Friday, September 30, 2011

Indian Def Minister Off To Russia: FGFA, MRTA & Gorshkov On Table

Indian Minister A.K. Antony leaves Monday on a three-day visit to Moscow (3-5 Oct 2011) to co-chair the 11th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) with his Russian counterpart A.E. Serdyukov.

The two sides will review progress on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), Admiral Gorshkov, delivery of frigates and Multi-Role Transport Aircraft will come for discussion at the meeting. The two sides will also deliberate upon aspects relating to licensed manufacture and maintenance of T-90 tanks and Su-30MKI aircraft in India.

Accompanying the Minister will be a delegation including Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Defence Production Shekhar Aggarwal, armed forces officers Lt Gen M.S. Buttar (Chief of Staff, Western Command), Air Marshal R.K. Sharma (IAF deputy chief), Vice Admiral N.N. Kumar (Controller Warship Production & Acquisition), Chief Controller of Research & Development of DRDO Dr Avinash Chander, HAL chief Ashok Nayak and DG Acquisition Vivek Ray.

Photo / Via Flightglobal

FIRST PHOTOS: Today's Agni-II Launch

Photos / DRDO

Indian Nuke Command Tests Agni-II

India's Agni-II was launched successfully today at 9:30AM from the Eastern seaboard. According to a DRDO statement, "The successful launch once again proved reliability of the medium range surface to surface missile." The 2000-km range surface to surface missile, already inducted and part of countries arsenal for strategic deterrence, was launched as a training exercise by the country's nuclear command. The missile reached an apogee (peak altitude) of 220-km and hit the target. All the radar, telemetry systems, ectopic system tracked & monitored all parameters throughout the trajectory. Two ships located near the target point have tracked the missile in the final stage.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

VIDEO: First Flight Of Indian Navy P-8I

FIRST PHOTOS: Indian Navy's Boeing P-8I Completes 1st Flight

Boeing statement: The first P-8I aircraft for the Indian Navy completed its initial flight on September 28, taking off from Renton Field at 12:02 p.m. Pacific time and landing two hours and 31 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle.

During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations and autopilot flight modes, and took the P-8I to a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet prior to landing. In the coming weeks Boeing will begin mission systems installation and checkout work on the aircraft at a company facility near Boeing Field.

"The P-8I program is progressing well and we are looking forward to this potent platform joining the Indian Navy as part of its fleet," said Rear Adm. DM Sudan, assistant chief of Naval Staff (Air), Indian Navy.

"The P-8I will provide India with the necessary speed and reliability to satisfy the Indian Navy's maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare requirements," said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing India president.

Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy. In order to efficiently design and build P-8 aircraft, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company's Next-Generation 737 production system.

"Flying the first P-8 for an international customer is a key milestone for our entire team," said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager. "We have transitioned to P-8I production, and remain on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Navy in 2013."

The P-8I is the first of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft Boeing is building for India as part of a contract awarded in January 2009. An option for four additional P-8I aircraft was included in the original contract.

The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. The P-8I is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

Photos / Boeing

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

India's Carrier Fighter Makes 1st Engine Ground Run, 1st Flight Soon

The carrier variant of India's Tejas fighter made its first Engine Ground Run (EGR) on the September 26 at 1830HRS. It was the programme's first prototype (NP1) that made the run. The engine ground run successfully checked out aircraft to engine integration and activation of systems including flight control, hydraulics, fuel, electrical and avionics.

According to a DRDO statement issued today, "The aircraft will now go through a phase of refinements based on feedback identified during the course of the build up and also observed during the EGR, followed by a series of final integration checks and taxi trials before its maiden flight shortly."

2 Bids In To Engine HAL's Light Utility Copter

In the first week of this month, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) opened technical bids from two engine houses, the starting point of a process to select a turboshaft engine for its in-development Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The two contenders are Turbomeca offering the Ardiden 1H1/Shakti -- which powers HAL's Dhruv and Light Combat Helicopter -- and T800, manufactured by LHTEC, a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Turbomeca's Shakti engine, which was to have powered the LUH (platform schematics), was dropped as a default choice following a reported fall-out between the company and HAL over license fees. The LUH is being developed to meet a requirement of 187 helicopters (126 for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shivalik-class Frigate Weapons & Sensors

Found this illustration in the latest issue of Indian Military Review magazine. Been getting lots of questions about the kit on board the Project 17 stealth frigates.

Copyright & Courtesy Indian Military Review

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

PHOTOS: India Tests Prithvi-II

Photos / DPR Defence

Saturday, September 24, 2011

India's Nuke-capable Shaurya Tested Again [UPDATED]

The archival video above from the first test of the Shaurya on November 12, 2008. The 750-km range surface-to-surface missile was tested successfully today, DRDO has announced. Will update this post with a video from today's test later.

Official (unedited) DRDO statement @16.52: The DRDO developed 700-km range Shourya Missile was successfully flight tested at 2.30PM from Launch Complex III of ITR, Balasore on 24th Sep 2011. The missile was launched from a cannister in a ground launch mode. The launch of the missile was perfect like in text book and followed the path exactly to the predefined target in Bay of Bengal. All the Radar Stations, Telemetry Stations, Electro-Optical Stations all along the East Coast have tracked and monitored all the mission parameters. Ships located near the target have also tracked and witnessed the final event. The Missile has reached the target within few meters accuracy. The Missile is equipped with multiple advanced computing systems, very high accuracy navigation and guidance systems. DRDO Chief Controller Shri Avinash Chander congratulated all the scientists and employees of DRDO and other establishments. Director DRDL Shri P Venugoplalan, Director ITR Shri SP Dash, Director SPIC Shri Satish Kumar and Programme Director AK Chakravarti have monitored all the preparatory operations. Shri A Joseph Project Director and team have prepared the missile and conducted the launch flawlessly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nine Months After Sinking, Salvaged Naval Frigate Appears

The first image of the Indian Navy's ASW frigate INS Vindhyagiri (F42), which sank at the Mumbai naval dockyard after crawling back following a collision with a merchant vessel. My thanks to Jayesh Mhatre for sending this photo in.

Monday, September 19, 2011

PHOTO: India's C-NM5 Aircraft Lifts Off

The C-NM5 five-seater aircraft, developed jointly by India's National Aerospace Labs and private firm Mahindra, made its first flight on Sept 1. This photo, of the aircraft lifting off, is from full-page advertisements in today's papers. The C-NM5 is India's first aircraft built through a public-private partnership.

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

Sunday, September 18, 2011


As some of you may know, I'm in Ahmedabad reporting from Narendra Modi's Sabhavana fast. I'll be back to blogging on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Livefist reader Dev scoped out this pair of Army Dhruvs recently. Thanks Dev, for sending this in!

Photo / Debadatta Dash

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saab's Official Brief To Indian Navy On Sea Gripen

Saab made this presentation to the Indian Navy on September 6 in Goa during the INS Hansa golden jubilee event. This is exclusive to Livefist.

12 more slides - Click below.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coming Up...

Everything you wanted to know about Saab's Sea Gripen concept, on offer to the Indian Navy coming right up: Will be posting Saab's recent pitch to the Indian Navy. Exclusively here on Livefist, stay tuned.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Fifth C-130 For IAF On Way

The fifth of six C-130J Super Hercules on order for the Indian Air Force has departed the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta. The sixth will be delivered in October.

Photos Courtesy Lockheed-Martin

Auditor Slams Navy's Selection Of R-77 Missile

India's national auditor, in a report released yesterday, has said the Indian Navy chose to buy the Vympel R-77 BVR missile for the MiG-29K weapons package despite adverse observations about the missile's serviceability by the air force at least six years previously. Here's what the auditor has observed:

"A critical armament for the MiG 29K aircraft is a BVR missile, which augments the ‘Beyond Visual Range’ capability of the aircraft. The [R-77], one such BVR missile was acquired by the Indian Air Force between 1999 and 2002. However, the serviceability status of the missile, in evidence prior to the Navy contract of March 2006, has been poor as brought out in paragraph No. 3.2 of the Report of the C&AG of India, No. CA 18 of 2008-09. High rate of unserviceability was noticed by IAF since 1999 from the first lot of missiles received. By November 2005, IAF decided against refurbishing the missiles “X” after life expiry and started considering a suitable replacement for future procurements. Nonetheless, Indian Navy concluded the contract in March 2006 for supply of armaments for MiG-29K aircraft which, inter alia, catered for supply of 40 Air to Air missiles [R-77] at a cost of USD 21.88 million. Audit noted that there was a delay of 51 months in finalising the weapon package for MiG 29K aircraft, Indian Navy failed to adopt an integrated approach to utilise the data/knowledge base of IAF and consequently ended up by procuring 40 missiles worth USD 21.88 million (Rs 97.67 crore) whose serviceability has been found unreliable by the IAF. Thus, the Ministry modified the decision of CFA by decreasing the quantity of approved armament and procured additional items worth Rs 93.68 crore which were not envisaged at the time of seeking approval of CFA to sustain within the financial ceiling. Further, Indian Navy procured Air to Air missiles [R-77] costing USD 21.88 million which had a track record of poor serviceability for which the IAF is seeking replacement since November 2005. The matter was referred to the Ministry in November 2010; their reply was awaited as of July 2011."

Photo ©Copyright B. Harry /

Auditors Say Govt Messed Up MiG-29K Buy

India's national auditor, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) released a report on the navy yesterday flagging the acquisition of MiG-29K fighters as flawed. According to the report, "Flawed approach in acquiring 16 MiG-29K aircraft, at a cost of Rs 3,405.61 crore ($736-million at today's exchange rates) without finalizing the associated package with the procurement of the aircraft, in January 2004, led to delivery of six aircraft in December 2009 without weapons. Subsequently, five more aircraft were delivered in May 2011. The armament for the aircraft were contracted for only in March 2006 which led to non delivery of weapons till October 2010, adversely affecting the operational capabilities of the aircraft. Besides, the Beyond Visual Range missiles (Vympel R-77/RVV-AE) contracted for the aircraft, at a cost of Rs 93.68 crore ($20.2-million at today's exchange rates), has had an unsatisfactory track record with Indian Air Force." Read the full report linked above.

The Navy has had audit trouble with BVR weapon contracting before as well.

Photo by Shiv Aroor

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

IAF MiG-21 Bison Crashes, Pilot Ejects

IAF Flight Lieutenant Arnav Ghosh punched out safely from his MiG-21 Bison today a few kilometres south of the Ambala air base.

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

Friday, September 02, 2011

RETROPHOTO: INS Hansa Turns 50 Next Week

Nothing like a stack of old B/W photos from squadrons and bases. This is a small bunch released by the navy today on INS Hansa ahead of its golden jubilee on September 5. Will post more over the weekend. From top (1) Reading of commissioning warrant (2) Nehru visits INS Hansa at Sulur, 1963 (3) Welcoming 1971 heroes back after ops (4) Commander B.D. Law, INS Hansa's first commanding officer (5) Foundation stone ceremony of INS Hansa.

India's Premier Naval Air Station Turns 50 Next Week

Indian Navy Statement: INS Hansa, the Indian Navy’s premier air station and fighter training squadron INAS 551 celebrate their golden jubilee on 05 Sep 11 on completion of 50 years of distinguished service to the nation.

INS Hansa is home to the Indian Navy's frontline air squadrons. These include INAS 300 White Tigers with Sea Harriers, INAS 310 Cobras with Dornier-228s, INAS 315 Winged Stallions with Ilyushin-38SD, INAS 339 Falcons with Kamov-31 AEW helicopters, INAS 551 Phantoms with HJT-16 Kiran trainers, INAS 552 Braves with Sea Harrier trainers and INAS 303 Black Panthers, which operates the Navy's new MiG-29K fighters.

The base saw its first operational deployment during Operation Vijay in 1961 which resulted in the successful liberation of Goa. During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the Sea Hawk and the Alize aircraft squadrons were entrusted with the air defence of Bombay, Goa and Cochin. Its aircraft had also carried out an offensive sweep against Pakistani ships reported in the area.

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the INAS 300 White Tigers from INS Hansa with 18 aircraft onboard INS Vikrant were put into action against the belligerent enemy. In a mere 10 days, extending from 04 Dec 1971 to 14 Dec 1971, the air strikes accounted for more than 100,776 tonnes of Pakistani shipping sunk. The destruction included important airfields, harbours and troop positions.

Plug: Awards Montage Of My Libya Coverage

Another plug: For those who may have missed my Libya coverage, here's a ten-minute edited awards montage from the fortnight we (Headlines Today deputy editor Gaurav C. Sawant and I) spent in the warzone. Our coverage won an Electronic News Broadcasters 2011 award (eNBA) for best continuous coverage by a reporter(s).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

'MMRCA, Inshallah By Year End': IAF Chief

"If the MMRCA contract is signed before the year end, it will be a big relief for us. Inshallah it will happen," said Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne today at an industry event. Picking up unconfirmed word that the bids are likely to be opened mid-Sept.

IAF's New Maintenance Man A Stickler For Self-reliance

Air Marshal Jagdish Chandra, who took over today as chief of the Indian Air Force's crucial Maintenance Command, is reputed to be keenly focused on indigenisation and self-reliance of maintenance processes in the service. His tenure at this critical functional formation of the IAF, sources say, is likely to engender new thought processes on reducing dependence on OEMs and foreign suppliers in the the IAF's maintenance practices.

In his address to the Air Warriors of the Maintenance Command IAF on taking over the charge, Air Mshl Chandra said "The units of Maintenance Command have a vital role to play so that IAF retains its cutting edge in combat preparedness. Technology is advancing at a very rapid pace and the state of art equipment is under induction. In order to maintain aircraft and equipment with required operational efficiency, it is incumbent for all of us to quickly absorb the technology and new methods."