An IDC Report


New Delhi, 11 October 2002

The IAF celebrated its 70th Anniversary with a stunning airdisplay with the Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy making making many statements of policy and these are signs of confidence in the Air Force capability including its ability to deliver nuclear weapons. These must have had clearances of the Government as the Chiefs have been very careful about making statements and many changes are expected in the higher echelons of the Armed Forces. With the commissioning of the SU 30 MKI squadron at Pune on 27th September the IAF is up beat and one of our viewers has summed up the capabilities of this aircraft, which has been progressively improved by the IAF and IDC salutes the efforts of the IAF.

We reproduce the information provided by one of our viewers:

The Sukhoi-30 multi-role deep penetration strike fighters entering IAF (Indian Air Force) service are in every way suitable for delivery of nuclear ordnances at enemy high-value military and commercial targets and are likely to constitute the primary airborne platform for the proposed "triad".

Similar in concept to United States F-15E "Strike Eagle", the Sukhoi-30MKI has multiple "hardpoints" each capable of carrying 1000 kilograms of weapons load that may well include nuclear gravity bombs. The extensive array of self-defence weapons, avionics and Indo-Israeli EW (Electronic Warfare) suite will permit penetration of highly defended enemy airspace at low level with a minimum number of supporting aircraft that are required for escort, sweep and SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) operations. According to Sukhoi EDB (Experimental Design Bureau) Sukhoi-30 MKI is capable of performing all the tactical tasks of Sukhoi-24 "Fencer" deep interdiction tactical bomber while retaining unparallel air-combat capability with twice the combat range and two-and-half times combat effectiveness.
For air-superiority missions Sukhoi-30MKI is equipped with the formidable NIIP N-001M "Bars" (Snow Leopard) multi-mode radar with a passive phased-array antenna. "Bars" can track several targets while continuing to scan for more. It can simultaneously track ten targets and shoot at four with the numbers slated to increase with new software releases. During flight-testing aboard Sukhoi-30MK and Sukhoi-35, "Bars" detected air target at 330 kilometres and that is likely to increase through an enhanced signal amplifier and increased power transmitter.

Additionally the Sukhoi-30MKI can function as a "mini-AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System)" platform and can act as a fighter director or airborne command post by transferring target co-ordinates to at least four other aircraft. This special feature was first demonstrated by S-800 Zaslon "Flash Dance" airborne radar mounted on MiG-31 "Foxhound".

The IAF should select the R-77M AAM (Air-to-Air Missile) as the premier air combat AAM for its Sukhoi-30MKIs. R-77M is the improved model of baseline R-77RVV-AE (AA-12 Adder) with a larger motor increasing range to well beyond 160 kilometres and falls in the class of United Stated AIM-54 Phoenix AAM. PJ-10 "BrahMos" is projected to be the standard anti-ship missile, while India has reportedly shown interest in 150 kilometre ranged United States-Israeli Popeye stand-off ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile).

Finally IFR (In-Flight Refueling) tankers like Illyushin-78 "Midas" is likely to extend the endurance and loiter time of Sukhoi-30MKIs operating in air defence role. But how much effective it will be in extending the range in strike missions depends upon certain factors. In-flight refueling takes place in high to medium altitudes, and near political border often in full view of enemy radar. Thus unless local air superiority can be established in "sensitive" areas, in-flight refueling needs to be conducted well within ones own airspace especially when confronting a powerful adversary.

We had already put up the details of the Czech L 159 which has an American Honeywell engine being considered for the AJT deal of the IAF. We had hinted that there were behind the scenes action to push the L159 and it looked like a repeat of the SU 30 deal when the voice of the Air Force was used in the early 90s to seal the deal with advances to Russia. The Air Chief also said the Indian Air Force and their French counterparts would hold combat aircraft exercises in India next year.

The Indian Navy was badly hit and saddened by the loss of 12 aircrew in two IL 38s which crashed at INS Hansa. It was a very tragic loss of very experienced MR crew.

The aerobatics show by various IAF fighters and the parade marked an 'eventful year', Krishnaswamy said, pointing out that the 'IAF aircraft have reached farther than any time before as ambassadors of our country, flying our flag amongst other friendly air forces'. He said an IL-76 transport aircraft was in Alaska, participating in an Indo-US joint exercise in which army and air force personnel and equipment of both nations were involved. "This is the farthest an IAF aircraft has ever flown," he said. "On way to Alaska, we were most touched by the warm reception given by the Self Defence Air Force of Japan when our aircraft passed through their air bases."

Krishnaswamy said a team of IAF personnel had recently visited China and had been regularly interacting with Russian, French, British, Israeli and the US air forces.

He said the nine Surya Kiran aircraft that put up the aerobatics show were among the best in the world. "The aircraft is 100 per cent designed and produced by Indians, in India and for India. The aerobatics team that we have today is of world class. They deserve wider recognition," he said. He added that government permission would be sought for sending the team for displays outside India.

The Surya Kiran team, flying Kiran Mark II aircraft used for training pilots, put up a stunning show that impressed the crowd around the runway at the end of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which was closed during the entire show. The IAF had also put a
thrust for Mirage 2000 aircraft and a large team from Dassault was in India in mid September and made many presentations to the Air Chief and the Chairman of HAL Mr N R Mohanty .

The ALH is also making progress though the news on the LCA is not so good. Air Marshal Phillip Raj Kumar and Mr Verma have taken over form Mr Kota Harinarayan who like Dr Arunachalam has moved to academics. The Chief did not mention the LCA but said his force was looking forward to the development of an attack variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter.

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