Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen.
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
The Jet era of roughly six decades can best be described
- 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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
- 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 pilots
workload while vastly improving situational awareness. With this as the background,
let us see the requirements of a fighter aircraft of the future.
of a modern fighter aircraft
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
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.
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 previousgeneration aircraft.
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
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.
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
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 pilots
situational awareness, his ability to manipulate switches and button controls
under stress and during high G manoeuvres.
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 mans 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
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
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 targets 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.
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.
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.
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
from various countries in the air at any given time).
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 IAFs 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
The MiG-29 is a dedicated air superiority fighter. The Jaguars
and MiG-27 aircraft serve as IAFs 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
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.
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
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,
- Platforms that combine stealth, and situational
awareness as a result of interacting with, a broad array of networked systems.
All weather strike capability.
- Standoff attack capability with very high
degree of accuracy.
- Passive radar technology.
- Fire and forget
- Sensor technologies for long range BVRAAMs and sensor fused
- Enhancing EW capability by extension of electromagnetic spectrum
to millimetric and optical wavelengths and warning of illumination by IR, Laser
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.
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.
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.