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Indian Air Force of the future

Posted In: . By Nalin Bakshi

One more IAF plane crashed in last 10 days. It was a training aircraft.Both the trainer and the trainee died in the crash. IAF has gone down from one of the best to one below average. The training time had to be reduced because of the lack of a super sonic trainer. The one we have is a very old class. Graduating from which, the young recruit has to fly the flying coffin aka MiG 21. Air Force around the world mean the latest in technology and military hardware. They have the most cutting edge technology in the world. But IAF, na... they still fly the MiG 21 which is already in the museum of a lot of Air Forces. These are the same planes with which we fought the Indo-pak war of 1971, which means that they are at-least 38 years old. Reminds me of Fiat padmini, we laugh at people who still drive it and are amaze at the fact how they can drive a 20 year old car and here we have 38 year old aircrafts to defend us. What has the Govt Of India been doing?

The MiG crashes now and then have made people un-confident about our air force. Sadly no one among the public is asking why? MiG 21s are not the only ones, after that we have the aging fleet or MiG 27s and jaguars. MiG 29 are also getting old. Add to that, we are already short of aircraft. Instead iof sanctioned 39.5 squadrons, we have only 34. God forbids but if tomorrow we are pushed into battle, things won't be too good for us.

But this year things have been improving. And Congress seems to be taking bold steps under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh.The same man who saved India in 90's when India's economy was in shambles. Now lets check out the the good side. The Il-78 (Ilyushin -78, Russian) refuelers are here, which mean that IAF can send fighters any where in the world. That is how we got to participate in USAF's advanced training course - Red Flag. That's not the only good news, we are also getting AWACS (Advanced Warning And Control System). AWACS are special aircraft with a huge RADAR on top of them (check the pic on the left). This allows forces to see far deeper and in event of war will give India the edge. The AWACS we have is an Il-76 aircraft with Phalcon RADAR (Israeli). India already operates the Ilyushin 76 heavy lift cargo aircraft and using the same means we already have a service base in India. In addition to this IAF will also procure C-130 medium lift cargo aircraft from US (Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin, USA).

This is not it. IAF had few years back signed a deal for 140 Su-30MKI (Sukhoi 30, M:Improved, K:export version, I:India) air dominance fighters, the number of which have been increased to 230 now. Its a unique aircraft because IAF bought the best airframe which was Su-30MK, got it improved to a Su 35 level, got best avionics from Israel and Europe and got them integrated.

Another good news is that IAF has inducted the hawk super sonic aircraft too (check the pic on the right). Though, currently in process, this latest induction would mean that IAF can go back to the grueling training that IAF pilots used to get. With low risks, the new pilots would be trained better.

And now finally MMRCA(Meduim Multi Role Combat Airraft) deal for 126 aircrafts is coming into reality. And the contenders are one of the best. Here is a glance:

  • F-16 IN: The most advanced F-16, if ever built would be for the IAF.
  • F-18 F: The highly advanced F-18 used by US Navy.
  • Rafael: IAF wanted the Mirage but French Dassault came out with the best they had, the all new Rafael.
  • Euro-Fighter: This is the best the Europe has (excluding Rafael) to offer.
  • JAS 39 Grippen: This one from Sweden is not the best but certainly cost effective.
  • MiG 35: The son of MiG29, this new age avatar is the most agile aircraft in the world.

For more on MMRCA deal you can check out this link: (opens in new window)

Had enough good news? No.. then here is the dessert - after the failure of Kaveri engine for LCA, the indigenous aircraft will be fitted with a foreign engine. IAF had long been unimpressed and was afraid that Govt might force it to use ingeniously built engine. The new proven engine will make sure that this delayed aircraft is combat worthy and if hopefully approved by the IAF, it would be the first indigenous combat aircraft.

While all this coming too late for India, but thankfully, its coming. Threat from China is no more being ignored by Indian government. We still are completely depended on foreign suppliers for our defense procurement and its high time that we start building good products in India. They need not be world class but they should not be a flop show. I hope the future governments do take this up-gradation of our armed forces ahead because in this new age of nuclear war, if a war erupts, we should have our men in uniform equipped with best we can give them to take the fight to the enemy and come back winning.


R15, The review

Posted In: , . By Nalin Bakshi

 Yamaha came back to India with a bang. The bang which is now know as the R15 (R one five). 150CC, 17PS and R1 DNA, that describes R15 in a nutshell. But frankly, is the bike worth the price? I would say so. If you are looking for a sports bike, with race primarily in your mind then this is the bike for you. And quite frankly there are not much racing bikes in India anyways. The close second to this would be the Apache RTR. R15 delivers what it promises, a circuit racing bike. The tires, the posture, the engine all suited for only one purpose – racing. That is exactly why the bike has an 150 CC engine. In order to produce high RPMs essential for a racing bike, they had to make a small engine which could deliver so. To increase the efficiency of the engine they also provided with fuel injection. The delta box frame from R1 has been used in this bike too, giving great balance and bringing strength to the chassis. Don’t let the thin tires of the bike elude you. These soft compound tires might not look good but they are great on circuit.

The Engine

The small 150CC engine is quite capable of pushing the bike to 130KMPH plus. Though you might feel a lack of pick up but a good revving won’t displease you much. The bike has 6 gears in all , the gear ratios are very well set and help you keep the bike at good rpms. Needless to say the bike is not made to deliver good mileage so don’t expect much. It could go anything from 25KMPL to 45 KMPL depending on how you are riding and on what kind of a terrain. The engine is smooth and the FI does seem to help. The gear box is very smooth and clutch responsive.


The chassis is the patent Yamaha delta box. This gives the bike a good balance and strength. The mono-suspension in the rear provides better stability. In theory it does, in practical, I don’t know, but the bike seems to handle bump really well. The bike has a low ground clearance so you might need to watch out for speed breakers which are thin but high. Both the front and rear wheels have disc brake. The brakes are very responsive and give confidence to the rider. Jamming both the brakes doesn’t shake the bike much and inspires confidence.


Truly a racing one, you can ride with a back at 80 degrees or you can lean with your waist on the tank to allow for more aerodynamics. Crouching on the tank initially feels odd as you have to lean a lot in comparison to other bikes, but one gets used to it quiet easily. The foot rest are well placed and you feel in unison with the bike once on the move. The center of gravity of the rider is pushed forward and does help a lot once you get on the curves. Leaning off the bike is quiet easy too. So far I have not seen or heard from anyone who would be able to lean so much that the foot rest or the stand would touch the ground as in case of pulsars, so basically the limit of the bike is just you and the traction with the surface below the tires.

Front Console

The front console is feels big once you are on the bike. The digital console is very decent, digital speedo with analog odometer makes for a impressive look. The white back light for the speedometer is very pleasing. The numbers are big and are easily readable. You have the option to keep record of two trips. The fuel in the bike is indicated by bars on the left of speedometer and when the bike is low on fuel the last bar at the bottom starts to blink. Often the light starts to blink way in advance. And if you still don’t refuel and the bike is very low on fuel, the last bar will disappear.

The clip on handle bars on the bike are well positioned. Though they feel small but very adaptable unless you are a huge guy. The handle bars don’t put much stress on the shoulders and the position of brake and clutch lever is nice. The buttons are smooth, appealing and large enough to easily switch. The bike does remind of RX 100 when you  switch these buttons.

Lights: This is something which distinguishes R15 from other Indian bikes. The lights are undoubtedly good, but for some good is not enough and so they opt for white lights. A good 35W pair should do the trick without being a problem for your battery. Some might find it strange but both lights turn on only when you are at high beam. Else only one will work. This is to more to do with battery than having one light only as a high beam and other as normal. Both lights turn with same focus, but you have the privilege to change the angle as both lights are different.

Riding the bike

Riding the bike is fun. The bike is light and still stable at high speeds too. Cross winds doesn’t seem to affect it as much as one would guess. Another thing I had doubts for was the gear ratios. 6 gears for 17PS bike seemed too much but I got used to it very quickly. Once you get the speed,  slowing down is not something you would want. And this shows on road too. While others would be slowing down on turns you might be even thinking of revving it up more. The confidence on the bike is just too good which actually makes the bike worth the money. On straight lines the speed is as good as a pulsar 220 or even more at times. The superb handling makes it a pleasure to ride.

You would often hear a strange sound coming from the engine, which is non other than the radiator working to cool the bike. The foot rest are small and feel odd when you wear the shoes with soft sole, but this is a racing bike, so you should not be complaining. I was not pleased with the position of the brake lever on the foot and sadly the bike provided only a small angle to change.

Riding with someone with a pillion is ok within city limits, on a ride out the city, this can seem painful on your hands, since the pillion would be leaning and braking would put extra stress on your hands. But this again depends on the kind of rider you are. Some brake a lot, some very less. So it would all depend on you .

How good is the bike to tour?

There has already been a successful saddle sore attempt on the bike. But this doesn’t actually mean it’s a good tourer and I don’t think so too. The posture is not good in for long rides. Royal Enfields, Karizma and even the 220 would be way better and easier to ride on long routes. The high RPM engine is also the culprit, riding a Karizma or Pulsar 220 at high speeds is easier as both the bikes are low RPM bikes, which mean low vibrations at high speeds. Also if you plan to use bags (bags especially made for touring bikes or your normal backup or anything), tying them to the bike is not that easy. The cramster which we tried on R15 rubs against the plastic which comes out too much from the rear. But people have been using plastics etc to reduce the rub off from the bags. Also once the bike gets heavy, its pick up drops substantially against the like of Karizma, 220 or bullets. The low ground clearance can also be a problem if you would have to do bit of off roading or riding on the tracks like leh. This is bike is not meant for such riding. But this is something one should be okey with since R15 is a sports bike and not a tourer and as said in start of this section, a person has already done saddle sore (1600KMs in one day) on the bike, so nothing should stop you for using this bike for touring.

Specifications as on the official Yamaha site



Engine typeLiquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valve
Cylinder arrangementSingle cylinder
Displacement149 .8cc
Bore & Stroke57×58.7mm
Compression ratio10.4:1
Maximum power17PS / 8,500rpm
Maximum torque15 N.m / 7,500rpm
Starting systemElectric Start
Lubricationwet sump
Engine oil capacity1.0 liters
Fuel tank capacity12 liters
Fuel supply systemElectronic fuel injection
Ignition systemT.C.I
Primary / Secondary reduction ratio3.042 / 3.000
Clutch typeConstant-mesh wet multi-plate
Transmission typeReturn type 6-speed
Gear ratios1st=2.833, 2nd=1.875, 3rd:=1.364,
4th=1.143, 5th=0.957, 6th=0.84


Frame typeDeltabox Frame
Caster / Trail26° / 100mm
Tire size (Front / Rear)80/90-17 / 100/80-17
Brake type (Front / Rear)Hydraulic, single disc (Front / Rear)
Suspension type (Front / Rear)Telescopic / Linked type Monocross
Headlight12V35W / 35W+35W


Overall length x width x height1,995mm x 670mm x 1,070mm
Seat height790mm
Minimum ground clearance160mm
Dry weight / Curb weight120kg / 131kg


Get ready its paint ball time

Posted In: , . By Nalin Bakshi

One gun, 100 paint balls and 5 enemies -  my friends but thy shall have NO Mercy.

Back at Chandigarh with friends, we decided to play paint ball. It was me, Saahil, bandhu, Narinder, Kalia, Sanket, Enu and two others. Saahil took us off PGI route to the place. The arena was decent size with simple set up. There were trenches, sand bags, tires and wooden planks in different design placed startegically.

Me, Saahil, Bandhu and Narinder. The start was fantastic, the owner pointed the gun at a sand bag and fired 2 shots. The bag burst open. It was good enuf to scare enu. Sanket was the daring one, he asked the owner to fire one directly at him and he didnt budge a bit. That was gud enuf to give me confidence.

Narinder’s trial shot

My team was all set in khake dangris, Sanket was talking to us when Narinder pointed the gun at Sanket and bam – one shot straight at the helmet, more of a face covering than head. A long slime saliva dropped from his helmet. The ball had hit just in front of mouth and and some parts had enter his mouth when he was talking to us. His mouth, lips were swollen but he was back in the arena in 2 mins after rinsing his mouth, guts man!

Game on

Me and narinder made a team and Saahil , bandhu other. Their task was to cover us. Just like in the movies i started firing like a commando. Bandhu was out in no time. They were 5 and were moving towards and we were pinned down. Nari made a hit, but that guy refused to accept that. I made only one kill. All that hero thing didnt work.

I got number of hits and so did Narinder, but it was one fun event.


New learnings

Posted In: , . By Nalin Bakshi

Ever since I shifted and started to stay alone, life has been a teacher for me. All alone, I have all the time to think about me and what I want to do with my life. And if one listens and looks around closely, there are a lot things one can learn from. And one of the things I am learning from is  other’s failures. I never judged people, I still don’t much; but now I have started to look into their way of thinking and start to analyze why are they where they are.

Fortunately people or incidents in my life have been teaching me lots of things. Few of them I would like to share:

1. Those who are not successful are so because they don’t know what they want. Thats why those who dream big tend to be more successful.

2. Hard work is not the mantra, smart work is. My boss asked me to write a logic in one day’s time, though it was not a one day thing. Then later on that same thing he asked to me write some other code in one day time, again it was a way too optimistic thought. Then again couple of such pieces of code. I worked hard but I knew it was not going to solve the problem. After weeks when the design team rejected the code, the work came back to me. This time fortunately my boss said – ok! just do it and finish it once and for all. One day planning and two days coding.

The code is now bug free.

3. People who are good managers tend to do better. There are no super men, but there are super managers. Every successful man is either a successful manager or has one working for him. You can’t fight the simple fact that there are 24 hrs in a day and that you do need a good 7to 8 hrs sleep every day. You have to manage your work, life, family etc in these 24 hrs only. If you do it, you are a winner.

4. Money is source of happiness. I must have mentioned it on the blog that I was never after money. I am still not but what I have realised is that money is important. I should not do wrong to get it, but if I can get it through right means, then its a great thing to have. And as my uncle says: “Those who say money doesn’t buy happiness don’t know the shop to buy it from”.

5. No point betting on a pony. No matter how much you want the pony cannot beat the horse in a race (under normal conditions). The pony is going to be a pony and horse a horse. We cannot change them and we shouldn’t expect much too.  I have to say this but my company is like the same, they are a pony and they would always be one until they change their DNA (style of working). I have spent years in that company but they still don’t realise my efforts. And there is no point continuing if they continue to do so…

6. Compromises don’t work: Thy shall not compromise. Compromises don’t work and thats a fact. And I don’t want to compromise any more. I know I can’t escape it but for most part of my life, I will not. I am where I am today because I compromised on something or the other. People might call me rude now but thats the fact. There are things I will compromise for but those would be for friends and family.

7. Give time to friends: I have not given a good time to friends, no thanks to my hectic office schedule. But I need to break this jinx. I need to go out and spend quality time with friends. What is life without friends and family?

8. Early retirement. I never thought about it but there is something like this too. If you have worked good and earned lots, its time to retire and enjoy life. But this would only happen if I earn a lot. So One should plan early and get it done.

9. Nothing beats a good plan: A good, thought out plan is hard to beat. The more planned it is, the more likely it is to survive. If you think and think through, you can work on a path for which you have done some research and this always help. Instead of waisting time on what to do when you reach a problem, spend time to choose path without a problem.

10. Successful generals are those who have a great back up plan. This I read somewhere and still have to think about. But what it states as you might conclude is an alternate plan if things start to go wrong or don’t fall at right places. If you have a back up plan, you can always switch to that. The back up plan might be different but the objective must be the same