Feb 13, 2014 17:55 UTC
Latest updates[?]: We have the program's new cost figures, which are rising. A less parochial awareness is also rising, it seems...
India’s Light Combat Aircraft program is meant to boost its aviation industry, but it must also solve a pressing military problem. The IAF’s fighter strength has been declining as the MiG-21s that form the bulk of its fleet are lost in crashes, or retired due to age and wear. Most of India’s other Cold War vintage aircraft face similar problems.
In response, some MiG-21s have been modernized to MiG-21 ‘Bison’ configuration, and other current fighter types are undergoing modernization programs of their own. The IAF’s hope is that they can maintain an adequate force until the multi-billion dollar 126+ plane MMRCA competition delivers replacements, and more SU-30MKIs arrive from HAL. Which still leaves India without an affordable fighter solution. MMRCA can replace some of India’s mid-range fighters, but what about the MiG-21s? The MiG-21 Bison program adds years of life to those airframes, but even so, they’re likely to be gone by 2020.
That’s why India’s own Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project is so important to the IAF’s future prospects. It’s also why India’s rigid domestic-only policies are gradually being relaxed, in order to field an operational and competitive aircraft. Even with that help, the program’s delays are a growing problem for the IAF. Meanwhile, the west’s near-abandonment of the global lightweight fighter market opens an opportunity, if India can seize it with a compelling and timely product.
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Oct 14, 2013 15:16 UTC
Super Dvora Mk.III
Israel isn’t the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of naval exporters, but it has enjoyed success in one limited field: patrol craft. Its Dvora family, whose largest Mk.III boats are 90 feet long and just 70t, has been sold beyond Israel to Eritrea, Gambia, India, Paraguay, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan. Taiwan fitted its boats with missiles, but otherwise, the Dvoras have been a gunboat class.
Israel’s frigate plans are in limbo, but the country needs to move fast in order to protect its recently-discovered offshore natural gas fields against stated threats from Turkey and Syria. They’ve just ordered another 3 Super Dvora Mk.IIIs to that end, while IAI reconsiders the class’ status as a mere gunboat…
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Mar 18, 2013 17:35 UTC
Colombian K-767 MMTT
Brazil may be dithering about its future fighter fleet, but they’re taking steps to modernize another important air force capability. On March 14/13, Brazil’s FAB announces that they’ve picked Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to provide 2 Boeing 767-300ER aerial refueling and transport aircraft, in order to replace the FAB’s 4 KC-137s. Those Boeing 707 derivatives were built in the 1960s, and Brazil took delivery of their KC-137s in 1986. In 2008, Brazil’s air force general staff (EMAER) launched the KC-X2 program to replace them. IAI says that they beat “many international companies” for KC-X2, and their cost-effective solution is already flying with Brazil’s neighbor Colombia, in a smaller and shorter-range 767-200 aircraft.
Instead of ordering new aircraft, IAI Bedek uses its commercial conversion expertise to find suitable used 767 airframes at low cost, then performs a cargo conversion. That saves a lot of money, while improving the aircraft’s capabilities as Brazil’s long-range troop and cargo airlifter. Next comes installation of the aerial refueling equipment, which can be used for fighters, or to extend the reach of aircraft like their forthcoming KC-390 jet transports. IAI has developed a flying boom for the centerline, and has designed and manufactured its own wing pods for hose-and-drogue refueling. A final contract must still be signed with the FAB, which will include industrial participation from Brazilian firms. FAB [in Portuguese] | IAI.