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 | India gets first women fighter pilots | A history was created when the three women fighter pilots conferred with the President’s Commission | The pilots are Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Flying Officer Bhawana Kanth and Flying Officer Mohana Singh | The commissioning ceremony, witnessed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, held at Air Force Academy, Dundigal | India joined the select few nations in the world that have women fighter pilots in their Air Forces | Boeing, Tata Establish Aerospace Facility in Hyderabad | Defence Minister Parrikar initiated the ground-breaking ceremony to establish the facility | India's indigenous Basic Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 takes to the skies on inaugural flight June 17 | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar witnessed the flight in Bangalore | The HTT-40 was built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd | HTT-40 all set to be the IAF's trainer aircraft | Civil Aviation Ministry Unveils New Civil Avaition Policy | IAF MiG-27 Crashes near Jodhpur | The aircraft was airborne from Jodhpur Air Base and was on a routine training-flying sortie | The two pilots, onboard the fighter jet, ejected to safety | A Court of Inquiry ordered to investigate the accident | After Switzerland, Mexico supports India's entry into NSG | Modi thanks Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto after bilateral talks | Modi receives unprecedented applause in US Congress | Recalling Abraham Lincoln, Modi describes Capitol Hill as a Temple of Democracy | India will never forget the solidarity shown by the US against 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008 | Modi supports cooperation in maintaining Freedom of Navigation in the Seas | India, US Civil Nuclear Deal changed bilateral ties | Modi describes terrorism as a big global threat and calls for isolation of those who harbour terrorism | India joins MTCR | Italy, which had blocked india's entry into the missile control regime, let it happen this time | President Obama had promised US help to India, and he has fulfilled it just as Prime Minister Modi is visiting Washington | India had applied for membership on June 1, and as there was no objection, its entry was automatic | Modi lays wreath at Space Shuttle Columbia memorial | India-born Kalpana Chawla was among the seven astronauts who perished in the tragedy in 2003 | Modi also meets Sunita Williams, another India-born astronaut | Hillary Clinton winning Democratic nomination for US presidency | Formal announcement in July | Switzerland categorically supports India for NSG membership | Mexico also expected to express support as US anchors India's entry into MTCR and NSG | Indian PM Modi lands in Washington June 6 for a bilateral summit | Entry into MTCR likely to be announced June 7 or 8 | Italy agrees to India's entry in the Missile Technology Control Regime after return of both its marines held in India | Prime Minister Narendra Modi Embarks on 5-day 5-nation Tour June 4 | The Prime Minister is to Visit Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico from June 4-8 | PM Modi inaugurated Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, Afghanistan | Mr Modi Conferred with the Highest Civilian Honour of Afghanistan 'Amir Amanullah Khan Award' | President Ashraf Ghani bestowed the award to PM Modi after inauguration of the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam | India Signs Hague Code against Missile Proliferation | India, US Sign Arrangement for the Exchange of Terrorist Screening Information June 2 | The Arrangement Signed by US Ambassador Richard Verma and Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi |
 

IAF Transformation: Happening but delay on MMRCA is worrying

 
   
 
By Gulshan Luthra and Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd) Published: October 2013
 
 
 
 
 

New Delhi. IAF is steadily acquiring modern assets towards its planned transformation but the recent demise of a key officer in the Ministry of Defence who was handling Air Force matters could delay that.

 

In an interview with India Strategic and at other forums, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said that the first lot of 18 Rafale Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCAs) are to be delivered in the 3rd or 4th year after the contract is signed with Dassault International, and the remaining 108 between 4th and 11th year.

He said he was expecting the contract to be signed within this year, but the sudden death of Mr Arun Kumar Bal, Joint Secretary (Air), on October 2 (due to a heart attack), will have implications for MMRCA as well as other air force acquisitions, including helicopters.

A Joint Secretary is a key player in various Indian ministries, and all decisions pivot around this assignment. A new officer is yet to be appointed and even when that is done, he would take a couple of months to study the files and take decisions. By then, next parliamentary elections are likely to be announced, and after that, no deals can be done by law till the next elected government takes over.

The Air Chief observed that the number of IAF squadrons was set to deplete due to the phasing out of old Mig 21s and Mig 27s while some other aircraft in its inventory required immediate upgradation. However the Mig 21-bis could be used till 2025, instead of its envisaged phasing out plan for 2017.

The key always is to “Preserve, Upgrade and Acquire.” All these components are part of the Long Term Integrated Procurement Plan (LTIPP) of the IAF and would be progressed as per the envisaged time lines. “I am pleased that this process has been progressing well and we are already witnessing early results with a comprehensive enhancement of our capabilities.”

Nonetheless, although the political leadership could take a positive decision on IAF’s MMRCA project within the next two months, it doesn’t seem likely given the country’s political environment as also the fact that HAL, which is the official partner in the licence manufacturing of Rafale in India, has not yet finalised its discussions with the French manufacturer so far.

But Air Chief Marshal Browne emphasised that thanks to the implementation of several programmes, “we are already witnessing early results with a comprehensive enhancement of our capabilities.”

He was hopeful, he said, of at least a couple of deals being signed within the next few weeks, particularly involving Boeing’s Chinook and Apache helicopters and Airbus Military’s six A 330 MRTT Flight Refueller Aircraft. There was progress also with Russia on helicopters.

The Air Force is determined to progress the Long Term Integrated Procurement Plan (LTIPP), as simply put, there is no other choice. The focus on Rafale as IAF’s lead swing role fighter and overall 24 x 7 day and night capability has to stay.

The Air Chief observed that India required a strong defence industrial base with high-end skill workers for only then could the IAF, Army, Navy and other forces could have sustained supplies of quality equipment and side benefits for the economy. At the moment, this is not so, and if IAF itself can do a job for `200 or 300 an hour, a public sector unit would take five to seven times that.

Air Chief Marshal Browne stressed the importance of Electronic Warfare and pointed out that it was now a key element in training of IAF personnel.

“Realizing the need to impart high quality training and adapt to technology driven war-fighting, we have accorded the highest priority to exposing our air crew to latest trends in Electronic Warfare. EW training forms an important part at all levels of IAF’s operational training. The ground training syllabi include EW aspects from the ab-initio stage onwards while the aircrew are trained on all practical offensive and defensive aspects of EW in the squadrons. System specific capabilities and tactical application of EW are an intrinsic part of annual training schedules.”

Induction of force multipliers, he said, had added a tremendous fillip to IAF’s capabilities for sustaining high tempo operations and had afforded greater battlefield transparency. IAF is already operating three AWACS and the case for procurement of two IL-76 based AWACS from M/s ELTA System Ltd of Israel is at an advanced stage.

In addition, Defence research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is undertaking indigenous development of two AWACS which is at Design and Development (D&D) stage. The case for procurement of four additional Aerostats is at CNC stage. As far as mid-air refuellers are concerned, IAF is currently operating six IL-78 based FRAs. M/s EADS, Spain, with Airbus-330 MRTT has emerged as the L-1 vendor for the procurement of six additional FRAs and the contract for the same is being progressed.

To a question from India Strategic on IAF’s vision for the next 20 to 50 years, he said that it has to be about a multi-spectrum force.

The application of aerospace power would prove decisive in winning the short and intense wars of the future. Unmanned aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft would be needed but there would always be a decisive role for man in the aircraft to win a battle.

About the upgrades, he said that as of now, the Mirage 2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar fleet upgrade plans are progressing well and are in various stages of implementation. The mission system upgrade of these fleets includes long range multi-function radars, glass cockpits, highly advanced man machine interfaces, new mission computers, state-of-the-art Electronic Warfare systems, Air-to-Air as well as Air-to-Surface munitions with enhanced range and performance. There is a focus on Smart weapons.

“Additionally, the Jaguar aircraft is planned to be re-equipped with Honeywell F-125 engine to overcome issues of thrust and reliability of the existing power plant. Our main aim is to focus on sustaining a high combat potential and build adequate force levels with a potent mix of platform and weapon systems.”

Situational Awareness, Reach and Precision are the main elements in IAF’s dictionary, Air Chief Marshal Browne said.

“Our new transport aircraft, both Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Martin C-130J are doing well and have got integrated in the IAF’s over all system,” he added.

- Part 2 in November issue.

 
  © India Strategic  
     
   
 
Top Stories
India Gets First Women Fighter Pilots
Fifteen Nursing Students Commissioned into MNS
India’s Indigenous Trainer Aircraft HTT-40 Takes off
Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology Celebrates Diamond Jubilee
Assam Regiment Marks Platinum Jubilee
Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Reviews Passing Out Parade at OTA, Gaya
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Director RS Sundar Awarded the Russian Order of Friendship
Indian Coast Guard, Korea Coast Guard Participate in Anti-piracy Exercise
India Joins MTCR
What is MTCR?
Malabar-2016 to increase interoperability among IN, USN and JMSDF
Maharashtra Naval Unit NCC Cadets Get Sailing Experience Onboard INS Trikand
VEcare: Army Helpline for Veterans
India becomes Co-chair of Working Group on Maritime Situational Awareness
World’s Space Agencies Unite to Face the Climate Challenge
Exercise Desert Eagle-II Concludes
India, US Sign Arrangement for Exchange of Terrorist Screening Information
Two-day DRDO Directors Conclave Ends
Seminar on International Day of UN Peacekeepers
Indian Warships on Visit to Subic Bay, Philippines
 
   
 Home | Contact Us| In the Press| Links| Downloads
© 2008-14, India Strategic. All rights reserved.