IAF gung ho on gliders

India glider 1.jpg

I came across an intriguing request for proposals from the IndianAir Force for ‘two basic powered hang gliders with accessories.’ An image of commando-typegliders equipped with rockets and guns popped into my head, but after someinvestigation it appears the gliders are for recreational use.

Under the ‘Adventure’ category on its web site the IAF offerspersonnel the opportunity to fly both un-powered and powered gliders as well asmicro light aircraft. In mid January, the Air Chief was reported as saying thatthe IAF would obtain 75 micro light aircraft for training purposes.

The RFP specifies that the offered glider have a four strokeengine with internal reduction gear box, 3-blade composite propellers, anelectric starter, be capable of operating with automotive petrol, and a timebefore maintenance of at least 1000 hours.  

Other requirements include:

(a).Max Ceiling : 10,000 ft

(b) Max level speed : 110 kmph

(c) Vne : 140 kmph or above

(d) Cruising speed : 90-110 kmph

(e) Fuel consumption : Not more than 10 litres/ hour

(f) Max ROC (single pilot) : Not less than 750 ft/ minute

(g) Aero dynamic load : Min +4 and -0

(h) Double surface  :At least 75%

(j) Wing area : 160 sq ft (Approx)

(k) All up weight : At least 375 kgs

(l) Aspect Ratio : 7:1

According to reports, the IAF’s gliders have conducted anumber of long range expeditions. In 2006, two IAF pilots in an Italian Polarisglider flew 3,700km miles over 24 days to celebrate the 70thanniversary of the IAF. They stopped at 21 IAF stations during their journeyand hit altitudes of 12,000ft during the journey’s Himalayan legs. 

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