India's first indigenous jet was left to die young

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by JAYRAM, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    Chethan Kumar, Bangalore, June 17, DHNS::

    This day, 50 years ago, was a red letter day for the Indian Air Force’s indigenisation programme when the country’s first fighter plane – Hindustan Fighter-24, aka, Marut – took to the air for the first time.

    [​IMG]

    Today, 50 years later, the IAF has no indigenously built aircraft of any worth. The enthusiam that was associated particularly with Marut died a natural death because of a combination of two factors: import pressures in general and under-powered engines for the aircraft.

    Retired IAF officers told Deccan Herald that neither Air Headquarters nor the Ministry of Defence pursued the indegenisation programme beginning with Marut manufactured by the then Hindustan Aircraft Ltd, later christened as Hindustan Aeronatics Ltd (HAL), with gusto. According to Wg Cdr (retd) Praful Bakshi, Marut’s “Ac*hilles heel” was its engine.

    “After the GNAT started flying, Kurt Tank (a German who had earlier designed the Focke-Wolf) designed the HF-24” which was a “remarkable aircraft but fell short because of the lack of a proper engine”.

    After the aircraft was commissioned, three squadrons were formed and some of them saw action during the 1971 Indo-Pak war in which it took a lot of hits, as one retired IAF officer said.

    At the manufact*uring stage, Rolls Royce agreed to make an engine for the Marut at a cost of Rs 7 lakh per engine. But after the company’s factory in Egypt was bombed by the Israelis in an air attack the IAF re-designed the aircraft, fitting two GNAT engines on it.

    “This did not help because the frame was designed for Mach 2-3 speed and the engines were grossly under-powered,” another retired IAF officer said, adding that with no significant help from western countries in developing the Marut’s engine, the plan to manufacture more of the HF-24 was dropped.

    According to Wg Cdr Baks*hi, “the Marut was the only aircraft which flew supersonic without an afterburner, an aspect which “our planners never gave importance to.
    Besi**d*es, the defence esta**blishment “never thought that this was a great tactical advantage. Senior personnel did not want to fly this aircraft because the worksmanship of HAL was not up to the mark,” he notes.

    The IAF was “happy because nobody wanted an indigenous programme” even though the Marut could do 640 knots, fly low level with four tanks” (comparable to the American F-22).

    Most retired IAF officers Deccan Herald spoke to faulted the Marut’s engine whose under-performance was the main reason why production of the aircraft was grounded.

    “Imagine what a Rs 4-cr*o*re investment could have do*ne to the aircraft”, Air Ma*rs*hal (retd) S K S Ramdas sa*id, adding: “Some of the aircraft had not even clocked 10-12 hours on the log and there was one which had logged only three hours. Only a very rich country like ours could afford such a colossal waste,” he said.

    Another retired Air Marshal said that several test pilots lost their lives because of a combination of mehcanical faults, including a below par engine. The fighter plane’s reputation was marred by technical glitches, including fuel leakages and a problem with the canopy, which eventually took the life of Group Capt Suranjan Das.

    After the Indo-Pak war, the government virtually stalled the IAF’s programme tilting to the seductive appeal of imports which included the procurement and operationalisation of the Russian MiG-21s which subsequently suffered because of the availability of spare parts.

    Now, the aircraft lies all across India in various airfields and the authorities at Air Headquarters and HAL here look the other way because it was a source of embarrassment.


    India's first indigenous jet was left to die young
     
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  3. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    ^^ Man, what a sad story !! Alas the situation remains the same even after 50 years ! The Kaveri engine is still not up to the mark and is being developed with external help. What's with aircraft engines that Indian engineers and scientists just can't figure out, its this question that baffles me ! The Marut would have been a great asset if Roll Royce had been able to provide it with a capable engine, I suppose.
     
  4. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    I would blame the lack of R&D in Indian Engineering Universities as also in India's government labs. For a country of 1 billion people, 1000+ universities and 100+ government research labs, we actually get very little done. Having done research in India, Germany and the USA, I can safely say that the basic problem in India is threefold - 1. Lack of REAL R&D motivation, 2. Lack of R&D infrastructure and 3. Lack of a R&D culture.
     
  5. utubekhiladi

    utubekhiladi The Preacher Elite Member

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    I agree.... both govt and private should spend enough on R&D sector. you cannot pay the price of peanuts and expect DRDO to do magic.
     
  6. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    Thanks - it seems we agree on some things. :D

    The average engineering Univ in India barely has any research faculty. The few there are have pittance for research grants. Those that receive a few grants, have NO infrastructure to support them. The engineering students are not motivated to do actual research since their BE, ME or even PhD degree is NOT dependant upon doing genuine innovative research!
    The same students go abroad for further studies and end up with patents, good research papers, grants and even research positions in foreign companies! It is a real big shame. All the great manpower is wasted year after year because of lack of direction, investment and oversight.
    In the end, India gets nothing because India offers nothing to do real research.
     
  7. utubekhiladi

    utubekhiladi The Preacher Elite Member

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    were you thinking that i was some-kind of troll who just dis-agrees with everybodys opinion? :pound: :pound:
     
  8. ace009

    ace009 Freakin' Fighter fan Elite Member

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    Kind of - and that you were anti-US, even though living in Texas. :D
    I am in the Northeast US myself and we don't like people from Texas ... :D
     
  9. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Good points, man ! Just about sums up everything there is to say about my issue, and just what I was myself going to post. You seem to have read my thoughts ! :)
     

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