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Two F-18 Super Hornet jets in Goa to showcase compatibility with Indian aircraft carriers- Mrit News

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French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation has already demonstrated the compatibility of its Rafale-M jet in January

French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation has already demonstrated the compatibility of its Rafale-M jet in January

Two Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets fighter jets landed in Goa on Monday for trials on the Indian Navy’s Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) to demonstrate their compatibility and suitability to operate from Indian aircraft carriers. The demonstration is expected to continue up to the first week of June, according to informed sources.

French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation has already demonstrated the compatibility of its Rafale-M jet in January.

India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant, which is in advanced stages of sea trials, is scheduled to be commissioned in August coinciding with 75 years of Independence.

These trials are part of demonstrations by the aircraft manufacturers to showcase the compatibility of their aircraft to fly from Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers which use a ski-jump to launch aircraft, officials stated.

Both the Rafale-M and F/A-18 are originally designed to operate from carriers with a catapult launch mechanism. The carrier would also require minor modifications to operate the aircraft, as reported earlier.

A government-to-government agreement could be signed based on the aircraft selected to speed up the process,, officials stated earlier.

Boeing has already demonstrated the ability of F/A-18 to take off from a similar shore-based facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent river in Maryland, U.S. in December 2020.

However, each fighter brings certain advantages while having some limitations. For instance, Rafale-M does not have a twin seater trainer while its acquisition would mean commonality with the 36 Rafale jets of the Indian Air Force.

On the other hand, the F/A-18 is a much widely employed platform with a twin seater trainer and also has an electronic warfare version which might be of interest to the Navy. There is also the issue of the size of the aircraft and their fit on the carrier and the lifts which would also be factored in the final evaluation.

Urgent requirement

In 2017, the Navy had floated Request For Information (RFI) to procure 57 twin engine carrier fighters which are now set to be downsized to around 26, including few twin seater trainer variants. The revision is in the backdrop of a new indigenous Twin Engine Carrier Based Deck Fighter (TEBDF) being designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

However, the procurement has now gained urgency as the Navy is short of aircraft to operate from both its carriers. INS Vikramaditya, the only carrier in service presently, operates the MiG-29K aircraft. While 45 aircraft were originally contracted from Russia, their availability has been a major problem and won’t fill the requirements of both the carriers once Vikrant is commissioned, Navy officials had stated.

According to the ADA, the first flight of the, under development, TEBDF is planned in 2026. It is envisaged as a twin engine medium weight fighter with an all up weight of 26 tonnes and wing folding and is meant to replace the Mig-29Ks in service, as reported by The Hindu earlier.

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