US-2: A Force Mul­ti­plier for In­dia

SP's NavalForces - - AMPHIBIOUS AIRCRAFT - CMDE SU­JEET SA­MAD­DAR, NM (RETD)

From an eco­nomic, ca­pa­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity-build­ing per­spec­tive the Ja­panese of­fer to set up fi­nal as­sem­bly and in­te­gra­tion fa­cil­ity, parts man­u­fac­ture and MRO fa­cil­ity for the US-2 air­craft in in­dia in the pri­vate sec­tor, will build up the aero­nau­tics sup­ply chain and cre­ate a clus­ter of high tech­nol­ogy SMES ser­vic­ing not only the US-2 but also global air­craft and he­li­copter man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies quite like the Suzuki model which gal­vanised the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try in in­dia. the po­ten­tial for ex­port of the US-2 air­craft to third coun­tries un­der mu­tual agree­ment be­tween in­dia and Ja­pan may open a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar mar­ket.

the IN­DIAN navy is no stranger to am­phib­ian air­craft. naval avi­a­tion, which for­mally took birth at Kochi on May 11, 1953, op­er­ated the Shorts Sealand am­phib­ian air­craft, as its first In­dian naval air­craft. how­ever, the ca­pa­bil­ity of op­er­at­ing such air­craft was lost only in the 1960s when in­dian navy in­ducted con­ven­tional air­craft. With the ad­vent of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in am­phib­ian air­craft, it is only nat­u­ral that the in­dian navy has now sought to reac­quire this unique ca­pa­bil­ity, to truly re­alise its blue wa­ter ca­pa­bil­ity.

am­phib­ian air­craft com­bine the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of rapid sur­veil­lance and prompt re­sponse, whether for re­lief or ar­rest or in­ter­ven­tion, in a sin­gle plat­form. Such a ca­pa­bil­ity is not avail­able on any other plat­form. un­like he­li­copters and air­craft, am­phib­ian air­craft can land at the lo­ca­tion and en­force both the will and the law of the na­tion and thus are a plat­form of choice for mil­i­tary trans­porta­tion, be­nign and con­stab­u­lary mis­sions of navies and pos­si­bly the Coast guard for con­stab­u­lary func­tions. un­like ships, am­phib­ian air­craft can reach the lo­ca­tion far faster than ships can thereby pre­vent­ing de­struc­tion or dump­ing of con­tra­band/ev­i­dence or es­ca­la­tion of a pre­cip­i­tous in­ci­dent at sea. this in­cludes the abil­ity of even shore-based mil­i­tary and political au­thor­i­ties to un­der­take a first­hand eval­u­a­tion of a sit­u­a­tion at sea which may have in­ter­na­tional ram­i­fi­ca­tions if left to es­ca­late with­out con­trol. no other aerial or sur­face plat­form has such ca­pa­bil­ity.

The op­er­a­tional pro­file of an am­phib­ian air­craft com­prise of a land/lake/river­based launch with full cargo and per­son­nel com­men­su­rate with the mis­sion at hand, rapid tran­sit to the tar­get area mid-ocean or close ashore/in­land wa­ter body, sur­veil­lance, data gath­er­ing and anal­y­sis dur­ing a stand-off ul­tra low level and low speed loi­ter, alight­ing on the wa­ter for ex­e­cut­ing the mar­itime mis­sion and then ei­ther tran­sit to an­other desti­na­tion or re­turn to the par­ent launch fa­cil­ity.

how­ever, not all am­phib­ian air­craft are suited for mod­ern mar­itime mis­sions. For mis­sion ef­fec­tive­ness the main pa­ram­e­ters of per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion would be rough sea op­er­a­tions, range, pay­load, StOl ca­pa­bil­i­ties, shal­low wa­ter op­er­a­tions and beach­ing abil­ity. Of th­ese, rough sea op­er­a­tions are paramount for in­dia. ac­cord­ing to a study only about 60 per cent of all waves are below 1.2 me­tres in height, but 96 per cent of all waves likely to be en­coun­tered are below 3 me­tres in height. am­phib­ian air­craft must there­fore, by de­sign, have full op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity to un­der­take mar­itime mis­sions in wave heights of 3 me­tres as a norm. the range must be ad­e­quate to con­duct mis­sions into the Malacca Strait on the east­ern se­aboard and into the gulf of aden on the western se­aboard in­clud­ing an abil­ity to reach the is­land na­tions in the re­gion should the need arise. For disas­ter re­lief op­er­a­tions the am­phib­ian must have a ca­pac­ity for on­board first aid, a sick bay for at least 10 pa­tients and com­men­su­rate res­cue gear. StOl fea­tures and shal­low wa­ter op­er­a­tions must per­mit land­ing in busy wa­ter­ways, pos­si­ble river­ine/high-al­ti­tude lake op­er­a­tions as well as in open oceans. low stalling speed would en­able bet­ter ob­ser­va­tion of the tar­get area to search for ca­su­al­ties swept away in cy­clones or tsunamis. Pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity should be suf­fi­cient to carry one pla­toon of res­cue per­son­nel to­gether with disas­ter re­lief ma­te­rial. in ad­di­tion, am­phib­ian air­craft should also be able to land in the rivers and lakes of dis­tant parts of the coun­try and in short run­ways to sup­port the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion. as a to­tal force level the ag­gre­gate trans­porta­tion ca­pa­bil­ity of the am­phib­ian squadron should be able to put ashore one bat­tal­ion of army per­son­nel in one tranche to make a mis­sion truly suc­cess­ful. th­ese mis­sions would re­quire about 15-18 am­phib­ian air­craft af­ter ac­count­ing for main­te­nance and strike off re­serves.

the US-2 meets and in many cases ex­ceeds th­ese op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments. With an abil­ity to op­er­ate in sea state 5, land­ing take-off dis­tances at about 300 m, tran­sit speeds in ex­cess of 550 kmph and a range of 4,500 km there is no other air­craft in its class. Com­bined with the world s only Bound­ary layer Con­trol (BLC) sys­tem on a cargo and trans­port air­craft, spray sup­pres­sion fea­tures, marinised ae 2100 en­gines, glass cock­pits, pres­surised cab­ins and highly so­phis­ti­cated sur­veil­lance and com­mu­ni­ca­tion suite the US-2 stands out as a prod­uct of renowned Ja­panese tech­nol­ogy. the US-2 has proven cre­den­tials of suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions in open sea con­di­tion up to sea state 5 with wave height of 4 me­tres and a wind ve­loc­ity of about 40 kts at a dis­tance of about 1,200 km from main­land Ja­pan.

the large pay­load and high tran­sit speeds per­mit the po­si­tion­ing of se­cu­rity per­son­nel in a state seized with in­ter­nal dis­rup­tions should such in­ter­ven­tion be in­vited of in­dia. in the past, in­dia has pro­vided such sta­bil­i­sa­tion forces and am­phib­ian air­craft sup­ple­ments this capa--

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