1. 2009 (75)
PUBLISHED BY ECONOMY PROBLEMS
Crisis and Russia ................................. 2
Under New Year Tree ......................... 20
The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Visits Salut .............. 8
Airshow China 2008 ........................... 22
Vladimir Putin Visits Tactical Missiles Corporation ............. 11
WA R P L A N E S
SINCE 1997 PUBLISHER & CEO
Nikolay Laskov FIRST DEPUTY GENERAL DIRECTOR
Alexander Chernov PUBLISHING HOUSE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Vladimir Ilyin MARKETING DIRECTOR
Alexander Kiryanov KEY ACCOUNT DIRECTOR
Nina Gusyakova CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Dmitry Bykovskiy PR DIRECTOR
«the dragon» is ready to fight ............ 25
Vladimir Zhilinko DESIGNERS
Alvina Kirillova Sergey Velichkin IT DEPARTMENT
B I G B O S S TA L K I N G
Ups & downs for United Aircraft ........ 12 ADA LCA light multipurpose fighter .... 34
PHOTOS IN THIS ISSUE:
Nikolay Laskov, Vladimir Karnozov, ITAR-TASS, HAL, Chinese Ministry of Defence
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Zhuk-AE AESA is ready for demonstrations to the customers ................................ 16
C I V I L AV I AT I O N
Arab capital for Aeroflot ..................... 44
PRICES FOR CRUDE OIL, BRENT
27 Vladimir Karnozov
CRI$I$ AND RU$$IA After collapses in 1991 and 1998, the Russian economy was on the way of recovery for almost ten years, riding on the back of rising oil and natural gas prices. Late last year the petrodollar income started contracting. This poses a threat to Vladimir Putin’s grand plans on reinstalling Russia as a manufacturing nation. What is going to happen to Russian aviation? The world-wide financial crisis started in autumn 2008, with liquidity problems hitting certain North American banks. During the fourth quarter of the past year it evolved into a global economy downturn. Now, the crisis is taking its toll on Russia’s power and capability. The country’s GDP rose by 6% in 2008, against 7% in 2006-2007, reflecting poor results of the last quarter. This year GDP is expected to have no growth or even fall by few percent. The Russian power will continue to contract for awhile. In crisis environment, the world’s consumption of fossil fuels runs low. Manufacturers reduce production rates due to weak solvent demand. They buy less energy and raw materials to feed their plants and factories. Economists believe that Russian economy will go strong again after the price of crude oil rises above 70 dollars per barrel. It will be doing more or less OK with the figure within the corridor of 50-60. When this story was written, the price was fluctuating between 37 and 45 dollars. That’s below the critical mark. And this reduces the amount of money at hand to support Russia’s ailing defense industrial complex, military and civil aviation. Kremlin strategists working on the country’s 2009 annual economy plan balanced it on the assumption that during the year a barrel of crude oil would sell at 50 dollar on average. There is some hope their assumption may turn out right. It was 2
made in November, when the oil was selling for merely 34-38 dollars. The strategists calculated, however, that, even at 50 dollar per barrel, the Russian economy will make losses. The strategists have predicted a budget deficit this year, after a decade of profitable growth. The years of 2009 and 2010 will be to be critical for the Russian industrial enterprises and airlines. Some of them will fly into bankruptcy or be devoured by larger and more stable players. The Russian government has indicated that it is ready to buy stakes in private and mixed-capital companies provided they operate in the strategic areas or carry substantial social function. This will increase state share in the economy, on the account of private capital. In December 2008 Kremlin-controlled structures increased their stake in NPO Saturn to over 50%. It made the first case in the recent Russian history when privately-control aero engine manufacturer went back from the private hands to the state control. Saturn makes D-30KP/KU turbofans for Il-76TD/MD airlifters and Tu-154M airliners, AL-55 non-reheated turbojets for Hindustan Aeronautics HJT-36 trainers, cruise missile propulsion systems, marine and industrial turbines. The company hired much money for the PowerJet SAM.146 turbofan project undertaken jointly with Snecma of France. But it ran out of funds in late 2008. The government moved for rescue, providing money in exchange for a control stake in the
enterprise. The SAM.146 powers Sukhoi Superjet 100 small commercial airliner. If not for the crisis and inflated banking interest rates, Saturn would never have gone back under government control. This view is widely shared in the Russian aviation community. Addiction to petrodollars Russia is as much dependant on export of fossil fuels and raw materials as the oil-rich Arabs, Iran, Venezuela etc. Saudi Arabia holds the title of world’s largest oil exporter. Russia comes second. But Moscow takes the lead when it comes to a grand total of raw material export, taking account of natural gas and minerals. Officially, the share of the fuel sector in the nation’s economy is given at some 30%. But some experts estimate that the share of “fossil fuel + raw materials” – based sector of the Russian economy is as large as 70%.
A I R A good example of how issues with energy resources can influence relations between great powers and their collaborators is the natural gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It took Moscow and Kiev a whole month to come to terms, with dead losses exceeding US dollar 5 billion for Russia alone. Political damage to the relations between Moscow and Western powers is difficult to underestimate. There has been bravado in the Kremlincontrolled offices and the mass media about “substantial and growing” achievements of the current administration in the deed of improving the national economic system. Reality is darker. The Russian economy remains strongly dependant on raw material exports, which account for over 70% of hard currency earnings. Volume of domestic manufacturing stays low. Little is produced in the home territory these days. In contrast, the Soviet Union manufactured almost everything locally. Home-made products provided the lion’s share of the Soviet Union’s own consumption. In fact, the Soviet people saw very few foreign-made products in the shops, with the rear exemptions being Indian tea, Cuban sugar and Egyptian fruits. All changed in the 1990s. Collapse of the communist-style command economy opened doors wide to foreign manufacturers. The Japanese came with their cars, the South Koreans with home appliances, Chinese with clothes and the Europeans with all sorts of machinery (save war machines) etc. Airbus and Boeing duly obliged Russian carriers seeking modern, fuel-efficient and comfortable airliners. Their number in the Russian fleet has exceeded 300 units (including 84 B737s, 16 B757s, 76 A320s, 27 B767s and 12 B747s). Not surprisingly, local output of commercial airplanes, ships, machine tools, power units and all other sorts of high-tech machinery dwarfed. In some areas, such as super heavy trucks and highpower gas turbines, Russian production ceased entirely. This was because the foreign competitors offered a better combination of price, reliability, consumer qualities and after-sales support. Today, it is difficult to name even few high-tech areas where Russia has been keeping pace with the US, European and Japanese manufacturers. Perhaps the only exceptions are certain points in defense, nuclear power and space. The leading positions there have been kept with great difficulty. Quite often, Russia’s leadership in a particular area is due to the huge Soviet-time investments into base science, technologies, development centers and production sites. Aviation is the area where Russia lost a lot in the past fifteen years. To such an extent, that in some key areas the Russian manufacturers needs huge investments to regain competitive level. For instance, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) needs Rouble 500 billion to attain competitive level with the leading western manufacturers by 2015. Of that total, Rouble 300 billion is required for development programs, and 150 billion for technical renovation. As of this time, government-approved programs allocate less than 30 million in the period of 2009-2010.
Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin and his ministers did not care much for downturn in domestic production of processed goods. And they had had reasons for such an attitude. During Yeltsin’s term Russia’s sovereignty was threatened. The Kremlin inhabitants were preoccupied with fighting separatists on all sides and doing other things to keep Russia united. They succeeded, saving the federal republic from a sort of collapse that happened to the Soviet Union (and which had sparked separatist movements in the largest of former Soviet Republics). Economy-wise, Russia kept afloat by means of increasing oil and metal exports. Heavy taxes on exporters provided a stable flow of petrodollars into the state treasury. This helped Moscow raise a stable income in the hard currency. It was big enough to buy from the West what the nation was no longer producing at home. Vladimir Putin continued Yeltsin’s policy and perfected it. He strengthened state control over the industry, including large producers of fossil fuels and raw materials. At the same time, these companies enjoyed favorable terms as far as business expansion and technical renovation were concerned.
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Putin’s administration has tirelessly been sewing the network of oil and gas pipelines. This effort has not been purely economical; it has carried a political significance. New pipelines have been laid down to provide more links between the oil fields in Siberia and the consumers in Europe and Asia. The Kremlin has made a few steps aimed at strengthening Russian presence and influence on the global market for fossil fuels and the sources of energy in general. Putin’s administration made great efforts in Venezuela, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich countries of the developing world. The policy of befriending other oil exporters has produced mixed results. However, it is certainly an achievement that, as of today, Moscow’s relations with the above mentioned countries are best ever in history. After fifteen years of “don’t bother me any longer, my little brothers” policy towards Cuba and Syria, the Kremlin has recently chosen to resume financial and military aid to Habana and Damascus. Conveniently positioned in terms geographical, Cuba and Syria are meant to serve as bases for Russian penetration into their neighborhood: the Spanish-speaking America and the Muslim world
Tu-204 in CUBANA colors
respectively. Besides, Syria and Cuba have some natural resources that need substantial investment to exploit. Moscow shows willingness to provide the requisite funds and technologies in return for control over those resources. Despite a heavy pressure from the West insisting on Iran’s isolation, Moscow has been developing relations with Tehran. This involves direct deliveries of advanced rocketry (like the Thor-M1 surfaceto-air missiles – 29 launchers were shipped in 2007-2008), and prolongation of license production rights for Russian designs such as armored vehicles and assault rifles. The two large oil exporters have not become close friends, thought. But they have been improving coordination of their efforts on the global scene. There is a growing understanding in
both Moscow and Tehran that, through expansion of mutual trade and joint industrial undertaking, the two nations may lessen their dependence on the West. Russian and Iranian manufacturers would expand outlet for their products, thus enlarging their anchor markets. Automotive industry As it was mentioned above, the Russian manufacturing industry has been suffering from the transition from command to open-doors economy. Heavy and medium machinery and electronics have been most affected. Let us take automotive industry for illustration. Production of Russian legacy cars has halved. The nation now has only one large maker in the form of
AutoVAZ in Togliatti (makes Lada and Kalina series cars). Also, there is a tiny production of UAZ 4x4 vehicles in Ulianovsk. Moscow-based AZLK ceased production completely; Izhevsk (Izh) and Nizhny Novgorod (GAZ) dropped their legacy models in favor of out-of-production Korean and US designs. By car numbers, local production accounts for less than 40% of total sales. By value, it is less than 20%. In 2005 Russian arms vendor Rosoboronexport assumed control over AutoVAZ “so as to save it for the nation”. While the maker continues afloat, the change of proprietor does not seem to have brought feasible changes in Lada competitiveness. The Russian government has been following the situation in the automotive industry. But findings have been rather upsetting. The national legacy cars sector will invariably continue losing its positions to foreign manufacturers. Furthermore, the open doors policy attracted Chinese makers. They seem to have been using Russia as a convenient testing range for their cheap products. The Kremlin tried to amend the situation by offering global car manufacturers erect their plants in the Russian territory, promising relaxed taxation terms. A few Japanese and European makers seized this opportunity. They opened “screwdriver assembly workshops”, producing copies of “global model” cars. Although these new workshops have created some new jobs in Russia, they produced little effect on the overall situation in the Russian automotive industry and the inner market. And this could not have been otherwise, since most of the car components are imported (rather than made locally). When the crisis hit, the Kremlin had a rude awakening. Newly erected “screwdriver” factories did not decrease the inner market dependence on the outside world in the given area. With a substantial drop in car sales in the late 2008, the newly erected facilities had to stop working. Relatively low-rate, “screwdriver”-based sort of in-house manufacturing does not justify local production economically in competition with ready-to-use cars assembled by bigger plants abroad. A manufacturing nation There is a growing understanding in the Russian society and the corridors of power that the national economic policy should be based on the notion that Russia is a manufacturing nation. The country developed that way since the dawns of time. In the early Medieval, Slav swords and mails were most desirable trophies for both European and Asian invaders, including German knights and Mongolian cavalrymen. Better quality of Slav-made arms became apparent in 1240, when the army of Novgorod (Rus strongest northern city) subsequently crashed the elite of the Swedish (1240, the Battle of the Neva River) and the German knights
NUMBER OF COMBAT, TRAINING AND TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT IN THE SOVIET INVENTORY YEAR NUMBER OF AIRCRAFT 4
17500 combat 12100 training
A I R
(1242, the Battle of the Chudskoe Lake). These great victories reflected the fact that Slav-made armor was stronger and lighter than that of the opponents. In 1380 the Moscow-led army of the united Russian duchies crashed numerically larger force of the Golden Horde. Again, the Russians demonstrated better quality of their armor. Besides, for defense of cities and castles, the Russians used cannons. Their craftsmen went swiftly from light guns to very heavy cannons (such as the Tsar Cannon, now a Kremlin memorial). Artillery was something the nomad invaders did not have. The fall of Kazan (a khanate on the Volga River) to the army of Ivan IV the Terrible in 1556 led to merging of the Russian and Tatar technologies. This enabled Russia to capitalize on this unique blend of European and Asian achievements in arms manufacturing techniques. And helped the tsar’s army withstood heavy pressure on Eastern and Western directions. In many ways, the Russian victories of the time were due to the advanced blade and fire weapons produced in the country. In 1709 the Battle of Poltava saw Peter the Great soldiers defeating Europe’s strongest army of the time, that of Carl XXII of Sweden. This great victory was preceded by Peter’s sustained efforts on improving the structure of the Russian army and industry by means of West-European “technology insertions”. Since then Peter’s lasting legacy was mobilizing Russian resources to complete on equal terms with the West. Under Peter the Great, Russia became an empire. St. Petersburg attracted great many talented West
Europeans for permanent residence. This helped Russia master many of the then-advanced European technologies. Although in somewhat smaller scale, this strategy was carried out by Peter’s successors. As a result, the Imperial Russia kept pace with the Western Europe on military technologies, including artillery and armored ship building. There is a lot of evidence to that. Perhaps the most illustrative is naval hardware: battleships, armored cruisers and submarines. Warships of these classes were constructed by domestic manufacturers to the standards corresponding to those in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the United States. From time to time, the Russian Imperial Navy purchased new warships in other countries. The purpose was to assess them and, if necessary, set up local production. But larger portion of newly made weapons was developed domestically. Thus, Russia kept among world’s top five countries in advanced weaponry making and armed forces organization. Born in 1917, the world’s first Republic of the Workers and Peasants had to fight enemies on all sides of its immense territory stretching from The Baltic and Black Seas all the way to Pacific waters. The new Kremlin inhabitants understood early in their careers the importance of hightech, massive local production of military equipment. Revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin launched GOELRO project calling for “total electrofication” of the country. Thus, Lenin laid foundations of Russia’s next-generation economy. In 1929 Josef Stalin launched the great industrialization campaign by adopting the Soviet Union’s first Five Year Economic Plan. In four years that followed the Soviet industry assembled 4,289 new aircraft, and 2952 more in 1933. The new industrial policy focused on erecting thousands of small, medium and large plants all over the country. Among others, aviation plants were erected in Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Komsomolsk-upon-Amur. To this day these plants remain Russia’s largest producers of fighter aircraft. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union developed faster than any other country. In 1939 it became the world’s third largest economy after the USA
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and Germany. Stalin laid foundations of the Soviet military-industrial complex, which later evolved into the Russian defense-industrial complex. Whatever is being said and written today about Lenin and Stalin, one fact remains undisputed: the communist leaders succeeded in bringing the Russian industry into a new quality level, sufficient enough to defend the USSR from its aggressive neighbors such as Japan and Germany. When, in the late 1930s, the world went onto a massive war, the Soviet Union emerged as a prominent exporter of advanced war machines. Moscow supplied fighters, bombers, tanks and cannons to Republican Spain, China, Czechoslovakia etc. The Soviet-made equipment fared well against that of the Japanese in China and Mongolia, and against that of the Germans and Italians in Spain. In particular, the popular Polikarpov I-16 was the world’s first fighter to have retractable landing gears. Equipped by powerful M-25 radial piston engines (later replaced by more powerful M-62/63 – these motors were manufactured in Moscow, at the enterprise now known as MMPP Salut), the I-16 developed top speed of 450km/h, a record for its time. Strongly-built and agile, I-16 fighters won numerous air duels with contemporary Japanese, German and Italian designs. In summer 1939 the Red Army aviation and armor units crashed numerically larger Japanese expedition force in Mongolia. Japanese equipment was outclassed by the Russian one. Suffering three times larger losses and complete defeat in the battlefield, the Japan made decision to maintain peace with the Soviet Union for the next five years. “Disproportioned” losses in 1939 made Tokyo refrain from attacking the Soviet Union even when its strategic ally Germany had its forces fighting at Moscow outskirts in winter 1941/1942. When fascist Germany invaded Soviet Union in June 1941, VVS RKKA (acronym for the Air force of the Workers and Peasants Red Army) had 17,500 combat aircraft. This number included 9,288 fighters (of which about two thousand copies of brand-new MiG, LaGG and Yak types), 5,065 frontal bombers (including 458 Pe-2 diving bombers), 2,147 heavy bombers, 611 close air support air-
planes (including 249 Il-2 armored attack aircraft) and 560 reconnaissance. The bloody and vigorous war with the fascist Germany 1941-1945 gave another boost to development of the Russian weapons school and production capability. The Soviet Union managed to produce more aircraft, tanks and cannons than Germany. Despite heavy losses in 1941-1942, the Red Army’s might grew fast, surpassing that of the invaders in 1943. Although the German industry was larger, the Soviet Union attained high production rate of military equipment by increasing its share to 65-68% of the total output. During the war, the Soviet Union manufactured 102,8 thousand tanks and self-propelled cannons against 65 thousands for Germany. The Soviet aviation industry grew fast. In 1941 the industry had 466,4 thousand workers on about 80 plants, including 174.4 thousand people employed on 24 airframe and 7 aero engine plants. Daily production output exceeded 50 airplanes. In 1945 the Soviet Aviation industry increased its labor force to 640,213 and number of airframe plants to 34. After WW2 the Soviet Union’s might was only matched by that of the USA. Moscow even managed to outdo Washington in space, by placing Sputnik into orbit in 1957 and making Yuri Gagarin first man in space in 1961. Only USSR and USA appeared capable of development and series production of strategic bombers (the Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-160 versus B-52, B-1B and B-2) and intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiply warheads. In the last years of its existence the Soviet Union created through-deck aircraft carriers (other producers the USA and France only) and nuclear-powered submarines (US, France, UK and China only). Sometimes the high Soviet technologies became available to its friends and neighbors. During 1988-1992 the Indian Navy operated the Chakra, a nuclear submarine of the Project 670 type that previously served the Russian Navy as the K-43. The Indian Navy acquired eight Tupolev Tu-142 ASW aircraft sharing airframe and systems with the Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber. Next step is associated with the Project 971 nuclear submarine, Tu-22MR supersonic maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the INS Vikramaditya through-deck aircraft carrier. Oil trap The pace of Russian technology development slowed down with the collapse of the Soviet Union 6
in 1991. Some experts, including then– Russian prime-minister Egor Gaidar, believed that the sharp fall of crude oil prices delivered a final blow to the Soviet Union. Why and how did it happen? Gaidar has the answer. The 1973 war in the Middle East caused a sharp rise in oil prices, from 1.9 dollar at the turn of the century to 12 in 1974. This urged the Soviets to sell their “black gold” to the West for hard currency. The market accepted the offer. In the period of 1971 to 1975 the daily production of oil in the Soviet Union rose from 7.6 million barrels (one million ton) to 9.9 million barrels (1.4 million ton). This enabled the Kremlin not just stabilize the national economy – the Soviet Union launched massive investment programs in the national defense and questionable “free-bee” programs on support of communiststyle political regimes in the developing world.
As time went on, Kremlin planners got used to these “extra funds”. They put together national economy development plans, taking for granted smooth petrodollar flow into the state treasury. The Soviet leaders mistook the behavior of the oil market. They allowed too much exposure of the national economics to the international market outside their control. After a rise to 35-40 dollar per barrel in the late 1979-early 1980, the oil prices fell from the peak of 50-60 to 15-17 dollars per barrel in the late 1980s. The price then stabilized at this level for a decade. The Soviet Union tried to keep its earnings high by increasing, in 1987-1989, the output to 12.6 million barrels daily or nearly 20% of the world’s total. Export rose to 3.7 million barrels daily or 15% of OPEC capacity. Still, because of the low prices, the flow of petrodollars came lower than expected. This caught Moscow off guard, and corrective action was not made. The oil-addicted industry did not timely curtail large-scale production of numerous and expensive weaponry. This soon rendered the whole country a bankrupt.
In 1990s the Russian government made Rouble exchangeable. It was definitely a quantum leap in the economy management. But this measure alone did not save the national banking system from a complete collapse in 1998. The most plausible explanation of the 1998 events is that that the Urals brand oil was selling for merely 7.8 dollars per barrel, the lowest point in the recent history. In the conditions of weak demand, Russian oil production drops by 40%. It then ran at 6.2 million barrel daily, making it just 8.3% of world’s production – the export was 2.3 million, or 7.5% of OPEC capacity. As the oil price grew again, the Russian financial system recovered. In 2000 the price went up to 30 dollars. This urged Russia rise its daily production to 7.7 million barrels against Saudi Arabia’s 8.7 million in 2002. This quickly stabilized the national economy. During 2003-2007, Rouble to Euro exchange rate was more or less stable, averaging at 35 (it floated between 33.33 and 37.83). During the first three quarters of 2008 the exchange rate fluctuated between 36 and 37. The US dollar was selling at 30.6 Roubles in September 2003. It dropped 27.7 in 2005, and then steadily fell (2006 – mid 2008) to the lowest point of 23.2 in July 2008. The International Monetary Fund commended on the strong economic performance of the Russian economy, noting that it had been “not only to high oil prices”, but also “a good marco economic management”. Was it just some flattery for the Kremlin? Months after this comment came, the period of Rouble’s stability ended. In October 2008, the exchange rate to Euro came to 34.4 (reflecting the relative rise of the dollar to Euro) and then skyrocketed to 41.63 at the year-end. The dollar also rose sharply, to 30 a the year-end and 33.5 in January 2009. The main source of anti-crisis measures in the Kremlin’s possession is so-called State Gold and Hard Currency Reserves. In autumn 2008 the reserves rose to US dollar 600 billion. At the end of the year the figure dropped to 430 billion (no official explanation was given). “In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to collect and analyse meaningful data on Russian Federal budget, and particularly the finances of Russian national defense, owing to a number of presentational changes” – a good remark on Page 209 of the Military Balance 2008 issued by the International Institute for strategic studies (IISS, London). In late 2008 the Russian government made decision to provide Rouble 5 trillion to major Russian banks so as to help Russian financial system survive the crisis. Four banks were named as primary receivers: Saving Bank, VTB, VEB and Gazprombank. So far, none of prominent Russian banks went bankrupt. While executing a more careful approach to lending money than before the crisis, the banks remain busy and afloat. Ups and downs with the Rouble do not seem to bother them much, since many deals are made in the “dollar+Euro” coordinates. Banks are fine; who is suffering? Let’s look at the Index of Moscow MMVB exchange. It dropped from 1,600-1,800 points in early 2008
A I R down to some 600 in October – December 2008. I then dropped tobelow 600 in January 2009. The Russian exchange index went down by three times, while the western counties registered drops by one-third at maximum. This reflects the fact that foreign and local investors have been pulling their money out of the Russian economy. The latter is no longer “a point of growth”. The oil selling at 45 dollars per barrel, at the level of 1980, the Russian economy is of no interest. The investors are likely to come back when the crisis is over and the oil prices go up again. It is not expected before 2010-2011, though. Forecast Will Putin’s Russia follow the path of the Soviet Union in similar circumstances? It remains to be seen. There are signs that the attitude of the Russian decision makers and society to the issue of “real” and “virtual” economics is starting to change. The decision in favor of “real economy” development would entail a set of measures aimed at development of in-house manufacturing capability. One of the reasons is to lessen dependence on the global market. Today’s oil-based economy does not provide stability in the view of unpredictable behavior of the fossil fuel prices in the global marketplace. The oil price dropped from 144.8 dollar per barrel (July 2008) down to 34.4 (November 2008), more than fourfold within four months! This fact gives evidence of how unstable the global market can be. The Kremlin has made some corrective actions. It has pumped Rouble 5 trillion into the four leading banks. It also provided support to a tiny group of airlines and industrial enterprises. On the eve of the New Year Vladimir Putin said the government is putting together a list of 300-400 strategically important and up to 1,500 socially important enterprises. These will receive financial aid from the Russian government and favorable credits from the four leading banks. On 26 December the Russian government issued the list with 290 enterprises on it, including United Aircraft Corporation, RSK MiG and KAPO. Besides, the Russian government has prepared draft of the law for State Weapons Order 2009-2011. Spending on national defense is going to be increased, Putin said. Besides, the government is ready to increase the share of state funding in research-and-development projects that were previously meant to have shared funding (Russian government, export customer, investors, manufacturers’ own money). These measures shall support the Russian military industrial complex suffering from a system crisis. The federal budget for 2009 provides governmental air of Rouble 2.5 billion to airlines operating “socially important routes”. Draft budget for 2010 is twice that amount. Which airlines may get the money? Not clear yet. It is believed that a good portion will go to OOO Aviakompania. This is a newly established company that is accepting control over AirUnion, Atlant-Soyuz, GTK Rossiya and Vladivostok Avia. The merger is controlled by Sergei Chemezov’s Russian Technologies state corpora-
tion (Rostechnologii). The new carrier, which is yet to be formed, may provide serious competition to Aeroflot on both domestic and international routes. While the Kremlin’s promises may sound well, will they be kept? At the end of the past year the Russian government and banks gave the ailing manufacturers and airlines only a fraction of the promised funds. This fact was acknowledged by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on 10 January. When visiting MMPP Salut plant (Moscow-based manufacturer producing AL-31F/FN and AI-222 engines for Su-30MK/34 and Yak-130 warplanes), he said the government works too slowly implementing anti-crisis measures in the real economy. He added that the current banking rates are not affordable for companies of the heavy industries. Medvedev is certainly right. The Russian banks offered the industry credits at 6-10% before the crisis and 16-20% after it hit. The latter is too expensive for the manufacturing industry with long cycles, such as aircraft production. Critics say the Russian government unspoken policy is to wait passively for the oil to get expensive again, while providing restricted support to a narrow circle of “real economy” companies. Russia’s Central Bank is expected to purposely reduce value of the national currency in relation to US Euro/dollar
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basket, further by 30-50%. (One dollar changed for 23.2 in July 2008, and for 31-33.5 in January 2009). The weak Rouble would render export orders lucrative for the industry. It increases competitiveness of the Russian products in the international market. Our prediction for 2009-2010 is the following one. We expect Russian aviation industry to execute a narrower focusing on well-selling legacy products such as the Sukhoi Flanker series fighters, Mil Mi-17 helicopters and Tupolev Tu-204 airliners. Expected annual output is 40-50, 60-70 and 10-15 units respectively. At the same time, the schedules of next-generation products will shift further into a more distant future. Explanation is that production cycle for a certified aircraft, be it a Su-30MK, a Mi-17 or a Tu-204, falls between 12 and 18 months. Pricing (manufacturing expenses, labor costs, customer value etc.) and price degradation over years of operational service are known or predictable. Banks will fund production of the tried products since the risks involved are relatively low, and the time cycle is short enough. Newer products may offer higher gains, but they imply higher risks and longer return times. The latter is less acceptable in the conditions of liquidity shortage, market stagnation and instability.
Alexander Velovich Photos: Nikolay Laskov
THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV VISITS SALUT n January 11, 2009 the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Salut MMPP (Moscow Machine-Building Production Plant), got acquainted with manufacturing process of aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines and chaired a meeting to discuss issues of stabilisation of the situation in real economy. The President was accompanied by his Assistants, Deputy Prime Ministers and other Members of the Government, the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the Mayor of Moscow, and heads of several leading Russian banks. Salut is one of the leading Russian manufacturers of aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines. It was founded in 1912 and now produces AL-31F engines for the Su-27/30 family of fighter aircraft as well as other products vital for national defence and energy industry. Salut was one of 295 enterprises defined by the government in December, 2008 as crucial for national economy and bound to receive government’s support to overcome the global financial crisis.
Russian engine manufacturers included in the list of enterprises crucial for national economy and bound to receive government’s support to overcome the global financial crisis: Chernyshev MMP (Moscow), Klimov (St.Petersburg), Perm Motors Plant (Perm), Salut MMPP (Moscow) Saturn (Rybinsk), UMPO (Ufa). 8
Addressing the meeting, President Medvedev said: “As early as October, I gave a series of instructions to the Government, which were directed towards the systematic support for the sector during the global financial crisis. The Government is working, those instructions are being fulfilled, although, I must admit that at the moment we are not in a position to say that we have done all that is necessary. The implementation of these measures is happening more slowly than we expected, and what is more important, more slowly than the current circumstances require. I have just looked at the data: only 30% of what had been envisaged has been carried out, and parts of the instructions have extended the time by which they need to be completed. We must get to grips with all of this, and take the necessary measures to energise our work. Let me say that this is by no means a simple situation, the volume of industrial production in the period October-December last year, on average, fell by more than 6% per month, compared with the same period in 2007. Of course, this was the result of the decrease not only in domestic demand, but also in the significant fall in export prices which fell significantly in several different production areas. In metallurgy there was a fall in prices from 30 to 70%, in the machine building sector the global market price fell from 20 to 60%. All this, of course, does nothing to make the situation more straightforward.
Secondly, what makes the situation even more difficult, and what creates problems, is the fact that most businesses have quite serious deficits in their cash reserves. The interest rates on credit taken have increased, and additional demands are made on companies to secure their credit against assets, and other guarantees supporting the credit application. And all this, of course, has led to the decreased profitability of industry, and in many cases has led simply to businesses operating at a loss. Thirdly, all these factors have made the situation regarding the budget more difficult, and of course, particularly in the regions. Practically everywhere we forecast a decreased budgetary income. To sum it up – it’s a complex situation. I should say that we did foresee this. This is wholly difficult time. The main thing, that I wanted to speak about, is the fact that we must be swifter both in our actions, and in the answers we find to these problems. We have set to work on passing the regulations and subordinate legislation, but even here, many things are simply taking an unforgivable length of time”. President Medvedev pointed out some positive factors of the current economical situation: “a lowered price on raw materials and on components, which in the long run are sure to give industry the ability to run a more flexible pricing policy. “Today, (and of course this is bad for our metallurgists, but nonetheless for companies such as “Salut” it does have also a positive effect) the price of metals is falling. But here we simply need to look at the
A I R
price offered to our consumers for the products. Of course it should be accompanied by a fall in production costs, which would be no bad thing. And, in the end, even on the background of a falling growth rate, we could see an increase in labour efficiency in industry this year, irrespective of the very difficult context”. The Russian President reminded that a commission on increasing sustainable growth in the
economy has been created as part of Government, comprising key industries and organisations, and it had taken several most important decisions. The President warned against reorganizations and reforms for purely the sake of reforms themselves in the difficult times of the financial crisis: “I am just drawing attention to the fact that our main task is the protection of our production base, not
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reform”. These particular words may be regarded as a victory of Yury Eliseyev, the Salut Director General, who is reported to oppose the inclusion of his plant in an integrated engine-manufacturing concern controlled by Russian Technologies corporation. Salut still retains the status of a Federal State Unitary Enterprise. This year the Russian government plans to provide RUR 300 billion (Russian roubles) for credit guarantees for businesses, of them one third is dedicated to the defence industry complex.. However, the president remarked: “All these credit procedures are very bureaucratic, including in the banks themselves, where the time it takes to make the agreement is simply endless”. “Today it is simply unforgivable for the documents to take so long to complete”, he added. Prepayment for work on national defence orders and on federal programmes was another question discussed at the meeting. The president stated: “The work on this is going extremely slowly, everyone is complaining. Another theme that we ought to consider – is what additional measures, and mechanisms are needed in order to raise the overall efficiency of the all steps we have taken both in the budgetary-financial sphere and in the support of the real economy”. The president urged Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to take the issue under his control and to implement changes to administrative technology “adequate to the current tasks before us, and which is fully focused on the serious financial crisis”. 9
Emergency Medicine of Peace and War Time means of immobilization for children and adults: vacuum, folding, disposable means of transportation of injured and wounded persons folding equipment and furniture for - mobile medical systems - autonomous tent camps - mobile logistics systems first aid and other kits water purification systems tents
Omnimed Build. 5A/2, Vozhdey Revolytsii str., Nizhny Novgorod, 603054, Russia Tel/fax: +7 (831) 225-02-01, 225-03-33 www.omnimed.ru, firstname.lastname@example.org 10
VLADIMIR PUTIN VISITS TACTICAL MISSILES CORPORATION n 15 January, 2009 the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the headquarters of Tactical Missiles Corporation in Korolev, near Moscow. Avoiding traffic jams, the prime minister arrived at the TMC premises in a helicopter. He made a tour of the missile manufacturing plant and then Putin chaired a meeting on the measures of state support to enterprises of the defence industry complex. Deputy Prime Ministers Sergey Ivanov, Igor Sechin and Alexei Kudrin, the Minister of Economics Elvira Nabiullina, the Russian Central Bank Vhairman Sergey Ignatyev and over 30 other government officials, representatives of financial institutions and director generals of Russian defence enterprises attended the meeting. TMC incorporates 19 enterprises developing and manufacturing missiles and other guided smart weapons for the Russian Air Force and the Navy. The situation at TMC corporation is typical of Russia’s defence industry which incorporates about 1,400 entreprisese employing over 1.5 million people. Putin acknowledged that the economic crisis has influenced the denece industry complex. “Many enterprises of this segment have encountered delays of payments for shipped orders, their creditor’s debt has increased, they have met difficulties in getting bank loans”. Under these circumstances, “an adequate reaction of the state is needed,” said the Prime Minister. The Russian government plans to spend over RUR 1 trillion (Russian roubles, about $30 billion USD) for defence orders in 2009, and about RUR 4 billion in the years 2009-11. Putin believes that this spending will allow the defence industry to survive in the crisis when orders from commercial sector have fallen significantly. Boris Obnosov says
that in 2008 80 per cent of TMC’s revenues came from export orders, and only 20 per cent – from contracts from the Russian Armed Forces. Among the leading customers Obnosov names India and China, and recently Venesuela, Algeria and Vietnam as well. This year the proportion of export and domestic revenues is expected to change significantly in favour of domestic orders. In December, 2008 the Russian government approved the list of 295 enterprises crucial for the national economy and bound to receive financial support from the state. TMC, Almaz-Antey PVO Concern, United Aircraft Corporation, RAC MiG and other major defence industry enterprises are included in that list. Taxation preferences, state guarantees for bank loans including writing off bank interest payments and direct loans from the Central bank of Russia are among the measures considered to provide support for the defence industry. The state budget figures for 2009-11 provide for RUR 100 billion for state loan guarantees, plus RUR 50 billion more for subsidizing interest rate payments, anti-bankruptcy measures and direct capital investments. The Prime Minister stressed: “As I said more than once, we have to thoroughly monitor the situation in the real economy sector, and literally in a day-by-day mode evaluate the efficiency of anticrisis measures which awe are working out in order to make, if needed, additional decisions in time and correct what has been already adopted and planned”.Amendments to Russia’s Taxation Code have been adopted to make easier procedures of tax debts restructuring and providing investment tax loans. The Prime Minister warned that the government will differentiate between enterprises in
financial trouble due to objective causes and those which have constant difficulties because of systematic poor management. Top manager of the latter ones are likely to be easily replaced because the state still keeps them in the Federal property. The government and the Central bank have provided commercial banks with substantial money to credit the real economy sector, however so far this money is scarcely reaching enterprises because of very bureaucratic procedures of approving bank loans. The Prime Minister mentioned also the necessity to continue investments in technology modernization of production plants as well as crucial research and development programmes. “We have to optimize federal defence task programmes and direct the saved money for completion and realization of projects critical for upgrading the technology level of our defence industry”, said Putin. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin confirmed that “optimization and restructuring are needed, however, he warned that there would be no increase in the overall sum of R&D and production technology investment programs. So some of them could benefit only at the expense of the others. Indirectly acknowledging that so far restructuring of the defence industry has not brought anticipated results, the Prime Minister instructed to speed up work on boosting efficiency of integrated defence industry holdings. “What for have we formed them? We need to make them really competitive, and thus not only meet the requirements of our Armed Forces, but also expand the export potential of Russia’s defence industry”. Detailed strategy how to reach that objective has not been made public, though. 11
B I G B O S S TA L K I N G
UPS & DOWNS
FOR UNITED AIRCRAFT Typescript of an interview with Alexey Fedorov, UAC president and Chairman of Executive Board
– Please tell us about results of the past year. How restructuring of the Russian aviation industry has been going? – In the past year we carried on with consistent efforts on reforming core business and enterprises of our corporation. Let me remind you, the United Aircraft Corporation was established in 2006, in accordance with the decree of the president of the Russian Federation. UAC strategy was approved in February 2008. It postulates that the Corporation’s structure shall have three new business units. Initial plans allowed us three years to set them up and running. But life makes us go faster. By the end of 2008 the business units “Civil Aviation” and “Transport Aviation” had been established. Now we are doing some structural work to supplement
these new establishments by moving plants and design houses under control of these units and specializing them. “Combat Aviation” business unit will take into shape during 2009. It will take after Sukhoi and MiG companies, by accepting control over their assets. Initial plan called for forming this structure sometime later, with completion of the founding process in two years’ time. But life makes us go faster. We had to initiate the founding process in the end of 2008. As per UAC itself… it is up and running now, following completion of the founding process and forming of the core team in the head office. By now, the core team has been formed. It enables us carry out all the functions that were prescribed for UAC by the presidential decree [dated February 2006] and charter documents. By far and large, UAC has accepted the function of control over the whole of Russian fixed wing aircraft manufacturing industry. Besides, councils of directors have been formed on all daughter companies. Corporate Strategy provided base for putting together plans of our subsidiaries. The Strategy was approved by UAC board of directors in the beginning of 2008. It was then submitted to the government for approval, and got it. The Strategy lists aircraft models that UAC shall manufacture at its plants. It also gives exact figures for production output. So, the primary result of the past year is that we laid firm foundations for our industry to start functioning as a system. As we speak, I still do not have yet exact figures for UAC operational results and performance
in 2008. Preliminary calculations indicate that the production output came to about Rouble 100 billion, roughly the same figure we reported for 2007. In the conditions of world-wide financial crisis, it is not bad, at least in my view. A special effort – perhaps not so visible one yet – has been done in the sphere of renovation. We have done a lot introducing new technologies, purchasing new equipment and installing it. Today, anyone of our plants has newly installed facilities, tooling, machines etc. This is something that shall help us boost our competitiveness, improve manufacturing quality and reduce costs. Higher competitiveness shall enable UAC to hope for larger orders in conditions of the modern market dominated by western manufacturers. – How hard is it to restructure the Russian aviation industry? – It is a hard work, indeed. The new system is being created not from a clean sheet. Much rather, it is being created on the base of what Russia inherited from the Soviet Union. Foundations of the Soviet aviation industry were laid down back in the 1930s. That time the Soviet Union erected a number of new plants, and these still remain largest in the country. Those are the aviation plants in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk etc. Process of reforming this industry, changing its structure and tuning it to the realities of the modern world is a very hard work that requires determination, patience and managerial skills. – How long will it take UAC to restructure the industry? And how much will it cost? – We need to invest over one billion dollars into technical renovation of our enterprises. In
A I R large part, investments go into development of commercial aircraft production. More funds – in order of several billion dollars – are needed for development of new airplanes employing new technologies. Related plans and programs are supplemented by direct funding from the state budget and by governmental measures meant to help us raise funds on the financial market. I believe that, despite the difficult situation in the world’s economy, these plans and programs will materialize. We are working to enlarger production output of our primary civilian product, the Tupolev Tu-204 narrow body airliner. Its assembly line is set in Ulianovsk. In the meanwhile, UAC is setting up production of new-generation regional aircraft, the An-148 in Voronezh and Superjet 100 in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur. Next year we shall bring these new aircraft into the marketplace and hand their first deliverable examples to airlines. Thus, with addition of those two models, our current product range will expand considerably. There are important programs going on in the military aviation. Development of the Su-35 and MiG-35 multirole fighters continues in full gear. These new aircraft shall appear in the marketplace in near future. Ulianovsk is selected for production of the Ilyushin Il-76 heavy air lifter in a much upgraded version with modern avionics, onboard systems and power plants. This aircraft is compliant to all national and international requirements. It can operate with the Armed Forces and commercial airlines. Ulianovsk-built Il-76s of this renewed version can fly around the world without restrictions, since they are compliant to all international regulations. – These days, when people listen to the radio or watch TV, they hear about job cuts and economic downturn. When I hear you it seems that UAC lives in another world, with plans for higher production output and introduction of new products. Why is that so? – If we do not launch new projects then there will be no future for the Russian aviation industry. That’s why we have no choice but to continue with all of our key projects. Corrections to our plans may take place, in terms of funding available for a certain project. When UAC Strategy was being worked out, we thought it over very carefully. Especially, what aircraft models should be pro-
duced in the next ten to twenty years? Selection of suitable models was quire serious. We took into consideration the overall market situation, our ability to penetrate certain markets in the global marketplace, development of new technologies. Screening took time and was very serious. It was rendered complete, though. Now, we simply cannot put on hold programs that are on the list approved by the government – the list UAC submitted to government together with its Strategy. We submitted it and won governmental approval. Today, we are all set to achieve every target set before us by the President of Russia and the Chairman of the Russian government. There is no alternative to this: we either master new products or forget about the future of the Russian aviation. – How does our plan correspond to the general situation in the global aviation market? – The situation in the global aviation market is such that without development of new generation aircraft, without fulfillment of investment projects, there is no chance to ensure future of the Russian industry. I do not exclude the very chance of introducing corrections into our ongoing programs. Changes that would reflect current economic situation as far as production volumes are concerned. Markets are contracting right now. Seemingly, in the next two-three years there will be no solvent demand for new aircraft. But understanding of this reality does not eliminate the very need for us to create new products. So, we will introduce new products in the military sphere and in the civil aviation. There is no doubt about that. It is the only way for the Russian aviation industry to stay in business. – You said that UAC has a requirement for billions of dollars to be invested. Do you consider
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state budget allocations as primary source? Are you also targeting private capital? – At this stage, state financing is, of course, the primary source of funding for UAC. Our Strategy calls for three phases of company development. The first one is anti-crisis management, it runs till 2010. At this stage the focus is on recovery of our plants and design houses. Later on, in 2010-2011, we shall enter equity markets through the mechanism of Initial Public Offering (IPO). Since that time, we expect higher income of private investments into UAC programs. The Strategy also calls for the period of stabilization, from 2011 till 2015. Private capital is expected to take the lead that time. Then, in 2015, we shall enter the period of profitable growth. Private capital prevails over state investments, with minimization of the government’s role as investor. That time we will live on our own money and hired private capital. To achieve this, UAC plans to employ various mechanisms and tools normally used for this purpose in the developed world. This period of time is expected to coincide with a rapid growth of the international aviation market, both combat and civil aviation. Our goal is to get properly prepared and, when it is high time for it, move forward and capture a sizeable portion of the market. – How confident are you when you speak about chances of this great plan to come true? It is difficult to image that it will come true today, in the conditions of world-wide financial crisis. – Issues pertaining to financial support for our capability extension programs were discussed at UAC council of directors on 30 December. The council took place in the White House of the Russian Government. It was chaired by the deputy chairman of the Russian government Sergei Ivanov. Council members gave their assessment
B I G B O S S TA L K I N G of the current situation in the industry, voiced their ideas and plans for the future. They also discussed issues pertaining to corrections to the mechanisms of state support to the aviation industry. By far and large, these mechanisms have been to do with subsidizing banking interest rates (the government “slashes” interest rates on credits taken in commercial banks). When these mechanisms were introduced, it was taken for granted that UAC would enjoy rather easy access to hired capital (there was every indication to this). There were positive decisions made by the council of VneshTorgBank (VTB), as well as leadership of other large banks, including the Savings Bank and VTB. However, at the end of 2008, all changed. It happened that access to affordable credit lines became more difficult. In fact, the access was severely limited. Because of this, we have not managed to make use of a large portion of government-promised subsidies. In other words, the state support, which had been promised, was not actually rendered to us because we did not manage to arrange enough credits. I believe that the mechanisms of state support shall change in this New Year of 2009. The volume of support may even stay the same, though. It is necessary to introduce special measures of state insurance for the industry. We have applied to the government with respective initiatives. Today, the state insurance becomes absolutely necessary. It is an irreplaceable tool in the conditions of manual control over the economy – something we have today, in the time of the crisis. We believe that, through successful employment of these mecha-
nisms, we shall be able to continue with technical renovation of our core enterprises. Thus, we will be able to increase production of our new airplanes. My prediction is that the private capital will be reluctant to take part in the long-term aircraft manufacturing programs. Because of the risks that are high enough and the fact that capital turnover time is rather long. Therefore, for us it is very important that the Government keeps volumes of promised state support, while introducing changes timely into the mechanisms of state support and insurance. – You said that, in the New Year, the volume of state support would stay unchanged. What was the level of that support in 2008? – In the period of 2009-2010 a total of some 26-28 billion Rouble is allocated for us in a number of Federal Target Programs. The lion’s share of the government funding goes to us along the lines of the Federal Purpose Programs entitled “Development of civil aviation” and “Development of Military Industrial Complex”. I hope that the allocations in these Programs will remain unchanged and that the money will actually be provided. Aircraft manufacturing is one of the industries that determine technical level of any large country and its defense capability. Because of the economic downturn the Russian government is considering cuts in the state budget allocations for long-term investment programs. But I believe these cuts will not apply to aviation-related allocations. Besides, there is a hope that the above named Federal Programs will actually be revised for higher volumes of state investment into the aviation industry. Current version of the Federal Program “Development of Civil Aviation” expires in 2010. A newer version is being put together right now. We expect the renewed version of the Program to be approved by the Russian government soon and put into force in 2011. We also hope that this new version would contain larger figures of state support for the aviation industry. – Mass media reports on job cuts both in Russia and abroad. Are you going to cut your staff? – Unlike other industries, we plan neither cuts to our staff, nor freezing or shelving of our key
programs. On the contrary, in 2009 we will create some new jobs. Surely, we will make steps to optimize structure of our staff. There are too many of managers and auxiliary workers. At the same time, we will increase numbers of those who actually work in the shops. We will re-train people currently employed in auxiliary areas. – Perhaps re-training programs will address not only UAC staff, but also other industries. Are there any signs that people from other industries seek for jobs in the aviation industry? – Yes, there are indications for that. Figuratively speaking, UAC is a locomotive of a very large industry. About 100 thousand people are employed on UAC enterprises. With all of our supply chain taken into account, the number of jobs in the whole of Russian aviation amounts to half a million. We need new technologies, and, respectively, skilled personnel. In plain words, we need people who can see to newly installed equipment, to ensure that this equipment works to capacity and in an effective way. After UAC was established and started working on ramping up production, we began to feel shortage of skilled personnel. Our industrial partners feel the same. They have also launched restructuring process and invested a lot into new technologies and equipment. Our industrial partners feel shortage of skilled personnel, and so they execute programs on training and re-training of their personnel, and invite professional people to take vacancies. All this requires a huge amount of work. We have agreed to join forces. We have prepared a list of measures that we would undertake jointly with our suppliers, including those on training and re-training of aviation industry personnel. – How does UAC product range look like? Does it differ much from the one that the Russian aviation industry had had before UAC was founded? – Our product range was firmed up last year. What we had in the beginning was a collection of all the models that our plants were manufacturing at that time, plus those that our design houses were developing. Smaller half of these models passed screening. Quite simply, the models that made the larger half did not have prospects for future. We focused on those models that had
A I R some sales potential, those that could sell in the open market, and those that were in demand with our customers. It is still possible that UAC product range changes somewhat, to reflect recent changes in the global market for new aircraft and in the view of the possibility that UAC joins international alliances. We continue talking to our European partners in EADS and also those in Boeing of US. We are talking to the Indian aviation industry. If we do join an international alliance, some corrections to UAC production range may become necessary. – Does Russian industry lag behind the West in high technologies? If so, how big is the gap? How long will it take Russia to catch up with the West? – In the sphere of combat aircraft, we are same level with the world leaders. Sukhoi and MiG have some fairly advanced models that meet expectations of our customers and compete successfully on the international market. Roughly, we control 10-12% of the global market of frontline aviation. New products are coming soon. They will further increase our competitiveness and make it possible to enlarge our market share, up to 15-16%. The most problematic situation is with civil aviation. There is certain technological gap here. We are planning to catch up with the West by 2015. We are going to do this by means of streamlining production of the Superjet and selling it in large quantities world-wide. Not just the baseline model, the Superjet 100 that is undergoing flight trials. We put faith into the MS-21, a new design in the class of narrow body commercial airliners. This airplane is meant to make history. It shall be a real breakthrough for the Russian aviation industry. Certification of this new product is scheduled for 2016. One more product with which we will be positioning ourselves in the global marketplace is a widebody short-to-medium haul airplane (ShFBSMS). Development of this aircraft goes on in accordance with a governmental order. This new design is still under development, it is taking shape. It is an open question whether UAC will do this project alone or in a global partnership. UAC plans to launch production of all of these new types by 2015. We believe UAC will be a worthwhile player in the global market for commercial airliners. – Does UAC have points of growth? Where are they? – If we mean the places where production of our new models is unfolding, then “yes”, UAC does have “points of growth”. Sukhoi has plants in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur and Novosibirsk where Superjet production lines are being set up. Irkut Corporation’s main production site in Irkutsk installs new equipment and tooling for the MS-21. Ulianovsk will make more aircraft, as we plan expansion of the Tupolev Tu-204 family and commencing production of the improved Il-76. After the 70-seat Antonov An-148 is mastered in Voronezh, the VASO plant in that city will become the center of competence for regional aviation. The plant in Kazan will remain the only center in our country to make airplanes for the Strategic Aviation.
I do not want to abuse other plants by not naming them here, but those that I mentioned above are the primary ones. They generate the lion’s share of our industry’s production output. They also work on new projects that UAC plans to launch. – Cooperation with other industries. What sort of influence do UAC activities produce on dwelling points and towns where your plants are located? – All nine aircraft manufacturing plants that in UAC structure are core enterprises for the cities they are situated. Some of these are situated in cities with population as large as one million or more, just to name Voronezh, Kazan and Novosibirsk. Those enterprises play important role in the economic life of their home cities. There are other factories that are situated in smaller cities; they are largest industrial enterprises there. Cities that house those factories cannot live without them economically. The plant in Komsomolsk-uponAmur provides a good example. UAC is a head company on aircraft manufacturing programs. Great many enterprises of the
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Russian aviation industry take part in those programs as suppliers. That industry is wide spread in terms geographical, with hundreds of enterprises located all over the vast territory of the Russian Federation. A large part of those have been integrated into the Rostechnologii State Corporation (“Russian Technologies” headed by Sergei Chemezov). Recently, we have signed a framework cooperation agreement with Rostechnologii. You see… It does not make sense to develop aircraft manufacturing plants without developing their supply chain – plants that produce aero engines, avionics and all sorts of onboard systems. Developing only UAC plans is way to nowhere. Rostechnologii has launched a huge effort on consolidation of enterprises in the supply chain, on their technical renovation, on specialization of certain enterprises and creation of new products. New aircraft types require modern engines, avionics and onboard systems. Only working hand-in-hand, the United Aircraft Corporation and Rostechnologii can both succeed. They can make Russian aviation a success story of this century.
INDUSTRY Alexander Velovich
ZHUK-AE AESA IS READY FOR DEMONSTRATIONS TO THE CUSTOMERS his year the Indian Air Force (IAF) will conduct comparative flight tests of combat aircraft participating in the MMRCA (Medium MultiRole Combat Aircraft) tender for deliveries of 126 new fighters to the service. For the contract with estimated value of $7-10 billion the MiG-35 competes with the F-16, F/A-18, Rafale, Typhoon and Gripen. Aero India 2009 air show will take place in February at the Yelahanka Indian Air Force Base near the city of Bangalor. It is expected that there all major participants of the MMRCA tender will do their best to present most favourably the aircraft offered to the IAF. Regarding the MMRCA tender the IAF is known to be most interested in technology transfers, and, in particular, technology of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna for the airborne radar. The first Russian AESA radar has been developed specifically for the MiG-35 by Phazotron-NIIR corporation, which developed airborne radars for many MiG fighters, including MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25 and MiG-29. In early December, 2008 results of the recent phase of ground and flight tests of the new Zhuk-AE radar were disclosed. According to Phazotron-NIIR’s statement, “the radar is functioning steadily in various modes, providing detection and tracking of aerial and ground targets. Ground and flight tests have proved correctness of the radar’s concept and major design decisions, as
well as fitness and efficiency of the radar’s subsystems”. The Phazotron director general Vyacheslav Tishchenko states that “the corporation will ensure the demonstration of the MiG-35 in India”. “We also confirm that we are ready to transfer all key AESA technologies to our Indian partners”, he adds.
Mikhail Belyaev, test pilot of RAC MiG who was at controls of the MiG-35 demonstrator together with Nickolay Diorditsa during the test flights, commented on the radar’s performance: “Already in first flights the radar had showed very good results. We are confident of its great potential”.
A I R Prior to Aero India 2009 show we met with Phazotron-NIIR corporation deputy director general, chief designer of Zhuk-AE radar for the MiG-35 Yuriy Nikolayevich Guskov. He told us about the results achieved in the AESA flight tests. The Zhuk-AE demonstration unit installed in the MiG-35 prototype provides about 130-140 km detection range of a fighter-size target. With beefing up the radar’s performance, in particular, increasing the number of transceivers in the antenna array, it is planned to achieve 250-280 km detection range. This exceeds capabilities of existing radars of heavy fighters. The twin-seat MiG-35 program demonstrator with 154 board number will fly to Bangalor. In demo flights at the air show Indian pilots flying board 154 will be able to familiarize themselves with principal modes of the AESA radar: detection and tracking of aerial targets head-on and tail-on looking up and looking down as well as ground mapping. The Zhuk-AE chief designer promises that the Yelahanka air base and aircraft at the static park of the air show will be seen on the radar display. While in the demo flights at the show the crews will be joint Russian-Indian, in the tender flight tests the IAF pilots will fly the MiG-35 by themselves. One more MiG-35 prototype will be provided to the IAF for tender flights tests. That will be a derivative of the MiG-29K naval fighter with which the new model has a high level of standardization. The flight test program will be highly intense and versatile. Yuriy Guskiv comments: “We are prepared for that, we have recent experience of the flight tests of Kopyo radar for modernized MiG-21s of the Indian Air Force. We know how thoroughly the IAF conducts flight tests”. The MiG-35 can be delivered in single-seat as well as twin-seat configurations, everything depends on the customer’s requirements. Guskov explains: “The single and twin-seat airframes are absolutely identical, even the cockpit canopies are the same. There is just one more big fuel tank in the single-seater instead of the back cockpit. There is no strict distinction between pilot and navigator/weapons control officer in the twin-seater, both pilots can fully control the aircraft and all its systems from either cockpit. There is a Russian saying “one head is good, but two are better”. Pilots give hints to each other, and help mutually in flight. This is especially important while flying demanding missions when much attention must be paid to watching cockpit displays”. Telling about the AESA flight tests which went not without overcoming certain difficulties the chief designer recalls: “The RAC MiG designers had made a stake on us, and while there had been no results, there was some tension. Some high ranking program managers had doubts, they said that maybe it would had been better to seek co-operation with French or Israelis. Even more so because at first we did not see any aerial targets, even when switching on the radar on the ground. The preparation position of the aircraft on the airfield was in front of a hill that shadowed the airspace, so in ground tests when power was
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Yuri Guskov, General Designer Phazotron-NIIR Corporation applied the radar screen was absolutely blank, there were no aerial targets of chance to be seen. But when the flight tests began, everything came to normal. In the very first flight all five encounters with the target provided stable detection at the predicted range”. Important conclusions can be made from the results of the first test flights. Guskov says: “The AESA radar has high reliability, higher than
any previous radar. In spite of the fact that it is a new radar, still in development, we did not have any failures as such. We keep an eye on the trancievers’ parameters, watch how they perform in flight, communicate with Micran of Tomsk, the supplier of transceivers. Most of them stay as soldiers in the line of columns, all parameters remain unchanged. But some deviations occur, we analyze them”.
The chief designer adds: “We implemented modular design that allows to extract a transceiver from the array just with a screwdriver, to check it with test equipment and, if needed, to substitute with another one. This design approach was absolutely right, it proved itself very well. Once we had a need to dismount some of the transceivers. So we were able to do that, to take some transceivers to the laboratory, verify their parameters in the evening, and the next day to take them back to the airfield, install in their places and continue the flight tests without interruption. Such design adds some weight, and our radar now weighs about 220 kg, but I consider that to be a justified trade-off for modularity and convenience of maintenance”. For radar developers a step to AESA is a qualitatively new phase. Probably it can be compared only with the introduction of jet engines instead of piston ones. Yuriy Guskov recollects his feelings: “So the first Russian AESA is flying and performing. At last it has happened. Still for me it was very unexpected when so many people began to congratulate us. Then I understood how important this event was. While there were no results, some of the industry leaders reprimanded us. It was hard to explain that it was an absolutely new radar, nothing of that kind had been ever tested in Russia. If it were traditional transmitter-receiverantenna, such a radar could have been developed in half a year. And here, with AESA, every step was made with difficulty. Just an easy example: how to measure sensitivity? It’s an easy task if you have separate transmitter and receiver. Then you could apply a calibrated signal to the receiver’s input and just measure the sensitivity by noise coefficient. But in AESA all amplifiers are inside the antenna! And there are several hundreds of them, and their sum provides the needed performance. So we had to measure sensitivity by substitution method with a horn antenna, comparing results with the MiG-29K radar with ordinary slot antenna. Hence we had to develop relevant equipment that would be able to verify every radar. It was the same with 18
transmitting power. In ordinary radar you could apply load to transmitter and just measure the output. And in AESA demonstrator there are 680 transmitting channels, and you have to measure the integral transmitting power. So new methodology is needed that would be able to determine how the emission pattern is formed. The AESA can have different transmitting and receiving beam patterns. You can emit in one direction and receive from another. And now you understand that you have an absolutely new instrument at hand, and you have to learn how to use it”. The Phazotron specialists feel deserved pride for the results achieved. Yuriy Guskov says: “When everything began to function, it gave a powerful emotional impulse for all those involved in the program. There was no need to hurry up anybody, each person did best and worked with utmost intensity. And everybody felt joy. When I was reporting the results of the first flight to our regular management meeting, I thanked everybody, and quite of a sudden those gathered burst with applauses. People had seen the results of many years of their work”. Now Phazotron-NIIR together with the transceiver developers, Micran JSC and Semiconductors Research Institute, both of Tomsk, is refining technologies of serial production of the AESA radar. Major tasks are to increase reliability and to decrease cost of transceivers. Guskov stresses: “We can say that we have mastered the AESA technology. There were several critical positions there, and in course of research and development program we had to solve these problems. And we have done that. Now we are just clearing up some points, refining technology, expand its capabilities. It is fortunate that we work with Micran of Tomsk as one team. And there was no blaming each other even in the most difficult situations, and we had some of those, no attempts to transfer responsibility to a partner. We analyze the results of the development together, look for solutions, find them and advance further”.
Russia has additional trump cards in the IAF tender. First, it is vast experience of militarytechnical co-operation between our two countries. Second, it is readiness to equal partnership on the basis of most modern technology transfer. Dmitry Medvedev, the President of Russia, said during his visit to New Delhi in December 2008: “we count that together with our Indian colleagues we will be able to offer new forms of co-operation: these could be technology transfers, creating joint venture production enterprises and other forms of partnerships beneficial to both sides”. Recently Yuriy Guskov visited India and got thoroughly acquainted with capabilities of the Indian electronic industry. He has opinion that it is ready to acquire and master industrial technologies of the AESA radar, including those of monolithic integral chips (MIC), and Russia is ready to transfer these technologies. And it is very important that the indigenous Russian AESA Zhuk-AE radar has only indigenous components. At the same time British, French and Swedish AESA manufacturers to some extent rely on American suppliers. And it is known that Americans usually are reluctant to transfer to anybody key defence technologies. It is important to mention that if Russia shared technologies with India, it would not loose any of them. All that is being done to win the IAF tender, will be used to the benefit of Russia’s defence as well. The MMRCA tender is of utmost importance to Russia. The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at the meeting of the Commission on Military-Technical Co-operation, said: “Defence export strengthens our reputation as one of the leading industrial powers of the world”. The head of the Russian state stressed that “weapons export is an important channel of income to the state budget”, and the significance of military-technical cooperation grows especially in the time of financial crisis. Phazotron has made all than depends on the corporation to ensure Russia’s high chances in the competition with the leading combat aircraft manufacturers of the world.
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850 show offs. With 850 exhibitors at 2007, where will you be on show in 2009?
Dubai Airshow 2009 Leading the Aerospace Industry
15-19 NOVEMBER JEBEL ALI, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES WWW.DUBAIAIRSHOW.AERO
EXHIBITION Vladimir Karnozov
UNDER NEW YEAR TREE Speeches of Russian aviation industry leaders before Russian media representatives, 20 Dec. 2008 UAC and its subsidiaries invited prominent Russian journalists and representatives of the international media working in Moscow to “New Year tree” sort of event. It happened in the premises of the Museum of Vehicles located west of Moscow city. Here is typescript of the speeches the Russian aviation leaders made at this assembly. Alexey Fedorov, President, chairman of the Executive Board, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Today, in this Museum of Vehicles, we have assembled for a meeting of aircraft developers and manufacturers with those people who create the image of our industry, who write, take photos and produce reports about the Russian aviation and our Corporation. Absolutely fantastic and remarkable this place is! I am honored to be here with you today, to speak about our achievements in the passing year. And to wish you every success in the New Year
of 2009! I am amazed of what I have seen in this museum today. Honestly, I had not expected that there could be some good people among us who do not only grow their business, but also do this wonderful, important work for next generations. This is a great deed! There is much goodness in it, which makes our war veterans satisfied. Also, it pleases those who work in the sphere of aviation. Hopefully, you will agree to me saying that the year of 2008 – and we have assembled to say “goodbye” to that year – was not easy for the aviation industry and the airline industry. I think it is possible to say with confidence that the next year is going to be even more difficult, if not critical. At the same time, a lot has been done, many good happenings have occurred. I will not spend much time naming all of the achievements we have had. Just one thing: this year some newly built Russian aircraft took to the air for the first time. Great changes occurred
in the sphere of aircraft manufacturing and the air transportation system. I want you to remember the passing year as a good one for the sphere in which we work, the sphere of aviation. As for the New Year of 2009, let me wish that all of you here will have many good happenings in your life, so that we would be proud of the profession we have chosen, and the job we have been having. I wish that the family life will make us happy more often than dissatisfied. Well, from all of my heart, let me wish you all the best in the New Year! Please never forget that we do have one thing in common, those of us who create new aircraft, who develop onboard systems, who actually makes new aircraft, and who write about aviation, who create public image of our aviation. Good things to all of you, all the best in the New Year! Mikhail Pogosyan, UAC first vice-president for program coordination, general director of Sukhoi Company. The passing year was quite eventful. Most important things that happened were the following: the Sukhoi Superjet 100 prototype made its maiden flight; the Su-35 fighter entered trials. Those are most important, but not the only events that happened. I want to draw your attention to, perhaps, not so visible event as maiden flight of a new aircraft, but still very much an important event. We have improved mutual understanding of the common goals that we, at UAC, have set before us. We have been watching how, step by step, the United Aircraft Corporation is gradually becoming a workable team with good coordination and mutual support. Not so long ago we were just a collection of independent companies, which were put together on a list… that’s it, the UAC was formed
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new step. Production rate at Ulianovsk factory is reaching one airframe each month. It is, of course, not something that makes us happy, but it is far better that we used to have in not so distant past. For us as a leasing company, it is important indeed. Because our private investors trust us, they invest their money into our aircraft acquisition and leasing programs. These are investors that come from Russia as well as other countries. The private capital stays with us. And all these good people come to us prepared. They come prepared because of you, the journalists who produce reports, who put into light some bright things in aviation, and also not so bright. For us who work in the financial sphere, who see to sales of the domestic industry products, it is very important. And it is certainly so because the financial analytics and the airlines read every day that come out in the press. That’s why they are well prepared. I want to raise this glass to partnership of the team that is assembled here today. In the coming year, which is going to be not an easy one, it is so important to keep trust and understanding among us. Your experience and knowledge, your vision of the situation, understanding of the issues that our industry has, are important. I wish the New Year to be beautiful to all of you. Let it make you all happy! I wish you great holidays, so that you have some rest and then come back with your batteries recharged. So that, in the New Year, we would have more power to fight for a better world. The world that would see more Russian aircraft flying and more airplanes coming out of assembly shops. Let our production rates double and triple! I wish you all every success in the New Year! that way. Now, we are a team. UAC structure is taking shape, with business units being formed inside of it. I think that for those of us who work in UAC, these changes and trends are very important. This is a good indication that we have been moving forward. I hope the passing year helped us become more understandable to mass media. I think there is a growing understanding between those who work in aviation and those who report on the events that happen in the sphere of aviation. I do not think that it is necessary that we all think similarly. But what we do need is feedback, so that we would understand the situation better. We need feedback so that we would apply the common sense when analyzing chain of events. Let me say a word of thanks to all journalists here present. I thank them for the work they have done and for the attention they have paid to us and our aviation. Secondly, I would like to raise this glass to unity between us and for understanding between us, those who work in aviation, who make aircraft and whose, who make reports covering aviation events. Aviation is something we have in common. All the best to you in the New Year! Alexander Roubtsov, Ilyushin Finance Company general director, UAC Executive Board member. In the passing year we delivered a record number of airplanes to airline customers. Less than we had planned, though. Still, one more step has been made towards restoration of series production of Russian commercial airplanes. UAC has made this 21
AIRSHOW CHINA 2008 hina’s aircraft industry is a rapidly growing branch, gradually catching up (not without Russia’s hand) with technical and engineering lagging behind western countries. The biggest country in the world with the population of 1,3 bln releases today competitive fourth generation fighters, places into orbit manned spaceships and earth satellite vehicles, creates regional passenger liners and unmanned flying vehicles of different designation. Strong evidence of China’s high level aircraft industry was shown at the seventh aerospace show Airshow China. It started November, 4 in Zhuhai airport Guangdong Province. The exhibition demonstrated that modern China has achievements in the aerospace area it can be proud of. “And should be”, – thinks partyeconomic head of the country. Unlike the previous shows this one differed in the huge number of high-ranking officials for Zhuhai. Suffice it to say at the opening ceremony there were four members from the Political bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CC CPC). At the tribune Army, Air Force and Navy Commanders of People’s Liberation Army of China (PLAC) took their places near deputy Prime-minister Zhang Dejiang and Minister of defense Liang Guanglie. In the presence of such respectable audience PLAC Air Force which presence at previous exhibitions was formal showed its beauty. The pilots displayed the aircraft that had never been shown before in public. We’ll give you the most important of the full-scale exhibits:
The Rostov Helicopter Production Complex (Rostvertol) signed a contract for the delivery of a Mi-26TS helicopter, the best-selling helicopter in the world, to China at Airshow China 2008. A number of documents connected with helicopter deliveries were also signed. “This is the second contract for the delivery of Russian Mi-36 helicopters to China,” Rostvertol general director Boris Slyusar told Interfax. “The first was signed in August 2006 for the leasing of a Mi-26 helicopter to a Chinese company for three years. Later, the Chinese company bought it outright. We signed the transfer for it today too.”
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Zhang Dejiang, Chinese Vice-premier and Boris Slyusar, Rostvertol General Director on Airshow China 2008 – Two J-10 light multifunctional fighters known as Dragon; – Two J-8-II interceptors; – FBC-1 Attack aircraft (another designation – FH-7A) known as Flying Leopard; – Cargo tanker aircraft on the basis of the H6K bomber (developed Soviet Tu-16); – Z-8K heavy lift helicopter (“cloned” French Super Frelon); – Z-9WE medium combat helicopters (Chinese edit of Dolphin); – Z-11W light helicopters (Equreuil / Fennec). Especially should be mentioned that the latter two were shown equipped with guided missile weapon. Separately there was shown Mi-171 medium transport helicopter. Though there were no explanations of this vehicle, it is supposed to be the first of this type manufactured in China (at the aircraft factory in Sichuan Province) using kit of parts produced at the plant in Ulan-Ude. To this impressive “composite squadron” of flying vehicles the industry added air prototype of the L-15 supersonic operational trainer (based on the Jak–130 with AI-222 augmented engines) and Modern Arc 600 turboprop air carrier (developed An-24/MA60 with Canadian engines and American avionics), that made its first flight in October 2008. The demonstration flights began right after the greetings of the exhibition organizers and Guangzhou governor. It was started by the newest J-10 fighter main exhibit of Sirshow China 2008 and the “face” of Chinese aircraft industry. Manned by a combat pilot Dragon showed perfect maneuverability and all that at 30 degrees heat and high humidity. It didn’t show any breathtaking exercises such as Pugachev’s cobra, hook or tail-dive. It limited the show only to the classic exercises – combat turns, low speed nose-up pitch run. Judging by the demo flights turn rates and momentary time-to-climb shown by J-10 on
the whole equaled F-16 and MiG-29 level. Dragon pilot steadily showed difficult exercises on his vehicle unavailable to Chinese planes before. Small deviation angles of the pressurized instrument section and careful operating afterburning brought to the thought that Dragon pilot didn’t force out the vehicle. Two-three years ago foreign specialists told me: “J-10 is still thing in itself, it’s difficult to
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say if real fighter will come out of it or not”. Today the same specialists say as one: “J-10 is born”. Chinese military are very satisfied with the vehicle. The project has thoroughly defended all not small financial, manufacturing and intellectual resources invested in it. Dragon can not only fly perfectly. It can also successfully use guided weapon in the training area – guided bombs with optical or TV guidance, and also guided missiles with radar head, television “eye” and infrared eye. At their stands Chinese firms continuously showed videos about work of J-10 crews at training areas. Western sources say one hundred J-10s have been built. Some Russian sources bring this number to 300. According to the available information our country hasn’t imported such number of AL-31FN engines to China yet. But it’s worth remember there is also Tai Hang Chinese “clone” of AL-31F. J-10 was shown exactly with this engine before the scrupulously selected journalists at the first official presentation of this plane last winter. According to the information available the work on the upgrade J-10 sometimes nominated Super-10 is on. Maybe this vehicle is being developed for Chinese Navy for flights from aircraft carriers. Its difference is in using more powerful engine – either AL-31FM2/3 or augmented Tai Hang. There is also possible replacement of standard radar with slot array (worked out by Chinese specialists on the basis of British, Italian and Israeli models delivered to China in 1990s,
AIR POWER OF CHINA IN NUMBERS A famous British magazine Flight International published the Directory: World Air Force review giving the numbers of the military aviation of all the countries in the world for mid-2008. For today this is the newest analysis of this subject. Though in this review (as well as in other publications of such kind) there is quite much inaccuracy and frank “information noise”, it gives quite good idea of the current aviation condition in different states. And through some supplementary material it’s also possible to get information about the changes of the size of aviation in some states. According to the review, the Chinese Air Force currently includes 120 H-6 strategic bombers (Tu-16 manufactured in China under Soviet license at the aviation plant in Harbin) and 250 H-5 tactical bombers (Chinese Il-28 modification). And if H-5 is an outdated one capable to carry only “iron” free-
fall bombs, H-6s are actively converted into cruise missile carrier, tanker aircraft and EW aircraft. Its possible to suppose these vehicles will be in service next decade. Today the main combat aircraft of the People’s Republic of China tactical aviation is the Q-5 supersonic day-time light attack aircraft (deep modernization of the MiG-19 tactical fighter made by Chinese specialists in early 1960s). There are about 500 aircraft of this type in service mainly equipped with free-fall bombs and unguided airto-surface missiles. The J-7 tactical aircraft (the MiG-21) is the most extended Chinese fighter produced in PRC in some modifications: day-time J-7-I and J-II (development of the MiG-21F-13) and also all-weather J-III (MiG-21ML). On the whole PLAC Air Force has 392 J-7 aircraft of all modifications.
EXHIBITION Second in the number of China Air Force’s vehicles is Su-27 type fighter. There are 151 Su-27SK tactical aircraft and Su-30MK multifunctional two-seater fighters imported by Russia and also 98 J-11 (Su-27 copy produced in PRC). Thus, on the whole China has 248 Su-27 aircraft and its modifications. It’s worthy to note that this is the biggest group of Su-27s beyond Russia. The number of J-10 fighters (Chinese 4th generation aircraft equipped with one AL-31F engine) is according to Flight International 140 vehicles. It is possible that in the nearest future J-10 will become China’s main fighter instead of J-6 and Q-5 1st generation vehicles. The number of J-8 interceptors (close to the Su-15 in their weight dimension characteristics and performance) has reduced a bit and now is only 96 aircraft. The reduction is likely to have been done through discarding early modifications J-8 and J-8-I. At the same time small-batch manufacturing of J-8-II probably continues even today. Though, the reduction of J-6s (MiG-19) looks most radical. If in 2001 there were 2800 vehicles of this type (which made Chinese tactical aviation almost the most numerous in the world), now, according to Flight International, there remained only 25 J-6 fighters. And finally J-5 (MiG-17) 1st generation fighters absolutely disappeared from the AF, having been manufactured in big amounts by Chinese aviation industry in the 1950-60s and also imported by the Soviet Union to PRC. It’s worthy to mention that still in 2001 there were more than 1700 J-5 tactical fighters of different modifications in the PLAC Air Force combat and reserve units. Thus there are currently 1770 combat aircraft in the PLAC AF, which is some times less than there used to be at the beginning of the decade. At all this, the part of “4” and “4+” generation aircraft complexes (Su-30MK, Su-27, J-11 and J-10) makes 22%, 3rd generation aircraft (J-8) – 5%, 2nd generation (J-7) – 22% and 1st generation (H-5, H-6, J-6 and Q-5) – 51% . To compare, according to the Flight International, today the Russian Air Force numbers more than 1900 combat aircraft, US Air Force– more than 2300 (and 390 in reserve). And Indian Air Force (the second Asian nuclear power) numbers 740 combat aircraft, 23% of which are “4” and “4+” generation vehicles (Su-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Mirage2000), 47% – 3rd generation (Jaguar, MiG-23 and MiG-27) and 30% – thoroughly modernized 2nd generation fighters (MiG-21 bison). There are 53 Su-39MKI in the Indian AF. Another 177 aircraft of this type will be imported in the nearest future. The main potential rival of China is Taiwan which Air Force numbers 484 combat aircraft, 45% of which are “2+” generation fighters (F-5E/E), and
the rest are 4th generation vehicles (F-16, Csingo, Mirage2000-5). In the nearest years, the Chinese Air Force will receive another 135 Su-27/J-11 aircraft, some J-10 fighters and maybe FC-1 light fighters (mainly manufactured for exporting). At the same time all the H-5, Q-5, J-6 and partly J-7 aircraft of early year of manufacture are likely to be discarded. H-6 aircraft will stay as nuclear weapon carriers. Thus by the middle of the next decade the Chinese Air Force will number 1000-1100 combat aircraft, about 50% of which will be modern “4” and “4+” generation vehicles. To solve EW tasks there are two Il-78 reequipped aircraft at China’s disposal. In the short term the Air Force will get also eight IL-78 cargo tanker aircraft. The review doesn’t give any data about the number of Chinese airborne early warning aircraft, though it’s known that PRC works hard in this direction. Military transport aviation of China has gradually reduced because of discarding numerous Li-2 and Il-12 reciprocating military transport aircraft manufactured in 1940-50s. An-2 not long ago in service with the Air Force also disappeared. As a result today PLAC military transport aviation has quite modern flying stock consisting of 5 Boeing-737, 5 An-12, 83 An-26, 5 An-30, 27 Il-76 (with another 30 having been ordered), 4 MA-60, 4 Tu-154 (and another 9 in reserve) aircraft. In the Air Force’s helicopter fleet there are 31 Mi-8/171 assault support helicopters and 7 SA321s. The training aircraft are represented by 170 new JL-8 (K-8), also 149 JJ-6 (two-seated operational trainer modification of J-6) and 39 JJ-7 (on the basis of J-7) vehicles. On the strength of relatively small army aviation there are 3 Mi-6s, 198 Mi-8/17/171s, 22 S-70Cs, and also 6 SA342s and 99 Z-11s, part of which is equipped with assault antitank weapon. As trainers there used 22 HC-120 helicopters (with another 6 ordered) and 48 Z-11s. Obviously the weak point of Chinese Air Force is practically full absence of specialized attack helicopters. PRC naval aviation has 30 H-6 missile bombers, 150 H-5 torpedo bombers, 23 Su-30MKK and MK-2 (another 50 have been ordered) multifunctional fighters, 98 J-6 fighters, 30 J-7s, 124 J-8s and 100 Q-5 attack aircraft. Despite that the Navy disposes 20 newest JH-7 bomber-fighters, which Flight International on some reason put into the training aircraft category. Despite that Chinese Navy disposes a Jak-42 cargo aircraft and helicopter inventory including 3 AS-565s, 8 Ka-28s, 8 Mi-8s, 3 SA365s and 19 Z-9Cs. The substantial negative side of naval aviation is absolute absence of antisubmarine aircraft.
and also experimental board radar unit Jemchug from Phazotron – NIIR corporation) for a new one with electronic scanning. Its construction is likely to use the technology given to Chinese partners from Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design in the late 1990s, when experimental copy of Pero aerial was sent to People’s Republic of China. Having created a good J-10 lightweight fighter China is still not so good in developing a heavy one. While the perspective vehicles are worked on hard, industry continues producing time-tested J-8-IIМ. At the posters of the consolidated corporation AVIC (created through the fusion of AVIC1 and AVIC2 before the very opening of Airshow China 2008) there was shown a new upgraded modification of this veteran. Its tests will begin in one or two years. And while the homeland industry is creating its own fourth generation heavy fighter, China can continue buying such kind of aircraft in Russia. By the end of the second day of Airshow China 2008 PLAC Air Forces commander generalcolonel Siui Tsilan appeared at Russian exhibition. FGUP Rosoboronexport deputy CEO Aleksandr Mikheev met him. The commander attentively examined the exhibits of Rosoboronexport, Vertolety Rossii, ANK Sukhoi, NPK Irkut, NPO Saturn, SPARK and UOMz. Telling him about the main offers from Russian firms Mikheev especially noted Mi-26 and Ka-52 helicopters, Be-200 amphibious plane and also SPARK equipment. The most time Siui Tsilan spent near Sukhoi stand at the large-scale model of the newest Su-35 4++ generation fighter. The PLAC Air Force commander asked Aleksander Mikheev and Sukhoi deputy director general Sergey Sergeev one question after another. He asked about Su-35 combat capabilities, operational range with full combat load, targeting complex and munition stockpile. Siui Tsilan highly estimated combat capabilities and aircraft specifications but at all this he pointed out to Russian guests that J-10 flies not worse than Su aircraft and also China has “something” from perspective researches. The secret of Chinese success is simple. Monthly average salary of workers and engineers varies from 200 to 300 US dollars which is much less than in Russia and gradually less than in Western countries. At all this it’s quite possible to live on it in People’s Republic of China using the advantages of socialistic state structure. In the 1960s-70s China founded the basis of its own aircraft industry school. It was reserved in the 80s and was forced at the end of the century. Today the country is strong on its way to industrialization and economic cooperation with global companies which gives money to the treasury and makes possible mass investment into aircraft industry. At first the main work was concentrated in “cloning” good foreign models. But gradually Chinese are coming to its own “free art”. Patience and labor peculiar for Chinese turn the question of reaching world aircraft manufacturing heights into the question of time and maybe not so long.
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«THE DRAGON» IS READY TO FIGHT «In the summer of 2007 a Chinese J-10 fighter “Tzianbin-10”, created on Israeli Lavi basis with Russian engines АL-31FN, managed to shoot down an American multipurpose fighter of the 5th generation F-22 Raptor above the Taiwan Strait. During the incident subflight Su-30 blocked other American Air Force aircraft off the “Feathered Raptor”. The shot down Raptor fell down the continental part of China and after that was taken to pieces “for spare parts” by the locals. And the successfully catapulted F-22 pilot was “quietly” – by mutual consent of the parties – sent by the Chinese to the American Command…». This message as well as other ones of the kind appeared in the mass media and in the Internet in the autumn of 2008, having caused great anxiety in aviation related circles. Chinese aircraft industry was traditionally discussed as something inferior and ineffective, incapable of manufacturing battle planes that can compete with those produced by USA or European aircraft industry. Now a number of commentators have radically changed their point of view evaluating Chinese fighters as almost the best in the world, being capable of shooting down the newest American “invisibles” of the 5th generation. So, we’ll try to figure out what «Tzian-10» (the very plane that is said to have shot down F-22A) actually is and to what extent it is dangerous to American “Raptors” (and not only to them)? An image of any armament system has a reflection of the time when it was created. Speaking about J-10 manufacturing it should be
mentioned that by the middle of 1980-ies Chinese Peoples Republic had Air Force though almost the most numerous in the world but outdated. The front-line aviation НОАК consisted of several thousands of fighters of the 1st generation MiG-17 (J-5) and MiG-19 (J-6), and also fighter-bombers Q-5, slightly «diluted» with two – three hundreds of a bit more modern (but, nevertheless, hopelessly outdated as well) J-7 planes (variations of «MiG-21F-13») and J-8 (increased double-engine «clone» of the same MiG-21). All the equipment correlated at best with the technology and concept of the early 1960-ies and couldn’t stand up with modern foreign aircraft systems. CPR started attempts to create own, purely Chinese fighter as far back as late 1950-s, i.e. almost right after aircraft industry establishment and production start of the first Chinese series fighters «Tzian-5» (MiG-17). But the only true success in the sphere could be considered J-8 interceptor development in 1970-ies that was an enlarged double-engine version of the very same MiG-21. Since 1960-s China worked at designing of a most ambitious J-9 fighter project, based on Russian and (less) European technologies, and also accomplished considerable modernization of J-8 fighter (later on resulting in J-8-II occurrence, also comprising a number of 3rd generation MiGs elements). However, considering their general properties these planes were way behind MiG-29, F-16, «Mirage»2000 and other aircrafts of the 4th generation that had already been in series production by that time. It was more and more obvious for
the Chinese authorities that a considerable push is required which would at least substantially reduce if not eliminate the gap between CPR and the USA, and Western Europe in the sphere of military aviation construction. And this push was only possible with foreign technical assistance. In the middle of 1980-s Ministry of Defense and Central Military Committee CDC of CPR decided to stop working at «Tzian-9» fighter. This project, still being under development, was accepted outdated and prospectless. Instead, main efforts were concentrated on a new project – «Tzian-10», that was thought to be created on J-9 interceptor technological basis, that started being developed as far back as 1964. This single-engine 13 ton plane, made upon the scheme «duck» and designed for М 2.5, represented a Chinese version of Sweden Saab JА.37 «Viggen» with a number of solutions borrowed from the Soviet MiG-23. However, J-10 had Israeli roots as well (the Chinese were not so confused with “the 5th item” of the questionnaire as their Soviet colleagues then). It should be mentioned, that by the early 1980-ies Israel aircraft industry level increased considerably compared to 1950-s, when the industry started literary from nothing. That was due to high professionalism of people employed in aircraft construction (a lot of Israeli engineers used to work in European, American and Soviet aircraft construction industry), as well as due to the experience, accumulated at constructing quite a successful for its time «Kfir» plane on the basis of French «Mirage»5 fighter. All the abovemen25
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tioned enabled the Israeli to start solving a more complicated problem that is the construction of a battle plane of completely unborrowed design, that would eliminate Israeli Air Force dependence on foreign aircraft supply. The new fighter, which was named «Lavi» («Lionet»), was designed for striking tasks (immediate aircraft support and battle field isolation), as well as for fighting air supremacy together with more powerful planes of F-15 type. It was to substitute for attack aircrafts Douglas А-4 Skyhawk and fighter-bombers IAI «Kfir» С.2/ С.7 in Israeli Air Defence. One-place single-engine «Lavi», constructed according to aerodynamic configuration «beskhvostka – tailless» with horizontal tail surfaces» (this configuration is often called «duck», though it’s not perfectly right, considering ailevators on the wing of «Lavi») with a triangle low-positioned wing and belly fixed air scoop a la F-16, had modern airframe design, 22% of which (by mass) accrued to structural components. I’d like to note, that as for the amount of composite materials used, «Lavi» was almost not inferior to the American F-22А plane of the 5th generation that appeared much later. The Israeli fighter was fitted with digital wire-guidance 4-channel system without duplicate mechanical wire, developed by the Israeli company МVT jointly with American Lear Astronics. For its time the system was a great technical achievement. The on-board RADAR system of «Lavi» consisted of 70% Israeli developed elements and was not inferior to the best foreign analogs. In particular, on-board multimode pulse-Doppler RADAR Elta EL/M-2035 with slot array was comparable by its characteristics to the newest American station АN/APG-68, designed F-16С fighter. It could trace air targets on «by-pass», field mapping and avoidance of ground obstructions. Target detection range of «light fighter» type was 55 km. The Israeli plane cockpit was equipped with three multifunctional indicators on electron-beam tube: one coloured and two monochromes, as well as with wide-angle windshield indicator. Especially for «Lavi» the first in the world helmet-mounted rear-sight indicator was also developed (further used on Israeli F-15 and F-16). Fighter weaponry was placed on 11 joints of external store and switched on both non-guided and guided defeat 26
weapon of ”air-to-surface”» and “air-to-air” type. The plane was equipped with single engine Pratt-and-Whithey PW1120 (with thrust 8440 kilogauss on experimental samples and 9200 kilogauss – on series aircrafts), providing maximum speed for «Lavi» that is М=1.85. The engine was created on the basis of the turbojet engine F100, being smaller and lighter. PW1120 series production was to be organized in Israel at American authorization. Empty plane mass was 7070 kg (somewhat less than F-16С), non-equipped takeoff weight – 9990 kg, maximum take-off weight – 19230 kg, and maximum combatant load mass on external suspension – 7260 kg (record number for aircrafts of the type). I.е. «Lavi» was designed as a light fighter-bomber, first of all oriented at striking tasks solution above the battle line and in tactical background. At that the plane had excellent maneuver characteristics (stable bank angular speed at altitude 4.5 km – 13.2 deg./s, unstable bank – 24.3 deg./s), provided by high specific parameters (thrust-to-weight ratio at normal takeoff mass 0.83, nominal wing pressure 336 kilogauss/m2) and perfect aerodynamics. All that, together with high performance on-board weaponry system, made the «Lionet» a dangerous rival for 2nd and 3rd generation fighters. At the same time rather low fuel effective output (0.37) limited
battle action radius of the plane that actually was suitable for the Israeli having the neighbouring Syria as a basic potential rival. The fighter detailed engineering was started in October 1982, and on December, 31, 1986 on Israeli aircraft construction company IAI flight-test base the first flight of «Lavi’s» prototype took place. The aircraft was piloted by a famous test pilot Menahim Shmul. The first Shmul’s flight was followed by others, after a year the second plane was ready, five more experimental aircrafts were being built, and also a series of 300 fighters was being prepared with supply start in 1990. However, on August, 30, 1987 Israel Cabinet voted 12 votes «for» and 11 «against» and closed the program. The reasoning mentioned trivial budget difficulties, but everybody understood that «Lavi» was merely sacrificed to the economical interests of the USA: American corporations, producing F-16 и F/А-18 fighters, felt in the «novice» potential threat to their interests in international weaponry market, and «Lavi» was to a great extent developed on American money sent to Israel as financial aid... Program shutdown actually put an end to Israeli pilot-controlled military aircraft engineering. But they were very well aware of high market price for technical solutions acquired during «Lavi» development. And if real planes sale appeared impossible because of political and financial pressure on the part of the USA, it was possible to try selling at least «paper», technical documents for the new fighter, thus recovering part of the finances spent on the plane development. Having considered all «pros» and «contras», Israel government made such an offer to China. As a result Tel-Aviv signed a secret (first of all – for the Americans) agreement about cooperation with CPR in the sphere of development of a new fighter for НОАК, on the basis of «Lavi» project. The Chinese party, greatly interested in newest western military aircraft construction technologies acquisition, and having no specifically warm relations with most orthodox Arabic regimes, was eager to extend defense technological cooperation with Israel. In September 1988 the concept of
A I R new aviation system was confirmed at the joint session of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, aviation ministry, and scientific technical committee of the ministry of defence of the People’s Republic of China. And in October of the same year the first batch of technical documentation received from the Israel party, was directed for deep examination to 601-st and 611-th research institutes (however, a number of sources indicate 601-st institute only). At this stage the program got official name «Project 8810» (or «Project 10»). The history of Chinese aircraft construction is a most secret theme. Many events and solutions of 20 years old can be discussed in supposition mode even today, based on far and away incomplete and rather contradictory information, coming, to a great extent, from Taiwan and Hong-Kong sources, often providing unchecked information. Nevertheless, even on the basis of this kind of information one can draw a conclusion that J-10 was from the very beginning considered not as a destroyer of air supremacy fighting (as it is introduced even today in a number of Chinese and foreign publications), but as a tactical striking plane, fighter-bomber, aimed at substitution for numerous Q-5 fighter-bombers produced at the beginning of 1960-s on the basis of Soviet 1st generation MiG-19 fighter. As Dimitry Regentov wrote in his article published in the magazine «World’s aeroshows» (publishing house «Intervestnik») No. 6/2002, and perhaps most completely (at least in Russian mass media) illustrating the process of program J-10 formation and establishment, «initially the new fighter project development was assigned to aircraft construction company in Sian (Shensi province). But as long as it got an order for heavy fighter-bomber FBC-1 «Feibao» development («Flying leopard»), in 1991 Shenyan aircraft construction company «Shanfei» (Lyaonin province) and the «Chanfei» aircraft construction company from the city of Chandu (Sychuan province) got the right to participate. But soon the project leaders, considering the fact that «Shanfei» was busy with J-8 plane park modernization, fully transfer J-10 project to «Chanfei» company, which includes one of the leading battle planes development centers — 601-st research institute. So, why the decision was taken for the benefit of the «Chanfei» company? The thing is that as far back as in 1980 by the decision of State Council, CDC and scientific technical committee of the ministry of defence of PRC research institute № 601 in the city of Chandy is defined as the general developer of J-7-III fighter project (Chinese version of the Soviet all-weather MiG-21МF). The staff was successful at performing the task that is why the Chandy Company was also chosen this time, as they had good working experience with relatively modern aero techniques. According to the CDC decision, the project also involved a number of other Chinese leading aircraft construction companies. 606-th research institute (aircraft engines), 607-th research institute (onboard RADAR development) and other branchwise centers were enlisted as well...»
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At the end of 1990 – beginning of 1991 they started building real metal model of the plane «8810» in Chandy. By that time 606th and 607th research institutes finished bench-top labourrent of power plant and on-board RADAR for the 8810th model. Perhaps, initially J-10 plane (as well as «Lavi») was to be equipped with the Pratt-and-Whitney PW1120 American engine. But after the events of 1989 on Tyananmyn square in Beijing, any defensetechnical aid from the USA and their NATO allies was out of the question and China had to apply for own, far less perfect engines. Even within the frames of J-9 program in CPR an engine with thrust of 12400 kilogauss was created, known as WS-6 (probably, at its manufacturing «unauthorized» construction
But in December of 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. Altogether Soviet aircraft industry started collapsing as well. The hope to bring project S-37 to a flight sample was vanishing, and the Eltsin Russia seemed to China a much less reliable defense and trade partner than the USSR. As a result, the Chinese again had to rely basically on own strength, as well as on «half-legal» foreign assistance (bought, it should be mentioned, for big money). Under the circumstances considerably «promoted» «Project 10» acquires priority again. At the end of 1993 aircraft construction plant in Chandy finished assembling flight-demonstrational sample of the new fighter. Its appearance was not much different from the original «Lavi». It was a one-placed plane with engine «V-13C»
elements of American F100 were used). However, later the program was shut down. In 1990, after 25 years break, Soviet-Chinese defense-technical cooperation was renewed. As a consequence, Chinese high-ranking military men (most of them started their career at the time of «great friendship» and were brought up in Soviet school spirit) were detailed enough acquainted with recent native designing in aero techniques, capable of rising interest of the Chinese party. In particular, they were shown a project of perspective S-37 attack-fighter. This one-placed singleengine plane, developed both to suit the requirements of domestic Air Force and for export, to greater extent, than «Lavi», met the requirements of the Chinese Air Force, developing in the Soviet tradition spirit. Multifunctional, perfectly equipped and protected, possessing high characteristics on low altitudes and high handling qualities, providing possibility of usage from airfield, S-37 made the greatest impression on Chinese Air Force authorities, literary penetrated by the ideology of the indeed extraordinary project. Under the circumstances, when the cooperation negotiations on S-37 program started with the USSR, fighterbomber on the «Lavi» basis was likely not to have seemed that promising to the Chinese. Agreement in principle was reached, according to which China was to receive the 1st batch of 180 Soviet planes. Later on, obviously, «Chinese» S-37 authorized construction was meant.
(WP-13C, 7000 kilogauss, Chinese accelerated version of the Soviet turbojet engine Р-11) and series catapult seat of Chinese manufacture, but with aircraft equipment and on-board RADAR designed in Israel. In the first part of 1994 aircraft-demonstrator completed the first successful test flight. After fortunate debut J-10 got a name «Tczyanbin» («The Winged Dragon»). However, in 1993 there appeared a threat to Chinese – Israeli defense – technical cooperation. Mass media revealed information about “Lavi’s” documents having been given to the Chinese that caused indignation of the USA. At the beginning of 1995 American Secretary of Defense William Perry «suggested» to Itshak Rabin, Israeli PrimeMinister that Tel-Aviv should stop participating in Chinese fighter development. The suggestion remained unanswered. But further cooperation still had to be ceased: already by the middle of 1995 a small note glimpsed in western mass media about Israel official assignment of “Lavi” aircraft documents to China. Having considered the results of cooperation, the parties seemed to have taken a satisfactory – both to Beijing and Tel-Aviv – decision to separate on having achieved an important intermediate goal – aircraft-demonstrator construction. Further Israel participation in the J-10 program was fraught with relationship aggravation with the USA, and China was likely to have felt powerful enough to victoriously accomplish 27
WA R P L A N E S the program without Israeli participation. Since then «Project 10» started its independent, purely Chinese, life. Probably to a great extent under the influence of deep investigation and critical consideration of S-37 project, they started in 601-st research institute redesigning the initial «Tczyanbin» project. Striving to make J-10 «even more striking» resulted in considerable enlargement of the Chinese aircraft (that enabled to increase fuel tanks capacitance and probably undertake additional measures for battle survivability system perfection), change in tail unit construction, reconfiguration of cock-pit that became more spacious. Airframe construction hardness had to be improved, wing surface – increased. This configuration made the fighter heavier that is why it became even more urgent point for the designers to invent a new, more powerful engine. The engine development for J-10 was performed by 606-th institute together with a number of adjacent structures since 1990. Turbojet engine was identified as WS-10 and was presumably accounted for the thrust about 10000-11000 kilogauss. There is evidence, that for «Tczyanbin» equipment alternative engine was also created, WP-15, but this engineering seems to have been further stopped. In the meantime, in the middle of 1996, test fighter, constructed according to the corrected project, performed its first test flight. It was assigned number «8810—01». Half a year later they finalized plane «8810-02» construction, which design was considerably changed. In particular, cock-pit was again reconfigured, air scoop design was changed, it got adjustable, and to reduce RADAR detection waveguide channel was altered to S-shape. But as well as the demonstrator-aircraft, the first test fighters seemed to have had the same «non-nominal» WP-13C engine, that enabled to develop subsonic speed only.
At the end of 1997 the first loss happened: during the test flight aircraft with board number «8810-02» suffered a crash. Flights were discontinued and the best Chinese specialists started investigating the causes of the accident. Integrated study of wreckage on flight test range of research institute 611 was performed, at that in western and Taiwan mass media appeared statements that the Chinese party turned for assistance to Russian specialists, with whom they jointly managed to puzzle-out the case. On March, 23, 1998 the third prototype of the plane performed its first test flight, «8810-03», that had modified tail unit as well as new, Chinese developed weaponry control system and catapult seat. In the spring of 1998 this fighter was after all equipped with «nominal» WS-10 engine, which made it possible for the first time to develop supersonic speed during horizontal flight in the middle of 1998 (applicable to J-10). Actually, this engineupgraded fighter «8810-03» was considered the first “true” J-10.
By the autumn of 1998, after two years of intensive tests, the first stage of program J-10 was finalized. The ceremony devoted to the event was visited by the first State person – General Secretary of China Communist Party Central Committee Tszyan Tszemin. Sparkling newly painted fighters from «8810-03» to «8810-06» were lined up on the ground, and the aircraft with board number «8810-04» performed a show flight demonstrating stunts. At the beginning of 2000 the second stage of «Tczyanbin» flight tests was over, and in May, 2002 information appeared about the first batch of four pre-series fighter-bombers – with index J-10А – disposal to НОАК Air Force. On March, 10, 2003 the aircraft was officially army-accepted. Six oneplaced fighter-bombers were directed to Air Force flight-test center, where tactical tests went on up to the beginning of 2004. On December, 26, 2003 two-placed exercisebattle J-10S aircraft got off first that was different from J-10A, besides new cock-pit with extended
A I R hood, longer fuselage that made it possible to preserve one-placed aircraft fuel tank capacity. The first series batch of J-10A aircraft was disposed to the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army of China in 2004-2006. And by the middle of 2008 Chinese Air Forces and Navy counted, according to the most optimistic estimation, approximately 100 – 140 J-10А fighter-bombers, and also two-placed exercise-battle J-10S aircrafts. All in all, from non-official sources, Chinese Air Force is supposed to be increased up to 300 aircraft of the type by the middle of next decade. Moreover, up to a hundred fighter-bombers will be army-accepted by Chinese Naval coast aviation. Some more dozens (or maybe hundreds) of the aircrafts can be exported. So, what is the new fighter that was so laboriously and persistently created by Chinese aircraft industry? It certainly should be mentioned that the plane can be absolutely free called a great achievement of CPR aircraft constructors, who managed to create almost new battle plane on the basis of a foreign prototype that is not inferior to the best world analogs. J-10 program embraced a number of most modern technologies, including quite perfect aerodynamics, airframe construction with wide application of composite materials, digital remote control system, and modern data-controlling cockpit field. Design and production of J-10A were held applying computer assisted CAD/CAM systems. Thus, if earlier Chinese battle planes were technically about a generation behind their foreign analogs, now after «Tczyanbin» series production started this gap was almost overcome. As it was mentioned above, J-10A is designed as fighter-bomber, meant to act jointly with J-11 (Su-27) battlefield fighter (Air supremacy fighter). I.е. here we can guess approximately the same «duet» that Americans formed in 1980-ies by aircrafts F-15 and F-16 and today they apply for F-22 and F-35. «Tczyanbin», having lateral static unsteadiness, constructed according to aerodynamic configuration delta with horizontal tail surfaces» with a triangle middle-positioned wing, having leading edge flap and ailevators, arrow-type, wingattached all-movable horizontal tail surface and single-fin vertical empennage, complemented by two belly small surface fins. Main landing gear with relatively narrow track gage is retracted into fuselage, into «pockets» on the sides of air scoop channel. Rectangular adjustable air scoop with movable upper air inlet wedges is placed under fuselage. There is a four-channel digital wire guidance system that is likely to be the developed version of the same system in IAI plane «Lavi». Airframe construction is basically made of aluminum alloys with wide application of carbon plastics. Though initially the measures of «Tczyanbin» RADAR detection reduction were of quite limited nature, they can be developed further (in particular – modern radio absorbing coverings and materials implementation, metal coating of cock-pit glass cover, etc), that will enable to decrease J-10 absolute cross-section from present 5 – 6 m2 to the
level of planes like «Rafael» or «Tayfun» (i.е. up to 1.5 – 2.0 m2 in SHF-range radio waves). The first five pre-series J-10 aircrafts were equipped with WS-10А engines(11200 kilogauss) of Chinese design, and all the following fighters were equipped with more powerful, light and efficient Russian turbofan АЛ-31FN (12500 kilogauss), that were modification of АЛ-31FN with low-position drive gearbox. Now China has purchased from Russia 180 engines of the kind. 100 of them were manufactured (or are manufactured) in Moscow, in the «Salyut» plant, and 80 – in the Ufa City. This number of engines gives a good image of the amount of the first J-10A aircrafts batch ordered by Chinese Air Force. In 2006 «Salyut» offered to China an upgraded version of turbojet engine, АL-31F-М1, with thrust 13500 kilogauss, increased life-cycle, digital control system of FADEC type, and also with multiangle УВТ system. It should be mentioned, that the engine upgrade designed for «Su-27» aircrafts, is already army-accepted by Russian Air Force. There is also a reserve (mobile) version of power plant for «Tczyanbin» – upgraded WS-10А engine with FADEC control system and thrust, increased by two tons (up to 13200 kilogauss), certified in China in 2006. Regardless of lower thrust, as well as bigger, than of АL-31FN, dry mass and size, these engines, being non-limited by RussianChinese contract, are likely to be applied for export fighter versions.
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Experimental planes «Type 10» seem to have been equipped with Israeli on-board RADAR EL/M-2035, designed for «Lavi» aircraft. There was information about the Chinese version of the RADAR – JL-9. There is information about JL-10A RADAR station on experimental and pre-series aircrafts (China manufactured as well). However the first series J-10A were most likely equipped with Russian stations «Zhemchug» (manufacturer – «Phasotrone-RRI») mass 180 kg, that were developed version of on-board RADAR station «Zhuk», partially made on western element base and having higher characteristics (several stations of the kind were supplied to China at the beginning of current decade). The following fighters batches are equipped, according to Chinese mass media, with on-board RADAR station «Type 1471» (KLJ-1), that are obviously Chinese version of «Zhemchug» having improved characteristics while «working» with ground targets. The station can detect target of «fighter» class in front hemi-sphere at range up to 80 km and provide for «air-to-air» missile homing at the distance up to 60 km. According to some statements, at the beginning it was intended tо equipped J-10 aircraft with the 23-mm high firing speed six barrels gun. But in current configuration it is equipped with the 23-mm conventional two barrels built in gun “Type 23-3” (the Chinese version of our GSH-23 gun). It is located on the left side of the fuselage, in front of the main landing gear wells.
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As it was already mentioned above, the first J-10 test samples had the same airframe, as the “Lavi” fighters. That is why aircraft dry weight (equipped with WS-6 type engine) probably was from 7100 to 7300 kg (let’s remind, that “Lavi” fighter dry weight is 7030 kg). Further on the aircraft was considerably increased in dimensions and therefore it become heavier. So, the airframe weight was also increased. According to the different sources it is now not less than 8000-9730 kg. In some sources, particularly in Jane’s All the Worlds Aircraft reference guide for the period from 2008 to 2009, the dry weight of the J-10A aircraft is mentioned as 8750 kg.
Probably this weight must be taken as the most realistic one. The fuel tanks capacity of the J-10A aircraft in comparison with the “Lavi” aircraft was increased nearly two times and reached the level of 4500 kg. As a result of this the ratio of the fuel weight to the dry weight of the aircraft became 0.51. And now it reaches the same ratio (It should be mentioned that it is quite high) as F-35A (0.55) and F-35C (0.61) fighters. That is why the flight range without external fuel tanks at high altitude, which is for J-10A equal to 1850 km (in accordance with Jane’s All the Worlds Aircraft reference guide 2008-2009) looks to be quite realistic or even marked down a little bit. According to the mass media the ferry distance of 3000 km for the J-10A with three external fuel tanks (two of them with the capacity of 1600 kg each and one with the capacity of 800 kg) also looks quite realistic (or marked down). Quite heavy and various assortment of combat load, it is equal to 4000-4500 kg (in some sources – up to 5500 kg), seemed to be an advantage of the J-10A as the aircraft primarily task is to attack ground targets. It is installed on the eleven external pods. Six of the pods are under the wings and five of them are under the fuselage. The external fuel tanks can be installed on the internal wings pods and on the central fuselage pods. Two front under fuselage piers are used for mounting various containers with optoelectronic and aiming-navigation equipment. However, “Tczyanbin” really being a multipurpose combat aircraft, also does not relinquish to any up to date European aircraft in fighter possibilities. It has maximum speed equal to Max M2.1-2.2 and service ceiling (17000-17500 m). These characteristics exceed the characteristics of the analogue European aircrafts of the fourth generation “4+”. J-10А possesses practically equal with the French fighter Dasso “Rafael” of the “4+” generation thrust-to-weight ratio and also nominal pressure on the wing (0.90 and 358 kgs/m2 in French fighter and 0.87 and 360 kgs/m2 in Chinese aircraft, respectively).
American fighter-bomber F-16C Block40 and J-10A are designed to accomplish nearly the same type of combat tasks. So it makes sense to compare the characteristics of both aircrafts. This most mass modification of the F-16 fighter-bomber, which came to service within the US Air force in 1990 and was equipped with the augmented double-blow turbojet engine F100-PW-220(10800 kgs), primarily was designed to attack ground targets. F-16C is equipped with the airborne radar AN/APG-68 (weight is 160 kg; antenna’s diameter is 0.38 m). It provides mapping mode, and also can detect air targets, such as “light fighter” at the range up to 45-50 km. Moreover, Block 40/42 is equipped with suspended containers with the aiming-navigation equipment LANTIRN and also it is equipped with the helmet-mounted acquisition system (analogue of Russian “Schel” system). The American aircraft is not as heavy as the Chinese one (F-16C dry weight is 8300 kg, normal take off weight is 12600 kg). Fuel weight in the internal fuel tanks of the F-16C is 3100 kg, maximum combat load is 5500 kg. Chinese aircraft maximum speed (corresponds to M=2.1-2.2) is rather higher than F-16C (which possesses M=2.00). The efficient flight range of J-10A without suspended fuel tanks is more than (1850-1900 km in comparison with 1600 km of the F-16C). Action radius at the minimum flight level with the normal combat load (for J-10 A is 460 km that is a little higher, than F-16C has (400 km). Takeoff thrust-to-weight ratio of both aircraft, while the takeoff weight is normal, is nearly the same (F-16C – 0.86 and J-10A – 0.87). Steady state theta displacement rate of the comparing aircraft is nearly the same: for “Lavi” it is 13.2 degrees per second, for J-10A it differs little, and for F-16C it is 12.8 degrees per second. At the same time the rate of momentary roll-out for “Tczyanbin”, designed as “bes’hvostka with PGO”, is considerably higher (nearly 23-24 degrees per second in comparison with the American aircraft – 17.3). For F-22A fighter it is 27-28, for “Rafael” and “Tayfun” it is 24.8, for SU-30MKI it is 22-23, and for F-15C it is 16-17 degrees per second. Later modifications of «Freedomfighter» – F-16C Вlock 50/52 and F-16C Block 50/52+, that were supplied to armament already in XXI, almost simultaneously with J-10A, are equipped with more powerful engines F100-PW229 or F110-GE-129 (13000-13200 kilogauss), probably providing for American fighters inconsiderable dynamic advantage to the Chinese aircraft. One more foreign analog (and potential rival) of J-10A is Japanese (American-Japanese, to be exact) multipurpose fighter Mitsubishi F-2, that was being created since 1987 to substitute for fighter-bombers Mitsubishi F-1. The prototype of the plane performed its first flight in October 1995, and the first series fighter was disposed to Japanese Self-defense Forces in 2000. By the middle of 2008 Japan had at disposal 76 F-2 out of 94 ordered. The cost of a series F-2, according to Japanese mass media, is $108 mln. As well as J-10A, F-2 is based on a foreign prototype – «never realized» American project
A I R «Agile Falcon», pro-actively developed by the company General Dynamics in 1980-1990-ies as a considerable upgrade of F-16С aircraft, possessing improved maneuver characteristics (in particular, unstable roll-out speed should be 21-22 degrees per second). However, opposite to «Agile Falcon», Japanese fighter is oriented at, first of all, not for air supremacy fighting and air defense, but on striking tasks solution (in particular – “airto-ship”). F-2 is somewhat enlarged (with «Agile Falcon» wing surface 34.84 m2) F-16 with hardened airframe, which is designed with wide application of modern composite materials. As a power plant American double-blow turbojet engine General Electric F110-GE-129 (13200 kilogauss) is applied, providing М=2. Dry aircraft mass is 9530 kg, fuel mass in inner tanks – 3600 kg, and maximum take-off mass – 22100 kg. Action radius at «antiairborne» tasks solution (with two “air-to-ship” missiles ASM-1/2, two guided missiles AIM-9 and ПТБ) is 840 km. As far as we can see, the Japanese equipped their aircraft with more powerful and heavier engine (dry mass АЛ-31Ф is 1530 kg, whereas F110-JE-129 – 1740 kg). At the same time inner tanks capacity in F-2 is much less than in “Tczyanbin”. As to relative fuel mass (0.51 without ПТБ) the Chinese plane is considerably superior to its Japanese rival (0.38), which provides for J-10A better range characteristics. The Japanese aircraft has a similar to “Tczyanbin” thrust-to-weight ratio (0.88 – 0.90), that seems to explain similar breakdown characteristics and ascensional rate of both planes. It should be specified that the Japanese aircraft is less known than the Chinese analog, though even 10 years ago F-2 construction program was rather broadly highlighted in Japanese mass media, herewith some editions even called the plane «the second «Zero» (meaning the famous Japanese fighter of the Second World War Mitsubishi А6М «Reisen», more famous under American «nickname» «Zero»). But as far as we can judge by the present, quite scanty press information, as well as by the decrease in the number of F-2 fighters ordered by Japanese Self-Defense Forces from 130 to 94 units (non-reasoned by any noticeable changes in Japan foreign-policy position since the beginning of the current decade), «the second «Zero» far and away not completely supported hopes of its designers, that conditioned rather moderate present «PR» of the aircraft. It should be mentioned that F-2 – is the first in the world series battle aircraft, equipped with on-board RADAR station with АФАР. But this is just the very case when «you must spoil before you spin». Japanese RADAR station having ultramodern structure and element base (as well as no less «modern» cost), even today after almost 8 years of aircraft system operation, doesn’t match design parameters: according to Japanese mass media, detection range of air targets for this onboard RADAR station is less than it was even of the archaic station AN/APQ-120 of F-4EJ aircraft «Phantom» II, equipped with dish aerial.
Considering all that, all in all, regardless of a bit more conservative «board», J-10A today seems to possess better combatant facilities than its Japanese analog. Of course, in its competition with the American fighter – as to air supremacy fighting – F-22A «Raptor», also equipped with on-board RADAR station with АFАR, the Chinese fighter-bomber has few chances to win both in close and distant missile combat (however, as well as most of other fighters of «4» and «4+» generations). That is why the described at the beginning of the article air combat, supposedly having taken place in 2007 above the Taiwan Strait between J-10A and F-22A, is likely to be related to the category of newspaper or Internet «fakes». But for the fighter-destroyer of the 5th generation F-35A the new Chinese aircraft can be quite a dangerous rival. And if to consider that number ratio F-35А and F-22А, according to the existing plans of the USA Air Force, must be approximately 9:1, than air combat between “Tczyanbin” and “Lightning” II can appear a usual thing in hypothetic Chinese-American conflict of 2010-2020. It’s out of the question that unfeatured F-35A equipped with on-board RADAR station AN/APG-81 with АESA and «built-in» in the integrated digital data-control system, will be considerably superior to the Chinese fighter in missile combat in nonvisual range, «playing» with it, almost “one-sided” (enough to mention that “Lightning” II can detect its rival, having ERS in heading flatten surface, equal to several meters, at the range of 160-170 km, and “Tczyanbin” can «see» F-35A with ERS =0.5 m2 at range of only 15-20 km. However in the close maneuver air combat lighter and more flexible J-10A will have all the advantages. But all the speculations are only true for unlikely «duel» combat between the two fighters. In real life it’s not single aircrafts that fight but aircraft groups. That is why in the conditions of large-scale armed conflict simpler, cheaper and wholesale “Tczyanbin” is likely to have additional «bonuses» in front of more expensive and more complicated «Lightning»II. It should be also pointed out that the most probable equipment of the Chinese aircraft with perspective on-board RADAR station with ESA or
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AESA, as well as undertaking additional measures to reduce J-10А RADAR detection must come by the second half of 2010-ies (i.е. when the mass army-acceptance of F-35 is to start) should equal the chances of both fighters in remote air combat as well. The striking armament of J-10A today mostly includes aerial bombs and non-recurrent bomb holders gauge 250 or 500 kg, as well as НАР. Thus, in one of the standard striking configurations the aircraft can carry up to eight free-falling bombs gauge kg 250 кг, two suspended tanks and two «air-to-air» missiles PL-8/9/13 of small range. However lately China develops up-tempo guided aviation ammunition, which is first of all to equip the newest multipurpose fighters J-10A. In 1998 tests of the first Chinese series GB LT-2 finished, which was created in LOEC
WA R P L A N E S J-10A FIGHTER AND ITS PROTOTYPE THE IAI”LAVI” AIRCRAFT CHARACTERISTICS Type of the aircraft
Wing span, m
Wing area, sq.m
Takeoff normal weight, kg
Takeoff, mаximum weight, kg
Маximum combat load, kg
Fuel capacity, kg: In the internal fuel tanks
In the external fuel tanks
Maximum ground-level М
Climbing capacity, м/s
Economic range without external fuel tanks, km
Ferry range, km
(Luoyang Electro-Optical Technology Development Center) based on the Russian CАB-500L. Presently this ammunition is produced in series. They equip, besides J-10A, new light bombers JH-7A (armyaccepted by CHINA Air Force), upgraded fighterbombers Q-5G, multipurpose fighters J-8-IIМ, and also light fighters JF-17 («Super-7»), supplied to Pakistan. Guided bomb has the standart deviation 3 – 5 m, semi-active optical homing duration 20 sec and capture range homing head system, equal to 4 km. GB-1 is army-accepted as well, manufactured by the state corporation Sichong Group and seemingly being a developed version of GB LT-2. It is equipped with optical semi-active homing head, providing КВО of about 3 m. Ammunition mass – 570 kg, besides J-10A it is also carried by light fighters JH-7А. LOEC Center in 2006 finished guided gliding aviation bomb tests that were indicated as LS-6. The ammunition is equipped with optical semi-active homing system. Its mass 540 kg, warhead mass is 440 kg, shell diameter is 377 mm, wing span – 2.46 m. LS-6 wing is made of carbon plastics. They inform that during the tests the bomb showed standart deviation 7.5 m. It should be mentioned that bombs LТ-2 and LS-6 were publicly demonstrated in 2008 within the weaponry of J-10A.
LOEC is as well developing high-precision aviation ammunition of the second generation, that have bigger tonnage, interference protection and application flexibility. If КАБ of the 1st generation LT-2 had only optical semi-active homing head, in the new ammunition, LT-3, it will be complemented with composite inertial-satellite guidance system. Aviation bomb, by its composition reminding of the American CАB GBU-31 JDAM, has a tail quickly-mounted unit with aerodynamic controls and control system module as well as plated aerodynamic surfaces, meant for gliding characteristics improvement. On GB LT-3 new optical coordinator is applied as well, substituting for wind direction indicator type coordinator, used on GB LT-2. The new ammunition is conceptually close to GB GBU-54 and «Upgraded Payvuvai» IV, also having combined (inertial-satellite + optical) guidance systems. CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation) creates a set of highprecision aviation weapon «Fay Teng», in particular – guided aviation bombs FT-1 and FT-3 with inertial-satellite guidance. Bomb FT-1 (500 kg) has crosswise wing small elongation and crosswise developed tail unit with controls, having electric drive. It can glide (depending on the alti-
tude of bomb-dropping) on range of 7-18 km and hits the target with the precision up to 30 m. FT-3 is small gauge ammunition (250 kg); the shell is fitted with folding wing module. On the tail module (inside which there is a unit of inertial-satellite guidance system) four aerodynamic small empennage tops are installed, behind which Х-shaped tail unit is fitted. Manufacturers state, that this type of aerodynamic configuration provides for better gliding stability, as well as contributes to application range increase (according to some sources it reaches 60 km). Heavier than FТ-3, GB FТ-2 mass 440 kg (conceptually similar to the American GB Boeing Long Shot) is equipped with new folding wing module with large elongation. They inform, that КВО of the ammunition is 20 m. CASC also created unique, having no analogs in the world, superlight (mass – 35 kg) GB FТ-5, aerodynamically similar to the American 500-kg aviation bomb Мк.83 mass 500 kg. Ammunition of the kind can be applied not only at pilot aircrafts (in particular J-10А), but also at small combat UAV, that are sure to be investigated in China as well. To fight over-water targets J-10А can be equipped with new light “air-to-ship” missile С-704, developed by CASIC (China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation). Guided missile is equipped with tele-homing head and is capable of effectively hitting boats and small ships in daytime, in plain weather conditions. Solid fuel “air-to-ship” missile with start mass of 300 kg has range of 35 km. It is produced according to regular aerodynamic scheme with trapezoidal crosswise wing and tail unit. The upgraded version of the missile – С-704KD – is equipped with infra-red all-day homing system. To fight small-sized moving targets in combat CASC creates «air-to-surface» missile AR-1. Guided missile, as to its dimensions similar to the American helicopter missile AGM-114 «Hellfire», has optical semi-active homing system. Optical axis of the laser corrector has angle with longitude missile axis, which facilitates surface targets capture. J-10A weaponry will be also supplied with antiradar missiles– Russian Х-31П or Chinese guided missile of the similar type. At the same time a disadvantage of the Chinese fighter consists in the absence of strategic-tactical cruise missiles in its ammunition, similar to the Russian Х-59М and Х-59М2, American JASSM or European «Storm Shadow» and KEPD-350. However, China will possibly purchase the weaponry for J-10A in Russia. For missile air combat of intermediate range the Chinese fighter can be equipped with «Шаньдян-10» (SD-10) missiles, that are the authorized version of the Russian missile of Р-77 type with combined (inertial + active RADAR) guiding system. Guided missile of the type must be basic weaponry of «air-to-air» type for Chinese multipurpose fighters Su-30МКК and Su-30МК2 (J-13), as well as upgraded Su-27СК (J-11). But the standard aircraft ammunition is Chinese missiles of intermediate range «Пили-11» («Удар молнии-11», PL-11) and «Pili-12»
A I R («Thunderbolt-12 (Удар молнии)», PL-12). The first one is a bit altered Italian missile Alenia «Aspid»1А. Its development started in 1992, and PL-11, equipped with semi-active mono-pulse radar homing head, has the starting mass 220 kg, maximum speed, correlating with М=4, and shooting range in front hemi-sphere up to 40 km. They informed about successful manufacturing of its upgraded version – PL-11A – with active radar homing head. PL-12 missile is the newest Chinese development among the weaponry of “air-to-air” type, performed jointly with Russian specialists. Its development started in 1999, and in that second half of current decade « Pili-12» was army-accepted by PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY OF CHINA. Missile with double-mode hard-fuel engine has starting mass of 220 kg (according to other data – 180 kg) and aerodynamic configuration similar to «Pili-11». It is equipped with composite guidance system similar to Р-77, and can use the so-called «plunging» trajectory, providing shooting range up to 80 km. they also informed that the missile was developed with air-burning engine, having maximum range increased up to 150 km. Besides, the fighter can carry intermediate range missiles with ТGS PL-13 or PL-13M, that are authorized versions of the Russian missiles of Р-73М type capable of hitting air targets at the range up to 20-30 km. Missiles, equipped with thrust vector control system, can fly with 40-times overload and developed the speed relative to М=2.5. Starting mass of PL-13 is 105 kg, and PL-13М – 115 kg. Nominal J-10A armament also includes small range thermal missiles PL-8, PL-9 and PL-9С (starting mass 115-123 kg), that are developed version of the Israeli guided missile «Piton»3 (Chinese-Israeli defense-technological cooperation heritage of 1980-1990-ies). Missile weapon can be used in different combinations, for example – four missiles PL-11/PL-12 and two PL-8/PL-9 or two
missiles PL-11/PL-12, two PL-8/PL-9 and three suspended fuel tanks. As we can see, as far as guided weaponry of “air-to-air” type is concerned the Chinese fighter is almost not inferior to the best foreign analogues. The updating of “Tczyanbin” is running on. Most probably the evolution of this advanced aircraft will be continued in the direction of further increasing of its air characteristics due to installing more powerful engine with UVTAL-31 FN-M1, and also due to decreasing of radar and thermal detection ability, adaptation of the up to date avionics and armaments. It was mentioned in mass media with citation of “the circles being closed to Chinese aircraft industry” that in 2006 airborne radar “Type 1473” was created in China for J-10A aircraft. This radar is able to detect J-11 (Su-27) at a range exceeding the range of detecting J-10 aircraft by airborne radar N001E, which is installed on “Sukhoi” aircraft. If you take into consideration that ERS of Su-27 several times larger than the same of J-10A, then you can supposed that the new Chinese radar is able to detect an air target “light fighter” type (ЭПР=3м2) at the range of 80-90 km, and the range of detecting a target like Su-27, will exceed 100km. Probably they are talking about the radar with ФАР of passive type, that is developed in China independently (but with Russian specialists as consultants) since 1990. The other way of possible J-10A upgrading is installation of Russian airborne radar on the aircraft. In prospect it is possible to equip “Tczyanbin” aircraft with Chinese or foreign made (first of all with Russian) radar with EASA. Although F-10aircraft is delivered now to Chinese Air force and Navy only, a number of other foreign countries have already taken interest in this fighter. It is quite natural that the first would-be customer, most probably, will become Pakistan, the main China partner on military-technical cooperation. In April 2006 it was told that the Pakistan
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government approved the plans of acquisition of 36 fighters J-10 type in export version (it is called FC-20, and it is going to by 100 more aircraft. Thereat according to Mass Media the prime cost of one fighter was appreciated as 41 million US dollars. Possibly, these fighter-bombers (in case contract for aircraft delivery will be made) will be equipped with Chinese double-flow turbojet afterburner WS-10A engines and west made airborne radars (the most possible version is GRIFO2000 radar with slot antenna). In October 2007 there was information about Iran’s intention to purchase 24 planes of “Tczyanbin” type. Though later the Iran party officially declined the fact of negotiations with the Chinese about J-10 purchase, it can still be presumed that something was done in this direction. Among other potential purchasers Thailand, Nigeria, Angola and Sudan were also mentioned… On the whole it can be stated, that on the international aircraft market “Tczyanbin” represents a new product of good quality, capable of competing with aircraft industry production of the USA and Europe. As to our country, I’d like to remind of the fact that F-10 is to a great extent the result of native aircraft industry (in any case, engine, as well as pert of avionics and armament there are Russian). And if the USA once ignored the prototype of “Tczyanbin” – the Israeli aircraft «Lavi» – for the benefit of own aircraft industry (indeed, what is small Israel in comparison with the large USA?), it would be very stupid of Russia to behave like that towards the Great eastern neighbour. “Tczyanbin” aircraft is already created, series manufactured and (whether anybody likes it or not) will inevitably join world aircraft market. Under these circumstances the position of our aircraft industry supporting J-10A program and participating in the aircraft production, looks like perfectly right. As smart managers say: «If you can’t prevent the booze-up, you should head it…».
WA R P L A N E S
ADA LCA LIGHT MULTIPURPOSE FIGHTER ndia, the second world’s most populous country and a nuclear power, has today one of the largest and rather modern air force of 740 aircraft with 23% of them belonging to 4th and 4th+ generations (Su-30MKI, MiG-29, and Mirage 2000), 47% are 3rd generation (Jaguar, MiG-23, and MiG-27), and 30% are 2nd generation MiG-21 fighters with half of them made of MiG-21bison deeply upgraded aircraft advanced to nearly 4th generation. One can assess the quality level of the Indian Air Force aircraft fleet knowing that in the middle of 2008 it totaled 53 Su-30MKI aircraft with a combat potential exceeding that of any foreign batch-produced fighter with the sole pos-
sible exception of F-22A. The high level of training performed by Indian pilots is recognized by those of the U.S. Air Force, who are not at all bad in the profession, but have been repeatedly “beaten” by Indians at international war games. All the fighters of the Indian Air Force, however, have been developed and often built abroad, in Russia, France, and the U.K. Despite the considerable success made by the Indian aircraft industry within the past decades, until recently the Indian were unable to learn a complete cycle of making a combat aircraft from look to batch production. India, though, has been making efforts in this direction for about 50 years now, ignoring financial predicaments
and occasional failures. The history tells us that this type of persistence is inevitably rewarded… The first “nearly homemade” Indian aircraft was the HF-24 Marut fighter-bomber (Spirit of the Tempest) designed under the supervision of Kurt Tank, who is an outstanding German designer, who made FW 190 and Ta-152 piston fighters, which were among the best in the world. Marut made its maiden flight in the March of 1961 and was initially designed for the top speed of Mach 2. The British license-built Rolls-Royce Orpheus Mk 703 turbojet the Indian aircraft makers had available was underpowered and a super sound speed could be reached only in dives. The Indian aircraft industry manufactured 147 Marut jets. The fighter-bombers were used during the India-Pakistan war in 1971. Some attempts were made to build an advanced and more speedy HF-73 fighter-bomber based on HF-24, but the sole prototype was lost during tests. One seriesbuilt Marut aircraft can be now observed in the polytechnic museum of the city of Bangalore. Among the Indian designs of the 1960-1980 was the Ajeet air superiority aircraft made in 1975 based on the Folland Gnat subsonic fighter. India also made Kiran jet trainers, and a number of piston trainers. In the late 1970s, the Indian Air Force Staff worked out AST 201technical requirements for development of a light fighter to replace MiG-21 and Ajeet. The primary task of the future aircraft was air defense, and the secondary – direct air support of land forces and (partial) insulation of combat zone. The aircraft was to be small, travel at a supersonic speed, have high maneuverability and advanced arms systems.
A I R The initial development program of the new jet under implementation in the “depth” of the Air Force was called Super Gnat, which in a way mainly positioned the future fighter as a successor to Gnat-Ajeet. The affordability and cost effectiveness were the widely used criteria for the program. Under the long-term Indian Air Force development plan adopted in 1981, the new Indian aircraft were to replace 11.4% of fighter squadrons by 1991 with the goal of 40% to be reached by 1994-1995. The Air Force determined its total demand of the aircraft at 250 jets. The preparatory work for creation of the aircraft that could be called a fourth generation combat jet was launched in 1980. A group of Indian Air Force and Industry experts drafted a report then saying that a such-like program was technically and economically feasible. At the same time the authors of the report thought that some parts of the new aircraft (some onboard equipment, systems, and construction materials, including onboard radar, flight-by-wire control system, and composite materials) would have to be purchased abroad. A bit later (likely in the middle of 1983) similar reports (with alike conclusions) made on the Indian government’s order were provided by four west-European aircraft builders: BAE, MBB, Dornier, and Dassault-Breguet. In the very year of 1983, the government made a fundamental decision to launch the program. The Indian new generation fighter was finally given the green light! In the May of 1985, the Aeronautical Development Authority (ADA) founded in 1984, as it seems specially to implement the fighter program, presented the government with a detailed report on the perspectives of the new aircraft based on previous research. A month later, the Air Force made customer technical specifications for the fighter and a group of HAL experts was teamed up in the ADA to perform the pre-draft preparation of the project called LCA (Light Combat Aircraft. Indian Defense Minister N. Rao told the parliament commenting on the event that the “completely Indian aircraft developed by Indian experts with minimal help provided by foreign firms…will not lag behind aircraft of other countries in the level of applied technical solutions.” According to the minister, the LCA was to be prepared for the maiden test-flight as soon as 1989. Expulsion of various designs of the new fighter started in the aerodynamic tunnel of the National Aeronautical Laboratory (NAL), as did research
for selecting specification requirements for the main aircraft systems. The initial development of the LCA multipurpose onboard radar project was jointly carried out by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) of the Indian Defense Ministry and HAL. The choice of a power plant for the LCA is of primary importance. At the early stages of the program prototype fighters were supposed to be fitted with foreign engines (the RB199 bypass turbofan engine with afterburner was mentioned among others), and the series-produced aircraft were to be powered by a future GTX Indian engine. In accordance with initial calculations, the new aircraft was to have tailless configuration, a delta wing with a front edge curve (both completely tailless configuration and tailless configuration with small-surface foreplane located close to the wing were considered), an aerodynamically unstable structure, and a digital flight-by-wire control system. Composite materials were supposed to be widely used in the airframe design. The specification demands were also gradually clarified. Under preliminary estimates, the LCA empty weight was to be around 6,000 kg, and the max takeoff weight was to total 10,500 kg. So the weight of the fighter was to be close to that of the main Indian combat aircraft of the time MiG-21. Media reports would repeatedly say that LCA was to have better performance than the F-16 U.S. fighter. The LCA production was supposed to be arranged in Bangalore. There was a reservation, however, that if the wing of the aircraft was to be made of coal-plastic, the console production could
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be relocated to one of western firms, possibly British Aerospace. As N.Rao put it, the cost of the project development was estimated at $500 million. The project works on LCA were lead by the ADA headed then by Dr. Kota Harinarayana, a renowned Indian aircraft builder. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) became the leading contractor to take charge of the main part of the program with its research and development department located in the Indian “city of science” Bangalore. The construction of the first prototype was to be launched in 1990 with the first aircraft to be ready a year later, in 1991. As it has been mentioned before, the LCA was intended to be an aircraft meeting rather strict speed and maneuverability requirements. It was to be very stable and steerable, reliable, easy and cheap to use, and also demand a relatively short take-off and landing strip. The latest aircraft technology was to be integrated in the fighter’s design: reduced static stability structure, composite materials of key design elements, digital multichannel flight-by-wire control system, integral “board” with microprocessors, “glass” cockpit, up-to-date onboard radar, automated breaking control system, etc. The French impact on the LCA look resulted in the aerodynamic structure of the aircraft. The tailless scheme, which was profoundly advanced by Dassault’s Mirage aircraft, was chosen. Though the use of foreplane would improve maneuverability, it would also result in a 0.76 m longer fuselage, as well as to greater weight and radar signature. On January 7, 1986, the Defense Research and Development Organization presented a detailed fighter construction plan to Prime-Minister R.Ghandi and the minister of defense. The plan laid the basis for the LCA program. It is noteworthy that the Indian government, traditionally avoiding putting all eggs in one basket where military and technical cooperation is concerned, simultaneously collaborated with the Soviet Union and western countries. The LCA program was explicitly “focused” on the West. Besides Dassault other foreign firms were engaged in the program, including Alenia providing assistance in manufacturing coalplastic panels for wing coating, Martin Marietta (control system), and BAE (consultancy for developing the aircraft automatic control system). 35
WA R P L A N E S
In the March of the very 1986, a U.S. Defense Department delegation came to India, which comprised 20 experts working in military R&D facilities specialized in aircraft and engine building and radio-electronic systems. Cooperation between India and the U.S. in the LCA program was discussed, including such issues as building the fuselage, development and construction of aviation electronics. Pentagon officially announced its intent to support India’s HAL in the LCA aircraft development. Looking ahead we will say that the fuselage finally remained to be Indian, but the Americans further received contracts for deliveries of engines, advanced alloys, and composite materials, as well as for development of the LCA digital flight-by-wire control system. The development of the system is worth focusing on. The Indian gave up the idea of making this crucial element of the aircraft themselves at early stages of the program. In 1988, Dassault offered its analogue flight-by-wire control
system. For a number of reasons the system din not satisfy the Indians and in 1993 the U.S. General Dynamics (currently Lockheed Martin), which had obtained a lot of experience in the field while creating and upgrading F-16, was chosen to create a four-channel digital flight-by-wire control system. The digital flight-by-wire control system final adjustments were carried out in the U.S. through modeling at a special NT-33 aircraft with additional checks performed at the F-16 fighter. The works were completed in 1996. In 1986, India concluded a contract with the U.S. General Electric for the delivery of F404-GEF2J3 engines to be used for LCA prototypes. It was supposed to be a temporary measure with further prototypes and series-produces aircraft to be fitted with Indian engines. It is common knowledge, though, that there is nothing as permanent as temporary measures… The LCA outline design started in 1987 and finished in 1988. The works were carried out with Dassault’s technical support (the support price was $10 million). The aircraft under construction was to closely meet the requirements of the local theatre of operations and fully integrate the national combat expertise, including that obtained during the India-Pakistan war in 1971. The analysis carried out by Indian experts showed that the new multipurpose fighter was to be close to MiП-21 (which proved perfectly effective in air fights with Pakistani F-86, F-104, and F-6) in its main features. It also was to have better maneuverability, farther range, increased variety
and number of weapons, as well as new avionics equally effective against air and ground targets. The LCA concept was close to the following aircraft: JAS 39 Gripen (Sweden), ChingKuo(Taiwan), and FC-1 (Super-7, China/Pakistan). The look of the new fighter was influenced not only by technical, but also political issues: India, which was gaining international importance, needed not only an aircraft, but also a kind of a symbol of national independence in the field of high technology. It is noteworthy that, though, the Indian fighter was designed for the Air Force, at the early stages of the program a deck-landing aircraft based on it was also considered: the Indian Navy bought a British-built Vikrant in 1961 (19,500 metric tons), which proved highly effective in the war of 1973. A more powerful Viraat (former Eagle) ship was bought in the U.K. in 1996. It had a deadweight of 28,700 metric tons and had Sea Harrier fighters. India had plans of further upgrade of aviation and aircraft fleet of deck-landing aircraft. On March 31, 1990, the new fighter project was officially approved. At the end of the year a LCA prototype construction was to be launched. Note that the maiden flight of the new Indian fighter was initially and optimistically planned for 1991, but later postponed until 1992. In 1990, the Indian Defense Ministry announced that the construction of the “demonstration” aircraft was delayed until 1993 citing technical reasons so that the wheeling-out was to take place in 1994 with the maiden flight to follow no sooner than 1995. All that meant that the beginning of series production of the Indian fourth generation fighter would start most optimistically in 1997 with the first batch-produced jets to enter service not in 1996 as it was planned, but in the XXI century. The Indian chief of staff said commenting these decisions that “the delay of the LCA fighter program can prompt the armed forces to consider fielding a new type of an “intermediate” fighter to replace MiG-21 and MiG-23”. As a possible replacement both General Dynamics F-16 and Saab JAS 39 Vigen supersonic aircraft and subsonic AMX (AERITALIA, AERMACCHI, EMBRAER) and BAE Hawk 200 were considered. The subsonic aircraft would result in considerably reduced costs while maintaining a high strike potential, but the Hawk 200 or AMX fighting potential was evidently not enough for winning air superiority formerly performed by MiG-21. Another possibility is that the combat field insulation task could be performed by additionally ordered MiG-27M fighter-bombers, whereas direct air support could be carried out by 80-90 AJT upgraded combat trainers purchased by the Air Force. Looking ahead, the Indian Air Force gave up the idea of subsonic attack planes rather soon due to low combat potential and survivability, the supersonic F-16 and JAS 39 jets are considered by the Indians as the LCA “gap fillers” in the frames of the MMRCA program in 2009, 20 years after the described events. It is really true that unlike Europeans, who are always in a hurry, the sons of the most ancient Indian civilization don’t take two
A I R or three decades for a long period of time even in the dynamic field of military aircraft building. In the late 1980s – early 1990s, the further LCA strategy implementation was considered for changes. For instance, a simplified version of the fighter deprived of some earlier planned technical solutions was offered to be built as soon as possible with minimum costs. And no sooner than at the second stage of the program, when a simplified version was launched into series production, extended work on a “full-fledged” LCA was supposed to start. Besides, a number of squadrons initially planned to be fitted with LCA aircraft were then to receive advanced MiG-21. Looking ahead, it is noteworthy that we can see today this scenario implemented: 125 MiG-21UPG entered service of the Indian Air Force partly filling the LCA “gap”, the LCA Мk.1, which “do not entirely meet the requirements of the Air Force” are being batch-produced and the work on “full-fledged” LCA Mk.2 completely satisfying the customer demands have started. Another LCA’s alternative to appear in 1991 is also worth mentioning. A project of a new S-37 fighter combining high striking potential and good “fighting” capabilities was offered during the U.S.S.R. Air Force commander-in-chief E. SHaposhnikov visit to India. After the collapse of the Soviet Union followed by the fall of the Soviet aircraft building, though, the offer quickly became irrelevant. In 1993, the Indian government finally sanctioned the construction of a flight-demonstration (experimental) LCA item. In the May of 1995, the fuselage was launched into production, and in December that year the coal-plastic wing followed. The ceremonial wheeling-out of the LCA TD1 (technological demonstrator, first) took place on November 17, 1996 lagging nine months behind the schedule. But the customizing of the jet proved to be longer than expected and no sooner than April 1997, test-pilot Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian spaceman, who visited the Mir Soviet Orbital Station, started the ground tests of the jet. On January 4, 2001 the LCA fighter made its maiden flight and was later named Tejas (Radiance). On August 1, 2003 the jet exceeded
the sound speed for the first time. On August 14, 1998, the second TD2 prototype was wheeled out from an assembling workshop. Just like TD1, it also had the F404-GE-F2J3 U.S. engine. Its flight tests started no sooner than 2002. The TD1 and TD2 were first publically demonstrated at the international air show Air India 2003, which took place at the Yelahanka Airbase near Bangalore on September 5-9, 2003 (the author of the text was also present at this even historic for the Indian aviation). The LCA flight let the Indians feel justified pride. Many of the Bangalore citizens to visit the show were engaged in the aircraft industry so the flight of the new fighters made them also proud of their work. From the “aerobatic” point of view, the LCA flight resembled that of a MiG-21. The Indian aircraft showed a rather good rate of climb. The Indian printed media said later that the LCA TD “has a rate of climb exceeding that of MiG-29,” which has the initial rate of climb of 300-330 mps depending on the variant. But these claims are likely to be invented by the authors. Along with the creation of the aircraft itself, an unhurried but purposeful work on the development of the LCA onboard radar was under way. In 1991, the design of the onboard radar for the aircraft was launched. Under initial plans, the fighter was to be fitted with an Indian version of the Swedish Ericsson/GEC-Marсoni PS-05/A, pulse-doppler multipurpose onboard radar developed for JAS 39
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Vigen based on the Blue Vision radar of the BAE Sea-Harrier. But then some problems of adjusting the Swedish radar to the Indian “board” emerged and in 1997 a decision was made that the LCA radar with features close to those of PS-05/A be made by HAL’s radio electronics department on its own, which did not exclude possible technical support provided by foreign partners. Two test-bed aircraft based on HS478М were fitted to flight-test the onboard radar. Two matrix color displays were used to show flight and tactical information at the test aircraft. They were MFD-55 crystal based and made by the French firm Sextant Avionics. The resolution of the displays was good enough to show a great number of special signs and symbols necessary during the flight. It is woth mentioning that similar displays of the firm were installed at the Mirage-2000-5 and Rafal French aircraft, as well as at the Franco-German Tiger helicopter. Foreign composite materials were used to build the LCA TD and PV aircraft to make 30-34% of the airframe, which resulted in reduced weight and bearable g-loads of between +8 and -3. A ten-year program was initiated to have these materials produced by national chemical companies and until it ended the materials were imported. According to the Indian media reports, the R&D works on the LCA program and construction of TD1 and TD2 pilot aircraft cost India 21,880
WA R P L A N E S million rupees ($730 million at 1992 financial yea’s exchange rate). The overall costs of the development of the new fighter, including the engine development expenditures and excluding series production were estimated at 50,000 million rupees ($1.4 billion). The opinion of the U.S. experts about the LCA aircraft is also of some interest. Having studied the features of the aircraft, they said it was “the next generation of F-5 type aircraft.” They mentioned that the design features of the fighter were high enough with the small size and relatively low cost, which would provide a good demand for it on the world market. The Americans said, though, that “the fighter has a relatively small specified life, which will make it operational within 14 years, whereas the advanced western fighters had the same feature was much better.” The ADA chiefs said to clarify the point that the LCA operating life was calculated based on heavy climate conditions and if the aircraft is used in countries with a milder climate, the specified life could be extended. Due to the fast tempo of mastering the latest technology in aircraft building showed by the Indians, the LCA design specifications looked impressive. So, while at the initial stage of the program the design empty weigh was estimated at 6,000 kg, then due to optimism in wide coal-
plastic use the Indians decreased the weight to the record low for a fighter of the class – to 5,500 kg, which seamed rather possible. The composite materials were supposed to be used in the wing, empennage and control surface design. The percent of the composite materials used in the LCA roughly twice exceeded that of the U.S. F-22A Raptor fifth generation fighter and its Soviet analogue MiG-MFI jet. For a comparison, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen with a structure close to that of the LCA and a similar engine (Svenska Flygmotor RM12 based on the same F404) and a radar was 6,620 kg, that is 1,120 kg more. At the same time, the internal fuel tanks of the Indian aircraft, according to advertizing brochures, was to accommodate 2,400 kg of fuel compared to 2,270 kg of the Saab aircraft. The LCA fuel efficiency was 0.44 compared to 0.34 of the Jas 39. The LCA predecessor in the Indian Air Force, MiG-21bis (empty weight – 5,350 kg), was fitted with the R-25-300 augmented turbojet engine with the thrust of 7,100 kgf and had only 1,790 kg of fuel in internal tanks (fuel efficiency also 0.34). It is little surprise that the LCA practical range of 2,000 km was to be close to that of heavier fourth generation foreign fighters (F-15 and F-16) and be much better than that of not only MiG-21bis (1,250 km), but also of Gripen (1,700-1,800) km.
ESTIMATED PERFORMANCE OF SERIES-BUILT TEJAS Wingspan
Length with pressure head bar
Internal tanks capacity
Takeoff weight Air superiority derivative
Max combat load
Max Mach number
Max exploitation g-number
The LCA thrust-to-weight ratio with the F404 with a normal takeoff weight was to be 0.91 compared to 0.81 of JAS 39 and 0.87 of MiG21bis, which would in theory give the Indian aircraft acceleration and maneuverability features exceeding foreign aircraft of the same class. The LCA design speed and height features were slightly worse than those of MiG-21 (Mach 2.0, 17,000-19,000 m compared to Mach 1.7 – 1.8, 16,000 m), but were good enough for effective fight with up-to-date foreign tactical aircraft. In general, the Indian Air Force was to receive an aircraft comparable with the best similar foreign jets and exceeding some of their features. The construction of the first two prototype vehicles PV1 and PV2 was launched in 1998. The traditional natural model of the fighter was replaced by a virtual model, which was a 3D data base of detailed information on the configuration and design of the aircraft (a similar approach was first used in the U.S. for the development of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit low observable strategic bomber, and was later used for F-22, F-35, and T-50 fighter programs. PV1 took off on November 25, 2005, and the PV2 followed on December 1, 2005. Exactly a year later, on December 1, 2006, flight tests of the PV3 started. The fourth pre-series aircraft PV4 initially built as s prototype of the LCA-Navy carrier fighter was further delivered as the second series jet LSP2. Then an prototype of the PV5 two-seat combat trainer was launched, as well as navy prototypes NP-1 and NP-2, which have not started flight tests as of today. It should be mentioned that the takeoff weight of empty demonstrator aircraft LCA TD was far from the announced record low figure for the series aircraft and totaled according to the Indian media 6,800 kg. The pre-series LCA PV1 had more carbon-plastic and the weight reduced to 6,300 kg. The LCA PV2 had the design composite material figure of 43%. But this fighter was also fitted with some organic electronic equipment, armament, as well as some onboard systems, which were not installed on previous versions. It was likely to increase the weight again. The exceeding weight became one of the crucial problems for the Tejas makers… On April 12, 2007, the first series Tejas Mk.1 fighter LSP1 made its maiden test flight. On June 16, 2008 it was followed by LSP2 (former PV4). Another six series aircraft (LSР-3 – LSР-8) were supposed to be tested until the end of 2008, but when the article was being written the information on LSР-3 – LSР-8 flights was not available. Unlike the fighters of other developing nations, which are powered by engines made in Russia, the U.S., France, or the U.K., a decision was made to develop a specific engine for the Indian fighter, which would compete with fourth generation bypass turbofan engines with afterburner. The development of the engine called Kavery with the design static thrust in the full afterburning mode was 8,500-9,000 kgf (a bigger figure was also announced – up to 9,200 kgf), was entrusted to the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE)
A I R in Bangalore. The French firm SNECMA decided to provide technical assistance to the Indian experts. The bench test of the Kavery bypass turbofan engine with afterburner started in 1996. The engine was supposed to power five PV1 – PV5pre-series aircraft. But the works on the engine development started to delay. As a result, another 17 F404-JEF2J3 General Electric engines (7,300 kgf) were bought in the U.S. to power demonstration and pre-series jets. All the aircraft are now receiving new and more powerful F404-GE-IN20 General Electric bypass turbofan engines with afterburner (8,200 kgf) developed on the Indian order with design elements of the Swedish RB12 F404-400 bypass turbofan engine with afterburner and with a digital control system of the F414. Despite delayed works, the Indian Air Force seemed to be optimistic about the perspectives of the “national” engine in the first half of the current decade. According to announcements made by Indian government in 2005, the LCA series aircraft were to start receiving Kavery engines in 2009. In early 2005, an engine of the type developed 96% of the maximum design thrust during tests. Flight tests of the bypass turbofan engine with afterburner installed at an LCA were planned to begin in December 2006 and January 2007. The problems to occur during the final engine adjustments seem to have not been solved. As a result, in February 2006 ADA concluded an agreement with the French firm Snecma for support with works on the engine so as to make it flight-capable in 2009-2010. The goal was not achieved either and despite the official continuation of the Kavery program, the idea of installing the engine at Tejas aircraft, at least in the mid-term planning, seems to have been finally refused. In the 1990s, the Indian Air Force were going to buy at least 200 LCA fighters and 20 two-seat combat trainers (while optimist would announce 300 or 500 jets) with the initial combat readiness to be reached in 2003 with the full combat readiness to follow in 2005. One LCA of the 220 item series was expected to cost the humble $21 million. The sum later escalated to $22.6 million, which is also very little compared to other 4+ generation aircraft.
According to unofficial data, though, an aircraft of the 220 item series would cost $35 million, which seem much more true to life. The Tejas planes were planned to start entering the Indian Air Force inventory in 2008 replacing MiG-21FL, and MiG-21ML. It is noteworthy, that the Indian Air Force currently has 19 air squadrons of MiG-21 aircraft produced on a Soviet license. A total of 125 MiG-21bis were upgraded to MiG21UPG(bison) and the rest, which are both morally and physically outdated, are to be replace in the near future. In 2005, the Indian Air Force concluded a 20 billion rupees (over $445 million) contract with the HAL for the delivery of the first 20 series Tejas aircraft Mark 1 with F404-GE-IN20 General Electric bypass turbofan engines with afterburner, including 16 single-seat fighters and four twoseat combat trainers. The agreement also had an option for the purchase of another 20 aircraft. HAL ordered a total of 24 F404-GE-IN20 engines costing over $100 million at General Electric in early February 2007.
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Let us focus on technical features and design specifications of the Tejas Mk.1 first Indian series supersonic aircraft. The light single-engine multipurpose fighter has the tailless aerodynamic structure with a high delta wing variable-swept on the fore edge, singlefin tail unit and one bypass turbofan engine with afterburner installed at the fuselage rear. The static stability of the aircraft is reduced. The Tejas features, the designers claim, are to be as follows: – high maneuverability; – multifunctionality; – all-weather day and night capability; – compatibility of cockpit instrumental equipment with night vision goggles; – low radar echo, which is one third of that of similar size fighters (that is about 2 m2). The aerodynamic structure of the aircraft is claimed to provide minimal wind resistance, little specific wing load, high rate of turn for bank, yaw and pitch, as well as good takeoff and landing features. About 43% of the series-produced LCA airframe is made of composite materials. The fighter skin is 90% composite materials. The use of large coal-plastic panels provided a much lighter design, as well as a reduced use of fasteners with 5,000 of rivets necessary compared to 10,000 of a similar size fighter with an all-metal riveted design. The use of composite materials saved the necessity of drilling 2,000 holes in the airframe inevitable for a usual all-metal design. The wing is made of composite materials (longerons, wing ribs and skin), fuselage skin and air inlets, as well as the elevons, keel, rudder, and air-brakes and undercarriage flaps. The coal-plastic skin is 2.4-2.7 mm deep. The airframe design largely incorporates aluminum– lithium and titanium alloys. As a result of implementation of some new constructional materials (first of all composite materials) and the latest technologies the duration of manufacturing period of one LCA aircraft had to be reduced from 11 to 7 months. 39
WA R P L A N E S The fighter’s wing has reduced sweep in the root which is made in order to provide the pilot with forward and downward lookout as it is stated. A three-piece wing-slat is situated on the wing leading edge and the wing trailing edge is occupied with two-piece elevons. As it was mentioned previously the wing construction is almost entirely made of composition materials. Most of the longerons and stringers, upper and lower one-piece skin panels which are fastened with screws to the longerons are made of these materials as well. The slit vortex generators are mounted in the wing and fuselage matching joint. The aircraft’s fuselage is semimonocoque type. Two speed brakes are situated in its tail-end on both sides of the vertical stabilizer and made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. Two fixed hemispheric section air intakes are placed on the sides of the fuselage. Though dimensions of «Ajita» are brought to a minimum that together with the use of composite materials provides it with small optical and radartracking signature. In the aircraft design a number of additional measures on decrease of radar crosssection are implemented. Such measures are: – Giving to channels of the air intake of the bent Y-shaped form, aimed to shield compressor blades from direct radar tracking; – Rather wide application of radio absorbing materials and coverings; – Use of passive sensors and tracking devices.
TD1 and TD2 test fighters are equipped with the General Electrics F404-GE-F2J3 (1х7300 kg(f) augmented dual-flow turbojet. Serial planes were supposed to be equipped with the Indian GTRE GTX-35VS “Kavery” engines (1х8500 – 8800 kg(f) with the Douti/Smith KADECU digital control system, however this engine never passed through the test stage. As a result the MK1 fighters have been equipped with the US F404-GE-IN20 augmented dual-flow turbojets (8200 kg(f) and were updated specially for the requirements of the Air Forces of India (tropical edition). The internal tanks of the aircraft volume is 3,000 liters. Five external fuel tanks with the volume of 800 or 1200 liters can be placed under a wing and the fuselage. In the long term the underfuselage fuel tank was planed to be replaced with a conforming external fuel tank of the same volume which provides considerably smaller aerodynamic resistance and smaller radar cross-section. On the right side of the fuselage at cockpit windscreen a fixed inverted-L type aerial refueling receiver is mounted. The plane having reduced static stability is equipped with the Martin Marietta four-channel digital electronic remote control system with the higher level of protection against external electromagnetic influences. There are no duplicating analogue or mechanical systems onboard. The basis of the onboard radio-electronic equipment complex makes a duplicated computer (32 bit, ADA programming language), integrated
PART OF CONSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS (BY WEIGHT) IN LCA AIRCRAFT Technical demonstrator (ТD)
Pre-production vehicle (PV)
Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic
with other elements radio-electronic equipment and weapons via three digital data buses which correspond to MIL-STD-1553B standard. In fuselage nose section the X-range MMR (Multi Mode Radar) multipurpose coherent pulsedoppler radar station is placed. It was designed on the basis of the Ericsson PS-05/А radar station. The station is capable to track up to 10 air targets, allocate two most priority targets among them and ensure launch of two “air-to-air” active radar homing missiles for one of the targets. In the “air-to-earth” mode the radar carries out district mapping, provides detection of small targets, their engagement with onboard weapons, flight in the terrain avoiding land obstacles fly-by mode. The slit antenna has small weight – less than 5 kg. The development of the station was carried out by the HAL company together withERDE (Electronics Radar Development Establishment). Besides onboard radar (the basic onboard information mean) the aircraft can be equipped with external multichannel (thermal, television, laser) Lightning container tested onboard one of LCA aircrafts in 2007. The aircraft has modern information and control board of pilot’s cockpit corresponding to the requirements to aviation complexes of «4 +» generation. The basis of this complex are two liquid crystal multipurpose full-color display (the size of the screen is 125х125 mm) with a pushbutton frame as well as the wide-angle indicator on the windscreen with holographic optics. In the twin-seater variant of LCA there are four displays (125х125 mm) as well as two multipurpose control panels which have liquid crystal displays. For conducting near air fight the aircraft is equipped witha helmet-mounted visor manufactured in Ukraine. The works on integration of the Israeli helmet-mounted sight-indicator with avionics were conducted. The controls of “Tejes” are made by HOTAS principle that allows to pilot a fighter without releasing control levers. Radio-electronic warfare and communication means are integrated with other elements of avionics into the joint «Mayavi» (“Fokusnik”) onboard complex. There are both built-in electronic warfare equipment (station of detection of a radar and laser irradiation, containers with shoot off heat flares and chaffs) and external containers with active jamming equipment. The remarkable feature of the aircraft weapon system is presence of both Russian and the western aviation weaponsin its structure. The Lightning container with thermal and television (with high definition) positioning and targeting equipment as well as laser range gauge and target designator (that provides possibility of application of guided aviation bombs (KAB) and other precision weapon without any external means of illumination) is supposed to be mounted on the special (eights) under fuselage suspension joint. The plane is equipped with a built-in GSH-23L gun (23 mm) with the allowance of am munitionof 220 rounds, placed under the fuselage (it is similar to MiG-21bis fighter). On the seven external joints of a suspension (six under wings and one under
A I R fuselage) according to the initial projectvarious weapons with the total weight of 400 kg including short and medium range “air-to-air” missiles (of Russian, French and American manufacture) could be mounted. The Russian R-77 guided missile (till 2010 India should receive 1600 missiles of the kind from Russia) and Indian DRDO ASTRA missile which will go through flight tets in 2011 are themedium range missiles with the active radar homing system. The ASTRA guided missile of the 1st stage should have the maximum range of fire equal to 45 km. And more sophisticated missile of the 2nd stage should engage the targets on counter courses at a distance of up to 80 km. Short range missiles with TGS are represented at “Tejas” with the Russian R-73 and French Matra “Majic”. The “air-to-surface” weapon includes Russian Х-59МЭ, Х-59МК, Х-35 and Х-31. The craft should carry guided aviation bombs (up to KAB-1500), unguided air-to-surface missiles, freefalling bombs and bombing cartridges of various types. However at “Tejas” Mk.1 the weight and the weapons designation on external joints of suspension may probably be essentially reduced. By the middle of 2008 two LCA demonstration aircrafts three test aircrafts and two planes of Mark 1 first series had been constructed and transferred to flight tests (six more are under construction). Their total time in the air exceeded 1000 hours in December, 2008 . The first serial fighter according to the Minister of Defence of India should be transferred to the Air Forces in 2011, and the first squadron of 20 LCA combat aircrafts is expected to reach initial battle readiness in 2012. It seemed after many years of delays that LCA at last came to the “home straight” and the Indian Air Forces have received the “national” fighter. However as it turned out the optimism was premature: in the autumn of 2008 referring to the national Ministry of Defense it was declared, that the serial craft possesses «superfluous weight». The exact figure of the overweight was not pronounced, however it is possible to assume, that it appeared to be rather essential. As a result the “Tejas” Mk.1 aircrafts as it turns out, possess underestimated (in comparison with the estimated) flight characteristics and do not correspond even to «minimal requirements of the customer for combat load». It was reported, that the weight of empty “Tejas” MK.1 aircraft exceeds the estimated one by 1500 kg, i.e. makes not less than 7000 kg (and probably more). It is necessary to say, that the growth of the craft’s weight during its designing is quite usual. For example Mig-29 became 1.13 times heavier during the period between the initial project and the first serial fighter (from 9,670 to 10,900 kg) that however didn’t make any remarkable consequences for the program. Probably the weight of the US F-35 grew even more significantly but also did not result in any troubles for the designers. However the increase of this major characteristic by 1.27-1.30 times nevertheless forced the Air Forces of India reject further purchases of this “overweight” fighter. Excessive weight of the LCA can be possibly explained
with too optimistic belief of the developers in the composition materials design of the glider and overestimation of their ability to work with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. Probably, the acquiring of extra weight appeared during the design of a number of systems also took place. Thus, serial «Tejas» weighs much more than its Swedish analogue «Gripen». It has inevitably caused correction of other characteristics of the fighter. So, thrust/weight ratio of the fighter (0.75-0.78 at normal take-off weight) became a little bit less than at MiG-21bison. Maneuverability, acceleration characteristics and climbing capacity also decreased. Combat load of 4000 kg became unattainable for «Tejas» Mk.1. Now it may reach 1500-2000 kg as its best (not exceeding the corresponding parameter of Mig-21). Most likely, these aircrafts became comparable in the criterion of «range – combat load». In various sources it was specified, that the maximum speed of LCA should be М=1.6-1.8. However during tests, judging by the media reports, the value of M did not exceed 1.4. Probably this value is also maximum for serial «Tejas». As a result of all these disappointments in the end of 2008 the MoD of India took a serious decisionfor itself to refuse further purchases of the «Tejas» Мк.1 fighters, having limited the number of serial fighters with 20 units (i.e. one squadron). It has endangered the further continuation of the whole program. It is possible to assume with a
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high level of probability, that after similar delays and technical failures any European, US or Russian program in the field of military aircraftwould be stopped (enough to remember a sad destiny of US programs of F-111B, А-12 (АТА), RAH-66 «Comanche» or our program called MFI). However for India the «Tejas» aircraft is nevertheless more than just an aircraft. «Shining» is a symbol of appropriation of entire independencein such major for national defense area as military aircraft engineering by the state. For such country as India which has ancient cultural traditions, huge human potential and thus some centuries were under a colonial heel, it has not only defensive, but also huge political value. Therefore it is possible to expect, that program the LCA program nevertheless will be continued and led to victorious end. Though it was decided to abstain from further serial orders of the “Tejas” Mk.1 aircrafts, the Indian Air Forces and the HAL company work on the sophisticated version of the craft called «Tejas» Мk.2. However the new contracts for the serial production with the ADA agency will be signed only after it is obvious, that this craft meets the minimal requirements of the country Air Forces. It is supposed, that in “Tejas” Mk.2 design a number of the improvements directed on optimization of aerodynamic characteristics and weight of a glider will be implemented. Replacement of some elements of design, in particular – the chassis
WA R P L A N E S (that indirectly testifies to considerable increase of weight of «Tejas» Mk.2) is supposed also. However the most essential part of modernization will be installation of the new, more powerful engine chosen in the framework of the international competition. In December, 2008 the ADA agency planned to direct to the General Electric andEuropean consortium Eurojet Turbo an offer on participation in this tender. The F414 engine (10000 kg(f) applied in F/A18E/F) or EJ200 (9200 kg(f) installed in EF2000) are expected to allow providing performance of primary requirements of aircraft performance characteristics which were initially required for the LCA craft by the Indian Air Forces. The competition winner-company will delyver 99 engines. The agreement will include an option for additional delivery of 49 more augmented dual-flow turbojets as well, that, taking into account the reserve engines should provide manufacture of 125 «Tejas» Mk.2 fighters. After the winner in the tender of engine manufacturers is chosen the modernization of the LCA fuselage for the chosen engine will be performed. At the same time the “Tejas” Mk.2 twin-seater crafts will still be equipped with the F404-GE-IN20 engines (probably, using the option of 20 augmented dual-flow turbojets of this type). One more basic difference of «Tejas» Mk.2 from Mk.1 can be a new radar complex. By 2004 after many years of delays two MMR test radar stations were constructed. However in 2006 it became known that works on creation of this aircraft radar met serious problems which questioned terms of completion of the program. And the radar station itself corresponded to the requirements of the early 1990s could not be considered modern any more in second half of this decade. In 2007 the agreement providing rendering to the Indian party help in operational development of the station by an Israeli company Elta was signed. Searching for a new onboard radar station corresponding to the requirements of the present day was begun at the same time. Presently the possibility of equipping “Tejas” Mk.2 with Israeli radar station with automatic
phased array called ELTA EL/M-2052 is observed. The model of this station was shown at the international exhibition «Air India – 2005» in Bangalore. It is necessary to say, that very little is known about this station intended for equipping of F-16 class crafts (its weight makes «130 – 180 kg»). It has a small rectangular antenna. And the information presented in exhibition booklets, to put it mildly, raise certain doubts. In particular, the declared ability of EL/M-2052 to detect to 64 air targets simultaneously looks colored (in the US radars AN/APG-77 installed at F-22A this parameter makes, on various information, 20-28 targets). At the same time it is possible to assume that the characteristics of this station (which most probably is just going to be created) will be at the level of the latest European and American onboard radio stations with automatic phased array. In particular, the declared range of enemy’s light fighters detection for EL/M-2052 of148 km looks quite convincingly. In January, 2009 the ADA agency signed the contract with the European concern EADS, providing rendering to the Indian party help in updating «Tejas». Thus the main attention will be paid to struggle for weight decrease and measures for chassis strengthening as well. The program is calculated for 48 months. Thus the first «Tejas» Mk.2 in the serial configuration will take off not earlier than in 2014, i.e. practically simultaneously with the India-Russian fighter of the 5th generation. We remind that initially it was planned, that the LCA aircrafts first of all will replace the fighters of MiG-21 type and «Ajit». However «Ajit» “quitted the stage” in 1991 still before the prototype of «Tejas» took off for the first time. Later the MiG-23BN fighter-bombers (entered the service f the India AF after the failure with “Marut”) were added to the list of aircrafts submitted for replacement for LCA. However and these crafts left the service in 2007 not being replaced with a new Indian multipurpose fighter. The MiG-21Ml and MiG-23MF aircrafts also should be replaced since 2012 not with «Tejas» but with the multipurpose MMRCA fighter: 126 crafts of this type should enter the service (with transfer of the first vehicle
to the customer in 2012) following the results of the international competition in which generation “4 +” fightersparticipate such as MiG-35, F-16I, F/A-18E/F (F-18IN), «Rafael», EF2000 and JAS 39 «Gripen». Chronic prolongation of implementation terms of the LCA program made in the mid-nineties the Indian Air Forces begin search of alternative variants of modernization fighter park allowing to support necessary qualitative level before the “national” fighter enters service. In 1996 the Russian-Indian contract providing modernization of 125 MiG-21bis fightersto the level of MiG-21-93 has been signed. The modernized MiGs which got an Indian name MiG-21UPG (sometimes they are called MiG-21bison) started to arrive in the Indian Air Forces in 2002, and by 2008 the program had been practically finished. Modernization concerned basically the onboard radio electronic equipment and weapons of the aircraft. «Bison» has received new pulse-dopler radar «Kopiyo-21I» with slit antenna, practically not conceding to the MMR station created for LCA (target detection range with radar cross-section of 3 м2 is 57 km, simultaneous tracking of eight and engagement of two targets), modern weapons control system, allowing to use the guided “airto-air” and “air-to-surface” weapons, the inertial navigation system upgraded with the module of satellite navigation and also the complex of weapons practically identical with the corresponding complex of LCA. Thus the modernized aircraft completely kept the high flight characteristics of the MiG-21bis fighter whichnot concede to the characteristics of «Tejas». After 125 MiG-21UPG practically corresponded to the level of generation «4 +» became part of the Indian Air Forces the problem of the 2nd generation fighters replacementbecame much less sharp. It may have allowed the management of the Indian Air Forces to take easy the regular delay of the LCA program connected with the necessity of creation of a new modification of this fighter, deprived of the disadvantages of the 1st generation fighters. Most likely the modernized Swedish fighter «Gripen» NG which started flight tests in 2008 will become the nearest analogue of «Tejas» Mk.2. This aircraft equipped with a new onboard radar with automatic phased array has the extended fuselage with the volume of the fuel tanks increased by 40 % and the F414G engine (10,000 kg(f), allowing to fly with supersonic cruiser speed (up to М=1.2). The weight of the empty aircraft has increased by 400 kg (i.e. to 7000-7100 kg), the maximum takeoff weight has made 16,000 kg, and ferry range with full fuel tanks is 4070 km. Besides the basic single-seater variant of the «Tejas»fighter intended for the Air Forces, the working out of other modifications of this aircraft is conducted. In particular the training-combat twin-seater variant of the fighter was being created. There is a twin-seater training-combat prototype PV5 is under construction. This aircraft in general is similar to the single-seater. It carries similar to «Tejas» Мк.1 onboard equipment and weapons. The difference is in absence of a fuel
A I R tank for 410 l behind the cockpit instead of which the cockpit of the second pilot is created. Thus part of fuel is moved to the additional capacities located in other places of the glider. As a whole the twin-seater at insignificant reduction of range practically completely keeps the potential of the single-seater. Works on the deck-based variant of the fighter called LCA-Navy are going on. In due time together with the pre-series LCA crafts two prototypes of this plane – NP1 and NP2 were laid down. Their construction was essentially prolonged, and now it is reported, that NP1 can be presented not earlier than the end of 2009. It was reported, that the generality in avionics of the deck-based and land-based fighters makes 99 %. At the same time LCA-Navy should have insignificantly changed control system, reinforced chassis with the increased course of the shockabsorbers ensuring landing to the deck of the Aircraft carrier with a big vertical speed and take off from a launching-ramp. In the design of the glider of the deck-based fighter the corrosionresisted materials are used. One of the constructional features of LCANavy which distinguish it from other deck-based fighters is the fuselage nose section with radio transparent cowling of the onboard radar which descends at take off and landing (as it is at Tu-144 or Т-4) by 4 degrees. That improves the lookout of the pilot at actions on the aircraft carrier deck. In the root of a deck-based aircraft wing the additional rotary surfaces are supposed to be installed. All these changes have resulted in increase in weight of the glider in comparison with the weight of a coast-based fighter. Essential changes have also been made in the fuel system of LCA-Navy: new means of quick fuel draining for emergency landing to the deck soon after take off are provided. Take off of a deck-based fighter should be carried out by means of a launching-ramp habitual to the Indian ship pilots, without use of catapult. Landing to the deck will be carried out by means of three-barrier arrester and brake hook. The small size of the fighter allows to do it without the system of the wing folding complicating a design. This system is regular for the majority of other modern deck-based fighters with large dimensions. Any characteristics of LCA-Navy were not announced but it is known that the weight of this fighter is 800 kg more than the weight of «Ajita» Mk.1 (i.e. should make about 8,000 kg). The deck-based variant of the LCA fighter is planned to be used from the board of a perspective light aircraft carrierproject «Vicrant» (the second with such a name) laid down at the shipyard of Cochin Shipyard Limited in Cochin on October, 7th, 2005. Creation of this ship was conducted since the middle of 1990s in the framework of the ADA program(Air Defense Ship). Initially developed as a light aircraft carrier with the displacement of 25000 т, ADS (project 71) has gradually grown to the sizes approximately equal to the sizes of heavy aircraft carrier “Kiev”. The help in creation of the Indian aircraft carrier was rendered by a number of
foreign (including Russian) organizations, and the ship project was performed with the assistance of an Italian firm Fincantieri SpA. The ship with the displacement of 37,500 т, the length of 252 m and the width (by a flight deck) of 58 m is supposed to be equipped with four gas-turbine engine with total capacity of 108,000 h.p., providing speed of up to 28 knots. According to initial plans, the aircraft carrier should become operational in 2012, and in 2017 it was supposed to transfer the second practically the same ship to the Naval Forces. However later the plans were modified and the term of the «Vicrant»’s entering service was prolonged at least till 2015. It is supposed that the new Indian aircraft carrier will carry 12 fighters and 12 helicopters. It was originally planned, that those fighters will be LCANavy, however the mixed plane park consisting of LCA-Navy and MiG-29К (the first aircraft of this type have been transferred the Indian Naval Forces in 2008) was being discussed later. Taking into consideration the long terms of construction both in the LCA program and in the construction of the Indian aircraft carrier, it is possible to assumethat real appearance of LCA-Navy on deck the Indian ship can take place not earlier than in the end of next decade (if it in general will take place). Thus it is required to add changes in the design of the deck-based aircraft similar to the changes in the design of«Tejas». As a result the weight of the deck-based craft will grow even more, that will inevitably require more increase the wing area. The power-plant problem may also require resolving: even at transition to the F404 augmented dual-flow turbojet (10,000 kg(f) the thrust/weight ration of the deck-based aircraft can appear insufficient to take off with full combat load from a launching-ramp. Apparently, the Indian designers will encounter many difficulties in order to to deny the Americans convinced, that it is almost impossible to make a good deck-based aircraft of an land-based fighter...
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The Air Forces of India together with the industry considered also plans of further development of LCA which possibly can be partially implemented in the «Tejas» Мк.2 project. In particular, it was supposed to lower radar signature of the fighter essentially by applying some new, more effective radio absorbing coverings developed in India in the conditions of high secrecy since 1980s. The works on advanced, more powerful variant of the “Kavery” augmented dual-flow turbojet were conducted. At the expense of application of monocrystal blades developed by Metallurgical research laboratory of MoD of India, it was planned to increase gas temperature behind the turbine to 1850 degrees. According to the estimations the new engine would allow LCA to fly with supersonic cruiser speed. The works on a three-dimensional thrust vector control with a axe-simmetrical nozzle control system, and on a digital control system with the full responsibility intended for modernised augmented dual-flow turbojet as well. Application of thrust vector control, according to the Indian experts, allowed to create a variant of LCA without vertical plumage in the long term, that essentially reduced its radar signature. On the basis of the “Kavery” engine it was planned to develop an unboosted variant with the increased degree of limbation intended for the perspective training and combat aircraft. However today after an actual failure of the «Kavery» program these plans will hardly be implemented in the near future. In 1996 the financing of research works on creation of a larger multipurpose fighter MCA (Medium Combat Aircraft ) on the basis ofLCA were started. MCA had to replace the “Jaguar” and “Mirage 2000” aircrafts in 2010s. This aircraft was intended to complement the Su-30MKI heavy multipurpose fighters. However after the signing of the India-Russian agreement on jointwork on creation of a fighter of the 5th generation, theМСА program might have lost the urgency for India. 43
ARAB CAPITAL FOR AEROFLOT irst brand-new A330-200 entered Russian service in the last month of the past year. On December 10 Aeroflot – Russian airlines hold ceremony of meeting the aircraft arriving from Airbus plant in Toulouse where it was built. Many dignities and ordinary people gave their attendance. Among them there was minister for transportation Igor Levitin. But the minister did not spoke before audience. Why? Reasons were many. Here are just a few of them. The deal on ten A330s for Aeroflot was a part of a bigger one that involved the Russian government, United Aircraft Corporation, EADS, Airbus, Aeroflot and AerCAap – to name only big players. It was arranged in spring 2008. The Kremlin permitted purchase of new European widebody jets in return for its maker’s obligations to provide some work for the ailing domestic industry. That work was meant to be additional orders for manufacturing of parts for Airbus mainstream models such as A320 family of narrow body jets, A330, A380 widebodies and, in the future, for A350. The Russian industry was also promised a work share in the A350 project, which will spend in development a few years. Aeroflot insisted on replacement of A330s for A350s when the latter becomes available. Airbus accepted this, yet not through its own leasing arm, but via AerCap leasing company. The Russian flag carrier placed order for 10 A330s, with a rider of their replacement for A350s. Shortly after AerCAP agreed to serve launch customer for A320P2F converted freighters – the joint program of EADS, Airbus, UAC and Irkut. CEO Klaus Heinemann applied his signature at the
respective agreement at Farnborough Aerospace International 2008. It seemed that AerCap was very much involved in the cooperative programs between the European and Russian industries. Therefore, it came as a big surprise when the very first A330-200 for Aeroflot appeared to be… owned by quite another proprietor! When the side VP-BLX landed in Moscow – Sheremetievo,
Aeroflot distributed press-releases which stated that the deal for this particular airplane was signed in March 2008 (in other words, a year after the bigger deal), with Wahaflot Leasing 1 Limited based in Cyprus. But this was not the end for surprises. Speaking on behalf of owner at the acceptance ceremony in Sheremetievo was Erik Dahmen. He introduced himself as senior director with Waha
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Capital, an Abu-Dabi leasing company. Little was heard about both of those, which sparked our interest. Below is the interview with Mr. Dahmen gave our correspondent at the delivery ceremony on December 10, 2008. Waha Capital traces its history to Oasis Capital (In Arab language, “waha” means “oasis”). To many of the non-natives, waha sounds similar to the name of the religious leader of the 18 Century, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab an-Najdi (1703–1792) who started a new flow in Islam. Now, this flow is prevailing in certain countries, including Saudi Arabia. Men calling themselves Wahhab’s followers fought against Russian army and law enforcement forces in Northern Caucasus and are answerable for many terrorist activities in Russia’s homeland territories. While “waha” and “Wahhab” may sound markedly different to the native dwellers of the Arabian peninsula dwellers, it does not for most of the outsiders. And this puts them on their guard. This is one of the reasons why the Russian minister for transportation preferred to keep mum at the ceremony. Apparently, he had not expected this sort of challenge, perhaps not merely linguistic. There was another reason for Levitin to stay silent. The new Aeroflot airplane is actually registered well off the Russian coasts, on the islands of Bermuda. Hence its registration: VP-BLX. The ministry made it clear that it prefers Russian carriers to put their aircraft in the Russian register and get “RA” registration. Aeroflot does not seem to have been listening to the authority. But let us go back to the lessor. Waha Capital calls itself “diversified investment company”. It holds some 40% in Addax Bank based in Bahrain and has “interests” in Malaysia, Ireland, US, Liberia and Cyprus. About 15% of company’s shares are in hands of Mudaba sovereign wealth fund based in Abu Dabi, and 3% – in
that of Goldman Sachs. The rest belong to public and unnamed private individuals. On 18th February 2008 Waha Capital, the Abu Dhabi-based and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange -listed holding company, announced that its investments in aviation, finance, real estate, infrastructure and maritime and logistics sectors will exceed AED 20 billion over the next three years. This and other news from the group can be found on their corporate site http://www.wahacapital.ae/. On 19 October 2008 Waha Capital reported a net profit of AED 40 million for the third quarter of 2008, an increase of 34 percent over the corresponding period last year. These figures were given by HE Hussain Al Nowais, Chairman of Waha Capital. AerCap’s involvement in Russian programs is longer and greater than Waha’s. Late last year the company had a total of 24 aircraft contracted for lease with Russian airlines. Five of these aircraft were delivered to the airline customers. “This shows how important the Russian market is for us”, commented Frauke Oberdieck, Vice President Corporate Communications with AerCap. Most of aircraft are intended for Aeroflot – Russian Airlines and its subsidiary Aeroflot-Nord. As of late 2008, Aeroflot operated six A320 family aircraft. First AerCap-owned A320 was delivered to Aeroflot in July 2008. Remaining five deliveries are due by March 2009. The Russian flag carrier also has on order ten A330s. Deliveries started in December 2008. These shall complete in April 2010. AeroflotNord signed for six B737-500s, of which two were delivered in 2008. The remaining four aircraft are owned by the securitization portfolio AerCo, for which AerCap acts as servicer/marketing agent. Deliveries of these airplanes started in September 2008, in the view of completion in February 2009.
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Apart from Aeroflot, AerCap has it aircraft placed with SkyExpress (one B737-500) and Transaero (one B737-400). Again, these transactions involved the securitization portfolio AerCo, for which AerCap acts as servicer/marketing agent.
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Interview with Waha Capital, Erik Dahmen, senior director, marketing. – Mr. Dahnen, could you please tell us about your company? – Waha Capita is Abu Dhabi-based and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange -listed holding company
that invests in in aviation, finance, real estate, infrastructure and maritime and logistics sectors. Waha is just registered in Abu Dabi; it is actually owned by the Arabs. So, it is a truly Abu Dabi company. We are based there and have very close ties to the Abu Dabi government and other companies there and the United Arab Emirates. It is a stable company, professional. It has strong shareholders. We are based in the country where there is a lot of strategic views. Well, everybody heard of Abu Dabi and Dubai, what they are doing in the world. We like to think that we are part of this process, part of that strategy, that of growth and the future. – How many aircraft does it have in its fleet? – I do not know what is above the top of my head. But we have an internet site – when people can check this. Our corporate site is http://www. wahacapital.ae/. – Is the A330-200 being handed over to Aeroflot a good asset for your company? – It is a fantastic aircraft and a good asset, too. Besides, Aeroflot has a very good name in the market. So, for us, it is all round good transaction. – How many aircraft has Waha placed in Russia so far? – For the moment Waha has only two aircraft for Aeroflot. This A330, and one A320 which was delivered to Aeroflot two weeks ago. We are open for discussions for some more, but we have no transaction apart from those two aircraft we have already purchased. We do not have anything else in Russia right now. But while I am here in Moscow, of course I will to our friend in Aeroflot about opportunities to do more business in the future. – What are the Russian airlines you are going to speak to? – I do not really know. As a leasing company based in Abu Dabi, we are very interested in the Russian market. I am here to find out if there is something more we can do. We have spoken to some in the past. I have spoken to Transaero, as well as Sibir. But these are people we do not have business with. – How did it happen that AerCap signed the original agreement with Aeroflot for ten A330s, but the first aircraft was actually provided by quite another leasing company? – I do not know. The company in question is called AerCap. That’s not my company. AerCap bought and leased ten A330s to Aeroflot. Our company, Waha capital, purchased one of the A330s, plus an A320, from AerCap, with a lease to Aeroflot. So, we did not buy aircraft directly from Airbus – instead, we bought it from AerCap. – What’s in common between AerCap and Waha? – We are a leasing company and like AerCap, we are also listed on stock exchange. Both of our companies has a fleet of aircraft that we own and lease to airlines worldwide. That’s all. – Why AerCap sold Aeroflot’s aircraft to Waha? – I do not know exactly why AerCap sold the aircraft. My guess is that AerCap always had an intention to sell their aircraft. Which, I think, is a strategic move. Thereby, you use your purchasing
power, and do a transaction in the view that you in the future will be able to sell the aircraft. Obviously, with a whole intention to make a profit. – Was the sale of Aeroflot aircraft caused by the world-wide financial crisis? – No, it is not related to the crisis, not at all. In fact, we agreed that would buy this aircraft well before the crisis even started. We bought these aircraft and placed with Aeroflot. – Once we touched on the crisis, does it affect your company’s business? – It affects everybody. For sure, it affects us. Sometimes you see that some of our airline customers are having financial difficulties, or having difficulties like many other airlines in the market. These are difficulties with the financial market, fuel prices etc. For us as a leasing company I think the crisis brings new opportunities. As it always does. Smaller people selling, fewer investors… so, it brings opportunities for whose who stay in this business. The crisis brings opportunities, but on the funding side, the financing side, it brings challenges, including us. I think that in future transactions you will find that there are fewer banks that are lending money. In our discussions with banks we have already found that. We have already found that people are less willing to lend money. It is not so much for Waha, but it is the case with some other leasing companies. – It seems that the aviation market contracts. Do you agree with this? – Yes, I believe that there are fewer investors and fewer buyers. So, you are right, it is a narrower market now. On the other hand, I think that there is a good hope that in the New Year the crisis will loose up a little bit. Banks, for example, are optimistic. Banks that are now having liquidity problems, that will in the New Year sort themselves out. And will be more readily available for the leasing companies like us and others.
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