Friday, February 27, 2015

Weaponizing HAL Built HAWK AJT

Weaponizing HAL Built HAWK AJT

The HAL Built HAWK shown with Dummy bomb carrier
     With the motto “It's all to do with the training, you can do a lot if you're properly trained” Indian Air Force has felt a strong need to the train its future guardians with top notch knowledge and flying experience. With the search for an advanced jet trainer aircraft and the IAF after negotiations with various companies finally narrowed in towards the world's most successful and proven advanced jet trainer aircraft, the Britain origin HAWK AJT fielded by the BAE systems. The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. IAF on 26 March 2004 signed a contract with BAE systems to procure about 24 aircrafts directly from BAE systems and under ToT signed a contract for aircraft’s to be manufactured by the state run HAL.

        The Indian Air force currently operates about 90 HAWK advanced Jet Trainer. With 24 aircrafts being directly received in fly away conditions from BAE systems the state run HAL has successfully delivered the 75th Hawk ATJ to the IAF. Before any pilots gets a wing to fly guiding a mission on a advanced fighter jet the Hawk platform works as a platform to bring the pilot to speed with the advanced technologies of a fighter jet. The IAF was not the only force to induct these ATJ, Indian Navy have placed several orders with HAL for these jets to train their aviation wing. The navy has placed orders for a total of 20 Hawk ATJ’s. In a recent release the HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju was quoted saying “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has absorbed the technology of British Advanced Jet Trainer "Hawk" completely and would be able to support the project for the next 40 years “

HAL built HAWK in flying
         The AJT aircrafts have been claimed to be versatile aircrafts. In fact various counties around the globe use AJT’s as their ground attack, Recon and CAS role aircraft, the Russian YAK 130, Czech L 30, Dassault Alpha aircrafts. The French built Dassault Alpha was used by Chadian Air force to drop ordinance on the Boko Haram and scored 100 of kills. Most of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) won't allow the end users to modify the end products from its planned role. The HAWK ATJ is an extremely versatile and agile aircraft for a combat role. Armed with Air to Air and Air to Ground laser guided precision missiles these jets can act as a main stay combat aircraft and can be a major force multiplier. The British version of HAWK ATJ, the Hawk T1A have already been armed with Sidewinder Air to Air missiles and a internal gun, but have never have had the opportunity to taste combat in their service history.

     The increasing national concerns with in the country with terrorists and the barbaric attacks by naxals has always time and again stressed the need for air support to ground forces within the country by the means of Light Attack fighter. The ongoing naxal operations have always required a decent Light Attack CAS fighter to give support to the force within the country.
HAWK armed with two Sidewinder and a Anti ship Training Missile

       The Indian Air force has always been approached by the Para military forces for air support in operation against state based terrorisms groups like Bodo and Maoists. The paramilitary have till now only been supported by the Army’s aviation wing with light and heavy attack helicopters. But with the areas of operation and number of operation against these organizations increasing with time a strong need has been felt to include a light yet agile attack aircraft in the force.IAF initially had drawn up plans to procure a COIN (counter intelligence) Aircraft to deal in demanding time. But a detailed feasibility study completes by IAF the HAWK have emerged as the best option. This plan can be realized only if the British based BAE system gives India a go ahead to Arm these trainer jets which have served IAF as an AJT. The IAF formally has sent a letter of request to BAE systems in regard to arming these AJT. With HAL having experience in arming jets has formally forwarded a plan of action to BAE systems and the same was proposed and showcased in Aero India – 2105. With BAE systems showing interest in the project HAL may receive a go ahead soon to arm the jets giving a major thrust to the dipping fighting squadron numbers.

        Arming a jet build for an all together new purpose requires lot of precision engineering. Basically rolled out as trainer the jet needs to refurbished with a cockpit and control system that can support the weapon systems. Hard-on points have to be integrated to the jet and yet the Weight: Thrust ration has to be maintained and the agility and safety has to be kept as vital point. HAL being involved in arming their various aircrafts should have enough knowledge to carry forward the project without the much should they receive a go ahead from BAE systems.

      The Initial plan drawn up for arming these HAWK’s are with a internal 30mm cannon, ASRAAM Air to Air Missiles, Rack of smart bombs and Litening Pod for Navigation and Target identification. With the base plan strong a HAWK can accommodate a single Internal 30 mm cannon, 2 ASRAAM and 4 PGM/LGB. The Hawk may possess the strength for putting up a combat radius of 500 kilometres and service height being ceiled at around 40,000 feet but this may change variably with the weapon systems integrated on the jet. With a light and short combat radius the jet is a perfect contender for CAS and Armed Recon Missions. If this project does get through it may serve as a back up plan to IAF until the newer generation Rafale/Sukhoi are inducted into the forces.

Editor Karthik Kakoor 

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