Indian Air Force to induct indigenously developed AEW&C aircraft during Aero India 2017

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct the first indigenously developed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft at Aero India 2017, which kicks off on February 14th at the Yelahanka Air Force Station near Bangalore.

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The indigenous AEW&C system has been developed by DRDO’s Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) based in Bangalore and integrated on the Brazilian Embraer ERJ-145 platform.

The hitherto unnamed indigenous AEW&C system consists of multiple antenna arrays mounted on top of the fuselage of the ERJ-145 and provides a 240 degree radar coverage. In addition to this, there are multiple sensors and cameras installed throughout the aircraft fuselage.  The primary radar is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) unit with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) capabilities.

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The system has been designed to detect and identify threats to IAF fighters and other assets both from the air and from the ground, and act as a flying command and control post to support IAF missions. The aircraft uses secure data links to communicate with IAF aircraft, satellites and ground based stations. It is equipped with a comprehensive self defence suite, to protect itself from threats while on a mission. The AEW&C aircraft also has mid-air refuelling capability, which allows extended operations and loiter time.

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The project began back in 2003, when the IAF & DRDO carried out a joint feasibility study for development of an AEW&C system. After receiving government approvals, the responsibility for design and development of the system was assigned to DRDO’s CABS. The program was originally supposed to deliver three AEW&C aircraft to the IAF by 2013, but this has been delayed by four years, with the first aircraft to be delivered next week. The aircraft has been displayed during the past two Aero India shows starting 2013.

The IAF AEW&C aircraft will complement the more capable and larger Phalcon AWACS systems based on the Ilyushin IL-76 platform that are already in service.

 

 

 

 

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Singapore Airshow 2016 is here!

The latest edition of Asia’s premier aviation event is here! The Singapore Airshow 2016 promises to be “Bolder, Faster and Louder”. The action is heating up with the participating aircraft making their way to Singapore over the weekend.

The line up this year looks promising – both in the air and on the ground. Here is a list of participating aircraft:

Aerobatic Displays

A350 XWB, Airbus Group

Black Eagles Aerobatic Team, Republic of Korea Air Force

C‑17 Globemaster III, United States Air Force

F‑15SG & AH‑64D Integrated Display, Republic of Singapore Air Force

F‑16C/D Fighting Falcon, United States Air Force

Rafale, French Air Force

Su‑30MKM, Royal Malaysian Air Force

Static Display

F‑15SG, F-16C, F-16D, AH‑64D, G550AEW, Republic of Singapore Air Force

F/A-18E Super Hornet, P-8A Poseidon, United States Navy

F-22 Raptor, United States Air Force

MV-22 Osprey, United States Marine Corps

A350 XWB, Airbus

Boeing 787, Boeing

A350 XWB, A380, Qatar Airways

Airbus A400M Atlas, Royal Malaysian Air Force

C-27J Spartan, Royal Australian Air Force

Superjet 100, Sukhoi

Q400 NG, Bombardier

ATR 72-600, ATR

CN-235, PDTI

In addition to the above, there will be quite a few business jets on display. All in all, it looks like a power-packed air show is in the offing.

Only one more day to go for the action to begin!

End of the road for Malaysia Airlines 777s

Malaysia Airlines (MH) have finally phased out the Boeing 777-200ERs from their fleet. The last flights operated by the Boeing 777s took place on January 26/27th 2016.

Amsterdam and Paris were the final destinations operated by these long-haul birds before they were grounded.

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The Boeing 777-200ERs formed the backbone of the MH long haul fleet along with the Boeing 747s and even after the retirement of the Jumbos.

The twin tragedies that struck Malaysia Airlines in 2014 – MH370 and MH17 involved the 777s, partly prompting the decision to retire the type. There was nothing wrong with the aircraft, but the passenger numbers for MH dwindled after the two tragedies, making it difficult for them to fill these aircraft on the long-haul routes they operated.

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MH have deployed their narrow-body 737-800s on quite a few regional routes e.g. Hong Kong, Mumbai, Guangzhou, etc. which were operated by the 777s earlier. However long-haul routes like Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, etc. that were perfectly suited for the 777s were simply axed!

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A de-registered Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER with titles removed holds short of Rwy 32L as another company 777 begins its take-off roll.

 The Malaysian 777s are powered by Rolls Royce Trent 892 engines and wear the classic 1990s livery. They were never painted in the revised colours sported by the airline’s 737-800s and A330-300s. As these aircraft are over 15 years old, it remains to be seen if another airline will pick them up. If not, they will surely head for the scrapyard.

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It is sad to see the 777s go away from the Malaysia Airlines fleet. I have had the opportunity to fly on these birds on a couple of occasions and absolutely loved the experience!

These long-haul workhorses have served Malaysia Airlines well, and will be sorely missed.

GOODBYE Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ERs!

Lufthansa to discontinue Kuala Lumpur service from March 2016

Lufthansa will be discontinuing its Frankfurt – Kuala Lumpur service w.e.f. March 2016. The German carrier currently operates the Frankfurt-Kuala Lumpur-Frankfurt service five times a week using an Airbus A340-300 aircraft. This service will be further reduced to three times a week w.e.f. 26th December 2015.

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As per the Lufthansa website, the final flight from Frankfurt to Kuala Lumpur is scheduled on 27th February 2016 and the final flight from Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt is scheduled on 28th February 2016.

Lufthansa had been operating on the Frankfurt – Kuala Lumpur sector with an additional hop to Jakarta, Indonesia since March 2014. The Kuala Lumpur – Jakarta leg was discontinued in October 2015.

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One can still book flights from Frankfurt to Kuala Lumpur on the Lufthansa website, using the Lufthansa code-shares with Singapore Airlines via Singapore or Thai Airways via Bangkok.

I had the opportunity to fly on the Lufthansa A340-300 on the Kuala Lumpur – Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur sector in May this year.

Economy Class cabin on the Lufthansa A340-300

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Business Class cabin on the Lufthansa A340-300

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Source: Lufthansa website, Airlineroute.net

 

British Airways Special Livery on a Boeing 777-200 ER

British Airways have painted a Boeing 777-200 ER in a special livery to commemorate the “GREAT Festival of Creativity” held in Shanghai in March 2015. The aircraft, bearing registration G-YMML sports a design showing a bamboo and a rose signifying “east meets west”

This beautiful design was created by Chinese fashion designer Masha Ma.

I got a chance to click a photo of this aircraft at Mumbai (BOM) as it was departing back to LHR.

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Merdeka Day 2015 – Action at Subang

August 31st is Merdeka Day – Malaysia’s Independence Day. This national day sees a huge parade at the Merdeka Square in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, followed by a flypast of Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) fighter aircraft, transport and trainer aircraft and helicopters.

The fighter aircraft fly in from their respective bases around Malaysia, whereas the transport aircraft take-off from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport, also known as Subang airport (SZB)

This year, the aircraft that flew in from SZB comprised of two TUDM Lockheed C-130 H Hercules transporters, nine Pilatus PC-7 trainers and for the first time ever – the newly delivered gigantic Airbus A400M Atlas.

I caught these aircraft as they departed from SZB on a hazy morning in Kuala Lumpur. Enjoy the photos…

A trio of TUDM Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft take-off in a formation from SZB. Aug 31 2015

A trio of TUDM Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft take-off in a formation. M50-10 | SZB | Aug 31 2015

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TUDM Lockheed C-130H Hercules looks beautiful in the early morning sunlight as it taxies to the active runway. M30-11 | SZB | Aug 31, 2015

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The first ever Airbus A400M Atlas (Grizzly) in the TUDM fleet looking splendid in that early morning sunlight as it taxies to the active. M54-01 | SZB | Aug 31, 2015

What a line-up! TUDM A400M Atlas followed by a pair of C-130H Hercules having their own little parade. M54-01 | SZB | Aug 31, 2015

What a line-up! TUDM A400M Atlas followed by a pair of C-130H Hercules having their own little parade. M54-01 | SZB | Aug 31, 2015

British Prime Minister arrives in Kuala Lumpur

British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Kuala Lumpur as part of his five nation South East Asian tour.

David Cameron flew in on this all-white Titan Airways Boeing 757-200 that bore no special markings except for a small Union Jack aft of the L2 door.

British PM David Cameron arriving in KUL on this all-white Titan Airways Boeing 757-200 G-POWH | KUL | Jul 30 2015

British PM David Cameron arriving in KUL on this all-white Titan Airways Boeing 757-200 G-POWH | KUL | Jul 30 2015

IAF C-130J Super Hercules lands at Juhu Aerodrome!

March 24, 2015 – The Indian Air Force created history by landing one of its Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at the tiny Juhu aerodrome (VAJJ) in Mumbai today. The runway at the Juhu aerodrome (Runway 08-26) is only 3750 feet (1143 metres) long, slightly longer than the minimum length required for a massive cargo aircraft like the C-130J Super Hercules. Today’s landing was part of a terror preparedness drill, to check whether a C-130J can land here with troops and equipment in case Mumbai’s primary airport is out of action.

The C-130J displayed its short field capabilities superbly as it landed successfully, did a quick turnaround and took off using barely 3/4th of the runway length!

The last time such a big aircraft landed at Juhu was on 24th December 1972, when a Japan Airlines DC-8 landed here by mistake, instead of the regular Mumbai airport. That aircraft over-ran the runway and suffered quite a bit of damage. Although there were no casualties, the aircraft had to be written off!

Here are photos of the IAF C-130J Super Hercules landing and take-off at the Juhu aerodrome.

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IAF C-130J Super Hercules about to touch down on Runway 08 at the Juhu aerodrome (VAJJ) in Mumbai.

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After a quick turnaround, IAF C-130J Super Hercules lifts off from Runway 26 at the Juhu aerodrome (VAJJ) in Mumbai

Flying displays at Aero India 2015

Aero India 2015 starts from February 18, 2015. This time, there are a total of five aerial display teams performing at the biennial air show.

  • Indian Air Force Sarang Team
  • Flying Bulls
  • Breitling Wing Walkers
  • The Yakovlevs Aerobatic Display Team
  • Scandinavian Air Show

In addition to this, there will be aerial displays by fighter aircraft and helicopters. The confirmed displays this year are:

  • Dassault Rafale
  • HAL Light Combat Helicopter
  • HAL Rudra
  • HAL Tejas
  • Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI
  • US Air Force F-16
  • US Air Force C-17 Globemaster
  • US Navy P-8 Poseidon

The DRDO Embraer AEW&C aircraft is also likely to take part in the aerial display.

All in all, it looks like an action packed edition of Aero India!

Aero India 2015 is here!


 

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Aero India 2015 – the biggest air show in India is scheduled to be held at the Yelahanka Air Force Station outside Bangalore between February 18th & 22nd, 2015.

The five day event is expected to feature the Dassault Rafale & Flying Bulls Aerobatic team along with the regular participants from the Indian Air Force.

Let’s wait and see if there are any other surprise appearances at the show!