Indian Air Force Modernization
The IAF has begun a very ambitious modernization program which is now well underway. Over the next decade, the IAF will stand transformed, into a netcentric organization capable of undertaking a wide array of actions in order to defend Indian interests.
Future Fighter Fleet
Taking into account ACM Naik's recent statement about expanding IAF to 44 Sqdns. Inductions:
Currently underway / firm plans
- 272 Su-30 MKI (2 have crashed): Fleet strength 270
- 126-189 MMRCA (either Dassault Rafale or EF Typhoon): decision due by 2011 end
- 40 LCA MK1 (ordered already)
- ~100 LCA MK2. Numbers may increase depending on IAF requirements.
- 250-300 FGFA (India specific variant of PAK-FA 5G fighter)
- ~150 AMCA
Already ordered/ work begun:
- All 50+ Mirage 2000-H to Mirage 2000-5 standards. Definitive details of upgrade fit not released. Expected to include work on airframe and engine overhauls for another 15-20 years of service, apart from significant refresh to avionics, including modern radar, glass cockpit, new navattack systems, internal EW suite, datalink and communications suite. New indian MC (OSAMC) to be included to integrate third party systems.
- 60+ MiG-29s to common MiG-29 SMT+ standard. Extra fuel, airframe rework for extra hours plus significant avionics refresh with modern Zhuk-ME radar, Thales Topsight HMDS, Indian designed EW suite, Thales IFF, glass cockpit with HOTAS, new mission and weapons computing systems, IFR, new navigation, communications suite with datalink (as part of IAF Operational Datalink project). Weapons now include RVV-AE, R-73E, and KAB plus Kh-31 series of PGMs.
- ~60 Jaguars to get upgraded to DARIN-3 standard. Glass cockpit, new nav systems, EW suite improvements including new RWR (likely Tarang MK2B) and SPJ (likely Elta EL/L-8222), LDP (likely Litening 3), HOTAS, OSAMC
- ~100 Super 30 upgrades for Su-30 MKI in Phase1. Deal signed in December 2011 by India and Russia. Specifics being worked out. Indian design centers include DARE (DRDO), HAL ARDC and HAL Nasik. Russian design centers include Sukhoi firms and partners involved in Su-30 MKI and Su-35 programs.
- Around 100 aircraft to be upgraded in first phase. These would include the first fifty Su-30 MKIs (upgraded during overhaul/relifing) and the last 42 planes purchased from Russia. Improvements reported in media include a comprehensive upgrade to the avionics plus a strengthening of the airframe to carry Brahmos. AVM Barbora (then Vice Chief of Air Staff, IAF) reported in 2011 that IAF intended to upgrade the Su-30 MKIs in two batches, with the second batch benefiting from further improvements in technology expected over the time frame. CAS PV Naik (then Chief of Air Staff) noted in October 2011, that the Design & Development phase of the Su-30 MKI upgrade was expected to finish by 2015-2016, with two prototypes. Series upgrade would begin thereafter.
- Known features of the upgrade:
- - Radar improvement: While there have been reports of the Bars replacement by a Zhuk AESA, these are unlikely as the Bars itself is a very powerful radar & the IAF/India may be satisfied with iterative improvements given its growth potential. Plus, investments in its manufacture at HAL need to be taken into account. NIIP (maker of Bars) have proposed a deep modernization of the radar in Phase1, effectively doubling its range, number of tracked/engaged targets in A2A, plus mproving features ECCM/additional modes. This would make the Super 30 radar one of the most powerful ever developed, matching/exceeding most current AESA designs. In Phase 2, NIIP propose replacing the radar with an AESA unit, using technologies developed for the PAK-FA. The Phase 2 would likely be applied to the 170 aircraft not covered under Phase 1.
- -New glass cockpit. Imagery released by DRDO and shown by Russia, shows a cockpit which is visually very similar to the Su-35 cockpit. Its possible that displays may be sourced from India (HAL-SAMTEL) rather than Russia. But other "hidden" improvements could include sensor fusion as on the Su-35.
- -New weaponry: Additional weapons mentioned in media include Nirbhay ALCM, Brahmos ALCM, RVV-SD (RVV-AE modernized) and RVV-MD (R-73E modernized), new missiles and bombs. New Kh-31/38 series missiles are also a possibility as is the local Sudarshan LGB (ordered by the IAF). Russia has also developed a new long range A2A missile- RVV-BD and MBDA has offered the Meteor as well to India.
- -New mission avionics: DARE is developing new mission computers for the Super 30; HAL is developing a new Software Defined Radio. A modern EW suite is intended to be fitted. Models displayed by DARE show new wingtip jammers. These could either be KNIRTI jammers already qualified on the Su-30 MKI platform or variants of the modular EW suite developed by DARE for the LCA, MiG-27 and MiG-29.
'The IAF has long had to make do with limited funds hampering its modernization, and putting a spoke in its recapitalization efforts. However, with a growing Indian economy, orders have finally been placed to revamp its air defense structure. The IAF has already ordered:'
'37 Rohini radars: These are 3D radars from BEL, designed and developed by DRDO's LRDE. Developed as part of the Akash project, the 3D Central Acquisition Radar was upgraded to an IAF specific surveillance radar, named as the Rohini. With a 150-200 km range, and able to track some 150 targets, the Rohini will replace the older Russian P-12, P-18 radars as well as the older DRDO-BEL Indra-1 and 2 units. It is a state of the art system with a planar array antenna which uses electronic scanning in elevation and with an integrated IFF system. It has strong ECCM capabilities and is designed for mobility and crew protection (from ARMs) with the operator vehicle separated from the radar unit. Developed by DRDO's LRDE. Developed as part of the Akash project, the 3D Central Acquisition Radar was upgraded to an IAF specific surveillance radar, named as the Rohini. With a 150-200 km range, and able to track some 150 targets, the Rohini will replace the older Russian P-12, P-18 radars as well as the older DRDO-BEL Indra-1 and 2 units. It is a state of the art system with a planar array antenna which uses electronic scanning in elevation and with an integrated IFF system. It has strong ECCM capabilities and is designed for mobility and crew protection (from ARMs) with the operator vehicle separated from the radar unit.'
'19 LLTRs from Thales . The IAF has ordered 19 GS100 LLTR from Thales. Six will be supplied by Thales from France, with the remaining thirteen built in India at BEL. The GS-100 can be deployed in remote areas, working in a stand alone mode or within an integrated command and control center; remotely operation is possible to protect the crew from ARMs. Each system comprises the GS-100 radar, operational and communications shelters, an energy subsystem, mobility subsystem and quarters for personnel. The GS-100 is a AESA radar with low-altitude search capability that can track targets up to 180 km range. The targets could range from conventional aircraft to cruise missiles, UAVs and even stealthy aircraft. The entire system can be packed into a standard ISO 20-foot shipping container and shipped by road or air. It can be deployed by a four man crew within 30 minutes. Along with the Thales radar, the DRDO is working on its LLTR AESA, intended for the IAF. The IAF has ordered 18 of these as well.'
|'Type / IAF Designation'||
'Number Ordered: From Import/ Indian source'
|'Medium Power Radar (MPR)'||'27: 19 from Israel: 8 from DRDO'||'Israel Elta 2284 MPR/ Indian Arudhra MPR'||
'Both Indian and Israeli radar named Arudhra, by DRDO and IAF respectively. First Israeli radar delivered in 2011 - no TOT but with offsets per DPP, Indian radar to be ready for trials by 2013 (development sanctioned in end 2010 with 3 years development time) and induction by 2014-15. MPRs will replace existing TRS 2215 radars from Thales and local BEL derivative PSM MK2. Eight DRDO MPRs ordered to begin with, numbers likely to rise given requirements. Range of radar class (both) ~300 km for fighter class of target, able to track all classes of targets. Both are AESAs, and DRDO radar is 4D able to track range, height, speed and doppler velocity.'
|'High Power Radar (HPR)'||'RFI released'||'N/A'||
'To replace Thales and later BEL assembled THD-1955 radars. These have been upgraded in the past decade with kits supplied by Thales. Very long range systems with range > 500km for high flying targets, to be replaced by state of art AESAs.'
|'Aerostat Radars'||'2 in service, 4 ordered by IAF'||'Israeli system based on Greenpine radar using US supplied aerostat'||
'Very long range AESA system able to look >400 km deep into enemy territory thanks to elevated Line of Sight. 4 more ordered out of a total requirement of 11.'
|'Low Level Transportable Radar (LLTR)'||'37: 19/18'||'19 Thales GSM100/18 Ashwini LLTR'||
'AESAs with ~150 km range versus small fighter class target, intended to be rapidly transportable, to detect aircraft, helicopter, UAVs and missiles from low to medium heights. GSM-100 - six to be supplied by Thales, 13 to be assembled in India with TOT at BEL. Meanwhile, DRDO LLTR program sanctioned in late 2010 for bulk requirements. 4D AESA, as is MPR, to be ready for trials in 2013-14 timeframe and deployed thereafter.'
|'LLLWR (Low Level Light weight radars)'||'>19: 19 from Israel /Unknown for Indian type'||'Elta 2160/Indian Aslesha'||
'To be used for mountainous areas to plug gaps versus aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, cruise missiles. Range of around 50 km for a small fighter target. 19 already ordered from Israel (variant used on SpyDer SAM), deliveries underway in 2011. LRDE Aslesha cleared trials in 2010 and orders to be placed.'
|'Rohini Radar'||'37'||'37 DRDO Central Acquisition Radar derivative'||
'3D CAR, upgraded to a general IAF specific surveillance radar. Deliveries and deployments. underway, with >150 km range against small fighter class aircraft. Able to track multiple targets (150) of different kinds, including UAVs, helicopters, missiles. Praised by IAF for excellent performance.'
|'AWACs'||'5/3'||'5 ELTA Phalcon on IL-76/3 CABS-LRDE on Embraer EMB-145 platform'||
'3 Phalcon already delivered, 2 more ordered. >400 km range, able to track 100 targets or more, vector several fighters. Simultaneously, 3 DRDO AWACS ordered, integration of radar with first platform to commence by July 2011. Thereafter more local AWACS expected but on a heavier platform and with more powerful Phalcon style radar.'