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13-toTake-off magazine February 2009
special edition for Aero India 2009


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Beriev and Vega carry on with AEW systems
Ka-226T is ready for Indian tender
AL-55I trials on MiG-AT started
First An-74TK-300 built for Libya
Indian An-32 upgrade may start this year

Sukhoi fighters in India
Sukhoi fighters have flown in the Indian skies for 40 years. The story dates back to the late ‘60s, when the Indian Air Force bought a large batch of Su-7BMK fighter-bombers that became the first supersonic strike aircraft in service with IAF, giving it new tactical qualities, and proven themselves in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war conflict. Su-7BMK had long been the mainstay of IAF’s fighter-bomber fleet, but time flies and they started being phased out gradually in the mid-’80. Nonetheless, IAF did not abandon the Sukhoi brand name. Moreover, Sukhoi jets are the service’s backbone now. The unique Su-30MKI supermanoeuvrable multirole fighter, which has spawned a whole family of derivatives and sold well on the global market, owes its emergence to an Indian order. The Su-30MKI has been in service with IAF since 2002 and repeatedly displayed its superiority to the cream of the crop of West European and US fighters on several combined exercises. To cap it all, the Su-30MKI has become, essentially, Sukhoi’s first project implemented through large-scale cooperation with manufacturers of both the customer country and major third-party companies. Mention should be made that the Su-30MKI delivery was just the first step towards the Russian-Indian cooperation in warplane development. The scope of the cooperation expanded with the kick-off of the large-scale Sukhoi licence production programme, under which HAL was to make 140 Su-30MKIs in India. A new phase of the cooperation may be the unprecedented contract for joint development of a fifth-generation multirole fighter by Sukhoi and HAL, which is being drafted now.

Vikramaditya gets launched while Indian pilots master MiG-29K
The implementation of the Russian-Indian contract on overhauling and upgrading the Admiral Gorshkov through-deck aircraft carrying cruiser, which is turning into a classic aircraft carrier and will be commissioned by the Indian Navy as Vikramaditya, passed another key milestone on 4 December 2008. On that day after three years of repairs in a drained flooding dock of the Sevmash yard, the ship got back in its element – the dock was flooded and the carrier was taken out of it to the fitting-out wharf of the Severodvinsk-based company for completion and outfitting. There have been important developments out of Moscow as well. Indian military pilots have begun to learn the ropes on the main weapon of the advanced Indian aircraft carrier – the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB carrierborne fighters. Last year, the Lukhovitsy Production Centre of the MiG Corp. built, tested and prepared the first four production aircraft for delivery. In November and December, the warplanes were used heavily in Lukhovitsy as part of the conversion training of the lead team of Indian pilots who had completed their ground school and sharpened their flying skills in piloting the fighter on the high-tech MiG-29K simulator developed and made by the MiG Corp. under the same contract.

Su-30MKI + BrahMos = New Capabilities of Indian Air Force
Today, Su-30MKI two-seat multirole supermanoeuvrable fighters are the image warplanes of the Indian Air Force and the cutting-edge weapon in the service’s inventory. To date, Irkut Corp. has delivered over 50 aircraft like that to IAF, while the ongoing licence production of the fighter by HAL’s manufacturing plants, coupled with new deliveries from Russia, will enable IAF by the middle of next decade to operate as many as 230 aircraft, most of which will have remained in the inventory until 2030–40. The Su-30MKI programme is not sitting on its hands. Because the Su-30MKI production and deliveries are to go on for at least five years more and its service for at least a quarter of the century, the question of its further refinement is on the agenda now. Fitting the IAF Su-30MKI fleet with the sophisticated BrahMos-A precision-guided long-range multirole air-to-surface missile under development by the Russian-Indian joint venture is seen as a priority as part of such work. The venture has developed and delivered the shipborne and land-based BrahMos missile systems to the Indian Navy and Army. What new capabilities can the BrahMos offer, once fitted with the Su-30MKI?

MiG-35 favourite of MMRCA tender
28 August 2007 saw the official kickoff of a largest-scale combat aircraft acquisition tender – the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme estimated at $11 billion and providing for the Indian Air Force to buy 126 medium multirole fighters. On that day, the Indian government issued official request for proposals to the bidders. The preliminary stage shortlisted several contenders for the multibillion-dollar order. Six companies from the United States, Western Europe and Russia indicated their willingness to throw their hats in the ring – Lockheed Martin and Boeing with their F-16 Block 70 and F-18E/F fighters, SAAB offering its Gripen IN, Eurofighter with its EF2000 Typhoon and MiG Corp. with its MiG-35 fighter. According to expert opinion, the Generation 4++ MiG-35 multirole fighter under development by MiG Corp. will become among the favourites of the Indian tender. The MiG-35 demonstrator was derived from the MiG-29M2 prototype two years ago. It was displayed at the Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore in February 2007, having become one of its zests. At the same time, the US and West European fighters offered by the competitors are very formidable rivals, and a minor upgrade of the current MiG-29 would not be enough to beat them in the tender. Therefore, despite the MiG-35’s similarity of appearance to the current production-standard MiG-29, its design and capabilities embody several drastically novel features attributing the fighter to Generation 4++.

Advanced helicopters entering service
Mi-28N and Ansat-U cleared for fielding while Ka-52 enters production

On 26 December 2008, the Russian Helicopters’ Flight Test Centre in Chkalovsky, Moscow Region, hosted the final meeting of the enlarged session of the State commission that considered the outcome of the official trials of the advanced Mil Mi-28N and Kamov Ka-52 combat helicopters and Kazan Helicopters Ansat-U trainer helicopter and the status of their production. During the session, the report on the successful completion of the Mi-28N and Ansat-U official trials was signed and the “confirmation of the suitability of the helicopters and all of their components for entering service with the Russian Defence Ministry and for launching their production” was issued. At the same time, the first stage of the official trials of the Ka-52 helicopter was pronounced a success, which served the base for issuing a positive preliminary opinion recommending the manufacture of a pre-production batch.

Bombs without rival
Bazalt’s weapons surpass JDAM and JSOW

Despite the growing importance of the role of guided missiles, ‘iron’ bombs remain in the inventories of the air forces throughout the world. One of the ways to enhance the capabilities of air bombs is the fitting of them with special tail kits increasing their accuracy and range or the developing of advanced cluster bombs with homing submunitions. The best-known results of such modernisation are US smart bomb JDAM and glide bomb JSOW. However, they have run into worthy competition on the global market – air bombs from the Bazalt state scientific production company that has for decades been a leader in developing air bombs of all types.

Yak-130 clears another test phase
Su-25 upgrade goes on in Kubinka

Two Sukhoi SuperJets under certification tests

In the run-up to recovery
Russian civil aircraft industry in 2009

By tradition, early in the year we analyse the basic results produced by the Russian aircraft industry in making and selling airliners and transport aircraft in the previous year. The establishment of the United Aircraft Corporation and forming its range of models as well as several recent contracts and agreements signed with Russian and foreign customers served the reason for hoping for a considerable improvement in this field starting from 2008. However, last year’s results indicate that, unfortunately, it would be a bit premature to say that the Russian commercial aircraft makers have passed the turning point. Although there have been objective and subjective reasons to that, the fact is that the advanced civil aircraft output and deliveries have not improved substantially and the Russian aircraft industry built in 2008 mere 13 new planes, of which only six have been delivered to Russian customers. But last year revealed some positive trends, albeit timid ones. The aircraft industry managed to deliver six new airliners of the Tu-204/214 family following a long lull, the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 kicked off its certification test programme and some progress was made in exporting Russian civil aircraft, with new prospects cropping up. Let us not lose heart and let us see what the Russian aircraft industry managed to accomplish last year and what can be expected from it in the near future.

Tikhomirov’s radars: from phased array to AESA
Interview of Tikhomirov-NIIP Director General Yuri Bely

A key component of formidable combat capabilities of advanced fighters is the sophisticated fire control system wrapped around an efficient radar. All Sukhoi Su-27/Su-30 family fighters – both exported and in service with the Russian Air Force – are fitted with fire control systems developed by the Tikhomirov-NIIP research institute. Tikhomirov-NIIP became a pioneer in developing phased-array radars.  Its first airborne phased-array radar debuted on the MiG-31 interceptor, and starting with the Su-30MKI these radars have been equipping Sukhoi fighters. Last year, the advanced Su-35 multirole fighter entered the trials, with Tikhomirov-NIIP developing the Irbis-E passive phased array radar – the most refined in its class – to fit it. As far as the future fifth-generation fighter is concerned, the company is developing its first active electronically scanned array radar (AESA). To learn the status of the programmes, Take-off's editor Andrey Fomin met Tikhomirov-NIIP Director General Yuri Bely who was kind enough to grant us an interview.

Ivchenko-Progress advanced aero engines

JSC “558 Aircraft Repair Plant”

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