Wednesday, October 26, 2011

IAF to induct 214 fifth generation fighter jets

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct a total of 214 single and twin-seater variants of the advanced Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) being developed jointly by India and Russia. The fighters are likely to be inducted by 2017.

"We are looking for 166 single seater and 48 twin-seater versions of the aircraft," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said in New Delhi.

He was asked to comment on the project which will be reviewed by India and Russia during Defence Minister AK Antony's meeting with his Russian counterpart AE Sardyukov in Moscow.

He said the contract was in the preliminary contract stage and was expected involve more efforts by two sides when it enters design phase next year.

"By 2012, negotiations will start for the design phase of the aircraft," he said.

The IAF Chief said India would also discuss basing air force, Hindustan Aeronautics limited (HAL) and DRDO teams in Russia to monitor the progress of the joint venture project.

He said by 2017 the first lot of the aircraft were expected to join the IAF and that will depend on the progress of tests and trials of the aircraft.

Commenting on the international commitments of the IAF, Browne said it will hold aerial wargames with the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) from October 14 at the Jamnagar air base where the two sides will field their Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft.

Asked about its plans to take part in Red Flag exercise held in the US, Browne said participating in such wargames involves a lot of effort as it was a trans-Atlantic affair.

He said the IAF will now go there in 2013 only. Red Flag is a US-led NATO exercise and India had taken part in it in 2008.

Need for tri-service aerospace command

The IAF also said there was a need for having a tri-service aerospace command to look after the military issues related to space.

"Time has come that we look into the realm of an aerospace command. It would be a joint command where all the three services have to put their hands together," IAF Chief said while addressing the annual Air Force Day press conference in Nedw Delhi.

All the three services have been talking about creating a joint command for management and creation of a space command to tackle military threats and utilising space-based capabilities.

Asked about the status of the dedicated satellite programmes for the IAF, Browne said, "Both the GSAT-7 and GSAT-7A satellites are delayed by a year. That is a delay from the ISRO part."

He said the payload and other systems to be launched with the satellite have been finalised.

On the functioning of the IAF space cell, Browne said the Integrated Defence Staff has come up with a Defence Space Vision and was the point of contact for all the three services.

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