US-2: A Force Multiplier for India
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--