Friday, December 31, 2010

Cost To Develop Tejas Mk-2: $542-million, Mk-1 FOC Only By Dec 2012

The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which oversees the development of India's Light Combat Aircraft Tejas programme will be sanctioned $542.44-million (Rs 2431.55-crore) to develop the Tejas Mk-2, making up Phase-III of the programme's full scale engineering development (FSED). Also, the deadline for final operational clearance for the Tejas Mk-1 is December 2012.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

India's Joint Defence HQ Orders Study On J-20

Two days before retiring from service, Air Marshal SC Mukul, the chief of India's Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) has instructed a Group Captain-rank officer at HQ IDS to prepare a report on the recently revealed Chinese stealth fighter prototype. The report will be India's official assessment of what, by all accounts, is a Chinese fifth generation platform. The study will, of course, rely mostly on open source material -- photographs, graphics, unofficial assessments -- on the J-20, though a source of mine indicates that the the officer entrusted with authoring the report will also take inputs from the IAF Directorate of Operations, the Directorate of Naval Aviation, the advanced projects and AMCA divisions of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), the Aircraft Research & Design Centre at HAL, apart from the R&AW. The report will be provided to the Indian Air Force and the office of the National Security Advisor. The HQ IDS orders studies on foreign weapon programmes as a matter of routine. These assessments, obviously remain classified though files on Pakistan's air force strength did leak in 2007.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"LCA-Navy Not What We Want, But It's Ours": FONA

"It may not be what we want, but it is our own aircraft," says the Indian Navy's Flag Officer Naval Aviation (FONA) Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai on the LCA Navy in an interview to FORCE magazine. He was asked how effective the LCA Navy would be for a carrier-based role given that it "only an eight ton platform". The officer's response: "I wish wish we could straightaway develop a Rafale. But seriously, we have to look at the Indian Navy and it commitment towards indigenisation. I agree that we have made a modest start, but it has been a huge learning experience. LCA Navy will remain a modest platform with an uprated engine which will give us adequate capability at sea. While it is easy to buy from abroad, sometimes it is extremely difficult to support those platforms. Our past experiences tell us that it is worth committing resources to develop our own assets."

Also, unless the LCA Navy decides to fly tomorrow or the day after, looks like it will be missing its December first flight schedule. What a pity.

Quote Text Copyright FORCE

PHOTOS: The F-16 Conformal Refuelling Probe For MMRCA

Found these photos in the new edition of Lockheed-Martin's Code One magazine of the F-16 Conformal Air Refuelling Tank System (CARTS), a Skunk Works led effort that began on a UAE Air Force Block 60 in 2007, specifically to meet an Indian MMRCA requirement.

The report quotes CARTS engineer Don Thompson as saying, “We needed a test aircraft version of the Block 60 aircraft. The test Block 60 aircraft in the US was tied up with avionics modification and integration to support MMRCA field trials, and we needed a dedicated aircraft for the CARTS portion of the field trials demonstration. We modified the aircraft in the UAE because it was easier and quicker than bringing another Block 60 F-16 into the US to modify and then send it right back to the UAE on the way to India for the field trials."

The report notes that "During the flight testing and MMRCA demonstrations, the CARTS-equipped F-16 successfully received fuel from both a modified DC-10 and an Indian Air Force Ilyushin Il-78 tanker aircraft and made approximately forty aerial refueling contacts. The speed envelope, as tested, is in the range of 250 to 300 knots. The pilot flies the probe into the refueling basket of the drogue from just below at a closing speed of no more than ten knots."

Photos: Lockheed-Martin

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There Are Issues, But We're Reasonably Happy: IAF Vice Chief On Tejas IOC

I asked IAF vice chief Air Marshal PK Barbora this morning about rumoured issues that the service had with the LCA Tejas IOC parameters. Here's his reply in full: "Any venture of this nature, making a product from scratch always takes time. It is not only in India, even Western countries have taken 15-20 years to produce an aircraft. India's first venture has taken time. Ultimately, we are reaching the goal that we had looked for. Albeit a little late, but it's coming through and it will definitely help us move into the future. [Regarding the specific issue of IOC], there are no serious problems that we visualise that cannot be tackled. There are issues. For the IOC part of it, we are quite reasonably happy. Hopefully by the end of next year, we would have formed the first squadron. We would have flown the requisite number of hours which we have stipulated for ourselves. For stability, we are planning initially to have them in Bangalore. Teething problems will be there. But we will resolve them."

Air Marshal Barbora, an experienced fighter pilot, retires at the end of this month. Livefist wishes him the very best.

Base Image by Pavel Romsy

DRDO Demonstrates Indigenous Aerostat

The DRDO today announced that it had demonstrated its indigenously designed and developed aerostat system to the Indian services. The system, a statement said, was capable of carrying electro-optic and COMINT payloads for surveillance. The statement added, "Trials of the system were concluded on Christmas. These included surveillance all over Agra and interception of variety of communications. ELINT and RADAR payloads are also being developed indigenously. This platform is a result of development of a number of high end technologies in the field of aerodynamic design of balloon, fabrics, fabrication, hydraulic winch, electro optic tether, high pressure helium cylinder manifold, active pressure control system etc in association with large and medium sized Industrial partners."

More from the statement: The complete balloon systems, ground based command and control systems, and payloads have been integrated for full exploitation. The gimbals, with 360 degree azimuth freedom and high degree freedom in elevation is highly stabilized and can carry out steering, scanning and tracking with high precision. The payload also carries thermal camera for surveillance during night and in low visibility condition. The electronic intelligence payload carries a communication intelligence system for capturing and analyzing all types of communications in air. Health monitoring of aerostat and simultaneous command and controlling of payload from ground control station has been demonstrated. The system will be useful for three services, paramilitary forces as well as have civilian applications including disaster management. This milestone comes in the wake of new generation high altitude aerostats/airships that will be developed by DRDO. Dr. Prahlada thankfully acknowledged the participation of other DRDO labs, industry and users (Army, Air force).

Photos Courtesy DRDO

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Muslim" Think Tank To PAF: Get UCAVs To Counter IAF Strength, Quotes Koran To Support Suggestion

A Kuala Lumpur-based institute Grande Strategy (no kidding), which describes itself as a "Muslim think-tank providing strategy and analysis from an Islamic perspective" has published an online "strategy paper" today (by a defence analyst called Meinhaj Hussein) suggests UCAVs as a "possible solution in countering India's military aviation threat to Pakistan." The paper recommends that the PAF develop this proposed UCAV in the same way that it developed the JF-17. It even quotes from the Koran to pitch UCAVs as the assymetric answer to India's fifth generation push.

After a rather droning (no pun intended) primer on the advantages/disadvantages of UCAVs, the paper goes on to recommend that UCAVs in Pakistani service are the only platforms that will be able to counter the "larger number of fifth generation fighters" India will have by 2025.

Some excerpts:
  • India will begin to field PAKFA fighter jets from Russia and may also develop her own from technology bought from the Russians. While the latter may be discounted as another employment opportunity for DRDO and related third-rate Indian bureaucracies, PAKFA and any specific design built for India by the Russians will provide a challenge that would be wholly new to the subcontinent: a 5th generation fighter. Further, it may not be farfetched to imagine a JSF purchase for the IAF, given the blossoming long-term partnership developing between India and the United States. While the credentials for the JSF are still unclear and the jury may be out on its air-to-air combat capabilities, the PAKFA is a clear threat. The PAKFA was designed to counter the F-22 in air combat. The threat is perhaps best defined as reasonable stealth, super cruise, high altitude and high speed. The PAKFA takes BVR combat to a new level that the airframe of the JF-17, by design, cannot compete with. BVR missiles launched from a high-high profile aids missile range and speed, and reduces the threat, range and effectiveness of Pakistani BVR launches in response. With AWACs and refuelers in the sky, such threats would be a menace, particularly with longer ranged BVR missiles from Russia. By 2025, India could field PAKFAs and perhaps even JSFs in the hundreds, drastically changing the military balance in the Subcontinent. Pakistan can either go bankrupt attempting to counter this new threat or she can become obsolete, back to a decade similar to the 1990s. Or Pakistan can develop UCAVs.

  • The general approach has been to counter India's provocative procurements on a largely symmetric basis. Increasing number of manned fighter jets have been reciprocated by increases in Pakistan's inventory of manned jets. Purchase of AEW assets have been matched by an equivalent purchase. Nuclear tests were responded to with equivalent nuclear tests as were ballistic missile tests. However, this asymmetry is increasingly impractical because of differing size and economic development
    between the two countries.Meanwhile, India is now slated to acquire a large number of 5th generation planes in a 50-50
    partnership with the Russians. Instead of attempting to break the bank and procure increasingly complex (and expensive) 5th generation fighters with the added exponential increase in maintenance and other operational costs, a solution may be to respond asymmetrically. Evidence of responding with positive asymmetry can perhaps be found in the Quran: The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better. Al Quran, 41:33
The rest is pretty much a suggestion that Pakistan look about acquiring the X-47 Pegasus. Hoo boy. Read the rest here [PDF]. No pressure, though. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

COLUMN: An IAF View Of The FGFA Partnership

The following column, exclusive to Livefist, is by a senior IAF officer, who for obvious reasons, cannot be named. I sought his views on the FGFA agreement and have with a measure of effort persuaded him to give Livefist his views on the programme in his own words. The following piece is the result. The views here are his own, and written in his capacity as an officer of the Indian Air Force. As a matter of detail, he has permitted me to mention here that he is a fighter pilot who has been involved in two major Indo-Russian aircraft programmes in the 1990s. He has also permitted me to proofread his piece but only for purposes of clarity and continuity. His piece, in full:

At the outset, it should be clear to all concerned, especially the Indian taxpayer, that this "mother of all aircraft programmes", i.e. the agreement between India and Russia to jointly develop and manufacture an advanced fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) will deliver a formidable combat platform. While all development projects have their attendant hurdles, delays and overruns, we as a nation must be sure that the end result meets all performance parameters. As of now, there is no reason to believe that there will be any undue problems in the programme.

However, it is the idea that the FGFA is a "joint design and development programme" that is troubling to many in the IAF who have dealt with all parties concerned, i.e. Hindustan Aeronautics, Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB), UAC and ROE. Before proceeding to the ground realities, let us first understand what the FGFA is being projected to offer India over and above the material delivery of a combat platform. It is being projected as a partnership between India and Russia, where both sides will co-design, co-develop, co-engineer and co-manufacture the aircraft. The idea is also that in the course of the programme, HAL's design inputs to the FGFA will spin-off and accrue into an indigenous capability to build next generation combat platforms using strictly in-house resources. There are several other projected benefits of the programme, but these two will suffice for the purpose of this article.

Currently, the SDB has designed three prototypes (1 flying, 2 ground testbed platforms) which are of single cockpit (i.e. T-50) configuration. The idea of the preliminary design contract signed on December 21 is that HAL will be the design partner for the twin-seat variant of the aircraft. Some facts: The fact that the Russians are now testing the single-seat T-50/PAK FA does not mean that they do not have the necessary design data to fabricate a twin-seat/trainer platform. In fact, it is just the opposite. Remember that the PAK FA programme was initiated in the late 1980s, which means the standard approach of the time was to build aircraft along with a mandatory trainer variant for conversion training as well as squadron service, as has been the standard practice with Soviet aircraft engineering. Furthermore, it is a known fact in the IAF that the SDB has, in a layperson's terms, a blueprint to fabricate a twin-seat version of the T-50. If so, then the purported design inputs being offered from India's side are worth pausing to think about. What are these design inputs? Are they really design inputs?

Since 2006, ever since HAL had expressed its keenness to co-implement the IAF's custom specifications in the new platform, there has been a debate between the definition of design input and specification/modification input. Let us be clear that the T-50 prototype that is currently flying is the work of years of design engineers from one of the most skilled design bureaus of the former Soviet. This is not suggest that HAL does not have any design strengths, but merely to say that in this particular programme, the space for any inputs simply does not exist. In simple words, even if HAL is partnering in the twin-seat version, their job will involve no/negligible inputs as far as airframe is concerned. A common perception that needs to be corrected is that adding Indian avionics, BEL radar receiver, DRDO weapon systems or composite control surface elements constitutes "design input". It does not. That falls in the realm of custom modification which is basically what IAF/HAL had undertaken with the Su-30 programme in late 1990s. However, in all fairness it must be said that the scope for composites in the airframe holds some innovative possibilities from Indian laboratories. Be that as it may, the design of the platform will not be changed.

When the preliminary design of the T-50 was frozen some years ago, the IAF provided requested inputs on platform preference. Our inputs basically fell in four categories, i.e. two-pilot configuration, custom sensors/avionics, options for turbofan engine and weapon systems. Additionally, the IAF was of the view that it would be desirable to have a lower empty weight, a parameter which would to some degree be met with composites, and for which work has already begun by SDB. While the IAF team tasked with studying the platform/programme proposal was quite satisfied with the basic design, the above four parameters were crucial for our own future operations and perspective planning. The requirements were duly endorsed at all levels and met with the concurrence of HAL engineers. As far as the IAF is concerned, HAL will not be a design partner in the FGFA programme. For IAF purposes in the project, HAL is a integration/workshare partner that will co-inspect the joint modification study and execute in conjunction with SDB/Irkut/ROE. None of these areas justify the prestigious title of "design and development partner".

Finally, the FGFA will be a very competitive platform for IAF, and its first stealth aircraft. And India's involvement even at this late stage in the programme is still desirable to just being a customer like in the case of all other platforms barring Su-30 (though in the last also, contribution has not helped us keep cost down). There should be no doubts about the platform itself.

But to project this as an landmark project that has created history with great dividends for India is too far fetched. HAL is our partner at the best and worst of times. And it is important to remember that the way the FGFA programme is being projected today is as much the play of the Russian side as it is for sections within the Indian defence setup. The Russians have been reliable friends for decades, but it would be imprudent to imagine that there is any element of philanthropy in their dealings with India. If communications between IAF and ROE were ever declassified (like the Wikileaks, maybe some day!), the nation would have quite a different picture of how it is to deal with the Russians. Still, that does not take away from the value of their partnership. Ultimately, the FGFA programme, in my view, is no different from most of the other so-called joint programmes we have with Russia, including the Su-30 MKI.

To conclude, a few questions which are worth considering: As a "joint D&D partner", will HAL be able to devlop and deliver India's next generation fighter aircraft all by itself? Is India's involvement in the FGFA programme simply as a monetary investor?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Boeing's Indian Navy P-8I Film

Copyright & Courtesy Boeing Defense

Indian IFF Sensor Delivered To Boeing For P-8I

Boeing said today that last week it received a key sensor technology for the Indian Navy's P-8I aircraft from Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL). In a statement, Boeing said, "BEL delivered the Indian-designed Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Interrogator -- a battle management system that will enable P-8I aircraft to distinguish friendly aircraft and forces. Boeing will install the system during P-8I final assembly at its facility in Renton, Wash."

To date, indigenous P-8I deliveries also include BEL's Data Link II communications system, Avantel's mobile satellite system and the Electronic Corporation of India Limited's speech secrecy system.

COMING UP: Truths About The FGFA

On the day the FGFA preliminary design contract was signed, I received some pointers from an old IAF source of mine. I requested him to write a column (anon. of course -- he's still serving) for Livefist on how the IAF perceives the hoopla around the FGFA, and he has kindly agreed. He has permitted me to proofread his piece without editing it. Will be posted tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

PHOTOS: Tipnis Grey Nishant UAV Flies

The last time one of these was spotted was a wheeled tippy grey Nishant at Aero India 2009.

Photos Courtesy DRDO

Two Prithvi Missiles Tested

India's nuclear command today launched two Indian Prithvi tactical ballistic missiles as part of an exercise at the Integrated Test Range on the East Coast. The two launches of production series missiles took place at 08.15 hrs and 9.15 hrs respectively. According to a DRDO statement today both missiles "reached the specified targets with very high degree of accuracy." This is the second time two Prithvi missiles were flight tested successfully within a gap of one hour.

MAIL TODAY: FGFA Not What It Seems

This was the only piece I saw in the papers this morning that sought to question the FGFA deal -- all the others were mostly gushing ones. Do stay tuned though. I'm onto some information on precisely what HAL will be contributing to the FGFA/PMF, and why the newspaper report above is probably pretty much bang on. Over three years ago, I posted here about the ludicrousness of calling the FGFA a "joint development". Soon, I'll tell you why.

Clipping Copyright Mail Today

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Indian Army Scouts For F-INSAS Assault Rifle

As part of the Indian Army's phased future infantry soldier as a system (F-INSAS) programme to create a fully integrated infantry soldier, Army HQ has floated requirements [PDF] for a new assault rifle that will, potentially, be license-built in large numbers. A questionaire provided with RFI points to what the Army is looking for in its new ambidextrous assault rifle:

The Army has put down its preference for a modular assault rifle with changeable multiple caliber barrels to support 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm, 6.8x43mm and 6.5 Grendel rounds. The rifle needs to have an integrated sighting system that includes a luminous tipped flip-up iron sight, telescopic sight and a holographic reflex sight with a visible laser illuminator. It clearly wants an advanced under-barrel grenade launcher with a standalone firing mode governed by a multipurpose fire control system.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Rangiya, Assam 2006

India's Lakshya-2 Drone Flies

India's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) has just announced the successful flight test of a Lakshya-2 pilotless targeting drone. According to a DRDO statement today, "Users have indicated their requirement of flying pilotless target aircraft at very low altitudes (15 to 25 metres above sea level) to simulate the trajectory of low-level cruise missiles. Accordingly ADE has prepared Lakshya-2 with necessary hardware and software to meet those requirements."

The Dec 20 flight test lasted 32 minutes at a range of 10-km. The DRDO statement said, "The flight was stable and well-controlled. A mobile launcher to launch the PTA from anywhere, and GPS to locate for recovery were used successfully." The Lakshya-2 also demonstrated several manoeuvers. The system has been designed so that two Lakshya targets can be flown and controlled by the common ground control station.

Photo Courtesy DRDO

India, Russia Formalise 5th Gen Fighter Effort

India and Russia have signed a preliminary design contract (PDC) for their joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme. According to a government statement, "The contract envisages joint design and development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft with the involvement of HAL on the Indian side and Sukhoi Design Bureau and Rosoboronexport on the Russian side." More later.

[UPDATED @5.32PM] Official statement: A contract for Preliminary Design of the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi here today. The Project involves design and development of a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft that will have advanced features such as stealth, supercruise, ultra-maneuvrability, highly integrated avionics suite, enhanced situational awareness, internal carriage of weapons and Network Centric Warfare capabilities.

The aircraft to be jointly developed is termed Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF). PMF draws upon the basic structural and system design of the Russian FGFA Technology Demonstrator with modifications to meet IAF specifications which are much more stringent. The broad scope of bilateral cooperation during the joint project covers the design & development of the PMF, its productionization and joint marketing to third countries. Programme options include the design & development of a twin seater variant and the integration of an advanced engine with higher thrust at a later stage.

Today's contract is only the first in a series of such contracts which will cover different stages of this complex programme. The total cost including options and the value of production aircraft will make this the biggest Defence programme ever in the history of India involving production of over 200-250 aircraft.

The Contract was signed by Mr. A Isaykin, General Director, Rosoboronexport and Mr. M Pogosyan, General Director RAC MiG & Sukhoi from the Russian side and Mr. Ashok Nayak, Chairman, HAL and Mr. NC Agarwal, Director (D&D), HAL from the Indian side at Delhi.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

MMRCA To Be Shown Its Place This Week

On Tuesday afternoon, if there are no last-minute hitches (last heard, there are none), India and Russia will sign their largest, most expensive and ambitious defence agreement ever. The agreement will formalise the effort to co-develop and build what has come to simply be known as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), specifically a twin-seat derivative of the Sukhoi PAK FA, currently under prototype flight as the T-50 (photo).

The agreement, expected to enshrine a deal valued at nearly $30-billion, will be signed between Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) on behalf of the Russian government and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd on behalf of the Indian Ministry of Defence.

For all the talk we've had of the strategic and/or political implications of choosing any one of the six platforms competing for India's medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition, it simply pales in comparison to the scope of the FGFA programme and what it signifies both politically and otherwise. For all the talk we've had of India moving away from the Russians and looking to the west in a substantive way for the first time, the FGFA deal this week is, for some reason, like a huge monster tapping you on the shoulder, reminding you of what's real. Forget the MiG-35.

President Dmitri Medvedev will also oversee the signing of a deal for 42 more Su-30MKIs and a joint venture agreement for the multirole transport aircraft (MRTA) on Tuesday. Stay tuned for lots of updates.

Friday, December 17, 2010

VIDEO: IAF Gets First Super Herc

IAF Takes Delivery Of First C-130J, Arrives In India Before New Year

[Lockeed-Martin Press Release] At ceremonies today here (Marietta, Georgia), Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six C-130Js for the Indian Air Force. The new fleet was ordered under a $1.2 billion U.S. Foreign Military Sale (India’s first) in late 2008.

“There are few mottos that impart such passion as that of the Indian Air Force, which is ‘Touch the Sky With Glory’,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for C-130 Programs, during today’s ceremony. “Today begins a new glorious, enduring partnership with India as the fourth largest air force in the world proudly joins the worldwide C-130 family.”

This is India’s first experience with the C-130 so the package being provided by the U.S. government is comprehensive. The contact includes six aircraft, training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets and a team of technical specialists who will be based in India during a three year initial support period. Also included in the package is India-unique operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities. The first two C-130Js will be flown to India early next year and will be followed by the remaining four aircraft deliveries in 2011. India’s new airlift fleet will be based at Hindon Air Force Station.

The Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules is a highly integrated and sophisticated configuration primarily designed to support India’s special operations requirement. Equipped with an Infrared Detection Set (IDS), the aircraft can perform precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions. Self-protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defense environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refueling capabilityfor extended range operations.

The C-130J is ideally suited to India’s mission environment, which often involves operating out of austere, high-elevation airstrips in hot conditions. The C-130J is powered by four Rolls Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six bladed props which provide the aircraft with a great deal of power. The C-130J has been operated for the past several years in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan in conditions similar to India and performed exceptionally well.

Photo Courtesy Lockheed-Martin

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gorshkov Redux: Russians Demand $100-mil More To Complete Indian Frigate Order

In a Gorshkov-style jolt (though not quite on the same scale), Russia's Kalingrad-based Yantar shipyard has told Russia's Rosoboronexport that it will need $100-million more to complete the construction of three stealth frigates for the Indian Navy --Teg, Tarkash and Trikand -- follow ons to the Talwar-class frigates already in service. The follow-on deal was signed in 2006. The Kommersant newspaper indicates that a delay in delivery is also implied, so it's like deliveries won't meet their 2011-12 timeframe. It remains to be seen if the escalation is passed onto the Indian Navy, though it won't be surprising if it is.

Photo: RIA Novosti

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indian Navy Finally Floats DSRV Bid

The Indian Navy has officially announced its intention to procure two free-swimming deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRV), a move perceived to be substantially delayed. The bid, published by the navy's Directorate of Submarine Acquisition, comes shortly after the Navy invited information from Indian and global shipbuilders to support the procurement of two new 3,000-ton diving support vessels (DSV). The navy has indicated that it is willing to consider DSRV platforms that are currently still in development.

To quote from the July post linked to above, the Indian Navy's previous attempt to buy two DSRVs was cancelled in 2005 following charges of corruption, though the effort has finally picked up again. The Indian Navy has a submarine rescue agreement with the US Navy (air-deployed DSRV kit in 48 hours), on which it would be wholly dependent if an Indian submarine were ever in distress.

The Indian Navy's submarine strength continues to be a major concern. With the recent retirement of its last Foxtrot-class boat, the navy's submarine arm now has 14 diesel-electrics. On a recent visit with the Navy out to the Bay of Bengal, Eastern Naval Command chief of staff Rear Admiral KB Singh reaffirmed those concerns.

PHOTO: Tejas Bomb Trials On Target

Photo Courtesy DRDO

Tejas Clears All Low-level Flight Test Points

Word just in that the LCA Tejas has completed all test points for low-level flight off the coast of Goa towards initial operational clearance. The first flight of the LCA Navy is expected soon. More details when they're in.

Base Image Copyright Pavel Romsy

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DRDO: US Firm Keen On Our Explosive Detection Kit

[DRDO Press Statement]:
An American firm has shown keen interest in an Explosive Detection Kit (EDK) developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). An agreement on transfer of technology is likely to be signed soon between the two sides. The EDK, developed by the DRDO's High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) in Pune, comes packed in a box the size of a vanity case which contains four reagents capable of detecting explosives even in trace quantities. It can be used to identify a range of explosives such as PETN, Black Powder, Dynamite, NC, NG, CE, Inorganic Mitrates, TNT, RDX and HMX based plastic explosives. The EDK kit can be easily carried to the spot and is found useful both before and after the blast. When the explosive substance is mixed with the different chemical reagents given in the kit, the drop turns into specific colour as given out in the instruction leaflet. Verification can normally follow using the Raman spectrometric test. Costing about Rs 5,000 (less than $100) apiece, the EDK is being commercially made by Noida-based Vantage Integrated Security Solutions Pvt Ltd under a Transfer of Technology pact with the DRDO. It is being widely used by the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads of the Army, Paramilitary and state Police Forces in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The American firm is soon to enter into an MoU with the DRDO, which has patented its EDK. "The Americans have their own EDK kits but the foreign technology has certain drawbacks, for example they lack confirmatory test," said Reny Roy (photo), a scientist at the HEMRL. "Since they use a test paper instead of liquid drops, that's another disadvantage as the test paper is not long lasting and gets torn," she added. Following the success of the EDK, scientists at HEMRL, Pune have now developed an aerosol based EDK kit that costs around the same price as the conventional EDK kit and has the advantage of being more portable, convenient and trendy. Another Use-and-Throw kit with reagents packed in the kind of medicinal injection bottles has also been produced, the cost of which works out around Rs.1,800 for each set.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Agni SLBM A Myth?

The unofficial impression above, from a recent magazine report, is one of a whole slew of graphics and illustrations that have swamped the internet and print publications in the last few years. This one, like many others, suggests that there will be submarine-launched versions of India's intermediate range ballistic missiles Agni III and V.

I sent the picture above to India Today senior editor Sandeep Unnithan, who broke the story recently about India's secret K-series of missiles, to see what he thought. Here's what he had to say: "There is a myth created by missile experts on internet forums about SLBM variants of the Agni III and V. They have gone ahead and created several impressions of what it will look like complete with MIRVs etc. The truth is that the K series, and NOT Agni, is the basis for the future SLBM development. This is not contested by the DRDO either. Difficulties with compacting the Agni to fit the 10 metre diameter ATV hull have led to solutions like the K-4.”

Largest Indo-Russian Fighter Deal This Month

Copyright The Indian Express

Sunday, December 12, 2010

PHOTOS: Indian Navy Op Demo Off Kochi Coast Today

The Indian Nav's Southern Command conducted a demonstration of its operational capabilities for the city of Kochi today at the sea facing Rajendra Maidan and Netaji Subhash Park. The entire spectrum of naval operational activities was included in the demonstration; within the limitations imposed by contours and depth of Kochi channel and other technical limitations.

Photos Courtesy DPR Defence / Indian Navy

How Hot Is the Indian Navy For The F-35?

The Lockheed-Martin F-35 has popped up in what the Indian Navy says is an official impression of India's indigenous aircraft carrier, currently under construction in Kochi. Bit of a boo-boo though -- the picture above is not India's under-construction carrier, it's actually the Royal Navy's CVF (thanks Tim, for pointing that out!). Here's the Indian Navy's document [PDF] on aircraft carriers that has the lifted image above -- and here's the original source image. Don't know why the Navy had to use this image when it has some pretty impressive artwork of its own.

Boo-boo aside, does this say anything about how hot the Indian Navy is for the F-35? The platform's B and C variants have been pitched to the Navy in response to an RFI earlier this year. Other aircraft on offer are navalised variants of the Gripen and Eurofighter, and the F/A-18E/F. An earlier impression of the carrier featured Boeing F-15s operating from the ship's flight deck.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

PHOTOS: Indian Coast Guard's New OPV

Indian Coast Guard Inducts New OPV Vijit

ICGS Vijit, the 2nd in the series of 90-meter offshore patrol vessels (OPV) was commissioned at Goa earlier today. The vessel is designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Ltd. Features include an integrated bridge system (IBS), integrated machinery control system (IMCS), power management system (PMS), high power external fire fighting system (ABS Fi-Fi Class-1) and one indigenous close range naval (CRN) 91 gun mount along with an optical fire control system for day and night usage. The ship is designed to carry one twin engine light helicopter and five high speed boats for SAR, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to combat oil spill contamination at sea. The ship is fitted with advanced Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) making it an apt platform to carryout search and rescue operations in Indian Search and Rescue Region (ISRR).

The ship draw 2390 tons and is propelled by 2 x 9,100KW diesel engines to attain a maximum speed of 26 Knots. At economical speed, it has an endurance of 4,500 nautical miles and can stay at sea for 15 days without any replenishment.

The ship will be deployed extensively in the North Western region, along the sensitive International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Pakistan. To further augment the existing force level and bolster operational prowess, 01 more Offshore Patrol Vessel, 02 Pollution Control Vessels, 33 Fast Patrol Vessels, 12 Hovercraft and 61 Interceptor Boats are at various stages of construction at difference shipyards.

ICGS Vijit, will be manned by 08 Officers and 82 men under the command of Deputy Inspector General Naresh Kaul and will be based at Porbandar under the administrative and operational control of the Commander, Headquarters, Coast Guard Region (NW).

Friday, December 10, 2010

PHOTOS: India's 3rd Phalcon AWACS Lands In Israel

Photos Courtesy / Exclusive to Vayu Aerospace & Defence Review (VI/2010)

Lockheed-Martin's New Herc-for-India Ad

Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Agni-II+ Missile Test Fails

Just received this statement from DRDO: Experimental Launch of A2-P MISSILE experienced a trajectory deviation immediately after the lift-off having failure of the mission (sic). Detailed analysis is in progress. Many new technologies like composite rocket motor, indigenous ring laser gyro based navigation system, road mobile launch were being tested in this mission. Many of these new technologies have been proved.

More details in a bit.

Photo Courtesy Anantha Krishnan M