The way we were (are) !

The way we were (are)!

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - News - Vayu Ed­i­to­rial Team

In ret­ro­spect of the re­cently con­cluded Aero In­dia 2017 Show, the Vayu Ed­i­to­rial Team takes read­ers through this bi­en­nial event, pre­ceded by the In­ter­na­tional Sem­i­nar (on Aero­space Tech­nol­ogy) or­gan­ised by the DRDO at Ban­ga­lore. Clearly, there was a re­dux of the M-MRCA con­test, with three of the orig­i­nal six con­tenders present. How­ever, ‘ HAL was King’ at the Show, with new air­craft pro­grammes an­nounced (the IMRH) and dis­played (the HTT-40).

The 11th edi­tion of In­dia’s bi­en­nial Air Show, tra­di­tion­ally pre­ceded by the In­ter­na­tional Tech­nol­ogy Sem­i­nar, with the theme this time of ‘Aero­space Tech­nol­ogy Col­lab­o­ra­tion and Self Reliance’ took place at Ban­ga­lore, In­dia’s aero­space cap­i­tal, in mid-Fe­bru­ary 2017. Or­gan­ised by the DRDO, the former at­tracted scores of ex­cel­lent pa­pers ( see sep­a­rately), some of which were pre­sented live by the au­thors at par­al­lel ses­sions at the Royal Orchid Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, not very far from the Air Force Sta­tion Ye­la­hanka, which was host­ing the in­dus­trial ex­hi­bi­tion, static and fly­ing dis­plays.

As for the lat­ter, clearly, some form of ex­haus­tion has crept in, both in terms of or­gan­i­sa­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion. There were fewer ex­hibitors around and not all in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies which re­turned to this edi­tion of Aero In­dia, were ac­tu­ally ex­hibit­ing, with many of their se­nior ex­ec­u­tives choos­ing in­stead to ‘walk the halls’, meet with im­por­tant ( In­dian) per­son­al­i­ties, po­lit­i­cal, bu­reau­cratic and mil­i­tary, so as to achieve their ob­jec­tives with­out spend­ing an arm and a leg ! De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar had the Goa Chief Min­is­ter Laxmikant Parsekar in tow through­out which led to much talk about as to where he was headed : in fact Par­rikar con­tin­u­ously al­luded to the forth­com­ing elec­tions in his na­tive state and the spec­u­la­tions about his re­turn there as Chief Min­is­ter abounded. ( Ed : Manohar Par­rikar re­signed as De­fence Min­is­ter on 12 March and headed back to Panaji to be sworn in as Chief Min­is­ter of Goa, with Arun Jait­ley an­nounced as In­terim De­fence Min­is­ter the next day). Back to Aero In­dia 2017 : there were many lead­ers of in­dus­try who were at Ye­la­hanka with drums beat­ing and flags fly­ing. Amongst these cer­tainly were the Is­raelis and Swedes, while there was a wel­come re­turn by the Bri­tish in­dus­try. In fact the BAE Sys­tems Hawk ad­vanced jet trainer was much in ev­i­dence both in the air and on the ground. Whilst HAL-built Hawk Mk.132s of the Surya Ki­ran Aer­o­batic Team (SKAT) per­formed over Ye­la­hanka ev­ery day, HAL’s re­cently rolled out Hawk-i, the 100th such air­craft pro­duced at Ban­ga­lore, was also shown off in its new blue-white liv­erey. Cyno­sure of all eyes, how­ever, was the ‘Ad­vanced Hawk’, trans­ported from the UK and strate­gi­cally dis­played at the en­trance to Hall E, which housed the huge HAL ex­hi­bi­tion ( see sep­a­rate item). This ‘ pro­to­type’ Ad­vanced Hawk with its new ‘com­bat wing’ was smartly painted in Bri­tish and In­dian colours and is the sub­ject of dis­cus­sions be­tween the two com­pa­nies to meet the In­dian Air Forces’ pro­jected need for po­tent light at­tack air­craft.

The In­au­gu­ral it­self

The in­au­gu­ral took place at sharp 0900 hours on 14 Fe­bru­ary, off the main taxi track of Air Force Sta­tion Ye­la­hanka when De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar ar­rived to be greeted by Or­gan­is­ers of this Edi­tion of Aero In­dia. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing him was Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju, whose pres­ence could well sig­nal a re­turn to In­dian avi­a­tion “syn­ergy”, this be­ing re­peat­edly stressed by both the Cab­i­net min­is­ters. There will be much cheer amongst the in­dus­try,

if in­deed there is ONE air­show in In­dia with the pur­port­edly ‘civil-ori­ented’ In­dia Avi­a­tion Show in Hy­der­abad at­tract­ing fewer and fewer par­tic­i­pants ; another sign of ‘ex­haus­tion’ men­tioned ear­lier! How­ever, alert Vayu read­ers will rec­ol­lect that dur­ing Aero In­dia 2013, then De­fence Min­is­ter AK An­thony had shared his vi­sion for the fu­ture of avi­a­tion in In­dia with the then Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Ajit Singh, who “ap­peared to agree to move ahead jointly for such ex­po­si­tions.” This has still not hap­pened !

Now, in his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress, Mr Par­rikar stated that the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing an enabling en­vi­ron­ment for a do­mes­tic ecosys­tem in de­fence pro­duc­tion. “The de­fence pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings are be­ing re­vi­talised and en­cour­aged. Gov­ern­ment has also taken sev­eral ini­tia­tives for ease of do­ing busi­ness for pri­vate firms and ad­di­tional ini­tia­tives are un­der­way to sup­port the role of pri­vate sec­tor in de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing.” This was echoed by the Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter in his speech, who added that “In­dia’s airspace is well de­fended by the armed forces, which has en­abled civil avi­a­tion to grow and con­nect an in­creas­ing num­ber of des­ti­na­tions in In­dia”. With ref­er­ence to and in sup­port of the Re­gional Air Connectivity (RCS) scheme, Par­rikar later said that HAL has been cleared to build ten civil­ian Dornier 228s, which “sturdy air­craft” will be suit­able for such ap­pli­ca­tions. Par­rikar also pre­dicted a “boom” in the avi­a­tion sec­tor, tak­ing into ac­count both civil­ian and mil­i­tary needs.

How­ever, al­most all the air­craft at Aero In­dia 2017, on static or fly­ing dis­play were un­abashedly mil­i­tary types and many felt that the Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter’s pres­ence could well have been com­ple­mented by at least some civil air­lin­ers at the Show. In fact, con­sid­er­ing Air In­dia’s grow­ing fleet of A320­neos, one such air­craft could have been ‘spared’ to adorn the apron at AFS Ye­la­hanka and per­haps even an Air In­dia B-787 Dream­liner do­ing a flyby after the in­au­gu­ral would have stressed the point !

The speeches over, the in­vi­tees were then treated to the cus­tom­ary fly­ing dis­plays, tra­di­tion­ally start­ing with a trio of Mi-17 he­li­copters trail­ing na­tional flags, fol­lowed by a most un­usual mixed for­ma­tion of five HAL-built air­craft, which com­prised the Te­jas LCA, Dornier 228, HTT-40, Hawk-i, and Su- 30MKI (‘ Might For­ma­tion’). In­di­vid­ual fly­ing dis­plays were then car­ried out by sin­gle ex­am­ples of the Te­jas, Gripen, Rafale, Fal­con and Su-30MKI, fol­lowed by Hawks of the IAF’s Surya Ki­ran For­ma­tion Aer­o­batic Team (SKAT) and the tra­di­tional fi­nale by four HAL Dhruv he­li­copters of the Sarang team.

M-MRCA Con­test Re­dux

There was a whiff of déjà vu at Aero In­dia 2017 with three of the orig­i­nal six M-MRCA con­tenders back on the flight line and in the air above Ye­la­hanka. Dur­ing the run- up to a de­ci­sion for se­lect­ing the In­dian Air Force’s fu­ture fighter, eu­phemisti­cally re­ferred to as the Medi­umMulti Role Com­bat Air­craft, which had kicked off in 2004 and ended in 2012 when the Das­sault Rafale was se­lected, six of the con­tend­ing air­craft types had par­tic­i­pated in ev­ery suc­ces­sive Aero In­dia show, en­com­pass­ing a decade or so of time. With the Rafale de­clared the IAF’s M-MRCA of choice, the other five types were now seen as ‘also ran’ and so, just the Rafale came to Ye­la­hanka in 2013. Still, per­haps in a spirit of ‘never-say-die’, Lock­heed Martin still brought in a pair of F-16s ‘bor­rowed’ from the USAF in Ja­pan. The other four air­craft types (F-18, Ty­phoon, Gripen and MiG-35) were un­der­stand­ably ab­sent. And this re­mained the pat­tern again two years later at Aero In­dia 2015; even though three years had elapsed since the Rafale se­lec­tion had been an­nounced, in Fe­bru­ary 2015 the con­tract had yet to be signed. Fly­ing their flag with sangfroid, Rafale In­ter­na­tional, the con­sor­tium of Das­sault, Thales and Snecma show­cased three Rafales at Aero In­dia 2015, a sin­gle-seat Rafale C and two twin-seat Rafale Bs.

Then at his Press Con­fer­ence dur­ing Aero In­dia 2015, a vis­i­bly anx­ious Air Chief voiced his con­cerns about the state of the IAF’s com­bat fleet, wor­ries on ob­so­les­cence and phase-out of legacy fighter types, in con­text of de­lays in the ac­qui­si­tion of newer plat­forms. He was can­did in his as­sess­ment of the M-MRCA, LCA and FGFA pro­grammes, and clearly stated that the M-MRCA, as a re­quire­ment “is es­sen­tial to the IAF”, but was not nec­es­sar­ily any spe­cific air­craft type, al­lud­ing to the de­layed fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the Rafale con­tract. He later ad­mit­ted that the Air Force had no al­ter­nate plan to meet the M-MRCA re­quire­ment, should ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue to re­main dead­locked. On the sug­ges­tion that more Su-30MKIs could be in­ducted to ‘fill the gap,’ then Air Chief Mar­shal Arup Raha stressed that the two types “com­ple­ment rather than re­place” each other.

Ob­vi­ously, the Air Force’s anx­i­ety was acutely felt by the Prime Min­is­ter when, two months later, at the very start of his state visit to France in April 2015, Naren­dra Modi an­nounced that he had re­quested the French gov­ern­ment to make avail­able 36 Das­sault Rafales to meet the ur­gent re­quire­ments of the In­dian Air Force, thus sweep­ing aside the bu­reau­cratic im­passes which con­tin­ued to dog fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the M- MRCA pro­gramme. How­ever, it still took another eigh­teen months for the for­mal agree­ment to be signed, this fi­nally tak­ing place on 23

Septem­ber 2016. The agree­ment, val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately €7.8 bil­lion (Rs 60,000 crore) com­prises 36 air­craft (28 sin­gle-seat and 8 twin-seat), weapons, spares, main­te­nance and sup­port, as well as a num­ber of IAF-spe­cific cus­tomi­sa­tions. De­liv­er­ies would com­mence 36 months after the con­tract com­ing into force, with all 36 air­craft to be de­liv­ered within a pe­riod of another 36 months.

These dras­ti­cally re­duced num­bers (from 126 to 36) ob­vi­ously gave heart to the other los­ing con­tenders. The US gov­ern­ment quickly ex­pressed their full sup­port to mar­ket­ing ef­forts by Lock­heed Martin and Boe­ing to, re­spec­tively, sell their F-16 Block 70 and F/A-18 E/F Su­per Hor­nets to the In­dian Air Force, the former of­fer­ing to shift its en­tire F-16 fighter pro­duc­tion line from Fort Worth in Texas to In­dia. The re­silient Swedes too re­newed their of­fer to make the Saab Gripen E in In­dia. Fur­ther, the Swedes also sug­gested part­ner­ship in the de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of In­dia’s next-gen fighter, the Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA) as a fol­low-on to the LCA de­vel­oped by ADA, some­thing that would be log­i­cal and en­sure that ADA’s three decade ef­forts on de­sign & de­vel­op­ment of the LCA were not lost in the sands of time much like the HF-24 pro­gramme was.

Thus, the decks were cleared for a re­dux (al­beit more fo­cused) of the M-MRCA con­test at Aero In­dia 2017. Mr Par­rikar had for some time been re-it­er­at­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s de­sire to se­lect a new ‘ sin­gle- en­gine fighter’ for which there would be “a new pro­duc­tion line for sin­gle-en­gine fight­ers” in In­dia and that this would be par­al­lel to ex­ist­ing HAL Te­jas LCA pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. How­ever, such a move awaited iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a “strate­gic partner” re­ferred to in the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dures (DPP) 2016. As the Min­is­ter has said, “…dur­ing the cur­rent year the de­ci­sion should be ten­ta­tively over…maybe a few of them will come in ready-made sta­tus (as ‘fly­aways’) but the rest will be made in In­dia.”

While the In­dian strate­gic partner for the sin­gle en­gine fighter would need be iden­ti­fied through the Aa­tre Com­mit­tee model, se­lec­tion of the western partner would de­pend on the Trans­fer of Tech­nol­ogy (ToT) of­fered and the fi­nan­cial pro­posal of the OEM. “Com­pet­i­tive process will be fol­lowed,” stated the De­fence Min­is­ter, although the deal would be fi­nalised un­der a Gov­ern­ment- to- Gov­ern­ment ( G2G) process.

Two Lock­heed Martin F-16s were also on the flight line and were vig­or­ously flight demon­strated at Aero In­dia 2017 while in Hall E, the Com­pany had an im­pres­sive dis­play of var­i­ous air­craft and sys­tems in model form. The USAF also de­ployed a C-130 Su­per Her­cules to Ye­la­hanka and this was aug­mented by Boe­ing’s C- 17 Globe­mas­ter III and a P-8A Po­sei­don from the US Navy.

Now to De­fence Min­is­ter Par­rikar’s press con­fer­ence at Aero In­dia 2017, on 14 Fe­bru­ary when he an­swered spe­cific queries. He again re­ferred to the need for a new sin­gle-en­gine fighter for the In­dian Air Force, the process be­ing at an “ad­vanced stage” with the de­ci­sion to be an­nounced “in the third quar­ter of the cur­rent cal­en­dar year.” Re­act­ing to ques­tions on di­chotomy be­tween the ‘Amer­ica First’ rhetoric of new­ly­in­au­gu­rated US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and In­dian PM Naren­dra Modi’s ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive, the De­fence Min­is­ter stated that any for­eign OEM seek­ing to pro­vide their plat­forms to In­dian oper­a­tors would have to se­cure all ap­provals from their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments. “I want it to be made in In­dia,” stressed Par­rikar, while any ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties “would be a bonus.”

On the Indo-Rus­sian Fifth Gen­er­a­tion Fighter pro­gramme, the De­fence Min­is­ter was some­what eva­sive, stat­ing that there are “sev­eral ques­tions yet to be an­swered” be­fore the next steps are taken. These in­clude the In­dian work­share and pos­si­ble ex­port mar­kets.

HAL is King

Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited clearly dom­i­nated this Show, with per­haps the largest in­door ex­hi­bi­tion in Hall E, a ded­i­cated open air area where key an­nounce­ments were made, in­clud­ing launch of the book ‘Har­low to Hawk’, au­thored by Push­pin­dar Singh of Vayu en­cap­su­lat­ing the history of HAL’s Air­craft Di­vi­sion at Ban­ga­lore from the very first air­craft type built there (Har­low PC-5A) in the early 1940s till the present, when HAL have com­pleted man­u­fac­ture of sev­eral tranches of the BAE Sys­tems Hawk ad­vanced jet trainer.

HAL- de­signed and built air­craft dom­i­nated the Show, with sev­eral fixed wing and ro­tary types parked in the static dis­play area. In the air, Te­jas LCAs car­ried out reg­u­lar aer­o­batic dis­plays as also ‘cus­tomer flights’, the most no­table be­ing that by Air Chief Mar­shal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff, who flew a LCA trainer on the af­ter­noon of 14 Fe­bru­ary along with Air Vice Mar­shal AP Singh, Prin­ci­pal Direc­tor of the Na­tional Flight Test Cen­tre ( NFTC), and ex­pe­ri­enced the LCA’s ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and ad­vanced avion­ics. The sor­tie in­cluded gen­eral han­dling, air- to- air and ground at­tack pro­files. Air Chief Mar­shal Dhanoa was re­port­edly “im­pressed by its ca­pa­bil­ity” and ex­pressed his faith in the pro­gramme. The Te­jas has achieved Ini­tial Op­er­a­tional Clear­ance (IOC) and has been in­ducted into the In­dian Air Force with No. 45 Squadron, which is still based at HAL’s Ban­ga­lore air­port.

There were many oth­ers who were flown in the Te­jas trainer in­clud­ing the well known TV per­son­al­ity Vishnu Som, who took this picture of the other Te­jas trainer in for­ma­tion.

Dur­ing his Press Con­fer­ence on 15 Fe­bru­ary, HAL CMD T Su­varna Raju con­firmed that de­sign work has com­menced on the Te­jas LCA Mk.1A, and fol­low­ing se­lec­tion of the radar and sen­sors, tri­als are planned to com­mence in 2018, with pro­duc­tion to be­gin the fol­low­ing year. 83 LCA Mk.1As have been cleared for pro­cure­ment by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion coun­cil (DAC).

In clear­ing the pro­cure­ment of 83 LCA Mk.1As at the De­frence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil meet­ing chaired by De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar in Novem­ber 2016, this

pro­gramme was for­mally an­nounced, and is con­firmed by the for­mal global ten­der is­sued by HAL’s Air­craft Re­search & de­sign Cen­tre, (ARDC) in De­cem­ber for the sup­ply of key sen­sors and sys­tems. This com­prises an AESA radar and EW Suite that can be in­te­grated with other on­board avion­ics of LCA which in­cludes a Dig­i­tal RWR and pod­ded jam­mer, Com­bined In­ter­roga­tor and Transpon­der (CIT), short range air to air mis­siles and BVR mis­siles. Com­pa­nies listed for the AESA radar in­clude Elta, Saab, Raytheon, Thales and Ros­boronex­port.

HAL’s World of He­li­copters

At his Press Con­fer­ence on 14 Fe­bru­ary, Manohar Par­rikar talked about the re­quire­ment for “a thou­sand” he­li­copters for the In­dian mil­i­tary, and in this con­text stated that the in­dige­nous HAL Light Com­bat He­li­copter pro­gramme “is pro­ceed­ing well,” with an ini­tial or­der for 15 air­craft hav­ing been re­cently cleared. The LCH, which has been chris­tened ‘Dhanush’, has proven it­self well in ex­treme con­di­tions such as the high op­er­at­ing al­ti­tudes at the Si­achen Glacier.

How­ever, it was the In­dian Multi-Role He­li­copter ( IMRH) which dom­i­nated HAL’s Show, al­beit in a full scale mockup form. The De­fence Min­is­ter of­fi­cially un­veiled this on 14 Fe­bru­ary, in the pres­ence of HAL CMD T Su­varna Raju and many of his se­nior board mem­bers.

HAL aims to in­dige­nously de­velop such a 12-tonne-class mul­ti­role he­li­copter to serve with all three branches of the mil­i­tary. With a ser­vice ceil­ing of around 6,500 m, sea level pay­load ca­pac­ity of 3,500 kg, and a seat­ing ca­pac­ity of 24 troops or 8 VVIPs, “the he­li­copter is be­ing uniquely tai­lored to the needs of In­dian mil­i­tary oper­a­tors.” Pri­mary roles will be tac­ti­cal troop trans­port, ca­su­alty evac­u­a­tion, un­der­slung load car­ry­ing, com­bat search and res­cue, anti- sur­face op­er­a­tions, off­shore op­er­a­tions, and VIP/VVIP trans­port. The Army/IAF vari­ant will have a sig­nif­i­cant hov­er­ing and pay­load ca­pa­bil­ity, es­pe­cially at high al­ti­tude, while the Naval vari­ant will trade ap­prox­i­mately one tonne of max­i­mum take-off-weight for ad­di­tional sen­sors and mar­itime mod­i­fi­ca­tions, as well as hav­ing tor­pedo and anti-ship mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity.

The IMRH is pro­posed to be pow­ered by two 3,000 shp class tur­boshaft en­gines (yet to be se­lected), and will be equipped with an au­to­matic flight con­trol sys­tem, state-ofthe-art mis­sion sys­tems, ad­vanced cock­pit dis­play and avionic sys­tems and so on.

Be­sides do­mes­tic or­ders, HAL is tar­get­ing ex­port mar­kets for the IMRH. De­spite not work­ing to­ward any set QRs, the DPSU is open to work­ing with any of the three Ser­vices, or all of them ! HAL has also sig­naled a will­ing­ness to col­lab­o­rate with tech­nol­ogy part­ners on key ar­eas.

HAL’s Su-30MKI and other pro­grammes

“HAL will be the lead agency for the Sukhoi Su-30MKI up­grade pro­gramme, in­volv­ing back- to- back con­tracts with Rus­sian part­ners,” stated HAL CMD T Su­varna Raju at his press con­fer­ence on 15 Fe­bru­ary 2017. The pro­gramme will be car­ried out in two phases, the first to be fi­nalised “within 90 days”. The Chair­man also gave de­tailed sta­tis­tics on air­craft pro­duc­tion, with 183 Su-30MKIs pro­duced as of Jan­uary 2017, and the bal­ance to be man­u­fac­tured by 2020 at the rate of 12 air­craft per year, with all 222 such fight­ers de­liv­ered to the IAF by 2019-2020.

The CMD should be par­tic­u­larly pleased with the steady progress of the HAL HTT-40 ba­sic tur­bo­prop trainer, the first pro­to­type fly­ing over Ye­la­hanka dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral and the sec­ond pro­to­type on static dis­play through the Show. Look­ing be­yond the first tranche of HTT-40s to be or­dered by the IAF, the CMD was con­fi­dent that the or­ders would reach 106 air­craft.

Be­ing can­did on the vexed in­ter­me­di­ate jet trainer (IJT) pro­gramme, Mr Su­varna Raju felt that this would “get out of the grave” this year but the Indo- Rus­sian multi-role trans­port air­craft (MTA) pro­gramme “is not pro­gress­ing.”

Rus­sia’s United Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion had their del­e­ga­tion at Aero In­dia 2017 headed by Yury Slyusar, Pres­i­dent Chair­man of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board who also talked about the twin-en­gine MC-21 will be de­liv­ered in three ba­sic ver­sions, with pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity rang­ing from 150 to 180 seats. The air­craft is be­ing pro­duced with ex­ten­sive use of com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and al­loys of alu­minum and ti­ta­nium, mak­ing it con­sid­er­ably lighter than its pre­de­ces­sors. “We will use Pratt & Whit­ney’s en­gines which are fuel ef­fi­cient”.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, there were no Rus­sian air­craft on dis­play this time around although there are a score or more Antonov An-32s based at Ye­la­hanka for multi-en­gine con­ver­sion train­ing, along­side a hand­ful of HAL/ Avro 748s ( see sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle).

Saab, Saab, Saab

At Saab’s mas­sive ex­hi­bi­tion area in Hall C, the Com­pany an­nounced that it had of­fered a fighter sen­sor pack­age for In­dia’s Te­jas LCA Mk.1A fighter air­craft. The pack­age con­sists of a state-of-the-art Saab Air­borne Elec­tron­i­cally Scanned Ar­ray (AESA) fighter radar closely in­te­grated with a com­pact Elec­tronic War­fare ( EW) suite us­ing Gal­lium Nitride based-AESA tech­nol­ogy. Saab, in part­ner­ship with In­dian in­dus­try, will of­fer a so­lu­tion that will bring the re­quired radar and EW ca­pa­bil­ity to In­dia and the In­dian Air Force. Fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment Saab is of­fer­ing “this lat­est tech­nol­ogy for the LCA Mk.1A on time, and with low risk”.

Saab was clearly at full throt­tle with its ex­ten­sive range of its prod­ucts and sys­tems on dis­play at Aero In­dia 2017. Pride of place was ob­vi­ously the Gripen E and its weapon sys­tems, a full scale mockup parked just out­side the en­trance to Hall C. Within the Hall, also on dis­play was a model of the Gripen M the naval vari­ant of the Gripen E. Other prod­ucts were Elec­tronic War­fare & Early Warn­ing Sys­tems, Next-Gen­er­a­tion Radar Sys­tems, Saab’s In­te­grated Avion­ics Demon­stra­tor, Ground Com­bat In­door Trainer, Sig­na­ture Man­age­ment Sys­tems, the mo­bile cam­ou­flage sys­tem, Air De­fence Sys­tems in­clud­ing the RBS 70 NG VSHORAD and BAMSE SRSAM, as also the well known but new gen­er­a­tion Carl Gustaf M4, man-por­ta­ble multi-role weapon sys­tem and the RBS 15 Mk.3 naval sur­face to sur­face mis­sile.

Saab brought three Gripens to Aero In­dia 2017, a sin­gle- seat C and two twin- seat Ds which not only car­ried out scin­til­lat­ing aer­o­batic dis­plays over Ye­la­hanka but flew sev­eral Air Force, Navy and ADA pilots to give a feel of the type’s su­perb han­dling qual­i­ties. A num­ber of se­lect me­dia were also given the priv­i­lege of sor­ties in the Gripen, in­clud­ing Vayu’s Angad Singh ( see sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle).

Rafales at Ye­la­hanka

Tak­ing noth­ing for granted, three Das­sault Rafales were at Aero In­dia 2017, and were flown with cus­tom­ary ex­cel­lence, their pilots ob­vi­ously now ‘fa­mil­iar’ with the Ye­la­hanka en­vi­rons. There were sev­eral ‘cus­tomer’ flights as well, with a rel­a­tively large num­ber of these de­voted to naval avi­a­tors which is un­der­stand­able con­sid­er­ing the In­dian Navy’s re­cent RFI for 57 car­rier borne fight­ers. The Rafale M is a strong con­tender to meet this re­quire­ment even as the de­sign of IAC-2 ap­proaches fi­nal­i­sa­tion.

The Das­sault del­e­ga­tion in­cluded the leg­endary M.Serge Das­sault him­self and many of his se­nior col­leagues. In fact, Vayu was priv­i­leged to sit next to them dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony on 14 Fe­bru­ary. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman, Mr Serge Das­sault has at­tended ev­ery Aero In­dia Show since its in­cep­tion. As stated by Chair­man and CEO of Das­sault Avi­a­tion, Eric Trap­pier, “Das­sault Avi­a­tion has con­trib­uted to In­dia’s de­fence pre­pared­ness for more than 60 years”.

“Demon­strat­ing Rafale’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in Aero In­dia reaf­firms our to­tal com­mit­ment to In­dia’s sovereignty. We have had a long stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the In­dian Air Force and in­dus­try and, thanks to the un­matched ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Rafale and to our full in­volve­ment in the in­no­va­tive ap­proach of the ‘Make in In­dia’ Ini­tia­tive,

we are en­tirely ded­i­cated to partner In­dia in meet­ing its strate­gic de­fence and eco­nomic needs.”

Ac­cord­ing to a clear­ance ap­pli­ca­tion filed be­fore Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia (CCI), the Das­sault Avi­a­tion-Reliance Group joint ven­ture that was an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2016 to ex­e­cute sig­nif­i­cant off­sets for the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal, plans to man­u­fac­ture and sup­ply mil­i­tary com­bat air­craft on a “world­wide ba­sis”. The ap­pli­ca­tion also re­vealed that Reliance Aero, which was in­cor­po­rated in April 2015 by the Anil Am­bani-con­trolled Reliance Group, will hold 51 per cent of the JV, with Das­sault hold­ing the re­main­der.

Shalom, Shalom !

Is­rael’s in­dus­try has al­ways par­tic­i­pated in a big way at Aero In­dia Shows and 2017 was no ex­cep­tion. Clus­tered in Hall A were Is­raeli com­pa­nies un­der the broad um­brella of SIBAT, which is the In­ter­na­tional De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Di­rec­torate within Is­rael’s Min­istry of De­fence, and or­gan­is­ers of the Is­rael Na­tional Pav­il­ion at Aero In­dia 2017, where a wide va­ri­ety of ad­vanced, lo­cally- de­vel­oped de­fence tech­nolo­gies are be­ing pre­sented. Eleven com­pa­nies ex­hib­ited their cut­ting-edge so­lu­tions in the fields of cyber, avion­ics, EW, un­manned sys­tems, mis­siles – and much more.

Ac­cord­ing to SIBAT’s Direc­tor, Brig Gen ( Ret) Mishel Ben Baruch, “In re­cent years, we have wit­nessed the strength­en­ing of the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and Is­rael in many fields, the most prom­i­nent be­ing de­fence tech­nol­ogy. Is­raeli com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly util­is­ing the unique man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties that exit in In­dia, estab­lish­ing lo­cal en­ti­ties, and col­lab­o­rat­ing with lo­cal com­pa­nies, in or­der to com­ply with ‘Make in In­dia’ re­quire­ments. “In­ter­est in Cyber de­fence, in par­tic­u­lar, is on the rise in In­dia and the re­gion as a whole. Is­raeli com­pa­nies have de­vel­oped in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions in this field and are al­ready ex­port­ing them to coun­tries in the re­gion. SIBAT are work­ing to con­nect the needs of the coun­tries in the re­gion, cyber or other­wise, with Is­raeli tech­nolo­gies, for mu­tual ben­e­fit”.

Amongst the big­gest dis­plays at the Is­raeli pav­il­ion was that of IAI, Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries Ltd. “We look at In­dia as one of the most dom­i­nant mar­kets for IAI,” Eli El­fassi, VP Mar­ket­ing of IAI told Vayu. “A sig­nif­i­cant per cent of our ex­port is at­trib­uted to our In­dian op­er­a­tions and,

our goal is to con­tinue and es­tab­lish this dom­i­nant po­si­tion in the fu­ture, de­spite the grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion. The ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion won by IAI and the gains by its In­dian cus­tomers are in­stru­men­tal for con­tin­ued suc­cess”.

At Aero In­dia 2017, IAI and Kalyani Strate­gic Sys­tems Ltd signed a MoU to in­cor­po­rate a JVC in In­dia while another MoU was signed be­tween IAI and Taneja Aero­space & Avi­a­tion. Con­tin­u­ing their charge, IAI and Dy­na­matic Tech­nolo­gies an­nounced cor­po­ra­tion to jointly ad­dress needs of the In­dian UAV mar­ket.

There were other Is­raeli ‘ma­jors’ at Aero In­dia 2017, in­clud­ing Rafael, Con­trop, El­bit Sys­tem, and IAI Elta. Their show­ing, as also that of US in­clud­ing, Boe­ing, Raytheon, Lock­heed Martin, and Gen­eral Atomics will be cov­ered in Vayu’s next Is­sue, pre­ced­ing the Paris Air Show 2017, which Vayu will cover in its usual com­pre­hen­sive man­ner. The Show(s) go on!

HAL’s Hawk-i comes into land at Ye­la­hanka (photo : Angad Singh) Hawk Mk.132s of the Surya Ki­ran team per­form­ing at Aero In­dia 2017 (photo : Angad Singh)

De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar es­corted to the dias by Air Chief Mar­shal BS

Dornier Do-228 and Hawk-i (photo : Angad Singh)

air­craft are the pair of Lock­heed Martin F-16s of the USAF

(photo: Vishnu Som)

Air Chief Mar­shal BS Dhanoa and Air Vice Mar­shal

HAL light com­bat he­li­copters (LCH) at Aero In­dia 2017 (photo: Angad Singh)

HAL’s IMRH full-scale mock up

IMRH mock up

Pair of Saab Gripen Ds land­ing at Ye­la­hanka (photo : Angad Singh)

Rafale B at Aero In­dia 2017 (photo : Angad Singh)

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