Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coming Up...

An update on India's AEW&C programme.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Indian Navy Fighter RFI: Lockheed To Respond With Both F-35B & C

Lockheed-Martin plans to respond to the Indian Navy's recent RFI for a new generation carrier-based figher with two parallel dockets on the STOVL F-35B and the carrier variant F-35C. While it was initially thought that the F-35B would be the variant offered (since it appeared a logical replacement for India's Sea Harrier jump jets), Lockeed-Martin Biz Development (India) VP Orville Prins told me and a few other journalists today that Lockheed-Martin is conducting simulation and analysis studies to support the team's supposition that the F-35C -- built for a steam catapult launch off aircraft carriers -- is also capable of short take-offs from ski-jumps. The simulation and analysis will take into account various stress and strain parameters. The RFI to Lockheed-Martin simply requested information on the F-35 as a potential future carrier-based asset for the Indian Navy, and did not specify a variant. While LM has provided the Navy with programme-level briefings it will shortly begin a round of technical briefings on both the F-35 variants it plans to offer.

Prins cannot ever resist a swipe at the Saab folks. Asked about the other potential contenders in the Indian Navy fighter competition, he scoffed, "The Sea Gripen? What are they talking about? That's a paper plane."


PHOTOS: Rohtang Tunnel Project Kicked Off

Photos Courtesy DPR Defence

Dassault Reiterates Pitch To IAF For 40 Fast-Track Rafales

Senior Dassault officials in France briefed visiting Indian Air Force AOC-in-C Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal KK Nowhar, about the Rafale and reiterated the company's willingness/ability to rapidly supply 40 Rafales to the IAF as a stopgap ahead of the MMRCA competition results. Dassault's pitch plays on the IAF squadron depletions, and the assertion that none of the other MMRCA contenders can deliver new jets as quickly as it can. The offer is a reiteration of what French prez Nicolas Sarkozy brought with him when he visited India in January 2008 -- ostensibly to help the IAF maintain its combat edge in the face of a possible delay in the outcome of the MMRCA competition. French Air Force Rafales did not participate in the just concluded Garuda-2010 air exercise, though it has been decided that four Rafales will fly to India at the end of next year for Garuda-2011.

Photo by Juan Antonio Cifuentes

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Stealth In India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)

The official CAD images above, from the Advanced Projects & Technologies (AP&T) directorate of India's Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) provide further perspective on the low-observable design elements that are known to be going into India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), known for a while now to be a stealth aircraft concept. Serpentine air intakes (with minimum flow distortion and robust pressure recovery) and internal weapons bays, depicted in the images above, are some of the most critical nose-on low observability design elements going into the programme.

As part of the multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) currently on for the AMCA -- a wind tunnel model of which was first publicly displayed at AeroIndia 2009 -- that design-based stealth features will include further optimized airframe shaping, edge matching, body conforming antennae and a low IR signature through nozzle design, engine bay cooling and work on reduced exhaust temperature. RAMs, RAPs, special coatings for polycarbonate canopy and precision manufacturing will all be part of the effort to make the AMCA India's first stealth airplane.

With aerodynamic design optimisation near complete, the AMCA's broad specifications are final. The aicraft will have a weight of 16-18 tons [16-18 tons with 2-tons of internal weapons and 4-tons of internal fuel with a combat ceiling of 15-km, max speed of 1.8-Mach at 11-km. The AMCA will be powered by 2 x 90KN engines with vectored nozzles. For the record, the official ADA document that will finally be processed this year by the government towards formal project launch describes the AMCA as a "multirole combat aircraft for air superiority, point air defence, deep penetration/strike, special missions".

An earlier post on the AMCA is here.

VIDEO: Kaveri Engine Thrust Nozzle

Exercise Garuda Wraps Up

Coming Up...

Tonight, a look at the stealth features of India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). New images and post. Stay tuned.

VIDEO: Kaveri Turbofan Demonstrating Dry Thrust & Afterburner

Friday, June 25, 2010

India's Mini Gas Turbine Engine For UAV/UCAV Programme [Updated]

Here it is -- India's indigenous minaturised gas turbine technology demonstrator for UAVs/UCAVs. The Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) -- this photo is from a presentation they made not long ago -- has according to the presentation completed "preliminary design, configuration and analysis" of the engine, under development ostensibly to power AURA, India's stealth UCAV concept, and the Nirbhay cruise missile currently under development by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL). Will update this post with specifications and more photographs in a few days.

India's First C-130J Ready For Flight Test Phase

The first Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules for India has completed painting at the company's Marietta facility. The aircraft now enters flight test in preparation for delivery at the end of the year.

Photo Copyright Lockheed-Martin

Farewell, INS Vela

The Indian Navy bids farewell to its second last Foxtrot-class submarine INS Vela (S40) at Visakhapatnam this evening. She was commissioned 37 years ago in Riga, Latvia. The boat's crest depicted a sawfish.

Coming Up...

I've gotten my hands on what could be the first photograph of the Indian state-owned Gas Turbine Research Establishment's (GTRE) miniaturised gas turbine engine for India's UAV/UCAV programme. Photo and details tonight. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: India's LCA AESA Radar Programme Detailed

The images above, seen here for the first time, are from official material on the Indian AESA radar project for the LCA Tejas, shared with LiveFist. Indian state-owned radar developer Electronics R&D Establishment (LRDE) is in the process of identifying a development partner (DP) for an indigenous AESA radar for future tranches of the Tejas and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and is likely to make a final decision shortly. The radar has begun development in the country. According to official updated material made available to LiveFist, the fully solid-state X-band radar is being developed with the following modes:

Air-to-Air: Multi-target detection and tracking / Multi target ACM (Air-to-Air combat mode) / High resolution raid assessment

Air-to-Ground: High Resolution mapping (SAR mode) / AGR – Air to Ground Ranging / RBM – Real Beam Mapping / DBS – Doppler Beam Sharpening / Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) / Ground Moving Target Tracking (GMTT) / Terrain Avoidance (TA)

Air-to-Sea: Sea search and multi target tracking / Range Signature (RS) / Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)

As I've reported here before, the development partner that LRDE identifies will be responsible for "detailed design, development and realisation" of (a) antenna panel constisting of main antenna, guard antenna and sidelobe cancellation antenna, (b) transmit/receive modules/groups, (c) RF distribution network consisting of RF manifold/combiners, RF interface, (d) antenna/beam control chain consisting of T/R control and T/R group control, and (e) array calibration/BITE among other areas.

PHOTOS: Indian Navy Stealth Frigate Tarkash Launched

The second of the three follow on Talwar-class stealth frigates being built by Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia was ceremoniously launched on 23 Jun 10 by Mrs Ramma Dewan, wife of Vice Admiral D K Dewan, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff. The launching ceremony was attended by Governer of Kaliningrad Region, The Commander-in-Chief of Baltic Fleet of Russian Federation and other senior dignitaries from the Russian side in addition to Senior Indian Navy officers posted in Russia.

The frigate, christened Tarkash during the ceremony, belongs to the elite Talwar Class of ships, three of which namely Talwar, Trishul and Tabar are already in service with the Indian Navy. The first follow on ship, christened Teg was launched on 27 Nov 09. These frigates have been constructed to suit Indian Navy's specific requirements and are highly potent platforms. Their mission in Navy spans the entire spectrum of Naval warfare, viz Air, Surface and Sub-surface. The ships are capable of operating in Blue waters, and are at the forefront of the Indian Navy task forces.

The features of the follow-on ships have been upgraded to a higher level of sophistication with the experience gained by the Navy in operation of the first three ships. 'Tarkash', which means 'Quiver', will also carry supersonic Brahmos missile system with vertical launch capability, which is an Indo-Russian joint venture. True to its name, Tarkash carries cutting edge weaponry which includes advanced Surface to Air missiles, 100 mm Caliber Guns (artillery), Close Range Guns, Torpedos, Rocket Launchers and associated Fire Control Systems. The ship will also carry one Russian built Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopter Ka-31.

The ship is powered by four powerful Gas Turbines giving it a top speed of 30 knots. The vessel is fitted with state-of-the-art Navigation, Communication and Electronic Warfare Equipment. It is also equipped with highly advanced Radar and Sonar systems for early detection and warning. 'Tarkash' is scheduled to join the Indian Navy in the second half of 2011, post commissioning in Russia.

Photos Courtesy Indian Navy / DPR Defence

Coming Up...

An exclusive first-time account of India's indigenous AESA radar effort for the Light Combat Aircraft -- never before seen images, schematics, graphics and more. Also a post on the phased-array radar effort for India's indigenous AEW&C platform. Both posts coming up later today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

UAV INDIA Part 3: India's Unmanned Aircraft Vision

The first slide you see shows an unmanned network centric battlefield scenario 2020 and is possibly the first such depiction by the Indian military research establishment (the Phantom Ray and Neuron are representative!). The second slide depicts India's UAV roadmap as it stands today, seen here on LiveFist for the first time. Apart from the AURA, every other Indian UAV platform is either in trials or in some stage of prototype development. DRDO is now developing a Mk-II Nishant with higher endurance and service ceiling and an Mk-II Lakshya target drone with more autonomous features.

Copyright ADE/DRDO

Exercise Garuda Enters Final Phase, Su-30MKIs Swing Roled!

IAF Statement: The exercise Garuda 2010, presently underway at Istres Air Base in France, between the air forces of India France and Singapore has entered its final phase today. Over 60 missions have been successfully flown and the exercise would conclude on 25 Jun 2010.

During the exercise, the six IAF SU-30MKI along with the Mirage-2000-5 and Rafale and the F-16 were engaged in various air defence manoeuvres such as implementation of "no fly zones" and large force engagements during day and night. The SU-30 also took part in the high value air borne asset protection as well as their protection busting missions. The IL-78 refuellers of the IAF and the KC-135 refuellers of the French Air Force also participated in various missions carrying out cross refuelling (i,e, refuelling the fighters of the other air forces). Refuelling denials were practised making these missions more difficult.

A unique feature to which the SU-30 were subjected was the "swing roles". In this type of missions, the same aircraft is simultaneously put to offensive as well as defensive roles. The E-3 AWACS provided the radar coverage during the Ex. The IAF special forces team "Garud" have so far carried out two jumps each by day and night along with the French special forces. Our IL-76 is undertaking the task of these drops.

Air Mshl KK Nowhar of the IAF who visited the contingent involved in the Garuda-2010 said - " Our participation in the Ex has reinforced the manner in which we conduct our operations. It has also helped us refine our doctrine. In future, there is a slim chance that a country would operate in isolation especially in a co-operative defence scenario. Thus knowing each others best practices in terms of tactics, techniques and procedures is the main objective of this exercise, which is also a part of the on-going Indo-French Defence Cooperation".

According to Air Attaché, Embassy of India, France, Air Cmde SK Ghotia who is also the chief coordinator of the IAF-FAF Cooperation, Garuda-2010 is a milestone in the Indo-French defence cooperation. This has been the widest scope ever accomplished between three nations. The Ex brought together the best fighting machines of the world such as the Sukhois, F16s, Rafale and Mirage-2000-5. Our pilots flew in these cockpits and has gained tremendous learning experience. The engineers, technicians and all other members of the team have also benefitted substantially from the exercise.

The intensity of the Ex has been increased gradually to enhance the understanding of the contingent members beginning with basic One-Vs-One missions and limited BVR capabilities, and then progressing to multi-aircraft strikes and counter air missions with complete BVR capability, and concluding with Large Force Engagement sorties. The IAF contingent is expected to return back to India by July 03, 2010.

Photos Courtesy Indian Air Force / DPR Defence

R.I.P. Colonel Neeraj Sood, CO 18 RR

Colonel Neeraj Sood, Commanding Officer of the Indian Army's 18 Rashtriya Rifles was killed carrying out counter insurgency operations in Kuligam in Kupwara Distt in J&K last night. His unit laid two ambushes to dominate the area; one of them led by the company commander, made contact with militants. On getting information, Col Neeraj Sood, along with his Quick Reaction Team, being the closest at the Company Operating Base, rushed to the site. In the ensuing firefight the Commanding Officer sustained a gun shot wound to his head and succumbed to his injuries. The Army is presently continuing its operation, in the area.

Colonel Neeraj Sood was commissioned into 8 Rajputana Rifles in Dec 1992, and is an alumni of National Defence Academy, having passed out with the 91 Regular Course from IMA, Dehradun. A keen sportsman, the officer had extensive counter insurgency experience. He has been an instructor at the Army's prestigious Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Variengte and had a high profile. The officer is survived by his wife, Priti, a house wife and an eleven year old daughter, Mishika, who is studying in class five. Rest in peace.

UAV INDIA Part 2: The Rustom-H MALE UAV Detailed

Tonight: Part 3 -India's Unmanned Aircraft Vision (Series Concludes)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back Tuesday

Away from Delhi. Back Tuesday. Part-2 of the UAV series then.

Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Friday, June 18, 2010

UAV INDIA Part 1: First Ever Impressions Of AURA, India's UCAV

What you're looking at here are the first ever manifestations of what India's UCAV, codenamed AURA, could look like. These are images from an official presentation (see slide) by India's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) director PS Krishnan, outlining AURA (Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft), a programme that was nameless and obscure in the public domain before it was reported on here on LiveFist and on Headlines Today. As you can see from the slide, the ADE describes the AURA as a "self defending" high speed reconnaisance UAV with a "weapon firing capability", which seems a typically laboured way of describing the obvious. With the programme still in its project definition stage, the images used in the slide above are likely just representative (the tacky flag-on-underbelly routine a-la Lockheed Nighthawk with stars and stripes), though it's a definite indication of how the programme's scientists are thinking. It's all fully in line with what former DRDO chief controller for Aeronautics said in 2007: that India's combat drone would be a stealthy flying-wing concept aircraft with internal weapons and a turbofan engine.

Tomorrow: Part II -- The Rustom-H MALE UAV Detailed

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coming Up...

An exclusive series on India's UAVs, what's been achieved so far, and what lies ahead. Stay tuned.

Sonia Gandhi To Inaugurate Rohtang Tunnel Project On June 28

Photos Courtesy DPR Defence