The Telegraph
Monday , April 14 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

MRF rolls out tyres for fighter planes

Defence ties

Chennai, April 13: MRF has rolled out Aero Muscle, a tyre for the main wheels of the Sukhoi-30MKI, becoming the first Indian company to make tyres for fighter jets.

The Sukhoi-30MKI is the country’s mainstay combat aircraft.

The tyres, manufactured at the company’s facility in Medak, Hyderabad, passed all the stringent quality tests and multiple takeoffs and landings in different climatic conditions before the Indian Air Force (IAF) approved its induction.

“They were subjected to a load of 18 tonnes per tyre at a speed of 420 km/hour and came out with flying colours. It is a crucial step towards military indigenisation since the IAF had multiple problems in procuring replacement tyres for the Sukhois, whose fleet will be augmented in the coming years,” said Air Vice-Marshal J.K. Singh.

According to Tamil Mani, director-general (Aero) in the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the success with the Sukhoi has prompted the IAF and the DRDO to source tyres for the MiG-29 from MRF, too. He said sourcing the tyres locally would result in huge savings as the Indian tyres would cost only Rs 56,000 against Rs 1 lakh for the imported one.

“The MRF tyres also outperformed the original Russian tyres scoring more than the 40-50 landings achieved by the latter,” Mani said.

“MRF had been making tyres for Chetak helicopters since 2008. But making tyres for fighter jets that operate at cold higher altitudes and would land in hot Rajasthan deserts, posed great technical challenge but our engineers have lived up to the challenge. It is also an expression of our commitment towards the nation’s defence,” executive vice-president of MRF Koshy Varghese said.

On the amount of investments made in manufacturing the specialised tyres to Sukhois, Varghese said, it was around “crores of rupees” to set up the required machineries at the plant. “We were able to use some of the existing set-up itself for producing these tyres.”        

“Currently we are using the back-up facility. We are executing the order, which we got in 2013 from the IAF. Fifty per cent of the order, which are substantial, is being executed. The remaining 50 per cent are on their way,” he said.