V 22 Indian Options
Designed by Bell and Boeing, the V22 is a unique aircraft which was evolved after clubbing the functionality of helicopters and turbo-prop aircraft. A strong pitch was made within the DoD for an aircraft that could take off and land vertically and also enjoy a decent speed, which the helicopters lacked. With the key capabilities of rotary and propeller aircraft clubbed, an aircraft with enhanced capability that could perform STOL and VTOL missions was obtained.
Developments began in 1998, and the aircraft entered service in 2007. The V-22 Ospery has been one of the front line machines involved in special operations for the US forces. Though relatively new to the battle field the aircraft has enjoyed a very distinguished service life and has seen its share of battle in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Libya where it has performed as a versatile platform for medivac operations.
For ARC (Aviation Research Center)
Aviation Research Centre (ARC), the agency which works under RAW is responsible for electronic surveillance and signals intelligence along the Pakistan and China border. Reports have emerged that ARC is planning to acquire 4 V-22 for special operations and to augment its logistical capability. ARC currently operates Boeing 757 and Bombardier platforms which are equipped with the latest ELINET and SATCOM modules. ARC will also acquire advanced surveillance planes which are being developed with the Israeli’s.
The main reason ARC is looking forward to acquire the V-22 is to supplement its logistical capabilities. ARC doesn’t operate a dedicated troop transport aircraft, with the V22 capabilities the operations will receive an boost. The troops along with their heavy equipment can be ferried to the front-line and using its unique abilities can be dropped down right close to the front line. It has performed several missions in Libya, Afgan and Iraq where the aircraft has been the primary transport aircraft for US forces. On the onset of Libyan unrest, V 22’s successfully evacuated US diplomatic officers and also became a key part in a SAR mission to help an F-18 pilot in Iraq.
V-22 has not been part of any major operations, thus raising questions about its reliability. The famous US SEAL operation to take out the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden only saw Black Hawk’s and Chinook’s in action. The recently concluded operation in Syria to terminate, ISIS top command saw only the Black Hawk’s in action and the V-22 were circling way back outside in friendly territory.
Even though the V-22 was part of the Nepal rescue operations the aircraft failed miserably in proving their capability. The high powered rotors of the aircraft were responsible for several houses to suffer structural damages. Hence the V-22 was pulled off from the operations.
The V 22 can be used effectively as a naval platform, with high endurance, high speed and enough space to fit in heavy equipment it can act as an AWACS platform. The current platform used by Indian Navy is Ka 31 which has limited range and speed. Royal Navy has already requested Bell-Boeing for equipping the aircraft with an rotating radar dome to perform AWACS mission. These aircraft will be part of the aviation wing on board the under development QE Class Aircraft Carrier. India currently operates two STOBAR carriers, with limited launch capabilities, navy relies only on Ka 31 but if inducted the V22 can be a game changer.
Another advantage of the V-22 is its capability to conduct Aerial refueling. With STOBAR the carrier has a short take off length, hence the jets launching from the deck have to use full power there by consuming heavy fuel. To enhance this the navy was currently using the MiG 29K in buddy refueling configuration. The same can be operated by the V-22 and operating costs will reduce drastically with the V-22 induction.
If inducted the V-22 can be a good platform for naval operations only, with such heavy investments and operations costs it is not really advisable to operate these jets in Indian conditions.
Editor Karthik Kakoor