Indian state-owned airframer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has performed the maiden flight of an upgraded two-seat, maritime-strike Sepecat Jaguar fitted with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
HAL was originally scheduled to complete the $520 million upgrade activity, bringing 61 Jaguars to the so-called DARIN III standard, by December 2017.
However, the project is running behind schedule. Final operational clearance was to have been achieved by June 2013, following completion of the upgrade on three examples: one single-, one twin-seat, and one maritime-strike aircraft.
Initial operational clearance for the upgraded aircraft was not granted by the Indian air force until November 2016. The entire modernisation and upgrade to the DARIN III standard is now likely to run until 2022.
India is the only nation that continues to fly the Jaguar, with 117 examples in its inventory, according to the nation's defence ministry.
The DARIN III modernisation effort involves a deep upgrade of the Jaguar’s avionics and cockpit, in addition to the integration of modern armament.
The flightdeck gains two new multifunctional displays and an engine and flight instrument system replaces older analogue displays. Navigation, electronic warfare and weapons delivery systems have also been enhanced.
Darin III-standard Jaguars will also be fitted with MBDA's ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile, while Textron Systems' CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapon has already been integrated on the type.
Since 2013, maritime strike variants also carry Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles.