October 31, 2011

RAF Typhoon leads the race to secure £7 billion arms deal

The "flawless" performance of the Eurofighter Typhoon in the Libyan war has catapulted the aircraft ahead of its main rival to win one of the most lucrative of defence deals in recent times.
The Indian government has shortlisted both the Dassault Rafale and the Typhoon, both veterans of the Libyan campaign, for a planned £7 billion order of 126 jets for its air force.
The Typhoon was already leading the pack after the jet scored highest in a technical assessment by Indian pilots who flew the aircraft in a series of exercises in 2010.
But it is believed that it will be the Typhoon's performance in the Libyan conflict, where it completed more than 600 combat missions, that will help to clinch the deal, the result of which will be made public before Christmas.
A successful deal would boost Britain's beleaguered defence industry and help stave off job losses, although it will not save any of the 3,000 posts cut last month by BAE, which has a 33 per cent stake in the Typhoon programme.
The BAE job cuts are at two sites in Lancashire and one in East Yorkshire.
The competition became a two-horse race earlier this year after the Indian government rejected two hugely successful battle-proven combat jets, Boeing's F-18 and Lockheed Martin's F-16, much to the chagrin of the US Department of Defense.
Both the Typhoon, which is jointly built by Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain, and Rafale have performed admirably over the skies of Libya, enforcing the no-fly zone, launching air to ground strikes and conducting reconnaissance and overflight missions, and many observers believe there is little to separate the capabilities of the two jets.
But the Rafale has so far failed to sell overseas because of its high cost and technical complexity – a marked shift from France's last successful fighter jet, the Mirage.
Ironically, in 2007, Col Gaddafi began talks with the French government to buy 14 jets, a deal which collapsed following the rise of the Arab Spring and the enforcement of the Libyan arms embargo.
India is an attractive target for all international defence companies because it is currently the world's biggest arms importer and it is looking at replacing its obsolete Russian fleet with a world-class multi-role combat jet.
One senior defence source said: "The Libyan war has presented an unexpected shop window for potential buyers for countries, such as Brazil and India, looking at upgrading their air forces.
"Both the Rafale and Typhoon have performed well but Typhoon is the popular choice because it offers so much more. It might be more expensive but offers much more bang for your buck. It's performance in Libya has been flawless."
Wing Commander Jez Attridge, the officer commander F Squadron, during the first three months of the Libyan Campaign, said: "I was deployed for the first three months of Typhoon's involvement with Operation Ellamy (the Ministry of Defence's code name for the Libyan conflict) and flew 27 missions over Libya protecting the civilian population.
"The RAF Typhoons are already proven in the air-to-air role protecting UK airspace every day, but our deployment in the air-to-ground role over Libya demonstrated the flexibility of the aircraft and the people.
"It was decided at a very early stage to team Typhoon with Tornado, whose crews were battle-hardened from numerous similar missions over Afghanistan.
"It made sense because we could benefit from their combat experience whilst complementing each other with our mix of weapons. Similarly, our advanced array of sensors and defensive aids provided the Tornados with significantly enhanced self-protection and situational awareness.
"The resultant combination was powerful, effective and the primary choice of the Nato HQ for dynamic, challenging missions."
The multi-role Typhoon, which entered service with the RAF in 2003, many years late and billions of pound over budget, is in service with Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, as well as the Austrian and Saudi Arabian air forces. BAE is also pursuing sales in Japan, Oman and Malaysia.
Both the French and the manufacturers of the Typhoon are aware that time is running out for the sales of their aircraft.
The full-scale production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is looming and its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has already received huge orders from the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who plan to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s over the next 40 years.
The jet has also proven to be the aircraft of choice for the Royal Navy and will fly from at least one of Britain's two new aircraft carriers when they eventually enter service.
The Telegraph

October 29, 2011

Rafael eyes 'dolphin head' nose design for air-to-air missiles

The advanced dual sensors to be used in future air-to-air missiles developed by Rafael will probably involve the use of the so-called "dolphin head" nose section already employed for its Stunner missile.
Although developed as the interceptor for the David's Sling medium-range rocket and cruise missile air defence system, the company has confirmed that the Stunner is also a next-generation air-to-air missile.
Rafael sources said the dolphin head shape allows the weapon's two seekers to function simultaneously with no interference, even in "extreme conditions".
Around 4.6m (15ft) long, the Stunner uses a multi-pulse rocket motor. Its dual seeker configuration supports its employment in all weather conditions and immunity to deception and countermeasures, Israeli missile manufacturer Rafael said.

(source : Flightglobal)

October 28, 2011

Russian submarine test-fires Bulava missile successfully

(RIA Novosti) : The Russian Navy successfully test-fired an experimental Bulava (SS-N-X-30) intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday from its Yury Dolgoruky submarine in the White Sea, the Defense Ministry said. “Today as part of the state trials program, a successful routine test took place of a Bulava ICBM from the Yury Dolgoruky submarine,” the Navy said.
The missile, the third Bulava launched this year and seventeenth overall, hit a target on the Kura test range in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East.
 “The missile’s flight took place as planned. The missile’s payload hit the range on time," the Defense Ministry said.
Bulava has had a troubled test and development, and only nine of the test firings so far have been declared fully successful.

Third Sukhoi T -50 stealth fighter ‘to fly soon’

Russia’s third prototype Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter will be ready to take to the skies in the near future, a military industry source said on Thursday..
“It will fly when the designers are absolutely confident in their product,” the source said.
The assembly of the fourth fighter is “in the final stages of completion,” he added.
The T-50 made its maiden flight in January and two prototypes have since been undergoing flight tests.
The T-50, developed under the program PAK FA (Future Aviation System for Tactical Air Force) at the Sukhoi OKB, is Russia's first new major warplane designed since the fall of the Soviet Union.
It is expected to enter service in 2016

RIA Novosti

DSCA Announces Possible Sale of Six C-130J Aircraft to India

           Lockheed Martin production line for C-130J transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified U.S. Congress Oct. 26 of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of India for six Lockheed Martin C-130Js and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.

The Government of India has requested a possible sale of 6 Lockheed Martin C-130J United States Air Force (USAF) baseline aircraft including: USAF baseline equipment, 6 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 spare engines, 8 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (two of them spares), 8 AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (two of them spares), 8 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (two of them spares), 8 AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (two of them spares), 8 ARC-210 Radios (Non-COMSEC), and 3200 Flare Cartridges. Also included are spare and repair parts, configuration updates, communications security equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, technical services, personnel training and training equipment, foreign liaison office support, Field Service Representatives’ services, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The estimated cost is $1.2 billion.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner and to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship.

The proposed sale will provide the Indian Government with a credible special operations airlift capability that will help deter aggression in the region and provide enhanced humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

(Defpro) : The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Georgia, and Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana. Offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected, but at this time the specific offset agreements are undetermined and will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractors.

Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of ten U.S. Government and contractor representatives in India for a period of up to three years.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

October 27, 2011

U.S. has 'nuclear superiority' over Russia

Data published by the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday indicates that the United States has some 300 more deployed nuclear weapons than Russia.
According to New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms facts sheet, posted on the State Department’s website, the United States has 822 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers, while Russia has 516.
Russia is also at a disadvantage in the number of warheads on deployed carriers – 1,566 warheads against 1,790 American warheads.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which entered into force on February 5, 2011, commits the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce and limit the number of deployed and non-deployed strategic offensive arms to the agreed aggregate numbers.
Beginning April 6, 2011, inspections under the New START Treaty are regularly conducted in the Russian Federation and the United States with consistent data exchange carried out every six months.
To date, the U.S. has conducted twelve inspections while Russia has conducted eleven inspections. These inspections have taken place at ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber bases, storage facilities, conversion or elimination facilities, and test ranges.

RIA Novosti

India Plans To Buy Recovery Vehicles For T-72 Tanks

 ( Aviationweek) :The Indian army will soon receive 204 armored repair and recovery vehicles for revamping of its damaged T-72s — the Russian-made battle tanks used by the country’s armed forces, a defense ministry official says.
The armored recovery vehicles (ARVs) will be built by the Bengaluru-based defense supplier Bharat Earth Movers under full technology transfer from Poland’s Bumar.
A proposal was recently cleared by the federal Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the official says.
The delivery of the ARVs, valued at roughly $1.4 million each, is expected to be completed during the next three years.
The ministry did not float any global tender for the purchase since it was a repeat order, the official adds.
“After several years’ hiatus, the Polish Bumar Group returns to the Indian defense market,” says defense analyst Dominik Kimla, who works with the Frost and Sullivan Aerospace, Defense and Security group. The contract’s estimated value is $280 million, he said.
“Although Bumar will receive only a part of the contract value (as the ARVs will be manufactured under license by BELM, based on technology transfer from Poland), this is still Bumar’s largest export contract,” Kimla says.
In 2003, BEML signed a memorandum of understanding with Bumar regarding tech-transfer cooperation to manufacture and supply a range of defense products.
The army will use the ARVs to repair damaged or broken down T-72s and Russian-made BMP-1 and BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles. The T-72 main battle tanks are the mainstay of the army, which has been hampered by a shortage of ARVs.
The ARVs will be based on the T-72 tank hull, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun and equipped with a crane that can lift up to 15 tons, as well as a front-mounted stabilizing dozer blade and a main and secondary winch.

Russia loses $600 mln Indian attack helicopter tender

(RIA Novosti) : Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter has lost a tender on the delivery of 22 attack helicopters to the Indian military in strong competition with the American AH-64D Apache, an Indian Defense Ministry source said on Tuesday.
“We decided not to choose the Mi-28 for technical reasons. Our experts believe that the Mi-28N did not meet the requirements of the tender on 20 positions, while the Apache showed better performance,” the source said.
The future contract, worth at least $600 million, envisions an optional delivery of additional 22 helicopters.
Russia is still taking part in two other Indian helicopter tenders: on the delivery of 12 heavy transport helicopters and 197 light general-purpose helicopters.
The first tender includes the Russian Mi-26T2 and the American CH-47F Chinook helicopters, while the second involves the Russian Ka-226T and the AS550 Fennec helicopter, developed by Eurocopter.
Meanwhile, Russia continues the deliveries of Mi-17-B5 transport helicopters to India under a 2008 contract for the supply of 80 helicopters worth $1.4 billion.

The Indian military helicopter market, with its potential demand for 700 helicopters in the next decade, fuels fierce competition among foreign manufacturers.

The Indian Navy's second Project 28 corvette, INS Kadmatt, launched in Kolkata

(Broadsword) : The MoD press release on the launch of the second anti-submarine corvette, INS Kadmatt, which is being build under Project 28, is pasted below in full.

The Indian Navy’s modernization quest under ‘Project-28’, to stealthily hunt and destroy lurking enemy submarines, got further bolstered with the launch of the second indigenous ‘Anti Submarine Warfare’ (ASW) corvette ‘Kadmatt’ - named after an island in the Lakshwadeep archipelago of India - built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), at Kolkata, today.

Conforming to the centuries-old maritime tradition of ship launches by a lady, Smt Mamatha M, launched ‘Kadmatt’ from the GRSE main yard in the presence of her husband, Raksha Rajya Mantri, Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition (CWP&A) of the Indian Navy, Vice Admiral N.N. Kumar, GRSE Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), Rear Admiral K.C. Sekhar and other GRSE workers and office bearers.

GRSE is slated to launch four ASW corvettes for the Indian Navy each costing nearly Rs. 1,700 crores apiece. Kamorta, the first in the series was also earlier launched by Smt Mamatha on April 19, last year. Kamorta after fitments is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy in June 2012 and Kadmatt in March 2013. The keel of the third ASW corvette meanwhile was laid in August 2010. The remaining two ASW corvettes scheduled to float out next from GRSE yards are Kiltan and Kavaratti.

Dr. Pallam Raju in his address expressed delight that 50 percent of the total work on the frontline warship Kadmatt was completed prior to the launch as against 40 percent for the first ASW ship Kamorta launched in April, last year. “This is a record of sorts in the warship-building scenario,” he said. The on-schedule ‘build programme’ would ensure timely contractual deliveries adding to the might of the country in its projection as a blue water navy of our region, he also said.

Stating that Indian Navy and Coast Guard have huge requirement of ships to be met without any time and cost overruns, Dr. Raju emphasized that timely delivery of ‘quality ships’ was the need of the hour. “Modern shipbuilding technology and tools must be adopted to achieve this objective,” he stated.

Urging GRSE to put into practice effective mechanisms to meet challenges posed by the Indian private sector, Dr. Raju said shipyards (defence) have to concentrate on implementation of time-tested quality practices, effective corporate strategy, establishment of reliable and stabilized vendors and most importantly, training and up-gradation of its human resources to the lowest level.

GRSE, a category-I Mini Ratna DPSU (Defence Public Sector Undertaking) since September 2006, has for the first-time achieved a turnover of over Rs. 1,000 crores, in the last fiscal. With a healthy order book position currently pegged at over Rs.10,000 crores, GRSE has also embarked on a major modernization drive of its infrastructural facilities at a cost of over Rs. 530 crores to bolster its shipbuilding capabilities.

Following visits to various modernization sites earlier on Monday (October 24, 2011), Dr. Raju in his address at the ship launch lauded the efforts and stated, “GRSE modernization when completed next year will almost double the shipbuilding capacity of the yard enabling construction of large and more sophisticated warships using modern modular construction technology in a much shorter time frame.”

The modernization of the main yard includes construction of a 180 x 29 mts dry dock with portable shelter, an additional 180 x 23 mts inclined berth with portable shelter, module hall for assembly of pre-outfitted blocks upto 230 Tons, laying of a 250 Tons Goliath crane and a paint cell. Upon completion, the constructions will double the existing building docks and treble the dry docks besides creating of a new slipway.

The ASW corvettes -- deemed Kamorta Class Ships – with more than 80 percent indigenous content, capable of fighting under NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) environment are designated as super-sophisticated frontline warships with stealth features. The 109 metres long, 12.8 metres wide ship with an approximate displacement capacity of 3,000 Tons can achieve a maximum speed of 25 knots.

The ship powered by four 3888 KW diesel engines at 1,050 rpm has an endurance to cover nearly 3,450 nautical miles at 18 knots and can carry a helicopter on board. Each ship can accommodate 17 officers and 106 sailors.

The anti-submarine warfare capability is largely achieved due to the low signature of radiated underwater noise. The ship having indigenous weapon and sensor suites is equipped with super-rapid gun mounting, anti-aircraft guns, torpedo launcher, rocket and chaff launchers. The ship fittings include early warning, navigation, fire control radars and under-water sensors with integrated communication and electronic warfare systems.

India Likely To Open MMRCA Bids On Nov. 4

(Aviation week) : India is likely to open the commercial bids of the two shortlisted vendors for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) in the first week of November. A Defense Ministry official said the vendors – French Rafale International and European consortium Cassidian Eurofighter – will be invited to witness the opening of their bids on Nov. 4.
Meanwhile, reports quoting industry sources said the shortlisted vendors have received a letter from the ministry and told the date on which the commercial bids for procuring 126 fighter jets will be opened.
The lowest bid in the tender may become the winner. However, the associated costs in terms of spares and support over two years, as well as for maintaining the aircraft over a lifetime of 6,000 hr. of flying or 40 years, will also be considered.
The Defense Ministry in early October approved the offset proposals of the two vendors.
Eurofighter and Rafale were shortlisted for tender after offerings from Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as well as the Russian MiG 35 and Swedish Saab Gripen, were rejected from the race in April.

MBDA awaits Indian nod for trials of anti-tank missile

( domain-b) : European missile making consortium MBDA has said the field evaluation trials of its Pars 3 LR fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is slated to get underway soon. The ATGM has been shortlisted alongside Rafael Advanced Defence System's Spike-ER for the Indian Army's weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) 'Rudra.' ''We are waiting for the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to give us the schedule for trials. Hopefully, the dates will be finalised soon,'' MBDA's Peter Meuthen told a group of Indian journalists at the company's facility at Fusaro, north of Naples, Italy.
MBDA is a four-nation European missile making consortium which is eyeing a strategic partnership with India in defence development and production.
Besides jointly developing a short-range surface-to-air missile (SR-SAM) with India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), it has also offered nearly a dozen tactical weapon systems for deployment with the Indian armed forces.
The Pars 3 LR, Meuthen said, is a high precision weapon system with a broad target spectrum. ''It is highly effective against mobile and stationary targets equipped with latest armour protection, field fortresses and bunkers, besides other high-value targets,'' he said.
Pars 3 LR boasts a maximum operational range of seven kilometres and is said to possess high resistance to jamming.
In a salvo mode, it can fire up to four missiles in 10 seconds.
The missile, in service with the German Army on its UH-Tiger helicopters, was tested at Vidsel in Sweden in April this year. ''The successful firings matched all Indian operational requirements, but an Indian delegation could not witness it due to administrative reasons,'' Meuthen said.
A Bangalore-based Indian company has been co-opted by MBDA to design and develop a twin launcher, a derivative of the quad launcher fitted on the German Tiger helicopter, for the launch of the missile from ALH Rudra.
''The twin-launcher has been developed by the Indian company and its production will be done there.''
Simultaneously, MBDA has come out with an eight-missile configuration for the under-development indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
Pars 3 LR is also in contention to weaponise the 22 attack helicopters being acquired by the Indian Air Force to replace its ageing fleet of Mi-25. MBDA has proposed Pars 3 LR for the Russian MIL Mi-28 helicopter which competes in the IAF evaluation along with the 'Hellfire' anti-armour missile-equipped Apache AH-64 D manufactured by Boeing.

Private shipyards may build large warships

(Times of India) : Given the rising demands of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, the ministry of defence may allow private shipyards in the country to build warships and other naval vessels. This was revealed by MM Pallam Raju, the minister of state for defence in Kolkata on Tuesday.

According to sources, given the security scenario in the region, both the Navy and Coast Guard need new ships of various sizes with advanced technology. While the requirement is for 25-30 new naval vessels per year, the combined capacity of existing PSU shipyards is barely 6-7.

"There is a great demand for ships from the Navy and Coast Guard. Private shipyards are presently building smaller craft like patrol boats for coastal surveillance. There is a demand from these shipyards for orders to build larger naval vessels. This demand may be considered. This is when existing PSU shipyards will face a stiff competition. However, shipbuilding is a complex process and the existing PSU yards have the necessary expertise in building warships that the private shipyards may not possess. In the end, this expertise will help to keep them going," Raju said after the launching of the country's second Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette in the Kamorta Class or Project-28 from the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE).

While announcing modernisation plans for GRSE that would enable it to build larger and more modern ships without cost and time overruns, Raju cautioned against competition from private shipyards.

"Timely delivery of quality ships is the need of the hour. Modern shipbuilding technology and tools must be adopted to achieve this objective. The shipyard must also put in place an effective mechanism of cost competitiveness as there will be increased competition from Indian private sector and the same must be accepted as a challenge," Raju said.

Asked about reports of Pakistan having 'siphoned-off' data from the Indian Army's Cheetah helicopter that strayed into its airspace near Skardu recently, the minister said that the chopper contained no vital information that may compromise the nation's security save for inputs that are required to fly the aircraft. On Pakistan's gesture in allowing the Cheetah and its occupants to fly back to India safely, Raju said: "Pakistan has to do much more to establish itself as a friendly neighbour."

According to him, the Centre is examining the demand by politicians in Jammu and Kashmir to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). "The Act can't be revoked immediately. After all, it is required to allow the armed forces to function in terror-affected areas," the minister said.

October 24, 2011

Agni-III could be modified for use as anti-satellite weapon, says DRDO chief

An anti-satellite missile that can put in the leaage of countries like the US and China is feasible with Agni III intergrated with a satellite kill vehicle, according to DRDO Chief and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister V K Saraswat. Delivering a lecture on ‘DRDO, the Challenges Ahead’ at Air Marshal Y V Malse Memorial Lecture at the University of Pune, Saraswat said, “Developing such a missile is feasible if Agni III and BMD (ballistic Missile Defence) kill vehicle are integrated. The effective range, which is about 1400-1500 km, is sufficient to engage a satellite.”
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) P V Naik and Air Marshal (Retd) Bhushan Gokhale were also present on the occasion.
India has been reportedly developing an exo-atmospheric kill vehicle that can be integrated with the missile to engage satellites. Only the US, Russia and China have developed such anti-satellite weapon. 
During the 90-minute lecture, Saraswat touched upon a number of issues pertaining to DRDO and defence production in general. After the failure of Kaveri engine for India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which is fitted with GE 404/ 414 engines, Saraswat said there was the need to start yet another programme for development of a new engine for the ongoing Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). “While upgrade of Kaveri engine can continue, a new engine with variable cycle can be developed for AMCA,” he said, adding, “If we as nation are able to operationalise AMCA by 2030, we will be doing fairly good as far as IAF aircraft inventory is concerned.”
AMCA, being developed by HAL, is expected to fit between MMRCA and LCA. “Advanced integrated controls, reduced infrared signatures, advanced avionics, stealth materials such as radar absorbing paint, advanced composites and hypersonic materials are some areas that need further development. Further, production facilities at HAL also need to go hand in hand for which an upgrade is required at HAL,” he said.
He also spoke about a number of futuristic developments required in the era of cyber/ network centric warfare. “The idea of solar powered aircraft should have occurred to us. The development of such aircraft has certain challenges like development of avionic sensors, energy consumption-to-collection ratio, geographic areas of operation, weather and so on,” he said.
Pressing for a cyber command, Saraswat said a lot needs to be done on combating Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) warfare, Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), Information Security, composites and so on. “Time has come to introduce a programme for aerostats,” he said adding, “An investment of Rs 300 crore per year is needed if we have to be self-reliant.”
“Five to 10 per cent of the budget needs to be invested in SMEs, 25 per cent in medium scale industries and academia. Major investment needs to be done with bigger players in order to move towards indigenisation.”

Indian Express

Field evaluation trials of anti-tank missile soon

(The Hindu) : The field evaluation trials (FET) of MBDA Missile System's Pars 3 LR fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), shortlisted alongside Rafael Advanced Defence System's Spike-ER for the Indian Army's weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) ‘Rudra,' is slated to get under way soon.
“We are waiting for the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] to give us the schedule for trials. Hopefully, the dates will be finalised soon,” MBDA's Peter Meuthen told a group of Indian journalists at the company's facility at Fusaro, north of Naples, Italy.
MBDA is a four-nation European missile major eyeing a strategic partnership with India in defence development and production. Besides jointly developing a short-range surface-to-air missile (SR-SAM) with India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), it has offered close to a dozen of its tactical weapon systems to the Indian armed forces.
Pars 3 LR, according to Mr. Meuthen, is a high precision weapon system with a broad target spectrum. “It is highly effective against mobile and stationary targets equipped with latest armour protection; field fortresses; and bunkers besides other high-value targets,” he said.
Pars 3 LR boasts a maximum operational range of seven kilometres and is said to possess high jamming resistance. In salvo mode, it can fire up to four missiles in 10 seconds. The missile, in service with the German Army on its UH-Tiger helicopters, was live-fired at Vidsel in Sweden in April this year. “The successful firings matched all Indian operational requirements, but an Indian delegation could not witness it due to administrative reasons,” Mr. Meuthen said.
A Bangalore-based Indian company has been co-opted by MBDA to design and develop a twin launcher, a derivative of the quad launcher fitted on German Tiger helicopter, for the launch of the missile from ALH Rudra. “The twin-launcher has been developed by the Indian company and its production will be done there [in the event of the selection of Pars 3 LR in the competition].”
Simultaneously, MBDA has come out with an eight-missile configuration for the under-development indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Pars 3 LR is also in contention to weaponise the 22 attack helicopters being acquired by the Indian Air Force to replace its ageing fleet of Mi-25. MBDA has proposed Pars 3 LR for the Russian MIL Mi-28 helicopter which competes in the IAF evaluation with the ‘Hellfire' anti-armour missile-equipped Apache AH-64 D manufactured by Boeing.

October 21, 2011

Combat Helicopters

The combat helicopters can be classified into two categories i.e. the armed helicopters/ gun ships and the modern day dedicated attack helicopters (AH). Both are military helicopters, wherein the armed helicopters are normal utility, cargo or reconnaissance modified with weapon mounts for defence against and attacking targets on the ground. The purpose of modification could be field expediency during combat as well as the need to maintain helicopters for missions that do not require weapons. In fact these are basically the Multi Role Helicopters (MRH) which can transport troops as well as carry basic armaments in terms of machine guns /rockets/ missiles depending on the type of mission required to be undertaken.
The AH on the other hand is specifically designed and built to carry weapons for engaging targets on ground and air with special emphasis on anti-tank role. Its weapons include machine guns, cannons, rockets and guided missiles for air to ground and air to air engagement. Modern day AH have two main roles of providing direct and accurate close air support for ground troops and anti-tank role to destroy enemy armour. Specialized armed helicopters flying from ships at sea are equipped with weapons for anti submarine and/ or anti shipping operations. A number of countries are today looking at acquiring MRH for their armed forces due to the changing nature of conflict, specially related to counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations. A befitting example is the successful employment of modified Black Hawks by the Americans in Operation Neptune Spear (Geronimo).
Combat Helicopter Concept
The concept of combat helicopters evolved with the French during the Algerian and first Indo China wars (1954-62) in the form of modified armed helicopters. The first use of armed helicopters by USA in large scale combat operations was in Vietnam. Until Vietnam conflict, military helicopters were mostly used for troop transport, observation and casualty evacuation. These helicopters while flying missions often came under heavy fire resulting in the need for arming them. The Huey UH-IC troop transporter was modified with stub wings attached to its fuselage and kitted with machine guns and rockets. The other helicopters modified as armed helicopters were the Sikorsky and Chinook CH-47. This was a quantum jump from the manned door fitted machine guns of the earlier versions of armed helicopter.
During the 1960s, the Soviet Union also felt the need for armed helicopters and modified the military MI-8 troop transporter helicopter with weapon pods for rockets and machine guns. This subsequently led to the development of a dedicated armed helicopter/ gunship the MI-24 which saw active action in Afghanistan during the 1980s. In our context we had earlier MI-8 and Ranjeet (modified Cheetah helicopter), fitted with machine guns fired from the side doors. Presently the MI-17 and Lancer (Cheetah helicopter) are modified for armed role capable of mounting guns and rockets.
With the armed helicopter/ gunship concept battle proven, began the development of dedicated AH with the primary aim of engaging tanks. The late 1970s/ early 1980s saw the advent of AH like the American Apache (AH 64A) and upgraded Huey Cobras (AH 1), the Soviet MI-24 and the Italian Mangusta (A-129). While some questioned the relevance of these dedicated AH due to increased cost over gun ships, the 1991 Gulf War put at rest these doubts. Fleets of Apaches and Huey Cobras dominated Iraqi armour in the open desert during the war.
In fact the Apaches fired the first shots of war destroying early warning radars and SAM sites with Hellfire missiles. The Soviet operations in Afghanistan during 1979-1989 saw the emergence of the MI-25/ MI-35 AH, a variant of the MI-24. We have in our inventory the Russian MI-25/ MI-35 AH which are vintage, though certain amount of upgrading has been carried out to make them night capable.
Notably, the Apaches were the first helicopters to use protective plates for the crew made of Kevlar and composite materials, a fact disclosed at the 1991 Dubai Air Show by pilots who flew missions over Iraq.
Combat Helicopter Armament Systems The most common weapons are machine guns and rockets for use against soft targets on the ground and for self defence while transporting troops over conflict areas. While armed helicopters have mostly used direct firing weapons with bombs considered more appropriate for fixed wing aircraft, certain armed helicopters have successfully lent themselves to use with heavy bombs. The US army used the Chinook helicopters for dropping bombs to clear landing zones and saturate base camps and infiltration routes during the Vietnam War.
Armed helicopters today can also be fitted with mine dispenser/ mine clearance systems. The system is composed of racks on both sides of the helicopter for up to 40 canisters. Each canister contains six anti-tank and one anti-personnel mine. The rapid air borne mine clearance system is another armament sub system where the intended targets are naval mines. The system consists of a single modified, 30mm cannon for targeting and neutralizing the mines in shallow depth and is fitted on the US naval Black Hawk helicopters.
The AH on the other hand carries guns, rockets and guided missiles, both air to ground and air-to-air. The gun is normally a 20mm/30mm weapon and is located in the chin of the helicopter. The gun provides suppressive ground fire while the AH carries out its anti tank mission. The unguided aerial rockets complement the short range gun and the long range anti tank missiles. The rockets are cheap and effective as an area weapon. The rockets can also be used to attack and destroy soft ground targets that are not vulnerable to anti tank missiles like depots and anti aircraft gun sites.
In emergent situations they could also be used in the air-to-air role. Today there are rockets with submunition war heads which can disperse a number of grenades/ bomblets over specified target areas. The air-to-air missile system is basically to counter the threat from other AHs and is more of a defensive armament system.
The anti tank guided missile is the main punch of the AH. The advent of fire and forget missiles is the greatest asset of the AH which increases its lethality. The hellfire missile on the Apache AH is in this class. The carriage of the armament and type will depend on the mission and area of operations.
The combat helicopter has also to be fitted with a counter measures suite to include radar and missile detectors, infrared jammers and chaff and flare dispensers, depending on the degree of threat perceived for their own defence and survival.
The Modern state-of-theart AH The modern day AH has been further refined and the American Apache Longbow (AH 64D) with a mounted combat radar demonstrates many of the advanced technologies being considered for deployment on the future AH.
The Longbow Apache is an upgraded version of the AH 64A Apache and is the most sophisticated AH in the world at present. It has a radar dome atop the main rotors, which facilitates firing of the Hellfire missiles in full fire and forget mode, allowing the AH to stay masked behind terrain as it acquires and engages targets. In contrast, the earlier Apache had to pop up to scan the battlefield leaving it exposed or rely on target data from other sources such as scout helicopters. The Apache Longbow armament consists of a 30mm cannon, 70mm rockets, Hellfire missiles and stinger/ sidewinder air to air missiles. It has the Honeywell integrated helmet and display sighting system with state of the art counter measure sensors.
The Apache Longbow can also operate in today’s net centric and electronic warfare (EW) environment, and the pilots can link to satellites, AWACS, Ground radars and other aircraft to transmit or receive Command and Control inputs.
The Russians have also developed the state of the art AH in the Ka-50 and MI-28. This decision was taken after their experience in Afghanistan with the MI-24 AH, which was basically an armed helicopter and hence not suited for a typical AH role. The Ka 50 is the world’s first coaxial, single seat AH. The MI- 28 on the other hand is roughly equivalent of the Apache Longbow but without the significant Command and Control linkup.
The MI-28 has a 30mm chain gun, Ataka anti tank missile and rocket pods for S-8 and S-13 rockets. The Ataka is an improved version of the Vikhr anti tank guided missile fitted on the MI-25/ MI-35 AH. It also has in its armament the Igla/ Vympel air to air missiles.
The other dedicated AH operating are the Italian Augusta Westland AW129 (Mangusta), Bell helicopters Viper (the latest version of Huey Cobra), and Eurocopter’s Tiger. Then there is the latest formidable entry, the Chinese Z-10 (Zhising). As per reports, China is also in the process of developing another AH, the Z-19. Its first prototype is reported to have flown in Dec 2010.
Multi Role Concept
The Multi Role Helicopter (MRH) concept evolved during the Vietnam War but was subsequently taken over by the requirement of dedicated AH as an anti armour/anti tank weapon system due to the threats from the ground. However the nature of wars to be fought has undergone a major change in the last few years with emphasis on non conventional operations.
World over, the armed forces are looking at this concept and requirement, particularly for counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations. The MRH is basically a utility/troop carrying helicopter built with provisions for armament fitment or duly modified for the same.
The MRH can be fielded for roles such as ground attack, air assault, cargo, surveillance and troop transport. The size of such helicopters is generally between cargo and light observation helicopters. The basic armament on these helicopters would generally be restricted to guns and rockets; however air to ground and air to air missiles are also reported to be a part of armament of some MRH primarily putting them in the class of armed helicopters.
All these helicopters are also fitted with self protection suites to include features such as missile approach warning system, threat warning equipment and chaffs/ flare dispensers. Some of the MRH in service in different countries are US marine Bell UH-IN Twin Huey, Augusta Westland AW-139, German Army’s NH-90, US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk and Russia’s MI-17 (all versions) etc.
The US, with its experience in Afghanistan, has embarked on a programme for developing four variants of different sizes of MRH. In India’s context, we have the MI-17 IV/V, Navy’s Sea King and the armed version of advanced light helicopter (ALH) under final trials now.
Indian Scenario
The Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), also known as the Dhruv, is already in service with the Armed Forces. The weaponised version of the ALH called the ALH weapons systems integrated (ALH WSI) is currently undergoing weapons integration and likely to enter service by end-2011.
Designated Rudra, this version is fitted with the more powerful Shakti engines being manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in collaboration with French Safran Turbomeca. This engine has also been trial evaluated for high altitude operations on the utility ALH. Basically the ALH WSI is a new generation armed helicopter duly modified for fitment of all types of weapon sub systems which can be fitted on a modern day AH. It needs to be noted that it also falls in the class of MRH. The ALH WSI has a 20mm gun turret, 70mm rockets and the Mistral air to air missile. The integration firing for these subsystems has already been carried out successfully.
However the anti-tank missile Helina, the air version of NAG being developed by the Defence Research and Development organization (DRDO) is still not ready. Once developed, Helina is stated to be a fire and forget missile with 7 kilometers range and would compare with the Hellfire missile. To meet the interim requirement the Army is scouting for a suitable anti tank missile in the world market. In contention are the two fire-and-forget French PARS-3 and Israeli SPIKE-ER.
Spike is stated to be a 4th generation fire and forget anti tank missile developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, which is also cooperating with India on some other missiles.
HAL has also embarked on the development of the light combat helicopter (LCH). The LCH is using the technology of the ALH and its configurations, except the fuselage which is streamlined and suitably modified for tandem seating of pilot and weapons system operator with adequate armour protection. The weapons and systems will be the same/ similar to the ALH WSI. The above approach has an inherent advantage as most of the critical systems have been proven either on the ALH or the ALH WSI.
An indigenous AH like the LCH is a step in the right direction as it can be tailored to suit the terrain and climatic conditions of our area of operations. The first flight of LCH took place on 29 March 2010, and the AH is likely to enter service by 2014. The LCH once fielded should compare well with Eurocopter’s Tiger, Italian Mangusta and Bell’s Huey Cobra as it is in the same weight class.
In the MRH class, the Navy is already looking at replacing its vintage Sea King fleet. In fray are the US Sikosrky S-70 Bravo and Eurocopters NH-90. HAL’s Dhruv, or its variations, are not in the running as it has not been found suitable for naval operations.
HAL is also looking at the development of a 10-12 ton class of MRH for the requirement of armed forces in a joint venture with a foreign based company like Eurocopter or Sikorsky.
However no major headway has been made in this project as yet. The Army is keen to acquire this class of helicopters and has suitably called it the Tactical Battlefield Support Helicopter (TBSH). This will enhance its lift capability in the Tactical Battle Area.
Incidentally, the Indian Air Force though has also completed its trial report for 15 heavy Lift Helicopters. In the running are Boeing Chinook, which can even land on water and allow small boats to enter it – as the US Navy Seals routine do – and a newer, modified version of the Russian Mi 26 which the IAF already uses.
Surprisingly, Chinook is the only helicopter in the world which can submerge its floor in water to allow small boats to zip in, and apparently such a helicopter can play a significant role in disaster relief operations also besides being able to carry heavy loads under-slung or onboard. Notably, the US Navy Seals used a combination of Black Hawks and Chinooks for Operation Neptune Spear.
Conclusion The combat helicopters whether armed, dedicated AH or MRH will be extremely relevant in future conflicts which will be short notice, short duration and high intensity with emphasis on depth battle. The battle proven Apaches from their anti tank role in Iraq have got into infantry support role against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The MRH is playing and will continue to play a pivotal role in future conflicts, more so in special operations. With the ALH WSI and the LCH being indigenously developed by HAL and likely to enter service in the coming years, the Indian Armed Forces will have formidable and state of the art combat helicopters in their kitty – a useful force multiplier which can turn the tide in battle.
Numbers have to be kept in mind however. Indian Armed Forces have a relatively small number of helicopters, and their requirement would have to be tripled in the coming years.

India Strategic By Lt Gen B S Pawar (Retd)

Army converts one infantry division into RAMFOR

  (PTI) Sharpening its capabilities to carry out operations on enemy shores, the Indian Army has converted one of its infantry divisions with over 10,000 troops into a Reorganised Amphibious Formation (RAMFOR).The Hyderabad-based 54 Infantry Division has been converted into an amphibious formation to bolster capabilities to carry out amphibious operations, Army sources told PTI here.They said majority of the work in converting the Division into an amphibious formation was carried out under present Commandant of the Army War College Lt Gen Anil Chait.The Army has already raised three brigades to carry out the amphibious operations. Of the three, one is based in South India, another in West India and the third in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.The Army has been looking to increase its amphibious brigades in the island territories of Andaman and Nicobar by increasing its presence there."These developments are significant in view of the increasing presence of the Chinese Navy in the vicinity," said defence analyst Commander (retd) Sunil Chauhan.The Army is looking to increase its amphibious war-fighting assets also with plans of acquiring light infantry combat vehicles for such operations.In this direction, the Navy has inducted the INS Jalashwa from the US for amphibious operations and is looking to acquire four more such ships from indigenous sources in near future.The Cabinet Committee on Security had also recently cleared a Navy proposal for procuring eight amphibious assault vessels from the Garden Reach Shipbuilders under a Rs 2,176 crore deal.

IBN Live

October 20, 2011

India to open the 126-plus combat jet tenders in October

             Winner could be declared in November 2011

New Delhi. India will open the tenders for the world’s single biggest combat deal yet for 126 to 189 combat jets in October.  
Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne formally made this announcement at the 79th IAF Day celebrations Oct 8 morning. A day before, Oct 7, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defence Minister, had cleared the decks after it was decided that all the procedural steps had been completed as due.
In his address at the annual ceremonial parade, the Air Chief announced that the tender would be opened within 10 days, and later told newsmen that the winner could be announced as early as November within a month of the tender opening. “In the middle of November, we shall be able to announce which plane we have selected,” he said.
India had floated the tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), with an option for 63 more, in August 2007. The cost then was estimated at US$ 10 billions approx (Rs 42,000 crores) for 126 aircraft inclusive of training, spares, weapons and a support package for two years.
The competition is between the EADS Cassidian-led Eurofighter and French Dassaults’ Rafale aircraft.
The tender opening will indicate the lower bid for the aircraft, but it would take a month – or even two – to determine the winner as there are associated bids for options, lifetime support of up to 40 years or 6000 hours of flight, Transfer of Technology, periodic upgrades and offsets etc.
Notably, over that period, the acquisition could be worth around US$ 80 to 100 billion for the winner even if many of the systems are made in India as per the conditions laid out in the tender, or Request for Proposals.
Air Chief Marshal Browne told India Strategic in an interview that the agreement with the winner could be signed within a couple of months after the winner is declared.
It may be recalled that in a recent bid for nearly 100 engines for India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), European Eurojet had a lower bid compared to that of the US GE but the latter won as it was cheaper in the overall costing which included tooling and support.
Four other contestants in the MMRCA fray, US Lockheed martin’s F-16 Super Viper and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Russian Mig 35, and Swedish SAAB Gripen did not qualify in the comprehensive flight and weapon tests although the IAF described all of them as good aircraft. “It was a question of scoring maximum points,” said one senior IAF officer.
Interestingly, the France-based EADS (European Aeronautic Defence & Space) has 46 per cent stake each in both the Eurofighter and Dassault. However, while EADS has a substantial manufacturing stake in the Eurofighter, it has hardly any component contribution in the Dassault Rafale.
Eurofighter Typhoon is made by EADS’s subsidiary Cassidian, and the aircraft components and systems are built by Germany, UK, Spain and Italy, the four partners in the Eurofighter project.

Both the companies have promised to do full Transfer of Technology (ToT) to India, and source aircraft and other components later from Indian companies as part of the offsets.
The winner will supply 18 aircraft in flyaway condition within three years of the signing of the contract and the rest would be progressively made in India. The winner is free to choose private or public sector companies for manufacturing various aircraft components and systems but the overall integration will be by the state-run HAL.
Among the key requirements are the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) combat radar, situational awareness sensors, anti-radiation missiles, some sophisticated Electronic Warfare (EW) systems and 50 per cent offset. That means the winner will have to invest equivalent to half the tendered cost back in related defence industry in India.
Both Dassault and Eurofighter have already tied MOUs with leading industrial houses to help create the infrastructure required for MMRCA production in India under the offset obligations.
Notably, IAF has a squadron strength of 34 at present against the sanctioned number of 45. But except for the 140 to 150 Su 30 MKIs – now being built in the country under licence from Russia – most of the others are vintage Soviet Mig series. Three upgraded Mig 21s have in fact crashed between Aug 1 and Oct 8.
IAF has already tied with Russia for a total of 272 SU 30 MKI aircraft in batches over the last 15 years.
IAF’s Mig 29s, and the French Mirage 2000, particularly the latter, have a good record however and both these aircraft are now being upgraded.
The Su 30 MKIs and MMRCAs are to replace a number of squadrons currently equipped with the Soviet origin aircraft, mostly the outdated Mig 21s.
The Mig 21 has been upgraded to Mig 21 bison standard and given new cockpit gadgets. But admittedly, they are too old without much heart and soul.
IAF is keenly awaiting the arrival of MMRCA, whichever of the two is selected. The first batch should arrive in 2015 if the agreement with the winner is signed within the current fiscal ending March 2012.
Air Chief Marshal Browne told India Strategic in an interview that he had met with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently and was assured that the Government understood the urgency of inducting new aircraft and other assets towards IAF modernization and adequate funds would be made available.
The Ministry of Defence has already approved comprehensive modernization of the Indian Air Force.

 - India Strategic