Despite continued criticism on the jet’s performance, India still seems to have enough confidence in its indigenous Tejas fighter jet to open up a second production line. Meanwhile, Swedish Saab is offering its Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to be installed in the Tejas.
The government in New Delhi has just cleared a 200 million USD investment to open up a second Tejas production line next to the existing one at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The news was announced on this week at the Aero India airshow in Bengaluru.
The Tejas jets produced, will solely be used the Indian Air Force, since the Indian Navy has rejected the naval variant and is now looking for 57 new fighter jets elsewhere. The Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet are likely candidates.
Saab hopes to sell the Indians its Gripen fighter jets instead. Possibly to win Indian harts, the Swedes now also offer their Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar plus an additional electronic warfare suite for use in the Tejas.
Portugal welcomed some rare birds last week, as four Indian Sukhoi Su-30 Flankers and four Sepecat Jaguars landed at Beja airbase. The fighter jets were accompanied by two Ilyushin Il-78 tanker aircraft and two C-17 Globemasters whole on their long, long way to Alaska for exercise Red Flag.
India is sending the aircraft plus a contingent of 150 personnel to the prestigious military exercise within the framework of military cooperation between New Delhi and Washington. The last time India attended Red Flag was in 2008. Then, only Su-30s were involved and the stage was not Alaska, but Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Red Flag features aircraft from the US and other NATO countries and provides an opportunity for the Indian Air Force to train in complex war environments. Aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and other fighter jet will be involved and thus provide a good experience for Indian Jaguar pilots and Su-30 crews in particular.
The ferry of the aircraft from India to Alaska was a complex operation. The jets and their support aircraft routed via Bahrain, Egypt, France and Portugal, from where they crossed the Atlantic to Canada before finally arriving in Alaksa for Red Flag.
The indigenous Light Combat Helicopter of India is showing more and more of its capabilities. The latest achievement in the flight testing phase: the firing of 70-mm rockets like it will do in a real-war situation.
The firing trials are executed at Jaisalmer, where the 20-mm gun in the nose turret, as well as air-to-air missiles will be deployed from the LCH this year as well, a spokesperson of the helicopter’s manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), confirmed. “The LCH TD-3 is integrated with Electo-Optical (EO) System, Solid State Digital Video Recording System (SSDVR) and 70mm Rocket system in conjunction with an updated Glass Cockpit software to cater for rocket firing.”
Iron Fist 2016
Meanwhile HAL and the Indian Air Force are confident enough to enrole the LCH in the nation’s Iron Fist 2016 exercise, which starts on 18 March and takes place in the Thar Desert. A total of 181 aircraft are planned to take part, flying in from several bases.
Unique to the LCH
The Light Combat Helicopter – we at Airheadsfly.com actually hope somebody in India will come up with a fancy nickname – is a 5.5-ton class, combat helicopter. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the HAL Dhruv. According to HAL the features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self sealing fuel tanks, armor protection, nuclear and low visibility features which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.
The helicopter wil have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet Pointed Sight and Electro-Optical Pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser Range Finder (LRF)/Laser Designator (LD). The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS).
The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight on 23 March 2010. Since then three more machines were added to the flight and weapons testing program.
India recently received the last batch of 151 Mi-17V-5 Hip transport helicopters, Russian defense export agency Russian Helicopters reported on Tuesday 2 February. The helicpoters were produced by JSC Kazan Helicopters. According to the same report, India is planning to order another 48 choppers for use with the Indian Air Force.
“India is one of the key markets for Russian helicopter building industry and the largest operator of Russian-made helicopters in the South-East Asia. Today, this country uses more than 400 helicopters, which have proved themselves well,” said Russian Helicopter CEO Alexander Mikheev. The company also claims the Mi-17V-5 helicopters supplied to India are some of the best technically equipped helicopters of the Mi-8/17 series, using the best solutions of previous generations.
Every Indian Mi-17V-5 helicopter is fitted with a KNEI-8 avionics suite. The suite has replaced multiple systems indicators with four large multi-functional that are easy to read and reduce the pilot’s workload. This avionics suite also helps to cut down pre-flight inspection time by displaying all systems data and alerting the crew when necessary. Also, the helicopters supplied to India are equipped with the latest and more powerful engines, which enhance payload carriage capability at higher altitudes – useful in the mountainous Indian landscape.
As recently announced, Russia and India have started to implement a project aimed at manufacturing no less than 200 light multirole Ka-226T helicopters, as reported here at Airheadsfly.com already last year. According to documents signed by the governments of the two countries, no less than 200 of the Ka-226T helicopters and their modifications will be manufactured in India. The agreement also includes maintenance, operation, repairs of helicopters and provision of technical support.
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.
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.