Tag Archives: Goa

Press play: Indian Tejas takes its first jump

The Indian Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) passed another milestone on Saturday 20 December 2014, as Navy two-seat variant NP-1 took off using the ski jump at Indian naval air station INS Hansa in Goa for the first time. The test should prepare the Tejas for future deployment aboard India’s aircraft carriers.

The navy variant of the Tejas LCA is India’s first indigenous effort to build a carrier borne naval fighter aircraft. It is designed to operate from the future Indigenous aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy plans to acquire. It will use ski-jump for take-off and arrested landing for aircraft carrier operations. The naval LCA uses a drooped nose section for better view and strengthened airframe structure for aircraft-carrier operations.

Aircraft NP-1 was the first the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa, which was built to simulate real carrier operations. NP-1 flew for the first time on 27 April 2012.

In other Tejas news, the Indian Air Force is set to receive its Tejas at Bangalore in its initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration in March 2015, a mere 32 years after the go-ahead for the LCA program was given. The first IOC standard aircraft performed its first flight in October this year.

The type’s final operational clearance (FOC) seems a long distance away though, as weapons integrations and an air-to-air refueling capability seem to have been delayed.

Still, if FOC is achieved, the Indian Air Forces still has a lot of desires left, first among which is  more  a powerful engine than the current GE F404-IN20 engine. A preliminary design review – including the GE F414 engine –  has been made for Tejas LCA Mark-II, with a first flight expected no sooner than 2017.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Netherlands Chinooks join Apaches in Mali

Two is always better, as is the case with these Dutch CH-47F Chinooks. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Two is always better, as is the case with these Dutch CH-47F Chinooks. In Mali three will be the number.
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force will deploy CH-47D/F Chinooks to Mali in Africa after all. Three of these medium-lift helicopters will join the 4 AH-64D Apaches the RNLAF already planned to deploy to Goa, as part of the main force.

Reason behind the change is the lack of (med)evac capacity. The Dutch forces in Mali thought other UN partners or chartered civilian helicopters might provide the necessary air assets. But the Hague was unable to get guarantees, according to the Dutch minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in an information exchange with the Dutch house of representatives.

MINUSMA, the UN Mission in Mali, currently uses three civilian transport helicopters for medevac. At night they can only land at airfields and they are not available for combat situations. Even French Army and Air Force chopper assets of parallel Operation Serval will not be always available.

The RNLAF Chinooks and the extra contingency of 70 personnel will not arrive quickly, since the Dutch first want to adapt the infrastructure of its camp in Goa. According to a press release full mission capability will be reached in October. The first operational units will arrive already in April, with full operational capability for them in May. Until the Chinooks arrive or unless the French guarantee heli support, the Dutch units will stay within a limited range of Goa.

Meanwhile the amount of violence by warring factions has stepped up in Mali. On 7 March 2014 two rockets were fired in the direction of the airport of Goa, causing limited damage according to the Dutch MoD. The Dutch forces will use prefab protective living containers. The French – using tents so far – will also transfer to this type of housing.

Source: Ministerie van Defensie (Dutch MoD)

India fuels up its Tejas

The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

India puts more fuel into its HAL Tejas fighter project. With officially 220 of the indigenous developed light combat aircraft (LCA) on order, Indian media quote sources within the Indian Air Force indicated on 12 February 2014 that the branch seeks additional funds for almost 300 Tejas jets in total.

The Air Force top brass wishes to equip 14 front-line squadrons with the Tejas, designed and built by the country’s own Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Each squadron will have 16 single-seat fighter and 2 dual-seat operational trainers, making 252 Tejas LCA’s. An addtional 42 are wished for as attrition replacement, bringing the total number up to 294. Even the Indian Navy seems interested, with might mean another 40+ Tejas of the yet to develop shipborne variant.

Within the Indian Air Force the Tejas is due to replace the remaining aging 125 MiG-21 of the Bison standard. The Tejas plans are extra interesting, since India currently has no finances available to continue with its planned French Rafale fighter purchase.

Test & delivery
The LCA Tejas test aircraft performed 500 sorties in 2013, from the airfields of Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa. The aircraft were tested in cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, multimode radar (MMR), radar warning receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials this year itself. Two aircraft flown three sorties each on the same day during trials at Jamnagar in October and November 2013 to demonstrating a speedy turnaround time capability. The weapon tests took place at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer.

The HAL Tejas reached its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC II) on 20 December 2013. The first deliveries are planned to start in 2014, with a procurement plan for eight to sixteen aircraft a year.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with additional information provided by HAL

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Dutch Apaches on their way to Mali

A pair of Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apaches taking off (Image © Minsterie van Defensie)
A pair of Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apaches taking off (Image © Minsterie van Defensie)

LATEST UPDATE 28 MARCH 2014 | 3 RNLAF CH-47 Chinooks will join Dutch force in Mali

The first Dutch troops for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) have left Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on 6 January 2014, to make way for the main Dutch force that will include 4 AH-64D Apache helicopters.

The group of 14 engineers will build up the Dutch encampment, including living and sleeping areas, figure out the logistics and prepare the infrastructure for the arrival of the main force that will include the four Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Apache attack helicopters plus small recon drones. In total about 378 personnel will be sent to Mali in the coming weeks, made up by 90 special forces, 70 analysts, 60 crew to support the Apache ops, 20 military police and 10 civilian police officers. Another 128 Dutch military men and women will support the operation which will likely mean frequent flights of RNLAF C-130Hs, (K)DC-10s, NATO/allied C-17s and possibly even rented AN-124s.

Transport fleet
Eindhoven AB will be the main air operations centre in the Netherlands. It is the home of the RNLAF transport fleet, comprising of 334 Squadron and 336 Squadron, and is a relatively short driving distance from the Apaches homebase of Gilze-Rijen and the Royal Netherlands Army Commandos base in Roosendaal.

334 Squadron’s main task is to operate two McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tanker/transport with registration T-264 (Prins Bernhard) and T-235 (Jan Scheffer). 336 Squadron is the Hercules unit, flying two C-130H-30 with registration G-273 (Ben Swagerman) and G-275 (Joop Mulder) plus two into C-130H converted ex-USN EC-130Qs with registration G-781 (Bob van der Stok) and G-988 (Willem den Toom).

Although no official word yet from the Dutch ministry of Defence, it is likely that joint-EU/allied Boeing C-17A Globemaster IIIs or Antonov AN-124 Ruslans (NATO name Condor) will pick up the Apaches at the Royal Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command base of Gilze Rijen. 301 Squadron based here flies 21 AH-64Ds, while another 8 RNLAF Apaches are permanently assigned to the recently re-establised 302 Squadron based at Fort Hood/Robert Gray Army Air Field in Texas, USA, for training purposes.

Base of operations
The Dutch contribution to MINUSMA lasts until mid 2015, but the government in The Hague holds options open for a longer stay if the UN Security Council asks for it. The AH-64Ds and ScanEagle drones will mainly operate out of Gao, with Bamako-Senou as the main logistics and military analysis base. Bamako was left recently by a French fighter detachment. The 90 special forces will be scattered over a large area as the eyes and ears of the UN troops and might need some Apache air support from time to time.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with source information of the Ministerie van Defensie (Dutch MoD)

Indian Navy: 2nd MiG-29K base on East Coast

The Indian Navy plans to set up a second air base for it Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters at the east coast, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi said to The Times of India.

Naval Air Station INS Dega in Vizag will be the preferred location, the admiral said. Currently 20 to 29 MiG-29Ks (NATO-name Fulcrum) form a squadron in Goa on the west coast of the country and provide the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya of its main air combat element. The vessel is due to be commissioned on November 16th, 2013.

With India having ordered 45 MiG-29Ks, a third unit will stand up at INS Dega. They will fly alongside 17 Hawk Mk 132 advanced jet trainers to be based there.

A fourth MiG-29K unit will be formed for the INS Vikrant, a new aircraft carrier that is set to start operations in 2017.

Apart from the newer MiG-29Ks of the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force flies 66 older MiG-29s. Those aircraft are being upgraded to MiG-29UPG. Most significant change is a new non-Russian avionics suite, a new Zhuk-ME Radar, a better engine and better weapons delivery. However the upgrading process goes fairly slow and will likely take at least until the end of 2014, 2015 or even 2016 to be completed.

Last week a 67th IAF MiG-29 with registration KB739 crashed near Jamnagar Air Base.

Source: The Times of India with additional reporting by AIRhead’s Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Indian Navy MiG-29KUB during sea trials (Image © Mikoyan Gurevich)

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