Tag Archives: HAL

Tejas debuts in Bahrain, battles Thunder

The Indian made Tejas fighter jet is all set for its international airshow debut these days during the Bahrain International Airshow starting Thursday 21 January. The type is engaged in a fierce battle with the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, albeit a virtual one thanks to the virtues of social media. Both sides have battling it out for weeks already.

Two Tejas jets arrived at Bahrain’s Sakhir airbase on 14 January and started orientation flights. The Tejas – powered by a GE F404-IN20 turbofan – was designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) but even after decades of development and testing fails to meet Indian Air Force expectations. An improved ‘Mark 2’ version – featuring the more powerful F414 engine – will probably never see the light of day.

It’s appearance in Bahrain most likely is the result of Pakistan’s recent success in selling it’s JF-17 Thunder abroad. Nigeria is expecting three to be delivered this year and Myanmar is also a rumoured customer.  No JF-17 is scheduled to appear in Bahrain, however. Powering the Thunder is the Russian designed Klimov RD-93 engine.

JF17_Thunder_PakistanAF

Sri Lanka

More recently, a Pakistani campaign to sell JF-17 Thunders to Sri Lanka – that other neighbour to India – infuriated New Delhi. After days of confusing news, Indian media proudly reported New Delhi has prevented the deal from happening and also stated the Tejas was now on offer to Sri Lanka.

It is safe to say Sri Lanka would prefer the JF-17 Thunder, a joint undertaking by Pakistan and China that has resulted in a reasonably advanced, capable and affordable alternative to expensive Western and Russian  fighter aircraft. It could very likely sell to other customers  as well.

Any foreign sale of Tejas jets however is as unlikely as…. well, India buying the JF-17. The program is too troubled for any foreign nation to be interested in. Displaying the aircraft in Bahrain is a matter of politics and prestige, not economics.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured Image: The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Indian Air Force feels need for 120 Tejas jets

The Indian Air Force has a need for 120 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to equip six squadrons, air force chief Arup Raha said on 3 October. An equal number of  ‘Rafale-type’ fighter jets should ideally complement the Tejans. The outlook for the Tejan MkII – a futher development of the indigenous fighter jet – seems uncertain.

The Indian Air Force is currently working up to Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for a dozen or so of Tejan jets. FOC was originally set for the end of 2015 but should now should be achieved by March 2016

The Tejan has been in development for over 30 years and it still a troubled design. Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has suggested four major design changes. Indian Air Force says it would like to acquire 120 jets if those changes are made. The order total now stands at 40.

The air force chief made it clear that the 36 Dassault Rafales for the Indian Air Force are not enough in his eyes. Another 120 or so ‘Rafale-type’ jets should accompany the Tejas jets in the future. The contract for 36 Rafales still has to be finalized, however. Negotiations for more Rafales seemed to have hit a dead end earlier this year.

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely the Tejas MkII will take to the sky in 2017 as planned earlier. That variant should incorporate a more powerful engine and an air-to-air refueling capability.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Hawks for Indian Surya Kiran team

The Indian Air Force (IAF) aerial demonstration team Surya Kiran has reformed, using four Hawk trainer aircraft, an IAF spokesperson confirmed on Sunday 13 September. The team’s first performance will be during the ‘IAF Day’ at Hindon airbase near New Delhi on 8 October.

The team previously flew the Indian made HJT-16 Kiran MkII trainers, but ceased flying those in 2011 awaiting the new Hawks. A number of setbacks delayed the introduction of the Hawk into the team.

Since 2004, India has ordered 123 BAE Systems Hawk Mk132 trainer aircraft, of which the first few were built in the UK, with the remainder being build by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): One of four Hawks in the Surya Kiran team colours. (Image © IAF)

An Indian Air Force Hawk Mk132, seen in 2007 in the UK. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
An Indian Air Force Hawk Mk132, seen in 2007 in the UK. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

India chooses Apaches and Chinooks

Unless India’s prime minister Modi or the US Congress stops it, India is buying 22 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from US manufacturer Boeing. The Defence Ministry has sent its final request to the PM’s office earlier this week.

The HAL Light Combat Helicopter prototype TD-2 in cold weather testing near Air Force Station Leh (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
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India’s own Light Combat Helicopter stays “cool”
The deal, worth more than 3 billion US dollars, foresees in options for another 11 Apaches and 4 Chinooks. By accepting the American offer, India continues to field a mix of Russian and Western made helicopters, after striking a deal earlier this month with Russia for the local Indian production of the Ka-226T.

Russian Helicopters was hoping to sell more Mil Mi-26 ultra-heavy lift helicopters, of which the Indian Air Force already operates three. The twenty Air Force Mil Mi-35 Hinds in service might either be supplemented or replaced by the Apache.

The Indian Army Air Corps also has a small attack helicopter fleet, but only from indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The 20 HAL Rudra of the IAAC are to be suplemented by another 20 plus the future HAL Light Combat Helicopter currently in prototype testing phase.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A US Army AH-64D over Baghdad in 2007 (Image © Chief Warrant Officer Daniel McClinton / 1st Air Cavalry Brigade / US Army)

Boeing delivered the first two of seven CH-47F Chinooks to the Australian Army at a ceremony in Queensland. The remaining aircraft will be delivered throughout 2015. (Image © Boeing)
Australia was one of the last countries to get the new CH-47F Chinook. Seen here one of the first two at a ceremony in Queensland. The remaining aircraft will be delivered throughout 2015. (Image © Boeing)

Indian Air Force Tejas unacceptable until at least 2019

The new Indian Air Force Light Combat Aircraft – known as the Tejas – will not be acceptable for combat duty until at least 2019. Noting recent criticism made by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the authority that keeps an eye on what the Indian government spends its money on, the Tejas has severe shortcomings that have not to been easy to solve.

↑ Check out our continuing coverage on the Tejas

The LCA Tejas is being build by India’s own Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Despite the number prototypes and pre-production examples slowly coming to 20 aircraft, the problems with the future combat jet continue.

Take-off for NP2, the second naval variant prototype of the LCA-Tejas (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
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“LCA Mark-I, which achieved Initial Operational Clearance in December 2013 has significant shortfalls as a result of which it will have reduced operational capabilities and reduced survivability, thereby limiting its operational employability when inducted into IAF squadrons. LCA Mark-I does not meet the standards. The deficiencies are now expected to be met in LCA Mark-II by December 2018,” according to a CAG report released this week. This will mean that combat readiness can be expected in January 2019 at the earliest.

One of the significant problems is the electronic self protection suite, like HAL not having been able yet to construct the jammer into the plane. Moreover, HAL needs to incorporate more foreign bought elements, since Indian industries failed to develop a well-functioning engine, radar and information display systems for the pilot.

Despite claims by HAL that the Tejas is functioning up to 70 percent of what it has been promised to do, the CAG puts that percentage on a mere 35 percent.

Problems with the Tejas have resulted in the Indian Air Force having to keep its aging fleets of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21s, Mirage fighters and Jaguar attack jets longer in service, with an increasing cost for maintenance and overhaul.

Despite all criticism, HAL, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy say to be confident that in due course the Tejas will be a robust part of the Asian nation’s defence and strike capabilities.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): One of the limited production examples of the HAL LCA Tejas. (Image © Aeronautical Development Agency, Ministry of Defence, India)