July 30, 2011

Russian Navy to commission 8 Graney class nuclear subs by 2020

(RIA Novosti) : The Russian Navy will receive at least eight Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarines in the next decade, Navy chief Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said on Friday.
"We are expecting to receive at least eight attack submarines of this [Graney] class by 2020," Vysotsky said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.
The admiral said that the first Graney class sub, the Severodvinsk, will start two-month-long sea trials in the White Sea in August, and it is expected to enter service with the Russian Navy by the end of 2011.
The second vessel, the Kazan, is being built at the Sevmash shipyard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk.
The construction of the third Graney class submarine will begin in 2011.
Graney class nuclear submarines are designed to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles or 5,000 km), with conventional or nuclear warheads, and effectively engage submarines, surface warships and land-based targets.
The submarine's armament includes 24 cruise missiles and eight torpedo launchers, as well as mines and anti-ship missiles.

U.S. in talks with NATO states on deployment of radar system in Europe

(RIA Novosti) : The United States is in talks with a number of NATO states on the deployment of a radar system as part of its mooted missile shield in Europe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State said.
"We're talking to a number of countries within NATO about this radar system and when it might be deployed but I don't want to get into the substance of those discussions," Mark Toner told a daily press briefing, adding that Turkey is among the possible countries.
He reiterated that the missile shield in Europe would not be aimed against Russia and poses no threat to the country at all.
"In terms of Russia's opposition to missile defense plans, we've sought - long sought a cooperative relationship with Russia on missile defense. We continue to seek to cooperate with them on missile defense. We've been clear for many years now that this is not focused on Russia. It's not a threat to them in any way," Toner said.
Russia has retained staunch opposition to the deployment of missile-defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.

Dassault, Thales to upgrade IAF’s Mirage planes

(The Financial Express ) : India on Friday signed a $2.4-billion deal with French companies Dassault and Thales to upgrade the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of Mirage 2000-H fighter aircraft.
The deal is expected to cover upgrades to engines, avionics, navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare equipment and the Thales RDY-2 fire control radar. The work, which is to be jointly undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Dassault and Thales, will bring 51 aircraft to the Mirage 2000-5 standard. With the upgrade, a 20-year lifespan to the aircraft will be added, which were introduced between 1985 and 1989.
“Based on the integration of latest generation equipment and systems, the upgrade will further enhance the technical-operational capabilities of the IAF’s Mirage 2000,” said Thales officials.
The French companies will have to invest 30% of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence sector as offsets. Under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) offsets policy, foreign vendors bagging deals worth over Rs 300 crore have to invest at least 30% of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence, civilian aerospace and homeland security sectors.
The deal had been hanging fire for the last five years as the defence ministry had been involved in extensive negotiations, including on the cost of the upgrade, with the French side. Under the pact, India will first send two of its aircraft to France for the upgrade and thereafter the rest would be upgraded at the HAL facilities.
“The extensive involvement of the Indian industry in the programme will consolidate existing ties with the French aerospace industry and will reinforce long-term cooperation based on cutting edge technologies,” they said.
The proposals for the upgrade were cleared at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security on July 13.

July 29, 2011

Indian Navy to strengthen its under-water capabilities

NEW DELHI (PTI): Seeking to enhance its fleet of nuclear and conventional submarines through several multi-billion dollar deals, the Navy has appointed an officer to look after the acquisition and planning of its underwater vessels.

"Rear Admiral M T Moraes will take over as the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Submarines) at the naval headquarters here Friday," the Navy said in a release.

The appointment assumes significance as the post was not being filled for the last many years and comes at a time when the Navy is planning to induct Russian Akula Class nuclear submarines, indigenously-built Arihant Class nuclear submarines and is looking to procure six Project-75I conventional submarines in the near future.

ACNS (SM) looks after perspective planning and acquisition of submarines for the Indian Navy, the release said.

The Navy is looking forward to strengthening its under-water capabilities in view of the increasing capabilities of Pakistani Navy and the presence of Chinese vessels in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

The cost of the acquisition for the six P-75I submarines is expected to be more than Rs 50,000 crore.

In the recent times, the Pakistani Navy has inducted three of its Agosta 90B class submarines from Pakistan.

India currently operates a fleet of Russian-origin Kilo Class and German-origin HDW submarines and is mulling over inducting the first of its six Scorpene submarine in 2015.

Under its 30 year plan, the Navy is looking to induct 24 conventional submarines along with more than three nuclear submarines of the Arihant Class.


July 28, 2011

Russia test fires Sineva missile in Barents Sea

(RIA Novosti) : Russia successfully test fired a Sineva submarine launched ballistic missile in the Barents Sea on Wednesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov said.
The missile was launched from the Northern Fleet's Yekaterinburg nuclear powered submarine and hit a designated target at Kamchatka's Kura test site in Russia's Far East.
The RSM-54 Sineva (SS-N-23 Skiff in NATO classification) is a third-generation liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile that entered service with the Russian Navy in July 2007.
It has a maximum range of over 10,000 km and can carry four to 10 nuclear warheads.

Russian fifth-generation fighter to make first public flight at Moscow air show

(RIA Novosti) : Russia's Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter, also known as PAK-FA, will perform its first public flight at the MAKS-2011 air show near Moscow in August, Nikolai Zanegin, Deputy General Director of Russia's Aviasalon company, said on Wednesday.
“Numerous visitors will see the fifth-generation fighter in the sky for the first time ever at the air show,” Zanegin said in an interview with Russian magazine National Defense.
The Sukhoi T-50 fighter is being developed by the Sukhoi design bureau and built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East.
The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in January 2010 and has so far carried out over 40 test flights. Two more prototypes are at various stages of testing. The Russian Air Force has said it had plans to acquire over 60 T-50 fighters after 2015.
Although the T-50’s specifications remain classified, reports indicate that the design incorporates the latest fighter jet developments, including advanced stealth capability, supersonic cruising speed, and integrated control and avionics systems.
Military experts say that the T-50 will compete with the Lockheed Martin F-22, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Eurofighter Typhoon from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS).
The MAKS-2011 air show will be held at Zhukovsky outside Moscow on August 16-21. In all, 627 companies, including 473 Russian and 154 foreign, have registered to take part in the air show as of June 1.

Second trial of Arjun Mark-II tanks begins at Pokharan

( Daily Bhaskar ) : Jodhpur: The second trial of Arjun–Mark II, the advance version of India’s main battle tank, has begun in Pokharan firing range. The trial is aimed at testing the range and strength of the tank and other weaknesses pointed out in the first trail.
Following the first trial, the Indian Army had highlighted the need of some more technical requirements.
Arjun’s new version boasts of an improved missile firing range apart from a latest laser system, which can detect explosives on the ground.
Following the trial, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be making suitable changes in the tank on the advice of military experts. This advanced version of the tank is likely to be inducted into the Indian Army by next year.
“The trial of the advance version of Arjun has started in Pokharan firing range. This is a development trial and the tanks will be handed over to the Indian Army after removing all the faults pointed out by the military experts,” Col SD Goswamy, Defence spokesperson, said.
Apart from its phenomenal missile launching capabilities,  Arjun Mark II also has an enhanced auxiliary power unit, explosive reactive armour panels, mine plough, automatic target tracking, advanced land navigation system, digital control harness, and  advanced commander panoramic sight among  various other features.
One of the critical features of the tank is that a missile can be fired from it to destroy long range targets and also shoot down enemy helicopters.
The upgraded version of Arjun, which has been fitted  with German engine, was inducted in the Indian Army over a year ago. The Indian Army has placed an order for 124 such tanks.

China boosts naval power with carrier program: sources

(Reuters) - China is building two aircraft carriers as part of a military modernization program that is causing concern among other Asian countries, sources said on Wednesday.
President Hu Jintao has made the navy a keystone of China's defense upgrade and the carriers will be among the most visible signs of its rising military prowess.
China is ramping up its military spending as the United States considers cutting its defense budget, although Washington still far outspends China on security and is much more technologically advanced.
"Two aircraft carriers are being built at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai," one source with ties to China's Communist Party leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the program.
The Defense Ministry has confirmed the existence of one carrier, a former Soviet vessel which was bought from Ukraine in 1998 and was once destined to become a floating casino.
That will be used for training and research purposes, ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said, seeking to reassure other countries that China would stick to its defensive military policy.
But he said it had a right to protect its extensive maritime territory and coast.
"This is the sacred responsibility of China's armed forces," Geng said in a statement.
"Building a carrier is extremely complex. We are currently refitting an old aircraft carrier, to be used for research and testing."
"An aircraft carrier is a weapons platform; it can be used for offensive or defensive purposes. It can also be used to maintain global peace and for rescue and relief work," he added.
Geng gave no timetable for starting sea trials but said pilots were being trained to operate from the carrier.
Sources with ties to the Communist Party and the military said that the ship would likely be based in the southern island province of Hainan, which sits atop the trade lanes of the sensitive South China Sea.
China has been flexing its muscles more aggressively in those waters, where a territorial dispute with Taiwan and several nearby countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, has festered for years.
Geng said the timing "had nothing to do" with the tension there though the message will be clear to many in Asia.
"China can now project its power to even further away from its coastline," said Alexander Huang, professor of strategic studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University.
"That will have significant security implications to forces operating in the Western Pacific, including the U.S., Japan and Australia, so this is a watershed development."
The carrier will add to regional concerns about China's military modernization and arms build-up. Defense spending is rising fast and Beijing continues to test new high-tech equipment, including a stealth fighter.
"China's next moves have to be watched carefully, or there eventually could be a negative impact on maritime safety in Asia," said Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor at Japan's Tokai University.
Xinhua news agency said it was the first time the government had confirmed it was pursuing a carrier program.
The old Soviet carrier's refitting has been one of China's worst-kept military secrets. Pictures of it sitting in Dalian harbor have circulated on Chinese websites for months, and it has been widely discussed in state media.
China would be the third Asian country to have a carrier after India and Thailand but it will take time before it can go to sea in Asian waters that have largely been the domain of the U.S. Navy since World War Two.
"It will be a long while before China develops a fully-fledged carrier capability, it will take a long time to train the necessary crews... it may be up to decade until China has carrier capability," said Tim Huxley, director for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.
For Beijing, the rationale of an aircraft carrier is more than just about modernizing a navy whose most notable engagements of the past few years have been skirmishes in the South China Sea with some of the other claimant nations.
Sending naval vessels further afield, to the waters off Somalia to fight pirates, and through the southern Japanese islands, has also partly been about ensuring trade routes are protected.
China frets about the powerful U.S. military presence close to its shores, in particular U.S. bases in Japan and South Korea, and Washington's close but unofficial ties with Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.
"Aircraft carriers are essential for China primarily to defend its territory and territorial waters and bring a semblance of parity among the world's big powers," Wang Baokun, a defense studies professor at Beijing's Renmin University, wrote in the China Daily earlier this month.

IAF plans huge infrastructure devp in region bordering China

(IBN Live) : "Old radars are being replaced with new ones. More radars will be inducted. Keeping in mind the terrain, lots of places have been identified and a standard deployment pattern is being followed. This will ensure best possible coverage to detect any hostile threat," the Air Marshal, who will take over as the Vice Chief of Air Staff on August 1, said.Besides, the military is developing two helipads at Tawang and Walong in Arunachal Pradesh, he said.When told about reports of Chinese airplanes chasing an US spy aircraft over Taiwan recently and apprehension that there could be similar manoeuvres in Indian skies, Nohwar said, "Let me assure you, if any of our neighbours try to intrude into our air space, it will meet the same fate as that met the Atlantic in the Rann of Kutch (in 1999)." He was referring to the shooting down of a Pakistan Navy patrol aircraft 'Atlantic' by IAF MiG-21s after it failed to force it to land at an Indian base over the Rann of Kutch."Lessons learnt from the past are also taken into account while deciding on the force levels. The present force level is adequate to meet any emerging threat in future," Nohwar said."Military appreciation is done from time to time taking into account the position you are holding, the kind of terrain and the concept of operation in case of a future skirmish." Noting that the Mi21s have been phased out except for a squadron at Kalaikunda, he said, most of the semi-permanent infrastructure was being changed and developed keeping in mind the climatic conditions in the region.On the advanced landing grounds, he said, "Once these ALGs are commissioned, fixed-wing aircraft like AN 32 which can carry much larger loads than choppers can land. There will also be an opportunity for military aircraft to land there."

July 27, 2011

INS Shivalik class images

Indian Navy may commission Satpura , The 2nd Shivalik class stealth Frigate .

India May commission  INS SATPURA (Project 17) class Frigate.
It is  2nd Shivalik class Indigenous Stealth Frigate. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned on 20 Aug 2011.

General characteristics(wikipedia)
Class and type: INS SATPURA - Shivalik class frigate
Displacement: 6000 tons
Length: 142 metres (466 ft)
Beam: 17 metres (56 ft)
Draught: 4.5 metres (15 ft)
Propulsion: CODOG
2 x Pielstick diesel engines
2 GE LM-2500 gas turbines
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)+
Complement: 257 (incl 35 officers)
Armament: 76mm SRGM
2 x AK-630 CIWS
24 x Shtil SAM
16 x Barak SAM
8 x VLS 3M-54E Klub or BrahMos cruise missiles
90R ASW missiles
DTA-53-956 torpedoes
RBU-6000 (RPK-8)
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sea King Mk.42B or HAL Dhruv                       

IAF pushes for opening of aircraft bid process

(Deccan Herald) : The big bang in military aviation may come even before Diwali with India wrapping up the $10.4 billion contract to buy 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) from a European firm in five to six weeks.

 “We have completed the benchmarking and submitted the report to the Ministry of Defence which has to accept it. A technical offset evaluation committee report has also been submitted to the MoD. The lowest bidder will be declared in another five to six weeks,” Indian Air Force chief PV Naik said here Tuesday.

In April, the Defence Ministry shortlisted Eurofighter Typhoon and French Rafale ahead of their four other competitors—MiG-35, Gripen NG, F-16 IN Super Viper and FA-18 Super Hornet—after two years of gruelling trials on 643 test points.  “On the MMRCA deal, we will go as per the procedure,” Naik said, scotching speculation of political interference in selecting the winner.

Defence Minister A K Antony, too, had brushed aside rumours of political influence.
Following the down-select, the Centre extended the terms of commercial bids for Eurofighter and Dassault till December 31, 2011, so that price negotiation could be concluded in time.

Subsequently, the benchmarking exercise was undertaken to fix a price band for individual fighters.

While the Defence Ministry is tight-lipped, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is pushing hard for opening of the commercial bids as early as possible. As IAF's squadron strength is depleting continuously, it wants many more fighters to maintain its air superiority against Pakistan and effectively counter China.

The winning firm has to deliver the first fighter within 36 months of signing the commercial agreement. The first 18 fighters will be delivered off-the-shelf while the remaining 108 planes will be manufactured at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in Bangalore under technology transfer.

Transfering of 60 per cent of the aircraft's technology to HAL in four phases  and offsets remain the two key areas of contention. Indian conditions suggest that 50 per cent of the foreign exchange component of the purchase cost have to be defrayed through direct offsets within the Indian aerospace sector.

Despite steep offset what makes the MMRCA contract attractive is a distinct possibility of a follow on order of 60-80 aircraft which escalate the deal value.

The MMRCA along with Su-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Tejas light combat aircraft and Jaguar will be the IAF mainstay till the introduction of Indo-Russian fifth generation fighters.

Naik said a Rs 10,900 crore contract to upgrade 51 Mirage-2000 would be signed shortly.

UK: Royal Navy Sends HMS Sutherland to Libya

(NavalToday) : Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland has been sent at full pelt to support NATO on Operation Unified Protector, protecting the people of Libya.

Temporarily split off from the Cougar deployment and the Response Force Task Group (RFTG), HMS Sutherland has dashed her way through the Mediterranean to support fellow Royal Navy and NATO units off the coast of Libya, where she is currently poised and ready for immediate tasking.
Commander Roger Readwin, Commanding Officer HMS Sutherland, said:
”My ‘fighting clan’ of highly trained and capable sailors has been busy today putting our systems and drills through their paces in preparation for this important mission.”
“We look forward to working with our NATO allies to deliver part of the Royal Navy’s contribution to the operation.”

The frigate has gone to join other British forces operating in the area as the UK continues to rain down attacks in efforts to dislodge Colonel Gaddafi’s grip over Libya.
Assault ship HMS Ocean sent her Apache helicopters against military targets between Zlitan and Al Khums, which their arsenal of Hellfire missiles successfully despatched.
Before the Army Apaches swooped in, the RAF had sent Typhoon and Tornado aircraft against Colonel Gaddafi’s Bab Al Aziziyah compound – his personal residence and headquarters – in central Tripoli.
The spokesman for the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Nick Pope, said:
“Paveway guided bombs scored direct hits in 13 different places on both the outer and inner perimeter walls along the western side of Bab Al Aziziyah.”

Then the RAF sent its jets against four buildings which NATO surveillance had tagged as a command and control centre and a staging post for troops; then against an ammunition stockpile.
The fast jets then followed this up on Sunday with a precision strike on the Central Organisation for Electronic Research, which – in Maj Gen Pope’s own words – “has long been a cover for the regime’s nefarious activities.”
Under NATO command, HMS Sutherland will assist in enforcing the current arms embargo, help protect civilians under threat of attack and ultimately support the current mandate given by UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973; she will also guard against threats to the flow of vital humanitarian assistance.
HMS Sutherland, one of the finest examples of the Royal Navy’s multi-purpose warships, is capable of projecting maritime power in support of a wide range of operations including the protection of civilians, territory and trade.

Russia, U.S. to hold nuclear security drills in August

(RIA Novosti) : Russia and the United States will hold joint nuclear security drills under the auspices of the bilateral military cooperation committee, the U.S. Department of State said.
The exercise, codename Crimson Rider, will take place at the Camp Guernsey base in Wyoming. The exact date of the exercise is yet to be announced.
The drills, focusing on counter-terrorism measures, will involve a vehicle used for transporting nuclear warheads.
The drills are aimed at exchanging tactical and technical experience in providing security for nuclear materials. Russian and U.S. servicemen will also train to prevent proliferation of self-made explosive devices.

IAF to upgrade 8 ALGs in Northeast

(Zeenews) : New Delhi: In the next three years, the IAF will upgrade eight Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in the northeast to strengthen its capabilities to carry out aircraft operations in that region.

"We are planning to upgrade eight ALGs in the northeast... By August, we are expected to sign the contract and in next three years, our capabilities would be improved in that region," Air Chief marshal P V Naik told reporters here.
The IAF chief said the upgrading of the ALGs along with the upgrade of the airfields there was the focus area for the force and more such fields were planned under the 12th Plan.

The IAF is strengthening its capabilities in the northeastern sector in view of the increased military presence of China along its border with India.

IAF has already based Sukhoi-30MKI fighters at airbases like Tezpur and Chabua.

ALGs in areas including Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro, Along and Vijaynagar as well as several helipads in Arunachal Pradesh are also being upgraded now, much like the western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma in eastern Ladakh.

An empowered committee (on North-East infrastructure development) under the Chief of Air Staff-designate Air Marshal NAK Browne is continuously monitoring upgradation of the facilities, creation of new infrastructure and induction of assets in this region.

Asked about the gaps in intelligence set up, the IAF chief said, "Gaps in intelligence will exist in many countries as you would want more and more of it.

"There have been lot of moves by the Home Ministry in terms of combining the intelligence inputs of various agencies and it is paying dividends. Things have improved from what they were earlier."


July 26, 2011

S Korea to procure 60 advanced fighter aircraft

MOSCOW (BNS): South Korea has announced a tender for the procurement of 60 fighter aircraft with advanced stealth capability, a media report said.

Russia’s Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter is shortlisted for the tender which is estimated to be a biggest arms-procurement deal ever for the country with an estimated budget of $7.86 billion under a programme code-named FX-III.

According to Ria Novosti report, Russia's Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade cited South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as saying that Sukhoi's fighter would compete with the F-15SE Silent Eagle from Boeing, the F-35 Lightning II from Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter Typhoon from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS).

The final announcement of the contract is expected to be declared in 2012, and the deliveries will start four years later.

The T-50 offered to Seoul is most likely to be an export version of the aircraft being developed by Sukhoi and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) under a $6-billion joint project, it said.


Biggest deal: IAF may buy 189 jets for $20bn

NEW DELHI: The "mother" could well become the "granny" of all defence deals in the years ahead. India is likely to go in for another 63 fighters after delivery of the first 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) if the "timelines" for its other fighter development projects are not met, say top defence officials.

When the MMRCA selection process was initiated by the defence ministry in mid-2007, the overall project cost was pegged at Rs 42,000 crore, or $10.4 billion for 126 fighters. But it will zoom well beyond $20 billion, if India eventually decides to opt for 189 jets since inflation is also being factored in. Even with 126 jets, this is the biggest such fighter contract going around the world as of now.

This comes even as MoD is all set to open the commercial bids of the two jets left in the MMRCA fray -French Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon -"within a week or two". Eurofighter Typhoon is backed by the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy,

MoD has already rejected "any scope for comeback" by the other four jets, including the American F/A-18s and F-16s, ejected out of the MMRCA race in April on technical grounds after gruelling field trials.

"We are looking for only 126 fighters. The first 18 jets will come from abroad, while the rest 108 will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd after transfer of technology (ToT) from end-2016 or early-2017 onwards," said a senior MoD official on Monday.

"But yes, if the timelines for the Tejas LCA (light combat aircraft) and the stealth Indo-Russian FGFA (fifth-generation fighter aircraft) projects are not met, we will go for more MMRCA to retain IAF's combat edge," he added.

Apart from progressively inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion, IAF is slated to induct the first lot of 120 indigenous Tejas from end-2013 onwards. India also hopes to begin inducting 250 to 300 FGFA from 2020 onwards under the joint project with Russia, which rough calculations show will eventually cost India around $35 billion in the decades ahead.

But that is in the future. The request for proposal (RFP) for the ongoing MMRCA competition, issued in August 2007, did have the standard clause of India reserving the option to go in for 50% more fighters, over and above the initial 126, in the coming years.

This, however, is the first time that top defence officials have directly linked the progress in the LCA and FGFA projects to the possibility of exceeding the MMRCA acquisition beyond the first 126 jets.

"Commercial bids of Eurofighter and Rafale will soon be opened, with the reports of the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) and Technical Offsets Evaluation Committee (TOEC) virtually complete now," said another official.

But it will not be "a cut-and-dried" affair to determine the lowest bidder (L-1). "Calculation of L-1 will take around a month due to the huge amounts of mathematical and data verification of the lifecycle costs of operating the jets over a 40-year period, with 6,000 hours of flying, as well as cost of ToT," he added.

Final commercial negotiations with the L-1 vendor will then begin before the contract is ready for signing by December or January. IAF, on its part, wants deliveries of the 126 fighters to begin from December, 2014, onwards to stem its fast-eroding combat edge. Plans have already been firmed up to base the first MMRCA squadron at Ambala, with subsequent squadrons coming up both in the western and eastern theatres. 

(Times of India)

Package, not just bid price, to decide $10.4-bn dogfight winner

New Delhi: With commercial bids for the country’s $10.4-billion order for 126 multi-role combat jets likely to be opened by this month end, the stage is set for a showdown between two multi-role European fighters as both try to prove economically-efficient option by including offers like the lifecycle and maintenance costs. Both the aircraft — Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale — are being deployed in policing the no-fly zone over Libya and both are seeking export sales to compensate for defence-spending cuts at home. However, the declaration of the successful bidder will take a while. According to the outgoing IAF chief, Air chief marshal PV Naik, “Once the commercial bids are opened, the final decision would still take a couple of months as it is not just the price but the package in terms of direct costs, support programmes, training, offsets and lifecycle costs which would determine the winner.”
It may be noted that according to industry insiders, Rafale had quoted a price of $85 million per aircraft and Eurofighter $100 million per piece in flyaway condition in the recent Brazilian competition. For the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Rafale and Eurofighter quote is anybody’s guess, but according to the the industry the machines should cost anywhere between $75 million and $80 million per aircraft in flyaway condition.
The IAF will arrive at a final cost for the two aircraft based on various other factors like the lifecycle cost, maintenance cost, transfer of technology and cost of spare parts. Also, 50% of the total cost of the deal has to be invested in the Indian industry under the offsets obligation.
The two contenders have a long competitive history. France had pulled out of the early stages of the Eurofighter project 30 years ago and opted to build its own fighter plane, the Rafale, as a successor to the Mirage. Presently, Rafale is still looking for its first foreign customer, while the Eurofighter programme is facing various cutbacks home.
According to Eurofighter officials, 280 Typhoons have already been delivered out of the 707 on contract to Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Austria and Saudi Arabia. Asked if Eurofighter is willing to “give away” its unique selling \propositions, including source codes of radars and design, for the “sake of 126 units”, the consortium said it would not be an issue if India becomes a partner of the Eurofighter programme.
Rafale so far has sold just 180 aircraft to its own French air force at a cost of 142.3 million euros each, including material costs, investments made and the variables. The French Court of Auditors Annual Public Report 2010 has pointed out that the French air force had initially placed an order for 320 aircraft, but the defence ministry downsized it to 280. Sources in the Indian government said, “The European consortium, to give an edge to its offer, has invited India to become a partner for the Typhoon programme and also offered to establish a production line in India. The Rafale has the advantage of being logistically and operationally similar to the Mirage 2000, which the IAF is presently operating. The Rafale’s inclusion would require fewer changes in the existing infrastructure.”
According to the French audit report, in early 2000, sharp rise in material costs had created a cash crisis for the Rafale programme. Also, with no foreign buyers the price tag per piece of the aircraft is likely to go up. On the other hand, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, which partner the development and production of the Eurofighter Typhoon, are willing to put “everything on the table” under the technology transfer commitments if they win the contract to supply these aircraft to the IAF.

(The Financial Express)

Malaysia defence chief prefers Eurofighter

(Flight Global) : Malaysia has named the Eurofighter Typhoon as the best option for its long-running fighter requirement.
"The Eurofighter is admittedly the best fighter jet and, as it is expensive, we need to evaluate in detail," defence minister Ahmad Hamidi told official news agency Bernama.
Other definite challengers in the competition are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Saab Gripen. However, it appears that Dassault is prepared to pitch in with its Rafale as well and an industry source familiar with Malaysia's fighter requirements confirmed Dassault is interested in participating.
Malaysia wants 16-18 fighter aircraft to replace its 10 RSK MiG-29s, as well as its fleet of ageing Northrop F-5s.
Persistent rumours have surrounded maintenance and availability issues of Malaysia's MiG-29s.
The country has had more success operating its eight Boeing F/A-18D Hornets, which could put Boeing's Super Hornet offering in a strong position if interest in the Typhoon not followed through.
In June, Boeing moved to strengthen its position in the country, signing memorandums of understanding with three Malaysian companies. Two of the companies are CTRM AC, which manufactures composite aerostructures and defence equipment, and SME Aerospace, which makes aircraft components. The third is Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia, a unit of the US-based aerostructures company.
Some contenders may be growing impatient with Malaysia's fighter programme, which has seen three Requests For Information in the past ten years, the latest in early 2010.
After the last RFI, an executive at one of the competitors said his company could walk away if a final decision was not forthcoming.
More clarity about the long-running contest could come at the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition in December.

India negotiates for more AEW systems

(Flight Global) : The Indian ministry of defence is in negotiations to purchase an additional airborne early warning system from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
If the deal goes ahead, the AEW system will be deployed on an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft, as with the three systems IAI supplied last year.
India's AEW aircraft are designed to integrate information from sensors carried on a number of manned and unmanned platforms.
The latest version of IAI's equipment includes a series of software and hardware improvements over previous incarnations.

PLAAF Su-27 went after U-2, Taiwan scrambled F-16s in response

(Alert 5 ) : Taiwan’s military has confirmed a report that two RoCAF F-16s were scrambled after a PLAAF Su-27 crossed the center line between Taiwan and Mainland China in late June while chasing a U-2 reconnaissance jet.

The FLANKER return to base after the Taiwanese jets were airborne. The U-2 was reportedly flying from Osan Air Base, South Korea to Kadena Air Base, Japan and a flight plan was filed with Taiwan.

July 25, 2011

Target India? Pak to add 24 missiles in 2011

Islamabad: Pakistan plans to add 24 nuclear-capable, short-range missiles capable of hitting all major Indian cities to its arsenal this year, reflecting an urge in the security establishment to seek "strategic parity in the region", according to a media report on Monday.

This will be the highest number of missiles Pakistan has ever produced in a year if the government achieves the target, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

The air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles will be able to hit targets at a distance between 700 km and 1,000 km, thus putting nearly all major Indian cities within their range, the report claimed.
The plan is in line with Pakistan's official policy of having what is rhetorically called "maintaining a minimum deterrence", especially against India, the daily quoted sources as saying.

The Strategic Plans Division (SPD) - the body that oversees Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - is supervising the production of the new missiles.

The SPD works under the National Command Authority, which is nominally headed by the Prime Minister and has the three service chiefs as its members.

At a recent meeting of the NCA, the SPD briefed authorities about its plan envisaging the production of the highest number of missiles in a year. The move comes on the heels of reports earlier in the year that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal and the number of its atomic warheads might have surpassed that of France.

Officials in Islamabad denied those reports but insiders said Pakistan has been "watching closely with concern" India's increasing nuclear cooperation with the US and France.

"That is the benchmark- if we see something happening in India on this front, naturally we react and we have to," said an unnamed official.

PTI /ZeeNews

RCS comparisation on World's best Fighter Aircrafts

According to the RAF, the Eurofighter's RCS is better than RAF requirements. Comments from BAE Systems suggest the radar return is around one quarter of that of the Tornado it replaces. The Eurofighter is thought to have an RCS of less than one square metre in a clean configuration by author Doug Richardson, although no official value is available.

Aircraft Estimated radar cross section (RCS)
Sukhoi Su-30MKI 20 square metres
Dassault Rafale 1.25 square metres
Eurofighter Typhoon 1 square metre
Sukhoi Su-35BM 1 square metre
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk 0.025 square metres
Lockheed  F-35 Lightning II 0.0015 square metres
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor 0.0001 square metres    

The manufacturers have carried out tests on the early Eurofighter prototypes to optimize the low observability characteristics of the aircraft from the early 1990s. Testing at BAE's Warton facility on the DA4 prototype measured the RCS of the aircraft and investigated the effects of a variety of RAM coatings. Another measure to reduce the likelihood of discovery is the use of passive sensors, which minimises the radiation of treacherous electronic emissions. While canards generally have poor stealth characteristics,the flight control system is designed to minimise the RCS in flight, maintaining the elevon trim and canards at an angle to minimise RCS.

(source : wikipedia)

Preparations apace for Agni V launch

(The Hindu) : Preparations for the launch of Agni-V in December 2011 are gathering speed, with all the three stages of the missile having been successfully tested at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district.
Agni-V will be India's most powerful missile, capable of targeting places as far as 5,000 km away with a one-tonne nuclear warhead, giving teeth to the country's nuclear deterrence programme. It will be the missile with the longest range in India's arsenal: in comparison, Agni-III has a range of 3,500 km.
“All the three stages of Agni-V have been tested successfully on the ground,” V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said on Thursday from Chandipur in Orissa, after the successful launch of India's new missile, Prahaar. “The integration activity of Agni-V is now in progress. Our team, headed by Avinash Chander, is working hard for launching Agni-V in December. It will be a national mission.”
Mr. Chander is Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He earlier worked as Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, which has designed all the variants of the Agni missiles, including Agni-V.
DRDO rocket technologists said all the three stages of Agni-V would be fired by solid propellants. The missile, 17.2-metre long and weighing 50 tonnes and with a diameter of two metres, will be launched from a road mobile system from the Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa.
In 2007, the DRDO developed a large rocket motor-casing made entirely of carbon filament-wound composite, a crucial step towards building Agni-V. This casing will form the third upper stage of the missile.
The DRDO will launch two more missiles by the end of 2011. In August, it will launch Agni-II, which can target places 2,000 km away. It will be launched by the Strategic Forces Command of the Army, which handles nuclear delivery systems. In September, the DRDO will fire the Agni-II Prime missile, which has a range of 2,500 km. The maiden launch of this two-stage missile failed in December 2010, because of a problem in the control system in its first stage.

IAF pushes for opening of aircraft bids to replace MIG 21s

NEW DELHI (PTI): Keen on getting 126 combat aircraft as early as possible, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is pushing for the commercial bids of the two contenders – Eurofighter and Dassault – to be opened before the end of this month.

“We are pushing the Defence Ministry to open the bids of these two companies by the end of this month,” a senior IAF official told PTI.

After the opening of the commercial bids, the Defence Ministry will work out the L-1 (lowest bidder) in the tender on the basis of the life cycle cost of operating the two aircraft.

“There are around nine enclosures and each of them have 20 points which include parameters like labour cost, repairing and maintenance cost, cost of spare parts and their service ability and the man-hours required to maintain the aircraft. All this would be taken into account to determine the lowest bidder,” the official said.

As per the Defence Procurement Procedure, the vendors offering a military product at lowest price and meeting all the requirements are awarded the contract.

IAF had evaluated six contenders including Eurofighter and Dassault Aviation. In April, the other four contenders including American Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Russian RAC MiG and Swedish Saab Gripen were intimated that they will not be allowed to take part in the further tendering process.

IAF had evaluated them on 660 parameters and Defence Ministry had said that the deal was expected to be finalised by the end of this fiscal.

The aircraft will be used by the Air Force to replace its fleet of MiG-21s and augment its capabilities to carry out multi-role missions.


'British Typhoons whacked India's Sukhois in joint exercises'

RAF Fairford (Britain) : Britain's frontline fighter jet Eurofighter Typhoon, shortlisted for India's $10.4-billion combat jets tender, whacked the Indian Air Force (IAF) warhorse Sukhoi in one-on-one dog fights during bilateral air war games, if Britain's air chief is to be believed.
"Well, they lost," was Stephen Dalton's response when IANS asked how the Russia-developed India-manufactured Su-30MKI air superiority jets performed against the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Typhoons when they matched their wits during the joint exercises in recent years.
However, he was quick to add that the two aircraft are different in technologies, and that Typhoons are next generation, and hence there is no comparison.
Dalton was interacting with IANS at the recently held Royal International Air Tattoo military air show at the RAF base here.
The two aircraft were pitted against each other during 'Indradhanush' exercises in 2007 at Waddington in Britain and in 2010 at Kalaikunda in India.
Interestingly, the IAF had claimed in 2007 that Sukhoi's performance against Typhoon had convinced the RAF of its superiority. "The RAF pilots were candid in their admission of the Su-30 MKI's observed superior manoeuvring in the air, just as they had studied, prepared and anticipated," an Indian defence ministry release had said during the July 2007 Indradhanush.
It was, however, fair to Typhoon, saying the IAF pilots were impressed with its agility in the air.
Dalton was also all praise for the IAF for training its pilots to put any aircraft they fly to best use.
"The issue is you are comparing technology and people. So, more often than not, technology can give you a great edge, a great lead. But actually it is always the people (behind the machines) who make the difference at the end of the day," he said.
"It is not just how the aircraft did in the air. It is also about how the individual thinks, how they work, and their willingness to develop and to experiment.
"I have always found the IAF to be extremely good. Yes, technology is a significant element, but also the individual is really important in this," he added.
Dalton also indicated that the IAF inventory of Sukhois, MiGs and Mirages are no match to the Typhoons.
"Nothing that India has got is anything anywhere near this (the Typhoon). I would say that absolutely. This airplane is phenomenally different in both performance and technology in anything they (IAF) got right now," he said.
But, he added, it was not criticism, as Typhoon is the product of next generation technology.
"I would say the IAF crew that I have worked with and seen are every bit as clever as any other air crew in the world, and in many cases better. It is all about the man as the machine that they operate," he added.
Dalton said the cooperation between the RAF and the IAF will continue, as Britain valued this relationship. "IAF has a lot of experience and I would like to suck that out and use it, quite frankly," he added.

By N.C. Bipindra, IANS,

India conducts trials on its Arjun MBT

The defence establishment of the country will be keeping a close watch as India's Main Battle Tank Arjun Mark II, which can fire missiles to destroy long range targets, goes through trials in the dessert environs of Pokharan.

The pre-induction trials, which started Saturday, are about the efficacy of scientific and technological up gradation of features of Arjun II, which is under developmental phase.

"Such trials will be undertaken quite frequently till the time it is handed over to the Army," said Col SD Goswami, Defence spokesperson.

Weighing 62 tonnes each, the Army has placed an order for 124 such tanks at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore.

DRDO is working on Arjun Mark II at the CVRDE (Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment) with an immediate task of demonstrating it to the user and ensure the delivery of the first batch comprising 30 tanks by 2013-14.

One of the vital features of the tank is that a missile can be fired from it to destroy long range targets and bring down helicopters. It is also equipped with a panoramic night vision.

The tank will also have an automatic target tracking system, which will add to accuracy while firing on a moving target.
(PTI) / brahmand

July 23, 2011

David's Sling to protect Israel from cruise missile attack

(Flight Global) : Israel's "David's Sling" air defence system is scheduled to undergo its first intercept tests in early 2012, with the design capable of intercepting air threats including cruise missiles.
Yosi Druker, director of Rafael's air-to-air and air defence directorate, said tests already conducted using the "Stunner" interceptor developed for the system have been successful.
Rafael is developing the David's Sling weapon system to protect populated areas in Israel against attack by medium-range rockets.

"We expect to gain operational status in early 2013," Druker said.
Once in use, David's Sling will form part of a multi-layered defence system that Israel is building to defend itself.
Rafael's Iron Dome system has already been used to intercept short-range rockets, while Israel's top-end equipment is the Israel Aerospace Industries-developed Arrow 2 and future Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptors.
The ability of David's Sling to also intercept cruise missiles is being introduced as "threats are changing", Israeli sources said.

July 22, 2011

Beijing Plans to Use EMP Against US Aircraft Carriers

(Naval Today) : China’s military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.
Portions of a National Ground Intelligence Center study on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal – weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.
EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics, including computers and automobiles, over wide areas. The phenomenon was discovered in 1962 after an aboveground nuclear test in the Pacific disabled electronics in Hawaii.
The declassified intelligence report, obtained by the private National Security Archive, provides details on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. Annual Pentagon reports on China’s military in the past made only passing references to the arms.
“For use against Taiwan, China could detonate at a much lower altitude (30 to 40 kilometers) … to confine the EMP effects to Taiwan and its immediate vicinity and minimize damage to electronics on the mainland,” the report said.
The report, produced in 2005 and once labeled “secret,” stated that Chinese military writings have discussed building low-yield EMP warheads, but “it is not known whether [the Chinese] have actually done so.”
The report said that in addition to EMP weapons, “any low-yield strategic nuclear warhead (or tactical nuclear warheads) could be used with similar effects.”
“The DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile has been mentioned as a platform for the EMP attack against Taiwan,” the report said.
According to the report, China’s electronic weapons are part of what are called “trump card” or “assassin’s mace” weapons that “are based on new technology that has been developed in high secrecy.”
“Trump card would be applicable if the Chinese have developed new low-yield, possibly enhanced, EMP warheads, while assassin’s mace would apply if older warheads are employed,” the report said.
According to the report, China conducted EMP tests on mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys that produced eye, brain, bone marrow and other organ injuries. It stated that “it is clear the real purpose of the Chinese medical experiments is to learn the potential human effects of exposure to powerful EMP and [high-powered microwave] radiation.”
The tests did not appear designed for “anti-personnel [radio frequency] weapons” because of the limited amounts of radiation used.
However, the report said another explanation is that the Chinese tests may have been research “intended primarily for torturing prisoners,” or the tests may have been conducted to determine safety or shielding standards for military personnel or weapons.
The medical research also appeared useful for China’s military in making sure that EMP weapons used against Taiwan and “any vulnerable U.S. [aircraft carrier] would not push the U.S. across the nuclear-response threshold,” the report said.
China’s [high-altitude] EMP capability could be used in two different ways: as a surprise measure after China’s initial strike against Taiwan and other U.S. [aircraft carrier strike group] assets have moved into a vulnerable position, and as a bluff intended to dissuade the United States from defending Taiwan with a CVBG,” the Pentagon acronym for carrier strike groups

Russia: Aircraft Carrier Admiral Gorshkov to Start Sea Trials in Couple of Months

The aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov that India bought in 2004 is shaping up well to begin its sea trials in a couple of months, Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has concluded after a six-day visit to Russia, where the warship is undergoing a refit.
Verma, who visited the aircraft carrier for which India has agreed to pay $2.34 billion, returned to India. He had gone to the Sevmash shipyard and taken a tour of Gorshkov, a 45,000 tonne warship of the Kiev class that has already been rechristened INS Vikramaditya by Indian Navy.
Apart from the shipyard, the navy chief also visited Vladivostok, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. “Admiral Verma took an extensive tour of Vikramaditya on his visit to the Sevmash Shipyard, where he observed that significant progress had been made and the ship was shaping up well for the preliminary sea trials,” the release said.
During his visit to Kaliningrad, he reviewed the progress of the Talwar class follow-on frigates, under construction at the Yantar shipyard. He was reassured that the first ship INS Teg would commence trials shortly and be delivered in six to eight months, it said. The admiral made a first hand assessment of all projects and held vital discussions with officials at the highest leadership levels of the Russian armed forces and defence industry. “Reviewing ongoing projects, he observed that they were progressing satisfactorily and had reached critical stages of maturity. He also expressed satisfaction with the quality of construction and repairs“.
In his discussions with the Russian Navy commander-in-chief on operational exchanges between the two navies, they agreed that the Indra naval war exercises series formed an important aspect of their bilateral relationship, and would need to be continued and extended in scope and participation.
(prokerala)/ NavalToday

South Korea to evaluate PAK-FA fighter, reports claim

(Flight Global) : South Korea's Defence Acquisition Programme Agency has shortlisted Sukhoi's PAK-FA/T-50 stealth fighter among the competitors for Seoul's FX-III fighter contract, according to local reports.
The PAK-FA will be considered against a field that already includes the Boeing and Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter F-15SE Silent Eagle, Eurofighter Typhoon
Sukhoi unveiled its first PAK-FA prototype - also referred to as aircraft T-50-1 - only 18 months ago, with a first flight event on 29 January 2010. A second prototype dubbed T-50-2 has also been delivered.

India is also considering a variant of the PAK-FA via a fifth-generation fighter aircraft programme being pursued jointly with Russia.
South Korea is also looking at potentially launching an indigenous KF-X fighter development programme in collaboration with Indonesia.

AR pitches for Indo-Sino border watch

No common meeting point between Defence Ministry and Home Ministry.

Even as the Assam Rifles has pitched in to be handed over the operational control of defending the Indo-China border (Actual Line of Control) as well, the Government of India is faced with the task of drawing up the measures for handing over the task of defending Indo-Myanmar border to BSF.

According to sources in Indian Army, the Assam Rifles has the solid backing of the Defence Ministry and is most suitable for defending the 1,643 long km border that North Eastern region of India including Manipur share with Myanmar.

Indian Army has opined that in the light of a large number of insurgent groups operating from just across the border and strategic installations by China along the border with India, it would be more appropriate to deploy Assam Rifles, which has long years of working in border areas of North East region, rather than ITBF, Army has opined.

Being one of the seven Central Armed Forces or Para-Military forces under the Home Ministry, the administration of Assam Rifles is also done by the Home Ministry.

However, unlike the other six forces, the operational control of the Assam Rifles is done by the Army.

Moreover, Assam Rifles has 46 battalions with Army personnel strength of 65,00 0 cadres at the officer level.

A senior Army officer has observed that deployment of a single force along the Indo-Myanmar border is essential taking into account the problem of insurgency in the North Eastern States and serious threats from China in this region.

The Assam Rifles also has a good experience from long deployment in the border areas of North Eastern States, the officer added.

Nonetheless, the Union Home Ministry is not keen on the proposals that the Assam Rifles be put in charge of manning the Indo-Sino border in addition to its present assignment on the Indo-Myanmar border.

The Ministry is not in favour of replacing the ITBF by the Assam Rifles along Indo-Sino border nor deployment of BSF instead of Assam Rifles along Indo-Myanmar border.

The Home Ministry feels that the activities of the Assam Rifles to counter the insurgency and protect the border is not effective enough.

The conflict between the Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry over the issue of defending border has been discussed even at the level of Cabinet Committee on Security.

But the principle of one border, one force has not yet been resolved.

This is inspite of the fact that the Border Management Task Force, which was set up in the wake of 1999 Kargil war and the subsequent report of the Group of Minister have insisted on implementation of the one border, one force doctrine.
The Sangai Express / E-Pao

India's Prahaar Missile Launch on July 21

                                                             source : (youtube)      

July 21, 2011

India to soon get new frigate fitted with BrahMos

(Hindustan Times) : India will get a new frigate equipped with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles from Russia within six to eight months. "During his visit to Russia, Navy chief admiral Nirmal Verma reviewed the progress of the Talwar Class follow-on warships, under construction at the Yantar shipyard there and was reassured that the first ship 'Teg' would commence trials shortly and be delivered in six to eight months," the Navy said in a release here.
The Navy chief returned on July 18 from Russia after a six-day visit during which he took stock of all the major Indian navy projects undergoing there.
The new frigates namely 'Teg', 'Teer' and 'Trikand' are follow ons of the three Talwar Class warships built for India by Russia and inducted into service around the early part of the decade.
In the new ships, the Russian-origin Klub missiles would be replaced by the indigenous BrahMos missiles.
The Navy chief also visited the Sevmash Shipyard where the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier is being retrofitted and observed that "significant progress had been made on the Gorshkov project and the ship was shaping up well for the preliminary sea trials."

Pakistan’s Commanding Lead

While the Indian Army continues to wait in vain for even its 130mm M-46 towed howitzers to be upgraded to 155mm/45-cal standard, the Pakistan Army is quietly but swiftly replacing its 400 Type 59-1 towed howitzers (a clone of the M-46 built by China North Industries Corp, or NORINCO) with the GM-45, developed in the early 1980s by the 123 Factory, 127 Factory, and 674 Factory of China’s 5th Ministry of Machine-building and Beijing Univeristy of Science and Technology in cooperation with NORICUM (now Voest-Alpine Stahl AG) of Austria. The 155mm/45-cal GM-45, also built by NORINCO, is a conversion of the Type 59-1 (M-46) to accommodate the ordnance of the standard production NORINCO 155mm/45-cal WA-021 howitzer. The firing rate 4 rounds/minute. Recoil is variable and loading and breech operations are manual. To increase the rate of fire a flick rammer has been installed on the left side and hydraulically operated wheels have been added to each trail assembly to ease the opening and closing of the trails. The GM-45 also has a two-wheeled dolly, which is attached under the rear of the closed trails. According to NORINCO, when firing an ERFB 155mm projectile, the GM-45 has a maximum muzzle velocity of 897 metres/second. It can also fire NORINCO-built 155mm laser-guided projectiles.

With this latest acquisition, the Pakistan Army will continue to maintain its commanding lead over the Indian Army when it comes to field artillery assets and capabilities. The Pakistan Army’s field artillery enhancement efforts began in 2008 when its Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, visited Beijing in September 2008 and inked a contract to procure an initial 36 A-100E 300mm multi-barrel rocket launchers and two SLC-2 active phased-array weapons locating radars. This followed a round of competitive evaluations conducted by the Pakistan Army of the A-100E (built by CPMIEC of China) and the competing AR-2, another 300mm MBRL built by NORINCO. Also expected to be procured in the near future from China are approximately 190 SH-1 155mm/52-calibre motorised howitzers. The A-100E, developed by CPMIEC, comprises a 300mm 10-tube launch vehicle, reloading vehicle and command-and-control vehicles, all of which are mounted on the WS-2400 8 x 8 wheeled chassis. All 10 rockets can be fired within 60 seconds, and it can be reloaded in 20 minutes. The NORINCO-built AR-2 MBRL, on the other hand, has 12 launch tubes from which rockets armed with a wide variety of warheads are fired. The warhead options include fragmentation sub-munitions warhead, anti-tank mine scattering warhead, shaped-charge fragmentation submunitions warhead, separable HE-fragmentation warhead, fuel-air explosive warhead, and HE-fragmentation warhead.

The NORINCO-built SH-1 motorised 155mm/52-calibre howitzer underwent extensive mobility and firepower trials in December 2007 in Pakistan’s Northern Areas, and underwent similar field trials in June 2008 in the Cholistan Desert. The SH-1 can fire rocket-assisted V-LAP projectiles out to 53km, as well as laser-guided projectiles like NORINCO’s ‘Red Mud’ and KBP Instrument Design Bureau’s Krasnopol-M2. The SH-1 can also fire base-bleed 155mm rounds out to 42.5km, and its truck chassis houses a fibre-optic gyro-based north positioning-cum-navigation system, battlespace management system, autonomous orientation-cum-muzzle velocity radar, gun loader’s display-cum-ramming control box, ammunition box housing 25 rounds (of seven different types) and their modular charges, and a network-centric artillery fire direction system. A complete SH-1 Regiment comprises 24 SH-1s, four Battery Command Post vehicles, one Battalion Command Post vehicle, one road-mobile CETC-built JY-30 C-band meteorological radar, four 6 x 6 wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, and an S-band CETC-built SLC-2 artillery locating-cum-fire correction radar.
On September 9, 2008 the Pakistan Army accepted at its Nowshera-based School of Artillery the first of twelve 18-tonne T-155 Panter 155mm/52-calibre towed howitzers from Turkey’s state-owned Machines and Chemical Industry Board (MKEK), along with the Aselsan-built BAIKS-2000 field artillery battery fire direction system. The Panter was co-developed in the late 1990s by MKEK and Singapore Technologies Kinetics. For producing the 155mm family of munitions, Wah Cantonment-based Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) has teamed up with South Korea’s Poongsan and on April 12, 2008 Gen Kayani symbolically received the first lot of licence-assembled K-307 BB-HE and K-310 155mm BB dual purpose improvised conventional munitions (DPICM) Ammunition from POF. On the other hand, Nexter Munitions of France has provided the licence to POF for manufacturing 155mm smoke and illuminating rounds.

On the other hand, the Indian Army’s field artillery rationalisation plan, especially its M-46 upgrade component, continues to languish, despite an assertion by the then Indian Army’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor in January 2010 that the M-46 upgrade project will be re-launched towards the end of the  11th (2007-2012) Defence Plan. This may sound extremely depressing, but there is a reason why the upgraded M-46S 155mm/45-calibre towed howitzers have gone missing from the Republic Day and Army Day parades since 2007. One may recall that in 1990, the Indian Army firmed up its plans for upgrading the M-46s and a year later the Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved the plan. In-country field trials of the upgraded prototypes were carried out in 1993, but the MoD took another five years to sanction the funds. Between 1993 and 1994, the MoD had purchased 480 M-46 130mm towed howitzers worth Rs100,000 each, of which 100 howitzers come from the Czech Republic, and 380 from Russia, to add to the 550 M-46s purchased in the 1970s. During firepower trials conducted at the Pokhran Field Range in 1997-1998, one M-46S upgraded by SOLTAM Systems (but utilising the carriage and recoil system of the original gun) to the 155mm/45-cal standard was test-fired using extended-range base-bleed ammunition out to a range of 39km. In March 2000, SOLTAM Systems won a contract (after bidding against four other contractors) worth $47,524,137 for upgrading 180 M-46s to 155mm/45-cal M-46S standard. A follow-on deal was optioned for, under which SOLTAM was required to provide kits to OFB further retrofit another 250 M-46s. On November 29, 2001 the MoD confirmed that the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory had started receiving 180 M-46S howitzer upgrade kits from SOLTAM. However, the project was temporarily suspended by the MoD in mid-2002 because of quality problems centered on the barrels and breech blocks of the guns. In July 2003, successful user trials of a re-engineered M-46S were conducted. On paper, 430 upgraded M-46S 155mm/45-cal towed howitzers (for 20 Regiments) were to be supplied (since 2002) by the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) under licence from Israel’s SOLTAM Systems, making the M-46S the Army’s tube artillery system with the longest reach, being able to fire ERFB-BB rounds out to 38.5km and VLAP rounds out to 42km when using bi-modular charges.

In fact, so upbeat was the OFB about this upgrade programme that it even began showcasing it at international defence expos, starting with the IDEX expo in Abu Dhabi in March 2003. The upgraded M-46S, labelled by the OFB as Metamorphosis IOB M46 FG, came fitted with a large double baffle muzzle brake and a 23-litre chamber, with the ordnance having 48 grooves and a 1-inch/20-cal rifling rate (right-hand constant twist). According to the OFB, no modifications are made to the existing breech block, while failure of self-sealing systems during combat was overcome by the use of a stub cartridge case obturator similar to the obturating system of the original M-46. Conversion lead time was said to be minimal as there was no modification to the breech block mechanism and no change in the travel lock, cradle and recoil systems of the original M-46. The only modification to the horizontal sliding breech block was a widening to allow for the insertion of larger-calibre 155mm rounds. The split-trail carriage, elevating mechanism, shield and two-wheeled limber of the original M-46 were also retained. When travelling the Metamorphosis IOB M46 FG was to be withdrawn to the rear by the standard chain mechanism located on the right side. The original two-wheeled limber was retained, and to reduce operator fatigue, a three-cylinder telescopic rammer with eight-bar nitrogen gas pressure and pneumatic circuit was fitted, as was an in-built safety mechanism.

The bad news is that the M-46S programme was terminated after only 40 howitzers were modified, this being due to a fatal barrel explosion taking place in 2005. Army HQ subsequently asked the MoD to terminate this project for good and initiate legal proceedings against SOLTAM and seek liquidated damages. Things subsequently moved at a glacial pace and it was only on February 19, 2010 that bthe MoD’s Additional Directorate General of Weapons and Equipment issued an RFI for upgunning the M-46, for which once again there were five bidders, including SOLTAM Systems and Holland-based Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM). However, till today, no RFPs have been issued for this programme, while the DRDO continues its once-failed efforts to revive its Metamorphosis IOB M46 FG proposal.
Prasun K. Sengupta