BANGALORE - The Indian Air Force is to boost its conventional combat edge, said Air Chief Marshal Fali Major.
Addressing a news conference at Aero India 2009 on Feb. 12, Major said the fleet strength of the IAF will increase from the current level of 34 squadrons (18 aircraft to one squadron) to 39.5 squadrons by 2017-20.
Major also announced that the IAF will have a dedicated satellite capability by 2010.
The possession of a dedicated satellite capacity will give a boost to the Aerospace Command concept of the IAF, and speed up the introduction C4ISR capabilities.
The IAF chief said there will be a structural shift in terms of quality of platforms, saying the current 23 types of platforms are too cumbersome to maintain and the IAF needs to reduce the number of combat aircraft and helicopters types in the fleet.
The IAF is already on a global hunt for the purchase of 126 Medium Range Multiple Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and has international competitions underway since last year for the purchase of replacements of its existing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.
Admitting that there are gaps in its low-level radar defenses, Major said efforts are underway to rectify the problem.
The IAF is close to signing a contract for the procurement of 20 Low Level Transportable Radars (LLTRs) worth $ 100 million from Thales of France.
Under the deal, the LLTR will be made by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
Major also said the IAF will procure more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Currently the IAF has Israeli supplied Searcher I, Searcher-II, Heron UAVs.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname; The Suriname government is buying three helicopters from India for its National Army, the Ministry of Defence here announced on Wednesday. Military sources indicate that the aircraft are mainly for transportation of army personnel, but if necessary they could also be used for combat activities.
During budget debates in parliament in January, Defence Minister, Ivan Fernald, had announced the decision of the government to purchase the military equipment but was relecutant to disclose details since negotiations with India were not yet completed. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will deliver the indigenously designed and developed advanced light helicopters (ALH) Dhruv.
The aircrafts will cost some 750 million rupees (US$15.3 million) and are being financed with a credit line from the Indian government. According to the Ministry of Defence, the aircraft are necessary since the Surinamese National Army currently is being furnished adequately in order to fully execute its constitutional tasks.
“With its presence at the national borders the army is executing its preventive duty,” said the ministry.
Currently, Defence Minister Fernald accompanied by his permanent secretary Dennis Kamperveen and lieutenant-colonel Jerry Slijngaard, head of the National Coordination Center for Disaster Management (NCCR) is in India to sign the contracts. The officials will also attend the seventh edition of the international air show, Aero India 2009, which opened Thursday, February 11, in Bangalore and hold talks to advance the defence relations between Suriname and India. Minister Fernald and his Indian counterpart Arackaparambil Kurian Antony will also engage in bilateral talks.
During the 80s and early 90s, the Suriname air force had a considerable number of helicopters and other aircraft but, due to losses during the internal armed conflict in the late 80s and poor maintenance, the fleet deteriorated.
BANGALORE, Feb. 12: The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major, is confident of the air force having more than 39.5 squadrons by 2020 and reaching the strength by 2017. This time lag is because “acquiring aeroplanes, radars and other equipment take long as manufacturing starts after the order is placed”, he explained.
Addressing a press conference at the ongoing 7th edition of the AeroIndia Show organised by the ministry of defence and CII, Major said “without losing cutting edge we at the moment have 34 squadrons and by 2017 we will have reached the required strength of 39.5 squadrons and by 2020 we would have more.”
A day after the defence minister, Mr A K Antony, said the light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas, would be inducted into the IAF, the air chief was even more specific saying that “we expect the first squadron of Tejas to be ready to join by 2010 or early 2011”.
“Every air force goes through phases in life when the strength of the authorised combat squadrons go up and down. The old platform fades out and new platforms need to be inducted. This cycle is common to every air force and there is none in the world which is 100 per cent fully technology efficient,” Air Chief Marshal Major said.
On the air force using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), he said, “We already have UAVs and we are increasing the strength. The payloads in these UAVs are improving and are getting better and better and the process of expanding the fleet is going on.”
On whether after the Mumbai terror attacks, the air force had put acquisition on fast track, he said, “I have put nothing on fast track after November 26 and I don’t need to. The IAF have the capabilities to fight all kinds of situations. My force strategy and weapons profile is for entire operation of conflict. We have our force deployment in a manner which caters for all our adversaries and low intensity.”
On purchasing equipment from those who also supply to Pakistan, he said, “It has been happening for generations and depends on the type of equipment and the common platform doesn’t bother me”. The air chief stressed on the need for indigenising the capability when it came to using these weapons.
On the large number of unused airfields likely to be used by terrorist groups, he said, “It is the responsibility of the respective state governments and these can pose a threat and can be used for not so proper purposes.”
Heavy weapon testing
The indigenously made light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas which is likely to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) by next year or early 2011 would be carrying out heavy weapon testing immediately after the ongoing 7th edition of AeroIndia show here .
“We would be carrying out heavy weapon testing immediately after this AeroIndia show and we would be carrying 1000 lb bombs,” Group Captain N Tiwari who has been flying these aircraft at the National Flight Testing Centre (NFTC) told The Statesman.
The successful display of the LCA at the air show encouraged the defence minister, Mr AK Antony, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major, to be confident that the fighter aircraft would be inducted into the IAF at a time when it is planning to purchase 126 combat aircraft for which trials are to begin by April.
“We had started weapon testing two years back and we have just started air to ground tests,” said Group Captain Tiwari who is at the airshow with his team which had tested the Tejas fighter in both hot and cold weather conditions. The hot weather trials were held at the Air Force Station (AFS) at Nagpur last year while the sea level trials were conducted at INS Rajali, Arakkonam and Close Combat Missile (CCM) firing at INS Hansa, Goa.
On the test flight of the Tejas at Leh which he had undertaken, Group Captain Tiwari said, “There was no major problem and everything looked better than planned. We were very worried whether the aircraft would start at the high altitude but there was no problem. We left it overnight in Leh and everything was fine though the temperature was between -14 degrees Celsius and -16 degrees Celsius and the altitude was 10,300 feet. It took us two days for acclimatisation and only on the third day could be carry out the test flight.”
Elaborating on the testing, he said, “All our performance targets were met easily. It was more an evaluation of the systems ~ that was the basic intent of the exercise.”
On the aircraft’s ability to cope with hot weather conditions, he said “there too we had no problems. Despite the heat with the temperature touching nearly 45 degrees Celsius, the cockpit remained cool.” On night flying, he said the aircraft has completed the first phase which was done here and the final phase would be undertaken soon.
'No worries over manufacturers selling same weaponry to Pak'
Bangalore, Feb 12 : India today said it was not worried over the global arms manufacturers selling the same weapon and platform to its neighbour Pakistan.
"This has been happening for generations. If it is a common platform, it does not bother me," Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major told reporters here on the sidelines of the Aero India show.
Major said there would be situations in the future when similar equipment and weapons would be with four different adversaries in a conflict. "What actually matters is the exploitation of the platform, your home-grown tactics and how you tweak that system to suit your requirements," he said.
On networking of platforms and weapon system, the IAF chief said the work on the Air Force Net and Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) was progressing well and the expected AFNET to be completed by June this year.
"All the 165 nodes of the AFNET would be linked by June. Three quarters of the work has been finished already. By June, we will complete this particular phase," he said.
On the Operational Data Link (ODL) for linking all fighter aircraft sensors, Major said the link would be in place by December 2010 or beginning of 2011.
The IAF, he said, was moving ahead with inductions and phase outs in a planned manner and therefore did not require to fast track acquisition post 26/11.
AERO INDIA: MoD gives go-ahead to light utility helicopter project
By Siva Govindasamy
India's defence ministry has cleared Hindustan Aeronautics' proposal to manufacture 187 light utility helicopters, paving the way for the company to begin a design phase and possibly sound out potential foreign partners.
"We will now start working on the programme and we expect to begin deliveries in five to six years," says Ashok Baweja, HAL chairman.
The tender is part of a combined requirement by both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. New Delhi has issued a global request for proposals for 197 light utility helicopters, with Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Russia's Rosoboronexport expected to respond. The defence ministry hopes to make a selection by early 2010 and induct the first helicopter in 2011.
There has been speculation that HAL could work with a foreign vendor to develop the aircraft from scratch, although Baweja says that it is too early too say if this would be the case.
Eurocopter, which allowed HAL to licence-produce several hundred Indian versions of the Alouette and Lama, is the likely company if a partner is sought. A possible model for the partnership is one that Eurocopter has with South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries. The company is a partner in the Korea Helicopter Programme, which aims to develop an 8t utility helicopter for the country's army. Eurocopter would also help KAI to market the design outside South Korea.
India requires a smaller single-engine helicopter in the 2.5-3t category, with a range of up to 500km (270nm) and a 500kg (1,100lb) payload. HAL, which will also be responsible for the maintenance of the Western-manufactured helicopters, is likely to create a new division to oversee the entire LUH programme. This will be separate from its existing Dhruv advanced light helicopter and light combat helicopter programmes.
BANGALORE: Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major on Thursday said the Indian Air Force would have its full sanctioned strength of 39 squadrons in eight years and asserted that operating at lesser strength did not compromise its fighting edge.
“The programme of phasing out, upgrading and induction is being carried out in a concerted manner without losing the combat edge. We should be able to reach 39 squadrons by 2017 and will have what we want and more by 2020,” the Air Chief said at a press conference here. All air forces in the world went through this process, he pointed out.
Emphasising that technology was at the core of any air force, he said there was a conscious move to reduce different kinds of aircraft from the present varied inventory so that ultimately, the IAF would have fewer kinds of combat and transport aircraft and helicopters. This was essential for better management of both the aircraft and weapon systems as it was a challenge to manage and maintain a varied inventory.
By this June, the IAF would connect all its 165 operational and other nodes through a secure fibre optic network while work on the voice and data net was also progressing well. By 2010, the IAF would have integrated command and control systems linking its entire operational data links to network platforms sensors, command and controls. The IAF would launch its own satellite by mid-2010.
Asked about the preparedness of the IAF in the wake of reports of China building infrastructure across the Indian borders, he said: “We have our force deployment in a manner which caters for all likely adversaries in a situation of low intensity conflict.”
To a question how the IAF looked at Pakistan having F-16, he said it was not an issue as he knew what Pakistan’s F-16 was capable of. It was not the aircraft but the type of equipment, including weapon systems, that was important and the capacity to tweak the system, exploit it and employ tactics.
He admitted there were gaps on low-level radars in the country but the IAF had them in key areas.
As for the threat perception from unused airfields in the country, he said it was for the respective State governments to keep surveillance.
On the Light Combat Aircraft, he said trials in cold weather and weapons firing were over and it should be operational by late 2010 or early 2011. The IAF had placed an order with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for 40 indigenous LCA ‘Tejas.’
Indian woman becomes world's first to fly MiG-35
Sunday, 15 February , 2009, 14:23
Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February , 2009, 14:43
Bangalore: Suman Sharma, daughter of a retired Indian naval officer and an army colonel's sister, became the world's first woman to fly the mighty Russian MiG-35 fighter jet at the Aero India international air show here.
The 30-year-old also became the first civilian woman to co-pilot the American-strike fighter F-16IN of Lockheed Martin two days before the biennial event took off at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Yelahanka, about 20 km from here.
"The Russians confirmed from Moscow that I was the world's first woman to fly the Mikoyan fourth generation twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft (MiG-35) on Friday (February 13) with MiG Corp test pilot Mikhail Belyaev for over 40 minutes cruising at 0.9 Mach speed and pulled 7G above 20,000 feet," an elated Suman said.
A qualified pilot with a stint in IAF as a commissioned officer and currently a flying instructor with the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, Suman flew in the single-engine F-16 with Lockheed test pilot Paul Randall. They touched 6G while flying 90 miles southwards into interior Karnataka.
"I had the privilege of taking controls in both the fighters for a while to perform loops, barrel and side rolls, stalls, dives and 360 degree turns. Though I was alert and fit, breathing at such altitudes and speed is a bit difficult. Yoga practice came to my rescue," Suman recalled.
In the run up to her mid-air adventures onboard the supersonic fighters, Suman had flown to the US by a Boeing commercial jet (737) for 15 hours non-stop from New Delhi to Chicago in January 2008 on a familiarisation trip to the Lockheed factory where she got a feel of the Falcons in a simulator and a first-hand exposure to the latest aerospace technologies.
"During my IAF service, I co-piloted transport aircraft AN-32 and IL-76 and flew civilian jets subsequently. The experience came handy in conditioning to fly the fighters. In addition, yoga practice, jazz dance and diet control made me remain lean and fit to wear the G-suit and participate in aerobatics at different G force," Suman noted.
Unwilling to make a comparison between the American and Russian fighters and her preference, Suman said while F-16 was a lighter, lean and mean machine to super cruise, MiG-35 was certainly heavier with tremendous power and thrust to go full throttle.
"It is unfair to compare as both (fighters) are a class by themselves. It all depends on how they are used and by whom. Being fly-by-wire with latest avionics, flight controls, radars and other navigational aids, it is the level of our alertness and reflexes that makes the difference in flying them," Suman affirmed.
Asked whether she applied to the IAF to fly in one of its Sukhoi (Su-30MKI) fourth generation fighters, Suman said though she did to co-pilot a Su-30 and its latest Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawk, she was yet to get a clearance.
"As a rule, IAF does not allow women warriors to be taken as prisoners of war (POW) by the enemy though women pilots in the US and Israel fly combat aircraft. Though the Russian air force is not averse to the fair-gender flying fighters, there are no women fighter pilots yet," Suman pointed out.
Suman, however, is hopeful the IAF would change its rule sooner to allow women pilots to fly fighters in light of a recent proposal to recruit about 800 women commissioned officers in combat flying.
"The IAF recruits women through the service selection board for various positions, including piloting transport aircraft and choppers," she said.
The New Delhi-based Suman wants to inspire other women, especially girls, to take up flying as a profession and compete with men as there is nothing that one cannotunderstand in a magnificent flying machine.
"It is not a rocket science or so difficult to grasp. With good academic and science background, any girl or woman can take to flying even a combat aircraft," she said.
BANGALORE: Worried over shortcomings in product support from BAE systems, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), issues over maintenance and a price considered too steep, the Indian Air Force (IAF) appears reluctant to go ahead with the follow-on order for the Hawk trainer.
The IAF, through a $1.75-billion contract signed in March 2004, is receiving 66 Hawk Mk 132 advanced jet trainers. Of these, BAE Systems has supplied 24 in direct supply mode, while the remaining 42 are being assembled from semi knocked down and completely knocked down kits — progressively using indigenous components — at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore. HAL is contracted to assemble all the 42 Hawks by 2011. The aircraft entered service at Air Force Station Bidar, Karnataka, in February 2008.
In January 2008, the IAF prevailed upon the government to allow it go in for a further batch of 57 Hawks, with 17 of them being for the Navy. But the IAF now appears to have apprehensions over the follow-on order. The aircraft in the follow-on order were to have been indigenously assembled by HAL, with product and technical support from the OEM.
Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the slow pace of deliveries from HAL, tardy product support from BAE Systems and poor serviceability had led to the IAF’s rethink.
The IAF which had to pull out all stops before BAE Systems rectified a number of technical and spares-related issues especially on the initial batch of Hawks, is also worried over the price being quoted by HAL for the follow-on order. HAL officials said the company had indicated the prices taking into effect inputs on spares, technical help and product support from OEMs BAE Systems and Rolls Royce (for the engine).
Refusing to comment on the price issue, a spokesperson for BAE Systems said that all the pricing details had been provided to HAL. Commenting on problems over spares for the direct supply of Hawks, he said BAE Systems had “delivered all the spares that had been contracted for.”
The IAF would like HAL to indigenously develop an AJT, a natural follow on to the Intermediate Jet Trainer that is being built.
At Aero India 2009 here, M. Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, also announced the development of a lead-in-fighter-trainer quite similar to South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle. He told The Hindu that the trainer which will be a derivative of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas would be far superior to the Hawk and could be flying in five to six years.
The Hawks allow trainee pilots to make the transition from flying sub sonic to super sonic aircraft and are being used by the IAF for its fighter training programme.
New Delhi (PTI): To validate the concept of flexi-use of airspace to fight battles and to secure the peninsular skies including the coastal belt, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to carry out the second edition of its mammoth exercise 'Dakshin Prahar' from February 18.
The week-long unique operational exercise under the Southern Air Command (SAC) assumes significance in the wake of the Aero India show held in Bangalore last week and will reflect the IAF ability to sustain operations for a prolonged period of time.
The SAC would deploy its state-of-the-art fighter aircraft such as Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and upgraded versions of maritime Jaguar in order to cover its vast area of responsibility including the peninsular region and offshore installations on the east coast and Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands in the South West.
"All the combat aircraft have capability for air-to-air refuelling by the IL- 78 tankers which are strategically positioned to increase the reach of fighters to go around the peninsula without refuelling," an IAF spokesperson said here.
The transport aircraft An-32s and Avro, and Mi-8 helicopters would provide vital support and perform communication duties during the exercise.
The aircraft would practice modern tactics in carefully crafted corridor in coordination with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) so that civil and military air operations can be conducted smoothly and simultaneously, the IAF spokesperson said.
SAC Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal S. Radhakrishnan said: "The air exercises of this nature not only increases the operational preparedness of the IAF but also strengthens the process of coordination between the AAI and the IAF for handling and eventuality requiring use of combat air power at short notice."
Earlier, whenever major operational exercises were held by the IAF, tight restrictions were placed on the use of airspace.
Such restrictions would have caused severe disruption in day-to-day air traffic in the booming civil aviation sector. Last year, when the exercise was conducted for the first time, SAC and AAI displayed exemplary coordination with interaction at every level, joint-manship from the planning stage and successfully executed an intricate exercise.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The second edition of the Dakshin Prahar exercise of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will begin in Thiruvananthapuram, this week.
Sources said that the exercise, which will put into play diverse capabilities of the Air Force, will begin on February 18, under the aegis of the Southern Air Command (SAC) headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram.
Some of the fighter aircrafts participating in the exercise will be landing in the capital on Monday, sources said.
Started in 2007, the Dakshin Prahar exercise is part of the IAF’s strategies to increase its presence in the Southern peninsula which has been emerging in strategic importance over the past few years.
The first edition of the Air exercise, the first of its kind to be held down South, was staged in early December, 2007, in two stages. One stage was based in Thiruvananthapuram and another in Hyderabad.
The exercise featured combat fighters like the Sukhoi, Mirage and Jaguar and transporters such as IL-72s. The week-long exercise helped to generate much public interest in Air Force activities.
The first edition of the Air exercise successfully showcased what was then a new concept for the Air Force - ‘Flexi Airspace’ - which, among other things, involved pooling of military and civilian infrastructure like radars to improve security. Dakshin Prahar begins on Wednesday
To take on pirates, Navy gets right of hot pursuit, sends destroyer Mysore
Jaipur: With the Air Force and Army vehemently denying any involvement in an explosion in Doshe Ki Dhani village in Jaisalmer on Friday, the district administration stated on Monday that they would conduct their own probe into the issue if inquiries conducted by the IAF and Army remained inconclusive. The decision was taken following a joint coordination meeting in Jaisalmer on Monday.
“It was decided that the IAF and Army would look into the incident first and if both probes remained inconclusive, then the district administration will have to look into it and decide on compensation,” Jaisalmer collector Ravi Surpur said. He added that preliminary investigations by the IAF yielded nothing.
The incident occurred on Friday afternoon when one Dost Ali from Dishe Ki Dhani registered a police complaint claiming that an IAF aircraft dropped a bomb on his property causing some damage. According to the police, Ali stated in his complaint that the blast left a crater in his field, located some 4 km away from the IAF’s Changad firing range, and destroyed a wall in his house. The IAF dispatched a team to the spot to conduct a probe.
However, sources in Jaisalmer stated that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also tested ordinance in the area.
The IAF team found parachute pieces as well as a printed circuit board (PCB)s from the crater, sources said. Senior officers stated that the IAF were not using any bombs with PCBs on Friday and added that the IAF were now trying to determine all military units who conducted tests on Friday, which included the IAF, Army, DRDO and paramilitary forces.
IAF PRO S Menon in Gandhinagar on Monday categorically denied that it was an IAF bomb that caused the crater. “The crater measures 8 feet in diameter and is 1.5 feet deep and traces of aluminium were found at the blast site. The crater is too small for any ordinance the IAF uses and most bombs are made of iron, not aluminium,” Menon said. He added that though the IAF were practising in their range, their entire ordinance was accounted. The enquiry was still on, he added.
According to Defence PRO in Jodhpur, lt col N N Joshi, the probability of the explosion being caused by the Army was slim. “The Army firing range is 40 km away from the blast site. However, investigations are still on,” Joshi said. Jaisalmer explosion: local probe if IAF, Army find nothing