Thursday, July 30, 2009

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

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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)