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Old 12th March 2019, 12:47   #496
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Originally Posted by Maveryq View Post
Now that India is again seriously looking at procuring the battlefield management radars from Raytheon (ISTAR), it will be an important force addition.
.
I am no expert on these sort of planes, but I have it on good authority it is the best plane in its class on the planet money can buy. Outstanding electronic capabilities. The plane itself is a Bombardier Global express with quite some modifications.

My brother in law was the Chief Designer and Design Authority on this Raytheon aircraft. He has recently retired. As you can imagine we often spoke about planes. Not that much he could say about this one, certainly not the electronics, as it is highly classified.

Jeroen

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Old 12th March 2019, 13:35   #497
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Looking at the electronics on board, it is easy to understand the value such systems bring to combat operations. I am just a newbie seeking to understand the systems and Netra and ISTAR have piqued my curiosity.


Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force-capture-1.jpg
Mission Management System Demo for the RAF ASTAR



Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force-capture-2.jpg
The radar mounted on the fuselage of the Bombardier.


Picture source: Raytheon website.
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Old 12th March 2019, 14:26   #498
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

You guys will enjoy this write-up.

Enough With The Indian Mig-21 Bison Versus Pakistani F-16 Viper Bullshit

Particularly, this:

Quote:
The USAF found this out the hard way during one of the most beneficial learning moments in modern air combat training history. Cope India 2004 saw American F-15Cs paired off against the pointy-end of India's wildly diverse Air Force. Although India's Su-30Ks were close to the best thing Russia had to export at the time, and their French-built Mirage 2000s were certainly not to be discounted, the most surprising star of the exercise was the insidious little Bison.

During the air combat training drills, Indian Air Force Su-30Ks would use their powerful radars to build-up situational awareness and then data-link their 'picture' to other aircraft in the airborne force, which seemed to include the upgraded MiG-21s. Either way, the Su-30 pilots could also use radio communications to inform the Bisons of threats and tactical opportunities. The Bison pilots, running with their radars off and emitting few to no electronic emissions that could alert the F-15 crews as to their whereabouts, would use this situational information to their advantage.

With their Elta-8222 jamming pods fired up and wreaking havoc on the F-15C's legendarily powerful AN/APG-63 radar, combined with their already small radar and visual signature, the Bisons would come screaming in out of nowhere to within visual range of the Eagles. They would proceed to shoot the F-15s in the face with their infrared-guided R-73 missiles before blasting by. And even if the Eagles noticed the Bisons at the last moment, the Bison pilots could negate the raw performance of the hulking F-15s by employing the 'fire and forget' R-73 nearly 90 degrees of the centerline of their noses using their helmet-mounted targeting system.

To put it metaphorically, the Bison wasn't a cavalry soldier or a scout, it was a ninja.
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Old 12th March 2019, 17:20   #499
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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You guys will enjoy this write-up.

Enough With The Indian Mig-21 Bison Versus Pakistani F-16 Viper Bullshit

Particularly, this:
I'm really glad you posted Tyler's War Zone write up finally debunking a lot of the tripe that's subsequently done the rounds after that flare up. For any War Zone readers you'll have known that he, more than many of his regular readers was getting incredibly frustrated with the sheer volume of misinformation doing the rounds.

I would definitely encourage anyone with 10 minutes of time to read the whole piece in its entirety and not simply go on the section quoted. It's a good section to quote because it evokes warm fuzzy feelings but there's a lot more to it that really cuts to the crux of that infamous Cope India exercise and how it dovetails with the narratives being pushed out since the air strikes.

I know at first it's easy to simply blanket Tyler as yet another western writer with a biased take, anyone familiar will know that his work is some of the finest no BS on the internet. He's remarkably knowledgeable, passionate without devolving to jingoism and incredibly frank. His hot takes on the blunders of US procurement are both scathing and fun to read.

Anyway that's the last I'll bring up about the skirmish. I hope the IAF highlights how handy the airborne radar assets were. Maybe give a kick up the backside for the Netra programme.
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Old 12th March 2019, 17:42   #500
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Maybe give a kick up the backside for the Netra programme.

As far as I understand, the Netra program has been closed. The second aircraft is the last of the series.


The next gen is reported to be based on the Airbus A330 platform and perform a dual function of air refuelers and AWACS.
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Old 12th March 2019, 20:29   #501
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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As far as I understand, the Netra program has been closed. The second aircraft is the last of the series.


The next gen is reported to be based on the Airbus A330 platform and perform a dual function of air refuelers and AWACS.
Ah right, I had a feeling while I wrote that about the Airbus MRT. I have a strong disdain for mission creep. I'm not so sure it's such a great idea having both an aerial tanker and AWACS in the same platform. I'm not quite aware if there Is any such set up currently. Surely in AWACS configuration you'll end up needing a lot of the internal capacity for stations for the operators. Also you're going to be doubly important for the opposition when it comes to knocking you out the sky because it'll be akin to getting rid of the hand that feeds and the eyes that see for the overall air combat picture. I'm perfectly fine with using the aerial tanker in a transport role as well the rest of the time. This is a model that works in the current MRT iteration (I believe the UK VVIP transport is now essentially one such Airbus MRT). I get the thinking that the IAF would want to lower their maintenance overhead having one platform but just have an Airbus A330 based AWAC.
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Old 12th March 2019, 22:03   #502
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Pure conjecture from my side, but I think the dual role of the A330 as AWACs and refueler is more to support the AWACS protection aircraft so that the protection aircraft are not impacted because of fuel. That might be the reason to have the A330 with the dual role.
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Old 12th March 2019, 22:23   #503
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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As far as I understand, the Netra program has been closed. The second aircraft is the last of the series.


The next gen is reported to be based on the Airbus A330 platform and perform a dual function of air refuelers and AWACS.
I believe Netra was closed because of the whole Embraer scandal?

Very unfortunate because I firmly believe India needs at-least 10 of these. So now we have Phalcons, a Netra or two and now A330 MMRT's? That sounds like another long, expensive and exclusive platform! We should mass produce what we already know.

IAF could do with a couple of these:

1. Electronic Warfare: I believe we have EW suite which are compatible some our fighters, but a dedicated ones like EA-18 Growler would be most welcome in highly protected airspace like our neighbour's. A kick-down-the-door strike package or clandestine missions could really do with some of these.

This ability can be shifted to unmanned vehicles something like 'Loyal Wingman' concept, but that is still far out.

For the present, couple of Tejas should be kitted out for this role. Weren't we talking to the Israeli's for such a system? And also a homegrown example?

2. Battlefield Surveillance and Control: The role played by US Joint-STARS planes. As our battlefields get more fused, spread out over challenging terrain, we should have this capability.
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Old 12th March 2019, 23:02   #504
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

I dont think that the Netra was closed because of the Embraer scandal. It was more because it covers only 240 degrees and not 360 degrees that an AWACS can.


I read that there are plans to get the ISTAR from Raytheon (2 nos.). Numbers will be dependent upon budget as Jeroen mentioned they are costly. They are meant for battlefield management and are more a networked battlefield data and sitrep asset.





There are projections of about 15 AWACS. 3 Phalcons, 2 Netras as of now. An additional 6 +2 A330 versions and 2 more Phalcons.
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Old 13th March 2019, 00:39   #505
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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There are projections of about 15 AWACS. 3 Phalcons, 2 Netras as of now. An additional 6 +2 A330 versions and 2 more Phalcons.
The A330 projects seems like it is suffering from mission creep. First the addition of Indian systems, and now the ability of refuel also. Sounds like a recipe for long delays. On top of that Pan-European projects like these are usually very expensive.

Best would be straight up buy 5-6 KC-46's as government to government sale. Or buy some surplus IL-78s, ask the Israelis to fit their refueling systems, modernize it and deploy it on the cheap.

This refuel-er procurement has stretched into years now, and definitely needed for aircraft based in central and south India.
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Old 13th March 2019, 10:35   #506
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

The challenge has been one of managing expectations. The IAF prefers the A330 for the air refueller duty. The earlier tender for the Air refuellers had to be cancelled as the IAF, and the MoD debated over what was the best way to calculate the total cost of the aircraft - direct acquisition costs over the total lifecycle costs. As has been reported, IL78 costs are known as the IAF operates them and hence they were in favour of the A330. The high cost of the A330 was not acceptable to the Finance ministry.

The CAG has pointed out in a report that the IL78 refuellers suffered from low serviceability with average serviceability being only 49% during the period 2010-16, against an expectation of 70%. 32% of the refuellers on average remained grounded. The IL 78 has historically suffered from issues of spares, after market support and also dual origin vendors (Russian and Uzbek). They operate using old 1980's vintage avionics which limits their operations in international airspace. The six refuellers that IAF operates were procured in 2003-04, and so they are due for an upgrade with engines and avionics to extend their life.

The Russian refuellers also need long runways to be able to takeoff with a full fuel load, and few airbases have the 11480-15022 feet runways to allow them to operate at full capacity. Hangars are also absent for the aircraft as a result of which they have suffered from decreased lifespan because of being stored in the open.

If the IAF is able to get a common platform for both the AWACS and the refuellers, that would be helpful.
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Old 13th March 2019, 13:26   #507
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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Originally Posted by Maveryq View Post
As far as I understand, the Netra program has been closed. The second aircraft is the last of the series.


The next gen is reported to be based on the Airbus A330 platform and perform a dual function of air refuelers and AWACS.
NETRA is very much active. Now being planned for the C295 aircraft platform due to the kickback scandal (2008 IIRC) for Embraer.

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Originally Posted by ads11 View Post
I get the thinking that the IAF would want to lower their maintenance overhead having one platform but just have an Airbus A330 based AWAC.
Yes Sir you are correct - it is lifetime cost.

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Originally Posted by Maveryq View Post
Pure conjecture from my side, but I think the dual role of the A330 as AWACs and refueler is more to support the AWACS protection aircraft so that the protection aircraft are not impacted because of fuel. That might be the reason to have the A330 with the dual role.
This is again due to lifetime costs. Also, a system like this will allow higher time on station. Honestly, I feel it will be too much to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avishar View Post
I believe Netra was closed because of the whole Embraer scandal?

Very unfortunate because I firmly believe India needs at-least 10 of these. So now we have Phalcons, a Netra or two and now A330 MMRT's? That sounds like another long, expensive and exclusive platform! We should mass produce what we already know.

IAF could do with a couple of these:

1. Electronic Warfare: I believe we have EW suite which are compatible some our fighters, but a dedicated ones like EA-18 Growler would be most welcome in highly protected airspace like our neighbour's. A kick-down-the-door strike package or clandestine missions could really do with some of these.

This ability can be shifted to unmanned vehicles something like 'Loyal Wingman' concept, but that is still far out.

For the present, couple of Tejas should be kitted out for this role. Weren't we talking to the Israeli's for such a system? And also a homegrown example?

2. Battlefield Surveillance and Control: The role played by US Joint-STARS planes. As our battlefields get more fused, spread out over challenging terrain, we should have this capability.
The AWACS does provide the Battlefield Surveillance and Control. Importantly the NETRA system is also capable of this - in sector warfare.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maveryq View Post
I dont think that the Netra was closed because of the Embraer scandal. It was more because it covers only 240 degrees and not 360 degrees that an AWACS can.


I read that there are plans to get the ISTAR from Raytheon (2 nos.). Numbers will be dependent upon budget as Jeroen mentioned they are costly. They are meant for battlefield management and are more a networked battlefield data and sitrep asset.





There are projections of about 15 AWACS. 3 Phalcons, 2 Netras as of now. An additional 6 +2 A330 versions and 2 more Phalcons.
A 240 degree coverage is adequate in most scenarios and 360 degree converage is not exactly required. The NETRA program is alive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maveryq View Post
The challenge has been one of managing expectations. The IAF prefers the A330 for the air refueller duty. The earlier tender for the Air refuellers had to be cancelled as the IAF, and the MoD debated over what was the best way to calculate the total cost of the aircraft - direct acquisition costs over the total lifecycle costs. As has been reported, IL78 costs are known as the IAF operates them and hence they were in favour of the A330. The high cost of the A330 was not acceptable to the Finance ministry.

The CAG has pointed out in a report that the IL78 refuellers suffered from low serviceability with average serviceability being only 49% during the period 2010-16, against an expectation of 70%. 32% of the refuellers on average remained grounded. The IL 78 has historically suffered from issues of spares, after market support and also dual origin vendors (Russian and Uzbek). They operate using old 1980's vintage avionics which limits their operations in international airspace. The six refuellers that IAF operates were procured in 2003-04, and so they are due for an upgrade with engines and avionics to extend their life.

The Russian refuellers also need long runways to be able to takeoff with a full fuel load, and few airbases have the 11480-15022 feet runways to allow them to operate at full capacity. Hangars are also absent for the aircraft as a result of which they have suffered from decreased lifespan because of being stored in the open.

If the IAF is able to get a common platform for both the AWACS and the refuellers, that would be helpful.
The NETRA program - providing a 240 degree coverage is the 'light' AEW&C Category system. The NETRA is not the aircraft but the Radar system (including all the BMS and computer systems). While the conjecture is that the 270 degree coverage is not enough - it actually is. A 360 system AWACS like the Phalcon is the heavy system.
In a typical engagement, both systems will be used with the AEW&C system flying closer to the fighters providing realtime focused coverage over a sector/ area. The AWACS meanwhile will act as the main system over a larger area. An analogy will be a Flashlight and a floodlight. The AWACS has higher computing power, higher TRx power and as such will also have higher endurance. This will require a larger airframe with adequate generator power to run Three or more high power Radar systems typically working in two or more bands.
The AEW&C will have a lower power requirement, while providing similar coverage characteristics. The importance here is to understand that a radar doesn't work in the same way. Just like a light - there will be lobes of coverage. A 360 radar, used to be typically a rotodome with one radar inside doing a 360 sweep every few seconds (E3 Sentry - 5/6 RPM IIRC) or a triangular arrangement of three radar TRx systems in a non rotating radome (A50). While, both systems have their advantages, the rotodome based system, which India tried installing rather unsuccessfully on an Avro (sadly lost in a crash) is now being phased out (as they used planar array PESA systems or mechanically driven radar). Also, they need a lot of power to run these. The power is derived from engine run generators typically. An AWACS will have a higher time on station than a AEW&C aircraft and also better crew management (they can take breaks - some aircraft have rest areas and can deploy two teams). Also, there is a lobe coverage (like pixels in a camera phone) which are electronically interpolated to give a better FOV.
In a NETRA type AEW&C system - a 240 degree coverage is 'real time' coverage due to the static radar. This allows for better battlefield awareness and a more focused coverage in the zone. There is almost no 'loss' in the area of coverage, while giving a good real time coverage. The typical aircraft that mount such radars are expected to be fast in terms of acceleration, lower radar signature and more agile than the AWACS system. An AEW&C A/c also doesn't have the higher power needs of a full AWACS, is typically lower Time on station and able to turn around quickly.
Another consideration is the cost of operations - esp. in peacetime. Hence the need for a Light Medium Heavy mix in both fighters and support aircraft. Of course this changes with more efficient engines, improved airframe life etc - but in the long run. You dont need a sledgehammer to hammer a nail in a wall, and you dont need a small hammer to break a large rock.

The Indian NETRA based on the Embraer 145, though very capable, had to be stopped because of a case involving kickbacks in the Embraer deal. India is exploring fitting the NETRA system on the C295 that might replace our AVRO fleet - which is in limbo because HAL is trying to revive the AVRO using newer engines. But I digress. So yes, the NETRA system is very capable and we haven't dropped it, however it is hanging for want of an aircraft to mount it on.

As for the refuellers - yes the IL's 'Had' lower serviceability due to a multitude of reasons, but from what I am aware of it is sorted. We must look at the A330 MRTT or equivalent. The KC-46 is an alternative - however, will come with the issue of the US government controlling the use in combat situations.
As for the need of longer runways for these aircraft, refuellers are not required to be based at a frontline base and can be based on secondary bases. Interestingly India also has capable buddy refuelling systems. The Su30 - has a massive fuel capacity, good time on station (range) and with buddy refuelling pods can sustain a small squadron of Tejas probably. Wow, we can dream now, can't we.

Last edited by torquecurve : 13th March 2019 at 13:37. Reason: Added some more info
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Old 13th March 2019, 15:11   #508
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

Thanks, I meant the Netra on the Embraer platform. And you are right Torquecurve, about the C295 platform. There was a mockup of it at the AeroIndia2019.



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Old 13th March 2019, 19:00   #509
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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...Interestingly India also has capable buddy refuelling systems. The Su30 - has a massive fuel capacity, good time on station (range) and with buddy refuelling pods can sustain a small squadron of Tejas probably. Wow, we can dream now, can't we.
This is not a dream! It is a reality. If you look in youtube there are n-number of videos on IAF explaining this feature.
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Old 13th March 2019, 19:53   #510
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Default Re: Combat Aircraft of the Indian Air Force

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This is not a dream! It is a reality. If you look in Youtube there are n-number of videos on IAF explaining this feature.
Yes of course, that’s why I said we do have the capability. The dream is the Su30 buddy refuelling an ‘entire squadron’ of LCA Tejas ( we are still forming our First squadron - and still time for front line service).
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