Saturday, August 1, 2009

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)

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