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Why Navy’s rejection of Naval LCA is wrong

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by layman, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]




    Former Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash recently published an article severely critical of the Naval Light Combat Aircraft program (“Navy’s rejection is a lesson, failure of DRDO”, Economic Times, 8 February 2017). He attributed Navy’s exercising the foreclosure option to, what he calls, the programme’s “lethargic and inept performance” and indicated that the need for 57 deck based aircraft is to meet the requirements of the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2).

    He also alleged that the IAF has accepted the Mk-1 and Mark 1A variants of this aircraft into service with reservations, and concluded by saying that “A little introspection by those at the helm of this organisation would reveal to them three reasons for its abysmal performance despite a wealth of talent and a network of sophisticated laboratories — an exaggerated opinion of their capabilities; a lack of intellectual honesty in denying obvious failures and an unwillingness to seek external help when required “

    Admiral Prakash may, perhaps, change his mind were he to be familiarized with the successes the Naval LCA Programme has notched up in the face of scepticism, institutional resistance, and reluctance to give the programme the benefit of doubt.

    The LCA Navy team from the beginning was aware that it would be a challenging task to develop a deck based aircraft that very few countries have successfully negotiated, and which was being attempted for the first time in the country. At initiation, it was anticipated that the conversion of an Air Force version to a Naval version with specific attributes would entail about 15% change. However, as the detail design and development process unfolded, the teams involved realized that the changes were almost to the extent of 40% to 45%.

    Notwithstanding this, the maiden flight of the first Naval Prototype (NP1) took place within nine years of government approval, which meets worldwide standards. What this effort has also done is generate a considerable knowledge base in the country in understanding the nuances of carrier borne aircraft design.

    The areas of emphasis, as correctly brought out in Admiral Prakash’s article, are strong landing gear and the associated structural changes, such as increased nose droop to provide better over-the-nose vision, arrester hook integration, and a dedicated control law for ski jump take-off. However, the extent of thrust shortfall became evident only 4 to 5 years into the Programme, i.e., by 2007-08.

    Naval specific features as envisaged in 2003 were taken into account and, not ignored, as charged in the article. The entire front fuselage was a new design, including a 4-degree additional nose droop, a new landing gear system that is longer and much stronger, and an arrester hook system.

    In addition, a new leading edge control surface, viz., LEVCON was introduced to facilitate reduction in approach speeds for deck recovery. Due to this being a first-time effort to design and develop a carrier borne fighter aircraft, there was conservatism in the plan-form leading to a mass increase by about 400 to 500 kg. This is why the thrust available for deck take-off fell short of mission objectives. It was thus decided that the LCA Navy Mk1 would be only a ‘Technology Demonstrator’ and utilized to conduct carrier suitability tests and demonstration.

    The statement made by the CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba on 03 December 2016 of the aircraft being overweight pertains to the LCA Navy Mk1, and not the redesigned and optimised LCA Navy Mk2.

    It is apparent from Admiral Prakash’s article that the Navy has raised its Request For Information (RFI) for the procurement of 57 aircraft for the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2), that the IAC-2 is intended to be a CATOBAR carrier (Catapult Take-off But Arrested Recovery) and is to be available in a decade’s time. However, a reading of the Navy’s RFI indicates that these aircraft are intended for the present STOBAR (Ski-jump Take-off But Arrested Recovery) carrier(s), viz., Vikramaditya and Vikrant and possibly for the IAC-2 (CATOBAR) as well. This does not mesh with Admiral Prakash’s statement about the 57 aircraft being specifically selected for IAC-2.

    It is noteworthy that the conditions of operations in the Navy RFI in terms of Wind on Deck (WoD) and take-off run parameters are more favourable than those afforded the naval LCA programme.

    It is also stated that IAF accepted Tejas into service in July 2016 with much reluctance because it fell short of many IAF qualitative requirements and had not secured Full Operational Clearance. This is an unfair and incorrect characterization given the public acceptance by the air force and current performance of the aircraft that meets the operational requirements of the IAF. Indeed, IAF is in the process of ordering 83 aircraft in addition to the 40 Tejas already ordered.

    The LCA teams, the article claims, had an exaggerated opinion of their own abilities. Actually, the programme and people in it put in their best effort in realising a carrier borne aircraft with the available in-house knowledge base and also with inputs taken from external sources when required. All design solutions for the naval LCA were obtained after a great deal of brain storming. However, solutions were difficult to find within the existing boundaries of an already existing Air Force aircraft configuration. Even so, challenges were overcome and the LCA Navy Mk1 is currently in flight test.

    More serious and personal was the charge that the ADA teams lack intellectual honesty. This is strange take on reality considering the teams have been absolutely transparent, especially about the project shortfalls. There were major setbacks due to failures during tests of nose wheel steering, of arrester hook jack damper, etc., which were well reported, recorded and new design solutions secured. Due to the introduction of a new structure, LEVCON, a dedicated test rig was built and tested to assess failure. There was a failure at 135% loading, and the aircraft structure was duly strengthened. Further, when the thrust shortfall was encountered, ADA went back to the Cabinet Committee on Security in Dec 2009, with Navy in the loop, to seek a configuration with a higher thrust engine. This was the genesis of the LCA Navy Mk2.

    Nor was there any hesitation in seeking external help when required. For instance, ADA has signed a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) case with the US Navy for Carrier Suitability test inputs. It resulted in valuable inputs and extensive auditing of the test plans. This contract made available Pilot and LSO training in the US to the ADA flight test crew. In 2005, there was an engagement with RAC MiG to audit the landing gear and arrester hook design. Notwithstanding such consultancies, there were design failures as earlier mentioned, which needed rectification. The LCA Navy Mk2 is evolving with the participation of Airbus Defence & Space as consultants.

    Whilst the operational requirements of the Navy and their immediate need to get suitable deck based aircraft are understandable, the rejection of the Navy LCA Programme, while Navy’s prerogative, may not be in the national interest as it undermines the underway indigenisation effort in the country. The failures of LCA Navy Mk-1 should not, however, be projected on to the LCA Navy Mk2, which is progressing well at ADA – a development effort supported by CNS.

    Briefly, let me outline the current progress of the LCA Navy Programme. The primary focus of the LCA Navy Mk1 Technology Demonstrator has been towards Carrier Compatibility Tests (CCT), inclusive of ski jump take-off and arrested recovery. Significant progress has been made in the ski jump launch, and lead-up activities for arrested recovery.

    Dedicated Control Laws have been established for the Naval version of Tejas to meet the challenging objectives. Thirteen Ski-jump launches have so far been done at Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa. The Simulation Model has been validated and there is sufficient confidence in it for predicting performance of the aircraft when getting airborne from the carrier. The capability to carry out a hands-free take-off has been one of the highlights of the Programme.

    Further, Hot Refueling has been demonstrated, which is a significant capability enhancer and has facilitated coverage of higher number of test points in a sortie. Towards arrested recovery, over 100 Field Carried Landing Practice (FCLP) sorties have been carried out, including High Sink Rate Landings. The other achievements are that both LCA Navy Mk1 prototypes have, among other things, flown supersonic, gone to high angles of attack of as much as 23 degrees, and carried out in-fight fuel jettisoning.

    As part of overall design and development, a dedicated Structural Test Specimen of LCA Navy (STS-N) has been developed and integrated with the Main Airframe Static Test (MAST) Rig. This in fact is a full aircraft structure which is extensively instrumented. The structure is loaded in the MAST with the loads that the aircraft is likely to face in actual service usage (limit load) and the integrity is monitored. The structure is then loaded to 1.5 times (ultimate load) the load to check the reserve margin available. For example, for clearing 8 ‘g’ envelope, the structure is loaded to 12’g’ in the MAST. This provides ample confidence as regards the structural integrity of the aircraft to operate in a Carrier Borne scenario.

    A carrier borne Naval aircraft needs extensive testing at the SBTF prior to its actual test and deployment on an aircraft carrier. After a worldwide search, it was found that the US Navy has shore facilities for catapult take-off and arrested recovery, but lacks a ski-jump facility. The other facility is in Crimea and features ski-jump for launch and arrested recovery, except it is in a state of disrepair and has no Restraining Gear System (RGS) as on the aircraft carrier to hold back the aircraft during take-off.

    Considering these factors, it was decided to build our own test facility, as a part of the LCA Navy Programme, to replicate an aircraft carrier, to the extent feasible, with a ski-jump for take-off and arrested landing facility. Accordingly, the SBTF was constructed. Further, in the national interest, it was decided that its specifications cater for heavy aircraft (MiG-29K) and lighter planes (LCA Navy). If Return on Investment is a criterion, Navy’s financial contribution to the Naval LCA Programme is being more than paid back by the SBTF, which is being used extensively for its MiG 29K requirement,

    As is evident, no effort has been spared by the teams in progressing various activities of design and development of the Naval version of LCA. In addition to the development of the aircraft itself, significant test facilities and activities have been advanced in parallel with regard to the LCA Navy Programme. Despite the rejection by the Navy the LCA Navy team is committed to developing a viable deck based fighter aircraft in the country.

    Source
     
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  2. The Lockean

    The Lockean 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    The same story, different topic.

    Too little and way too late. And the cream lies in the fact that HAL refuses to engage an Indian Private Player to address it's own short comings.

    Another platform being built to ensure fat greasing fees for procurement of a system at short notice in the increasingly fragile environment which India faces.

    Oh wait, let me get @vstol jockey in here. Perhaps he can explain this cancellation ...

    Whereas DRDO gets funded from Defence Allocation of Budgets .. HAL is getting funded by IN for N-LCA .. that is what he said ... :)

    So where is the accountability of Rs 900 Crore he said has been given by IN to HAL in this?
     
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  3. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I told you that must very seriously consider Dancing as your profession. read the link below which was posted by your dear Ajai Shukla.
    http://www.business-standard.com/ar...acks-tejas-with-rs-900-cr-109092100003_1.html
    IN does not sabotage prototypes and gives chance to Indian products over foreign products. It also works in tandem with DRDO to improve the product. The present head of ADA and head of national Flight test school are from Indian Navy.
    The 900 crore has been spent in India by Indian scientists and they have developed many interesting technologies from this money. IN did not pay foreigners in order to seek bribe for themselves.
     
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  4. zebra7

    zebra7 Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Again starting the diarrhea of you rubbish logic like in Arjun Tank thread, and now again calling @vstol jockey.

    For your consuption.

    1. There is no Mk2 yet, so the question of rejection is bogus. What IN rejection was for the MK1, powered by GE 404 engine and MK2 yet to be developed, which is in the development stage.

    2. HAL very well wanted the pvt players to play larger role, confirmed in the HAL chief himself, where he said that HAL wanted to become the lead integrator, and the pvt. player less involvement is not due to the HAL, rather due to the pvt players themself, which was not developed to the level needed in the past, and the lack of the clear vision policy what we see in the western countries, which you want to compare, thus the lack of the clarity of the ordered which is confirmed.

    3. And what shortcomming -- You are just a keyboard warrior, who can type blah blah, and when asked, what role you can play for removing the shortcoming in our country, you are just a LUL.

    Consider this as my first and last quote, and not to mentioned don't quote me, because I don't want to indulge with the people like you.
     
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  5. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    The confusion has been compounded by the near-simultaneous issuance of a global request for information (RFI) for procurement of "57 multirole fighters for its aircraft carriers" by Naval HQ.

    One can deduce two compelling reasons for this, seemingly, radical volte face by the only service which has shown unswerving commitment to indigenisation (lately labelled 'Make in India') for the past six decades.

    Firstly, by exercising a foreclosure option, the navy has administered a well-deserved and stinging rebuke to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for its lethargic and inept performance that has again disappointed our military. The second reason arises from the navy's desperate hurry to freeze the specifications of its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2). The choice of configuration, size and propulsion of a carrier has a direct linkage with the type of aircraft that will operate from it. This constitutes a "chicken and egg" conundrum -- should one freeze the carrier design first or choose the aircraft first? The Indian Navy has obviously decided the latter.

    Essentially, there are three options for selection of aircraft for the IAC-2.

    * Conventional take-off and landing types like the US F/A-18 Super Hornet and French Rafale-M that would require a steam catapult for launch and arrester-wires for recovery. The relatively large ship would need either a steam or nuclear plant for propulsion.

    * Types like the Russian Sukhoi-33 and MiG-29K would require only a ski-jump for take-off and arrester-wires for landing. This would mean a smaller ship, driven either by gas turbines or diesel engines. The LCA (Navy) could have been a contender in this category.

    * The F-35B Lightning II version of the US Joint Strike Fighter, capable of vectored-thrust, would require only a ski-jump for take-off, but no arrester wires since it can land vertically. This would result in the simplest and cheapest ship; a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) carrier.

    Study of Inducting LCA had revealed some major problem areas, which included lack of engine thrust, requirement of an arrester hook and stronger undercarriage, and need for cockpit/fuselage re-design before the LCA could attempt carrier operations. Undaunted, the navy re-affirmed its faith in the programme by contributing over Rs 400 crore as well as engineers and test pilots to the project.

    The prototype LCA (Navy) had rolled out six years earlier, in July 2010, raising great hopes. However, it is obvious that the DRDO failed to address the problems listed above with any urgency, leading to ultimate rejection of this ambitious project.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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  6. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    IN will have only CATOBAR carriers going forward. IN has suffered tremendously due to these STOBAR carriers. A lot of facilities on a Carrier are designed for specific aircraft types which will form its air group. IN has to freeze the design asap of its next carrier so that the orders for various kind of systems and machinery can be placed. IN does not want repeat of mistakes which resulted in delay to IAC-1.
     
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  7. The Lockean

    The Lockean 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    So will that be Project 23000e as rumoured? Or be the JV with Brits this time?

    @PARIKRAMA

    I remember you posting about this topic earlier. Care to join in?
     
  8. zebra7

    zebra7 Captain FULL MEMBER

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    :biggthumpup: what are you upto ?
     
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  9. The Lockean

    The Lockean 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    I told you - no off topic.

    Moving things .. are they not?
     
  10. The enlightened

    The enlightened Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Was Mk-II scrubbed? Otherwise it is much ado about nothing. NLCA mk1 was rejected a loooong time ago. Hence the GE-414 MK-II. Which looks rather sexy af

    [​IMG]
     
  11. zebra7

    zebra7 Captain FULL MEMBER

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    No. Those who are making such assumptions should calculate the number of GE F404 IN20 and GE F414 IN6 engine order placed.
     
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  12. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    That's a claim, but it is not up to IN if they get catapults, so first they need US government approval. The lack of it, was the key issue why IAC 1 got a STOBAR design in the first place.
    There is also nothing bad about that design, as long as you plan properly with a carrier in the right size, capable aircrafts and refuelling after take off.
     
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  13. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    I will discuss in detail all the issues which resulted in IN rejecting N-LCA. members need to know some points about N-LCA.
     
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  14. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    No, but sadly ADA keeps insisting in designing the NLCA MK 2, which is a waste of time and money, that could be used in other areas of the LCA project. But sadly the lobbying keeps getting public reactions, which makes the topic come up again and again.
     
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  15. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Hehe, first talk about about catapults and now shift to NLCA?
    Discussion is welcomed, unnecessary claims should be avoided.
     
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