FORCE October 2009 www.forceindia.net
‘IAF is Trying to Maximise the Space Domain for Conduct of Its Operations’
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P.V. NAIK PVSM, VSM, ADC
What space-based capabilities have been achieved so far, what interaction does the IAF have with ISRO, and what is the road-map until 2020?
IAF is trying to maximise the space domain for conduct of its operations. The main thrust is to leverage the existing space assets to enhance operation capability, network centricity, communications, ISR requirements and meteorological applications. Requirements of IAF have increased manifold, therefore, we are maintaining close liaison with ISRO through Space Directorate under a two star officer. For jointmanship, an ‘Integrated Space Cell’ (ISC) is functional under HQ IDS. In order to enable seamless operations by the armed forces, towards safeguarding India’s security interests, a defence strategy and doctrine for harnessing existing space assets, as well as shaping future space requirements is under formulation.
In the prevalent internal and external security scenario, what is more desirable: more and better surveillance or strike capabilities? It is understood that all IAF strike aircraft do not have suitable electronic warfare pod. What is being done to overcome this deficiency?
Surveillance and strike capability are complementary to each other and without one, the other is no good. Without proper surveillance, one will not be able to do effective targeting. Similarly, if one is not able to strike precisely when required, maintaining a round the clock surveillance is futile.
All strike aircraft of the IAF have a suitable electronic warfare suite. Since the future electronic battlefield environment is expected to be highly dense, IAF is constantly upgrading its inventory with modern electronic warfare equipment to fight effectively in a dense electronic battlefield.
What is being done to fill the 15 to 20 ton capability gap in transport aircraft? What is the replacement for An-32 aircraft, and are there moves to acquire more IL-76 aircraft or of similar category?
IAF transport fleet is a mix of heavy, medium and light transport aircraft. The transport fleet is set to expand in a big way. A programme for joint development of Medium Transport aircraft (MTA) in 15-20 tonne class by India and Russia is underway. The aircraft would be for the Russian Air Force and the IAF. In addition, various procurement schemes are being progressed.
Suitable replacement for An-32 and IL-76 aircraft would be initiated at an appropriate time based on the Long Term Perspective Plan of the IAF. The IAF is upgrading the AN-32 and there are no immediate plans to replace this aircraft. IAF is also looking for an aircraft of 70 ton capability. These inductions along with the C-130J will definitely fulfil our requirements for mobility and projection.
Are there plans to place more orders, in addition to 20 aircraft for LCA MkI? How closely is the IAF working with HAL and ADA to decide on the new engine for replacement of Kaveri? What, according to the IAF is the future of Kaveri?
In September 2005, Defence Acquisition Committee had approved procurement of 40 LCAs. Accordingly, IAF had ordered 20 LCA in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) Mark-I standard in March 2006. Decision on order for 20 more LCAs in Final Operational Clearance (FOC) Mark-I standard with the existing GE F 404-IN 20 engine is yet to be taken. IAF is working closely with HAL and ADA, to decide the new engine for LCA Mark II standard aircraft.
DRDO has been proposed to form a suitable JV, so as to develop Kaveri engine to meet the requirements of future combat aircraft programme. The expertise gained on the programme should be utilised by GTRE along with HAL and other Defence PSUs for further development.
Can the LCH, whose prototype is expected to fly this year, be a contender for the IAF requirement of 22 attack helicopters? What is the status of the acquisition of 22 attack helicopters?
The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a 5-6 tonne class of combat helicopter envisaged for specific roles. The LCH differs with the attack helicopter in terms of tonnage, weapons, endurance, operating envelope and engine performance. Hence, LCH is not a contender for the IAF requirement of attack helicopters. More so, the LCH is still under development by HAL.
The status of the procurement of Attack Helicopter is that the RFP was issued in end-May 2009. A pre-bid meeting was held in July 2009 and the Techno Commercial Offer is expected to be submitted by the vendor in October 2009.
What were the glitches with Hawk and have they been removed? Why has the IAF sought different advanced trainers rather than acquire more Hawks?
There were some problems initially with the induction of the Hawk. Most of these problems pertained to spares supply-chain and inventory management. Few problems like these are expected during the initial induction of a new weapon system of this scale. However, the management and in-country representatives of BAE Systems, along with HAL have been able to sort out the issues and get on to a common platform. Adequate amounts of spares and consumables have been put in place, to enhance availability and serviceability of the Hawk aircraft.
The IAF is working on its requirements for additional advanced trainers. The present training structure ensures that the Standard of Preparation (SOP) of the Hawk MK-132 AJT meet the fleet training requirements of the IAF. The training pattern caters to the operational capabilities of frontline fighter aircraft, planned for induction in the long term. The SOP of Hawk Mk 132 AJT was agreed to by the IAF in the initial procurement and also in the case of additional requirement of AJT procurement approved by the ministry of defence.
What is the progress on the modernisation of ADGES?
IAF is in the process of modernisation of ADGES. The IAF is acquiring radars in various categories to meet modernisation requirements. Operationalisation of these radars will give adequate surveillance capability in our area of interest, from low-level to high-level, along with overlap and redundancy. The new inductions planned in the near future are IACCS, Medium Power Radars, Aerostats, LLTRs and LLLWRs. AWACS and two Aerostat Systems have already been inducted and have enhanced the AD capabilities of the IAF. Adequate budgetary support is available for these plans.
What is the progress on IAF procurement of 125 LUH from abroad?
The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is being procured for Recce and Surveillance roles to enhance the combat potential of the helicopter fleet of the IAF. The technical evaluation of all proposals has been completed and the field evaluations are likely to commence soon, to shortlist the helicopters that meet our operational requirements.
What role does the IAF have in the fifth generation aircraft and the Multi-purpose Transport Aircraft? When do you expect the two to enter IAF service?
IAF had formulated and issued Technical Requirements for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) in accordance with Long Term Perspective Plan. HAL and the Russian side are finalising the various aspects for co-design and production of the aircraft. Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) shall be designed and manufactured by a Joint Venture Company formed between the HAL and Russian side. These aircraft are likely to enter the service in the beginning of our 13th plan period, i.e. after 2017.
Is the IAF seeking to acquire more Su-30MKI and Mi-17IV from Russia and, if so, why is this accretion required?
IAF’s aircraft inductions are based on our long term perspective plan that was derived out of the envisaged threat perception and the responsibilities that the IAF is tasked with during war and peace time.
Su -30 MK I aircraft are being inducted as per our plan; with the HAL making these aircraft in India now. A contract for 80 Mi- 17 V5, a new variant of Mi-17 IV helicopter, was signed last year with the Russian side. These helicopters are expected to be delivered from next year.
What is the progress on the Mirage-2000 and Jaguar upgrades? What do these entail, and especially for Jaguar, which engine, Rolls Royce or Honeywell, has found favour with the IAF?
The IAF is planning to upgrade the Mirage-2000 and the negotiations are likely to fructify in the near future. The Jaguar aircraft is being upgraded with state-of-the-art avionics systems, so as to improve their navigational as well as weapon aiming accuracy.
Jaguar aircraft is powered with Rolls Royce aero engines. Proposals for replacing the existing engine with a more powerful engine have been received from M/s Rolls Royce and M/s Honeywell. At present the proposals are under evaluation.
A Joint Engine Evaluation Team (JEET) has been constituted, which includes representatives of IAF, HAL, ADA and DRDO and they are working on the proposals and their evaluation. As of now, there is no favourite with the IAF. All assessments are very comprehensive and I am sure the evaluation team will look into all the aspects.
What is the status of network-centric warfare operations?
Network-Centric Warfare capability demands Integration of Sensors with Shooter, as well as Command and Control System. It requires a secure network which can support high data rate with ability to interoperate with other networks. This provides better situational awareness among all the stakeholders. The IAF is already in the process of setting up such a Combat Network, incorporating latest state of the art technologies with built-in redundancies. The stated capabilities are being built through the implementation of projects like Integrated Air Command and Control Systems (IACCS), Operational Data Link (ODL), AF Network (AFNET) and last mile wireless connectivity in operational areas.