So near …. yet so far !

Vi­tal as­pects of the Dubai Air Show (for In­dia)

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Contents -

Once more, Vayu brings to its read­ers an on-the-spot re­port from the re­cently held Dubai Air Show, with vi­tal as­pects high­lighted for the In­dian polity and pro­fes­sion­als. Con­sid­er­ing that Dubai (part of the UAE) has an over­whelm­ing In­dian pres­ence in terms of peo­ple and pros­per­ity, the ab­sence of In­dia’s Avi­a­tion in­dus­try and its prod­ucts was sur­pris­ing.

It is of­ten quipped that “Dubai is the best city in In­dia” and con­sid­er­ing that there are a score or more di­rect flights be­tween var­i­ous cities in In­dia and the Gulf re­gion every day, the trav­eller from Delhi/ Mumbai/Hy­der­abad/Ban­ga­lore/Cochin/ Chandi­garh to Dubai/Sharjah/Abu Dhabi can well be for­given for feel­ing that way ! It takes about the same time from Am­rit­sar to Chennai as from Tri­van­drum to Dubai and the trav­eller could well think he had ar­rived at an­other city ‘in In­dia’ as he would most likely be greeted in his own lan­guage by the taxi driver or ho­tel man­ager.

So much for dis­tances. Then the peo­ple. There are over a mil­lion In­di­ans in the Gulf re­gion, work­ing for a liv­ing and repa­tri­at­ing part of their in­come to fam­i­lies back at home. Of course, In­di­ans in Dubai (and the other Emi­rates) work shoul­der-to-shoul­der with those from other parts of the sub­con­ti­nent, in­clud­ing Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka in seem­ing fu­sion (as also those from the Philip­pines, Korea, Viet­nam and so on, only the lat­ter do not take part in cricket matches) !

So why all this pre­am­ble when the ar­ti­cle is about the Dubai Air Show ? Well, con­sid­er­ing the logic of ma­jor In­dian par­tic­i­pa­tion and pres­ence at this event, there was strangely no of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion from In­dia at this bi­en­nial world- class Air Show, the man­darins at South Block per­haps be­liev­ing that it is the ‘other’ Show at Bahrain which is more vi­tal to In­dian in­ter­ests in pro­mot­ing hard­ware, soft­ware, tech­nol­ogy, good­will, ex­ports …

How­ever, those in In­dia’s im­me­di­ate neigh­bour­hood thought oth­er­wise. Pak­istan’s Aero­nau­ti­cal Com­plex were ar­guably one of the big­gest ex­hibitors at Dubai Air Show 2017, with a huge stand in the main hall, two air­craft types on static and aerial dis­play, se­nior of­fi­cers and men of the Pak­istan Air Force con­spic­u­ous by their pres­ence in large num­bers (pos­si­bly flown to Dubai from home coun­try and back the same day, just a cou­ple of hours flight and so sav­ing ho­tel costs). Fly­ing dis­play by the PAC/CAC JF-17 Thun­der was im­pres­sive, the ex­am­ple on static dis­play be­ing from

No.14 Squadron (‘Tail Chop­pers’) whose ex­ploits in both the 1965 and 1971 air wars have been en­shrined in their his­tory.

More on the JF-17 Thun­der : for­eign ob­servers fa­mil­iar with the pro­gramme have re­ported that the PAF have taken de­liv­ery of 14 Block II air­craft in 2017 thus com­plet­ing the batch or­der for 50 (which have fol­lowed a sim­i­lar num­ber of Block I air­craft). There are now five units of the PAF op­er­a­tional on the Type, in­clud­ing Nos.2, 14, 16 and 26 Squadrons plus the Com­bat Com­man­der School (CCS) at Sar­godha.

The JF-17 Block III rep­re­sents a def­i­nite pro­gres­sion, in­cor­po­rat­ing new avion­ics, mod­ern EW Sys­tems, in­creased pay­load and more so­phis­ti­cated weapons, in­clud­ing Mk83 (1,000lb) and Mk84 bombs fit­ted with indige­nous range ex­ten­sion kits (IREKs). The close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Turk­ish and Pak­istani es­tab­lish­ments is il­lus­trated by the likely adap­tion of Tur­key’s Asel­pod tar­get­ing pod sys­tem with a PACde­vel­oped data link. The Block III will have an air­borne elec­tron­i­cally scanned ar­ray (AESA) radar to re­place the Block I/II’s older KLJ-7 fire con­trol radar, and there could be retrofitting of ear­lier Block I/II air­craft with many of the en­hance­ments.

The two- seater JF- 17B first flew at Chengdu in April 2017, hav­ing sev­eral mod­i­fi­ca­tions in­clud­ing a dor­sal spine to house more fuel, com­pen­sat­ing for the space taken by the ad­di­tional seat. The ver­ti­cal sta­b­liser has also been mod­i­fied with the swept tail hous­ing com­po­nents for a new three-axis fly-by-wire flight con­trol sys­tem, the nose also en­larged to ac­com­mo­date the AESA radar of choice.

The PAC also dis­played their Su­per Mushshak pis­ton-en­gined trainer which has done the man­u­fac­turer proud, be­ing now op­er­ated not only by the home team (both Air Force and Army) but ex­ported to some dozen coun­tries with at­ten­dant ad­van­tages of profit and pres­tige. The PAF Wing Com­man­der on site was ex­u­ber­ant in his de­scrip­tion of this rel­a­tively sim­ple but essen­tial trainer which has the same en­gine (Tex­tron Ly­coming IO-540 V4A5 hor­i­zon­tally op­posed 6 cylin­der of 260hp) as had the HAL HPT- 32 which was grounded en­masse in 2009 be­cause of fu­elfeed prob­lems.

The PAC Su­per Mushshak con­tin­ues its ex­ports suc­cess sto­ries, with Tur­key hav­ing or­dered 52 air­craft and Azer­bai­jan 10. This fol­lows or­ders by the Nige­rian Air Force for 8 and Qatar for a sim­i­lar num­ber (see Vayu Is­sue VI/2017). Look­ing ahead, PAC are plan­ning to weaponise the Su­per Mushshak, in­clud­ing with air-to-ground mis­siles and the installations of an elec­tro-op­ti­cal in­frared sys­tem. Also on the cards is the in­te­gra­tion of an indige­nous for­ward-look­ing in­frared

( FLIR), all of these sys­tems giv­ing this Swedish- ori­gin, Pak­istani- adopted ba­sic trainer a com­pletely new vis­age.

While on the sub­ject of ba­sic train­ers, it was in­ter­est­ing to ex­am­ine the B-250 Bader ba­sic tur­bo­prop trainer which made its de­but at Dubai Air Show 2017, its parent­age an­nounced as be­ing Calidus LLC, an In­dus­trial Ma­chin­ery and Equip­ment Com­pany lo­cated in Abu Dhabi but whose an­tecedents are traced to Brazil, and the Kovacs K-51 Pere­grino trainer. None­the­less, the B-250, in UAE Air Force mark­ings, es­tab­lishes a niche in UAE’s ef­fort to be­come part of the world of avi­a­tion.

The Chi­nese in­dus­try, and Air Force, were well rep­re­sented at Dubai 2017, with AVIC dis­play­ing air­craft, UAVs and a whole range of prod­ucts in model form in their large stand. For the very first time, the PLAAF show­cased their J-10 fight­ers, seven of them at that, with six of the ‘ Au­gust 1st Aer­o­batic Team’ car­ry­ing out im­pres­sive for­ma­tion aer­o­bat­ics at the Air Show. The Chi­nese fighter pi­lots, who were very much in ‘Top Gun’ mode, swag­gered around the tar­mac, clearly en­joy­ing the at­ten­tion and were quite re­laxed in an­swer­ing ques­tions on their air­craft and pro­gramme. The J-10s were from the 24th Fighter Di­vi­sion based at Yangcum Air Base.

Cer­tainly a ma­jor at­trac­tion of the static dis­play line were the Chi­nese trio of armed un­manned air ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing the jet-pow­ered Cloud Shadow be­ing touted as a high-al­ti­tude, long en­durance plat­form. Along­side was the Wing Loong II, the Chi­nese equiv­a­lent of the MQ-9 Reaper as also the ear­lier Wing Loong I, these hav­ing had their in­ter­na­tional de­but at the Paris Air Show 2017. The Chi­nese UCAVs are al­ready op­er­a­tional with the air arms of Iraq, Kaza­khstan, Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE and there are re­ports that both Egypt and Jor­dan may have in­ducted these as well.

Clearly the Chi­nese are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Mil­i­tary Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR) rules which pre­vent pro­lif­er­a­tion of sys­tems that can de­liver nu­clear bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons, thus stay­ing the ex­port of Gen­eral Atomics MQ-1 Preda­tors

and MQ- 9 Reapers. China’s Aero­space Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Cor­po­ra­tion (CASC) have de­vel­oped the CH-4 Rain­bow while the Loong I is des­ig­nated as GJ-1 in Chi­nese ser­vice. Be­cause of the ex­port re­stric­tions, and China’s very low price (the CH-4 costs one-fifth that of an MQ-1), there is lit­tle doubt that there will be a pro­lif­er­a­tion of Chi­nese UCAVs in the Mid­dle East in the years ahead. Also at Dubai was the Turk­ish Anka-S, a medium al­ti­tude, long- en­durance un­manned air sys­tem to which has been added hard points to en­able fit­ment of Roket­san Cirit laser­guided rock­ets, and 10 ex­am­ples have been or­dered by the Turk­ish Air Force.

Flags of the Turk­ish Aero­space in­dus­tries were also fly­ing high at Dubai 2017, with three air­craft on static dis­play and the T129 ATAK he­li­copter par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fly­ing dis­play. The lat­ter, de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with Leonardo, re­sem­bles the AW129 Man­gusta in much de­tail but is fit­ted with Turk­ish-de­vel­oped sen­sors, avion­ics and weapons. With 59 or­dered by the Turk­ish Land Forces, there is clear in­ter­est in the type by Pak­istan, with the coun­try’s Prime Min­is­ter hav­ing been given a per­sonal pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing his visit to Tur­key. Should the sale go through, it is likely that the T129 will be fi­nal as­sem­bled in Pak­istan by the PAC.

Other Turk­ish air­craft on dis­play were the TAI Hurkus tur­bo­prop trainer, whose splen­did colour scheme re­sem­bled that of HAL’s HTT-40 tur­bo­prop trainer which is presently un­der de­vel­op­ment at Ban­ga­lore but clearly is ahead in terms of se­ries pro­duc­tion. Mean­while TAI have be­gun flight test­ing the Hurkus-B, 15 of which have been or­dered by the Turk­ish Air Force while de­vel­op­ment of the Hurkus-C, a light at­tack ver­sion with hard­points for mis­siles and bombs, is pro­ceed­ing apace.

Round­ing off the Turk­ish dis­play was a mock-up of its T625 six-tonne medium util­ity he­li­copter which has com­mon­al­ity with the T129 at­tack he­li­copter, much the same ap­proach as HAL’s ALH has with the LCH.

The ab­sence of In­dia’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try and its prod­ucts at the Dubai Air Show 2017 was re­marked upon by many who

Aer­ma­c­chi MB-339NAT jet train­ers of the ‘Al Fur­san’ aer­o­batic demon­stra­tion team of the United Arab Emi­rates Air Force at Dubai Air Show

Chengdu J-10s of the PLAAF Au­gust 1st Aer­o­batic Team

Ex­plain­ing cock­pit fea­tures of the Su­per Mushshak

Tail of JF-17 Thun­der at Dubai

J-10 on static dis­play at Dubai Air Show

‘Top Guns’ of the PLAAF In­signia of the Chi­nese dis­play team

T129 ATAK he­li­copter on static dis­play

The Chi­nese Wing Loong II at Dubai

MALE sys­tem

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