Rafael ready to “Touch the sky with glory” but what’s next?
The Indian Air force formally inducted Rafael in its golden arrow squadron at an event in Ambala Air Base which was attended by Defense ministers of India and Minister of French armed forces, CDS General Bipin Rawat, Air chief Marshall RKS Bhaduria, CEO of Dassault Aviation, and many more important figures. The Indian Air Force currently operates 30 fighter squadrons however the IAF needs at least 42 fighter squadrons, further few fighter jets like MIG- 21 also known as “flying coffins” and SPECTAT JAGUARS have to be retired from service in the next few years, to counter this problem and to maintain its legacy The Indian Air Force is making some furious changes in its existing aircraft to make them even more lethal also the IAF is focusing on its own 5th Generation fighter jets.
Below is the detailed list of some of the major upgrades in The Indian Air Force and the current status of India’s own 5th Generation fighter jet.
THE SUPER SUKHOI PROGRAMME
The Sukhoi 30 MKI is the frontline fighter jet of the Indian Air Force; it has been around sixteen years since the first Su 30 MKI entered into the service with IAF. The Su-30MKI is a Russian build twin-engine heavy- long-range -multirole fighter jet which is built in India under license by HAL it also comes in the list of the world’s one of the most maneuverable aircraft however in the past sixteen years a lot of new technologies have been introduced by both countries which are India and Russia and that’s why to make these fighters equipped with modern-day technologies, India drafted out a plan to make these machines more lethal and the name of the program was Super Sukhoi. The EX Air Chief Marshal of IAF BS Dhanoa said that India needs to upgrade its Sukhoi fleet with an interview with a Russian newspaper; he also added that Russia has helped India to upgrade MIG-21, MIG- 27, and MIG-29. The Super Sukhoi will derive its capabilities mainly from its successors the Su-35 and Su-57. The list of major upgrades in Su-30MKI which will turn it in Super Sukhoi
RADAR– The current Su 30 MKI have a radar capable of searching objects till a range of 400 km and tracking them in 200 km of the range that’s why many peoples even call it as a mini AWAC(Airborne Warning And Control System) however the current radar is not AESA ( Active Electronically Scanned Array) Radar so it can be jammed but Super Sukhoi will have a modern AESA radar and top contender for that is X-BAND N036 BYELKA AESA radar it is the same radar used in Russia’s only 5th generation fighter jet which is Su-57
ENGINE-Another interesting thing to see in the Super Sukhoi program will be its engines the Su-30MKI currently have Saturn AL-31 Turbofan engines which generate a maximum thrust of 123Kn afterburner however new engines of Super Sukhoi are expected to be much more powerful to carry more avionics, weapons, fuel, and thousand other things, the best option are the Izdeliye 30 engines which are present in Su-57 which generate a thrust of 176 kN with this much thrust the Super Sukhoi can do wonders or other option is the engine of the Su-35 which is AL–41F1S these engines can create a thrust of 142.2 kN but still the engines of Su-57 weight 30% less than that of Su-35.
ARMAMENT– The major change in the Weapon pattern of Super Sukhoi will be that it would be able to carry three BrahMos- A missiles which have a range of 300-350 KM also the new AESA radar will be able to control long-range missile like in the BVR category so the Super Sukhoi can be equipped with Astra BVR missiles which are much better than current R-77 missiles on Su-30MKI while on the other hand in short-range missile category the ASRAAM (The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) are the best options to consider for the Super Sukhoi.
AVIONICS – The current Sukhoi have analog avionics that with the subsystems of Israel, Russia, and France which will be replaced by Russian modern digital avionics.
There are many other significant upgrades which will be there in Sukhoi 30MKI to make it Super Sukhoi like for reduction of RCS (Radar Cross Section) and even the changes in the structure of Su-30MKI could be done
Super Sukhoi will be the most advanced fighter jet in the family of the 4.5 generation fighters and it would be no wrong to call it as a Non-stealth 5th generation fighter as it would be very advance and powerful however even though it will not be a completely 5th generation fighter it will be still better than fake Chinese 5th generations fighter which is the need of the decades for IAF.
AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft)
The Super Sukhoi will be a lethal and best fighter of its 4.5 generation family but still, India lacks having a 5th generation fighter so to overcome that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), and Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) together are developing a 5th generation fighter jet named AMCA. The final design of AMCA has been completed and the prototype of AMCA is expected to be ready by 2024 and its flight trials will began from 2025 but learning from the delay of Tejas and also from the success of same Tejas, the AMCA is planned to be mass-produced and inducted in Indian Air force by 2029. The AMCA will be much advanced than the 5thGeneration fighters of China and maybe even Russia as it shares some same qualities as in F-35 which is the world’s most advanced fighter jet after F-22 and both are from America. The noticeable features of the AMCA are mentioned below:-
Radar– The radar that will be used in AMCA will be UTTAM AESA RADAR it is radar that is much advanced than other AESA radar it is gallium nitrate-based AESA radar that in simple terms means that in very less power it can track to a significant distance. The range of UTTAM AESA radar is 220 KM
Flight Control System- Most of the planes have fly-by-wire flight control system or in easy words, it means that every part of the plane is connected to the cockpit by wire but AMCA will be using the fly- by-optic control system which means that instead of wires optical fiber cables will be used which will improve the response time of a plane and protect aircraft from electromagnetic pulse the fly-by-optic system is quicker and better than the fly-by-wire control system.
Computing system– The computing system in the AMCA will also be a next-generation computing system as the aircraft is using a fly-by-optic system which is a very advance control system so to keep a match with it the computing system of AMCA will be made up of four independent computing systems and each system will have an independent power supply because of which the probability of technical failure will decrease and if there is such failure the whole system will not lose power at once.
Divert less supersonic inlet system-The Divert less supersonic inlet system (DSI) is a type of an air intake system from which the engines of aircraft can receive air and work properly. The DSI for the AMCA has been developed separately and the new design is 300 kilograms lighter than its previous design also the Radar cross-section (RCS) of the AMCA has been further reduced with this new design of DSI.
ENGINE– The engines that will be used in the first batch of AMCA will be American GE-F414 engines these are the same engines used in American built F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets also these are the same engines by which South Korea is developing their 5th generation fighter jet however in the second batch of AMCA the DRDO along with Rolls Royce is developing a truly 5th generation engine for AMCA expected to have thrust between 110-140kN.
STEALTH QUALITIES-The AMCA will not only be structural wise stealth but even the material used in it will make it even stealthier it will be similar material that was used in the Tejas fighter plane this will make AMCA even more advance than the remaining 5th generation fighter jets in the world.
The AMCA will be the best project ever done by HAL, ADA, and DRDO also the pace at which the work over AMCA is going is appreciable. The Indian Air Force will become one of the few Air forces in the world to operate a 5th generation fighter jet if received on time. The main focus of the AMCA is to reduce the RCS and make it as invisible as possible.
The Mikoyan Mig-29 is the second line of defense for the Indian Air Force after Su-30 MKI. It was the first aircraft in the world to adopt the thrust vectoring system. The IAF received its first Mig-29 in 1985 but even being that old they are better than most of the fighter jet which came much after it. The Indian Air Force bought Mig-29 mainly to compete with the Pakistani F-16’s which Pakistan had already acquired by 1983. The Mig-29 is a twin-engine fighter jet developed by Mikoyan Corporation of the Soviet Union also The Indian Air Force was the first international customer of these jets and bought them only when they were in their design phase now as these fighter jet has become 35 years old, the Indian Air Force decided to upgrade them and make them Mig-29 UPG. The few major updates in Mig-29 UPG are mentioned below:-
RADAR– The radar that will be used in Mig 29 UPG will be is ZHUK-ME AESA radar which will give Mig-29 a new capability that is of ground mapping or in simple words the new radar will enable Mig-29 UPG to perform air to the ground role more efficiently also the radar is capable of tracking ten objects and engaging four of them at same time.
ENGINE– The engines of Mig-29 are Kimov RD-33 which have been upgraded to increase the engine life and the problem of smoke which was there in previous Mig-29 have also been solved to some extent and now it’s called as RD-33 series 3 engine because of which its thrust to weight ratio is over one which make it even more agile, the engine creates a thrust of 88 kN which will enable MIG-29 UPG to perform a full vertical takeoff..
RANGE– The largest constrain in front of Mig-29 was its range which now has been extended to around twice the original range in Mig-29UPG by external fuel tanks also the Air to Air Refueling system can turn this machine to a deadly hunter as it will enable the aircraft to fly in the combat zone for five to six hours continuously.
Jamming capability– The jamming capability of Mig-29 UPG will be almost equal to the jamming capability of Eurofighter Typhoon, jammer used is ELT-568 Advanced Jamming Pod.
The MIG-29 UPG will enable the MIG-29 to perform the Air to Ground role also further even as the machines are ageing they are still a better option to consider also in future there are plans to equipthese machines with more lethal weapons like BrahMos-NG and Astra BVR missiles.
Article is written by PRATISHT CHAUDHRY and is exclusive for https://defenceupdate.in/