August 30, 2012

Indian Army to buy 20 mini-UAVs for Jammu and Kashmir operations

Strengthening the capability of its troops in fighting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army has issued a global tender for procuring 20 mini- UAVs for its formations deployed in the state.

The tender for the 20 mini-UAVs has been issued soon after the Army and the Navy issued global Request for Proposal (RFP) for procuring 95 such UAVs.

"The mini UAVs will be used in counter terrorist operations by our troops for gathering intelligence and carrying out reconnaissance of particular areas," Army officials said here.

The tender has been issued by the Udhampur-based Northern Command of the Army and the deal is expected to be less than Rs 50 lakhs, they said.

In the tender, the Army has specified that the mini UAVs should be less than 10 kg in weight and should be able to fly at the altitude of up to 1,000 metre.

They said the controlling range of the UAVs should be not less than 5 km and should be able to be launched by hand by the troops on ground.

"The UAVs should be able to remain airborne for at least 60 minutes," officials said.

Similar UAVs are also being planned to be used by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the anti-naxal operations in Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand.

The Economic Times

August 29, 2012

India’s Light Combat Aircraft Prepares For Operational Clearance

NEW DELHI — India’s indigenously developed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is likely to win its final operational service clearance, following testing as part of an air exercise in February.
The single-seat, single-engine supersonic fighter will be put to the test during the “Iron Feast” exercise to be held in Pokhran in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.
“The Tejas will display its capabilities in the exercise, where its lethality, endurance and precision will be tested, and if the aircraft meets all parameters, its first squadron will be deployed in Bengaluru,” says Air Marshal Anjan Kumar Gogoi, chief of Southwestern Air Command.
The Tejas is designed to carry air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided and standoff weaponry.
As of March, the LCA had undergone more than 1,816 test flights up to speeds of Mach 1.4. Initial Operational Clearance-1 (IOC-1) was achieved in January 2011. According to the Indian defense ministry, the Tejas has undertaken weapon trials, including flights with a laser-guided bomb. Various sensor trials also were conducted early this year. All told, the Tejas program has clocked 1,903 flights, totaling 1,120 hr.
The Indian air force (IAF), which has ordered 40 Tejas Mk-1s from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), has begun to induct the LCA, according to a ministry official. Out of the 40 aircraft, 20 were ordered under the IOC standards, with the rest under Final Operational Clearance standards. IAF plans to induct six LCA squadrons over the next 10 years, the official adds.
The first two squadrons, comprising 40 aircraft, will have first-generation Mk. 1 fighters. The additional four squadrons would be more-powerful Tejas Mk. 2s. The final price tag of the Mk. 2 only will be available after its development phase is complete , the official says.
The LCA’s design and development program is being led by the Aeronautical Development Agency, with HAL as the prime contractor.
The Indian government so far has approved 118.45 billion rupees ($2.1 billion) for the development of the Tejas, of which 50.51 billion rupees has been spent, the official says.

Aviation week

August 28, 2012

India, Russia sign pact for Smerch rockets

India and Russia have tied up for a joint venture to manufacture Smerch rockets.

A memorandum of understanding for starting the joint venture was signed between India's Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Russia's Rosoboronexport and Splav SPA here Monday, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

The technology for the five versions of Smerch rockets will come from Russia. "OFB signed a MoU for a joint venture with Rosoboronexport and Splav SPA to manufacture five versions of Smerch Rockets based on the technology received from Russia," a ministry statement said.

Smerch rockets are a hi-tech weapon system with a range of 70-80 km. "The MoU, duly approved by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, has been signed by three parties in New Delhi," it said.

After indigenising the technology of Smerch rockets, OFB will attain new heights in manufacturing of the advanced rocket system, it added.

Russia is India's largest defence partner with over 70 percent of Indian armed forces equipment coming from that country.

The two nations already have a successful joint venture in the design, development and manufacture of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

They have also tied up for the joint design and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the medium transport aircraft.

Deccan Herald

Russia and India Sign Munitions Deal

Russia and India signed a framework document on Tuesday for establishment of a joint production facility for modern munitions for the Indian Army, a high-ranking source in the Indian Armed Forces told RIA Novosti.
The agreement was signed on Monday at a working group on defense production.
India plans to start domestic production of cutting-edge Russian-designed weapons, including rocket and artillery rounds.
The two sides also discussed other areas for possible cooperation including license-production of Russian aerospace technology, the source said, but did not give further details.
India has traditionally been a major client for Russia's arms industry and its army operates Russian tanks, rocket launchers and small arms.

RIA Novosti 

August 27, 2012

IAF to procure 75 trainer aircraft from Pilatus: Antony

(The Economic Times) : Indian Air Force (IAF) has signed a contract with Swiss firm Pilatus for procurement of 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) to train its rookie pilots and the delivery of these planes is scheduled between Feb 2013 to Aug 2012, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

"A contract for procurement of 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft was signed with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Switzerland on May 24... The delivery of these 75 aircraft is scheduled from February 2013 to August 2015," Defence Minister AK Antony told the House in a written reply.

In reply to a separate question on shortage of pilots in the IAF, he said that there is a shortfall of over 600 trained pilots in the force.

"The present strength of pilots as on Aug 1 is 3261 against the sanctioned strength of 3294," Antony said, adding that "the available strength of pilots in IAF is sufficient to meet the current requirement".

Replying to a question on development of "Friend or Foe System" for the forces, Antony said such a system has been designed, developed and has already been put into production.

"Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), Bangalore-based DRDO lab has designed, developed and productionised Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) Mark-XII system," he said.

In his reply to a question on achievements of DRDO, Antony said, "Many systems developed by DRDO for the Armed Forces during the last five years can also be used for civilian applications."

There are 50 laboratories functioning under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and at present, there is no proposal to set up new laboratory under DRDO, he said.

Navy’s critical requirement for Israeli Barak missiles stalled due to CBI case

NEW DELHI: The defence ministry has virtually shot down a renewed bid by the Navy to get additional supplies of missiles to arm the Israeli Barak-I anti-missile defence (AMD) systems fitted on 14 frontline warships, including solitary aircraft carrier INS Viraat and three new Shivalik-class stealth frigates.

While the MoD led by defence minister AK Antony accepted the "critical operational urgency'' for acquiring the 262 Barak-I missiles at a cost of over $140 million, it indicated last week that its hands were tied due to the pending CBI investigation into the infamous Barak kickbacks case, sources said.

"Legal opinion obtained from the law ministry and the solicitor general holds that the fresh procurement case should not be progressed for the cabinet committee on security till the CBI probe is complete,'' said a source.

But with the CBI investigation failing to reach anywhere in the last six years, a desperate Navy may now be forced to make a case for seeking fresh legal opinion. Confronted with a critical shortfall in the missile reserve stocks, the Navy has been forced to curtail even practice firings of the Barak-I AMD systems integrated into the 14 warships as part of their "combat management systems''.

"In the current political situation and scams swirling all around, nobody wants to stick his neck out even if inaction adversely impacts national security needs,'' said an insider. There are fears the Bofors howitzer scandal of the late-1980s, which completely derailed the Army's entire artillery modernisation programme from which it is yet to recover, is being repeated yet again.

Much like the Bofor guns which proved their worth during the 1999 Kargil conflict, the Navy swears by the Barak-I systems that act as "close-in point defence systems'' for warships to intercept incoming sea-skimming missiles with "pin-point accuracy'' at a 9-km range.

The recent Naresh Chandra Committee report, incidentally, has also held there is a need to relook at the entire process of cancelling arms contracts or blacklisting defence firms since they can prove counter-productive to the nation's security.

Interestingly enough, it was the NDA regime that had inked the initial Rs 1,160 crore deal for nine Barak-I AMD systems, along with 200 missiles worth Rs 350 crore, from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael in October 2000. This was considered necessary to counter Pakistan's acquisition of sea-skimming Exocet and Harpoon missiles after the indigenous Trishul AMD system failed to become operational.

Subsequently, under the UPA-I government in October 2006, the CBI registered the FIR in the Barak kickbacks case to name former defence minister George Fernandes, his party associates Jaya Jaitely and RK Jain, alleged arms dealer Suresh Nanda and former Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar among the accused.

While the probe lingers, India is also now in the final stages of developing long-range surface-to-air (LR-SAM) and medium-range SAM systems in collaboration with IAI. While the LR-SAM project to arm naval warships is worth Rs 2,606 crore, the MR-SAM one for IAF is pegged Rs 10,076 crore. With effective interception ranges of 70-km each, their deliveries will begin from 2013 onwards.

Times of India

August 25, 2012

India test-fires 'Prithvi-II' ballistic missile from ITR

India's nuclear-capable Prithvi-II ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 km was today successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range near here as part of user trial by the army.

"The flight test of the surface-to-surface missile was conducted around 1100 hrs from a mobile launcher from ITR's launch complex-III at Chandipur," defence sources said.

Describing the trial of the indigenously developed strategic missile as "fully successful", ITR Director MVKV Prasad said, "It was a perfect launch. All the mission objectives were accomplished during the trial."

Prithvi is the first ballistic missile developed under the country's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and has the capability to carry 500 kg of both nuclear and conventional warheads with a strike range of 350 km.

The missile uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory.

The test-fire of the sophisticated short-range ballistic missile, which has already been inducted into the armed forces, was a user's trial by the army and monitored by scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The sleek missile is handled by the strategic force command (SFC), they said, adding the trial was conducted to gauge the effectiveness of the weapon in a real time situation.

"The whole exercise was aimed at studying the control and guidance system of the missile besides providing training to the Army, which happens to be the user," said an official.

The state-of-the-art missile is 9 metre-long and is one metre in diameter with liquid propulsion twin engine.

A defence scientist associated with the trial said radars and electro optical systems located along the coast tracked and monitored all the parameters of the missile throughout the flight path.

Prithvi-II has been successfully flight tested several times as part of the training exercise and today's launch again proved its reliability and accuracy, he said.

A twin user trial of Prithvi-II missiles planned on December 21, 2011 from ITR had to be deferred due to a technical snag, sources said.

Its trial was, however, a complete success on September 26, 2011 as the missile reached the predefined target in Bay of Bengal with a very high accuracy of better than 10 meters, they said.

The Economic Times

Thales, India’s Bharat To Form Joint Venture for Radars

India’s government-owned electronics giant, Bharat Electronics (BEL), will sign a joint venture with France’s Thales next week to manufacture air defense components, AIN has learned from a senior defense official. The venture is expected to start operations within 18 months
BEL may then become part of the global supply chain for Thales. Under earlier license deals with the French company, BEL has built Thales LW04, DA08 and ZW06 naval radars. BEL will hold a 74-percent share in the joint venture and Thales the balance, because the Indian government does not allow direct foreign investment of more than 26 percent.
Thales will contribute its expertise in system engineering, integration and testing, along with some technology transfer. At a recent defense show in India, Thales demonstrated its capabilities in air defense solutions, force protection, missile systems and rocket systems, including a mobile ground C4I system for complete airspace surveillance out to 80 km (49 miles) and its mobile short-range air defense system. BEL has been a major player in the electronics field in India, with a history of manufacturing radars for the military.
Thales recently won a contract from India to upgrade 49 Mirage 2000s (two were lost recently) to bring them to the full Mirage 2000v5 Mk 2 standard. The deal includes an RDY-3 radar with greater air-to-air and air-to-ground capability, a new night-vision-compatible all-digital cockpit, and improved electronic warfare systems. While it is not yet clear whether the joint venture will manufacture components for the RDY-3, Thales is most likely to tap its offsets commitment with this venture.
India’s defense procurement process requires offsets of at least 30 percent, so it is likely the joint venture will also satisfy offsets associated with India’s selection of the Dassault Rafale for its medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement for 126 fighters. Thales is a major partner in the Rafale program.
Work on the Mirage upgrades will be performed by Dassault, manufacturer of the aircraft, along with Thales as weapons systems integrator, MBDA as missile supplier and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). The first two Mirages will be refitted in France, the next two by HAL in India under French supervision and the remainder by HAL. Delivery of kits will stretch until 2018, the defense official said.

AIN online

China develops new generation ICBMs and Submarine missiles, ups ability to reach US

China has developed a new generation of inter-continental and Submarine launched missiles capable of carrying as many as 10 nuclear warheads, increasing its ability to reach US and to overwhelm missile defence systems.

The US military and intelligence officials say that China has developed the new long range Dongfeng-41 ICBM with mobile launching system making it harder to find and destroy the missile before it is launched, the New York Times said.

But the Global Times - a newspaper controlled by China's Communist Party - disputed Western media reports of Dongfeng-41 tests being carried out last month.

It admitted China was developing the capability to put multiple warheads on its inter-continental ballistic missiles.

The new generation Dongfeng-41 is estimated to have a strike distance of 12,000 to 14,000 kilometers and armed with single, 3, 6, or even 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) warheads.

The NYT, quoting a Congressional panel, said that US and other western powers might have underestimated the size of China's nuclear arsenal, suggesting that the new reports say that it currently had 55 to 65 ICBM.

The US experts also said that Beijing had separately tested Submarine launched missiles in recent weeks, which it could use to outflank American missile defence systems.

The experts also said that China had developed the expertise to mount dummy warheads on some of its nuclear missiles and that these have heat and electromagnetic devices designed to trick defence missile system.

The NYT also said that China was preparing two Submarines for deployment each with 12 missiles.

US experts said China's moves to modernise its missiles comes in the wake of it carrying out sea trials of its first aircraft carrier and flight test of its new stealth J-20 jet.

Th NYT said to counter the Chinese build up, US was considering placing additional high-tech radar systems to track Chinese ballistic missiles either in southern Japan or in south east Asia.

The Economic Times

August 24, 2012

US beats Russia to $1.4 bn deal with India for 22 attack helicopters

US aerospace giant Boeing has scored a $1.4 billion deal to supply India with 22 attack helicopters, beating off competition from the Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter.
“It’s just a matter of time before the contract is inked for the Apaches after final commercial negotiations. Most of the hurdles have been cleared,” a defense ministry official, told the Indian media.
Defense experts say selecting the Apache AH-64D will also pave the way for India to receive sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles for the first time. The $1.4 billion deal will include advanced AN/APG-78 fire control radars for the Apaches as well as Hellfire anti-tank and 245 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to be delivered to India.
Mark Kronenberg, Boeing’s vice-president for international development, had earlier confirmed on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, that the Apache was the “last man standing” in India and Boeing is the sole bidder for the contract. Boeing’s Apache beat out the Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter for the deal by outscoring it on more than 20 technical points.

“The Apache scored consistently over Mi-28 in several key operational criteria. Broadly, these fell under the categories of electronic warfare, survivability, situational awareness in the cockpit, night-fighting capabilities, sensor efficacy and weapons. The helicopter was also found to be far more maneuverable. We worked directly with Boeing and the US Army to test this helicopter,” an IAF trial team member, earlier told Aviation Week.
According to the Russian media, Russia is also facing stiff US competition in a tender to supply 15 heavy-lift helicopters to the Indian forces. Russia is offering its Mil Mi-26, the world’s largest rotary-wing machine, while Boeing is proposing its veteran CH-47 Chinook.
India is looking to spend over $50 billion over the next five years to modernise its army and largely Soviet-era equipment. India had long focused its military planning on Pakistan, and Pakistan-based militants, but it is now growing more concerned about feuding with China over the disputed Sino-Indian border, where China claims large tracts of Arunachal Pradesh.
India, traditionally one of Russia’s core customers for arms, has been making a conscious effort to diversify the sourcing of weapon systems. According to defense experts, US military sales to India have increased, as have joint training missions, as the US has offered a more robust military-to-military relationship. The US has understood that India is not interested in a merely mercenary and opportunistic defense sales relationship.
India and the US want to eventually move beyond a seller-buyer relationship to substantial co-production and eventually, high-technology joint research and development of weapons.
“It’s a huge market and also a great opportunity for building a long term relationship with the defense industry. India will no longer be satisfied with a buyer/seller or patron/client type of arrangement. It is expected that the future of defense acquisitions will emphasize on transfer of technology as well as joint research and development of weapon systems,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B.Carter recently confided to the Confederation of Indian Industry.
India purchased 80 percent of its $12.7 billion in arms from Russia during 2007-2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). But the US has steadily scored a string of big-ticket deals over the last five years.
The first of the 10 US-made Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft ordered last year will be delivered to the Indian Air Force in June next year. India is forking over $4.1 billion (Rs 22,960 crore) to buy the US Air Force’s workhorse used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, making it the largest defense contract to have been signed by the two governments.
Last year, India purchased an amphibious transport vessel, the USS Trenton (re-christened INS Jalashwa), for nearly $50 million with six-UH-3H helicopters to operate alongside, costing another $49 million.
It also bought Harpoon anti-submarine missiles under a package worth $200 million, and long-range acoustic devices, modern hull penetrating periscopes, C-130J transport aircraft and sensor-fused weapons. It has also placed a $2.1 billion order for eight P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and quick reaction team boats from the US.


Frigate INS Tarkash Finishes State Trials

Built by Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad, frigate INS Tarkash (stands for "Quiver") is finishing state sea trials, reports the shipyard's press service.

INS Tarkash is the second out of three Project 11356 frigates ordered by Indian Navy and built by Yantar Shipyard in Russia. The ship was keel-laid in Nov 2007 and launched in June 2010. Currently, the frigate is at the shipyard's acceptance base in Baltiysk preparing for completion of state trials.

In the next few days, the ship will carry out firing qualification by antiaircraft missile system Shtil. That will be closing part of the state sea trials. Last week, INS Tarkash took missiles aboard; depending on the weather, the ship will take the sea for firing drill soon.

The frigate's trial team jointly with representatives of JSC Mortehnologia began training of Indian crew on Aug 6. The shipboard practice of Indian mariners will last up to acceptance trials.

Along with onboard training program, experts eliminate minor defects revealed at the first round of state trials.

The ship is expected to return to Yantar early in Sept to prepare for acceptance trials. It is planned to hand over INS Tarkash to the Indian party in Nov 2012.

First ship of that project, INS Teg (stands for "Saber") was triumphantly delivered to Indian Navy on Apr 27, 2012. The frigate was laid down at Yantar in 2007 and leads the 3-ship series ordered by India.

The third frigate closing the series, INS Trikand (stands for "Bow") was keel-laid in the summer of 2008 and put afloat in May 2011. Currently, the frigate undergoes outfitting works and is going to start dockside trials in Oct. According to plans, the ship is to be handed over to client in spring or early summer 2013.

Recall that the overall value of the 3-frigate contract signed in 2007 in New Delhi makes $1.6 bln.


Micro-light pilot-less target aircraft 'Lakshya-1' test flown successfully

India's indigenously developed, micro-light pilot-less target aircraft 'Lakshya-1' was successfully test flown from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here on Thursday.
Lakshya-1, fitted with an advanced digitally controlled engine, was test flown from the launch complex-2 of the ITR at about 12.15 PM successfully, defence sources said.
The test was carried out to check the validity of its engine and duration enhancement, they said, adding that usually the flight duration of the six-foot-long micro light aircraft is 30 to 35 minutes.
Lakshya-1, a sub-sonic, re-usable aerial target system, is remote controlled from the ground and designed to impart training to both air borne and air defence pilots.
It is launched by a solid propellant rocket motor, and sustained by a turbojet engine in flight.
The PTA has been developed by India?s aeronautic development establishment, Bangalore to perform discreet aerial reconnaissance of battle field and target acquisition.
Lakshya has been inducted into the Indian Air Force since 2000.

Times of  india

IAF to deploy medium power radars, advanced helicopters

odhpur: Indian Air Force will deploy medium power radars and advanced helicopters in the western sector in order to strengthen its preparedness along the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan.

While Jodhpur airbase will soon have a squadron of transport helicopters Mi-17 V5, medium power radars would also be deployed at Jaisalmer airbase, Air Marshal Anjan Kumar Gogoi, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South-Western Air command, said at a press conference here. 

Gogoi said that the new squadron at Phalodi will be ready by October this year.

Admitting that the SW air command has shortage of transport aircraft, he said that it will also be looked into.

The Air Marshal also informed that Deesa airbase in north Gujarat will soon become a training-cum-operational base.

About the Air Force show to be held in February next year in Pokharan firing range in Jaisalmer, he said that Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will display its capabilities for the first time.

Apart from that, about 100 planes of different varieties would display their power capabilities in the firepower demonstration event.

PTI/ Zeenews

August 23, 2012

$10bn Rafale deal not final yet: German leader

While not making any noise about India's decision to prefer the French Rafale fighter over Eurofighter Typhoon, Germany is still trying to negotiate with India for the over $10 billion medium-range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal. Germany is one of the key nations behind the European consortium which has designed the Typhoon.

The deputy chief of the ruling CDU-led coalition's parliamentary committee in Bundestag (lower house of Parliament) for foreign and defence affairs, Andreas Schockenhoff, told TOI on Wednesday that the last word had not yet been heard on the MMRCA deal.

India and France are currently having "exclusive" talks over pricing and other issues for the 126-aircraft deal and the defence ministry maintains that there is no question of reviewing the decision to enter into negotiations with Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

"There have been discussions between German and Indian officials and I can say that this is not a closed book yet,'' said Schockenoff, a close aide of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in India on a four-day visit.

"As far as I know, there is not yet a commercial order committed by the Indian government. The Eurofighter manufacturers are working again on the offer and this is a subject of negotiations between the European consortium and the Indian government,'' he added.

Schockenhoff met senior defence ministry officials, including minister of state for defence Pallam Raju, but said he had not raised the issue during his visit to India.

Interestingly, the comments by Schockenhoff come close on the heels of remarks by a Russian government spokesperson who said India was likely to refloat the tender as negotiations between India and France had failed. Russia's MiG-35 fighter jet too was part of the bid but lost in the preliminary stages.

Unlike as in the UK, another country associated with the Eurofighter where the reaction to India's decision bordered on the wild, the initial reaction in Germany was restrained. The government did say though that exclusive talks don't necessarily lead to actual sale.

The Eurofighter was said to have lost out to Rafale because of cost and expensive maintenance issues and also because of Rafale's similarities to the French Mirage 2000 fighters being used by the IAF. 
Times of India

August 21, 2012

IAF to deploy mid-air refuelling aircraft in West Bengal

The Air Force is planning to deploy six mid-air refuelling tankers aircraft at Panagarh air base in West Bengal, a step that will boost the striking range of its fighter planes like Su-30 MKIs based along the China border.

IAF is expected to soon award the contract for procuring six mid-air refuelling tanker planes for which Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 and European A-330 MRTT are in the race, sources told PTI here.

At present, six mid-air refuelling planes are based in Agra to cater to the entire IAF.

With the deployment of these tanker aircraft in Panagarh, the striking range of fighter planes like Su-30 MKIs based in Tezpur and Chabua (both in Assam) will be enhanced as these can get fuel mid-air.

Mid-air refuellers are considered force-multipliers as they help in enhancing the strategic reach and the striking range of fighter jets.

Panagarh is an World War II airbase developed by the Americans to launch their aircraft into China during that period. It has been reactivated recently for use by the IAF.

The Il-78 and the European A-330 MRTT are in race for the deal to supply these six tankers deal expected to cost more than USD two billion to the IAF.

At present, the fighter jets deployed in the eastern region are being refuelled by the aircraft based in Agra but the whole exercise is a time-consuming process, the sources explained.

As part of its efforts to strengthen its defences and preparedness along the China border, India has taken several steps such as deployment of squadrons of Su-30 MKI and raising of two additional divisions of the troops there.

It is also reactivating and opening airfields in Arunachal Pradesh and other states in the northeast.

Times of India

India, US set to ink $1.4bn deal for 22 Apache helicopters

India is getting ready to order 22 heavy-duty Apache helicopters for around $1.4 billion, in what will be yet another big defence deal to be bagged by the US.

The US has already made military sales worth over $8 billion to India over the last few years, despite it having lost out to France in the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to supply 126 fighters to IAF, which is in the final commercial negotiations stage.

In the battle for the attack helicopters, Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow met all ASQRs (air staff qualitative requirements) during the extensive field trials conducted by the IAF, while the Russian Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-28 Havoc failed to pass muster.

"It's just a matter of time before the contract is inked for the Apaches after final commercial negotiations. Most of the hurdles have been cleared,'' a defence ministry official said. The US and Russia are also locked in battle to supply 15 heavy-lift helicopters to IAF, with the Boeing-manufactured Chinooks pitted against the Russian Mi-26 choppers.

As first reported by TOI earlier, Indian armed forces are looking to induct as many as 900 helicopters in the coming decade, including 384 light-utility and observation, 90 naval multi-role, 65 light combat, 22 heavy-duty attack, 139 medium-lift and 15 heavy-lift, among others, many of them from abroad.

The impending $1.4 billion contract for the 22 Apaches will also include the supply of 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles and 12 AN/APG-78 fire-control radars, as per the Barack Obama administration's notification to the US Congress.

Among the other military aviation deals already bagged by the US are the $4.1 billion contract for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft, $2.1 billion for eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and $962 million for six C-130J 'Super Hercules'' planes. Negotiations are now being finalized for acquiring six more C-130J as well as four more P-8I aircraft.

US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter, on his recent visit to India, had stressed that Washington wanted to be New Delhi's "highest quality and most trusted long-term supplier of technology''. India had emerged as the second-largest FMS (foreign military sales) customer of the US in 2011 with imports worth $4.5 billion, he added. 

Times of India

August 17, 2012

Embraer Delivers First AEW&C Aircraft to India

Embraer Defense and Security today delivered the first EMB 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) class of aircraft to the Government of India, in a ceremony held at Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil. The delivery follows successful completion of ground and flight tests of the aircraft which met operational targets established by both Embraer and Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). Later on the aircraft will be delivered to the Indian Air Force after integration of missions systems of DRDO by CABS in India.

“The collaboration with DRDO in such a complex program strengthens the ties between Brazil and India”, said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President & CEO of Embraer Defense and Security. “We are very proud to meet the expectations of our clients in providing CABS, DRDO with this platform.”

“This EMB 145 AEW&C features major capabilities such as in-flight refueling system, significant increase in electric and cooling capacity and a comprehensive set of structural changes to which will allow the installation of the advanced mission systems that have been developed by India’s CABS (Centre for Air Borne Systems) along with its work centers of DRDO”, said Dr. Elangovan, Chief Controller R&D (Avionics & Aero) of DRDO.

“The success of this programme is the symbol of cooperation between India and Brazil”, said Dr. Christopher Programme Director AEW&C and Director CABS. “The airborne Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) designed and developed by CABS, is now flying on top of this modified Embraer aircraft is one example of such cooperation. CABS, DRDO will integrate all other mission systems in India and deliver it to Indian Air Force”.

Remaining AEW&C aircraft are due to be delivered to the Indian Air Force as part of a contract signed in 2008 that includes a comprehensive package for training, technical support, spare parts, and ground support equipment. These aircraft, upon entry-into-service, will join four Embraer Legacy 600 jets – currently operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the transportation of Indian government officials and foreign dignitaries – and a fifth Embraer Legacy 600 which belongs to the Border Security Force (BSF), under India’s Home Ministry.

Embraer News

August 16, 2012

Indian Navy Needs Better Deck Fighters

Indian Navy has lost 15 operational and 3 training deck-based fighters Sea Harrier since 1983; only 3 of them crashed due to technical failures, reported Indian defense ministry's official website.

Sea Harrier fighters were stationed on board Indian aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

Being currently purchased from Russia, deck-based fighters MiG-29K cannot substitute Sea Harrier as they are not short take-off and landing (STOL) but arrested landing airplanes. Take note, only STOL aircraft can be used on the deck of INS Viraat.

Improving air component of India's sea power is continuous process implemented through upgrading of available aircraft and procurement of new ones.

That was a reply of Indian defense minister A. K. Antony to request of Sushil Kumar Singh, Member of Parliament.


Russia Puts 4th S-400 Air Defense Regiment on Combat Duty

The fourth regiment armed with S-400 Triumf air defense systems will be officially put on combat duty in Russia’s Far East on Thursday, a spokesman for the Eastern Military District said on Wednesday.
“The official ceremony will be held on August 16,” the official said.
The regiment, which is deployed near the port city of Nakhodka in the Primorye Territory, joins other S-400 regiments deployed in the Moscow Region and in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
By 2020, Russia is to have 28 S-400 regiments, each comprised of two battalions, mainly in maritime and border areas.
The S-400 Triumph long- to medium-range surface-to-air missile system can effectively engage any aerial target, including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise and ballistic missiles at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and an altitude of up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).

RIA Novosti

August 14, 2012

Pvt firms may get nod to make subs

Within a decade, Indian private shipyards may manufacture conventional submarines for Indian Navy as a section within the Navy is keen on permitting submarine manufacturing in these yards to accelerate the laggard acquisition process.

With the Navy keen on getting submarines in adequate numbers quickly to make up for its fast depleting submarine fleet and order books of government shipyards being full, roping in private yards is on the agenda of both the Navy and defence ministry. Currently only two government yards in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam are making submarines for the Navy.

Larsen and Tubro (L&T) is believed to be the front runner after it proved its worth with the Arihant programme in which it successfully made the hull of the first nuclear-powered submarine “INS Arihant”. L&T yard in Gujarat is understood to have made the second nuclear-powered submarine as well.

“L&T has demonstrated its capability. It has technical expertise and manpower. It is not yet a full shipyard, which may take a few years to complete. But the company wants to know from the government about its role in naval ship and submarine building plans before it makes the necessary investment,” sources said.

Navy’s ageing submarine fleet is depleting fast. Navy has 11 operational submarines out of which 4-5 remain at shipyards at any given point of time for maintenance leaving only half-a dozen for operational purposes.

The first batch of new submarines (Project-75) is delayed by three years. The first Scorpene submarine being manufactured at Mazgaon Dock Ltd in Mumbai will be ready by 2015 and the entire fleet of six submarines should be inducted by 2018. The future of the second assembly line (Project-75 I) hangs in balance. After receiving initial approval from the defence ministry in 2010, the P-75 I is stuck due to an improvisation made by the Navy in the original proposal.

To reduce delivery time, the Navy proposed to make first two submarines in P-75 I on the yard of foreign collaborator and the remaining four on Indian yards.

However, the defence ministry threw a spanner arguing manufacturing submarines on foreign yards could not come in the category of “indigenous production” and the proposal has to be processed again from scratch.

“The tender formulation for the P-75 I is ready. We want government’s approval for initiating the tender. We want to avoid a single vendor situation,” said Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma.

Deccan Herald

August 13, 2012

Navy to buy 56 utility helicopters for $1bn

India has set the ball rolling for another mega defence deal, worth close to $1 billion, for the acquisition of 56 naval utility helicopters customized for surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-terror, electronic intelligence gathering and search and rescue operations.
The armed forces are looking to induct as many as 900 helicopters in the coming decade, including 384 light-utility and observation, 90 naval multi-role, 65 light combat, 22 heavy-duty attack, 139 medium-lift and 15 heavy-lift, among others, as was first reported by TOI earlier.

Times of India

Next BrahMos missile targets Mach 7

(DNA) : The chief executive officer of BrahMos Aerospace, A Sivathanu Pillai, on Friday said the next target of the Indo-Russian joint venture is to develop a hypersonic cruise missile with a speed of Mach 7.
While delivering the 26th CSIR NAL Foundation Day lecture on self-reliance in aerospace technologies, Pillai said the missile would fly at seven times the speed of sound.
“We are venturing into the hypersonic world where speed is the power. We want to reach Mach 7,” he said.
The Centre of Excellence in High Speed Aerodynamics at the Indian Institute of Science and the Moscow Aviation Institute will play a key role in the research and development of the missile.
The present BrahMos which is the only supersonic cruise missile in service has been inducted into the Indian Navy and Army. It has a range of 300km and can fly at a speed of Mach 3. The hypersonic version will have a scramjet engine in place of a ramjet.
Pillai added that while a submarine version of the BrahMos is under development, work on the air launch version for the Indian Air Force, to be fit on the Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft, has been completed.
“The missile is ready, once the modification on the Sukhoi-30 MKI’s is completed trials would be carried out,” Pillai added.
On the export prospects of the BrahMos, Pillai said the missile is a globally competitive product and many countries have expressed their interest for the product.
The Indo-Russian joint venture was setup with an investment of $300 million with 50.5 % funding coming from India and 49.5 % from Russia. “We have so far made a business of $4 billion and expect to make about $10 billion,” Pillai said.

August 10, 2012

Indian Navy Prepares SSBN Arihant for Trials

                                                                                Image source: Economic times

Domestically built Indian nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant is being prepared for sea trials, reports World Arms Trade Analytic Center referring to Agence France-Presse and Indian Navy command. According to Indian Navy Commander Admiral Nirmal Verma, INS Arihant gradually moves towards commissioning. Indian Navy plans to kick off sea trials of the sub in the next few months.

Arihant-class lead submarine was launched in July 2009 by the shipyard located at naval base Vishakhapatnam. The submarine is a result of Advanced Technology Vessel Program being implemented through recent 11 years.

As was earlier reported, the first nationally built sub is expected to join Indian Navy in 2013. In total, India plans to build 5 submarines of this class.

According to Indian Navy's concept, new SSBNs are to become the most credible deterrent. After commission of INS Arihant, India will reach the long-awaited goal and possess the whole nuclear triad (land, air, and submarine nuclear arms platforms).

According to unofficial reports, the submarine's length is 112-120 meter and displacement is up to 7,000 tons. She will be armed with 12 vertically-launched missiles (probably, K-15 Sagarika) and 533-mm torpedo tubes. The submarine will be powered by 85-MW nuclear reactor. Maximum submerged speed will be 24 knots. The crew is about 95 men.

In Apr 2012, Indian Navy received Project 971 nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra leased from Russia. By this, India joined China, the US, Great Britain, and Russia in the elite club of nuclear submarine operators.

As for Admiral Nirmal Verma, national shipyards are currently building 43 warships.

First out of six Scorpene-class non-nuclear submarines is under construction and to join Indian Navy in 2015. Besides, in the next year Boeing will start delivery of new patrol aircraft P-8I Neptune.


August 9, 2012

India Test-Fires Agni-2 Missile

India successfully test-fired an Agni-2 nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Thursday for the third time, Times of India reported, quoting Defense Ministry sources.
The missile was launched from a mobile launcher at the Wheeler Island range in the Bay of Bengal.
Agni-2 is a two-stage missile capable of hitting targets 2,000 km from its launch site with a one-ton warhead. India previously tested Agni-2 in 2009. The weapon has been in service since 2002.
India fired its 5000 km-range Agni-5 missile in April this year, which is due to enter service in 2014-15. New Delhi is already working on Agni-6, which will have a longer range still, the paper says.


Sukhoi Tests New Radar Array for 5th-Generation Fighter

Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft maker has started tests of a new onboard radar system for its 5th generation T-50 fighter jet, the company said on Wednesday.
The new X-band active phased array radar has been installed on the third prototype of the T-50 fighter and showed a stable and effective performance comparable with the most advanced existing radar systems.

The radar has been developed by the Moscow-based Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design using elements of nanotechnology.
It has an extended target acquisition range, works simultaneously in “air-to-air” and “air-to-ground” modes, allows attacking multiple targets, and provides electronic countermeasures capabilities.
The T-50, also known as project PAK-FA, first flew in January 2010 and was first publicly revealed at the Moscow Air Show in 2011.
At present, three T-50 prototypes are being tested under a PAK-FA test and development program while a fourth plane is expected to join the program this year.
The Russian Defense Ministry is planning to purchase the first 10 evaluation example aircraft after 2012 and then 60 production standard aircraft after 2015.

RIA Novosti

August 8, 2012

Why INS Arihant, submarine in final stages of testing, is so important

The INS Arihant, India's indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine which is capable of carrying nuclear missiles "will be going for sea-trials soon," Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters today in New Delhi.

The submarine is now the in last stage of testing. Sources have told NDTV that barring any major set-backs, the INS Arihant should be able join the Indian Navy within the "next 18 months".

The advent of INS Arihant into the fleet will complete the crucial link in India's nuclear triad - the ability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea.  Admiral Verma, however, refused to give details of the weapons package on board the nuclear submarine. "I will not want to get into the details" he said.
 The sea-trial of the INS Arihant was scheduled to start last year but was delayed because of technical glitches.

The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) announced last month that it has successfully developed nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Long shrouded in secrecy, unlike surface-to-surface nuclear missiles like Agni, the SLBM was a closely -guarded secret while in development and was called the 'Sagarika Project'. In all probability, the INS Arihant will take this missile on board. So far, countries like the US, Russia, France, China and the UK have the capability to launch a submarine-based ballistic missile.

Although INS Arihant signifies a huge jump for the Indian Navy, the good news ends here. India's fleet of conventional submarines is fast depleting. India has 14 conventional submarines that run on either battery or diesel and are aging and outdated. Each of them will have completed the standard life-span of 25 years by 2017.

Admiral Verma admitted concern over the fact that upgraded versions have been grounded by bureaucratic delays.

At any given time, only seven submarines are available for deployment and are split on either coast. Seven submarines are mostly unavailable because they need to be serviced, refitted at increasingly short terms. Also, because the boats are aging fast, their lifespan need to be extended and therefore they are not deployed.

The Indian Navy's 30-year submarine programme, devised in 1988, envisaged buying six submarines from the West and countries in the East like Russia. India was to use the acquisition process to gain enough knowledge to build the next 12 submarines on its own. But Indian shipyards have largely been unable to either pick up the requisite technology or capability. Shipyards like the Hindustan Shipyard Limited which was originally supposed to build at least 3 submarines have been found to be incapable of building submarines.

The Indian Navy has now approached the government to be allowed to build two submarines in the shipyard of the foreign collaborator. "It is not exactly asking for importing two submarines. We are asking the government to allow us to build two submarines in their shipyard. In the long run it will be help our technicians gain expertise" and cut down in delays when building in India, Admiral Verma said.


August 6, 2012

Lohegaon airfield upgrade from November

The much-anticipated works on the modernization of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) defence airfield at Lohegaon will begin from November, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said on Saturday.
The works form a part of the IAF's ambitious Rs 1,220 crore 'Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure - Phase I' (MAFI-I) project for making 30 airfields capable of handling modern transport and fighter aircraft.
The IAF is in the process of acquiring 126 modern combat aircraft like the French Rafale jet and has recently inducted six C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, which involve use of modern equipment.
However, the long-pending runway extension project remains delayed and is unlikely to commence in the near future. "There are legal issues which are still needed to be sorted out before we can take up the runway extension work," Browne said.
The runway at Lohegaon airbase is proposed to be extended from the existing 8,300 ft to 10,200 ft. This would also facilitate landing of wide-bodied aircraft, which have bigger passenger capacity than those currently operating from the Pune airport, which is part of the Lohegaon airbase. The runway and the air traffic control (ATC) is handled by the IAF while the civilian flight operations and the civil enclave are managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Barring the runway, MAFI-I augurs well for civilian flight operations as the project will see the Lohegaon airfield getting a new state-of-the-art instrument landing system (ILS), distance measure equipment, tactical air navigation system, automated air traffic management system, which is to be provided by US defence major Raytheon, and new runway lights, among others. The entire phase-I contract has been bagged by the Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division.
The ILS, a key navigational aid, enables smooth landing of aircraft in poor visibility conditions caused by inclement weather. For long, the AAI as well as the airlines operating from Pune have been demanding installation of ILS to prevent instances like diversion or cancellation of flights due to poor weather conditions.
Browne, who has headed the Lohegaon airbase, said, "All MAFI-I works will be carried out during night hours in view of the civilian flight operations, which occur during daytime. We have set up an independent training establishment at the 7 Tetra School near the airbase for training our personnel in the handling of MAFI equipment," he said.
On the growing concern about civilian construction activity within the periphery of the notified area of the airbase, Browne said there should not be any such construction activity. "There are gazette notifications, issued for all airbases across the country, specifying the no-construction zones that vary from 30 m to 100 m, 300 m and 900 m radius area from the airbase, depending upon the requirement. The problem occurs when these notifications, which are for two- to three- year period, lapse and are not renewed immediately. Builders exploit the time gap taken for renewal of the notification and start with constructions, which then get into legal tangles," he said.
On the Indo-French Rafale deal, Browne said that the bilateral negotiation process is now half-way through and is expected to pick up later this month. "I have flown the aircraft and we all are satisfied and happy with the aircraft. We hope the deal will be completed by the end of the financial year."

Times of India

India Presses Ahead With Missile Projects

India’s defense research agency has developed its first submarine-launched ballistic missile and plans to develop a new range of missiles to boost the country’s military.
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is working toward surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles with a range of 300 km (186 mi.) and air-to-surface missiles with a range of 400 km, according to Avinash Chander, DRDO’s chief controller of Research & Development (missiles and strategic systems) says. India currently has surface-to-air missiles with a 50 km range.
“The [future goal] is to realize micro- and nano-missiles using MEMS [micro-electromechanical systems] and NEMS [nano-electromechanical systems] technologies,” Chander says. “A nano-missile with low cost and low weight is what we are aiming for.”
DRDO also has plans to develop seek-and-destroy tactical missiles, smart bombs and submarine-launched cruise missiles, he adds.
According to a DRDO official, India has recently developed its first submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant. “Now, the SLBM system is ready for induction,” the official says.
India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the 6,000-ton INS Arihant, is still undergoing harbor acceptance trials and soon will undertake extensive sea acceptance trials. This will be followed by a test firing of the 10-ton SLBM, which can carry a 1-ton nuclear payload, from the missile silos on the ship.
The SLBM project has been under wraps for quite some time, unlike India’s other missile programs such as the Agni series. Specifications of the new SLBM are not immediately known, but its strike range is believed to be around 700 km.
The development of the underwater-launched ballistic missile will help India in completing its nuclear triad, giving it the ability to strike from air, land and under the sea. Apart from India, this capability has been acquired only by four nations: The U.S., Russia, France and China.

Avaition Week

August 2, 2012

India missile deployment plan makes China see red

India's plans to deploy BrahMos supersonic missiles in Arunachal Pradesh along the border with China is a matter of "concern", a state-run daily here said on Wednesday.
Referring to the successful testing of 290 km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile by India on Sunday, a report in the state-run Chinese edition of the Global Times said "the concern is because India has declared the deployment of three groups of these missiles to enhance deterrence" at the Sino-Arunachal Pradesh border.
China refers to Arunachal Pradesh as "Southern Tibet". At the same time, the daily quoted analysts as saying that while China and India have developed military infrastructure at the frontiers, a war between the two nuclear states is not an option and the border posturing is a way to "find a compromise point".
It also highlighted the Indo-Russian cooperation in developing the BrahMos missile. The new BrahMos regiment is equipped with the Block-III model which has wide angle plunging capacity and is capable of striking behind mountains, the daily said.

Times of India