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September 24, 1998


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ARDE develops safe ejector system for LCA

Michael Gonsalves in Pune

In a significant achievement, the Pune-based premier Armament Research and Development Establishment has developed an innovative high-tech line-charged Canopy Severance System for the Light Combat Aircraft, for safe ejection of the pilot.

Earlier, the ARDE had successfully produced the 'Pinaka' Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System for the Indian armed forces, to give it concentrated high volume firepower to destroy enemy targets as demanded by the top brass of the Indian army.

After nearly 40 test trials, Martin Baker AIC Co, London, arguably the top organisation in the world to certify the safety pilot ejection system, has certified commercial production of canopy severance system. The sophisticated system is technologically so advanced that it requires mere milliseconds to eject the pilot to safety in case of a crash.

"While in the conventional system, the entire canopy flies off and can result in an injury to the pilot, in the newly indigenously developed system, only a certain portion of the canopy which is line-charged, gets severed. This absolutely minimises injury to the pilot," scientist Dr Sudharshan Kumar Salwan, director, ARDE, said

He stressed that no aircraft in the world had this kind of live system which could be operated from outside the aircraft, especially when the pilot was unconscious due to some injuries or in the event of crash-landing.

According to scientist Dr K S Rajgopal, head of the weapons system, ARDE, the Canopy Severance System could be operated by an external initiator.

"The initiator generates a detonation wave which is transmitted in a totally contained manner to a line charger pasted along the canopy and thus cutting it peripherally. This helps in rescuing the pilot," he explained.

Salwan said after the new system was tested at Martin Bakers, UK, recently, it had been approved for use in the LCA. Two LCAs fitted with the system were already in operation for the Indian Army, he disclosed, adding that army authorities were satisfied with its functional operation.

Pointing out that the minimum time in the range of milliseconds should be used in saving the pilot in distress, he pointed out that while the conventional ejection system was 95 per cent successful, the new system would take it to 99.9 per cent.

Salwan said the system was fitted with sophisticated sensors to achieve the expected results as successfully demonstrated in the UK. He said the army chief, General Ved Prakash Malik, during his recent visit to the ARDE was fully satisfied with the new system.

With the green signal obtained from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which sets the target and supervises the working of ARDE and 40 other armament group of labs servicing the Army, Navy and Air Force, commercial production of the new canopy system for the use of the Indian armed forces will commence shortly, Salwan said.

Asked if it will also be sold in the international market, he said after meeting the requirements of the Indian armed forces, its business potential in the world market will be considered.

In another achievement, the ARDE has also successfully developed an 'air launch rescue' system, christened "Rakshak" (Saviour) for rescuing marooned sailors. After successful field trials at sea, this system has been approved and accepted by the Indian Navy.

"Rescue of marooned sailors is always an emergency operation. Though a search aircraft may be able to locate the sailors, it has to call a ship or helicopter to rescue them. But often it is too late for the help to arrive," Salwan said.

The rescue system is a simple dinghy, inflated with carbon dioxide that can be dropped from an aircraft. An impact sophisticated sensor is fitted in its nose and has a parachute at its other end. On release from the aircraft, the parachute opens after three to four seconds and the dinghy descends. The impact sensor senses impact on water and opens out the shell and also operates a valve to inflate the dinghy.

The dinghy with emergency rations, water and pyrosignals is ready in just about 60 seconds, Salwan pointed out.

Established in 1958, the ARDE, largest lab among the 40 armament group of labs in the country under the DRDO, employs over 1,700 scientists, engineers, officers in uniform, technical, industrial staff and support services.

The ARDE is involved in research, development, prototyping, test and evaluation and transfer of technology activities, including limited scale of pilot plant production of crucial items in the complex, multi-disciplinary field of conventional armament technology for the army, navy and air force.

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