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 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.
The Indian Navy has decommissioned half of its HAL HJT-16 Kiran jet aircraft, basing its intermediate and advanced jet training now mostly on the BAE Systems Hawk Mk 132.
The nine remaining Navy Kirans left Indian Naval Station Hansa recently, Indian sources confirmed. The aircraft will join the Kiran fleet of the Air Force, which has such a substantial shortage of intermediate jet trainers that it earlier disbanded the Surya Kiran display team in 2011 and transferred the jets and the pilots to regular training units. The Indian Air Force flies the Kirans from Bidar, Dundigal, Hakimpet and Tambaram Air Force Stations.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built 190 Kirans, with about 80 still active within the Air Force before the transfer of the nine Navy aircraft. The other eleven Kirans the Indian Navy still has on strength, according to our data, are likely to be transferred to the Air Force too.
The Indian Air Force is desperately waiting for the new HAL HJT-36 Sitara jet trainer to arrive, but that program is severely delayed.
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 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.
The exact details of the local production still have to be worked out, but sources in New Delhi say some of the initial agreement of 200 choppers might be bought directly from the Russian production plant; illustrating the need of India to quickly beef up its number of helicopters.
The Ka-226T is likely starting the replacement of 34 Cheetahs (Alouette II) of the Air Force and the 48 Cheetahs of the Indian Navy, built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In the second phase the 74 remaining HAL Chetaks (Alouette III) of the Air Force and the 60 of the Indian Army might see decommissioning with the introduction of the Kamovs. The Ka-225Ts are to serve next to the somewhat troubled HAL Dhruv, India’s indigenous helicopter development. Other Ka-226T will be fielded on the civilian market.