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In Tejas’ shadow, Sitara trainer also poised to enter service

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Soumya, Dec 20, 2013.

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  1. Soumya

    Soumya Major STAR MEMBER

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    While the spotlight plays over the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) that will, on Friday, be certified fit for induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF), another India-built aircraft is at the cusp of readiness. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has revealed that its Sitara intermediate jet trainer (IJT), which has been in development since 1999, is now “just weeks away from certificationâ€.

    Defence Minister AK Antony is flying down to Bengaluru to award the Tejas its initial operational certificate (IOC) on Friday. The Sitara’s success in intensive flight-testing this year means that he could soon be making another trip to award an identical certification to the Sitara.

    For the IAF, there could hardly be better news. The recent purchase of the PC-7 Mark II basic trainer from Swiss company, Pilatus; and HAL’s simultaneous project to develop the HTT-40 basic trainer, caters for training of rookie pilots --- termed Stage-1 training. The induction of the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) in 2008 took care of Stage-3 training, after which pilots fly frontline IAF fighters. But Stage-2 intermediate training remains a gaping void that is inadequately filled by vintage Kiran Mark II trainers that date back to the 1970s.

    “We have accelerated flight testing dramatically this year, doing 183 sorties --- thrice as many as any preceding year. Last month we completed bombing trials and extra fuel tank trials in Jamnagar. Now we are completing the stall and spin tests, after which we will get the IOC,†says Krishna Kumar, Project Manager IJT for HAL.

    Business Standard visited the HAL division where the Sitara is undergoing flight-testing. One prototype was taxiing out for a test-flight, while technicians readied others. So keen is the IAF to get the Sitara into service that HAL has been allowed to press into flight-testing the 12 trainers the IAF ordered.

    In March 2010, the IAF also ordered 73 Sitara trainers for Rs 6,180 crore. These would be based at the IAF flying school coming up in Deesa, in Gujarat; and in Tambaram, where the IAF trains flying instructors.

    A tour of the Sitara makes it clear why the IAF is so keen. Unlike the clunky Kiran, the Sitara’s clean-cut lines are distinctly 21st century. While the Kiran seated both instructor and trainee side by side, the Sitara has tandem seating with the trainee pilot seated alone in front, where he gets the feel of flying solo even though he knows the instructor is seated behind. The Kiran’s quaint analog instruments are replaced with smart digital display screens, like those that equip modern fighters. From his rear seat, the instructor can control the trainee pilot’s instruments, simulating flight emergencies for the rookie to handle.

    “Everyone who sees the Sitara remarks upon its ‘wow’ factor. Many don’t believe that this is an entirely India-designed aircraft,†says Kumar.

    HAL was sanctioned Rs 180 crore in July 1999 to develop the aircraft and build two flying prototypes. In 2005, two years after the prototype first flew, the budget was raised to Rs 467 crore to order a more powerful engine from Russia and to build an all-glass cockpit. Eventually, development has cost Rs 634.23 crore. In addition, the IAF ordered 12 limited series production (LSP) Sitaras in 2006 for Rs 486.82 crore. That works out to Rs 40 crore per trainer, a fraction of what would be paid abroad for a similar aircraft that also integrates rockets, guns and bombs.

    The Sitara has faced its share of development setbacks. Around 2006, it was making good progress when it was decided to fit a new engine --- the AL-55I engine, specially developed in Russia for the Sitara, which HAL will manufacture in Koraput, Odisha. In 2011, flight-testing suffered a major setback when a Sitara crashed in stall testing, fortunately without loss of life.

    All that is history, say HAL project managers, as the Sitara is poised to enter service. It flies up to 700 kilometres per hour and up to 9,000 metres high. It can sustain gravitational forces from minus 2.5G to plus 7G (seven times the force of gravity). It has a range of 1000 kilometres, extendable to 1,500 kilometres with external drop tanks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Broadsword: In Tejas? shadow, Sitara trainer also poised to enter service
     
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  2. Zeus_@21

    Zeus_@21 Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    How good is NPO Saturn AL-55I non-afterburning turbofan, 16.9kN (4,500 lbf)?? I've heard that there are some snags in the engine.
     
  3. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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    great news coming from Air force side .. hope army too order thousands of arjuna and bhim
     
  4. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    I don't really see the point of this IJT - we have BTTs for Stage I and Hawk AJT for Stage II, Stage III should
    be in LIFT aircraft, the role of IJT seems confusing.
    [MENTION=6253]vstol jockey[/MENTION]?
     
  5. GUNS-N- ROSES

    GUNS-N- ROSES Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    well I think ur info is bit out of order.

    stage one will be Pilatus
    stage two will be sitara
    stage three will be hawks
     
  6. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    That's quite strange because most other air forces use LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) for Stage III.
     
  7. GUNS-N- ROSES

    GUNS-N- ROSES Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    what makes u think hawk is a not a LIFT
     
  8. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Hawk is classified as an AJT (Advanced Jet Trainer) by the IAF. A true LIFT would be conversion of the Tejas Mk-1 which can go supersonic. Earlier, pilots had to train in Hawk for transonic flight regimes and supersonic training was often in the MiG-21.

    The MiG-21s won't be here forever, we need a new LIFT to fulfill that role.
     
  9. WMD

    WMD Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Most of the world air-forces don't have a stage-III.

    Tejas Mk-1 will be used in that role. MiG-21 is no more used for training/pilot conversion as that role belonged to MiG-21FL.
     
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  10. GUNS-N- ROSES

    GUNS-N- ROSES Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    the main function of a trainer is to give adequate training to novice fighter pilots in the intricacies of fighter flying and combat. Hawk is a perfect plane for that. it has a max speed of 0.84 mach thus it can give fighter pilots a feel of high speeds too.

    after graduating from hawk pilots can get trained in individual fighter trainers (each fighter ac has its own trainer) or else tejas can very well perform that role.
     
  11. he-man

    he-man Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    hawk was a mistake,,,we should have gone for kai golden eagle or yak-130 which ate true lift planes.

    but whatever,now decision has been made albeit not a very good one imho


    yes tejas mk1 can serve the role of LIFT
     
  12. Hidalgo

    Hidalgo 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    Hope we will consider Yak-130 for FGFA training role. Russia is also pushing the same.
     
  13. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    EXCLUSIVE: Cornered Completely, HAL To Re-design Lumbering Intermediate Trainer

    This was coming. And now it's official. Pincered in by a combination of pressures that would pluck a plum bit of business out of HAL's hands, the state-owned aviation manufacturer has decided to re-design and weight-optimise its Stage-II jet trainer, the HJT-36 Sitara, officially calling upon global airframers to size up the platform and hammer out a prescribe. After persisting with the line that the aircraft platform was fine, and that it was rapidly piercing through test points towards service status, the new decision to scout assistance is HAL's first admission that there's been trouble all along.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the preamble to HAL's officially published call for help on June 30:

    The HJT-36 aircraft presently weighs around 4150 Kg in its Normal Training Configuration, i.e., with two pilots and full internal fuel without any external stores. HAL is envisaging achieving maximum possible weight reduction / optimisation for the aircraft.

    After a one page description of the major components going into the all-metallic fuselage, wing, empennage, avionics and electrical system, propulsion, landing gear and flight control system, the company cuts to the chase:

    The design of the above need to be revisited, analyzed and the scope for weight reduction / optimization studied while ensuring the required strength, stiffness & fatigue criteria. The new innovative ideas w.r.t. material, LRU’s and other related equipments maintainability shall be included. Towards this HAL is looking forward for partnership / technical assistance / consultancy from a well experienced airframe design house. The interested companies may respond with detailed justification of their capabilities and tentative plan with time lines for HAL to consider issuing formal tenders.

    And just to be clear that they're talking about the full deal, HAL adds:
    This weight reduction / optimization study must be comprehensive, encompassing all the Structure, Mechanical Systems & Electrical Avionics Systems. It should meet the adequate strength, stiffness and fatigue criteria, methodology for testing, Analysis and functioning details are to be provided.
    Significantly, HAL doesn't indicate that this redesign pushes the aircraft's already in-service date.

    Here's how it sums up the project's current status in its invitation to airframers:

    The aircraft is in an advanced stage of development and is expected to enter service within the coming year. The company has a firm order of 85 aircraft from the Indian defence services. Further orders for this aircraft are expected once it is operationalised.

    The pressure on HAL has been sustained and rightly unforgiving: after a public spat over the trainer that peaked last year, the IAF declared in February this year its official interest in importing Stage-II trainers, intended as a training bridge between the now in-service Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II basic trainer and BAE Hawk advanced jet trainer. Also, the IAF may be entirely unwilling to induct the HJT-36 if it doesn't meet weight and performance criteria. The redesign call proves the aircraft isn't anywhere near what the IAF wants.
     
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