational service by the end of the 12th Plan period.

With the likely fructification of the M-MRCA in the middle of the 11th Plan period, the effect of depletion would have been arrested, especially since there is a parallel programme to augment the force multipliers such as the FRA, AWACS and UAVs to enhance the flexibility of the combat force. Force multipliers also add substantially to the effectiveness of the force.

When and to which contenders will the Request For Proposal be issued for 126 Combat aircraft, 80 Medium Lift Helicopters, 15 Medium Powered Radars and 19 Low Level Transportable Radar?

The RFPs are likely to be issued, or have been issued to the following contenders: For 126 combat aircraft, the RFP is likely to be issued in May 2006 to M/s Lockheed Martin, M/s Boeing, M/s Gripen International, M/s Eurofighter GmbH, M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s RAC-MiG.

For 80 Medium Lift Helicopters, the RFP is likely to be issued in May 2006 to M/s Rosoboronexport only.

For 15 Medium Powered Radars, the RFP was issued in August 2004, to 14 vendors. It was a long list, which included M/s Thales, Northrop Grumman, EADS, IAI ELTA, Alenia Marconi, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin etc. In response we received three technical proposals from M/s Alenia Marconi Systems of Italy, our own BEL in a joint venture with M/s Thales of France and M/s IAI ELTA of Israel. The technical evaluation is over and we shall shortly identify the lowest bidder. A similar request for 19 Low Level Transportable Radars is likely to be issued this quarter. Names of contenders as well as details of the request are being finalised.

What is happening on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft project on which Russia started work in 2002 and we signed a protocol in November 2004?

The initial proposal by Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB) was only generic in nature. In mid-2005, they further presented some limited details on which further clarifications were sought. In December 2005, both RAC-MiG and SDB made presentations at Air Headquarters. They have now proposed a 50 per cent work share for the Indian design houses, as required by the IAF. We have prepared an ‘approach paper’ on the subject which includes a suggested ‘course of action’, which is under consideration of the MoD.

What is the status on the UAVs whose induction according to the annual report has been completed in June 2005?

The IAF has operationalised its acquired UAV systems and their induction is complete. In response to the current and emerging requirements on the sub-continent, the UAVs are being employed on a variety of missions, in our areas of interest. Specific emphasis is being laid on ‘joint tasks’ and the integration of this ‘Force Enabler’ with other elements. We also envisage that the requirement of these platforms would increase in future due to the emerging regular and asymmetric threats. Hence, we have plans to upgrade these aircraft as well as induct more UAVs with enhanced capabilities and performance.

What is the update on the induction of the planned three squadrons of Prithvi II? Do you see the possibility of acquiring the US’ Patriot missiles?

The induction of the three Prithvi-II missiles systems into the IAF has commenced. The first squadron with ground support equipment has been formed and moved to its intended location. The second squadron is formed up and is engaged in the process of taking over equipment. The three squadrons would be completely formed up by 2008-09.

Regarding Patriot missile, a US government team carried out two classified briefings to the MoD and Service Headquarters in February and September 2005. IAI of Israel had also presented their ARROW missile system at the Air Headquarters in August 2005. The DRDO has also been working on an indigenous missile system. We would therefore continue to engage foreign vendors while awaiting the outcome of the indigenous effort.

Please give an update on the modernisation and upgrades of MiG-27, Jaguar and MiG-29 aircraft?

Well, let me see how I can summarise a subject of some detail. As you know, any weapon platform with residual life cannot be junked away. To keep it contemporary it must be upgraded. Most modern aircraft have upgrades planned from their very induction. Since all our aircraft are of foreign origin, we prepare our own upgrade requirements and have them executed by appropriate contractors.

Now to specifics, the MiG-29 is to be upgraded by the OEM, which is RAC MiG. We have issued a RFP in January 2006. Six aircraft would be upgraded in Russia and the series upgrade of the rest will be done by one of the air force’s BRDs (11 BRD). HAL will assist us in this project in various ways. The enhanced capabilities of the aircraft would be in terms of a better radar, improved avionics and fuel carrying capability. We should have the project wrapped up by 2011.

The MiG-27 is one of our older generation aircraft, inducted in 1986 and has a life till 2015 and beyond. The MiG-27, a strike aircraft, lacked contemporary avionics, navigation and targeting systems. It was imperative that it be upgraded. The upgrade project commenced in April 2002 and is a joint venture of the HAL and DARE. The IAF has made its own choice of equipment to be fitted. Eight aircraft have already rolled out and I expect project completion in 2008/09. The new capabilities include a state of the art ring-laser-gyro based INGPS; improved displays; vastly improved EW systems which include CMDS, RWR and SPJ. The aircraft will carry a modern LDP with FLIR and LRMTS facility. It will also carry modern photo recce equipment.

As you may be aware, we got the Jaguars in 1979 directly from BAe. These had the old NavWASS, which is a ‘poor man’s’ INS. Later we inducted the DARIN NAS fitted aircraft, which were a great improvement. We have therefore begun the upgrade of the NavWASS Jaguars. HAL is doing this for us and they should finish by 2008. With that we would have an aircraft with the contemporary RLG-based INGPS; an advanced digital map display, better MFD and HUD and improved EW systems. The DARIN Jaguars have also had a modern LDP integrated with its NAS and installation of an autopilot is in progress.

What is the update on IACCS? How much is indigenous and what help has been sought from outside?

The IACCS is a completely indigenous project. There were many contractors in the fray and we short-listed two. These are M/s ECIL (Hyderabad) and BEL (Ghaziabad). These ‘prime contractors’ are independently developing prototype solutions. There will be a field evaluation mid-year and one of them would be selected. A major sub-system, the Voice Communication Control System (VCCS) is also being developed by two private vendors, namely AEM (Noida) and ICOMM (Hyderabad). The IAF will select from the prototypes developed. The vendors however are at liberty to avail of consultancy services from Indian and foreign companies if required. We expect the first phase of the IACCS to be operationalised in the western sector by end 2008.

There is a general perception that the induction of capabilities falls far short of the vision that the IAF has for itself. Does this mismatch bother you? Given the slow process of inductions and limited finances, what are the IAF’s acquisition priorities?

Keeping the ‘edge’ of a military force sharp is indeed a challenging task, especially when that ‘edge’ is determined by frontier technology, which is always very expensive. That most of that ‘cutting-edge’ technology is not indigenous, makes the task more daunting. If the ‘competition’ is strong the imperatives are accentuated and the slack limited.

While that is true, a military force’s equipping ‘time-lines’ are determined on the ‘time-lines’ and dimensions of the assessed threat. If that were not so, we would require ‘everything’ and ‘here and now’. In addition, the IAF must also gear-up in keeping with ‘national interests’. In this manner the IAF is working towards achieving its envisioned capabilities. The government too is quite responsive to this endeavour. Of course, it could always be faster, but a developing nation of India’s complexity has a multitude of competing priorities, so there always are hard choices for the government and for us.

The IAF’s acquisition priorities are embodied in its perspective plans. Our XI Plan was forwarded to the MoD early this year. Once these priorities are realised we would be contemporary; but I might add, that with time the definition of contemporary changes. I mean that in a situation of shifting ‘goal-posts’, both vision and priorities remain under constant review.

‘The Arguments in Favour of the Hawk for the Indian Navy are Compelling'

Lord Paul Rudd Drayson , UK minister for defence procurement assumed his current office in May 2005. Apart from being a minister for procurement, he is also the government's spokesperson for defence to the House of Lords. Born in 1960, Lord Drayson holds a PhD in Robotics. Earlier he had graduated in production engineering and subsequently held a number of corporate positions, such as managing director Lambourn Food Company. He also co-founded PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc in Oxford , and was its Chief Executive until 2003. A car racing enthusiast, Lord Drayson has been the Chairman of the Oxford Children's Hospital Campaign since 2002. FORCE spoke with him during his visit to India as part of the British delegation to DEFEXPO-06.


What was the purpose of your visit to India ?

It was my first visit to India and I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet with your defence minister and the two ministers of state for defence, the defence secretary and senior officers from each of the Indian armed forces. I attended DEFEXPO 06 (February 2006), met with the press corps and a broad cross-section of exhibitors. I discussed a wide range of equipment co-operation opportunities and was especially interested to visit one of the DRDO laboratories. The DRDO is keen to engage with the UK Science and Technology community and we are looking at ways of developing closer ties.

What are your key result areas?

I now have a clearer understanding of the broad range of capabilities in the Indian defence industrial base. I believe there are genuine opportunities for both our industries to work together, particularly in high technology areas. For example, we are aware of your prowess in Information Technology. The UK operates an open procurement policy and I want to encourage Indian firms to bid for our requirements. I have already discussed with my ministerial colleagues how we might harness our respective expertise in S&T. This is an area where the defence and the commercial communities can learn from each other. I see India as a prime example of this.

What are the highpoints of UK 's Defence Industrial Strategy?

The UK government developed the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) as a
logical development of the Defence Industrial Policy published in 2002. The strategy is squarely aimed at ensuring that our armed forces are provided with the equipment that they require, on time, and at best value for money. We need to be assured that we can procure from a sustainable industrial base that retains within the UK those industrial capabilities (including infrastructure, skills, intellectual property and capacity) that are required, to meet our national security needs. The DIS will — for the first time — give industry and investors a much clearer idea of our priorities, allowing it more assuredly to plan for the future. It will allow the industry to invest in sustaining the key skills, technologies and capabilities that we need; and to face up to the tough choices that are required to deliver improved performance and reduce costs. Delivering the DIS will require substantial changes in the way both industry and the MoD do business. This won't always be easy but is essential if we are to make it work.

The DIS includes conclusions on specific sectors including shipbuilding and ship support; fixed wing aircraft (including UAVs); helicopters; complex weapons; general munitions; armoured fighting vehicles; CBRN, C4ISTAR and Counter-Terrorism, as well as cross cutting chapters on systems engineering, underpinning technologies and test and evaluation.

What are your defence equipment procurement priorities for the UK defence services?

The United Kingdom 's equipment priorities are to ensure agile, flexible forces that can respond effectively to the varied challenges that we face now and into the future. These priorities include a focus on optimising the armed forces to meet the modern demands of the most likely and frequent small and medium scale operations, whilst retaining the capacity to reconfigure for less frequent large scale operations, and the importance of increased force protection, mobility and Network Enabled Capability, particularly for medium weight forces.

Key new equipment programmes to deliver this are Typhoon, JSF & A400M aircraft, the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, Nimrod MRA4, the CVF future carrier, Type45 destroyer, the Astute class attack submarine, Future Rapid Effects System vehicles programme (which is the army's highest priority), Bowman communications and the Watchkeeper UAV.

The Defence Procurement Agency has key business objectives to help deliver these and some 500 other programmes, which include: developing Key Supplier Management arrangements with industry, introducing more effective ways of contracting, a greater emphasis on through life capability management and more investment early on in projects to assess and set more realistic performance, time and cost parameters.

Tell us about Indo-UK defence relations regarding contribution by defence science and technology?

Defence research and development co-operation is an integral, and growing, part of the UK 's overall defence relationship with India . Defence science and technology is UK 's strength and we are keen to work with India to both our nations' advantage. India 's Defence Research and Development Organisation works across an impressively broad spectrum of research fields and technologies and we are in the early stages of exploring areas where the UK and India can work together.

What is the status of Indo-UK defence industry partnership, and where do you see possibilities of expansion?

There are now an increasing number of our defence companies working together, most of them linked by industrial collaboration agreements. Traditionally, defence aerospace has dominated the relationship, but we are keen to widen this to encompass more in both the naval and land sectors. UK defence companies are currently bidding on requirements in these areas and this will naturally lead to new alliances. India 's new offset policy will also encourage our companies to explore the opportunities of sourcing work in India . In this respect, UK industry is looking for real and meaningful long-term commercial relationships, which can read across to third markets.

The AgustaWestland EH 101 helicopter seems a good contender for the Indian Air Force's medium lift helicopter requirement? How optimistic are you about this deal?

The EH101 is the world's leading medium lift multi-role helicopter and its capability is well proven in the harshest of operational conditions, as demonstrated in Iraq , where it has achieved excellent operational availability and become the military helicopter of choice for the British Forces in this theatre. The EH101 offers the military operator a true multi-role capability. It has the largest cabin and payload in its class, enabling long-range operations in all weather conditions, by day and by night. The cabin capacity gives EH101 a unique capability for Combat Search and Rescue, Special Forces Operations and Disaster Relief missions, who have become an increasingly important feature of the medium lift helicopter role. EH101 is also a key candidate for the Indian Air Force VVIP requirement. Building on its success in the US Presidential helicopter competition, EH101 offers the operator the cabin capacity, all weather operating clearances, performance and proven safety necessary for safe and reliable VVIP operations. I am very optimistic that EH101 provides the capability required to meet the future operational roles of the Indian Air Force. EH101 also offers excellent opportunities for Indian aerospace industry to benefit from state of the art technology developments in rotorcraft design and production and access to the global market.

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi has flown the Typhoon aircraft and is appreciative of the platform. Are you hopeful of the Request for Proposal for Typhoon to meet the IAF's requirement for 126 aircraft?

I would like to thank the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi for his comments regarding the Typhoon multi-role fighter aircraft, with which I am in full agreement. Typhoon is the world's most advanced multi-role aircraft currently in service :) with the Air Forces of Germany, Italy , Spain and the UK with more than 60 aircraft flying. The Eurofighter consortium has already commenced manufacturing the second tranche of 236 airframes with the first tranche of 148 nearing completion.

I am aware that Eurofighter Gmbh has formally expressed interest to the Indian government in receiving an invitation to participate in the MRCA process and that some preliminary information was provided to the IAF in January 2005, when an initial RFI went out to other suppliers. Should the Eurofighter consortium receive an RFP from the IAF for this requirement, it would be assessed, and if Typhoon can meet the IAF's requirement, partner governments and industry would consider how best to respond.

The Indian artillery has shown interest in the British light-weight howitzer. Do you see a possibility of offering the weapon system to the Indian Army?

The M777 is clearly a most capable light howitzer and is as a British-designed and developed howitzer, the largest offshore-primed procurement programme for land force equipment in the United States . The US Army and Marine Corps are between them acquiring over 600 equipments. The British Army is currently evaluating M777 as part of its artillery modernisation programme and we would be delighted to demonstrate the M777 to the Indian Army. Both the US and UK governments welcome Indian interest in M777.

Do you see the possibility of the Indian Navy buying the British Hawks?

Yes. We believe that the arguments in favour of the Hawk for the Indian Navy are compelling. The Indian Air Force conducted a rigorous evaluation process prior to the definitive selection of Hawk and therefore the Indian ministry of defence is as well informed as anyone on the Hawk's capabilities. Hawk has been the preferred choice of over 20 air forces or navy's world-wide and we believe it would also be a contender for meeting the Indian Navy's advance jet training requirements. Hawk Mk132 is also entering the local production phase with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) so HAL in years to come will be well-positioned to support the platform, not only the IAF but any other operator including the Indian Navy. BAE Systems as OEM and Design Authority remain fully committed to the Hawk programme in India , both to the future needs of the operator as well as the collaborative work which is underway with HAL.


Painting the Sky Red

The British aerobatic team dazzled the audience through a breathtaking display

By Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Blazing a trail of deep red, blue and white smoke, nine Hawk aircraft tore across the light blue sky on the scorching afternoon with neither a warning nor an announcement. The sound system, which was being tested all through the afternoon on the Bogmallo Beach Resort in southern Goa, eventually succumbed to the pressure of performance in the presence of high-profile guests including the chief minister and the governor of Goa and refused to even squeak. So while the audience was squinting in the horizon ahead despite the furious sun, the nine Hawk trainer jets which form the crack Red Arrow aerobatics team of the Royal Air Force, zoomed from behind the buildings on the right quite unexpectedly and sailed over the glistening sea. Despite a slightly delayed reaction, the team, led by Squadron Leader Dicky Patounas, was greeted by a welcoming applause. The first few minutes of the display, which lasted a little over 20 minutes, were like a warm-up as Red Arrows flew in more or less the repetitive diamond formation: sometimes pulling up vertically so that they disappeared in the sky and sometimes so low that they almost seem to touch the tall coconut trees that lined the beach. As Patounas said later, “Our flying height ranges from 100ft to 7,000ft.”

The heart-in-the-mouth routine started after the first phase of warm-up was over and the formations broke into two groups for some very aggressive and dynamic flying manoeuvres. Patounas assured that, “They look very dangerous but they are perfectly safe. We train very hard, flying three times a day to get it right every time. Moreover, for every single manoeuvre we have an escape route. We believe that safety is paramount.” To illustrate his point, he gave an example of a display in Greece , when a bird-hit made a gaping hole in his aircraft. “I immediately informed everybody,” said Patounas. The remaining eight Hawks of the formation pulled off from Patounas' so that he could manoeuvre his aircraft towards a safe landing. This was certainly reassuring, but it didn't take away from the fact that on the sun-kissed beach of Goa, when two aircraft flew towards one another at great speed they looked almost on a collision course, but each time they managed to pull off at just the right moment. The Red Arrows performed about 23 different manoeuvres including rolls and breaks, some of which were really very unusual. Though displaying in India for the fourth time, this was Red Arrows first public display and the first outing in Goa . On the previous three occasions, in 1986, 1999 and 2003, they displayed at the Indian Air Force Station, Hindon, and on the last show, flew with IAF's aerobatic team Surya Kiran. In fact, Red Arrows share the distinction of flying in the formation of nine aircraft with Surya Kiran and Canadian Air Force's Snow Bird.


“It is a great privilege to fly in such beautiful surroundings in Goa ,” Patounas said after a fabulous display, which saw a lot of applause and a few shrieks as well. Red Arrows, who fly the first generation Hawk jet trainer, were in Goa as part of the Indo-British naval exercise Konkan-2006. Though their role here was mainly entertainment, it was no less challenging. As Patounas said, “To a pilot it makes no difference whether he is flying as part of an operation or simply doing an aerobatic display. There is never any compromise on his level of training, concentration and alertness. All Red Arrow pilots have to be above average fighter pilots and the manoeuvres which appear entertaining from below actually are operational ones for which all fighters train.”

Red Arrows started with the Gnat aircraft 41 years ago and converted to Hawks in 1980. Till now, they have displayed in 52 countries and usually travel out of Britain every two years. In 2006, their diary is completely booked as they are scheduled to display in 17 countries. In fact, the day after the Bogmallo display, the team flew to Muscat for yet another show. “We are ambassadors for Britain ,” says Patounas. “We generate interest and awareness about the Royal Air Force in the world.” More than that, Red Arrows also inspire youngsters to join the RAF through their fantastic displays. Little wonder then, they have had nearly 3,000 displays in UK alone.

The aerobatic skills of Red Arrows have evolved over the years in response to the changing technologies and environment. Till about 1998, Red Arrows used to fly over the audience, but owing to one tragic incident during a similar display by an Italian team they discontinued it. In Goa , the closest they came to the audience was when they flew past the residential buildings. But as Patounas reiterated, it was perfectly safe. The nine aircraft formation has a total of 11 aircraft and 51 members in the team, including engineers, ground staff and two additional pilots.

After the display, as Patounas presented a Red Arrow memento to the Goa Chief Minister Pratapsingh Raoji Rane, all that the minister could say was, ‘Come again.' According to the British High Commissioner in India Sir Michael Arthur the invitation has been accepted. Hopefully, as Indo-British defence ties enter the next level, we would be seeing more of the Red Arrows.


Ruling the Sea
Royal Navy packs a punch in its exercise with the Indian Navy

As the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier landed on the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious off the coast of Goa in the last week on May, as part of Konkan-2006, it was clear that the Indo-British military exercises have entered the next level. The enthusiasm among both the British and the Indian naval officers was infectious. While the former spoke about joint operations in the future, the latter waxed about the great learning experience. The 11-day exercise, only the second one of the series, has set the pace for future cooperation which would be more encompassing. Talking to the media, which was especially flown in from Delhi and Mumbai with a large section of the local press, the UK High Commissioner in India Sir Michael Arthur put Konkan-2006 in perspective by saying that, “ Two years ago when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited London, he and Prime Minister Tony Blair called their agreement a strategic partnership between the two countries. And Konkan-2006 symbolises our growing relationship with India . We realise the increasing importance of India as a regional ally. For us, India is an indispensable partner.”

This certainly was a far-cry from the first episode of Konkan in April 2004, which almost looked like an afterthought. Two British vessels, HMS Exeter (a guided missile destroyer) and RFA Grey Rover (an auxiliary fleet tanker), were visiting Asia and en route Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, decided to stop by in Chennai to exercise with the Indian ships. That Indians took it in their stride was evident by the fact that they fielded the destroyer INS Rajput, the replenishment tanker Jyothi, the submarine Vela, a few Dornier aircraft and helicopters. The exercise, which basically involved familiarisation with one another (or the first contact in 40 years, as one officer put it) lasted all of three days without media hype.


But with Konkan-2006, the British bounced back with vengeance. The power-pack led by Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti comprised the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (with aircraft like GR 7A and choppers like EH101 Merlin ), a guided-missile destroyer Gloucester, the fleet replenishment tanker Fort Victoria, the submarine support ship Diligence and a nuclear powered submarine Sovereign, in addition to one French ship FNS Surcouf, (according to the present understanding between the British and the French, one French ship is always embedded with the British Carrier group) and elements of the Royal Air Force including the famed aerobatic team Red Arrows, which apart from the public display on the Bogmalla beach in Goa also did a flypast with Indian naval pilots sitting in the back. The Indian side, led by Rear Admiral Anup Singh, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Fleet, fielded the destroyer INS Mumbai, the guided missile frigates Ganga and Brahmaputra , tanker Shakti and the submarine Shankush. A noticeable participant from the Indian side was the Kamov-31 helicopter and the absentee was the IL-38 aircraft. The IN is the only navy to have Ka-31 air early warning helicopters. Called the ‘eye in the sky', the Ka-31 is placed on the new Talwar class ships and the only aircraft carrier, INS Viraat. It has the endurance of three hours and can attain an altitude of 3.5km. At present, the navy has nine Ka-31s whose number is expected to double with the arrival of INS Vikramaditya from Russia.


Held from May 17 to May 28, the Konkan-2006 has been the largest exercise by the British Navy in the last 40 years. According to Commodore Robert Cooling, commanding officer of HMS Illustrious, “1,200 UK personnel participated in the exercise which was conducted in four phases.” Phase one lasted from May 17 to 19 and was meant for familiarisation leading to the harbour phase from May 19 to 22, which included building of personnel rapport through social and sports interaction between the two navies. After this, mixed task groups were formed that exercised during the third phase from May 23 to 27. This was the most interesting and the complex phase of the exercise that enthused and encouraged both sides. Konkan-2006 had many firsts to its credit, including the complexities that were introduced for the first time. For instance, as Commodore Cooling said, “And as against the general practice of one force operating against the other, we formed composite groups comprising British and Indian officers and pilots and gave them both offensive and defensive roles.” One such role-playing saw the combined maritime air operations by the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier aircraft and the Royal Navy's (RN) Harrier GR 7A. Involving a total of six aircraft, two GR 7A escorted by two Indian Sea Harrier aircraft were exercised to strike at the Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, while two Indian Sea Harriers were tasked to defend the latter. This exercise was meant to demonstrate the capabilities of the different Harrier aircraft with the two countries, which are a generation apart. The RN's GR 7A is a specialised strike aircraft meant for air to ground strikes. For this role, it has GPS and laser guided bombs, Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) capability, and it can fly low at night as the pilots are provided with night vision goggles. The IN's Sea Harriers are meant for air defence roles and have been upgraded and refurbished with Pulse Doppler multi-mode radar, 20km range Derby beyond visual range missiles and data link and flight data recording system.

According to an Indian pilot who participated in this Harrier exercise, it had three advantages. One, major thrust areas were Dissimilar Air Combat (DACT), Combined Maritime Air Operations (COMAO) and Tactical Air Support for Maritime Operations (TASMO), all NATO-agreed military terminology that would contribute substantially towards ‘interoperability' between the two navies. Two, it was a learning experience for the Indian pilots on how to plan such manoeuvres. “There is a substantive difference in our procedures and theirs,” said one pilot. “Importantly, these people are operationally deployed in such conflict areas as Afghanistan and Iraq , so their experience is much wider than ours.” Unlike the RN pilots who have five GR 7A squadrons, the IN has a single Sea Harrier fighter squadron. Considering that the naval arm of the IN is poised to expand in the near future, with the coming of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov) and the indigenously-built Air Defence Ship, there is a greater need for the Indian pilots to plan and train with experienced pilots. And three, in a subtle fashion as is the British wont, the Indian pilots were introduced to the sophisticated Harrier GR 7A. A senior representative of BAE systems later told the media that they would want the IN to consider purchasing the GR 7A aircraft. Indian pilots, as well as media personnel, were also given a taste of EH101 Merlin helicopter whose most recent buyer has been the President of the United States . The exercise concluded with the harbour phase (debriefing) in Mumbai which was attended by the Indian Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash and his British counterpart, Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, who especially flew down to India to review Konkan-2006.

However, beyond the hype and the high-profile visits, Konkan-2006 achieved much more in the larger sense. It provided a common playing field, and led to the understanding of each other's procedures, equipment and capabilities. Describing the exercise as a great learning experience, Commodore Cooling said, “The idea was that we understand how the Indian Navy works and they understand how we work. We have operated with the submarines, with the fixed wing as well as the rotory aircraft.” The Flag Officer Naval Aviation, Rear Admiral Sanjay Vadgaokar, based in Goa , said, “The naval exercise was helped immensely by the fact that IN's tactical procedures have evolved from those of the RN. They certainly have been modified given our realities but the basis is the same. Moreover, since both sides communicate in the English language, it made things that much simpler.” The British, however, were more forthcoming and effusive in their praise for the Indian counterparts. Complimenting the Indian Navy, Cooling said, “This was not the situation where the big brother was teaching the small brother how to do things because we were working at the same level; and it was important for us particularly for the maritime security operations in this region to know how to operate together.” Among other things, the two sides exercised intermediate and advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) procedures and other tactical manoeuvres. According to Cooling and other British officers, such exercises should naturally lead to joint operations, but they concede that these decisions can only be taken at the political level. Yet, Cooling struck an optimistic note when he said that, “Apart from the brotherhood of maritime society we may be operating as part of a coalition force so we need mutual understanding about each other's procedures.”


Sea was not the only hub of activity. The shore was equally abuzz with anticipation and promises of future cooperation. Taking advantage of Konkan-2006, the British flew down officials from their defence industry, such as British Aerospace and Rolls Royce, in addition to the head of Defence Export and Services Organisation (DESO). The idea was to package military to military exercise in the composite whole of defence relations. This was evident by the nature and the size of the British delegation. At the press meet, conducted with British precision, officials from DESO, BAE and Rolls Royce addressed the media in an effusive fashion. Alan Garwood, head of DESO minced no words when he said, “We are interested in meeting the Indian Navy's requirement for jet trainers, just as we are keen to bag the IAF's order. With the navy, we are also hoping to upgrade the Sea King helicopters. We have brought EH101 choppers with us and hope that we will manage to elicit India 's interest. Indo-UK industrial relationship goes back a long way. In the end, all I want to say is, ‘Buy British'.” The high ranking officials from the BAE Systems and the Rolls Royce were not so direct, but even their underlying message was that India and Britain 's defence cooperation has great potential of intensifying even further. To lure Indian industry, one official from DESO invited Goan-based companies to bid for work in the UK as sub-contractors. Meanwhile, Rolls Royce quietly reiterated its commitment and involvement with the Indian public sector undertakings, such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Goa Shipyard Ltd. Clearly, Konkan-2006 was as much about the naval exercises as it was about generating awareness about the British defence industry.

The industrial pitch notwithstanding, it was the exercise and its potential that dominated the mindscape of the British delegation. However, even as they appeared keen on more frequent and intensive exercises with the possibility of future joint operations, they accepted the reality that any such decision will have to be taken by the political masters. As Cooling said, “For the UK, it is in its national interest to have a presence in the Indian Ocean region. There have been previous exercises with the Indian Navy, but nothing on this scale. This perhaps means that we need to operate more often with each other. I cannot tell you how often that is going to be, but personally, I would like these exercises to be more frequent, maybe on a biannual basis.” In the last few years, Indian Navy's exercises with the foreign navies have increased not only in frequency but also in complexity. Clearly, India's strategic position in the Indian Ocean has much to do with that. But it also implies that in the coming years IN has to expand keeping in mind the growing expectations from it and its responsibilities in this region.


‘The IL 38, now called the IL 38 SD, has joined the navy in a more potent and lethal avatar'

Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area and Flag Officer Naval Aviation Rear Admiral S.M. Vadgaokar, NM is a qualified flying instructor and is a specialist of Kamov helicopters. He enjoys the unique distinction of having flown all the three types of Kamov helicopters in the service with Indian Navy. In his 31 years of service, he has commanded INAS 333, Naval Air Station, Kunjali, INS Saryu and Missile Destroyer Ranjit and Mumbai respectively. From 1997 to 2000 he served as the Defence Attache in the Embassy of India in Japan and Republic of Korea . In an interview to FORCE in his office in Goa , he talks about the changing role of naval aviation, the challenges it is facing and its future role.


What are the Naval Aviation's acquisition challenges? How are you meeting the challenges in the short term by improvisations and other means?

Acquisitions are a continuous process, but time consuming, considering our limited resources. In the interim, in-house efforts are continuously on to improve the current capabilities of air units through innovation and interfacing with modern equipment.

Tell us about the upgrade plan of Sea Harriers and IL–38 aircraft? What were the teething problems of the Sea Dragon mission suite of IL– 38 and have these been resolved ?

Indian Navy bought the Sea Harrier in the early 80s to provide Air Defence to its fleet. The aircraft, due to its unique ability to operate vertically, proved to be an ideal choice for operations from the limited space available on the deck of aircraft carriers. At the time of induction, the equipment fit of the Sea Harrier was amongst the best in the country. With the passage of over two and half decades, however, the equipment fit now requires a change for the Sea Harrier to maintain its relevance in today's scenario.

Indian Navy has decided to undertake a Limited Upgrade of Sea Harriers (LUSH) to upgrade the teeth of the aircraft. The upgrade is extremely focussed on the business end of the aircraft and will provide a quantum jump in the capability of the Sea Harriers.

The various agencies involved in the upgrade of Sea Harriers are HAL, Rafael and ELTA. The contract was concluded in early 2005 with a tentative time frame of three years.

INAS 315 was commissioned on 1 October 1977 as the ‘Winged Stallions' with five Ilyushin-38 aircraft. For a long period of time, these aircraft formed the backbone of India 's Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) capability, having cumulatively flown more than 30,000 hours in 28 years. The aircraft has an excellent track record of the airframe and engine even at the end of its calendar life.

The Indian Navy has, therefore, decided to upgrade the existing fleet of IL 38 aircraft and equip them with the state of the art Sea Dragon mission suite. Consequently, the IL 38 — now designated as the IL 38 SD — has joined the navy in a more potent and lethal avatar. The first IL 38 SD rejoined its nest INAS 315 on 15 January 2006 , with the second one arriving on 5 April 2006 . On arrival of the two aircraft, the squadron has been tasked with Intensive Flying and Evaluation Tasks (IFET).

The Indian Navy is also purchasing two more aircraft from Russia and these two will also be fitted with the Sea Dragon Suite. The gap in capability would thus be bridged and the navy would have a holding of five aircraft. The Sea Dragon mission suite is an extremely versatile system and has enhanced the surveillance, detection and identification capability of the Indian Navy. As with any new system, the Sea Dragon is also facing some initial teething problems. I am certain, however, that with the concerted efforts being put in by the users and the OEM, wrinkles would soon be ironed out.

There are talks of acquiring some old Sea Harrier from the Royal Navy. Is this true? The British also seem to be pushing the sale of the advanced GR-7 as possible replacement for Sea Harriers. How do you assess this offer?

Up-gradation and modernisation of weapons, systems and equipment is a continuous process in which all angles are examined before arriving at a final decision. On completion of the LUSH programme, the Indian Navy would have an upgraded Sea Harrier with a better radar and weapon system.

How do you visualise the expansion of the Naval Aviation by the end of the 11 th and 12 th defence Plan (2007 – 2017)?

That is a very long shot and I am not in a position to explain. However, I foresee the Naval Aviation to be a far more modern, lethal and potent force by 2017.

What do you see as a possible replacement for the Sea King helicopters? Are there any plans to upgrade the existing Sea Kings ?

The case for acquisition of 16 Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) to replace 15 obsolete SK 42/42A and one SK 42B lost in accident is being processed with ministry of defence. The RFPs have been issued to various global vendors and their response is awaited. Induction of the selected MRH would significantly enhance the rotary wing ASW capability of the navy — both quantitatively and qualitatively.

18 Sea King MK 42B are planned for a Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) from 2006. The MLU plans to extend their life up to the end of XII Plan. NSQRs have been finalised for the upgrade that would include replacement of various sensors. The case is being progressed with MoD for categorization and subsequent issue of RFPs.

The availability of Sea King aircraft has improved and is likely to improve further in 2006 post receipt of transmission components from HAL

As FONA, what is your establishment's interaction with the UAV squadron in Cochin ?

FONA is responsible to the Chief of the Naval Staff on all operational, organisational, administrative and training matters concerning naval aviation. Since the UAV squadron is part of the naval aviation assets of the Indian Navy, UAV operations are another set of operations that come under the ambit of Flag Officer Naval Aviation.

What are the various aircraft (both rotary and fixed wing) with you at the moment? Are you satisfied with these?

We have a reasonable inventory of various LRMP, fighter, ASW, AEW and training aircraft. One always yearns for quantity and modern machines.

What all does your role as FONA / FOGA involve? Do you need to interact closely with the civil government ?

Flag Officer Naval Aviation (FONA) functions directly under IHQ and is the class authority on naval aviation issues. FONA is responsible to the Chief of the Naval Staff on all operational, organisational, administrative and training matters concerning the naval aviation.

FONA is primarily responsible for ensuring availability of fully role worthy aircraft to aviation units of all Commands as per the entitlement promulgated by IHQ. FONA is responsible for monitoring material state of aircraft of the Indian Navy and take necessary actions to enhance it, to ensure better availability of aircraft ?

FONA also programmes, supervises, co-ordinates, monitors and controls aviation training in the Navy. FONA is responsible for ensuring a high state of aircrew categorisation to ensure optimum availability of operational aircrew at all times.

The programming, supervision, coordination, monitoring and control of all aviation maintenance are the functions of FONA. FONA also controls all aspects relevant to logistics support of aviation including review of ARDs and initial stocking of spares.

FONA also acts as a link between the IHQ MOD (N) and various agencies in realising the plans and projects conceptualised at IHQ. The acquisition, upgrades and development of aircraft and aircraft systems are conceived at IHQ MOD (N) and the terms of references are thereafter passed on to FONA for conduct of developmental and user trials in coordination with the concerned agencies. FONA liaises with various agencies, formulates Trial Directives and executes the projects on ground and reverts back to IHQ MOD (N) with results and recommendations for final decision.

While, the Flag Officer Goa Area (FOGA) is responsible to the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command for the administrative and operational control of all establishments and units in the Goa area. Thus FOGA is the administrative authority for Goa Naval Area and is responsible for all naval administrative, logistics, financial and operational issues including bilateral relations and interaction with government and other agencies in the Goa Naval Area.

The requirement to interact closely with the civil government may not exist for day to day functioning. However, the Indian Navy is always ready to provide whatever assistance as may be called upon to do so. In preparation for this, the Staff Officers at the HQGNA maintain liaison with government and other agencies in the Goa Naval Area.

What level of interaction do you have with the Coast Guard here?

The level of interaction is extremely close – in fact one squadron of Coast Guard Chetak and ALH helicopters is based at INS Hansa and shares the flying environment with the Navy. Coast Guard ships are routinely deployed for patrolling duties off the Goa coast and all support necessary is provided to them by the Navy.

Tell us something about the recent Exercise Konkan with the British Navy. What was the level of the exercise? Do you think it can be enhanced further?

Exercise Konkan-2006 was recently conducted with ships from the British and French Navies — including the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious — exercising with ships from the Indian Navy. The ships had berthed in Goa for a couple of days as well, wherein personnel from all the three navies interacted with each other. These included ship visits, sports events as well as social interaction. The British aerobatic team Red Arrows also operated from INS Hansa, with a display on 23 May 2006. The Governor of Goa, along with other distinguished visitors, embarked the British aircraft carrier and observed the operations from on board on 23 May 2006. Multilateral co-operation at sea is the way ahead for tackling emerging new world order challenges like piracy, terrorism, SLOC monitoring and protection of EEZ. Thus, in my opinion, any multilateral exercise is a step in the right direction. The level of the exercise is decided by the Government and any enhancement or reduction would be totally dependant on Government policy.

In terms of modernisation, what is the priority between better communications and data linking?

Efforts are on to create a seamless method of communication and transfer of information between all air units with ships and shore establishments.


Desperate Measures
HAL to deliver 190 Su-30MKI by 2011 instead of 2017
By Prasun K. Sengupta

Between now and 2011 the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be stuck between the rock and a hard place, thanks to the steady depletion of its combat aircraft fleet Despite having a sanctioned strength of 42 combat aircraft squadrons (Air HQ in fact wants this to go up to 45), the figure by the year's end will be down to 32, and by 2011 — by when the first medium multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA) begins entering service — the figure is estimated to diminish further to 28. And since desperate times call for desperate measures, the ministry of defence (MoD) has taken the unprecedented decision to hasten the induction of its 190 Sukhoi Su-30MKI heavy-MRCAs. As a result, the last licensed-built Su-30MKI will roll out from the Ozhar, Nasik-based facilities of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) by late 2012, instead of 2017 as planned for earlier. Consequently, HAL will, from this year, licence-build the Su-30MKIs at a rate of 22 per year through to 2011, instead of the earlier figure of eight.

In 2005, Russia 's IRKUT Corp supplied six Su-30MKI Mk3s in completely knocked-down (CKD) condition, with final-assembly and avionics installation being undertaken by HAL. In 2004, five Su-30MKI Mk3s were supplied in CKD condition, with the first being handed over to the IAF on 28 November 2004 . IRKUT Corp is presently supplying a total of 26 CKD kits, including eight in 2006 and seven due for 2007. According to IRKUT's general director Oleg Demchenko, negotiations are now underway to acquire another 18 Su-30MKI Mk3s in semi-knocked-down condition from IRKUT, with contract signature due later this month and deliveries being completed by the year's end. This batch of aircraft will replace the eight Su-30Ks (ordered on 30 November 1996 and delivered by July 1997) and 10 Su-30Ms (ordered in December 1998 and delivered in 1999). Between 2002 and 2004, IRKUT had supplied off-the-shelf 32 Su-30MKIs in batches of 10, 12 and 10.

Presently, the IAF operates three Su-30MKI squadrons — 20 (Lightnings), 24 (Hunting Hawks) and 30 (Rhinos). The IAF plans to deploy a total of six such squadrons in future. The total licensed-production cost of 140 Su-30MKIs as projected by the MoD was US$4.91 billion (US$22.12 million per aircraft) at the 2000 price level (including US$9 million — the cost of translating the aircraft's Licensed Technical Documentation from Russian to English and developing suitable computer formats for storage, retrieval, distribution and updating), while in a detailed project report prepared by HAL in July 2005, the amount shown was US$8.71 billion (US$39.22 million per aircraft), almost a 100 per cent increase. Even this remains open-ended as the 2.5 per cent cost escalation limitation agreed to by India is applicable only till 2007.

The accelerated domestic production rate of the Su-30MKI will be achieved in three ways.

>> Firstly, the indigenous content of HAL-built aircraft, which presently is 15 per cent and was originally due to be increased progressively up to 65 per cent, will now be limited to 45 per cent.

>> Secondly, all 1,200 AL-31FP turbofans being acquired for the 190 Su-30MKIs will be supplied in semi-knocked-down condition by the Bashkortostan Republic-based Ufa Engine Building Production Association (UMPO), a subsidiary of Russia 's NPO Saturn. Final assembly of the engines is being undertaken by a new HAL facility at Sunabeda (20km from Koraput, Orissa).
This facility was originally slated to progressively indigenise the AL-31FP's production process (including moulding and machining from raw materials supplied by Russia ) by acquiring and mastering 31 new technologies, including the fabrication of single-crystal turbine blades.

>>Thirdly, both India and Russia on January 6 this year agreed to fast-track the implementation of ‘block-wise' improvements of the Su-30MKI's performance and reliability levels, starting with the 18 new-build Su-30MKI Mk3 whose AL-31FP turbofans will have a certified 1,500-hour time-between-overhauls and a total technical life of 3,000 hours.

However, the most far-reaching improvement will be in the field of avionics, starting with replacement of the existing NIIP Tikhomirov-built NO11M Bars (panther) passive phased-array fire-control radar with the Irbis (snow leopard) active phased-array radar that is now being co-developed by the DRDO's Hyderabad-based Electronics and Radar Development Establishment and Tikhomirov NIIP at a cost of US$160 million. The Irbis, to be first installed on the last 50 Su-30MKIs to be assembled by HAL between 2010 and 2012 (and later retrofitted on earlier Su-30MKIs), will enable the aircraft's tandem-seat cockpit to be ‘de-coupled', i.e., both the pilot and weapons systems operator (WSO) will then be able to simultaneously operate the Irbis in both air combat and air-to-ground precision strike modes, with each aircrew focussing on his own air tasking and being able to handle high-volume precision strikes and time-sensitive target acquisition/designation in a network-centric joint battlespace characterised by high operational tempo.

In addition, both the pilot and WSO will be wearing Thales Avionics-built TopOwl-F helmet-mounted sights (HMS). Currently, only the pilot wears the Sura-K HMS for flying the aircraft and undertaking air combat and defensive countermeasures missions, with the WSO taking care of navigation, ground radar mapping and target designation, and deriving delivery solutions for precision-guided munitions (PGM).

The Irbis will also have a 4-metre resolution (against 20 metres for the Bars) for acquiring ground-based static and moving targets when operating in the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode. When coupled with a distributed processor-cum-storage computer (now being developed by the DRDO's Bangalore-based Defence Avionics and Research Establishment, or DARE) that will carry previously uploaded radar/photo imagery of known ground targets, the Irbis will be able to acquire up to four ground targets via its SAR mode and pass on their coordinates to non-radar equipped aircraft like the Jaguar IS and MiG-27M that will in turn download these coordinates into the PGMs that they are carrying just prior to weapons release.

DARE, which has already developed a Su-30MKI-specific open-architecture core avionics computer (CAC), is also developing a related fibre-optic communications network with a data throughput rate of 1Gb/second to augment the aircraft's existing internal MIL-STD-1553B digital databus that has a 1Mb/second data transmission rate.

The new network will enable frame-grab capture of video footage of ground targets taken by the Su-30MKI's pylon-mounted RAFAEL-built Litening 2/3 target acquisition/designation pod to be down-linked in real-time to man-portable ground stations carried by friendly ground force commanders who in turn will positively verify the targets' validity. Consequently, this will drastically reduce the time taken to ‘find, fix, fight and finish' hostile ground targets (static and mobile) through airpower.

[size=10pt]MRO Headaches

In addition to the steady depletion of its combat aircraft assets, the IAF continues to be beset by another major problem: HAL's inability to deliver fully serviceable combat aircraft that have undergone depot-level (3 rd level) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) at its facilities in Nasik and Bangalore .

Last January, the IAF refused to induct the first two of 17 newly-built tandem-seat Jaguar interdictor/strike aircraft and last May Air Vice Marshal GPS Dua from Air HQ reportedly wrote to HAL chairman Dr Ashok Baweja to officially lodge complaints about the lower-than-specified mean-time-between-failures (MTBF) of the sub-systems and components on board these aircraft.

And last month, the IAF's Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Maintenance Command, Air Marshal B.U. Chengappa, expressed grave concern over the low serviceability and reliability of the Jaguar's overhauled line-replaceable units (LRU), delays in repairing them, and non-availability of related rotables and consumables. A recent study carried out by IAF HQ reportedly reveals that a large number of combat aircraft remain temporarily grounded and are unserviceable due to HAL's poor through-life product support practices.

Another recent report, this time released by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), reveals that HAL has been responsible for inordinate delays, poor performance and incurring escalated costs in setting up and executing MRO capabilities for the IAF's MiG-29 fleet between 1998 and 2005, leading to fleet cannibalisation at all levels.

According to the CAG, sub-optimal maintenance of the aircraft led to low serviceability of all in–service MiG-29s, with the fleet's serviceability status fluctuating between 43 per cent and 62 per cent and a shortfall of flying tasks between 87.48 per cent and 42.52 per cent between 1997 and 2005.This, despite HAL creating a MRO joint venture, Indo-Russian Aviation Ltd or IRAL, with RAC-MiG, which is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and prime contractor for the MiG-29.

Consequently, between 1998 and 2005, IRAL had to send 11,280 LRUs abroad for repair at a cost of Rs720 million. Likewise, IRAL was unable to supply 2,233 LRUs against the 57 orders placed to the IAF's Nasik-based No11 Base Repair Depot (BRD). The CAG report also notes that HAL has been unable to meet the annual full overhaul (AFO) task for the MiG-29's Klimov RD-33 turbofans, with the shortfall between 1997 and 2005 ranging from 100 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

In addition, the MTBF of all HAL-overhauled RD -33s has also been dangerously low, with 74 per cent of the engines that underwent AFO during the last eight years being withdrawn prematurely due to serious defects, which had grave flight safety and maintenance implications. The MTBF of these RD-33s was just 60 hours, whereas it was 213 hours for those overhauled by RAC-MiG's Chernyshev Moscow Machine-Building Enterprise — the OEM. HAL's average turnaround MRO time for these engines was 40 weeks as against 26 weeks by the OEM.

In addition, IRAL's poor spares support resulted in No11 BRD utilising 36.34 per cent and 47.73 per cent more than the prescribed maintenance man-hours for the overhaul of each MiG-29B-12 and MiG-29UBK airframe, respectively. Consequently, from the initially prescribed standard 50,000 man-hours for overhaul of a single MiG-29 airframe, Air HQ has since revised it to 65,570 man-hours for a MiG-29B-12 and 67,662 man-hours for the tandem-seat operational conversion trainer. Despite this, No11 BRD took 68,171 and 73,867 man-hours of MRO work for a MiG-29B and MiG-29UBK, respectively.



Bridging the Training Gap
The IAF to buy simulators for its pilots
By Prasun K. Sengupta

The Indian Air Force's (IAF) accelerated efforts to induct fourth- and fifth-generation MRCAs like the Su-30MKI, the yet-to-be-selected M-MRCA and the indigenous ‘Tejas' light combat aircraft, and simultaneously undertake across-the-board avionics upgrades for its existing combat aircraft assets, has in turn increased the urgency for inducting a wide variety of flying training and mission rehearsal simulators for such aircraft.

For it is no longer financially viable to sustain a high tempo of flight sorties with new-generation combat aircraft for purposes of both operational flight conversion and maintenance of aircrew proficiency. For instance, each flight hour logged in by the Su-30MKI requires at least 32 maintenance hours of work by its ground crew. Therefore, instead of the aircrew logging in 25 flight hours per month (as is the case now with aircraft like the MiG-21 Bison, MiG-29B-12 and MiG-27M), aircrew of the six operational Su-30MKI squadrons will in future be required to log in only 12 flight hours per month, with the bulk of the tasks related to maintaining the skills proficiency being entrusted to simulators.

Even the 64 BAE Systems-built Hawk Mk132 lead-in-fighter trainers that the IAF will begin inducting early next year will come along with four types of simulators:

# Part-task trainer (PTT),
# Cockpit procedures trainer (CPT),
# Integrated procedures trainer (IPT) or Full-flight and mission simulator (FFMS) ,
# Maintenance training simulator (MTS).

The Indian Navy too is procuring four such simulator types (ordered on March 15 last year) for its yet-to-be-delivered aircraft carrier-based MiG-29K-14s from Germany's Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH , while the IAF is close to procuring similar systems for its Su-30MKIs and upgraded MiG-28B-12s from the same manufacturer, and also upgrading its existing Thales-built Jaguar- and Mirage 2000-specific CPTs and IPTs.

Simply put, PTT is a training device designed to train a member of the aircrew or maintenance staff on a particular task associated with the aircraft, including avionics systems, systems familiarisation, weapons delivery, aerial refuelling, and a variety of complex tasks specific to a particular aircraft.

The CPT assists trainee pilots in learning the layout of the glass cockpit, the location of switches, lights, circuit breakers, instruments, and other functions like operating the hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls .

The IPT or FFMS recreates a particular aircraft's sounds, motion, visual scenes, instrument presentations and all other mission sensor systems in order to create a highly realistic flight training environment. With this simulator, the pilot is able to train for landing, take-off, weapons delivery, night flight, formation flight and cockpit familiarisation in normal, adverse and emergency situations.

The handling characteristics of this simulator represent actual aircraft characteristics based on available flight control logic and input from experienced pilots. Such simulators can also be used for mission rehearsal or to teach and practice any in-flight or on-ground procedures in a crew cockpit environment. Finally, the MTS provides the practical experience in the operation, servicing, adjustment, repair and troubleshooting of an aircraft's airframe, avionics, instrumentation, accessories and the power-plant.

For the IAF's requirement for CPTs and IPTs for its Su-30MKI and MiG-29B-12 fleets, Air HQ's options were until recently very limited as the concept of using such training aids was totally alien to both the erstwhile USSR and the current Russian Federation . It was only in mid-2000 that Rosoboronexport State Corp created ZAO Kronshtadt to develop such simulators. However, progress in this area has been extremely slow, leading to the IAF, since mid-2002, assuming the lead role in developing and validating the Su-30MKI's flight control logic and mission rehearsal scenarios that will in future be programmed into the type-specific CPTs and IPTs.

This exercise has been especially challenging for the IAF as its previous combat aircraft had all been mature types by the time they entered service and consequently had established protocols for operations and product support. For a two-year period starting September 2002, the IAF's No20 (Lightnings) Squadron acted as the designated operational conversion unit (OCU) by using 22 Su-30MKIs with an aircrew complement of 56 and a ground crew complement of 176.

This OCU has since produced six sets of qualified flight instructors each with 2,000 flight hours to their credit (including 500 hours on the Su-30MKI). Initially, the OCU undertook the development of cockpit resource management techniques and evolved tactics for air superiority missions (offensive sweeps and defensive counter-air). It subsequently prepared the requirements for operational test and evaluation of the Su-30MKI's precision strike capabilities, which was completed only late last year. In addition to its core training role (and also writing the training manual for the aircraft's four-tier flight qualification process, plus the maintenance manual), the OCU has been involved in preparing the Su-30MKI for frontline service and validating the performance of its airborne fire-control radar, automated flight control system and its related ground-based mission planning system, secure data links, self-protection systems, and the guided-weapons management suite.

Su-30MKI aircrew training is presently divided into four distinct phases, with only two of these being the OCU's responsibility. Phase 1 teaches basic aircraft handling involving 12 hours of flying, with Phase 2 lasting 48 flight hours and involving basic air combat weapon systems employment and related dissimilar air combat manoeuvres and intercepts involving 2 versus 1 and 2 versus 2 engagements. By the end of this phase, the two-man aircrew is qualified as a limited combat-ready section wingman. On being posted to an operational squadron, the aircrew undergoes Phase 3 or basic operational training that involves more challenging air combat manoeuvres, following which they are classed as section leaders.

Advanced operational training under Phase 4 involves the aircrew in complex scenarios and exercises to hone their skills as participants in and leading composite air operations involving various aircraft types in simulated combat situations. On reaching this level the aircrew is qualified as package/formation commander. The OCU also trains ground maintenance personnel so that operational squadrons are totally self-sufficient in the first- and second-level maintenance procedures.

Austin, thanks for the articles mate- and I enjoy your generosity in sharing them :), interviews are ezxcellent but this Sengupta is a plagiarizer & totally untrustworthy fellow.  :-\

All those figures about hours he has posted includes made up BS about how the IAF goes about the whole process, and partly picked up from discussions on BR , ie xyz reports on some snippet about the MKI.

The split he mentions about the MKI s and Sims is also most probably ripped from some online article about the USAF and Sims or the IDF and sims, which he copied and pasted to his article.

It would require many sims to supplant flight training, and the IAF is as yet evaluating sims in detail- they will not just reduce actual combat hours just like that. (Pretty stodgy in some ways, is our IAF)

So they know of sims for long and are buying them - but they wont reduce flying hours just like that, we havent seen anywhere near the numbers of full motion sims, ordered, which are required for upto 9 op squadrons for that, to happen.

Besides, six operational squadrons? Is he on weed or what- right now, there are 3 afai remember, and a max of 4 (perhaps if HAL has churned out more than we remember)...and remember as the Sus return to Russia for replacement (the K's), again there will be a dip in inventory levels preventing another sq to be raised just like that..

Where the Sims could come in useful is for MiG-29s - thanks to the pain in maintaining them & spares.

Note that he copied the 45% figure from Rahul Bedi (about MKI program indigenization and we know how reliable that dude is!) - what a day, Sengupta ripping off Bedi, who himself rips off outdated GOI lit and passes it off as true!

Bedi of course changes his mind after latest interview with HAL chief, and is now singing the tune that HAL is now going to progressively indigenize the SUkhois/ engines etc.

And Active Irbis, Sengupta truly takes the cake!

Apparently all that 1 Gb/sec is also copied per a mail I got..sheesh...from AFM articles on F/A-18's..

I sent you a long ,mail about this but it bounced so I replied here.

Thanks for the other stuff, appreciate it.
JC , Point Accepted :)


“The RFP for the 126 M-MRCA will be released shortly”

Air Marshal Arvind Kumar Nagalia AVSM VM VSM, Deputy Chief of Air Staff and in-charge of acquisitions in the Indian Air Force was part of the Indian delegation that went to the Farnborough air show.


what are your views about the Farnborough Air Show?

The Farnborough air show is one of the oldest air shows in the world. The prestigious air show attracts a large number of companies to showcase their Products. I estimate that there were more than 500 companies that participated with their products and mock ups. There were more than 300 aircraft and associated systems in the static display. In the fighter aircraft category one could see the F-16, F/A-18 E/F, Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon, MiG 29 etc. I got an opportunity to fly in the F/A- 18 E/F Super Hornet aircraft.

In the transport aircraft category, we could see the A-380, A-340 and the C-27 etc. Bell, Agusta, Eurocopter were some of the companies which displayed their products. I also flew in the V-22 Ospreys also which is the first aircraft that flies with the tilt rotor technology. At the show one could find all the systems and equipment that are associated with aviation, both military and civil. A complete spectrum of technology was on display there. For senior planners like us, it was a very good exposure of the latest technological developments in today's sector. Personally, I was very satisfied with the show.

Which products at the air show were of interest to the IAF and you would want to acquire as the In-charge of acquisitions in the IAF?

As you know that the IAF is one of the largest air forces in the world and it has all round requirements. We not only have to induct new aircraft but also need to modernise the existing fleet. We would soon be acquiring the 126 combat aircraft for strengthening our combat fleet along with the modernisation of the Mirages, MiG 29s and the Jaguars with the latest avionics, sensors, weapon systems etc to make them more lethal. We are looking for the Medium multi role transport aircraft and medium lift helicopters. We are also replacing our MI-8 helicopters and the VVIP aircraft. In the heavy lift helicopters category also we will have to look for new machines the Mi-26s are aging and will need to be replaced. For acquisition, we have to follow the laid down procurement procedure. When we visit such shows, we don't look for a particular aircraft or any technology. Our interest is the complete range of technology and technologies that are available in various categories. Such shows help- us to prepare realistic and achievable qualitative requirements.

When will be the RFP for the 126 M-MRCA aircraft be released?

From the IAF side, we have prepared the draft Request for Proposal. Ministry of defence is examining the various aspects of the RFP. I can only say that it is going to be issued shortly.

What is the status of the acquisition of the medium lift transport aircraft?

Presently there are no medium lift aircraft available in the market which meets our requirements fully. Therefore we
are considering joint development of the aircraft as per our requirements in a joint venture with the Russians. At the moment the HAL and Russian companies are discussing the possibilities of jointly producing the aircraft for us.

When will the Light Combat Aircraft be inducted in to the IAF?

Initially, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will supply 20 aircraft in the Initial Operational Configuration (IOC). IOC related development of the aircraft should be over by 2008. After IOC certification, we will need one more year to carry out the user evaluation trials under various environmental conditions. Thereafter, the aircraft is expected to be inducted by 2009-10 in to the operational service.

Air Power
The IAF to buy simulators for its pilots

Given the extravagance and the static displays at the 45th biennial aerospace exhibition, Farnborough International Airshow 2006, it was difficult to believe that doubts were raised two years ago about the future of this British expo. Though on the entertainment front, things were not as robust as one would have expected, only one air display in the afternoons, but as far as business went, it could not have been bigger than this. Over 1,480 companies from 35 countries came to this sleepy town south-west of London to showcase their wares and the voices from the fairground suggested that business worth billions of dollars was conducted in the first three days starting July 17. It probably could have been more, if only the weather had not played truant. Severe heat wave and consequent power cuts dampened many, but the die-hards were seen trudging along with water bottles in spite of rivulets of sweat running down their necks.

But all things considered, Farnborough lived up to its reputation of being one of the biggest aviation shows with nearly 100 static displays every day. Spread over five halls, the exhibition was more outside than within these confines. All major companies had chalets complete with meeting rooms, pavilions, conference halls and, of course bars, overlooking their static displays outside. This arrangement indeed was helpful to everyone: the visitor could interact with the company all at one place, and this freed up space in the main halls for new exhibits. The other distinctive feature of the show was the overwhelming presence of the US majors, like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopters and Northrop Grumman, who occupied nearly half the premium space near the entrance of the show.

Though not conspicuous, Indians were present in full strength, both from the services and the industry. While the enthusiastic Indian Air Force officers were checking out the market, so to say, sitting in various simulators, flamboyant Vijay Mallya filled in for the private Indian airlines along with his Kingfisher aircraft, which was on display. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) also made its presence felt through its flagship, Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, both the civil and the military version. The civil version even did a brief air display on the first day.


Air Marshal Arvind Kumar Nagalia in an F-18 E/F

Given that, at the moment India is a very big buyer, it was only to be expected that Indians would be king at Farnborough, whether it were the government officials, business people or media persons. Weeks before the exhibition started, all public relation firms of major arms manufacturers who have set up offices in New Delhi, were checking on the needs of the professional media visitors to the show. ‘When will you be there? Who all would you like to meet? Do you want a one-on-one meeting in addition to the India special meet organised by us?' and so on were the frequently-asked questions. In fact, to ensure positive exposure in the Indian media, some companies even flew down a couple of journalists for a few days. All majors companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Bell, BAE systems, Augusta Westland, Rolls Royce and so on are already involved with the Indian defence industry, both in the public and private sector. Not only are they pitching their products aggressively, they have also grasped the nuances of the Indian scene, from offsets policy, the way the system functions, the strengths of the Indian public and private sector to the Indian requirements in joint ventures and technology transfer. Probably the single important message given by all global majors was that ‘we are focussed on the life cycle costs' implying that assured product support was as important as selling weapon platform to India. But then, it is not everyday that India goes out with such a huge shopping list for all the three services.


Leading by Example
Boeing has big plans for both the IAF and the Indian Navy

Chris Chadwick, the vice president of F/A-18 programme set the tone for the Boeing entry into India. Speaking with FORCE on the sidelines of the Farnborough airshow, he said, “We pay a lot of importance to life cycle costs. We are studying the new offset policy given by the Indian defence ministry and are in touch with HAL and private industry, including TATA and L&T on how to move forward. We will be paying special attention to the production of the aircraft, the ancillary equipment and the training aspects. Things, of course, will move once the Request for Proposal is issued, which, I am told, will happen by middle August.” The first major offer of the Boeing Integrated Defence Systems to the Indian armed forces is the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. The Super Hornet is in the race for the 126 Medium-Multi Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) contract of the Indian Air Force. The aircraft is one of the mainstays of the US Navy, which has more combat aircraft than most of the air forces in the world. The twin engine Super Hornet comes in two versions. First is the single seat ‘E' model and the other is the twin seat ‘F' model. The combat-proven F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a true multi-role strike aircraft and was in action during the second Gulf War recently. The 11 weapon stations on the aircraft make it a very lethal destruction machine. This next generation strike fighter performs a variety of missions including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close-air support, suppression of enemy air defence, maritime, reconnaissance, forward air control and aerial refuelling. The development of the aircraft is still continuing and recently the Raytheon fitted its latest APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for operational evaluation with the block 2 US Navy Super Hornets. The Boeing had delivered 275 of the 490 Super Hornets to the US Navy by May 2006.

According to reports, Boeing is also looking at the possibility of supplying its F/A-18s to India , equipped with Israeli avionics to bypass the US government's restrictions on exporting some US made systems to other countries. Israeli weapon systems are also being looked at for being offered to India . Boeing is also looking forward to start a joint production line of the aircraft in India if it gets the contract. “We are looking to establish multiple business relationships with both public and private defence companies”, said Anil Shrikhande, managing director, Boeing India Private Limited. The company says that it will make every effort to ensure a regular supply of spares and other equipment for the aircraft.

The Company has also bid in to fulfil the surveillance aircraft requirements of the Indian Navy. Boeing has offered its latest P-8A long range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in response to the RFPs issued by the Indian Navy for eight surveillance aircraft late last year. Boeing officials had submitted their proposal to the Indian Navy in April this year.

As per the proposal, Boeing would supply eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian Navy with the first aircraft being delivered 48 months after the award of contract. Boeing is offering an India-specific configuration of its P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft, which is currently under development for the US Navy. The proposed P-8AI aircraft would provide India with a significantly improved maritime patrol and reconnaissance capability.

The India specific P-8AI has the Boeing 737-800 aircraft as its basic platform. The P-8AI combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space. Boeing is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the US Navy's P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft. The Boeing team includes CFM, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Smiths.

The US Navy plans to purchase 108 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2009 to replace the existing P3C Orions of the navy. The Indian Navy has also been offered the T-45 training system by the Boeing. Indian naval pilots are already training on these aircraft. The navy is sending its pilots to the US for training at the US Navy training school at Pensacola . The navy will send eight batches of four pilots each and by the time the Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) arrives, the T-45s would have helped the Indian Navy to have a pool of 32 pilots to fly the MiG-29Ks, which will be based on the aircraft carrier when it comes in late 2008.

The T-45s are the only trainers in the US Navy. Future US Navy and Marine Corps strike fighter pilots are training on this integrated Training System. The T-45 Training System, or T45TS, is the first totally integrated training system developed for and used by the US department of the navy. It includes the Boeing-built T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programmes, a computerised training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The T45TS replaced two training aircraft and added advanced simulators to improve the process for training the US Navy and Marine Corps pilots for conversion into the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the AV-8B Harrier and the EA-6B Prowler. Boeing has delivered more than 170 T-45 Goshawks to the US Navy. The long term plan of the US Navy calls for the induction of 234 such trainers for supporting the naval and Marine Corps training beyond 2030.

Advanced Projects

A160 Hummingbird: The A160 Hummingbird is a rotorcraft Unmanned Air System (UAS) that will enable significant improvements in endurance and range over conventional technology. The A160 Hummingbird UAS looks like a helicopter but is unlike any other helicopter. The A160's unique optimum speed rotor (OSR) system allows the blade RPM to be tailored to flight conditions to significantly improve engine efficiency. With its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability, the A160 is runway independent and can operate at sea, in an austere land environment and in complex urban terrain. Its missions will include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) attack; communications relay; precision re-supply; and remote delivery of unmanned ground vehicles and unmanned ground sensors. The A160 is able to reach higher altitudes, hover for longer periods of time, go greater distances and operate much more quietly than current helicopters. The hummingbird can cruise at 140kph for 32 hours at 15,000 feet and has range of 2,500 nautical miles.

Heavy-lift Aircraft

C-17 Globemasterz III: The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is designed to fulfil military and humanitarian airlift needs well into the 21st century. A high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed aircraft with a rear-loading ramp, the C-17 can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across international distances directly to small austere airfields anywhere in the world. With a payload of 160,000 pounds, the C-17 can take-off from a 7,600-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles, and land on a small, austere airfield in 3,000ft or less. The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows a steep, low-speed final approach and low-landing speeds for routine short-field landings. Boeing is under contract with the US Air Force to design, build and deliver 180 C-17s through 2008.

India on its Mind
Raytheon has a package deal for India

Raytheon, the US-based defence manufacturer of sensor and missile systems, is actively focussing on India as a strategic market. This comes in wake of the improving Indo-US relations. The US fighters in contention for the IAF M-MRCA contract, an advanced F-16 and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, are currently in service with the US Air Force and US Navy respectively. Both these aircraft feature Raytheon's latest missile and sensor systems, including the most accurate Air-to-Air Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) system. The F/A–18 E/F Super Hornet also features Raytheon's APG-79, most advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which is in production and operates without mechanical movement and is much lighter and more accurate than conventional radars. The latest radar was fitted on the block 2 Super Hornets and tested around May this year. The radar was tested with the firing of multiple AMRAAMs against multiple long range targets. The APG-79 is the first multi-mode AESA radar to enter the USAF with capability of carrying out near simultaneous air to air and air to ground operations. The radar provides added lethality to the fighters in combat. Raytheon has stated that it is ready to integrate the AESA on the F-16 also if the aircraft is chosen by the Indian government. Raytheon supplies fighter aircraft with several other systems including the current APG-73 radar, ATFLIR forward-looking infrared targeting pod, AN/ALE-50 towed decoy and a variety of missiles and bombs, including precision guided weapons such as the Paveway and JSOW. The combination of AMRAAMs and AESA radar is the most advanced and accurate missile system available today and acquisition of these systems will significantly enhance India's defence capabilities in the region. Raytheon will work to secure US government's approval, which is required for the export of all significant military equipment.

Though Raytheon has had a 60-year-old relationship with India through its civil aviation aircraft and Air Traffic Management Systems at the Delhi and Mumbai airports, its partnership with the Indian defence forces started in 1995 when it began supplying the IAF with Paveway precision guided bomb kits. In 2002, in a US$146 million deal, India bought eight Raytheon Firefinder counter-battery artillery radars (ANTPQ-37) and is currently working with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to implement the GAGAN (GPS and Geosynchronous System), which is the most advanced space-based navigation programme, and will help in achieving greater efficiency and safety for aircraft at all 110 airports in India.

Raytheon is willing to offer its Patriot and Surface Launched-AMRAAM to India to enhance the country's missile defence system. SL-AMRAAM provides cutting edge capability to protect critical assets at the tactical and operational level as well as protect high value strategic assets such as, political centres, energy plants and other infrastructure in a homeland security scenario. Speaking exclusively to FORCE during the Airshow, Torkel Patterson, president, Raytheon International, Inc said, “We have given technical presentations of Patriot (PAC-3) to the Indian officials. We are aware that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is interested in upgrading the indigenous Akash missile for an anti-missile role. If we are asked, we would be happy to assist in this programme.” He also mentioned that, “We will be able to assist the army in its network-centric system, which appears as a key result area for them.” Raytheon has stated that the portable missile systems can be integrated with the Indian platforms to enable localised maintenance and service by the Indian Army.

Patriot Systems

The Patriot is a long-range, high-altitude, all-weather system designed to defeat advanced threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The system proved itself during the Operation Desert Strom. Patriot can simultaneously engage multiple targets under the most severe electronic countermeasure conditions. Various advanced versions of the missile launching system have been in service with the US forces since then, the latest of them being the PAC-3 system. Multifunction phased array radar, track-via-missile guidance, and automated operations — including man-in-the-loop (human) override — are the key features of the Patriot system. In addition to the phased array radar, a Patriot Fire Unit is deployed with an engagement control station, an electronic power plant vehicle, an antenna mast group for communications, and up to 16 remote launching stations. Each launcher contains four ready-to-fire Patriot missiles.

Patriot's lower-tier air defence against tactical ballistic missiles is part of a two-tier US defence against this escalating threat. Internationally, the Netherlands , Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Greece field the system.


The surface launched advanced medium range air to air missile systems have been selected by the US Army as its next generation short range air defence systems against the cruise missile and other airborne threats. The SL-AMRAAM system comprises the AMRAAM missile, the AN/MPQ-64 sentinel surveillance radar, and an advanced fire distribution centre (FDC) that provides full control of all missile launcher functions.

Patterson noted that Raytheon's experience as the leading ship and submarine systems integrator for the US Navy will help it develop similar systems for the Indian Navy. With the Indian military aggressively modernising its C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) capabilities, Patterson said that Raytheon can develop net-centric operations for the Indian Navy. As a world leader in border and infrastructure protection, the company can fuse information to detect and identify risks, protect infrastructure and respond to emergencies.

Raytheon has expressed interest in establishing long term partnerships in India with both public and private sector companies. Patterson said, “Raytheon is looking at a long-term partnership approach in India, rather than a buyer-seller relationship.” He said that this approach will be based on establishing partnerships with Indian companies for technology transfer for localised production of certain components and efficient after sales support. The company is open to tie-ups with both private and public sector companies. A senior delegation from Raytheon has been in talks with various Indian companies like DRDO, ISRO, BHEL, BEL, L&T and Tata group, among others, to develop state-of-the-art electronics surveillance systems and possible missile defence on a partnership basis.

Raytheon successfully completed the Preliminary System Acceptance Test for the GPS aided GEO Augmented Navigation-Technology Demonstration System (GAGAN-TDS). “This test was significant because the GAGAN-TDS ground elements supplied by Raytheon were installed and integrated ahead of schedule,” said Andy Zogg, vice president of Raytheon's Airspace Management and Homeland Security business. “More importantly, the system functioned properly and exceeded the accuracy requirements. The performance on this test solidifies Raytheon's leadership position in satellite-based navigation and continues a Raytheon track record of successfully deploying software intensive networked systems.”

The GAGAN-TDS network monitors the Global Positioning Satellite signals for errors and then generates correction messages to improve the accuracy of end-users' position solution. During the test period, average accuracy was better than one metre (3.3 feet) horizontally and only slightly more than one metre vertically, thus surpassing the 7.6 metre (25 feet) requirement by a significant margin.

GAGAN-TDS is the first phase of a project sponsored by ISRO and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to implement a space-based navigation system in Indian airspace. GAGAN is one of several systems being deployed around the world as part of an initiative endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to help civil aircraft transition to satellite-based signals from ground-based navigation aids. The technology enhances navigation in all phases of flight, from take-off through landing. Routes are more flexible and efficient, landing safety is increased, and navigation service providers offer better guidance at lower costs.

The GAGAN-TDS programme consists of an Indian Monitor and Control Centre in Bangalore, an Indian Land Uplink Station also in Bangalore, and eight Indian Reference Stations distributed throughout India. Raytheon supplied the subsystems, installed the units in partnership with ISRO and AAI, and then integrated the system through data links provided by ISRO and AAI.


Mini Palace in Air
Agusta Westland offers its Merlin to the IAF


Agusta Westland has offered its EH101 to the Indian Air Force to augment its medium lift capabilities. The IAF has proposed to purchase 80 medium lift helicopters as part of its move to strengthen its strategic lift capability. Speaking to FORCE, Peter Hulett, head of region government sales, Agusta Westland, said, “The prospects of EH101 Merlin helicopter being considered seriously by the IAF are very bright. Given its multi-role capabilities, it can even do double duty as a VVIP transport helicopter, it fits in nicely with the IAF's requirements.”

The EH101 is a truly multi-role helicopter and can be used for all possible roles that an air force is required to perform. “The EH101 is world's leading medium multi role helicopter and has proved its capabilities in the harshest of operational conditions”, said Lord Paul Rudd Drayson, UK minister for defence procurement while talking to FORCE .

In all the required military roles, the aircraft has proved its capabilities and is one of the best aircraft in its class. In the transport role, the EH101 can carry 40 troops or five tons of cargo and equipment. The helicopter has a range of 1,300km and comes with the largest cabin capacity in its class, thus offering greater mission flexibility to the operator. With up to five under floor fuel tanks, the EH101 can perform long range missions without additional fuel ferry tanks in the cabin. With window or door mounted guns, the EH101 can be used in combat search and rescue (CSAR) role also. For this role, the helicopter is fitted with defensive aids suite and air to air refuelling equipment.

If selected by the IAF, which carries out relief work very regularly during natural calamities, the EH101 can be used very effectively for casualty evacuation. The helicopter has the capacity to accommodate 16 stretchers and four medical attendants in its spacious cabin. The 1.83m height of the cabin allows the medical staff to move around with comfort in the cabin.

The troops carrying capabilities of the chopper are also very impressive. The helicopter can carry 40 men at a time and has crashworthy cabin seats for fully equipped troops. The wide doors and the rear ramp allow easy loading and unloading of the troops, in addition to internal carriage of loads which have to be carried under-sling by other helicopters. The helicopter has a large floor area for mixed loads.

The EH101 can be used very effectively in carrying out the Special Forces missions. Vehicle of the SF squad can be carried internally along with the troops and their equipment. The low noise signature, low level flying abilities and long range make it an ideal helicopter for carrying out the Special Forces missions. The Defensive Aids Suite (DAS) gives extra protection to the helicopter while flying such missions. The DAS suite of the helicopter includes the direct infrared countermeasures (DIRCM), Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and laser and radar warning receivers. The automatic chaff and flare countermeasure dispensing system has also been provided in the DAS suite.

The aircraft comes with a modern airframe. It has a simple, failsafe and damage tolerant design. The maintenance requirements of the chopper are also very low. The helicopter provides a lot of role equipment options to the operators. The machine can be equipped with wide range of equipment as per the requirement of the role and the mission. The helicopter can be fitted with air-to-air refuelling probe, auxiliary fuel tank, cabin cargo winch, armour protection, guns, paratrooper monorail etc.

The safety and survivability features have been fully taken care of in the helicopter. The three CT7-8E high power engines provide agility and power for flying SAR missions, nap of earth flying and offshore operations. The aircraft can even fly and complete missions with one engine inoperative (OEI) performance. The integrated ice protection system helps the helicopter to fly in icing conditions also, which is must for helicopters flying in India as they have to fly a lot in the high altitude areas. The fully integrated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) monitoring of engines and transmission provides advanced warning of any potential failure before safety is compromised. The EH101 has been equipped with automatic deployable emergency locator transmitter (ADELT) to warn the crew in advance about any emergency. Moreover, the helicopter can remain afloat in sea state in case of any emergency over sea with the help of the emergency flotation gears. The helicopter proved its capabilities in operations during the second Gulf War where it was mainstay of the British helicopter fleet.


The EH101 VVIP has also been offered to the IAF, which has been looking for the replacement for its Mi-8 helicopters fleet, presently being used for carrying out the VVIP duties. The British officials are buoyed by the selection of the helicopter for the US Presidential duties and are hopeful that the IAF would also go for the EH101 for its VVIP requirements. “EH101's success in the US Presidential helicopter competition and its immense capabilities makes us very hopeful that the IAF would find the helicopter the most suitable one for fulfilling its requirements”, said Lord Drayson.

Agusta has made every effort to provide maximum comfort to the head of states flying in their machine. A new environmental cooling system has been installed under the cabin floor to keep the cabin space advantage. The unique award winning ACSR anti-vibration system has been equipped to provide smooth ride and a feel of an aeroplane in a helicopter. The EH101 VVIP is equipped with advanced and integrated avionics, navigation, communication and security systems. The Defensive Aids Suite (DAS) has been provided in the VVIP version also. The aircraft has a range of 1,000km with four fuel tanks. The all weather aircraft can operate in the harshest of environments. The helicopter can fly in freezing conditions and is protected by the ice protection suite.

The three powerful engines of the aircraft provide significant safety margins in the critical moments of flight. The aircraft is protected from lighting strikes also. It is immune to multiple burst and strike effects. The wide body cabin provides the operators with a limitless range of layout options to meet the most exacting standards for the transport of heads of state. EH101's 6.5m long main cabin provides space for two to three distinct accommodation zones in the helicopter. The modular flexibility of the aircraft also gives the option of creating one luxurious space with full height headroom. The cabin height allows passengers to walk around and stretch their legs or to sit back and enjoy the spacious surroundings. Moreover, the aircraft comes with various options which include private suites with separate airstair entrance and self-contained suite for aides and accompanying personnel. Various communication equipments can be fitted inside the aircraft to facilitate VVIP connectivity with the ground. The aircraft has the state of the integrated avionics with a fully Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS).

The company provides the option of customised interiors to the users. The operators also have the personalised equipment options. These options include enhanced air conditioning, custom-designed seats and furniture, washroom and secure communications facilities. The benefits from the latest EH101 developments would be added in the aircraft. The advancements in avionics and other systems can also be incorporated in the aircraft. Till date over 100 EH101s are flying around the world.


Ruling the Skies Show Of Strength
Lockheed Martin Eyes the Indian Armed Forces

Orville Prins, vice president, Business Development, India, is upbeat about doing business in India. Talking with FORCE, he said, “We are looking for co-development opportunities in India. We have offered the F-16 aircraft to the IAF and P-3C Orion and MH-60R helicopters to the Indian Navy. The strength of our products is that they are cost-effective with minimal expenditure on maintenance. We have planned a comprehensive conference in August to share views with various companies both in the private industry and the public domain who could be our prospective partners.”

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company is participating in the competition for 126 multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA) requirement of the IAF. Lockheed Martin plans to work with the US government to submit an F-16 proposal in response to India's anticipated global tender for M-MRCA.

The F-16 is a highly advanced fighter aircraft. It has the optimum blend of high technology, capability and cost. The IAF has shown high interest in life cycle cost or operational cost of the aircraft to be acquired. Typically acquisition cost of the product is 35-40 per cent and operations and support cost is 60-65 per cent. F-16 scores on latest technology, combat capability and very low life-cycle cost. The F-16 has been sold to 24 countries around the world. The company till date has been able to sell 4,300 F-16s with 50 repeat buys by customers. The latest sale was that of the Block 60 F-16s to the United Arab Emirates.

The company has also developed the fifth generation aircraft like the F-35 and the F-22 Raptors. These aircraft have been built over the techniques found in the F-16. As a Lockheed product, F-16 benefits from backflow of technology developed for use in the 5th generation fighters. The AESA radar on the F-16 is based upon technology developed for the F-22 and F-35. The F-16 is the only fighter sold outside of the United States to have operational AESA radars. Lockheed Martin has stated that it will put together a package for the IAF that will meet or exceed their requirements if it gets the contract.

The F-16 offers a choice of the world's best fighter engine, either the Pratt & Whitney F100 or General Electric F110 engine in the 29,000 to 32,000 pound thrust class. The small signature of the F-16 allows the aircraft to elude enemy detection. A choice of advanced-threat warning systems, expendables and internal electronic warfare systems helps avoid the most advanced missile threats.

Lockheed Martin responded to the two RFP (Requests for Proposal) from the Indian Navy in April 2006. The proposals were for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters. Lockheed put in the proposals for P3C Orion and MH60R respectively. Oral evaluation as part of the decision-making process in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure has been undertaken. Technical evaluations are going on for both programmes.

The P-3C Orion offered to the Indian Navy has been in the service of the US Navy for more than 35 years. The aircraft has participated in numerous conflicts and performed operations which range from the Cuban Missile Crisis to round-the-clock, low profile patrols throughout the Cold War. The P-3 can be outfitted with a variety of sophisticated detection equipment. Infrared and long-range electro-optical cameras plus special imaging radar allow it to monitor activity from a comfortable distance. It can stay aloft for extremely long periods, and its four powerful Allison T56-A-14 engines can fly at high altitudes. The P-3Cs have been involved in peacekeeping and relief missions also. The aircraft has a vast range as during the Operation Enduring Freedom the P3Cs flew from the US base in Diego Garcia over the war zones in Afghanistan . Over the years, Lockheed Martin has made 750 such aircraft of which 450 aircraft are still in service with 16 countries.

The MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter or Romeo offered to the Indian Navy is the flagship of the US Navy's Helicopter Master Plan for the next century. The MH-60R multi-mission helicopter is the next generation SH-60B and SH-60F helicopters, and is designed to provide the US Navy with the best possible war-fighting system available to fly and fight in high-density, information-intensive, littoral and open-ocean maritime environments. Lockheed Martin is integrating the flight avionics systems, including the Lockheed Martin-developed Navy H-6 Common cockpit, mission avionics systems and stores and defence systems. The MH-60R multi-mission helicopter's versatility responds to the US Navy's master plan by bringing its capabilities to all naval aviation capable ships including carriers, cruisers, amphibious vessels, destroyers and frigates.

Lockheed Martin will also put together a package of industrial participation and Transfer of Technology and meet offset requirements as stated in the Defence Procurement Procedure, which would result in export sales for India . The Lockheed officials say that the company can enter into joint venture with any Indian public or private defence company. “We are looking at all kinds of opportunities. A joint venture similar to the ones we have had with industries in other countries is a possibility,” said Joe Stout, spokesman, Lockheed Martin. He said that the company has vast experience in industrial participation and offsets.

Lockheed has set up F-16 production lines in four countries besides US and has worked on co-development programmes with Korea , Japan , and Italy . Lockheed Martin has successfully fulfilled US$40 billion worth of offsets in more than 35 countries. Lockheed Martin has a strong history of industrial participation in various customer countries where it has established manufacturing hubs for products, parts and maintenance. Lockheed is in the process of discussions with several Indian organisations for such work. As one of the largest employers in the IT industry it will look for allies and partners. These will include IT companies and Indian aviation companies in public and private sector. Lockheed Martin has met with more than 20 companies in India and has identified some specific opportunities with more than one Indian company. Lockheed has had discussions with companies including HAL and BEL looking for opportunities even outside the M-MRCA campaign.

Fifth Generation Strike Aircraft

F-22 Raptor: The F-22 raptor is one of the fifth generation aircraft from the Lockheed stable. The Raptor represents extraordinary breakthroughs in manoeuvrability, stealth and sensor fusion. The F-22 is capable of flying and fighting against the most advanced integrated radar networks and dense surface-to-air missile environments in the world, now and in the future.

F-35 Lightning II: The latest fifth generation operational aircraft F-35 Lightning II has been developed by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is aimed at providing the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and UK 's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force with an affordable and stealthy tactical aircraft for the 21st century. The stealth characteristics of the jet will allow the F-35 to strike the enemy with accuracy and unpredictability.


Training with the Best
75 Indian pilots complete their training on Hawks

With the introduction of 66 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) the British Aerospace (BAE) Systems has made a powerful entry into the Indian defence sector. Recently, it concluded a successful training programme where it demonstrated the ever increasing strength in the development of the industrial partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The HAL team which visited the BAE facility at Brough in United Kingdom learnt the assembling of aircraft from scratch. India had signed an agreement with the BAE to supply 66 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers. Under the agreement, 36 AJTs would be built in India by HAL at its Bangalore facility and 24 will be built and supplied by Britain . Brian Parker, customer interface manager explained, “The Indian contract will see 24 Mk132 Hawk aircraft built in UK , a further three will go to HAL as major assemblies (fuselage, wings and empennage) and three more will be shipped to India in component form. The remaining 36 planes and engines will be built in India from scratch using the raw material supplied by the BAE Systems.” BAE seems to be fully committed to making its Hawk venture a successful one as it is leaving no stone unturned in training technical staff from HAL and pilots from the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The IAF too is impressed with the way BAE is going ahead with the Hawk programme. Recently, 75 IAF pilots completed their AJT training at the RAF valley in Wales and after returning to India they were directly shifted to superior aircraft like Su-30s and Mirages. According to Rod Harrison, interim flight training manager at the RAF valley, “Initially, the IAF expected that the pilots would come back from the UK and then go on to older, western-built aircraft. However, at a meeting with the Vice Chief of the Air Staff, I was told that they have been so delighted with the capabilities of the people returning from the Hawk course that they have immediately put them into the more advanced aircraft.” BAE understands the complexities attached with the training of the pilots who speak English in a different accent. The BAE officials had even arranged for a CD for the Indian pilots to help them understand the RT communication calls in the British accent.

Four IAF officers on the Hawk Project Team have been seconded to BAE Systems, Brough and will be on site until delivery of the last aircraft in early 2008. A total of 300 HAL employees will receive familiarisation training at Brough over the next two years, and a further 100 IAF engineers will undergo ground school training at Wharton in 2007 with 12 IAF and two HAL pilots undertaking flight training at Wharton.

At the moment, BAE officials are busy testing the latest avionics developed by HAL for the IAF hawks. The ZJ100-Special Hawk prototype aircraft has had a makeover as it prepares to test brand new avionics. ZJ100 is one of Air Systems' Hawk development aircraft. The major change involved the removal of two existing wiring looms and their replacement with new sets for the avionics system developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India . The aircraft's lay-up in Wharton also provided the opportunity to carry out further testing for the IAF. At the moment, BAE is carrying out an interesting change for the IAF. Indian pilots who fly in flat-soled boots without heels asked the BAE to check how their footwear might affect the rudder pedals. So, the BAE team fitted the rudder pedals with packing pieces to simulate a heel so that the aircraft's performance could be tested with Indian shoes.

Sea Harrier

BAE's 14 Sea Harriers flying with the Indian Navy are also being upgraded. The only Vertical/Short Take off and Landing (VSTOL) aircraft in the world was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1983. These aircraft are deployed on country's sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat. The Rs 476 crore upgradation package includes the Israeli firm Rafael's Elta EL/M 2032 multi-mode fire control radar. The EL/M 2032 will greatly enhance the air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea capabilities of the aircraft. The firepower of the Harriers has been made lethal by arming it with the Derby Beyond Visual Range Air-to-air Missile (BVRAAM). The missile comes with a look down shoot down capability. Its lock-on before launch mode will prove to be very useful for the aircraft in tighter dogfight situation. The British government has also offered to sell eight Sea Harrier aircraft from the Royal Navy inventory to the Indian Navy.

Hi there, good news: Tejas should be ready / operational / inducted by/in 2014!

Gosh, I thought April fools' day was tomorrow!



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