With the projected delivery of the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) by the Cochin Shipyard where the IAC is being fitted out, scheduled for 2023, the Indian Navy could be eyeing the fifth generation aircraft for it.
Speaking to FE Online on condition of anonymity, a senior officer said that, “By the time the Aircraft carrier is commissioned in the service, worldwide the navies would be flying the fifth generation fighter and not the fourth generation platforms like Boeing’s F-18, the French Rafale or the Swedish Gripen.”
Four vendors including the Dassault Aviation of France `Rafale’, US based Boeing Company’s F-18 Super Hornet, Swedish SAAB’s ` Gripen’ and MiG-29 K of Russia, all responded to the RfI that was sent last year for the 57 aircraft for the Navy. The Indian Navy is already having operational issues due to defects in engines, airframe and fly-by-wire system with the Russian MiG 29 K.
By the time the IAC comes, the US will be going to the 5th generation single engine F-35 A, F-35 B and F-35c versions from the Lockheed Martin for its air force, marines, and navy respectively in the future.
Compared to other navies globally, the US Navy, the Royal Navy, the French, Russian and now even the Chinese PLA-N have fighter fleets built around aircraft carriers, as that helps them to project their power over long-distance from their home bases.
Inking of the COMCASA agreement at the end of the first ever 2+2 India-US Strategic Dialogue, the sale of these machines are not ruled out.
Earlier this year, at a US House Armed Services Committee hearing USPACOM (US Pacific Command) head Admiral Harry Harris Jr. had hinted that some of the platforms India is planning to buy from the US including F-16s, multi-role fighter acquisition program; the F/A-18E for multi-engine, carrier-based fighter purchase; a reorder of 12-15 P-8Is; Sea Guardian UAS; MH-60R multi-role sea-based helicopter; and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are all supported by the USPACOM.
As reported by FE earlier, the delay in the delivery of the IAC by December 2018 has pushed back the IAC- 2 plan. The IAC-2 is not part of the 2017-19 annual acquisition plans of the Indian Navy. The first indigenous aircraft for the Indian Navy is delayed by 8 years delayed and this leaves the Navy with one operational aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, the 45,000-tonne carrier bought from Russia, which s expected to go in for repairs very soon.
According to the Lockheed Martin’s website: the different variants of the F-35 have similar performance characteristics, and are mainly distinguished by their different basing requirements. Thus, the F-35B and F-35C variants have unique ways to take off and land.
Though the plans for the IAC-2 have been put on back burner, the navy wants it to have a CATOBAR (catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery) configuration. The IAC under construction has a STOBAR (short take-off but arrested recovery) configuration.
SOURCE : Financial Express