HAL Up­grades Jaguar Air­craft with Is­raeli AESA Radar

IAF to use the Jaguars till 2028 France gives 30 old Jaguars Free for Spares

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Gul­shan Luthra

BAN­GA­LORE/PARIS. In­dia’s state-run aero­space com­pany

HAL has suc­cess­fully in­stalled the pow­er­ful AESA (Ac­tive Elec­tron­i­cally Scanned Ar­ray) radar on the IAF’s Jaguar air­craft for the first time.

The first test flight of the

Jaguar with an Is­raeli AESA on­board was con­ducted

Au­gust 9 from Ban­ga­lore’s

HAL air­port, in line with the com­pany’s man­date to in­crease the air­craft’s op­er­a­tional life to 2028. Ini­tial re­sults were suc­cess­ful but there would be some more tests in ac­cor­dance with the es­tab­lished pro­ce­dures be­fore the sys­tem is in­te­grated into the air­craft’s avion­ics ar­chi­tec­ture.

The air­craft is now flown only in In­dia by IAF, and to keep it op­er­a­tional, 30 old, dis­used Jaguars are be­ing pro­cured from

France to be can­ni­balised for spares. The French have of­fered them for free and an agree­ment be­tween the In­dian and French min­istries of de­fence has al­ready been signed. HAL will ship all of them on as is con­di­tion to In­dia and then source spares from them, mod­i­fy­ing some in the process, as re­quired.

HAL Chair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor T Su­varna Raju had told In­dia Strate­gic in an in­ter­view that HAL is the only com­pany that is ser­vic­ing or over­haul­ing the Jaguars, and for the IAF fleet, ac­quired from 1978 on­wards, it has been fit­ting newer elec­tron­ics on­board to keep the air­craft mis­sion ready for many years, and the process con­tin­ues.

The most po­tent up­grade is the in­stal­la­tion of

AESA. A Com­bat Radar, it has been pro­vided by Is­raeli Aero­space In­dus­tries or IAI’s ELTA di­vi­sion, which has also sup­plied sev­eral elec­tron­ics sys­tems to HAL for the Light Com­bat Air­craft (LCA) Te­jas also. To fit the AESA, the Jaguar’s ear­lier Fire Con­trol Radar has been re­moved, and now, the air­craft would be de­liv­ered to IAF with both the AESA and what is called DARIN III stan­dard.

DARIN UP­GRADES

DARIN, coined by Air Chief Mar­shal Dil­bagh Singh in the 1980s, stands for Dis­play, At­tack, Rang­ing and In­er­tial Nav­i­ga­tion. DARIN-I and II are al­ready done and over with as part of pe­ri­odic up­grades.

In­ci­den­tally, it was this writer who had first re­ported the se­lec­tion of Bri­tish Har­rier for the In­dian Navy and that of the An­gloFrench Jaguar for the In­dian Air Force (IAF) as a cor­re­spon­dent for the UNI news agency some 40 years back. IAF in­ducted the nu­clear ca­pa­ble Sepecat Jaguars as Deep Strike Pen­e­tra­tion Air­craft (DPSA) from 1978 on­wards. Sepecat was a joint ven­ture be­tween the then Bri­tish Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion (BAC) and French Breguet, both of which, in their new avatars, have long dis­con­tin­ued man­u­fac­tur­ing or ser­vic­ing the air­craft.

No­tably, IAF had opted for the Bri­tish vari­ant, so that lim­its the use of the French Jaguars as fly­ing ma­chines even though three or four of them can pos­si­bly still fly. Nonethe­less, they would be a life­line to keep the ex­ist­ing fleet op­er­a­tional.

IAF has more than 100 Jaguars in its op­er­a­tional in­ven­tory, about 20 of them specif­i­cally de­ployed for Mar­itime Strike role on coastal bases. Their orig­i­nal Agave radars were re­placed by mul­ti­role ELTA EL/M-2032 radars (not AESA) some 10 years back.

AESA CA­PA­BIL­ITY

De­tails of the AESA’s range and ca­pa­bil­i­ties are not avail­able but what­ever model it is, it would greatly en­hance the air­craft’s sur­veil­lance and pre­ci­sion strike ca­pa­bil­ity. Mr Raju only said that it is the state-of-the-art, ca­pa­ble of track­ing and en­gag­ing mul­ti­ple tar­gets, and that the im­agery is high res­o­lu­tion and ac­cu­rate, thanks to higher band­width of such sys­tems and in­ter­leaved modes of op­er­a­tion.

It is also the first time that a Jaguar is be­ing flown any­where with AESA ca­pa­bil­ity. An AESA radar has no mov­ing parts, and trans­mits and re­ceives sig­nals real time.

So far, only the IL-76 AWACS air­craft of IAF fit­ted with Is­raeli Phal­con sys­tem has the AESA ca­pa­bil­ity. Jaguars will be se­cond, and Rafales, when they are in­ducted in 2019 – or maybe ear­lier – the third.

AESA IM­PER­A­TIVE ON ALL NEW AIR­CRAFT

It may be re­called that IAF had spec­i­fied the AESA re­quire­ment as a ne­ces­sity for the first time in its ten­der for Medium Multi Role Air­craft (MMRCA) in 2007. As a pol­icy de­ci­sion, highly placed sources told In­dia Strate­gic, all new air­craft to be ac­quired from now on, in­clud­ing the in­dige­nous Light Com­bat Air­craft (LCA) Te­jas, will have to have the AESA ca­pa­bil­ity.

DARIN III

HAL is al­ready up­grad­ing the Jaguars to the DARIN-III stan­dard, for which it was granted

Ini­tial Op­er­a­tional Clear­ance ( IOC) last year. The pro­gramme in­cludes an Open Sys­tem Ar­chi­tec­ture Mis­sion Com­puter (OSMAC), En­gine and Flight In­stru­ment Sys­tem (EFIS), Fire Con­trol Radar, In­er­tial Nav­i­ga­tion Sys­tem with GPS and Geode­tic Height Cor­rec­tion. In­stal­la­tion of AESA is ap­par­ently part of this pro­gramme now.

NEW HONEY­WELL EN­GINES

An IAF pro­posal is also pend­ing be­fore the Gov­ern­ment for fit­ting new Honey­well en­gines on Jaguars to make them more pow­er­ful and en­able them to fly over the moun­tains.

Right now, the twin-en­gine air­craft can fly only over the plains. If the Honey­well pro­posal, cost­ing about $2 bil­lion, is ap­proved then the air­craft would get some very mod­ern sys­tems and be able to cross the Hi­malayan ter­rain and also ex­ceed its range of 400 km.

Mr Raju how­ever pointed out that as HAL has the own­er­ship and de­sign rights to mod­ify and up­grade the Jaguars, “We have pro­posed that let Honey­well be a con­sul­tant to HAL, give us the en­gines, and we will in­te­grate them.” HAL has the ex­pe­ri­ence, and this way, IAF would also be spend­ing less. No­tably though, Rolls-Royce, which had pro­vided the Adour en­gines for the Jaguars, has also of­fered to tweak the en­gines a bit. There is still no de­ci­sion though on whether to re­tain or re­place the old en­gines.

IN­DIAN IN­NO­VA­TIONS

In line with the say­ing Ne­ces­sity is the Mother of In­ven­tion, it may be re­called that within a few years of Jaguars’ in­duc­tion, HAL and IAF were able to mod­ify the air­craft with over-wing py­lons to ac­com­mo­date the French Ma­tra 550 Magic 2 air-to-air mis­siles. And, over the years some more par­tic­u­larly to the avion­ics. The Bri­tish took the Over-wing Py­lon in­no­va­tion to some other Jaguars, in­clud­ing those for the Omani Air Force.

It may be re­called that In­dian Air Force had also mod­i­fied the pro­peller driven US-sup­plied Fairchild Packet trans­port air­craft with a third en­gine, the Or­pheus jet en­gine from the Gnat air­craft. The thrust of this en­gine en­abled the air­craft, used dur­ing the 1960s, to fly over the Hi­malayas and drop sup­plies to the In­dian sol­diers de­ployed in tough ter­rain there and even take-off from high al­ti­tude ALGs such as Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO). Sig­nif­i­cantly, thanks to the se­lec­tion of Jaguars and some naval sys­tems and mis­siles, In­dia be­came the largest cus­tomer for the Bri­tish by the early 1990s.

The new avatar for the Bri­tish now is the mul­ti­di­men­sional BAE Sys­tems which man­u­fac­tures plat­forms and on­board sys­tems for Army, Navy, Air Force, Space and Cy­ber. It has sold the Hawk Ad­vanced Jet Train­ers (AJTs) to the In­dian Air Force and Navy mis­siles, on­board sys­tems for var­i­ous plat­forms, and re­cently M777 light how­itzers from its US fa­cil­ity. Hawks are now be­ing made by HAL both for IAF and Navy.

HAL Chair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor T Su­varna Raju

A ground strike ver­sion of Jaguar with full bomb load

An IAF Jaguar on static dis­play with Honey­well F125 en­gine in the fore­ground

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