Monday, September 29, 2008

HAL's Baweja: Two different prototypes of 5th Gen fighter, etc

A whole bunch of reporters sort of ambushed HAL chairman AK Baweja shortly after the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Committee meeting concluded this afternoon. He was nice enough to stick around and answer a few questions. Obviously a whole lot of questions were thrust upon him, so I'm just going to list out the updates of whatever he said:

For starters, the committee meeting yesterday has agreed to expedite the conversion of the existing Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) on joint development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft into a formal General Agreement (GA). Interestingly, HAL chairman AK Baweja points out that two separate prototypes with common minimum technology will be developed -- one by Russia (designated the Sukhoi T-50) and a separate one by India (designated FGFA for now). While the Russian aircraft will be a single-seater, the Indian FGFA will be a twin seater, but not a trainer version of the Russian counterpart. Baweja explained that as per IAF doctrinal inputs, they want a mix of both single and twin seaters, though they would prefer the Indian sider to develop a twin-seater platform. HAL will be contributing largely to composites, cockpits and avionics. The current AL-31FP engine will have to evolve into a more powerful turbofan -- HAL is working to enter into a joint development mechanism with Russia for the evolution of the FGFA engine as an upward derivative of the AL-31FP.

The 20-ton multirole transport aircraft (MRTA) proposal has moved forward as well. A 50:50 shareholders agreement is now awaiting approval from the Russian side.

The proposal for the HAL-built Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) being developed to replace the Cheetah/Chetak fleet will shortly be taken to the Cabinet for final approval. According to Baweja, concepts of the chopper are firmed up and in place, work has even begun. Baweja has formally committed to certification and delivery of the first 10 choppers in 6 years. Incidentally, Ecuador will soon order two more ALH Dhruvs, taking its total order to nine helicopters.

HAL will build engines for any follow-on MiG-29Ks that the Navy orders. And the Chetak naval UAV being built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will make its first flight in a year. A formal contract with HAL is currently pending final approval.

Illustration ©Zinatullin Rustam

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aroor, were you there for this function and heard yourself Baweja saying all that?

Anonymous said...

Finding and Training one pilot itself is difficult!After 2020 how many youngsters will come forward to join airforce as fighter pilots?
we also should opt for single pilot aircraft like the russians. So,much automation is going to be there with AESA forward and rear with 360 deg allround look capability with conformal arrays,powerfull mission and signal processors, Automated cockpit management,weapon launching computers networked on the aircraft! why do we need twin piloted FGFA?

Anonymous said...

MCA nowhere is in sight or it will b no early than 2020

thats y v r going with russia cuz

neither europe making 5th gen fighters and USA don't export f22

and f 35 is inferior to pakfa

anmd pakfa will b in f22 class

Anonymous said...

MR baweja should b fired

he can't even organise hal

v can't even produce enough su30 quickly

can't produce dhruvs quickly

just think how may LCA will b produced per year

just think how many MRCA aircraft will b produced per year

Mihir said...

Anon @ 7:07,

After a point, the sensor fusion and automation tend to overwhelm the pilot. If there are two crew members, the load is eased, leading to improved performance.

IIRC, the French faced the same problems with their single-seat Rafales and the AdlA is demanding more two-seaters (I could be wrong on this, though).

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Mihir@10.30PM: I agree with you about the performance dilemma faced by the Dassault Rafale and therefore there have been more tandem-seaters ordered than the single-seat variant. But EADS and BAE Systems on the other hand claim that such problems have been resolved on the EF-2000 Eurofighter. But all in all, I must say that Dr Baweja's limited soundbytes on the FGFA project have raised far more questions, instead of revealing much.

Anonymous said...

When you say joint venture, how much technology transfer are we looking up? I mean, how independent would India be in making these crafts if Russia should pull the rug?

Brahmos had a similar ending - where Mr.Sivathanu shrugged questions about the ramjet engine saying that there is not tech transfer in joint developments! Will this be the same case with FGFA?

Anonymous said...

TO ANON AT 5.48 AM

no country transfers their latest tech e.g

USA doesn't SELLS THEIR electronic warfare systems

USA refused to provide source codes for JSF buyers even to UK and UK threatened to pull out

US not selling their f22

US hestating to transfer apg79 radar tech


-------------------------------------------------

and similar case is with russia and france

france hesitating to transfer rafale tech

look at china they r still dependent on russia for engines, radars for THEIR J11

seekers for pl 12 missile r provided from russia

russia not providing brahmos like stuff to china

no help in making chinese nuclear subs from russia

russia is hesitating to trasfer tech for advanced weapons

russia not providing tu 22m3 aircraft to china

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, in my view, the FGFA cannot be called a "joint development" because it is essentially a wholly Russian plane, which is only being locally customized by India.

As per Mr. Baweja's statement, India would develop only the twin-seater version of the original Russian T-50. Thus, India's effort would be similar to Israel's customized twin-seat F-16I Sufa, or the twin-seat variant of Su-27. As the development of both these planes did NOT involve any significant efforts, time or re-engineering at all, the development of an Indian two-seater would also not involve much efforts.

Mr. Baweja also stated that the local Indian version of the T-50 would have "different" electronics and radars. Thus, it would be similar to India's Su-30 MKI or China's J-11 B, much of whose avionics were developed indigenously but nevertheless remained essentially Russian designs.

Thus, it is unclear as to why HAL, and the media continue to call the FGFA a "joint development", when all Russian newspapers do not even mention the word 'India' in news reports about the PAK-FA. Just as calling the Fighter-China 1 (FC-1) as the JF-17 Thunder is only an insistence of Pakistan, so is the term FGFA an Indian term only, which is completely independent of the Russian PAK-FA.

In my view, there is a planned and directed effort at misleading the Indian public to believe that the PAK-FA is a "joint" development, when in fact it is practically a licence purchase agreement only. I think Mr. Baweja must be asked questions about the indigenous MCA proposal.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anon/Abhiman,

Thanks for your comments. BTW, china has been sold the silk worm missile, which is only slightly slower version. Most imporatantly, CHINESE HAVE the BRAINS to reverse engineer, which we COMPREHENSIVELY lack.

I believe MCA questions should be directed to DRDO/ADA and not HAL.

Considering this is the first shot by Russians on stealth, wonder how low the RCS is going to be for FGFA.And I have serious doubts about the timelines they are projecting. US took 20 years to design, develop, test and perfect the Raptor...

-Anon @ 5:48

Teews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teews said...

And with that the entertainment channel is back on :) Welcome back Abhiman.

Jiska kasoor hai, woh bhi bekasoor hai :)

Anonymous said...

prasun k sengupta and abhiman, dumb and dumber, the funniest movie ever made!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Abhiman said...

Addressed to Anon @ 9:06 pm : See, India has managed to obtain the working and manufacturing process of the ramjet engine of Brahmos, by repeated inspections and close observation of the same, even though Russia is not bound to disclose the same to India. Thus, in the area of ramjet missiles, India does not "lag behind" China.

As per a recent interview of Dr. Natarajan, he mentioned that MCA will be an extension of Tejas LCA, and he also recommended that IAF must acquire 250 MCAs. In a conference in Feb. 2007, he had mentioned details about MCA. In "stark contrast", it may be noted that the IAF has NEVER even acknowledged the MCA's existence.

Thus, it may be apparent that the "hurried" urgency to get the agreement of PAk-FA cleared may, in part, also serve a 'hidden agenda' of "scuttling" the MCA. It is well-known that the IAF is usually "reluctant" to procure indigenous weaponry, citing "delays" etc. Despite the fact that DRDO has repeatedly publicly released documentation and future plans regarding the MCA since atleast 2002, the IAF has not even responded to it's proposals but is "gung-ho" about the PAK-FA, of which it hasn't had any say in it's development yet.

Thank you.

References :-

1) Dr. Natarajan's interview :
http://www.flonnet.com/stories/20080829251704400.htm

2) "DRDO working on MCA project", The Hindu, Feb 10, 2007.
http://www.hindu.com/2007/02/10/stories/2007021017110500.htm

Anonymous said...

abe abhiman,

kyun tu sabka bheja khaata hain?

all the time same post repeat.

in latest new indian express mca program has been cleared by IAF to replace MRCA. so stop crying ur precious mrca is safe!!!!

Abhiman said...

To the above anonymous commentator, it may be said that the Indian Express news report in question is unclear.

As the MRCA are meant to serve upto 2040 or 2050, it is unlikely that it's successor is being conceptualized nearly half a century before, today (as the then technologies and operational requirements are not known today).

However, if we assume that the multirole fighters in question are the serving MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s in the IAF, then it may be possible that the IAF is following the USAF paradigm of 5th G fighters. In USAF, the F-22 was concieved as a conscious shift to the next generation of 5th G fighter planes only. On the other hand, the simultaneous development of the JSF was done only to replace the 4.5th G F-teens in the USAF. The JSF "ended up" being of the 5th G, because it was but "natural" that the successor of the 4.5th G F-teens be of the 5th G, else replacement would have been redundant.

Now, it must be noted that India cannot afford the purchase and maintenance of 2 different types of 5th G planes. Hence, it not not so happen that the MCA supported by IAF actually concludes into merely a larger two-engined derivative of the Tejas. Since interviews dating back to 2004, Dr. V K Atre, Dr. Saraswat and Dr. Natarajan have clearly described the MCA as a "next generation" fighter plane, which implies a 5th G plane without say.

Thank you.

anthony said...

The FGFA, or Su-50MKI (as I would call it), co-developed by Sukhoi and HAL, would be India's Raptor.

By the 2020s, India would have needed a Gen 5 Raptor-type fighter to supplant the Su-30MKI Flanker in the event of operations against PAF and especially PLAAF,high up in the mountainous Himalayas.

As I recalled seeing online pictures of the PAK FA, even before its scheduled first flight, it proves that this project would take an arduous amount of time and effort to put together correctly.