First lot of Jaguar frames for ageing IAF fleet soon

Chandigarh, October 11: Following India’s decision to procure decommissioned Jaguar fighter aircraft and spares from other countries to help keep its existing fleet of these deep-penetration strike aircraft afloat, the first such consignment is expected to arrive here shortly.

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France is giving India 31 airframes, while the UK and Oman are giving two airframes each. A few engines and several hundred types of critically needed spares are part of the package. Most of the airframes would be used for cannibalisation so that optimum squadron serviceability can be maintained.

“Two Jaguar T-2 aircraft and 381 types of spares will be transferred to India from the UK shortly, for which modalities are being worked out,” an IAF officer said.

“The aircraft will be ferried to India in a partially dismantled state and these would then be reassembled at the Gorakpur Air Force Station by the IAF under the supervision of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL),” he added. The T-2 is a two-seat trainer version produced for the Royal Air Force that is capable of undertaking a secondary role of strike and ground attack. The versions operated by the IAF are the IS (single-seat strike), IB (trainer) and IM (maritime).

In 1979, 40 aircraft were imported from the UK followed by licence manufacture of 150 aircraft by HAL. India is the sole remaining Jaguar operator, with other users — France, UK, Oman, Nigeria and Ecuador — having retired them.

At present, the IAF has 118 Jaguars in service, but according to reports their serviceability is a cause for concern due to obsolescence, non-availability of spares and the HAL’s assembly line being shut down.

With its fighter squadrons depleting and long delays dodging fresh acquisitions, the IAF is looking at acquiring retired aircraft to harvest spares and other systems to help maintain its existing strength. The IAF recently upgraded part of its Jaguar fleet with new navigation and attack avionics, but the proposal to re-equip them with more powerful engines has been hanging fire. The IAF expects to continue to operate the Jaguar for at least 10 more years.

Source Tribune India