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JANUARY • 2010
• A Whiff of Optimism for Airlines • Electronic Warfare • Private Party in Space
ENTERING ITS 13TH YEAR
Boeing’s C-17 for India PAGE 21
RNI NUMBER: DELENG/2008/24199
I N D I A
A LAND & NAVAL SYSTEMS EXHIBITION
DEFEXPO INDIA 2010
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TABLE of CONTENTS
AN SP GUIDE PUBLICATION
News Flies. We Gather Intelligence. Every Month. From India.
ISSUE 1 • 2010
A Multi-role Transport Aircraft, developed jointly by HAL and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, will eventually replace the IAF’s ageing ﬂeet of An-32 aircraft (seen here)
Chief of the Air Staff ‘First MMRCA batch induction likely in 2013’
A FIGHTER IN EVERY SENSE Military air transporters are inherently multi-role as the same aircraft can perform a host of support operations. The IAF is all set to acquire Boeing’s C-17 heavy airlifters from the US.
HALL OF FAME
35 3 5
A Word from Editor NewsWithViews - An Elevator to Space - Dreamliner Soars On Composites
13 24 32
Electronic Warfare First Look, First Shoot, First Kill Future Fighters Enter the 5th Generation Aviation Air Power Enhanced
7 8 36 40
Airlines A Whiff of Optimism
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InFocus Made in Russia, Tweaked for India Forum Has India Missed the Bus? NewsDigest LastWord Cheer, Cautiously
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JANUARY • 2010
• A Whiff of Optimism for Airlines • Electronic Warfare • Private Party in Space
ENTERING ITS 13TH YEAR
RNI NUMBER: DELENG/2008/24199
MMRCA Deal Perfect Fit
Boeing’s C-17 for India PAGE 21
Suborbital Travel A Private Party in Space
Cover Photo: The IAF has reportedly received government nod to acquire 10 C-17 Globemaster III. Photo Credit:Abhishek Singh
Indian Air Force Modernisation
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 1
TABLE of CONTENTS
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jayant Baranwal ASSISTANT EDITOR Arundhati Das SENIOR VISITING EDITOR Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia SENIOR TECHNICAL GROUP EDITORS Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey Lt General (Retd) Naresh Chand SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Ruchika Chawla ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Abhishek Singh SUB-EDITOR Bipasha Roy CONTRIBUTORS INDIA Air Marshal (Retd) N. Menon Group Captain (Retd) A.K. Sachdev Group Captain (Retd) Joseph Noronha EUROPE
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A Whiff of Optimism
Alan Peaford, Phil Nasskau, Rob Coppinger USA & CANADA Sushant Deb, LeRoy Cook, Lon Nordeen, Anil R. Pustam (West Indies) CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR Jayant Baranwal ADMIN & COORDINATION Bharti Sharma Survi Massey
Owned, published and printed by Jayant Baranwal, printed at Kala Jyothi Process Pvt Ltd and published at A-133, Arjun Nagar (Opposite Defence Colony), New Delhi 110 003, India. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, photocopying, recording, electronic, or otherwise without prior written permission of the Publishers.
Issue 1 • 2010
A Word from Editor
2010 holds all the promise of exciting times.While the IAF is persistent in its drive to gain muscle, civil airlines are breathing somewhat easy with improving passenger traffic even as space enthusiasts can now hope to reach beyond the skies.
P’s Aviation yet again holds a mirror to the speedball modernisation drive that has the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a whirl of acquisition and augmentation. SP’s Defexpo 2008 Special edition (Issue ���� 1, Volume 10, 2008) had carried exclusive information pertaining to finalisation of the contract for six C-130J Super ����������� Hercules from Lockheed Martin inked be����� ���������������� tween the governments of India and the US ���������� ����������� February 7 under Foreign Military Sales ������������������� (FMS). This time around, the same route has reportedly been adhered to for acquiring 10 C-17 Globemaster III from Boeing at an approximate cost of $2.5 billion (Rs 11,410 ������������ ������ crore)—a deal that media reports claim has received the in-principle approval of the Indian government. The development makes it pertinent to take a closer look at the multifarious roles played by Military Transport Aircraft, a subject that finds extensive coverage in this issue. Hitting the accelerator in the IAF’s modernisation endeavSP's Avn Defexpo Spl Cvr.indd 1
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ours, the Indo-Russian project for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft is reported to be progressing at a brisk pace. Russian authorities are optimistic that the customised two-seat version of the T-50 PAK-FA will be ready for induction by 2015, although the top brass of the IAF are cautious and estimate 2017 to be a more realistic time frame. While the modalities of the joint venture are discussed threadbare in InFocus and Forum, an incisive discourse on Fifth Generation fighters affords a detailed analysis of the defining characteristics and unique capabilities of these aircraft. Also deliberated at length is the significant role played by electronic intelligence in modern warfare. Meanwhile, mood in the civil aviation industry in India is upbeat with the Minister for Civil Aviation, Praful Patel, declaring, “Things are turning for the better, which is borne out by the rebound in air traffic figures from October onwards.” Exciting times have also infected space travel with the private industry increasingly playing a pivotal role in the more familiar suborbital and low-Earth orbit regimes—an account to set your spirits soaring!
2/11/08 11:43:09 AM
PROUD ASSOCIATIONS: CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF AIR CHIEF MARSHAL P NAIK .V. ACCEPTS A COPY OF SP’S AVIATION 2009 YEAR-END SPECIAL FROM EDITOR-INCHIEF JAYANT BARANWAL (INTERVIEW ON PAGE 10)
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 3
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JANUARY • 2010
• A Whiff of Optimism for Airlines • Electronic Warfare • Private Party in Space
ENTERING ITS 13TH YEAR
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AN ELEVATOR TO SPACE
A US Seattle team collected $900,000 (Rs 4 crore) in prize money in a NASA-backed competition to develop the concept of an elevator to space. The team’s robotic machine raced up more than 2,950 ft of cable dangling from a helicopter. Powered by a ground-based laser pointed up at the robot’s photo voltaic cells that converted light into electricity, the LaserMotive machine completed one of its climbs in less than four minutes, good for second-place money. The team could have claimed $2 million (Rs 9 crore) in prize money if its robot had climbed faster. The difficulty of the experiment can be gauged from the fact that success came only in the fourth year of the annual event.
hy rocket when you can take an elevator? Into space, that is. A contest to encourage development of this very theory originated in the 1960s and was popularised by Arthur C. Clarke’s 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise. Of the three teams that qualified to participate in the annual event on the dry lakebed near NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre at Edwards Air Force Base, California, only LaserMotive could pass muster. Could it be heralded as the first tentative but successful step in the long journey ahead of ‘inventions and innovations’ to realise the more-than-a-century old dream of transporting material from a celestial body’s surface into space? The concept dates back to 1895 when Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed a free-standing tower reaching from the surface of Earth to geo-stationary orbit. Recent efforts, however, have focused on tensile structures (specifically tethers) reaching from geo-stationary orbit to the ground. This structure could be held in tension between Earth and the counterweight in space like a guitar string held taut. On this tether, an elevator or a lift could move up and down, carting men and material to and from space at a fraction of a cost of launching them atop rockets and recovering them in space capsules/shuttles. Conventional rocket designs cost about $11,000 (Rs 5 lakh) per kg for transfer to low Earth or geo-stationary orbit. But with space elevators, current proposals envision prices starting as low as $220 (Rs 10,000) per kg. Attractive as the concept may seem, it remained within the confines of science fiction till recently, in the wake of advances in nanotechnology. A newly discovered type of carbon nanotube, called the ‘colossal carbon tube’, it is felt, may be strong enough to support a space elevator. Significantly, due to its enormous length (as much as 100,000 km, up to
the connection with the counterweight), a space cable must be carefully designed to carry its own weight as well as the smaller weight of the elevators (climbers). Apart from the tether system, power and energy are significant issues. While nuclear energy and solar power have been proposed, generating enough energy without weighing too much poses a near insurmountable challenge. A possible method gaining ground is laser power beaming, using megawatt powered free electron or solid state lasers in combination with adaptive mirrors around 10 m wide and a photovoltaic array on the elevator tuned to the laser frequency for efficiency, eventually maturing to ensure transmission of energy by laser over long distances. The prize-winning experiment by LaserMotive LLC was a miniaturised manifestation of the same idea. Japan is notably in the forefront of endeavours to bring to reality the concept of ‘Leaving the Planet by Space Elevator’ propagated in a 2008-launched book by Dr Brad Edwards and Philip Ragan. The Japan Space Elevator Association has displayed increasing confidence in meeting the challenges head-on—even pegging the cost of building the space elevator at an astonishingly modest trillion yen ($10 billion; Rs 50,000 crore). Building an Earth-to-space elevator would be most challenging, but once accomplished, extending the concept to other celestial bodies, like the Moon and Mars, would be that much easier due to their reduced surface gravities. Consider a scenario wherein human space colonies have been established on the Mars or Moon for mining of precious metals that are then transported to Earth through a combination of space elevators and space trucks at competitive commercial prices. Still sounds like space fiction? Not for long. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 5
DREAMLINER SOARS ON COMPOSITES
The long awaited count down has begun. Boeing’s cutting-edge 787 Dreamliner soared on December 15 in a milestone first flight the US aerospace giant hopes will prove a gamechanger for the global aviation industry. The newest member of the Boeing family of commercial jetliners took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. At 10.27 am local time. After approximately three hours, it landed at 1.33 pm at Seattle’s Boeing Field. The airplane flew to an altitude of 15,000 ft and airspeed of 180 knots, or about 333 km per hour, customary on a first flight. Boeing has 840 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, and in October 2009, the company announced plans to build a second assembly line for the aircraft in North Charleston, South Carolina.
n December 15, the Boeing leadership must have heaved a sigh of relief on witnessing the first flight of the Company’s 787 Dreamliner, after an excruciating delay of over two years. The first flight provided the much needed boost that Boeing’s highly ambitious programme was after all on some kind of schedule again. “Today is truly a proud and historic day for the Boeing Company and the global team who have worked tirelessly to design and build the 787 Dreamliner—the first all-new jet airplane of the 21st century,” said Scott Fancher, Vice President and General Manager of the 787 programme. “I assure you the 787 will be the gamechanger that it was meant to be.” The mid-size, twin-aisle Dreamliner is Boeing’s first new model in more than a decade. The central element of the revolutionary design is based on the copious use of lightweight composite materials instead of aluminum to improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. The 787 is indeed a radical departure in aircraft design. It is a bold step on Boeing’s part but the company thinks it has done its homework well and the composites are ready for these kinds of applications. Intensive use of composites make the airplane much lighter than other planes of similar size and, therefore, more fuel efficient; with Boeing claiming that the 787 will use 20 per cent less fuel than aircraft of comparable size. Boeing also claims that as the composites do not fatigue or corrode, maintenance costs would be cut by as much as 30 per cent. In addition, because of its lightweight, there would be less airport charges. Not surprisingly, the aircraft, which promises to carry 250 passengers over extremely long distances, has been a great hit among airlines, who ordered some 840 planes, worth around $140 billion (Rs 6,38,470 crore). Boeing claims that the cumulative orders from 55 customers make the 787
6 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
“the fastest selling all-new jetliner in aviation history”. In the decade old debate between a ‘hub-and-spoke’ and ‘point-to-point’ models for air travel, while its rival Airbus chose the former for its superjumbo, A380, with a capacity of up to 850 passengers, Boeing chose the latter to create the much smaller 787, albeit with a brand new design and long-distance point-to-point capability. Boeing assessed that bulk of the air travelling public, especially frequent fliers, would prefer direct access to their respective destinations against getting into the hassles of having to change flights. It is worth noting that both aerospace giants experienced delays with their respective new designs. However, while the Airbus A380’s deliveries to customers commenced more than a year ago, Boeing is still struggling with its dream 787 project. The delays contributed to a $1.6 billion (Rs 7,295 crore) loss in the third quarter of 2009 and could mount further as the company expects to write off $2.5 billion (Rs 11,400 crore) because it considers the first three Dreamliners unfit for sales and suited merely for flight tests. The third factor further afflicting the financial woes of the company is the likely compensations it stands to pay to the concerned airlines for non-adherence to delivery schedules. Air India (AI) is one of those affected but, in its case, the compensation by the OEM for failure to perform as per the contract could partially alleviate the financial mess the airline has pushed itself into. All said and done, the first flight does provide a silver lining to the otherwise sombre horizons of the troubled 787 programme. The worst seems to be over with the first launch and the programme managers appear to be gearing up to accelerate the flight testing sufficiently for a committed first commercial launch at the end of 2010. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Made in Russia, for INDIA
As the single-seat T-50 PAK-FA, a version meant for the Russian Air Force, conforms only partially to the operational doctrine of the IAF India has opted for a , customised two-seat version based on the same platform and designated the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft
crum and Su-27 Flanker fleets in the Russian Air Force. The aircraft will draw heavily from the technologies developed for the Su-47 Berkut and the MiG-1.44, the earlier competitors for the programme. On account of its striking similarity with the US’ F-22 Raptor in respect of the airframe, the T-50 PAK-FA, in a lighter vein, is sometimes referred to by western analysts as the ‘Raptorski’. Even the Russian supersonic transport aircraft, which saw limited operational service, was dubbed the ‘Concordski’. Elsewhere, the highly successful Russian BVR missile R-77 earned the sobriquet ‘Amraamski’ from the West, based on the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-air Missile (AMRAAM). Although exact specifications are not known, the T-50 PAK-FA is likely to weigh somewhere between the Su-27 and the MiG-29, with an empty weight close to 20 tonnes, and a size approximately that of the F-35 JSF. This would be the first Russian fighter to have ‘stealth’ features—very low radar signature making detection by radar difficult, if not impossible. Capable of achieving top speed of Mach 2, the aircraft will have super-cruise capability and extremely high manoeuvrability, credit to vectored thrust, and will be equipped with the Russian Active Electronically Scanned Array radar which is likely to be an advanced version of the NO35 IRBIS-E radar fitted on the Su-35. The first prototype was to have flown in 2009, but dogged by innumerable hurdles, such as difficulties in the engine development programme and financial crunch, the deadline slipped. As the new engine will not be available in the required time frame, in the interim, the prototypes and even the initial production models will be fitted with super-cruise capable NPO Saturn 117 engines that power the Su-35. Later versions of the PAK-FA will use a completely new engine (17.5 tonnes thrust) developed by NPO FIGURE IT OUT Saturn or FGUP MMPP Salyut. General Characteristics Performance India, meanwhile, is not too keen on the singleseat T-50 PAK-FA, as it only partially meets the In• Crew: One and two • Maximum speed: Mach 2+ at altitude dian Air Force’s (IAF) operational requirements. The • Length: 22.0 m • g-limits: (9 g) • Wingspan: 14.2 m • Super-Cruise speed: 1,300 km/h (M 1.6) IAF has instead opted for a customised two-seat ver• Height: 6.05 m • Ferry range: 4,000 to 5,500 km sion based on the T-50 platform in conformity with • Wing area: 78.8 m2 • Service ceiling: 20,000 m its operational doctrine and philosophy. This two• Empty weight: 18,500 kg • Rate of climb: 350 m/s seat version has been designated as the FGFA to be • Useful load: 7,500 kg • Wing loading: 470 kg/m2 developed jointly by Sukhoi and HAL. • Max takeoff weight: • Thrust/weight: 0.84 (dry thrust) Turn the page to gauge how the FGFA will differ 37,000 kg • Minimum thrust/weight: from the PAK-FA and what would be the implications – With afterburner: 1.19 • Runway length requirement: 350 m of its induction for the Indian aerospace industry. SP Source: www.wikipedia.org —By Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 7
EY ISSUE OF THE INDO-RUSSIAN nuclear deal apart, Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow in December 2009 was expected to generate discussions on the progress of ongoing defence deals and programmes. As it transpired, the two sides did dwell upon the progress of the Indo-Russian project for the new generation combat aircraft. Proof lay in the January 5 trip wherein, close on the heels of the Prime Minister’s sojourn, an Indian Defence Ministry delegation visited Sukhoi’s flagship aircraft facility in Siberia to observe the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) prototype that is expected to undertake its maiden flight within weeks from now. To redux, in order to match the capabilities of the US F-22 Raptor that entered squadron service in the United States Air Force in December 2005 and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) which is still under development, Russia over eight years ago embarked on developing a new combat aircraft designated T-50 PAK-FA, or the ‘Prospective (Future) Aviation Komplex for Frontline Aviation’. India was offered a 50:50 partnership in the T-50 PAK-FA programme as early as in 2002. However, after considerable dithering, it was only in January 2007 that Delhi finally acquiesced to a joint venture involving research, development and production. A preliminary inter-government agreement for the joint development of the PAK-FA by Sukhoi, part of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was signed in October the same year. While doubts continued to linger in the Indian camp, especially regarding the aircraft’s single-seat versus twin-seat configuration, Sukhoi continued to develop the single-seat version fighter for the Russian Air Force. The T-50 PAK-FA, when fully developed, is intended to replace the MiG-29 Ful-
missed the bus?
AN ARTIST’S IMPRESSION OF THE PAK-FA
Inordinate delay in arriving at a decision and failure to join the programme at its inception essentially means design engineers of HAL have in all probability lost out on the opportunity to beneﬁt from the involvement in the concept and design phase
ILLUSTRATION: RATAN SONAL
N THE WAKE OF A PRELIMINARY inter-government agreement for the joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), signed on October 27, 2007, Sukhoi Director Mikhail Pogosyan was quoted as saying, “We (India and Russia) will share the funding, engineering and intellectual property of the new project in a 50-50 proportion.” In the interim five years between the initial proposal in 2002 and the final agreement in 2007, the Russians continued to develop their own version of the Fifth Generation fighter and named it Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovi Aviatsy (PAK-FA), Russian for Prospective (Promising) Aircraft Complex (System) of Frontline Aviation.
SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
As stated earlier, the Indian side did not find the T-50 PAK-FA, a single-seat version meant for the Russian Air Force, wholly suitable and instead projected the requirement of a new customised two-seat version based on the T-50 platform for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to conform to some tenets of its operational doctrine and philosophy. A top IAF official confirmed the force’s preference for a twin-seat fighter, observing, “The service prefers a two-seat version for long duration missions to cater for crew fatigue, better crew co-ordination, and so on. However, for short duration missions, a single-seater would suffice.” At the time of signing the deal in 2007, the Russians had maintained that even though the two-seat configurawww.spsaviation.net
tion necessitated reworking of wing design and control surface for the FGFA, it would be possible to have a test ‘article’ ready for its first flight in early 2010. However, dichotomy in perceptions of the two parties over the design of the new aircraft had to be resolved first. The redesigning of the wings and control surfaces would imply that though patterned on the T-50 PAK-FA, FGFA will be a significantly different aircraft. So far, there is no definite information on the construction of the FGFA prototype. However, Russian Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Sergei B. Ivanov has assured that the FGFA for the IAF is expected to undertake its maiden flight in 2012 and is scheduled to be inducted by 2015. But the IAF’s Chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, is somewhat conservative in his estimates. As per his statement to the media, the plan is to induct the FGFA into the IAF in 2017 time frame, an opinion shared by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). But what will be HAL’s role in the design and development of the aircraft? It is a known fact that the T-50 PAKFA has been under development for several years and by now it would be reasonable to assume that the major design parameters would have been finalised. Unfortunately, on account of the inordinate delay in arriving at a decision and failure to join the programme at its inception, design engineers of HAL have in all probability lost out on the opportunity to benefit from the involvement in the concept and design phase. At this late stage, as far as the design work is concerned, the Indian partners would be assigned work peripheral in character, like it happened in the BrahMos project in 1998. Even in the Su-30 project in which India was a partner, it was limited to providing avionics and a few non-critical sub-assemblies. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Bangalorebased HAL has negotiated firmly to get a 25 per cent share of design and development work in the FGFA programme. According to the report, HAL’s work share will include critical software, including the mission computer; navigation systems; most of the cockpit displays; the countermeasure dispensing systems; and modifying Sukhoi’s single-seat prototype into the twin-seat fighter that the IAF wants. While HAL and other related indigenous industries may be able to provide the software and some of the avionics described above, doubt persists with regard to converting the airframe from single to twin-seat configuration with indigenous design changes. It is felt that this work would have to be undertaken by the Russian designers; who in all probability would design a trainer version of the aircraft for their own use. However, their trainers are primarily used for training purposes, with limited combat capabilities. The twin-seat trainer version of PAK-FA could be modified to produce the desired two-seater FGFA combat aircraft for the IAF, on the same lines as was done in the case of Su-30 aircraft, which itself was a derivative of the single-seat Su-27 aircraft. This could well be done in the reverse order also, that is, the Russians produce the twin-seat combat aircraft for the IAF first and then modify it into a trainer version to suit their own requirement. Initial reports suggest that a total of 500 aircraft are planned with options for more to meet future requirements. The Russian Air Force is likely to get 200 single-seat and 50 twin-seat PAK-FA aircraft, while the IAF will have 200 twin-seat FGFA aircraft and 50 single-seats based on the PAK-FA design to meet its requirements of short-duration missions. The aircraft will incorporate the characteristics of stealth and super-cruise of a Fifth Generation fighter and be outfitted with the next generation air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-shipping Russian/indigenous missiles. The aircraft will also incorporate fix-mounted AESA radar with a 1,500element array and have an artificial intellect. As far as the sharing of individual expertise is concerned, Russia’s excellence in titanium structures could be complimented by India’s expertise in composites. Overall, in the case of the FGFA, India is in a position to provide airframe components of composite materials, as also expertise in lightweight high-strength materials and, of course, avionics and software. But, it is indeed doubtful whether India would be elevated to anything above the status of an inconsequential partner and be permitted full access to core or sensitive technologies in any such deal. At best, India may be offered a look or a peep into some of the high-end technologies. Contrary to the January report, informal assessments guesstimate that Indian engineers will be assigned no more than 15 per cent of design work for the FGFA. HAL has also been trying to participate in the development of the new engines. As stated elsewhere, while the PAK-FA will initially use two Saturn 117S engines (about 14.5 tonnes thrust), which is an advanced version of the AL-31F but built with the experience gained in the AL-41F programme; the later versions of the PAK-FA will be powered by completely new engines (17.5 tonnes thrust each), to be developed by NPO Saturn or FGUP MMPP Salyut. Much as HAL would like to be part of the development programme, latest reports suggest that it may have to make do with only the licenced production of the engine once it is fully developed by the Russian side. Given the track record of the Indian aerospace industry and experience with joint ventures of this scale and character, delays in the induction schedule ought not to come as a surprise. However, as and when the FGFA is finally inducted, the IAF would have the benefit of acquiring stealth technology in a time frame that would not have been possible through purely indigenous effort. Hopefully, HAL would also get the opportunity to imbibe new levels of technology that would be useful in their future endeavours. Lastly, moving neck-on-neck is the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) project. In all likelihood, both these aircraft could be ready for induction at around the same time. The Indian aerospace industry could then be confronted with a situation wherein it will be required to gear-up to simultaneously cope with different generations of technology—and possibly of different origins. HAL is familiar with British and Russian technology, and as there are other contenders for the MMRCA, there is a possibility that the government organisation may be called upon to venture into a completely new technological domain. At this point in time, the FGFA appears to be a reality but the MMRCA is not. Rapid progress in the FGFA programme could, therefore, have implications for the MMRCA project. SP —By Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. Bhatia, Delhi and Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey, Bangalore
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 9
CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF
First MMRCA batch induction
Likely in 2013
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V Naik, . interacting with SP’s Aviation’s Editorial Team, draws
the spotlight on issues ranging from modernisation drive to sharing of infrastructure with the civilian sector and ﬂexi use of air space
PHOTOGRAPHS: ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS
SP’s Aviation (SP’s): The modernisation programme would be integral to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in its quest to achieve a new ‘transformed’ avatar. Is the IAF facing any difficulties or roadblocks in achieving the desired capabilities? Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik (CAS): In the past, the IAF modernisation plan did progress slowly because of certain constraints. The new procurement procedure has addressed quite a few issues. The IAF is progressing well on its modernisation plan and we are not facing any difficulties or road10 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
blocks. All capital procurements are being done as per the procedure laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2009, which is a comprehensive and transparent document and is an improvement from the previous editions. SP’s: While the IAF is grappling with the problem of unprecedented erosion in its combat squadrons’ strength, is there a possibility to put the long-drawn Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme on a fast track? What is the latest status of the flight evaluwww.spsaviation.net
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CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF
copters, PGMs (precision-guided munitions), space-enabled and Network Centric Warfare capabilities. The upgrades in various fleets being undertaken are also aimed at improving targeting and all weather capabilities. These acquisitions and upgradations would ensure that the IAF is effective to the edge of its intended area of interest and acquires core competencies to become a credible aerospace power in the near future. SP’s: To what level of cooperation has the convergence of interest between the Ministries of Defence (MoD) and Civil Aviation been achieved pertaining to sharing of infrastructure and other assets? Could you give an update with special emphasis on integration of surveillance radars into the country’s air defence system and
ation phase of the acquisition process? What would be the earliest time frame for the IAF to induct these aircraft? In addition, is a possibility foreseen to acquire these aircraft in greater numbers than envisaged at present to maintain the IAF’s operational edge? Also, could you comment on the Indo-Russian joint venture to develop the Future Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA)? Would the PAK-FA meet the IAF’s requirements of a Fifth Generation combat aircraft? CAS: The Flight Evaluation Trials of the MMRCA project are in progress. In-country phase of the Field Evaluation Trials of four out of the six contenders have been completed. Other evaluations are progressing. This will continue up to mid-2010. The induction of the first batch is likely to be in
The IAF is progressing well in integrating all its sensors.The ﬁeld trials for the ﬁrst node are underway in the Western sector.All radars in Western and South-Western sector would be integrated within a year.
2013, depending when the contract is signed. Induction of new fighter aircraft in the IAF is based on our Long-Term Perspective Plan, keeping in view the envisaged threat and role assigned to the IAF. To meet these requirements, the IAF plans to induct additional fighter aircraft to bolster its force levels. Any additions will be based on our requirements and other acquisitions, keeping in mind the force-level required as per our appreciation. The Indo-Russian joint venture of FGFA is progressing well and is as per the schedule. High level technical discussions are underway between both parties for design and development of the aircraft. The fighter would be developed with the latest technologies and is expected to be operationalised by 2017-18. We are confident the FGFA would meet the IAF’s requirement of the Fifth Generation Combat aircraft. The capabilities of the PAK-FA would be known as and when it commences flight trials and relevant data is available. SP’s: How is the IAF equipping itself to achieve its desired core competencies pertaining to strategic reach, precision attack and all-weather capabilities? CAS: The IAF is following a modernisation programme to achieve its desired core competencies pertaining to strategicreach, precision-attack and other core capabilities. We have plans to acquire more number of AAR (air-to-air refuellers), heavy-lift capability, advanced combat aircraft, modern heli12 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
the ‘flexi’ use of air space? Have the investigations into the episode of conflict between the Presidential helicopter and civil air traffic been completed and, if so, would the findings be available in the public domain? CAS: The IAF is progressing well in integrating all its sensors. The field trials for the first node are underway in the Western sector. All radars in Western and South-Western sector would be integrated within a year. The air force plans to integrate all radars of the IAF, army, navy and civil setups in order to enable comprehensive air defence of the country. The integration of civil radars and progress on flexi-use of air space is progressing side by side. The findings of the Joint Committee (in the mishaps involving the Presidential helicopter) are available on the Internet and were published in the print media as well. The committee recommended greater cooperation between IAF elements and civil Air Traffic Control during the planning of VVIP arrival and departures. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has recommended that no aircraft should depart or arrive within three minutes of a VVIP arrival and departure. The IAF has also modified its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) with respect to circuit procedures and R/T calls. Formulation of Joint SOP with the Airports Authority of India is being processed through the MoD. SP (To be continued.)
NEW FIGHTER ON THE BLOCK: THE STOVL VARIANT OF THE F-35 JSF IS SCHEDULED TO REPLACE THE HARRIER AIRCRAFT WHEN IT ENTERS SERVICE WITH THE US MARINES, ROYAL AIR FORCE AND ROYAL NAVY
PHOTOGRAPHS: WWW.LOCKHEEDMARTIN.COM, WWW.NAVY.MIL, WWW.BOEING.COM, WWW.NORTHROPGRUMMAN.COM & ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS
LOOK, SHOOT, KILL
Electronics play a signiﬁcant role in modern day air operations, both in the offensive as well as defensive roles, wherein aircraft survivability holds the key to improving overall effectiveness of air battle
n a very broad sense, Electronic tions, both in the offensive as well as By Air Marshal (Retd) Warfare (EW) generally refers defensive roles. Aircraft survivability V.K. Bhatia to “any action involving the use in the overall electronic spectrum is of the Electro-Magnetic (EM) a key issue for improving the overall spectrum or directed energy to effectiveness of air battle. Airborne control the spectrum, attack an EW, when combined with stealth or enemy, or impede enemy assaults via low observable technologies, is being the spectrum”. The purpose of EW is to deny the opponent the recognised to be one of the most effective techniques for inadvantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to, the creasing aircraft and aircrew survivability. EM spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land and space by manned and unmanned systems, but its biggest impact is ELECTRONIC INTELLIGENCE felt in the conduct of air operations. Three major categorisa- Among the three major subdivisions described earlier, ES gentions in the vast area of EW include: Electronic Surveillance erally involves passive search for locating, localising and iden(ES), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Attack (EA). tification of sources of intentional/unintentional radiation of Electronics play a significant role in modern day air opera- EM energy for the purposes of immediate threat recognition,
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 13
MILITARY ELECTRONIC WARFARE
targeting, planning and conduct of future operations. An overlapping discipline, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is the related process of analysing and identifying the intercepted frequencies. SIGINT can be further categorised under ELINT (Electronic Intelligence), COMINT (Communication Intelligence) and FISINT (Foreign Instrumentation System Intelligence). EA, or Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), involves the offensive use of the electromagnetic energy, or anti-radiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralising or destroying enemy’s combat capability. EA operations, however, can be detected by an adversary due to their active transmissions. Examples include operations. During World War II, as soon as the ground-based radars were deployed for the detection of incoming enemy air raids; both allies as well as the Germans quickly developed a number of countermeasures to degrade the radars, like chaff, which are still employed. The Allies also developed radar jamming. Just as countermeasures were developed to counter radar, counter-countermeasures were developed to negate the countermeasures. For example, Germany began to use radar frequencies that were not affected by the Allied chaff. However, towards the end of the Great War, ECM had certainly reduced some of the advantages that radar conferred upon air defences. Allied bombers employing ECM during raids on Ger-
AIRWAVE WARRIORS: BOEING’S EA-18G GROWLER IS A CARRIER-BASED ELECTRONIC WARFARE AIRCRAFT; (FACING PAGE) AN EA-6B PROWLER OF THE US NAVY
communications jamming, Integrated Air Defence System suppression, Directed Energy/Laser attack, expendable decoys (for instance, flares and chaff), and Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device systems. EP, also known as Electronic Protective Measures or Electronic Counter Countermeasures (ECCM), involves actions taken to protect personnel, facilities and equipment from any effects of friendly or enemy use of EM spectrum that degrade, neutralise or destroy friendly combat capability. EP should not be confused with self-protection (jamming). For example, the use of flare rejection logic on an infra-red (IR) missile to counter an adversary’s use of flares would come under EP, whereas, use of flares would come under self-protection (or defensive EA). While Defensive EA actions and EP both protect personnel, facilities, capabilities and equipment, EP by itself protects from the effects of EA (friendly and/or adversary). Other examples of EP include spread-spectrum technologies, use of Joint Restricted Frequency List (JRFL), emissions control (EMCON), and low observability or ‘stealth’.
Airborne EW is as old as the application of electronics in air
14 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
many suffered attrition rates 25 per cent less than the bombers without onboard ECM. In the post World War II era, the electronic game of ‘cat and mouse’ continued to be taken to ever higher levels, with the US taking the overall lead in all departments of EW. For instance, in the Vietnam war in the 1960s, EW became extremely important to neutralise a flood of North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries, supplied by the then USSR. Modified Phantom fighters, F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft, were used extensively to locate, identify and destroy the SAM sites. To counter radar-guided SAMs, one of the basic tactics for the strike aircraft is to remain either above or below the radar envelopes. However, with a combination of SAM-II and SAM-III deployments covering both the high level as well as low level envelopes, it became necessary to eliminate the threat by employing different methods within the overall ambit of EW. Several techniques have evolved over a period of time to improve aircraft survivability, such as Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD), use of anti-radiation missiles and airborne jamming platforms. The US Navy developed an exclusive EW aircraft, named EA-6B Prowler to carry out SEAD missions in the form of escort/area jamming with its onboard
MILITARY ELECTRONIC WARFARE
ALQ-99 receiver, ALQ-99 pod-mounted jamming equipment and USQ-133 system for communication jamming. The US Air Force (USAF) experimented with the F-111 airframe to create a dedicated EW aircraft, the EF-111A Raven. Equipped with AN/ALQ-99E, it was designed to essentially carry out similar SEAD missions as the US Navy’s EA-6B Prowler aircraft.
EW SCENARIO IN THE IAF
So far as EW awareness is concerned, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had a tentative start, that too in the 1970s. With induction of the Mirage 2000 in the early 1980s, EW capability got a boost as along with the aircraft, EW pods were also acquired
tempts as also Counter Measure Dispensing Systems (CMDS) to counter adversary’s destruction attempts. All modern day combat aircraft, especially the Fourth Generation jet fighters, apart from being equipped with multi-functional Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, carry Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Electro-Optical and IR sensors, Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS), and so on, as also CMDS of similar as well as differing capabilities as a complete systemof-systems to operate in an integrated manner. The IAF is also striving to achieve these capabilities for its combat aircraft through a process of mid-life upgrades of the existing fleets and, making it a mandatory requirement for
by the IAF. One of the Mirage 2000 squadrons was allotted EW as one of its dedicated roles. Indigenous effort by the Defence Research and Development Organisation also ensured some EW capability trickling into other combat fleets, such as the MiG-23/MiG-27. In addition, Avro748 aircraft of No. 181 EW Flight were equipped with specialised electronic locator systems. Later, the flight acquired Boeing 737 aircraft which were laterally shifted from the Communication Squadron and fitted with better ESM equipment. Indigenous EW equipment, codenamed ‘Aruna’, mounted on Canberra aircraft was also fielded in a specialised EW squadron which, in addition, had a flight of MiG-21 aircraft equipped with EW pods. A special Electronic Warfare Directorate under Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) was formed at Air HQ to look after the expanding EW capabilities of the IAF. For survivability, present day fighter aircraft need full-spectrum sensors with built-in ECCM capabilities to evade adversary’s degradation at-
While the EF-111 Ravens of the USAF have been totally phased out, its navy’s EA-6B Prowlers are being replaced by the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft
new acquisitions. The Request for Proposal for its now famous 126 aircraft Medium MultiRole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition was reported to have EW as one of the major components of the overall combat capabilities of the aircraft. It would be interesting to note likely different systems on offer with the respective contending aircraft from six manufacturers across the globe, in response to India’s MMRCA acquisition programme.
Taking the lead, the US is once again spearheading the programmes in the EW field. For example, while the EF-111 Ravens of the USAF have been
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 15
MILITARY ELECTRONIC WARFARE
E-POWER REDEFINED: (ABOVE) THE MIRAGE 2000 WAS INDUCTED INTO THE IAF IN THE 1980S; AN/APG-81 AESA RADAR
totally phased out, even its navy’s EA6B Prowlers, which currently serve the needs of the three services, are being replaced in a phased manner by the much more capable EW version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft. The EA18G, currently being delivered to the US Navy, will be the cornerstone of the naval Airborne Electronic Attack mission. Derived from the combat proven F/A-18F aircraft, the EA-18G incorporates advanced Airborne Electronic Attack avionics bringing transformational capability for suppression of enemy air defences and non-traditional EA operations. These aircraft will be able to undertake the all important SEAD and other related EW missions to clear the way for the application of combined airpower of the US Air Force, Navy and the Marines
16 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
Three major categorisations in the vast area of EW include: Electronic Surveillance, Electronic Protection and Electronic Attack
against any adversary. However, with the Fifth Generation fighter aircraft totally replacing the current US inventories, these EW specific aircraft may lose relevance at some stage in the future. Stealth, super-cruise, low-observability and built-in advanced EW capabilities of the US Fifth Generation fighters would, in all probability, make them self-sufficient in all departments of aerial war fighting. For example, the under development F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would incorporate the Northrop Grumman MIRFS/MFA multi-function integrated RF/multi-function nose arrays which combines AN/APG-81 AESA radar, EW and communications functions. With such endowments and unmatched capabilities of ‘First Look, First Shoot and First Kill’ against all conceivable threats, these aircraft are bound to usher in a new ‘Revolution in Aerial Warfare’. SP
ILLUSTRATION: RATAN SONAL & PHOTOGRAPHS: ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS
Of late, the airlines’ improved prospects have injected fresh conﬁdence in the voices of industry executives and a new spring in their step
ost often, the darkest marking an increase of 5.45 per By Group Captain (Retd) night is followed by a cent over the same period in 2008. Joseph Noronha dazzling dawn. India’s October-December 2009 was probairlines, especially the ably the best quarter the industhree major groups— try has experienced in almost two Jet Airways, Kingfisher years, dispelling much of the gloom Airlines and Air India—have endured and doom. The airlines’ improved many difficult and challenging months. At times, their very prospects have injected fresh confidence in the voices of survival seemed in doubt. However, air travellers dur- industry executives and a new spring in their step. ing January-November 2009 numbered almost 400 lakh, Not so long ago the airlines were in dire straits. A major
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 17
drop in passenger traffic—especially premium traffic—caused by the economic downturn, as well as high fares and escalating operating costs, sparked rumours of the impending collapse of one or more carriers. In desperation, private airlines warned they would stop flying if they weren’t bailed out. However, they backtracked on their threat after wangling minor concessions from the government. Also symptomatic of the uneasy situation were separate strikes at Jet Airways and Air India that paralysed the two airlines for several days in September. How did things come to such a pass?
THE STORY SO FAR
India’s commercial aviation revolution that kicked off in 2003 brought soaring passenger numbers, with growth approaching an unprecedented 40 per cent by 2007. The airlines pulled out all the stops and began feverishly placing orders for new aircraft. But the throng of travellers at the turnstiles and the ring of the cash registers hid an unpleasant truth—a capacity bubble was building. As several startups jostled to gain market share they resorted to setting fares well below cost, and yields were actually falling. A severe shortage of trained personnel occurred and the resulting sharp hike in pay packets was partly responsible for significantly increased operating costs. At the same time, already inadequate airport infrastructure just couldn’t be upgraded fast enough to cope with the increased scheduling. The situation was ripe for disaster. The spark was provided by oil prices which rocketed to a peak of $147 (Rs 6,500) per barrel in July 2008. Most carriers were then forced to raise fares, rather unfortunately timed to coincide with the onset of the global economic crisis and the slowdown in the Indian economy. Air passengers fled in dismay, leading to a drop in traffic of around 10 to 12 per cent year-on-year. The brake on growth may have proved a blessing in disguise since it permitted infrastructure to catch up to some extent. Airports across the country are gradually being upgraded, reducing delays and allowing airlines to achieve quicker turnarounds and higher aircraft utilisation. Delhi and Mumbai airports have been privatised. Greenfield airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad are fully operational. Chennai, Kolkata and 35 non-metro airports were also taken up for revamp and work at several of these is over.
BETTER TIMES IN STORE?
ing short of spectacular. Within six years, around 70 per cent of domestic capacity is low cost. Much of the capacity addition is not because of the expansion of the LCCs themselves; rather it is due to the decision of legacy carriers, like Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines, to rapidly reconfigure the majority of their domestic airliners to all-economy, nofrills flights. Air India intended to follow suit but now plans merely to expand the services of its low-cost arm, Air India Express, to domestic destinations. Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines could soon be the largest LCCs in the country. If they succeed in implementing lower cost operations and manage to develop a more competitive cost structure, their prospects should become decidedly brighter. Full service could, in future, be restricted to a few flights between metros or may even disappear entirely. According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), the low cost trend is driven by a decisive change in the demographic profile of the Indian domestic traveller. Whereas five years ago, approximately 80 per cent of air travel in India was for business, today that figure is less than half. Leisure travel grew more than 25 per cent in the second half of last year.
DELIVER US FROM DEBT
The performance of the airline industry is quite closely linked with the state of the economy. India’s GDP growth slowed from 9 per cent in 2007-08 to 6.1 per cent in 2008-09. Steep as the fall was, it was a stellar performance when viewed in the grim global perspective. The economy is now recovering nicely, reaching GDP growth of 7.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2009 and experts are vying with each other to brighten predictions. Even the World Bank, not famous for overlyoptimistic assessments of India, projects annual growth of 8 per cent from 2011 to 2014. The portents for the airlines are accordingly promising. The future increasingly looks to be dominated by the low cost carrier (LCC) model. Since LCCs burst on the scene in 2003 the growth of the segment has been noth18 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
The future increasingly looks to be dominated by the lowcost carrier model. Since LCCs burst on the scene in 2003 the growth of the segment has been nothing short of spectacular.
Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Air India (Domestic), together with their low-cost arms, now command 67 per cent market share. Both Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines have undertaken stringent cost-cutting measures and rescheduled/cancelled some airliner acquisitions resulting in gradual improvement in their operating health. They have probably succeeded in breaking even during the last quarter. The big three airline groups, however, are shackled with a combined debt of approximately $10 billion (Rs 45,970 crore), incurred mainly through ill-judged expansion plans. With banks understandably reluctant to lend them any more, Jet and Kingfisher are now striving to de-leverage their balance sheets, urgently seeking to raise capital through the equity route. Jet is in the process of handing over most of its domestic and regional international routes to LCC arm Jet Airways Konnect. This strategy will allow it to compete more effectively against “pure” LCCs, like IndiGo and SpiceJet. Kingfisher’s efforts at rightsizing capacity seem largely successful. However, its interest burden is a major challenge as is the penalty for keeping some aircraft grounded. CAPA expects that 2010-11 will be a defining
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period for Kingfisher Airlines, which has accumulated debts of $1.2 billion (Rs 5,515 crore) till September 2009. Air India’s status is more complicated. Its “government department” tag is partly responsible for its woes. Considering that the airline reportedly consumes over 50 per cent of revenue to pay staff and to service existing loans, it will find it rather difficult to save on these costs in the short term and will probably continue to have substantial cash deficits for the next five to seven years. The airline expects savings to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore this fiscal through cost rationalisation in various areas. It managed to save about Rs 550 crore in the last quarter under specific heads like fuel consumption, operational restructuring and maintenance. Reality also seems to have dawned that half-measures won’t suffice and determined action is called for. A restructuring plan is in the process of being implemented, that links receipt of government funds to the achievement of defined milestones. Around 16,000 employees are expected to be shifted to new subsidiaries which should dramatically reduce its employee-to-aircraft ratio, currently among the highest in the industry. The carrier plans to reduce salaries by 10 to 15 per cent. However, even this modest reduction is likely to be stiffly opposed by many employees. Will the management be able to overcome strong union resistance? Air India has recently achieved a creditable improvement in ontime performance and has improved its passenger load factors by over 10 per cent. to 15 years. Considering that just two per cent of Indians currently travel by air each year, the potential is enormous. However, for the major airlines, life is seldom easy. Size, often a clear advantage in business, sometimes proves their undoing. Every move they make comes under the scanner. The smaller airlines can be more nimble-footed and take difficult decisions if the situation so warrants. Is it any wonder that some like IndiGo (current market share 14.1 per cent) and SpiceJet (12.2 per cent) are snapping at the heels of the Big Three? Even Paramount Airways (current 1.5 per cent) has ambitious plans to garner market share. While optimists spot green shoots of economic recovery sprouting everywhere, pessimists predict that many of them will wither and fade. India’s airlines are yet to reclaim the profit point they were at in 2007. A mountain of debt needs to be tackled in order to place them on a firm financial foundation. Another sharp spike in the price of oil, possibly set off by a crisis in West Asia, could nip the nascent recovery in the bud. A spurt in inflation triggered by the increase in money supply in the economy is another live hazard. If all goes well, however, CAPA expects the airlines to make a combined operating profit of $250 million to $300 million (Rs 1,150 crore to Rs 1,380 crore) as early as fiscal 2010-11. However, it will take rather longer to SURVIVORS ALL: OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2009 WAS wipe out accumulated losses. PROBABLY THE BEST QUARTER Having survived some torrid THE INDUSTRY HAS EXPERIENCED times, the major airlines may IN ALMOST TWO YEARS have realised the desirability of measured expansion. IATA’s Director General, Giovanni BiEXCITING POTENTIAL signani, cautiously states, “Demand continues to improve, Notwithstanding Air India’s travails, now that passen- but we still have a lot of ground to recover. Conserving cash, gers are again taking wing by the thousands, there are controlling costs and carefully matching capacity to demand grounds for cautious optimism. Average fares and yields remain the keys to survival.” Striking a more optimistic note, are showing an upward trend which means that airlines India’s Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel says, “2009 can hope for sustained profitability somewhere in the not has been an eventful and tumultuous year ... We can draw too distant future. Topmost on their wish list, probably, satisfaction from the fact that the worst is over. Things are is a reduction in aviation fuel price, which amounts to turning for the better, which is borne out by the rebound in almost half the operating cost of major airlines. air traffic figures from October onwards. I hope things will CAPA believes India could be the strongest growth mar- stabilise in 2010 and flying will once again be the preferred ket in terms of passenger numbers globally for the next 10 choice of travel for people.” Amen. SP
20 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
S T O R Y
BOOSTING TIES: C-130J AT COPE INDIA 2009 IN AGRA
C O V E R
PHOTOGRAPHS: ABHISHEK / SP GUIDE PUBNS & WWW.AIRBUS.COM
In Every Sense
Military air transporters are inherently multi-role as the same aircraft can perform a host of support operations. When modiﬁed, it can be used as air-to-air refuellers or, in extreme cases, be converted to act as heavy bombers.
EVOLUTION IN MILIing airborne forces directly into comBy Air Marshal (Retd) TARY TECHNOLOGY bat zone, evacuate casualties when V.K. Bhatia has made it possible required and, a host of support operafor a combat aircraft tions. When modified, it can be used (bomber) to attack a as air-to-air refuellers or, in extreme target anywhere in the cases, be converted to act as heavy world and return to its home base withbombers delivering tonnes of free fall out having to take recourse to landing at an intermediary base. weapons over enemy territory. The US B-1/B-2 bombers showcase such offensive capability. Fixed wing military transport aircraft, depending on their But this capability alone cannot win wars—for that, ‘boots’ are range capability, are categorised as strategic airlift or tactirequired on the ground. This is where military transport air- cal airlift. These roughly correspond to the commercial flight craft come to the fore, affording the fastest means available to length distinctions of long-haul (more than six hours), mediferry personnel and war material to the area of operations. um-haul (three to six hours) and short-haul (less than three Military air transporters are inherently multi-role as the hours), giving the corresponding aircraft intra-theatre, intersame aircraft can carry cargo/personnel, deliver para-troop- theatre and inter-continental capabilities. The other distincIssue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 21
MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT
ADVENT OF A400M
nately, it may not have many chances to do either. Due to its unstable financial state and inability to maintain delivery deadlines, the A400M project seems to be losing its participating partners who have placed orders for the “future large aircraft”. At the inaugurating flight, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said, “I hope we can soon provide certainty that we are able to continue the A400M programme. This is expected by those at Airbus, our partners and suppliers worldwide who contributed so strongly to today’s success as well as by the air forces who wait for their plane.”
ost the launch of what was formerly dubbed the “future large aircraft”, Airbus Military still has a long way to go before it delivers the first A400M to its list of waiting customers. However, the aircraft turned heads during its successful initial flight. Lifting to the Skies Airbus managed to finally meet its deadline and ring in 2010 with success after the launch of the Airbus Military’s all-new A400M. The much awaited airlifter took off for its maiden flight from Seville Airport in Spain on December 11, 2009 at 10.15 am local time. The President of Spain inaugurated the flight along with members of the other purchasing nations of the much anticipated A400M. Chief Test Pilot Military Edward “Ed” Strongman captained the three hour and 47 minute flight supported by Experimental Test Pilot Ignacio “Nacho” Lombo. Content with the success of the initial flight, Chief Pilot Strongman enthused, “We have had a very successful first flight—the take-off performance was impressive, we explored a lot of the operational flight envelope and it was a delight to operate in such a well-designed cockpit with its easy interface to all the normal and military systems. I’m sure our customer pilots are really going to like it—we certainly did.” Dream Design This ultimate flying machine is designed to fly altitudes and speeds like a jet, yet tackle terrain and land similar to a chopper. Designed for a maximum take-off weight of 141 tonnes, the test flight of A400M pulled off 127 tonnes, including 15 tonnes of test equipment and two tonnes of water ballast. As part of the test flight, the six-man crew extensively explored the aircraft’s flight envelope in direct law. This included flying at a wide speed-range, testing the landing gear and the high-lift devices at certain altitude. Designed in over 30 years, the A400M is made to carry all loads and vehicles in the European Staff Requirement inventory, serve as an aerial delivery platform, act as an in-flight refueller for both fast jets and helicopters; and most importantly aimed to replace current military aircraft carriers. Flight Possible Yet, does it have a future? Although the A400M may be capable of excellent take off and landing, unfortu-
As the A400M completes the required 3,700 test hours prior to its entry-into-service at the end of 2012, the interested parties can get ready to enjoy the fruits of their labour
tive characteristics could be based on their payload capabilities such as light (less than five tonnes), utility/medium (five to 10 tonnes), medium-heavy (10 to 20 tonnes), heavy (20 to 40 tonnes) and very heavy (greater than 40 tonnes), respectively.
DESIGN PARAMETERS: BREAKING NEW GROUND
What led to the influx of concern at A400M’s current state of “barely staying alive” and its delivery prospects? Foremost among the reasons was the signing a fixed price contract at a time where the economy is anything but predictable or stable. Additional factors that have kept the A400M grounded are the holdups in its engine development project, cost overrun and, of course, on-time delivery. Yet, experts and countries backing the programme still believe in its success as the product does speak for itself. As the case with any major technological advancement project, which has taken over 30 years to design and develop, there are bound to be glitches; and in the modern world, those glitches normally revolve around money rather than inefficiency. So, as the A400M completes the required 3,700 test hours prior to its e n t r y - i n t o - s e rvice at the end of 2012, the interested parties can get ready to enjoy the fruits of their labour. • —By Ruchika Chawla
But the demands of modern warfare are such that irrespective of ranges or payloads capabilities, all aircraft are required to deliver their payloads at the very doorstep of operational locations, or as close to it as possible. It is this trend that has taken the centre stage of design parameters in all the military transport aircraft launched recently or under development. Take the case of the US Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, which is so ably supporting the US’ Global War on Terror. According to latest reports in the media, the Government of India has granted in-principle approval for the acquisition of 10 C-17 Globemaster III for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at an approximate cost of $2.5 billion (Rs 11,410 crore) through the Foreign Military Sales route. The C-17 has been designed for strategic airlift of troops and cargo to not only the main operating bases but, also, forward operating bases throughout the world. It has the ability to rapidly deploy
Issue 1 • 2010
MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT
Brazil’s Embraer is another manufacturer which is trying to develop a twin-jet military transport in the 10-20 tonnes category. Once again, design goals include ability to operate from short and unpaved runways without need for ground support. Use of composites is also being planned with an intended max payload capacity of 19 tonnes.
ACQUISITION & AUGMENTATION BY THE IAF
PHOTOGRAPHER’S DELIGHT: A FULL FRONTAL VIEW OF THE C-17 AT COPE INDIA 2009, GRABBED EXTENSIVE ATTENTION OF MEDIA DURING THE EXERCISE; (LEFT) ABHISHEK SINGH WITH C-17 IN BACKGROUND.
a combat unit to a potential battle area and sustain it with regular supplies. The C-17 is also capable of performing tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions. The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft and as narrow as 90 ft. In addition, the aircraft can operate out of unpaved and unimproved runways. For cargo operations, this massive aircraft with a max payload capacity of 77 tonnes needs a crew of just three (pilot, copilot and loadmaster). Cargo is loaded through a large aft door that can accommodate both rolling stock and palletized loads. Imagine the C-17 airlifting a 70-tonne M1 Abrams tank right into the heart of ground battle! Yes, it is entirely possible. Other latest aircraft, such as the European Airbus A400M and the Ukraine/Russia An-70, though differing considerably in design (especially in the use of power plants) are striving for similar off-field capabilities. The A400M, that successfully completed its maiden flight on December 11 last year, has wings primarily made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic. The aircraft is powered by four Europrop TP400-D6 engines rated at 8,250 kW each which make them the second most powerful turboprop engines ever produced, next only to the D-27 propfans to be fitted on the bigger An-70 airlifter. Another revolutionary concept showcased by the A400M is that the propellers on each wing of the aircraft turn in opposite directions, with the tips of the propellers advancing towards the midpoint between the two engines. The counter-rotation is achieved by the use of a gearbox fitted to two of the engines. Otherwise, all four engines are identical and turn in the same direction which eliminates the need to have two different handed engines for the same aircraft, thus simplifying maintenance and supply costs. The unique configuration, dubbed as DBE (Down Between Engines), allows the aircraft to produce more lift and lessens the torque and prop wash on each wing. It also reduces yaw in a worst-case scenario of an outboard engine failure. While using similar composite materials and ‘fly-by-wire’ systems, the An-70’s D-27 propfan engines, on the other hand, incorporate a pair of contra-rotating scimitar propellers each. With this arrangement the engines can reach 90 per cent efficiency in cruise at jet speeds but with turboprop fuel consumptions.
The Indian government has reportedly granted in-principle approval to acquire 10 C-17 Globemaster III for the IAF at a cost of around $2.5 billion through the FMS route
How does the IAF fare with regard to its fixed-wing air transportation capability? Ever since Independence, border disputes both with China and Pakistan and the nature of terrain in India’s northern and Northeastern borders necessitated the IAF’s continued involvement in the form of air maintenance, casualty evacuation and air transportation of military and para-military forces in the far flung forward areas. The IAF, therefore, has striven hard to maintain a sizable air transportation capability to be able to carry out the assigned tasks. However, while on the face of it, the IAF’s transport aircraft line up appears to be impressive, actual availability of aircraft due to poor spares support as well as ageing is quite low. The bulk of IAF’s transport fleets are now more than three decades old. While they may carry on for some more time with mid-life upgrades, there is a dire need for the IAF to augment its fixed-wing transport force with fresh inductions. IAF has already taken the first step by ordering six state-of-the-art C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US’ Lockheed Martin (SP’s Aviation Defexpo 2008 Special, Issue 1, Volume 10) to fill more than a decade old void in the medium-heavy category with the 1990s retirement of An12s. But the numbers ordered are too few and call for a repeat order. So far as heavy and strategic airlift class is concerned, while the IAF’s IL-76s have performed a sterling role, fact is these aircraft are also getting old. However, it is heartening to note that the IAF has decided to acquire the top of the class C-17 heavy airlifters from the US. Further, to eventually replace the IAF’s ageing An-32 fleet of over 100 aircraft, the Indian defence establishment has finally taken a decision to develop a Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) in a joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft, with an intended max payload in excess of 18 tonnes, will be able to perform regular transport duties and also deploy paratroopers. A 100-seater civilian variant is also planned. Highly optimistic resources estimate the twin-engine jet to take to the skies as early as 2014 with a possible in-service induction by 2016. If true, it would greatly add to provide a timely boost to the IAF’s air transportation capabilities. SP
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 23
he First Generation between the Americans and the By Air Marshal (Retd) (1945-1955) belonged rest was such that by the time EuA.K. Trikha, Pune to subsonic jet fighters, rope and Russia were ready to roll prior to the arrival of Airout their Fourth Generation fightborne Interception (AI) ers, Americans were already deep radars or smart muniinto the F-22 Raptor and Joint tions. Typical examples of this age Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning prowere the Korean War MiG-15 and Fgrammes. At the time, the Russians 86 Sabre. Refinement of airframe design coupled with more announced that their response fighter to the JSF would bepowerful jet engines, rudimentary AI radars and first guided long to the Fifth Generation—thus ushering the idea of genair-to-air missiles (AAMs) characterised the Second Genera- erations in aviation lexicon. tion—coinciding with the period from 1955 to 1960. American century series fighters and Russian MiG-21 belonged to ENHANCING CAPABILITIES this stable. Third Generation fighters (1960-1970) were the By early to mid 1990s the exponential growth in the capacity first to be designed as multi-purpose war machines. Ameri- of microchips and Very High Speed Integrated Circuits were can F-4 Phantom and MiG-23 could be cited as the typical leading to revolutionary increase in computational capacity. examples of this generation. Applications emerging out of technologies based on the enorFourth Generation (1970-1990) carried forward the trend mous and expanding power of computers were to set the tone of multi-role fighters equipped with increasingly sophisticated for evolution of the fighters of the future. avionics and weapon systems. Enabled by advances in comWhile the Europeans and Russians tried to work these puters and system integration techniques, several new innova- cutting edge electronic technologies in fighters then on tions, like Fly-by-Wire, Pulse-Doppler Fire Control Radars (af- the drawing board or in early production phases, Amerifording a look-down shoot-down capability), hands on throttle cans used them to upgrade their legacy fighters, that is, and stick, Multifunction Displays, Infra Red Search and Track the F-15, F-16 and F-18. With much enhanced capabilisensors, and so on, became signature features of this genera- ties, these new and upgraded fighters (and the process tion of aircraft. ‘All aspect’ infrared AAMs, which permitted is continuing) have become the so called bridge between engagement of enemy aircraft from any quarter, became the the Fourth and the Fifth Generation and a new category standard air superiority weapon. The F-15, F-16, Mirage 2000 4.5 has come into vogue. With advanced aerodynamic deand MiG-29 typically belong to this era. signs, up rated powerful engines, advanced digital flight Barring an odd branch of technology, since the end of control systems and thrust vectoring in some cases, maWorld War II, the US has remained a clear leader in mili- noeuvre capability is much enhanced. The new designs tary aviation, while Europe and Russia (or erstwhile Soviet also deliver a degree of stealth. On the air borne radar Union) has been trying to play catch up. The technology gap front, new technology Active Electronically Scanned Array
24 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
A glimpse of the deﬁning characteristics of the Fifth Generation ﬁghters can be had by studying the F-22 Raptor, which sets the benchmark for this category of ﬁghter aircraft
MILITARY FUTURE FIGHTERS
radars have arrived on the scene, becoming in fact a sine qua non for all 4.5 designs. Many of the concepts and capabilities seen in the ‘Bridge Generation’ fighters are sought to be further refined and enhanced by a degree of magnitude in the Fifth Generation fighters. The F-22 Raptor is currently the only fighter operational in this class. The F-35 Lightning II JSF, the other claimant to the Fifth Generation stable, is likely to be inducted in operational service in the next couple of years. Therefore, a glimpse of the defining characteristics of the Fifth Generation fighters can be had by studying the F-22 Raptor, which sets the benchmark for this category of fighter aircraft.
Very Low Observability (Stealth): Several 4.5 Generation fighters have achieved a degree of stealth with aerodynamic refinement, radar absorbing materials and shaping intake ducts to prevent radar echoes from the highly reflective compressor and turbine faces. However, the Raptor takes stealth several notches higher by building low observance characteristics against the entire spectrum of sensors, including radar, infrared, acoustic and even visual. The remarkable feature of Raptor stealth is that, unlike the F-117 A, Raptor suffers from none of the performance penalties imposed by stealth dictated design. In fact, in manoeuvre performance, F-22 in dry power matches or exceeds F-15C in afterburner regime. The exact radar cross section of the F-22 remains classified. However, in early 2009, Lockheed Martin revealed that from certain critical angles, Raptors signature was the equivalent of a ‘steel marble’. Super-cruise: Equipped with two F-119-PW-100 engines, each delivering about 35,000 lb of afterburning thrust, the F22-A is capable of sustaining speeds in excess of Mach 1.5 at altitude in dry power. As a performance comparison, F-119 in dry power is comparable to the afterburning thrust envelope of F-100-PW-100 series fitted on the F-15C/ E and many F-16 copies. To deliver high thrust ratings in dry power at high altitudes, a turbofan has to withstand much higher turbine inlet temperature, made possible by development of new heat resistant materials and advanced techniques of turbine cooling. Supercruise gives the Raptor unique advantages. Entering an engagement at supersonic speed against a subsonic opponent gives it reserve of kinematic energy which allows it to dominate the terms of engagement. Sustained supersonic speed also presents severe problems of intercept geometry to an opposing conventional fighter. All AAMs, including Beyond Visual Range missiles, have kinematic limitations. To achieve a kill, a fighter must position itself in time and space such that the target falls within the ‘no escape zone’ of the AAM intended to be used. In the event of this condition being unfulfilled, the missile would run out of energy before reaching the target. In engagements involving opponents with similar kinematic performance, balance of advantage lies with the one with a more capable missile and/or relative degrees of situational awareness of the pilot. However, when one of the opponents has sustained supersonic capability, the effect of imbalances in missile performance and networking would be reduced drastically. For example, by resorting to even a modest change in heading, a supersonic opponent can neutralise the intercep-
tion geometry of the adversary fighter/missile combination. Information Fusion: Technologies that best epitomise Fifth Generation fighters are advanced integrated avionics systems that provide the pilot with a complete 360-degree situational awareness. The AN/APG-77 phased array radar is the key to the Raptor’s integrated avionics and sensor capabilities. The radar information is processed by two Common Integrated Processors (CIPs). Each CIP has signal processing capacity of greater than 20 billion operations/second (Bops) with expansion potential up to 50 Bops. Information is gathered from the radar and other onboard and off board systems, fused and filtered by the CIP and presented to the pilot in the cockpit in an easily digestible format. Maintainability: Notwithstanding the quantum leap in performance, the F-22 and JSF designs ensure significantly better reliability and maintainability under field conditions. Deep onboard system diagnostics and health monitoring, modular design with line replaceable units and several innovative features in utility systems have been built in design to enhance self sufficiency and reduce support requirement. Reliability of avionic systems is enhanced significantly both by design (that is, liquid cooling reduces the ambient temperature) and by subjecting them to testing well beyond traditional mil standard tests during development phase. To improve engine reliability and maintainability, the part count in the F-119 was reduced by 40 per cent against the earlier F100/F110 engines. Coupled with extensive self diagnostic capabilities, it has been possible to reduce personnel and test equipment demands on deployment by 50 per cent against the F-15. According to estimates, ease of maintenance and reliability enables the F-22 Raptor to fly twice as many consecutive sorties. Matched against the F-15C, it is twice as reliable, requires half the direct maintenance man-hours per flight hour, and two-third the turnaround time for its next combat sortie. Also, a 24-aircraft F-22 squadron will require less than half the C-141 airlift support to deploy for 30 days than is presently required by a comparable F-15 unit.
By fielding the F-22, the US has demonstrated its unbeatable technological prowess in the field of fighter design. The Russian equivalent, Sukhoi PAK-FA, appears to be several years away. In a related context, Indo-Russian optimism to launch the Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation fighter on its maiden flight by 2012 appears highly misplaced. The Chinese are reportedly engaged in intense R&D, but their demonstrated technological capabilities do not suggest possibility of a matching response in the foreseeable future. By then, it is more than likely that the Americans would have changed the paradigm by fielding the Sixth Generation—the possibilities of which are at present the stuff of science fiction. It could be far stealthier even by Fifth Generation standards and could be carrying directed energy weapons like high powered microwaves and lasers. Materials and microelectronics could combine to make the aircraft a large integrated sensor. It is also a matter of conjecture whether rapid advancement of unmanned aircraft technologies are ultimately leading to an autonomous robotic fighter or a remotely piloted vehicle with crew safely ensconced in a bunker? Such a future may not be as distant as it may seem. SP
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 25
PHOTOGRAPHS: LOCKHEED MARTIN / SP GUIDE PUBNS
The ongoing ﬂight trials will show the F-16IN Super Viper is the ﬁghter for the IAF It is the ultimate ﬁghter in electronic warfare, . ensuring success in every phase of the mission.
F THE MANY ROLES the IAF in the Request For Proposal, By Air Marshal (Retd) AND MISSIONS the Meare formidable. The ongoing flight B.K. Pandey, Bangalore dium Multi-Role Comtrials will show the F-16IN Super Vibat Aircraft (MMRCA) per is the fighter for the IAF. By way for the Indian Air Force of technological edge, the F-16IN Su(IAF) must be capable of per Viper is equipped with the Active performing, a key function would be Electronically Scanned Array radar, air-to-air combat. It must be able to defend itself during a mis- the most potent system available for export today. sion or stand ready for an air defence alert launch. The air-toIt was inevitable that hunt for a counter to radar detecair combat capability required of the MMRCA, as spelt out by tion would ensue. Reduction in radar cross section (RCS) is the
SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010 www.spsaviation.net
SP’s EXCLUSIVE MMRCA DEAL
countermeasure to radar detection. RCS reduced aircraft may not be detected by radar until they are very close, so close that other means of detection are more effective. At these short ranges, the human eye still plays an important role and so fighter size and engine smoke must also be reduced to counter detection by sight. The F-16IN Super Viper has a small visual cross section and a single smokeless engine. With a small fighter, RCS reduction can be combined with reduced infrared and visual signatures, allowing manoeuvring past the normal visual scan of the enemy pilot’s eye to an unseen intercept, visual identification or offensive firing position. Nothing sends a message quite like pilots returning from airspace incursions with stories of your fighter “Just appearing from nowhere!” Through the Korean War, the primary weapon of air combat fighter was the gun employed in a dogfight. With the advent of the self-guided air-to-air missile, many thought dog fighting was obsolete. History has shown first detection and firing of Beyond-Visual-Range missiles is one factor in air combat victory; but it is not a guarantee that dog fighting will not ensue. So the gun persists to this day as an element of dog fighting. But is that paradigm changing? The super-manoeuvrable, short range air-toair missile, aimed by pilot’s eye, is becoming reliable enough that it might replace the time-proven gun. Only recently have technological advances provided the solutions needed to make the helmet mounted cueing system required for the employment for these new all aspect short range missiles comfortable, accurate and reliable. The F-16IN Super Viper pilot uses the Helmet Mounted Cueing System which is light weight, comfortable and multi-role capable.
REAL-TIME MISSION PLANNING DATA
capability daily with a very high mission reliability rate over a long lifetime. The F-16IN Super Viper is that air combat fighter. There are years of real combat experience going into every system and subsystem. It is the Ultimate Fourth Generation Fighter—providing proven combat capability that the IAF can rely on.
ELECTRONIC WARFARE SYSTEM
The F-16IN Super Viper embodies the ultimate in the evolution of communication and situational awareness using automatic establishment of all available data links and automatic data correlation. Mission planning data are fully integrated with real-time on board and off-board data for fusion on the tactical situation awareness displays. While dog fighting is less common in modern air combat, the need for the performance remains. Whether launching on an air defence alert, repositioning during a patrol, or manoeuvring for an intercept, fighter performance is a must. The F-16IN Super Viper has the agility that the F16 made famous. Even when carrying air-to-air weapons, conformal fuel tanks and empty centre-line fuel tank the F-16IN still has a 9g capability. The F-16IN has something even more—the fuel to support sustained high speed operations. It provides sustained supersonic speeds in level flight needed to cross long distances for a time-critical intercept. In the end, the basic principles of air combat haven’t really changed that much. See the enemy first and fire on them still applies. But the F-16IN Super Viper pilot’s eye is now supplemented with a myriad of sensors in multiple spectrums. ‘Check your trim and ready your guns’ is now accomplished through the digital fly-by-wire flight controls, automatic integration of data and system level weapon management. Hand signals between pilots have been replaced by a network-centric situational awareness and multi-function radios. The MMRCA must be able to provide effective air combat
In modern air warfare, fighter combat is a high speed, three dimensional chess game with multiple players and little time to calculate your next move. Sophisticated weapon systems operating sensors across the frequency spectrum populate the game. Providing information on what is a threat, and what is not—hiding you, shielding you—is the electronic warfare system. It alerts you to the threat, keeps it in check, and guides your next move. In modern air combat, you cannot win without it. The digital multispectral, re-programmable advanced Electronic Warfare System (EWS) of the F-16IN Super Viper is all about winning. From electronic intelligence gathering to safe penetration of an air defence system, fending off threats during weapon delivery, providing a safe egress and post-mission Electronic Order of Battle (EOB) assessment, the F-16IN EWS is custom designed to meet and exceed the MMRCA requirements of the IAF. It is the ultimate fighter in electronic warfare, ensuring success in every phase of the mission. EW became an essential part of air combat during the Vietnam War. During this era, it provided many lessons to both air defence systems and self protection systems. Throughout the Cold War, advances in radar guided missiles presented an ever increasing threat to air combat operations. The means to counter the evolving threat became essential to mission success in the modern battle space. As the threat to the fighter evolved, fighter EW systems became more sophisticated, more flexible, and more integrated into the fighter’s avionics system. Detecting and alerting the pilot to the presence of radars and missile guidance signals, is the Radar Warning Receiver (RWR). The RWR first used crystal radio receivers and then evolved from heterodyne systems to the digital, channelised systems of today. The companion to the fighter RWR, the radar jammer has become an essential EW system component. The role of the jammer today has become complex. At first,
The F-16IN attacks and confuses a large part of the enemy’s ‘kill chain’, from detection to engagement, and it covers the entire spectrum of possible threats
Issue 1 • 2010
SP’s EXCLUSIVE MMRCA DEAL
Mission Planning System ensures the availability of EOB to all mission planners, pilots, and intelligence specialists for a shared operational understanding of the threat. Every mission planned will have the most recent EOB developed, but things don’t occur exactly as planned in the modern battle space. For this reason, every F-16IN is also conducting electronic surveillance of the battle space. While flying a combat air patrol mission inside friendly airspace or on a low altitude strike mission deep inside hostile territory, the EWS of every F-16IN flying is working behind the scenes to detect new emissions of interest and record data on them for analysis after the mission. As the Super Viper EW system is providing advanced self-protection, detected threats are documented, including threats that could not be detected from dedicated surveillance aircraft flying inside friendly airspace. In peacetime, as the F16IN intercepts and escorts aircraft that have strayed off course; the emissions are recorded. It is the ultimate in net-centric electronic surveillance; distributed real time detection and signal measurement.
GAIN AN EDGE: THE DIGITAL MULTI-SPECTRAL, RE-PROGRAMMABLE ADVANCED ELECTRONIC WARFARE SYSTEM OF THE F-16IN SUPER VIPER IS ALL ABOUT WINNING
these were used only to blind enemy radars. As air defence radars and defence networks became more sophisticated, new deception techniques were developed to deceive enemy radars. As these measures were used, air defence systems developed a counter counter-measure, ‘home on jam’, which is the capability of radars and missile guidance systems to use the jammer signal as a beacon and lock on to it.
SURVIVABILITY, FIRST & FOREMOST
UNMATCHED COMBAT EXPERIENCE
In the F-16IN, the EW suite works in concert with the reduced radar, infrared and visual signature of the aircraft, to deny the enemy the ability to detect the Super Viper, to aim accurately to shoot, or to accurately guide his missiles. The F-16IN attacks and confuses a large part of the enemy’s ‘kill chain’, from detection to engagement, and it covers the entire spectrum of possible threats. The goal of the F-16IN EWS is enhancing situational awareness and survivability in every stage of the mission in any encounter with a threat. The data from the EWS combined with the data from other sensors and aircraft on the intuitive formats on the three large screen fullcolour displays in the F-16IN cockpit, ensures real time, high confidence situational awareness for every mission. The capability of the F-16IN EWS begins even before the mission is planned. Data on the enemy threat disposition, the location of his defences, the type of defence systems he uses, is loaded into the automated mission planning system. Combined with other indigenous intelligence information, this data is used to form an EOB. The F-16IN
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Dominating the modern battle space are sophisticated weapon systems operating across the frequency spectrum. These systems and their associated sensors create the signals that the fighters of today and tomorrow must detect, identify, avoid, deceive or defeat. Mission success depends on a pilot and weapon system prepared for the threats he knows he may encounter and protected against the threats he did not know he would encounter. The mission success of the MMRCA fighter will depend on a EWS that can see clearly in a crowded electromagnetic spectrum of the modern battle space, which can exploit vulnerabilities and seize opportunities for deception and defence. Lockheed Martin has experience in integrating complex electronic warfare systems in a variety of aircraft, from wide body surveillance jets to the next generation fighters. With a combat proven track record, the company has designed an advanced and adaptable EW system for the F-16IN that meets and exceeds all MMRCA requirements. Custom designed for reliable operation in the multispectral battle space of today and tomorrow, the all-digital, multi-spectral, re-programmable electronic warfare system of the F-16IN Super Viper is built on unmatched combat experience; the type of system a pilot expects of the ultimate Fourth Generation fighter. SP (Concluded.)
PHOTOGRAPHS: WWW.SPACEX.COM, WWW.VIRGINGALACTIC.COM & WWW.XCOR.COM
FLY INTO SPACE: (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) SPACEX’S FALCON 9 ROCKET IS DUE FOR ITS FIRST FLIGHT; THE SPACESHIPTWO; LYNX ROCKET SHIP FROM XCOR
A profound revolution in space exploration is brewing. No, governments are not about to become redundant—not least because of the astronomical sums involved. But in the more familiar suborbital and low-Earth orbit regime, private industry is likely to begin to play a key role.
CTOBER 4, 1957. Through half a century, this two-horse By Group Captain (Retd) LAUNCH OF THE SPUTrace became multi-cornered, as the EuJoseph Noronha NIK 1 dramatically herropean Union, China, India and Japan alded the dawn of the joined the fray. But all national space space age. Since then, naprogrammes, as well as collaborative tional governments have efforts, like the International Space Staconsidered the “final frontier” their tion (ISS), are government controlled. own turf. To begin with, the US and the USSR played out their That may soon change. Several pioneering companies are close earthly rivalry in the heavens, using space as a means to proj- to introducing a new generation of privately designed and built ect the dominance of their respective political and economic spacecraft that will routinely give adventurous passengers, also systems rather than the triumph of humankind as a whole. known as space participants, a sip of outer space.
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 29
SPACE SUBORBITAL TRAVEL
One reason why governments are indispensable in space is the massive sums involved. The development programme of the Ares 1—National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) futuristic launch vehicle—is expected to cost a whopping $35 billion (Rs 1,59,985 crore). Its October 27 inaugural test flight carried a hefty price tag of $445 million (Rs 2,035 crore). Despite the expense, lack of adequate safety and reliability has been a major bugbear of space exploration. Each launch is still a nail-biting affair. That is why there is growing demand from professionals as well as ordinary folk for safe, cost-effective and dependable space missions. And many farsighted business people are already counting down to launch.
VIRGIN LEADS THE PACK
Virgin Galactic, backed by the expertise of Scaled Composites’ legendary designer Burt Rutan and the hardnosed business acumen and flamboyance of Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, is likely to be first off the blocks. If Galactic’s plans fructify, commercial suborbital travel could become routine around three years from now. Flights would probably be launched from Spaceport America, New Mexico, USA—the first spaceport designed with the needs of the personal and commercial space industry in mind. Virgin Galactic’s project involves mother-ship WhiteKnightTwo taking off from a runway, carrying baby space capsule SpaceShipTwo, which would later separate for an independent suborbital flight. On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipTwo’s predecessor, SpaceShipOne, became the first private manned craft to reach space. In 2005, Scaled and Virgin set up a new joint venture, called The Spaceship Company, to expeditiously exploit the wider capabilities of the aircraft/space capsule. However, technological setbacks and difficulties in raising capital on account of the global financial crisis conspired to slow things down considerably. WhiteKnightTwo finally rolled out in July last year and its aerial test programme is proceeding smoothly. SpaceShipTwo was unveiled on December 7 at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California and christened Virgin SpaceShip Enterprise. It will undergo rigorous testing over the next 18 months till it is certified safe enough to take Branson, his family and Rutan on the first flight. A fleet of two motherships and five spacecraft is planned. Though Virgin Galactic hasn’t committed to a commercial launch date yet—2012 is the earliest—around 300 people are impressed enough to have signed on the dotted line, agreeing to pay $200,000 (Rs 91 lakh) each for a party in space. Around 500 paying participants are expected to be accommodated in the first year of service. WhiteKnightTwo looks like twin planes flying side-by-side and welded together at the wingtips. At over 40 m across, its wing is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured, with enough room to connect SpaceShipTwo directly to it. In fact, most of WhiteKnightTwo’s components have been built using composite materials, representing a giant leap for lightweight material technology. It is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines, which are amongst the most powerful, economical and efficient available anywhere. It will be able to mount up to four spaceflights daily, both day and night. SpaceShipTwo is a pressurised spacecraft with a crew of two and room for six passengers. It has a sleek 18 m long fuselage and upturned gull wings. It will separate from the mother-ship at a height of about 15 km, and blast into space
30 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
at three to four times the speed of sound. It will then attain a height of 110 km, well beyond the 100 km Kármán line which represents the defined boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. However, it will not be able to sustain that height and speed for long, remaining purely suborbital. The adventurous passengers will experience about six minutes of weightlessness, and a heavenly view of Earth. SpaceShipTwo will re-enter the atmosphere using sophisticated technology to obtain the best re-entry angle. The mission will end in a smooth and gentle un-powered glide back onto the runway. The total flight duration from take-off to landing will be around two-and-half hours—just right for the eager but inexperienced space participant. Though space tourism is currently grabbing the headlines, small satellites are likely to be the next big thing. A small satellite launch currently costs $5 million to $10 million (Rs 23 crore to Rs 45 crore). Virgin Galactic’s proposed LauncherOne satellite launch system could slash the cost to a commercially irresistible $1 million to $2 million (Rs 4.5 crore to Rs 9 crore). In this configuration, WhiteKnightTwo will carry aloft not a spaceship but an expendable or even reusable booster for launching satellites, capable of placing a 200 kg payload into low earth orbit. WhiteKnightTwo has the flexibility to launch its precious payload from various locations, putting an end to today’s rigid launch pad requirements. And the duration elapsed, from initial contract to launch, may be slashed to weeks rather than months. Other companies forging ahead in the space race include XCOR Aerospace, which is making steady progress with its Lynx Rocket Ship. Lynx, the size of a small corporate jet, is expected to fly for the first time next year. This, too, will be a purely suborbital space plane, targeted at tourists. It will carry a pilot and one paying participant. It will climb to around 65 km at a bargain price of $95,000 (Rs 43 lakh). Armadillo Aerospace has made significant progress in engine design as it works toward the development of vertical take-off and landing vehicles. And Blue Origin is developing its New Shepard, also a vertical take-off and landing rocket, intended to routinely launch multiple astronauts at competitive prices. It expects to take its first researcher astronaut into suborbital space in 2012. Once the suborbital market grows and generates sufficient profits, these can be ploughed back into the development of more powerful launch vehicles. Someday, private launchers could conceivably even achieve orbital capability. And a combination of frequent flights and affordable rates will provide scientists and educators a new set of options to investigate space.
SPACEX HEADS FOR THE SPACE STATION
Another window of opportunity is opening as NASA prepares to retire its ageing space shuttle fleet in the next year or so. Several alternatives are currently being explored to maintain the ISS, apart from the Russian Soyuz rocket. Among them, private enterprise could well secure pride of place. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is building its Falcon rockets mounted with the Dragon capsule, designed to fly unmanned supply missions to the ISS. Orbital Sciences Corporation is also in the process of developing its Cygnus unmanned supply ship. Dragon is particularly important because of its planned ability to deliver large items in un-pressurised compartments that would not normally fit through the
SPACE SUBORBITAL TRAVEL
docking port of a pressurised compartment. In December last year, NASA selected SpaceX to provide 12 flights to the ISS, and Orbital Sciences to launch eight flights. Both companies have already received some money to build vehicles and to conduct re-supply demonstration flights under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services programme. They are scheduled to conduct full-scale demonstrations by 2011. SpaceX has so far successfully launched only two of its Falcon 1 rockets. Falcon 1 succeeded in reaching orbit at its fourth attempt in September 2008, becoming the first privately funded, liquid-fuelled rocket to do so. Later, it successfully placed its first commercial payload into orbit during the fifth launch in the series on July 13. The more potent Falcon 9, planned for first flight in the next 1-3 months, will be a powerful demonstration of real capability rather than mere intent. SpaceX has ambitious plans for the future as well. Within three years, Dragon is scheduled to be retrofitted with equipment that will allow it to carry astronauts into orbit. This will make it possible for the US to maintain its own crew launch capabilities, includes eight weeks of training on a Caribbean island. A Russian rocket would be employed to transport four guests into space from a spaceport to be built on the same island. Though experts are somewhat sceptical, the company claims it should be able to entertain its first tourists as early as 2012. A profound revolution in space exploration is brewing. No, governments are not about to become redundant—not least because of the astronomical sums involved. A manned mission to Mars, for instance, may even need several space-faring nations to get together and pool resources. However, in the more familiar suborbital and low-Earth orbit regime, private industry is likely to begin to play a key role. A handful of space vehicle developers, mainly in the US, have workable hardware in hand, and several more are in the early stages of development. Results should be apparent fairly soon. In the 1920s and 1930s, a few brave entrepreneurs sank money into private airlines, which triggered exponential growth in air services. Similarly, the foundations of the future commercial space industry are being laid by visionary investors who recognise
rather than depend on renting seats on Soyuz spacecraft. SpaceX also hopes to improve the cost and reliability of access to space, ultimately by a factor of 10. The Google Lunar X Prize provides another strong incentive to private space exploration enthusiasts. The first privately-funded team to land a robot on the moon that successfully travels more than 500 m, and transmits back high definition images, video and other specified data, will earn $20 million (Rs 92 crore). As many as 21 teams are officially registered for the competition, initially valid till December 31, 2012. SpaceX, for instance, is designing the Falcon 1e, a special version of the Falcon 1, which will be able to lift perhaps 1,010 kg for a potential lunar mission.
MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE
FUTURE WINGS: (ABOVE) CONCEPTUAL IMAGE OF VMS EVE AND SPACESHIPTWO IN FLIGHT; (RIGHT) THE LYNX IS THE SIZE OF A SMALL CORPORATE JET
What about a pleasure trip to a space resort? The Galactic Suite Space Resort, based in Barcelona, Spain, is putting together a package for a three-night stay at a space hotel. Anyone willing to fork out $4.4 million (Rs 20 crore) will be eligible. The price
its tremendous potential for tourism as well as scientific research. Already, space priorities are being increasingly driven more by financial considerations and less by government policy. And privatising space services would be much cheaper in the long run—commercial enterprise and competition have always succeeded in bringing down costs. Experts predict there could be a latent demand for as many as 13,000 space tourists a year. If tourism succeeds in lowering costs significantly, it could ignite the strappedfor-funds space research market as well. The Suborbital Applications Researchers Group estimates that research alone could require over 1,000 spaceflights a year. Compared with a NASA sounding rocket which costs $2 million (Rs 9 crore) or more, the offer price for a SpaceShipTwo ticket is peanuts. If the commercial sector can create a reputation for cost-effectiveness and reliability—and demonstrate it over numerous missions—it will promote a much greater level of investment in private spaceflight. The space industry seems set for a radical and exciting makeover. SP
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 31
STOP GAP: THE IAF HAS INCREASED THE PLANNED INDUCTION OF SU-30MKI AIRCRAFT TO 280 BY 2015-2016
While 2009 witnessed the launch and progression of many military aviation related programmes for India’s armed forces, it is imperative to take a closer look at the emerging scenario in 2010
PHOTOGRAPHS: IAF / SP GUIDE PUBNS
s if India’s emergence as an economic power By Air Marshal (Retd) house had not already V.K. Bhatia created burning security issues, the ghastly cross-border 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 provided more fuel to the fire—coming as yet another ‘wake up call’ for India’s security and defence establishments. The country’s burgeoning security concerns could not have have felt the need received a greater jolt than the Mumbai carnage to drive spective air arms.
SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
home the urgency of accelerating the augmentation/modernisation programmes of India’s defence and paramilitary forces. In the current security scenario, enhancement of capabilities in the field of military aviation has acquired the uppermost importance and while military aviation is generally synonymous with the air forces, even other services to improve the capabilities of their reWhile 2009 witnessed the launch and
progression of many military aviation related programmes for India’s armed forces—which are worth taking a note of—it is imperative to take a closer look at the emerging scenario in 2010.
THE IAF: MUSCLE BUILDING
A well known fact is that the Indian Air Force (IAF), considered to be the fourth largest in the world, had allowed itself to be numerically depleted of almost a quarter of its combat aircraft strength before it began to wind itself up again to make up for the losses. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, while interacting with the media at the sidelines of the Air Force Day Parade on October 8 last year, succinctly admitted, “I would like to share one thing, we do not have a small force. We are on the low side of the sine curve and we are only going to go up... The strength of fighter squadrons has to increase. By 2014, it will start increasing. By 2022, we can expect to have the requisite numbers.” Naik, in all probability, was alluding to the possible fruition of the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme with the phased induction of the selected aircraft commencing in 2014 as, till then, any new inductions through indigenous endeavours would at best be able to match the planned retirements of obsolete aircraft. Recently, the IAF had started receiving the Su-30MKI built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to revive some of the number-plated squadrons. These have helped in arresting the downslide for the time being. It may be recalled that the IAF had increased the planned induction of Su-30MKI aircraft to 230 and asked HAL to accelerate the rate of production for it to be able to keep pace with the phasing out of older equipment. But if HAL does not deliver the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas on time—the first squadron slated for formation with IOC aircraft in 2011—it would become extremely difficult to prevent further erosion in numbers till the MMRCA start getting inducted into squadron service. But, then, how is the MMRCA scenario shaping up? The flight evaluation trials which commenced last year are still under way and likely to be completed by April-May 2010. It is hoped that the next set of steps, from staff evaluation, examination by Technical Oversight Committee for high value acquisitions, examination of commercial proposals of technically acceptable vendors, including examination of offset proposals, gets completed by the year-end and the contract awarded to the winning bidder by early 2011. Only then, the possible date set for a 2014 induction of the aircraft into the IAF could be met as, the present terms and conditions stipulate first induction 36 months after signing of the contract. In the meantime, reports suggest that all MiG-21 variants, except the Bison version are to be phased out by end-2011 (approximately seven squadrons) to be eventually replaced by the indigenous LCA. But, in the mentioned time frame, only the first batch of four LCAs is likely to be inducted into the IAF, resulting in huge deficiencies. It can only be hoped that phasing out of at least some MiG-21 squadrons would be staggered beyond 2011 to be able to stay in sync with the new inductions. This may have also prompted the IAF to continue inducting the Su-30MKIs in greater numbers to take the final tally to 280 aircraft by 2015-2016—50 more than the originally planned 230.
On the upgradation front, 2010 is likely to witness continuing efforts to upgrade greater numbers of MiG-27 aircraft, eventually bringing the total to 80. Jaguars are also slated for further upgrades selectively to DARIN-3 standards. Engine upgrade is also being considered for the entire fleet, that is, 120 aircraft—in two batches of 59 and 61 aircraft each; the choice would be between Honeywell F-125 and uprated Rolls-Royce Adour variant. In addition, all 62 MiG-29s are to be upgraded to SMT standards with the programme commencing end-2010 or early-2011, to be completed by 2014. Mirage 2000 H of the IAF are also in for upgrade with price negotiations still in progress with some of the OEMs and other concerned parties.
ACQUISITIONS & EXPECTATIONS
Indubitably, 2009 has been an exciting year for the IAF, even as 2010 beckons with tantalising promises. A major induction in 2009 included the first of the three much awaited Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). The arrival of the first AWACS aircraft in India on May 28 heralded a major milestone in the IAF’s drive to enhance its war fighting capabilities. Deployed in No. 50 Squadron at Agra, the AWACS is extensively engaged in training programmes to achieve fully operational status while it awaits two more of its kind to join the unit during 2010. In addition, the IAF is reportedly pushing its case for acquiring three more AWACS systems to get the required capability as also, supporting an indigenous programme for the acquisition of Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft based on an Embraer’s platform. On the VIP front, with the induction of all three BBJs, the IAF’s Communication Squadron is now well equipped to take on the vital task of flying the national leadership in comfort and safety,. So far as transport aircraft are concerned, the six C130s ordered for Special Operations are likely to be inducted by 2011, with the IAF already having an option to induct six more. In addition, the IAF has received the government go-ahead to acquire up to 10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to meet its heavy strategic airlift requirements for which a deal may be in the offing in the current year. For its medium transport aircraft requirement, a deal for joint Indo-Russian development of the aircraft has been signed with the first prototype flight expected in 2011. In another development, a deal for the current An-32 upgrade was signed with Ukraine in June last year with the first six aircraft being sent to Ukraine and the remaining to be upgraded at Kanpur in India. The picture on the rotary wing front is brighter with the in-service induction of the first batch of 80 Mi-17V-5 (also known as Mi-171) under a $1.2 billion (Rs 5,450 crore) deal with Russia commencing this year. The programme is to be completed by 2013. Also, it is revealed that the IAF is planning a repeat order of up to 40 more. Deliveries of the indigenous helicopter ALH Dhruv continue with about two dozens already inducted out of a total planned induction of 54 (38 utility and 16 armed version). The IAF is also evaluating attack and heavy-lift helicopters to replace its existing assets. Reports also suggest that the short-listed AgustaWestland EH-101 may be acquired for VIP duties with inductions commencing in 2010-11, if the existing controversy over the price issue gets sorted out.
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 33
Flying training scenario has turned somewhat bleak with the grounding of virtually all HPT-32 aircraft after a recent fatal crash. Stage-1 training has been shifted to HJT-16 Kiran aircraft as an interim measure while the search is on to find a suitable partner for quick development of a replacement aircraft, to be called HTT-40. The scene on the AJT front is none too bright either with the IAF being upset over the supply of old and poor quality spares for Hawk 132. This has also resulted in only five aircraft being produced by HAL in 2009. It is to be hoped that the issues would be resolved soon and the production as well as in-service maintenance support would show improvement. In the meantime, plan for a follow up order has been shelved and the Indian ministry of defence has put out fresh RFI for 57 new lead-in trainer aircraft (40 for IAF and 17 for the Navy), to be progressed in the current year. It is hoped that 2010 would be a better year for the under development HJT-36 Sitara which will replace the HJT-16 Kiran in its role for Stage-2 training in the IAF. The slowdown because of an earlier crash of a prototype means that the production schedules will not be met and its induction into the IAF may not occur before 2011-12.
THE INDIAN NAVY: FRESH RECRUITS
replacement of ageing Islander aircraft. The IN has also placed order for 11 additional Dornier 228 aircraft. On the rotary wing front, an RFP for multirole helicopters with anti-submarine and antisurface vessel capability was issued, as replacement of the ageing Sea King 42 and 42A helicopters. Additional units of airborne early warning helicopter Kamov 31 have been ordered.
THE INDIAN ARMY: EASING BOTTLENECKS
The Indian Navy (IN), the second biggest practitioner of air power in the country, continues to be active in pursuing a large number of programmes to induct new aerial platforms for various maritime roles. The much troubled Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) deal not withstanding, the aerial components, that is, the MiG-29K jet fighters, have already started arriving at the IN’s naval air station at Dabolim, Goa. The current year will witness the delivery of the first batch of 16 aircraft being completed. One more contract has been concluded for additional MiG-29K aircraft to operate from INS Vikramaditya and indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) under construction. In addition, a Request For Information (RFI) for multi-role combat aircraft has been issued to all leading global manufacturers of combat jet fighters to operate from the IAC in addition to the proposed naval version of the indigenous LCA. Further, the navy’s P-8I Poseidon contract signed last January with Boeing for eight Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft is reportedly progressing well for a delivery schedule of 2013-15. An RFP for six medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft has also been issued for the eventual
34 SP’S AVIATION Issue 1 • 2010
While the indigenous ALH Dhruv helicopters AWAITING EDGE: continue to be inducted ARMY ALH DHRUV IN ACTION into the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) units of the Indian Army with the present strength hovering around 40, what came as a major setback to the AAC endeavours was the scrapping of a $600 million (Rs 2,725 crore) deal for procuring 197 light utility helicopters to replace its ageing fleets of indigenous Cheetah/Chetak helicopters. The RFP has now been clubbed with the IAF requirements and reportedly reissued for 310 helicopters in a bid to reduce costs and ensure standardisation of equipment, where possible, amongst the armed forces. The year 2010 should witness some progress on this count but there is no denying the fact that the procurement of the much needed helicopters would be substantially delayed. In the meantime, the Army would have to make do with the older Chetak/Cheetah fleets which, however, keep providing yeoman service in all three armed forces of the country. Also, the indigenous Dhru helicopter, which continues to mature operationally, is being developed further to perform the armed and the tactical battle support roles for the army.
PARAMILITARY FORCES: A NEW PHASE
The 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack has jolted the Indian establishment enough to start providing some aerial capability to its paramilitary forces as well. For example, Border Security Force has placed an order for eight Dhruv helicopters to improve mobility of its personnel in selected scenarios. In addition, three more Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft have been ordered to provide greater capability for VIP travel and other communication duties. To conclude, the year 2010 appears to be well poised for much greater activity in the field of military aviation as far as acquisition programmes are concerned. However, this would only be possible if the vital decision making processes are allowed to flow smoothly. SP
Hall of Fame
But Clara was unfazed. The very next day she wrote a cheque for $100 to be held as deposit for the first ticket for the planned new dirigible. In the event, it never flew. Always on the lookout for something spectacular, Clara made one of itinerary meticulously, buying tickets on Pan American, Deutsche Lufthansa, KLM and United Airlines, with stops in Horta, Lisbon, Marseille, Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodphur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Guam, Wake Island, Midway Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco. She completed her journey around the globe in 16 days and 19 hours, returning to New York on July 15, 1939. She covered 25,000 miles and spent $2,500 in fares. Today, such a feat would probably elicit yawns. But it illustrates the amazing pace at which commercial aviation had spread worldwide just 12 years after Charles Lindbergh’s epochal solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Clara did not in any way advance the technological development of aviation, but she did more to promote commercial aviation in its early days than hundreds of airline advertisements. She went on lecture tours describing her flying adventures, autographed mounds of postcards, menus, and other memorabilia, and—by making sure that she received as much newspaper coverage as possible—she succeeded in bringing air travel to the attention of ordinary Americans and the rest of the world. “Wherever civilian aviation history was being made, there was Clara Adams,” says aviation historian Tom Friedman. When aviation was in its infancy, there were grey areas in terms of safety and passenger comfort, and by conveying her thoughts about her experiences, the idea of flying became more widely accepted— even though only the very rich flew in those days. She conveyed her confidence in the technology of the time. She had guts. When she died peacefully in February 1971, she had logged over 150,000 miles of dangerous maiden flights. Her ashes were scattered over the ocean. SP —Group Captain (Retd) Joseph Noronha, Goa
Issue 1 • 2010 SP’S AVIATION 35
WELLING AT LENGTH ON the lives of kings and queens, history books routinely ignore commoners. So also the story of aviation is dominated by flyers, designers and airline entrepreneurs. But what of the humble air traveller without whom commercial aviation would not exist? Clara Adams became famous as one of aviation’s pioneer passengers, featuring in so many maiden flights that she became known as a ‘First Flighter’. Dedicated in her thankless task of persuading a sceptical public that flying was safe—even for a little old lady—she always insisted on paying her fare. Clara was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, on December 3, 1884. Her first experience of air travel was in March 1914, in a flying boat. She later recalled, “I was a mere youngster but it was an experience that marked the beginning of years of flying. I have never handled the controls and have no desire to become a pilot.” When her husband, 40 years older than herself, died in 1929, Clara suddenly found herself a wealthy widow with enough time and money to travel. In 1924, she flew on one of the test flights of a zeppelin. In 1928, Clara bought the first transatlantic air ticket ever sold to a female passenger. In October 1928, she flew on the Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127) on its pioneer round trip from Germany to the US. The airship had 64 men on board, as well as Clara Adams. The flight was no pleasure cruise—it lasted 71 hours and encountered a couple of severe storms, making it the most hazardous trip ever experienced by the Graf Zeppelin officers and crew. In 1931, Clara was the only woman passenger on the first flight of Germany’s massive, 12-engine Dornier DO-X flying boat from Rio de Janeiro to New York. Clara religiously kept track of first flights and made determined efforts to be part of them. She specially travelled to Germany to be on the maiden flight of the zeppelin Hindenburg from Germany to the US in May, 1936. A year later, the world was shaken by the tragic fire and explosion of the Hindenburg on May 7, 1937.
CLARA ADAMS (1884 – 1971)
Always on the lookout for something spectacular, Clara made one of her most memorable trips in 1939 when she set a world record for a round-the-world ﬂight solely on scheduled passenger airlines—the ﬁrst by a woman. She completed her journey around the globe in 16 days and 19 hours, returning to New York on July 15, 1939.
her most memorable trips in 1939 when she set a world record for a round-the-world flight solely on scheduled passenger airlines—the first by a woman. She left New York on June 28, 1939, aboard Pan American’s famous ‘Dixie Clipper’ on its first transatlantic passenger flight. She planned her
contract valued at $965.6 million (Rs 4,420 crore) and an initial spares contract valued at $134.4 million (Rs 615 crore). “The Patriot system is a vital element to providing superior integrated air and missile defense capabilities for the protection of Taiwan,” said Daniel L. Smith, President of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. ‘DRDO working hard to develop UAV to meet forces requirement’ Defence Minister A.K. Antony informed the Lok Sabha during the winter session that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is taking up the development Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) against confirmed Qualitative Requirements to meet tri-services requirements. The medium altitude, long endurance UAV is being developed indigenously by the DRDO. Antony said the UAV has been named ‘RUSTOM-H’. “Indian industry would be the development-cum-production partner for this programme. The project is proposed to be completed in 78 months after formal sanction,” he said. India’s Tejas records fastest speed during trial is likely to base the lightweight multi-role jet fighters at Sulur in Coimbatore. They are reportedly earmarked for No 45 Squadron, which will be the first LCA squadron in the IAF IAF to set up base in Chhattisgarh The Chhattisgarh government agreed, in principle, to the IAF request for 2,500-3,000 acres for setting up an air base in the state, officials said. The state government gave its goahead to the proposal when senior IAF officers called on Chief Minister Raman Singh. “Singh has agreed in principle to the IAF proposal for setting up its first base in the state for which they said they need 2,500-3,000 acres,” an official said. The IAF officers told the chief minister that they have shortlisted four sites in Bilaspur, Durg, Mahasamund and Raipur districts and they will select the final site very soon. Singh assured the IAF team that the state government would ensure that land was handed over as soon as possible for early setting up of the air force base in the state that came into existence in November 2000 after a split of Madhya Pradesh. Eurofighter Typhoon to build 126 combat jets for India European aerospace conglomerate EADS, the manufacturer of the Eurofighter Typhoon, has aggressively pushed for an IAF order for 126 combat jets by offering the plane with a thrust vector upgrade that will considerably improve its operational capabilities. The upgrade will pay for itself through lifecycle cost reductions, an EADS statement said. Equipping the twin-engine Typhoon’s EJ200s with thrust vectoring nozzles could reduce fuel burn on a typical mission by up to 5 per cent while increasing available thrust in supersonic cruise mode by up to 7 per cent, the statement added. The Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the six jets in contention for the IAF order, which could eventually rise to some 200 planes. The flight trials of the six aircraft are currently underway in India and are set to conclude later this
India submits letter of request for potential Boeing C-17 order
AGUSTAWESTLAND • The South Korean Government has signed a contract for one more AW139 medium-twin helicopter in Maritime Patrol configuration for its Coast Guard. The order represents the third helicopter to be sold to the Korea Coast Guard and the sixth AW139 helicopter to be sold to the Republic of Korea. ANTONOV AN-148 • The first Russian-made Antonov An148 regional jet, registration RA-61701 has commenced revenue passenger services on December 21, 2009. The ‘Rossiya’ State Transport Company successfully accomplished Flight FV135 on the central timetable of Russia’s domestic passenger services. BOEING • Boeing has stated that it has acquired Alenia North America’s half of Global Aeronautica, LLC, a South Carolina fuselage subassembly facility for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, and is now the sole owner of that entity. Alenia North America is a subsidiary of Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company. Operationally, Boeing will integrate the Global Aeronautica facility with the rest of Boeing’s organisation in North Charleston, S.C. • Boeing and ANA (All Nippon Airways) have announced an order for five 777-200ER (Extended Range) and five 767-300ER jetliners. The 777’s operational efficiency, range and large payload capability help airlines make the most of their airplane investment. The Boeing 767 is valued by airlines for its proven range, reliability and profitability. • Boeing Company has been awarded a modified contract for the basic C-17 Globemaster III sustainment partnership contract that provides total systems support responsibility to Boeing for the C-17 weapon system to include programme management; sustaining logistics; material and equipment management, and so on. • Boeing Co., has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract for the Engineering Sustainment Programme to provide engineering design, engineering support and technical support services for the modernisawww.spsaviation.net
The Boeing Company announced that the US government has received a Letter of Request from India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) regarding the potential acquisition of 10 C-17 Globemaster III advanced airlifters. “Boeing is very pleased that the Indian government has expressed interest in acquiring the C-17 to modernise its airlift capabilities, and we look forward to working closely with them,” said Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President and India Country Head, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The C-17 conducted demonstration flights in February at Aero India 2009 in Bangalore, where members of the MoD and IAF had the opportunity to see the aircraft’s capabilities in action. The IAF wants to replace and augment its fleet of Russian-made AN-32 and IL-76 airlifters. Raytheon bags order to advance Taiwan’s Patriot capability
Raytheon Company has received Foreign Military Sales contract awards totaling $1.1 billion (Rs 5,035 crore) to fund new production of the combat-proven Patriot Air and Missile Defense System for Taiwan. The awards include ground-system hardware through an initial
36 SP’S AVIATION
India’s light combat aircraft Tejas has ended trials successfully clocking the fastest speed of 1,350 kmph over the Goa skies during tests which lasted for two weeks here, a top IAF officer has said. The aircraft went past its ultimate speed of 1,350 kmph on December 7 over the skies in Goa after takeoff from the naval air station INS Hansa. This is the fastest speed ever achieved by an Indian- made fighter aircraft. “Tejas has already passed high-altitude tests in Leh, the desert rigours in Rajasthan and now it has proved its worth over the maritime space in Goa,” he said. The IAF
Issue 1 • 2010
“IAF TO BE LETHAL, FLEXIBLE AND AGILE” Address of Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, Chief of the Air Staff to IAF on New Year’s Eve Conveying his warm greetings to all the Air Warriors, NCs(E), DSC personnel, civilians and their families on the new year’s eve, the Air Chief said, “The IAF’s task is to protect the nation from threats arising through the medium of air and space. Hence our focus is on acquiring a ‘set of capabilities’, which can be applied in any conflict scenario. The IAF is fast emerging as a strategic aerospace power. This achievement has been the result of the vision and effort of many generations of air warriors, past and present, and we will continue with this glorious legacy. The challenge before us is to operationalise our new equipment at the earliest and develop in-depth knowledge and competence, so that we can fully exploit the technological potential. We need to be analytical and innovative in our approach so as to maximize our strengths. Our maintenance and administrative practices should meet our operational requirements and be constantly committed to produce more with a leaner force. The need of the day is to be lethal, flexible and agile. Though the task ahead is huge, I remain convinced that it is well within our reach through hard work and innovativeness. As air warriors, you are our true force enhancers and I have full faith in your commitment, professionalism and ability to steer our force through this process of transformation. My aim is to maintain a potent reckonable force and a cohesive happy family. I am confident that whenever the nation beckons, we will rise to the occasion and justify the trust placed in us. Today let us resolve to better our own high standards in the year ahead. Jai Hind
month after which, another set of trials will be conducted in the country of manufacture. Thereafter, the IAF will shortlist two or three aircraft before homing in on the final choice. Russian-Indian 5th Gen fighter to commence flight tests this month Russia has started initial tests of its futuristic Fifth Generation stealth fighter jet, dubbed the PAK-FA programme, which it is partnering with India. The PAK-FA, or the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme, as it is referred to in India, hopes to match, or outperform, the American F-22 Raptor. The F-22 Raptor, which is an air superiority fighter, is the world’s only existing Fifth Generation fighter aircraft programme. A related Fifth Generation ground attack version, the F-35 Lightning II, is currently under development. An Interfax report, without specifying details of time, said that the first prototype of the FGFA rolled out on the runway of KNAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the country’s Far East. The test pilot switched on its engines and made two runs on the airstrip, during which breaks were applied several times. The PAK-FA will make several more taxi runs before making its first flight this month. IAF to award contracts for 126 combat aircraft after April The IAF has said it is currently holding trials for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft and, once the tests are over by April, it would initiate the process of awarding contracts to global contenders for acquiring 126 such planes. “We will complete flight test evaluation for these aircraft by April. The report would then be sent to the government. The evaluation report would be discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Security, after which the process of awarding contract would be initiated. The aircraft would be in service by 2013,” IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik said. Pakistan gets early warning radar The Pakistani air force
tion and sustainment of the B-52 weapon system. • Boeing and Air Austral announced an order for two Next-Generation 737-800s. The two 737-800s will be the airline’s first of this model, replacing one 737-300 and one 737500 in the airline’s fleet. EMBRAER • Embraer delivered the first four Super Tucano airplanes, of a total of 12, during mid December 2009, to the Chilean Air Force (FACH). The contract, which was announced in August 2008, is the result of a competitive public bid let by the FACH, which chose the airplane manufactured by Embraer as the best solution for the tactical training of its pilots. In all, 172 airplanes have been sold to seven customers. • Embraer and Germany’s Aircraft Asset Management AAM GmbH & Co. KG have signed a firm order for two Embraer 190 jets. The first aircraft was delivered to the operator, Augsburg Airways, last September, and the second is expected to join the airline’s fleet in 2010. • Embraer has delivered the second Embraer 190 jet to the Brazilian government. Like the first of this model, which was delivered in September this year, the aircraft is specially configured for missions by the President of the Republic, and it will also be operated by the Special Transport Group of the Brazilian Air Force. EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY • The European Space Agency has signed a contract with Astrium for the initial development phase of its programme to enhance the performance of the Ariane launch vehicle and make it even more competitive. Ariane 5 ME will have a re-ignitable upper stage and be capable of launching payloads of up to 12 tonnes into orbit. GENERAL ATOMICS AERONAUTICAL SYSTEMS • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. has been awarded a contract for programme management; urgent repairs and services; logistics support; configuration management; technical manual and software maintenance; engineering technical services etc for
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incorporated an early warning aircraft into its aerial fleet as part of an effort to modernise the military force. Ulrika Sundberg, the Swedish envoy to Pakistan, hailed the induction of the Saab-2000 airborne early warning and control aircraft as a milestone for Pakistani security, the Dawn newspaper reports. “It is the result of very innovative thinking by both parties on how surveillance systems can contribute to enhancing overall human security, not only in Pakistan and the region, but also worldwide,” the report stated.
Chile receives first four Super Tucanos
Chile has received its first batch of four Embraer EMB314 Super Tucano trainer/light attack aircraft from a 2008 order for 12 examples. Handed over at the Brazilian manufacturer’s São José dos Campos site in late December, the armed turboprops will be used to deliver a new pilot training capability for the Chilean air force, and operate beneath its Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters for possible combat duty. “The Chilean air force will now have the flexibility of the best lightattack aircraft for counter-insurgency and irregular warfare [missions],” says Orlando José Ferreira Neto, Embraer’s Vice President, defence market.
Il-476 guns for the C-17 market The Russian Air Force has decided to buy 38 of the new Il-476 transports. This is basically an Il-76 with more modern engines, state-of-the art electronics and numerous other improvements. This ver-
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the clock is ticking on the viability of existing Il-76s. Russia is trying to make the Il-76/Il476 a contender in the military air transport market. Seventeen airports accorded ‘International Status’: Patel In a reply in the Lok Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel recently informed that, so far, 17 airports in the country have been accorded ‘International Status’. These airports are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Calicut, Chennai, Guwahati, Jaipur, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Goa, Port Blair and Srinagar. Of these, eight airports, namely, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Calicut, Chennai, Guwahati, Jaipur, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram belong to Airports Authority of India (AAI) and three Civil Enclaves; namely, Goa, Port Blair and Srinagar are maintained by the AAI.
INDIAN AIR FORCE On January 1, Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar took over the reins of Eastern Air Command as its Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief on superannuation of the outgoing incumbent Air Marshal S.K. Bhan. Air Marshal Nohwar was earlier the SASO (Senior Air Staff Officer) of Training Command which post has been filled up by Air Marshal S.P. Singh on promotion. BOEING On January 7, the Boeing Company announced organisation and leadership changes within its Integrated Defense System which has been renamed Boeing Defense, Space & Security. President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced several key leadership assignments at the Boeing Defense, Space & Security, some of which are given below: • Rick Baily named Vice President, Engineering and Mission Assuranc. • Nan Bouchard named Vice President, Programme Management. • Dave Bowman named BMA (Boeing Military Aircraft) Vice President/General Manager, Global Mobility Systems and International Tankers. • Jean Chamberlin named BMA Vice President/General Manager, US Air Force Tanker Programme. • Steeve Goo named Vice President, International Operations and Compliance. • Bill Schnettgoecke named Vice President, Operations and Supplier Management. SIKORSKY Shane Eddy has been named Vice President, Sikorsky Global Helicopters responsible for strategic leadership and general management of the growing billion-dollar business. Sikorsky Aircraft sion can carry up to 60 tonnes and is about 15 per cent more fuel efficient. It will be about two years before the first Il476 enters service. Meanwhile,
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the Predator/Reaper MQ-1 and MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system programme. GENERAL ELECTRIC • CFM International, the 50/50 venture between GE and SAFRAN Group, has been selected to power China’s newest commercial aircraft in development, the C919. Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, the developer and manufacturer of the C919, selected CFM as the sole Western jet engine to launch China’s new single-aisle aircraft. JASDF • Production of the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft is nearing an end. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is acquiring a total of 94 production F-2s. All have been funded, and the 94th and last is scheduled to be delivered in September 2011. LOCKHEED MARTIN • Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., has been awarded a modification to the previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for special tooling and special test equipment required for the manufacture of Joint Strike Fighter low rate initial production aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in November 2011. • Lockheed Martin Corp. is being awarded a contract to provide for 24 F-16 Block 52 aircraft, advanced counter measure system electronic warfare system, along with associated support equipment, alternate mission equipment and support elements for the government of Morocco. • The Joint Combat Aircraft programme has announced that UK has received financial approval to purchase its third Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II operational test aircraft, reinforcing the nation’s continued commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter programme’s upcoming Operational Test and Evaluation. MALAYSIA AIRLINES AND AIRBUS • Malaysia Airlines and Airbus have signed an MoU covering the order of 15 A330-300 and acquired purchase options for another 10. The aircraft
Air India’s Gulf MRO in marketing JV for engine overhaul facility Moving a step ahead on the engineering MRO, Air India has entered into a strategic alliance with Sharjah-based Aerostar Asset Management for setting up a marketing joint venture for engine overhaul facility. The alliance has created an engine MRO brand called ‘The A Team’, which has started providing engine repair and management solutions to all airline operators of the Gulf region to begin with. “The A Team will utilise the existing engine overhaul facilities of Air India at Mumbai and marketing set up of Aerostar in the Middle East. This alliance will sell repair services for jet engines such as GE CF6-50 & 80 series, P&W 4000 series, GE - 90 series and CFM 56-7 series and will also cover CFM 56-5 series engine in the near future,” the airline announced in a media release. Kingfisher in deals for bio jet fuel R&D India’s second largest airline by passengers carried, Kingfisher Airlines Limited, has signed an agreement with three international firms to explore development and production of an alternative jet fuel to reduce carbon emissions. Regular jet fuel or aviation turbine fuel (ATF), a colourless refined kerosene, accounts for up to 40 per cent of the total operating cost of airlines in India. “We have already signed up with three companies to develop the biofuel. We are working on the cost-benefit analysis for the project,” said a senior Kingfisher Airlines executive who did not want to be identified. If the experiment succeeds, the airline will be able to reduce its dependence on high-cost ATF and pare its carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emissions.
India’s Mahindra buys Australian aviation companies Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s largest automotive conglomerates, has acquired two Australian aviation firms—component maker Aerostaff Australia and aircraft manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics. ‘The move signals Mahindra’s strategic entry into the global aerospace components and general aviation markets,” it said in a statement. Mahindra will hold 75.1 per cent stake in each company, senior executive Hemant Luthra told reporters. Mahindra, in association with state-run National Aeronautics Laboratory, plans over the next five years to manufacture 475 planes in the range of two to 20 seats. The company said it is setting up a plant in Karnataka to manufacture components and aircraft.
Second Boeing 787 Dreamliner Completes First Flight The second Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ZA002, completed its first flight on December 22, 2009. The all-new airplane, which features the livery of the Dreamliner’s launch customer, All
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On December 17, 2009, EC175, the latest member of the Eurocopter range, performed its official maiden flight in the skies above Marignane, France. At the controls were Alain Di Bianca, Eurocopter Experimental Test Pilot, as well as Michel Oswald and Patrick Bremont, Flight Test Engineers. Officials, industrial partners, launch customers and Eurocopter employees were all on hand for the event. This newest addition to the Eurocopter family in the 7-metric-tonne class has been developed and manufactured in cooperation with the China Aeronautics Industries Group Corp., a longstanding Eurocopter partner. The new generation EC175 has a multirole design and can carry out a wide scope of civil missions. EADS eyes tie-up with ISRO on hypersonic plane technologies European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services, is keen to forge partnership with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on supersonic and hypersonic aeroplane technologies, a top company official said. “We are looking very much into the future,” Chief Technical Officer of EADS Jean Botti said, speaking on possible collaboration between the ISRO and EADS going forward.
January 21 – 23 BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW 2010 Sakhir Airbase, Bahrain http://www.farnborough.com/ Site/Content/bahrain 27 January – 29 January NBAA ANNUAL SCHEDULERS AND DISPATCHERS CONFERENCE Henry B. Gonzalez Conference Center, San Antonio, Texas www.nbaa.org 27 January – 30 January AEROEXPO, MARRAKECH Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco www.aeroexpo-morocco.com 2 February – 7 February SINGAPORE AIRSHOW Changi Exhibition Centre, Singapore www.singaporeairshow.com.sg 10 February PRECISION STRIKE WINTER ROUNDTABLE AND WILLIAM J. PERRY AWARD CEREMONY Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Virginia, USA www.precisionstrike.org 15 February – 18 February DEFEXPO INDIA 2010 Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India http://www.defexpoindia.in 20 February – 23 February HELI-EXPO 2010 George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, Texas www.heliexpo.com 25 February – 27 February WOMEN IN AVIATION INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Disney Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, Florida www.wai.org 2 March – 3 March UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS CONFERENCE Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, San Diego, California, USA URL: www.ttcus.com 3 March – 7 March INDIA AVIATION 2010 Begumpet Airport Sardar Patel Road, Hyderabad, India www.india-aviation.in Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan, took off from Paine Field in Everett, completed a two-hour flight and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle. “We are delighted that the second Dreamliner is in the livery of our launch customer, ANA,” said Scott Fancher, Vice President and General Manager of the 787 programme. “We are honoured by the airline’s support and look forward to delivering ANA the first production airplane next year.” This is the second of six 787s being used in the airplane’s flight-test program. Each of the airplanes will be used for a specific set of tests, with this airplane focusing on systems performance. Like its predecessor, ZA001, the airplane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.
which will be delivered from 2011 to 2016 will serve the growing markets of South Asia, China, North Asia, Australia and Middle East. ORBITAL SCIENCES CORPORATION • Orbital Sciences Corporation has signed a contract for a new geosynchronous communications satellite contract with OverHorizon, with offices in the US, Sweden and Cyprus. The spacecraft will be based on Orbital’s industry-leading STARTM 2 satellite platform and will carry an on-board processing payload provided by Thales Alenia Space. RAYTHEON MISSILE SYSTEMS • Raytheon Missile Systems Co. has been awarded a contract to provide production quantities of 200 AGM65D Maverick missiles, 300 AGM-65G missiles, four AGM-65D guidance and control sections and eight AGM-65G guidance and control sections. • Raytheon Missile Systems Co. has been awarded a contract to provide 750 Paveway III GBU-24A/B laser guided bomb kits for use with MK-84 warheads. SAAB • Saab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Material Administration, FMV, for the continuous support of Gripen’s operational capacity. Work will be carried out during the first half of 2010. SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORP • Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to produce fourteen UH-60M aircraft and convert them to the unique configuration for the United Arab Emirates. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2012. SWISS AIR FORCE • The Swiss federal procurement, technology and real estate competence centre, has handed over the last of 20 EC635 helicopters to the Swiss Air Force. The contract for the LTSH programme was signed in April 2006 and provided for the delivery of a total of 18 EC635 transport and training helicopters, plus two EC135s for the federal air transport service.
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Eurojet bolsters engine offer for India’s LCA Eurojet of Germany has offered India aircraft engine technology to power India’s homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk2 version. Indian Defence Ministry sources said the single crystal turbine blade technology, originally denied to Indian scientists, has been offered to India by Eurojet via the EJ200 engine. The EJ200 is competing with the General Electric GE 414 to power the LCA. Last year, India’s Aeronautical Development Agency, which is developing the LCA, floated a request for proposals to GE and Eurojet. Eurocopter celebrates the maiden flight of its new EC175 helicopter
India may launch new Cartosat in March India has finished development work on its Cartosat2B satellite, which will be used for military purposes in addition to remote sensing of rural and urban areas of the country, said a senior scientist at the ISRO, which is building the satellite. The Cartosat-2B is likely to be launched in March. Last year, India put into orbit its RISAT2, a high-resolution military satellite developed and built in India to monitor the country’s borders and coastline for terrorist infiltration. •
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with deteriorating on-time performance, shoddy maintenance of passenger coaches, disconcerting record of operational safety and emerging threat from Naxal insurgency that now affects 40 per cent of the districts in the country. In
ummarising the state of affairs in the Indian airline industry for the year gone by, Praful Patel observed: “2009 has been an eventful and tumultuous year for the civil aviation sector worldwide. We can draw satisfaction from the fact that the worst is over. Things are turning for the better, which is borne out by the rebound in air traffic figures from October 2009 onwards. I sincerely hope that things will stabilise in 2010 and flying will once again be the preferred choice of travel for people.” Prima facie, the optimism on the part of the Civil Aviation Minister is, to an extent, justifiable. The civil aviation industry was on a constant slide down the slippery slopes of disaster since mid-2008 when the global economic meltdown overwhelmed the leading economies, plunging airlines the world over into an unprecedented crisis. However, with the symptoms of revival in the global as well as Indian economy beginning to appear, the airline industry, at least in India, appears to be staging a comeback. Statistics for the period October to December 2009, available with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), indicate a healthy surge in passenger traffic especially on routes to or linking the metros. As per the DGCA, compared to October 2008, there was a 25 per cent increase in the number of passengers carried in October 2009 by all of India’s airlines together. Performance in November was even more encouraging with the percentage rise touching 31. Apart from the resurgence in the economy, though somewhat incipient at this stage, the favourable trend in the industry is attributable to a number of other factors. Most importantly, airlines, especially the full service carriers, are no longer inclined to be dependent on business class travel and have come to accept the reality and viability of the low cost, low fare business model that was non-existent in the Indian civil aviation scene six years ago. Today, nearly 75 per cent of capacity is dedicated to this model, thereby widening customer base and shifting focus away from the narrow elitist high-end segment of customer base. The infrastructure, which is still woefully inadequate vis-à-vis demand, has improved marginally. Airlines continue to struggle against other odds, like primitive air traffic management leading to congestion, high taxes on Aviation Turbine Fuel and archaic policies that often serve as impediments to progress for airlines. Such hurdles notwithstanding, airlines are striving to improve connectivity and on-time performance. More by default than design, the airlines would stand to gain on account of the country’s dismal rail services that seem to be getting worse
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Despite the current upswing, unless airlines in India craft their future growth strategy with care and caution the industry as a whole cannot really hope to be out of the woods
some sectors, this factor alone could divert a substantial number of rail travellers to air travel so long as the fares are within reasonable and affordable limits. There are, however, other concerns. According to the International Air Transport Association, in 2009, losses for the global airline industry is estimated to be in the region of $11 billion (Rs 50,000 crore) albeit somewhat lower than the loss of $16 billion (Rs 72,900 crore) in 2008. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s assessment of the Indian scenario is that domestic carriers are likely to record a cumulative loss of Rs 7,000 crore in the current financial year as against Rs 10,000 crore during the previous year. Cumulative operating losses for the Indian airline industry from April 2006 to March 2010 are estimated to be in excess of Rs 26,000 crore. Although things are beginning to look good, airlines can ill afford to bask in the cosy comfort of seemingly changing fortunes. Healthy load factors across the board could tempt carriers to push fares upwards in an attempt to wipe out losses quickly. However, such a move at this juncture could be somewhat premature, imprudent and counterproductive. Undoubtedly, India provides a lucrative market for the airline industry, not only in the domestic segment but, owing to its strategic location, as a possible regional hub. Experience of the last six years clearly indicates that the airlines need to harmonise capacity growth with realistic projection of demand and infrastructure limitations. The staggering losses accumulated over the last six years cannot be wiped out in a hurry. Despite the current upswing, unless airlines craft their future growth strategy with care and caution, and fine-tune their business models duly tempered by the lessons of the past, the industry as a whole cannot really hope to be out of the woods. SP — Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. Pandey
See us at: Singapore Airshow 2010 at H80 India Pavillion See us at: Defexpo 2010, India at Hall 14 Stand 14.1
MASTER IN STRATEGY
Design and production of electronic defence systems by ELETTRONICA S.p.A.
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