British Prime Minister David Cameron resigns | Theresa May takes over as new UK PM | May becomes second British woman PM after Margaret Thatcher | Cameron announced resignation following Brexit, a referendum for UK's exit from EU June 23 | International Tribunal demolishes China's claims over South China Sea | Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague says China has no legal basis to claim regional waters and build islets | The Tribunal also held China guilty of damaging coral reefs and natural environment | China has border maritime problems with all its neighbours | China rejected the decision, saying it is invalid and has no binding force | India, Tanzania agree to deepen overall defence and security partnership, especially in the maritime domain | Both nations agreed to work closely, bilaterally, regionally and globally to combat twin threats of terrorism, climate change | Prime Minister visiting Tanzania in the last leg of his visit to 4 African nations July 7-11 | Boeing, Mahindra Defence open C-17 Training Centre for IAF | Terrorism is the gravest security threat facing the world today, says PM Modi during Mozambique visit | Terrorism impacts India and Mozambique equally | NASA spacecraft Juno reaches Jupiter | Juno crossed violent radiation and flew 130,000 miles/hour | Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system | Juno should be in Jpiter orbit for 20 months to send data | The $1.1 billion Juno mission took five years to reach Jupiter | LCA 'Tejas' joins Indian Air Force | Tejas is an indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft | The single-seat, single-engine, multi-role light fighter is designed by ADA and manufactured by HAL | India test-fires new surface-to-air missile from a defence base in Balasore off Odisha coast | The new missile is jointly developed by India and Israel | Abdul Majeed Al Khoori appointed Acting CEO of the Abu Dhabi Airports | Eng. Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei becomes Advisor to the Abu Dhabi Airports Chairman | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar hands over 'Varunastra' to Indian Navy | Varunastra is an advanced heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo | It is indigenously designed, developed and manufactured by DRDO | India officially joins Missile Technology Control Regime | With this India becomes 35th member of the MTCR | Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar signed the document of accession into MTCR in Seoul June 27 | The document was signed in presence of Ambassadors of France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - the Chair and two co-chairs of the Regime | India had applied for the membership in 2015 | India finalises deal for 145 BAE Systems M777 artillery guns | This is Indian Army's first artillery deal in 30 years | Britain votes to leave EU, Pound crashes | 52 per cent voted Leave and 48 Remain in historic referendum | British Prime Minister David Cameron announces to resign before October over UK's exit | Leave process will take about two years though | Markets hit worldwide, including in India | China scuttles India's NSG bid | India joins SCO | India, apart from Pakistan, was admitted as full member of SCO during its Ufa Summit in July 2015 | After completing certain procedures, India now technically entered into SCO | India had an observer status for past 10 years prior to entering into six member regional bloc | No consensus on India's membership in NSG | China and five other countries oppose India's entry as New Delhi has not signed NPT | China insists Pakistan must also enter NSG if India's application is accepted | Pakistan is China's only military ally and is also known as a nuclear, missile and terror proliferator (NMTP) | Indian Space Agency ISRO successfully launches 20 satellites in one rocket | This is the biggest launch in ISRO's history | The satellites were launched onboard PSLV C-34 from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota | PSLV C-34 was carrying 17 satellites from US, Canada, Germany, Indonesia and 3 from India | Government of India approves 100% FDI in defence and civil aviation sectors | In defence, foreign investment beyond 49% (and up to 100%) permitted through the government approval route | This is in cases of access to modern technology in the country | For aviation, the government allowed 100% FDI in India-based airlines | The decision on FDI reforms taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi | India confident of getting into NSG, says External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj | India is working with China to win support | India will not oppose any country's membership proposal, EAM told a news conference |

IAF aiming for Diverse Capabilities, says Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal P V Naik in his Keynote Address on Fighter Technology and Advance Systems, Sep 26, 2008

 Published : October 2008

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Technological superiority is the cornerstone of Aerospace dominance. From the early days of biplanes, aircraft that could fly higher or faster always had the edge. As technology developed, aerodynamics in terms of swept wings, area ruling, wing-body blending, along with reliability became the hallmark. So you had aircraft like the Spitfire and P-51 Mustangs ruling the skies in World War II.

Next was the era of jet engines, although they were introduced in the II World War, but did not make a decisive impact because the war was already in the closing stages at the time of induction.

The Jet era of roughly six decades can best be described in generations.

  1. The first generation was marked by the development of reliable jet engines and innovations like swept wings, ejection seats and all moving tail planes. We saw Toofani, Mysteres, Hunters and Gnats in this eneration (in the IAF).
  2. The second generation brought in the guided missiles and development of delta wings and area ruling fuselage. With the aid of swept wings, it was the first time that the aircraft could break the sound barrier. MiG-21, Lightening and early Phantoms were the aircraft of this generation. During this period the fighters were specialised for a single role like the night fighter, interceptor or a ground attack aircraft.
  3. The third generation was marked by improved radars, avionics and longer range missiles. A lot of emphasis was put on improving the manoeuvrability of aircraft and increasing the quantum of armament carried. These innovations, while greatly improving the capabilities of fighters, also came at a considerable increase in cost. (Examples are aircraft like the Jaguar, Mirage III/V etc).
  4. Thereafter, Multi Role fighters became popular in the fourth generation, and even aircraft designed for a specific role acquired multi-role capability. Technologies like Relaxed Stability, Fly-by-wire controls and Fully Automated Digital Engine Control (FADEC) became popular in the fourth generation fighter jets like the Mirage 2000, F-15 and F-16.
  5. Then came the four and half generation, that marked a technological jump in avionics technology and flight electronics, largely due to advances made in microchip and semiconductor technology in the 1980s and 1990s. Data linking to improve situational awareness, Glass cockpits and Helmet mounted displays were developed in this period. (Improvement of F-16 A/B – F-16 C/D, Mirage 2000-05 to Mirage 2000-09 are examples).
  6. The current or fifth generation cutting edge of fighter design combines previous emphasis on versatility with new developments such as thrust vectoring, short takeoff/ landing (STOL), composite materials, super cruise, stealth technology, advanced radar s and integrated avionics designed to reduce the pilot’s workload while vastly improving situational awareness. With this as the background, let us see the requirements of a fighter aircraft of the future.

Requirements of a modern fighter aircraft

Air Superiority Role. The foremost task of a modern fighter would be to establish Air Superiority. I would define Air Superiority as ‘controlling the airspace within a limited area for a limited length of time’. The desirable features of an air superiority fighter are excellent manoeuvrability, good visibility from the cockpit, high thrustto-weight ratio, carefree engine handling, high performance radar with the ability to track multiple targets simultaneously, digital glass cockpits, fire-and-forget armament including beyond visual range (BVR) weapons and Stealth or Low Observable technology. I will briefly elaborate on each of these.

Air Frame. Manoeuvrability is an essential requirement for combat survivability. Modern day fighters are agile enough to pitch against each other in different engagement scenarios. However, when pitted against missiles, the
survivability factor diminishes. To maintain a high survivability rate when pitted against missile engagements, it is essential that the fighters are capable of carrying out instantaneous manoeuvres beyond the critical flight -envelope. Such technologyis available and has been incorporated in some of the modern day fighters. The manmachine interface in such cases needs to be tuned to enhance the human tolerance level to withstand rigours of high ‘G’ for short durations of time.

Engine. Jet engines have improved vastly over the past several decades, becoming more efficient, powerful, and reliable. For example, in the period of roughly two decades between the development of the F-15 and the F-22 Raptor aircraft, engine technology improved so much that the F-22 fighter has almost twice the power of F-15. The reason for this improved performance is engine materials that allow much higher temperatures within the turbines around 3,400 degrees Fahrenheit, in contrast to temperatures 1,000 degrees lower in previous–generation aircraft.

The function of any efficient engine control system is to allow the engine to perform at maximum efficiency for a given condition.

FADECs are employed by almost all current generation jet engines to provide carefree handling. It provides better fuel efficiency, is more reliable, provides better systems integration with engine and aircraft systems and reduces the number of parameters to be monitored by flight crews.

Radar. The radar is the primary sensor of the aircraft. A modern fighter should be equipped with a high performance radar with ability to track multiple targets simultaneously, both in Air to Air and Air to Ground modes (e.g., AESA Radar). It should have high probability of detection at long ranges, should have low cross section and be capable of surviving through intense ECM activities. Phased array radar with IR search and tracking combination provides a good solution.

Avionics. Modern “digital glass cockpits” represent a revolution in the way cockpits are designed and built today. A glass cockpit utilises several computer displays that can be adjusted to display flight information as needed. This simplifies aircraft operation and navigation and allows pilots to focus only on the most pertinent information.

Having all switches on the stick and throttle allows the pilot to keep his “hands on throttle-andstick” (HOTAS), thus eliminating the need to take his eyes off the horizon and HUD. It improves the pilot’s situational awareness, his ability to manipulate switches and button controls under stress and during high ‘G’ manoeuvres.

Networking. Other requirements that are essential to improve the battlefield transparency are Inter/Intra-flight data link (IFDL) and Secure voice and data communication systems. Inter/Intra-Flight Data Link allows an aircraft in flight to share target and system data automatically without radio calls. With the IFDL, each pilot is free to operate more autonomously because of vastly improved Situational Awareness. For example, the leader can tell at a glance what his wing man’s fuel state is, his weapons remaining, and even the enemy aircraft being targeted by other members of his formation. During the recent Red Flag Exercise, IAF pilots have seen the tremendous advantages of Networks. We are already working towards a similar capability.

Armament. New fire-and-forget BVR, medium and short range missiles have been developed. Modern missiles using an Inertial Navigation System (INS) have the advantage wherein the launching aircraft does not have to illuminate the target with radar energy for the entire flight of the missile, and in fact does not require a radar lock to launch at all. This gives less warning to the target that a missile has been launched and also allows the launching aircraft to turn away once the missile is in its terminal homing phase, using active guidance.

The latest generation of shortrange missiles with electro-optical imaging infrared seekers allow the missiles to “see” images rather than single “points” of infrared radiation (heat). The sensors, combined with powerful digital signal processing, provide greater infrared counter countermeasures (IRCCM) ability, thereby being able to distinguish aircraft from infrared countermeasures (IRCM) such as flares. It also provides greater sensitivity i.e. greater range and ability to identify smaller low flying targets such as UAVs.

The devastating capability of PGMs has been adequately displayed during the Gulf War and more recently in the Afghan war. It would be essential to use Precision Guided Munitions from airborne platforms, to enhance strike success by several degree of magnitude and exponentially reduce own attrition through standoff capability.

Antiradar missiles like the highspeed anti-radiation missile (HARM) have been very effective in conflicts like Desert Storm. The latest version of the HARM includes a GPS-based guidance system that allows a missile to maintain its trajectory towards a target even if the target’s outgoing radar signal is interrupted. Unlike a laser guided weapon, a GPS weapon does not require the launch aircraft to remain in the vicinity of the target to illuminate it for guidance. These are true fire and-forget weapons which, once released, are wholly autonomous and all weather capable with no degradation in accuracy.

The Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) are cost effective, all weather “smart” munitions.JDAM-equipped bombs are guided to their target by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver for enhanced accuracy. This has overcome the limitations of laser-guided bomb and imaging infrared technology, both of which can be hindered by adverse weather conditions.


The modern fighter has to be Stealthy. Stealth technology, also known as Low Observable Technology is a sub -discipline of military electronic countermeasures which covers a range of techniques used with aircraft in order to make them less visible to radar, infrared and other detection methods. Stealth technology is not a single technology but is a combination of technologies that attempt to greatly reduce the distances at which a vehicle can be detected; in particular radar cross section reductions, as also acoustic, thermal and other aspects.

The latest development going on in the stealth technology is “Plasma Stealth” in which a Stealth plasma device creates a plasma field around an aircraft. This field partially consumes electromagnetic energy of a hostile radar or causes it to bend around the aircraft, reducing the aircraft RCS by up to 100 times.

The modern eject ion seat has undergone a series of refinements since its inception in l946 and today it is a highly automated system that requires the occupant to only initiate the firing mechanism to effect escape. The development of rocket propulsion has produced the higher trajectory necessary to clear aircraft structures during high speed escape as well as escape during low speed and zero-zero (zero velocity and zero altitude) ejections. Seat stabilisation mechanisms incorporated in the system cancel asymmetric forces which produce rotation and tumbling.

IFF is another important area that increases the chances of survivability in the battlefield. The major benefits of IFF are positive identification of friendly forces and reduction in fratricide. An important issue when there are a large number of formations operating in the TBA. (In the recent Exercise Red Flag for instance, there were 80 aircraft
from various countries in the air at any given time).

Indian Air Force

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Indian Air Force is the fourth largest Air Force in the world, and has a large strength of combat aircraft. The Sukhoi-30MKI is the IAF’s prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30MKI, with one mid-air refuelling, can travel as far as 8000 km, making it an effective platform to deliver strategic weapons. The Mirage 2000s serve in both the ground attack and air defence squadrons.

The MiG-29 is a dedicated air superiority fighter. The Jaguars and MiG-27 aircraft serve as IAF’s primary ground strike force. Besides these, the IAF has a large fleet of multi-role MiG-21 combat aircraft that have been serving the IAF for the past three decades. The Air Force plans to eventually replace the MiG-21s with the indigenous, HAL built LCA ‘Tejas’ starting 2010.

The IAF has a comprehensive modernisation plan and we are working towards achieving the desired capabilities through a ‘perspective plan’ for 10-15 years. This plan is synchronised with our operational requirements and our national aspirations. The endeavour is to make good all deficiencies, upgrade the existing equipment and procure state of the art weapon systems. These include advanced combat aircraft and Network Centric Warfare systems.

IAF has started upgrading its combat aircraft fleet since the last few years in order to enhance its operational capability and maintain its aircraft as modern weapon platforms, capable of meeting the present challenges posed by the security scenario in our region. Of the available fleet, MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded. The upgrades for Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 are already underway.

The planned induction of Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, Light Combat Aircraft and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft would cater to the planned phasing out of ageing aircraft in the future.

Future Requirements of the combat fleet

India has seen rapid technological growth in the recent past; however we are aware of some areas that require infusion of technology. We have identified niche technologies that will be in tune with our requirements of the future and are commencing the process of acquiring these. Some of the technologies that we are considering, include :

  1. Platforms that combine stealth, and situational awareness as a result of interacting with, a broad array of networked systems.
  2. All weather strike capability.
  3. Standoff attack capability with very high degree of accuracy.
  4. Passive radar technology.
  5. Fire and forget BVRAAMs.
  6. Sensor technologies for long range BVRAAMs and sensor fused weapons.
  7. Enhancing EW capability by extension of electromagnetic spectrum to millimetric and optical wavelengths and warning of illumination by IR, Laser and Radar.

Technological advancements in the recent years have had a profound impact on the battlefield and the milieu is going to be more and more sophisticated in the years ahead. As seen in recent conflicts, network centric warfare capability, along with cutting edge technologies in the fields of surveillance, targeting, avionics, weapon lethality are going to be the areas of focus.

We are continuing our efforts to meet such diverse requirements in a cost effective manner. All the players in the field of developing technology have a role to play.

In the end, I would like to thank the organisers for conducting this seminar on a very relevant subject , particularly for a highly technologically intensive service like the IAF. I am sure the various sessions and the subsequent brain- stormingwould be of immense value to the participants.

  India Strategic 
Top Stories
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Chairs Inter-State Council Meeting
Indian Warships Visit Port Kelang, Malaysia
Japanese Defense Minister Calls on Manohar Parrikar
DRDO Embarks Major Success in Advanced Artillery Gun System
Army Chief Extends Invitation to Australian Special Forces to Train with India
Mhadei Returns after Successful Completion of All Women Expedition
Ex MEGH PRAHAR: A Demonstration on Opposed River Crossing
Aerospace & Defence Executives Hunting down Growth but not at Any Cost, Says KPMG Survey
INS India Celebrates Platinum Jubilee
Indian Navy Commissions INS Karna
Boeing, Mahindra Defence Systems Open C-17 Training Centre for Indian Air Force
Slowly Indian Armed Forces Will See Larger Participation of Women, says Parrikar
Interview: Morocco Could be Hub for Indian Trade to Africa and Europe
FDI Reforms in the Defence Sector: A Fresh Round
Indian Army set to acquire Artillery Guns, Finally
Indian Armed Forces: Pace of Military Modernisation
IAF Inducts Indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft
Made-in-India Jet Fighter: Big Step in Weapons Self-reliance
INS Satpura Reaches Hawaii, US for Exercise RIMPAC 2016
India-Israel MRSAM Successfully Test Fired
 Home | Contact Us| In the Press| Links| Downloads
© 2008-14, India Strategic. All rights reserved.