Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has conducted the maiden flight of a Sepecat Jaguar fighter that features upgraded avionics.

The upgraded type is designated as the "Darin III". It includes a new mission computer, engine and flight instrument system, a solid date digital video recorder, an improved inertial global positioning system, autopilot, radar and radar warning receiver.

"This is significant moment for HAL as the upgrade will result in major operational improvement with regard to all weather air-to-ground, air-to-sea and air-to-air capabilities through [the] incorporation of multimode radar", says HAL chairman RK Tyagi.

HAL undertook the entire design work of the upgrade at its Mission & Combat System Research & Design Centre, while HAL's overhaul division undertook the modification work.

"The Darin III upgrade, with re-engining and change-over to higher capacity alternators, can make Jaguar one of the most potent aircraft in the arsenal of [the] Indian air force [IAF] with an extended lifespan," says HAL.

In late October, the IAF issued a request for proposal to Honeywell in relation to upgrading the aircraft's powerplant to the F125IN - the aircraft is now powered by the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour 811.

If the Honeywell deal moves forward, HAL will play the lead role in integrating the new engine into the IAF's fleet of about 125 aircraft.

On a website dedicated to the engine upgrade, Honeywell claims the F125IN will allow for 23% shorter high-hot take-offs, provide 17-40% greater thrust and increase range by 36%. In addition, payload will increase by 2,000kg (4,410lb).

Source: Flight International