“Op­por­tu­ni­ties in Cri­sis”

Prof. Prodyut Das mulls over the Fal­con, Gripen, Te­jas

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & Inindia -

Cer­e­mo­nial IOCs apart, the date of the ef­fec­tive IOC (sic) of the LCA Te­jas con­tin­ues to be un­cer­tain. The cur­rent bets are on for June 2017 but only the con­gen­i­tally gullible will be­lieve this. Worn out by overuse, th­ese oc­ca­sions usu­ally mark not progress but the re­tire­ment of some­one who had joined the project as a young man. The lat­est date for the LCA Mk.1A given by the DRDO Chief is of sig­nif­i­cance.The Mark 1A’s first flight is given as 2018 with com­ple­tion of test­ing by 2021 and pro­duc­tion start­ing from 2022. Th­ese dates, nor­mal for a new project, in­di­cates com­pre­hen­sive re­design is re­quired to make a Mk.1 into a Mk.1A. New read­ers are re­ferred to Vayu I/2015. Go­ing en­tirely by com­mon sense, the Te­jas Mk. 1 air­craft seems un­fit for in­duc­tion. The truth is that this project has done more to re­duce the front­line strength of the IAF than the two at­tempts by the Pak­istan Air Force. Pre­cisely for this rea­son if the LCA Mk.1 was even half de­cent, the IAF would be glad to have the forty Mk.1s if only to work out its SOPs whilst wait­ing for the Mk.1A. This was what the RAF did with the less than sat­is­fac­tory Hunter Mk.1.This has not hap­pened. The of­fi­cial ru­mour, as Sir Humphrey Ap­pleby of Yes Min­is­ter would say, is that the pro­duc­tion is con­strained by sup­ply of com­pos­ite parts pro­duced by NAL. It will be noted that three lim­ited se­ries ( ital­ics mine) pro­duc­tion air­craft, LSPs 3, 4 and 5 were turned out within a pe­riod of six months in 2010. So if the IOC 1 was not merely cer­e­mo­nial we should have had at least 36 air­craft by now, ad­mit­tedly hand built and ad­mit­tedly be­low par, but it would have given us some­thing bet­ter than the Hawk as a close sup­port air­craft in an emer­gency. The fact that five years af­ter an IOC, the pro­duc­tion rate is one air­craft per year and dates con­tinue to re­main un­cer­tain in­di­cates that : The IOCs etc are Nau­tankis, a form of ru­ral folk drama usu­ally noted for un­pre­dictable out­comes and non­fol­low­ing of scripts. The air­craft has se­vere tech­ni­cal flaws and is un­fit for ser­vice. No one can clear it for mass pro­duc­tion. Air­craft de­bug­ging is not some form of black magic. Is the prob­lem cul­tural? I men­tion this be­cause I have no­ticed this in the CAD/CAE in­dus­try. When things do not come out right, the peo­ple know what needs to be done but lack the faith and the en­ergy to put it right on the ac­tual prod­uct. Or worst, were the de­lays con­doned so that things slid to the im­ports route ? Be­low is my un­kind but per­haps not un­rea­son­able as­sess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion. The story is told of a RAF twin en­gine light bomber of WWII whose en­gine speed gov­er­nor re­quired “a look at” ev­ery fif­teen hours. Un­for­tu­nately the cowl­ing had for aero­dy­namic rea­sons not been pro­vided with a suit­able ac­cess panel and it was in one piece so the en­tire cowl­ing had to be taken off. To take it off, the pro­pel­ler had to be taken off first. In the LCA where the cus­tomer was kept at arm’s length to “fast track the project” (of­fi­cial ‘pomp’ in the ‘ 90s, if I re­mem­ber right) ser­vice­abil­ity re­lated is­sues would be quite likely.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.