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IAF Statement: Four of the first batch of five Antonov An-32 tactical transport aircraft that recently underwent 'total technical life extension' (TTLE), overhaul and re-equipment at Ukraine were inducted into the IAF, albeit with a new nomenclature -- AN-32 RE.
Stating that IAF has been imbibing and exploiting technological advances and adapting to the revolution in military affairs, Air Marshal Joseph Neri, Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance (AOM) said the re-equipped An-32 RE aircraft would fulfill tactical transport requirements of the IAF up to and beyond 2025.
Air Mshl Neri inducted the first batch of An-32 RE aircraft at a brief induction and handing over ceremony held at Palam airbase in Delhi. DG (Aircraft), Air Mshl RK Vashisht, senior MOD and IAF officials, representatives of M/S Spets Techno Export (STE) from Ukraine and aircrew that flew in the aircraft from Kiev was among those present at the ceremony.
The An-32, the backbone of the IAF's transport fleet, operational since 1984, has flown more than 800,000 hours on various missions. To overcome maintenance challenges due to ageing and obsolescence while still left with airframe hours and number of landings led the IAF to conceive a mid-life upgrade in 2005, and a contract was finalized in June 2009.
The project envisages TTLE from existing 25 to 40 years, overhaul and re-equipment of 40 aircraft at designer certified plants in Ukraine of 10 aircraft annually and supply of material and 'transfer of technology' (ToT) for upgrade of 64 remaining aircraft at IAF's No. 1 Base Repair Depot (BRD) at Kanpur. The upgrade at Kiev is expected to be completed by March 2014 and upgrade at 1 BRD by March 2017.
The special features of An-32 RE include modification in cockpit layout, upgraded avionics equipment, noise and vibration reduction enhancing crew comfort, reliability and maintainability of the aircraft.
Sharing the experience of the aircrew flying the upgraded aircraft fitted from Kiev to India via Ankara, Cairo, Jeddah, Doha and UAE, Gp Capt RC Mohile, one of the captains of the An-32 RE and the team leader described that the new navigational equipment proved extremely useful and made the complex navigation process involved on the international route easy to negotiate.
Yesterday, Livefist hosted a contributed column which sought to refute arguments made in a widely read article by Dr. Ashley J Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a well-known commentator on international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues. Dr Tellis sent me his response yesterday, one in which he seeks to "set the record straight". Here is what he sent me, in full, exclusive to Livefist:
The MMRCA, Once More
by Ashley J. Tellis
I appreciate the trouble Mihir Shah has taken to respond to my recent piece, “Decoding India’s MMRCA Decision.” His response, unfortunately, perpetuates some extant misimpressions, while creating new ones. I would like to set the record straight.
First, although the claim that the IAF has “settled for a plane, not a relationship” has been widely attributed to me, that is decidedly not my personal view. What I did say consistently from the moment that the IAF’s choices became public—in an April 28, 2011 interview with the Hindu from which the quote is drawn—is that many in the United States, including in the U.S. Government, hold that by choosing the Eurofighter and the Rafale as the MMRCA finalists, India settled for an airplane rather than a relationship. The failure to see this critical distinction has led more than a few to wonder how I could urge the IAF to choose the best aircraft in my earlier report Dogfight! and question its choices subsequently.
Second, I have studied the six aircraft in the MMRCA fray quite carefully and I know their characteristics and performance in greater detail than I could ever write about without leaving the reader disoriented. Consequently, I will not reopen here the discussion about the merits of the six airplanes, except to say that Mr. Shah appears to have overlooked my extensive discussion in Dogfight! of the IAF’s threat environment, the operational demands made on the MMRCA in any future war, and the importance of the surface attack mission for success even in defensive counterair campaigns.
In this context, I will resist the temptation of refuting his claims about the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet’s multirole and high-altitude capabilities in order to focus solely on the most important argument suffusing the discussion in “Decoding India’s MMRCA Decision”: based on the standards of aerodynamic excellence, growth potential, longevity of puissance, and combat effectiveness, the IAF chose well in down-selecting the Eurofighter and the Rafale because they were, on balance, the leaders of the pack.
Mr. Shah seems to have overlooked this central point. “Decoding India’s MMRCA Decision” was not intended to be a comparative assessment of the various contestants, but rather a simple explication of the claim that the IAF did in fact make its choices solely on the basis on the four criteria above—“entirely on technical grounds,” I emphasized—rather than on the alternative variables posited by others (which have dismayed many U.S. policymakers and friends of India within the U.S. Government), such as the reliability of the United States as a supplier, supposed U.S. technology transfer constraints, or political considerations in New Delhi about hedging.
Yes, I did question how the IAF scored the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in the flight trials on one or two issues, but these were in the scheme of things largely quibbles. The basic point that I intended to make—and hopefully made—was that far from being guided by other considerations, the IAF made its down-select entirely on the basis of technical factors, as any fighting force worth its salt ought to have done. Given the complexities of the comparisons at issue, I think the IAF acquitted itself in the MMRCA competition with remarkable professionalism, diligence and, my minor criticisms notwithstanding, impartiality and grace.
Nothing I said in this article repudiates my admiration for the IAF and the manner in which it conducted the MMRCA contest. Airpower specialists will argue endlessly about the merits of its choices—I did and several thoughtful Indians have as well—but that does not undermine my basic judgment that the IAF conducted a comprehensive evaluation that was fundamentally fair, a view I clearly expressed earlier in Dogfight!
(Incidentally, Mr. Shah misconstrues my use of the adjective “perverse” when he says I used it to “characterize the IAF and MoD’s adherence to the two-step acquisition process.” Actually, I noted the “perverse adherence to process” when I described the defense ministry’s failure to inform the external affairs ministry about its down-select, which was communicated to the international vendors without prior coordination with
Third, the larger point which I did raise, and which Mr. Shah seized on but only partially, was the limitation of the “two-step” procedure. He argues that “a strict and almost pig-headed adherence to laid-down rules and procedures” is necessary to avoid “leaving even the smallest procedural gaps open to exploitation by vested interests,” with all the resulting dangers to India’s war-fighting capabilities.
I think this argument is highly misleading—and actually dangerous. There is no question that
The solution to this problem is to create a structured opportunity for policymakers to price everything that matters in a defense acquisition from the get go—technical characteristics, warfighting performance, technology transfer, offsets benefits, and yes, even strategic partnership—so that Indian security managers get a good sense of what the real direct and opportunity costs of their acquisitions actually are. This exercise has to be conducted by Indian officials themselves—and to insinuate that they are incapable of undertaking such analyses or are likely to fall prey to the lures of corruption during such a process is to sell them and India itself woefully short. That claim is actually more damning than anything I said in my piece.
The limitations of the present two-step procedure constituted the main criticism articulated in “Decoding India’s MMRCA Decision.” In effect, I argued that while the Eurofighter and the Rafale represented the best technical choices in the MMRCA competition—and as such were sensible, nay inevitable, selections by the IAF—the Ministry of Defense, and the Indian state more generally, has no way currently of assessing whether these two selectees represent the best value for the air force and the country at large. Undertaking this kind of an appraisal requires incorporating what matters to the warfighter, but also transcending it—by evaluating how any given acquisition fits into larger national objectives, existing resource constraints, and the strategic question of how India should maximize its advantages in a world of increasing danger.
The Indian Army's 201 Bomb Disposal Company under the Western Command carrying out disposal of unexploded munitions at the Inland Container Depot, (ICD) Tughlakabad near Delhi. The operation, codenamed Sahyog-II, involves handling and segregation of approximately 3,500 munitions lying at depot and transporting them to a range. Over 2500 munitions have been safely disposed. The operation is likely to be completed by end June. The squad has been using a remotely operated vehicle (British-built) and bomb suits to recover the munitions. According to a statement from the Army, "The handling is tricky as the origin of munitions is not known and due to its old vintage the chances of accidental detonation is very high."
Photos / Indian Army