December 31, 2011

US carrier spotted in Iran wargames zone

(Hindustan Times) : A US aircraft carrier entered a zone near the Strait of Hormuz being used by the Iranian navy for wargames, an Iranian official said on Thursday amid rising tensions over the key oil-transit channel.

"A US aircraft carrier was spotted inside the manoeuvre zone... by a navy reconnaissance aircraft,"
 Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, the spokesman for the Iranian exercises, told the official IRNA news agency. The Iranian aircraft took video and photos of the US vessel, he added. The US aircraft carrier was believed to the USS John C. Stennis, one of the US navy's biggest warships.
US officials announced that the ship and its accompanying battle group moved through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow stretch at the entrance to the Gulf that is the world's most important choke point for oil shipments. After warnings from the Iranian government and navy this week that Iran could close the strait if threatened by further Western sanctions, the US defence department warned that such actions "will not be tolerated."
"This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but is an economic lifeline for countries in the Gulf, to include Iran," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters here.
About 40 per cent of the world's tanker-borne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz which links the Gulf - and the oil-producing states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - to the Indian Ocean.

Navy floats out first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier

The first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) of the Navy was floated out at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), at a low-key event attended by senior shipping and naval officers on Thursday.
Among those present were Union Shipping Secretary K. Mohandas; Rear Admiral K.N. Vaidyanathan, Director General, Naval Design; and Commodore K. Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director of CSL.
The floating ceremony was followed by a meeting to review the progress in the work being done on the aircraft carrier, a 40,000-tonne fleet air defence platform of the Navy, which will be named after the legendary INS Vikrant. The Union Shipping Secretary told The Hindu that the work on the carrier was progressing, albeit not as per schedule, as so many variables were being factored into the extremely complex construction process.
The official added that the commissioning of the carrier, the keel of which was laid in February 2009, was likely to overshoot its original timeline.
According to a senior naval functionary, the carrier was ‘technically floated out' as the shipyard needed the dry-dock for ‘some other commercial work.' “The carrier has taken on about 14,000 tonnes. She would now undergo interior outfitting, including the laying of pipes before being dry-docked again in the latter half of next year for integration of the propulsion gear-box, generators and the like,” he told The Hindu.
As earlier reported by The Hindu, a delay in the delivery of gear boxes and associated systems had considerably slowed down the construction of the prestigious carrier. Naval officers, however, put on a brave face saying that the phase in which teething trouble was encountered was over. “The gear box is ready and undergoing trials, at last. The underwater package is all lined up but the rest of the equipment has to be identified and tested,” said a naval source.
After facing initial hiccups due to paucity of supply of steel, the carrier project got the much-required thrust with the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) and the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) fashioning carrier-grade steel indigenously.
After the steel supply stabilised, problems pertaining to quality gearbox put the brakes on the project. Elecon Engineering Company Limited, a Gujarat-based firm which had earlier manufactured CODOG marine gear boxes for the Navy's Shivalik-class stealth frigates, found itself in the red attempting to make the carrier's huge main gearboxes. “They have been able to overcome the difficulties with support from a German firm,” said a Navy officer.

The Hindu

$920 million Russian 'hunk' handed over to Indian Navy

Russia has handed over the much-awaited nuclear-powered attack submarine Nerpa to India on a 10-year lease, boosting the Indian Navy's fire-power.
The Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine had recently finished sea trials.
"The signing ceremony happened on Thursday at the Bolshoi Kamen ship building facility in the (Far East) Primorye region where the Nerpa is now based," ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a senior Russian Navy official as saying.
The deal for the submarine, which is being transferred on a 10-year lease, is worth $920 million.

Rediff news

December 30, 2011

Saudi, U.S. Finalize F-15SA Sale

Though Saudi Arabia’s buy of F-15SAs from Boeing gives the company’s St. Louis production line much-needed work, the company’s hopes of selling a semi-stealthy version of the F-15 abroad continue to dim.
The first of Saudi Arabia’s Boeing F-15S refurbished into the F-15SA configuration will be delivered in 2014 with the first new-build F-15SA’s to follow a year later as part of a $29.4 billion weapons sale to the kingdom.
The Obama administration hailed the deal Dec. 29 as providing $3.5 billion in annual impact to the U.S. economy and “supporting” 50,000 jobs in the aerospace industry, as well as the manufacturing sector writ large. However, some of the modification work of older F-15s and structural subassembly fabrication will be handled in Saudi Arabia through the Alsalam Aircraft Company.
The fighter sale is welcome for Boeing, which had already begun work on the aircraft in hopes that a deal would get signed for Saudi Arabia or for more orders from South Korea. With Japan’s recent announcement selecting the F-35A over the Typhoon or Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, it is unlikely Boeing will get an additional sale to Seoul, which is thought to be eager to follow Tokyo’s lead. And, as hope of selling to South Korea wanes, so does the prospect for a buyer of the so-called Silent Eagle variant unveiled by Boeing in March 2009. This kit includes internal weapons bays using a conformal fuel tank design and 15-deg. canted V-tails. South Korea and Israel were potential customers; Israel has already selected the F-35 for its new fighters. Boeing executives say they will await Seoul’s formal request for proposal, however, to see if the Silent Eagle is a contender.
Boeing’s deliveries of F-15SGs to the Royal Singapore Air Force and F-15Ks to South Korea conclude in the third quarter of 2012. Production rate has been one aircraft per month, which can be accelerated if required for Saudi Arabia. A forthcoming definitized contract will spell out the timing.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia finally signed the new F-15SA deal, announced in October 2010, on Dec. 24 in Riyadh, says Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. Though he declined to single out Iran as a regional troublemaker, Shapiro did acknowledge that Tehran is one area to which the sale “sends a strong message … that the U.S. is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East.”
Included are 84 new F-15SA aircraft from Boeing as well as the refurbishment of 70 F-15Ss to the SA configuration (Aerospace DAILY, Oct. 21, 2010).
The deal with Saudi Arabia includes Raytheon advanced, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for the F-15s, plus 10 Goodrich DB-110s, an internationally marketable version of the Senior-Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System flying on the U-2, and an infrared search-and-track capability. Sniper and Lantirn targeting and navigation pods are also part of the package, along with Digital Electronic Warfare System.
The weapons package features AIM 120C7s, the AIM-9X Sidewinder for air-to-air engagements. Also included are 500-lb. dual-mode laser-guided munitions, 2,000-lb. Paveway III laser-guided bombs and Sensor-fuzed Weapons including the Wind-corrected Munitions Dispensers and 2,000 lb. Joint Direct Attack Munitions for hitting ground targets. The AGM-84 Harpoon Block II, which does not include the Block III data link package for in-flight retargeting, is built-in for engagement of ships and the Saudis are also buying the AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile.
The F-15 sale is part of a roughly $60 billion weapons request from Saudi Arabia that was long rumored before it was detailed, and it includes another $25.6 billion worth of helicopters and associated equipment: 36 AH-64D Apaches, 72 UH-60Ms, 36 AH-6i Light Attack Helicopters and 12 MD Helicopters MD-530Fs. These orders are still pending approval, according to a defense official. Already, Saudi Arabia has signed a letter of agreement for 36 Apaches.

Aviationweek ( by Amy Butler )

December 29, 2011

Research on to develop lighter battle tanks

CHENNAI: Research is underway at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop light weight tanks for the Indian Army, said S D Dimri, Director General, Ordnance Factories, here on Wednesday.
He was speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory (AHVF).
Addressing mediapersons on the upcoming developments, he said the technology to destroy anti-tank missiles had been bought from Russia and the same, to be introduced soon, would be upgraded to suit the needs of the Indian tanks. “The present tanks weigh around 45-60 tonnes. Technological superiority is increasingly going to be the decisive factor in future battles. The prediction is that future tanks would weigh less than 30 tonnes, mak- ing them light enough to fly in fleets of C-130 transports, land on dirt strips, and roll off ready to fight,” Dimri said.
“The production of equipment at the Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory works out to 25 per cent and this translates to production of ` 2,600-crore worth equipment per year, whereas the total amount of equipment produced through all ordnance factories is `12,000 crore. Two more ordnance factories will come up in Nalanda (Bihar) and in Korba (Chattisgarh),” he added.
MC Bansal, Additional Director General, Indian Ordnance Factories, and MSN Rao, General Manager, AHVF, were also present.

IBN Live

Russian nuclear sub 'ready' for India transfer

Russia’s Nerpa nuclear submarine has finished sea trials and is now ready to be leased to the Indian navy in the next few days, an engineer said on Wednesday.
“The submarine is now fully ready to carry out its tasks,” a senior executive at the Amur Shipyard, where the submarine was built, told RIA Novosti. “It will be handed over before the end of the year.”
When Russia makes the delivery, it will make India only the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world. Earlier this month, it launched the first of its own nuclear submarines.
The ten-year lease is worth $920 milion.
The Nerpa, an Akula II-class attack submarine, had originally been scheduled for delivery in 2008 but an accident earlier that year forced the Russian authorities to put it on hold.
Twenty people, mostly civilians, were killed when a fire-suppressant gas was released on the Nerpa during shakedown trials, in one of Russia’s worst naval accidents.


December 28, 2011

INS Teg Successfully Finishes Sea Trials

Sea trials of frigate INS Teg have been successfully finished in the Baltic Sea; the ship was built for Indian Navy by Yantar Shipyard (Kaliningrad, Russia), reports ITAR-TASS.
According to the shipyard’s press secretary Sergei Mikhailov, all shipboard systems including BrahMos missile system operate normally. To complete state trials, frigate INS Teg has to perform only one sortie scheduled in Jan 2012.
Indian crew will start training onboard the ship late in Jan 2012. The frigate is to be handed over to Indian Navy in Apr 2012.
INS Teg was laid down at Yantar in 2007 and became the first of three Project 1135.6 ships built for Indian Navy. Other two frigates – INS Tarkash and INS Trikand – are being currently completed. They are planned to join Indian Navy in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The contract signed in 2007 in New Delhi cost $1.6 bln.
According to ITAR-TASS, new Project 1135.6 frigates have almost same technical characteristics as three ships of the same project – INS Tabar, INS Trishul, and INS Talwar – delivered to India under the contract of 1997. Mostly, differences are about armament. For instance, new frigates are equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in contrast to the preceding trio armed with antiship missiles Club-N.
Displacement of Project 1135.6 frigates is 4,000 tons; length is 124.8 meters; max speed is 30 knots; operating range is 4,500 miles.


December 27, 2011

Russia test launches Stiletto missile

 Russia successfully test launched an RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Vadim Koval said.
“The goal of the test launch is to prove the stability and basic technical characteristics of missiles of this kind,” Koval said.
The Russian Strategic Missile Forces are considering the possibility of extending the RS-18 missiles’ service term by one year to 33 years, he added.
A source in Russia’s defense industry said RS-18 missiles are currently used to test advanced warheads designed to penetrate missile defenses.
Developed by the Chelomei Design Bureau, the RS-18 is a silo-based, liquid-propellant missile, which together with the RS-16 (SS-17) and RS-20 (SS-18) comprises the fourth generation of Russian strategic missiles. The missile is capable of carrying up to six warheads.
The first RS-18 missiles entered service in 1975, with its improved version being put into service five years later.
In late November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a series of steps intended to strengthen Russia’s missile defense capabilities in response to U.S.-European missile shield plans. Those plans include a possible deployment of Iskander tactical missiles near Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad “in the near future.”
Russia is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the U.S. missile shield will not be directed against it. Washington, however, has refused to provide those guarantees to Moscow and said it will not alter its missile defense plans despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.


Pratt & Whitney bags IAF engine contract for Boeing C-17s

MUMBAI: Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corporation has received a contract to produce the first four F117-PW-100 engines that will power the Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs for the Air Force, a company statement said today.
The engines will be delivered in the second quarter of 2012. Earlier this year, the defence had signed a letter of offer and acceptance with the US government to acquire 10 C-17s. The Air Force will take delivery of its first C-17s in early 2013.

The Economic Times

Army asks for attack copters

The Indian Army has validated the concept of “aviation brigades” in its latest battlefield exercise and now wants attack helicopters of its own to provide aerial support to its tanks and advancing troops in a battle scenario. The concept was validated in the recently-held Exercise Sudarshan Shakti in the Rajasthan desert, sources said.
As per the Army’s plans, each aviation brigade in future is to constitute three squadrons of helicopters. One squadron will comprise helicopters used for airlifting heavy equipment, the second will be used for recce purposes while the third squadron in the aviation brigade will perform the most crucial task of providing air support to the advancing battle tanks. Currently, the task of providing air-support to advancing troops in a battle-scenario is performed by attack helicopters of the Indian Air Force.
But the Army feels that it should have attack helicopters of its own to perform the task since the “aviation brigade is tailor-made” to move continuously with the Army formations on ground and maintain the “forward edge in the tactical battlefield area”. Currently, the Army does not have its own attack helicopters.
Attack helicopters that are being developed for the Army by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) are currently undergoing trials.
“Unplanned fleeting opportunities present themselves at different points in time and space, which, if not capitalised upon, lead to a standard toe to toe slugging match. The presence of aviation brigade headquarters in the tactical battlefield area negates these misses,” said a source.

Deccan Chronicle

Shelterless Sukhois suffering from sunstroke?

BANGALORE: Sukhois (Su-30 MKI) don’t have shelters. India’s frontline fighters are suffering from a possible sunstroke. This came to light after Express launched an investigation following the fighter’s crash near Pune recently. Along with a list of suspects — Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (blamed for serious quality issues), the Russians (whose design flaws are under scanner ) — the Indian Air Force (IAF) will have to do some answering for “exposing” the fighters.
Express consulted several serving and retired Sukhoi pilots, engineers in HAL, current and former IAF officials and even experts with military airworthiness to verify the findings: If Sukhois are exposed to the sun for a long period, malfunctions will occur. When contacted for a response, all that an email reply from IAF’s media managers said was: “Maintenance shelters have been procured at our airbases solely on the IAF’s initiative and more of these are being procured to cater to the varied environmental conditions of our country.”
HAL says it had communicated to the IAF the need for shelters. The matter was also taken up during quality assurance meets and Commanders’ Conference.
HAL claims that all Sukhois at their Nashik Division are kept under shelters, while the IAF uses canvas to protect them from UV rays, rain and dust. “UV rays will have faster ageing and hardening effect on rubber and non-metallic parts, which can lead to premature failure in the long run. Canvas bars UV rays but not heat, which can harm avionics parts,” sources said. A Sukhoi pilot said dust  particles will get deposited on engine blades if they are exposed to heat and dust.

IBN Live

December 26, 2011

Russia: Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine Performs Bulava Salvo Launch

Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Yury Dolgoruky on Friday Dec 23 carried out last in 2011 test salvo launch of two SLBM Bulava missiles from the White Sea, reports RIA Novosti referring to spokesman for Russian defense ministry Col Igor Konashenkov.
“The salvo launch was performed from underwater position in the White Sea against the Kura Range in Kamchatka. The missiles flew in normal mode, all warheads impacted on the range at the designated time; that was recorded by monitoring facilities”, Konashenkov said.
As for him, distinguishing feature of this test was two-missile launch performed by standard platform, i.e. Borei-class lead submarine fourth-generation SSBN Yury Dolgoruky.
The sub’s crew headed by Capt 1 rank Vladimir Shirin held the fourth successful test launch of SLBM Bulava in the recent half-year period. Submariners traditionally displayed excellent professional skills, stressed the defense ministry’s spokesman.
Tests of submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava started in 2004. Eleven out of 18 test launches were found successful. Current year is the most effective; all four launches yielded desired outcome and were performed by SSBN Yury Dolgoruky.
Prior to that, all test launches were held by SSBN Dmitry Donskoy (Project 941UM Akula) specially refitted for the Bulava project.
Russian defense ministry reiterated many times that positive results of salvo launch would mean commissioning of SSN Yury Dolgoruky along with Bulava. In accordance with standard procedure of flight development test program for such missiles, salvo launch is determinative and finishing one.


December 24, 2011

MiG-29K gets on board Indian aircraft carrier : Picture

With work on the Indian navy's future aircraft carrier the INS Vikramaditya now 90% complete, an RSK MiG-29K fighter has been placed aboard the vessel for the first time.
Pictured on the carrier's deck at the Sevmash dockyard in Severodvinsk, northern Russia during November, aircraft Side 311 was deployed using a crane to serve as a mock-up only.
According to Sevmash, the Vikramaditya will start sea trials in May 2012, with these to involve take-offs and landings using two industry-owned aircraft. One is a purpose-built MiG-29K, while the other is a MiG-35D two-seat demonstrator now being modified after the crash of a MiG-29KUB trainer during trials in 2011.

Originally introduced to service with the Russian navy in 1987 as the Baku, but deactivated in 1992, the modified Vikramaditya now features a "ski-jump" ramp and three arrestor wires to support fighter operations. New Delhi's total investment in the ship is worth around $2 billion, with Sevmash expecting it to be commissioned into service on 4 December 2012 - Indian navy day.
Russia has so far delivered 11 of the 16 MiG-29K/KUBs ordered for the Indian navy under a 2003 deal worth $530 million, with the remainder due to be shipped to Goa before the end of 2011.
India also this year firmed up an option for 29 more navalised MiG-29s to equip its future homegrown aircraft carriers.


INS Vikramaditya Carrier’s Trial Under Indian Navy to Start in May 2012

Shipyard’s sea trials of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya being retrofitted under Indian Navy’s order will start on May 25, 2012. On that day, the 45,000-ton carrier will take the sea for the first time, said Igor E. Leonov who is in charge of the carrier’s delivery.
Shipbuilders of Sevmash will have to accomplish several complicated and important tasks. One of them is preparation of main propulsion plant for the yard’s sea trials. “Preparation of main propulsion plan takes several stages; one of them is starting-up of turbines. We have rotated one of four turbines using steam taken from coastal source. In the next few days we’re going to test second stern turbine, and late December or early January we’ll test bow turbines”, said Igor Leonov at the press conference held on board the aircraft carrier.
Second task is to start up all eight boilers. Steam test of the first one is scheduled on December 26. We’re going to test others by the end of January. Diesel fuel for boiler heating has been already taken on board. So, late in January we can start testing of turbines with onboard-produced steam“, said the official.
The next task is preparation of the ship for crew lodging. According to rules, crew must settle in a ship no later than 90 days prior to first sortie in order to familiarize with duty stations and hold appropriate drills. Given that the carrier is supposed to take the sea on May 25, Sevmash does not have much time to finish 2,350 interior premises. At present, adjustment works on numerous radio electronic systems are in progress. Expectedly, in Feb-March 2012 they would be over.
According to I. Leonov, schedule of works is very tight, and there is no time for running. Basic works must be finished by early April when the carrier would begin wiping to measure magnetic field. The first sortie will start right after that.
Shipyard’s sea trials will be conducted during first two or three weeks in the White and the Barents seas, said A. Leonov. Aviation systems and ‘aircraft-ship’ complex in general will be tested then. That will take 3.5 months and must finish no later than in Sept 2012. Acceptance trials will be conducted along with sea ones. Then the ship will be dry-docked in floating dock PD-50 and in Nov 2012 the ship will return to Sevmash for maintenance inspection. After elimination of defects revealed during trials, the aircraft carrier will be handed over to Indian Navy early in Dec 2012.
Delivery of INS Vikramaditya in 2012 is a very difficult mission, but Igor Leonov is sure that Sevmash will cope with it.


Russia successfully test fires Bulava missiles

( RIANovosti) : Russia successfully test launched two Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles on Friday, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov said.
The missiles were launched from the Borey-class Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea and hit designated targets at the Kura test range on Kamchatka, some 6,000 kilometers to the east.
This was the troubled Bulava’s 18th test launch. Only 11 launches have been officially declared successful.
But some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably larger. Russian military expert Pavel Felgengauer said that of the Bulava's first 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.
Despite several previous failures, officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class nuclear submarines.

December 23, 2011

Have you heard about this Indian Hero?

Claude Arpi

Major Chewang Rinchen became the youngest recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra. He not only seized the highest post ever captured, but also liberated an area of 800 sq km from Pak occupied Kashmir, the largest area captured in the 1971 war with hardly any supplies and no artillery support.
Claude Arpi salutes this brave Indian soldier.
Have you heard of Colonel Chewang Rinchen?
In 1948, at the age of 17, Rinchen enrolled in the Indian Army; the same year, he won his first Maha Vir Chakra, becoming the youngest recipient of the prestigious decoration.
Born in 1931, Chewang could have spent his entire life in the remote village of Sumur, at the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers. But the visit of the Kalon (minister) of Ladakh changed the course of his life.
The official spotted the spark in the 13-year boy and after gaining the approval of his parents, decided to take him to the Leh to educate him.
Four years later, in one of the most daring operations of the 1947-1948 War, Captain Prithi Chand and a few of his Lahauli companions saved Leh by reaching the Ladakhi capital before the Pakistani raiders: They had done the impossible, cross the Zojila pass in winter.
The captain soon became the mentor of the young Rinchen, who underwent a short military training under him. Rinchen then recruited 28 of his friends from the Nubra Valley and created the Nubra Volunteer Force. They were to play a crucial role in 1947-1948 War.
In April 1969, Major Chewang Rinchen was finally given a regular commission in the Indian Army and was posted with the 14 J&K Rifles. His battalion was soon transferred to Firozpur in Punjab.
But when the heat of the summer became too unbearable for the young Nunnu (name given to the natives of the Nubra Valley), he applied for a transfer back to the Ladakh Scouts. This was granted.
In August 1971, as the clouds were gathering over the Indo-Pakistan border, Rinchen joined his old regiment; he was sent again to his beloved Nubra Valley
A month later, Rinchen started reorganising the Nubra Guards, giving them a special training in firing small arms. He enrolled 550 young local volunteers and organised them into four companies (called by the names of the nearby ranges Karakoram, Saser, Remo and Saltoro). Their training lasted two weeks from November 1 to 15.
Major General S P Malhotra, the General Officer Commanding of 3 Infantry Division responsible for the defence of Ladakh, then asked Rinchen and Colonel Udai Singh, his commanding officer, if they could look after the Nubra/Shyok sector of the border.
Rinchen confidently told his GOC that the Ladakhi Scouts and the Nubra Guards did not need any additional forces; they would do it.
Situated 140 km north of Leh, the Nubra Valley was linked to the capital of Ladakh via the Khardung La, the highest motorable pass of the planet at 5,602 metres.
The army base for the sector was located at Partapur in the Valley and since 1960 an airfield had been opened at Thoise (still today the base camp for the operations on the Siachen Glacier)

Rediff news

Aircraft Corporation to Complete Delivery of MiG-29K/KUB for Indian Navy

Russian aircraft-producing corporation MiG will complete delivery of ship-based fighters MiG-29K/KUB for Indian Navy by the end of the current year; the airplanes are to be stationed on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, reports ARMS-TASS referring to the company’s press service.
The delivery contract for 16 fighters in single-seat (K) and two-seat (KUB) variants was signed in 2004 under the Russian-Indian package agreement on modernization of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (Indian name INS Vikramaditya). According to open sources, 11 aircrafts of that batch have been already commissioned into Indian Navy. They are temporarily based at ground-based aircraft training center in Hansa air station, Goa. Those airplanes along with antisubmarine helicopters will be also based on board INS Vikramaditya.
According to MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov, the company has already started production of the next 29-fighter batch in accordance with supplementary contract tied with India in March 2010.
Multirole ship-based fighters MiG-29K/KUB are ’4++’ generation aircraft. First fighters were delivered to Indian Navy in 2009 and have proved themselves in practice. In the current year, the Russian deck-based fighters for the first time attended Indian Navy’s parade off the port of Mumbai. According to Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, participation of MiG-29K fighters was “main event of the parade’s air show”.


Rs 11,600 cr spent on modernisation of Army in FY11'

(PTI): An expenditure of Rs 11,600 crore was incurred in the last fiscal as part of a structured plan for capacity building and modernisation of Indian Army, the government on Wednesday informed the Rajya Sabha.

"Army is implementing a focused plan to build up capability by force accretions and modernisation. The process is based on 15-year Long Term Perspective Plan (LTPP), five year Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) and Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP)," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a written reply.

He said the procurement of required equipment and ammunitions for the Army is carried out as per AAP in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and Defence Procurement Manual.

On allocation of funds to purchase these equipment, Antony said, "Adequate funds are made available by government to meet the requirements of Indian Army for procurement of defence equipment and ammunitions."

According to the report tabled in the Upper House, Rs 11,600 crore was spent on modernisation of the Army in 2010-11 as compared to Rs 7,774 crore in the previous fiscal.

Replying to a question on installing night-vision devices on tanks, he said, "A good number of tanks are equipped with night-vision devices. Presently, four proposals, for fitting night-vision devices on tanks are at various stages of implementation and procurement."

Two proposals are scheduled for completion by 2012-2013, Antony said.

Providing details of the fighter planes and ships purchased in last two years, he said, "During last two years, 50 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft were procured and contracts for procurement of 40 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer, 20 Light Combat Aircraft, 29 MiG-29K aircraft and 11 helicopter carrying ships were signed."

Observing that 100 per cent of the outlay for modernisation of Army was spent in 2010-11, Antony said, arms and equipment are available in adequate quantity and shortage of certain types of ammunition is addressed through indigenous production and imports.

On development of indigenous aero-engine Kaveri, the Defence Minister said that so far nine prototypes of Kaveri engines and four prototypes of Kabini (Core) engines have been developed.

"Total 2,050 hours of testing have been conducted on various Kaveri and Kabini engines at ground and altitude conditions for various requirements including performance, operability, endurance and environment," he said.

Two major milestones such as the successful completion of Official Altitude Testing (OAT) and completion of first block of flights of Kaveri engine in Flying Test Bed (FTB) has demonstrated the technological capability of this indigenous effort, Antony said.

Recently, a Kaveri engine prototype was integrated with an IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute (GFRI) in Russia and performed successfully up to 12 km altitude and with a maximum forward speed of 0.7 Mach.

- brahmand

December 22, 2011

Decision on combat aircraft within fortnight

(Business Standard) : The defence ministry (MoD) indicates a decision is imminent about whether the Air Force will buy the Typhoon or the Rafale; that Army chief, General V K Singh, will not get another year in office; and that indigenous ballistic missiles are the success story of this year. These are the highlights of the MoD’s ‘Year-end Review’, an annual summary released on Wednesday.
The review terms 2011 ‘The Decisive Year for the MMRCA’, suggesting the winner of the contest to sell India 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft could be announced this fortnight. In April, the MoD eliminated Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Mikoyan and Saab, leaving only Dassault’s Rafale and Eurofighter’s Typhoon in the fray. On November 4, the two commercial bids were opened. The IAF has given a comparative evaluation and the ball is now in the MoD’s court.
 Once the winning bid is announced, the MoD will convene a ‘Contract Negotiation Committee’ to negotiate a final price. MoD sources indicate that price quoted by both vendors is significantly higher than the Rs 42,000 crore the Union Cabinet cleared for this purchase.
The MoD’s annual review also indicates ballistic missile development has topped the Defence R&D Organisation’s (DRDO’s) indigenous programmes. Nine successful missile tests were conducted and the launch of the new 3,500 km range Agni-4 Ballistic Missile on November 15 is termed “the highlight of the year”.
Other missiles tested include the Prithvi-2; the Dhanush (both with a range of 350 km); the new Prahaar tactical battlefield missile (200 km); the Pakistan-specific Agni-1 (700 km); and Agni-2 (2,000 km); and the innovative, hybrid Shourya missile (700 km) that can be fired from land or a submarine.
The review is silent on the Agni-5 intermediate range ballistic missile, which was to have been fired this month. However, the DRDO postponed this high-profile test till February-March 2012, reducing developmental risk by testing and validating several of the Agni-5’s new technologies on the Agni-4.
Another success story is the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. IAF granted the Tejas its first stage of operational clearance in January 11; final operational clearance is expected next year. The review also mentions the naval Tejas, which will fly off the navy’s aircraft carriers. Having completed its engine ground run in September 11, it will shortly take to the skies.
The MoD review falsely eulogises the long-delayed Kaveri engine, which DRDO is developing for the Tejas. While the Kaveri did indeed complete ‘Flying Test Bed’ trials in Russia this year, powering a modified IL-76 transport aircraft, it remains well short of the power needed for the Tejas fighter. The DRDO is now partnering French engine-maker, Snecma, in an attempt to resurrect the Kaveri.
Another success story in the ‘Year-end Review’ is the warship building programme. Two major warships were commissioned this year: the 6,200-tonne frigate, INS Satpura in August; and the 27,500 tonne, ‘made-in-Italy’ fleet tanker, INS Deepak, in January. Another major warship, the 3,000-tonne indigenous anti-submarine corvette, INS Kadmatt, was launched in October. Four smaller Coast Guard and navy vessels were also launched. To nurture design capability, defence minister Antony laid the foundation stone for the National Institute for Research and Development in Defence Shipbuilding in January.
2012 could see a further boost. Likely to be commissioned are two Kolkata-class destroyers, each 6,800 tonnes; the Satpura’s successor frigate, INS Sahyadri; and the anti-submarine corvette, INS Kamorta, along with several other smaller craft.
Tantalisingly, the review suggests the MoD could ignore army chief General V K Singh’s petition, asking for his date of birth to be corrected, which would give him an additional year in office till May 2013. The review states, “MoD’s decision setting at rest the controversy of the age of Chief of Army staff General V K Singh was prominently carried by the media in July.”
The Review illustrates the growing role of military diplomacy, listing 27 international exchanges at the service chief or MoD level. The military also carried out seven exercises with friendly foreign countries, including the US, France, Turkey, Oman and Singapore. However, diplomatic niceties find no place in the review. It categorises Pakistan’s prompt return of an Indian helicopter — which strayed across the Line of Control near Kargil and landed at a Pakistani helipad in October — as ‘The Non-Event of the Year’.

Unacceptable delay

( The pioneer ) : Every time the subject of the country’s defence preparedness is raised in Parliament, the Government assures the people that the Armed Forces are well prepared to meet any military aggression from across the borders. While there is no disputing the fact that our Armed Forces personnel are prepared to defend the country with the last drop of their blood — they have done so on more than one occasion in the past — the question that needs to be asked is: Are they adequately equipped to meet the challenges? Wars are no longer fought with swords and lances — even in hand-to-hand combats — but are waged and won with the help of sophisticated weaponry, besides razor-sharp intelligence inputs. But, as a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General has pointed out, the Indian Army continues to battle with “guns of obsolete technology of 1970s vintage”. The report, which has been tabled in Parliament this week, brings to the fore all that is wrong with our policy when it comes to acquiring arms and ammunition for the Armed Forces. A case in point is the inordinate delay in acquiring modern field guns. Ever since the infamous Bofors scandal broke out in the 1980s, the Indian Army has not been able to purchase a single artillery gun, although it today needs as many as 1,600 of these. While it is true that the outrage over the Bofors bribery scandal, whose beneficiary is known for his proximity to the Congress’s first family, has led to a more stringent procedure for the identification and acquisition of weapons, but now it seems that caution has become a cover for inaction at various levels. For instance, as the CAG has pointed out in its report, the Army brass is yet to precisely define the features required in new field guns. As a result, the Army has had to do without field guns of contemporary technology for over a decade and continues to depend on antiquated weaponry. That’s unconscionable. Nor can the Army brass justify spending five long years on trial evaluation of field guns that are still being developed. Why can’t the Army insist on getting the best field guns with a proven track record that are available in the market? The shameful bribery scandal apart, the Bofors guns were the best available then and rendered enormous service during the Kargil war.
If senior Army officers responsible for selecting the new generation field guns have been dawdling over the choice for inexplicable reasons, the political leadership is not alert to the looming crisis either. Union Minister for Defence AK Antony is a man of unimpeachable integrity and nobody will ever question his intention if he were to actively push for speeding up the acquisition process. Yet, Mr Antony, no doubt wary of fingers being pointed at him by his detractors, has chosen to go slow. He does realise the necessity to make the Armed Forces stronger and fill up the yawning gaps in the hardware inventory of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. To his credit, he has taken praise-worthy initiatives to strengthen India’s line of defence along its border with China. But strangely, there has been little or no movement on the purchase of military hardware. This situation cannot continue any longer. The issue is not one of finances — there are enough funds to pay for new state-of-the-art acquisitions. The delay is purely on account of a reluctance to go ahead and do the right thing. It’s time Mr Antony led from the front.

December 21, 2011

Indian Freezes All Defense Shipyard Joint Ventures

India has put on hold formation of all joint ventures in defense shipyards until suitable guidelines are formulated by the government.
The decision was made after a joint venture between state-run shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL) and Pipavav Defense and Offshore Engineering Co. was objected to by other commercial shipyards (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 27).
“Formation of joint ventures has been put on hold by the ministry until formulation of suitable guidelines regarding the manner in which joint venture partners can be selected for such ventures,” junior Defense Minister M.M. Pallam Raju said in parliament Dec. 19.
The Indian defense ministry is now forming a new policy for public-private business partnerships to establish greater transparency.
“Guidelines will also cover the terms and conditions of such joint ventures so that interests of PSUs [public sector undertakings] can be fully safeguarded and their ability to provide service to armed forces is not constrained in any manner,” Raju said.
Raju was responding to a question concerning whether the ministry had halted the joint venture between MDL and Pipavav “due to the objections raised by private shipyard companies.”
The ministry made the decision “in order to ensure complete transparency in the selection of partners for joint ventures,” he added.
The joint venture, announced Sept. 12, was intended to create an independent company named Mazagon Dock Pipavav Ltd. that would work on Mazagon’s 1 trillion rupee ($22 billion) backlog and bid for future defense orders. Pipavav had announced that the two JV partners would each hold a 50% stake in the venture.
Pipavav was the first company in the private sector to receive orders for frontline warships, which are priced from $100 million to $6 billion each. The company has outstanding orders of $1.5 billion, of which 42% are defense contracts. Pipavav Defense owns India’s largest dry dock and has a license from the government to build warships.
However, Raju said all defense public sector unit shipyards were being modernized to enhance their capacity and capability to deliver ships faster.
“Private shipyards participation is also being encouraged to meet the requirement of [the] navy and coast guard,” he added.


India to Get Fifth Russian-Upgraded Submarine in 2012

(Rusnavy) : Indian Navy's diesel electric submarine INS Sindhurakshak being modernized by Zvezdochka shipyard (Severodvinsk, Russia) will be delivered to the orderer in the second half of 2012, reports the yard's press service on Dec 19.

The contract for repair and modernization of the sub was tied between Zvezdochka and Indian defense ministry in June 2010. This is the fifth Indian Navy's asset upgraded by the shipyard.

"Zvezdochka plans to deliver the submarine to the customer in terms determined by the contract, namely, in the second half of 2012", said the press release.

Project 877 EKM Kilo-class diesel electric submarine INS Sindhurakshak was laid down at one of the Russia's oldest shipyards – Admiralteyskie Verfi (St. Petersburg) – in 1995 under Indian Navy's order. In June 1997 the sub was launched, and handed over to the orderer in Dec 1997. The project was developed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau (St. Petersburg).

Basic characteristics of the submarine: displacement – 2,300 tons, length – 72.6 meters, beam – 9.9 meters, surface speed – 10 knots, submerged speed – 19 knots, operating range – 6,000 miles, endurance – 45 days, operating depth – 300 meters, crew – 52 men. Armament: six 533-mm torpedo tubes.

Twin nuke missile test today

(Times of India) : The stage is set for 'twin' user trial of nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile in a real time situation. Indian Army will test the indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile from a defence base near Balasore on Wednesday.
Defence sources said the personnel of strategic forces command ( SFC), a specially raised wing of the Army to handle the missile, would carry out the test while the DRDO will provide all logistical support.
"Two Prithvi-II missiles have been planned to be tested in quick succession. If everything goes according to the plan and weather favours, the missiles would fly in the sky in between 8 am and 11 am," said a defence official.
Preparations for the scheduled test launch from the integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur here had reached the final stage on Tuesday. The defence official said range integration has been completed and the missiles have been integrated with the launcher.
"We are ready for the launch. Several user trials have been conducted earlier. This time the missiles will be tested in a real time situation so that the user can gauge the effectiveness and performance of the missile," said the official.
The missiles used for the test have been picked up randomly from the assembly line after production and will be launched with inertial navigation system. The aim and objective of the test will be to achieve single digit accuracy reaching close to zero circular error probability (CEP).
Prithvi-II has a strike range of 250 km to 350 km and the capability to carry 500 kg warhead. It has a length of nine meters with one metre diameter. It is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engine and uses Advanced Inertial Guidance System (AIGS) with maneouring trajectory and reaches the targets with an accuracy of a few meters.
The missile weighing around 4.6 tonne uses an inertial guidance system with reasonably good accuracy and the warhead uses a radar correlation terminal guidance system. It can be taken close to the forward line over any kind of terrain.
Scientists are leaving no stone unturned for the success of the test as during a test on September 24 last year the missile fell down immediately after it took off from the launch pad. The test this year was a success though.

December 20, 2011

Japan selects F-35 as new fighter jet

Japan on Tuesday chose the US-built F-35 stealth jet for its next-generation mainstay fighter, as North Korea provided a timely reminder of the region's potential for instability.

In a deal estimated to be worth more than $4 billion, Japan plumped for the trouble-plagued jet to replace its ageing fleet of F-4 fighters.

"The government shall acquire 42 units of the F-35A after fiscal 2012 in order to replenish and to modernise the current fleet of fighters held by the Air Self-Defense Force," the cabinet said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin's F-35 beat off competition from two other jets -- the Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The formal decision, which had long been expected, came the day after news of the death of Kim Jong-Il sent jitters through the region amid fears a power transition could destabilise North Korea's hardline regime.

Tokyo was originally expected to announce its pick last week. The selection comes as China's massive military machine continues to grow and Beijing becomes increasingly assertive.

Tokyo and Beijing have butted diplomatic heads on a number of occasions, notably in a protracted -- and at times ugly -- spat over disputed islands in the East China Sea, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu.

Both countries claim sovereignty over the Japanese-administered islands, which are strategically important, but uninhabited, outcrops.

Beijing, whose military spending has grown at double digits every year for much of the last decade, is seen as using its economic and military might to press its territorial claims ever more aggressively.

In January it unveiled its own stealth fighter jet.

In the six months to September, Japanese jets were scrambled 83 times to respond to possible airspace violations by Chinese aircraft, Jiji press reported, a more than three-fold increase on the same period last year.

Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said the F-35 fitted the bill as a modern fighter plane, suited to Japan's needs.

"It was about its capability. It is a fighter with capacity to respond to the changing security environment."

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons programme in Pentagon history and has been plagued by cost overruns and technical delays.

Co-developed with British defence giant BAE Systems, the F-35 was the costliest of the three models under consideration, with a price tag estimated at $113 million per aircraft.

Critics of the Lockheed Martin plane have been unimpressed.

However, Ichikawa said he was confident the hardware would arrive in Japan by 2016.

"We have received assurances that the delivery will be made on time," he said.

Japan initially aimed to acquire the F-22 stealth fighter to renew its fleet, but US law prohibits exports of the jet and the United States plans to halt production of the model.

Japan, which places its security alliance with the United States at the cornerstone of its foreign policy, has long depended on US manufacturers for its military hardware.

Times of India

DRDO plans 500-cr unmanned vehicle project for Indian Army

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working on an ambitious Rs 500-cr unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) programme that seeks to address the Army's requirement for various types of UGVs over the next 10 years.
The use of UGVs, which are state-of-the-art robots, has acquired a greater significance in counter-insurgency, urban- as well as jungle-warfare situations for varied tasks, including surveillance and reconnaissance operations and safe handling and disposal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"We are in discussion with the Army to finalise the UGV programme soon," S Sundaresh, DRDO's distinguished scientist and chief controller of armament combat engineering and services interaction, said here on Monday.
"The ongoing efforts of four DRDO laboratories, including Pune's Research and Development Establishment (R&DE - Engineers), which are into developing various systems for UGVs, will be combined for rolling out products specified by the Army," he said.
"The robotics group at R&DE (Engineers) has been working on advanced systems for unmanned vehicles, while the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) at Ahmednagar is into developing wheel-based UGVs for surveillance and recce operations," he said.
"Similarly, the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment at Avadi near Chennai is into developing track-based vehicles, while the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Research, Bangalore, is working on image processing and sensors," Sundaresh added.
Key DRDO laboratories, like R&DE (Engineers), Pune, have diversified from conventional tasks of making bridges, mine-laying and mine-clearance equipment to the more advanced systems involving robotics and artificial intelligence applications. A small group of robotics, set up in 2001-02 for designing UGVs, has since evolved into a full-fledged robotics development laboratory 'Saksham', which has been spearheading the DRDO's UGV initiative.
According to Sundaresh, surveys relating to the global market for UGVs have revealed that governments of various countries have committed mind-boggling amounts for acquisition and deployment of UGVs. "There is immense potential and opportunity for scaling up this technology to the extent of developing unmanned battle tanks," he said.
Sundaresh said, "A UGV for nuclear biological and chemical ( NBC) surveillance operations is under development at VRDE, Ahmednagar, and will be ready for trials in a year. This equipment, which will be mounted on a Tata 104 vehicle and fitted with all sensors, can be remotely controlled to go into an NBC-affected area in a range of up to 5 km and measure and mark level of radiation for clean up exercise."
Alok Mukherjee, head of robotics laboratory at the R&DE (Engineers), told TOI, "We have developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) 'Netra', which is useful for surveillance and recce operations, for obtaining live videos of a terrorist situation in urban as well as jungle warfare."
"Netra is set to enter into the production phase following successful user and field trials, including those in high-altitude, cold and hot weather conditions," he said.
"We are in talks with para-military forces like the National Security Guards, which requires the UAV for counter-terror operations in an urban setting, and the Central Reserve Police Force, which is dealing with Maoists or Naxals in jungles," he added. "The Border Security Force; Indo-Tibetan Border Force and the state police are the other prospective buyers," Mukherjee said.
Apart from 'Netra', the R&DE (Engineers) is developing a gun-mounted robot, which can be deployed in anti-terrorist situations. "The robot will be equipped with a light machine gun and a grenade launcher," he said and added that the project is in design stage and will take two years to realise.
A smaller version of the remotely operated vehicle ( ROV) 'Daksh', which can be deployed in crammed places, like railway train compartments or aircraft isle, for detection, removal and disposal of improvised explosive devices is also being developed, said Mukherjee. "This project, too, is in the design phase," he added.

Times of India

December 19, 2011

China: India using Agni-V to increase clout in Asia

The proposed February launch of India's Agni-V missile has ruffled feathers among Chinese policy makers with Communist Party organ, the People's Daily, saying the move reflects India's "intention of seeking regional balance of power".

It quoted Indian officials and scientists describing Agni-V missile as a "killer" for a "certain country" without mentioning which.

India "cannot tolerate" internal and external security environment constraints that come in the way of its developing military clout, the article said. However, it made no mention of China's massive missile build-up and development of air strike capabilities including the recent launch of an aircraft carrier.

"It is the Indian goal to continue to strengthen the military and possess a military clout that matches its status as a major power," the party mouthpiece said.

The article comes in the wake of remarks by Chinese experts expressing concern about the strengthening India-US relationship in military affairs.

They have voiced concerns about India joining the American game plan of "encircling China" by playing on the grouse of it s sea neighbors like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. Beijing has vehemently opposed an ONGC deal for oil exploration in South China Sea that China regards as its own.

The article in the People's Daily added that India should stop putting too much faith in the new US policy on the Asia Pacific region because "thinking this move will contain its imaginary enemy would be naive". It also said, "India should cooperate with the neighboring countries instead of being hostile to them and reduce its own persecution mania to play a role on the world stage in the future."

The newspaper said, "There is no real winner in wars and peace opportunities must not be wasted". The article recorded Indian official thinking that Agni-V will not pose a threat to any country as India has a policy of never being the first to attack anyone.

Times of India

Taiwan receives two US early warning aircraft

TAIPEI: Taiwan received two upgraded early warning aircraft from the United States Sunday, the island's airforce said, as part of an arms deal that upset China-US relations.

The arrival of the E-2K aircraft in southern Kaohsiung city brings to four the number of such planes in Taiwan's air force, it said, after they were sent to the United States last year for upgrades.

Taiwan acquired four E-2Ts in 1995 and added two E-2K, an improved version of the Grumman Hawkeye series, in 2006.

A pair of E-2Ts were transported to the United States for upgrading last month, as part of a $6.5 billion arms sale agreed with Taiwan in 2008, which also included advanced interceptor Patriot missiles, Apache attack helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

Analysts say the E-2K -- an all-weather early warning and control system platform with an upgraded radar, software, avionics and propellers -- will further reduce warning time if China launched an air attack on the island.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008 promising to boost trade links and allow more Chinese tourists to visit the island.

But Beijing still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has governed itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons, largely from the United States.

- AFP / ChannelNewsAsia

China is India’s ‘imaginary enemy': Daily

Beijing: Calling China as India's "imaginary enemy", Chinese official media on Sunday said New Delhi should reduce its own "persecution mania".

India is "pleased" by America's strategic focus shift toward the Asia-Pacific region and "began to get close to US, but thinking this move will contain its imaginary enemy would be naive," an article in the state-run People's Daily titled 'Risks behind India's military build up' said. 

 US President Barack Obama had recently announced that his country will focus on the Asia-Pacific region, where it already has significant military assets.

The daily asked India to "cooperate" with neighbouring countries.

"In the context of the eastward shift of global economic power and the changing Asian geopolitical pattern, India should cooperate with the neighbouring countries instead of being hostile to them and should reduce its own "persecution mania to play a role on the world stage in the future", it said.

"There is no real winner in wars and peace opportunities must not be wasted. This is the wise judgment", the daily said.

PTI/ Zeenews

December 17, 2011

Russia to lease Nerpa nuclear submarine to India by yearend

Russia will lease its Nerpa nuclear submarine to India by the end of the year, the head of Russia’s federal agency in charge of military and technical cooperation, Mikhail Dmitriyev, said on Friday.
“We have planned to do it by the end of the year,” Dmitriyev told journalists in Moscow.
The delivery will make India the sixth country to operate nuclear-powered submarines, after France, China, Russia, Britain and the United States.
The $650 million lease contract for the Nerpa was signed in 2004. The transfer was initially scheduled for 2008, but was put on hold following a fatal accident later that year, in which 20 people, mostly civilians, died and two dozen others were poisoned on board the submarine when a freon gas fire suppressant system was accidentally set off.
Friday’s announcement on the submarine lease came during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Russia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with Singh earlier in the day.
The November 2008 accident on board the submarine, which occurred during a trial in the Sea of Japan, was Russia’s worst naval tragedy since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000.
The Nerpa’s captain, Dmitry Lavrentyev, and engineer Dmitry Grobov, who allegedly activated the sub’s fire safety system “without authorization and for no reason,” were charged with negligence, but later acquitted.
During Singh’s visit to Moscow, the two countries also signed an agreement on the supply of kits to assemble 42 Su-30MKI Flanker multirole fighters for the Indian Air Force.


Russian-built, BrahMos-fitted frigate set for Indian Navy induction

(Deccan Herald) : Equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, INS Teg, a Russian-built frigate for the Indian Navy, will set sail once its Indian crew arrives and takes over the warship from the Russian Navy, well-informed sources said here Friday.

INS Teg is the first of six Talwar (Krivak) class frigates to be equipped with the 290-km BrahMos missiles jointly developed by India and Russia. The first three Talwar class warships -- INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar -- that were inducted in the Indian Navy in 2002 and 2003 do not have the BrahMos, but are equipped with Klub class missiles.

Apart from INS Teg, two other frigates, being built by the Kaliningrad-based Yantar shipyard -- all three constituting the second line of Talwar-class ships -- will also have the BrahMos missiles integrated.

"With the successful test of BrahMos, INS Teg is now ready to sail to India. It is awaiting its Indian Navy crew, who are expected later this month or early in January 2012," sources here told IANS.

"The Indian Navy plans to induct the warship by March 2012," they added.

The Russian Navy, which had conducted the sea trials of INS Teg in September, test-fired the BrahMos from the ship's bow in the first week of December. Telemetric data indicated that all of its systems performed optimally, the sources said.
India and Russia had in July 2007 signed a $1.6 billion contract for the three follow-on Talwar class frigates under the Indian Navy's Project 11356.

INS Teg and the other two warships -- INS Tarkash (delivery likely in July 2012) and INS Trikand (January 2013) are expected to bolster the Indian Navy's growing blue water capabilities and ambitions.

The Indian Navy giving top priority to these guided missile frigates to maintain its combat worthiness and organizational ability to deploy warships at immediate notice.
The previous vessels of the Talwar class have been deployed by Indian Navy in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and have proved themselves worthy of being mean fighting machines by achieving "kills" of pirate mother ships.

Packed with sensors, weapons and missile systems and stealth due to highly-reduced radar, infra-red, noise, frequency and magnetic signatures to beat enemy detection, each of these warships is equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil air defence system, two Kashtan air defence gun and missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo tubes, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

BrahMos Aerospace is an India-Russia joint venture established in 1998 for the joint development of the eponymously-named supersonic cruise missiles. The missiles, said to be the fastest in their class, are now under production and have been successfully inducted into the Indian Army and Indian Navy. The two countries are also developing the air-launched version of the missile that can cruise at speed of Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, for the Indian Air Force's Sukhoi S-30 MKI air superiority combat planes.

A hypersonic version of BrahMos with Mach 7 speeds to boost aerial strike capability is under development and is expected to be ready by 2016.

PM raises Gorshkov aircraft carrier issue with Medvedev

From G Sudhakar Nair Moscow, Dec 16 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today raised the issue of delay in the delivery of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy, saying it was important for India that the ship arrives in time. The Gorshkov issue was raised by the prime minister during the 12th Indo-Russian Summit talks with President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told newsmen that both India and Russia were clear that they would take necessary action to ensure there was "no slippages" in the delivery of the aircraft carrier which will be rechristened 'INS Vikramaditya'. According to Mathai, Singh told Medvedev that "it is very important for us (India) that the ship arrives in time." According to the Russian side, the delivery would be delayed till 2012. They also claimed that since last year New Delhi has not made any payments although the extra work to the tune of USD 1.7 billion has been done by the shipyard. The 44.5-thousand tonner Kiev class aircraft carrier was to be initially commissioned as INS Vikramaditya in August this year under the USD 1.5 billion deal signed in January 2004, which included the refit of the vessel and supply of 16 MiG-29K fighters. Sea going and flying trials of the refitted aircraft carrier will be conducted by the Russian crew trained on the 'Admiral Kuznetsov' aircraft carrier in service with the Russian Navy.
IBN Live

December 16, 2011

US Navy may station ships in Singapore, Philippines

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE: The US Navy said it would station several new coastal combat ships in Singapore and perhaps in the Philippines in coming years, moves likely to fuel China's fears of being encircled and pressured in the South China Sea dispute.

Regional defence analysts said the ships were small, but agreed the symbolism of the moves, which come after Washington announced it was increasing its engagement in Asia, would upset Beijing.

Last month the United States and Australia announced plans to deepen the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with 2,500 US Marines operating out of a de facto base in Darwin in northern Australia.

In coming years, the US Navy will increasingly focus on the strategic "maritime crossroads" of the Asia-Pacific region, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert wrote in the December issue of Proceedings, published by the US Naval Institute.

He said the navy planned to "station several of our newest littoral combat ships at Singapore's naval facility", in addition to the plans announced by President Barack Obama for marines to be based in Darwin from next year.

"This will help the navy sustain its global forward posture with what may be a smaller number of ships and aircraft than today," he wrote.

Littoral combat ships are shallow draft vessels that operate in coastal waters and can counter coastal mines, quiet diesel submarines and small, fast, armed boats.

"If we put this into context, it's a fairly small scale of deployment and the combat ships are relatively small vessels," said Euan Graham, senior fellow in the Maritime Security Programme at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

"Encirclement is a phrase that does come up in Chinese debate about the US strategy. They won't be happy about it, but there's nothing much that they can do to stop it."

Greenert wrote the ships would focus on the South China Sea, conducting operations to counter piracy and trafficking, both of which are endemic in the area.

"Similarly, 2025 may see P-8A Poseidon aircraft or unmanned broad area maritime surveillance aerial vehicles periodically deploy to the Philippines or Thailand to help those nations with maritime domain awareness."

One source briefed on navy plans said there has also been discussion about stationing ships in the Philippines.

BIGGEST THREAT The disputed ownership of the oil-rich reefs and islands in the South China Sea is one of the biggest security threats in Asia. The sea is claimed wholly or in part by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it has some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe's oil tanker traffic passes through it.

Obama told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at a regional summit in November that the United States wanted to ensure the sea lanes were kept open and peaceful. Wen was described by US officials as being "grouchy" later at the summit, when other Asian countries aligned with Washington.

The Chinese premier said "outside forces" had no excuse to get involved in the complex maritime dispute, a veiled warning to the United States and other countries to keep out of the sensitive issue.

"A modest marine presence in Australia - 2,500 marines is not a large offensive force by any means - and ships in Singapore do not mean it's all about China," Paul Dibb, the head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, told Reuters.

"But having said that, China is being increasingly assertive on the high seas. So while I don't see the US as encircling China, it would be silly to say China wasn't part of it."

CLOSELY WATCHED These developments on the littoral combat ships (LCS) are being closely watched by Lockheed Martin Corp, Australia's Austal, General Dynamics Corp and other arms makers that are building two models of the new warships for the US Navy, and hope to sell them to other countries in coming years.

"Because we will probably not be able to sustain the financial and diplomatic cost of new main operating bases abroad, the fleet of 2025 will rely more on host-nation ports and other facilities where our ships, aircraft, and crews can refuel, rest, resupply, and repair while deployed," Greenert wrote in the naval magazine.

Ernie Bower, who is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the emerging strategy for Southeast Asia would be far different from the big US bases established in Japan and South Korea in the past.

"We're exploring a new arrangement with a smaller footprint, that is mission-specific, and culturally and politically more palatable to countries," he said, adding it would be difficult for Washington to drum up much political support for big bases in the region. Forward-stationing versus permanent bases would also save the navy money, he said.

Greenert did not provide a timetable for the LCS stationing in Singapore.

In the Philippines, a US ally that has clashed several times with China over the South China Sea dispute, the moves were welcomed.

"We're together in Asia Pacific and we face common security challenges," said defence spokesman Peter Paul Galvez.

"We see several security challenges where we actually need inter-operability and interplay exercises including disasters, threats of terrorism, freedom of navigation, piracy and human trafficking. We cannot deny that we need their assistance in that aspect." 

Times of India

US satellite snaps China's first aircraft carrier at sea

 US satellite company DigitalGlobe has captured this image of the refitted former Soviet carrier as it underwent five days of trials in the Yellow Sea. Photograph: Reuters

(The Guardian) : A US satellite company says it has taken a photograph of China's first aircraft carrier during trials in the Yellow Sea.
It is believed to be the first time the 300-metre ship, a refitted former Soviet carrier, has been photographed at sea since it was launched in August.
DigitalGlobe said one of its satellites took the picture on 8 December and an analyst at the firm spotted the ship this week while searching through images.
Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe's analysis centre, said he was confident the ship was the Chinese carrier because of the location and date of the image. The carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might portend about China's intentions as a military power.
The former Soviet Union started building the carrier, which it called the Varyag, but never finished it. When the USSR collapsed, the ship ended up in Ukraine.
China bought the ship from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it. It had no engines, weapons or navigation systems when China acquired it. It has said the ship is intended for research and training, which has led to speculation that it plans to build copies.
China initially said little about its plans for the vessel but has been more open in recent years, said Bonnie S Glaser, a China expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
"It wasn't until the Chinese actually announced they were sending it out on a trial run they admitted, 'Yes, we are actually launching a carrier,'" she said. China announced two sea trials, which took place this year, she added.
Michael Schiffer, the US deputy assistant defence secretary for east Asia, said in August that the vessel could become operationally available by the end of next year, but without aircraft. "It will take a number of additional years for an air group to achieve the sort of minimal level of combat capability aboard the carrier that will be necessary for them to start to operate from the carrier," he said.

December 15, 2011

Belarus gets surface-to-air missiles from Russia

(RIA Novosti ): Belarus has taken delivery of the first consignment of advanced Tor-M2 antiaircraft missile systems from Russia, Belarusian Defense Minister Yury Zhadobin said on Thursday.
“The first two units arrived yesterday,” he told the Belta news agency.
All 14 systems will have been delivered before December 24, he said, adding that the first Tor-M2 battery would be based in the Brest region.
Tor is an all-weather, short-range surface-to-air missile system that can effectively engage aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic targets.

PM visit: India to buy 42 ‘upgraded’ Sukhois

(Indian Express) : After negotiating for more than a year, India has firmed up an order with Russia for the purchase of 42 upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft to strengthen its aging fleet. An agreement confirming this purchase will be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia starting Thursday. 

While the Cabinet Committee on Security had taken a decision on buying 42 additional Sukhoi MKIs last year, negotiations have taken longer because India was also keen to include some of the features found in fifth generation fighter aircraft. Finally, the Russian side agreed to upgrade the SU-30 MKIs to its latest version known as ‘Super Sukhoi’ with additional characteristics.
The new version is expected to include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and certain stealth features to avoid radar detection. Significantly, the upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKIs will be able to carry a heavier weapons load, especially the airborne version of the Brahmos cruise missile. India is also looking to upgrade most of its SU-30 MKIs in the long run. 

While Russia may have lost out in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft deal because of not being able to offer certain additional features, officials said, Moscow has assured New Delhi that it will roll out its best in upgraded SU-30 MKIs.
“The defence cooperation is robust and excellent. Our two countries have developed maturity that individual deals will not affect the ties,” said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai while responding to a question on whether the MMRCA rejection will impact defence ties.
The deal, estimated at over Rs 20,000 crore, will be operational in three years with the first delivery expected in 2014 and the last by 2018. Once the 42 aircraft are inducted, the total strength of SU-30 MKI fleet will go up to 272. It may be noted that by 2017, India plans to phase out 120 MiG 21s and with the MMRCA still not a done deal, the SU-30 MKI fleet will be the mainstay. 

Meanwhile, India and Russia have still not finalised the agreement for two more reactors at Koodankulam. Though indications are that the deal will not be signed during the PM’s visit, Mathai said that a call is yet to taken on the subject.

India Reportedly Basing Helicopters, Fighter Jets In Tajikistan

(Eurasianet) : India is quietly using the Ayni air base in Tajikistan, hosting a contingent of helicopters and fighter jets in cooperation with Russia, an Indian journalist reports. Saurav Jha, writing in World Politics Review (subscription required, but free trial available), while the Tajikistan government has denied that it would allow anyone but Russia to use the base, the truth is otherwise: However, an Indian official directly involved in renovating the airfield told World Politics Review that an Indian air force contingent, including Indian Mi-17 helicopters and leased Russian fighter jets, is currently deployed to the base under joint Indo-Tajik control. The Russian equipment will be maintained by Russian contractors, creating “a sort of joint control over these assets.” His comments echo recent reports of negotiations between the three parties for joint use of the base.

Jha also theorizes on why everyone is keeping this quiet: to avoid offending China and Pakistan.
India has spent almost $70 million, including equipment costs, to completely repave and extend the runway at Ayni, set up air traffic control and perimeter fencing and build three hardened shelters -- all, the Indian official confirmed, with an eye to supporting fighter-jet operations. That might be the real reason behind Tajikistan’s reticence to officially clarify the status of the base. While Ayni will allow India to watch over northern Afghanistan in the aftermath of a NATO withdrawal, it can also provide coverage for Indian fighter aircraft over northern Pakistan and western China, areas that lack robust air defense networks. Tajik officials might be downplaying their involvement in the base out of deference to Beijing and Islamabad’s sensitivities.
All this actually sounds plausible, and jibes with what what India's defense minister AK Antony hinted at when he last visited Dushanbe in October:
India, Tajikistan and Russia are in negotiations on the joint use of the Ayni Air Base, close to the Tajik capital Dushanbe which is set to acquire strategic significance after US withdrawal from Afghanistan, sources said...
When asked if India was a partner in the use of the base, Antony merely described Ayni as the best air base in entire Central Asia.
Curiously, there is still no word about what may have transpired during Antony's subsequent visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, nor any mention of India's recently reported interest in using a different air base in Tajkistan, Farkhor near the Afghanistan border. The intrigue just keeps getting thicker...