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February 28, 2011

With an eye on China, India steps up defence spending

By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - India increased annual defence spending by about 11.6 percent on Monday, aiming to overhaul the military to counter the rapidly growing capabilities of giant neighbour China.
The hefty increase suggests the government plans to move ahead with some of a slew of planned defence acquisitions, analysts said, including a $10.5 billion fighter jet contract, one of the world's largest on offer.
India, among a host of countries wary of China's economic and military heft, is also eyeing surveillance helicopters, transport aircraft and submarines to beef up defences in the air as well as in the Indian Ocean.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, presenting the 2011-2012 budget to parliament, set the military budget at just over 1.64 trillion rupees ($36.28 billion), up from last year's 1.47 trillion rupees. Last year the increase was about 4 percent.
"China is the real long-term challenge on the strategic horizon and India's security planning is geared toward it," said retired brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal who heads the government-funded Centre for Land Warfare Studies.
China, which considers the U.S. military as its main rival, set its defence spending at $78 billion last year. It is expected to announce a defence budget for 2011 later this week ahead of an annual session of parliament
The core U.S. defense budget -- not including war funding -- was $530 billion in 2010.
More than 40 percent of the Indian defence budget for 2011 will be spent on capital expenditure, Mukherjee said, while the rest will go toward maintaining one of the world's largest standing armed forces.
"Needless to say, any further requirement for the country's defence would be met," he said seeking to assuage concerns that the rise in spending was short of the military's expectations.
Old rival and neighbour Pakistan, which like India, also has nuclear weapons, is also a factor in India's defence planning.

DEALS
Indian officials expect to conclude negotiations to buy 126 combat aircraft by the end of the current fiscal year, the country's largest-ever defence order.
Saab's JAS-39 Gripen is competing with Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault's Rafale, Lockheed's F-16 and Russia's MiG-35 to win the fighter contract which Indian officials said can eventually go up to 200 aircraft.
Kanwal said the defence allocation was enough to proceed with the fighter aircraft deal, although it may not leave much room for other arms imports.
"In the first year there is a signing amount you have to pay which shouldn't be a problem," he said.
India, which traditionally has had an edge over China in terms of combat air superiority with more modern planes, has in recent years seen the gap closing as Beijing modernised its air force.
China's plans for a stealth aircraft, designed to rival the U.S. F-22, have in particular unnerved Indian security planners prompting a race to overhaul the air force with its Soviet-era planes.
India, which long focused its military planning on Pakistan, is also scrambling to modernise its navy to counter China's influence in the Indian Ocean through its "string of pearls strategy" of developing a network of friendly ports from Gwadar in Pakistan to Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka.
Another military expert said given the scale of the challenge facing India, the increase in defence expenditure was modest.
"It's not a dramatic increase if you take inflation into account. Military inflation will be even higher," said Ajai Sahni, director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.
"It doesn't really demonstrate a will to completely overhaul the armed forces to meet the challenges."

Army drill in May to validate 48-hour mobilisation time

(DNA) : Can Indian Army mobilise troops within 48 hours? The army believes it can and will seek to validate its answer at an annual exercise involving about 10,000 personnel in the Rajasthan-Punjab region in May.
After terrorists attacked parliament in December 2001, the government had ordered army mobilisation. But Operation Parakram took 27 days, by which time sufficient international diplomatic pressure had built up to pre-empt any military strike on Pakistan.
Since then, the army has been working hard to bring down its mobilisation time. Sources said better road management, offloading, rail links, equipment and man-management had reduced the time to 48 hours and every strike corps had been working at reducing its mobilisation period.
The two-week exercise, Vajra Prahar, will involve the Ambala-based 2 strike corps, besides elements from the Patiala-based 1 armoured division, Meerut-based 22 division and Dehra Dun-based 14 division, also called Rapids.
Earlier, the army used to launch an attack after an entire formation had gathered, but the new approach is for small battle groups with command-and-control abilities carrying out early launches. As elements have to be gathered from far-flung places, it’s important to plan in advance.
Training time will be reduced, and as small groups get ready, they would be launched.
Incidentally, the Pakistani army had held a war game last year near its India border with around 50,000 troops mobilised in three days from one end of that country to the other.
Former army chief general VP Malik pointed out that distances in Pakistan were shorter. “We took 20 days to mobilise troops for Operation Parakram. The lesson learnt was to reduce the time, which brought forth the doctrine of cold start for strategic re-location. Today, we are in a much better position,” he said.
Every year, the three corps take turns to hold war games. Last year, 21 corps had its first drill based on nuclear biological chemical warfare.

Russia to deploy units on Iturup, Kunashir Islands - defense minister

Russia will deploy military units on Iturup and Kunashir, part of the Kuril Islands, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Saturday.
"We will most likely base in two military towns on two islands - Iturup and Kunashir," Serdyukov told journalists in Vladivostok, Russia's Far East.
The defense minister said his trip to the Far East is aimed at analyzing how the machine gun-artillery division will be "integrated" with the Russian forces located in Vladivostok, Sakhalin and Kamchatka.
"The grouping will be changed by its structure. It is highly likely that staff will be slightly cut but it will be reinforced by the newest communications systems, electronic warfare and radar stations," Serdyukov said.
Earlier this month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow will increase its military presence on the South Kuril Islands to "ensure the security of the islands as an unalienable part of Russia."
A General Staff official said that S-400 missile defense systems could possibly be deployed to the islands to protect them from possible attacks.

 (RIA Novosti)

Russia confirms plans to supply Syria with Yakhont missiles

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Saturday Russia has not dropped its plans to supply Syria with Yakhont missiles.
"The contract [on supplies] is in progress," Serdyukov told journalists in Vladivostok, Russia's Far East.
Russia earlier announced it would honor a 2007 contract on the delivery of several Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with SS-N-26 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles to Syria, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to stop the deal.
The Yakhont missile has a range of 300 kilometers, the capacity to carry a 200-kilogram warhead and the unique ability of being able to cruise several meters above the water surface, making it difficult to detect and intercept.
Israeli authorities have expressed a strong concern over the increase of Syrian defensive potential, as well as over a threat of transferring weapons to Lebanese or Palestinian radicals. Washington also said the deal could destabilize the region.
 (RIA Novosti)

February 26, 2011

Chinese Army to Develop New Missile By 2015

A new type of conventional missile being researched by the Chinese Army is set to be weaponised for entry into active service within five years, military sources revealed.

The China News Service has reported that China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) will complete research, production and delivery of the new missile by 2015.


A military source revealed that the mew missile is a medium and long-range conventional missile with a travelling distance of 4,000km.


Used in both defence and attack, the new missile will be capable of dealing with threats from land, sea, air, space and cybernetic attacks.

"The project will also entail a three-year evaluation period. It extends the range of China's missiles and will therefore greatly enhance the national defence capabilities," the source added.
China has already deployed the indigenous Dong Feng 21D missile with the army, which has a firing range between 1,800km and 2,800km.
People's Liberation Army National Defence University military expert Li Daguang said the real combat capabilities of the missile in complicated situations were yet to be proved.

  (AsianDefenseNews)

Boeing wins USAF Contract for Next-Gen Refueling Tanker

   

St Louis. Boeing has finally won the world’s biggest aerial tanker programme, defeating EADS which had appeared to be the favourite so far.




  Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney announced Feb 24 that the company had received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to build the next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft that will replace 179 of USAF’s 400 KC-135 tankers.
The new tanker will be designated KC 46A, according to Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who declared "Boeing as the clear winner" at a Pentagon news conference. "This competition favored no one, except the taxpayer and the war fighter," he said.
Notably, EADS had earlier won the competition but the Department of Defense had reconsidered after Boeing raised issues. EADS North America Chairman Ralph D Crosby described the result as disappointing, and said he would take it up on how USAF concluded the contract in favour of Boeing.
Boeing has designed the new tanker on its civil 767 airliner platform, while Airbus had pitched in with A 330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) which is on offer for the Indian Air Force (IAF) competition also against Russian Il 78, albeit for a very small number of six aircraft initially. Boeing had also been invited by IAF but had withdrawn saying it would bid only if it won the US tanker programme.
The USAF order is for a huge, long-range, 179 aircraft, estimated at $ 35 billion, spread over several years. According to a Boeing statement, the contract calls for Boeing to design, develop, manufacture and deliver 18 initial combat-ready tankers by 2017.
Boeing has been the sole provider of midair refuelers to USAF for 60 years, and with the new programme, the company would continue to be the fuel lifeline of the US forces deployed worldwide for at least 50 more years. That means the company would continue to improve upon its own record in aerial refueling.
McNerney observed: "Our team is ready now to apply our 60 years of tanker experience to develop and build an airplane that will serve the nation for decades to come” and “we're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces,"
In selecting the Boeing NewGen Tanker after a lengthy and rigorous proposal process, the Air Force has chosen an American-built, multi-mission tanker that is based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial airplane and meets all requirements at the lowest risk for the warfighter and the best value for taxpayers. The Boeing proposal was created by an integrated "One Boeing" team from various sites across the company, including employees from the Commercial Airplanes; Defense, Space & Security; and Engineering, Operations & Technology organizations.
"This contract award would not have been possible without the hundreds of Boeing employees across the entire company, and the thousands of our industry teammates, who remained laser-focused on our commitment to offer a solution that is first in capability and best in value,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "This award is also a tribute to the Air Force and Defense Department officials who worked so tirelessly to make this procurement process fair, ultimately resulting in the selection of the right plane for the mission. We look forward to working with our Air Force customer to deliver this much needed capability to the servicemen and women we are honored to serve."
The KC-46A tankers will be built using a low-risk approach to manufacturing by a trained and experienced US work force at existing Boeing facilities. The KC-46A tanker also will fuel the economy as it supports approximately 50,000 total U.S. jobs with Boeing and more than 800 suppliers in more than 40 states, said the Boeing statement.
"Boeing has always been committed to the integrity of the competitive process, and the men and women across our Boeing commercial and defense teams and our entire supplier network are ready to extend that commitment to delivering these tankers on time and on budget," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Based on the proven Boeing 767 commercial airplane, the KC-46A Tanker is a widebody, multi-mission aircraft updated with the latest and most advanced technology and capable of meeting or exceeding the Air Force's needs for transport of fuel, cargo, passengers and patients. It includes state-of-the-art systems to meet the demanding mission requirements of the future, including a digital flight deck featuring Boeing 787 Dreamliner electronic displays and a flight control design philosophy that places aircrews in command rather than allowing computer software to limit combat maneuverability.
The NewGen Tanker also features an advanced KC-10 boom with an expanded refueling envelope, increased fuel offload rate and fly-by-wire control system.
 
 (India Strategic)

Indian delegation inspected aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya

(Rusnavy) : Eleventh inspection has been conducted this week at Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (former Russian Admiral Gorshkov).

High-ranking delegation headed by director of Indian Navy's shipbuilding and procurement department Vice Admiral Kumar has been working in Severodvinsk for several days.

Indian officials held talks with directors of Sevmash shipyard, listened to report of group observing the carrier's retrofitting, visited families of observers, and met with White Sea Naval Base Commander Capt 1 rank Viktor Liina.

However, the main point in the eventful visit was the inspection of the aircraft carrier. The delegation accompanied by Sevmash's director general Nikolai Kalistratov, chief engineer Alexei Alsufiev, and deputy director Sergei Novoselov spent two hours on the ship.

"The shipyard have done much in order to be on schedule since my last visit in Sept 2010", said Mr. Kumar at the press conference. "I was surprised with a progress achieved in boiler compartment and main propulsion plant; cable replacement works are also enormous. However, we have still much to do for our nearest goal – mooring trials".

February 25, 2011

INS Jalashwa to evacuate Indians

(IndianExpress) : New Delhi has decided to press INS Jalashwa into service to evacuate Indians from Libya. Three more ships will also be used to ferry Indians from Tripoli and Benghazi to Alexandria in Egypt.
The INS Jalashwa is the third-largest warship of the Indian Navy, behind INS Viraat aircraft carrier and the newly inducted INS Deepak tanker, and is basically an amphibious assault platform designed to transport and land troops in enemy territory. It is lightly armed and has six medium lift helicopters.
Able to accommodate 1,500 people, the INS Jalashwa will be accompanied by two destroyers, which can ferry 200 people each. These are also being kept on standby for deployment to Libya, if the need arises, according to sources.
Designed to double up as a hospital ship, the INS Jalashwa has extensive medical facilitates, including four operation theatres, a 12-bed ward and a dental centre. Sources said the naval ship was on standby, and would proceed, as soon as the official formalities were completed. 
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said in view of the “sharp and unprecedented deterioration” in the situation inside Libya, the government had decided to immediately commence evacuation operations.
The government has chartered a passenger ferry with a capacity to seat 1,200 persons for this purpose. “Scotia Prince is expected to reach Benghazi by February 27 and bring back at least 1,200 persons to Alexandria (Egypt) by March 1,” the statement said.

Boeing Wins Restaged U.S. Air Force KC-X

(AviationWeek) : Overturning its previous selection, the U.S. Air Force has selected Boeing to supply its KC-X replacement aerial-refueling tanker. The company has been awarded a $3.5 billion fixed-price incentive contract for development and delivery of the first 18 of a planned 179 767-based NewGen tankers to replace U.S. Air Force Boeing KC-135s.
EADS North America, with Northrop Grumman as prime contractor, won the first KC-X competition in February 2008 with the KC-45A, based on the Airbus A330-200 and similar to the KC-30 multi-role tanker/transport under development for Australia. The program was halted in September 2008 after a Boeing contract protest was upheld.
The Air Force restarted the KC-X competition in July 2010, issuing a new request for proposals (RFP) that simplified the requirements, clarified the selection criteria and reduced the financial risks to the winner. The changes were made in a bid to prevent the protests that derailed the first competition.
Boeing revised its approach after losing the first competition, dropping plans to develop an aircraft combining elements of several different 767 models and basing its “NewGen” tanker bid on a 767-200 equipped with an upgraded KC-10 refueling boom and 787 cockpit displays. The company said its price would be lower the second time around.
EADS North America stayed with its winning KC-45 design, but entered the new competition as prime contractor after Northrop withdrew from the role in March 2010, arguing the revised RFP “clearly favored a smaller tanker.” EADS’s decision to lead the bid itself likely allowed the company to reduce its proposal price.
The Air Force substantially revamped its source selection process after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld Boeing’s protest over losing the 2008 competition to Northrop Grumman and EADS. The GAO ruled the Air Force did not properly assess the relative technical and operational merits of the rival tankers.
The new RFP simplified the specification to 372 mandatory pass/fail requirements the proposals had to meet to be considered. Proposed prices were then adjusted by the Pentagon based on assessments of operational effectiveness and ownership cost. Only if the resulting total evaluated prices were within 1% of each other would the Pentagon then consider each proposal’s ability to provide additional capabilities.
A long-shot bid from U.S. Aerospace, offering a variant of the Ukrainian Antonov An-70, was rejected after it missed the deadline to submit a proposal. The company’s protest was dismissed by the GAO in November 2010.

UAE in Multi-Billion Dollar Shopping Spree at IDEX Trade Show

(Defpro) : United Arab Emirates announce more than $3 billion in defence deals at IDEX 2011
10:33 GMT, February 24, 2011 defpro.com | Amid uprisings and turmoil throughout the entire Middle East and North African region, defence companies and military officials gather since Sunday in one of the last stable bastions of the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates, at the 10th IDEX edition. Being a key element of one of the fastest growing defence markets, the UAE has once more proven its role in what can be considered “one of the largest arms races” [1] that the Persian Gulf has ever known. According to news agencies, Major General Obaid al-Ketbi of the UAE announced on Wednesday that more than 11.68 billion dirhams ($3.09 billion, €2.25 billion) in defence procurement contracts have been concluded during the first three days of the trade show.

According to AFP, al-Ketbi in particular emphasised a contract for the Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company for the purchase of Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) missiles, valued at $218.1 million, as well as largest defence deal of the show. The latter, worth $550 million, will provide the implementation of a C4I system for the UAE Armed Forces by Emiraje Systems.

Further, AFP reported of a possible contract for Lockheed Martin for establishing a comprehensive anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, including the Patriot PAC-3 and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, at an estimated cost of $7 billion. According to a Lockheed Martin official, the UAE has shown interest in an ABM solution in 2007 and has since negotiated the purchase of related systems with the US government. “I think [...] sometime this spring, we’ll get some positive news that the two governments have reached an agreement” on the THAAD system, said Dennis Cavin, Lockheed Martin vice president for international air and missile defence.

Shortly before the Tunisian revolution unhinged the illusion of political stability of many countries in the region, Forecast International projected defence investment to grow by 14 per cent over the next five years in the Middle East [2]. Further, according to a Frost & Sullivan report, “the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait – along with Jordan are set to spend $68 billion on defence in 2011” and may reach nearly $80 billion in 2015.

It is difficult to judge the impact of the latest events, and those probable to come, on this outlook at a promising defence market. The wildfire of uprisings and protests spreading throughout the region and their present unexpected results has shown how unpredictable the political and strategic development has become within a matter of weeks.

Forecast International stated in January that, in addition to the core Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, Iraq will play an important role in the market, predicting an average investment of $12.5 million annually through 2015 to improve the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) capabilities while the US continues its military drawdown. However, the report’s conclusion that “bolstering the Iraqi Air Force” will be the “principle area of Iraqi investment” has been put into a new perspective last week.

On 16 February, the Iraqi government announced that it diverted money, previously allocated for the purchase of US-built F-16 fighter aircraft, toward improving food ration subsidies amid the inflation in global food prices as well as Iraq’s projected budget deficit of $13.3 billion. Among different motivations, food prices have been a significant reason for people taking to the streets in many Middle East and North African countries.

This is a quite new perspective for Western governments and defence contractors and they may have to deal with an entirely new environment for their traditional and choreographed leverages. In particular the US may have to significantly rearrange its picture of the region.[3] A strong indicator for this development is the cautious (almost timid) and reserved reaction by the Obama administration to the crisis in Bahrain.

Still relatively unaffected by the wave of uprisings in the region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, at present, appear to be the last considerable strongholds for US influence in the Arab world, with strong effects on the further development of the local defence market.

The 10th IDEX edition will certainly be the last Middle East defence trade show that can be dominated by Western defence companies in the traditional ‘pre-revolutionary’ way. Future shows are likely to see a more complex and difficult environment for companies and governments when it comes to negotiating and concluding contracts – probably a certain alignment with the more sluggish Western market conditions.

By Nicolas von Kospoth,

Russian-Indian missile BrahMos to be tested in the Baltic Sea

(Rusnavy): Russia and India will carry out test launches of jointly developed cruise missile BrahMos in mid-2011 in the Baltic Sea, reports ITAR-TASS citing Executive Director, BrahMos Aerospace Sivathanu Pillai at the defense show IDEX-2011 held in United Arab Emirates. Launches will be performed by the first of thee Project 11356 frigates built by Russian shipyard Yantar for Indian Navy.

According to Pillai, the missile has been already prepared for tests; certain date of launches will be set when the first Project 11356 frigate finishes mooring trials. The $1.6 bln contract for three Project 11356 frigates was tied in 2007. Yantar shipyard launched the first ship – INS Teg – in Nov 2009, and the second one – INS Tarkash – in June 2010. Expectedly, those ships will be delivered to Indian Navy in 2011-2012.

Full displacement of Project 11356 frigates is 4,000 tons; hull length is 124.8 meters; max speed is up to 30 knots; fuel range is 4,500 miles. Frigates will be armed with BrahMos missile 8-tube bow launcher.

Constructively, antiship cruise missile BrahMos is based on P-800 Onyx missile which was designed in the USSR late 80's. BrahMos missile's length is about 10 meters; all-up weight is 3.9 tons; payload weight is 300 kg; max flight speed is 3,500 kph; flight range is 290 km. The missile has been designed by Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace.

Ten fold increase in cost of Kaveri engine programme : Antony

(FrontierIndia) There has been an 10 fold increase in the Kaveri engine development program says the Defence Minister AK Antony. Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha yesterday, Antony said that the indigenous Kaveri fighter aircraft engine programme has been delayed by 15 years. He blamed sanctions imposed by the United States, lack of skilled manpower and infrastructure for the delay..
“The project cost was revised to Rs 2,839 crore and the major reasons for time and cost overruns include sanctions imposed by the US, lack of skilled manpower and infrastructure, ab-initio development of engine,” said Antony.
The Kaveri engine meant for the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas fighter programme was sanctioned by the government in 1989 and was to be completed by December 1996 at a cost of Rs 382 crore.
Antony informed that nine prototypes of Kaveri engines have been developed and about 1975 hours of testing has been conducted on them at ground and altitude conditions.

February 24, 2011

UAE, Russia sign $74-million contract on modernization of amphibious vehicles

The United Arab Emirates and Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed a $74-million contract on the modernization of 135 Russian BMP-3 (amphibious infantry fighting vehicle), UAE Armed Forces official spokesman Major-General Obaid Al Hairi Salem Al Ketbi said on Thursday.
Russia sent its delegation to IDEX 2011, an international defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, on February 20-24.
Thirty-three Russian defense industry enterprises took part in IDEX 2011, including Rosoboronexport and the state corporation Russian Technologies.
According to the exhibition website, IDEX is the largest defense and security event in the Middle East and North African region.

 (RIA Novosti)

Russia to buy 1,000 helicopters by 2020

Russia's Defense Ministry announced plans on Thursday to buy 100 ships, over 600 aircraft and 1,000 helicopters under a 2011-2020 arms procurement program.
Russia will buy 10 new generation S-500 air defense systems, which will replace the S-400 systems currently entering service with the Russian forces, said First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, who is in charge of arms procurement.
Russia plans to purchase more than 100 helicopters this year, including Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters, Mi-28 Night Hunter and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters.
Russia's Defense Ministry submitted the 19 trillion ruble ($651 billion) arms procurement spending plan for 2011-2020 to the government in December. Some 80% of the funds will be spent on buying weapons and 10% will be spent on scientific research.
The official confirmed earlier reports that Russia will buy two Mistral assault ships from France, while two more of the ships will be built under license in Russia.
Russia is planning to build eight strategic nuclear submarines by 2020 and equip them with Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which are expected to be put into service this year.
Russia also plans to develop new heavy ballistic missiles to replace Soviet-era SS-18 Satan and SS-20 Saber ICBMs, Popovkin said.
  (RIA Novosti)

‘Blocks’ to protect Indian mountains

                                                                                         Reuters/Vostock(Russia&India Report) : The Indian armed forces have been successfully working on an armaments programme using various modifications of the BrahMos missile, which was initially conceived as a Russian-Indian project.

Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation established the joint venture BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited in 1998. The new anti-ship cruise missile was modelled after the Soviet Union’s Oniks system (called Yakhont for export markets) and is distinguished by its outstanding technical features. The joint efforts of Russian and Indian specialists have resulted in the emergence of a new series of cruise missiles that are superior to any of their global analogues. There are different versions of the missile capable of striking both ship-based and land-based targets. They can be launched from aircraft (Su-30MKI), ships, submarines and land.

Several different variations of the missile have been created for the army and categorised into different blocks.

The BrahMos Block I land-attack missile, which is capable of striking visible radio-contrast targets, has been fully developed and is used by the Indian army. Block II was set up to strike at less visible targets and features both target-seeking equipment and satellite navigation.

The Indian army is now expected to place orders for a shipment of the Block III supersonic missiles, which are capable of striking targets in mountainous terrain with a high level of accuracy, according to BrahMos Aerospace CEO Sivathanu Pillai. The new missile combines the best features of the first two blocks. Dr. Pillai said the two technologies were used to create a product with the configuration of an anti-ship missile that can also strike targets on land. It has a radar seeker that can strike all radio-contrast targets, infrastructure, buildings, radio detection equipment, radar stations and air force bases – any object that reflects the appropriate signal.

One of the main features of the new missile is its ability to scale mountainous terrains, find the target and strike. There are no other supersonic cruise missiles with such features in the world. The Russian and Indian scientists managed to accomplish an extremely complicated task.

“It was almost impossible to do: to ensure manoeuvring and the nosedive when the missile is travelling at supersonic speed. Nobody has ever made anything of this kind. Nobody has even tried to do it. We managed to do it, and quite successfully at that,” Dr. Pillai said proudly.

Dr. Pillai said the ramjet system is fully operational and ensures the missile travels at a speed of approximately Mach 2.8. Block III is considered the world’s first supersonic missile capable of travelling in the mountains. When Russian and Indian scientists work together, they are capable of working wonders, the BrahMos Aerospace CEO said, and it is a hard point to argue.

The BrahMos Aerospace press service told Rossiyskaya Gazeta that the new missile system is fully prepared for production and that the company is currently determining the configuration of a missile facility for the army and the number of launching pads that will be needed.

In addition, Dr. Pillai said the joint venture has developed a version of the BrahMos that can be launched from underwater. A test launch is planned for this year.

“Our submarine-launched missile has already been developed,” he said. The plan is to launch the missile from a special pontoon on a stand just beneath the water. “We think we will make the launch this year and wrap up this work,” Dr. Pillai said.

Govt to phase-out majority of MiG fighter aircraft: Antony

(The Economic Times): NEW DELHI: Against the backdrop of air crashes involving MiG fighters, Government on Wednesday said it was planning to phase-out the majority of the Russian-origin jets from the Indian Air Force by 2017 and replace them with modern aircraft.

Defence Minister A K Antony told Rajya Sabha that a number of modern aircraft such as the Su-30 MKI, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M- MRCA) would be procured to replace the squadrons of MiG 21s and MiG 23s.

The Air force have got a "clear-cut plan" to phase out these aircraft by 2017 and by the same time the induction of new aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKI and, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will begin, Antony said while replying to a member's query on flight safety during Question Hour.

The Minister said the initial operational clearance for LCA has already been "successfully conducted" and it will be inducted in the Air Force "very soon".

On the proposal to procure 126 M-MRCA, Antony assured the members that the induction plan for the project was not lagging behind and will not take time up to 2020 to introduce these aircrafts in the IAF.

He said that large scale acquisition of Sukhoi-30 MKI, LCA and the MMRCA will take place within the next few years and acknowledged that such an exercise could not take place in past due to "historical reasons".

The Defence Minister sought to allay apprehensions that the quality of aircraft spare parts being supplied to the country has deteriorated after the break-up of Soviet Union and that it could be a reason for the aircraft accidents.

He said "quality is all right" and there was no complaint regarding it by and large but admitted that after the disintegration of Soviet Union, there are "some slippages in delivery" of the spare parts as companies manufacturing the products shifted bases.

Antony said the government is trying to handle the problems related to time schedule of deliveries of spare parts.

A statement was also laid in the House in which the ministry gave details of aircraft accidents in response to a question by Congress member T M Selvaganapath.

The statement said 12 accidents of IAF aircrafts took place during the last year in which 5 pilots, 11 service personnel and four civilians were killed while one such incident took place till February 18 in which no casualty was reported.

Kaveri Engine Production Negotiation With Snecma in Final Stage says Defence Minister

(Indiadefense) : India's negotiation with a French firm for developing a production version of its indigenous Kaveri engine for its military aircraft is in the final stage of cost negotiations, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.

Negotiations with French firm Snecma are being conducted by a tender purchase committee with members from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and defence finance department.

"It is proposed to develop production version Kaveri (K10) engine on co-design and co-development basis with Snecma of France. The technical evaluation for this proposal has been completed. Tender purchase committee is negotiating the commercial aspects," Antony said in a written reply during question hour.

He said so far, nine prototypes of Kaveri engines and four prototypes of Kaveri Core (Kabini) engines have been developed, and about 1,975 hours of testing have been conducted on Kaveri and its core engines at ground and altitude conditions.

Kaveri engine prototype (K9) was integrated with an IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute in Russia. After adequate engine ground runs, the scientists had successfully completed the taxi trials and the maiden flight test of Kaveri engine with IL-76 aircraft for over an hour on Nov 3 last year, followed by three more flight tests.

"These flight tests covered a six km altitude and a speed of 0.6 mach (0.6 times the speed of sound)," he added.

India had sanctioned the Kaveri engine development project on Mar 30, 1989, with a probable date of completion in December 1996 and a cost of Rs.382.81 crore. The project cost was later revised to Rs.2,839 crore.

Some of the major reasons for time and cost overruns are first-time development of an engine, lack of skilled manpower in engine manufacturing, enhancement in the scope of project during development, lack of infrastructure for engine manufacture testing and component/system level testing within the country.

"Flying test bed trials was not originally included as a milestone in the project. Engine and component failure during testing, which is inevitable in these kind of projects, resulted in changes in design and material based on various reviews," Antony said.

Foreign manufacturing agencies too showed less priority for the project in view of minimum order quantity, that is the production order quantity from other engine houses.

US sanctions imposed in 1998 (after India's nuclear tests in Pokhran under the National Democratic Alliance regime) affected the delivery of critical systems and components, he added.

-- IANS

Mazagon Dockyards, DCNS Delay Scorpene Submarines Delivery; First Inductions in 2015

The first of the six Scorpene submarines would now be inducted into the Navy by 2015 against the planned induction in December next year, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.

Defence Minister A K Antony said the Government has also granted sanction for cost revision of the Project-75 contract signed with French company DCNS in 2004 under which the first submarine was scheduled to be delivered in 2012 and was to be followed up by delivery one vessel each year up to 2017.

"The first submarine is scheduled to be delivered in the second half of 2015. There has been a delay due to initial teething problems and absorption of technology," the Minister said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

The submarines are being built by the Mumbai-based Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL) in partnership with DCNS. The Minister said that the cost revision was sanctioned keeping in mind the increase in cost of MPM items, related subheads and additional MDL infrastructure.

Antony said the Navy was bridging any submarine capacity gap through upgrades on the existing fleet of Russian and German-origin under water fleet. He added that the government was also working on the proposal to construct six additional submarines for the Navy under Project-75 (India).
  (Press Trust of India/Indiadefense)

Rafael Snags Tejas Missile Contract

(AvaitionWeek) : Israel’s defense industry is further cementing ties with India, with New Delhi’s decision to equip the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) with the Rafael Derby as the baseline beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (Bvraam).
Opting for the Israeli Bvraam weapon is supposed to help the Tejas reach its full operational clearance by December 2012. Indian officials last year already gave up on the notion of using the indigenous Astra missile as the main Bvraam, related to development problems.
But Derby is likely to be more than just a stop-gap measure. Indian officials indicate it will probably be the standard fit on the Tejas Mk.2 as well.
The Tejas program, which achieved initial operational clearance in January, still has a long road of weapon qualification trials ahead before it is declared fully operational (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 11). So far, the Tejas has only proven itself in weapons carriage and release.
Sources within the Tejas program office in Bengaluru say that the Derby was a logical choice for the indigenous fighter since it was fully compatible with the aircraft’s sensors and avionics, particularly the LCA’s Israel Aerospace Industries multimode radar, the Elta EL/M-2032. The fact that the Derby-EL/M-2032 weapon-sensor combination has been proven on the Indian navy’s upgraded Sea Harriers contributed to the selection of the Israeli missile for the Tejas.
Meanwhile, India is still hoping to turn around its indigenous program. The 80-km-range Astra is expected to be test-fired from a Su-30MKI in early 2012. A model of the extended range Mk.2 of the missile was unveiled at Aero India earlier this month. It is to deliver a range in excess of 120 km (74.5 mi.), and also feature a two-way data link between the missile and aircraft. Sources within the Astra team say the Mk.2 would be compatible with all applicable aircraft currently in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory, as well as the winner of the $12 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft competition, alongside offerings from companies like Raytheon and MBDA.
Astra program director S.A. Gollakota says the program delays are partly caused by the IAF’s insistence on smokeless propulsion. “We’ve taken time to identify the materials necessary to make this possible,” he notes.
Four Astra missiles were put through extended captive flight trials on an IAF Su-30MKI in late 2009 to test aeromechanical compatibility during high-speed flight and steep dives. The missile also performed day-and-night ground-launches last year.

February 23, 2011

Rafael Derby BVRAAMs on Indian Air Force HAL Tejas Light Combat Aircraft by 2012-end

(IndiaDefense): The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to equip the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) with the Rafael's supersonic Derby beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVR-AAM). India will sign a contract with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems (RADSL) to procure the Derby BVR-AAM to be fitted on 200 jets.

Delivery of the missiles is expected by the end of 2012. The IAF has selected the Derby BVR-AAM over the indigenous Astra BVR-AAM to expedite the induction of Tejas into its arsenal. The Derby BVR-AAM missile is a tried and tested weapon, though it is yet to be successfully test-fired in the air using a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet. The Derby has a range of 50km, compared with 80km of the Astra missile.

Tejas developer Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said the Astra BVR-AAM would be integrated with the LCA once all the flight test firing schedules were successfully completed.

February 22, 2011

S-400 Triumf destroys supersonic target

(RiaNovosti)Tests of the latest S-400 Triumf air defense system (NATO reporting name S-21 Growler) were completed successfully at the Kapustin Yar firing range in Russia’s Astrakhan Region. Sergei Popov, head of the Russian Air Force’s air defense troops, said the system took down all of its targets.
The system has a range of 400 km in which it can destroy ballistic targets, cruise missiles, and even supersonic aircraft.
Russia’s Space Forces were given a second regiment armed with the latest S-400 Triumf air defense system on February 16. The first regiment is deployed at Elektrostal in the Moscow Region and is guarding Russia’s central regions. The second regiment is to be deployed at Dmitrov outside Moscow in March 2011.

Indonesia is among the first importers of Russian antiship missiles

(Rusnavy): According to Indonesian news agency Antara reported late in Jan referring to Chief of Naval Operations, Indonesia was about to conduct test launches of its antiship missiles Yakhont. Thus, previously posted information has been proved out that Indonesia along with Vietnam and Syria becomes one of the first importers of Yakhont/Onyx antiship missiles.

In the context of strained geopolitical situation in the region, Indonesia intended to hold comprehensive tests of naval arsenals, including recently acquired "strategically important" Yakhont antiship missiles which outclass anything Indonesian Navy have had before as of operational range and flight speed. Missile firings against a written-off ship are to be conducted in Feb 2011.

According to local press, six frigates were armed with eight Yakhont missiles each, ten corvettes – four missiles each. Allegedly, the works were completely carried out by local shipyard PT PAL in Surabaya; cost of each Yakhont missile is roughly appraised as $1.2 mln.

For the same geopolitical reasons it was decided to resume studying the possibility to purchase two submarines, the press reports citing Indonesia's Chief of Naval Operations. Apparently, the choice would be made among two winners of the previous non-completed tender, i.e. Korean and Russian offers.

Embraer rolls out first EMB 145 AEW&C for India

( Embraer PR , IDRW) : Embraer presented the first of three EMB 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platforms, today, to representatives of the Indian government at a ceremony held at its headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil.Based on the proven Embraer ERJ 145 regional jet, the aircraft features an in-flight refueling system, SATCOM capability, a significant increase in electrical and cooling capacities, and a comprehensive set of aerodynamic and structural changes.
These improvements will allow the installation of the advanced electronic systems currently being developed by India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) under CABS (Centre for Airborne Systems) coordination.
Following its official presentation, the aircraft will start intensive ground and flight tests. The ferry flight to India is scheduled for the second semester of this year, where it will receive the equipment being developed by the DRDO.
“The smooth progress of such a complex program is strongly based on the good will and the high level of professionalism that both the Indian and Brazilian teams have demonstrated over the last two-and-a-half years. Given Embraer’s experience in the field of ISR aircraft and equipment, we believe that this jointly developed product will offer outstanding operational capability, and we look forward to its entry into service,” said Eduardo Bonini, Senior Vice President Operations & COO – Embraer Defense and Security.
Today, four Embraer Legacy 600 jets are operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the transportation of Indian VIPs and foreign dignitaries, and a fifth Embraer Legacy 600 is in service with the Border Security Force (BSF), under India’s Home Ministry.

US pushes deal, secrecy hitch on IAF screen

(The Telegraph ): The US’s strong pitch to sell its fighter aircraft to India for an estimated $12 billion has run into a hurdle with the Indian Air Force telling the government that it does not favour the signing of agreements that risk compromising its operational secrecy.
Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik said in Yelahanka earlier this month that price negotiations for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal could start as early as next month and a contract would be signed by September. The setting of a deadline by the IAF chief has led to intensified lobbying by competitors and the governments backing them.
The Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 IN Super Viper (a variant of the F-16 Fighting Falcon) are two of the six competitors for the order. The others are Rafale (Dassault Aviation, France), Eurofighter Typhoon (a consortium of the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain), the Saab Gripen (Sweden) and the Russian MiG 35.
The IAF has indicated to the government that US-imposed conditionalities could lead to denial of even such crucial components in their aircraft such as the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. An AESA radar allows the pilot in a fighter jet to track more targets faster than older radars.
The tender issued by the Indian government when it invited the companies to participate in the competition had laid down that an AESA radar must be integrated with the aircraft that would seek to bag the order.
The IAF is particularly concerned about the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that the US is pushing India to sign.
“The CISMOA is a communication agreement. We don’t necessarily have to sign that,” Air Chief Marshal Naik said.
But US ambassador Timothy Roemer, who was also at the air show in Yelahanka, said that the US “offers such agreements only to its closest allies and Nato partners”.
Another senior IAF officer said: “The CISMOA is necessary for airforces to communicate with the US easily. Why do we need to communicate with the US all the time?”
The AESA radar that the two US companies have offered in the Super Hornet and the Super Viper are made by Raytheon. Raytheon Asia president Admiral (retired) Walter Doran insists that the CISMOA would not be a hurdle.
He cites the initial Indian reservation over the signing of the End-User Monitoring Agreement, a pact that allows the US government to inspect the use of military equipment it has allowed to be sold.
“Two years ago that was such an issue. But now nobody even talks about it,” Doran said, emphasising that “as the US-India relationship grows these will cease to matter”.
US officials also cite the transfer last fortnight of the first of six C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical airlifter to the IAF. But the US competitors for the IAF fighter aircraft order — such as the European firms — give the same example a different twist because the Super Hercules was delivered without some of the equipment that would have been available if the CISMOA was sealed.
Even if the government chooses one of the two competing US aircraft — after the IAF completed the flight evaluation trials for the six fighter aircraft last July — there would be questions on whether it is a payback for the clinching of the civilian nuclear pact. The US has been aggressively looking for billion-dollar orders from India to create jobs in its traditional industries, such as military aviation companies.
Raytheon, of all the US companies, has huge stakes in the Indian military orders. The company has more than 8,000 products. It practically opened the door for large-scale US military transfers to India when 12 artillery Firefinder An-TPQ/37 radars made by it were contracted by New Delhi in 2002.
For the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-16 Super Viper, Raytheon has offered to make and integrate not only the AESA radar but also electronic warfare (EW) suites including radar warning systems, a towed decoy system and electro-optical targeting flares.
The European and Russian competitors of the US companies are, in turn, trying to convince the Indian government that their weapons and systems will be delivered with “no strings attached”.
The IAF’s reservation on signing the CISMOA have particularly raised the hopes for the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale in particular that have the least US content in their platforms after the Russians. (The US forbids exports of military hardware to Russia). The Saab Gripen is powered by a US-made engine (the GE 414) and has some avionics from the US that the Swedish company is telling the IAF will not be an issue because they would buy the equipment from the Americans off-the-shelf. The Russian MiG-35 has no US-made component but its absence at the airshow in Yelahanka this week reflects a loss of confidence in Moscow to bag the $12 billion MMRCA deal.
Top

February 21, 2011

The Big Deal nears the finish

 
(Deccan Chronicle) :  Asked about China’s latest wonder, a stealth fighter called the J-20 that the US alleges was built by ‘stealth’ practices, Air Chief P.V. Naik shot back recently, “Is reverse engineering ethical or is it an illegitimate entry through the backdoor?”
It was an unusual outburst of helplessness for a military man who, more than anyone else, knows well that it does not matter how a country obtains its military capability, but only that it possesses it. As Deng Xiaoping once said, “It does not matter whether the cat is white or black so long as it catches mice”.
Air Chief Naik’s frustration was perhaps more at the fact that India is still some way from getting a fully capable Tejas LCA, let alone dream of a fifth-gen fighter. Perhaps the one area in which the Indian military still enjoys a lead over the Chinese military — air combat — is in danger of slipping, unless India acts quickly to refurbish its capability.
China, after all, is pouring billions into acquiring modern air superiority and multi-role fighters such as the Su-27 variants and the Su-30 MKK from Russia, building its own J-10 and JF-17 fighters in the hundreds and, worst of all, arming Pakistan too with them. Pakistan is beefing up its own F-16 fleet with new aircraft and, for the first time, American beyond visual range (BVR) missiles — the benefits of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds in the war on terror.
Meanwhile, suffering from collective obsolescence and a great many MiG aircraft crashes, the IAF’s strength is depleting. In the wake of the 1962 humiliation at China’s hands, it was estimated that the IAF would need to have 64 fighter squadrons. By the 1990s, though, squadron strength had peaked at about 42 and had begun to fall. Today, the IAF is left with anywhere between 29 to 34 squadrons, against a sanctioned 39.5. The IAF desperately wants to touch 45 squadrons by 2020.
The importance of the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) — which, per the armed forces’ Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan will go up all the way up to 260 fighters — cannot be overstated.
It's a big deal — in fact, the biggest defence import deal for India so far, and the biggest contract up for grabs for the world’s military equipment giants. It’s also the most complicated military buy decision that the IAF and the political leadership face. For starters, just the technical and field evaluations had over 600 test points for each aircraft. Yet, if a decision is not made in the next few months, it could be a very big disaster for the IAF’s short to medium-term warfare capability.
To be sure, the MMRCA procurement process has reached an advanced stage. The IAF has given the ministry of defence its report on the technical and field trials of the six aircraft in contention, reportedly without picking a favourite or even a shortlist — Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN, Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F, the Eurofighter (UK-Germany-Italy-Spain) Typhoon, the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Gripen IN and the Russian MiG-35 are vying for the contract — leaving that task to the MoD bureaucracy.
An MoD Technical Oversight Committee is currently looking at the ‘offset’proposals — a requirement that the winning contractor source a certain amount of the value of each aircraft that India buys from Indian industry — submitted by the contenders for the deal. Simultaneously, their proposals for transfer of technology, critical for the rapid development of an Indian capability to build advanced fighters, are also being examined.
At the end of this process — expected to end in a week or two — the TOC will ‘down-select’ a few companies to go to the next stage of the bidding process. The price bids of the short-listed companies will then be opened in front of the bidders. The lowest price bidder, designated L1, will be called by a Contract Negotiation Committee to finalise the terms of the deal. Once that’s done, the defence minister, then the finance minister and finally the Cabinet committee on security will have to sign off on the contract.
At the recent Aero India show, ACM Naik said this will be done by September, but MoD officials have told this newspaper it will happen no sooner than the end of the year or early next year, if all goes well. That caveat is important.
Corruption has always been the big bugbear, but the MMRCA process has, so far, been admirably unaffected. The IAF and the MoD have, in fact, gone out of the way to ensure that the process is clean and transparent.
Trouble, however, could come from elsewhere. For one, as the air chief himself said, a losing contender could put a spoke in the wheel — such corporate sniping has forced the MoD to re-tender or even cancel procurements in the past. Or, the finance ministry could well play spoilsport, as it did with the refueling tanker deal recently.
No matter who puts the spoke in the wheel, ultimately it is the country’s security that will be put at risk unless the IAF can begin to induct the aircraft by 2015-2016. Beyond that date, the MMRCA will either have to be scrapped or the aircraft will become a costly, even unnecessary, acquisition.
Nonetheless, it’s not an easy decision to make. For starters, should India buy an aircraft to meet merely IAF's capability requirements or, when it is spending over $10 billion — potentially $25 billion — should its choice be based on obtaining critical technology and strategic benefits? Even if only the IAF's capability requirements were kept in mind, should it go for a ‘combat-proven’ fighter essentially of 1970s/80s design (f-16), but whose development potential is at an end? Or, should it go for the newest, albeit relatively unproven, fighter that has ‘potential’ for improvement for the next 40 years (Typhoon, Rafale)?
Should the IAF insist on a fighter that has a working active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar today (F-16, F/A-18) or should it take the risk of choosing one for which an AESA radar is still under development?
Should the IAF simply go for the cheapest aircraft, while keeping its resources for a future acquisition of a so-called 5th-gen fighter, the F-35? Should it scrap the MMRCA, forget the F-35 and simply buy more of the most capable fighter it already has — the Sukhoi-30 MKI? Or should it buy the most expensive, but also apparently the most capable aircraft in the race — the Typhoon — to hedge against a possible failure of its own future aircraft project?
And what should India’s political leadership look to gain from such a big contract?
In March 2005, America declared its intention to “facilitate India’s defence transformation” by not only selling fighters but also “transformative systems” that would “help India become a major world power in the 21st Century”. Should India take the promise at face value and buy an American fighter, to possibly build an alliance against China?
Or, should India buy the Eurofighter Typhoon, and give the European defence industry a fillip in an attempt to preserve our preferred multi-polar world order? Should we buy the French Rafale because France, like India, likes to keep its independent flag flying and is ready to give us “100 per cent” technology?
In the end, it is very likely that even within the tight two-stage bidding process, India’s bureaucracy and political leadership will find creative ways to ensure that political and strategic considerations and India’s need for technology decide the final choice of aircraft.
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Company: Boeing
* Proven aircraft with potential for future development. Meets AESA radar requirement.
* India has chosen the GE F-414 engine for Tejas Mk 2. F-18 will mean a common engine for the two aircraft, a maintenance and support advantage.
* Is expected to come in at less than $70 million a unit.
* Excellent, but all-American weapons package.
RAFALE
Company: Dassault
* The darkhorse in the race is now apparently among the top choices.
* Comparable to the Eurofighter in most respects, and better than the F-18 in many.
* French air force has recently cleared the AESA radar to go on the fighter.
* French President Nicolas Sarkozy has apparently promised 100 per cent technology transfer.
Eurofighter Typhoon
Company: Eurofighter GmbH
* Apparently the most capable aircraft in the competition on a number of parameters.
* The ‘youngest’ aircraft in the competition, with potential for future development.
* Does not have a working AESA radar on the aircraft as on today. But one is under development.
* Biggest attraction: Eurofighter countries demand no agreements; won’t impinge on Indian sovereignty.
F-16IN Super Viper
Company: Lockheed Martin
* Perhaps the most-proven and combat-optimised fighter among the contenders, it has AESA radar, a key IAF requirement.
* Is expected to come at $60 million a unit.
* Has been offered with removable Conformal Fuel Tanks. Among the most manouvreable air-to-air fighters without CFT.
* Excellent, but has an all-American weapons.

Request for Proposals for Indian Navy Next Generation Submarines by 2011-end

(Indiadefense): Press Trust of India reports that the Indian Navy / Ministry of Defence will issue a global tender inviting proposals for procuring six next generation submarines by the end of 2011.

The news agency quoted Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma who was speaking on the sidelines of the Submarine Seminar:
"The government has cleared Project-75 India which is the next lot of six submarines... At the moment we are going with the Request for Information (RFI) process, I hope within this year we would be able to push off the tender"

"It will be a different boat in the sense that we are revising its Qualitative Requirements. Along with better sensors it will also have better hiding capability, improved detection range and combat management system."


The Project-75 is a follow-up of the Scorpene submarine project, six of which are being built by the Mazgaon Dockyards Limited (MDL) under a Rs 20,000 crore deal with French company DCNS. The Indian Navy is planning to induct over 12 submarines in the next 10-12 years. The plans have also suffered a setback in view of the delays in the construction of the Scorpenes in Mumbai.

He said the Navy would go for the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems for the submarines, which would enhance their capability of remaining submerged in water for a longer time period. On the weapon systems to be put on the next line of underwater vessels, Verma said Navy was planning to use a mix of indigenous torpedoes along with the missiles which are being deployed on the Scorpene submarines.

February 19, 2011

U.S. Navy Focuses On Surface Ship Funding

(Aviationweek ): The U.S. Navy’s focus on funding surface fleet ships in the fiscal 2012 budget request is proving to be a bonanza for aircraft carriers, Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA-7) amphibious assault replacement ships and San Antonio LPD-17-class vessels.
The Navy plans to spend a combined amount of about $6 billion for construction and research and development work on those vessels during the upcoming fiscal year.
The budget request includes $555 million in construction funding and another $137 million for research and development for the CVN-21 and $530 million for the refueling and complex overhaul of the USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72.
The budget also requests $2 billion for the LHA-7s, compared to $950 million in fiscal 2011, as part of the second increment for the program.
The largest of all amphibious warfare ships, the LHA-7 represents a step up from the Tarawa-class LHAs, which are reaching the end of their extended service life in 2015.
The budget requests $1.9 billion for the LPD-17s, compared to $1.4 million in fiscal 2011 for the 11th and final ship of the class. The funding includes line shutdown costs for the San Antonio-class ships, which are replacing 41 vessels across four different ship classes.
Over the next five years, the Navy plans to buy five more ships across all classes than the service had initially planned to acquire (Aerospace DAILY, Feb. 15). By comparison, the Navy is cutting its intended aircraft purchase numbers by 31 to 973.
For the previous decade, though, the Navy was much more focused on its aircraft. The service spent more than $50 billion for fixed-wing aircraft and aircraft-related work between 1999 and 2009, according to an Aerospace DAILY analysis of contracting data provided by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.
By comparison, the Navy spent a bit more than $15 billion for carriers — excluding nuclear components — and amphibious assault ships combined, the analysis shows.

February 18, 2011

INDIA'S FIRST C-130J INDUCTED INTO IAF

                                                                              source: youtube

IAF set to soar again

                                                                        Photo : F-18 E
(The Pioneer ) India should buy the best planes. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may force US aircraft upon the Air Force.
Intense dogfights were witnessed last week at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore between eight countries representing six fighter aircraft for clinching India’s biggest defence contract: The 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft worth $10 billion. The aircraft are Boeings F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martins’ F-16 IN Super Viper, MiG Corporation’s MiG-35, Saab’s Gripen NG, Dassault’s Raphael and a four-nation European consortium’s Eurofighter, Typhoon.

For the United States, which in the last five years has sold more defence equipment to India than it has in the last 50, bagging the deal has become both a prestige issue as well as a return for its critical investment in the India-US strategic partnership epitomised by the 123 civil nuclear agreement.

Lobbying for the contract is picking up as the sealed envelope containing the short list will be opened in the Ministry of Defence in April or May this year and the contract signed either in September 2011 or March 2012. The commercial bids by the six contestants are also sealed and kept with the Ministry of Defence.

From US President Barack Obama to Carnegie Endowment’s Ashley Tellis, all are canvassing for the US fighter aircraft and hinting it is payback time for India: 126 after 123. In April, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in New Delhi for the India-US strategic dialogue just when the envelope will be unsealed.

Last week US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Geoffrey Pyatt, at a policy forum in Singapore, spoke about Washington’s preparedness to share with India now, the most advanced technology in the defence and economic domain. He said the US was talking to New Delhi a lot about the two strong American competitors for the 126 MMRCA deal.

Such a deal if it happened, he added, would revolutionise our military relationship. Also last week, Mr Andrew Shapiro, US Assistant Secretary of State, Political and Military Bureau at the State Department, was in New Delhi, pitching for military sales among other items of defence cooperation.

Indian defence analysts have told their American counterparts that despite certain glitches the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has endured. While Russia has leased a nuclear submarine to India for a second time, unpleasant memories of the US cutting critical supplies still linger. The political content of the India-US strategic partnership has to touch greater heights of mutual trust.

In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that politics plays a big part in defence deals. Indians are only too familiar with the political inducements of the Swedish Government on late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 over the Bofors contract and the Russian cajolery of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1991 over the Sukhoi deal consummated without any evaluation.

Another dicey contract was the one on Mirage 2000 brokered in 1982 jointly by Mr Sanjay Gandhi and Defence Secretary KPA Menon, once again without any technical evaluation as the aircraft did not exist. They tried to scuttle the perfectly legitimate Jaguar contract of 1978 negotiated by the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party Government but the British authorities blocked the attempt. While mega cost defence acquisitions were driven by political considerations (and kickbacks) quality of equipment was not compromised.

Industrialist Ratan Tata flew the F-18 and actor Shahid Kapoor piloted the F-16. The single-engine F-16 was also flown by the Indian Air Force’s most versatile and highly decorated fighter pilot Retd Air Marshal Jimmy Bhatia at Bangalore. None of their efforts will enhance the rating of these fighters in the IAF’s technical, flight and staff evaluation chart. The F-16 is a non-flyer because the Pakistan Air Force has had it in its inventory for 30 years. The twin-engine F-18 seems to have also missed the mark. The Russian MiG 35, a souped up MiG 29 did not show up in Bangalore. The Gripen is a great aircraft but single-engine and a lightweight equivalent of an improved Tejas LCA.

That leaves the two high-priced European contenders, Rafael and Typhoon, neck-and-neck in the race. Rather late in the day, Lockheed Martin and US Under Secretary of State for Defence Ashton Carter have indicated willingness to include India in the F-35 Advanced Stealth Fighter Programme.

India and Russia are already engaged in jointly developing the fifth generation fighter aircraft. That practically closes the door for an American fighter joining the IAF inventory. Two years ago senior IAF officers were even recommending splitting the 126 MMRCA between US and Russia.

The sealed envelope with its performance rating of the six aircraft was handed over by the IAF to the Ministry of Defence in July 2010 but a parallel dogfight is on over the offset policy between those for and against it. The MMRCA procurement procedure has been complicated by an unviable offset policy and unrealistic FDI cap of 26 per cent.

The six companies competing for the MMRCA were asked to explain their offset strategy by end this month. Authoritative sources in the IAF are drawing a possible option: On the short list are the two twin-engine European fighters, Rafael and Typhoon, both excellent but very expensive aircraft at a flyaway cost upwards of $100 million apiece. This is distinct from the lifecycle cost which could increase by 25 per cent. A third contender, the American F-18, could sneak into the short list.

Next month, when the commercial bids are opened, L1 (lowest bidder) will be invited to negotiate the final cost with the Price Negotiating Committee.

Ashley Tellis’s report, titled ‘Dogfight — India’s MMRCA Decision’, highlights how the IAF has declined 29 fighter squadrons and only by 2017 will they be restored to the authorised 39.5 squadrons. He believes that cost, technology transfers and the facility to fit into the evolving IAF force structure will determine the choice. He says that while European aircraft are ‘technically superb’, US entrants with older designs are ‘best buys’. The US offer should be compensated, he adds, by generous technology transfer and assured access to fifth generation aircraft.

Union Minister for Defence AK Antony has repeatedly and emotionally, said that merit not politics will decide the winning aircraft. Yet only the US has the will and capacity to help raise India’s global power profile. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s political instinct may let the F-18 plus fly into the ultimate deal.

Flight of the Dragon: China’s First Stealth Aircraft is Ready


(India Strategic) New Delhi. Keeping in tune with its much-debated and controversial military modernisation programme, China has rolled out its first J-20 radarevading stealth fighter in early January 2011. The J-20 took its maiden flight over Chengdu in southwest China. In fact, Beijing appears to have made it a point to announce the arrival of the J-20 with images of the stealth fighter on the tarmac at an airfield near Chengdu widely in circulation since December 2010.




  In continuance, the launch of the J-20 overlapped with the arrival of US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, to China. Whether or not this was mere coincidence or a purported Chinese strategy, is something that can be debated upon. China’s military modernisation campaign has caused considerable ripples not just within Asia, but beyond.
Taking note of the latest Chinese action, Gates chose to express concern regarding the larger issue of China’s military modernisation programme and that the new stealth fighter was part of that campaign. Even though the J-20 would invariably draw comparison to US Pentagon’s F-22 Raptor, or the F 35 under development, Beijing still has a long way to go before it could match up to the F-22 in terms of capability and numbers. It is speculated that in any case, it could be a decade or more before Beijing could begin rolling out J-20s in sufficient numbers.
The issue is not the size and thrust of the aircraft, but how to hide the engine’s heat signatures and the aircraft’s exhaust.
Notwithstanding the technology levels though, Gates stated, "They clearly have potential to put some of our capabilities at risk.”
While addressing a Joint Press Conference with General Liang Guanglie in Beijing, on January 10, 2011, Secretary Gates commented upon the importance of maintaining an ongoing military-to-military dialogue between the United States and the PRC. Mechanisms such as the Defense Consultative Talks, the Defense Policy Coordination Talks, and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement could serve as important channels of communication in this regard.
In line with this thought, Secretary Gates was provided a rare view of China’s nuclear and missile arsenal with a trip to the Second Artillery Corps of the PLA headquarters Stressing that exchanges such as these would help in building trust, Guan Youfei, Deputy Chief of the Defence Ministry’s Foreign Affairs Office stated, “We believe exchanges with the US in all kinds of fields are beneficial."
China has often justified its military modernisation campaign as a reasonable chain of actions undertaken to update antiquated weapons systems and equipment and thus rationalise an outdated military structure. These significantly include potentially offensive weapons such as aircraft carriers, anti-ship missiles, and stealth fighters—projected primarily to enforce Chinese claims vis-à-vis Taiwan.
The policy makers in China have frequently noted its history of vulnerability to external aggression as a reference point. At the same time, they have also expressed commitment to a ‘defensive posture’ to ensure the protection of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In so far as the PLA Air Force is concerned, it aims to convert from a limited territorial defence force to a more flexible and agile force which will be able to operate off-shore in both offensive and defensive roles— the PLA Air Force has freshly inducted J-10 and J-11 fighters. The PLAAF is focusing on areas which include strike, air and missile defence, early warning and reconnaissance, and strategic mobility. The PLAAF also plays a crucial role in what is described as the ‘joint anti-air raid’ campaign—constituting the basis for Chinese anti-access and areadenial operations. In the context of China’s ‘active defence’ military strategy, though the joint anti-air raid campaign is strategically defensive in nature, it calls for attacks against adversary bases and naval forces at the operational and tactical level.
China’s J-20 gives the impression of an approximately 70+ feet aircraft. According to Rob Hewson at Jane's Intelligence, it has been reported that Russia has supplied 32,000-pound thrust 117S engines for the J-20, which would be adequate for an aircraft in the 80,000 pound class. This in turn would sum up to lower super cruise performance and agility as compared to the F-22 Raptor. However, the aircraft would have larger weapon bays and more fuel.
The J-20 is a fighter more than a bomber. The size of the J-20 has fuelled speculation that it is optimized for fast, high-altitude interception using long-range missiles. Stealth aircraft use stealth technology to obstruct radar detection by means of employing a combination of features to diminish visibility in the infrared, visual, audio, and radio frequency spectra. Although no aircraft can be totally invisible to radar, stealth aircraft prevent conventional radar from detecting or tracking the aircraft effectively, thereby reducing the odds of an attack. It is not the size but the shape that matters.
A startling aspect regarding rolling out of the J-20 came in that intelligence agencies in the West could not really keep tab and the radar-evading fighter came in much earlier than was being projected. China did not officially announce the maiden flight of the J-20, however, it certainly goes without saying that official approval was granted given that videos and pictures of the runway tests of its prototype stealth fighter were taken and widely distributed.
In what could be interpreted as a disconnect between China’s internal policy making and issues of transparency, especially on matters military, the nature and existential equations of Chinese civil-military dynamic have raised eyebrows again.
Gates called for China’s military to communicate better with its civilian leaders, thus underscoring the questions as to who actually wields greater control in China.
That the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains firmly in control of the PLA, is something that is broadly believed. The recent Chinese actions, such as the decision to refuse US Navy port calls to Hong Kong in November 2007—continue to raise fundamental questions about how national security issues are coordinated in Beijing and the degree of authority the PLA may or may not have to take unilateral action that affects larger Chinese national security or foreign relations.
Notably, a conspicuous omission in the White Paper was the failure by the PRC to comment on the ASAT test of January 2007—an aggressive demonstration of its technological prowess. Furthermore, China's ASAT test saw the PRC’s Foreign Ministry being ill-equipped to comment upon the event in front of the international community.
However, according to BBC News reports, Xi Jinping, who is projected as President Hu Jintao's successor, and currently the Vice President of the PRC, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited Chengdu around the period when the J-20 was set for its trial run.
While breaking free from the manacles of what the Chinese term as their ‘Century of Shame’, the outlook of the political and military elites in China has been shaped with a view to build their nation towards achieving comprehensive large-scale military reach and further cement its position as a global power. Therefore, the latest J-20 induction makes it even more imperative so as to disseminate military information, given that Chinese military sophistication and its ensuing lack of transparency is growing and could well have a spillover effect in Asia.
The author is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi. She is also the author of two books namely, “China’s Military and Its Strategy” (forthcoming in 2011) and “Chinese WMD Proliferation in Asia: U.S. Response.” (2009)