Two fighter aircraft in the running for the Indian Air Force (IAF) competition for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) are going to be putting their best feet forward next week at the Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom.
While Saab will be making the international public debut of its Gripen NG demonstrator aircraft, first at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, and then at Farnborough, the Eurofighter Typhoon will be displayed with full weapons payload, flying with all 13 hard points occupied. This will include four Paveway II laser guided bombs, 3 fuel tanks, four AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two ASRAAMs (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles), which the aircraft will be carrying while ‘pulling up to 5.5G and in excess of 20 degrees angle of attack’, according to a press release.
The Indian Minister of State for Defense, Dr. MM Pallam Raju will also be present at the air show, along with Secretary, Defense Production, Raj Kumar Singh and Air Marshal S Mukerji, Commander-in-Chief, Southern Air Command.
The Eurofighter Typhoon statement says, “Most air displays are achieved by reducing fuel and weapon loads, however with this display, IPA 5 (the aircraft in question) demonstrates significant weapon carriage and maneuverability whilst still being able to demonstrate carefree handling for the pilot.”
Apparently, the Gripen NG demonstrator was available for display at Fairford and Farnborough because of vacations at home. “The extensive flight test program with Gripen NG Demonstrator aircraft continues successfully and according to plan at the Saab facilities in Linköping, Sweden. This gives us the unique opportunity to bring the aircraft to UK during the Swedish summer holiday break,” says Lennart Sindahl, Senior Vice President Saab AB and Head of Business Area Aeronautics, in the statement.
The only other time the demonstrator has been abroad is when it visited India in May for evaluations by the IAF for the MMRCA contest. “This demanding evaluation phase included operations at the Indian air base Leh, situated 3300 meters above sea level. During this time, the aircraft also passed its 150th flight and to date it has conducted more than 175 successful flights,” said a company statement.
The statement also said Saab is currently testing all the tactical systems, such as the AESA radar and the new communications system. “The test program is very extensive, we have finished, and successfully verified, the flight tests of the electro-optical Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and the new fuel system with larger internal fuel tanks,” says Mattias Bergström, the Gripen NG Demonstrator project manager, in the statement.