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Old 23rd November 2014, 09:06   #16
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by KPS View Post
Kudos to our navy, imagine only one accident even though the equipment was aging. The presence of mind displayed by the Captain and Pilot during the accident in 1976 and the subsequent rescue in 3 minutes was amazing.

I wonder what is the "G" Force when landing?
Dear KPS, the secret of the rescue and the perfectly co-ordinated reactions of all concerned (the pilot, the rescue chopper and the Captain) is training, training and more training. Training is a simulation of a possible future occurrence and how you will handle it. In a moment of instant danger you will default to your level of training. I do not know the G force while landing. I suspect from the instant the arrestor hook engages till the aircraft is literally yanked to a stop the G force could be in the range of 3G to 4G for about 1 second in deacceleration. But this is an educated guess only. It is lower than the G force of catapult take off. While drafting this article I asked this question on the phone to two senior ex-White Tigers (both now retired for long) and while they could remember the G force on take off they couldn't for the one on landing because it was the lower of the two and hence less valuable for young pilots to show off about to the ladies.

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Originally Posted by windiesel View Post
Amazing Sir, a goldmine of rare info!! I always thought the R11 Vikrant was a ski jump type (STOBAR?) but it seems from the above that it was indeed a true blue CATOBAR.... wonder what Vikrant's second avatar is going to be like, which is due for commissiong some time in 2018.
Dear windiesel, The old Vikrant (pennant R11) was first a CATOBAR [Catapult Take Off but Arrested Recovery] from 1961 to 1984 which is the period covered in the article here. In the mid-1980s she was taken into Mazagaon Docks and converted to STOVL [Short Take Off and Vertical Landing] and operated Sea Harrier fighter bombers and Sea Kings Anti-Submarine and Anti-Ship helicopters. She was fitted with a ski jump to enhance the payload the Harriers could carry. The new Vikrant under construction will be STOBAR [Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery]. Hope this helps.

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Originally Posted by shady_lawyer View Post
On a related note. The glorious warship in these pictures in being broken up as we read at Darukhana in Mumbai. The pictures are heartbreaking, especially since she was such a dignified lady. But as they say the spirit carries on.
Dear shady_lawyer, Like all men sadly all ships too eventually go to the breakers. The cost of maintaining a ship that size as a museum runs into tens of crores per year, year after year. The Navy cannot afford it out of its constrained budget and it would be beyond the budget of most if not all not for profit foundations in India. The crest and battle honours of the old Vikrant will be inherited by the new Vikrant and as you rightly say the spirit lives on.
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Old 23rd November 2014, 11:59   #17
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

Superb pieces of information about the Indian navy and the fighter jets. Much appreciated all the information given and the small bits of Indian history with them. Even though the INS Vikrant is now history, the spirit of the Navy carries on. A big salute to all those who served/continue to serve in our armed forces; just so that we can live in peace.
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Old 24th November 2014, 09:16   #18
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

Thanks V.Narayan for starting this thread. I really liked all the informative stuff put up. I do have a couple of questions -
1) Will the new Mig 29Ks of the Naval Air Wing be needing the Ski Jump deck ? Can't they operate off a carrier like the US Navy carriers with angled runways and steam catapults that support F18s and now also F35s ?
2) Could you post more details on the recently acquired MiG 29ks and how they compare against maybe an F-18 ? I think Mig 29s debuted many many years ago and instead of acquiring the latest carrier operated aircraft the Navy purchased 29k ?
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Old 24th November 2014, 11:51   #19
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Dear shady_lawyer, Like all men sadly all ships too eventually go to the breakers. The cost of maintaining a ship that size as a museum runs into tens of crores per year, year after year. The Navy cannot afford it out of its constrained budget and it would be beyond the budget of most if not all not for profit foundations in India. The crest and battle honours of the old Vikrant will be inherited by the new Vikrant and as you rightly say the spirit lives on.
The Vikrant was sold for a paltry 63 Crore rupees. What is that? Peanuts. A useless space wasting flyover in our cities gets tenders of hundreds of crores of OUR money. Such a mighty piece of glorious history sold for scrap for what? 63 Crores? There is no doubt in my mind that she had to be restored & retained. Just that the will wasn't there and someone obviously had interests in the scrapping. Not many times do you get a war hero of the magnitude of the Mighty V to look at & feel pride.

I'm saddened that the successive Governments of Maharashtra & India did not gauge the priorities right & failed the HMS Hercules / INS Vikrant. The Andhra Pradesh government & Vizag city offered to maintain the ship as a museum if it was towed to the location. Kudos to them for that. Sad that nobody was ready even for the towing!

I just pray that the HMS Hermes - INS Viraat has a better fate. She is the last full size British carrier of the WW2 era and a star of the Falklands War, largest battleship on this side of the Suez Canal till China acquired the Russian Varyag along with being the proud, worthy flagship of the Indian Navy for decades.

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Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
Thanks V.Narayan for starting this thread. I really liked all the informative stuff put up. I do have a couple of questions -
1) Will the new Mig 29Ks of the Naval Air Wing be needing the Ski Jump deck ? Can't they operate off a carrier like the US Navy carriers with angled runways and steam catapults that support F18s and now also F35s ?
With necessary customization - it can. But it is not designed to operate in a CATOBAR (Catapult assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery) configuration. It is a STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) fighter. Inherent limitation of STOBAR fighters is the combined weight of fuel and armaments that they can carry, because it is only the own engine power that has to get the plane airborne within the limits of the short runway - obviously with a ski-jump at the end. So, even with the catapult, the airframe itself isn't going to carry too much additional weapons & complexities of a catapult may not be necessary.

The INS Vikramaditya has a ski jump so that it can serve as a port for the SeaHarriers and Mig29K.


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Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
2) Could you post more details on the recently acquired MiG 29ks and how they compare against maybe an F-18 ? I think Mig 29s debuted many many years ago and instead of acquiring the latest carrier operated aircraft the Navy purchased 29k ?
The F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet is a much larger plane. Developed much later in the century & thus understandably superior in many ways. As it is a CATOBAR fighter jet, it can carry a lot more payload of drop tanks and weapon systems.
The Mig29K is a comparatively smaller, more tactical sort of fighter with a limited operational radius. However it is way too cheaper to own and maintain, it is very nimble and agile & certainly will serve the purpose within the IOR that the Indian Navy currently is supposed to project power in.

However, I believe a larger contingent of the Mig29K with at least 2 more carriers (With the New INS Vikrant already fitting out in Cochin Shipyard) is necessary and urgency.

Last edited by Reinhard : 24th November 2014 at 12:17.
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Old 24th November 2014, 12:38   #20
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
Thanks V.Narayan for starting this thread. I really liked all the informative stuff put up. I do have a couple of questions -
1) Will the new Mig 29Ks of the Naval Air Wing be needing the Ski Jump deck ? Can't they operate off a carrier like the US Navy carriers with angled runways and steam catapults that support F18s and now also F35s ?
2) Could you post more details on the recently acquired MiG 29ks and how they compare against maybe an F-18 ? I think Mig 29s debuted many many years ago and instead of acquiring the latest carrier operated aircraft the Navy purchased 29k ?

I don't think the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet is dramatically superior to Mig-29k.

Also there are many other factors a country looks at when purchasing a weapons system:

1. Cost: A Mig-29k costs roughly $32 million while a F/A-18 Super Hornet would cost $60 Million+

2. Training, Servicing & Spares: The Indian Air Force has been operation earlier versions of the Mig-29 since the 1980s and has experience in operating the aircraft, servicing and a repairing. This brings down the cost of acquiring a new weapon system as most of the facilities required are already in place. Also will reduce the time required in inducting the aircraft into operational service.

3. Weapons: The Mig-29k uses many missiles, bombs which are already in service with the IAF. If we bought the F/A-18 all new weapon would be have to be bought from the US.

4. Freedom of Use: I think this is the most important point. The US often puts restriction on use of weapons supplied by it by direct or indirect mean. For example after Pakistan tested nuclear weapons it stopped supplying spare parts for the PAF F-16s for some time. Because of this the PAF was constrained in flying Combat Air Patrols during the Kargil conflict.

Russia in comparison has never but such restrictions.

Last edited by Foxbat : 24th November 2014 at 12:40.
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Old 24th November 2014, 13:02   #21
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
.....
Such a mighty piece of glorious history sold for scrap for what? 63 Crores? There is no doubt in my mind that she had to be restored & retained. Just that the will wasn't there and someone obviously had interests in the scrapping. Not many times do you get a war hero of the magnitude of the Mighty V to look at & feel pride.

I'm saddened that the successive Governments of Maharashtra & India did not gauge the priorities right & failed the HMS Hercules / INS Vikrant. The Andhra Pradesh government & Vizag city offered to maintain the ship as a museum if it was towed to the location. Kudos to them for that. Sad that nobody was ready even for the towing!

I just pray that the HMS Hermes - INS Viraat has a better fate. She is the last full size British carrier of the WW2 era and a star of the Falklands War, largest battleship on this side of the Suez Canal till China acquired the Russian Varyag along with being the proud, worthy flagship of the Indian Navy for decades.
........
From a pure emotional factor, agree that we should have preserved the ship for the generations to come. It gives a sense of pride while being on these ships. It could be maintainted as a heritage site with some public private partnership!! Not sure on the economic / cost front. The HMS Belfast is permanently moored on the Thames between the Tower Bridge and the London Bridge. As per Wiki, the ship was decommissioned in 1963, and even today its maintained in the same location for visitors. I agree that the size might be different, but would have been worth it for its history. Probably one thing the Indian Tourism is not good enough, is marketing the Indian History and its sites

I remember visiting the INS Vikrant when it was docked in Chennai somewhere in the 80's. It was a proud moment I still cherish. Looking at those pictures I can recollect the moments, and even remeber the lift operated to get the aircraft to the decks.
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Old 24th November 2014, 13:09   #22
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
...1) Will the new Mig 29Ks of the Naval Air Wing be needing the Ski Jump deck ? Can't they operate off a carrier like the US Navy carriers with angled runways and steam catapults that support F18s and now also F35s ?
2) Could you post more details on the recently acquired MiG 29ks and how they compare against maybe an F-18 ? I think Mig 29s debuted many many years ago and instead of acquiring the latest carrier operated aircraft the Navy purchased 29k ?
ambivalent_98, thank you for reading the article and for your very pertinent question. Both Reinhard and Foxbat have given well thought through answers and I cannot agree more with them. If I were taking this decision after accounting for all factors - effectiveness, capability, ease of maintenance, availability of spares & ammunition, compatibility with Vikramaditya (aka Gorshkov) my pick would also have been the Mig-29K. The Mig-29K is a next generation to the old Mig-29 and given our operational requirements better suited than the Super Hornet F/A-18 (which is without doubt a very competent aircraft). Vikramaditya's flight deck is more than adequate to allow the Mig-29K with its 1:1 power to weight ratio (in clean configuration) to take off with a full load. In terms of avionics and long range stand off weapons Super Hornet is in a league by itself. In terms of climb rate, acceleration and sheer maneuverability the Mig-29K is in a league by itself. Here is a video on Mig-29K's landing and taking off.

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Old 24th November 2014, 14:31   #23
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

Excellent write up. Thanks for sharing such a detailed piece of history. Loved your comparsion of "BMW 5 at 200 kmph down a highway".
Have to agree with you, landing an aircraft on a Carrier requires enormous zero error skill.
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Old 24th November 2014, 21:22   #24
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Dear BHPians, Here is an interesting anecdote on Seahawks and INS Vikrant to give you a smile. Some time in May 1965 the war clouds with our western neighbor were building up and Vikrant steamed out into the Arabian Sea to provide some gunboat diplomacy of the ' beware we are on alert' sort to Islamabad. Such sudden deployments cause disruption in the lives of the crew but that is what the Navy is about. One such disrupted young man was a bindaas (to use a Bombay term. Mods please forgive) Seahawk pilot who was scheduled to proceed on leave to get married the day the ship sailed and suddenly found himself far from the railway station that would take him to Bangalore. So followed (in my imagination) a possible conversation with the ship's Captain.

Young Pilot : Sir...bride sir...marriage sir....need to go sir...
Captain: speak up young man...what do you mean you need to get married. Don't you know we are at action stations. Set another date.
Young Pilot: Sir, sorry sir...muratham sir my father in law to be will faint if I don't get there
Captain: All White Tigers are married to their Seahawks. When you have a Seahawk why do you need a bride.
Young Pilot: Yes sir, I mean no Sir, I mean yes sir


Any ways regardless of the conversation that may have actually taken place the Captain ordered the Lieutenant to take off at dawn on the big day in his Sea Hawk and set course for Bangalore and get back on deck by 0600 hours the next morning. Off went our young bridegroom. The Navy may be strict but it likes to take care of it smen and the Fleet Commander Rea rAdmiral BA Samson blessed this adventure (he is the father of the famous danseuse Leela Samson) But how was he to carry his clothes and toothpaste. A bright technician suggested they empty out the cannon ammunition bay and that made just enough space for his clothes to be stuffed into. Onto the steam catapult and off to the old HAL airport at Bangalore. The bride of this arranged marriage lived close to the airport and between the nervous ma-in-law to be and pensive pa-in-law and clueless bridegrooms parents they didnt know what to do. Here was the auspicious day and the hero no where in sight. Because the ship was on a full alert patrol there was no radio communication at all and let alone the relatives even HAL airport control tower did not know that our man was zeroing in till he asked for permission to land!. Then suddenly the piercing roar of the Rolls Royce turbo jet filled their ears and thumped their hearts. Our man deftly landed, parked his flying machine and was whisked away for the muhurattam with literally minutes to spare. Next morning 0400 hours he took off again and in little over 90 minutes got back to the carriers deck in the middle of the sea. This young pilot was SK Gupta who later commanded INAS 300 White Tigers in the 1971 war and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. Later in life he rose to flag rank. On his return there were no flowers on the ship to celebrate his new status but his fellow pilots not to be put off garlanded him with a mala made of vegetables. For posterity this photo immortalizes the episode in print. (source & photo copyright: Down Wind Four Green by Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha)
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Old 24th November 2014, 22:41   #25
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Thank you for the scintillating write-up, @ V. Narayan. I've always been a fan of military aircraft and you've really satiated my appetite.

I was in middle school during the 1971 war and was closely following developments over All India Radio and BBC because my uncle was serving the IAF at Pathankot, and also because the legendary RA Massey was the brother of a family friend of ours at Cuttack.

I was not aware that the Vikrant played such a role in bombing East Pakistan. I'd perhaps misheard from someone that he'd seen it taking cover in Paradip port when the US 7th Fleet set sail towards E. Pakistan towards the end of the war.

Nevertheless, I had the opportunity of going aboard its flight deck at Vizag in the early 80s, when I had started my career in SAIL. I concur with the views expressed that we should have preserved it as a museum, like we did to the INS Kurusura at Vizag.
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Old 24th November 2014, 22:53   #26
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I was not aware that the Vikrant played such a role in bombing East Pakistan. I'd perhaps misheard from someone that he'd seen it taking cover in Paradip port when the US 7th Fleet set sail towards E. Pakistan towards the end of the war.
Dear vnabhi, glad you enjoyed the article. INS Vikrant participated in the war from 3rd December to the 14th and put into Paradip port to refuel and rearm on 15th. She had been sailing continuously for over 20 days by then. By the time she got back to the coast of East Pakistan on 17th the enemy had capitulated. So your friends sighting was for real. The US 7th Fleet did sail into the Bay of Bengal but choose wisely not to interfere. The Soviets helped us by ordering a few their nuclear submarines into the Bay of Bengal and surfacing them so that American satellites and recce planes would now that the other big brother was hanging around . While relations with the Russians are at a lower ebb now in those days the Soviets really stood up for us as a dependable friend.
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Old 24th November 2014, 22:59   #27
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Dear vnabhi, glad you enjoyed the article. INS Vikrant participated in the war from 3rd December to the 14th and put into Paradip port to refuel and rearm on 15th. She had been sailing continuously for over 20 days by then. By the time she got back to the coast of East Pakistan on 17th the enemy had capitulated. So your friends sighting was for real. The US 7th Fleet did sail into the Bay of Bengal but choose wisely not to interfere. The Soviets helped us by ordering a few their nuclear submarines into the Bay of Bengal and surfacing them so that American satellites and recce planes would now that the other big brother was hanging around . While relations with the Russians are at a lower ebb now in those days the Soviets really stood up for us as a dependable friend.
Thank you for the prompt clarification. I'd heard about Vikrant being sighted at Paradeep by my dad's close pal, who owned a Beer factory there. I now stand vindicated!

You're right about the Soviets standing by our side. I thought they had dispatched missile-carrying nuclear-powered ships from Vladivostok, but my memory may not be correct.

Anti-US feelings were high among us at that time (though many of us loved their pop and rock music).Most of us at school used to practise dart-throwing on posters of Nixon and Kissinger!
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Old 25th November 2014, 13:57   #28
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Thank you for the excellent article Sir. Enjoyed reading it.

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
A word of thanks to the excellent book Down Wind, Four Green by Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha (Retd) which is the definitive book on both the Seahawk in Indian service and the early years of carrier aviation in India. Portions taken from this book are marked 'Source $$'.
Its a truly great book and has the most exhaustive information on an Indian Fighter Aircraft. Other books written by Indian authors do not even come close to it. Hats off to Vice Admiral Pasricha sir for working so hard in compiling such a wonderful book. The book also has individual Sea Hawk airframe histories, including the ones acquired from the West German Navy.

I was lucky enough to get my copy autographed by Vice Admiral Pasricha sir and its my most treasured book in my personal library.

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Old 26th November 2014, 20:29   #29
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No story on the Seahawk would be complete without touching upon their service with the Dutch Navy on board HNLMS Karel Doorman. The Dutch Navy operated about 22 Seahawks and modernized them to carry an early version of the now famous Sidewinder air-to-air infra-red guided missile. Karel Doorman was a close sister ship of the Vikrant and served the Dutch till 1968 following which she was sold to Argentina and decommissioned in ~1985. Interestingly the Dutch had modernized Karel Doorman themselves after acquiring her from the British and they modernized her to a higher standard of both radar and catapult than what the British were giving to the Indians. The Dutch actually offered their services to tow the incomplete Hercules from the UK to Rotterdam and do a better modernization at a lower cost. But the British understandably put their foot down and tersely said the equivalent of 'busters if you want a carrier you better buy the services from us or buzz off'. The photo depicts a model of the Seahawk in Dutch service with the Sidewinders under the wing. In Dutch service the Seahawks were used in the 'Indonesian confrontation' in the early 1960s. The Dutch Navy decided it was better served by equipping itself with helicopter carrying ASW frigates and operating 3 ASW task groups in support of NATO and moved away from carrier operations.
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Old 29th November 2014, 16:00   #30
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There is an airframe of a Seahawk displayed at Kanakakkunnu, near the Museum at Thiruvananthapuram. I used to stare at it whenever I went near it. And about fifteen years ago, the compound was opened to the public, and I was able to get up to the old lady and touch her. It was a fantastic experience.

Thank you for this treasure trove of information that you have posted on one of the most elegant and unique aircraft that the Indian Navy has ever used. I was getting goosebumps reading through the thread. Hats Off to you, Sir!!!
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