Strengthening the Indian Air Force

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by zombie, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. zombie

    zombie Regular Member

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    Here is first part of series of articles I will publish about strengthening the Indian Air Force - Transition: Strengthening the IAF part 1: Counter-ISR platforms for IAF . Dear Mods, please feel free to relocate the whole thread if required. If you like it, please hit +1 on my blog page. Thank you all.

    In modern day battlefield, information and knowledge are two of the most lethal weapons in any arsenal. A country or entity that possesses real-time information about its enemy can use this information to their own advantage. Emphasis on information has led to creation of a new type of assets classified as ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) assets. ISR assets can include flying platforms like Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), etc.

    Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been operating Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C platforms for more than two years. A total of four such aircrafts have been ordered by PAF and might order few more in near future. Although much less capable when compared to IL-76 mounted PHALCON operated by Indian Air Force (IAF), they pose a credible threat to IAF aircrafts in case of a war with Pakistan.

    Coming to the Eastern front, PLAAF is fielding a large number of AEW&C platforms in terms of KJ-200 (mounted on An-12 derived Y-8) and KJ-2000 (AWACS) mounted on IL-76. Unlike IAF’s PHALCON (Phased Array L-Band Conformal) AWACS platform coming from Israel, KJ-200 and KJ-2000 are designed and developed domestically. Due to this reason, a large number of AEW&C platforms could be churned out in case hostilities break out between Asian neighbours.

    To counter these combined numbers of AEW&C aircrafts from PAF and PLAAF, IAF has only three PHALCON aircrafts in service with a potential order of two more. These numbers are wholly inadequate for a country with India’s size and threat perception. These numbers would be augmented a little by smaller AEW&C platform with AESA radar developed by LRDE mated to Embraer EMB-145 aircraft. Although this combination is not enough for round the clock coverage of sensitive areas, numbers might increase as time passes. While IAF will induct more such platforms, Pakistan and China won’t sit idle. In addition to building AEW&C aircrafts for PLAAF, China might gift or sell such aircrafts to PAF at discounted prices.

    In order to ensure that we are step ahead of our enemies, we should induct systems to neutralize AEW&C aircrafts in addition to building our own AEW&C aircrafts. An ideal (and I daresay only readily available) solution would be to induct MiG-31BM (NATO reporting name – Foxhound) equipped with R-37 series of missiles. Russian air force has already placed an order to overhaul and upgrade 60 MiG-31BM. IAF should acquire around 30 such aircrafts and split them into 3 special purpose squadrons dedicated to anti-AEW&C (or anti-AWACS) role.

    Some might ask why we need MiG-31BM when we already have a fantastic platform in form of Su-30MKI. After all Su-30MKI can also deploy R-37 missiles after some modifications. Answer to this question lies in the design of MiG-31 family of aircrafts. MiG-31 was developed as more refined aircraft to replace the brutish MiG-25 Foxbat. MiG-31 retains superb performance specs of its predecessor and features a better radar, longer range and improved low altitude handling and performance. MiG-31BM goes even a step further featuring Zaslon-AM (aka S800AM) radar with a detection range of 240km for fighter sized targets, improved glass cockpit and wider array of long range missiles. Since radar has a range of 240 km for fighter sized targets, it would only increase for an aircraft that is size of a medium airliner. This can allow shots at a longer distance and better kill probability. Compared to Su-30MKI’s top speed of ~ 2100 km/h, MiG-31BM has a top speed of ~3000 km/h. Moreover MiG-31BM has a service ceiling of 67,500 ft which is much more than 56,800 ft of Su-30MKI. A missile launched from an aircraft with higher speed and higher altitude will have more kinetic energy and hence range to take out the target aircraft. E.g. R-37 missile has a direct shot range of 150 km but range can increase up to 400 km in glide profile. According to some sources, R-37M variant with jettisonable rocket booster can have direct shot range in excess of 300km.

    Post-launch, higher speed would be required to scoot the area in order to avoid being shot at by aircrafts escorting AEW&C aircraft. As is the standard procedure, escort aircrafts are usually armed with BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missiles). So it is in best interest to get out of their range and into friendly airspace.

    In addition to current arsenal of R-37 family of missiles, potential weapons include but are not limited to KS-172 (aka K-100) “AWACS killer”, K-77-1/K-77M family of missiles. There is also an option to equip MiG-31BM with air-to-ground (A2G) arsenal like Kh-31P and Kh-58U anti-radar missiles, Kh-31A anti-ship missile and Kh-59M and Kh-29T TV-guided missiles. Even if IAF might induct MiG-31BM, they might not be used for A2G missions as we have number of other aircrafts to fly of such missions.

    Powers that be should seriously start thinking about strengthening the IAF and taking preemptive action to counter ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) assets of our neighbours.
     
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  3. zombie

    zombie Regular Member

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    Looking forward to inputs from all of you. :)
     
  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Though I think SU-30MKI over MIG-31 despite knowing MIG-31 service ceiling

    SU-30MKI radar range is 400kms and with Novator K-100 which is also for export range 300km..


    Unlike R-37M, K-100 is dedicated AWACS killer and have better ECM suit from Jamming and a better seeker..
     
  5. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

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    mod pls merge the thread same thread is running on same topic
     
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  6. zombie

    zombie Regular Member

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    Kunal, I believe Novator K-100 is still in development stage. At least that is what open source information tells me. I am siding with MiG-31BM for higher dash/top speed and higher service ceiling imparting better kinetic energy to the missile, whichever missile it might be.
     
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  7. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I am quite sure we are going to see the K-100s in our inventory soon. Perhaps this year if not the next.

    There are other new missiles being made. RVV-SD(Aim-120C-7 equivalent), RVV-BD(Aim-120C-8/D equivalent) and RVV-MD(Aim-9x equivalent). Information on all these missiles including K-100 and R-37 are sketchy at best.

    The Mig-31 is an interceptor. It is primarily meant to take out surveillance aircraft, bombers, AEW&Cs etc. Mig-31 can be used against cruise missiles too. It is not a Flanker equivalent, meaning it is inferior in most capabilities except high altitude interception. It is not an air superiority fighter.
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Its was ready since 1999..


    Here we doing is AWACS hunting not chase, AWACS are slow compare to fighters, MKI with MACH 2 is enough..
    Also ceiling of MIG-31 is good but MKI ceiling is good enough..

    Also adding, Low number of Air crafts cause more operational cost and MKI are in good amount in IAF so does its spares are made in India and available in plenty, Reducing its operational cost compare to any imported fighter..


    SU-30MKI:

    1. Made in India, Spares alot, Low operational cost over imported
    2. MKI radar detection till 400km
    3. K-100 is deigned for SU-30 platform and funded by Indian Gov..


    MIG-31:

    1. High speed, High service ceiling
    2. R-37 long range Missiles, Proven in battlefield
    3. In Production in Russia


    MIG-31 have its advantages and SU-30MKI have its own, But in IAF, SU-30MKI would fit better for AWACS killer..



    Also One can modify R-37 Missiles for MKIs if needed..
     

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