Vina you should actually read through this
before indulging in mud slinging.
TKS saab is no fuddy duddy bara saab. He conceived and led the Jaguar Darin upgrade project. He played a big role in indigenization efforts, often at odds with his seniors, at big risks to his career.
Ok. I did read about his contributions to the Darin upgrade and his achievement is impressive, though the only niggle I have is in his assertion that the the Jaguar Darin is the first platform in the world to have the MilStd 1553 bus. I am not sure of that. The F-16 entered service before the Darin upgrade timeline and that had the 1553 bus. Maybe he meant 1553B , which per wiki got defined (and is a refinement of the the 1553A) around '78 or so, in which case he could well be right about the Darin -Jaguar being the first with 1553B if that is indeed the case .
That still doesn't take away anything at all from what I wrote earlier and I am neither slinging mud, nor playing down in anyway TKS and others accomplishments or contributions.
There is a world of difference between saying, there is a need to do an integration of systems from multiple vendors and using a defined bus standard to do it in response to a specific problem like the deficiency in the Jaguar and the systematic building of such competencies methodically as part of an overall strategy!
Ok, let me flesh out what I am saying. The emerging technologies in the 70s and early 80s were crystal clear. FBW controls,digital avionics , glass cockpit, composite structures, new gen engines (F100) and finally new maintenance concepts (LRU,on condition etc).
The problem is that there was no vision or even interest at a fundamental strategic level at the IAF & HAL in terms of competency building! They couldn't care less. The focus was on importing designs and doing screw driver assembly and passing it off as "indigenous".
It could have been pretty easy to have an R&D project with say the Ajeet (which the HAL knew inside out) to have FBW controls, a composite wing and experimental avionics and you could have built that capability in the period 1975 to 1985! The Brits built their FBW competency by having a hold your breath, a JAGUAR (yes, the very same aircraft we are talking about) tweaked for relaxed stability with FBW. The French did the same with a Mirage III.. Yup the same kind used in the Arab-Isreali conflicts in the 60s!
Okay, the IAF had the Mig-21 since 69 or so. What have the done with it? The Chinese played with it intensely and have multiple versions including different wingforms and even one of their latest AJT is a Mig21 derivative. Why didn't India have a FBW version of the Mig-21 with side intakes and a good radar in the nose and a MIL-1533B bus flying in the 80s? After all, the likes of Prof Prodyut Das (he posted in response in his blog) claim the best substitute for a Mig-21 is another Mig-21 or something to that effect if I remember correctly. It would have been silly to do that in the late 80s, but eminently sensible in the 70s! So what stopped the IAF from doing it rather than continue producing some tired old incremental upgrades of Mig-21s until mid 80s .. Where is the Indian version of an FBW Jaguar ? You did help fix a big flaw in it at the HAL during the production run, you did the Darin upgrade which the others adopted.Why not the FBW ? That is because there was no "operational need" and as an organization you couldn't think ahead strategically.IF
that had been done , you could have entered the LCA project with a solid industrial and technical base to do it and you wouldn't have seen the kind of slippages we had.
In the absence that and because of the lost decades of the 60s , 70s and early 80s, we had to start from scratch. The LCA is really some 4/5 projects rolled into one ..FBW, Composites, Avionics, Radar, Engine and maybe Electronic Warfare. Each of which in normal circumstances would have been researched, developed, proven and tested separately! Each of those is a separate 5 to 10 year project at least. The FBW, composites,mission avionics, and electronic warfare are successes , while the Radar and Engine are partially successful (HAL should never have been given the radar responsibility) and GTRE against all odds for a project as complex as the airframe itself has a working engine! All in all quite good.
I really have little patience with the service folks who sat on their backsides in the period 60s to 80s and for whatever reasons dropped the ball, to come back and dump on the LCA and other projects (like Arjun) for slipping timelines and "bad project management" and this and that and claim these are "R&D" projects and are not "operationally oriented" . Of course, there will be a big R&D phase because YOU
dropped the ball there because you couldn't think strategically as an organization, and when it came to even "operational oriented" stuff of making it into a fighter out of a prototype, dropped the ball again by totally neglecting it and going comatose!
And no it is not just the LCA alone . Think of all the whining about the lack of an AJT and the how many decades (was it 25 years ?) and pilots lost before we got the Hawk! Well, we did have the "earlier Hawk" called the "Folland Gnat" in service for donkey's years. That was originally designed and used as a trainer! What stopped the IAF from asking HAL to not close the Ajeet assembly line, enhance whatever was needed to bring it upto scratch as a modern day trainer and maybe if it made sense at all, even put the Adour from the Jaguar into an enhanced version and presto, you would have had an "Indian Hawk" . Nope.. It was all about.. Oh, the Govt /Babus aren't giving us money to buy an AJT and you waited 3 decades for it to finally come through!
The less said about the HPT-32 and the HTT-40 fiascoes the better! There we are in the market again, trying to buy a turbo prop trainer in 2012! The IAF and the Army lost the ability to think beyond importing platforms and screw driver assembly and marginal tinkering.
For all the alphabet soup of acronyms of the folks in Army and Air Force who are supposed to look ahead and do planning and requirements and that sort of thing, the performance has been simply breathtakingly pathetic. The only thing they seem to have done in most part is to be reactive in saying.. Oh. Adversary govt platform X, we need to buy platform Y to counter it .
The Navy was the exception. No wonder the Navy today has a home built Nuke Submarine
, while the Airforce is importing an ab-initio trainer and the Army is importing Tatra Trucks (and cant even put the steering column in the correct place for our roads), while ironically we have a very strong domestic truck industry that is pretty competitive with anything anywhere! There is a point in that, I am sure.