SOURCE: DEEPAK HILORI/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari in a recent Interview called Timeline set by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for two indigenous fighter programs as aggressive and was not sure if both agencies can deliver as promised since both have terrible record when it comes to delivery of home-grown fighter jets.
Tejas MkII Rollout already has been pushed to 2024 and will commence delivery in 2030-31 which means all development flight trials will be completed in the next 6 years this seems to be way too aggressive since Mk1 developmental flight trials lasted from 2001 till 2016 when the first squadron with IOC-II configuration was raised and Mk2 carries a whole lot of major changes to its avionics and systems that have little or no connection with the Mk1 program.
Mk2 gets New Radar, Onboard oxygen generator, Internal EW suite, Side stick controls, Full Touch enabled Wide Area Display screens, a New engine, and a host of other features that are simply not on the Mk1 program. While some might argue that most of the tech has been developed and has completed many developmental trials but until all the proposed systems and supplements are not tested together it’s very difficult to know what issues might crop up when they are finally put together.
AMCA program is the most complex of the two since it is a generation part and needs to be best in its class for it to be classified as a 5th gen fighter aircraft for a country that had limited access to 5th-generation technology. AMCA program will be executed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that will see the participation of private sector companies which is so wrong since SPV should have been used to execute the Tejas MkII program first so that the Private sector can build on hands-on experience they had first on a 4.5 gen fighter program that could have smoothened out the transition in the AMCA program.
India is yet to establish the SPV model for the AMCA program and rumors around are that not many companies are keen to be partners in the program due to the complexity of the project and also due to lack of experience in handling such programs in the past. Many existing component suppliers of the Mk1 program have limited experience in manufacturing airframes and no experience in putting together an airworthy jet.
Both Tejas Mk2 and AMCA programs are running on promises made by ADA and HAL that they will get it done but the client (IAF) is yet to see how they plan to execute the program without facing delays in the programs. ADA needs to reduce developmental flight timeline by ensuring that computer simulations of the jets they have designed for the entire flight regime do not show off any design issues and HAL needs to ensure that its Management skills are optimum to get components and parts sourced in time that is ready to set up a new age production plant for complex fighters like AMCA.
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