Sunday, April 24, 2016

EXCLUSIVE! Why the Indian Air Force needs a Second Line Fighter- CAS tells AerospaceDiary

Neelam Mathews
Apr 24, 2016
Pix-Neelam Mathews

As the Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons hit a low of around 33 against the 42 projected and India has come closer to signing 36 Rafales for its Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft requirement, it is now looking at a second line of fighters to be produced in the country. 
Given that the IAF has a varied fleet with spares inventory management getting tedious and more expensive, what happens to commonality we asked Chief Arup Raha.
It is no secret that lack of commonality in aircraft models has made inventory management a grueling task for the IAF in the past. “Commonality in the IAF fleet is very important. We have too many inventories, and each aircraft requires spares., " confessed CAS to AerospaceDiary. In an exclusive, he added that "while it was best is to have lesser inventories, we have so many Su-30s. We cannot keep expanding one particular fleet (as) there are vulnerabilities and (so) we (must keep) balance." It was good to see this candid talk. "While we need to ensure inventory management that is not too complex, we must (also) have flexibility,” Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha told AD.
Recently at a conference held jointly by the Indian Air Force and the Confederation of Indian Industry it was noted obsolence and maintenance of a wide range of assets was posing to be a big challenge.
Issues related to Transfer of Technology still need to be sorted out before an attempt is made to ‘Make in India.’ As far as U.S companies are concerned, India has been unwilling to sign the Communications Interoperability & Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that enables access to encrypted communications equipment through a secure network. “There will be some issues there that we will have to resolve,” said Rah
The Request for Information is expected to be released by the end of this year, Major OEMs including Boeing (F-18), Lockheed Martin (F-16), and Saab (Gripen NG) have shown their intent to produce their aircraft in India.
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has been handed three of 120 on order delayed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The fourth LCA that will complete the squadron  to enable it to be operationalised, will be delivered by end 2016. With the LCA Mk11 that is presently undergoing structural changes to accommodate the GE F-414 engine, the IAF has asked for 40 modifications on 100 aircraft (of the 120 on order).

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