The Indian fighter jets have begun the process of changing over to desi tyres, probably signalling an end to escalating cost and non-availability concerns.
The Indian Air Force sources confirmed to Express that the ‘India shining’ story is being scripted by the MRF, which has got the clearance from the military airworthiness officials to produce the main wheel tyres of frontline fighters Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI). The indigenous tyres named Aeromuscle are 30 per cent cheaper than the imported ones.
The IAF started looking within the country after facing difficulties in sourcing tyres from abroad. It was even forced to use tyres from war reserves for some aircraft, after supplies from Russia became an issue.
The idea to approach Indian companies was taken up during P V Nayak’s tenure as the IAF chief.
“The MRF agreed to do all design, development and quality tests at their own cost in the nation’s interest,” an IAF official said.
The MRF took the tyres for dynamometer tests thrice to a facility in China, incurring a cost of around `10 crore. (A dynamometer test simulates the entire sequence of taxi, take-off, landing and braking loads on the tyre.)
“Later, the tyres were sent for trials at the IAF bases in Bareilly, Jodhpur and Leh in 2011. They were finally cleared for getting on to the IAF assets in 2012. The MRF has so far delivered 350 tyres and the remaining are being manufactured at their plant in Medak near Hyderabad,” the official said. A Sukhoi has two main wheel and two nose wheel tyres.
Seeing the success of Aeromuscle tyres, the MRF has been given the mandate of designing the nose wheel tyres for Sukhois.
“Currently, the fitment trials are over and they are being taken to China for dynamometer tests. By June, these tyres will be sent to Bangalore for the clearance of the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification,” the official added.
Speaking to Express from Hyderabad, Dr K Tamilmani, Director-General (Aero), confirmed that even the Indian Navy wants Aeromuscle for the MiG-29Ks. “We are planning to change the Tejas tyres very soon, which will be followed by Dornier, Pilatus and Hawk. Currently, the Tejas runs on Dunlop, being imported from the UK,” said Tamilmani. He said aircraft tyres normally undergo various tests such as burst, air retention, bottoming-up (emptying the air/flat tyres), fitment and taxi.Article Source- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/Desi-Tyres-on-Sukhoi-Fighters-a-Runway-Hit/2014/03/05/article2091158.ece#.Ux10hPmSx3O