December 30, 2016

MRCA Dogfight for Indian Skies Begins Again

The Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) competition for the Indian skies is beginning again, this time for a much larger number than the 2007 figure of 189 MMRCAs asked by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This time, there is also an additional requirement of some 60 twin-engine shipboard fighters by the Indian Navy, which wants them delivered in about five years as of now.
IAF has been losing two squadrons of Soviet-vintage MiG series aircraft every year, and although the numbers are being made up to an extent by the HAL-produced Su-30 MKIs, the depletion process is continuing and an urgent decision is needed to acquire around 400 aircraft, mostly through indigenous manufacture but as fast as possible.
Notably, in 2007, the minimum requirement was put at 126 plus 63 options (189) but their acquisition process under the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition was scrapped in 2015 over price differences with the French Dassault whose Rafale was selected in 2012.
The Government then opted for a small number of 36 aircraft, or two squadrons, last year under a direct Government-to-Government deal with France for nearly Euro 8 billion inclusive of about Euro 2.5 billion for India-specific modifications and weapons as part of the package. The first batch of Rafale twin-engine fighters should arrive in India in 2019. It is nearly 10 years since the MMRCA tender was floated, and understandably, many more of the older 1970s generation of Soviet origin aircraft have meanwhile faded away. Keeping in mind mind that the acquisition process takes some five to seven years, the depletion in numbers has to factor IAF’s likely squadron strength till 2022 at least, by when new combat jets should hopefully arrive in some level of comforting strength.


Air Marshal VK Jimmy Bhatia (Retd), former Commander-in-Chief of the Western Air Command (WAC) and Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd), former Director General Inspection, say the Government should work towards numbers and timelines. Twenty IAF squadrons will need about 400 aircraft, and that is literally the need of the hour.
An IAF fighter squadron, or Unit Establishment, generally has 18 aircraft for combat missions, and at least three more are require for Maintenance Reserve and Strike off Wastage (MRSOW). It has to be kept in mind that except for the Su-30 MKIs, IAF has not acquired any combat aircraft after the Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 in the 1980s. IAF should have though nearly 300 Su-30 MKI air dominance fighters.
An IAF proposal to upgrade some 100 1970s-generation Jaguars with more powerful Honeywell engines and better avionics to extend their lives by 10 to 15 years is also pending for rather long in the Ministry of Defence.
IAF’s operational strength of combat jets is around 700 aircraft, including the older MiG-27, MiG-29 and Jaguar aircraft. About 50 Mirage 2000 fighters are also 25 to 30 year old but now under upgrade at HAL in Bangalore with technical assistance from the French Dassault, Safran and Thales. That helps to an extent.
Both the IAF and Navy are looking for 4.5generation capabilities, that is what was stipulated for MRCA, and plus in newer technologies, to keep up with the developments after 2007. The overall requirement is huge, and that is why, the Government is rightly looking for Make in India collaborations and Transfer of Technologies (ToT).

The Ministry of Defence has already sought single engine capabilities from the US Lockheed Martin and Swedish Saab, and both have offered to manufacture their respective aircraft, the updated F-16 Block 70 and Gripen NG, in India in collaboration with private or public sectors.
Boeing has already offered to build the advanced version of its twin-engine F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet in India for the IAF.
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had told India Strategic that all these three companies had made unsolicited offers under make in India programme. The French Dassault and even European consortium’s Eurofighter could make similar offers and the Government could possibly consider them. All the five manufacturers took part in the aborted MMRCA competition, although Dassault’s Rafale was selected in the final run against Eurofighter.
Air Chief Marshal Raha also said that IAF was retaining the technology options as in the MRCA programme, and any new acquisitions had to be MRCA-plus in terms of engine power, EW systems and multi-role capabilities
Authoritative French sources told this writer recently in Paris that Dassault, with French Government support, was going to send a proposal to India for Rafale’s production under Make in India. No details were given but a source said “we are aware” of both the IAF and Navy requirements, pointing out that Rafale was designed from the beginning as a naval fighter and accordingly should be acceptable to both the forces. It may be noted that it is difficult to transition from an air force version to a heavier, and strengthened, naval version for a fighter, but easier in technology in the reverse.
The same is also true for the Boeing F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet, which is also a contender for both the IAF and Navy requirements.
In a recent interaction, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, told India Strategic that the Navy was looking for shipboard fighters within a span of five to six years. He did not give the numbers but mentioned that at present only the Boeing F/A-18 and Rafale were available for this role. He expected a decision by the Government in this regard very soon.
The Indian Navy is expecting its 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier IAC-1 in the next couple of years. It would be capable of operating both the MiG-29Ks, of which the Navy has 45 aircraft, as well as western flying machines from its 14-degree ski jump.

The Navy apparently needs twin engine aircraft, and if they are to be made in India, then some commonality with IAF is required. On the other hand, single engine jets should be cheaper by 25 per cent and if the aircraft are needed in large numbers, then the overall price would matter a lot.
The Ministry of Defence has a tough choice, but one hopes for early decisions. Hopefully within December.

 By Gulshan Rai Luthra

India Clears the First Payment for Rafale

India has cleared the first payment of 15 per cent to seal the deal for 36 Rafale combat aircraft with the French Government.
Sources told India Strategic that the instalment was cleared recently, and as per the contract, the French Government will deliver the first few aircraft within three years, that is sometime in 2019. India has though requested France to speed the delivery to the extent possible.
Industry sources in Paris also said that aircraft manufacturer Dassault had started working with its partners well in advance towards the Indian requirement, particularly as the Indian Air Force had asked for some specific modifications.
Dassault leads the consortium with Safran and Thales doing the engines and electronic systems and suites. In fact, the latter two have higher share each than Dasssault which designs, integrates and markets combat and civil aircraft.


December 29, 2016

Indian artillery gun shines in trials, to be displayed on Republic Day

After 18 years of having failed to buy a towed artillery gun from the global arms market, top army generals are finally reassured that their most worrying operational shortfall will soon be met from within India.
This belief comes after a week of successful “engineering trials” of the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), from December 13-20, at the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) ranges in Balasore, Odisha. Army observers witnessed the trials.
“We are on track in designing and building an international quality gun through the ATAGS project. If it continues like this, India will be a major gun supplier in the world market, instead of a major buyer”, asserts a senior army procurement manager.
The army is usually restrained in its endorsement of on-going DRDO projects.
So pleased is the ministry of defence that it has ordered the two existing ATAGS prototypes to be transported post-haste to New Delhi and displayed in the Republic Day Parade this year.
ATAGS is potentially the DRDO’s biggest indigenous project, aiming to meet the army’s need for more than 2,000 towed artillery pieces in the coming decade, generating indigenous manufacture for over Rs 30,000 crore.
Conceived and designed by the DRDO’s Armament R&D Establishment, Pune (ARDE), the gun is mostly built by two private firms. The lion’s share has been won by Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), which has built one prototype. The Kalyani Group has built a second prototype.
Development of the ATAGS system has been divided into nine “work packages”, with each package competitively tendered within India. The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) won the tender to manufacture gun barrels, along with forgings giant, the Kalyani Group.
Other private companies have won roles too. Mahindra Defence Systems will make the recoil system along with Tata Power SED, while Punj Lloyd will make the muzzle brake. During full-scale manufacture, an entire eco-system of smaller Tier-2 and Tier-3 suppliers is expected to come up.
At first look, ATAGS appears similar to the Bofors FH-77B – the famous “Bofors gun” that India bought 410 of in the 1980s. In fact, the ATAGS, a 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer (guns fire at low angle, howitzers at high angle, while ATAGS does both) is significantly bigger than the 155-millimetre, 39-calibre Bofors.
155-millimetres is the “bore” of the gun, or the width of the gun barrel. Calibre relates to barrel length; the higher the calibre, the longer the barrel, and the longer its range. A third parameter is chamber size, which determines how large a projectile can be fired from the gun, and therefore how much damage a round can inflict on the target.
While most globally available 155-millimetre guns, including the French Nexter and Israeli Elbit guns the military has evaluated, have a chamber capacity of 23 litres, ATAGS will have a 25-litre chamber. That would let it fire more high explosive onto the target with each round.
In addition, that makes the ATAGS’s range noticeably higher, especially while firing “extended range full bore” (ERFB) ammunition, with which the range goes up to an astonishing 45 kilometres.
The ATAGS is the world’s only gun with a six-round “automated magazine”, which lets it fire a six-round burst in just 30 seconds. Most other 155-mm, 52-calibre guns have three-round magazines, which must be reloaded after firing three rounds.
Since most casualties are caused by artillery in the initial burst of fire, when enemy soldiers are caught in the open (and not after they dive into their trenches), a high “burst fire” capability is an important attribute.
The ATAGS specifications also require it to fire 60 rounds in 60 minutes in the “sustained fire” mode.
Another first in the ATAGS is its all-electric drive, which replaces the comparatively unreliable hydraulic drives in other towed guns. The ATAG’s all-electric drive operates its automated mechanisms: ammunition handling, opening and closing the breech, and ramming the round into the chamber.
These enhanced performance attributes have increased the weight of ATAGS to 16 tonnes, a couple of tonnes heavier than comparable towed guns. The army is willing to accept a heavier gun that delivers significantly better performance.
Notwithstanding the army’s enthusiasm, the ATAGS faces a stiff regimen of trials before entering service. In June, “range and accuracy trials” will be conducted to evaluate its accuracy and its effect on the target. Its performance will be evaluated in varying terrain conditions, like deserts, plains, mountains and high altitude; both in summer and winter. The gun’s mobility, and that of the Ashok Leyland tractor that tows it, will also be evaluated. Maintenance evaluation trials (MET) will follow.
Traditionally, indigenous weapon projects have been dominated by the DRDO. In ATAGS, however, the DRDO functions as a project manager and concept designer, while private firms handle much of the systems development. With the workload thus shared, the project is expected to escape the delays that have bedevilled past projects that were exclusively handled by an overloaded DRDO.
A look at the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)
Designed by DRDO, built mainly by private industry
1,500 – 2,000 guns needed by army
Rs 15-18 crore per gun, total cost about Rs 30,000 crore
ATAGS is a 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer
45-kilometre range with “extended range” ammunition
Fires six rounds in 30 seconds, fastest in the world
World’s first towed gun with all-electric drive
Weighs 16 tonnes, 2-3 tonnes heavier than comparable guns
Fires 60 rounds in 60 minutes in “sustained fire” mode

25-litre chamber for larger projectile

- Ajaishukla
World’s first towed gun with all-electric drive Weighs 16 tonnes, 2-3 tonnes heavier than comparable guns

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World’s first towed gun with all-electric drive Weighs 16 tonnes, 2-3 tonnes heavier than comparable guns

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India on Track to Unveil Most Advanced Version of Tejas LCA

The Indian Air Force was forced to accept diluted parameters of Tejas due to the delay in the upgraded MK2. There is now optimism about rolling out the prototype by 2019.

  India may receive the prototype of the most advanced version of indigenously developed Tejas in 2019 a decade after the project was sanctioned.
Indian aircraft manufacturer HAL has floated a tender for the supply of valves and wheel tires for Tejas MK2. It was thought that MK2 project may not see light of the day but the recent request for proposals (RFP) indicate that manufacturer may be simultaneously working on MK-1A and MK-2 versions. The open tender is for domestic as well as global manufacturers.

The Indian Air Force had to accept a stepped-down version of Tejas due to the delay in getting the MK2 project off the ground. The project for design and development of Tejas Mk2 was sanctioned in November 2009 at a cost of $370 million. The project has suffered because of the delay in finalization of the engine contract. Tejas MK2 aims to have home-developed Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, unified EW suites, on board oxygen generation systems and upgraded avionics.


Russia Left Out From Major Indian Tender for EW Suites

India has asked a Russian vendor to quote for AESA radars but overlooked it while asking for participation in the tender for EW self-protection jammer pods.

  India has requested for quotations from seven global manufacturers for electronic warfare (EW) self-protection suites to accelerate the upgrading of its self-developed light combat aircraft Tejas Mark-1A. Interestingly, India did not send a request to the Russian manufacturer Rosoboronexport though it has been selected to compete in the tender for AESA radars for the same aircraft.
Sources told Sputnik that EW systems worth $200 million will be selected by April next year. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the designated local assembler of Tejas, will purchase a total of 83 EW suites for series production that is expected to start from 2019.
The tender has strict conditions for transfer of technology and local manufacturing. India has also sought exclusive worldwide sales and product support rights for the LCA MK1A aircraft or its variants fitted with the EW suite. It will also have the right to use the suite or its adapted versions on any other airborne platform designed or produced by HAL for use by Indian defense customers.

Bids have been invited from Elbit Systems and Elta Systems (both Israel), Saab (Sweden), Thales (France), Elettronica s.p.a (Italy), Raytheon (US) and Indra Systems (Spain).

HAL will make outright purchase of 24 sets of fully formed EW suites and locally manufacture another 48 based on a combination of kits supplied by the vendor.

“[The] Vendor shall ensure that HAL work content shall be more than or equal to 40 per cent by value of the unit price of each EW Suite,” reads the tender issued by HAL. LCA TEJAS is a light weight, single engine combat jet optimized for air superiority and ground attack roles. This 4.5+ generation combat aircraft has a carbon composite frame, digital flight control system; glass cockpit and digital avionics. Last month, the Indian Defense Ministry had cleared the ``acceptance of necessity’’ (AoN) for the procurement of 83 upgraded versions of Tejas for $7.7 billion.


India needs about 200-250 Rafales to maintain edge: Outgoing IAF chief

Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain its combat edge over adversaries. The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on December 31, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up.
Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas. He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”.
Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF. Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum.
“It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said.
“But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said. Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date.
“We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding thi void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”.
“Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said.
India and France finally signed the Rafale deal on September 23 this year, over a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal during his Paris visit in April 2015. The planes, equipped with latest weapons and tailored for Indian needs, will be delivered to the IAF between September 2019 and April 2022. The IAF currently has 33 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned 42.
Raha also rued that IAF’s Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet was plagued by maintenance problems and more midair refuellers were a “strategic requirement” to extend the range of fighter planes.
IL-78 fleet had served the IAF well but its availability for missions has been less due to maintenance problems. India floated a global tender for six midair refuellers in 2007 but it has been scrapped twice in the final stages.
“Sadly, there have been some problem areas in the acquisition. A new tender will be out soon,” Raha said. The air chief said the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base and the An-32 crash in which 29 people were killed were “the worst memories of my career”.“We have flown in the fighter fleet 40,000 hrs, more than last 10 years due to better serviceability. We have done an average night flying of 27 per cent which was less earlier,” he said speaking about the achievements under his tenure.


December 28, 2016

Agni-6 ICBM evolving organically from Agni-5

Ever since the Agni-5 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) was first tested on April 19, 2012, analysts worldwide have speculated about when India would test its successor, the Agni-6 --- presumptively India’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The Agni-5, which was successfully tested on Monday to its maximum range of 5,000 kilometres (km), is not strictly an ICBM. By convention, ICBMs have ranges in excess of 5,500 km. The Agni-5 is on the cusp between IRBM and ICBM.
Speculation about the Agni-6 has only been fanned by denials from top ministry of defence officials, including successive Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) chiefs, about the existence of any project to develop the ICBM.
“Agni-6? What is the Agni-6? I have not heard of such a programme”, said a poker-faced DRDO chairman, Dr S Christopher, to Business Standard.
With the continental United States and most of Western Europe and Russia beyond the Agni-5’s strike range, there is little worry in those capitals about New Delhi’s missile programme. This was evident in June, when India was admitted into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). However, an Indian ICBM programme that would place influential world capitals at risk might be viewed differently. That is why the MoD’s official position, as described by a senior official to Business Standard is: “There is no Agni-6 missile. Our strategic missiles can already strike targets 300 - 5,000 km away. These missiles meet all our strategic requirements.”
Despite the official denials, speculation about an Agni-6 ICBM visualises a range of 6,000-7,500 km; a larger payload capability than the Agni-5 to carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs); and even manoeuvrable re-entry vehicles (MARVs) to increase survivability against enemy anti-ballistic missile systems.
Significantly, the last two DRDO chiefs, VK Saraswat and Avinash Chander, publicly acknowledged having developed the technologies that go into MIRVs and MARV. They said these could be quickly operationalized when the government so decided.
As for extending the Agni-5’s range by 1,000 – 2,500 kilometres, a recent visit by Business Standard to the DRDO’s Missile Complex in Hyderabad makes it evident that on-going technology upgrades and incremental improvements in rocketry are already increasing the range of the Agni-5 missile.
Even without a sanctioned government project for the Agni-6, it seems inevitable that the Agni-5, over the next few years, would organically evolve into an ICBM with improved technologies and capabilities.
Chinese officials have always regarded the Agni-5 as an ICBM, with some even stating it is capable of striking targets 8,000 km away.
A major factor towards greater range would be the weight reduction in the 50-tonne Agni-5, as older, heavier sub-systems are replaced by lighter, more reliable ones, including many made with lightweight composite materials. A major development in this regard is the replacement of hydraulic actuators in the Agni-5’s giant first stage with the state-of-the-art, electro-mechanical actuators that already equip Stage-2 and Stage-3.
Moving from hydraulic to electro-mechanical actuators not only saves weight due to lightweight components, but also eliminates problems like oil storage and leakage, and the need for an accumulator. In addition, electro-mechanical actuators are more reliable and easy to maintain.
Currently, the Agni-5 has a metallic first stage, made of “maraging steel”, while the second and third stages are entirely built from lightweight composites, which were first tested in the Agni-4 on 15 Nov 2011. Stage-1 components like high-temperature rocket motor nozzles are already being made of composites. Gradually, the Agni-5 could become an all-composite missile that is significantly lighter than at present.
“No major development is needed to upgrade an Agni-5 into an ICBM. All that is needed is to improve materials to make the missile lighter, with better propulsion”, says one scientist.
That would make the Agni-5, with an estimated current cost of Rs 100 crore per piece, the world’s most cost-effective ICBM. It could cost just one-third the price of an American ICBM, as estimated by the respected Federation of American Scientists.
The total cost of the Agni-5 programme remains secret. The Political Council of the Cabinet clears such classified projects, not the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that keeps records more transparently. All sanctions relating to the Agni-5 project are done through the fast track route.

Boeing’s Super Hornet manufacture hits export hurdle

Boeing’s decision to manufacture advanced medium combat aircraft, Super Hornet in India, has run into a fresh hurdle with issues over their export.
Michael Koch, who is Boeing’s President for Defence, Space and Security in India, told BusinessLine that the aircraft maker is committed to producing Super Hornets in India. “The Super Hornets will be built in India in a world class advanced manufacturing facility with the very latest technologies in place, perfectly positioning India to build its Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA),” he said.
But sources in the Defence Ministry said the issue of exporting the fighter jets manufactured here remains a key question which needs to be answered for the project to take off.
“One needs to understand that in India, the government is the buyer. And it can buy only so much. So, if a company is setting up a plant to manufacture these planes here then after a point their production will halt. They have to look for exporting them to other countries,” the official said requesting anonymity.
The official also added that even if there are plans of shipping these planes, there will be riders coming along with it because India cannot have these jets to be shipped to the “enemy countries”.
With the most advanced technologies, designed in stealth and a robust capability growth plan, the Super Hornet offers advanced multi-role attack fighter capability that is suited to meet the needs of the Indian Air Force.
Koch pointed out that the Super Hornet not only has a low acquisition cost, but it costs less per flight hour to operate than any other tactical aircraft in US forces inventory. That includes single engine fighters, which many would incorrectly assume are cheaper to operate. “The lethality of the Super Hornet is as game changing, as it is versatile. The Super Hornet fighter is the most advanced fighter being considered,” he said.
Koch also said that Boeing’s business strategy has a dual focus in India – firstly, to provide a winning platform to our military customers, with reliable and fuel-efficient products, underscored by life-cycle support services; and secondly, to create an eco-system for the aerospace industry in India, through partnerships with local companies.
“Going forward, you will see Boeing deepening its presence in India and continue to strengthen its partnerships with Indian companies to align with the government’s Make in India vision.”
Significant portions of the Apache and Chinook helicopters will be made in India. While the Bengaluru-based Dynamatic Technologies manufactures the ramp and pylon for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in India, Boeing last year also announced a joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) to manufacture aerostructures for aircraft.
“Boeing also sees future opportunities for providing additional P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, aircraft refuelling tankers and weapons such as Harpoon missiles, unmanned systems and services and support,” Koch said.
He said Boeing has maintained its delivery schedules all along. For example, 10 C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter aircraft to the IAF were delivered on schedule in 2013 and 2014. With the 10 deliveries, India became the largest international operator of the C-17. Boeing also delivered all eight P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft to the Indian Navy by the end of 2015, all on time and budget. 


December 27, 2016

Russian Helicopters to Build Ka-226T at 2nd Plant to Speed Up Delivery to India

According to press release, Russian Helicopters company will launch the second production site for Ka-226T helicopters at its Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant to accelerate the assembly and delivery of the choppers to India.
The Russian Helicopters company will launch the second production site for Ka-226T helicopters at its Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant to accelerate the assembly and delivery of the choppers to India, the company said Monday in a press release.
According to the press release, Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise will work with the Ulan-Ude plant on filling India's order as well as continue the full assembly of the helicopter for domestic clients.

Russia and India signed a joint Ka-226T helicopter manufacturing agreement at the October 15-16 Goa summit.

December 26, 2016

Two U.S. howitzers arriving for tests


 In a first, India is buying 145 M-777 artillery guns made by BAE Systems, in a $737-million deal

Two of the ultra-light howitzers India contracted from the U.S. last month will be delivered to the Army within six months, to kickstart the process of integrating the American artillery gun into the Indian arsenal.
India last integrated a modern artillery gun in the 1980s when Swedish gun-maker Bofors supplied artillery guns. However, the scandal surrounding its purchase and allegations of kickback resulted in the Army not procuring any new artillery guns for almost three decades. The purchase of the M-777 guns from the U.S. has broken that jinx.
By November-end, India signed the Letter of Acceptance (LoA) with the U.S. government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for 145 BAE Systems-built M-777A2 artillery guns in a $737- million deal.
“Two guns will be delivered to the Army within six months from the signing of the LoA for preparing the range tables and calibration,” a source told The Hindu.
A senior officer explained that range tables were required when integrating local ammunition in use by the Army with the gun and calibrating it against a whole lot of variables such as weather and temperature.
As per schedule, the first lot of deliveries will begin 21 months after the initial payment which, defence officials say, will be done about five weeks from the signing of the LoA. Of the 145 guns, 25 will be imported and the remaining 120 assembled in India. BAE Systems expects to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defence soon to execute the contract.
M-777 ULH is the lightest 155-mm artillery gun making it ideal for employment by the Army’s mountain strike corps in the mountains. Weighing just over four tonnes, the gun can be transported underslung on helicopters. It is ideally suited for transport by the Boeing-built Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, 15 of which India has signed up for.

Limiting mobility

However, the small number of helicopters will limit their rapid mobility. For this, the Army has tested them for transport by the Russian-built Mi-17 V5 medium lift helicopters operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Officials confirmed that during the initial gun trails, its transportability was tested with Mi-17 V5 helicopters. There are 151 Mi-17 V5s in service with the IAF and plans are under way to procure 48 more.
The gun may not be airlifted entirely by the Mi-17s; it will have to dismantled slightly. But this will greatly enhance the rapid mobility when needed, one officer observed.
The US M-777 howitzer programme is managed by the Joint Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems (PM-TAS), part of the Program Executive Office (PEO) Ammunition located at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.
“The basic gun is the same as the howitzers that the U.S. military uses. However, they requested a different fire-control system. It’s the system that Canada uses on their howitzers; so it's already battle-proven,” Joe Lipinski, PM-TAS lead for International Acquisition Programmes, said in a statement.
In addition, PEO Ammunition and BAE Systems will provide technical manuals, training programmes and engineering support. The contract also covers five years of spare parts.


December 24, 2016

Airbus, Antonov in Race for $826 million Indian Deal for Surveillance Planes

After terrorists arrived from the sea to carry out the Mumbai attack in 2008, the Indian government has been intent on strengthening its coastal surveillance with top end radars and maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
 The Indian government has decided to add six multi mission maritime aircraft to its coastal security guard. In a marathon meeting on Friday afternoon, sources say that Indian Defense Ministry gave its nod for the purchase of six aircraft at a cost of approximately $826 million. European major Airbus is the frontrunner for supplying aircraft to coastguard with its C-295 while Antonov of Ukrainian firm has also presented its An-148-300MP based on the An-32 platform for the deal.

The Indian Coast Guard requires six aircraft for a variety of roles from maritime surveillance and interdiction to air ambulance and pollution surveillance. The sensors will be integrated by India's Centre for Airborne Systems on a suitable platform. The Indian Coast Guard had placed an initial requirement of six aircraft which may be increased y three in the second phase. The platform supplier may get additional requirement of 10 aircraft in future if escalation cost is not too high. Last year in May, Indian government had approved the purchase of 56 C-295 military planes which Airbus plans to build in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems of India. But, after more than a year, the project is yet to take off. The aircraft would replace the Indian Air Force's aging fleet of Avro jets. Currently, India's localized twin engine turboprop, maritime patrol aircraft Do-228 is the primary operational aircraft with the Indian Coast Guard.

December 22, 2016

India Approves $3.2 billion Purchase Plan to Boost Night Warfare of Armed Forces

India had lost 51 soldiers in militant attacks and cross-border firing since it conducted the "surgical strikes" on terrorist launch pads inside Pakistan. The Indian Army has sought a variety of night vision devices for its infantry to minimize similar losses in future.
After inviting global manufacturers to supply night sights for LMGs and driver's night sight with fusion technology for T-90 tanks, the Indian Army is now beefing up the night fighting capabilities of its foot soldiers.
The army will place request for information (RFI) for the purchase of 15,000 night vision devices (NVDs) for rocket launchers, 5,000 NVDs for medium machine guns and more than 125,000 for other small handheld arms. Defense sources told Sputnik that the Indian Army will spend approximately $3.2 billion for the purchases. Beginning this month, the Indian Army has already invited global bids for NVDs for long range LMGs and Uncooled Thermal Imager based Driver's Night Sight with fusion technology for the Russian-origin T-90 tanks.
 The Army requires the range of detection of a human target at minimum 1000 meters. The 1,000-meters rang is crucial in the mountainous Himalayan region where life of soldiers posted within visual range remains at stake especially on the border with Pakistan. "The normal range of detection is approximately 300 to 500 meters at night with a high quality NVD and that too on a clear night. However in certain terrain with limited vegetation higher ranges can be obtained," says Brigadier Rahul K Bhonsle (retired), a Delhi based defense expert.
 However, the recently floated RFIs are considered highly ambitious. "The type of technology is not available in India. The Ordnance Factory Board is claiming to be manufacturing Image Intensification night sights for LMGs whereas the Army is seeking a thermal image based technology. Possibly the RFI is over optimistic and at the RFP stage some changes with downward range could be made," Bhonsle added. The Indian Army has sought long range NVDs because it has recently lost a large number of soldiers in close fire on the border with Pakistan. Since the September 29 'surgical strikes', India had lost 51 soldiers in militant attacks and cross-border firing. In all, India has lost over 80 soldiers this year which is by far the highest casualty since 2013.

December 21, 2016

India, Russia to increase BrahMos' strike range

India and Russia have agreed to extend the range of their jointly developed BrahMos PJ-10 supersonic cruise missile beyond 292 km, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre told parliament on 16 December.
Bhamre said that, subsequent to India joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June, New Delhi and Moscow agreed to undertake "joint technical development work" to extend the strike range of the radar-guided BrahMos.
MTCR restrictions had earlier prohibited Russia from transferring critical systems to India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that would enable it to increase the missile system's currently restricted range to a figure greater than the 300 km imposed by the treaty.
Military sources told IHS Jane's that the two sides reached a deal to double the BrahMos' range to around 600 km during Russian president Vladimir Putin's trip to Goa in mid-October.
Configured on the Russian Navy's P-800 Oniks anti-ship system (SS-N-26 'Strobile') and its 3M55 missile, the BrahMos and its variants are manufactured at a dedicated facility in Hyderabad, southern India.
The missiles have been in service with the Indian Army (IA) and Indian Navy (IN) for almost a decade, but India is now also planning to test-fire the cruise missile from a submarine and a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter.
Russia supplies 65% of the BrahMos' components, including its ramjet engine and radar seeker, and the two countries are believed to have recently resolved long-standing issues regarding the system's intellectual property rights, thus allowing India to export the Brahmos.
In June Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar had agreed to supply the BrahMos to Vietnam, while countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were considering whether to place orders, Indian officials said.
Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates are reportedly also among the countries that have expressed interest in acquiring the cruise missile.


December 20, 2016

IAF to buy last US C-17 aircraft left

"We will now buy whatever we can and are planning to buy the single aircraft left with the US. In this regard, we are planning to move our proposal in a key Defence Ministry meeting planned to be held this month," a senior IAF source told Mail Today.
Unable to process its request in time to buy three C-17 Globemaster heavylift transport aircraft from the US, the Air Force is now moving a proposal to buy the only remaining aircraft in the American inventory for over Rs 2,500 crore before the Defence Ministry.
Originally, the Air Force wanted to buy three C-17 planes from the US, which has stopped the production of these planes at its facility in Long Beach, California but the American government was left only with one plane for sale.
"We will now buy whatever we can and are planning to buy the single aircraft left with the US. In this regard, we are planning to move our proposal in a key Defence Ministry meeting planned to be held this month," a senior IAF source told Mail Today here.

The aircraft would help the Air Force expand its inventory of 10 C-17 Globemaster heavylift transport aircraft which has been used by the force to carry out several major operations including airlift of new currency notes after the demonetisation drive by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The price of the single aircraft would be more than Rs2,500 crore and would be delivered in couple of years after the contract is signed between India and the US under a Foreign Military Sales route contract.
India had bought the previous 10 aircraft from the American government under a $4.1 billion (Rs2,780 crore approx) deal and all of them are deployed at its Hindon air force base near here.
With additional three aircraft, the IAF wanted to enhance its capability to airlift men and material during times of crisis as it did during the earthquake in Nepal and natural disasters in eastern parts of the country.
Apart from the natural disasters, the aircraft have also provided the capability to the air force to directly airlift tanks and infantry combat vehicles from the plains to high mountainous areas of Ladakh on the border with China. The plane can also airlift around 300 fullygeared troops for operations and can fly from country's northernmost airfield in Leh to southernmost runway in Andaman and Nicobar island territory directly and provides capability of fast deployment of troops from one place to the other.
In a presentation given to the Prime Minister on the requirements of the Air Force last year, the Air Force had pressed upon the need for more such aircraft due to their utility and performance in operations. However, owing to certain infrastructure issues, the fleet of American planes is yet to be fully utilised and this was also pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General in one of its recent reports.


December 17, 2016

Cutting-edge Agni technologies to add teeth to Pakistan-focused nuclear deterrent

India is developing a brand new short-range, ballistic missile called the Agni-1P, equipped with cutting-edge technologies. This will replace the old Prithvi and Agni-1 missiles that are still the workhorses of our land-based nuclear deterrent.
The Agni-1P will have a range of 300-700 kilometres, which matches the ranges of the Prithvi and Agni-1. That would make the Agni-1P predominantly Pakistan-focused, since targets in China are beyond 3,000 kilometres.
Powering the Agni-1P will be the cutting-edge technologies developed for the Agni-4 and Agni-5 missiles, which the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) claims matches those in intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) anywhere. These advanced technologies will replace the technologies of the 1990s that powered the Prithvi and the early Agni missiles.
Business Standard visited the DRDO’s missile complex in Hyderabad for a briefing on current missile development programmes.
The Agni-1P will be a two-stage, solid propellant missile. Both stages will have composite rocket motors, guidance systems with electro-mechanical actuators, and inertial navigation systems based on advanced ring-laser gyroscopes.
“As our ballistic missiles grew in range, our technology grew in sophistication. Now the early, short-range missiles, which incorporate older technologies, will be replaced by missiles with more advanced technologies. Call it backward integration of technology,” explains a senior DRDO missile scientist who wishes to remain anonymous.
India’s ballistic missile programme began in the early 1980s, under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). The DRDO first built the relatively primitive, liquid fuelled, single-stage Prithvi missile that could dump a nuclear bomb with moderate accuracy on a target 150-250 kilometres away. The Prithvi, like the two-stage Agni-1 and Agni-2 missiles that came next, used conventional fuselages made of “maraging steel”, older propellants, hydraulic actuation systems that were vulnerable to leaks and navigation systems that were inaccurate compared to current systems.
By the time the DRDO built the Agni-4 in 2011, it had successfully developed composite rocket motors, high-energy propellants, electro-mechanical actuators and navigation systems with ring-laser gyros that can navigate a ballistic missile to a target thousands of miles away, striking it within a few hundred metres.
Increased accuracy allows India’s to use relatively low-yield nuclear payloads. In 2011, then DRDO chief, Avinash Chander, told Business Standard: “Megaton warheads were used when accuracies were low. Now we talk of [accuracy of] a few hundred metres. That allows a smaller warhead, perhaps 150-250 kilotons, to cause substantial damage.”
The DRDO’s major technology jump took place in the Agni-4 missile, in which cutting-edge technologies that were being developing for years were first tested for use in the coming Agni-5. These included on-board computers based on the Power PC platform, and avionics changes involving integrated technologies. By combining several avionics packages into one, the designers improved reliability and saved space and weight by reducing cabling and harnesses.
These are the technologies that will now power the Agni-1P.
Meanwhile, at the higher end of the spectrum, the Strategic Forces Command is just a single successful test away from inducting into service the canisterised, composite rocket motor, three-stage, Agni-5 IRBM. With a proven range of 5,000 kilometres, the Agni-5 can hold at risk targets anywhere in China.

DRDO scientists say the Agni-5 will undergo a final confirmatory test in January. If that goes to plan, the road-mobile, canisterised missile will joins India’s deployed nuclear deterrent.

- ajaishukla

December 16, 2016

India to get its Rafale Fighter Jets within 3 Years : IAF Chief

(PTI): India will get the first tranche of Rafale fighter jets from France in the next three years, Indian Air Force chief Arup Raha has said.

"Rafale contract caters for delivery time between 36 months to about 66 months if I am not wrong. So within three years time we will have the first few aircraft delivered to us and within five and a half years we will have two full squadron of aircraft in operation," Raha said at a function here on Saturday.

He said the fighter jets, capable of carrying nuclear weapons and equipped with latest missiles, will tremendously increase the force's capability.

When asked about the depleting strength of jets, he said besides Rafale, India is going to produce Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in large numbers.

"The effort is on to increase production lines. The more the number of aircraft we produce, the faster we ramp up the capacity to close the gap created by obsolete and old aircraft," Raha said.

IAF has put on display one such obsolete MiG-27 fighter aircraft in front of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here. The installation was inaugurated by the Air Chief Marshal.

He also said the government is also thinking of procuring another fighter aircraft to fill up the gaps faster.

On the Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), Raha said they are already working with Russia on research and development.

"The project is already negotiated. Preliminary design on our part is over and if this R&D negotiations are over and we sign the contract then we should have these aircraft in another 5-6 years," Raha said.


HAL floats radar tender for its Light Combat Aircraft

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has floated a limited tender for the purchase of AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars for an under-development Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' from global aviation firms.

"The tender in the form of Expression of Interest (EoI) was floated on Wednesday to five of the global aviation technology firms," a top HAL source said.

The EoI was floated by the Aviation Research and Design Centre (ARDC), one of the 10 design centres of HAL, which is engaged in the design and development of LCA 'Tejas', source added.

The source said Israel is a front-runner in the race, along with a firm from the United States.

The India head of one of the contender companies told IANS on the condition of anonymity: "We have been in touch with the HAL for the last two years. We have given them an extensive presentation on the matter."

The HAL has been engaging with global manufacturers vis-a-vis the AESA radars.

"The imported radar will require customisation to suit the LCA's requirements and this will be done jointly by the ARDC and the vendor," the source added.

"It is not yet clear whether some of the radars will be manufactured in India or be a totally off-the-shelf purchase," he added.

By current estimates, around 100 radars are expected to be procured through this tender.

An AESA radar detects flying objects through electronic steering of radio waves. The advanced radars are considered significantly better than mechanical scanning radars.

The Bengaluru-based Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing AESA radar for Tejas Mark II. The LRDE is expected to deliver the radars to the HAL by 2018.

The government last month cleared a proposal for the purchase of 83 LCA MK1As for the Indian Air Force.

According to an earlier plan, LCA Mk-II were to be fitted with AESA radars. The Mk1A, a stopgap version of the aircraft to replenish depleting fighter squadron strength of the Indian Air Force, has been cleared for fitment with imported AESA radars.

Indigenous Tejas received its 'Release to Service Certificate', also known as Initial Operational Clearance-II, in December 2013. The Initial Operational Clearance-1 for the fighter jet was achieved in January 2011.

In July, the HAL delivered first two of these aircraft for IAF's Flying Daggers 45, the first LCA squadron. Subsequently, the third aircraft was delivered to the IAF. The squadron is located in Bengaluru.

The HAL is currently manufacturing eight Tejas per year and by 2018 the manufacturing capacity is expected to be doubled.


December 9, 2016

US Congress clears decks for India to become key defence partner

"India is an important partner in promoting economic growth and global security," Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus. 

The US Congress has cleared the decks for India to become a "major defence partner", with the Senate passing the 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) the $618 billion American defence budget for 2017 by 92 to 7 votes.
NDAA 2017, which asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defence partner in a bid to strengthen bilateral security cooperation, was passed earlier by the US House of Representatives by 375-34 votes and now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign it into law. "I applaud the inclusion of forward-leaning provisions designed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation with India, including expanded military-to-military engagement, increased defence trade, and greater cooperation on technological development," Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said in a statement after the Senate passed the bill yesterday.
"As the world's largest democracy and one with which US strategic interests increasingly align, India is an important partner in promoting economic growth and global security," said Warner, who will serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 115th Congress.
Titled 'Enhancing defense and security cooperation with India,' Section 1292 of the NDAA asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defense partner of the US.
It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defense acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through interagency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defense trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.
The act calls for approval and facilitation of transfer of advanced technology, consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy, to support combined military planning with India's military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, freedom of navigation, and maritime domain awareness missions, and to promote weapons systems interoperability.
Calling to strengthen the effectiveness of the US-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the durability of the Department of Defense's 'India Rapid Reaction Cell', NDAA 2017 also seeks collaboration with India to develop mutually agreeable mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services and related technology such as appropriate cyber security and end use monitoring arrangements consistent with US' export control laws and policy.
After the passage of the bill, within 180 days, the secretary of defence and secretary of state have been asked to jointly submit to the Congressional Defence Committees and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India.
Among other things it seeks to enhance cooperative military operations, including maritime security, counter-piracy, counter-terror cooperation, and domain awareness, in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
NDAA 2017 is still a step below what friends of India have been working for in the Congress for the past few years - brining the defence ties at par with top NATO allies and Israel. "The President shall ensure that the assessment" is used, consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy, to inform the review by the US of requests to export defence articles, defence services, or related technology to India under the Arms Export Control Act and to inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate, it said.
NDAA-2017 also asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to conduct an assessment of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to support and carry out military operations of mutual interest of the two countries. This, including an assessment of the defence export control regulations and policies, need appropriate modification in recognition of India's capabilities and its status as a major defence partner.


Shoot at sight: The S-400 boosts Indian air defence

The S-400 air defence system will give India the unprecedented capability of taking out aircraft and missiles while they are still in enemy airspace.
The year is 2020. A posse of F-16 jet fighters takes off from the main Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base in Sargodha. Approximately 300 km east, at the Adampur air force base, an Indian S-400 air defence system picks up these aircraft almost instantly. The radar lock unnerves the F-16 pilots and they peel further west – away from the battery’s range.
While taking evasive action the PAF jets have to be careful not to stray into Afghanistan – which is increasingly hostile towards Islamabad – or Iran. The Pakistani pilots, however, realise trespass is the least of their problems. As the F-16s arrive over Balochistan – the furthest they can get away from the Indian border – they are tracked by another S-400 battery stationed near the Jodhpur air force base 527 km away.
The S-400 systems are routinely scanning the airspace around them in a 360 degree sweep, but the PAF pilots are on the verge of panic. Between the overlapping coverage by India’s multiple S-400 battalions stationed along the border, PAF aircraft can run but not hide. This is the fishbowl effect – the feeling of being observed from all sides.
The most devastating impact of India acquiring the S-400 Triumf will be on the Pakistani military’s psyche. With its 600 km tracking range – and a 400 km kill range – the Russian air defence system will increase the vulnerability of all Pakistani air assets, especially fighter aircraft, missiles and drones, by several orders of magnitude.
Their 600 km tracking range – and a 400 km kill range – will allow just three S-400 battalions located on the border to cover all of Pakistan, except the western extremity of its restive Balochistan province. With Afghanistan turning hostile and upending Pakistan’s grandiose plans of acquiring strategic depth, the arrival of the S-400 will squeeze the operational capabilities of both its offensive and defensive assets.
Because of its blistering speed of 17,000 kph, an S-400 missile fired from Adampur, Punjab, will take just 65 seconds to hit an F-16 flying over Sargodha. Ejection – rather than evasive action – would be the sensible option against a missile coming at you at that speed.
The S-400’s deployment will widen the window of vulnerability of Pakistan’s air force, army and strategic missile forces.
*First up, PAF jets will be forced to operate hundreds of kilometres west of the Indian border and will have to fly in a narrow strip of airspace along the borders of Iran and Afghanistan.
*Secondly, they will not be able to come to the defence of their armour and troop concentrations which would be taking a pounding from Indian artillery and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
*The system can even function as a ballistic missile killer until India’s indigenous Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) comes online in the coming decade.
Manufactured by Russia’s Almaz Antey and introduced into service in 2007, the S-400 system consists of a set of radars, missile launchers and command posts. Each S-400 system is capable of tracking between 100 and 300 targets. It can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously within a range of 400 km, ensuring that all Pakistani air bases come under its range. Chinese air assets in Tibet will also come within striking distance. The S-400’s offensive-defence capability means IAF aircraft won’t have to undertake overly risky strike missions into enemy airspace until it is sanitised.
(China has also purchased the S-400 system, the first foreign country to confirm orders for four systems: Ed.)

Why India needs battlefield defence systems

Air defence is a critical aspect of war. If the enemy is able to penetrate your airspace, his first targets are high value military and industrial establishments like airfields, cantonments and power plants, as well as transport networks.
Because of India’s vast landmass, the IAF cannot be at all places at all times. The long range of the S-400’s powerful AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar fills these gaps. The S-400 missile system can even take out aircraft with low-observable technology. “For the S-400 there is no such thing as ‘stealth’ aircraft; the system will see it and will shoot it down,” an S-400 battery commander was quoted as saying in the Russian media.
The S-400 can “see” everything both in the air and on the ground, and can easily discern even a tiny aircraft from, say, a truck moving on the ground, the commander added. “Even if a plane is flying low and with the same speed as a vehicle moving on the ground, the radar will show it on the screen.”

Integrated missile defence

While the S-400 is clearly one of the most capable and lethal long-range air defence missile systems on the planet, air defence works best when all its components operate in sync. The Triumf becomes deadlier if it is used alongside short and medium range missiles, anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) and fighter aircraft. By dominating high altitude air space (up to 185 km), the S-400 can drive enemy aircraft down into a “flak trap” where AAA batteries and air defence fighters await them. If India can successfully integrate this multi-tier system, it can significantly increase the costs for attacking air forces.

Counter measures

Of the five systems ordered, India could deploy three on the Pakistan border and two along the Himalayas to counter China. However, it is Pakistan that will suffer the most as its entire territory will be swept by the S-400’s jamming resistant radar. Since the PAF’s offensive and defensive assets are thin, Pakistan could try and overwhelm Indian air defence systems by launching a large number of missiles of which it has plenty. However, this could be suicidal as it will invite a massive retaliation from India’s strategic command.
The entry of the S-400 will force Pakistan to spend heavily on more numbers of aircraft and missiles – including prohibitively expensive hypersonic ones – needed to neutralise the huge Indian advantage. Given the Pakistani military’s obsessive desire to achieve parity with India, it may even acquire the HQ-9 – the Chinese knockoff of the older Russian S-300 system.
With the Pakistani economy not exactly in the pink of health, the additional spending will come at the expense of economic growth needed to employ, feed and house its growing population. Disenchantment with the government’s policies will set in motion the kind of disaffection which led to the country’s breakup in 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh.

India’s next move

The S-400 may seem like a stopgap arrangement until the PAD system attains maturity. However, the Russian weapon is likely to remain as a backup in case PAD gets delayed. Considering India’s history of defence production, delays are inevitable. India should, therefore, explore the possibility of producing the S-400 locally and also take first dibs on the futuristic S-500 Prometheus – yet another frightening air defence weapon from Russia.


ScanEagle and Integrator may be produced in India

If negotiations with Indian defence and armed forces officials proceed well, India could soon be producing the most advanced Integrator and ScanEagle drones. The Indian Navy and the Indian Army want to deploy these surveillance drones for keeping a close watch from the sky on any surreptitious movements not only in the coastal areas but also on the high seas and land border areas. These unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can very effectively watch and locate the launch pads of the terror groups, who are ready for infiltration into India, specifically in Jammu and Kashmir.
Designed, developed and produced by Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based fully-owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company, it has offered these highly advanced and most effective maritime and overland surveillance systems to the Indian armed forces, which will greatly boost the capabilities of Indian security agencies to keep a close watch on the Pakistani terrorist infiltration from across the line of control and the international border in Jammu and Kashmir. The company describes the ScanEagle as agile, virtually undetectable, and on station until the job is done. According to a company official, the hardworking ScanEagle delivers persistent imagery on land or at sea at a fraction of cost of other surveillance methods. These drones can keep continuous surveillance day and night.

 The Integrators are the latest unmanned aerial systems with the ability to carry out longer missions with larger payloads. The Integrator has an empty structure weight of 36+ kg with a maximum payload of 18 kg and a maximum take-off weight of 61.2 kgs including the fuel. This UAS is powered by reciprocating piston engine developing eight horsepower and runs on heavy fuel or auto gas. The vehicle is designed for a maximum speed of 90 knots with a service ceiling of 20,000 feet.
Though after the 26-11 Mumbai terror attack, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have deployed many systems like automatic identification systems (AIS) in the over 7000 kms long coastline, the two category of drones on offer from Insitu Pacific, Australia is expected to dramatically change the surveillance capabilities of the Indian maritime security agencies and forces deployed on borders to prevent terrorist infiltrations.
During a visit to the Insitu facility in Brisbane, a senior official of the company Brad Jeismann revealed that the company is engaged in serious discussion with Indian private sector companies to set up production facilities in India for supply not only to the Indian armed forces but also for exports. According to Brad, “any acquisition of unmanned aerial systems would consider the overall architecture of the system and not just the platform. We have had a number of discussions with a number of Indian companies on what could be possible to support our Make and Buy India strategy.
It has been really enlightening to go ahead and conduct these discussions. We have been quite positive that we can produce some elements in the country.”
The ScanEagle has been under production since early last decade and in use with the US and Australian maritime agencies since the middle of last decade. The ScanEagle was deployed with US Maritime command in 2004 and a year later US Navy acquired these UAS. In 2006 the Australian Navy deployed the ScanEagle.
The US Air Force also acquired these UAS in 2008. Insitu has been constantly engaged in enhancing its surveillance capabilities and it has now evolved into a most effective aerial tool to keep a track on the intruding vessels from the sea. The ScanEagle has by now accumulated over 7,00,000 combat flying hours. Also described as ‘Low Altitude Low Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System’, the ScanEagle has latest technologies that include the synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligence and electro-optical infrared payloads. With these advanced systems onboard, the UAS automatically detects, highlights and tracks sea surface contacts including fast boats, small wooden and rubberised vessels and even people on board these insignificant looking boats.
 The UAS provides thumbnail images and locations of detected objects for sensor operators. These onboard systems enable cross- cuing of other sensors for interrogation and classification. Explaining its capabilities, Brad said that it allows passive search and tracking for covert environments such as drug interdiction and even submarine periscope detection. With 24 hours constant scanning capabilities it can oversee eight times faster and eight times larger areas than the current available UAS. This is why these UAS have been widely deployed even in the AfPak areas. It can focus very closely over 30 nautical miles area and no small fishing boat can escape its eyes. With night vision and dual imaging capabilities, the UAS while observing land areas, can even read car number plates and see the driver sitting inside. Even if somebody is hiding in the shadow of a tree, the ScanEagle and Integrator can observe that person closely. Hence, these UAS have been found to be very effective in keeping a close watch over border areas to prevent any intrusion of terrorist elements or even drug smugglers.
The ScanEagles are 5.1 feet long and 10.2 feet wingspan, with a maximum take-off weight of 22 kg; performance ceiling of 19,500 feet and a maximum horizontal speed of 80 knots, requires only 60 watt onboard power source. The UAS has software application with state-of-the-art user interface which provides full motion video [FMV] and processing, exploitation and dissemination [PED] tools. These enhance and improve the FMV using features such as video stabilisation and automatic contrast enhancement to get the most of collected imagery.
 These transform raw data into actionable intelligence using the software exploitation tools enabling accurate real world measurements. The system features plug-and-play computers, vision and metadata processing capabilities to extricate, improve, edit or delete information contained in media or metadata. Hence the UAS provides small footprint solution for command and control of unmanned vehicles and payloads. It enables a single operator to operate multiple unmanned vehicles from one workstation and manage vehicle sensor command and control features on open architecture design that is easily modified using the software development kit.
The designers of Integrator and ScanEagle describe these as multi mission capability platforms which can operate in very dense environments. ScanEagle and Integrator UAS can be launched from a very small 18 meter operational craft or research vessel. These UAS have a very flexible hub and spoke configurations at an offshore base and create an adhoc communications network to keep ground troops aware and informed. The UAS has surveillance range of over 200 kms.
Insitu has been in discussion with the Indian Navy since last five years and in 2013 the company was invited to showcase its capabilities in India. Asked if the Indian armed forces have displayed any serious procurement interests, Brad said that these are being discussed and understood by the Indian Navy and Indian Army. Brad talked of a complicating factor in delayed release of the Defence Procurment Procedure 2016 of the Indian Defence Ministry to work out best methodology and define and finalize ASQRs as well. Brad was confident of the technological abilities of Indian partners to produce these in India. Insitu Pacific is enthused by the Boeing-Tata joint venture partnership in Hyderabad to produce fuselage of the aircraft.