Friday, November 4, 2011

Desi Sukhoi does supersonic ballet on debut

BANGALORE: The made-in-India Sukhoi (Su-30MKI) is up and flying. Amid Diwali fireworks, the Ozar air base in Nashik witnessed a silent, yet stellar affair. The desi Sukhoi, a 4.5 generation fighter, took to the skies for the first time and performed a 55-minute supersonic ballet. Also flying high was the Swadeshi pride considering that this was the first aircraft manufactured from a complete raw material phase. The striking feature was the pilots pulling 9g at the first attempt itself, a pointer to its structural integrity.

Indian Air Force (IAF) sources confirmed to Express that the Sukhoi was piloted by Wg Cdr S C Sharma with co-pilot Wg Cdr S S Mallick in the rear. The Aircraft Manufacturing Division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Nashik, produced this metal bird with close to 28,000 parts and using 1,20,000 tools.

“This flight was undertaken with full confidence in the technical prowess and expertise of HAL. It went smoothly as planned and the aircraft handled beautifully,” the pilots were quoted by sources after touch-down.

HAL has so far delivered 99 Sukhois to the IAF, out of a total order of 180, produced under licence from Russia at an approximate cost of Rs 250-300 crore each. The raw material phase Sukhoi is the first from Phase-IV of the project. The avionics and accessories have come from HAL’s Lucknow, Hyderabad and Korwa divisions, while the engine was produced at Koraput.

“HAL will have to complete the deliveries by 2014-15, but we expect a delay of three years,” IAF sources said. Express has learnt that the delay in the design and development phase of Sukhoi in Russia impacted the receipt of technology and tooling in India. HAL too had issues in absorbing new technologies.

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