Airbus frontrunner to lease mid-air refuelers
To meet the critical shortage of mid-air refuelers, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to take Airbus’ A-330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft on a 10-year lease. Currently, IAF’s Refueler fleet has 6 Russian Ilyushin-78 tankers, first inducted in 2003, facing maintenance and serviceability issues. This will be the 2nd major leasing of the Indian Armed Forces defense system, the first being lease of 2 Sea Guardian Drones Unarmed Versions of Predator series from US firm General Atomics by Indian Navy last year.
Airbus’s lease offer has come through a British Company, Air Tanker, which also leases tankers to the Royal Air Force of United Kingdom (UK). The French have also offered 6 A-330 MRTT aircraft to the IAF on a government-to-government basis. Leasing brings the cost down significantly and also does away with life cycle costs. Thus, the government gave a go ahead to armed forces to procure military equipment on lease under the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
IAF Chief highlights new warfare challenges
Addressing Military delegates of more than 50 countries at the Aero India 2021 Summit, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria emphasized that warfare has changed significantly over the last few years. Warfighting has become complicated with cross-linking of physical, digital, and cognitive domains and the advent of new technologies. The conclave topic was to address technological advances, changing threat matrix, and evolution of airpower.
As the accessibility of low-cost and simple disruptive technology like drones has increased for small state and non-state actors, they have got more lethal, agile, and capable of generating disproportionate effects. IAF is keeping itself abreast of these technologies and developing ways to tackle the same.
India’s QUAD angle
Faced with adversaries on northern borders and hostilities taking new forms, India is actively consulting its QUAD partners to share common concerns. India, the USA, Japan, and Australia share a commitment towards an open, free, prosperous, and all-inclusive Indo-Pacific region. QUAD is a platform for sharing issues of global concern and regional partnerships.
It is an arena to tackle China’s growing influence and pave the way for a multipolar world. It focuses on connectivity, infrastructure development, counter-terrorism, cyber and maritime security, humanitarian and disaster relief, and aims to promote neutral interests and global peace and harmony.
LCA Tejas integrated with Second Uttam AESA Radar
Uttam Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Fire Control Radar (FCR) has been integrated on Limited Series Production (LSP 3) of LCA Tejas Aircraft. LSP 2 was the first aircraft equipped with Uttam AESA FCR after trials onboard leased business jet, and Dornier Do 228 aircraft were completed.
Along with this, LSP 3 will be equipped with an advanced Electronic Warfare Suite (EW Suite) developed by Defence Avionics Research Establishment. LSP 3 will be used for testing and fine-tuning EW Suite as Tejas PV-1 combat aircraft, earlier used for testing, has retired. LSP 3 has more before gone through all high angles of attack tests, and the 8.5g test will be on static display in Aero India 2021. Uttam FCR has been developed indigenously and is going through a phase-wise demonstration of its operations and will be cleared for production in 2021.
The newest version of the F-15 flight tested
Boeing conducted 1st test flight of its F-15 EX Fighter, being built for US Air Force. It has been offered to India and Israel. F-15 EX is the newest variant of the F-15 ‘Eagle’ Air Superiority fighter, which remains the mainstay of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Japan since 1972. US contract with Boeing is for up to 144 F-15 EX fighters for $ 23 billion. As per Boeing, F-15 EX is the most advanced version of the F-15 to date, with new cockpit displays, fly-by-wire technology, and electronic warfare systems.
F-15 is known for its agility and prowess in both close-range dogfights and long-range air-to-air engagements. F-15s of US, Saudi Arab, and Israel Air Forces have shot down over 100 enemy fighters in the past five decades. Boeing claims no F-15 has been shot down in air-to-air combat. The multirole versions of F-15 have a heavy bomb load and long-range. F-15 EX is claimed to have an external payload of over 13 tonnes, the highest among all fighters on offer to the Indian Air Force for its 114 Jet tenders. Boeing is also displaying a model of F-15 EX at Aero India 2021.
118 indigenous Arjun Mark 1A tanks to be a part of the Army soon
Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed two regiments of the new indigenous Arjun 1A tank for the Indian Army. These two regiments will have 118 tanks and will have 71 improvements when compared to the original variant. Indian Army currently has two regiments of the Arjun tank. It is mainly used in the Thar Desert in the South Rajasthan area. These tanks find it challenging to operate in Northern Rajasthan and Punjab because of urban settlements, canals, and vegetation. Five Anti-tank weapons, including the Nag Anti-tank missile, are also in the final stages of development. These weapons will be developed and manufactured in India under the ‘Make in India’ program.
The deal of the Arjun 1A tank is expected to cost Rs. 8,956 crores. This cost will include the production of tanks, spares, and services. After getting the nod from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the deal will get clearance. The T-90 tank designed in Russia is said to be the Indian Army’s Main Battle Tank (MBT).