Oct 5, 2010
FUNDING & POLICY
NEW DELHI — Lack of commonality in aircraft models has made inventory management a grueling task for the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik tells AVIATION WEEK here on the IAF’s 78th anniversary.
Steps are being taken to bring obsolescence levels (50% of equipment is outdated) down to 20% by 2014-15. “Air defense is the most critical,” he says.
Financial constraints hampered this effort in the past, Naik says. “We can now spend more money and buy what we need. In a few years, the IAF will have the medium multi-role combat aircraft, light combat aircraft, fifth-generation combat aircraft and the Su-30s with a reduced diversity.”
Naik acknowledges that accident prevention is a key driver. “With older aircraft the mean time between failures changes…. That is why older aircraft have more accidents. We’ve had a lot of engine-related problems on the MiG-27s recently. Some are related to design, some to production and to human error. We are in discussions with the [original manufacturer].”
India and Russia are jointly developing a fifth-generation stealth fighter by 2017. “We are looking for about 200 to 250 aircraft,” Naik says. “Some of the features will include a 30-ton weight, swing role, advance avionics, 360 degrees of situational awareness, onboard sensors, data link, smart weapons [and] large, unrefueled range.”
Naik justifies India’s U.S. foreign military sales request for 10 C-17 Globemaster
transport aircraft—a $4.4-billion deal. “A big study was carried out,” he says. “Our requirement was to move a large quantity of forces and materials from forward places [and] operate on short air strips. The C-17 stood out.”
- Neelam Mathews