Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bangalore : Like it or not, Suman Sharma, who was the first civilian woman to fly the F-16IN Super-Viper also became the first woman in the world to fly the MiG-35, just minutes after Rakesh Sharma flew the F-18 Super Hornet on Friday at the Yelahanka air base as part of Aero India 2009.
MiG Aircrafts head Mikhail Globenko told TOI: "She is the first woman to fly on the MiG-35. Two reasons convinced us to fly her -- this aircraft is extremely safe and MiG pilots are remarkable. We knew she would be in a safe aircraft and in safe hands. We showed that in 2007 display too. And then we found she was brave, physically fit and ready to take the flight. We have in fact invited her for the Moscow air show in August."
Suman's flight comes in the context of Russian air force not having women fighter pilots at the moment and Russian women not having flown the aircraft. Interestingly, the flight happened on Friday the 13th. "It is a coincidence that we flew her on a military aircraft when we don't have women fighter pilots."
In the rush of personalities that this aero show has seen, Suman who first flew the F-16IN was followed by Abhinav Bindra on the F-16IN and Rakesh Sharma on the F-18. Now Suman herself was back again but this time on the MiG-35.
Suman said MiG authorities were convinced that she could fly as co-pilot and take the gravitational pull as she had already experienced the flight on the F-16 IN. "It was a 42-minute ride and was exciting. We did 20,000 feet at 0.9 mach. The pilot was conversing with me in English and asked me how I felt throughout."
Suman and her pilot did the side rolls and the 360 degree turns and high angle of attack for the manouvres and pulled 7G which has been the highest in this personality-driven flights. "I think the MiG 35 is about power -- tremendous power. You can feel it in flight. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it is twin engine. The stability and agility seemed remarkable with all the weight."
14/02/09 Prashanth G N/Times of India

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Waging a dramatic ‘Battle of Manoeuvrability’ in the air, four foreign aircraft competing for the multi-billion dollar Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft lent a decisive business edge to the opening Aero India 2009 flight displays at the Yelahanka air base here on Wednesday.
The seventh edition of the biennial aerospace exposition had just begun.
Designed to impress Defence Minister A K Antony and other key defence officials watching the show, the twists, rolls and breathtaking loops by the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-16, the Russian MiG-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon almost overshadowed the spectacular aerobatics by the Suryakiran and Sarang teams. Clinical business sense laced with entertainment couldn’t have been more potent.
Taking off with a deafening roar, the Eurofighter did an upside-down flypast, returned for a low-speed pass before treating the gathering to a neat vertical climb.
But before the motley crowd of VVIPs and defence officials, media and invitees, could take another breath, the F-18 Super Hornet invaded the sky. In the next few fleeting minutes, the American fighter flew past for an abrupt push upwards at a 1.8 Mk speed.
And then came the MiG-35. With its astounding split-air manoeuvre and 360 degree Hi-G turns, the two-seater was definitely built for some smart moves. The barrel roll and inverted flight with a half roll that followed, and the characteristic Cobra manoeuvre only boosted the MiG-35’s image. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 had something else up its sleeve, performing a nine-G turn at high speed.
Earlier, the IL-78 re-fuelling aircraft made a mark with fuel dispensers attached to two Mirage 2000s in tandem. This flypast was followed by a five-Hawk formation, a five-Jaguar arrow-head formation, and four light combat aircraft in close formation.
12/02/09 Rasheed Kappan/Deccan Herald

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Bangalore: As executives in grey suits of global aerospace firms hard-sell their fighters on the ground for the world’s largest fighter tender by the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Aero India show here, it is their compatriots in G-suits—the pilots flying the machines—who could eventually swing a deal. G-suit is short for gravity suit that protects pilots from the effects of extreme acceleration while flying.
Like Ricardo Traven, the chief test pilot for the F/A-18.
He shoots the twin-engine fighter of Boeing Co. up into the sky, swivelling and making loops and manoeuvres, in an effort that could make or break a multi-billion dollar deal.
“It is kinda like...what I say, the air show will not sell the airplane, but not going to the air show will probably not result in a sale,” says Traven, a former US Navy test pilot with a record of at least 3,500 hours of flying, looking flushed in his G-suit.
“It is nice for pilots who will fly the planes, but for those standing (on the ground)...perhaps, senior military officials, (it is an opportunity for us) to explain what they get in the plane,” he says.
In the tender for the so-called medium multi-role combat aircraft or MMRCA, which is a deal worth at least Rs42,000 crore, six firms—Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), Saab International, Dassault Aviation and Russia’s MiG Corp.—are aggressively pitching their fighters.
For the pilots, flying a fighter above Bangalore—a city at a mean sea level of nearly 900m—in the pre-summer heat can be tough.
With the higher temperature, a situation that fighter pilots call pressure altitude or an altitude the aircraft reacts and behaves as if it is at 5,000-6,000ft, not 3,000ft, making handling it a stretch for them.
So, the pilots who fly at the show prepare months in advance. First is to identify the type of aircraft that should be flown here, then comes the equipment and the logistics to fly the planes to the city.
At the show in Bangalore, the potential customer IAF’s pilots are given a test ride on the plane. The ride is just an initial exposure but a professional test pilot, especially a fighter pilot, can gather enough information from just one flight to judge the technical capabilities, says Traven.
An IAF test pilot, who has flown in American fighter planes, says that such rides help them to gain insights on systems such as electronic warfare equipment and radars, which normally is not in the brochure.
At the air show, the fighter planes on show are Russia’s MiG-35, Boeing’s F-18, EADS’ Eurofighter and Lockheed’s F-16.
Saab, the Swedish firm that makes the Gripen, and Dassault that manufactures the Rafael fighter, did not bring the planes, saying, they would be brought to India when test trials begin later this summer.
12/02/09 K. Raghu/Livemint

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