Combat aircraft flight evaluation trial begins in city, albeit silently

Lockheed Martin to demonstrate Super Vipers flying prowess

Testing: The F16IN Super Viper, one of the six contenders of the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft to be supplied to the Indian Air Force, seen performing a sortie. DH photo

A team from US-based defence aviation major, Lockheed Martin is all geared up to demonstrate the flying prowess of its deadly F-16IN - ‘Super Viper’ and has arrived in the City here, complete with flight simulators and other equipment to prepare the groundwork for the arrival of three aircraft. The demonstration is  scheduled to take place by the end of this week.

This is the second flight trials to take place, with another contender Boeing, also from the US, having already completed trials of the F/A-18, over the skies of Namma Bengaluru on Thursday.

According to sources, Lockheed will be flying in the three aircraft from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) air force base in Dubai and will be flown in jointly by Lockheed’s test pilots and  pilots from the US air force.

Lockheed sources said the F-16IN, a fourth generation fighter aircraft, with fifth generation capability will demonstrate many of the aircraft’s unique features to the IAF, including its revolutionary Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. “The uniqueness of the F16IN is that its technology has been successfully transferred to three countries. Therefore, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will benefit from this tie-up,” a senior Lockheed official told Deccan Herald on Friday.

IAF pilots are expected to co-pilot the Lockheed aircraft, following which subsequent trials would have the IAF take command of the aircraft for evaluating its various parameters, including flying with 8,000kg of conventional weapons loaded onto it.

Boeing’s trials
Boeing IDS (Integrated Defense Systems) has already flown in its two FA-18 Super Hornets (Naval Version) and has conducted trials for about 10 days. Their aircraft soared over the skies of Bangalore, before heading to Jaisalmer and Leh for trials in high altitude hot and cold weather conditions. Sources said the Boeing fighter aircraft conducted two sorties each. They flew upto Mysore and even demonstrated its mid-air refuelling capabilities, even as they broke the sound barrier and crossed the mac speed.

Other contenders
The other four contenders vying for the US$ 10 billion (estimated) deal to supply 126 aircraft are the French D’Assault’s Rafale, Swiss SAAB’s Gripen, European Consortium EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian MiG-35. However, sources said the Russians may back out, with reports suggesting their inability to deliver the aircraft of on time.

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