Indian Air Force Updates

Indian Air Force Updates

[pib] Exercise Desert Flag-VI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex Desert Flag

Mains level : NA

Exercise Desert Flag –VI has successfully culminated with the de-induction of the Indian contingent from the UAE.

Ex Desert Flag

  • It is an annual multi-lateral large force employment exercise hosted by UAE.
  • The sixth edition of the exercise was conducted at Air Force Base Al Dhafra, UAE.
  • IAF participated in the exercise for the first time, fielding Su-30MKI fighter aircraft.
  • Six countries; UAE, USA, France, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain apart from India participated with aerial assets. Jordan, Greece, Qatar, Egypt and South Korea participated as observer forces.

Objective of the exercise

  • The aim for the participating crew and specialist observers was to expose them to operational environment in scenarios requiring multinational forces working together.
  • A multinational exercise in UAE with friendly forces afforded a unique opportunity to gain valuable learning to all the participating forces.

Must read:

[Prelims Spotlight] Defence Exercises

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[pib] Exercise Desert Knight-21

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exercise Desert Knight-21

Mains level : India-France defence cooperation

Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force will conduct a bilateral Air exercise, Ex Desert Knight-21 at Air Force Station Jodhpur.

All-time generic question seeking ‘match the pairs’ can be asked from the news as such.  Click here for more exercises.

Ex. Desert Knight-21

  • The French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.
  • The IAF aircraft participating in the exercise will include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.
  • The exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two Air forces.
  • As part of Indo-French defence cooperation, Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force have held six editions of Air Exercises named ‘Garuda’, the latest being in 2019.
  • Presently, the French detachment for Ex Desert Knight-21 is deployed in Asia as part of their ‘Skyros Deployment’ and will ferry in forces to Air Force Station Jodhpur.

Why it is special?

  • The exercise is unique as it includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premiers Air Forces.
  • It will put into practice operational experience gained across terrains and spectrums and endeavour to exchange ideas and best practices to enhance interoperability.

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[pib] IAF to induct LCA Tejas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LCA Tejas

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Cabinet has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft for Indian Air Force.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q.What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news?

(a) An Israeli radar system

(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme

(c) An American anti-missile system

(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

LCA Tejas

  • The Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter aircraft.
  • It is designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters.
  • The indigenous content of the Tejas was 59.7% by value and 75.5% by a number of lines replaceable units.

Which are the procured variants?

  • Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft.
  • It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft.

Significance

  • Tejas enable IAF to handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission-critical systems.
  • This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to the availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.
  • It will give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenization of defence production and the defence industry in the country.

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Dassault Rafale Fighter Jets

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rafale, Hammer

Mains level : India's arsenal

The five Rafale fighter jets that landed in Ambala will resurrect the Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q.What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news?

(a) An Israeli radar system

(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme

(c) An American anti-missile system

(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

Dassault Rafale

(Refer image for specifications)

  • The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach.
  • With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes, the Rafale lends air superiority to the Indian Air Force.

Armed with modern arms

  • Each aircraft has 14 storage stations for weapons. The jets come with one of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles.
  • The 190-kg missile has a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) of over 100 km, travelling at a top speed of Mach 4.
  • The Rafale jets also come with SCALP, the air-to-ground cruise missile with a range over 300 km. It is a long-range deep strike missile.
  • The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR.
  • IAF has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision-guided missile that can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.

What is so special about Rafale fighter jet?

  1. India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euro deal that is likely to bring major work to the Indian private sector in terms of offsets under the make in India policy.
  2. The Rafale deal for 36 jets includes over 3 billion euros of work for the Indian industry over the next 7-8 years.This has a huge potential to develop direct and indirect employment opportunities.
  3. High-end technology like engine know-how, major structural assembly is also likely in India, besides a chunk of avionics work.
  4. India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a 5 year support package that assures high availability of the fighter.
  5. India will pay a 15 % advance and deliveries are to start in three years.

India Specific enhancements

The Rafale deal caters to specific Indian air force needs. The fighter jet will be modified by France to meet the following:

  • Helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons.
  • Ability to taken off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a ‘cold start’ – for quick reaction deployment
  • radar warning receiver to identify hostile tracking systems
  • A towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
  • French industrial support for fighter for 50 years

VITAL Stats

  • 7.87 billion Euro: Deal cost. This includes weapon systems, five year support, training, infrastructure and warranties. 15% to be paid in advance.
  • 91.7 million euros: as per contract, if other costs like weapons, training etc not counted, per unit price of single seat Rafale is 91.7 million euros
  • 75 % availability: French side will ensure that at any given point, at least 75 percent of the fleet is combat worthy. Failing which, heavy penalities to be invoked.
  • 67 months delivery: All aircraft ordered to be delivered within 67 months with first one coming in by 36 months
  • 50% offsets: Indian industry to get major boost as French side will invest half of deal value in Make in India products or technology transfer. Indian Partners to be firmed up within a year.
  • 328 million Euros: Saved by negotiation efforts by the Indian side on the Rafale deal, according to defence ministry sources.
  • 28/8: according to deal, India to get 28 single seater jets and 8 twin seaters for training.

For an edge over China

  • While China’s J20 Chengdu jets are called fifth-generation combat jets, compared to 4.5 generation Rafale, the J20 have no actual combat experience.
  • Whereas the Rafale is combat proven, having been used by the French Air Force for its missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.
  • It has also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria. Rafale can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.

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What is the ‘Sonic Boom’ that rattled Bengaluru city?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sonic Boom, Mach Number

Mains level : India's missile programme

The ‘loud sound’ heard in Bengaluru a few days back, which puzzled lakhs of city dwellers, was revealed to have emanated from an IAF test flight involving a supersonic profile. The sonic boom was probably heard while the IAF aircraft was decelerating from supersonic to subsonic speed between 36,000 and 40000 feet altitude.

Note:

We often get to hear about updates in  India’s missile programme. UPSC may ask a basic physics question asking fundamental differences between various Mach number and its differences.

What is a ‘sonic boom’?

  • Sound travels in the form of waves which are emitted outwards from its source.
  • In air, the speed of these waves depends on a number of factors, such as the temperature of the air and altitude.
  • When an aircraft travels at supersonic speed – meaning faster than sound (>1225 kmph at sea level) – the field of sound waves moves to the back of the craft.
  • A stationary observer thus hears no sound when a supersonic flight approaches since the sound waves are at the rear of the latter.
  • At such speeds, both newly created as well as old waves, are forced into a region at the aircraft’s rear called a ‘Mach cone’, which extends from the craft and intercepts the Earth in a hyperbola-shaped curve, and leaves a trail called the ‘boom carpet’.
  • The loud sound that is heard on the Earth when this happens is called a ‘sonic boom’ (resembles bomb-blast sound).

Impacts

  • When such aircraft fly at a low altitude, the sonic boom can become intense enough to cause the glass to crack or cause health hazards.
  • Overland supersonic flights have thus been banned in many countries.

Supersonic flights

  • In 1947, the American military pilot Chuck Yeager became the first to breach the sound barrier, flying the Bell X-1 aircraft at 1127 kmph.
  • Since then, many supersonic flights have followed, with advanced designs allowing speeds of over Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound.
  • According to the IAF website, India’s fastest jets include the Sukhoi SU-30 MKI (Mach 2.35) and the Mirage-2000 (Mach 2.3).

Back2Basics: Traverse of sound

  • From a stationary source, such as a television set, sound waves travel outwards in concentric spheres of growing radii.
  • When the source of sound is moving – e.g, a truck– the successive waves in front of the truck get closer together, and the ones behind it spread out.
  • This is also the cause of the Doppler effect– in which bunched waves at the front appear at a higher frequency to a stationary observer, and spread out waves that are behind are observed at a lower frequency.
  • As long as the source of the sound keeps moving slower than the speed of sound itself, this source– say a truck or a plane – remains nested within the sound waves that are travelling in all directions.

Mach number

  • The ratio of the speed of the aircraft to the speed of sound in the gas determines the magnitude of many of the compressibility effects.
  • Because of the importance of this speed ratio, aerodynamicists have designated it with a special parameter called the Mach number in honour of Ernst Mach, a late 19th-century physicist who studied gas dynamics.
  • Subsonic conditions occur for Mach numbers less than one, M < 1.
  • As the speed of the object approaches the speed of sound, the flight Mach number is nearly equal to one, M = 1, and the flow is said to be transonic.
  • Supersonic conditions occur for Mach numbers greater than one, 1 < M < 3.
  • For speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, M > 5, the flow is said to be hypersonic.
  • The Space Shuttle re-enters the atmosphere at high hypersonic speeds, M ~ 25. Under these conditions, the heated air becomes ionized plasma of gas and the spacecraft must be insulated from the high temperatures.

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Exercise Pitch Black 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exercise Pitch Black 2020

Mains level : NA

Australia has informed India that their premier multilateral air combat training exercise Pitch Black 2020 scheduled in July has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.

All-time generic question seeking ‘match the pairs’ can be asked from the news as such.  Click here for more exercises.

 Ex Pitch Black 2020

  • Exercise Pitch Black is a biennial warfare exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
  • The aim of the exercise is to practice Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) combat, in a simulated war environment.
  • In the last edition of Pitch Black in 2018, the IAF for the first time participated with its Su-30MKI fighters, one C-130 and one C-17 transport aircraft.
  • It provided a unique opportunity for an exchange of knowledge and experience with these nations in a dynamic warfare environment.
  • The next edition of Pitch Black is scheduled in 2022.

India’s defence relation with Australia

  • The defence and strategic engagement with Australia have steadily gone up in recent years especially on the bilateral front with naval cooperation at the forefront.
  • The bilateral naval exercise AUSINDEX early last year saw the participation of the largest Australian contingent ever to India with over 1,000 personnel.
  • The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) has been long pending and is expected to be concluded soon as well as a broader maritime cooperation agreement including the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) to elevate the existing strategic partnership.
  • Australia recently made a pitch for trilateral cooperation among India, Australia and Indonesia to identify new ways that our three countries can collaborate to be the best possible custodians of the Indian Ocean.

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[pib] Exercise Indradhanush

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex. Indradhanush

Mains level : Not Much

The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) jointly commenced the fifth edition of Exercise Indradhanush at Air Force Station Hindan.

Ex. Indradhanush

  • It is a joint air force exercise conducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) of United Kingdom and the Indian Air Force (IAF) being held since 2006.
  • The exercise is tasked to enhance mutual operational understanding between the two air forces via close interaction.
  • The focus of this edition of the exercise is ‘Base Defence and Force Protection’.
  • This theme is of significance considering the recent threats to military establishments from terror elements.

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[pib] Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Mains level : Not Much

  • Indian Air Force is participating in a Bilateral Joint exercise with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO), named Ex Eastern Bridge-V.

Ex Eastern Bridge-V

  • It is a bilateral Joint exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO).
  • For the first time, MiG-29 fighter aircraft will be participating in an International Exercise outside India.
  • IAF contingent comprises of MiG-29 and C-17 aircraft. MiG-29 will be exercising with Royal Air Force Oman’s Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 and Hawk.

Significance

  • The exercise will enhance inter-operability during mutual operations between the two Air Forces and will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  • The participation of IAF in the exercise will also promote professional interaction, exchange of experience and operational knowledge.
  • Besides strengthening bilateral relations, it will also provide a good opportunity to the air-warriors to operate in an international environment.

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[pib] Exercise Garuda-VI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex Garuda

Exercise Garuda-VI

  • The Indian Air Force is participating in a bilateral exercise between Indian and French Air Force named Exercise ‘Garuda-VI’ France in July ‘19.
  • This is the sixth edition of Exercise Garuda and is being planned in France.
  • The first edition of the Garuda exercise was held in February 2003 in Gwalior.
  • The last exercise, ‘Garuda V’ was held at Air Force Station Jodhpur in Jun 2014.
  • A fleet of Sukhoi 30 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force will engage in dogfights with France’s Rafale multirole aircraft in simulated scenarios as part of the exercise.

Benefits of the exercise

  • This will enhance understanding of interoperability during mutual operations between the two Air Forces and provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  • Participation of IAF in the exercise will also promote professional interaction, exchange experiences and operational knowledge besides strengthening bilateral relations with the French Air Force.
  • It will also provide a good opportunity to the air warriors to operate in an international environment.

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IAF gets first Apache Guardian attack helicopter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Apache Helicopters

Mains level : Modernization of armed forces

  • US aerospace major Boeing has handed over first of the 22 Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force today.
  • The addition of AH-64E (I) Apache helicopter is a significant step towards modernization of the force’s chopper fleet.

AH-64E Apache

  • The AH-64E Apache is a leading multi-role attack helicopter and is flown by the US Army.
  • The helicopter has been customised to suit the IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain.
  • It has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from ground.
  • Its ability to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition.

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CH47 Chinook heavy-lift Choppers

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CH-47 Chinook

Mains level: Enhancing fleet arsenal of IAF


News

  • IAF has inducted four CH47 Chinook heavy-lift choppers .
  • India has paid close to $ 1.5 billion for 15 of these helicopters which would be also used for deploying troops and machinery at high altitude locations.

CH-47 Chinook

  • The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter.
  • It is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters.
  • Its name, Chinook, is from the Native American Chinook people of modern-day Washington state.

Salient features of the Chinook

  • A multi-mission heavy-left transport helicopter, Chinook will be used to move troops, artillery, ammunition, barrier materials, supplies and equipment on the battlefield.
  • It is highly maneuverable, which makes it suitable for operating in tough, dense terrain.
  • Its 24X7, all-weather operational capabilities are crucial for India Air Force, which operates in some of the most hostile terrains in the world.
  • Apart from military operations, they can also be used for medical evacuation, disaster relief, search and recovery, fire-fighting and civil development.
  • It is capable of transporting fully-equipped infantry soldiers for specialised operations. It has fully integrated digital cockpit management system.
  • The Chinook has the capacity to carry a maximum payload capacity of 11 tonnes and 45 troops.

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