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Rafale deal likely by year-end: IAF chief

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: In a bid to bolster India’s defense prowess, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Saturday expressed hope that the negotiations for purchasing 36 Rafale jets from France would conclude by the year-end.

Mentioning that the negotiations for the deal, finalized during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit in April, was progressing well, he said, “I am hopeful that the negotiations for the deal will not go beyond this year.”

Speaking at the annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8, he said, “it would take two to three years for the first of the two Rafale squadrons to be operational.”

He also said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) required at least six squadrons of medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which would translate into over 100 jets, and that the Rafale was a good follow-on option. But the government would take a final decision on this.

“Definitely, we would like to have MMRCA variety of aircraft. At least about six squadrons to my mind. Let us see, there may be some other alternatives as well,” ACM Raha said.

Asked whether the additional four squadrons of aircraft would be Rafales or there was a possibility of other players getting into play, Raha said, “I may wish to have Rafale. But there are equally good aircraft. So if the deal is good and the government decides we need to have six of similar squadrons of MMRCAs.”

“I want the capability of Rafale-type aircraft. So, the government will have a look at it and based on urgency and the type of contract is signed with Dassault Aviation, further decisions may be taken by the government. I cannot predict,” he said.

The air chief admitted that the IAF was short in strength.

“We are currently short in strength… we need to replace many squadrons. The need is there for more. But it has to be viable in terms of cost, in terms transfer of technology and in terms of Make in India policy that the government is trying to implement,” he said.

commons.wikimedia.org
commons.wikimedia.org

“So if those terms and conditions are good then I am sure we will be able to get more. But as of now we are looking at 36,” he said.

The Rafale had in 2012 received the IAF nod for 126 jets in a $20 billion deal in the face of a stiff competition from five other manufacturers.

As the deal could not work out, another deal for purchasing 36 Rafale combat jets in fly-away condition was inked during the prime minister’s visit to France in April.

The IAF had expressed an urgent need for the 126 combat jets to primarily replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21 planes and to plug the gap caused by the delay in the development of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).

The IAF currently has 33 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42.

(With inputs from IANS)

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20 Facts to Know About India’s Indigenous Fighter Plane: Tejas

The dream of having a squadron of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has been realized, after years of delay.

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Tejas employs Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces. Wikimedia Commons
Tejas employs Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces. Wikimedia Commons
  • Tejas is the first indigenously Built Fighter Aircraft By India of International Standards
  • The plans are to acquire over 80 aircraft with better specifications, known as Tejas 1A in the future
  • Tejas is a four plus generation aircraft

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the first indigenously Built Fighter Aircraft By India of International Standards. The dream of having a squadron of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has been realized, after years of delay. In a ceremony in Bengaluru, two LCA aircraft was been inducted into the IAF squadron, known as the ‘Flying Daggers 45’.

on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight. Wikimedia Commons
on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight. Wikimedia Commons

For first two years, the LCA squadron will be based in Bengaluru, after which it will move to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.

Also Read: First indigenous Combat Plane of India enters service after 33 Years

The Air Force has said that the aircraft will feature in the force’s combat plan next year and it might be deployed in forward bases as well. The plans are to acquire over 80 aircraft with better specifications, known as Tejas 1A in the future.

Take a look at some of the amazing facts related to the pride of our nation, Tejas.

  1. In 1984, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was set up by the government to develop the LCA programme and in 1986, Rs 575 crores were allocated by the then government towards funding the programme.
  2. Finally, on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight which was a significant milestone in the Indian aviation industry.
  3. When the project was initially launched, it would have cost India just Rs 7,000 crore ( USD 1 Billion Dollar ) – peanuts when compared to costs of similar aircraft in the world. The DRDO is also working on making an advanced version of the aircraft with twin engines.
  4. Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will replace the MiG-21 series. The aircraft is a result of several years of design and development nearly 3 decades works from the DRDO.
  5. The aim of the LCA program was to deliver the best single engine lightweight fighter in the world. The programme was started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. LCA was officially named “Tejas” by the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 which means “Radiant” in Sanskrit.

    To assist the development of the navy variants of Tejas, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa. Wikimedia Commons
    To assist the development of the navy variants of Tejas, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa. Wikimedia Commons
  6. Tejas is capable of flying non-stop to destinations over 1700 km away and its Radius of Action is up to 500 km depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat.
  7. The Defense Research and Development Organization are developing four versions of Tejas – LCA and LCA trainer for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. To assist the development of the navy variants of the aircraft, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa, including a ramp that mimics the takeoff/landing deck of an aircraft carrier.
  8. Tejas aircraft is the best in its class around the world. It is a four plus generation aircraft. The wings are made entirely of composite structures and have a totally digital fly-by-wire control system.
  9. One of the major features that make the Tejas a unique aircraft is its ‘unstable configuration’ technique with which it has been built. The aircraft’s design is unstable as the unstable design makes it extremely manoeuvrable, giving it a distinct edge over its competitors when it comes to dogfights. To put it in simple words, between a bike and a car, a car is much more stable but is unable to exhibit the same manoeuvrability as a bike. Combat aircraft need to be highly manoeuvrable.
  10. Tejas has a pure double delta wing configuration with no tailplanes or canard and a single dorsal fin. The aircraft is integrated with relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar and a flat rated engine. The aircraft is smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
  11. The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. In 2016, the Tejas MK1 was in production for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN). The present requirement for Air Force is 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the Indian Navy expects to operate 40 single-seat fighters.
  12. The first Tejas unit was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. The existing Tejas are stationed at Bangalore and the first squadron will be placed at its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu
  13. Most of the military equipment producing companies are investing significantly in radars to detect incoming aircraft and air defence systems to shoot them down, stealth is the new cornerstone of any new aircraft development. The basic idea is to keep the Radar Cross Section (RCS) as low as possible.
  14. Tejas employs various features to keep the RCS low which includes extensive use of composite materials (which do not reflect radar waves), Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces.

    Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy. Wikimedia Commons
    Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy. Wikimedia Commons
  15. Tejas has 8 weapon hardpoints, three under each wing, one under the central body and one under the air inlets on the left side of the plane. This allows Tejas to use a wide range of the weapon systems. The weapons include air-to-surface (including anti-ship) missiles, mid and close-range air-to-air missiles, precision-guided weapons, conventional bombs, cluster bombs and unguided rockets. The pylons can carry a maximum of 4 tons of weapons. These weapons are in addition to the plane’s main gun, a 23mm twin barreled cannon with 220 rounds.
  16. The aircraft also integrates a ‘glass cockpit’ in which information is displayed ‘real-time’ to the pilot. It also has open architecture software for avionics and DRDO can update it as and when required.
  17. The Tejas prototypes had completed over 1000 test flights and over 530 hours of flight testing by January 2009. In 2013 only, there were over 450 test flights. The various prototypes underwent rigorous training in hot weather in Jaisalmer at the peak of summers. For freezing cold weather and high altitude testing, the planes were taken to Ladakh.
  18. Tejas comes loaded with Multi-Mode Weapon multirole capability. It can fire Laser Guided Bombs, has passed all the tests for “All Weather Clearance” and has been cleared for fly without any telemetry support. Due to it weaponry capabilities, the IAF to carry out forward airfield operations, air superiority and offensive air support missions, all-weather multi-role operations, electronic countermeasures and night flying operations.
  19. Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy.
  20. In 2016, the aircraft participated in its first foreign show at the Bahrain International Air Show 2016. There Tejas was compared to Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder (a Pakistani aircraft, manufactured with the help of China).