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ironman

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009 : 0140 Hrs

New Delhi (PTI) The Government has signed a pact with Ukraine to upgrade Indian Air Force's fleet of An-32 transport aircraft, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Monday.

"A contract for upgradation of An-32 aircraft has been signed with State Foreign Trade Enterprise 'Spetstechnoexport' (STE), Ukraine on June 15, 2009 for total technical life extension (TTLE), overhaul and re-equipment of the aircraft in IAF fleet," Mr. Antony said while replying to a Lok Sabha query.

The Minister said that the upgrades will enhance IAF's An-32 fleet's life by another 15 years.

"The calendar life of An-32 aircraft will be enhanced from 25 years to 40 years," he said.

He added that the aircraft will be upgraded between 2009-17 and USD 397.7 million would be spent on the process.

The IAF has a fleet of around 100 An-32s, which were procured from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 80s.

Meanwhile, replying to another question, Mr. Antony said that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has approved a new campus for its management academy in Bangalore.
 

Mig-29

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rta-70.JPG




The photograph you see to the right is the first real glimpse of how India's National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) envisages its ambitious RTA-70, a national regional transport aircraft programme that's been strictly on paper for almost a decade now. In 1996, then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (in between yawns, no doubt) said in his speech during Aero India that his government had given the scientific establishment the task of developing a 50-seater turboprop airliner and a 100-seat jet airliner. These visions changed somewhat, and the current government, in its first stint in power sanctioned the development of a 70-110 seat civilian airliner for the Indian market. While the money has already begun to flow into the programme, so far only preliminary conceptual studies have been carried out on the RTA-70 pictured above. These studies, according to NAL, include "computational fluid dynamics, wind tunnel studies and multidisciplinary design optimisation (MDO) studies".

NAL is developing the RTA-70 as a platform "capable of reliable and safe operation from airports with minimal infrastructure and instrumentation facility under all-weather conditions." It is not yet clear if the RTA-70 will also be spun off into a military variant for transport and special operations. Remember, HAL (which is a development partner to NAL for the RTA-70) is also steeped in build studies for the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) that it is developing in a joint venture with Ilyushin of Russia.

In May 2008, it was decided that technologies required the programme included a laminar flow wing, hydrophobic coatings, use of low cost composites, fly-by-wire controls, advanced avionics that will enable use of ill-equipped airfields and integrated vehicle health monitoring. Pratt & Whitney engines have almost been finalised for the platform.

On the airframe, structural technologies identified as crucial included use of piezo and SMA related smart materials for flutter and gust control, structural topology, structural health monitoring (SHM) and low cost materials. Architectures for avionics, active noise control systems flight control systems (fly by wire) and synthetic vision were additionally identified. Structural health monitoring, in fact, is being developed as a core technology of the RTA-70.

The RTA-70 will be developed and built using extensive private sector participation, and NAL is understood to also be hunting for a foreign collaborator. When ready, the RTA-70's makers envisage it as having about a 35% lower flyaway and ownership cost than aircraft it will ultimately be pitched against, those manufactured by Embraer, Bombardier and ATR.

The first prototype is expected to fly in 2013.

LiveFist: EXCLUSIVE: India's Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA-70)
 

Machoman

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NEW DELHI: India’s air force will scramble a fighter jet and a transport plane filled with scientists to photograph and monitor Wednesday’s total solar eclipse as it races across the country.

The Indian scientists will take off from the Taj Mahal town of Agra on a Russian AN-32 transporter and follow the shadow of the eclipse northwest until the central town of Khajuraho, the air force said.

The propeller-driven aircraft will cruise at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,570 metres), above the monsoon clouds that are threatening to obscure the phenomenon from people on the ground.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/sci-tech/11-indian-air-force-planes-to-stalk-eclipse--il--02

A French-designed Mirage-2000 fighter jet will also chase the eclipse, taking pictures as it goes.

Wednesday’s eclipse has stirred up immense excitement due to its trajectory over India and China and the unusually long duration of the instant of greatest eclipse, or ‘totality’ — when the sun is wholly covered.

At its maximum, this will last six minutes and 39 seconds — a duration that will not be matched until the year 2132.

The up to 258 kilometre wide shadow cast along the ‘path of totality’ will first make landfall on the western Indian state of Gujarat shortly before 6:30am. — AFP
 

Screaming Skull

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Delhi (PTI): Solar eclipse trackers located on the ground will not be the only ones studying the spectacle slated for on Wednesday as the IAF and astrophysicists will conduct experiments and take photos of the celestial event from a fighter jet and a transport aircraft.

A Mirage-2000 fighter jet and an AN-32 medium lift transport aircraft would be flown by IAF pilots to assist scientists from Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, to carry out the experiments, IAF officials said on Tuesday.

"While the Mirage would fly out from Gwalior, the AN-32 will fly from Agra. The aircraft will fly towards Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, and while in flight the experiments and the filming of the total solar eclipse will be carried out," they said here.

Scientists from Noida-based Vigyan Prasar, Udaipur-based Solar Observatory and Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics would participate in the experiments and the filming.

"Four scientists from these institutions and six-member crew from Doordarshan will fly on board the AN-32 and they would do the experiments and filming with the rear ramp of the aircraft open. Since they will be flying at very high altitudes, oxygen masks would be used during the flight," the officials said.

The IAF teams, scientists and the DD crew members reached the air base from where the AN-32 would conduct a trial run.

This year's eclipse will be visible in parts of India from Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. The eclipse corridor will pass close to Gwalior air base.

The last time IAF pilots did such a feat was in 1995, chasing the umbra shadow during the total Solar eclipse on October 24.

Air Marshal S Mukerji, Air Officer-in-charge Personnel (AOP) at Air Headquarters, was the then Commanding Officer of IAFs only Mig-25 Squadron based in Bareilly.

Then a Group Captain, Air Marshal Mukerji had the rare opportunity to fly the Mig-25 on that day to film the Sun's corona from an astounding altitude of 80,000 feet, straight from the Stratosphere.

"We flew at Mach 2.5 in the path of the eclipse at 80,000 feet along the planned central axis of the eclipse over Neemkathana, near Agra," recalled Air Marshal Mukerji of his historic sortie that finds a mention in his flying log book plainly as — 'Supersonic Profile'.

Despite a top speed of Mach 3.2, it was not quick enough to catch-up with the umbra shadow that notched Mach 5, on that occasion.

This time a high speed chase would not be necessary as the speed of the umbra shadow over Gulf of Khambhat begins with Mach 50-60, slowing down to Mach 20 near Bhopal, said Dr Vinay B. Kamble, Vigyan Prasar Director, who is coordinating with the IAF to capture the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century.

"This year's eclipse is significant for its long duration as also that the next eclipse will be in 2034, over Kashmir valley for a short duration over India. The total solar eclipse after that will only be in 2114," said Mr. Kamble.

Among other senior scientists involved in the experiment with the IAF include Prof. P. Venkatakrishnan, Shibu Matthews from Udaipur Solar Observatory; Prof. K.E. Rangarajan and B. Ravindra from Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.

The eclipse begins on Wednesday at 5.28 am when the shadow of the moon touches the Earth at a point in the Arabian Sea close to the western coast of India.

The eclipse ends at l0.42 am when Moon's shadow finally leaves the Earth at a point in the South Pacific Ocean.

At approximately 6.23 am, the umbra of the eclipse will touch the earth at sunrise at a point in the Gulf of Khambhat in the Arabian Sea near the southern coast of Gujarat.

The Hindu News Update Service
 

Mig-29

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I don't understand what is the point of doing this?

IAF role in study of solar eclipse has been on since 1995.

The Indian Air Force has always had an essential role in the scientific study of total solar eclipse and since 1995, it has been assisting Government's Department of Science and Technology (DST) in their quest to film this celestial alignment.

With aviation speeds streaking past the supersonic barrier, the scientific experiment of photographing the eclipse from air was made possible, as IAF pilots chased the umbra shadow during the October 24, 1995 eclipse, which also heralded IAF's participation in scientific study that continues till date.

Air Marshal S Mukerji, Air Officer-in-charge Personnel (AOP) at Air Headquarters, was then a Group Captain, who had the rare opportunity to fly a Mig-25 to film the Sun's corona from an astounding altitude of 80,000 feet, straight from the Stratosphere.

"We flew at Mach 2.5 in the path of the eclipse at 80,000 feet along the planned central axis of the eclipse over Neemkathana, near Agra," Air Marshal Mukerji said of his historic sortie that finds a mention in his flying log book plainly as - 'Supersonic Profile'.

He further mentioned that weather and other visibility were not any constraints, as clarity at stratospheric levels is far better than that nearer ground.

With a manual Hasselblad camera mounted above the instrument panel and a special lead and button provided to the second pilot, Wing Commander YS Babu seated in the front cockpit, the duo with special solar filters on their visors flew straight towards the Sun for a minute and twenty-four seconds, clicking never-before images of the spectacle, during the total solar eclipse.

"A lot of preparation went in ahead of the sortie. The sortie route had to be charted, axis programmed on the inertial navigation system and briefings by scientists with NASA charts were done. The aircraft were put on jacks, the angle-of-attack or 'alpha' simulated on ground to harmonize the camera along the axis. In addition, the aircraft belly camera could capture the shadow beneath that was 85 kms in width," said Air Marshal Mukerji.

Despite a top speed of Mach 3.2, it was not quick enough to catch-up with the umbra shadow that notched Mach 5, on that occasion.

"This time around a high speed chase would not be necessary as the speed of the Umbra shadow over Gulf of Khambhat begins with Mach 50-60 slowing down to Mach 20 near Bhopal," said Dr. Vinay B Kamble, Director of Vigyan Prasar and Adviser of DST, who is coordinating with the IAF to capture the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century.

A 10-member team of scientists and camera team from Doordarshan would be flying in an AN-32 from Agra airbase in an endeavour to capture and film the eclipse on Wednesday.

The aircraft would fly along the central axis on a north-westerly direction at an approximate altitude of 25,000 feet reciprocal from overhead Khajuraho and land back at Agra.

Meanwhile, a Mirage-2000 trainer would also take off from Gwalior airbase and the pilot from the rear seat will click images even as the fighter flies in an angular track to the central axis. he Eclipse will begin on July 22 at 5:28 am (IST), when the shadow of the moon touches the Earth at local sunrise at a point in the Arabian Sea close to the western coast of India.

The eclipse will end at l0:42 am (IST), when Moon's shadow will finally leave the Earth at local sunset at a point in the South Pacific Ocean. At approximately 6:23 am (IST), the umbra of the eclipse will touch the earth at sunrise at a point in the Gulf of Khambhat in the Arabian Sea near the southern coast of Gujarat. At this time, the path of totality will be about 200 Km wide and the duration of totality at the central line will be about 3 minute 30 seconds. (ANI)

http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?...study_of_solar_eclipse_has_been_on_since_1995
 
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sob

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Saw the solar eclipse today morning from the terrace. Here in Delhi it was almost 80% and lasted for almost 15 minutes.

Got the kids also to wake up early and enjoy this wonderful spectacle.
 

Munir

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To be archived....

Strategic Partnership for Hillary means taking $40 billion of Bharati money
Posted on July 21, 2009 by Moin Ansari
Strategic partnership means a two way street. However many times it is a one way street.

The strange thing about the Indo-US “strategic partnership” is that it is like the Strategic Partnership of the East India Company and the 570 states of South Asia. There was the strategic partnership to take over of Bengal. There was the strategic partnership to import useless textiles from Manchester and the strategic partnership to destroy Muslim production in Bengal. There was the Doctrine of Lapse strategic partnership. There was the strategic partnership for the monopoly of poppy/heroin production. Then there was the strategic partnership to export heroin to China forcing them to buy opium in the First Opium War and then the 2nd Opium war. Then there was the strategic partnership t build railways–with one caveat–they would always run from the port to the gold mine, the salt mine or the poppy warehouses. Then of course there was the strategic partnership to take over Delhi.

Bharat in its mad rush for prestige and power is buying arms it can ill afford, and purchase goods that it cannot pay for. Hillary Clinton of course will take the money and laugh all the way to the bank. A country where 75% of the population susbsists on less than $2 per day is spending $40 Billion on rustable iron and steel. A few decades ago, Bharat did the same–it went out and bought hundreds of Mig 21s. The Flying Coffins either crashed, or were eventually trashed.

Now, Delhi is on another buying spree projecting a drunken sailor who doesn’t know what to do when he lands on shore, so he spends all his money on shiny things. The trinkets don’t mean anything.

Buying all this equipment can mean only one thing. Bharat cannot produce it. China achieves techonological independence in arms production. Bharat is thus the only nation that cannot produce planes worth anything. Its Tejas is still being designed after 20 years of development, its Arjun tank is useless and its missiles program has been scrapped (Trishul, Agni, and Nag etc)

NEW DELHI (AFP/Reuters) – India and the United States agreed Monday a defence deal expected to boost US arms sales here, as New Delhi also approved sites for two US nuclear reactors, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

At a joint press conference with Foreign Minister SM Krishna, Clinton said the two sides had agreed on “end-use monitoring” arrangement that would provide safeguards for the sale of sophisticated US weaponry to India.

The agreement “will pave the way for greater defence cooperation” Clinton said, while Krishna said it would help the “procurement of US defence technology to India.”

The two agreements gave Clinton tangible accomplishments from a trip designed to deepen ties and demonstrate US President Barack Obama’s commitment to India’s emergence as a player on the global stage.

“We have agreed on the end-use monitoring arrangement which would refer to Indian procurement of US defence technology and equipment,” India’s External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, told the news conference.

Known as an “end-use monitoring” agreement and required by US law for such weapons sales, the pact would let Washington check that India was using any arms for the purposes intended and was preventing the technology from leaking to others.

A US official said the arrangement was for a provision to be written into future defence contracts, guaranteeing sensitive equipment will be used for its intended purpose and not transferred to a third party.

India is expected to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years on upgrading its largely Soviet-made arsenal, roughly a third of which will be a contract to buy 126 multi-role fighters.

That could prove a boon to US companies like Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. Nation

Many in the West have now belatedly realised that China has crossed the threshold on Military Technology Independence and is no longer dependant on Russia for it defense needs. China’s phenomenal growth in the economic and manufacturing sector have allowed it to experiment and produce aircraft and missiles without Russian help. Unlike India which has yet to produce its own aircraft (LCA is still being designed after a decade of wasted effort) or missiles (Indian missle failures. Scrap the program? Agni, Trishul, Naag missile programs were scrapped) China no longer imports Russian aircraft on a wholesale basis. Any imports are limited and imports are for the sake of transfer of technology. China now has the technology to design, build and improve on current designs and move to the next generation of air crafts, missiles and other equipment.

China is developing new technologies with Pakistan which has had access and experience with American and French planes–something that the Chinese do not have. Chinese technology exports to Pakistan: JF-17 Thunder, J-10s, J-11s. This alliance has propelled the aircraft manufacturing of China to new levels and given the Pakistanis access to Chinese acumen which it did not have before. JF-17 Thunders Beyond the JF-17 Thunders. The J-10s etc

In a hedonistic orgy of insane hatred the Indian population supported eight years of Bush–just because he bombed four Muslim countries, and threatened a couple of other three of them long time Indian allies. All notion of independence and non-alignment were thrown into the Indian ocean–all under the lure of the ephemeral transfer of technology (ToT) which will never happen. No corporation in the world will give up it “Coke formula” and commit hari kari.

Bharatis had placed all their eggs in the Republican basket. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to the undiplomatic to announce that it would prefer it if the Republicans won the elections. This huge “foot in the mouth” started a chain reaction in the election politics of America. Hillary Clinton was a great proponent of engagement with China. However the humongous financial crisis placed increased pressure on America to reach out and listen to Beijing

The two companies are competing with Russia’s MiG-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, Sweden’s Saab JAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish firms.

The press briefing came after a day of official meetings between Clinton and a series of senior Indian leaders including Krishna, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi.

She did not specify the locations, but Indian press reports have suggested they would be in the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

“I am also pleased that Prime Minister Singh told me that sites for two nuclear parks for US companies have been approved by the government.”

US officials estimate that the nuclear sites represent up to $10 billion in business for US nuclear reactor builders such as General Electric Co and Westinghouse Electric Co, a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba Corp. Nation

Pakistan’s 250 JF-17s, 50 F-16: Indias panicky “concern”. The Indian establishment’s answer to the threat is throwing more money at it. After recovering from the Flying Coffin fiasco, the Indian Airforce is now spending $12.5 Billion on new acquisions of planes which will be obsolete when they land in New Delhi. Trail of tears and failure: Indian missiles. For the first time, the Indian Air force has had to make some difficult decisions–in Missile technology and aircraft production. Indian Airforce crying wolf? or facing shortage of jets? unless immediate steps are taken to arrest the reduction in IAF’s force levels, the nation will, for the first time in its history, lose the conventional military edge over Pakistan”. The declining Indo-Russian relationship. Delhi scrambles for new arms sources but they come with strings. The previous IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi warned the UPA government. Russia elides India in Flanker Su-30 development

For years, Beijing has turned to Russian technology for innovation, but now it is close to being able to contribute equally to a partnership with Moscow. Its J-11B, an “indigenous” version of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, has been fitted with local radar, engines and air-to-air missiles, including the PL-12 radar-guided missile, which uses some Russian content but has better kinematic performance than Russia’s R-77. Other programs, such as the F-12, digital radio frequency memory (DRFM), directed-energy systems (e.g., high-power microwave, radio frequency and lasers), and modernized battlefield doctrine, are also under development, possibly in preparation to mount offensive economic and military operations against Taiwan while holding U.S. forces at bay.

David A. Fulghum is the senior military editor at AVIATION WEEK with expertise in operations, science, radar and intelligence. A veteran airman and award-winning writer, Fulghum is the first journalist to have flown 15 models of USAF aircraft. He has been cited for awards 12 times by the Aviation Writers Association and Royal Aeronautical Society. He has also held editorial posts at U.S. News & World Report and Time Life Books. Fulghum is the co-author of three books on the Vietnam War and can be reached at davef@aviationweek.com.

Bharat chose the wrong and inferior (also ran) superpower to align itself with for the first 50 years. After the destruction of the USSR, she curled up and was in shock for a decade. It then began to open up the society and the economy. Meager success went to tis head, and it really began thinking of itself equivalent to American and Russia and China. Its actions were not commensurate with its Lilliputian stature in world affairs.

India has a few blind spots. It does not know about the blind spots. There is no one to show her the blind spots. India, a youthful country overrun by youngsters eking out a subsistence living in the mirage of Bollywood is unable to look at itself with any semblance of realism. A star struck destitute and impecunious populace is proud of evanescent and unattainable trophies, venerating educational institutions it can only brag about (never get admitted to), Billionaires it can worship on statistic charts and luxuries that it can dream about.

Inebriated by blindness towards a the goal of superpower status this populace is unable to see the deep cavities within its boundaries. Young xenophobic India votes for those that are hegemonic and autochthonous. Its leadership impervious of the needs of the penurious is focused on expansionism and destabilizing its neighbors. It behaves like crack-addicts overwhelmed by blind hatred for Buddhists (the real ones who are not Hindu), Dalits, Christians and Muslims–this leadership doesn’t have a clue of what the white world thinks of Indians– unavoidable supplicators at best and disposable computer coolies at worst!

All cannot be measured in concrete and steel. Even in that Bharat lags behind every other country in the world. The land of the Ganges has lost its moral compass and ethical turpitude. Let us borrow a page from the archives of history and what was written in “The Republic” a long time ago. Reading the excerpt may help us differentiate the reality of what is Bharat today and what the ideal should be.

The poor of India, the Dalits, the scheduled classes, the Christians, the Naxalites and the Muslims left behind the onward march towards…march towards what? No one know. Ask the irredentist Akhand Bhartis who hated the vivisection of Mother India. Wars with all her neighbors. All this for the reabsorption of all states surrounding it into a huge monolith which may have existed for 80 years under the reign of Ashoka. Many question whether the mythical king ever existed. Ashoka’s kingdom is the Nirvana of India. Few Indians know that Ashoka is as fugacious as his mythical kingdom. Did Ashoka exist? Did Pandit Radhakantta create him for James Princep in 1837. Ashoka’s name first appeared in British journals when the White man was writing “Indian history” (James Princep was the first to coin the term “Ashoka). But don’t tell the pundits (the real ones, not the talking heads on Fox and CNN)–thier entire life depends on churning out the youth who believe in Akhand Bharat. A brianwashed nation unable to comprehend simple facts like–if one cannot control the current states, how can it control hundreds of millions that are forced into “India”–especially if the million are belligerent and don’t want to be part of the mess called “India”. However these are details that are not mentioned in a nation that resembles Weimar Germany–fed on a steady dose of hatred, xenophobia and hostility towards real and perceived enemies.
 

Thomas

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Su-35 sales will increase for one main reason. Cost!! In the current world economy most Governments would have found it difficult to maintain 5th generation aircraft up keep costs. The SU-35 is the next best thing and one of the best 4th generation aircraft. However Governments should beware that their buying of the SU-35 doesn't turn it into a trophy that just sits there looking good. An aircraft no matter how advanced it is. Is only as good as it's pilot. Countries need to pour large amounts of money into pilot training if they do not wish to see their advanced aircraft shot out of the sky with ease.
 

Mig-29

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The Indian Air Force today successfully undertook aerial sorties to help Indian scientists undertake study of the total solar eclipse that took place today. Two separate missions from Agra and Gwalior were flown towards the endeavour that was deemed hugely successful by scientists associated with the experiment.

While one AN-32 transport aircraft carrying scientific equipment, cameras and scientists that took off from Agra landed back after a three-hour flight, a Mirage-2000 trainer from 9 Squadron "Wolfpack", Gwalior took spectacular images of the celestial spectacle from 40,000 feet. With weather being clear at the altitudes and coordinates planned by the IAF pilots, both AN-32 and Mirage-2000 pilots were able to accomplish the mission successfully.

"The mission was a huge success. We got excellent footage of the eclipse. This was made possible by the perfect planning and execution by the IAF pilots", said Dr.Vinay B. Kamble, Director, Vigyan Prasar while addressing media persons at Agra airbase after the flight.

The AN-32 mission was flown at 25,000 feet. The aircraft flew a south-westerly course from abeam Khajuraho, descending and aligning along the central axis of the eclipse. The Mirage-2000 fighter flew at an altitude of 42,000 feet bisecting the central axis in a north-south direction to film the eclipse.

"Since flying with the ramp open involves depressurisation, inhaling of oxygen separately becomes absolutely necessary at that altitude. We flew a practise mission to train everyone for the sortie", explained Wing Commander D Singh, Captain of the historic flight. "Ensuring the Sun at six-o-clock position at the correct angle for cameras to be able to catch the phenomenon demanded a high degree of accuracy in flying", he added, satisfied with the results.

As the eclipse progressed towards the totality phase, darkness descended across the morning sky metamorphosing rapidly from bright daylight to the twilight zone, transiting to dark phase. The pilots switched on rheostats illuminating their instrument panel for a brief phase of night flying before resuming daylight flying after the total solar eclipse. For those who witnessed the rare spectacle in air, the experience was truly ethereal.

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LiveFist - The Best of Indian Defence: FIRST on LiveFist: IAF Wolfpack Sqn Mirage-2000 Captures the Eclipse
 

RPK

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Sukhoi Su-30 crash of systems failure: Antony

New Delhi: The crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 combat jet in Rajasthan this April, the first accident involving the plane since it was inducted 12 years ago, was caused by the failure of its sophisticated fly-by-wire system, parliament was informed on Wednesday.

"The preliminary investigation into the accident reveal that the reason for the crash... is likely failure of the fly-by-wire system," Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

"There is no indication of any serious problem in the maintenance of aircraft by the IAF or any short supply of hardware as the cause of the crash," he added.

"Each accident is investigated through a court of inquiry and remedial measure are undertaken accordingly to check their recurrence in future," the minister pointed out.

The crash had generated much heat in the Rajya Sabha earlier this month, prompting Antony to intervene and state that the IAF was "very happy" with the aircraft.

"The Su-30 is one of the most advanced jets in the world. The IAF is very happy with it. The IAF feels it is one of the best in the world," Antony said.

"Was it a case of a wrong pilot in a right plane?", "Has the black box been sent to England?", "What precautions were taken before take-off?", "Did the pilots report a malfunction?", "What is the state of investigations?" were some of the questions asked but not all were answered.

Answering the main question, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju had said the Su-30's black box had been "badly damaged" and efforts were underway to retrieve the data contained in it.

The jet's pilot, Wing Commander S.V. Munje, and the co-pilot, Wing Commander P.S. Narah, had managed to bail out in time but the latter was killed after being apparently hit by the falling debris of the aircraft.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Naik is on record as saying that the ejection mechanism of the rear seat may have been faulty.

The Su-30 was inducted in 1996 and the IAF fleet currently comprises 98 aircraft. This will rise to 230 by 2015.

Of the Su-30s in the IAF fleet, some were bought in flyaway condition from its Russian manufacturer while state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured the others under licence. It was not clear which category the crashed jet belonged to.

The Su-30 has won universal acclaim from the air forces of the US, Britain and France whenever it has been fielded against them in war games. Eight Su-30s had participated in the prestigious Red Flag exercise with the US Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, last year and had more than held their own against their counterparts' F/A-18 and F-16 combat jets
 

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