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.
Russian company Fazotron-NIIR is improving the on board radar of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K shipborne fighter jets of the Russian Navy and the new serial production MiG-35 aircraft, or Fulcrum respectively Fulcrum-F if we go by the NATO-reporting names for these types.
The modernization of the Zhuk-M radar focuses on improving software. “It will add new means to how the radar works with land and sea targets”, a statement of the state-owned Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) reads. The Indian Navy’s MiG-29K/KUBs are also to profit from the improvements, with their radars being designated Zhuk-ME – with the E for Export.
MiG-29s and MiG-35s equipped with the Zhuk-M(E) can track 20 air targets and attack four simultaneously from ranges of at least 65 nautical miles (120 km) in air-to-air mode, and up to 27 nm (50 km) for surface targets.
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.
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.
“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.
The Indian Navy is putting new energy into its neglected fleet of Kamov Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. The ten machines available, delivered by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, will undergo a life-extension program.
Six of the ten will get new sensor to make them current to today’s requirement, while the focus with the other four is on overhauling the engines, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council announced. The work will be done in Russia.
Officially the Indian Naval Air Arm has 14 Kamov Ka-28s – NATO reporting name Helix-A – on strength, but they lack operational airworthiness. The Indian maritime ASW rotary fleet also includes 7 Ka-25s (“Hormone”) and 22 Westland Sea Kings.