April 30, 2015

Nirbhay: India's first indigenously developed long range sub-sonic cruise missile

Nirbhay is India's first indigenously designed and developed long range sub-sonic cruise missile, which was successfully tested in October 2014. 'The entire mission, from lift-off till the final splash down was a perfect flight achieving all the mission objectives,' DRDO said.

We take a look at what's special about the sub-sonic missile.

1000 kilometre class cruise missile ::
The cruise missile Nirbhay, is powered by a solid rocket motor booster developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL).
The 1000 kilometre class cruise missile with capability to strike deep in to the enemy territory, has been designed and developed by DRDO at its aeronautics R&D laboratory ADE.

Need for a sub-sonic missile ::
According to Ravi Gupta, Director of Public Interface at DRDO, India needs a sub-sonic long-range missile to ensure that it can target deep within the enemy's territory.
'Cruise missiles can fly like an aircraft and take detours. Sub-sonic cruise missiles are able to fly at very low altitudes, close to the earth, without being detected,' Gupta told Economictimes.com.

Technology Demonstrator ::
Since the Nirbhay missile project is still in the Technology Demonstrator stage, Gupta said that no cost estimates can be provided. 'The exact cost will depend on the end product which will be made based on the requirements of the user (government),' he said.
'Modifications can be made in the indigenously developed launcher and in the missile itself, based on the specifications given,' he added.

Multiple platforms ::
Nirbhay is being designed in a manner so that it can be launched from multiple platforms including land, sea, aircraft and under water. The missile that was tested in October 2014, was launched from land.

Autonomous ::
The missile is fully autonomous. Soon after its launch, the missile's booster motor (required for the launch), gets separated.

Further propulsion ::
As the missile glides along with the help of fin like wings, its turbofan engine automatically gets switched on taking over the further propulsion.

Inertial navigation system ::
'Nirbhay is guided by a highly advanced indigenously developed inertial navigation system,' says Gupta.
According to DRDO officials, the Nirbhay has good loitering capability, good control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth feature.

Second launch ::
The October 2014 launch was the second one for Nirbhay cruise missile. The maiden launch on 12th March 2013 was partial success achieving most of the mission objectives.
According to DRDO, the maiden flight had to be terminated for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component, after deviation from intended path was observed.


April 29, 2015

Cameron offers to ‘Make in India’ Eurofighter Typhoon

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Britain’s offer of Eurofighter Typhoon "is still on the table" and that the country is ready to help Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) develop world-class fighter jets in India as part of the 'Make in India' initiative.

Exuding optimism of returning to 10 Downing Street after the May 7 elections, Cameron said in an interview that he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "discuss a heavy agenda", and saw India playing a "very big role" in Britain economy.

“The British offer of Eurofighter Typhoon to India is still on the table. It will come along with technological and engineering assistance for India to develop its own world class fighter aircraft. It will be a better deal than Rafale,” he told ‘Asian Lite’, a Manchester-based publication.

During a visit to France earlier this month, Modi, citing "critical operational necessity", announced that India would buy 36 Rafale jets in a "fly-away condition". However, the French jets are unlikely to be produced in India, as earlier envisaged.

The Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale were short-listed by the Indian Air Force in 2011 as part of its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, but Rafale was announced as the preferred bidder in 2011.
However, protracted negotiations since then between IAF and Rafale remained inconclusive, and the issue was overtaken by Modi’s announcement to buy the 36 Rafale jets. Britain is part of the European consortium producing the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Cameron, who made three visits to India as prime minister since 2010, said: “India is going to play a very big role in the success of British economy. Trade and investment relations have improved in the last five years and we need more political cooperation on climate change and other issue.”

He added: “I am looking forward to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a heavy agenda.”

Dismissing reports of a change in leadership of Conservative party or the possibility of a hung parliament, he said: “I am not contemplating failure and I am contemplating success at this stage. I am sure I will get the mandate on May 7 to complete the work I started five years ago.”

According to him, the option of a Labour government joined or supported by the Scottish National Party “will ruin the economy and bring miseries to the communities.”


Private Cos in race for Rs 16,800 crore contract to make Anti-Aircraft Guns

Bharat Forge and Punj Lloydhave emerged as the only contenders for a Rs 16,800-crore mega contract to replace the ageing anti-aircraft guns of the Indian Army.

With the defence ministry looking to go ahead with trials and field tests to pick the winner, the two private companies are set to compete for one of the largest army projects under the ‘Make in India’ programme.

The project — involving manufacturing of 1,102 air defence guns over the next 15 years to replace the vintage L70/ZU 23 that have been in service for decades — promises to establish the winner of the contract as amajor defence player in the private sector given that no state-run company, including the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), is competing for the contract.

The two domestic companies were shortlisted after responses to a tender were received under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said. In the first stage, the manufacturer will have to supply the army with 428 guns over the next five years. The mega contract also involves churning out several lakh rounds of ammunition in India.

However, a long process lies ahead, including extensive field tests for accuracy and reliability, quality checks and scrutiny of the finances of the competitors. In the past, it has taken two-three years to select a winning bid in such contracts.

This will be a pilot project under the Make in India programme for the army.

Bharat Forge has invested heavily in setting up a plant to manufacture artillery systems. The group has bought not only an artillery factory from Swiss firm RUAG and set it up in India but also purchased technology from an Austrian gun manufacturer to jumpstart its entry into the defence manufacturing sector.

For Punj Lloyd, the project provides an opportunity to enter the major league of defence manufacturing, with top executives saying that the company’s investment in a manufacturing facility at Malanpur has paid off.

The army’s efforts to replace the ageing anti-aircraft guns for the army were muddied in 2012 after the leading manufacturer Rheinmetall Air Defense was banned on corruption charges. The German company was the lead contender for the contract but was barred from operating from India after it was indicted in the OFB scandal. 

Rafale deal: Build rest 108 in India

If, despite all the obvious advantages, some voices of dissent are audible, the nation can live with them.
Predictably, reactions to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircraft directly from France oscillated between one extreme view declaring the decision to be a political and personal triumph for him, and the other extremity terming it an unmitigated disaster for national defence.
Needless to say, these views were founded on the viewers’ political predilections, economic preferences and comprehension of the urgency and expediency of the immediate need of the Indian Air Force for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) fighters to meet designated roles and tasks.

In the final analysis, however, Modi’s decisiveness needs to be lauded, especially as the ‘MMRCA deal’ had become a torpid issue while the IAF fretted in desperation. Even if the deal is not large enough to meet IAF’s needs comprehensively nor inclusive enough to bring in transfer of technology rewards, it is a purposeful act of commission that wipes out three years of omissive inactivity.The decision, in 2012, of going in for 126 Rafales was the culminating point of a long, diligent and professional process of comparative analysis by the IAF followed by a commercial evaluation. The deal was then billed at US $12 billion.

The first 18 aircraft were to be directly acquired from France and the rest 108 were
to be built in India by HAL – thus bringing in the transfer of technology so desperately needed by India’s aerospace industry. However, after all the diligence was over, the final signature on the deal floundered in the bureaucratic ocean that engulfs our governmental decision making.

The ostensible grounds for delay in finalisation were a substantial increase in the quoted price (which nearly doubled in the three year period following the initial commercial assessment) and the question of responsibility for quality and delay in the 108 aircraft to be produced in India. In the weeks that preceded Modi’s visit to France, the chasm of disagreement over the responsibility for guarantee in respect of HAL-produced aircraft appeared to have narrowed down to a bare crevice.

Indeed, Dassault CEO was quoted as saying the deal was 95 per cent completed. Thus, a general air of expectancy attended the PM’s trip despite a denial by the French president that an announcement on the Rafale deal before Modi’s visit was not on the cards. The direct buy decision thus took many by surprise.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, had at one time, made some noises about the possibility of ordering more Sukhoi 30s and doing away with the Rafale deal due to the inordinate delay in coming to an agreement with Dassault. However, with the benefit of hindsight, it appears possible that those statements were part of a game plan that sidestepped the cumbersome
126 aircraft contract and aimed at a quick gobble of just 36 ready to fly aircraft.
The promptness with which the French acceded to the new proposal is partly attributable to the Rafale’s poor international sales profile so far (only 24 copies sold to Egypt, besides insignificant domestic commitment).French intransigence
However, the major reason for French intransigence was supposedly their reluctance to
partner with HAL and that is food for thought for the PM and his government. It is possible that, had India been willing to tweak the original request for proposal to accommodate Dassault’s plea bring in Reliance as the manufacturing partner for the 108 Rafales to be built in India, there would have been no need to sign up for 36 aircraft as the original deal (for 126) would have gone through.

As an extension of this argument, it is possible that, should the 36 ready-to-fly aircraft
deal be enlarged as a result of future negotiations to 126 aircraft, the renegotiation process could bring in a private player. While such an arrangement may bring cheer to Dassault, it would inherently contain delays as there is no big private player in India with an infrastructure for aircraft production as extensive as HAL’s.

Although 36 Rafales would not serve the same strategic purpose that 126 would have, and India would miss out on the technology transfer, the deal is perhaps the best way out of a sticky situation. It meets immediate requirements of the IAF by giving it two squadrons of one of the world’s best MMRCA and cuts down the already inordinate delay in the original deal being signed.

Also, it commits less funds to the aircraft account, bring in the 36 aircraft faster than in the original deal (as all would be produced on an existing assembly line), and it leaves open future options including renegotiating the Rafale deal with Dassault. Hopefully, the new arrangement would include the building of 108 aircraft in India – with the attendant advantages of transfer of technology. If despite all these obvious advantages, some voices of dissent are audible regarding the wisdom of the PM’s sudden decision, the nation can live with them.


India set to scout for 100 naval choppers

The armed forces' quest for new helicopters has seen controversies, scams and scrapping of tenders, much like the lingering Bofors ghost not allowing the induction of any new artillery howitzer in the Army for the last 30 years.

In a bid to break the jinx, the Centre is set to kick off the hunt for over 100 new-generation naval utility helicopters (NUH), which will replace the obsolete Chetak helicopters in the Navy, in a 'Make in India' project with foreign collaboration for over $2 billion.

Eleven Indian private sector companies, ranging from Tata Advanced Systems, Bharat Forge, Mahindra Aerospace to Reliance Defence & Aerospace and L&T, have already responded with proposed joint ventures revolving around three foreign helicopters - AS565 MBe of Airbus, Bell Helicopters-429 and Super Lynx 300 of AgustaWestland.

With the armed forces planning to induct well over 1,000 helicopters of different types in the next 10-15 years, the Indian private sector eyes a big business opportunity in the country's aerospace sector, which has largely been domestic PSU Hindustan Aeronautics' preserve so far.

"The formal tender for the over 100 NUH is now being vetted before issuance. The project will give a fillip to the 'Make in India' initiative in the aerospace industry, with transfer of technology in niche areas not available here till now," said a source.
Though the Army and IAF also require 384 light-utility helicopters, the NUH is different since it needs wheeled landing gear, sea optimization, foldable blades and small dimensions to ensure it can fit into warship hangars. The capability for anti-submarine warfare with torpedoes and missiles is also required.

But like the Army-IAF case, the Navy's earlier tender for importing 56 NUH was cancelled to ensure the project becomes a 'Buy & Make (Indian)' venture.

In August last year, soon after the Modi government came to power, the defence ministry had scrapped the long-pending acquisition of 197 light-utility helicopters for Army-IAF from abroad due to irregularities.

Along with HAL's ongoing project to build 187 light helicopters, which was sanctioned in February 2009, the ministry of defence decided all the 197 choppers would also be made in India with foreign collaboration.

Officials, in fact, say the 'Buy & Make (Indian)' categorization of the light-utility helicopters has the potential to give Rs 40,000 crore worth of business to the domestic industry.

However, the decision also means the military's already long wait to replace their obsolete Cheetah/Chetak helicopters, used even in high-altitude areas like Siachen, will take several more years to materialize now. 
- Timesofindia

Brazil, Venezuela evince interest in BrahMos missile

 BrahMos Aerospace is confident that BrahMos-NG will open a huge potential market for the company, with specifications that very few competitors will be able to match.

The supersonic cruise missile system BrahMos, which is a joint venture between India and Russia, has  caught the attention of countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and  Brazil  in Latin America and also of South Africa, which is part of the BRICS grouping,  because it has been developed at a low cost  of $300 million.
Sources have told the FE that there have been preliminary discussions with these countries.  Venezuela’s willingness to procure the supersonic missile (the air version) jointly produced by India and Russia will be on the agenda of talks when Prime minister Narendra Modi visits that country later this year.
The LatAm countries have been in talks with officials from BrahMos and expressed interest in mobile autonomous launchers for coastal defence batteries, ship-based weapon  complex for submarines and  frigates. Recently, the Brazilian Navy official had discussions with the BrahMos officials about the possibility of buying the missiles from India.
Last year, Modi had stated that India should move towards self-reliance in producing military weapons and systems and also look for exporting them to friendly nations.
BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile developed by DRDO and Russian NPO Mashinostroyeniya. The missile could be launched from surface, submarine  or air.  Latin American countries as well as South East Asian countries have expressed their interest for the missile particularly for their naval and coastal defence.
The agreement for development of the advanced BrahMos  system by India and Russia allows the use of the missile by the armed forces of both  the countries, as well as for export to other friendly countries.
After Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the first BrahMos-A missile-integrated Su-30MKI aircraft to the Indian Air Force, Indian and Russian designers concentrated on creating the supersonic mini-BrahMos (BrahMos-M) which will be marketed as BrahMos-NG  (Next Generation) missiles, meant to boost the defence capability of India’s Navy and Air Force.
Developed by the DRDO, NPO Mashinostroyeniya of Russia and BrahMos Aerospace, the new missile will have lighter weight and smaller diameter in comparison with BrahMos-A. Equipped with a compact engine it will reach speeds of Mach 3.3, carrying a payload of 300 kg to a range of 300 km. With a weight of 1.4-1.6 tons and a length of 6 m, the BrahMos-NG  will be a breakthrough as it will meet the requirements of both the Indian Navy as well as the Indian Air Force.
BrahMos is expanding production to meet expected demand for thousands of missiles. “Our second manufacturing facility is ready and additional facilities are coming up,” says Praveen Pathak, general manager for market promotion and export.
On a larger scale, BrahMos Aerospace is confident that BrahMos-NG will open a huge potential market for the company, with specifications that very few competitors will be able to match.


April 28, 2015

Russian S-400 for China: Challenge for Asian Geopolitics?

Russia is ready to sell China its state-of-the-art S-400 missile system. Japan is worried by the prospect, fearing it could undermine its security amid an ongoing territorial dispute surrounding the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.
Russia’s business daily Vedomosti reported last November that Moscow was in the process of selling S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to China. The news was confirmed on April 13 when Anatoly Isaikin, CEO of Russia's arms export agency Rosoboronexport, said in an interview that China hads purchased Russia's advanced air defense system, Japan's business newspaper the Nikkei, wrote in a comment on Monday.
Moscow, however, had been reluctant to deliver the system to China. It was concerned that Beijing would buy only a small number of the coveted system with the intent of disassembling it and learning how to build it.
Although Moscow and Beijing have yet to officially announce the deal, it seems almost certain that they have agreed on the sale, which Tokyo fears may upset the subtle military balance in the East China Sea.
If the deal is finalized, China will become the first foreign country to buy the S-400 missile system.
China already owns the latest air defense system's predecessor, the S-300. However, the older system has a range of just 300 kilometers, which means it can only reach as far as some parts of Taiwan.

 The 400-kilometer-range system will, for the first time, allow China to strike any aerial target on the island of Taiwan, in addition to reaching air targets as far as New Delhi, Calcutta, Hanoi and Seoul and also closer to the disputed Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Tokyo and Beijing have recently been slowly but steadily working at mending diplomatic relations, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.
It seems unlikely that the two countries would use force to take the islets anytime in the near future. However, Beijing may mull taking bolder actions in the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands if it becomes convinced of any military advantage in the Senkaku area.
Moscow, meanwhile, is also well aware of the threat that sales of the S-400 system to China may present to Japan.
Moscow is increasingly frustrated by Tokyo's sanctions, even though they are not as harsh as those imposed by Washington. The source said that the Kremlin feels that Japan was just trying to please Washington by forcing Russia to pay for its alleged intervention in Ukraine.
It is possible that Vladimir Putin authorized the sale of the S-400 to raise funds amid economic grievances arising from Western sanctions.
Some within Abe's government said that Japan should not be too strict with Russia, because sanctions that are too harsh may push Moscow closer to Beijing, which is against the national interest of Japan, Nikkei wrote in a comment.


Saab Signs Contract with Brazil on Weapon Acquisition for Gripen NG

Defence and security company Saab and the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, through the Aeronautics Command (COMAER), have signed a contract for Gripen NG weapon acquisition. The total order value is approximately USD 245 million. The order is expected to be booked by Saab during the second half of 2015.
The weapon acquisition contract includes weapon deliveries by Saab and suppliers which have been selected by the customer, for the Brazilian Gripen aircraft. The weapon deliveries will be made in relation to deliveries of the Gripen NG aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force.
The contract supplements the existing contract with Brazil concerning development and production of 36 Gripen NG, which was announced on 27 October 2014.
The effectiveness of the weapon acquisition contract is subject to fulfillment of certain conditions. These include, among others, necessary export control-related authorisations. All conditions are expected to be fulfilled during the second half of 2015.


Avro replacement order for new patrol aircraft may expand to Rs 17,500 crore

The mega Rs 12,000 crore pilot project for the Indian private industry to manufacture military transport aircraft is set to get bigger with the Coast Guard adding its requirement for new patrol aircraft to the plan.
ET has learnt that the Avro replacement programme, for which the Tata-Airbus combine is the frontrunner, will be expanded to add the Rs 5,500-crore Coast Guard requirement for a Multi Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA).
Sources said that the Coast Guard has initiated its requirement for six new aircraft for sea reconnaissance to be developed by DRDO and is requesting the defence ministry to club it with the ongoing programme to replace the Avro transport fleet of the air force.
This would give a fillip to the Avro replacement programme that is currently stuck as the ministry is yet to take a view on whether to go ahead with negotiations with the Tata-Airbus combine that has emerged as the single bidder.
The total value of this contract is now overRs 17,500 crore for a total of 62 aircraft. Further additions to this number are not being ruled out as the Navy too could have similar requirements.
While it is still unclear how the addition would affect the ongoing process to replace the Avro fleet, sources said that the views of the Gokhale committee that was set up by the Defence Minister to review the project has come in. It is believed that while the report does not have a negative view on taking forward the contract with a single vendor, there is room for ambiguity that will now require a political call by South Block.
Much like the Rafale purchase that required intervention from the top leadership to take forward the procurement, a definite political direction will be vital for the Avro replacement that can go either ways on the basis of the Gokhale committee report.
In the meantime, other competitors, including an Italian and Ukrainian firm have also written to the Defence Ministry, expressing their interest in the project in a bit to pip the Airbus-Tata consortium that is offering the C295 medium transport airlifter.

Trials a hit, desi Bofors outguns Swedish original


(timesofindia) :  This is one 'Make in India' defence project that is now finally booming. The desi howitzer, christened Dhanush, can outgun the original Swedish Bofors 155mm artillery gun in range, accuracy, reliability, angle of fire and shoot-and-scoot capabilities.

The Army is now getting set to induct the first battery of six Dhanush guns, which will be the first 155mm howitzers to be acquired by the force since the infamous Bofors scandal torpedoed all its artillery modernisation plans in the mid-1980s.

Recurring scandals in artillery procurement projects kept it derailed thereafter, with the infamous Bofors ghost looming large over attempts to plug the Army's operational gaps in long-range, high volume firepower.

Ironically enough, it's the original Bofors gun that came to the rescue of the beleaguered force. The Army-DRDO-OFB team kicked off work on the long-forgotten original designs, obtained under transfer of technology provisions in the infamous Rs 1,437 crore Bofors contract of 1986, a few years ago. It has led to the electronically upgraded Dhanush howitzer now.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar told the parliamentary consultative committee on defence on Monday that the 155mm/45-calibre Dhanush howitzers had "successfully met all technical parameters" during the winter and summer trials at Sikkim and Pokhran. Dhanush incorporates "many improved features" over the Army's existing artillery guns, he added.

While the first battery of guns would be ready "in a couple of months", the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is stepping up its manufacturing line for "bulk production" at the Jabalpur Gun Carriage Factory from 2016 onwards.

"The first order for 114 guns worth Rs 1,260 crore, already indented by the Army, would be completed in a three-year timeframe. The production capacity will go up to 30-35 guns a year. The Army has said it eventually requires 414 such guns," said a source.

The desi howitzer has been upgraded to 45-calibre from the 39-calibre of the original Bofors gun to extend its strike range to 38 km with "extended range, full-bore" ammunition. Costing around Rs 14 crore apiece, the Dhanush is about 83% indigenous. "The ore to steel for the gun barrel is made by the OFB. The only imported parts are the auxiliary power units, electronic dial sights and some others," said the source.

There was a major hiccup in the project when a Dhanush prototype's barrel burst during firing trials at Pokhran in August 2013. But a detailed analysis showed the problem was due to the usage of 12-year-old ammunition rather than the howitzer itself. "The trials took around two years to reach this stage," he added.

The Dhanush, however, will plug just a small operational gap. The overall artillery modernisation plan for 155mm/52-calibre guns, worth around Rs 1 lakh crore, envisages the induction of 814 mounted, 1,580 towed, 180 wheeled and 100 tracked guns, among others. 

April 27, 2015

Pakistan to Receive 110 Fighter Jets From China

China will provide another 50 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets to Pakistan over the next three years.
Friendship between China and Pakistan continues to strengthen as Beijing promised to deliver another 50 fighter jets to its southern neighbor over the next three years, a top Chinese official said, according to the Express Tribute.
China already delivered 60 fighter jets to Pakistan since the two countries signed a contract in 2007. After the delivery of another batch of 50 combat aircrafts from China, Pakistan will have a total of 110 JF-17 Thunder  jets. Pakistan needs more fighter jets to fight effectively against Taliban militants, said India Today.
The JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-engine combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
China and Pakistan have long maintained close political and military relations, based mostly on mutual antipathy towards India. However, recently China has improved relations and strengthened its cooperation with India. Xi's upcoming visit is aimed at reassuring the Pakistani government that their relations remain robust.


US approves possible FMS to India for follow-on support of country's C-130J Super Hercules aircraft

The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to India for Follow-on Support of C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $96 million. The principal contractor will be the Lockheed-Martin Company in Marietta, Georgia.

The Government of India has requested a possible sale for follow on support for five years for their fleet of C-130J Super Hercules that includes 8 spare AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 6 spare AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers, up to 9,000 flare cartridges, spare and repair parts, configuration updates, support and test equipment, publications and technical data, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The estimated cost is $96.0 million.

"India needs this support for its Super Hercules aircraft to ensure its aircraft operate effectively to serve its transport, local and international humanitarian assistance, and regional disaster relief needs. This proposed sale of additional equipment and support will enable the Indian Air Force to sustain a higher mission-ready status for its C-130J fleet.", said the DSCA in a statement.

The C-130Js of the IAF are used by the 77th squadron for special forces' operations. An order for an additional six C-130J airlifters was signed in December 2013.


Navy experimenting with composite superstructure for warships

The Navy is building two Anti- Submarine Warfare Corvettes using carbon fibre composite material from Sweden for the first time as it goes beyond using steel for warships. Warships are traditionally made using stainless steel but the new carbon fibre composite superstructure, imported from Swedish shipyard Kockums, not only makes the warship lighter but also makes it difficult for the enemy to spot.
Being built by defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE) in Kolkata, INS Kiltan and INS Kavaratti are named after islands in the Lakshwadeep archipelago.
The Kamorta-class corvettes would be delivered to the Navy within 2017.
“These are the first ships where such a technology is being used in India. Stealth is the most important feature of composite material as it is less susceptible to detection unlike steel,” Commodore Ratnakar Ghosh, Director (shipbuilding), GRSE, told PTI.
The ship’s superstructure is made of composite material while the remaining part including hull uses steel.
The new technology with extremely low radar cross-section has been pioneered by Swedish Navy which uses Visby-class corvettes, made entirely of composites.
Other nations have used fiberglass reinforced plastic (FBR) for similar stealth features.
Divided into smaller blocks, parts of the composite superstructure came from the Swedish shipyard and were assembled and integrated with the main hull under supervision of Swedish experts in Kolkata.
“We have reduced the weight of the superstructure by about 100 tonnes using this technology. This will allow the Navy to add more payload weapons. It will also be an added advantage when the ship has to go for modernisation after a few years,” the official said.
Composites are also anti-corrosives, a feature needed to guard against corrosion by sea water.
To make it fire resistant, parts of the superstructure have been super-insulated.
However, the cost of this new technology is higher as compared to steel.
“The weight of the superstructure should be around 30 per cent less. The cost is higher but that is offset against the long term advantages it offers,” Ghosh said.
GRSE’s Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral (Retd) A K Verma said in future they would tie-up with some India- based contractors who can supply them such composites.
“We have to look for people who can make such type of composites in India as per our specifications. We are training our people also,” he said.
Aimed at enhancing the Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities, the warships will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors.
With an overall length of about 110 metres, the ships can cut through the sea at a very high speed of 25 knots.


India's modified Su-30 can strike China with nuclear warhead: report

India will now be able to strike "deep into the heart of China" with a nuclear missile after making modifications to its powerful Su-30MKI multirole fighter jet, according to a report from the Washington-based National Interest magazine.
India's Strategic Forces Command is said to have modified 42 of its Su-30MKI aircraft so that they can carry air-launched BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
New Delhi already has around 200 Su-30MKI aircraft in its arsenal and plans to eventually acquire 282 of the fourth-generation combat fighter, which is intended to be the "backbone" of the Indian Air Force through 2020 and beyond.
The Brahmos, on the other hand, is the fastest cruise missile in the world, capable of traveling at speeds of Mach 3.0 — or 3,000 meters per second.
"In tests, the BrahMos has often cut warships in half and reduced ground targets to smithereens," said the Russia and India Report, adding that pairing the two together will drastically expand the striking power of the air leg of India's nuclear triad.
"The Sukhoi's blistering speed will add extra momentum to the missile, plus the aircraft's ability to penetrate hardened air defenses means there is a greater chance for the pilot to deliver the missile on to its designated target," the report said.
Importantly, when the Su-39's 1,800-km range is combined with the Brahmos' ability to hit targets 300 km away, India will now be able to strike deep into the heart of China or Pakistan with a nuclear warhead.
In addition, India has also been testing the Agni-V, a three-stage solid-fueled intermediate-range ballistic missile. With a range of about 5,000 km, the missile will give India the ability to strike any part of China with nuclear weapons for the very first time, the National Interest said.

-  wantchinatimes

How much does India really spend on defence?

Zen practitioners routinely confront puzzling parables, or koans, as part of their practice to attain enlightenment. One koan goes: "There was a woman walking down the street. Was she the elder or the younger sister?" Thinking with our logical minds, the question seems absurd. How can we tell whether the woman is the elder or the younger sister merely based on the information in the koan? But the method of Zen is to abandon logical thought, for it gets in the way of true enlightenment.

But why is a Business Standard column getting into Zen on a Monday morning? Well, because our defence Budget is much like the aforementioned koan. Every year, the government announces a defence Budget (this year, it amounted to Rs 2.47 lakh crore or $40 billion) and people begin to debate whether it is low, high, adequate or inadequate.

Unfortunately, national defence in a liberal democracy cannot be managed through Zen methods: it needs thought, logic, reasoning and analysis in order to persuade the citizens that so much of their collective wealth and income ought to be allocated for their collective security.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in France where he concluded a deal to purchase 36 readymade fighter aircraft, leading to more Zen: was it right to purchase them even when most people agree that we ought to make in India? This is not about procurement procedures, which are merely instruments. This is about the fundamental question: how should we allocate resources between "Buy" and "Make"?

Last week, while addressing the Annual Unified Commanders Conference of the military brass of the army, the navy and the air force, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made a very important point. He said that while the government is committed to military modernisation, "there is a need to exercise financial prudence and optimise all available resources". Now, although difficult, painful and rancorous, we know how to exercise financial prudence. However, the question of optimising "all available resources" is Zen, because the available resources are unknown.

It's not that "all available resources" for defence are unknown because they are secret. Some of them are, but in general, no one really knows what proportion of the nation's wealth and income are available for defence.

If you aren't shocked, you should be. The world's largest democracy with a free media and a vociferous civil society, with an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of almost $2 trillion (Rs 127 lakh crore), does not know how much it spends on defending itself. Oh, we do know the size of the defence Budget, but that is only a subset of the known spending. Known spending - known, that is, to some good people on Raisina Hill - includes some defence expenditure routed through other departments, for good reasons.

The unknown spending arises from that what economists call opportunity costs. The defence ministry and the armed forces possess assets whose value is not captured on any balance sheet or budget. These include holdings of land, spectrum and people. This is not to argue that such resources must be taken away from the defence ministry: rather, it is to point out that the government and citizens must know the full costs of national security. Making asset value explicit is not only a democratic imperative, it creates incentives for increasing the efficiency of land, spectrum and human resource utilisation.

The Kargil review committee had said that the nation can no longer accept an ad hoc manner of running its defence policy. That was almost 15 years ago and in a different context. Yet its warning is entirely relevant to defence budgeting.

How much to spend and on what is largely decided by incremental changes to the previous years' Budget, with some new additions. While it is appropriate that the nuclear arsenal is in civilian hands largely outside the control of the armed forces, what is not appropriate is the general absence of the nuclear dimension, and of each other, in the planning of the three armed forces.

Do we need new mountain divisions to manage the frontiers with China when we have a nuclear missile arsenal? Should we increase the strength of those divisions or the reach of the missiles? The Indian Air Force wants 40 squadrons of fighter aircraft to fight a two-front war. Against nuclear adversaries. Well. Meanwhile, we see the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles for combat and the need for heavy-lift helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for force mobility and humanitarian relief. What should India spend on? Since we do not have clearly defined threat analyses, the questions are restatements of the same Zen koan.

For almost five years, this column focused on the geopolitics of East Asia, arguing for India to commit itself to constructing the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. New Delhi was lukewarm to the idea in 2010. Now, from the looks of it, the Narendra Modi-led government has embarked on foreign policy trajectory similar to what this column advocated. So it is time, dear reader, to move on to a different area where New Delhi is lukewarm: defence economics. In the months to come, this column will employ the methods of economic reasoning to seek enlightenment on India's strategy, security and defence challenges.


IAF to buy three more C-17 aircraft, post Nepal Earth Quake

Indian Air Force has initiated a proposal to purchase three more Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the US for about Rs 8,700 crore, impressed as it is by the cargo carrier's varied utility that includes carrying out of large-scale humanitarian assistance operations such as the ongoing relief effort in earthquake-hit Nepal.

The IAF has told the government that it wants to add three very heavy transport aircraft to its fleet of 10 C-17s that were ordered in 2011 and inducted in 2013, officials said.

The IAF has pressed the case for three more C-17s after being informed that only five of the heavy lift aircraft are left for sale as the US defence and aerospace firm has closed down the production line, officials said.

As per the 2011 contract, which was worth $4.7 billion, India had an option clause to purchase six additional C-17s over its order of 10 aircraft. However, a paucity of funds that hit the government in the past two years appears to be responsible for the scaled-down requirement assessment. The proposal will have to be approved by the Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Committee.

Once signed, Boeing will be liable to invest Rs 2,600 crore in the Indian defence manufacturing sector as per the standard offsets rule of the defence ministry. C-17 has proved its utility, which has used the aircraft in several rescue operations including evacuation of thousands of Indian citizens and others in Yemen.


April 24, 2015

Indian Rethink Is Leading To a Smaller Rafale Deal

The new Indian government’s decision ‘in principle’ to buy 36 Rafale combat aircraft direct from the Dassault production line in France, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10, appears to spell the end of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) acquisition process. Speaking on Indian television two days later, defense minister Manohar Parrikar acknowledged that the protracted delay in closing the MMRCA deal, caused largely by difficulty in agreeing terms and conditions for licensed production of the Rafale in India, had not served India well.
Under the MMRCA plan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) would have received its first squadron of 18 Rafales from France, 12 single- and six twin-seaters. A further 108 would have been produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Now, the IAF will form only two Rafale squadrons, with a possible third to follow if an option for 18 more jets is taken up. The new deal is worth $4.25 billion, according to Dev Mehta, an analyst with London-based Strategic Defence Intelligence (SDI), although “various design and pricing issues need to be worked out,” he continued.
Modi said given “the critical operational necessity,” India wanted the Rafales on an urgent basis and “the terms and conditions [of the contract] would be modified’ accordingly. India apparently now hopes to receive its first Rafales in 2017, but this will require Team Rafale to significantly increase the production rate, which has been only 11 per year. The recent order by Egypt must also be accommodated. Further Rafale deliveries to the French air force may be almost suspended in favor of the export customers, to the benefit of the stretched French defense budget.
Parrikar said that the Rafale acquisition should have been a “government-to-government” deal from the outset. He added that a new defense procurement policy would be announced soon, and would be less complicated than the current policy, with its “Make in India” provisions. Mehta said the new Rafale deal “has given the IAF much-needed breathing space while keeping other options open. It is likely to free up funds that can partly be used for scaling up production of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft [LCA] and the faster induction of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft [FGFA] in collaboration with Russia.” AIN has learned that an additional 30 Sukhoi Su-30MKIs will be ordered in the meanwhile.


Indian Navy's submarines to be made locally; Rs 60,000-cr P75 I will be last order from abroad

The shipbuilding industry is set for mega business with the government deciding that an ongoing Rs 60,000 crore plan to procure diesel electric submarines will be the last order to go to foreign firms and that all future projects will be designed and made in India.
Leading international players, which have for long eyed India as one of the largest importer of submarines in the world, are currently in contention for the P75 I project to manufacture six new stealthy submarines in India.
A top Navy officer told ET that the government has cleared the project on the condition that all future acquisitions of conventional submarines will be based on an indigenous design and produced at Indian shipyards. The Navy has accordingly initiated a futuristic design plan even though the next batch of conventional submarines under Project 76 would take several more years before a firm order is placed..
“It has been decided that after P75 I, all future submarines will be of our own design and will be made in India. The government has been very clear on this and we have already begun the work, even though the requirement is of the future,” Navy’s Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition Vice Admiral AV Subhedar confirmed to ET.
A similar project for six new nuclear powered submarines will obviously be of Indian design as foreign collaborators cannot share such technology openly. Private firm L&T is already working the Navy on this project
Sources said that the decision was conveyed at the very top with the government keen that the Project 76 be completely indigenous with the participation of both public and private shipyards. Indian firms like Pipavav, L&T and ABG shipyards are set to be the biggest gainers from this decision as public sector shipyards do not have the capacity to match up the demand. Navy officials said that the next requirement under Project 76 would come up towards the end of this decade.
A recent study by EY shows that the requirement for warships and submarines in India far outstrips the capacity of public sector shipyards. It has estimated that orders worth Rs 8,47,000 crore will be placed by India in the next 15 years. Private yards, the EY study says, will be in contention for an annual business of RS 25000 crore for the next 15 years due to a lack of capacity from the public sector to deliver. EnY also suggests that in case the government can implement the Make in India plan for the defence forces, a saving of at least 20 percent or Rs 3 lakh crore in terms of capital expenditure can be achieved over the next 12 years in terms of military purchases.
At present, the Indian Navy has 13 conventional and one nuclear attack submarine as part of its underwater fleet. The conventional fleet relies primarily on the Russian Kilo class with nine of these submarines – most older than 20 years – in service. In addition, four German origin HDW subs are available with the Navy that are currently being upgraded to fire the Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
At present, 6 new French origin Scorpene submarines are under construction in Mumbai with the first one set to enter service next year. In addition, India is getting ready to deploy its Arihant class nuclear missile boat towards the end of this year. The Navy is also likely to lease a new nuclear attack submarine from Russia shortly.


Navy drill with Rafale fighters

A French aircraft-carrier battle group with Rafale fighter jets on board the Charles de Gaulle reached Goa today for 10-day exercises with the Indian Navy, within a month of Prime Minister Narendra Modi committing to the purchase of the air-force version of the fighter jets during his visit to Paris.
The fighter jets on board the Charles de Gaulle are the navalised version of the Rafale, equipped for short take-offs and arrested recovery from the carrier.
The French vessel - apart from the carrier, the flotilla includes two destroyers, the Chevalier Paul and the Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2 - is in Indian waters for the 14th edition of the "Varuna" series of exercises.

The current drills were planned before Modi's visit to Paris earlier this month. The battle group was deployed in the Persian Gulf alongside the American flotilla of the USS Carl Vinson, and was engaged in airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The deployment of the Charles de Gaulle to India does not mean that the Indian Navy is also looking to purchase the Rafale immediately. But in the stated policy of the Indian Navy to achieve synergy in operations with the Indian Air Force, the two armed forces would at some time in the future look to operate similar (not the same) aircraft.
The government is committed to provide all support for modernisation of the armed forces but there is a need to exercise financial prudence and optimise resources, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said in New Delhi today, addressing a unified commanders' conference.
Apart from its complement of the Rafale M, the Charles de Gaulle also has embarked strike aircraft, the Super Etendard, E2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control Syste ms, Dauphin and Alouette 3 helicopters.
The Indian ships to be deployed for "Varuna" are the aircraft carrier INS Viraat with its Sea Harrier fighter jets, destroyer INS Mumbai, stealth frigate INS Tarkash, guided missile frigate INS Gomati, fleet replenishment tanker INS Deepak, submarine INS Shankul and FACs (fast attack craft).
The Indian Navy is also deploying maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8I and Dorniers along with Seaking 42B and Chetak helicopters.
"The scope of Exercise Varuna includes the entire gamut of maritime operations from aircraft carrier operations, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction operations to multi-ship replenishment exercise," said a navy spokesperson. "Regular interaction over the years has allowed both navies to gradually and systematically increase the complexity and professional content of the joint exercises," he added.

 telegraph india

April 23, 2015

Should the US Help India Defeat China's Navy?

A new paper by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argues that India and the United States should collaborate on building New Delhi’s next Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, the 65,000 tons nuclear-powered INS Vishal, expected to enter service in the 2020s.
“Working in concert to develop this vessel would not only substantially bolster India’s naval combat capabilities but would also cement the evolving strategic bond between the United States and India in a truly spectacular fashion for many decades to come,” Ashley J. Tellis, the author of the Carnegie study, underlines.
In January 2015, both countries announced a joint working group to share aircraft carrier technology and design. The Pentagon selected Rear Adm. Thomas Moore, the Navy’s two-star program executive officer for aircraft carriers, to lead the U.S. delegation in discussions. India will be represented by Rear Admiral Surendra Ahuja, a former Indian test pilot. However, so far, the working group has not met once.
Tellis uses the working group announcement as an impetus to push for even closer cooperation between New Delhi and Washington. He assesses that India is more likely to consider deeper defense ties given the growing Chinese naval threat in the Indian Ocean:
[N]o country today would profit as much from collaborating with the United States in carrier design and construction as India at a time when its local dominance in the Indian Ocean is on the cusp of challenge from China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which commissioned its first aircraft carrier in 2012.
Tellis offers 5 broad recommendations for U.S. policymakers to consider:
  • Explore the possibility of equipping India’s carrier with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).
  • Offer India access to various advanced aviation systems, such as the U.S. Navy’s E-2C/D Hawkeye for airborne early warning and battle management and the fifth-generation F-35C Lightning strike fighter, so as to permit the Indian Navy to secure a combat advantage over its rivals’ air wings.
  • Consider changes to current U.S. policy to allow for discussions about nuclear propulsion technology in order to, among other things, make the integration of EMALS technology a viable option for India’s next-generation carrier.
  • Support a partnership between the Indian Navy and the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, and U.S. private industry as appropriate, to validate the vessel’s engineering and production designs, imbibe best practices from the U.S. experience when constructing the carrier, and coordinate on sea trials prior to commissioning the ship.
  • Encourage the conclusion of consulting contracts and memoranda of understanding between Indian shipyards and U.S. industry to assist India in incorporating advanced construction techniques when building its new large-deck carriers.
Some of the recommendations, such as India acquiring the F-35C, can be discarded right away, since India is still tied to the Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) project (see: “What’s the Status of the Indian-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Jet?”) and, despite setbacks, is unlikely to abandon it.
Other suggestions, however, like equipping India’s carrier with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), appear more realistic. “I’m optimistic about cooperating with them on that,” U.S. Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall, recently told Reuters.
Conversely, despite all of the rhetoric, the core of the problem remains that there is no common strategic vision between the two nations. The China threat alone will not suffice to convince a deeply skeptical Indian foreign policy elite of the need for deeper cooperation with the United States at the risk of alienating Beijing.
The omnipresent “China threat” is one of the usual arguments in the playbook used by D.C.-centric hedgehog analysts suffering from the “Gathering Storm Syndrome” (I wrote about it here and here), but an argument that unfortunately fails on many analytical levels. At the end of the day, we are likely to see some level of Indo-U.S. technical cooperation; however, as long as New Delhi and Washington cannot align their core security interests in Asia, prospects for a closer partnership are slim.


Upgraded Mirage fighters land at Jamnagar

Two upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter aircrafts landed at Jamnagar Airbase of the IAF from Istres, France, today.
Defence major Dassault Aviation had delivered the first two upgraded aircrafts to IAF just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to France earlier this month, where he had declared India's intent to buy 36 Rafale fighters through direct military sale.
"During their long flight, the Mirage 2000 had stop overs at Athens, Luxor, Doha," Sitanshu Kar, Chief spokesperson of the Defence Ministry said.
The acceptance ceremony was held at Istres, Dassault Aviations Flight Test Centre.
The contract for the upgrade of Indian Mirage 2000 fleet was inked in July 2011 and the maiden flight of its first upgraded Mirage 2000 was completed successfully by Dassault Aviation on October 5, 2013, following a two year development phase dedicated to the equipment kit including the radar, the electronic warfare suite and the mission computer. The rest of the fleet will be upgraded in Bangalore under the responsibility of HAL and with the complete support and involvement of Dassault Aviation and Thales teams.


April 22, 2015

Delays hit Indo-Israel anti-missile systems; Army, Air Force vulnerable

The forced cannibalisation of an old warship to provide a much-needed air defence system for India’s flagship aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is a glaring example of the massive delays that have hit Indo-Israeli missile projects, leaving the armed forces vulnerable and scouting for options.The problems run deeper, with other platforms of the navy and the air force, too, suffering from a lack of air cover due to delays in missile developmental projects.
A Rs 2,600 crore project between Israel and the Defence Research & Development Organisation to develop a long-range surface-to-air missile ( LRSAM) system is behind schedule by almost four years, leaving the navy’s primary warship a virtual sitting duck for aerial attacks. The system was to have been ready by 2012 and fitted on board the Vikramaditya as its only defence against air assaults.
Another larger, Rs 10,000 crore medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) project signed in 2006 in collaboration with DRDO was to have been ready for the air force by the end of last year. This, too, has been plagued by delays, including a failed missile test that has now pushed the project back by at least three years.
The air force is likely to get the system only by 2017, leaving gaping holes in its defence cover that currently relies mainly on obsolete Russian systems.The blame game for the delays is on, with both sides holding each other responsible for slackness or lack of dedicated commitment. While the Israeli position has been that the systems and parts being supplied by DRDO do not meet quality standards, DRDO contends the developers in Israel promised more than they could deliver. A senior DRDO official said that “all efforts are on to expedite the projects to fulfill the need of the services at the earliest.”


Modernising artillery to fight future wars

Modernisation of artillery has been neglected for over two decades. This despite the lessons learnt during the Kargil conflict of 1999, in which artillery firepower had undeniably paved the way for victory.

  • Approximately 400 pieces of the 155 mm/39-calibre FH-77B Bofors howitzers were acquired over 25 years ago. Though India paid for the designs, the guns were never manufactured locally as commissions were alleged to have been paid and Bofors brought down a governme
  • The artillery is now equipped with obsolescent weapons and equipment like the 105 mm Indian Field Gun (IFG) that needs immediate replacement. The artillery also requires large quantities of precision guided munitions (PGMs) for the destruction of hard targets such as tanks and bunkers and a potent real-time reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) capability
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  • Under the army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) formulated in 1999, the Regiment of Artillery had decided to standardise the calibre of its guns at 155 mm so as to ensure commonality of ammunition.   AFTER a decade of neglect under the two UPA regimes, military modernisation appears to be picking up pace again under the new NDA government. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by interim Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, had approved projects worth Rs 80,000 crore in October 2014. The new Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, while chairing his maiden meeting of the DAC on November 22, 2014, cleared the long-pending proposal to acquire 814 truck-mounted guns of 155 mm/ 52-calibre for approximately Rs 15,750 crore. However, the approval merely amounted to “acceptance of necessity” (AON) — the first step in the acquisition process. It will be many years before the first few regiments are equipped with these guns.
    Limitations of manoeuvre
    Firepower and manoeuvre are generally considered the two complementary sides of the tactics coin. During future conventional conflict on the Indian Sub-continent, large-scale manoeuvre will not be possible in the mountains due to the restrictions imposed by the difficult terrain and in the plains against Pakistan due to the need to avoid escalation to nuclear levels. Hence, India's firepower capabilities need to be enhanced by an order of magnitude, especially in terms of Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs).  This will require substantial upgradation of the firepower capabilities of India's armed forces. Ground-based firepower resources comprising artillery guns, rockets and missiles and aerially-delivered firepower consisting of fighter-bomber aircraft and attack helicopters, both must be qualitatively as well as quantitatively augmented. Similarly, sea-to-land attack capabilities must also be enhanced. Modernisation of the artillery has been neglected for over two decades, despite the lessons learnt during the Kargil conflict of 1999, in which artillery firepower had undeniably paved the way for victory. Approximately 400 pieces of the 155 mm/39-calibre FH-77B Bofors howitzers were acquired over 25 years ago. Though India paid for the designs, the guns were never manufactured locally as commissions were alleged to have been paid and Bofors brought down a government. Since then, no new guns or howitzers have been introduced into service. The artillery is now equipped with obsolescent weapons and equipment like the 105 mm Indian Field Gun (IFG) that needs immediate replacement. The artillery also requires large quantities of precision guided munitions (PGMs) for the destruction of hard targets such as tanks and bunkers and a potent real-time reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) capability. And, in view of their performance in Afghanistan and Iraq, the time has come to add UCAVs armed with PGMs to the artillery's arsenal. Only then will it be possible to achieve future military objectives, including the destruction of the adversary's war machinery.
    Large-scale overhaul
    Under the army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) formulated in 1999, the Regiment of Artillery had decided to standardise the calibre of its guns at 155 mm so as to ensure commonality of ammunition. The artillery plans to acquire a total of 2,820 guns of all types to replace obsolescent guns and to equip the new regiments that will form part of 17 Corps, the Mountain Strike Corps now under raising. The modernisation plan had been stymied by the blacklisting of some firms in the fray. One example is that of the project for the acquisition of 180 pieces of 155mm/52-caliber wheeled self-propelled (SP) guns. The tender was cancelled after the trials were completed. The contenders included Rheinmetal Defence of Germany and Konstrukta of the Slovak Republic. Fresh tenders were issued and the proposals received are being reviewed. The primary contenders now are the Teckwin 'K-9 Thunder' of Samsung, South Korea and the Russian Rosoboronexport's tracked gun, which is an upgraded 155 mm version of the 152 mm MSTA-S SP Gun.  The single largest artillery acquisition will be of 1,580 pieces of towed 155 mm/52-calibre guns over a period of 12 to 15 years. Of these, 400 guns are to be imported and the remaining 1,180 produced in India with transfer of technology (ToT). Over the last eight to 10 years, several request for proposals that were floated for this project were cancelled due to the corrupt practices being followed by some companies. New tenders were floated for 155 mm/52-calibre long-range guns for the plains and trials have been underway since October 2013. Trials are also reported to be in progress for 100 pieces of self-propelled guns for the desert terrain. 180 pieces of 130 mm M46 Russian guns have been upgraded to 155mm/45-caliber with kits supplied by Soltam of Israel. The maximum range of the gun has gone up from 27.5 to 39 km. Another 300 guns are proposed to be upgraded in due course.  Taking to long to decide The MoD is also considering the acquisition of 145 pieces of 155 mm/39-calibre M777 howitzers of the US-based MNC BAE Systems for the mountains through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from the US in a government-to-government deal. However, the deal is reportedly stuck for want of agreement on the offsets obligations and upward revision in the price intimated to Congress by the US government from $647 million to $885 million.  Also, as India has taken too long to decide, some of the factories involved in the manufacture of various components of the M777 have begun to close down. If this acquisition falls through, the process will have to begin afresh. Indigenous efforts to manufacture 155 mm howitzers include that by the Ordnance Factories Board to produce a 45-calibre 155 mm howitzer. This project was initially based on the designs for which Transfer of Technology (ToT) was obtained from Bofors in the 1980s, but has matured into an indigenous design during development. 
    Technical trials
    The DAC approved a proposal from the OFB to manufacture 144 pieces of 155 mm/45-calibre howitzers with the option to acquire another 400 provided the prototypes successfully meet the army's GSQR in user trials. The prototype of the OFB gun is undergoing technical trials. Meanwhile, the DRDO has embarked on its own venture to design and develop a 155 mm howitzer in partnership with a private sector company. The acquisition of 814 truck-mounted guns that has been approved by the Defence Minister recently will be undertaken under the “buy and make in India” category with ToT. While the first 100 guns will be imported, the remaining 714 will be produced in India. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 15,750 crore.  Several Indian companies are known to be interested in the indigenous design and development of modern artillery systems in conjunction with overseas partners. Bharat Forge (partner Elbit of Israel), Tata Power SED (Denel, South Africa) and L&T (Nexter, France) are likely to bid for this contract when the RfP is issued by the MoD.
    Rocket launchers
    Progress on the multi-barrel rocket launcher front has been better than that in the acquisition of tube artillery. A contract for the acquisition of two regiments of the 12-tube, 300 mm Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) system with 90 km range was signed with Russia's Rosoboronexport in early-2006. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile (Mach 2.8 to 3.0), with a precision strike capability, very high kill energy and maximum range of 290 km, was inducted into the army in July 2007.  These terrain-hugging missiles are virtually immune to counter measures due to their high speed and very low radar cross section. The indigenously designed and manufactured Pinaka multi-barrel rocket system is likely to enter service in the near future. These three weapon systems together will provide a major boost to the artillery's ability to destroy key targets at long ranges. However, a surface-to-surface missile (SSM), with a range of 500-600 km, so that it can be fired from the plains on targets in Tibet, is the missing link in planning for a future war in the mountains. 
    Counter-bombardment capability
    The counter-bombardment capability of the Army also needs to be upgraded. At least about 40 to 50 weapon-locating radars (WLRs) are required for effective counter-bombardment, especially in the plains, but only 12 AN-TPQ 37 Firefinder WLRs have been acquired from Raytheon, USA, under a 2002 contract worth US$200 million. Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited is reported to be assembling 28 WLRs.  These radars will be based primarily on indigenous components with very little import content and are likely to be approved for introduction into service after extensive trials that are ongoing. The radar is expected to match the capabilities of the Firefinder system and will have a detection range of about 40 km.  Artillery modernisation must be given a major boost so that the Army's firepower is enhanced quickly to the levels required to ensure victory on future battlefields. In conjunction with aerially delivered firepower, the artillery is the only combat arm that can cause degradation and destruction of the adversary's combat potential and ultimately break his will to fight.  Any further delay in the implementation of artillery modernisation plans will be extremely detrimental to national security interests. If the new projects that are now in the pipeline are pursued vigorously, artillery modernisation will once again begin to gather steam.  
  • April 20, 2015

    Navy's new stealth destroyer INS Visakhapatnam to be launched in Mumbai today


    Indian Navy's new destroyer, Visakhapatnam, with enhanced capability to operate in nuclear, biological and chemical atmosphere, will be launched in Mumbai on Monday.
    The ship is the first of the four follow follow-up order of the Kolkata class warships and will give a major flip to India's maritime capabilities when it is inducted in 2018.
    Launch of the ship means that it is being put into the sea. The total cost of the project is little over Rs 29,600 crore.
    "Kolkata Class did not have a full-fledged Total Atmosphere Control System (TAC). The TAC system provides you with the capability of operating in a fall-out region, be it a nuclear, chemical or biological almost endlessly...because the complete air being taken inside is through nuclear, biological and chemical filters except in the machinery compartment," Rear Admiral AK Saxena, Director General (Naval Design) said.
    Those entering the machinery compartment in a fall-out region will have to wear specialised masks to protect themselves.
    The ship, named Visakhapatnam (Project 15 B), a stealth destroyer, is 65 per cent indigenous and has a number of weapon systems which have been made at home.
    At 7,300 tonnes, Visakhapatnam will be the largest destroyer commissioned by the Indian Navy and will be equipped with the Israeli Multi Function Surveillance Threat Alert Radar (MF-STAR).
    This will provide targeting information to 32 Barak 8 long-range surface to air missiles onboard the warship, that is being co-developed by India with Israel.
    The Barak 8 missile is being integrated in to the Navy's new destroyer, INS Kolkata and will be test-fired by October, Navy officials said.
    The ship will also be carrying 8 BrahMos missiles. Project 15 and Project 15-B will share the same hull-design and Ukrainian-built Zorya gas turbines. Navy officials said the Visakhapatnam is likely to be inducted in the Indian Navy by 2018.

    IAF Keeps Abreast Of Chinook Ops Ahead Of Capability

    The Indian Air Force, which is hoping to see a long-pending deal for 15 Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavylift helicopters concluded by June this year, has been keeping keen tabs on Chinook operations around the world as it prepares for operations using the radically new capability the twin rotor platform provides. This month, information was shared with the IAF on the US-UK Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01. U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and U.K. soldiers with the 16 Air Assault Brigade performed joint operations with CH-47 Chinook helicopters at the bilateral training event at Fort Bragg, N.C., which began on April 13 and ends on April 20. According to the US Air Force,

    "This is the largest exercise of its kind held at Fort Bragg in nearly 20 years and demonstrates interoperability between U.S. and U.K. Army soldiers in addition to U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Royal Air Force airmen. U.S. Marines stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., also participated."


    April 18, 2015

    Airbus-Tata Deal Likely To Be Approved By DAC

    The sole Airbus-Tata bid to replace 56 of the Indian Air Force's HS748 Avro medium transports with Indian-built C295 twin turboprop aircraft is likely to be pushed through by the Defence Ministry shortly, paving the way for what the government hopes will be a cornerstone for the 'Make in India' campaign. The complex programme involves the local manufacture of 40 aircraft following the procurement of 16 in flyaway condition from the airframe OEM. PM Narendra Modi's recent visit to the Airbus facilities in Toulouse, France is being seen as a major leg-up for the company in terms of its 'Make in India' thrust, with the proposed Indian C295 production line being pitched as a global aircraft hub, the first of its kind in India.
    The MoD has also shown willingness to look beyond 'single vendor' issues and press on with the needs of the forces. As with the AWACS programme, where the MoD cleared the single Airbus bid with the A330 widebody jet, all indications are that the Airbus-Tata bid will similarly be pushed through after certain clarifications are verified. The programme will be one of the largest in India.

    spss exe

    Last Chance For More IAF C-17s

    With Australian Air Force ordering two more C-17s, the number of white-tail platforms (fully built but unsold) drops to five, giving the Indian government one final opportunity to augment its 10-strong fleet of the heavy transport jet. Boeing's massive C-17 facility at Long Beach, California is expected to be converted into an engineering centre with the end of aircraft manufacturing operations there. While the Indian government has made no official commitment to purchasing more C-17s, the U.S. government hopes that the recent Yemen rescue operations could spur interest in using this final opportunity to get some of the last airframes available in the world market.
    Budgetary issues and other procurement priorities may nix any interest, though it is well known that the IAF has been informally keen for a while now to top up its Skylords squadron. Boeing recently said in a statement, "As Australia, India and customers around the world have experienced first-hand, the C-17 remains unmatched in its ability to transport troops and heavy cargo, support airdrops and aeromedical evacuations, and land and takeoff in remote airfields.
     Recently, the Indian Air Force’s C-17s have been extensively utilized for Human Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations by bringing home over almost 2000 Indians evacuated from Yemen and clocking over 150 hours."
    - sps

    Parrikar Opens Door To Mini-MRCA

    After the recent turbulence over the MMRCA, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has signalled the possibility of a separate single engine fighter jet platform replacing India's MiG-21s in the event that the LCA Tejas is not up to the task. In a comment (as part of an interview) that has dumbfounded observers still digesting the implications of the MMRCA's purported demise and the hard-nosed decision to purchase 36 flyaway Rafales directly from Dassault Aviation's French facility, aviation circles are aflutter with precisely what the Minister meant. With no complete clarity on the full numbers of Rafales India intends to operate, the possibility of yet another fighter type being added to the inventory (albeit replacing the legacy MiG-21 and the enormous nationwide infrastructure available for its upkeep) is intriguing to say the least.
     For one thing, it casts questions over the government's own confidence in the much derided LCA Tejas platform, an aircraft currently in its home stretch and expected to power into squadron service in the visible future. On the other hand, the suggestion that the LCA isn't up to the job and might need to be replaced by another aircraft for acquisition in high numbers could spark bemusement, if not interest, in firms like Lockheed-Martin and Saab for the F-16 and Gripen, the only two platforms in the M-MRCA that were powered by single engines. This could be an interesting space to watch.


    US Defence Secy likely to visit India next month to sign $2.5 bn copter deal

    US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is likely to visit India next month when the two sides are expected to ink the nearly $ 2.5 billion deal for 22 Apache and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. Though the final dates for Carter’s visit have not been announced, defence sources said the visit will take place in May during which the two sides will discuss ways to enhance defence ties, especially in context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make-in-India’ initiative.
     The Apache and Chinook helicopters deal is likely to be among the pacts that will be inked during the visit, the sources said. The deal would be presented before the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval soon, they added. — PTI


    April 17, 2015

    Foreign fighter jet makers eye multi-billion dollar opportunity in India after scaled back French deal

    Foreign fighter jet makers see a multi-billion dollar opportunity in India's decision to scale back purchases of high-end aircraft from France, which may free up cash in the world's largest arms importer to buy a new fleet of mid-range planes.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10 announced that India would buy 36 French Rafale jets for an estimated $4.3 billion, in effect ending talks on a larger deal for 126 planes that would have sucked up some $20 billion and locked rivals out of the market for a generation.
    Sweden's Saab and US Lockheed Martin are set to re-pitch their Gripen and F-16 planes, eliminated in the Rafale tender, as the kind of lighter, single-engine aircraft that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday the air force needed to rebuild its fleet.
    "We are here and we are ready," said a source close to Saab. Saab was proposing to establish "fully-fledged production" of the Gripen in India alongside a local partner.
    Lockheed Martin may also tout its F-16, one of the most widely used fighter planes in the world, as a replacement for Russian-made MiGs that are a mainstay in India's fleet, industry sources said. Lockheed Martin declined to comment.
    "The light combat aircraft opportunity is going to be there in the near future because the MiGs have to be replaced really fast," said Delhi-based defence commentator and analyst Neelam Mathews.
    Russia, traditionally India's largest arms supplier, is hopeful it can sell more of its Sukhoi Su-30s, a plane partly assembled in India, to tide over the air force while it waits two years to receive the first Rafales.

    Foreign manufacturers have also welcomed India's decision to negotiate directly with the French government for further Rafales.
    "What is positive about the announced Rafale deal is that purchase is supposed to be based on a government-to-government agreement. We have been asking the Indian side for a long time to get back to this practice instead of tenders," said one Russian diplomat.
    Moscow wants to speed up the conclusion of talks with India for the joint manufacture of a new generation stealth fighter jet, the diplomat said.
    India needs to replenish an air force fleet that has fallen to 34 operational squadrons, down from 39 earlier this decade and below the government-approved strength of 42 considered necessary to face a two-front challenge from Pakistan and China.
    Parrikar said on Monday that India needed 100 new light combat aircraft within five years to replace the MiG-21s, and that the heavier and pricier Rafale was not the plane to do it.
    His preference would be for the indigenously-made Tejas to fill the void. But Parrikar himself has admitted the jet, in development for three decades, has limitations while the latest version still awaits final clearance.
    Either way, air force officials and industry sources say India is unlikely to buy anything like the 126 planes agreed in the original deal with France after all-in costs doubled to an estimated $20 billion.
    Parrikar said he had not decided how many more Rafales he might buy. Manufacturer Dassault Aviation could also pitch its single-engine Mirage if India opts for something cheaper.
    Foreign planemakers may need to join forces with an Indian state-run or private partner to win orders, especially if Modi is to realise his goal of developing a military industrial base.
    Under the original deal with Dassault, 108 of the jets were to be produced at a state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) plant. But the two sides could not agree terms.
    Such disagreements could open up opportunities for nascent private players to partner foreign manufacturers and build locally, experts said.
    "This could be Rafale, or any other aircraft as long as the government is able to address the core issues of tech transfer, joint production and design collaboration," said M. Matheswaran, a former Air Marshal and adviser to Hindustan Aeronautics.