Friday, August 28, 2020

More DASH-IV Helmets Arriving For LCA Tejas Flyers, IAF Trialing Headgears For Jaguar Pilots

DASH-IV HMDS - Light Combat Aircraft Tejas - LCA Tejas - Elbit Systems - 01-01-01


The Indian Air Force [IAF] has put out a notice, making public intent to acquire 44 more DASH-IV Helmets [24 Nos. - Large; 20 Nos. - Medium sizes]. Pilots flying the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft [LCA] Tejas put them on during flight.

DASH-IV HMDS - Light Combat Aircraft Tejas - LCA Tejas - Indian Air Force - RFP - 01
DASH, acronym for Display And Sight Helmet system, projects vital flight parameters on the helmet visor itself. So, anywhere the pilot looks, the information is right in front of them. Enhances Ergonomics many fold. Significant benefit of these Israeli Elbit System-designed headwear is that the operator can cue in on the target by just turning head & looking towards it. During 2015-16, ADA reported successful integration & performance validation of the DASH-IV Helmet with the LCA Tejas. Suppliers have till September 15, 2020 to respond.

The Air Force is set to induct around 120 LCA Tejas in the coming years, not counting the subsequent induction of Mk. II variants, or LCA offshoots. With the recent raising of the second Tejas Squadron, the No. 18 'Flying Bullets', it's strength is only set to increase.

With a Helmet requirement of, at least, as many Airframes, plus twin-seat variants, practically even more with subsequent EOL replacements, there is a case to be made for local manufacturing/assembly of these in India itself. Currently, the IAF meets some of it's Helmet requirements from manufacturers such as the Haryana-based Shakti Enterprises.

HMDS - DRDO - DEBEL - Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory - 01
Russian Helmet Mounted R-73 Sight integrated with Shchel-3UM HMDS

The DRDO lab, Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory [DEBEL], recently reported successful integration of helmet-mask assembly to make the headgears Helmet Mounted Display System [HMDS] compatible. State-owned DPSU BEL is already entered into a collaboration with Elbit Systems to produce HMDS for Military Helicopter pilots. All things put together, a Cost Benefit Analysis would tell us if such an arrangement would be a feasible and sustainable endeavour, with long-term advantages. 

Light Weight Integrated - LWI Helmet - Jaguar - Indian Air Force - RFP - 01
A requirement for 3 Light Weight Integrated S3-type Helmets for IAF's Jaguar Pilots, it also put out recently. The quantity, of no more than 3, seems like a trial of a new Vendor. A similar enquiry it made earlier in July 2020.

The DARIN III upgrades of the IAF Jaguar fleet have imparted them with HMDS capability. The IAF currently flies a fleet of around 116 Jaguar, the only country still flying these Anglo-French birds. Nought has been the result of a protracted effort to seek a more powerful Powerplant, replacing it's existing, now underpowered Adour Mk811 Engine, to supplement the added weight, brought on by progressive capability upgrades [DARIN I-III]. For connoisseurs of dark humour, of the current IAF Jaguar, it is said,

"the Jaguar's current engines are so underpowered that in case of one engine failing, the second takes the aircraft to the crash site, not back to safety."

The IAF eventually gave up, & despite around 15 years of residual Airframe life, is scheduled to retire them, starting 2023. Springing surprises, at the last moment, a defining feature of Indian Military acquisition.


Also Read: Bolstering Firepower, 5 Of These 13 Rafale Aircraft Will Join The IAF Fleet This Month [Tracking Tail Numbers]