Can Tejas Mk2 Program emulate Gripen-E program ?
From its rollout in 2016 to the serial delivery of four aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force in mid December 2021, the Gripen-E program was able to stick to its scheduled timeline largely due to great cooperation between Saab and the Brazilian Air Force, but Gripen Final Operational Clearance is estimated only in 2026 and aircraft to be delivered in first lot, all of 36 aircraft that were ordered in 2014 will be of Initial Operational Capability Configuration, and slowly will be later upgraded to FOC Configuration from 2026 onwards.
Tejas MK2 ceremonial rollout has been planned by end of this year and the first flight will commence within one year after its rollout with plans to start its developmental trials by 2028 which could be quite similar to the Gripen-E program turn around time, but it’s no brainer that the first lot will be in IOC Configuration and it will take some time before HAL and its partners can start delivering FOC Configuration aircraft to the air force sometime in 2032 onwards.
Indian Air force off late has been giving a cold shoulder to the Tejas MK2 and Air Chief was not even talking about it until a few days back in public forums and called it an interim solution. The air force is yet to spill out how many Tejas MK2 units it plans to order and whether it is ready to actively participate in the program or will stick to its earlier rigid stand on inducting jets that are fully combat capable.
Tejas MK2 is much superior in design and configuration and expecting a fully developed jet in less than 6 years no doubt will be an uphill task for the program and the partners that are involved in it but the ecosystem that was created by the Tejas Mk1 program will help it keep it in on a course that could require some active participation from the air force and not step motherly treatment in favour of the AMCA program.
DRDO issues guidelines on free access to patents for boosting indigenous production
Over two years, DRDO modified its Intellectual Property Rights policy to grant the Indian industry royalty free access to patents held for technologies developed by it, detailed guidelines on the subject have been issued. The new rules stipulate that a license for the patent will be given initially for a period of five years based upon the manufacturing capacity. The number of licenses issued to a single firm shall not be more than five and can be renewed after five years depending upon compliance of the license agreement and other defined factors.
DRDO has also expanded the eligibility scope for licensees by including a clause stating that, the applicant shall be a manufacturing entity or a system integrator and not a trading company. None of the promoters and directors of the applicant entity should have been willful defaulters. Applicants would be required to provide all necessary documentation including details of projects and supply orders successfully executed in the last two years, details of shareholders, promoters, associated firms and joint venture companies if any, as well as details of any vigilance actions, ongoing investigation or suspension or blacklisting of the entity or any of its associates.
To boost indigenous production and give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ policy, DRDO in November 2019 had decided to grant free access to patents held by it to an Indian company, startup or MSME incorporated as per law. A DRDO screening committee would review the requests for licenses by taking into account the applicant’s financial and technical capabilities as well as national security and strategic implications.
India issues multiple NOTAM for experimental flight vehicle
India has issued multiple Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for this month for a launch of an experimental flight vehicle in the Bay of Bengal for the period from 25 to 28 May 2022. The designated area is 70km in length which indicates it might be a test of either long range air to air missiles or an upgraded version of the ground based air defense missile.
Second Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for the period from 30th May to 4th June 2022 has a designated area of 330km in length. DRDO was supposed to carry out trials of the Astra Mk1 with the new AESA Band seeker and also first guided trials of the Astra MK2 air to air missile with a range of 160km.