Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Indian Navy's Hornet Query

In response to Ankur's last comment, yes I am familiar with the story you're talking about. It was actually reported by Rahul Singh in Hindustan Times, and picked up by the website you've sent the link for. Either way, Rahul and I were at the same place when we got this story, and his version is accurate. Let me qualify a few facts though. (Photos by Shiv Aroor at the Lemoore Naval Air Station, Califiornia).

We were being driven between the two flanks of the US Navy's Lemoore Naval Air Station in California last to last week, when Boeing's Mike Reitz (programme manager for the Boeing's MMRCA bid) told us about the Navy's query. Interestingly, the query apparently came in quite recently about whether the Super Hornet could operate seamlessly off the INS Vikramaditya as well. What's important to note here is that the Navy isn't interested in buying the Super Hornet. It was a query that was possible initiated by the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) which sustains the somewhat ignored responsibility to engineer acquisitions in such a way as to benefit all three services if possible. Reports coming seem to suggest that the Navy wants to buy a few Super Hornets for itself, but this is untrue, though Boeing's response certainly creates more options.

Once the query was received, Boeing procured general parameters of the Gorshkov from the Indian Navy -- including length, ski-jump angle, angled deck characteristics -- in short everything required for a simulation. Fed into a system, the simulation suggested, supposedly in no uncertain terms, that the Super Hornet -- which so far was dogmatically associated with a steam-catapult launcher -- could indeed take off from a conventional carrier deck like that of the Gorshkov, Virat or the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (which, in all likelihood, is set to be the second INS Vikrant). Boeing added as an adjunct in its response to the Navy, that the Super Hornet could not only take-off and land reliably on such carriers, but that it could do so with a respectable weapons load, which is the whole point. The simulated aircraft took off with a six-pylon config with close-combat, intermediate air-to-air and anti-ship munitions.

Now we can debate endlessly about what the Navy's query is all about!


Anonymous said...

The Devil is in little detail!! Respectable load being the catch phrase...AAM no doubt is no big deal, but what anti-ship missile and what were the no. of AShM were Sewer Whore carrying in "Simulation" is the big question.

Ankur said...

Shiv: awesome stuff! You seem to have a knack of being where all the interesting stories are! More info/stories on the IDS please!

Anon does raise a valid point: does the launch weight satisfy IAF mission parameters? That said, the flexibility offered by this possibility is nothing to be sneezed at!

Regarding the Navy - Maybe they (speculators) are afraid that the Navalised LCA will not be ready in time? Hard to say, given how far off the IAC is to actually operating. Or it could be to scare the Russians a bit about the aircraft supplied with the Gorshkov (unlikely, though).

left wing nut job said...

The question now becomes, what can the Mig-29K fly off the Vik and IAC with versus what the SH can do?

If there aren't many differences in the ordinance load and endurance, then the situation becomes interesting.

Mihir said...

I don't think the Super Bugs can operate off the Viraat. The ship doesn't have arrestor wires. I don't think it has a jet blast deflector either.

Ankur said...

Lol - I like the sound of "super bug"! Don't know why it is not advertised as such more often!