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MRF could make tyres for Tejas, other air force planes

The Chennai-based MRF is also looking at developing and supplying tyres for Jaguar fighter jets, Hawk advanced jet trainers, Ilyushin-76 heavy-lifters, and Antonov-32 transport planes, said MRF senior GM (product development) K Thomas Mathen.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2019 07:58 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Yelahanka (Karnataka)
MRF tyres,LCA,Jaguar
IAF's Sukhoi aircraft, a Jaguar and LCA Tejas fly in a 'missing man' formation to pay tribute to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi who lost his life in a crash in Tuesday's rehearsals, during the inauguration of the 12th edition of AERO India 2019 air show at Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru.(AP)

The indigenous light combat aircraft, Tejas, and a few other air force aircraft could soon have new locally produced tyres. India’s largest tyre maker, MRF, is aiming to finish the final validation trials of the nose and main wheels for the Tejas by the year-end before getting approval from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) to begin supplies, two MRF executives said at Aero India 2019 that concluded in Yelahanka on Sunday. The Tejas currently uses Dunlop tyres.

The Chennai-based MRF is also looking at developing and supplying tyres for Jaguar fighter jets, Hawk advanced jet trainers, Ilyushin-76 heavy-lifters, and Antonov-32 transport planes, said MRF senior GM (product development) K Thomas Mathen. These aircraft use imported tyres. MRF has been supplying its Aero Muscle tyres for Su-30s since 2013, advanced light helicopter Dhruv (2014) and Chetak choppers since 2009. The tyres are manufactured at an MRF plant at Medak in Telangana.

The tyres developed by MRF for the LCA and the other aircraft have been tested at 1.5 times the load requirement, deputy GM (commercial tyres) G Madhu said. “The testing is extremely rigorous, with the conditions being more severe than the actual scenario,” he said. The tyres are tested for their performance at a facility in Chennai. Before this facility was set up last year, MRF was dependent on a tyre-testing laboratory in China.

“Speed and load are the two main things when it comes to fighter jet tyres. These tyres are a combination of off-the-road and Formula One tyres,” said Mathen, adding that MRF was supplying tyres to Royal Malaysian Air Force as well. He said Su-30 tyres were tested at speeds of 420 kmph and 24-tonne loads.

Madhu said with tyres being produced locally, the Indian Air Force will no longer have to stock large volumes. “Instead of keeping stocks for three years, now six months is sufficient,” he said. This is part of the ongoing Make in India initiative in ancillaries in the aerospace industry, said military affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd). “Such activities should be encouraged and further scaled up,” he said.

MRF is also awaiting the approval from CEMILAC, the certifying authority for military aviation, for supplying tyres to the navy for its MiG-29K fighters operating from aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. “The MiG-29K tyres are different as they should be able to bear high inflation pressure for deck landing,” said Mathen.

First Published: Feb 25, 2019 06:48 IST