Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
As the LCA Tejas Mk.1 fights through its crucial final stretch, it has been revealed that the first Mk.2 prototype is likely to be rolled out next year. As part of its effort to identify and certify LRUs for the improved combat jet, HAL has declared on April 9 to prospective development partners/suppliers of a hydraulic pump: "HAL-ARDC is taking up for development and qualification of certain LRUs required for catering to LCA-Mark 2 version. The first prototype aircraft is slated for built during 2013-14, while series production(s) are planned for inducting to fleet which is stated to be taken up in two phases commencing from 2016 onwards." (sic)
HAL suggests here that series production of the Mk.2 commences in 2016 -- that'll be bare months after the Mk.1 enters squadron service with the IAF, so I'm inclined see this as typical HAL/DRDO optimism, especially given that there's substantial work that needs doing on the Mk.2, not least airframe/fuselage changes to house and operate the new F414-GE-INS6 turbofan and allow higher performance requirements.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Here's Boeing full statement released a short while ago:
LONG BEACH, Calif., June 11, 2013 -- The Indian Air Force (IAF) flew its first Boeing [NYSE: BA] C-17 Globemaster III to India today, becoming the newest operator of the leading airlifter.
"The C-17 will equip the Indian Air Force with amongst the world's most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities," said Air Vice Marshal SRK Nair, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Transport and Helicopters). "We have looked forward to this day when our Indian Air Force flies the first C-17 to its new home in India."
Boeing is on track to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF this year and five in 2014. This first aircraft was transferred today after completion of a flight test program at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, Calif., that began following the Jan. 22 delivery.
"Congratulations to the Indian Air Force on this milestone as India joins the worldwide community of C-17 operators," said Tommy Dunehew, Boeing vice president of Business Development for Mobility, Surveillance and Engagement. "Nations turn to the C-17 for the capability to perform a wide range of operations, from peacekeeping and disaster relief to troop movements from semi-prepared airfields. This aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force with the versatility to augment airlift capability."
Boeing has now delivered 254 C-17s, including 222 to the U.S. Air Force and a total of 32 C-17s to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
Boeing will support the IAF C-17 fleet through the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics contract. The GISP "virtual fleet" arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers access to an extensive support network for worldwide parts availability and economies of scale.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
|PHOTO © MICHAEL CARTER / AERO PACIFIC FLIGHTLINES|
The Indian Air Force's first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (Tail no. CB-8001) departs Long Beach tonight India time (Tuesday morning local time in California) on its journey to the Hindon Air Force Station outside Delhi, where the squadron will be based.
Boeing and Indian Air Force officials will conduct a short ceremony at Long Beach before the aircraft departs.
After a ferry flight that will make a list of stops along the way, the C-17 will touch down at Hindon on June 17. The first airframe will get a welcome ceremony when it arrives, but a formal induction ceremony is expected to happen in August, by which time two more C-17s will have arrived.
The first Indian C-17 arrives in India almost exactly two years after the deal was signed in June 2011. The $4.116-billion deal for 10 aircraft doesn't have a formal options clause, but the IAF is likely to formalise a follow-on order by the end of this year (even with the original order for 10, India will be the largest operator of the aircraft outside the U.S.). Boeing delivered the first Indian C-17 to flight test at Edward's in January this year, and will deliver four more this year, and five next. Indian pilots and loadmasters were trained at Altus, Oklahoma.
I was at Long Beach (Boeing's 'Home of the C-17') last August when the first C-17 came together at its major join ceremony. Also had a nice 30-minute demo flight in a PACAF C-17 this February at Aero India.
Monday, June 10, 2013
|TEJAS LSP-2 AT IOC-1 CEREMONY / PHOTO BY SHIV AROOR|
There's been a typical but welcome flurry of dates and excitement about the Light Combat Aircraft, which usually happens when there's a change of guard at the DRDO. First, Defence Minister AK Antony on May 29 declared that certification of the platform needed to speeded up so that it was delivered to the Indian Air Force, fully cleared, by the end of next year. Then, with the change of guard at the DRDO, there was talk of moving up the IOC-2 deadline to September-October this year. I hate to be a stick in the mud, believe me, but I think we can all be pretty clear that 30 years have proven how futile it is talking dates and deadlines when it comes to the Tejas. Instead of getting swept away by illusory milestones, it's important to quietly finish the job and deliver. It stopped being a joke over a decade ago. Now, here's a quick round-up of the latest developments:
- As on June 9, the Tejas programme has logged 2193 flights, which includes six flights by the latest airframe, the LSP-8 that flew first in March this year.
- On May 29, Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared that the Tejas needed to be available to the Indian Air Force by the end of next year at all costs. Sources say that Antony doesn't want any more requests for project extension on the programme and wants final operational clearance by November-December 2014 "no matter what".
- With IOC-1 achieved in January 2011, the programme has struggled and floundered for over two years, and will be looking to complete IOC-2 only by November-December this year, as against an official target of June. (The DRDO's new chief Avinash Chander, sources say, has appointed a special unofficial board of his own appointees who will supervise all aspects of work on the Tejas and report to him every 48 hours on progress. Five of these officials will be based out of Bangalore.)
- Apart from a host of test parameters -- at least 1,250 test points, according to the latest progress review report -- that need to be met, the Tejas needs a new radome (reported first on Livefist), since the current one has deficient electromagnetic performance, isn't fully lightning protected and allows a measure of rainwater ingress, causing the Israeli multimode radar to go glitchy.
- The parameters that need clearance for IOC-2 include wake penetration, lightning clearance, all-weather clearance among a host of others. My sources indicate to me that all-weather clearance has been achieved, not the other two.
- Parameters such as handling/speed at low altitudes and sustained turn rate have been sorted out to the satisfaction of the IAF as far as the Mk.1 airframe is concerned.
- The bridge between IOC-2 and FOC will include the following: integration of beyond visual range weapons, gun, rockets, guided and unguided bombs, and the further expansion of its flight envelope to -3.5 to 8G (-2 to 6G for IOC-2) and 24-degrees angle of attack (22 for IOC-2).
The LCA Navy, as I've reported here before, is on the drawing board for a re-designed landing gear that's seeing a deep degree of involvement by EADS. It's only had four flights, the last one in July last year. More on that soon.
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Sunday, June 09, 2013
For Eurocopter, it's not quite a nightmare deja vu. It's actually a lot worse. With India's $750-million light reconnaissance & surveillance helicopter (RSH) acquisition in a graveyard spin, the company is rapidly losing patience -- and hope -- of a recovery. There couldn't possibly be a worse situation for a firm that already saw a programme abort in December 2007 during the first iteration of the acquisition, an effort that imploded following allegations by Bell Helicopter that Eurocopter had failed to comply with trial specifications. This time around, already delayed inordinately, the acquisition has been specifically stalled following the discovery of certain information as part of the Finmeccanica investigations, which suggested that a serving Indian Army officer had offered to rig field evaluation trials in the acquisition to favour AgustaWestland -- the officer is currently under investigation in India. It is all but official, though, that the deal will never get back on track, and is more likely to die a quiet death. Eurocopter's consternation is clear.
Livefist has exclusive access to a recent letter written (see right) by Eurocopter's VP Sales & Customer Relations for India & South Asia, Rainer Farid, to India's Director General (Acquisitions), in which he writes, "It is particularly disturbing that there seem to be certain groups with vested interests who are continuously trying to derail the procurement process, by resorting to incorrect complaints regarding the conduct of field trials and technical evaluation results."
The timeline of this protracted and crucial programme is as follows:
- July 2008: Indian MoD issues RfP to global vendors -- this is the second RfP after the first competition was scrapped following certain deviations by contenders.
- Dec 2008: Technical and commercial offers submitted by contenders.
- Nov 2009: MoD calls for field evaluation trials.
- Jan 2010: Field evaluation trials commence - Winter trials in desert & high altitude in Phase 1 during Jan-Feb 2010, Maintainability evaluation trials in Phase 2 during March 2010, Evaluation trials in deserts and high altitude in Phase 3 during May-Jun 2010 and finally, Role and mission systems trials in Russia and France during Phase 4 in Jan 2011.
- Jan 2011: Army and IAF submit trial report to MoD.
- Feb-Dec 2011: General staff evaluation and vetting of the trial report submitted by the Army and IAF
- Jan 2012: MoD orders Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) to validate the General Staff Evaluation report
- April 2012: MoD orders Special Technical Oversight Committee (STOC) to validate the TOC report.
- June 2012: STOC submits its final report to the Defence Secretary.
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