Critical Design Review (CDR) stage for India’s upcoming 5.5th generation AMCA fighter jet program is in progress
The Preliminary Design Stage (PDS) review for India’s upcoming 5.5th generation AMCA fighter jet program was completed in November 2020, as confirmed by Dr. Girish Deodhare, the program director Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). The Critical Design Review (CDR) stage is in progress, and the configuration of the same has been frozen. AMCA will be equipped with Diverter less Supersonic Inlet (DSI) air intake, through which a 3D bump in front of the air intake will be incorporated for improved stealth features. ADA has developed the materials and research required to make a stealth aircraft. Still, there isn’t any plan to compare it with the 5th Generation fighter jets currently in operation.
Two F414-GE-INS6 engines will be used to power the AMCA Mk1 stealth fighter jet, while the new 110kn thrust class engine will be used to power the AMCA Mk2 jet. The Indian Air Force will procure 40 AMCA Mk1 and 100 AMCA Mk2.
The National Aerospace Laboratories have completed the Wind Tunnel testing. The structural design changes made to the AMCA design have also been approved. VEM Technologies is manufacturing the full-scale model of AMCA for stealth measurements. This model will be ready by the middle of this year. This scale model with DSI air intakes will be displayed at the Aero-India. All final frozen design changes of the aircraft will be displayed in this model. Some Line Replaceable Units (LRU) that were developed for the Tejas Mk2 program will be utilized in AMCA, rest others will be produced only for the AMCA program. The first technology demonstrator of the AMCA is expected to roll out in 2024, with the first flight supposed to be held in 2025.
The production of AMCA M1 is expected to begin after 2030, while AMCA Mk2 will be produced after 2034.
Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal
Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal flew a PC-7 Mk-II trainer to commemorate 50 years of existence of the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal. The CAS unveiled a statue of the ‘Eternal Pilot’ at the AFA to mark the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The first batch presented the statue to undergo training in the AFA- 107 Pilot’s Course. A Special cover by the Indian Postal Services and a Golden Jubilee Medallion was also released.
The CAS suggested AFA and HQ Training Command look for new centers to involve new training techniques, new curriculum, and better aids to make officers ready for the upcoming challenges. He also urged the trainees to develop tri-service domain knowledge for better conduction of war ethics. He praised the academy for providing high-quality training to young cadets who become professional military leaders.
Since its inception in 1971, AFA has produced high-quality officers and conducts training for Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and officers from other countries.
The Tejas Mk2 program’s first model is expected to roll out by August 2022
Dr. Girish Deodhare, the Program Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), confirmed that the Tejas Mk2 program is on schedule, and the first model is expected to roll out by August 2022. The Preliminary Design Review Stage (PDR) has been successfully conducted last year, and the design team is in the development stages of the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage.
HAL has already ordered the raw materials required for the program. The model has passed the Wind Tunnel Testing Stage, and now they are moving towards the Metal Cutting Stage. The aircraft will fulfill all the requirements proposed by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Tejas Mk2 is equipped with mature technologies and will follow the Tejas Mk1 and AMCA program’s footsteps. The work on the technologies was unaffected by the CCP virus pandemic.
560 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), a part of the LCA Tejas Mk1 production system, will continue to work for the Tejas Mk2 program. IAF has recently ordered 83 Mk2 aircraft, and it is expected to be ready by 2028.
High time to give preference to Indian Navy’s expenditure
Defence Establishment of India plans to tackle the Chinese threat over the Himalayan region by strengthening its Naval power and acquiring an edge over the maritime domain. Expansion of Malabar Exercise to involve the fourth partner of the quad grouping (USA, Japan, Australia, India) is a step in this direction. It is high time that the Indian Navy’s expenditure is given preference and modernization given a fillip.
Indian Navy is in dire need of assets like a third aircraft carrier. The aviation wing of the Navy needs to be refurbished. By 2030, the Navy needs 440 aircraft, of which 57 fighters, 111 utility helicopters, 123 multirole helicopters, and 24 Sikorsky MH-60 helicopters are on order. The existing fleet of Boeing OP-81 is to be expanded, and UAVs are being based. Third Aircraft carrier to provide service to latest technology aircraft like TEDBF is being planned to be acquired.
With regional security on the agenda, securing sea lanes of communication from the Strait of Malacca to Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden becomes imperative. Former Navy Chiefs have contended that the Navy has always remained the last preference as far as resources and budgets are concerned vis-à-vis land-based forces. They welcomed this renewed focus on India’s maritime domain and emphasized the strategic competence that can be provided by the Indian Navy. According to the Pentagon’s Annual Report of 2020, Assets wise, the Chinese Navy is the largest globally with 350 ships and submarines and over 130 major surface combats. It surpasses the US fleet of 293 ships.
Most of the assets will be built in India itself under Strategic Partnership Program under which the Indian Company will be prime requiring combination with foreign OEMs. This will provide a boost to Defence Assets Production industry under Make in India program.
India is focusing on western partners for its upcoming asset buildup. The Navy is in talks with Airbus, Dassault, Boeing, etc., to procure these companies’ high-end technological equipment and resources. Indian Ocean region is becoming a new area of contention and power show for world powers.
India is continually engaging with Western, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian partners to enhance its maritime partnerships. Complex exercises, co-ordinated patrols, intelligence sharing, and exchange of supplies via logistics agreements remain up on the agenda of the Indian Navy. Teaming with like-minded democracies and increasing its strength, the Indian Navy can prove to be the best defence strategy against growing Chinese hegemony.