Surprise! Naval Tejas criticised

Naval Tejas.jpg

Came across two cool news items from India today, bothinvolving naval aviation.

The first is a story in the The Hindu in which the Chief ofthe Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma said the Aeronautical DevelopmentAgency had let the service down with the Naval version of the HindustanAeronautics Ltd. Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.

“They focused largely on the Air Force programme and the (navalTejas) did fall behind…. There have been many promises made by the ADA but theyfailed us,” he is quoted as saying.

He may have a point: the naval Tejas was supposed to flylast November, but thelast we heard it was still in ground tests. We’re not even talking aboutcatapult launches and arrested landings, but merely the aircraft’s firstflight.

“It is often said that there is only 15 per cent differencebetween both versions,” he is quoted as saying. “The Navy has always maintainedthat it may be 15 per cent in terms of material and systems, but it is asubstantial part. And they underestimated it.”

This all reminds me of a quip Richard Aboulafia made when Iinterviewed him about the LCA last year: “The Tejas is a victory of the guys inlab coats over the guys in flight suits.”

To be fair, the Indian Air Force is by all accounts lessthan delighted with the Tejas, which seems as far as ever from achieving itsfinal operational capability. It was apparently rushed into its initialoperational capability in early 2011 for the sake of the Aero India show.

Separately, The Times of India reports that shipyard workersare snapping photos of India’s indigenous aircraft carrier as it starts to takeshape. The brass denies this and said camera kit is restricted aboard the ship.Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for any stray images.

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