US defence major Boeing has offered to set up a manufacturing facility in India for production of its F/A 18 Super Hornet aircraft for Indian Navy.
At present, the Navy operates 45 MIG-29K jets, which from time-to-time face serviceability issues, from its feet of INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat.
Currently, six planes are compatible for aircraft carrier flying. They are Rafale (Dassault, France), F-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US), MIG-29K (Russia), F-35B and F-35C (Lockheed Martin, US) and Gripen (Saab, Sweden). Let’s get to know each of them:
Rafales comes with deadly Meteor air-to-air missiles (150-km range), Scalp air-to-ground cruise missiles (300-km) and other weapons. The twin-engine Rafale, in turn, has a much longer combat range from 780-km to 1,650-km depending on the mission, and can carry a 9.3tonne weapon load.
F-18 Super Hornet
The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, all weather multirole fighter jet that is capable of landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier. Boeing offers a suite of upgrades to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, including conformal fuel tanks, an enclosed weapons pod, an enhanced engine and a reduced radar signature.
The MIG-29K (K stands for ‘Korabelny’ meaning “Carrier Borne” in Russian) is armed with its arsenal of weapons including advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, precision bombs and sophisticated system to support weapon delivery.
The MiG-29Ks, with a range of 1,300km and a service ceiling of 58,000-feet, are capable of STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) operations.
They are armed with R-73 and RVV-AE guided air-to-air missiles, Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, KAB 500KR/OD TV guided bombs and S-8KOM rockets.
The F-35 squadrons are the pinnacle of technology with stealth capability that makes it nearly invisible to radars and can carry an increased number of bombs. The single-pilot jets are capable of carrying an array of weapons and fly at a supersonic speed of Mach 1.6, or around 1,900 kilometres per hour.
The pilot’s helmet includes its own operating system, with data that appears on the visor and which is also shared elsewhere and costs about $400,000. Thermal and night vision as well as 360-degree views are possible with cameras mounted on the plane.
Gripen E has significantly improved avionics system when compared to previous versions of the Gripen. The capability to carry more weapons and improved range performance, is possible with a more powerful engine and the ability to carry more fuel.
Gripen E is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.
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