Field evaluations of Six Fighters begins July

The stage is finally set for the long-awaited field evaluations of India's Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition. In July, it all begins, as LiveFist reported in February. The six fighters taking part, for the sake of record, are the Russian UAC MiG-35, the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen NG/IN, the French Dassault Aviation Rafale, the multi-nation EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, the American Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the American F-16IN Block 60 Super Viper/Desert Falcon.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, has been quoted by India Strategic as saying that the no-cost-no-commitment Field Evaluation Test (FET) period will begin with visits by an IAF/ASTE team to each country of origin to inspect the manufacturing and testing facilities. This will be followed by the crucial flight evaluations in India. Each contender is expected to fly in three aircraft for this phase of the trials, which involves test evaluations in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh. According to the Chief, this involves "Bangalore for performance, systems and humidity trials, to Jaisalmer for hot weather and weapon trials, and to Leh for high altitude and cold weather trials".

In India, the aircraft will undergo handling and aerodynamic performance trials, "takeoff and landing characteristics, aircraft maneuvering, and checks of critical systems in the air, an evaluation of its maintainability, mission support equipment, operations at high altitude and in specific environments will also be conducted". Following the India phase of the FET, evaluation teams from the IAF will visit the country of origin of each competing fighter for systems trials, which includes demonstration and testing of radar, EW suites, avionics, cockpit gear, countermeasures, weapons and weapon systems (at designated firing ranges) and communication integration.

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