Saturday, October 30, 2010
The second A330 MRTT Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) for the UK Royal Air Force has successfully completed its maiden flight from the Airbus Military facility at Getafe, Madrid following its conversion.
Converted from a basic A330-200 by Airbus Military, the aircraft flew for exactly two hours in the evening of 26th October.
The crew reported that the aircraft, its systems, and two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines performed entirely satisfactorily.
The aircraft joins the first FSTA, which made its maiden flight on 16th September, in a flight-test programme which will lead to first delivery to the RAF towards the end of 2011.
Airbus Military has obtained military certification for the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport from Spanish military certification authority Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Aerospacial a(INTA) on 5th October. This paves the way to first delivery of the first two aircraft to first operator the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) before of the year.
Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 passengers, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To-date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with one (Saudi Arabia) having already placed a repeat order.
The Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the most capable new generation aircraft in this category flying and available today. The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.
In just over four weeks from now, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will take delivery of its first American-built C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft at a facility in Georgia, US. Part of a 2008 deal worth $ 964 million for six aircraft, the IAF C-130J will be the first US military aircraft India has procured in over four decades since it flew the American Douglas Dakota and Fairchild Packet in the 1960s.
But there is something amiss. The contract document, a copy of which is with Headlines Today, reveals five specific pieces of high-end equipment, that the US has stripped from the aircraft, being sold to India. This is a direct consequence of New Delhi's reluctance to enter into a contentious technology inter- operability agreement with Washington.
The equipment kept off the Indian aircraft includes its advanced communications equipment. The equipment includes the AN/ ARC- 222 SINCGARS combat net radio, the KV- 119 Identify Friend- Foe digital transponder, the TACTERM/ANDVT high frequency secure voice terminal, the VINSON KY- 58 secure voice module and parts of the Rockwell- Collins AN/ ARC-210(V) SATCOM transceiver.
The equipment facilitates secure, encrypted communication - facilities that would be deeply useful in covert or special forces operations. Such operations form the secondary mission profile ascribed to the C-130J in India.
The US has refused to fit these items on the Indian C-130J fleet unless India enters into a bilateral pact that the Indian military leadership is deeply suspicious about. It is called CISMOA - short for communications inter- operability and security memorandum of agreement.
Last month, defence minister A. K. Antony is understood to have told his counterpart in Washington that the agreement would not be signed any time soon - certainly not during US President Barack Obama's visit - because India was far from convinced about the benefits that would accrue to its Indian defence forces.
Strangely, even though the IAF had specifically asked for the high- technology items mentioned above, the C- 130J contract suggests that there is a chance the equipment won't be made available even if India signs the CISMOA. Referring to the stripped items, the contract says: " These items may be added when CISMOA is signed between" the US and India.
Lockheed-Martin officials indicated that the IAF C-130J configuration was frozen before the contract was signed and that there were no last- minute surprises, a point conceded by the IAF. "There could be implications for operational autonomy at play here, which is something a service as large as the Indian Air Force cannot afford," Air Marshal (retd) A. K. Singh, former commander of the IAF's Western Air Command, said. A substantial part of the IAF agrees with that view.
An extreme view is that fitting advanced communications gear on Indian aircraft, and having them governed by an agreement like CISMOA, would allow the US remote power over the equipment through satellite- relayed " kill switches" that could render equipment unusable, not to mention leaving doors open to electronic espionage.
But the IAF put on a brave face.
"The government had asked for our opinion.... It [ not getting the equipment] will not make any substantial difference to our operational capability," Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik said A section of the IAF, however, believes that if India is resolved to deepen its ties with the US, then agreements like CISMOA are simply enablers of more nuanced, meaningful exchanges in operational theatres. For now though, the armed forces are sceptical.
Russia is planning to sign in December an agreement with India on the preliminary design of a joint fifth-generation fighter aircraft, a senior Russian aircraft industry official said on Wednesday.
Russian Sukhoi holding and Indian Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) agreed in early 2010 to jointly develop a fifth-generation fighter jet, tentatively dubbed PAK FA.
"An agreement with India on the pre-design of the PAK FA will be signed in December," said Alexei Fyodorov, head of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation.
The sides agreed to develop both a single-seat and a two-seat version of the aircraft by 2016, focusing on the single-seat version in the initial stages of development.
The new aircraft will most likely be based on Russia's T-50 prototype fifth-generation fighter, which has already made several test flights and is expected to join the Russian Air Force in 2015.
Russia has been developing its fifth-generation fighter since the 1990s. The current prototype, known as the T-50, was designed by the Sukhoi design bureau and built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia's Far East.
Russian officials have already hailed the fighter as "a unique warplane" that combines the capabilities of an air superiority fighter and attack aircraft.
The F-35 will comfortably outclass every one of the six fighters that the IAF is currently evaluating
New Delhi: Given the global buzz around the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) ongoing $10-billion procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), my suggestion to scrap the process and, instead, go in for a straight buy of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightening II fighters is admittedly radical. But consider this: when the F-35 enters service, a couple of years from now, it will comfortably outclass every one of the six fighters that the IAF is currently evaluating. Thereafter, through the entire 30-40 year service life of the selected MMRCA, the IAF will fly a second-rung fighter when it could have gotten the best.
The six fighters that the IAF has flight-tested over the last year — Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper; Dassault’s Rafale; the Russian MiG-35; the Swedish Saab Gripen NG; and the Eurofighter — are categorised, even by their manufacturers, as Fourth Generation fighters. In contrast, the F-35 is globally acknowledged as a Fifth Generation fighter. The key to its superiority is stealth, making it effectively invisible to radar at longer ranges. This is a battle-winning advantage in aerial combat, where radars are the only way of “seeing” the enemy; the F-35 will detect enemy fighters and launch missiles at them, well before being detected. While attacking ground targets in enemy territory, the F-35 will remain undetected until it is too late to react. Unsurprisingly, each Fifth Generation fighter is the battlefield equivalent of three-four previous generation aircraft.
Since the IAF knows all this, why is the F-35 not in the MMRCA contest? Because, while framing the specifications for the 126-fighter tender in 2003, the IAF set the bar so low that the F-35 was overqualified. The Ministry of Defence (MoD), still nursing a hangover from the Tehelka sting expose, wanted to avoid potential controversy by having several vendors competing for the MMRCA order. Had the IAF been allowed to keep the long-term in mind, and to demand Fifth Generation capabilities, only the F-35 would have met the tender requirement. With that single-vendor situation an MoD bugaboo, the IAF'’s specifications were dumbed down to bring in a clutch of Fourth Generation fighters.
When Lockheed Martin — one of the four vendors that received inquiries from the IAF in 2003-04 — studied the requirement, it offered the F-16 Super Viper, which it estimated met India’s requirements. Offering the overqualified, and pricier, F-35 made little business sense: India’s procurement rules give no credit for exceeding the tender requirements. The Defence Procurement Procedure mandates that the cheapest of the vendors that meets the technical requirements automatically wins a contract.
Price was just one reason for offering the F-16. With the F-35’s prototype not even having flown then (it first flew in 2006), Lockheed Martin knew that the F-35 would not be available for flight-testing in the time frame that the IAF wanted. Senior IAF officers believe that Lockheed Martin made a strategic decision: to field the F-16 in the MMRCA competition; and later offer the F-35 as a Fifth Generation fighter, a logical follow-on to the F-16. But that offer (which officials confirm was made to the IAF later) was a non-starter: India had decided to partner Russia in jointly developing the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
Today, much has changed. The F-35 programme has moved into its production phase and will be flying operationally soon. Senior Lockheed Martin officials confirm that the US is more than keen to sell India the F-35. Meanwhile, a more confident MoD has demonstrated — through its single-vendor purchases of the C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft — that it has the political courage to buy American systems when they clearly outclass the competition.
Senior IAF officers, serving and retired, make two arguments against the F-35. Accepting that the F-35 far outclasses the other MMRCA contenders, they apprehend that scrapping the MMRCA purchase risks losing several years that the MoD will surely take for fresh evaluations and financial sanctions for buying the F-35.
This logic does injustice to the MoD, which has demonstrated in the C-130J and C-17 procurements that it is capable of acting decisively. Having shed its post-Kargil, Pakistan-centric mindset, and focusing on building credible offensive-defence capabilities against China, surely the MoD will not spend $10 billion on fighters that will be outclassed with the inevitable appearance of Chinese Fifth Generation fighters over the Himalayas.
The other IAF concern is that, with the F-35 still under development, there is little clarity on when it will become available or on what terms. But the announcement last week of Israel’s purchase of 20 F-35s (with another 75 likely to follow) has dispelled much of the mist. Israel, which is not even one of the nine countries that funded the F-35 development, will be buying the fighters for $96 million each under the Foreign Military Sales programme, for not much more than the Rafale’s and Eurofighter’s estimated cost. Israel will get its F-35s between 2015 and 2017; several of the MMRCA contenders will need as long.
Significantly, defence analysts believe that Israel has obtained Washington’s okay to integrate a variety of Israeli sensors and weaponry onto the F-35. The US has long resisted this since it involves passing on software source codes to the Israelis. With an order of 126-200 fighters, India too could demand this important concession.
Given India’s deteriorating security environment, it must build a Fifth Generation air force, one that will remain the pre-eminent power in South Asia the next two decades. The Fifth Generation heavy fighter already in the works, in partnership with Russia, will only enter service towards the end of the decade. In the medium fighter segment, a Fifth Generation fighter is as essential, with strategic balance maintained by importing from the US. For obvious political reasons, the initiative to scrap the MMRCA and go in for the F-35 must come from the IAF; and the MoD must assure them of minimal delay.
By Craig Hoyle
Boeing is optimistic it will make the shortlist for India's medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement in 2011 with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, says Rick McCrary, capture team manager for its Defense, Space & Security business unit.
With India having completed in-country flight evaluations of the six candidate airframes, McCrary believes a shortlist will be issued next year to narrow the field, most likely after the Aero India air show in Bangalore.
"I think it will be the heavy twins," he says, referring to the Super Hornet and rival offers with the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and RSK MiG-35. "They're looking for more serious medium combat aircraft, in weight and performance," he says.
Lockheed Martin and Saab are also pursuing the MMRCA contract offering their single-engined F-16IN and Gripen NG designs.
The Indian air force is seeking an initial 126 aircraft, with an option for 50% more at the same unit price, but McCrary says the service could eventually need up to 400 of the winning design. "They've got a huge air force, but it's ageing," he notes.
Deliveries will start within 36 months of a contract award, which is expected to be made in 2012. The first 18 aircraft will be completed by the successful bidder before final assembly and manufacturing responsibilities are progressively transferred to India. "This is a 20-year programme," McCrary notes.
In the case of Boeing, the company would first transfer final assembly and test of the Super Hornet for India from its St Louis site in Missouri and then "work back from there."
McCrary says New Delhi's recent selection of GE Aviation's F414 engine - which also powers the Super Hornet - for the MkII version of its Tejas light combat aircraft could help Boeing's bid for MMRCA. "We think they're disconnected, but would certainly like to think there's some synergy there."
Boeing also continues to answer requests for information about the Super Hornet from the United Arab Emirates about its new fighter requirement. France is also pursuing a proposed sale of its Rafale to the UAE's air force.
New Delhi: The Indian air force is gearing up to field a raft of new air defense equipment and address long-standing concerns about the existing inventory.
New Delhi has long worried about gaps; and in areas where it has fielded air defense systems, the equipment is often out of date. Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Naik, the Indian air force (IAF) leader, says half of the equipment at his command faces obsolescence, with that label applying to the majority of air defense weapons.
That situation is now being remedied. By next March, the IAF will begin receiving the first of 18 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-Rafael Spyder quick-reaction medium-range missile systems. The offshore deal became necessary in 2006 because of development problems and delays in the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) program.
However, Akash has since turned the corner, and the IAF decided to order six more Akash batteries worth $925 million—each with 125 missiles—in addition to the two systems already on order. The service will receive its first two Akash batteries in February, and is likely to deploy them in India’s Northeast.
The IAF also anticipates joint development work kicking off in earnest on the 15-km.-range (9.3-mi.) Indo-French Maitri short-range SAM (SR-SAM), which is aimed at filling the void created when the Indian government decided to wind up the Trishul point-defense weapon program in 2006 and effectively de-link it from IAF and Indian navy requirements. A workshare agreement between the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and European missile maker MBDA has been concluded. IAF sources suggest a formal accord sanctioning the program is likely soon, possibly when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visits New Delhi later this year.
An MBDA official says the SR-SAM would finish development work and the first phase of testing within three years of program go-ahead. While no official timelines have been revealed, the IAF expects the system to be available for deployment by late 2013.
Even higher on the IAF’s priority list is the 70-km.-range MR-SAM that the DRDO is developing with IAI. The IAF has revealed plans to raise at least two regiments that will use the MR-SAM, each with 40 launchers and support equipment. In India, the MR-SAM will progressively replace the IAF’s antiquated Soviet-vintage SA-3 Pechora and SA-8 OSA-AK SAM systems. A proposed foreign-assisted upgrade of the Pechora fleet was shelved two years ago, with the IAF deciding it was more economical to pursue a limited ground-equipment modification by Bharat Electronics Ltd. The Pechora, OSA-AK and 9K38 Igla man-portable SAM systems are effectively obsolete, and the IAF admits it has had to cannibalize equipment to keep a minimum number operationally effective.
The raft of modernization activities should remedy a situation that, in June 2006, was strongly criticized by the Indian parliamentary committee on defense, which accused the defense ministry of taking a “lackadaisical approach” to existing needs and being responsible for “derailed modernization and critical voids.” Shortly after the committee’s stinging report was released, the government began prioritizing air defense purchases and development programs.
But these activities to not address all of the air force’s concerns; radar coverage is another worry. The IAF currently has fast-track tenders out for long-range surveillance radars, high-powered radars, three-dimensional C/D band air surveillance radars, low-level transportable radars and radars for mountain surveillance in India’s northern and eastern sectors.
Naik notes that “10 years ago we had very little money for modernization, which led to major delays. The equipment we are contracting now will come to fruition by 2014-15. So . . . over the next three years, areas of concern will be progressively addressed.”
MADRID: As India seeks to boost its strategic reach by inducting more mid-air refuellers, European defence major EADS has announced that it would aggressively bid for the multi-billion reopened contract by offering latest technology.
India is seeking to buy six more air-to-air refueller to augment its fleet of six Russian IL-78 tankers and the European consortium Airbus Military said it would offer its new state-of-the-art Multi-role Transport Tanker aircraft A330 MRTT "at competitive prices."
The European tanker would come with Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS), a technology which only the Americans have so far. The ARBS system enables refueling even in adverse weather and day or night.
It uses the stereoscopic vision and laser based infrared lighting system -- a distinct advantage for India as it is set to acquire 126 advanced fighters. "The Russian refuellers with IAF don't have this capability," Airbus officials said.
"We are offering the new A330 MRTT as it provides the best value for money," said Peter Scoffham, Vice President, Defence Capability Marketing for Airbus Military.
"No other aircraft comes close to A300 MRTT as aircrafts designed in 1970's cannot be compared with those being built now," Scoffham told PTI at the Airbus Military facility in Getafe, a metropolitan area in southern zone of Spanish city of Madrid.
"The new technology on offer to India bridges the gap between strategic and tactical tanker," he said.
India has so far relied on the Russian technology in acquiring its first air tankers, but the defence planners are now insisting that the IAF be armed with the most updated technology.
India has issued Fresh Request for Proposals (RFP) for six in-flight refuelling aircraft, reviving the tender worth around Rs 6,000 crore that was cancelled in January.
Besides the Airbus, the American Boeing and Russians are in the contention for one of the biggest military tenders to be floated by India.
Even as Scoffham refused to give details of the new RFP, he said "India has emerged as one of the largest defence market in the world", and like all other major defence industries, "Airbus Military is looking to India to sell its products which are the best in its categories".
A300 MRTT has comprehensive AAR system, including both Hose and Drogue and the ARBS.
Following its last-minute failure to ink the lucrative deal earlier this year, Airbus Military, a business unit of Airbus responsible for all military transport aircraft, said the civil and military certification for the A330 MRTT strengthens its case.
Airbus Military, which is fighting to shake off negative publicity from the delayed hulking gray A400M turboprop, has positioned the A300 MRTT as "bridging the gap between strategic and tactical" aircraft.
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), had almost bagged the contract earlier, but the finance ministry had reservations labelling the contract as too.
The Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), already planned to be loaded with top-end combat features like advanced stealth and super-cruise capability, could also be plugged, uniquely, into a network of satellites. With Moscow willing to grant India unprecedented access to military signals from Russia’s constellation of GLONASS (GLObal NAvigation Satellite System) satellites, the FGFA could access real-time details of its own and enemy positions, terrain information, and have the ability to communicate with Indian forces anywhere on the globe.
A senior Russian diplomat, speaking anonymously to Business Standard, reveals that after extended negotiations with India, Moscow has okayed the provision of military data from GLONASS, in the form of digitised signals. So far, Russia had only agreed to provide India with civilian-grade navigation signals, which permitted an accuracy of 25-30 metres. Now, the military grade signals will allow a far higher accuracy, crucial for military operations.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the New Delhi-based Russian diplomat explained, “India is the only country that Moscow is willing to supply GLONASS military data to. Russia has recently okayed an agreement which officials from both sides have been negotiating for some time. From our side, we are ready to sign, even during (Russian president Dmitry) Medvedev’s visit to India this December.”
Business Standard first reported (Sept 11: ‘India, Russia to ink gen-5 fighter pact’) that India and Russia were set to sign a Preliminary Design Contract to co-develop the FGFA during Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India this December. The FGFA programme, towards which each partner will contribute an initial $6 billion (Rs 26,600 crore), aims to develop the world’s premier fighter. The Russian and Indian air forces each plan to buy 250-300 of these aircraft.
Providing satellite navigation and communications to the FGFA would place the aircraft at a higher technological level than even the F-35 Lightning II, the futuristic fighter that America is currently developing. The F-35 uses satellite communications, but not satellite navigation.
Says the Russian diplomat, “It is next-generation features like real-time satellite navigation that will take the FGFA technologically far beyond Sukhoi’s T-50 prototype fighter, which made its first flight in January.”
Russia’s GLONASS network will provide navigational signals worldwide through a constellation of 24 satellites, 18 of which are already operational. America already has an operational satellite navigation system, called the Global Positioning System (GPS). The European Union is implementing its own Galileo system, while India is planning its own network, called Gagan.
India and Russia had earlier agreed to cooperate on the civilian aspects of GLONASS. In January 2007, during President Putin’s visit to India, Russia’s Federal Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organisation signed agreements to launch GLONASS satellites on Indian booster rockets and to jointly build new-generation satellites.
With President Medvedev’s visit a month after President Obama’s, Moscow has successfully lined up a slew of high-profile signings and events that underscore the strategic nature of the Russia-India partnership. Besides signing of the FGFA development contract and the possible GLONASS agreement, Russia is racing against time to hand over during this period an Akula-class nuclear attack submarine to the Indian Navy. INS Chakra, as the Indian Navy will call this submarine, has been provided by Russia on a 10-year lease for an estimated $900 million (Rs 400 crore).
“All this shows the depth of the Russia-India strategic relationship,” points out the Russian diplomat. “There are other countries that might be having better technology than Russia, though I cannot say for sure. But they are not willing to part with it.”
Tejas MK-1 is fast approaching its IOC which will happen in December 2010 , but ADA officials have already done their premilanary design of Tejas Mk-2 , and to avoid further delays , Two Tejas MK-2 were designed keeping in mind the dimensions provided by two Engine manufactures who were in race to provide 100 + plus engines to the Tejas Mk-2 program .
Ge’s F414IN engines were logically chosen for the Tejas Mk-2, since they had same dimensions and length of F-404 engines which were powering Tejas MK-1 .but Tejas Mk-2 as per sources will incorporate advance technology developed keeping in mind MCA over a decade has a parallel in house development now officially known has AMCA.
India currently is working on Indigenous AESA again with inputs from a international partner. Officials close to the program have told www.lca-tejas.org that major avionics will be ready for the aircraft within next two or three years, Tejas Mk-2 will have lot of key elements which will find its way into AMCA and FGFA later.
Tejas MK-2 will also have a newly laid out cockpit layout with better computing power since it also be housing new mission control computer, Samtel Display Systems (SDS) is also working on touch based Multi Function Displays (MFD) for Tejas Mk-2 , which will later find its way in AMCA too .
Tejas Mk-2 will also see structural changes in the aircraft which will be noticeable in wider wing span to carry extra weapons load along with extra fuel, aircraft will also have large air intakes to let the high thrust engine generate additional power for the aircraft, engine change for Tejas Mk-2 will result in the rear fuselage being changed too .
Commonality between Tejas Mk-1 and Tejas MK-2 will be digital Fly by Wire (FBW) Flight Control System (FCS) along with some avionics which both aircraft will share, but sources also told us that FBW Software will require some modification in them to support structural changes which Tejas MK-2 will have.
When asked about development of Tejas MK-3 sources told us that it all depends how Tejas Mk-2 develops and how IAF responds to it , further development can happen but AMCA will be logical choice if it comes out in time for IAF rather then Tejas MK-3 .
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The final phase of Indo-UK Air Exercise Indradhanush began today i.e. on 28 Oct 2010 at AF Station Kalaikunda with increased number of launches and full scale Large Force Engagement (LFE) missions. So far over 120 missions of the exercise have already been flown successfully achieving the mission objectives.
Ex Indradhanush joint air exercise between The IAF and RAF (Royal Air Force) began on 18 Oct 2010 at Kalaikunda Airbase in West Midnapur district, West Bengal . The flying missions commenced on 20 Oct, with aim to enhance mutual operational understanding and refine the procedures. The RAF is participating with its Eurofighters, VC-10 mid air refuellers and E 3 D Sentry Airborne Early warnings and control systems (AWACS). The IAF on the other hand has fielded the SU 30s, Mirage 2000s, Mig-27s and the newly acquired AWACS which are taking part in a Joint exercise for the first time.
In the final phase of the exercise a large number of aircraft in offensive and defensive roles are expected to be launched in ‘Waves’ in a limited airspace. The AWACS of both the air forces would also be launched, and with large no of aircraft in a limited airspace the skills of both fighter pilots and the controllers would be put to test. Thus the extent of difficulty would be a few notches up than the previous phases of Ex Indrdhanush.
The High value Air Asset (HVAA) protection missions would also be carried out simultaneously drawing a large number of aircraft of participating forces together, increasing the challenge further more. The exercise Indradhanush 2010 would conclude on 03 Nov 2010.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Kolkata: As the Indo-UK joint air exercise ‘Indradhanush' entered its third day on Friday, the degree of difficulty kept on increasing for the participating pilots – giving the younger ones a chance to hone their skills and the seniors to brush-up their expertise.
The Indo-UK joint flying mission started on Wednesday at the Kalaikunda Air Force base in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district after two days of elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures and familiarisation of the local flying area.
According to a Defence spokesperson, protecting ‘high-value aerial assets' from being hunted down by the enemy was the objective of the Friday's mission.
Mid-air refuellers – crucial for in-flight refuelling of fighter aircraft during operations – are considered high-value aerial assets since its longevity in the air assures the duration of an operation.
Fighter jets generally carry a higher ratio of ammunitions than fuel of its overload weight and need to refuel mid-air as the limited fuel in their tanks exhaust fast.
The Royal Air Force has fielded VC-10 mid-air refuellers for the flying exercise. Apart from them, Typoon Euro-fighters and E 3 D Sentry aircraft of the RAF and SU-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s, Mig 27s and an AWACS Phalcon have been engaged in the mission.
While flying exercises will remain suspended over the weekend, defence sources said that operations from Monday will include difficulties like radar denial and large force engagement.
Large force engagement entails a number of aircraft operating together as well as against each other in limited time and space - putting the skills of the pilots and the fighter controllers to test.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
KOLKATA: After having successfully staved off an attack by the Red raiders and charting two successful kills, the pilot of the Indian Air Force's Su-30 MKI turned to the Royal Air Force's VC-10 mid-air refueller.
"Permission denied, Blue Two. Raiders still at large," a clipped English accent from the cockpit of the VC-10 responded. The Sukhoi pilot broke away and started a climb in a bid to conserve fuel. He would return to the refueller later. In the meantime, he would try and nail an Eurofighter Typhoon from the Red force.
Actual flying missions of Ex-Indradhanush 2010 started on Wednesday at Air Force Station Kalaikunda after two days of elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures, rules of exercise and familiarisation of the local flying area.
While the RAF has sent in Typhoons, an E3D Sentry and a VC-10, the IAF has fielded Su-30 MKIs, Mirage-2000s, Mig-27s and one of its Phalcon AWACS. This is the first time that the Israeli-made Phalcon is participating in a joint exercise.
"The assets have been combined and divided into the Blue and Red forces. The Red forces are the agressors while the Blue forces are the defending side. The roles of the participants are interchanged throughout the exercise. Both teams consist of RAF and IAF aircraft. The degree of difficulty is being increased by random denial of mid-air refuelling and radar silence. The major highlight of the exercise is the large number of aircraft operating together in limited time and space, putting the skills of pilots and fighter controllers to the test. This is known as Large Force Engagement (LFE) operations," a senior officer said.
He, however, made it clear that the purpose of the exercise is not to pit Indian aircraft against British ones or to evaluate personal skills by encouraging pilots to show-off'.
"Apart from the pilots flying these missions, it is an excellent opportunity for the controllers who would be either controlling these missions or be on board AWACS aircraft as observers. On the technical side too, there will be a number of areas where both the sides can learn from each others maintainance practices, procedures and management of resources with a view to support flying operations," Air Marshal L K Malhotra of the Eastern Air Command said while meeting the participants.
Air Commodore D K Vashist, commander of AFS Kalaikunda said that the aim of the exercise is to enhance mutual understanding and refine procedures.
"During this exercise, specific emphasis will be laid on exposing the controllers (ATC & AWACS) to large force engagements and protection of high-value aerial assets. Another area of emphasis would be the management of logistical needs to move large forces from one part of the world to another," he said.
Kolkata, Oct 20 (PTI) Indian Air Force's frontline Su-30 MKI fighter jets and Eurofighter Typhoons of the Royal Air Force today began a 17-day wargames codenamed 'Ex-Indradhanush' at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal.The RAF has also deployed its AWACS (E-3D) and Air to Air refuellers (VC-10) along with the Typhoons, while the IAF's AWACS participated for the first time with any country.Also taking part were IAF's Mirage 2000s and Mig27s.
A Defence Ministry release here said that the assets would be combined with the aircrew and divided into the blue and red forces."The red forces are the aggressors, while blue forces are the defending side," it said.The roles of the participants were changed throughout the exercise as also the degree of difficulty by random denial of mid-air refuelling and radar silence.The major highlight of the exercise was the large number of aircraft operating together and against each other in limited time and space putting the skills of pilots and fighter controllers to test, the release said.Air Marshal L K Malhotra of the Eastern Air Command who met the participants said "apart from the pilots flying these missions, it is an excellent opportunity for the controllers who would be either controlling these missions or will be on board AWACS aircraft as observers."
On the technical side there would be a number of areas where both sides could learn from each others' maintenance practices, procedures and management of resources supporting flying operations.He urged the participants to make full use of the opportunity and wished them a 'happy hunting'.The exercise concludes on November three. "Kalaikunda has the necessary infrastructure which is necessary for an international exercise of this magnitude," Commander of the Air Force base at Kalaikunda, Air Commodore D K Vashist said. Operationally the station had the environment conducive for flying and the airspace was fully available for such large force engagements, he said. "The aim of the exercise is to enhance mutual understanding and refine procedures. During this exercise, specific emphasis will be laid on exposing the controllers (ATC & AWACS) to large force engagements and protection of high value aerial assets," he said. Another area of emphasis would be the management of logistical needs to move large forces from one part of the world to another.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
West Midnapore (West Bengal), (IBNS) Indo-UK Air Force Exercise named Ex-Indradhanush would be taking place at Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district from 18 Oct 18 to Nov 3.
This would be for the first time when RAF (Royal Air Force) Typhoons would be seen in a joint operational scenario in India.
The IAF would be participating in this exercise with its SU-30 MKI, Mirage 2000s, Mig 27s and Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems(AWACS) Aircraft. The RAF would also be deploying its AWACS (E-3D) and Air to Air refuellers (VC-10).
Along with the intent of improving cooperating at international level, the aim of this joint exercise is to enhance mutual understanding and refine procedures for future joint exercise between the two Air Forces.
According to the Air Marshal KK Nohwar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, “The exercise Indradhanush is an opportunity for both the Air Forces to get an insight into each others operational philosophies and work cultures. This will greatly enhance the understanding of our Air Force to operate in scenario involving state of the art technologies.”
In a written brief to the participating aircrew, Air Marshal LK Malhotra, Senior Air Staff Officer of the Eastern Air Command said: “This exercise will prove to be a boon for both the nations to fine tune their procedures for multi-national operations, which are likely to happen with greater frequency in future.
“It will help fine tune tactics for large force engagements and also share each others experience to hone up the skills even more.”
During the exercise Indradhanush, specific emphasis will be on exposing more IAFs aircrew and controllers to missions like Large Force Engagements, and protection of High Value Aerial Assets roles routinely undertaken by RAF as apart of coalition/expeditionary force deployment around the globe. It will be for the first time that IAF AWACS will participate in a joint AF exercise.
The other novel exposure is expected to be logistical management needed to move large forces for a possible out of area contingency.
Air Force Station Kalaikunda, with its infrastructure of international Standards, has now become a natural choice for hosting international exercises. India Air Force ( IAF) has earlier exercise with Airforces of other countries in various parts of the world such as USA(mainland), Alaska, France, South Africa and Oman.
The Gwalior Air Base of the Indian Air Force now has the unique distinction of being the only operational base in Indian Air Force with two operational parallel runways and operating top of the line fighters. The ceremony was also marked by the induction of Sukhoi-30 MKI at Air Force Station Gwalior.
During the ceremony, Air Commodore Neeraj Yadav VM VSM, Air Officer Commanding Air Force Station Gwalior and other senior Air Force officials of the air base were also present. A magnificent fly past by three Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft in VIC formation was organized to mark this historic occasion. These aircraft belonging to Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment took off from the Bareilly air base and were the first aircraft to land on the newly constructed runway. The chief guest also received salute from Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000 and MiG-21 Bison aircraft as they taxied past the dais, symbolising the operationalisation of the new Runway with all types of aircraft based at Gwalior.
The new runway was conceptualised in the year 2006 with work commencing in Feb 2009. A mammoth engineering effort involving more than 200 engineers, supervisors and workers was achieved despite the extreme climatic conditions and record breaking rains at Gwalior. As a strategic asset, the new runway will assist the IAF in its quest of being a formidable aerospace power of the century. Two parallel runways would allow the flexibility to launch and recover multiple aircraft simultaneously towards large operational missions and also enhance the existing air traffic handling capability. This will also result in considerable savings to the exchequer due to reduced fuel consumption as aircraft will be able to launch and recover at a faster rate.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
NEW DELHI: Airbus Military says it plans to start discussions with India next year over potential acquisition of the A400M military airlifter.
India so far has not expressed an interest in the European airlifter, which is still in development, but Didier Vernet, head of A400M market development, said “if India is interested, we will be happy to discuss.”
Airbus is desperate to increase foreign sales of the A400M because the core European program — which remains in flux contractually — will not be sufficient to return a profit.
In India, Airbus Military will argue the A400M can fill a niche between the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130J that the country already is looking to buy. India is considering issuing a request for information for an airlifter than could transport large goods and land on airstrips without concrete runways.
Vernet also believes that the fact that several European militaries are taking the A400M as a refueler is an advantage.
He asserts the airlifter has a range of 2,450 naut. mi. with 30 metric tons of payload, or 20 metric tons to 3,450 naut.
The exact figures are still being defined in flight testing.
Vernet concedes there is still uncertainty in the European home markets, where governments and industry are wrestling to agree to contractual terms to cover three years of program delay and additional development costs. This week, Airbus Military will launch its simulator training center for the A400M, CN-235 and C-295 where pilots, technicians and allied staff will be trained.
Monday, October 11, 2010
NEW DELHI: Top-notch fighters and other aircraft from India and UK will match their combat skills in the `Indra-Dhanush' joint exercise at Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal later this month.
While the British Royal Air Force will deploy their spanking new Eurofighter jets for the exercise slated to begin from October 20, the IAF fleet will be led by the `air dominance' Sukhoi-30MKI fighters.
"The exercise will be held in an AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) environment, with air defence being a major thrust area. We will be fielding different types of our fighters," said a senior official.
Both the Indian and British forces are also expected to use their mid-air refuelling aircraft, like the IL-78 and VC-10 tankers, during the combat manoeuvres.
"The aim of the joint exercise is to learn from each other and enhance mutual operational understanding. With every exercise, IAF has gained valuable experience and gained respect as a highly-professional and motivated force," the official added.
The exercise comes at a time when the $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF is in the final stages of selection process.
Apart from Eurofighter, the other five contenders in the hotly-contested race to bag the lucrative MMRCA project are the F/A-18 `Super Hornet' and F-16 `Falcon' (both US), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French) and MiG-35 (Russian).
A major Indo-UK defence deal has been the `Hawk' AJT (advanced jet trainer) project. As reported earlier, India is going in for another 57 Hawks as a "follow-on" order to the ongoing Rs 8,000 crore AJT project, finalised in March 2004 with BAE Systems, under which IAF is already getting 66 Hawks.
MOSCOW: Russia's ailing defence industry has received one of its biggest boosts in years with a huge fighter jet deal with India, but much of the sector remains stuck in a Soviet-era time warp, analysts said.
India announced Wednesday it planned to buy up to 300 fifth-generation stealth fighters that would be jointly developed with Russia in a deal that may be worth up to USD 30 billion (22 billion euros).
Last year's record arms sales helped mask systemic troubles in Russia's defence industry that have pushed even the Russian military to seek hardware abroad in its drive to overhaul outdated weaponry.
"Russia needs the Indian money like it needs air to accelerate the production of fighter jets for its own military," said Ruslan Pukhov, head of Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies ( CAST).
"It's not only good but revolutionary news." The deal is the biggest ever for India -- one of Russia's top three arms buyers -- and crowned two years of growing defence bookings for Russia that will ensure a steady revenue in the coming years.
But Russia has struggled to innovate technologies to meet the needs of modern warfare and is relying excessively on a few high-performing refurbished Soviet-era models, which form the bulk of its arms sales.
President Dmitry Medvedev lashed out at the "poor" state of the industry last month, as the defence ministry announced it was tripling its procurements budget over the next decade, bucking global trends.
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov stressed Russia would not hesitate to spend the allotted 19 trillion rubles (USD 613 billion) on imported arms where Russian makes "did not meet the required standards."
"Our producers want to issue outdated models, but we don't want to buy them," Serdyukov told the weekly Russian Newsweek.
The world's second-largest arms supplier has been in talks with France to buy its Mistral-class warships in what would be its first ever purchase of hardware from a NATO member.
The planned procurements are part of a massive military reform that gained speed after Russia's 2008 war with Georgia showed the need to drop its Cold War-style structure to ready for modern-day, irregular warfare.
"Overall the situation in the defence industry is very negative and not consistent: It needs to be diversified," military expert Konstantin Makienko said.