Friday, February 13, 2009

Bangalore: On Day 2 of Aero India 2009, I flew a Gripen combat aircraft. It wasn't too tough with pilot Jonas Jeppsson explaining the basics.
Once in the cockpit, it’s just a matter of pulling the joystick and I make the sky my destination. What do I know about flying? Nothing. But once in the SAAB Gripen cockpit simulator, it is about a few buttons here and a series of mysterious numbers all around showing the position, altitude, route, target, speed and other incomprehensible things.
As I hop into the cockpit and settle down, Jeppsson begins to explain the flight details but half of it is beyond me. But soon, I position the fighter for take-off and it begins to cruise down the runway. As I pick up speed, somewhere from behind I hear the roar of an aircraft. Maybe, it was just one of the real ones outside, making a sortie. The pilot releases a lever and I pull up the joystick and the GS 39 CD flies away, not too straight, but at high speed nevertheless. I am soon experiencing a 7G force. In real life at this pressure, without the required training, I would've heard my bones getting crushed.
I see the green fields below me, some indistinct piece of land far below. As I get a grip of things, Jeppsson makes me turn a loop and I am soon flying the wrong-side up. Then, I begin to cruise over a water body and just then, a wrong move and as I am about to crash, a red line shows up. The pilot steadies the aircraft and it's back on track.
As this simulator is of a combat aircraft, on the left panel is the electronic warfare system, the altitude, speed meters and the route with position on the middle screen and radar details on the other side. Another pilot explains if a target has to be followed, it would show up on one of the screens.
13/02/09 Deepa Bhasthi/Times of India

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chennai/ Bangalore: The visitors to this year Aero India will be deprived of having the opportunity to see the maneuvering of fighter aircraft Gripen, one of the six contenders for the Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme, as the company believes there is too much cost involved in bringing the aircraft to India. People in the industry feel that this can well be a cost cutting exercise by the Swedish company, despite the fact that companies participating in the biennial aeroshow event are seeing a wave of opportunities both in the Indian defence and civilian market.
“We could have, but we decided not to bring the aircraft this year. Because, it is a costly exercise to bring the aircraft here, and besides it requires to do flight test in this country,” said Kjell Moller, executive vice president, Saab International. “Cost cutting is there, but there is no value to bring aircraft to aero-shows around the world in such a time,” he added.
Gripen, the fifth generation muti-role fighter aircraft had participated in Aero India 2007. This year, Saab will only show-case the module of the aircraft and some simulators. “Last time (Aero India 2007), we had two aircraft was flying here,” added Moller.
Indian Air Force had earlier issued request for proposals (RFPs) to procure 126 fighter aircraft under the MMRCA programme.
Other than Saab’s Gripen, the five other contenders for the IAF order are Boeing’s F/A-18E/F, Lockheed Martin F-16, EADS Eurofighter, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale and the Russian Aircraft Corporation’s (RAC) MiG-35.
The ministry of defence is expected to float a proposal for the technical bid in the next couple of months, after which the deal is expected to be finalised.
The value of the MMRCA project is expected to be in the range of $8-10 billion. Saab has given a proposal to manufacture the aircraft in India, with its local partner HAL, depending upon the requirements of the Indian defence ministry.
10/02/09 Bibhu Ranjan Mishra/Business Standard

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