From Vayu Aerospace Review, Issue III/ 1993
Indian – Russian Air Chiefs meet
Bilateral talks between the Russian and Indian Air Force Air Chiefs in late April ended on a promising note with the Russian Air Chief expressing optimism that the supply of critical spares would be ensured despite the present political pre-occupations in Russia.
Keeping in view that the IAF’s fleet of aircraft is essentially of erstwhile Soviet origin, the two sides also held wide ranging discussions on “application of air power common to both the air forces, on aspects of serviceability of the air fleet, type of snags emerging on common aircraft types and understanding the usage of common equipment.” Another issue that came up for discussion was service cooperation involving exchange of information on serviceability, accident rates, operational strategy etc.
While elaborating on the need for upgrading the MiG- 21 fleet which is otherwise facing a phase out by 1995, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri said that the effort was to update it in order to sustain an expected battlefield environment over the next 15 to 20 years.
AJT, LCA and HAL
Chief of Air Staff IAF, Scientific Advisor to the RM and Chairman HAL have made certain policy statements on the AJT of which, “the immediate procurement is mandatory and in the absolute interest of the IAF.” Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, said that the HAL-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which are to replace the MiG-21s, would be developed by HAL by June 1996 to meet the demand of the country and abroad by the year 2002 or 2003.
RN Sharma, Chairman, HAL, said that the year 1992-93 had been a nightmare for the aviation industry because of the cuts in defence budgets and the drop in the demand for aircraft. He added, however, “I don’t believe that the warplane business will go away”.
MiG-29 engine problems
In what amounts to a shocking revelation of the poor record of the MiG-29’s RD-33 engines, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report tabled in Parliament on 11 May 1993, reveals that 74 per cent of the engines had “failed prematurely”. In its latest report for the year 1993 on the Navy and the Air Force the CAG said that 74 per cent of these advanced engines for the fighter aircraft bought at the cost of Rs 326 crore had failed prematurely within five years and been withdrawn till July 1992. According to the report, of the total of 188 engines available in the fleet, 139 engines had failed prematurely, with 62 engines being withdrawn even before completion of fifty percent of prescribed over-haul life, which was 300 flying hours.
40th Anniversary of the Indian Naval Air Arm
Highlighting the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Indian Naval Aviation were the ‘CNS Divisions’ at INS Garuda (Wellington Island, Cochin) on 12 May. As part of the smart parade by officers and sailors, was the flypast by naval aircraft, led by 3 Chetak helicopters, followed by 2 Ka-28s and 3 Sea Kings. The fixed-wing component comprised pairs of Islanders and Dornier 228s, three Sea Harrier V/STOL fighters and finally a lone Ilyushin Il-38 ASW/MR aircraft. The latest aircraft-type inducted is the HAL-built Dornier 228 which has replaced the venerable Breguet Alize MR/ASW aircraft and will supplant the PBM Islanders for various secondary tasks.
Royal Air Force is 75
The Royal Air Force marked the 75th Anniversary of its formation of 1 April 1993. The main event was to be a ceremonial parade and flypast by 149 aircraft at the RAF station Marham in Norfolk but a heavy down-pour resulted in cancellation of the flypast and the colour ceremonial was restricted to a brief ceremony inside a hangar. HM Queen Elizabeth II graced the occasion with her presence and was received by RAF Chief of the Air Staff.
Chinese M-11 missiles for Pakistan
China is supplying Pakistan with hardware for making surface-to-surface missiles. The technology transfer, if confirmed, could have serious consequences on US relations with both Beijing and Islamabad. Over the past-four months, satellite surveillance photos and other sources have convinced the US intelligence agencies that China has shipped to Pakistan component parts for making M-11 tactical surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of about 300 miles and are believed capable of carrying nuclear weapons. China has repeatedly pledged to the USA that it would not export missile components or technology.
China N-build up in Tibet
China, which has seldom been subjected to critical international scrutiny on the nuclear issue, has concentrated on Tibet as a base for its nuclear build-up. From engaging in secret nuclear weapons manufacture to dumping radioactive waste there, successive Chinese governments have been responsible for the illness and death of several Tibetans near the ‘Ninth Academy’ (a top-secret nuclear city) and uranium mines in Tibet. These are the findings of ‘Nuclear Tibet’, the first comprehensive study of China’s nuclear activities on the Tibetan Plateau, which was released world-wide on 19 April by the International Campaign for Tibet (CT), a Washington-based human rights organisation.