Thursday, September 03, 2015

India's Light Combat Helicopter Gets Hot & High

These great photos and statement out of HAL today on the LCH's progress, including hot & high tests in Ladakh. Here's what they sent out:

HAL successfully carried out the hot and the high-altitude trials of indigenously designed, developed attack chopper Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) at Leh recently. “These seasonal trials - including cold weather trials carried out at Leh during February this year - have been completed as part of the certification process. The flight trials at Leh have established hover performance and low speed handling characteristics of the helicopter under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes (3200 to 4800 m). During the trials, the helicopter and systems performed satisfactorily. LCH also has proven its capability to land and take off at Forward Landing Base in Siachen. LCH is the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen”, says Mr.T. Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL.

The trials were carried out on the third prototype of LCH (TD3) at Leh at the temperatures ranging from 13 to 27 degree centigrade with the participation of user pilots from Air Force, Army and representatives from CEMILAC and DGAQA.  Various tests included assessment and validation of flight envelope in ‘Hot-and-High’ conditions, culminating in landing at forward bases at geographic elevations of 13,600 feet to 15,800 feet. These landings and take-offs were demonstrated with reasonable amount of weapon load and fuel.

Challenges at Leh:

The upper reaches of the Indus river and its tributaries, Nubra and Shyok are home to the mighty Ladakh and Eastern Karakorum Ranges, with multiple lofty peaks over 25,000 feet and an average ridgeline elevation of 20,000 feet. It is also home to the largest glaciated area outside the Polar Regions and is sometimes called the ‘Third Pole’. The Siachen is the largest glacier here and is central to this region. The area experiences a period of summer during July-August in which temperatures soar to 30 degrees above standard atmosphere conditions. This mix of extreme altitudes and relatively high temperatures (‘Hot-and-High’) saps helicopter performance and as such, a few types of helicopters are able to operate effectively all year around.
LCH Progress:

With the extensive trials carried out on three prototypes at Bengaluru, sea level at Chennai in November 2013, cold weather at Leh during January/February 2015, hot weather at Jodhpur in July 2015 and hot and high altitude trials at a few days ago at Leh, the performance and handling qualities of the helicopter have been established for basic configuration (with EO Pod, Rocket launchers, Turret Gun and Air-to-Air missile launchers). The system functionalities have been assessed and found satisfactory during the trials and long-duration ferry across India.  Further development activities are under progress and the weapon firing trials are planned during in the middle of 2016.

The advantage of indigenous development of helicopters such as ALH, LCH and LUH at HAL is that the users’ requirement are well captured right from early design stage and are fine-tuned as the project progresses with the involvement of users so that the product complies to the stringent operational requirements at high altitudes (Himalayan and North Eastern terrains).

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

LCA Mk.2 Operational Clearance Not Before 2022

And here's some official detail on timelines on the LCA Tejas Mk.2 fresh from Parliament, confirming Livefist reports on operational clearance nowhere before 2022. Here's Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar's full statement in Parliament today on the LCA Mk.2:

The project for design and development of Light combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas Mk-II was sanctioned in November 2009 at a cost of Rs.2431.55 Crore with Probable Date of Completion (PDC) of December 2018.  However, because of delay in finalisation of Engine Contract, the project could start only in December 2013.  As a result, maiden flight of first Prototype and Operational Clearance are likely to be completed by December 2019 and December 2022, respectively.  There after induction.

Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bengaluru is the Nodal Agency for design and development of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-II.  ADA has not entered into any collaboration with European Aircraft Manufacturers who had participated in the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tenders for development of Tejas Mk-II.  However, ADA may like to avail consultancy from some of them.

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-II would be an improved version of LCA Mk-I.  Some of the new systems / technologies, like Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), Upgraded Avionics, etc. are to be included in LCA Tejas Mk-II to make the aircraft more contemporary.  Technologies, systems engineering and experience gained during development of LCA Tejas Mk-II would benefit the development of Fifth Generation Aircraft indigenously.

Friday, July 31, 2015

And Now, Indian MoD Flags Sharp 'Shortcomings' In LCA Tejas

The continuing saga over India's LCA Tejas Mk.1 fighter continues, with the government today putting out in new detail the "shortcomings" in the platform expected to enter service over the next one year. Here's what it told Parliament today:

The following shortcomings have been reported in Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas-Mk-I:
1. Absence of Internal Jammer affecting survivability. 2. Aircraft performance shortfalls. 3. Maintainability issues.
The above shortcomings were primarily due to following reasons:
1. Internal jammer technology at that time was based on TWT amplifier which needed about 1000 ltr volume space for integration on aircraft. Hence it could not be accommodated at the time of development of LCA Tejas, Mk-I.
2. The maintainability issues were raised by Indian Air Force (IAF) late in 2009, when design and drawings were already frozen for Mk-I. However, many of the safety critical maintenance issues are already addressed in Mk-I.
3. Government has sanctioned project for development of LCA Mk-II in 2009. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the prime agency for development of LCA Mk-II with the public and private partnerships.All the above mentioned shortcomings in LCA Mk-I have been addressed in LCA Mk-II version.

Flanker Vs. Typhoon: Glorious RAF Video From Ex-Indradhanush 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

'Most Interesting Exercise #Indradhanush Ever'

It's been one of the 'most interesting Indradhanush exercises ever', according to pilots at the Indo-UK air exercise underway in Coningsby. Detailed special report coming up.

Photos Courtesy @GordieNick89

Friday, July 03, 2015

Airbus-Mahindra Announce JV For Indian Helo Goldmine

Big development in the goldmine that is India's military helicopter requirement landscape. Airbus Helicopters and India's Mahindra Defence have announced a joint venture that will fight for the many big Indian helicopter competitions. As with most such things these days, it looks to align itself with PM Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' campaign.

"Both companies will now get into discussions to finalize the formation of the joint venture which will act as the prime contractor for India’s military helicopter tenders including the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter, the Naval Utility Helicopter and the Naval Multirole Helicopter procurement programs. The resulting joint venture aims to become the first private Indian helicopter manufacturer under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. This will create hundreds of high-tech jobs locally and lead to a flow of cutting edge technologies to India should it be selected in the governmental helicopter tenders," a joint statement said.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Scam That Wasn't? @IndiaToday's Broadcast On The #VVIPChopperGate Twist

The Scam That Wasn't? Here go the full broadcasts of INDIA TODAY report last evening on the final Italian court judgement in (inter-alia) the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case. Among other things, the judgement fully exonerates ex-IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (Retd) S.P. Tyagi. He was in our studios last night. Videos of the two broadcasts above.