Sunday, January 31, 2010

DRDO's Defence Science Journal Calls For Cutting Edge Papers

TYPHOON TOUR Part 2: The Typhoon For The Indian Navy?

MANCHING, GERMANY: "We are very interested in responding to the RFI that we have received from the Indian Navy. We plan to be a contender in the competition to be the Indian Navy's next-generation fighter aircraft," Dr Matthias Schmidlin told me during a brief interaction at the Eurofighter's final assembly facility forty minutes outside Munich. The Vice President of the rather lofty sounding India Campaign Directorate for EADS Military Air Systems has a nervous air about him -- he constantly glances at pre-prepared notes for a television interview, even though my for-the-record questions are mostly of a general nature. But when I rounded off the brief interview with a question about the Indian Navy's interest in the Typhoon, he smiles for the first time.

For one thing, a Sea Typhoon isn't a new idea from any stretch. In the past, there has been talk of the Royal Navy pulling out of the JSF programme in favour of a navalised Eurofighter. The navies of Italy and Spain have also sporadically put forward the idea of putting together a Sea Typhoon and hawking it in the global market. However, so far, no single point of interest has been incentive enough for EADS to proceed with anything even closely resembling a Sea Typhoon prototype. What they do have, however, is a fully finished concept study just waiting to fly off the drawing board. At least, that's what they say.

"A navalised Typhoon may soon be a reality. In fact, we have completed the groundwork for navalising the Typhoon since long and may pursue the respective entry into service based on ongoing campaigns," says Schmidlin. Eurofighter was mildly surprised to receive a request for information, alongside Boeing for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed-Martin for the F-35 and Saab for the conceptual Sea Gripen.

Notwithstanding EADS' claim to have completed "all the groundwork" on the Sea Typhoon concept, navalising the Typhoon, like navalising any fighter jet not initially planned for deck-based operations, will be a onerous task to say the least. Even the fundamental airframe architecture of the Eurofighter seems to suggest that the platform would face serious issues over a range of areas, for instance the placement and configuration of its intakes, which may preclude the possibility of reinforced landing gear. That, in the event, would be only one of the questions that EADS claims it has solved with the Sea Typhoon concept, though it doesn't say how.

Doctrinally, it so happens, the concept of operating a heavy fighter (of the Su-33-class for instance) off aircraft carriers is something the Indian Navy has been toying with for long, though such ideas have been severely pushed about by the fact the very concept of an aircraft carrier force stands doctrinally questioned, albeit not in practice -- India still stands to receive the troubled Vikramaditya and at least two indigenously built aircraft carriers from the Cochin shipyard.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Newly built Eurofighter just after radar testing at the System Testing Center, Manching

Saturday, January 30, 2010

PHOTOS: Kids With Guns At "Know Your Army" Gig in Kolkata

PHOTOS Part 1: Typhoon Ops At Laage AFB, Germany

Photos ©Shiv Aroor

TYPHOON TOUR Part 1: Eurojet Heats Up For Tejas

HALLBERGAMOOS, GERMANY: Emerging from the airport into a desperately snowblown bit of country, I am taken in a small Daimler hatchback to this little commercial spread just outside Munich, southern Germany. On the many slightly deserted buildings, there are no signboards, and everything is covered in fresh powdered snow. My host finally steers his auto into a cavernous subterranean parking lot, where he inserts the vehicle into a slot marked "EJ Visitor". This is the headquarters of Eurojet Turbo GmbH, a four-way partnership of engine-makers from the UK, Italy, France and Germany, that makes the EJ200 turbofan engine, a hunk of metal wizardry that competes hard to power the Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. For an organisation that will have some very important visitors in a few weeks, the offices of Eurojet are surprisingly empty. But then it's clear -- most staff are at test sites and development centers making absolutely sure that everything is spot-on for the gentlemen scheduled to touch down this March.

A team comprising India's Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and the Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) are booked to arrive in Munich early March for what will be their most crucial visit. In what is giving the people at Eurojet, particularly Managing Director Hartmut Tenter great hopes for their product, is the knowledge that the Indian visitors want to discuss certification of the EJ200 for the Tejas. The team has asked to visit test-beds, manufacturing facilities and development centers during their stay.

Discussions between the Indian government and Eurojet are currently at the Q&A phase -- a period post-RFP, where the buyer smoothens out details and calls upon the vendor to explain, clarify or expand anything put forth in their technical bid. A few days ago, Eurojet received a set of 32 such questions from the ADA (Tenter says he is surprised there weren't more), out of which 26 are associated with engineering aspects, while the remaining six pertain to transfer of technology issues. Eurojet faces formidable competition to power the LCA from the American General Electric F-414-400.

OK, now here's the juice. According to Tenter and his team, for the Tejas to be able to take in an EJ200 engine, the engine will need "minor" modifications. These include some changing to the mounting assembly, a different hydraulic pump and an additional generator pack for starters. In addition, engine interfaces might need changes depending on how the LCA is configured. All in all, Eurojet believes its tailor-made EJ200 for the LCA can be ready -- certification tests and all -- in two years flat. Officials at the company point out that one of the biggest downers for their competition is that the F-414-400's intake interface assembly is markedly larger than the F-404 (and, thus, the LCA) and its selection would therefore imply some very serious modifications to the LCA's centre fuselage and intake architecture (in addition to the use of a cone director for airflow). Eurojet insists that the EJ200's installation will require absolutely no airframe and intake changes to the LCA. Both contentions remain unconfirmed at this point.

Even though the LCA new-engine competition and the MMRCA competition are linked for Eurojet (the Eurofighter Typhoon is powered by the EJ200), the company has chosen to keep both campaigns strictly separate.

"When we demonstrated the engine's performance to a team from HAL and DRDO in November last year, they were amazed that there was no thrust droop in the EJ200. The engine is designed to compensate for thrust droop," says Tenter, confident that this and a rapid-fire list of other ostensible unique selling points make the Eurojet a frontrunner in the race.

Tomorrow: Part 2: The Typhoon For The Indian Navy

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Laage AFB, Germany

Friday, January 29, 2010

The PAK-FA's First Flight!

COMING UP: Where The Typhoon For India Stands

Have just finished a sensational, snowblown tour to the Luftwaffe's 73 Fighter Wing at Laage Air Force Base in Germany's north, which houses the country's Eurofighter Typhoon operational training and conversion squadron. Also stopped off at Manching near Munich, where final assembly of the Luftwaffe and Austrian Typhoons takes place. I took the photo above at the Laage's new "six pack" hangar setup -- it shows a Typhoon being marshalled back into its hangar after a forty minute training sortie. More exclusive photos and reports soon.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Rostock-Laage Airfield, Germany

The Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Emerges!

Mixed reactions to the PAK-FA. More details later. I'm still in Germany, reaching Delhi later this evening. Stay tuned.

EXCLUSIVE: Indian Air Force/DRDO's Laser Guided Bomb Trial

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ashok Chakra For 11 Raj Rif Braveheart

The President has awarded Ashok Chakra (Posthumous) to Havildar Rajesh Kumar of 11 Rajputana Rifles. On 01 August 2009, a section of Ghatak team searching the dense forest in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir was subject to intense and indiscriminate firing by terrorists. Havildar Rajesh Kumar, who was leading the section, returned fire and scrambled into the undergrowth to outflank the terrorist. With dogged determination he closed-in around the flank and killed the terrorist. While continuing the search, the team was again engaged by two terrorists positioned upslope. Realizing the danger to the lives of his teammates, Havildar Rajesh Kumar moved to outflank one of the terrorists through a veritable hail of bullets. While closing-in, he sustained gun-shot wounds in the abdomen. Disregarding his grievous wounds, he shot and killed the second terrorist. Bleeding profusely, he moved to outflank the third terrorist from his blind side and engaged him in fierce hand to hand combat killing the terrorist with a burst of fire, before succumbing to his injuries. Havildar Rajesh Kumar showed unparalleled feat of most conspicuous gallantry, fortitude and the rare spirit of self-sacrifice in fighting the terrorists.

Monday, January 25, 2010

LiveFist Visiting Typhoon Base This Week

Headlines Today has been invited to visit the Typhoon facilities in Germany. I'm leaving tomorrow for a two-day visit to the Typhoon's final assembly line at Manching and then to the Rostock-Laage air force base on Germany's Baltic coast where I will spend a day with an operational Typhoon squadron dedicated to training and type conversion. Will also interview senior executives at Eurofighter and Eurojet. I've got a host of questions I'll be asking, but if LiveFist readers want any specific questions answered, feel free to put them in the comments section. Will check before leaving. Will blog from Germany. Have a good week, all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

PHOTO: Another One Of The Sea Gripen

Just got this invitation from Saab for DefExpo next month. It has this little pic of the Sea Gripen.

Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Former PAF Chief Infiltrates Indian Govt Advert! Brilliant!

What a howler! Former PAF chief ACM Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed in a Govt of India print advert for a campaign against female foeticide. Superb! Who were they going for? PV Naik?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: LCA Tejas Tableau For Republic Day Parade

The LCA Tejas tableau that debuts on January 26. This mock-up shows the aircraft carrying Astra and R-73 missiles. Remember, 2010 is the year for initial op clearance for the aircraft. Wondering why they didn't just have one of the PVs flying in the flypast.

Photo Courtesy DPR Photo Division

PREVIEW: INS Shivalik Frigate Debuts On Navy Tableau

Photo Courtesy DPR Photo Division

EXCLUSIVE: Barak-2/LRSAM First Flight This Year

The first flight test of the Rs 2606.02-crore Indo-Israeli Barak-2/LR-SAM air/point defence missile is scheduled to take place about seven months from now in August 2010. A "control and navigation flight test" of the LR-SAM is one of DRDO's targets for the year 2010. Sources indicate that the missile is currently undergoing simulated tests in Israel, which will be followed by in-loop simulations of the guidance system in Hyderabad from sometime in May. Israeli Navy chief Vice Admiral Elizer Marom and his Indian counterpart Admiral Nirmal Verma exchanged notes on the missile programme on January 19 during their official discussions in South Block. I'd broken the story in 2005/06 about the Barak-2 deal being signed, so it's going be be pretty cool watching the thing fly. More updates soon.

Indian Army Puts Out Slew Of Small Arms RFIs

The Indian Army is in the market for a series of new small arms systems and accessories. Requests for Information from global contractors have been issued this month for a new 5.56 mm Close Quarter Battle Carbine (CQB Carbine), a new 7.62 mm Light Machine Gun (LMG) -- both with optical sights -- and a list of eight accessories for its Israeli TAR-21 assault rifles, including telescopic sights, accessory rails, dual magazine clips, self luminous reflex sight for the UBGL and single eye night vision with head band.

The Indian Army has also put out a crucial RFI for the successor to its L-70 and ZU-23MM-2B guns, but more on that later.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Rangiya (Assam)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shaurya Missile On Display On Jan 26 Parade!

The K-15 Shaurya cannisterised missile will be on display for the first time ever on January 26!

India's Next Chief of Army Staff

Lt Gen VK Singh, Chief of Army Staff Designate takes over on March 31. He issued a statement today saying, "I am grateful for this honour and the responsibility which our leaders have bestowed on me. I shall carry out my duties well to lead one of the world’s finest Army. It will be my endeavor to lead the brave men while keeping up with the best tradition of the Indian Army and upholding the Indian Constitution."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smile Bob, Three Billion More Coming Your Way

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony with his visiting American counterpart Robert Gates.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mail Today: India Losing Its Submarine Supremacy Over Pakistan

Copyright Mail Today

Israel Navy Chief In India

Indian Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma receiving Vice Admiral Elizer Marom, Commander-in-Chief of the Israeli Navy at South Block, New Delhi.

Photo Courtesy DPR/Indian Navy

Monday, January 18, 2010

Silent Service In Deep Trouble

The Indian Navy has sounded another warning to the government over critically low submarine force levels. An internal report holds damning testimony to the sorry state of affairs of India's silent service, and warns in no uncertain terms that if action is not take now, it may soon be too late. Watch Headlines Today's special report today at 7.30PM.

Friday, January 15, 2010

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Pinaka Launcher From Commissioning Unit At Army Day Parade

The soldier in the first picture was kind enough to give me a nice demo of this Pinaka's launcher hydraulics. This is from the 1880 Rocket Regiment (Pinaka), the first of two units armed with the indigenous MBRL system. Two more Pinaka regiments will come into existence in 2010, taking the total number of Rocket Regiments (Pinaka) to four.

Posted from Mobile/Photos by Shiv Aroor

PHOTOS: Fire Power At Army Day 2010

Arjun tanks, Smerch MBRL at the 62nd Army Day Parade.

Posted from Mobile/Photos by Shiv Aroor

Indian Para Commando With A TAR-21 Rifle

The cover of the brochure just released at the 62nd Army Day Parade. The Arjun tank has made a reappearance this year. Stay tuned for photos.

Posted from Mobile/Photos by Shiv Aroor

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Canada's First C-130J Rolls Out

The first Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules produced for Canada leaves the company's paint facility in Marietta, Georgia. The first three Indian C-130Js are already in various stages of production.

Photo Courtesy Lockheed-Martin