July 31, 2013

Indian Aircraft Carrier Passes Engine Tests in Russian Sea Trials

(RIA Novosti) – A Russian-built aircraft carrier due to be delivered to the Indian Navy following a much-delayed refit has successfully passed engine tests during the first stage of final sea trials in the White Sea, shipbuilder Sevmash said Tuesday.
The current trials focused on the ship's propulsion system and its ability to perform as required.
The carrier, named Vikramaditya, “showed excellent performance while being tested at various speeds,” a Sevmash spokesman said. “On Sunday, the ship attained a maximum speed of 29.2 knots.”
The Vikramaditya, which is already years past its original 2008 delivery date, was supposed to have been handed over to India on December 4, 2012, but initial sea trials in September revealed that the ship's boilers were not fully functional.
The source of the problem, which reduced the ship's maximum speed, was due to use of low-grade Chinese-made firebricks in the boiler insulation instead of asbestos, Russian shipbuilders said.
The boiler problems were fixed by Russian shipbuilders in February, Sevmash reported previously.
The Vikramaditya will now sail to the Barents Sea, where the ship will undertake working-up procedures including aircraft deck operations. Several MiG-29K fighters and two helicopters will be used in the flight trials.
A report on the results of the final trials must be given to the Indians on October 15, the Sevmash official said.
The Vikramaditya was originally built as the Soviet Project 1143.4 class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. In its original incarnation, the Gorshkov also had a history of boiler problems and suffered a boiler explosion in 1994.
The refit of the ship has lurched from one crisis to another since India and Russia signed a $947 million deal in 2005 for its purchase and refit. Delivery has already been delayed three times, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the vessel to $2.3 billion, causing acrimony between Moscow and New Delhi.

India's Prahaar missile to be tested by DRDO

A prototype Prahaar tactical-range surface-to-surface missile was sent for flight testing at Site III at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Orissa, on 19 July, according to local press reports. Developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation, the 150 km range Prahaar looks similar to India's Advanced Air Defence interceptor missile and is probably a derivative of the latter missile.
It is designed to be fired from a wheeled launch vehicle that carries six ready-to-fire missiles, and requires two to three minutes to prepare to launch. Designed to deliver conventional warheads, Prahaar could enter service later this year or some time in 2014.


July 30, 2013

Seeker evaluation trials for Nag carried out in Rajasthan


The trials will be carried out for different ranges, including the maximum range of 4 km, in the next few days for image quality and tracking

Seeker evaluation trials for the anti-tank Nag missile were carried out in hot desert conditions in Rajasthan on Monday.
According to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources, the trials to evaluate the performance of an improved version of Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker were carried out against both moving and static targets for different ranges of 2.8 km and 3.2 km. While Nag missile has a maximum range of 4 km, the seeker proved to be accurate only up to 2.5 km in extremely hot conditions in the trials conducted last year.
With the Army seeking improvement, scientists at the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), a key DRDO laboratory, had indigenously developed an improved version of IIR seeker based on detector. An IIR seeker detects objects based on temperature contrast.
With the temperature difference being minimal in hot summer between a tank and sands in the desert, the scientists developed an improved seeker with better resolution to distinguish even minute temperature differences while detecting the objects, the sources added.
The sources told The Hindu that no missiles were fired in the seeker evaluation trials.
The trials for 2.8 km range were successful to a large extent as the seeker tracked both the moving and static targets, the sources added while declining to reveal further details on its performance in tracking targets 3.2 km away.
The trials would be carried out for different ranges, including the maximum range of 4 km, in the next few days for image quality and tracking.
Meanwhile, DRDO scientists are planning to carry out Nag missile test with a more rugged version of NAMICA, the missile carrier. The launcher had been hardened further to withstand missile firing loads. Its sealing also has been improved.

The Hindu

NASA, ISRO in talks to jointly develop a satellite for the first time

US space agency NASA and India's premier space agency ISRO are in talks for jointly building a satellite for the first time.

"Now, there is a feasibility study going on whether we can jointly make a satellite, with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads working on two frequency bands - L-band and S-band", Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Radhakrishnan told PTI in Bangalore.

Charles F Bolden Jr, Administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of United States, visited the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO in Ahmedabad on June 25.He had a meeting with Mr Radhakrishnan, also Secretary, Department of Space, along with senior officials of ISRO to discuss the ongoing cooperative activities between ISRO and NASA and also the potential areas of future cooperation.

"...the joint satellite mission is an important step. It's not making an instrument and plugging it actually. It's working together. That's what we are discussing. It (working together) should happen in the next few months", Radhakrishnan said.

"Both organisations are coming together and saying let's develop it together...use your strength, use my strength. That's a good way of working", he said.

"It (the proposed satellite) is interesting from scientific point of view, it's interesting from normal
resource management point of view," he said.

Mr Radhakrishnan said NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory would make the radar system "if it (in case of NASA, ISRO deciding to work together on the mission) is getting through".

On ISRO's role, he said, "We will be working together. Some will be built by us, some will be built by them. So, this (work-sharing) has to be finalised", adding, data generated by the mission would be used by both ISRO and NASA.


July 29, 2013

A mountain strike corps is not the only option

Instead of pouring money into raising a force that can hardly address the Indian Army’s drawbacks at the border, our decision makers should have focussed on addressing China’s weaknesses in the Indian Ocean

In the history of Indian strategic thought, the decision to create a mountain strike corps against China will remain a landmark. While the file on the subject has apparently been circulating for a while, the absence of open discussion on so momentous a decision is deeply disappointing. Some commentators are of the view that the Chinese incursion in the Depsang plains swung the decision decisively in favour of the strike corps. If so, it doesn’t make much sense, for, where is Depsang and where is Panagarh — the headquarters of the mountain strike corps?
What irks a strategic commentator about this decision is the question whether our reaction is wiser, more mature and better institutionalised than it was in 1962. At that time, the Prime Minister had “instructed” the army to “throw out” the Chinese following which Brigadier Dalvi’s mountain brigade made its fateful advance across Namka Chu. The big question today is — what were our options? Did we examine more than one option and select the best one? Presumably, it is to guarantee that we go through an intellectual process that we now have a Chiefs of Staff Committee, an Integrated Staff, a National Security Council and Adviser, and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Did they actually look at alternatives, or was it a straightforward case of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for a mountain strike corps?
The first step
The first thought that strikes a strategic thinker is whether any non-military options were first examined. This is an inevitable first step in the long and tortuous process that leads up to military action. The Depsang incident, it will be remembered, took place in a part of the country which, before 1954, was always shown as un-demarcated or undefined. What, for instance, were the arguments in the CCS for and against the Johnson-Ardagh Line and the Macartney line? Those who are unfamiliar with these names can take a look at Wikipedia. It is the essence to understanding a possible settlement of the boundary dispute. The fact is that while our case in Arunachal Pradesh is strong and undisputed, the situation is not quite similar in the west where the recent intrusion took place. Admittedly, the political numbers simply don’t permit the government to commit itself to a grand bargain with China on territory. The Chinese are in a similar position. But if the border problem hinges for a solution on a strong, domestic government, it is indeed better for both countries to postpone the solution to the next generation — as the Chinese suggest. So how did we come to the conclusion that the Chinese may force the border issue now, leading us to raise a mountain strike corps?
It has been argued that China is a continental power with a huge land army. It is making amends by funding its Navy strongly, to change the balance. But its army reforms have converted its land forces into a large armoured and air mobile force capable of rapid redeployment.
Under these conditions, to raise an infantry heavy mountain strike corps has obvious disadvantages. First, it would be geographically confined to one or two axes of movement and capable of being blunted. Secondly, whatever we may do on land, we will remain an asymmetric power vis-à-vis the huge People’s Liberation Army (PLA), whose defence budget is thrice ours. Thirdly, a strike corps in the mountains denies us the time and place of a counter offensive, because it is geographically limited. These arguments should have come up during the process of examining options. If they didn’t, it is tragic and shows little improvement from the confusion and bluster of 1962 preceding the disaster.
Infantry heavy
The Indian Army is a fine institution and no one grudges it any funding. But it is also one of the most infantry heavy armies in the world. Its armour-to-infantry ratio is badly skewed, it is not air mobile, its manoeuvre capability is poor and Rs.60,000 crore would have addressed all these deficiencies and more. Instead, with the strike corps it will become even more infantry heavy and Rs.60,000 crore will have been wasted in barely addressing the tremendous disparity with the PLA’s mobility, numbers and manoeuvre capability. It must be remembered that we are addressing mountain warfare, where high altitude acclimatisation is a necessity for soldiers before being deployed. So the mountain strike corps would already be at high altitudes with little possibility of being redeployed without huge air mobility. All this should have been apparent to the Army Aviation Corps whose leaders seem bereft of strategic thinking, having flown light helicopters all their lives. Stopping the advancing Chinese in the mountains strung out through the valleys should have required specialised ground support aircraft like the A-10 Warthog, another strategic choice which was probably ignored by the army aviation branch. By not examining non-army options we seem to be repeating the mistakes of 1962 when the Sino-Indian war became a purely army-to-army affair for reasons that have still not been established.
Strengths & weaknesses
We are not privy to the notings in the file preceding the decision to raise a mountain strike corps, but it would certainly appear that the border issue appears to have been treated purely as an army problem for which only the army can find a solution, with the other arms of the government contributing nothing. Most of all, we appear not to have assessed the Chinese weakness and strengths. Their strength is the huge logistic network that they have built up in Tibet. By creating a one axis strike corps, we have played into their strengths. The Chinese weakness lies in the Indian Ocean, a fact that even Beijing will readily concede. The clash between their political system and economic prosperity requires resources and, increasingly, the Chinese resource pool is Africa, which generates massive sea lines of communication (SLOC) through the Indian Ocean. Today, they are merely SLOCs; tomorrow they will be the Chinese Jugular. Beijing’s paranoia about the Indian Ocean is therefore understandable but the threat according to its strategic commentators comes only from the U.S. Sixty thousand crore spent on strengthening the Indian Navy’s SLOC interdiction capability would have given us a stranglehold on the Chinese routes through the Indian Ocean. The Himalayan border, the entire border, could have been held hostage by our strength in the Indian Ocean with an investment of Rs.60,000 crore.
No one minimises the pinpricks that the Chinese are capable of but what we are looking for is an asymmetric capability to balance the Chinese four-fold advantage in GDP over India. Finding the solution requires all arms of the government to debate where our scarce resources should go. A geographically limited one axis offensive will not destabilise the PLA, but a flotilla of nuclear submarines and a three carrier air group in the Indian Ocean can economically cripple mainland China. 

(Raja Menon retired as Rear Admiral / The Hindu)

N-powered sub Arihant all set to sail out from Vizag

Indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant, is finally set to sail out from its base at Vishakhapatnam. The 6,000-tonne submarine, armed with nuclear missiles, is ready after years of efforts interspersed with sanctions in 1998 and impediments due to non-availability of cutting-edge technology.
“The nuclear reactor that will power the submarine can be formally declared ‘critical’ anytime now, while the nuclear-tipped missiles to be launched from underwater are in place,” sources said.
“Everything is ready,” a functionary said. “The wait is for the monsoon to subside before Arihant (slayer of enemies) dives into sea. A certain amount of calm is needed at sea when the vessel goes out the first time. The monsoon on the East Coast starts weakening by the middle of August, meaning the submarine will slither out in a couple of weeks from now,” he added.
“Around 95 per cent of harbour trials are over,” sources said. Once the submarine is out at sea, it will run on nuclear-powered 80MW pressurised water reactor (PWR). The PWR was developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with assistance from a Russian designing team. It uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
Once at sea, the vessel will be gradually loaded with weapons and missiles. All parameters will be tested after each addition. “Each test will be conducted underwater for two months or more. This will include the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)”, sources said.
New Delhi has done 10 underwater launches of SLBMs code named ‘B05’ using a submerged pontoon to mimic a submarine. It can travel 700 km, while the bigger variant, so far know as the ‘K-4’, can hit targets 3,500 km away and will finally be installed on Arihant and also the next two follow-on submarines of the same class.
The submarine will provide second-strike capability in case of a nuclear attack. It is the easiest to launch a nuclear strike from a submarine as it remains submerged, hence the enemy cannot detect it.
In December 2010, the then Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had announced: “When Arihant goes to sea, it will be on a deterrent patrol (armed with nuclear-tipped missiles).” Being nuclear-powered, the submarine will not have to surface for two months to breath, like the conventional vessels have to.
India will join the US, the UK, France, and China by having such technology and prowess.
Arihant has cost Rs 15,000 crore. It has been jointly developed by the Navy, BARC and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Visakhapatnam naval dockyard. Russian designers assisted in building the vessel. Other companies involved in the development of the submarine are Tata Power and Larsen & Toubro (L&T). The project, earlier known as the advanced technology vessel (ATV), has been under development since 1998.

The Tribune

Navy relieved as Gorshkov flies through sea trials

Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (also Gorshkov), the Indian Navy's last vessel to be delivered by a foreign shipyard, passed with flying colours when it was operated at full throttle during exhaustive sea trials in the Barents Sea in Russia on Saturday.
The trial feedback helped overcome anxiety in New Delhi about the performance of the ship, which faltered during high-speed runs last year when its boilers failed, leaving the engines unable to produce adequate power to propel the 45,000-ton vessel.
It was a major setback as the delivery of the ship, India's second aircraft carrier, was pushed by a year.
After extensive repairs, the ship was back in the sea earlier this month for final delivery trials.
Navy personnel are onboard the vessel, keeping a hawk eye on the performance of the carrier which is going to be the flagship of its fleet in the coming decades.
Sources said the carrier touched a top speed of around 32 knots in wind and tide condition and the trials will continue to test capability of the retrofitted ship that will cost India around $2.3 billion.
The high-speed trials will continue for some more days to ensure that performance is stable. It will be followed by trial landings by the Mig-29K fighters.
The deck landings and take-offs were performed by the Russian pilots last year as well.
The navy hopes that its floating airbase will be ready for commissioning by the end of this year and its formal induction will take place in the early months of 2014.
INS Vikramaditya is now the only naval warship in a foreign shipyard.
All the remaining 41 warships are being constructed in domestic shipyards, in a major boost to the local shipbuilding industry. 


July 26, 2013

India, France to discuss MMRCA deal, but no signing yet

Negotiations on the $10 billion deal for purchase of 126 French Rafale jets for the IAF will be high on the agenda during talks between Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian here Friday but no contract is due to be signed.
Le Drian, who is visiting India on the invitation of Antony, is arriving on a three-day visit.
French firm Dassault Aviation bagged the deal for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) last year after being declared the lowest bidder, pipping EAD's Eurofighter.
While terming the deal "the most important tender in defence history", a reliable source said Thursday that there was "no target" for the negotiations to be concluded.
No contract for the MMRCA deal would be signed during the minister's visit, the source said, adding that the contract would come "in due course depending on the speed of the negotiations".
No time lines have been stressed, the source said.
The MMRCA deal is "complicated" and the contract has "technicalities and legal issues" including offsets and supply chain to be worked out, the source said, adding that France is "confident" of the deal being concluded.
Eighteen of the 126 planes are to be purchased directly from Dassault, while Hindustan Aeronatics Limited (HAL) is to manufacture the other 108 under a licence at a facility in Bangalore.
It will be Le Drian's second visit to India. He will also visit the Indian Air Force station at Gwalior, to see the French Mirage 2000s being used by the IAF and discuss its upgradation, estimated at Rs.11,000 crore.
He would also interact with pilots, officers and technicians who fly and maintain the fleet.
Le Drian is expected to brief Antony about the French perspective on the global security scenario. Sources said such a briefing has been held by France only for two countries - Britain and the US.
He will present France White Paper on Defence and also give a lecture at the Institute for Defence and Security Analyses (IDSA) Friday on "Indo-French Defence Partnership: the Choice of Strategic Autonomy".
He will also meet industrialists of the defence sector, members of the French community, and exchange views on global threats and current international issues with high-profile Indian researchers and scholars, as well as Members of Parliament.

Business Standard

July 24, 2013

Chinese Air Force holds night flying exercises in Tibet

China's Air Force has conducted high-altitude night flying exercises at Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet region that borders India.
Photographs of helicopters participating in the exercises at Lhasa airport, located about 500 km from the Indian border, were issued today by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese military regularly holds exercises for its troops in the Himalayan region to get them acclimatised to mountain warfare.

Last year, the People's Liberation Army held its "first ground to air military exercise" in the Tibetan plateau. The wargame involved scores of fighter jets, hundreds of battle tanks and a large number of ground troops.

'Unwise to let isolated incidents to affect China-India ties'

Amid reports of frequent incursions by Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Chinese state media said it was "unwise" to let the "isolated incidents" to affect the "promising" China-India ties.

While the Chinese foreign and defence ministries were yet to respond to queries relating to the fresh reports of incursions in Ladakh sector, a commentary in the state-run Xinhua news agency accused the Indian media of putting out "sensational reports", "harming" the bilateral relations.

"The disputes, a historical hangover, were not created in one day, neither will they be resolved overnight. It is unwise to let isolated incidents along the border to negatively affect the promising China-India relationship," it said.

Observers say "isolated incidents" remark referring to the recurring incidents of incursions is the first comment from Beijing on the issue since the first intrusion reported on April 15 at the Daulat Beig Oldi (DBO) in Ladakh sector.

So far the Chinese foreign ministry's comments on the incident confined to assertions that the Chinese troops are patrolling their side of the border or played down the incidents saying that the over all situation at the border is peaceful and both the countries signed several agreements to maintain peace and trust building between the two militaries.

Significantly the Xinhua commentary was timed to coincide with the talks between officials of the two countries on incursion issue being held in New Delhi today.

"Looking back on Indian media hype about Chinese border intrusions, one has to admit such sensational reports are indeed harmful to the China-India relationship," it said.

"Such reports have only served to further sow misunderstandings between Indians and Chinese even at a time when their leaders are working hard to manage their differences and to build a constructive relationship that can benefit both sides".

It also highlighted the repeated assertions by Beijing and New Delhi that they are committed to maintaining peace and stability along the border before the issues are completely resolved.

Indian media traditionally focused heavily on the border disputes between New Delhi and Beijing, are now asserting again that Chinese troops have crossed the "border" between the two countries, it said.
- Times of india

July 23, 2013

Boeing delivers second C-17 cargo plane to India

Boeing delivers second C-17 to India
Boeing delivered its second C-17 Globemaster III airlifter to India Monday in a ceremony that included a visit from Indian Air Force Chief Marshal Browne -- his first visit to the U.S. in 26 years.
Officials from Boeing's Long Beach assembly facility, including Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager, touted the deal with India, which includes a total of five C-17s this year and five next year.
The country became Boeing's largest foreign customer when it endorsed a $4.1 billion deal to purchase the C-17s to help modernize and replace India's aging fleet of Russian-built cargo planes.
The C-17s will be used in humanitarian and disaster-relief missions. The four-engine planes, at 174 feet long and with a 169.8-foot wingspan, are valued for their cargo capacity, their versatility and their ability to land on remote airfields in rough terrain.
The international order also helps to keep the production line alive through the third quarter of 2014 and preserve the more than 4,000 jobs in Long Beach, home to California's last aircraft manufacturing facility, as well as thousands more on the supply chain in 44 states, officials from Boeing said.
Diminishing domestic orders of the C-17 have prompted Boeing officials to expand to foreign markets to keep the production line going. In recent years, Boeing has delivered C-17s to various foreign customers, including Qatar, the first Middle East customer to order C-17s, the Royal Australian Air Force, the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence, the United Kingdom Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.


New G-suit gives PAK-FA higher operational ceiling than the Raptor?

Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA pilots will be equipped with a new g-suit that will allow them to eject from the aircraft at altitudes of 75,000ft (23,000m). If the PAK-FA is able to fly at those altitudes operationally, that would mean that it has a significantly higher operational ceiling than the Lockheed Martin F-22 RaptorThe F-22 is limited by US Air Force regulations to 60,000ft because of the Armstrong Limit, which is found at roughly 62,000ft. The USAF never developed a full pressure-suit for Raptor pilots to wear; instead those pilots wear the Combat Edge ensemble, which counts as a partial pressure suit. Other fighters like the Boeing F-15 or F/A-18, for example, are typically restricted by regulations to 50,000ft (that includes the German Luftwaffe, their Eurofighter Typhoons, as one of their pilots told me, are also limited by regulations to 50,000ft operationally).
There are some very good reasons for those altitude restrictions. Above the Armstrong Limit water will boil at the same temperature as the human body. Basically, if you lose cabin pressure, you will die a slow and horrible death as bodily fluids (except those under pressure inside blood vessels) start to boil unless you have a pressure suit--like the guys flying U-2s (except they don't inflate those suits normally, which has led to problems in the past--but that's a whole different story).
IF the Russian Television story is correct--it could mean the Russian have developed a full pressure/g-suit that is capable of operating at those altitudes. Or they're completely insane--which is also a possibility I suppose.

July 22, 2013

UFOs spotted in Ladakh along India-China border

The security agencies are baffled by continuous sightings of twin unidentified luminous objects in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, in an area along the India-China border.
The mystery has deepened after the border-guarding troops deployed in Thakung, near Pangong Tso Lake, first sighted “unidentified flying objects” late last year.
50 Chinese soldiers on horses and ponies intrude Indian territory
It was suspected to be Chinese UAVs snooping on the Indian side. With China outrightly denying any knowledge of the objects and the DRDO failing to provide a clear picture, the Centre has roped in the Indian Institute of Astrophysics to study the mysterious objects.
Interestingly, the special team of scientists has submitted its report to the Union home ministry saying these appear to be “celestial bodies”. The security agencies, however, are not buying the argument and want a deeper probe.
“The matter was raised with China during flag meetings where they denied any knowledge and suggested we shoot them down. But that is not possible as these objects are very high up in the sky,” a top government official said on condition of anonymity.
A special team of MHA and MoD officials also visited the region last month to debrief troops.
Reports indicated these yellow spheres were rising up on the horizon from the Chinese side, gliding across the sky for three to four hours before disappearing. The DRDO, after studying the matter, said these objects are too far above for their technology to precisely decipher their nature.
Worried, the MHA then asked the Indian Institute of Astrophysics to give a precise assessment of these objects. The astrophysics institute has now said these objects are stationary and resemble celestial bodies.
The reason why they are visible so clearly at that axis is because of the terrain and topography, it has said in its report shared with the MHA and MoD.  However, the IIA has also sought more time to conduct further studies to "conclusively" solve the mystery. The report will now be sent to the China Study Group, the country’s apex body on Sino-Indian border disputes.

Deccan Chronicle

July 19, 2013

India’s $4 bn howitzer gun buying spree: Why Russia may not have an edge


India has begun the process of acquiring howitzer guns of various types. The contracts would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars each and their combined value is likely to be well over a billion dollars.
India has set aside $4 billion for its artillery projects, neglected for decades largely due to political controversies and corruption scandals. The development is significant for two reasons.
One, the Indian Army has not purchased a single gun since the infamous Bofors deal 27 years ago, a deal that rocked the Indian political establishment and implicated then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and other senior Indian officials. Eventually though none of the charges could be proved.
Two, the gun deals may be going through despite the fact that India, due to have general elections in less than ten months, seems to have put an unannounced freeze on any defence deals, particularly with foreign companies.
Russia will have have an important role to play in at least one of the upcoming howitzer contracts, expected to be worth around $350 million. Russian Rosoboronexport seems ideally suited for supplying 100 self-propelled tracked howitzer guns to the Indian Army and the trials are slated to begin later this month itself.
Rosoboronexport is likely to be pitted against an unlikely rival: Larsen&Toubro, an Indian company. L&T has been issued industrial licenses for a wide range of products after Government of India’s decision to open up defence production to the private sector. The licenses issued cover design, development, construction/ manufacturing and assembly of a wide range of defence equipment, arms and armaments and weapon launchers.
Insiders say that L&T is expected to give the Russian company very stiff competition. The L&T howitzers have been built in collaboration with South Korean Samsung Techwin, which means that the Russian companies’ rivals in the Indian defence industry are increasing by the day.
The South Korean company has already signed a contract with L&T for making key technologies available to the Indian company and producing the guns here.
This sends out another important message to the Russian defence industry that has not done too well in the Indian defence sector lately, and the Russians have lost out to American, European and even Israeli companies on several big-ticket defence deals.
The message is this: the Russians need to develop Indian partners, the more the better, as recent policy guidelines from the Indian defence ministry have laid huge stress on the ‘buy Indian’ theme.
Indian Defence Minister AK Antony’s statement in Parliament on 6 May should leave no one in doubt on this score.
This is what he said while confirming the upcoming contract for 100 guns: “A case for procurement of Qty.100 x 155mm/52 Caliber Tracked (self-propelled) guns is in progress wherein three Indian vendors, including two private sector companies, have been selected for trials of their equipment. The recent amendments to the DPP-2011 which have been accepted by the Defence Acquisition Council aim to give higher preference to indigenous capacity in the Defence Sector.”
The recent Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) guidelines have made it clear that the Indian government will choose to import defence goods only as a last resort and in cases where the required technologies are not available within the country. However, these guidelines have left enough room for foreign companies to forge joint ventures with Indian companies.
The Indian Army modernisation programme is quite ambitious. It has plans to induct 2,814 guns of different types, capabilities and calibre. Assuming for argument sake that the Indian Army was to induct all these guns, from foreign as well as domestic sources, at one go, it would cost around ten billion dollars at current exchange rates.
However, the actual process will take years. The current contract of 100 guns itself is unlikely to be inked this year as the trial phase itself would spill over to the first quarter of next year. The guns will be undergoing winter trials this year-end.
Moreover, given the renewed focus on self-reliance and indigenisation, the Indian Army has asked the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board to deliver over 300 indigenous versions of Bofors guns.
The Indian Army’s current guns stock is believed to have touched an all time low of just about 200 operations guns of 155/39 caliber, one of the reasons behind the then Army Chief General VK Singh shooting off a no-holds-barred letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the dire state of Indian military preparedness last year.
There is yet another message for the Russians that booms out loud and clear from the Indian guns saga. The Russians need to translate their deep political clout with the Government of India into bagging big Indian defence contracts through the government-to-government route.
In May last year, the Indian defence ministry had cleared a $660 million deal for buying 145 ultra-light M777 guns from the United States. The move was duly cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by the defence minister. A significant feature of the M777 deal is that the guns are being bought under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme of the US government, a government-to-government route.
The Russians are not unaware of this. In fact, the new Russian strategy vis a vis Indian defence industry will be very much visible in the upcoming top-level Indo-Russian bilateral exchanges from September onwards.


Russia Delays India’s 5th-Gen. Fighter Program

According to news reports this week, the Indian Air Force (IAF) might have to wait longer before it can induct its first fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) after Russia, with which it is co-producing the platform, imposed delays and unexpectedly hiked development costs.
Despite the U.S. encouraging India to join the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter consortium, New Delhi committed itself to the Sukhoi/ Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) FGFA variant of the Sukhoi PAK FA PMF T-50, also known as the “perspective multi-role fighter.” The program was initiated during a visit to New Delhi by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in December 2010.
Under the two-decade, US$35 billion program — India’s largest single-item defense investment ever — the IAF was to receive three variants of the aircraft in 2014, 2017, and 2019, with the final version entering service from 2020 (since then induction has been pushed to 2022). The IAF intended to induct a total of 200 FGFAs — 166 single-seats and 44 twin-seats — but that number has since been trimmed down to 144 single seaters, ostensibly for financial considerations.
After initial joint development in Russia and the inking of a preliminary design contract, the final design and R&D contract was to be signed in 2012. However, The Times of India now reports, citing industry sources, that as a result of the additional costs and delays imposed by Moscow, there is little likelihood that the final design and R&D contract will be signed during FY 2013, or even in 2014, which will inevitably have implications for the consortium’s ability to deliver the first aircraft by 2022.
According to Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, the first Sukhoi/HAL prototype is now expected to appear sometime in 2015-2016, one to two years behind schedule.
The Russian Federation’s first T-50 prototype, which is intended to become the successor to the highly successful MiG-29 and Sukhoi-27, carried out its first test flight in early 2010, and its longest yet, covering a distance of 7,000km, in January this year. Sukhoi is also developing three other prototypes.
The IAF, which says it doesn’t have enough aircraft to meet its security requirements vis-à-vis Pakistan and China (it currently relies on 34 fighter squadrons), is also awaiting delivery of 115 Sukhoi-30MKI Flanker-H air-dominance fighters — also a co-production effort between Sukhoi and HAL — from 2015, though that program also appears to be facing production delays.
Combat aircraft were the largest single component of Russia’s defense exports in 2012, accounting for 40 percent of its sales. With US$15.2 billion in arms exports in 2012, Russia is the world’s largest arms exporter after the U.S. India and China are among the largest recipients of Russian arms exports.


Army to have Apache attack choppers in Mountain Strike Corps

The mountain strike corps sanctioned for the Army for deployment along the China border will have an aviation brigade that may include the Apache attack choppers.

The corps was sanctioned by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) yesterday at a cost of Rs 65,000 crore and would involve raising of around 50,000 troops for it.

The new corps may have the Apache attack choppers as the Defence Ministry has given permission to the Army for having a separate case for procuring the American-manufactured helicopters, sources told PTI here.

The Army and the IAF were engaged in a tussle for control over the attack helicopter fleet in which the government decided in favour of the former.

The two forces then contested for the 22 Apache attack choppers being procured from the US by the IAF but the Defence Ministry decided that they would remain with the IAF and the future assets would be given to the Army.

The government has given permission to the Army for pursuing a separate Foreign Military Sales-route procurement on the issue, they said.

Under the plans, the new strike corps will have two Mountain Infantry divisions including around 18 infantry battalions along with independent brigades of artillery, air defence and elements of combat engineers and mechanised forces.

The corps will take around six years to be raised along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and new formations would be raised from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

Economic Times

Mountain corps to counter China needs much more than just money

New Delhi : After the initial euphoria, the reality check.

At a cost of 64,000 crores, the government has cleared the creation of a Mountain Strike Corps specifically aimed at launching offensive operations against China - if need be.

40,000 additional soldiers will be deployed along the border with China. The proposal was cleared on Wednesday by the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by the Prime Minister.

But this is just the first step in what is needed urgently - the addition of 40,000 new troops to the Indian Army, the world's 3rd largest, with 1.3 million soldiers.

The budget of Rs. 64,000 crore for the new corps is to be spent over seven years - which is just as well since raising new formations as large as a Corps is not an easy task. It is further difficult to make that formation capable of mountain warfare. For mountains gobble up troops; they take a heavy toll on man and machine. Living at altitudes upwards of 12,000 feet and going upto 22,000 feet requires extreme fitness levels. The Himalayas - along which the entire 4,000 km China frontier is spread out - is an unforgiving terrain.

So green-lighting a budget, however large, is in some ways, the easiest part.

What will be crucial for the new corps is cooperation and coordination between a muscular omnibus of stake-holders: The Defence, Finance and Environment Ministries, as well as the Army, Air Force and Border Roads Organisation.

In the recent past, objections from the Environment Ministry have impeded upon the construction of crucial roads in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand. In the last case, the lack of connectivity was driven home brutally when torrential rains ripped open the state last month, leaving thousands stranded.

It is nobody's case that the environment should not be protected but a balance needs to struck in caring for the environment and national security imperatives. The state governments will need to back the plan by facilitating the speedy allotment of land in remote areas.

The climate in most of these states means that the Border Roads Organisation can leverage, at best, a four-month season to deliver new routes.

Similarly, establishing permanent infrastructure for troops, including hubs that supply ammunition, and deciding strategically-placed artillery gun positions is a long -term and complicated process.

Finding the right contractors with the right skills and willingness to work on isolated, remote areas is another big challenge. The Indian Air Force, for instance, has been trying for three years to sign contracts that will lead the upgrading seven Advanced Landing Grounds or ALGS, crucial for the ability to quickly airlift troops to strategic parts along the China border. But the deals have not been closed because expert contractors find it difficult to work in these areas.

The new mountain corps will require light artillery which can be easily transported, even airlifted in the highest mountains. Given India's painfully-slow process of weapons acquisition, empowering the Mountain Strike Corps quickly will be a big challenge.

Given these difficulties, Beijing will not be unduly bothered although it will certainly make the mandatory noises may be by describing the Indian decision as provocative.

It is all the more necessary for the government to walk the talk in making the new formation a reality by adhering to timelines.

July 18, 2013

Additional 50,000 troops to be deployed along China border

Boosting Army's war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, Government today given a go ahead to the creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, sources said.

As part of the plans, the around 1.3 million-strong Army is expected to raise the new Corps' headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam and other units from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne were also present at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for providing any possible clarifications, if any, sought by the CCS members including Defence Minister A K Antony, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

As per the plans, the IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six each mid-air refuelling tankers and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh.

The army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the Government asking the three Services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region.

The Army will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions along with it to be deployed along the Northeast region.

The existing Strike Corps in the force include the 1, 2 and 21 Corps are all based close to the Pakistan border and are mainly armed to fight a land battle unlike the new Corps which will mainly focus on mountain warfare.

The Army will raise the troops and formations as per its plans in next seven years. The Army has been taking a number of steps to strengthen its defences along the China border and already raised two divisions there in recent past.
The force is also planning to procure ultra-light howitzers, light tanks and helicopters to be deployed along the LAC to strengthen Indian positions there against the backdrop of the major military infrastructure modernisation on the Chinese side, sources said.

The Army and the IAF have also plans of deploying ballistic and cruise missile units in the northeastern region and have also activated several helipads and air fields for its aircraft and choppers to operate in the north eastern sector.


Navy’s Boeing P8I touches down at INS Dega

Boeing P8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti Submarine Warfare (LRMP/ASW) aircraft of the Indian Navy made its maiden landing at INS Dega airfield on Wednesday.
Piloted by Squadron Commander-designate, Commander HS Jhajj, Callsign IN 321 was welcomed to the fold by Chief of Staff of Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Bimal Verma at an event that was attended by Flag Officers and other officers of the Command. The aircraft that had arrived in India in May this year is the first of eight Boeing P-8Is that have been procured under a contract signed in 2009. It is based at Indian Naval Air Station Rajali, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu and will operate under the administrative and operational control of the Eastern Naval Command.
P-8I aircraft is the Indian Naval variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the US Navy. The aircraft is equipped with both foreign as well as indigenous sensors for Maritime Reconnaissance, Anti Submarine operations and for Electronic Intelligence missions. The aircraft is fully integrated with state-of-the-art sensors and highly potent Anti Surface and Anti Submarine weapons. The induction of these aircraft into the Indian Navy would greatly enhance India’s maritime surveillance capability in the Indian Ocean Region, according to a release issued here.

The Hindu

DRDO to conduct Nag missile test trials soon

The missile complex of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here has been working on making Nag, a third-generation 'Fire-and-Forget' anti-tank missile for the past few years. It was almost a year ago when the Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) failed in its user trials by the Indian Army in Rajasthan. DRDO blamed it upon the high temperatures in the desert where the tests were conducted to bring the target temperature to the same level as that of the ambient temperature.

V G Sekaran, chief controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and programme director, Agni, told TOI that trials for Nag with new 'more sensitive' and 'higher resolution' seekers being developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) of DRDO here will be conducted by this month end. 'Nag' is the baby of Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) of DRDO. According to G Satheesh Reddy, DRDL director, the new seekers would perform well even in extremely hot temperatures with more efficiency and accuracy in hitting targets with new improved detectors on the missile tip for sensing heat or infra red signals.

Dwelling into the reasons for the past failures, Avinash Chander, scientific advisor to raksha mantra and secretary Defence Research & Development and director general DRDO (Defence R&D Organisation), the high temperatures during the peak day hours in the desert resulted in heating up of the targets to the extend that it was the same as the surroundings. "As such, the seekers, which worked well otherwise till up to four kilometers or so, could not differentiate between the target object and the surroundings. Accuracy under such conditions worked well only till a limited range and now we are working on developing more sensitive and higher resolution seekers", he said, adding that the Indian Army will also participate in the development trials this month-end.

The DRDO chief claimed that once developed as per specifications, other foreign ATGMs currently being used by India shall be no match to 'Nag'. DRDO reportedly is also working on making the future versions of the missile lighter even though it is fired from a special Russian origin Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2 (named 'Namica' or the Nag Missile Carrier) in its terrestrial version. Meanwhile, a couple of months after these user trials failed, the government which so far has spent Rs 1,700 crores on Nag, had to give its nod for procuring second generation 10,000 Russian Konkurs-M, Anti Tank Guided Missiles at a cost of Rs 1,200 crores for infantry formations of the Indian Army. Though DRDOP has shelved its plans to build a wire-guided system for Nag, it continues to work on 'Helina', the helicopter or air launch version of Nag.
- Times of india

Rarefied air: Russian 5G fighters boast cutting-edge life support systems

The Russian Sukhoi T-50 5G fighter jet is equipped with cutting-edge computerized life support systems, including an oxygen station securing unlimited breathing gas supply and advanced pilot’s compensation system that anticipates gravity overload.
The research and development enterprise Zvezda has announced the final tests for its onboard oxygen generation system that will be installed on all Russian operating fighter jets, including those to be supplied abroad, Izvestia daily reports.
Unlike the 90 kilogram oxygen bottles system the new generator weights a mere 30 kilograms, a crucial weight and space economy in modern combat aircraft construction.
“Oxygen is produced from the atmosphere as the system takes it from the engine’s compressors and redirects it to pilot’s mask. Flight time no longer depends on oxygen supply,” Zvezda’s Chief Specialist Mikhail Dudnik told Izvestia.
It took five years to shape up the system, Dudnik said, but all four Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA 5G fighter jets currently undergoing flight tests near Moscow were already manufactured with this system at a Sukhoi plant in Komsomolsk-na-Amure – a city located in Russia’s Far East. The 5G fighters made their way across the country without oxygen tanks onboard.
Soviet and Russian military aviation previously employed oxygen bottles – an old, but time-tested technology. But it also imposed certain restrictions on mission duration, because while refueling was an option for many long-range military jets, oxygen re-supply was not. So a pilot had to always keep a close eye not only on fuel, but also the oxygen capacity of his aircraft, as elevations 4 kilometers or higher require a breathable gas supply to avoid oxygen deficiency. An unexpected leakage of excess oxygen spending could lead the failure or termination of a vital mission.
Consequently, every Russian Air Force airfield is now equipped with oxygen producing stations, which must be manned by experienced personnel. Soon such stations will become a thing of the past.
The Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA’s future major rival in the air, the American 5G F-22 Raptor fighter jet is equipped with its own On-Board Oxygen Generation Systems (OBOGS) developed by Honeywell.
Many modern aircrafts, like the F-22, F-35, B-1B, B-2B, Eurofighter, Gripen, Nimrod and others are equipped with this system. But only the F-22 has been plagued by a persistent fault – a deficiency of oxygen in the cockpit which leads to hypoxia.
Hypoxia occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen, causing dizziness, disorientation, blackouts and finally loss of consciousness. When operating a fighter jet that flies at nearly twice the speed of sound, even a momentary lapse could lead to catastrophe.
At least 25 American pilots out of some 200 have reported dizziness, disorientation and other symptoms similar to those associated with hypoxia while flying the F-22 –  the world’s most expensive fighter jet –  since 2008.
One pilot, Captain Jeff Haney, was killed in a November 2010 plane crash that was believed to have been triggered by a malfunction with his oxygen supply.
The US Air Force admitted that a ‘small number’ of F-22 pilots simply refused to fly the stealth fighter until it is completely safe or have asked to be transferred to operate different planes altogether.
After many months, the F-22s were grounded while technical specialists attempted to improve the situation with pilots experiencing breathing problems and coughing caused by the plane’s oxygen system. In March 2013, US officials finally admitted they had no solution to the problem.
Maj. Gen Charles Lyon, who headed the investigation, told Wired that “the Air Force will continue to explore further potential causes through long term breathing air analysis and human systems integration efforts”, but that it will no longer investigate claims of coughing fits from F-22 ground crews.
The advanced flying characteristics and super-maneuverability of Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet exposes pilot to extreme G-forces, actually reaching the human ceiling limit. A T-50 pilot cannot actually use the jet to its fullest potential without ultramodern technical assistance on a variety of fronts.
That is why Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet pilot requires a brand-new antigravity G-suit capable of compensating up to 9G for an unprecedented 30 seconds the plane is thrust into a bone-crashing missile evasion maneuver.
The unique G-suit, developed by the same Zvezda enterprise, allows the pilot to eject from the plane at the height of up to 23 kilometers.
The onboard computer anticipates overload and avoids the delay of the system response to pressure compensation. The gravity compensation system calculates everything, from the air pressure created in the rete of flexible pipes entwisting the G-suit and supporting the pilot’s body to the 6-7 atmosphere air pumped into pilot’s lungs to compensate the external chest pressure and prevent him from blacking out.
“This system is our own know-how, no one in the world has managed to develop such a system so far,” Zvezda’s Chief Specialist Dudnik told Izvestia in early July.

A safe flight is a comfort flight and for military pilots, who are by no means comic book heroes empowered with the ability to fly, must answer nature’s call, particularly during long patrol missions. If there is a pilot that can operate a supersonic fighter at a 20 kilometer altitude for 12 hours straight, performing maneuvers, refuels etc., than he is a true superhero and should be cloned.
Zvezda’s deputy chief designer Nikolay Dergunov informed Izvestia that specially designed underwear is being tested to become an integral part of PAK-FA pilot’s gear.
Some previous generation Soviet fighter jets were first equipped with ‘personal convenience’ systems in the 1990s after pilots flat out refused to use diapers, arguing it was uncomfortable to operate a jet while wearing them. But only on the PAK-FA it is fully integrated into the pilot’s suit and does not divert his attention from the mission.
The PAK-FA pilot is going to be surrounded by gold at all times as NPP Technologia enterprise in Russia’s Obninsk has developed a gold coating for the cockpit which reduces radar’s ability to detect the equipment by 250 times. The coating also protects pilot from high-energy radar pulses and solar radiation.
The coating consists not only of gold, but a combination of various metals, including stanum and indium, applied on the cockpit with a specially developed magnetron installation.
The NPP Technologia enterprise, which also produces the majority of composite elements for the Pak-FA hull, says all systems will are go to supply all future 5G jets with golden cockpits once industrial production of the aircraft starts in 2015.
 After the collapse of the 1990s, Russia was lagging behind in the development of digital ‘military and space’ grade electronics. Therefore, developing a 5G fighter jet seemed to be impossible without the complete modernization of electronic production in Russia, both military and civilian, which has indisputably been achieved as evidenced by the performance of the four PAK-FA jets during the test flights.
The Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet onboard information computation has been shifted from the classic multicomputer system to the Integrated Modular Avionic system, a long-anticipated change when a single processor controls many processes aboard, attributing  priority level to each process and computing the most critical first, which prevents PAK-FA’s computer from freezing.
It has been an absolute precondition that the Russian 5G fighter jet will be using only domestically-produced electronic components and to achieve this objective, the Russian electronics industry was forced to undergo a revolution which ultimately proved successful.


July 17, 2013

Govt unleashes big-bang FDI reforms, opens up defence

Faced with a harsh economic environment, the government on Tuesday opened the doors to greater foreign investment in almost a dozen sectors, including telecom and the tightly-policed defence, for "state-of-the-art" technology.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh moved in to iron out differences between various wings of the government to push through the fresh round of opening up to boost dwindling confidence in the Indian economy. Apart from telecom and defence, there were two segments of the financial sector - asset reconstruction companies and credit information bureaus - where the FDI ceiling was raised.

There was also the promise of increasing the cap in insurance, and consequently pension, to 49%, although the moves will need parliamentary approval. In several sectors such as oil and gas refining and stock exchanges, the government decided to allow FDI without prior approval.

The measures are aimed at attracting foreign capital, critical for trimming a yawning current account deficit that has rattled the government after the rupee's unabated slide over the past few weeks.

The most significant change was ushered in defence production. While FDI cap in defence sector remained unchanged at 26%, higher limits of foreign investment in state-of-the-art manufacturing would be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), commerce & industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters after the meeting.

Although Sharma did not elaborate, technically, the decision leaves it open for CCS to even allow 100% foreign investment in what the defence ministry will define as "state-of-the-art" segments with safeguards built in to ensure that the technology and equipment are not shared with other countries.

Defence minister A K Antony had concerns over allowing higher FDI, but it was pointed out that while the policy did not specify the CCS option, it could be readily incorporated. An incorrect impression had been created that the CCS caveat was being done away with.

Indian companies keen on foreign tie-ups include L&T, Mahindra & Mahindra and the Tatas. US firm Lockheed Martin is understood to be interested in a collaboration with the Tatas.

India Inc cheered the changes. "...it indicates that reforms are underway. Large number of sectors have either seen an increase in FDI cap or have moved under the automatic route from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval," Ficci president Naina Lal Kidwai said.

In telecom, the home ministry's security-related objections were negotiated with the PM and several ministers taking a view that even the current 74% FDI cap offers no protection against unscrupulous practices. Raising the ceiling to 100% is not going to increase the risks that need to be addressed by a more rigorous technical regime.

The home ministry referred to the US's Prism programme, but telecom minister Kapil Sibal argued that the problem was not with FDI itself but concerns over imported chips, switching gears and routers. These could be dealt with by encouraging production in India. Although not stated as such, the home ministry is particularly worried about use of Chinese equipment in the telecom sector.

The government, however, deferred a decision on increasing the cap in civil aviation from 49% to 74% as civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said FDI could wait as there were no interested parties waiting in the wings. He pointed to security concerns in ground handling and customs. His view was endorsed by the PM who said the ministry had taken a considered view.

On raising FDI cap to 49% in media, minister of state for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari said it would be difficult to justify breaking the precedence when regulator Trai's views were taken into consideration. The opinion of Trai and other stakeholders is awaited.

Most of the "batting" for the proposals put forward by the department of industrial policy and promotion was done by commerce minister Anand Sharma and finance minister P Chidambaram.

As was anticipated, the meeting decided to clear the automatic route for 49% FDI in commodity, power and stock exchanges. Courier services permit 100% FDI but this has now been placed on the automatic route as well. 
Times of india

July 16, 2013

Indian Air Force Pilatus PC-7 MkII Basic Flight Training started

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd is pleased to announce that the first Indian Air Force Basic Flight Training course using the PC-7 MkII aircraft commenced, as planned, on July 8, 2013 at the Indian Air Force Academy at Dundigal, Hyderabad.

The Indian Air Force, the Indian Ministry of Defence and Pilatus have achieved this long-awaited and significant milestone as promised and on time.

More than 80 cadets will participate in this first training course. The resumption in basic flight training was achieved following delivery of the fourteenth PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft in June 2013, fourteen months after contract signature.

In parallel, Pilatus has also provided training to Indian Air Force maintenance personnel and instructor pilots and has delivered a complete logistics support package.

The Pilatus team wishes the instructors and cadets at the Air Force Academy Dundigal, who are taking part in this first course, much success. Pilatus is confident that the introduction of the PC-7 MkII into the Indian Air Force training system will prove itself to be an extremely capable, safe and reliable training platform.

Pilatus looks forward to continuing deliveries of the 75 PC-7 MkII training aircraft to the Indian Air Force and in supporting the aircraft for the coming years.

canadian skies

July 15, 2013

Final trials of fully integrated Arjun Mark II tanks in August

The fully integrated modified version of India's Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun Mark II would go for final trials in the first week of August in Rajasthan.

Though trials of the updated version are presently on in Rajasthan, the fully integrated tanks would be sent for final trials by the Indian Army by August, sources told a news agency. 

 The Army had asked for 93 improvements to the tank, which included 19 major modifications, all of which have been incorporated, they said.

Arjun Mark II can fire missiles, has an enhanced Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with a capacity of 8.5 KW (against Mark I's 4.5 KW), Explosive Reactive Armour panels, mine plough, Automatic Target Tracking, Advanced Land Navigation System, digital control harness and advanced commander panoramic sight among other features.

Arjun will have a better gun barrel with an Equivalent Firing Charge (strength of the barrel to sustain firing) of 500 rounds against the T 72's 250 rounds.

Chennai-based Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment has designed the Mark II version of MBT at its facility here.

CVRDE co-ordinated with Armament Research and Development Establishment, Pune, High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, Pune, Instruments Research & Development Establishment, Dehradun, Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety, Delhi and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad for designing Mark II.

PTI/ Zeenews

July 13, 2013

India to redeploy surveillance camera in Chumar sector on LAC

Indian Army is planning to put back a surveillance camera in the Chumar area along the LAC to keep an eye on the movement of the Chinese troops which had reportedly taken away a similar device last month.

The camera was said to have taken away by the Chinese side on June 17 when it had become non-functional and was returned to the Indian side on July 3 there after a protest was registered.

The camera was used to keep an eye on the movement of the Chinese Army troops in that area. The surveillance camera would be put back there for the same purpose, highly-placed sources told PTI here.

Such cameras have been put up at several places along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Indian troops sitting in their posts can keep an eye on the PLA troops, they said.

The particular camera in Chumar area was used several times by the Indian side to monitor and intercept the PLA patrols in the areas claimed by the Indian side as its territory, sources said.

India and China have been working towards signing a border pact to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC where a number of incursion incidents have been observed in the recent few months.

A Defence Ministry official said that during Defence Minister A K Antony's meetings with the Chinese leadership, the broader issue of incursion and other incidents were raised but no specific incident was highlighted.

Chinese troops last month intruded into the Chumar sector in Ladakh - the same area which had sparked off tensions in April - and smashed some bunkers besides cutting wires of cameras installed at the border post.

Chumar, located 300 km from Leh, has always been an area of discomfort for the Chinese troops as this is the only area along the China-India border where they do not have any direct access to the LAC.

Economic Times

Defence Ministry lifts hold on Pipavav-Mazagon Dock JV

Economic Times : Pipavav DefenceBSE 4.20 % and Offshore Engineering Company (PDOECL) today said the government has cleared its joint venture with Mazagon Dock Ltd and now the JV can carry on its business of building warships for Indian Navy.

In a filing to the BSE, the company said, "Ministry of Defence (has) lifted the hold on Mazagon Dock Pipavav Defence Joint Venture (JV) to build the warships for Indian Navy. JV can go ahead and can carry on the business on open and transparent basis."

The 50:50 JV --Mazagon Dock Pipavav Defence Pvt Ltd-- was a first joint venture project between public and private sector shipbuilders in the defence sector and was aimed at easing the workload of Mazagon Dock, the largest defence shipyard in the country.

However, formation of the Mazagon-Pipavav JV had been in controversy since its inception and was put on hold for second time in April this year by the Defence Ministry amid allegations of non-compliance and favouritism.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had also formed a Committee to look into the JV formation, price discovery mechanism and several other aspects of the tie up between the two shipyards.

However, Pipavav said the "government lifting of hold vindicates the vision and decision of MoD to form JV between Mazagon Dock Ltd and Pipavav in a completely transparent manner which will immensely benefit Indian Navy, Coast Guard and other clients."

It added the JV, formed in December, 2012, will "implement its vision of executing the contracts without any time and cost over-run received through appropriate transparent mechanism."

Besides, the JV will also focus on working on other large and complex projects both meant for Indian Navy and friendly navies of the world, Pipavav said.

Mazagon Dock, which accounts for more than 85 per cent of the defence vessels built in the country, is estimated to have an order book of over Rs 1,00,000 crore. However, it was not clear how much of the work load would get transferred to the Mazagon-Pipavav JV.

Following the announcement, shares of Pipavav were being traded at Rs 65.70 apiece on the BSE at 1500 hours, up 4.20 per cent from the previous close.

July 12, 2013

Indian Army requests more Apaches

The Indian Army has asked the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in India to acquire a further 11 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for its aviation corps, supplementing the 22 Apaches the MoD has agreed to buy for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The Army Aviation Corps (AAC) has stated an overall requirement for 33 Apaches, and declared in a recent letter to the MoD that there would be no procedural problems in the ministry exercising the option to acquire 11 AH-64Es via the Foreign Military Sales route at the same cost as the original 22.
The IAF selected the AH-64 over Russia's Mil Mi-28N 'Havoc' for India's heavy attack helicopter requirement in August 2012.


Indian MMRCA Bill Balloons To $17 Billion

The value Indian MMRCA deal is set to inflate to a whopping $17 billion from the original $12 billion by the end of this year thanks to the falling Indian rupee.
The rupee currently stands at INR 59. 80 against the dollar and economists predict this number could rise up to INR 65 by the end of this year.
At the time of the announcement in January 2012, the rupee was being traded at INR 42 against the dollar and the deal was then valued at approximately $12 billion for 126 fighter jets.
With the current value of the rupee, the deal could potentially be worth $15 billion. However, if negotiations are postponed until later this year India may very well end up with a $17 billion bill from Dassault.
The deal was originally expected to be concluded by June 2012; however both sides have been unable to reach an agreement.
Earlier last month, top executives from HAL and Dassault Aviation met on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show to discuss the progress of ongoing projects.


July 11, 2013

Army eyes advanced systems for LoC surveillance in JK

Jammu: Army's Northern Command Headquarters has floated tenders for the purchase of six Border Surveillance Management Systems (BSMS) for deployment in Jammu and Kashmir.
"A surveillance system is required which can cater to Indian Army's peacetime requirements, both during day and night," said the Request for Proposal (RFP) document released recently by Northern Command's First Field Ordnance Depot.

The move comes in the light of increased attempts at infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K in recent months.

The border area already has in place a strong surveillance mechanism, including three-tier fencing, flood-lighting, sensors, thermal imagers and manual patrolling, and the BSMS is only expected to enhance the Army's anti-infiltration capabilities.

As per specifications, the BSMS set-up must be simple, yet able to provide inputs any time to a surveillance centre situated well behind the sensor (observation post).

"It should be networked so that a single surveillance centre is able to observe the feed of multiple sensors," the RFP says.

The system should contain observation devices and come with a thermal imager camera which can observe and record images both in daylight and during darkness.

The system should also be able to function in both wireless and wired mode, the RFP stated.

/ Zeenews

India rejects China proposal for freeze on infra development on LAC

                                                                                          Photo: indiatoday
China has proposed freezing of infrastructure development along the border under a new pact but it is set to be rejected by India which is in the process of building infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

China has made the proposal as part of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which is under negotiation between the two countries, highly-placed sources said.

In the proposal, which is in the form of a paragraph in the BDCA, the Chinese side has said there should be a freeze on development of infrastructure in any 'disputed area', they said.

India is set to reject the proposal in its response expected to be conveyed to China by the end of this month, the sources said.

India is in the process of major infrastructure building exercise along the LAC and the Chinese proposal appears to be aimed at scuttling that.

The BDCA was proposed by China during the Defence Secretary-level talks earlier this year.

Sources said the proposed pact would be a "comprehensive" one encompassing some of the protocols and agreements signed by the two countries in the past. The border pact is aimed at avoiding flare ups on the boundary between the two countries.

Other proposals made under the pact include non-tailing of troops if noticed during patrolling along the disputed Line of Actual Control and to not fire at each other under any condition.

India and China have held several discussions on the BDCA during the recent past but after incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir in April, the movement on the proposed act has increased.

During Defence Minister A K Antony's recent visit to China, the two sides agreed to conclude negotiations on the pact at an early date.

After Antony's talks with Chinese leaders, the two sides agreed on a slew of confidence building measures, including having greater frequency of meetings at the border and increased exchange of visits of both young and senior armed forces officials.

India and China have also agreed to resume their Army-to-Army exercise to be held in China in October this year in the Chengdu military region. The two countries have also agreed to further strengthen the existing agreements and protocols between the two sides and emphasised the importance of enhancing mutual trust and understanding between the two militaries for maintaining peace and tranquility on the border.

PTI / Zeenews

July 9, 2013

Army to get Rudra choppers, armed with missiles and rockets in Aug

After fighting a messy turf war with the IAF over getting its own ``attack'' helicopters, the Army will take a major step forward in getting airborne firepower by raising its first-ever dedicated squadron of "armed'' choppers next month.

The first squadron of ``Rudra'' helicopters, the weaponised version of ``Dhruv'' advanced light helicopters (ALH) manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), will be raised in Bangalore and later deployed in the western sector facing Pakistan, said sources.

While not in the class of heavy-duty ``attack'' helicopters, which have greater combat capabilities and armour protection, each Rudra will be armed with a chin-mounted 12.7mm canon, 70mm rockets, Magic Matra air-to-air missiles and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to form a ``deadly package'' against enemy forces.

"The difference between attack and armed helicopters is blurring. The Rudras will constitute the third dimensional maneuver arm to provide ground commanders with a lethal edge,'' said a source.

"The ALHs did excellent rescue work in Uttarakhand recently. With combat firepower, speed and mobility, they will prove their worth in military operations too. While a Dhruv costs Rs 47 crore, each Rudra comes for Rs 71 crore,'' he added.

The Army will initially induct six squadrons (10 helicopters each) of the Rudras, named after the Rigvedic god of the tempest. The first two squadrons will have imported ATGMs but the next four will have the indigenously-developed Nag-Helina ATGMs with a four-km strike range.

While the Army's Aviation Corps (AAC) currently operates around 190 ageing Cheetah/Chetak helicopters as well as 70 Dhruv ALHs, attack and medium-lift helicopters were so far the IAF's preserve only.

The Army for long had been demanding ``full command and control'' over ``tactical air assets'' for rapid deployment, holding that IAF can retain its ``larger strategic role''. Finally, in a bid to resolve the long-standing battles, the defence ministry last year decided ``future'' procurements of attack helicopters will be for Army. IAF, however, will get the 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters to be acquired from the US for over $1.4 billion.

Induction of Rudras marks a significant boost to Army's endeavour to build its own ``mini'' air force. The raising of ``aviation brigades'' for each of the 1.13-million strong Army's three ``strike'' and 10 ``pivot'' corps (each has around 75,000 soldiers) has already kicked off.

The force wants one attack helicopter squadron each for its three ``strike'' formations - 1 Corps (Mathura), 2 Corps (Ambala) and 21 Corps (Bhopal) — in keeping with their primary offensive role. Moreover, it has plans to induct 114 Rudras for the remaining 10 `pivot' corps.

The force's long-term plans include a squadron each of attack/armed, reconnaissance/observation and tactical battle-support helicopters for all the 13 corps. In addition, the force wants each of its six regional or operational commands to get ``a flight'' of five fixed-wing aircraft for tactical airlift of troops and equipment.
- Times of India