Virtual world: Big plans, slothful present

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by sorcerer, May 14, 2013.

  1. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    In a simulated world, A.K. Antony takes off in a MiG29K fighter aircraft from this base, the Indian Navy’s biggest air station, eyes focused on the multi-function displays in the cockpit.

    Hands firmly on the stick with fingers poised on the buttons, he pilots his aircraft over the Arabian Sea, spots the INS Vikramaditya in the blue waters, loses height, aligns with the carrier’s flight deck and jerks to a perfect arrested landing.

    “For me, it is like a game,” he says. “For them” — he points to the western naval commander, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha — “it is business; it is their job.”

    The defence minister has just left a simulated world —he was trying the simulator of the MiG29K, the navy’s latest fighter aircraft, the first it has got in 30 years — where he was given a feel of what it is like in the cockpit of the plane.

    The simulator is in the training cell of the Indian Naval Air Squadron 303 (Black Panthers), a squat three-storey block on whose ground floor is a large poster of a naval pilot in front of a MiG29K with the legend “Reality is negotiable”.

    That slogan has layers of meaning here, not the least of which relates to the so-far make-believe world in which the aircraft of the Black Panthers Squadron land on the deck of the INS Vikramaditya.

    “INS Vikramaditya” is what the Admiral Gorshkov will be re-christened as when it is commissioned into the Indian Navy. It is still undergoing a refit in a Russian port, some four years after Moscow had promised to deliver it. The Black Panthers Squadron, commissioned here today, is without the carrier on which its aircraft are supposed to be embarked.

    “Vikramaditya will also be a reality,” Antony insisted after his “sortie”. “We are paying for it. They (the Russians) have promised it will be delivered by the end of the year.”

    The commissioning of the squadron today coincided with the diamond jubilee of the Indian Navy’s fleet air arm. The “naviators” are 60 years old and many of the assets the personnel fly are half that age or older.

    Yet, the navy expects its fleet air arm to double in size over the next 10 years, practically becoming India’s Air Force II, says the assistant chief of naval staff (air), Rear Admiral D.M. Sudan.

    The arm currently operates 218 platforms. Included in them are Dorniers for transport and coastal surveillance; the refurbished Ilyushin-38 Sea Dragon, distinctive because of a horizontal antenna mounted on pedestals on the top of the cockpit, that is used for medium-range maritime surveillance; and the massive Tupolev 142 four-engine turbo prop that can perform missions as far away as Australia and return without refuelling.

    The only fighter aircraft the arm was operating till the commissioning of the MiG29K today was the Sea Harrier, capable of landing vertically like a helicopter. It is embarked on the INS Viraat, the navy’s only carrier currently, when the Viraat is capable of taking it and is not undergoing refits itself.

    Over the years, the Harriers have dwindled in number -— one source says only seven are operational — and the navy is hard put to procure spares because the UK, from whom they were procured, has nearly phased out its own fleet.

    The commissioning of the MiG29K, says the chief of naval staff, Admiral D.K. Joshi, is the beginning of a future. Next month, the navy is expecting the first of its US-made Boeing P8i maritime surveillance aircraft to land at INS Rajali in Arakonnam, Tamil Nadu. The long-range aircraft will be based on the peninsula’s southern tip so that it can operate over both India’s western and eastern seaboards.

    The $2.4-billion contract for 45 MiG29Ks and the trainer-version (twin-seater) KUBs is the costliest purchase of firepower by the navy.

    “We have to realise,” Joshi told the first commanding officer of the first squadron of the MiG29Ks, Captain Ajay Daniel Theophilus, and his men, “that such decisions are often made after careful deliberation of the deployment of national resources.”

    This is where it begins to hurt. At the INS Hansa, even passengers on commercial aircraft landing at Dabolim can see at one end of a strip a runway that curves up towards the sky. That is the mock-up of the ski-jump that the INS Vikramaditya will have.

    In the absence of the carrier itself, naval pilots are training by flying their MiG29Ks from a ski-jump rooted on shore instead of from one on a flight deck. The facility is now being equipped with “arrested landing” — cables strung across a flight deck that are to be grabbed by the tail-hooks of carrier-based aircraft to arrest their landing.

    This December, the naval version of the Tejas — the light combat aircraft (LCA) being made by the DRDO and HAL — is scheduled for carrier-compatibility tests at this facility. The naval LCA has been delayed by over five years.

    INS Hansa in a sense typifies the navy: it thinks big, grandly, and designs its operations for scenarios near shore and thousands of miles away but its present is a picture of sloth and technology failure.

    There are to be at least four more such bases that the navy is preparing — two in Visakhapatnam, one in Belgaum and one in Karwar (Karnataka). It plans to procure an unspecified number of unmanned aerial vehicles to add to the Israeli-made Herons and Searchers. It is critically short of helicopters.

    On its diamond jubilee, the Indian Navy is adjusting the horizons for its fleet air arm, “Air Force II”.

    source:Virtual world: Big plans, slothful present |
  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA

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  4. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

    Apr 28, 2012
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