Sunday, February 20, 2011

IAF Chief interview- Aero India Feb 9- Air Force Chief Outlines Plans for Expansion

Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, chief of the air staff of the Indian Air Force, caught up with ShowNews’ Neelam Mathews last week to discuss his expectations for procurement, and immediate plans for increasing force levels.

ShowNews: What is the status of the Medium  Multi Role Combat Aircraft bids? Where do  you see it moving from your perspective?
CAS: This month, the Commercial Negotiation  Committee (CNC) will start. We have  given recommendations [to the Ministry of  Defense (MoD)] as to who meets the criteria and who does not. [The CNC is constituted  under the MoD. Its members are drawn from  the Acquisition Wing, the Service headquarters,  users, quality assurance directorate, and  the R&D organization].
All the six (vendors) meet 95% of the  requirements.
SN: What are the technologies you expect to  get from foreign vendors?
CAS:We expect to import raw metals, single  crystal engine blades, and, for the moment,  the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
SN: How important is the AESA to the MMRCA?
CAS: At the time of formulation of MMRCA  [requirements], in the early part of the decade,  the AESA was an emerging technology. It has  since matured, as was evident during the field  evaluation trials of the six MMRCA contenders.  For MMRCA, AESA has the same  consideration as any other requirement specified
in the RFP such as weapons, EW systems,  performance requirements, etc. All these are important to MMRCA, and so is the AESA.
SN: You are looking at more remotely  piloted vehicles?
CAS: By 2013 we expect to get eight [Israeli  Herons and Searchers].
SN: What about combat UAVs?
CAS:We may go in for the one DRDO  (Defense Research and Development Organization)  is developing. However, we are not  looking at an outright purchase.
SN: Recently, you lost an aerostat. Are you  looking at procuring more?
CAS: At present, an assessment is being made on whether it can be repaired...We are looking  for four more.
SN: There has been no news on the bids to  re-engine the Jaguars? (NB-Since then Rolls has withdrawn from the tender)
CAS: It is long pending. The Request for  Proposal is expected in March.
SN: How important are the Multi  Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft that  are now being bid, for the second time, to  the air force? The two contenders are the  EADS A330 MRTT and Russian IL-78.
CAS: They are very important. Tankers  increase the range. And we need them for various  contingencies. In the long run, financial  liability will need to be considered. Life cycle  costs are important. By 2022, we will require  between 12-16 tankers.
SN: There is a buzz that you need around  40 Boeing C-17 cargo aircraft in the future?
CAS: No. We have ordered an initial ten,  and require around ten more.
SN: Since you have the Lockheed Martin  C-130J, would you consider another size  version of the transport aircraft?
CAS: No. DRDO has an agreement with  Russia for the 30-ton Medium Transport  Aircraft. That will suit our requirements.SN: There is talk that you are looking to buy two seaplanes?
CAS: Not at the moment.

SN: What about the operational data link (ODL) that was to be carried out in phases, under which aircraft, helicopters, surveillance platforms, etc. are to be networked into the main network-centric warfare project?
CAS: The Air Force Net (AFNET – a fiber optic-based network on which the Integrated Air Command and Control System of the IAF will ride) is a strong bedrock of the network centric operations...Two nodes are active. Some have to be geostationary. We expect the ODL to be fully operational three years from now.
SN: What about the light combat aircraft (LCA) order?
CAS:We have ordered 40 LCAs with the GE F404-IN20 engines that are in the class of a Mig-21++.
SN: What about the long delayed upgrades of the Mirage 2000s?
CAS:We need them fast…
SN: When is BrahMos to deliver the air to ground missile?
CAS: Su-30s are being strengthened. The missile will be carried on a center pylon. The first aircraft is in Russia. We plan to have it on 44 Su-30s.

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