IAF fighters to have on board oxygen generation system

New Delhi: Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters would soon be equipped with special gadgets for production of oxygen while in the air that will enable them to be airborne for longer period and carry extra payload, marking India`s entry into an elite club of forces.

Developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) produces oxygen inside the aircraft, allowing the pilots to fly without the help of heavy oxygen cylinders they carry for high altitudes and long duration sorties.

"Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has started the ground integration process of OBOGS in the Technology Demonstrator (TD) version of the LCA Mark-II. After LCA it will be integrated in all the frontline aircraft of the IAF," W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, Life Science, DRDO, told PTI here.

LCA Mark-II is expected to join the IAF by 2015. DRDO has approved Larsen and Toubro (L&T) as the industrial partner in further development of the technology and its production.

So far only three countries- United States, Russia and France- have successfully integrated the OBOGS technology in its air force.

"It will be a significant force multiplier for IAF focused at enhancing pilots ability to remain airborne. With on-board oxygen generation capability, pilots would not be required to land to refill their oxygen supply," Selvamurthy said.

Based on a sieve-like structure and fitted into the main frame of the aircraft, OBOGS concentrates the oxygen available in the atmosphere and removes nitrogen content from it.

After successfully developing the two-bed OBOGS, DRDO has started working on the three-bed system, which would make India the first country to possess its most advanced version.

"We plan to prepare our aircraft for non-stop intercontinental sorties. Once developed the three-bed system would be integrated on all the frontline fighters of the IAF.

It would also enable the aircraft to carry extra payload," Selvamurthy said.

After acquiring other force multipliers like mid-air refullers and early warning radars which gives an extra edge to the fighter planes, IAF is looking at state of the art technology to enhance human capability of the pilots and DRDO has chalked out a number of project for the purpose.