April 30, 2014

Underwater weakness will remain a concern: Experts

The arrival of the first Scorpene submarine by late 2016 in the Indian Navy would still not cure it of its underwater weakness, according to defence experts as the boat would have arrived very late along with the absence of a critical power system which enhances a submarine’s stealth capability. The first four boats would not have the Air Independent Propulsion, which allows a submarine to remain submerged for longer periods.
According to the submarine building plan of the government and MDL’s contract with the French DCNS, the first four boats will be conventional diesel-electric submarines while the last two, which according to the latest MDL projections should reach the Navy in 2020 and 2021 respectively, will have the AIP. Experts are, however, dreading a failure of the DRDO system as happens with most of the organisation’s defence projects and hope that the system is fully developed and tested by the time the last two vessels near completion.
AIP allows a submarine to stay underwater for more than three weeks at a stretch thus eliminating the need to periodically resurface. The system is the “next best thing” to nuclear-powered boats according to former Indian Navy submariners and would also be lighter thus allowing operation in shallow waters.
“Moreover, the completion of the last two boats has to be aligned with the development of the DRDO’s AIP in a way where the vessels should not remain half constructed,” explained an official. Sources, however, beli-eve that in the event the DRDO project fails or defaults on the 2015 deadline, the Indian government will go for two options suggested as a stop-gap arrang-ement. The first is to buy two AIP- ready boats off the shelf, which the French have promised to build within time. The other is to buy the second generation Module d’Energie Sous-Marine Autonome, which will be powered by fuel cells in place of steam.

The Asian age

April 28, 2014

DRDO: Test-fire of Prithvi missile defence vehicle a significant step

                                                                                               (photo: deccanherald)
 In a significant milestone in the direction of developing a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system, India today successfully carried out its maiden Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) test-fire, meeting the mission objectives.
“The PDV mission is for engaging targets in the exo-atmosphere region at more than 120 km altitude,” the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) said in a statement after the trial conducted on the Odisha coast.
“Both the PDV interceptor and the two-stage target equipped with motors were specially developed for the mission. The target, developed to mimic a ‘hostile ballistic missile approaching from more than 2,000 km away,” was launched at 0907 hrs from a ship in the Bay of Bengal,” it said.
“In an automated operation, a radar-based detection and tracking system detected and tracked the enemy’s ballistic missile. The computer network with the help of data received from radars predicted the trajectory of the incoming ballistic missile,” it said.
A PDV that was kept fully ready, took off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here, once the computer system gave the necessary command for lift-off, the DRDO release said.
“The interceptor guided by a high accuracy Inertial Navigation System (INS) supported by a Redundant Micro Navigation System moved towards the estimated point of the interception,” it said.
Once the missile crossed the atmosphere, the Heat Shield ejected and the IR (Infrared) Seeker dome opened to look at the target location as designated by the Mission Computer.
With the help of Inertial Guidance and IR Seeker the missile moved for interception. 

Businessline/ PTI

The plight of India’s sword arm

Punjab’s contribution to the Indian Army has always been out of all proportion to its share of the country’s population
At the beginning of World War II, it was 55% with Punjabis accounting for some 45% of the officer corps. With Partition and the continued downsizing of the state this proportion was bound to come down but still remained higher than other states. The decision of the government to link recruitment to population in the late seventies brought it down further. The number of Punjabis in infantry, armour and artillery remained constant but came down in other arms, services and combat units which adopted the new all-India all-class pattern of recruitment. But the cream of Punjab’s rural youth still aspired to a career in the armed forces.
Recent interactions with officers in the recruiting organisation and regimental centres revealed a very disturbing trend. Earlier, Punjabis took pride in the fact that for every vacancy in the army there were more than a thousand able-bodied applicants. In recent years, while the number of aspirants remained more or less steady those able to get through the not very gruelling physical tests became less and less. The menace of drugs is largely to blame for the declining physical standards among young men. This needs to be tackled on a war footing. Punjab’s veteran community played a vital if unsung role in eradicating terrorism in the nineties. The authorities must enlist ex-servicemen’s help in the fight to save India’s sword arm from being weakened.
What was the reasoning behind Sam Manekshaw’s refusal to blindly obey the operational directive given to him in April 1971 to initiate immediate operations in East Pakistan?
He argued firstly that the time simply wasn’t right. The monsoon was about to break in the east which would’ve made warlike activity extremely difficult if not impossible.
Then again, the passes on the northern frontier were still open risking intervention by the Chinese. Better to wait for winter to preclude aggressive movement from that direction as well as provide dry terrain suitable for campaigning. The logistical support to the formations tasked for the offensive into East Pakistan needed shoring up, infrastructure had to be built up, supplies and stores had to be dumped. The road network along the borders so necessary for induction of troops and maintenance of forces needed to be vastly improved. New roads had to be built.
Manekshaw had no inhibitions in admitting to debilitating shortages in weapons, equipment, ammunition and stores which had to be made up before undertaking any offensives. Time was required to move strike formations to their operational locations ensuring that they had the much needed material support to put their plans into effect.
These formations needed road, rail and air transport to move most of which had to be mobilised from civil resources. It was a gigantic task. A shrewd reason advanced by Manekshaw for delaying the operation was that wheat harvesting was on in Punjab. Military activity would hamper the harvest, destroy crops as well as taking away rail transport needed to move the wheat leading to shortages.
Sam’s detailed reasoning helped the political executive recognise the realities of the situation. His strength of character and undoubted rapport with the Prime Minister ensured that his point of view prevailed.

Hindustan times

April 26, 2014

Russian jets cross into Ukraine airspace

US officials on Saturday said that Russian fighter jets flew into Ukrainian airspace a handful of times over the last 24 hours, in what one called a continued provocation of the heightened tensions in the region.

The officials said it's not clear what the intent was, but the aircraft could have been testing Ukrainian radar or making a show of force. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the issue.

The flights come as Russia increases military exercises along the Ukraine border, including moving a broad array of fixed wing and rotary aircraft, infantry and armored troops. The exercises inflame worries about a potential Russian military incursion into Ukraine.

The west has threatened additional sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean region in March and the ongoing escalation of military operations along the border.

Army Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, spoke with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, yesterday, but officials were not able to provide details of the conversation.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said US officials have let Russian defense ministry officials know that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would like to speak to his counterpart, Russia Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. There has been no response yet, Warren said.

This is the second set of military exercises conducted by the Russians along the border region. The latest exercises were quickly denounced by Hagel, who called them "dangerously destabilizing" and "very provocative."

If such activities escalate, they will make it more difficult to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine, Hagel said, speaking in Mexico City. 
- Tmies of india

April 25, 2014

An unusual request from China’s Navy Chief

Admiral Wu Shengli, China’s Navy Chief, this week caught Indian officials off guard by asking for an impromptu tour of the most sensitive nerve centre of the advanced Indian missile frigate, INS Shivalik, while on a brief courtesy call on the visiting ship.
 Admiral Wu Shengli, China’s Navy Chief, this week caught Indian officials off guard by asking for an impromptu tour of the most sensitive nerve centre of the advanced Indian missile frigate, INS Shivalik, while on a brief courtesy call on the visiting ship.

The Shivalik arrived at this eastern port city, which is the base of the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) North Sea Fleet, on Sunday to take part in exercises on Wednesday to mark the Chinese Navy’s 65th anniversary.

Indian officials told Admiral Wu that the ship’s operations room — the Combat Information Centre — was among the Indian Navy’s most advanced and was kept locked when the frigate was docked at harbour. Under standard operating procedures, it cannot be opened without exception.

The Admiral’s request surprised Indian officials as navy officials usually follow an unwritten protocol for visiting ships and refrain from asking to see areas regarded as sensitive. That the request came amid a goodwill visit aimed at boosting trust put officials in an awkward situation: they did not want any incident casting a shadow on maritime exercises that were described as positive and the most high-level ever between the navies.

Fortunately, sources said, the frigate’s Commanding Officer, the experienced Captain Puruvir Das, deftly handled the situation. He stood his ground and told the Admiral that operating procedures meant that the CIC had to remain closed at harbour with no exceptions, but told him that he would be welcome to visit the ship at sea during exercises, an unlikely prospect for China’s Navy Chief.

Notwithstanding the Admiral’s unexpected request, officials said the Shivalik visit would go a long way in boosting trust between the navies. Captain Das said “the exercises went very well,” but did not comment on Admiral Wu’s request. “There were no problems, despite the language barrier,” he said. “This was the highest engagement we have had so far with the Chinese Navy. But we do not want to stop at this and every year the level should go higher and higher.”

Mock hijack

In a three-way exercise involving China and Indonesia simulating an anti-hijack operation, the Shivalik deployed its Chetak helicopter as its crew raided the “hijacked” vessel.

The drill was the most advanced of three different exercises held on Wednesday. Seven countries were invited by China for the drills, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore and Brunei. The drill marked a rare instance of Indian and Pakistani ships at the same exercises, although they did not come into contact as they were involved in different drills.

defence news

India receives modernisation kits for MiG-29 fighters

Russia’s Aircraft Corporation MiG has fulfilled its obligations to deliver kits for the modernisation of India’s MiG-29 fighters into the MiG-29UGP version, MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told reporters.Russia’s Aircraft Corporation MiG has fulfilled its obligations to deliver kits for the modernisation of India’s MiG-29 fighters into the MiG-29UGP version, MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told reporters.

Under a contract worth $964 million that had been signed in 2009, the Russian corporation agreed to modernise six fighters at its production sites and provide kits for the modernisation of other Indian MiG-29 planes by the local aircraft industry enterprises.

“In 2012 and 2013 we had delivered three planes each. We also delivered the technological kits that are needed for the assembly, repair and modernisation of planes of the Indian Air Force. So, we have fully met all our obligations,” Korotkov said.

He added that the first six planes “are already at a good stage of repair and modernisation” at Indian facilities. “These works continue. A large group of the MiG corporation experts are there. They, along with our subcontractors that participate in the project, transfer these aircraft and train the Indian colleagues to assemble planes.”

According to Korotkov, the training of Indian pilots for the MiG-29K/KUB deck-based fighters continues. The second batch of five Indian pilots started their training at the Goa naval aviation test range. “After getting the capacity certificate they will have the right to fly planes, taking off and landing on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier,” Korotkov said.

Korotokov added that the training of the previous group of five pilots was carried out in two stages. The first was held on a Russian training set and the second - at a recently built in India training range. The first landing of the MiG-29KUB fighter, steered by an Indian pilot, on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier’s deck took place on February 7, 2014.

The MiG Aircraft Corporation director general also told reporters about the corporation’s participation in the construction of the Indian naval aviation pilot training centre. “We designed mechanisms for this complex and we also installed them,” Korotkov said. “We’ve managed to implement such a big programme in a short time period.

Defence news

April 23, 2014

India Prepares Long-Range Missile Defense Test

In the coming weeks, India will test its anti-ballistic missile system as well as new two missiles.

India will conduct its first long-range missile defense test next week, according to the head of its military technology agency.
Avinash Chander, Director General of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), told reporters over the weekend that Delhi will test its anti-ballistic missile defense system beyond 100 km from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast. The Times of India noted that India has previously tested its anti-ballistic missile system six times, but only from ranges of between 20 and 30 km. Most notably, in November 2012, India simultaneously shot down two separate missiles.
“It is a system to intercept enemy missiles with a range of 2,000 km. The missiles will get intercepted at range of more than 100 km away so that damage to our cities can be prevented,” Chander was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The report went on to explain that the test would start with an Indian Navy vessel launching a missile that would mimic the enemy weapon. In an automated process, the ballistic missile defense system would shoot its interceptor, destroying the fake enemy missile midair.
In the weeks following the test, DRDO plans to test two emerging missiles in its arsenal. The first is the Nirbhay, a long-range, surface-to-surface sub-sonic missile with a range of about 1,000 km. The Nirbhay is often compared to the U.S. Tomahawk. It can carry multiple warheads and engage several targets, a DRDO official told The Hindu back in 2012.
“Even if there are multiple targets, it can pick out a target and attack it. It is a loitering missile; it can go round and round a target, perform several maneuvers and take it apart. It has precision, endurance and accuracy. It is an important missile,” The Hindu quoted the DRDO official as saying.
The Nirbhay’s maiden test flight took place in March of 2013 and failed. DRDO later said the failure had to do with issues with the missile’s inertial guidance system. Chander had previously promised the second test flight of the missile—which will initially be employed by India’s Navy—would take place sometime in February of this year. The missile has been plagued by other various delays as well. As Chander explained it to reporters earlier this year: “Nirbhay is a typical model of how we should not do project R&D. Earlier it was piecemeal work, but new thrust has been provided to this project.” Over the weekend Chander said that the second test flight of the missile will take place early next month.
Chander also said that DRDO will conduct the first test of its new Astra missile around the same time. The Astra is a beyond visual range air-to-air single stage, solid-fueled missile. It will be tested from one of India’s Russian-made Su-30 aircraft. According to The Times of India report: “If Astra is successfully fired, India will break into [an] elite group of nations, including the U.S., France, Russia and Israel, possessing such missiles. The missiles are capable of engaging ultra-modern supersonic fighter jets. Astra can carry a 15-kg high-explosive warhead.”


April 22, 2014

Air Force likely to get entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet by 2019

Walking along the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) production line at its Nashik plant is a good way to realise how gargantuan the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter is. Yet, its sheer size, the sleekness of its lines and the menacing "bird-of-prey" droop of its nose are not why this fighter is the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Su-30MKI is pure performance - it is astonishingly agile, a favourite in aerobatics displays; and its 8-tonne armament payload makes it a formidable multi-role aircraft. It has the missiles to protect itself while flying on a mission, the bombs and rockets to comprehensively pulverize a target, the electronics to deceive enemy radars, and can return home while warding off enemy fighters.

The IAF is keen to quickly induct the 272 Su-30MKI fighters it has on order, especially since the Rafale contract remains uncertain. But HAL - which delivered an impressive 15 fighters last year - says completion would be possible only by about 2019, a two-and-a-half-year delay from the 2016-17 target that was set when the contract was signed with Russia in 2000.

The delay stems from the IAF's wish to make the Su-30MKI the high-performance fighter that it eventually turned out to be. Unsatisfied with the Su-30 initially supplied by Russia, the IAF demanded improved aerodynamic performance. Russia added canards and a thrust-vectoring engine, the AL-31FP, which could push the fighter in multiple directions, adding agility. All this took time and Sukhoi transferred the technology two-and-a-half years late.

Business Standard was granted access to HAL's Nashik division, the birthplace of multiple Russian fighters that have given teeth to the Indian Air Force (IAF) since the 1970s. This factory was set up in 1964 to build the MiG-21 E7FL, now retired, followed by another variant, the MiG-21M, then the MiG-21BIS. Later, HAL Nashik built the MiG-27, and then upgraded 123 MiG-21BIS fighters into the BISON, which is still in service. Finally, it upgraded 40 MiG-27s, an entirely indigenous upgrade that has kept the aging fighter in service till today.

HAL's Nashik unit is still called the MiG Complex - ironic, given that it builds a Sukhoi fighter, the greatest rival of Mikoyan, builder of the legendary MiGs. The Su-30 variants, Russia's most successful recent design, have wiped out Mikoyan from the global marketplace. Compared to some 800 Sukhoi-27 and Sukhoi-30 variants bought by the air forces of Russia, China, India, Ukraine, Malaysia, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, only a handful of MiG fighters find customers today.

Yet, India remains a Mikoyan loyalist, of sorts. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is upgrading its fleet of 60-odd MiG-29S fighters; while the Indian Navy has bought 45 MiG-29K/KUB fighters for its aircraft carriers, a $2 billion purchase that has breathed life into the fading Russian company.

Yet this is small change compared to the massive order of 272 Su-30MKIs, which started out as a bargain at $30 million apiece, but which are now priced at $75 million each.

Business Standard spoke to HAL officials to find out why prices have risen despite an ongoing indigenisation programme that has met all its targets. The reason, it emerges, lies in the nature of the manufacturing contract signed with Sukhoi, which was to see a progressive enhancement of Indian content through four phases. Yet, even though Phase IV has recently been achieved, this provides for only limited indigenisation. While Sukhoi was bound to transfer technology for building the fighter, the contract mandates that all raw materials - including titanium blocks and forgings, aluminium and steel plates, etc - must be sourced from Russia.

This means that, of the 43,000 items that go into the Sukhoi-30MKI, some 5,800 consist of large metal plates, castings and forgings that must contractually be provided by Russia. HAL then transforms the raw material into aircraft components, using the manufacturing technology transferred by Sukhoi.

That results in massive wastage of metal. For example, a 486 kg titanium bar supplied by Russia is whittled down to a 15.9 kg tail component. The titanium shaved off is wasted. Similarly a wing bracket that weighs just 3.1 kg has to be fashioned from a titanium forging that weighs 27 kg.

Furthermore, the contract stipulates that standard components like nuts, bolts, screws and rivets - a total of 7,146 items - must all be sourced from Russia.

The reason for this, explain HAL officials, is that manufacturing sophisticated raw materials like titanium extrusions in India is not economically viable for the tiny quantities needed for Su-30MKI fighters.

"For raw materials production to be commercially viable, India's aerospace companies would need to produce in larger volumes. That means they must become global suppliers, as a part of a major aerospace company's global supply chain. Licensed manufacture for our own needs does not create adequate demand," says Daljeet Singh, HAL Nashik's manufacturing head.

Still, HAL builds about 10,000 of the 30,000 fabricated components in each fighter. While a significant percentage of this is outsourced to private sector vendors in aerospace hubs like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Coimbatore, the Nashik facility itself hums with activity, which includes modifying the Su-30MKI to fit on the air-to-surface Brahmos cruise missile, which will make the fighter even more deadly.

Business standard

April 21, 2014

‘Killer’ Interceptor Missile Test Soon

Finally, India is readying for the much awaited maiden test of its high altitude ‘killer’ interceptor missile, code named ‘PDV’. The newly developed missile is likely to be test fired from a defence base off Odisha coast on April 27.
Indigenously developed by DRDO, this state-of-the-art Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) that fires at supersonic speed has the potential to kill the enemy missile with a strike range of around 2,500 km outside the earth’s atmosphere (at an altitude of nearly 150 km).
Defence sources said preparation was underway in both the locations of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur and Wheeler Island for the first ever test of high altitude Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system which involves two missiles - one interceptor and another target missile, mimicking the enemy weapon.
“Both the missiles have been developed by the DRDO for the first time. While the target missile, a modified version of Prithvi Air Defence (PAD), is planned to be test fired from a Naval warship off the Paradip coast, the interceptor missile will be launched from the launching complex-IV of the Wheeler Island,” said a defence official.
Earlier, the DRDO had successfully test fired both exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) and endo-atmospheric (within the atmosphere) interceptor ballistic missiles. Of seven interceptor missile tests, six have been successful.
While two were in exo-atmosphere region (above an altitude of 50 km), five took place in endo-atmosphere (below an altitude of 50 km).
“The PAD interceptor missile has already demonstrated its killing capability at an altitude of 50 km and 80 km while the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile has destroyed the target missile at an altitude of 15 km to 30 km. Now the target is to achieve the interception at an altitude of 120 km to 150 km,” said the official.
The two-stage PDV interceptor will be powered by solid propellants and is fitted with an innovative system for controlling the vehicle at an altitude of more than 150 km.
The enemy missile is also a two-stage missile and it is planned that the interceptor would destroy the warhead portion of this enemy missile.
A scientist associated with the PDV project told ‘The Express’ that the focus was to achieve the killing precision at the highest altitude with the help of an advanced software for which the DRDO is expected to achieve a direct hit-to-kill on the target missile.
“After the enemy missile is fired from the warship, the imaging infrared seeker in the new interceptor missile with an attitude control mechanism would first detect the incoming missile and give command to launch the killer vehicle. The entire process from detection to interception will be fully automated,” he informed


April 18, 2014

Best Eastern Fleet Ship trophy to INS Shivalik

The annual awards function of the Eastern Fleet -- Fleet Evening 2014, which is popularly referred to as Fling and commemorates the accomplishments of the Fleet over the past year, was held at Samudrika Naval Auditorium here on Wednesday night. The best ship trophy was awarded to INS Shivalik while INS Jalashwa was named as the most spirited ship. Eastern Naval Command chief and vice admiral Anil Chopra was the chief guest at the function hosted by the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral Atul Kumar Jain. Fling is the culmination of a year of determined and relentless pursuit of excellence by ships of the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy. The ships that excel in various disciplines are awarded with trophies.  - Times of india

April 17, 2014

India’s Air Force to get 40 strike fighters with BrahMos missiles

                                                                                                      photosource: the hindu
(ITAR-TASS) :  India’s Air Force will get 40 SU-30MKI strike fighters armed with a smaller version of BrahMos missiles, Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace President Sivathanu Pillai told ARMS-TASS at the international arms exhibition DSA-2014 in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, April 16.
The company is working to reduce the weight of the missile so that it could be integrated with different platforms, including the fifth-generation fighter India is creating together with Russia, he said.
Pillai noted that the commissioning of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier complete with deck-based MiG-29K/KUB jet fighters required accelerated work to arm them with a smaller version of the BrahMos missile so that the aircraft could take off from the carrier with two missiles under their wings.
While the fifth-generation jet fighter and MiG-29K/KUB aircraft can be armed with two BrahMos-M missiles, the Su-30MKI strike fighters can carry three such missiles. The latter aircraft will be modernised to take and fire the missiles. The Indian Air Force has already made the relevant decision.
Pillai hopes that the first ship-based version of the BrahMos missile will be fired in the fourth quarter of this year from a SU-30MKI jet fighter.
The missile will be 6 metres long and have a diameter of 0.5 metres. It will be able to travel at a speed 3.5 times the sound velocity and carry a charge of 200 to 300 kg over a maximum distance of up to 290 km. The BrahMos missiles that have been tested up to date are two-stage cruise missiles 10 meters long and 0.7 metres in diameter.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test fired from the Indian Navy's newest guided missile frigate INS Tarkash off the coast of Goa in late May 2013.
The missile performed high-level “C” manoeuvre at pre-determined flight path and successfully hit the target. The surface-to-surface missile, having a range of 290-km, was test launched from the Russian-built Project 1135.6 class warship.
BrahMos cruise missiles have been adopted by India’s Army and the Navy's surface ships. The Indian Air Force has also ordered a batch of land-based missiles. Work is also underway to adapt the missile to Su-30MKI planes used by the Indian Air Force.
BrahMos is an acronym of the two rivers: Brahmaputra in India and Moskva in Russia.
When visiting the headquarters of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace Limited that makes supersonic cruise missiles, the chief of the Russian Army General Staff said that the joint venture made reliable missiles that have few matches in the world.
The joint venture has designed a new version of the supersonic cruise missile of the same name that can be launched from submarines.
The missiles are intended for use aboard the Scorpion-type submarine, for which the Indian Navy has placed orders in France.
The Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos has designed a new version of the supersonic cruise missile of the same name that can be launched from submarines.
The BrahMos missile has a flight range of up to 290 kilometres and is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 300 kilograms. The missile can cruise at a maximum speed of 2.8 Mach.

April 16, 2014

IAF to involve private company in depot overhaul

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to rope in a private player to overhaul its maintenance wing. Plans are afoot to invite global tenders for modernization of all 13 base repair depots (BRDs) under the maintenance command, headquartered at Nagpur.

This is pegged to be an over Rs 360 crore contract to be handed over to a single player on turnkey basis. This follows the modernization of airfield infrastructure (MAFI) project of IAF. Tata Power's strategic electronics division bagged the contract a couple of years ago for revamping 30 IAF bases in the country.

BRDs under the maintenance command also need a revamp that includes bringing in new equipment, setting up of laboratories and also having an industry-like set up. The government feels instead of piecemeal basis covering one BRD at a time, there should be a holistic approach. Giving the job to a single company is expected to lead to a uniform and integrated approach. The project will have to be implemented in 3-4 years, said a source in defence ministry.

The details of the proposed request for proposal (RFP), which is the document for seeking bids from private players has been received by the ministry recently. A further decision is awaited. The government has already given an in-principle approval followed by an approval of necessity for the maintenance command modernization project, the source said.

The different BRDs look after maintenance and repairs of different types of aircraft as well as other equipment like radars and air defence systems. Recently there has been a push to involve private sector in defence aircraft maintenance. Tenders have already been invited for getting private participation in the overhaul of Mig-29 fighters and the AN-32 transport aircraft. The submission of bids is scheduled in current month and open of tenders planned before end of May, said sources in the ministry.

The move to revamp IAF's maintenance set up is prompted by the success in the MAFI project. Tatas had also evinced interest in Mig-29 and AN-32 overhaul projects before the formal proposal was called. The exact number of private parties interested will be known once the bids are submitted.
- Times of india

Admiral Dhowan tipped to be next navy chief

Vice Admiral Robin Dhowan is likely to be the new navy chief, with the defence ministry sending his name to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) for final approval, a top official told HT.
If cleared by the PM-headed ACC, Dhowan will serve as chief till May 31, 2016.
Dhowan, who was commissioned in January 1975, is currently the second senior-most naval officer after Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, who joined the service in June 1974.
But the government appears to have superseded Sinha as some of the worst naval accidents took place under his watch. If not elevated, Dhowan would have retired on May 31, 2014.
The navy has been without a chief for the last 49 days. It has been functioning under acting chief Vice Admiral Dhowan after Admiral DK Joshi resigned on February 26, accepting moral responsibility for a rash of recent accidents. Sinha, who retires on August 31, 2014, could either resign or drag the government to court.
HT was the first to report that Dhowan was the frontrunner for the job.
The major accidents that happened under Sinha's watch include the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak that killed 18 sailors on August 14, 2013 and the INS Sindhuratna mishap that killed two officers on February 26, 2014.
Defence minister AK Antony couldn't have risked to be seen rewarding Sinha for the same reasons he promptly accepted Joshi's resignation.
Dhowan hasn't led a fighting command but precedents appear to have worked in his favour. As first reported by HT, former navy chiefs Admirals Sushil Kumar and Oscar Stanley Dawson did not have the experience of running operational commands.
Had Joshi not stepped down, he would have served as chief till August 2015 and then been replaced by Vice Admiral Satish Soni, who retires in March 2016. A chief can either serve for three years or till the age of 62.
Dhowan's elevation will change the naval hierarchy. National Defence College commandant Vice Admiral Sunil Lamba may now succeed Dhowan.

Hindustan times

April 13, 2014

Japanese Media: China to buy S400 to deter Taiwan, Japan and India

Japan’s “diplomatic scholar” magazine website on April 11 quoted a Russian commercial television reported that Putin has approved the sale to China of two to four sets of S-400 air defense missile system.Japan’s “diplomatic scholar” magazine website on April 11 quoted a Russian commercial television reported that Putin has approved the sale to China of two to four sets of S-400 air defense missile system. The deal is already in negotiations among, if approved, would allow China to become the first foreign customers this advanced defense systems. At present, China has deployed many Soviet-era S-300 defense system.

Reported that although Russia had been negotiating in this regard, but some observers believe that Russia will eventually refuse to China for a number of reasons to sell S-400 missile systems. First, there are reports that in the country before the Russian military needs are met, does not intend to foreign sales of S-400, Russia may take several years to completely equip its armed forces with the S400. More importantly, the Russian military are worried that China would buy a few S-400 system, and then steal their technology through reverse engineering into the domestic version. In the past, Russia has sold weapons systems to China which have been reverse engineered.

It is reported that Russia and China have been seeking more stringent intellectual property protection signed agreement to resolve this problem. In 2008 the two sides signed an agreement to protect intellectual property, but Russian officials later considered inadequate bound to give up this version. It is said that in 2012 Russia and China signed a more stringent intellectual property protection agreement, but the specific content of the agreement is not disclosed.According to the 'Jane’s Defense Weekly', Russia and China hopes to sign more stringent intellectual property agreements and increase sales volume to prevent reverse engineering. If China promised to purchased a large number of S-400 systems, the loss suffered by the Russian military industry will be far less if the Chinese were to reverse-engineer the system operation.

The S-400 system itself may be greatly improved in China to some unexpected developments of military strength. Range of the missile system is 400 km and experts believe that this would give China an advantage in air superiority over the Taiwan straight. Once the S-400 ground-based system is inducted and combined with PLA fighters,China will increase its rhetoric against Taiwan with more confidence. It will also act as a deterrent to U.S. intervention.

China's deployment of the S-400 is not only to deter Taiwan but also Japan over the disputed islands and India too over its unresolved boundary dispute. Japan should respond effectively to China’s S-400, because the system will overwrite Japan's claims over the Diaoyu Islands.


April 8, 2014

BrahMos Ready for Mountain Warfare

With an eye to protect the Northeastern states from Chinese incursions, the Army on Monday tested a modified-cum-upgraded Block-III version of its supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, suitable for mountain warfare in a steep dive-cum-target discrimination mode, in Rajasthan’s Pokhran desert.
The testfiring was carried out as an user-trial by the Army’s missile regiment just after 1 PM in the Pokhran missile test range, sources in both the Army and the BrahMos Aerospace said.
“The testfiring was highly successful and the missile, after differentiating among multiple possible targets, hit the bulls eye on its intended target between 40 and 60 km away, which is the maximum range allowed by terrain and habitation constraints in Pokhran,” the sources said.
“The Army had sought modifications in the Block-III version of BrahMos with upgraded target differentiation features, which was provided. This was essentially an user-trial by the Army unit,” the sources said.
“This version of the BrahMos is for mountain warfare,” they added.
India is in the process of raising its first-ever Mountain Strike Corps with headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal as the offensive formation to counter any Chinese misadventure in its Northeastern states.
This version of the BrahMos is likely to be deployed by missile regiments there, sources told ‘Express’ here.
Interestingly, the Army trial was witnessed by Air Force’s Western Air Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal S S Soman along with Army’s School of Artillery Commandant Lieutenant General A K Misra. The IAF’s interest in BrahMos is due to the work underway to fit a smaller version of the missile on Sukhoi combat planes.
BrahMos, a Indo-Russian joint venture, is a 290-km range missile that can touch speed of three Mach or three times the speed of sound.
The BrahMos is being configured in all three forms of launch -- surface, submarine and air.
It has already been inducted by the Army in its artillery regiments, while the Navy deploys the missile on its surface warships.


Russia Offers To Develop Supercomputer With India To Counter Chinese Supremacy

Russian supercomputing company RSC group and the Russian Academy of Sciences have proposed collaboration with India to set up advanced supercomputing facilities that will rival China's Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer.

"India has many skills for building supercomputers. It is very strong in software," said Alexey Shmelev, co-founder and chief operations officer of RSC group and delegate to the Russian Academy of Sciences. "I am ready to share technology with India. I guess there would not be many players who are willing to do so."

In a letter last month, Boris Shabanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences has invited a delegation from the Indian Institute of Science and the Karnataka government to explore the possibility of a supercomputing centre in Bangalore.

CNR Rao, a Bharat Ratna awardee who heads the scientific advisory council to the prime minister, said it is difficult to assess a potential collaboration right away, but was of the view that "the Chinese are way ahead".

Tianhe-2, developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, retained its position as the world's number one system according to TOP500 project which ranks the most powerful computer systems in the world. It beat Titan, a US supercomputer which briefly held the world speed crown. India's supercomputer Param Yuva-II is ranked at 83 while Russia's Lomonosov supercomputer is ranked at 37.

If the joint cooperation between Russia and India is found viable, it can result in a computing system as big as a basketball court that can perform approximately as many operations per second as several million personal computers.

In 2009, India had taken a huge leap in supercomputing with EKA which was then the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world and fastest in Asia. "But in the next few years, China took over and it has retained its position as the world's number one system," said Vipin Chaudhary, former chief executive of Computational Research Laboratories, a subsidiary of Tata Sons that built the EKA supercomputer.


April 5, 2014

Army to Buy Six Border Surveillance Systems

After having fenced 550 km of the 778-km Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan,  India will soon buy six all-weather border surveillance management systems to keep a tight vigil against terrorists’ infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir.
The Army’s Uddhampur-based Northern Command -  which defends the state against foreign aggression and responsible for internal security in the state - has issued a tender recently for the purchase of these systems that would help it to keep a tab on the LoC that is still porous despite the fencing.
“The surveillance system is required to cater the Indian Army’s requirement for keeping a day-and-night vigil in high-altitude area,” a senior Army officer said here on Thursday. The system, he said, should be “simple, yet provide observation” at any time at a surveillance centre or observation post set up well within the Indian side of the LoC behind the sensor, under extreme cold climate conditions.
The surveillance system would be networked so that a single centre is able to observe the feed of multiple sensors and the all-weather, day-and-night camera would be able to record images.

New indian express

April 3, 2014

Israel, India agree on missile defense system against China, Pakistan nuclear strikes

India and Israel have concluded an agreement to assemble a ballistic missile defense system. Indian sources said Jerusalem and New Dehli concluded more than two years of negotiations with an agreement in principle to build a BMD system for India .
The sources said the system would be designed to protect against nuclear warheads fired from China or Pakistan.
“This system would integrate Indian and Israeli assets into a layered defense network,” a source said.
The sources said the Indian Defense Ministry agreed to the project. But the two sides were preparing for contract negotiations that could extend into late 2014.
Israel has long offered a partnership in BMD development, particularly the Arrow system by Israel Aerospace Industries. The sources said New Dehli began to express strong interest only in 2013 when Israel proposed a program that would integrate and enhance Indian air defense assets.
 The Indians were looking for Israeli expertise and technology that would allow New Dehli to eventually work on its own in BMD,” the source said. “They were not interested in an off-the-shelf Arrow purchase.”

The intiial agreement would partner IAI as well as Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, Bharat Dynamics and Bharat Electronics. All of the participants are state-owned entities, and Bharat Electronics has developed the Prithvi air defense system, scheduled for deployment in 2015.
“The attractiveness of the proposal is that India could contribute any asset deemed suitable for missile defense, including radars, interceptors and launchers,” the source said. “Because the network is meant to protect against a range of threats, no existing or future Indian system could be
ruled out.”


April 2, 2014

Indian Navy pleased with P-8I performance on first op deployment

It was to scout the site of a tragedy that the Indian Navy had been enlisted for, but it also happened to be the first live operational deployment of its P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.It was to scout the site of a tragedy that the Indian Navy had been enlisted for, but it also happened to be the first live operational deployment of its P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

The hunt for ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370 saw three P-8I aircraft deployed from Arakkonam for duties from INS Utkrosh, with one aircraft subsequently deployed to Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia-led search operations in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Naval sources say the P-8I performed excellently, and the crew had a chance to stretch the aircraft's legs in a live operational scenario in a networked environment, communicating with military aircraft from other countries and ground stations. While the P-8I type was fielded at the TROPEX 14 exercise as well, the hunt for MH-370 was its first real-world object-oriented mission. A US Navy P-8A was also in the air over the Indian Ocean as part of search operations.

The two major components that the Indian Navy P-8I has which aren't fitted on the P-8A are Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). Sources say crew got a chance to see what each of the subsystems and sensors were capable of on a long-range mission.

Defence news

April 1, 2014

Deal for 126 Rafale fighters close to being signed

France and India are fully on track to seal the deal for the around $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project, under which IAF will acquire 126 Rafale fighter jets, French ambassador Francios Richier said.

"Negotiations have recently achieved significant progress. We are looking to sign the intergovernmental agreement together with the commercial contract for the planes," said Richier, speaking exclusively to TOI.

Reacting to recent reports that France had asked the Indian government to sign a government guarantee to safeguard the negotiations for the fighters, Richier denied that any such agreement was asked for. "We have worked very closely with all Indian governments, so we have no reason to ask for such an agreement," he said.

The final MMRCA contract is expected to be inked by the next government that comes to office in May-June after the general elections. Even the ongoing French Scorpene project, under which six submarines are being built at Mazagon Docks, was eventually signed by the UPA-1 government in October 2005 despite the bulk of its negotiations taking place under the previous NDA regime.

"We are confident about the progress in the negotiation process (for the MMRCA project)," said Richier. Though the pace of the final negotiations has been glacial since the Rafale was finally selected over its rivals in January 2012, the IAF is also now quite hopeful that the contract with French aviation major Dassault will be inked in the 2014-2015 fiscal.

Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) finalized the MMRCA work-share agreement in February, under which the Indian defence PSU will have a 70% role, after months of bitter wrangling. Under the MMRCA project, while the first 18 jets will come in "fly-away condition", HAL is to manufacture the rest 108 fighters under licence over six years.

"Now that issues like work-share, warranty and liquidity damages have been resolved, the responsibility matrix of all Indian production agencies is being finalized. Once that is done, the draft contract will be readied for the final government clearance," said a source.

Eurofighter Typhoon as well as the US fighters that lost out in the long-drawn selection process are eagerly waiting in the wings in the hope of staging a comeback in the dogfight over the world's biggest such tender.

But there seems little possibility of that happening now, with India having invested almost a decade in finally selecting the Rafale after extensive technical and commercial evaluation. Down to just 34 fighter squadrons at present when it requires at least 44, IAF is banking upon the MMRCA project to retain its combat edge against adversaries. 
Times of india