SOURCE: MANOJ AGARWAL / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
A great debate was recently sparked when India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant went for sea trials and a lot of defense enthusiasts noticed two smaller aircraft lift size on the decks when the first clear pictures of the fully functional deck started coming in. Directorate of Naval Design started work on the design of the ship in 1999 onwards and the keel was laid in 2009 and lifts of the aircraft carrier were designed to accommodate and operate initially Russian developed Mig-29K and India’s LCA-Navy Mk2 aircraft, so questions were raised if it can operate TEDBF that is under development or the Rafale M and F-18 if Indian Navy were to procure them.
Navy’s choice of aircraft that it planned could operate from the decks of the INS Vikrant at the design stage was the troubled Mig-29K fleet that it now wants to retire by 2035 due to ongoing technical issues with the fleet and other aircraft was now canceled single-engined LCA-Navy Mk2 program, that now has been replaced with Bigger Twin-engined TEDBF. Many are wondering if the aircraft lift size might be too small to be used to operate any other bigger aircraft that the Navy might be looking into under its tender for 57 deck-based fighter jets that included offers from Boeing for F-18 and Dassault for its Rafale M jets.
Many have raised questioned if Navy’s Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) will be able to use these lifts so that they can be moved to the storage facility in below decks for repairs and regular maintenance but the above graphic details showing dimensions of the three jets that might be operated by the Indian Navy from the decks of the INS Vikrant which clearly shows that smaller dimensions of the aircraft lift might not be an issue.
TEDBF has smaller wingspan than the Mig-29K which is always the main criteria for aircraft lift on the INS Vikrant rather than the aircraft length which usually remains out from the rear side in most of the aircraft carrier lifts. Designers of the TEDBF are already aware of the aircraft lift dimensions of the INS Vikrant and have confirmed that the aircraft will have a smaller footprint and will be able to fit in storage and lift that were developed to meet the dimensions of the Mig-29K so in the future it can be operated from both INS Vikrant and INs Vikramaditya.
F-18 on contrary has a Width with wings folded at 9.32 m which is bigger than the 7.6m found in the TEDBF and F-18 also has an overall length of 18.31 m when compared to the 16.30m found in the TEDBF, which could turn out to be an issue for the F-18 to be operated from the INS Vikrant and its chances to secure a deal from the Indian Navy.
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