February 18, 2020

India will purchase 110 new fighter jets in staggered manner, says CDS Gen Bipin Rawat

India will stagger the purchase of new foreign fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), General Bipin Rawat said as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) looks to also boost the domestic manufacturing industry.

“You should not go in for large numbers. Staggered acquisitions are important because when small orders are placed, it gives us time to take care of their downtime and also allow modernisation of the three services simultaneously,” he said. The IAF is planning to acquire 110 new fighter jets.

However, a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) for the mega deal, valued at over USD 15 billion, is yet to be issued. The IAF has new budgetary constraints given that it saw a drop in its capital funds allocation in the latest Union Budget.

The IAF is considering proposals for Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A 18, Lockheed Martin’s F-21, the Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB’s Gripen E, and the Russian MiG-35 and Su-35.

Make In India push ::

CDS Gen Rawat said that it is important for defence services to accept an indigenous product over a foreign-made one even if it meets only 70-80 per cent of the required parameters as contracts bind the forces for years.“It is important to hand-hold the domestic industry. Upgrades can come like Mark 1, 2 or 3,” he said. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have already begin work on Tejas Mark II.

The CDS explained that by placing large orders with foreign companies, forces can’t switch to the domestic industry that may be capable of making the same technology a few years after a contract is finalised.

“Why do you think only 36 Rafales were bought,” Gen Rawat said, citing the deal as an example. On whether this meant that more Rafales could be bought, the CDS said everything depended on what requirements need to be met at the time.

Gen Rawat’s comments come at a time the IAF is set to place an order with the state-run HAL for 83 Tejas Mark 1 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

There has been speculation that India will buy another 36 Rafales, which will be cheaper than the ones signed for in 2016, and depend on the LCA Mark IA and Mark II and the indigenous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft to boost IAF’s strength.

India bought 270 Su-30 MKI from Russia in staggered contracts beginning in the late 90s, delivery of which is yet to be completed. The initial order was for 140 aircraft.

Underwater capabilities ::

Gen Rawat also spoke on acquisitions for the Navy, saying the focus right now is on procuring new submarines instead of adding a third aircraft carrier to the fleet.
 “When we know that there would be two aircraft carriers and if the submarine strength is dwindling, then our priority should be for submarines,” he said.

The Indian Navy currently operates one aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. A second carrier, Vikrant, is currently under construction in Kochi.

He added that the Navy’s demand for a third aircraft carrier will be considered after “assessing performance” of the Vikrant, which is set to begin sea trials this month.


Need for submarines to torpedo Indian Navy's plan for 3rd carrier?

Adding to concern about the Indian Navy's prospects to acquire a new aircraft carrier, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Monday that acquisition of new submarines was a priority over aircraft carriers. Rawat was interacting with journalists in Delhi.

The Indian Navy has one serving aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya, and another ship being built in Kochi, the Vikrant, which is expected to be commissioned by 2022. Both ships have displacement of about 45,000 tonnes.

Rawat was quoted by news agency ANI as saying, "When we know that there would be two aircraft carriers there, and if the submarine force is dwindling, then our priority should be for submarines".Rawat added that the Indian Navy's demand for a third aircraft carrier would be considered after "assessing performance" of the Vikrant. The indigenously built Vikrant is scheduled to begin its first sea trials later this year.

In an interview with THE WEEK in December, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh had declared that the Indian Navy needed a 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier. "I am convinced that the country needs three aircraft carriers, so that two are operational at all times," Singh had told THE WEEK.

Progress on finalising the design parameters of the third aircraft carrier has been slow, though the Indian Navy first projected its requirement over a decade ago. A third aircraft carrier has been considered vital by experts in the face of China's relentless naval expansion.

The proposed third carrier, referred to the Vishal, was to have been significantly larger than the existing Vikramaditya and Vikrant. The Indian Navy had also said the third carrier would have electromagnetic catapults to launch its aircraft.

The Vikramaditya and Vikrant are designed to use 'ski-jumps' to launch their aircraft. Aircraft using ski-jumps have momentum only from their engines and are thus unable to carry heavy fuel and weapon loads. A catapult, on the other hand, gives the aircraft added momentum, enabling it to launch at higher weights and provides an advantage in surface-attack missions or long-range air defence roles. Moreover, catapults enable the launch of specialised aircraft like airborne early-warning systems.

The Indian Navy's plans to acquire six new diesel-electric submarines has been proceeding at a snail's pace even as induction of the indigenously built Scorpene class continues after years of delay.The third aircraft carrier is not the only procurement priority on the back-burner. Rawat said the Indian Air Force's requirement of 114 fighter jets would have to be staggered. The value of the proposed deal for 114 jets is estimated to be around $15 billion.

Rawat said, "I am in favour of staggered acquisitions of weapon systems where small orders are placed, which gives us time to take care of their downtime and also allow modernisation of the three services simultaneously."

Rawat declared the Eastern and Western commands of the Indian Navy would be integrated into Peninsula Command.


Pakistan must withdraw from occupied Kashmir as per UNSC resolutions, hints Guterres

US Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the Security Council resolutions on Kashmir have to implemented, and although he did not make a reference to it, the main resolution requires Pakistan to withdraw from the areas it occupies.

Guterres, who is on a visit to Pakistan, said at a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday according to a transcript released here, that: "It is clear that we have taken a position about the need for Security Council resolutions to be implemented and for effective de-escalation and dialogue linked to that, with another very important condition, which is full respect for human rights and (fundamental) freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir."

Security Council Resolution 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, requires the Pakistani government "to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State".

Although Pakistanis and their supporters elsewhere cite the Security Council asking for a plebiscite to be held in Kashmir, they ignore the precondition of Pakistan's withdrawal from the occupied areas.

Guterres began a three-day visit to Pakistan, his first as Secretary General, on Sunday to participate in an international conference of 40 years of Pakistan hosting Afghan refugees.

During the trip, he is scheduled to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartapur, which gives direct access to pilgrims from India through a special corridor inaugurated last year.

Replying to a journalist's question about UN's role in Kashmir, Guterres said that while he as offered his good offices, he "can only work when accepted by both sides".

He said that the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet made an "important contribution to clarifying what has happened" in Kashmir through her report.

In a report released in July, her office criticised both India and Pakistan for not taking any concrete steps to address the numerous concerns it had raised in an earlier report.

While criticising India for what it said was the lack of accountability for actions by security forces and human rights violations, it also said that there were reports that two terror groups were recruiting children on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC) and carrying out attacks on civilians.

Bachelet has since criticised India over the restrictions and human rights violations after Kashmir was put under President's rule and the subsequent change in its special status under the Constitution's Article 370.

Guterres said that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should have full freedom of movement on the Indian side of the LOC as it has in the area under Pakistani control and that its equipment would be reinforced.

"We believe that UNMOGIP should have full freedom of movement; it has on the Pakistani side – we hope that this will also be achieved on the other side, and we will be strengthening its equipment capacity in order to better be able to implement its mandates," he said replying to the question that mentioned 287 alleged ceasefire this year.

In his introductory remarks, Guterres said that he was grateful for the UNMOGIP's work and that it "will continue to monitor the ceasefire at the Line of Control in accordance with its mandate".

India maintains that the UNMOGIP has no useful role in Kashmir because under the Simla Agreement of 1972 between the two countries, it is a bilateral issue.

India withdrew the government accommodation given to it in New Delhi.

Guterres earlier inaugurated a new UNMOGIP headquarters building in Pakistan.

Guterres said that he had discussed the situation in South Asia with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehood Qureshi, and he was "deeply concerned about the increase in tensions that we have witnessed last year".

"I have repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint and taking steps to de-escalate, both militarily and verbally, while reiterating my offer to exercise my good offices, should both sides ask."

He added: "Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability, with solutions in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council."


February 14, 2020

BrahMos to Test Airborne Early Warning Aircraft Killer Missile Soon - Aerospace Chief

BrahMos Aerospace has been aiming to develop a hypersonic version of a missile that will be able to hit the target five times faster than the speed of sound. Jointly developed by India and Russia, the versatile BrahMos missile will be used by the Indian Armed Forces.

BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, will soon be used to test an air-to-air missile system capable of destroying airborne warning and control systems.

“We are thinking to develop the air-to-air version with anti-AWACS capability. The range can be in excess of 400-500 km and the test will be sometime in the near future,” Mishra said in an interview with the online Manorama daily.
Defence sources told Sputnik that the missile can even hit enemy surveillance systems, enemy refuelling aircraft, and transporters from long distance.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is dependent upon the Russian missiles to destroy long-range radar surveillance and control systems for air defense. However, as Pakistan, India's neighboring state, could eventually purchase longer range killer missile from China, the IAF has shown interest in a missile that can destroy the enemy radar system from afar.

Earlier this month, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Satheesh Reddy claimed the country had received many queries about the BrahMos system.

"BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is one of the most important products that we are looking to export. We have received many queries about the missile system."
At least 14 countries have shown an interest in BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system. The Philippine's Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana announced on 16 December that Manila is set to order the system from India in 2020 as part of its military modernisation programme.

“We expect (signing the agreement) sometime in April or May,” Praveen Pathak, the chief general manager for marketing and export of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace told reporters on 19 January.


Is Boeing Elbowing MiG Out of India Carrier Jet Race?

Boeing has announced plans to test its F/A-18 Super Hornet jet on a carrier ski-jump to make a pitch for India’s carrier-based aircraft procurement program even as Russia’s MiG is expecting an order to supply the MiG-29K jets for the same.

India’s Russian origin aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya and India's first Indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) use the ski-jump system while US carriers use the catapult-launch system. India has also been planning to build 65,000-tonne IAC-2, INS Vishal. Last year, BAE Systems offered to build a customized HMS Queen Elizabeth-type aircraft carrier for India, with an adaptable design for ski-jump and catapult launch.

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet will need to be tested and certified for ski-jump operation before it can make a pitch for the Indian procurement.“Testing plans are underway,” Thom Breckenridge, a Boeing vice president for international sales, said at the Defexpo2020 Indian arms show. “We will rigorously check our aircraft on the ski jump.”

"Russia is waiting for a request from the Indian Defense Ministry for the delivery of deck-based MiG-29K fighters for the Vikrant,” a Russian aviation industry told Tass today in response to Indian media reports that the wait for the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant has been extended due to issues with the delivery of aviation equipment from Russia.

The Indian side has not yet issued a tender for the supply of deck-based aircraft, although the Indian side made the relevant inquiry back in 2017. On Russia’s behalf, the state arms seller Rosoboronexport will take part in the tender, the source told Tass.

According to India’s plans, the light aircraft carrier Vikrant is due to be delivered to the Indian Navy in March 2021. The warship is expected to carry up to 14 MiG-29K fighters and several helicopters.

India’s current fleet of 45 MiG-29K aircraft, procured for $2.2 billion, currently operate from Navy’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, and plans to buy 57 more. The flight deck of INS Vikrant will reportedly have the capacity to hold 19 aircraft and the hangar inside will have room for 17 fighters.

New Delhi issued a request for information (RFI) for a “day-and-night-capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air-defense, air-to-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance, etc. from (the Navy's) aircraft carriers.” The country has, however, not yet issued even a call to bid in a tender for the supply of deck-based aircraft.
 In future, these aicrafft will fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant once it enters service.


February 13, 2020

India begins manufacturing parts for Rafale fighter jets in Nagpur

In a first, India has started manufacturing parts for Rafale, some of which could even be used on the 36 French fighter jets ordered by the Narendra Modi government in 2016.

The first set of doors that cover the twin engines of the fighter jets has come out of the Nagpur facility, which is a joint venture of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence and French firm Dassault Aviation.

“We are seeing India has one of the drivers of the Dassault Aviation products. Be it the Falcon business jet or now the Rafale, every product in the future will have an Indian connection,” an official of the French defence major told ThePrint.

Defence sources said the idea is to scale up production of Rafale parts in the coming months.

Asked if the doors will be fitted on board the Indian Rafale fighter jets, another company official said, “It is a may or may not be. It all depends on the rate of production and the quantity of parts available back in France. But the parts manufactured in Nagpur will go up on the Rafale for sure.”

First 4 Rafale jets expected to arrive in May ::

The first four Rafale jets are expected to arrive in India in May. While one squadron of the Rafale fighter jets will be based in Ambala, the other would be in Hasimara, West Bengal.

Industry sources said that what works for foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers is that production in India helps them to meet offset obligations and also to procure materials and products at a much lower rate since the labour cost is less in the country.

The Nagpur facility of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) was initially making only cockpits for the French manufacturer’s Falcon business jets, besides other parts.

The facility was only meant to manufacture components for Falcon jets and not for the Rafale jets.

But in June 2019, ThePrint had reported that Dassault Aviation is likely to start manufacturing components of the Rafale fighter jets at its India facility, with the wares destined for global customers.

Dassault and Reliance announced their joint venture and the creation of DRAL on 3 October 2016, barely two weeks after India signed a 7.878 billion euro deal for 36 Rafale jets in a flyaway condition.

The DRAL facility was inaugurated in October 2017, in the presence of Dassault CEO Eric Trappier and Anil Ambani.


Saudi Arabia to evaluate Indian Kalyani Group howitzers

Kalyani Group, established in mid 1960s, is an Indian multi-national with high technology, engineering & manufacturing capability across critical sectors such as Engineering Steel, Automotive, Industrial, Renewable Energy, Urban Infrastructure and Specialty Chemicals. In order to extend its activities in the field of defense, Kalyani Group has launched the development of indigenous artillery systems and combat vehicles.

The Saudi army has expressed a keen interest for the Kalyani Group’s Bharat 52 and Garuda-V2 towed howitzers. The Indian armed forces need to realize that some Indian products may not be technologically superior to those available in the international market, but unless these are considered favorably, the fledgling Indian defense industry may not be encouraged to invest in defense, Indian Defence News analyzes. Once inducted, the manufacturer will be willing to improve his product by investing in R & D. Further, the prototypes displayed, if suitable for Indian armed forces’ needs, could be centrally financed for further R&D to enhance quality.

The indigenously developed weapon is manufactured by the company’s Bharat Forge Limited subsidiary and is based on the requirements of the Indian Army. It completed mobility trials at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) in Ahmednagar in 2015 and firing trials at the Ordnance Factories’ facility at CPE Itarsi in October 2017. The Bharat 52 has successfully completed track trials in 2015 and firing trials in October 2015.
 The Bharat 52 was presented at DefExpo 2018 near Chennai, during a live demonstration showing its ability to be used in fully autonomous conditions thanks to the integration of its own diesel engine and electronic steering system. The Bharat-52 in self-propelled mode is capable of achieving a mobility of 20 km/h. It is able to fire up to a range of 41 km and utilizes self-propelling capability and automatic laying mode. The Anti-backlash drive for elevation and traverse make it a truly unique system and a robust solution for superior battlefield operation. It is designed to operate as an all- weather system and has superior all-terrain mobility.

The Bharat-52 can be easily deployed with a team of six crew members in one minute during day time and 1.5 minutes during night time. It has a total weight of 15 tons, elevation angle from -3° to +72° with a speed of 5° per second. The Bharat 52 is equipped with a fully Load Assist System (LAS) with manual backup arrangement offering a burst rate of fire of 3 rounds in 30 seconds, 16 rounds in 3 minutes in intense rate of fire and 42 rounds in one hour in sustained rate of fire.

According to Bharat Forge, the 15 ton Bharat-52 has a firing range of about 41 km, with a traverse of 35˚ to right and left, and elevation range of -3˚ to +72˚at a rate of 5˚/s. The Bharat 52 also features a load assist system (LAS) that enables its crew to achieve rapid fires of 6 rounds/min or a sustained rate of 42 rounds/hr. Gun laying is fully electronic, with the gunnery crew directing the weapon’s traverse and elevation via joystick command.

The range of usable ammunition is quite large: American breaking shells USM107 (maximum range, 17,800 m/18 km) or USM101 (maximum range 24,000m/24 km); ERFB (Extended-range Full Bore) with improved range (30,000 m/30 km); diminished pellet drag (range 49,000 m/40 km); illuminating; smoke; 13 kg sub-munitions ejection (M42) is very effective against vehicles and personnel. The ERFB projectile weighs 45,540 kg, of which 8,620 kg of explosive Composition B. Derived from a pre-existing range, it is longer and more tapered than a current shell, which explains its better penetration in the air, and thus its higher radius of action. The hollow-bottomed model differs only in its rear part, which incorporates a gas generator so as to minimise drag. The usable ammunition surmise is principally based on the Belgian/Austrian Noricum GHN-45 Howitzer which is comparable to the Bharat-52.

Although principally a towed gun, the weapon is equipped with a diesel auxiliary power unit (APU) as well as electronic steering that enables it to travel at speeds of up to 30 kph. The 80-litre fuel tank gives the unit a range of 250 km. All that matters for Bharat Forge is to expect the Army to show interest and the will to procure this exceptional indigenously produced gun.


On eve of Trump's visit, India finalises $ 3.5 billion defence deals to be inked with US

India has finalized two more mega defence deals with the US, together worth over $3.5 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) for 30 heavy-duty armed helicopters, in the run-up to President Donald Trump’s visit here on February 24-25.

These soon-to-be-inked deals will take the total value of Indian defence contracts bagged by the US just since 2007 to well past the $20 billion mark. The $2.6 billion deal for 24 MH-60 `Romeo’ multi-mission helicopters for the Navy and the $930 million one for six AH-64E Apache attack choppers for the Army are set to be cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) by next week, said sources on Wednesday.

“India will pay an initial 15% instalment for the MH-60R helicopters under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) government-to-government deal. Once the contract is inked, the first lot of the choppers will be delivered in two years. All 24 will come in four to five years,” said a source.

The “direct commercial sale” of the six Apaches, in turn, is basically a follow-on order to the 22 such helicopters already inducted by IAF under a Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015. “The Army should get the deliveries of the six choppers, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, around 2022-2023,” said a source.

The MH-60Rs, which are armed with Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets, are considered a “critical operational necessity” for the Navy because its warships are virtually bereft of such helicopters at a time when Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are making regular forays into the Indian Ocean Region. The 140-warship force has just about a dozen old Sea King and 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters operational as of now.

As was first reported by TOI in June last year, the 24 MH-60Rs and six Apache helicopters are part of the several lucrative defence deals worth over $10 billion being lined up for the US by India over the next two-three years.

The others include six more P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft ($1.8 billion), the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II for the missile shield over Delhi ($1.8 billion), 30 Sea Guardian armed drones (over $2.5 billion) and 13 big MK-45 naval gun systems for warships ($1.02 billion). “These deals will take some time to be finalized and inked,” said the source.

During his visit, President Trump is also expected to push the case for a US fighter -- F/A-18, F-15EX or F-21 (upgraded version of F-16) -- to be selected for the mega “Make in India” project to produce 114 jets for the IAF for around $20 billion. The US is also in contention to supply 57 multi-role fighters capable of operating from aircraft carriers for the Indian Navy.
India and the US have also identified seven defence projects for co-development and production under the bilateral Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). These include air-launched small aerial systems (drone swarms), light-weight small arms technology, ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance) systems and anti-drone technology called “counter-UAS rocket, artillery and mortar systems”, as was reported by TOI in October last year.


F-15EX: Why Boeing wants to sell India this heavy-duty fighter

The Indian Air Force's plans to buy over 100 new fighter jets have seen plenty of drama in the two decades since the first proposal was mooted. This has ranged from the selection of the French Rafale as the winner in a tender for 126 fighters in 2012 to the cancellation of that programme in 2015 to the launch of a tender in 2016 to buy 'single-engine' fighters.

The last project since evolved into an ongoing competition for the supply of 114 fighters for the Indian Air Force at an estimated project cost of $15 billion. Companies from the US, Europe and Russia are offering a total of seven different fighter designs to the Indian Air Force. But news on Tuesday suggests that an eight entrant might gatecrash the process.

Flight Global, a global aviation website, reported on Wednesday that US aerospace giant Boeing is contemplating offering its F-15EX fighter to the Indian Air Force and has sought clearance from the Donald Trump administration. Boeing has already offered its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet to the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, which is seeking to buy 57 aircraft to operate from its aircraft carriers.

Flight Global reported Kelli Seybolt, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, had revealed "Boeing had sought an export licence for India for the F-15EX. The licence will allow Boeing to discuss the F-15EX with Indian officials..."

Bigger, better?

The F-15EX is the latest variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle multirole fighter. The F-15E is itself derived from the iconic F-15 fighter, which first flew in 1972. Both the F-15 and F-15E remain in service with the air forces of the US and several of its allies. The F-15EX is based on the F-15E variants sold to Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the past decade and, according to Boeing, it "delivers more payload, capacity and range than any fighter in its class".

In terms of loaded weight and dimensions, the F-15EX is significantly larger than the Super Hornet and Rafale and well over twice the size of the Gripen E/F offered by Sweden's Saab. The F-15EX reportedly has a maximum take-off weight of about 36 tonnes, near to that of the Su-30MKI, the Indian Air Force’s mainstay fighter.

Boeing claims the F-15EX can carry over 13 tonnes of weapons and fuel tanks under its wings and fuselage, which is well over the Rafale's publicised payload capacity of 9.5 tonnes. Moreover, the F-15E and F-15EX have conformal fuel tanks to increase range and advanced navigation equipment for low-level ground-attack missions.

Boeing claims the F-15EX can carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles, far more than the number carried by the F-35 stealth fighter. Boeing has been promoting the F-15EX as an affordable back-up option for the expensive F-35. The Defence News recently reported that Boeing has projected a unit cost of $80 million for the F-15EX.

Last year, the Trump administration cleared the purchase of eight F-15EX jets for the US Air Force in its defence budget for an estimated cost of $1.1 billion, with intentions to buy up to 72 aircraft. It marked the first purchase of an F-15 by the US Air Force in nearly 20 years. Israel has been mulling an order for around 25 F-15EX jets for more than a year. Israel values the F-15's long range and heavy payload capability as a deterrent in the event of threats from Iran.

Other countries operating the F-15E are Israel, South Korea and Singapore. Interestingly, both South Korea and Singapore had selected the F-15E over the Rafale in the 2000s.

Boeing's intention to offer the F-15EX fighter to the Indian Air Force is likely to raise questions on how the company views the prospects of the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet in India. While touted as having lower operating costs than the F-15, the Super Hornet has won only two export orders to date—from Australia and Kuwait.

The Indian Air Force had evaluated and rejected the Super Hornet during its trials for the tender to buy 126 fighters in the last decade. The Super Hornet has been criticised by some US experts in the past as having poor supersonic performance.

However, the General Electric F-414 engine powering the Super Hornet may just give it an unusual advantage against the F-15EX and other rivals. Both the Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) being developed by the DRDO and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) stealth fighter, which is on the drawing board, are projected to use the F-414 engine. Multiple aircraft types having a common engine mean significant cost savings for military planners.


Missile shield over Delhi: India may buy NASAMS-II air defence system from US

India has got one step closer to deploying a new missile shield over its Capital, with US state department notifying its Congress of the impending sale of an integrated air defence weapon system (IADWS) to New Delhi for $1.86 billion.

TOI in July 2018 had first reported that India was moving swiftly ahead to acquire the IADWS or the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) from the US, which will be used along with indigenous, Russian and Israeli systems to erect an ambitious multi-layered missile shield over the National Capital Territory of Delhi against aerial threats ranging from drones to ballistic missiles.

India and the US have already held several rounds of negotiations, including selection of sites for deployment of the missile batteries around Delhi, for the proposed sale under the American foreign military sales (FMS) programme, as was reported earlier by TOI.

Once the deal is inked, the NASAMS-II deliveries will take place in two to four years, say sources. Though the US was also mounting pressure on India to also consider its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile defence systems, New Delhi went ahead to ink the $5.43 billion (almost Rs 40,000 crore) deal with Russia for five squadrons of the advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems in October 2018.

As per the proposed overall air defence plan for Delhi, the innermost layer of protection will be through the NASAMS. It will be a combination of different weapons like Stinger surface-to-air missiles, gun systems and AIM-120C-7 AMRAAMs (advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles), backed by three-dimensional Sentinel radars, fire-distribution centers and command-and-control units. “The networked system, capable of even shooting around buildings, will take care of 9/11-like and other close-in threats,” said the source.

The outermost layer of Delhi’s missile shield, in turn, will be provided by the indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system being developed by DRDO. This system’s AAD (advanced air defence) and PAD (Prithvi air defence) interceptor missiles are currently geared to intercept enemy missiles, in the 2,000-km class, at altitudes from 15-25 km and 80-100 km respectively.

The second layer will be through the highly automated and mobile S-400 systems, which will have missiles with interception ranges of 120, 200, 250 and 380 kms, backed by their associated battle-management system of command posts and launchers, long-range acquisition and engagement radars.

Then will come the Barak-8 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, jointly developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries and DRDO, which have a 70-100 km interception range. The indigenous Akash area defence missile systems, with a 25-km range, in turn, will form the layer over the NASAMs.


February 11, 2020

No more imports, army kick starts process to order anti-tank guided missiles from Indian industry

Seeking to cut down the import bill, the army has kicked started a process to order new anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) from the Indian industry, preferring the domestic route for over 2,000 missiles, a number that could grow exponentially given its requirements.

The third generation ATGM project, which will replace thousands of Milan and Konours missiles that are currently in service, is being looked at keenly by the private sector, with some companies in advanced stages of prototype development.

The army has asked Indian companies – both private and public sector players like Bharat Dynamics Limited – to submit their `expression of interest’ in the program, which will be followed by the tendering process, trials and evaluations and commercial negotiations.
 Spelling out its requirements, the army has said that the present anti tank capabilities have been in service for more than three decades and there is a need to catch up with other armed forces across the world that have third generation missiles.

“These systems have better accuracy, enhanced lethality, a higher kill probability, day and night operation capability and ensure better survivability for the operating crew,” an army document on the requirement says, inviting Indian vendors to develop a prototype to offer for testing.

While there are a handful of Indian companies that claim to have the technology, the army is open to them having a foreign collaborator as long as there is a minimum of 40% indigenous content (IC) as the contract will be processed under the Indigenous Designed and Manufactured (IDDM) category.

The army has promised the industry an assured order of 101 launchers and 2330 missiles if the trials are successful but the potential orders in the coming decade could be ten times this number. For example, just last year the army cleared the purchase of 5,000 of the older generation Milan 2T missiles to replenish stocks.

To meet immediate needs, the army has placed an emergency order for third generation missiles on Israel’s Rafael. The order is for 210 missiles and a dozen launchers and is being processed on the fast track basis.

Indian companies like the Kalyani Group and VEM Technologies have already initiated work on the systems, with others like Solar Industries also in the reckoning. Not to be left behind, the state owned BDL, which has manufactured the Milan series of missiles in India, too is ready with an offering. BDL launched its ‘Amogha III’ ATGM at the just concluded DefExpo in Lucknow.


GCF to award production of ATHOS gun in collaboration with Israel

Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) Jabalpur will soon award production of towed artillery gun system ‘ATHOS 155 mm/52 calibre’ under the transfer of technology (ToT) agreement with Israel.

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has obtained order from Ministry of Defence for production of 1,180 Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS). Gun Carriage Factory, Joint General Manager and Spokesman Sanjay Shrivastava, while talking to ‘The Hitavada ‘, informed that the indigenous production of Autonomous Towed Howitzer Ordnance System (ATHOS) may be awarded to the GCF but any official confirmation is yet to be received in this regard.

The factory has already proved its mettle with indigenous production of Dhanush 155 mm/45 calibre and Sharang 155 mm/45 calibre gun systems and efficient to develop and produce new guns. Sources in the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) informed that with an aim to strengthen the artillery power of the armed forces, Ministry of Defence will procure 1,580 ATHOS guns from Israel. The country will received 400 ready to use gun systems and rest 1,580 will be indigenously produced through SKD and CKD under ToT with Israel. Gun Carriage Factory in collaboration with other sister factories will indigenously produce ATHOS.

Along with improving the artillery strength of the Indian Army, ATHOS is economically viable for the defence budget. Indigenous production of imported gun system will make it more economical and introduce new defence technology in the country. Preparations are being carried out on ministry level and the ToT will be soon finalized to start production of another imported gun by Ordnance Factory Board, source added.