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November 30, 2011

India goes shopping for a new assault rifle

The Ministry of Defence has issued a tender for the import of 66,000 5.56 mm assault rifle for an estimated $250 million (Rs 13,000 crore) to replace the locally-designed Indian Small Arms System 5.56 mm AR, which the army has reluctantly employed since the mid-1990s.

The Request for Proposal dispatched to over 40 overseas vendors last month -- with bids to be submitted by mid-Feb 2012 -- requires the 3.66 kg AR's to convert to 7.62x39 mm and be fitted with Picatiny Rail-mounted reflex sights.

The ARs would also need to be equipped with under-barrel grenade launchers and be able to fire locally-produced ammunition.

The RfP also mandates a transfer of technology to the State-owned Ordnance Factory Board to locally make the ARs of which the eventual requirement is expected to be around 2 million for the army, the central paramilitary forces and state police in a massive programme estimated at $2-3 billion.

Armament industry officials, however, said that the exclusion of the private sector from this potential contract was at variance with the MoD's much publicised aim of privatising the monopolistic State-run military-industrial sector.  

The imported ARs would supplant the INSAS 5.56 mm AR, which the army had inducted into service some 15 years and employed in counter-insurgency operations but consistently found it operationally inadequate.   

The army's association with the INSAS AR programme has been turbulent and problematic.

For long it had objected to the Defence Research and Development Organisation-designed and OFB-built INSAS 5.56 mm AR introduced into service in the mid-1990s to replace the heavier and outmoded range of 7.62mm FNFAL self-loading rifles.

But despite protestations centred round the INSAS ARs sights that malfunctioned in cold regions and its firing mechanism that jammed at critical times, the army was 'persuaded' by the MoD to induct the rifle that took the DRDO nearly a decade to design and the OFB another four to build.  
But frontline infantry and Rashtriya Rifles units deployed on counter-insurgency duties preferred the tested Kalishnikov-designed 7.62 mm AK 47 of which 100,000 were imported from Bulgaria in 1995 for $ 8.3 million as a 'stop gap' measure till the INSAS AR became operational. 

And more recently in 2002 the army imported 3,070 Israeli Weapon Industries' 5.56 mm Tavor 21 AR (TAR 21s) for its Special Forces for around $ 20 million that were inducted into service 2008 onwards.

A contract for an additional 10,000 TAR-21's with reflex sights for newly raised paramilitary SF units is nearing fruition.

The INSAS AR's inadequacy also became a contentious issue between India and Nepal in August 2005 when the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) claimed the rifle supplied to it to battle Maoist guerilla's repeatedly malfunctioned, resulting in heavy casualties. 

The RNA maintained that the AR "became too hot" and unusable for sustained firing during a particular firefight at Pili in Kalikot district, 600 km west of the capital Kathmandu in which 43 soldiers died.

Reacting irately to these charges, Indian officials said the INSAS rifles might have failed due to poor maintenance and the RNA's lack of experience in using them.

The DRDO's decision to develop the INSAS range of weapons in the early 1980's followed a proposal by the MoD to import around 8000 5.56mm ARs for select parachute regiments that later converted to SF.
The army wanted to replace the heavier 7.62MM SLR, its main assault weapon and Germany's Heckler & Koch's G 41 and Austria's Steyr AUG were short-listed with both vendors offering free transfer of technology in the $ 4.5 million contract.

Thereafter, the army's requirements doubled and the federal government facing a foreign exchange crunch turned down the import proposal.

The ubiquitous DRDO stepped in claiming to have made progress in developing the 5.56mm AR at its Armaments Research and Development Establishment in Pune but it took over a decade before the project fructified.   

Weapon experts at the time claimed that the INSAS 5.56mm AR was eventually an 'amalgam' of Kalashnikov, FN-FAL, the G41 and AUG designs and overall not in consonance with modern engineering production techniques which, in turn, would render it expensive.

The INSAS AR was eventually priced at around Rs 16,000-18,000 per rifle compared to the imported Bulgarian AK 47's that cost around $93 each or around Rs 2800 at the prevailing exchange rate.
 "The INSAS AR is a non-competitive weapon system and the army became a tied customer with little choice but to pay the asking price however high it might be and whatever operational objections it had to the rifle," a senior Infantry officer admitted.

For, unlike the financially accountable private sector, the OFB's costing is flexible and being government-owned their manpower is considered "free" and cost, time and technological overruns matter little, he added.

The initial INSAS family of 5.56 mm weapons also included a light machine gun and carbine, both of which had long been abandoned necessitating hugely expensive imports nearly two decades later.

Consequently, last December the MoD dispatched a RfP to 40-odd overseas vendors to acquire 44,618 5.56mm close quarter battle carbines and 33.6 million rounds of ammunition for an estimated Rs 2000 crore.

This tender too mandates a 30 per cent offset liability and transfer of technology to the OFB to build around 400,000 CQB carbines to replace the outmoded 9mm model currently being used by the army.

In 2004-05 the army had projected a requirement for 420,000-odd CBQ and new generation protective carbines for its 359 infantry battalions and 66 associated RR units but it took the MoD five years before issuing the RfP for them.

- Rediff News Rahul Bedi

Indian Shipborne Pilots to Train in Russia

To provide readiness of Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya for coming acceptance in the end of 2012, ten shipborne pilots of MiG-29K will be sent to Russia for training, reported news agency Brahmand.

India tied a contract with Russia for 16 deck-based fighters MiG-29K in 2004. In accordance with that agreement, 10 Indian pilots must pass a 3-month training course in Russia prior to the ship's delivery. Russia obliged to teach Indian pilots to perform deck takeoffs and arrested landings.

Most probably, the training would take place at NITKA simulator in Ukraine which was built by the Soviet Union for training of shipborne pilots.

After that, India will continue training process at Hansa air base, Goa.

Several MiG-29K fighters earlier delivered to India are based in Goa, India. Before commission of INS Vikramaditya into Indian Navy, the airplanes will attend naval operations from that base.

As for now, India has signed another agreement with Russia for additional batch of 29 fighters MiG-29K in order to meet future demands. All of those aircrafts will be based on the ship built in Russia.

- Rusnavy

DRDO lab looks for private players to develop tank equipment

(Indian Express) : Almost two years after the DRDO acknowledged a successful development of the Counter Mine Flail (CMF) on the ageing T-72 Ajeya battle tank platform, city-based DRDO laboratory Research and Development Engineers (R&DE), developer of CMF, has been looking for private players to develop the same.
CMF - an equipment that detonates anti-tank/anti-personnel mines - has been under development for about five years and was tested in 2009 on T- 72 platform, though with a few lacunae. DRDO sources said it was decided to start the development procedure all over again to make it compatible with other platforms such as MBT Arjun which is under development and is supposed to replace the ageing T-72 fleet.
Speaking to The Indian Express, R&DE director S Guruprasad said, “R&DE has been working closely with the Army on the development of CMF. We had successfully tested the equipment in 2009. The project is of extreme importance to the Army and they had replied with a few suggestions such as the width of the track to be cleared. We decided to make the equipment platform independent. Which means that rather than being limited to T- 72, it would be possible to integrate it with MBT Arjun, though with few modifications.” The development is expected to take about a year after the private developer is identified. He said the private player is more of a backup plan and the development would be done by R&DE. 
 
The new equipment will be designed to clear safe 4.5-metre wide lane for the passage of Armoured vehicles/ personnel by detonating anti-tank/ anti-personnel mines buried up to a depth of at least 30 cm with the help of hydraulically operated hammers. Equipped with GPS and periscope, the equipment will also have a marking system which with the help of LED poles can mark safe lanes in the battle zone after having disabled the mines laid by the enemy. Ideally, the equipment would also include 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft gun and smoke grenade dispenser, besides being Nuclear- Biological-Chemical protected.
A retired brigadier of the Armoured Corps, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The disconnect between the DRDO and the Armed Forces lies in the developmental delays from the DRDO side. Invariably, if the DRDO continues to give us the end-product five years later than when we want it, the specifications are bound to undergo change. This cycle of suggestions then triggers a new development cycle and the vicious circle continues.”

Russia denies allegations over Indian T-90 tank contract

(RIA Novosti) : Moscow is puzzled over Indian media rumors claiming that Russia refuses to fulfill a decade-old contract on licensed production of T-90S main battle tanks in India, a Russian defense industry source said.
“The Russian side is timely and completely fulfilling all agreements with India on the licensed production of T-90 tanks, including the delivery of all necessary components and the transfer of technical documentation,” the source said on Tuesday.
India’s Business Standard said on November 28 that the licensed production of T-90 tanks was “hamstrung by Moscow’s obstruction in transferring technology and the Russian-built assemblies needed even for the India-built tanks.”
“It is difficult to say why these allegations have emerged,” the Russian source said, adding that all controversial issues on the arms contracts with India are promptly resolved by the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military-technical cooperation.
Russian diplomatic sources in India believe that the media rumors reflect the attempts by the Indian side to shift the responsibility for its own inability to manage the production of sophisticated military equipment.
India ordered 310 T-90s in 2001 following delays in the manufacturing of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank and Pakistan's decision to purchase the T-80 from Ukraine. A contract was also signed for the licensed production of another 1,000 T-90s.
Initial disagreements with Russia over transfer of technology were resolved at the end of 2008, according to official statements on both sides.
Only 150 T-90S have been built so far at the Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) in Avadi, Chennai.
According to other publications in the Indian media, a slow rate of production has been caused by the failure of some Indian sub-contractors to fulfill their obligations under the contract.

November 29, 2011

Govt approves 7 radar stations on Gujarat coast

(Zeenews) : The government has given approval for setting up seven radar stations on Gujarat coast along with a Coast Guard station at Pipavav in the state, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha on Monday. 
Seven radar stations have been approved on Gujarat coast including in South Gujarat.... Government has also accorded approval for setting up a Coast Guard station at Pipavav in Gujarat," Antony said in a written reply to a question in the House. 
 On proposal for setting up Coast Guard stations along the Gujarat coastline, he said, "There are seven Coast Guard stations in Gujarat located at Gandhinagar, Porbandar, Okha, Jakhau, Vadinar, Mundra and Veraval. There is an Air Enclave at Porbandar."

Coast Guard stations at a particular place are set up after taking into account the threat perception, vulnerability gap analysis and presence of other stations in the vicinity, he said.

A Regional Headquarters (North West) at Gandhinagar has also been established in Gujarat to monitor coastal security for Gujarat.

Under Phase-I of centrally sponsored Coastal Security Scheme, 10 coastal police stations have been established and 12 additional coastal police stations have been sanctioned under Phase II, he said.

Replying to a question on modernisation of airfields, he said, "Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) is under progress to modernise the navigational aids at all Indian Air Force airfields. MAFI is planned in two phases under which 30 airfields are planned for modernisation."

PTI

Brahmos achieves Mach 6.5 speed during lab test

(PTI) The latest version of Indo-Russian Brahmos cruise missile has achieved a speed of Mach 6.5 during experiments at Hyderabad and the target is to achieve Mach 7, a top DRDO official said here today. "Experiments are being done in Hyderabad. We have completed tests up to Mach 6.5," BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director A Sivathanu Pillai told reporters here. The target is to achieve Mach 7, he said. Mach is commonly used to represent the speed of an object when it is traveling close to or above the speed of sound. BrahMos is a cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. Inaugurating an International Research Centre developed by Sathyabama University and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research here, Pillai said nanotechnology is the buzzword in the future and several countries were investing into it. "Over 70 billion US dollars are being spent in this field. Once, this technology is commercialised, it will generate over USD 3 trillion per year," the DRDO scientist said. Nanotechnology will be a boon for the health sector especially to tackle diseases like Alzheimer's. The government has formed a nanotechnology mission and a centre in Bangalore is being upgraded for this, Pillai said.

- IBN Live

Why U.S. Needs India’s Air Force

(The Diplomat) : Greater co-operation between the Indian and U.S. air forces would be good for America’s China policy. It would also help India realize its strategic dreams.

During his visit to India last November, U.S. President Barack Obama characterized relations with India as “one of the defining and indispensable partnerships of the 21st century.” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in turn, stated that India had “decided to accelerate the deepening of our ties and to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace, stability and progress.” Arguing that cooperation extended to India’s immediate neighborhood, Singh said the two countries “have a shared vision of security, stability and prosperity in Asia based on an open and inclusive regional architecture.”
But if the bilateral relationship really as is important as the two leaders suggest, then there’s undoubtedly a need for greater strategic synergy. In particular, the two countries’ militaries need to understand each other better if they are to work together for regional and global peace.
Until now, the flag-bearers of U.S.-Indian military cooperation have been the two countries’ navies, a point that was highlighted during the response to the 2005 tsunami and subsequent reconstruction operations.  In contrast, while there have been some joint exercises between their two air forces, the rationale for air force-to-air force cooperation appears to be neither understood nor appreciated in either capital.
Indian strategic planners seem to be in broad agreement with their U.S. counterparts in identifying the big strategic challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, yet New Delhi has been reluctant to develop joint approaches in addressing many of these challenges.
The hope is, of course, that even if India is hesitant now, that it may change its mind over the next decade. After all, India’s interests, and its incapacity to address the challenges it faces on its own, seem bound to drive it towards the United States and Asian partners such as Japan and Australia.
Certainly, former U.S. President George W. Bush saw India as a significant pole in Asia, and close ties with India as being in U.S. interests – something that the Obama administration also seems to have recognized. Such views have prompted the United States to develop more formal defense cooperation and to talk about India in terms reserved for U.S. allies (something that causes some discomfort in New Delhi).
The most frequently cited reason for Washington’s interest in India is as a balancer to China, but this view is more complicated than many assume. For a start, the United States has a stake in the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute.  Although the U.S. is yet to take a position on the broader boundary and territorial dispute between the two countries, it certainly wouldn’t be in the interests of the United States to see a conflict break out – and especially to see India lose face in a military confrontation. China decided to teach India a lesson in their brief war in 1962. If this were repeated today, though, the U.S. would also be adversely affected as India’s perceived value as a regional ally would be diminished. A Chinese victory would also raise the question in the minds of smaller states over what hope they have in standing up to China if the United States stood by and watched as a major ally such as India was picked on. Such worries would undoubtedly undermine the United States’ position in Asia, and make China’s neighbors more susceptible to coercion.
But it’s not just about the negatives – India’s airpower can help underpin U.S. Pacific forces indirectly. For a start, a strong Indian Air Force would likely prompt China to focus at least part of its air power away from the Pacific and on the Tibet region. In addition, the Indian Air Force could also tip the scales in the Indo-Pacific by reducing the burden on the U.S. Air Force and providing security in the global commons. For instance, with a single air refueling, India’s SU-30MKI’s combat radius can include either the Straits of Malacca or the Persian Gulf.
Of course, it’s an open question whether India is willing to take such proactive steps. But co-operating more with the United States will help India feel more comfortable with future joint operations.
The reality is that both countries’ air forces face common threats, meaning it would benefit both to share data on a more regular basis and plan joint responses to any problems. The Indian Air Force, for instance, faces threats in its Northeastern sector similar to those facing the United States in the Western Pacific, namely ballistic missiles, advanced integrated air defense systems (IADS), 4th and 5th generation fighters, and increasingly sophisticated Chinese air-to-air missile and electronic warfare capabilities. All these developments increasingly impinge on both India and the United States, and it makes sense for the two to boost co-operation and learn lessons from each other’s experiences in the region.
Similarly, given the growing trend of India procuring U.S. weapons and equipment, greater engagement between their air forces would be particularly beneficial.  Joint operations on democracy promotion, humanitarian missions, post disaster management and reconstruction are all ideal areas for joint operations.
But for any of this to occur, India must first recognize the potential for it to become a net provider of constructive airpower in the Indian Ocean Region.  If India’s procurement plans go as planned, it could have a modern air force that will be highly capable of anything from disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to providing lethal combat air support.
At the end of the day, if India wants to sit at the high table of international diplomacy, it should be prepared to shoulder greater responsibilities and shed its risk averse foreign policy. Ramping up its air force co-operation seems a good place to start.

India to order 20 more Hawk AJTs

(Times of India) : For a country that took two decades to ink the first contract for British Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) after losing hundreds of fighters and pilots in crashes, India seems to be going the whole hog for the AJTs.

After first ordering 66 twin-seat Hawks in March, 2004, and then another 57 in July, 2010, at a combined overall project cost running almost into Rs 16,000 crore, India is going to order another 20 AJTs.

The defence acquisitions council, chaired by defence minister A K Antony, last Friday cleared the IAF proposal for the 20 new Hawks at a cost of around Rs 3,600 crore, say sources.

The overall Hawk project, with 24 supplied directly by BAE Systems and 122 to be licenced manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India, is likely to cost well over Rs 20,000 crore by the time its completed by 2016-17, add sources.

While the first 123 Hawks will help train rookie fighter pilots the intricacies of advanced combat flying, the latest 20 are meant for IAF's famous Surya Kiran aerobatics team, which has been forced to stop its breathtaking manoevres due to a crippling shortage of training aircraft. The AJT saga has been marked by government apathy, poor long-term planning, flawed contracts and delayed delivery schedules. A majority of new fighter pilots still have to make do with old and unsuitable MiG-21 trainers, three decades after IAF first projected the requirement for AJTs for ``transitional training'' between sub-sonic aircraft and the `highly-unforgiving' MiG-21s.

If all the 146 Hawks had been ordered at one go, they would have proved much cheaper. Moreover, they would have saved many young lives if they were inducted much earlier. As much as 39% of the 1,010 crashes recorded by IAF since 1970 have been attributed to ``human error (aircrew), often a result of inadequate training. ``Technical defects'', caused by ageing machines and shoddy maintenance, is the other equally big killer.

About 55 Hawks have been inducted so far, much behind schedule. These include the first 24 directly delivered by BAE Systems to the Bidar airbase in Karnataka, and 31 subsequently assembled by HAL. The delay is ``due to receipt of defective components, jigs and fixtures from the foreign manufacturer (BAE Systems), on which liquidated damages were levied'', Antony himself had told Parliament earlier.

But with HAL promising to step up production to 13-14 Hawks a year, it's being hoped the first 123 AJTs - 17 of them are earmarked for Navy - are inducted by 2015-2016. ``The new 20 AJTs can follow thereafter,'' said an official.

November 28, 2011

China shocked, Pakistan fumes over NATO attack

(ZeeNews) :  Pakistan's ally China said on Monday it was "deeply shocked" by a cross-border attack by NATO forces in Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the weekend, with Islamabad denying reports the NATO troops had first come under fire.

The deadly cross-border raid has ratcheted up tensions that were already running high at a time when deep cooperation is needed between the NATO mission and Pakistan to stabilise Afghanistan as the United States tries to wind up the war there.

Adding a new element to those tensions, and a diplomatic boost for Islamabad, China's Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply shocked" by the incident and expressed "strong concern for the victims and profound condolences for Pakistan”.

"China believes that Pakistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and the incident should be thoroughly investigated and be handled properly," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement on the ministry's website.

Pakistan has been trying to move closer to Asian powerhouse China as ties with the United States have suffered. 

 China and Pakistan call each other "all-weather friends" and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

Earlier, Pakistan's military denied reports that NATO forces in Afghanistan had come under fire before launching the cross-border attack.

"This is not true. They are making up excuses. What are their losses, casualties?" Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said in a mobile phone text message on Monday.

"Tragic, unintended"

NATO described the killings as a "tragic, unintended incident" and said an investigation was underway. A Western official and an Afghan security official who requested anonymity said NATO troops were responding to fire from across the border.

Pakistan's military said the strike was unprovoked and has reserved the right to retaliate.

It's possible both explanations are correct: that a retaliatory attack by NATO troops took a tragic, mistaken turn in harsh terrain where differentiating friend from foe can be difficult.

After a string of deadly incidents in the lawless and confusing border region, NATO and Pakistan set up a hotline that should allow them to communicate in case of confusion over potential targets, or if they believe they are coming under fire from friendly forces.

It is not clear if the hotline was used, either before or after the strike that killed the Pakistani soldiers.

The attack was the latest perceived provocation by the United States, which infuriated Pakistan's powerful military in May with a unilateral special forces raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Washington had been trying to repair ties badly damaged by the bin Laden affair and several other issues -- including accusations that Pakistan's military spy agency was backing militants who bomb US targets in Kabul.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad and held a town hall meeting to try and win over Pakistanis, held talks with her counterpart and called on all sides to work for peace in Afghanistan.

Any goodwill secured from the trip probably evaporated after the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strike, which fuelled a wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Aside from growing anger on the street, newspaper editorials are filled with sharp criticism of the United States and NATO.

"This is time for US/NATO/ISAF forces to understand the dark side of wanting to go it alone and think about accepting Pakistani offers for enhanced coordination," said The News.

Befitting response

The mass-circulation Urdu language press went further.

"We have to send a clear and unequivocal message to NATO and America that our patience has run out. If even a single bullet of foreign forces crosses into our border, then two fires will be shot in retaliation," said Jang newspaper.

"God forbid in future if something like this happened then our armed forces have to give a befitting response."

The NATO strike has shifted attention away from what critics say is Pakistan's failure to go after militants who cross the border to attack US-led NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan vowed to back the US global war on militancy launched after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and won billions of dollars in aid in return.

But the unstable, nuclear-armed country has often been described as an unreliable ally, and the United States has had to resort to controversial drone aircraft strikes against militants on Pakistani territory to pursue its aims.

US frustrations grew so much that President Barack Obama ordered that the raid that killed bin Laden deep inside Pakistan be kept secret, knowing it could make the United States even more unpopular in Pakistan.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan in retaliation for the weekend shooting incident, the worst of its kind since Islamabad allied itself with Washington in 2001.

Pakistan is the route for nearly half of NATO supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan. Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance's cargo.

A similar incident on September 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of NATO's supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

Few believe the strategic alliance between Pakistan and the United States will break, even though the aggrieved military -- the South Asian nation's most powerful institution -- may now feel it needs to assert itself.

Both sides are likely to opt for damage control and then confidence-building measures -- the usual pattern in a frequently troubled relationship.

Bureau Report

Indian Navy to Buy 4 Landing Ships

 
Indian Navy issued a tender for 4 landing helicopter-carrying dock ships.

According to Indian defense Ministry A.K. Antony, national defense procurement council has already approved acquirement of four large-size landing ships.

As for the ministry, these ships will improve Indian Navy's landing capabilities and make possible to conduct rescue operations in regions suffered from natural disasters and emergencies.

According to Mer et Marine, Indian Navy command had consulted with domestic shipbuilders, but they could not offer an adequate project. For this reason, the navy sent requests to foreign companies.

As is expected, the tender will be attended by French, Italian, Spanish, and South Korean companies.

Most probably, French DCNS would offer Mistral-class assault landing ship operated by French Navy and purchased by Russia, Spanish NavantiaJuan Carlos I type (Project BPE - Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica), Italian Fincantieri – Multifunction Ship (MS), and South Korean Hanjin Heavy IndustriesDokdo class landing helicopter carrier.

DCNS and Fincantieri have a kind of advantage because they have already signed naval-related contracts with Indian Navy. DCNS builds Scorpene-class submarines and FincantieriDeepak-type fuel replenishment tankers. Besides, the Italian company takes part in construction of the first Indian aircraft carrier.

In Sept 2011 Indian Navy and state-led company Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (Calcutta) signed a contract for construction of 8 landing boats LCU to protect islands better and strengthen amphibious fleet. The boats are expected to join Indian Navy in 2013-2015.

Rusnavy

Iran Navy acquires new submarines amidst nuclear tension

Iran builds three Ghadir-class submarines, which can fire missiles and torpedoes and operate in the Persian Gulf's shallow waters. 

Iranian state TV said the country has added three more domestically-built submarines to its naval fleet.The report on Sunday said the vessels were delivered to the Iranian navy in southern port of Bandar Abbas.

It said the submarines were from the Ghadir class, of which Iran already has four.
This class of submarine can fire missiles and torpedoes and operate in the Gulf's shallow waters.
The move is seen as part of Iran's effort to upgrade its defense capabilities amid escalating tension over its nuclear program.
The West suspects Iran is aiming at developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

- Haaretz

Pakistan orders US to close Shamsi airbase

Pakistani authorities on Saturday gave the United States 15 days to leave the Shamsi airbase, and closed NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in response to a deadly NATO air strike, the DawnNews TV channel reported.

The Federal Cabinet's Defense Committee said no compromise would be made on the country’s sovereignty and security.

"The people and the army will ensure Pakistan's sovereignty and integrity at any cost," it said.

It said the attacks were completely unacceptable.

Earlier in the day several NATO helicopters had reportedly violated Pakistani airspace from Afghanistan and attacked a checkpoint in the Mohmand tribal area in northwest Pakistan. At least 25 soldiers were killed and 14 injured.

RIA Novosti

99 out of 180 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft delivered till 2010-11

New Delhi: Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said that out of the total 180 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft, 99 aircraft have been delivered till 2010-11. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has started manufacturing of Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters in the country.

The government has asked the HAL to speed up their manufacturing of Su-30 MKI fighters. The steps taken by HAL for timely manufacturing of such fighters include commissioning of additional tooling jigs & fixtures in manufacturing and assembly Shops, increased Outsourcing, development of alternate vendors, improvements in manufacturing processes & Operations in order to reduce cycle time, effective monitoring and timely actions through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and recruitment/redeployment of manpower in critical work Centers.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was concluded on 4th October 2000, between the Governments of Russian Federation and Republic of India for transfer of License and Technical Documentation to India, for production of 140 Su-30 MKI Aircraft, its Engines and Aggregates. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for the Project on 18/12/2000 and the Government sanction was issued in January 2001. As per the sanction, the production capacity envisaged was 12 aircraft per Year.

As per the CCS sanction dated 18/12/2000, the project was to commence from the year 2004-05 and be completed by 2017-18. However, in June 2005, Air Headquarters requested HAL, to explore the feasibility of compressing the delivery programme by three years. Accordingly, HAL submitted a Proposal which envisaged compressed delivery of 140 aircraft within 2014-15. CCS accorded its approval for the compressed delivery programme on 31/03/2006. As per the revised sanction, the Production capacity envisaged Was 16 aircraft per Year.

Subsequent to CCS Sanctions, contracts were concluded with IAF for supply of 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft by 2014-15. Further contract for supply of additional 40 SU-30 MKI aircraft was concluded with IAF for completion within 2014-15, along with earlier order of 140 aircraft.

- Machinist.in

November 26, 2011

Pakistan closes key NATO supply route to Afghanistan after alliance’s airstrike

Islamabad authorities said on Saturday they were closing one of NATO’s key supply routes to Afghanistan after the alliance’s airstrike in Pakistan, which killed 25 people, Pakistani TV channels said.
According to media, the authorities have closed the so-called northern supply route through the Khyber Pass and Torham border post. This route is considered the most convenient out of two NATO’s Pakistani routes to Afghanistan.
Local media earlier said, quoting the Pakistani army sources as saying, that several NATO helicopters violated the airspace of Pakistan from the territory of Afghanistan on Friday and attacked a check post in Mohmand tribal area in northwest Pakistan. At least 25 soldiers were reported killed, while 14 people were injured.
A representative of the local authorities told journalists that 40 tankers and trucks have already returned from the check post.
This is not the first time NATO helicopters attack Pakistani soldiers. On September 30, 2010, NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani border post in Orkazai province killing two people, while four people were injured.
Currently over 70 percent of all NATO’s supplies are shipped to the NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.

RIA Novosti

Russia’s Baltic radar to monitor missile launches across Europe, Atlantic

(RIA Novosti) : Russia’s radar station in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will monitor missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the future European missile defense system, the Aerospace Defense Forces chief said on Friday.
“We will be able to control the entire European continent and the Atlantic, including the European missile defense system,” Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said.
The radar station is ready to go into operation as part of the national missile early warning attack system, he said.
In addition, Iskander tactical missiles will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region “in the near future,” the general said.
Russia’s air defense system will have the capability to intercept any type of missiles, any targets at any speed, including hypersonic ones, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.

The new system, comprising air defense, missile defense, missile early warning attack and space control systems, should be up and running by December 1.

Ostapenko’s remarks come after President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Russia would move "advanced offensive weapon systems" to its European borders in response to a planned U.S.-backed NATO missile shield if talks on the project fail.

Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it. Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

Washington responded by saying it would not alter its plans for a European missile defense project, despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.

Large orders can make Arjun tank cheaper

(Business Standard) : The army could clear the indigenous Arjun Mark II main battle tank (MBT) for frontline service after trials next year, but a question mark hangs over the Arjun’s prohibitive cost. Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi (HVF) has already built 124 Arjun Mark I tanks for the army at Rs 18 crore per tank. But on 29th August, Defence Minister AK Antony sprung a bombshell when he announced in Parliament that, “The likely estimated (sic) cost of each MBT Arjun Mark-II… will be approximately Rs 37 crore.”
This is twice the price of the Russian T-90 and not much cheaper than USA’s M1 Abrams, the world’s most advanced MBT. On 1st July 11, the US Congress was notified that Egypt would buy 125 Abrams tanks for $1.3 billion — i.e. $10.4 million, or Rs 54 crore, per tank.
 During a visit to HVF and to the Central Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE), which has developed the Arjun, Business Standard was explained that the cost of the Arjun is easily reduced. If the army places a larger order the price will drop by 30 per cent.
P Sivakumar, Director of CVRDE, explains that 50 per cent of the cost of the Arjun Mark I went on three imported components —the gunner’s main sight (GMS) from OIP Systems, Belgium; the gun control equipment (GCE) from Bosch, Germany; and the power pack (engine and transmission) from Renk, Germany — which together cost Rs 12 crore. Ordering just 124 pieces left little leeway to beat down that price.
“If you are talking just 124 tanks, there is a problem. Bring an order for 500 tanks. We will go for ToT (transfer of technology) for the foreign parts… The cost of labour in Germany is the highest in the world. We will build 70 per cent cheaper in India. If we buy the power pack of the Arjun for Rs 7.5 crore on Friday… I will produce it in India for just Rs 4-5 crore,” says Sivakumar.
For an army with more than 3,500 tanks, including 2,400 obsolescent T-72s that are crying out for replacement, ordering just 124 Arjun Mark IIs seems unduly cautious. But the army has little incentive to reduce cost. Though the generals are now willing to order more Arjuns, they are placing their orders piecemeal.
Since most of the Arjun’s 10,000 components are outsourced, the size of the order is a crucial determinant of what price they are supplied at. Says RK Jain, Additional DG of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) who oversees HVF: “If the army’s indent is for just 124 tanks, the vendors charge higher prices. Besides, the amortisation cost of jigs, tools and equipment is reduced over a larger order. HVF and CVRDE have been jointly requesting the army to confirm an order of at least 250 Arjun Mark IIs so that we can negotiate from a stronger position,” says Jain.
Another reason for the Arjun Mark II’s rising cost becomes obvious at the Arjun production line at HVF, where the army is collecting the last of 124 Arjuns that were cleared for production in 2008. Just as the Rs 50 crore Arjun line has hit its stride, it must shut down for at least two years since another order can come only after the Arjun Mark II trials next year.
I walk through the giant workshop, now almost empty, with the HVF manager who oversees Arjun production, HR Dixit. “Even if the army clears the Arjun Mark II next summer, and indents for 124 more tanks by October 2012 (an optimistic time-frame), we require at least 12 months for obtaining the items that go into the Arjun. So end-2013 is the earliest that the Arjun assembly line can restart,” says Dixit.
The skilled workers on the Arjun line, who have developed invaluable expertise while building 124 Arjun tanks, will be distributed to other parts of HVF, Dixit tells me.
“We can send our workers to HVF’s other lines. But what can we do about the dislocation of our sub-contractors, many of them small enterprises around Chennai, who supply thousands of Arjun components like fuel pipes and bearings. They will seek other work because they know they will get no orders until an indent is placed for the Arjun Mk II. And, when we need them again, they might not be available,” says Ashutosh Kumar, works manager.

Upcoming modifications on the Arjun Mark II

(Ajai Shukla) : With an army crewmember of the Arjun, one of the men posted on deputation to CVRDE for the Arjun project

I know, like every married person, that “major” and “minor” are relative terms. But here is the list of 19 major modifications that the Arjun Mark II will feature. The list was finalized after extensive user opinion canvassing and feedback from the DGQA, DGEME, OFB, other DRDO labs.

1. Missile firing capability
2. Commander’s TI panoramic sight Mk II
3. Driver’s uncooled thermal imaging night sight
4. Additional ammunition (don’t ask… won’t tell!)
5. Enhanced ammunition penetrator
6. Effective alternative to muzzle reference sight (MRS)
7. Resin-based CCC
8. Ten-round containerised bin
9. Explosive reactive armour panels
10. Infra-red/Thermal imaging resistant paint
11. Air defence weapon remote firing
12. ALWCS (advanced laser warning and countermeasure system)
13. Roof mounted driver’s seat
14. ATT in GMS (gunner’s main sight)
15. Advanced land navigation system
16. New final drive with increased reduction ratio
17. Advanced running gear system
18. New track system
19. Mine plough

In addition, there are 74 “minor” improvements (adding up to 93 improvements in all) that are not really that minor. For example:

1. An improved sprocket wheel that modifies the manufacturing process from rolled homogenous armour (which required gas cutting and machining) to a forged sprocket which is 50% the cost, 50% easier to build and gives a longer life.

2. Another minor modification is the incorporation of stainless steel fuel tanks. The painting required for the insides of the earlier mild steel tanks was creating residue that clogged the fuel lines and filters. But stainless steel requires no painting.

3. Internal electrical wiring has been comprehensively re-laid, incorporating the dozens of modifications that have been incrementally carried out over the years. The wiring has now been laid systematically, making it easier to track and repair.

4. The radio harness has been modified, and internal communications are now digital. That makes it easier to integrate audio alarms and provides an SMS facility between the crew (how ‘bout sum chai?). It is totally noise free… now the crew can communicate easily.

5. Another improvement is the incorporation of a new compact Auxillary Power Unit (APU), which provides 8 KW of electrical power (uprated from the existing 4.5 KW APU). This requirement is based on fresh load budgeting calculations, allowing the tank to operate in “silent mode” with the additional electronics… also keeping a cushion for future electronic enhancements.

Of these 93 modifications, 45 have already been tested during trials in summer 2011… having been incorporated on one "improved Arjun Mk I" tank. A second tank is being cut open to put in three major modifications, including the commander’s panoramic sight Mk II.

I could bore you all at some length with this kind of stuff, but will let you chew on this for now…

Multi Role Helicopters for the Indian Navy

(Defense Now) : The Indian Navy has completed the field evaluation trails of the two participating helicopters in the USD one billion deal for procuring 16 multirole helicopters for augmenting its rotary wing anti-submarine warfare fleet.

Trials of the American Sikorsky S-70B and European NH-90 have been completed and the report is being studied by the Navy at the moment, Defence Ministry sources said to Defencenow.com here.

The procurement of 16 choppers is part of navy’s plans to have a fleet of around 60 choppers and as per the RFP issued by navy in 2008, it can go ahead with a repeat order of 44 more such platforms in future.

The MRH's primary role would be anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, while its secondary role would include search and rescue, cargo carrying and casualty evacuation.

The Navy urgently needs the MRH to replace its aging Sea King fleet inducted in 1970. It had 40-odd Sea King choppers in its air wing, but the numbers have come down to about 30 helicopters due to mishaps.

American Lockheed martin had also offered its choppers for the tender but it was rejected by the Indian Government as it did not want to go for procurement through the Foreign Military Sales route proposed by the US Navy.

The helicopter on offer was the MH 60 Romeo, which is built on Sikorsky’s Black hawk platform.

However, it seems the Government wants to allow the American contender to take part in the latest Indian naval helicopter programme and has invited Lockheed for consultation son the programme.

The Navy had recently issued an RFI in June for procuring new MRHs but the RFP is likely to be issued only after the present programme is completed.

Indian Army's infantry combat vehicle engines to be upgraded

New Delhi : India is preparing to upgrade around 1,500 BMP-2 and BMP-2K Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) with more powerful engines to enhance their cross-country mobility, floatation and gradient negotiating capability and mount more lethal weapon systems on board. All of this will make the ICVs robust killer machines.
"The Indian Army is looking for a new power pack with minimum 380 horsepower engine for the BMP-2 and BMP-2K ICVs," a senior defence ministry official told IANS.
The BMP-2 is the main combat vehicle of the Indian Army's Mechanised Infantry regiments used for breaching enemy defences and for troops thrusting forward into enemy territory.
"Since the upgrading of the BMP-2 and BMP-2k ICVs are at an advanced stage, the army wants to get the new engine for the combat vehicles at the earliest," the official added.
At present, the BMP-2 and BMP-2K command vehicles are running on Russian-origin UTD-20 engines, which have been indigenised by India through technology transfer.
The UTD-20 provides a 285 horsepower output that is considered inadequate as it adversely impacts the ICV's functioning.
The UTD-20 is the original engine of the BMP-1 ICV and is being used in the BMP-2 and BMP-2K even though they are more than 1,000 kg heavier.
"A more powerful engine is required to make the BMP-2 more efficient in cross-country mobility, floatation and gradient negotiating, apart from providing it the ability to take more add-on systems and weapons," the official said.
"It is imperative that the existing UTD-20 engine is replaced with a new minimum 380 horsepower engine, thereby offering greater mobility to the BMP-2 and BMP-2K," the official added.
The army is hopeful the new engine will enable the BMP-2 and BMP-2K ICVs to touch 50 kmph during cross-country, 70 kmph on roads and 7 kmph in forward gear during still water floatation.

- Two Circles

November 25, 2011

UAVs successfully used in Army exercise

Army has successfully used its satellites and UAVs in the ongoing exercise 'Sudharshan Shakti' to provide a real-time picture and information of the war zone to battlefield commanders.
 The new concepts of real time linking of the command centres with the battle zone has been successfully tested during the wargame in the deserts of Rajasthan, an army spokesperson said today.

"The endeavour has been to validate and integrate the use of all available assets, including satellites and UAVs to assist commanders in taking dynamic and proactive operational action in a fluid battlefield situation," he said.

 An important facet being validated is the real-time links between sensor and shooter which enables commanders to take instant decisions even as information is being shared among platforms and personnel to order the weapons to be deployed, he said.

Aerial assets provided by Indian Air Force (IAF) like Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft and AWACS have also been used to provide a real-time data of the war zones.

A total of 60,000 troops and 300 tanks are participating in the exercise which has brought together all elements, including air power on one single platform.

Apart from 120 artillery guns and an array of missiles and rockets, the exercise involves operation by aircraft such as Su-30 MKI, Jaguars, MiG-27 and MiG-21, AWACS and helicopters.

The exercise will help the Southern Command to validate its war-fighting concepts while working towards 'capability- based approach' relying on a series of transformational initiatives, concepts, organisational structures and absorption of new age technologies.

PTI/ ZeeNews

November 24, 2011

Indian SEALs Seek Competitive Gear

The Indian Navy is seeking modern infantry equipment for its elite MARCOS unit (India's SEAL teams which perform special ops on the high seas). MARCOS wants equipment similar to what other commandos, especially the U.S. Navy SEALs have. The Indian government and defense procurement bureaucracy is aware of this need, not just from MARCOS and other special operations troops, but for all Indian infantry as well.
The government tries. Two years ago, with great fanfare, India announced an effort to design and create its own version of the U.S. Army Land Warrior system. Countries around the world (including Britain, France, and Germany) have been designing, trying out, and testing similar combat systems for over ten years now. The Indian effort is not going well. The Indians version is INSAS (Infantry-Soldier-As-A-System). One of the major things the Indians want to build as part of the program is a domestically produced multi-caliber individual weapon and a programmable airbursting grenade launcher for the infantry. This is basically the exact same thing that the U.S. Army's OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) was supposed to be. The Indians are hoping their weapon will be more successful. But so far, progress, much less success, has been scarce.
Other plans include introducing new anti-tank weaponry, laser rangefinders, a new carbine/submachine gun, new combat uniforms for the infantry, better communications, and improved body armor. The new platform, the Indians are hoping, will reduce the load carried by the individual soldier by 50 percent. The helmet device the Indians are designing is equipped with video cameras, thermal sensors, and a visor set-up that contains two computer monitors. Plans to issue each infantryman with a "palmtop" computer are a high priority. But there's little to show for all these ambitious plans.
The first set of INAS equipment is supposed to appear next year, and by the end of the decade, some 500 infantry, paramilitary and special operations battalions will have this gear. But MARCOS knows that these projects never deliver on schedule, and are instead seeking foreign sources. There are several, including the U.S., France, Germany and several other European nations. If MARCOS gets away with this, it will encourage other Indian special operations forces to do the same.
India actually has lots of special operations outfits. These include;
Para Commandos form the parachute infantry of the Army, but have been given additional training and equipment to enable them to carry out commando type operations.
The Special Protection Group is assigned the task of protection for India's Prime Minister and VIPs from terrorist attacks.
The primary counter-terror unit in the country, however, is the 15,000 National Security Guards and the ones who have borne most of the responsibility for tackling India's persistent insurgent problems over the last couple of decades. 
The army has created a force of over 7,200 commandos so that each of the 359 infantry battalions in the army has a twenty man Ghatak (commando) platoon. While this gives each battalion some shock troops, it also increases discontent among the rest of the troops, who now see modern equipment up close, and wonder why they don't have it.
India has been increasing spending on equipment for its ground forces over the last decade, but these efforts have been uneven. Some of this has been caused by corruption. Like many other nations, India has long had problems with kickbacks and favoritism in defense procurement. But it's been worse with India, which ranks 87 (out of 180) in an international survey of least corrupt nations. Last year India was 84. India has responded with a major effort to halt corruption in defense matters, but this has stalled some procurement efforts.
The end result of this is that India is under increasing pressure, from below, to honor promises to upgrade the weapons and equipment of the infantry forces. These troops have fallen far behind other armies, and the troops, and especially their officers, are not being quiet about it. But government plans to upgrade infantry weapons and equipment have not amounted to much. The troops are not happy with this.
While India spends a lot of money on its fighter aircraft, naval vessels, and heavy ground equipment like tanks and APCs, very little is spent on taking care of the infantry. This isn't unique to the Indians, it just happens that the infantry historically doesn't get first grab at funds within the military and are usually at the bottom of the list when it comes to spending in general.

- Strategy Page 

Army displays its fire power

Army War College, Mhow on Wednesday showcased its artillery strength displaying Bofors guns, T-72 tanks and T-90 Tanks. The armory were displayed before the media and officers from friendly foreign countries.

About 2000 officers from the Indian Army were present on the occasion. It was a combat leadership training programme for the officers.

The soldiers displayed their fighting skills in a dummy war-like situation on a battle field. The soldiers in their combat outfits showed exemplary skills of how they take on the enemies from across the border.

Interacting with the media, commandant of Army War College Lt General Anil Chait said army is dedicated to the country and with the help of its citizens it wants to take the country on the trajectory of success.

"Here we train 2000 officers of Indian Army every year along with around 100 officers of friendly foreign countries," said Chait.


Times of India

Heavier, more lethal Arjun tank poised for trials

(Business Standard) : Indigenously developed Mark-II gets critical acclaim from army, experts abroad.
A heavier, more protected Arjun tank, called the Arjun Mark II, is poised for army trials. Scheduled for January and June 2012, successful trials would be the green signal for building 124 Arjun Mark IIs at the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi, outside Chennai. These will supplement the 124 Arjuns Mark I already in frontline service.
 Preparing the new Arjun for trials is the Central Vehicle R&D Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi, which steered the Arjun through a difficult and delayed development process; to its emergence as India’s premier main battle tank (MBT).
In March 2010, after the Arjun outperformed the vaunted Russian T-90S in performance trials in Rajasthan, an impressed Indian Army accepted 124 Arjuns into service. But the army has made a follow-on order conditional upon 93 improvements to the Arjun, including 19 major modifications. The CVRDE is finalising these modifications.
Business Standard visited Avadi for the media’s first detailed briefing and inspection of the Arjun Mark II. The Arjun Mark II’s most remarkable feature is its extra weight, 3-4 tonnes more than the earlier 62-tonne Arjun.
For years the army criticised the Arjun as too heavy for India’s road and rail infrastructure; now it wants modifications that will make the Arjun heavier. Fitting Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) plates on the tank has boosted crew protection, but also increases the weight by one and a half tonnes. An equivalent increase comes from added mine ploughs, which churn up the ground ahead of the tank, uprooting explosive mines that would otherwise blow up the tank.
But the Arjun Project leaders, V Balamurugan and GK Kumaravel, are unfazed by the weight gain. During gruelling trials this summer, the Arjun has demonstrated a crucial modification in the transmission system that makes the 65-66 tonne Arjun Mark II more agile than the lighter, 62-tonne Arjun Mark I. “We ran the modified Arjun for 1,300 kilometres, gradually loading dead weight until it was 65.5 tonnes. We demonstrated that its performance, acceleration, torque, working temperature and fuel consumption were better than the Arjun Mark I,” claimed Balamurugan.
The trade-off, though, is in maximum speed. The Arjun Mark II does just 60 kmph, compared with the 70 kmph top speed of the Arjun Mark I.
CVRDE chief, Dr P Sivakumar, an award-winning transmission specialist, is jubilant. “Earlier the army was criticising my Arjun [for weighing too much]. But, after seeing its cross-country performance, even compared with a lighter 40-tonne tank like the T-90, they realise that the Arjun moves like a Ferrari. Even at 65-66 tonnes, it will beat any MBT in the desert,” he promises.
That is endorsed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), which did a “third-party evaluation” of the Arjun. Israeli experts opine that the Arjun would outrun any competition.
Another crucial improvement in the Mark II is the tank commander’s thermal imaging (TI) night sight, which replaces the day-only sight of the earlier Arjun. Now the Arjun can operate at night in “hunter-killer” mode — the commander as hunter; and the gunner as killer. The commander scans the battlefield through his new TI sight; targets that he spots are electronically allocated to the gunner to destroy, while he returns to hunting for more targets.
The Mark II also equips the driver with a new night vision device based on “un-cooled thermal imaging”, allowing him to clearly see 300-500 metres, even on a pitch-dark night. The man who oversees the Arjun project, DRDO’s Chief Controller for Armament and Combat Engineering (CC-ACE), S Sundaresh, says: “Four major modifications — the mobility performance at 65.5 tonnes; the commander’s night sight; the driver’s night vision device, and ammunition containerisation — were validated this summer.”
Coming up for trials in January is an important new capability: missile firing through the Arjun Mark II’s main gun. Israeli LAHAT missiles were proof-fired from the Arjun in 2004, but the sighting and control systems are now being integrated into the gunner’s sight by its vendors, OIP Sensor Systems (Belgium) and SAGEM (France).
Just one crucial system will remain to be integrated after next year’s trials: a “laser warning counter measure system.” This senses the laser beam that incoming missiles ride, giving just 10-15 seconds of reaction time. Within milliseconds, the system automatically launches smoke grenades, creating a smokescreen around one’s own tank that leaves the missile operator without a target to aim at.

India lags in construction of roads along border with China, admits government

(Times of India) : The lumbering Elephant is finding it tough to keep pace with the Red Dragon. The government on Wednesday admitted only 15 of the 73 roads identified for construction along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with China have been completed.

"Out of the 73 roads identified as strategic border roads, 15 have been completed, 39 are scheduled for completion by 2013 and the remaining 19 by 2016," said defence minister A K Antony in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

"The main reasons for the slow progress are delay in forest/wildlife clearances, hard rock stretches, limited working seasons and inadequate air efforts to mobilize resources,'' he added.

The tardiness is stark since China has "aggressively'' strengthened its military capabilities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and elsewhere. This includes five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in TAR, which makes it possible for China to swiftly move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1, as reported by TOI earlier.

The 15 roads constructed by India measure around 600-km out of the total of 3,808 km required for the 73 all-weather roads. The 73 roads cover all the three sectors of LAC -western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) -and include more east-west lateral links as well as better access routes to strategic peaks and valleys.

The Army, alarmed at the excruciatingly slow progress in construction of the border roads, has been demanding that infrastructure build-up within 50 km of LAC as well as LoC with Pakistan should be exempted from requisite long-winded environmental and other clearances. India is taking other steps to shore up its defences against China. The measures range from planning a new mountain strike corps (over 45,000 troops) after raising two new mountain infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers in Nagaland and Assam, to the progressive deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons in the north-east.

November 23, 2011

Russia may move missiles to EU borders if shield talks fail

(RIA Novosti) : Russia may deploy offensive weaponry on its borders with Europe in response to a U.S.-backed European missile shield, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
Medvedev outlined a series of possible “appropriate measures” against the U.S. interceptor missiles and radars being deployed in Europe if missile defense talks between Moscow and Washington result in failure.
“If the measures listed [in the statement] are not be sufficient, Russia will deploy in the west and the south of the country advanced offensive weapons systems which will target the European component of the [U.S.] missile defense network,” Medvedev said.

Russian Air Force to get 90 aircraft in 2012

(RIA Novosti) : The Russian Air Force will take delivery of about 90 new or modernized fixed and rotary wing aircraft in 2012, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
The Air Force will receive up to 10 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, about 10 Su-25SM Frogfoot attack fighters, and an unspecified number of Su-35S Flanker-E multirole fighters, Col. Vladimir Drik said.
The Su-35S is Russia’s advanced “Generation 4++” fighter.
New acquisitions will also include over 20 attack helicopters, such as the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Ka-52 Alligator, as well as “highly modernized” Mi-35 Hind helicopters.
The Air Force will also receive about 30 Mi-8 transport and five Mi-26T heavy lift helicopters.

Army in pursuit of winged dream

(Times of India) : The Indian Air Force may crib all it wants, but the Army is pressing on regardless - with its plans to have its own air force, albeit a 'mini' one. Fighter jets may not be on its wish-list, but the 1.13-million strong force wants everything else, from attack helicopters to fixed-wing aircraft.

Army's long-term plans include a squadron each of attack/armed, reconnaissance/observation and tactical battle-support copters for each of its 13 corps. The three 'strike' corps, with HQs at Mathura (1 Corps), Ambala (2 Corps) and Bhopal (21 Corps) will get more 'air assets' in keeping with their primary offensive role, say sources.

To top it off, each of Army's six regional or operational commands will at least get 'a flight' of five fixed-wing aircraft for tactical airlift of troops and equipment. "Army Aviation Corps, which is observing its 25th anniversary this month and operates around 250 light helicopters, has plans till the end of the 14th Plan (2022-27)," said a source.

In the short to medium term, AAC plans to induct 259 light-utility and observation helicopters to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleets that service Siachen, Kargil and other high-altitude areas.

Army Aviation Corps also wants 140 multi-role tactical battle-support helicopters to provide 'integral tactical lift to its formations' and 114 light combat helicopters that are being developed indigenously.

Army is slated to get its first-ever attack helicopter squadron by February-March. These copters will be weaponized versions of indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopters, called the Rudra, armed with 20mm turret guns, 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles and anti-tank guided missiles.

Army and Indian Air Force have long been engaged in the bitter dogfight over 'air assets', which erupted even during the 1999 Kargil conflict. The persistent turf war forced defence minister A K Antony to call for a ceasefire, maintaining the two forces should work in synergy by reconciling differences.

Holding that IAF does not fully comprehend its operational philosophy and concepts like 'close air support' or 'nuances of the tactical battle area', Army says it wants 'full command and control' over 'tactical air assets' for rapid deployment.

IAF contends 'air assets' are 'scarce resources' that should be handled by a force with operational expertise and requisite 'air-mindedness'. But Army is unconvinced.

Itfeels the IAF can continue with its larger 'strategic role' and the 'tactical role' should be left to it.

For one, AAC aviators and engineers are drawn from Army combat arms, like infantry, mechanized infantry, armoured corps, air defence and artillery.

November 22, 2011

Israel is Fielding a Tactical Intelligence Collection Vehicle

(Defense Update) : Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Field Intelligence Corps’s has fielded an advanced reconnaissance vehicle called ‘Granite’, based on IAIs’ EL/I-3302 Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance Vehicle (ISRV) developed by ELTA Systems Ltd. Elta has integrated the mission payload on the SandCat, an armored vehicle based on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Ford 550 model. The vehicle has full armor protection and concealed telescopic mast, which can be erected rapidly as the vehicle halts.
Granite will augment and later, replace HMMWV based Racoon, delivered by Rafael in the early 2000s. Both vehicles are equipped with mast mounted multi-sensor payloads comprising a surveillance radar, and day/night electro-optical observation system.

Unlike the task specific Racoon, ISRV was designed to provide a as a hub for tactical intelligence gathering operations. The system architecture, user interface and reduced workload enables operation by multiple users assigned to different tasks, or a single operator supporting routine surveillance activity through semi-automated means,including slaving EO payloads to the targets spotted by the radar.
The vehicle carries the new EL/M-2207 electronically scanner array (AESA) detecting man-size targets at a distance of eight kilometers, with EO payloads such as long range POP-300 recognizing such targets from seven kilometers and designating targets for engagement by precision guided weapons. Elta designed the ISRV to deploy forward observations using the Man Portable Ground Observation & Surveillance System (MNPGOSS) and lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles, supporting manned or unmanned forward observations. The system also integrates with supported units can be performed over the IDF new ‘digital army program’ (Zayad).

Barak 8 / MR-SAM Test Program to Begin in Early 2012

(Defense  Update) : India and Israel are planning to conduct a system test of Barak 8 Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) early next year. IAI and DRDO are cooperating in the development of the Medium and Long Range Surface to Air Missile (MR-SAM/LR-SAM) missiles, also known as Barak-8, are preparing for the next milestone in the program – testing with its entire supporting system, in early 2012. The Israel Navy also expects to filed the missile with its upgraded/new Saar 5 / 5B corvettes.
Barak 8, a critical development program for the navies of both countries, went through significant development delays since parts of the missile were not completed in time for testing. The first Barak 8 missile test took place in israel in May 2010. The Economic Times of india has recently quoted DRDO officials saying the test is now planned to be conducted in Israel in January of February 2012. The weapon qualification program will include eight test firings, to take place in israel and India, prior to induction into service. Elements of the system have already been delivered to India, including the four-plane MF-STAR phased array radar and shipboard electronic modules supporting the system.
The MRSAM missiles are scheduled to equip the three Kolkata class (Project 15A) guided missile destroyers currently under construction at the Mazagon shipyards in India. These vessels will be delivered to the Indian Navy in 2012 and their Barak-8 systems are expected to become operational a year later in 2013. Four additional Kolkata class destroyers (Project15B) will be equipped with an extended range version of the missile (ER-SAM) capable of intercepting targets at a range of 100 km. These destroyers will also carry the Brahmos II supersonic and new Nirbhany subsonic cruise missiles with offensive reach of 1,000 km.
 INS Kochi, the second Kolkata class guided missile destroyer built at the Mazagon Docks shipyard afloat. Note the two masts - the large superstructure above the bridge is designed to carry the EL/M-2248 MF-STAR radar while the one further to the rear will mount the IAI EL/M-2238 L-band STAR surveillance radar. Photo via Bharat-Rakshak.com
The Indian Air Force is also planning to field the extended range version of the missile, as part of the LR-SAM program, enhancing the nation’s air defense capability with wide area, The system will employ advanced surface radars, airborne sensors and advanced datalinks to provide network-centric air defense capability against aircraft, cruise missiles and anti-ship guided missiles, with each site covering a range of 100-110km.
Barak 8 have incorporated an advanced multi-function electronically scanning array that continuously covers 360 degree, thereby providing a defensive shield in all directions while simultaneously functioning in target acquisition and surface search modes. In principle, each destroyer could provide air cover for a large battle group, or share defense assets with other surface combattants, to best respond to aerial or missile threats.
For the ground based system, each battery has it’s own control van and mobile command. Network centricity of the system is supported by the Command & Control element of each of these batteries communicating with other batteries and other air defense assets, sharing a common ‘sky picture’ thus providing positive identification of threats or friendly aircraft, missiles or non combatant elements, assisting commanders in deciding ow best to react to a threat.