Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First flight for Royal Thai Air Force Gripen

In 2008, Thailand ordered a complete aircraft and command and control system from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) in a Government to Government deal. The order includes a first batch of six Gripen C/D with associated equipment and service, one Saab 340 aircraft equipped with Erieye radar (AEW), a Saab 340 for transport and training plus an integrated command and control system with data links.

The Royal Thai Air Force will start their training on Gripen in Sweden next year and the fighters will be delivered to Thailand in 2011.

(Courtesy: SAAB.Com)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

F-16 Super Viper IN completes field trials

BANGALORE: Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper IN which is one of the five aircraft competing to bag the $10 billion Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract of the Indian Air Force, has completed phase I of field trials in Bangalore.
Lockheed Martin officials said that the phase I of field trials was over and the week-long training phase was in preparation for further field trials.

Phase II of field trials begins on September 7 and will last two weeks, added officials.
The Boeing F/A-18IN Super Hornet has already completed trails. EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian MiG-35, Sweden’s Grippen and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale are the other contenders.


Aerospace major Lockheed begins F-16 trials for Indian Air Force

BANGALORE: US aerospace major Lockheed Martin on Monday began flying its three fighter F-16s here for trials of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRC) that the Indian Air Force (IAF) wants to buy, to replace its ageing MiG-21 fleet.

"The field trials will be conducted in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh till Sep 18 in different conditions. We had the training phase from Sep 3-5 in preparation for the trials," Lockheed's international communications manager John Giese said.

The trials near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir next week will be to test the fighters in hot weather conditions and in high-altitude mountain ranges.

The three F-16s, which are in service with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force and stationed at Dubai air base, flew into Bangalore on Sep 2, with Lockheed test pilots, US Air Force pilots and a team of engineers and technicians, for the 12-day trials.

"The fighters landed two days behind schedule due to inclement weather and operational reasons. The training phase included familiarising the IAF's evaluation teams with the aircraft's capabilities and technologies, especially its latest electronic warfare and navigational aids," Giese said.

During the training phase, the fighters were stationed at the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) airport on the outskirts of the city. Demonstration of the aircraft, ability of its various systems and the glass cockpit were held at the IAF's Aircraft Systems & Training Establishment (ASTE) complex, which is adjacent to the HAL airstrip.

"As part of the trial preparation, all the three F-16s took to skies twice a day on hour-long sorties despite cloudy weather and intermittent rains Sep 3-5. They flew mostly in south-westerly direction towards Mysore," a senior air traffic control (ATC) official said on Sunday.

IAF's test pilots flew with Lockheed's test pilots in the tandem twin-seater for a firsthand 'feel' of the aircraft and its ability to manoeuvre for combat operations.

Though the advanced fourth generation F-16s participating in the trials are not 'Super Viper', they are closest to the new version the company will offer to the IAF if it wins the estimated $10-billion order for the 126 planes.

"The F-16IN Super Viper will be tailor-made to meet the requirements of the IAF and will be the ultimate fourth generation fighter," Giese claimed.

According to Michael R. Griswold, Lockheed director, the F-16s, with fifth generation capabilities, will demonstrate to the IAF their striking power, speed, accuracy and its awesome 360-degree manoeuvres, with its sophisticated active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

The other five aircraft in the fray for the order are Boeing's F/A-181N Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Saab Gripen, the Russian MiG-35 and the European consortium EADS Eurofighter Typhoon.

As per the global tender floated last year, the winning bidder will have to deliver 18 aircrafts in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 will be manufactured by HAL under a technology transfer deal.

The F-16 trials are taking place three weeks after Boeing flew in its two Super Hornets Aug 14 and conducted trials for about 10 days from Aug 17 in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh.

"Initially, the IAF pilots will co-pilot the aircraft, taking controls mid-air after familiarizing themselves with the systems and the advanced navigation aids. In the subsequent trials, the IAF pilots will take command of the aircraft for evaluating its various parameters, including the use of weapons," a Lockheed official said.

The IAF has formed twin teams of two test pilots each for the trials, which will be conducted in three stages: pilot familiarzsation, field trials and weapons systems trials. The third stage will be conducted in the country of manufacture.

The technical evaluation was completed early this year after the six manufacturers responded to the IAF's Request for Proposal (RFP) in August 2007.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Australian Airforce inducted F-18F SUPER HORNET [BLOCK-II]

F-18F SUPER HORNET [BLOCK-II] Latest Pictures

IAF to begin trials for MMRCA this week

Entire process of testing wares of six competitors is expected to last till April

NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force is all set to commence the trials for its quest to acquire 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft starting at Bangalore next week. The entire process of testing the wares of six competitors is expected to last till April next year.

Each of the six vendors who are competing for the $10.2 billion (approx Rs. 48,000 crore) deal will be bringing in their fighter jets to India that would be tested in home conditions across three climate zones – hot, humid and cold — top IAF officials said.

First to get of the mark will be Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet that would be flown by IAF team of test pilots at Bangalore, Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Besides being a cold-weather terrain Leh is a high-altitude location while Jaisalmer is a desert area where hot winds blow.


The competitors include Swedish Gripen, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian United Aircraft Corporation’s MiG 35 and French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale
would also be provided an opportunity for the trials.

The IAF has formed two teams of two test pilots who would evaluate the flying machine against the specific requirements of the IAF at each of these three locations. Planning for the trial schedule began some time back with the Indian test pilots being trained at the vendor’s country of origin.

The second phase begins with the flight trials in Indian airspace and in the third and final phase, the aircraft would be run through a batter of tests to check the efficacy of its weapons the manufacturers would mount on the aircraft at home country, the officials said.

The IAF completed technical evaluation earlier this year after the six competitors responded to the Request for Proposal issued by India last year.

Officials said the possibility of the trials overlapping could not be ruled out since the IAF hopes to complete the exercise latest by March/April 2010. Once the trials are over and aircraft identified, commercial negotiations would commence.

India plans to acquire 18 of these in ready-to-fly conditions with the rest being manufactured in India under transfer of technology.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

MiG-29 upgrade may be delayed

BANGALORE: The cost escalation and time overrun that is plaguing the multi-billion dollar
Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal could soon haunt another mega Indo-Russian defence
deal. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is worried over the likely delay in the MiG-29 upgrade

For the IAF, already facing a serious depletion of fighter squadrons owing to a number of aircraft being ‘number plated,’ the delay in deliveries of the frontline MiG-29 could mean compromising India’s air superiority.

In a contract signed in March 2008 of nearly $850 million between India and the Russian
Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK MiG) , the MiG-29 was to have been upgraded from an aerial
interceptor and air dominance aircraft to a fighter-bomber capable of striking mobile and
stationary targets on the ground and at sea with high-precision weapons under all weather

As per the contract, 54 single-seat fighters and eight trainers are being refurbished.While six aircraft will be upgraded by the MiG-29’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM), the remaining aircraft will be refurbished with kits supplied by RSK MiG at the IAF’s 11 Base Repair Depot (BRD) at Nasik. As per the original schedule, the first upgraded MiG-29 was scheduled to fly into India in March 2010.

However, officials from the OEM told The Hindu that there will be a delay of at least eight months in the arrival of the first upgraded aircraft. The Russians are attributing this to a delay in the IAF finalising the ‘buyer furnished equipment.’

The delay will translate into a year-long delay in the start of production aircraft at 11BRD. Fourteen aircraft are scheduled to roll out of 11BRD between April 2010 and March 2011.

Under the contract, the IAF have to indicate to RSK MiG the list of equipment and their physical dimensions that they want fitted on the upgraded MiG-29’s. Many of these items are to be sourced or integrated by Indian companies.

The upgrade programme had also run into rough weather last year after a Russian Air Force
MiG-29 crashed in December, with talk of the IAF even toying with decommissioning the fighter.

However, with the Russians furnishing the reasons for the crash - structural faults in the aircraft due to corrosion on the fin root ribs – and after the IAF conducted a thorough inspection of its entire fleet, flying recommenced.

Extension of life

The upgrade will allow the IAF to extend the life of the MiG-29 from 25 years (and 2,500
hours) to 40 years (3,500 hours). The Air Force had first proposed the upgrade after the
Pakistan Air Force added beyond-visual-range missiles and other advanced weaponry in 2003,
something that the IAF’s MiG-29s presently do not carry.

(Courtesy) Hindu

Thursday, July 30, 2009

LOCKHEED MARTIN unveils Navy's F-35C SEA LIGHTINING II stealth fighter

More Picture of LOCKHEED MARTIN unveils F-35C stealth fighter

LOCKHEED MARTIN unveils F-35C stealth fighter

The aircraft will enable the Navy to possess 5th generation fighter capabilities at sea, extending America's reach and reducing the timeline from threat to response.

Top Navy leadership, signal flags and a crowd of employees, including reserve and retired Navy personnel, were on hand to celebrate the strike fighter's unveiling.

Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations, welcomed the new aircraft to the fleet, saying the “JSF will show the world that our sailors will never be in a fair fight because this airplane will top anything that comes its way."

"It will give our sailors and pilots the tactical and technical advantage in the skies, and it will relieve our aircraft as they age out."

Tom Burbage, a former Navy test pilot and the executive vice president and general manager of F-35 Program Integration for Lockheed Martin, thanked Navy leadership for being fullyengaged in the F-35's development and "actively working to define joint and coalition tactics that will exploit this platform in ways we've never envisioned.”

The first F-35C, known as CF-1, will undergo a wide-ranging series of ground tests before its first flight, scheduled for late 2009.

CF-1 is the ninth F-35 test aircraft to be rolled out, and joins a fleet of F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing) and F-35B (short takeoff/vertical landing) variants that have logged more than 100 flights.

The F-35C is on schedule to meet the Navy's Initial Operational Capability in 2015, and represents a leap in technology and capability over existing fighters, combining stealth with supersonic speed and high agility. The Lightning II employs the most powerful and comprehensive sensor package ever incorporated into a fighter.

The F-35C possesses uncompromised carrier suitability and low-maintenance stealth materials
designed for long-term durability in the carrier environment. The Lightning II's operational
and support costs are forecast to be lower than those of the fighters it will replace.

The F-35 and F-22 are the world's only 5th generation fighters, uniquely characterized by a
combination of advanced stealth with supersonic speed and high agility, sensor fusion, network-enabled capabilities and advanced sustainment.

The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation strike fighter. Three F-35 variants derived from a common design, developed together and using the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide, will replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II the most cost-effective fighter program in history.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop
Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nearly half of Russian air-to-air missiles with IAF have homing, ageing problems: CAG report

New Delhi:Putting a big question mark on the performance of the Russian beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles with the Indian Air Force, an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has noted that nearly half the missiles tested either did not home in on targets during evaluations or failed ground tests because they were ageing much before their shelf lives.

The R 77 (RVV-AE) BVR missiles, fitted on board the Su-30 MKIs, MiG-29s and MiG-21 Bisons, were bought from Russia starting 1996. More than 2,000 missiles were ordered after the Kargil conflict and 1,000 have been delivered.

The CAG report, which will be released soon, is based on evaluations of the missile — its range is close to 90 km — during ground tests, inspections and test firing by the IAF. The missiles were bought at a “cost of Rs 2 crore each” but their failure during tests, says the CAG report, has affected the “operational preparedness” of the IAF.

“All figures in the report are based on air force records. Everything is verified by the IAF,” an official said.

The problem with the missiles was referred to Russia and several teams subsequently visited India to rectify faults. IAF officers familiar with the missiles confirmed that this has been a problem area for long. “It is a known fact that the missiles do not work as we would like them to. Periodic tests that are carried out when they are in storage show their dismal state. We also have problems with spare parts,” said a retired officer who was closely associated with the matter.

Former Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy said: “When the missiles were bought, they were top of the line, world class systems that no other country had. As we did not have our own testing facilities, they had to be tested in Russia. The question to be asked is whether the government approved testing facilities for the missiles in India.”

The IAF has for long enjoyed an edge over Pakistan due to its inventory of BVR air-to-air missiles. In an article on the Pakistani side of the Kargil war — it was published in The Indian Express — the then PAF Director (Operations) Kaiser Tufail admitted that the presence of the BVR missiles with the IAF kept away the Pakistani F-16s from disrupting aerial bombing being carried out by India near the Line of Control.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rs 10,000cr deal likely for Mirage-2000 upgrade

NEW DELHI: Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for Paris on Monday to further consolidate the ‘strategic partnership’ with France, the two countries are now all set to ink the around Rs 10,000 crore deal to upgrade the Mirage-2000 fighter jets in IAF’s combat fleet. This will be the second mega defence deal to be signed with France in recent times after the ongoing mammoth Rs 18,798 crore project to construct six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai.

With defence secretary Vijay Singh being part of the PM’s entourage to Paris, sources said the announcement about the upgrade of the French-origin Mirages is very much on the cards during the trip. The ‘differences’ over the upgrade project had been ‘resolved’ after almost two years of hard-nosed negotiations, which were bogged down for some time because French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer) and Thales (weapons systems integrator) wanted close to Rs 14,000 crore for the programme.

‘‘The two sides have now arrived at a reasonable price around Rs 10,000 crore. The first four to six Mirages will be upgraded in France, with the rest 50 or so being upgraded in India by Hindustan Aeronautics under transfer of technology,’’ said a source.

Under the upgrade, the entire airframe will be stripped down to be re-wired and re-equipped with new avionics, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites and of course weapon systems to extend and enhance the operational life of the multi-role fighters by around 20 years.

India had first inducted 40 Mirages in the mid-1980s, with over 20 more being bought in later years. IAF has had a ‘good’ experience with the fighters, which successfully carried out ‘targeted bombings’ during the 1999 Kargil conflict. Some years ago, IAF had even pitched for the advanced Mirage-2000-Vs for its gigantic $10-billion project for 126 new medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

The defence ministry, however, told IAF to go in for ‘a global tender’ for the MMRCA project, and France too closed its Mirage production line. Now, the French Rafale is competing with American F/A-18 ‘Super Hornet’ (Boeing) and F-16 ‘Falcon’ (Lockheed Martin), Russian MiG-35 (United Aircraft Corporation), Swedish Gripen (Saab) and Eurofighter Typhoon (consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies) in the hotly-contested MMRCA race.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Monday, June 15, 2009

All set for flight evaluation of multirole combat aircraft

All set for flight evaluation of multirole combat aircraft.

15 June 2009, THE HINDU

Ravi Sharma

Defence Ministry sends letters to six aviation firms
It’s for IAF to speedily complete evaluation and indicate its choice

Aircraft to be tested in hot weather and at high altitude

BANGALORE: The Indian Air Force’s bid to acquire 126 medium multirole combat aircraft has got a much-needed push.

The Defence Ministry has issued “the letters of invitation for flight evaluation trials” to six companies that are vying for the $10-$12-billion contract.

They are the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, which pitches in with Eurofighter Typhoon, America’s Lockheed Martin (F-16 Falcon) and Boeing Integrated Defence System (F/A-18F Super Hornet), Russia’s Mikoyan (MiG-35), Sweden’s Gripen (JAS-39) and France’s Dassault (Rafale).

The ball is now in the IAF’s court “to speedily complete the flight evaluation and indicate its choice,” say Ministry officials.

Between July and March next, the IAF will have to undertake the trials, initially in India to test the performance of the aircraft under local conditions and then in the countries of their origin. Armament trials will be conducted in the country of origin as bringing weapons to India could be problematic.

For the evaluation trials, the IAF is likely to form two teams composed of test pilots, flight test engineers and maintenance crew, drawn primarily from the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment and, to a lesser extent, from fighter squadrons. The teams are also likely to include officials of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (to look into technology transfer and industrial partnership) and the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification.

Besides enabling the IAF test pilots to try out the aircraft, the trials will allow flight and ground test crew to know about the maintenance and overhaul facilities required.

Once the IAF makes its evaluation, some time in 2010, commercial negotiations could begin. The terms indicate that the first aircraft will have to be delayed 48 months after a contract is signed.

Time-consuming, expensive

The time-consuming and expensive process — it could cost each competitor $5 million — will test each aircraft whether it can measure up to the performance indicators set forth in flight manuals in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh (under normal conditions, in hot weather and at a high altitude).

Each competitor is sending two aircraft. Informed sources have indicated that Rafale will be one of the first to be evaluated. It will fly into Bangalore in the first week of September.

Officials of the companies told The Hindu that they had initiated a survey of the locations, where their aircraft would be tested.

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