A Word from Ed­i­tor-in-Chief


THE MIL­I­TARY AVI­A­TION SCENE in In­dia has once again been hum­ming with ac­tiv­ity, the most re­cent one be­ing the ap­proval by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil un­der the Min­istry of De­fence for the pur­chase of six AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copters for the avi­a­tion wing of the In­dian Army. These six ma­chines will be supplied by Boe­ing De­fence, Space and Se­cu­rity (BDS) of the US that has al­ready bagged a con­tract for 22 of these plat­forms for the In­dian Air Force (IAF). There is also an en­cour­ag­ing piece of news for the IAF that the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia is likely to ap­prove pur­chase of the second lot of 36 Rafale jets from Das­sault Avi­a­tion of France which the com­bat fleet of the IAF badly needs. The In­dian Navy too is pur­su­ing a case for the ac­qui­si­tion of 57 twin-en­gine com­bat air­craft for the new air­craft car­rier INS Vikrant, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion at the Cochin Ship­yard. Op­tions be­fore the In­dian Navy are the twin-en­gine F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net from BDS and the Rafale from Das­sault. A de­ci­sion in favour of the lat­ter could help fa­cil­i­tate in­duc­tion of more Rafale jets into the IAF. This is­sue of SP’s Avi­a­tion car­ries re­views and analy­ses by Ran­jit Ku­mar and Air Mar­shal B.K. Pandey (Retd) of the ac­qui­si­tions of the dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary air­craft in the off­ing.

While the ac­qui­si­tion of mil­i­tary air­craft cur­rently in the pipe­line are all from for­eign sources, on Au­gust 26, the In­dian aerospace ma­jor Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Limited (HAL) un­veiled at its fa­cil­ity in Ben­galuru, the in­dige­nously de­vel­oped “Com­bat-Ready” model of the BAE Hawk Ad­vanced Jet Trainer, dubbed as the Hawk-In­dia. Also un­veiled was the in­dige­nously de­signed and de­vel­oped Light Com­bat He­li­copter (LCH) that is now go­ing into se­ries pro­duc­tion. The event was a for­mal one and presided over by Arun Jait­ley, Min­is­ter of De­fence. A re­port on the event by Air Mar­shal B.K. Pandey (Retd) has been in­cluded in this is­sue.

Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the US, Rus­sia and China, In­dia too is em­barked on a jour­ney into fifth gen­er­a­tion com­bat plat­forms in­dige­nously by way of the Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA) as well as through col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sukhoi of Rus­sia. In this is­sue, there is a de­tailed re­view by R. Chan­drakanth of the de­vel­op­ments across the globe in the regime of fifth gen­er­a­tion plat­forms and where In­dia stands in the race.

Writ­ing from Van­cou­ver in Canada, By­ron Bohlman, an air­line in­dus­try vet­eran for 35 years, looks at the high leas­ing costs that has a crip­pling ef­fect on the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try. The au­thor car­ries out an in-depth anal­y­sis of the com­plex dynamics that im­pinges on the fi­nan­cial health of op­er­a­tors and sug­gests re­me­dial mea­sures. Writ­ing about re­gional avi­a­tion, R. Chan­drakanth fo­cuses on a ma­jor cri­sis loom­ing large over the hori­zon for re­gional car­ri­ers both in the US and Canada. Re­gional car­ri­ers in these two na­tions are likely to be hit badly on ac­count of short­age of qual­i­fied pilots. Both reg­u­lar and re­gional avi­a­tion fleets are grow­ing rapidly cre­at­ing de­mand more greater num­ber of pilots. Also, pilots em­ployed by re­gional car­ri­ers, af­ter hav­ing built up the req­ui­site ex­pe­ri­ence, move on to the ma­jor air­lines where pay and perks are far more at­trac­tive, cre­at­ing a prob­lem for the re­gional car­ri­ers. This will in­hibit in­vest­ment in re­gional avi­a­tion thus af­fect­ing growth of the over­all air­line in­dus­try. On the other hand, the ma­jor global com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing jet engines for air­lin­ers are up­beat about fu­ture prospects as they are ramp­ing up re­search and de­vel­op­ment to pro­duce aero engines that will de­liver greater fuel ef­fi­ciency. In the wake of in­creas­ing de­mand by le­gacy car­ri­ers for larger air­lin­ers, the de­mand for engines with bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency is also grow­ing.

All these and more in this is­sue of SP’s Avi­a­tion. Wel­come aboard and happy land­ings!


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