Nov 23, 2010
FUNDING & POLICY NEW DELHI—The Indian air force is continuously modernizing its equipment, as well as making new purchases, Defense Minister A.K. Antony tells parliament. The IAF phases out obsolete systems and upgrades and extends the life of other equipment when feasible, he says.
Obsolete equipment like the MiG-23, MiG-25 and Canberra aircraft has been phased out, Antony says.
Existing fighters including the MiG-27, MiG-29, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and Su-30 MKI, as well as transport aircraft such as the An-32 and other helicopters, are being upgraded.
Various fighters, transport aircraft, helicopters, radars and missile systems are also being procured in a phased
manner to meet military requirements, Antony says.
India is also set to sign a $2-billion deal with Dassault to upgrade 51 aging Mirage 2000 fighters to the 2000-5 standard (Aerospace Daily, Oct. 20). The agreement is expected to be signed Dec. 6 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visits India.
New Mirage capabilities will include longer-range detection and weapon firing against multiple targets, as well as an extended operating envelope that allows for border protection missions using two Mirages instead of six. The multitrack RDY-3 radar to be installed in the Mirage is the same generation that the French air force is using on its M-2000D, with increased range compared to the existing Doppler multifunction system.
The Mirages, which have 20 years of remaining life, will not receive an engine upgrade. However, improvements in avionics, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare equipment, data links and mission computers will make the aircraft a multirole fighter, an official says. Weapons will include MBDA’s MICA heat-seeking infrared (IR) missiles and MICA RFs.
“The Indian air force is undergoing a major modernization process, and the Western Air command occupies a unique position in this transformation drive,” said Air Marshal N.A.K. Browne, air officer commander-in-chief of the Western Air Command, Nov. 22 at the annual Commanders’ Conference.
“The need of the hour is speedy operationalization of newly inducted equipment with a commitment to preserve and maintain what we already have to the highest possible standards.”
The two-day conference is focusing on key issues including infrastructure development, especially in the northern region of Leh, as well as introduction of new equipment and aviation and maintenance safety.
The IAF’s Western Air Command operations extend from the world’s highest airfields in the Himalayas to the desert of Rajasthan.
A 15-year Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan for 2002-17 is also being implemented. From April 2009 to March 2010, the IAF spent $4.5 billion.
- Neelam Mathews