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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Countdown to LIMA ’17

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The LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition) 2017 maritime and aerospace exhibition for defence, civil and commercial applications will be held next month in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The biennial event will be held between 21st and 25th March 2017 will be held at The Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre, Langkawi for the Aerospace exhibition and Resorts World, Langkawi for the Maritime exhibition. This year will be the 14th edition of LIMA and it promises to be as spectacular as always. There will be something for everyone – whether you are an aviation geek or a maritime enthusiast.

The highlight of the five day event will of course be the daily aerial displays and boat demonstrations.

The list of confirmed participants for the aerial displays this year is as follows:

  1. SU-30 MKM Royal Malaysian Air Force
  2. F/A-18D Royal Malaysian Air Force
  3. Hawk 108/208 Royal Malaysian Air Force
  4. A400M Royal Malaysian Air Force
  5. PC 7 MKII Royal Malaysian Air Force
  6. KT-1B (Jupiter) Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara
  7. HAL Dhruvs Indian Air Force (Sarang Aerobatic Team)
  8. KAI – T50B Republic of Korea Air Force(Black Eagle)
  9. Gripen Royal Thai Air Force
  10. Rafale France Air Force
  11. B-1B (Fly Pass) United States Air Force
  12. Airbus 380 (Fly Pass) Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB)
  13. Airbus 330 Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB)
  14. Super Lynx Royal Malaysian Navy
  15. Fennec Royal Malaysian Navy
  16. CL-415 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  17. Agusta AW 139 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  18. Dauphin AS365 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  19. AS 355 Royal Malaysian Police

Source:  LIMA Exhibition Official Website

As you can see from the line-up above, it looks like a power-packed display this year. It will be exciting to see the Royal Malaysian Air Force birds in action, as well as the Airbus A330 & A380s from Malaysia Airlines. The USAF B-1B Lancer fly past also promises to be an exciting event.

I am also looking forward to seeing the Indian Air Force Sarang Aerobatic Team in action with their brightly coloured HAL Dhruv helicopters. I last saw them in action two years ago at Aero India 2015 in Bangalore, India.

Look forward to more updates soon!

 

 

 

 

India & France sign the Rafale deal – FINALLY!

After a wait of almost a decade, involving a multi-country and multi-aircraft competition, extensive negotiations, cancellations and re-work, the IAF (Indian Air Force) will get modern fighter aircraft with India & France FINALLY inking the deal for the Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters on Friday, September 23 2016.

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The precursor to the Rafale deal was the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) competition to supply the IAF with 126 advanced multi-role combat aircraft. The RFP (Request for Proposal) for this deal was released in August 2007 to six bidding aircraft – Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, Mikoyan Mig-35 & SAAB Gripen NG. The competition involved extensive trials of the six competing aircraft in a variety of environmental conditions. After an extensive technical evaluation, the IAF announced in April 2011 that it had shortlisted two aircraft – Dassault Rafale & Eurofighter Typhoon. On 31 January 2012 it was announced that Dassault Rafale won the MMRCA competition due to its lower life-cycle cost. Thus began a phase of long and painful negotiations, which involved differences over cost escalations and guarantees by Dassault for aircraft license-built in India.

The negotiations continued for over two years with differences persisting between the two sides. Finally, in April 2015, Indian PM Narendra Modi announced that India’s intent to purchase 36 Rafale fighters in a fly-away condition directly from France in a government-to-government agreement. This effectively killed the MMRCA deal, with the Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar officially making an announcement to this effect. Even then, it took nearly 18 months of negotiations to officially ink the deal!

The Dassault Rafale will be a much needed boost to the IAF’s rapidly declining fighter aircraft strength. With multiple aircraft types like the Mig-21, Mig-27 and Jaguar slated for retirement in the coming years, there is a critical need for inducting modern fighter aircraft into the fleet. The Rafale will be a shot in the arm for the IAF, providing it with a much needed capability boost to tackle the challenges it faces from Pakistan & China.

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Being an “omni-role” aircraft, the Rafale can be easily configured for air-air or air-ground missions. The deal includes the Thales RBE2 AA AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and weapons systems like the Meteor BVR air-air missile, which has a range of over 150km, and the SCALP air-ground cruise missile with a range of over 300km. This will allow the IAF to engage targets inside enemy territory without crossing its own borders.

The first Rafales will start arriving within 36 months of signing the contract i.e. in the year 2019 and the delivery will be completed within 66 months. The 36 Rafales constitute approx. two squadrons, and will clearly not be enough to plug the declining fighter strength in the IAF. What remains to be seen is whether there will be a follow-on order for more Rafales including possible local assembly/manufacturing or whether the IAF decides to go in for another type.

 

 

 

 

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