June 30, 2013

Prithvi missiles to be replaced by more-capable Prahar: DRDO

Seeking to enhance its precision strike capabilities, India is planning to replace its 150 km-range Prithvi ballistic missiles with the newly developed quick reaction Prahar missiles.
“We are withdrawing the tactical 150 km-range Prithvi missiles and will replace them with the Prahar missiles, which are more capable and have more accuracy,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander told PTI here.
The tactical versions of the Prithvi missiles would be withdrawn from service and will be upgraded to be used for longer ranges, he said.
The DRDO Chief said after the withdrawal of the tactical ballistic missiles from service, there would be a gap in strike capabilities in the range of 100 to 150 km-range.
“The Prahar missile would be used to fill up that gap,” he said.
The 150 km-range ‘Prahar’ is a single-stage missile and is fuelled by solid propellants. It was first test-fired by DRDO in mid-2011 from its range in Odisha.
The uniqueness of the missile system is that it can be fired in the salvo mode also from one launcher vehicle in which four missiles can be fired in one go.
This short-range missile would be an ‘excellent weapon’ which would fill the gap between the 90 km-range of the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers and guided missiles like ’Prithvi’, which can strike at 250 km to 350 km range.
The under-development Prahar missile would be offered to the Army for user trials very soon and after its acceptance, it is planned to be part of its Corps of Artillery.
The Prithvi missiles were developed by India under its Integrated Missile Development Programme in the 1980s. The ballistic missile was developed with multiple strike ranges from 150 km to 350 km.
The longer ranges are planned to be in service with both the Army and the IAF. 


June 29, 2013

India inducts new power-packed stealth frigate

                                                                                           In tune with its operational drive to turn "stealthy" because surprise and deception are crucial in modern-day warfare, the Navy inducted its latest guided-missile stealth frigate INS Trikhand on Saturday.

INS Trikand is the last of the six stealth frigates ordered from Russia. The Navy had earlier inducted three 4,000-tonne Talwar-class stealth frigates ( Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) from Russia in 2003-2004.

Then, impressed by the punch the frigates packed, India ordered another three (Teg, Tarkash and Trikand) under a $1.15 billion contract inked in 2006.

On Saturday, Navy vice chief Vice admiral R K Dhowan commissioned INS Trikand at a ceremony at Kaliningrad in Russia, which was also attended by the Indian ambassador Ajai Malhotra and other top Indian and Russian officials.

"Her sister ships INS Teg and INS Tarkash were commissioned last year and are now undertaking operations as part of the Western Fleet," said an officer. INS Trikand carries a state-of-the-art combat suite, which includes the supersonic 290-km BrahMos missile system, Shtil advanced surface-to-air missiles, an upgraded A-190 medium range gun, an electro-optical 30-mm close-in weapon system, anti-submarine weapons such as torpedoes and rockets and an advanced electronic warfare system.

"The weapons and sensors are integrated through a combat management system 'Trebovanie-M', which enables the ship to simultaneously neutralise multiple surface, sub-surface and air threats," said the officer.

The ship also incorporates "innovative" features to reduce its radar, magnetic and acoustic "signatures" to ensure it is relatively difficult to detect by enemy radars. Powered by four gas turbines, the frigate is capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots. "The ship, commanded by Captain Ajay Kochhar with a crew of 300 officers and sailors, can also carry an integrated Kamov-31 helicopter suited for airborne early warning roles," he said.

India, of course, is also building its own stealth frigates. Three Shivalik-class frigates, built at Mazagon Docks (MDL), have already been inducted by the Navy. Then, there is an over Rs 50,000 crore plan on the anvil to construct seven advanced stealth frigates, with all weapon and missile systems under the hull for a lower radar "signature", in a programme called Project-17A.

The project will be shared between MDL at Mumbai and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) at Kolkata.
- Times of india  

CAG nails lack of disaster alert system

The Uttarakhand calamity has highlighted how advanced communication technology, though available with the government, was not deployed either for preparing for it or for quick response. There were no early warning systems, and once disaster struck, no communication system worked for several days as mobile networks collapsed. A recent CAG report higlights massive failure in harnessing communication technology for disaster alerts.

Why can't our country's well known prowess in space, IT and communication technologies be used for disaster management? A recent CAG report provides the answer: a series of half completed projects, bungled attempts, turf wars and lack of will to get ready for disasters.

So, what happened in Uttarakhand could very well happen elsewhere. After all, 60% of the country is prone to earthquakes of moderate to high intensity, 40 million hectares is prone to floods, 5,700 km coast is prone to cyclones and tsunamis and the whole Himalayas are prone to landslides.

The department of space was to have created a National Database for Emergency Management (NEDM) combining satellite imagery with ground level data. All possible natural and man-made disasters would be covered in it. Started in 2006 it was to be completed by 2011. Till June 2012, Rs 6.34 crore had been spent on data collection and Rs.9.8 crore on buildings, according to a recent CAG report. But the project is non-operational.

Meanwhile, the national disaster management authority proposed a parallel national disaster management informatics system (NDMIS) using GIS data. This is still under consideration by the home ministry.

Satellite imagery for 224 million hectares (mha) out of a target of 320 mha has been collected but since the servers for housing the data are not installed, the data is not available for use. Similarly, a GIS-based database on 169 districts that are prone to multiple hazards is not yet completed, although the coastal districts (prone to tsunami and cyclones) have been covered. But the data is not available for use because computer infrastructure is non-operational, the CAG has revealed. A detailed GIS dataset for six mega cities (Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Mumbai) was to be prepared but it was completed for only the first three, and that too is not available for users.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) was to have used the Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping and Digital Camera (ALTM-DC) to take detailed photographs of 5 lakh square kilometers of flood prone areas in the country. This data could be very useful in determining risks, developing risk zones and hence planning for floods. After spending Rs 23 crore on buying the hi-tech equipment, only 38,020 sq km has been covered till 2012.

Similarly, a synthetic aperture radar for use when satellite systems are non-operational was bought for Rs 20 crore but it is still not operational. It can be used to forecast floods and also during flooding.

One of the most important elements of disaster management - a secure communication network - was planned, linking the prime minister, the home ministry, down to state control rooms and ultimately, district emergency operation centers (EOCs). It was to become operational by December 2005, but the CAG discovered that it is still a work in progress, although all equipment was bought six years ago for Rs.6.7 crore. Some of the reasons for this state of affairs were shocking: the equipment could not be set up at the PM's residence because permission to enter the premises has not been given; in Mumbai, the equipment got burnt in the Mantralaya fire; in Shimla, the antenna fell off the roof.

A parallel National Disaster Communication Network based on existing NICNET and other networks was mooted by the home ministry in 2007 but is yet to see the light of the day.

Five Doppler Weather Radars for giving early warning of cyclones, hailstorms, high winds etc were to be set up jointly by the met and space departments. These are yet to be installed after seven years and spending of Rs 35.64 crore.
-  Times of India

Agni-V to be tested twice this year, could be inducted by 2015

India's most formidable strategic missile, the over 5,000-km Agni-V, will be tested twice before this year ends to ensure it is ready for full-scale induction in the armed forces towards end-2015.

Interestingly, the latter of the two tests will see the 50-tonne Agni-V being fired from a hermetically-sealed canister mounted on a launcher truck. A canister-launch system will give the forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport the ballistic missile and launch it from a place of their choosing. Consequently, the highly road-mobile Agni-V will be able to hit even the northernmost part of China if fired from close to the Line of Actual Control.

"We are getting ready for two more tests of the three-stage Agni-V this year, which will include the canister-launch trial. Our aim is to make the missile ready for induction in two years," said new DRDO chief Avinash Chander, talking exclusively to TOI.

Similar plans are underway to make the two-stage Agni-IV, with a 3,500-km strike range, ready for induction by end-2014. The armed forces have already inducted the Pakistan-specific Agni-I (700-km) and Agni-II (over 2,000-km) as well as the 3,000-km Agni-III.

The Agni-IV and Agni-V missiles, however, are in a different class with "much higher accuracy and kill efficiencies" to give teeth to the minimum credible deterrence posture against China. With a massive nuclear arsenal and missiles like the 11,200-km Dong Feng-31A capable of hitting any Indian city, Beijing is leagues ahead of New Delhi.

DRDO, however, remains unfazed. Work is in progress to make the solid-fuelled Agni-IV and Agni-V, the latter virtually an intercontinental ballistic missile, even more lethal.

"After these two missiles are inducted, the two major focus areas will be maneuvering warheads or re-entry vehicles to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems and MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles)," Chander said.

An MIRV payload implies a single missile carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets. "But there is no Agni-VI programme as of now. We are working on enabling technologies and capabilities... we will come to the Agni-VI programme, if required, later," he said.

But is DRDO being too optimistic about the Agni-IV and Agni-V induction schedules, given that both have been tested only once till now? "No, we require just six to seven trials. We are no longer in the age when a large number of trials are required," said Chander, a missile scientist who was the overall head of the expansive Agni programme earlier.

"These surface-to-surface missiles have well-defined (parabolic) trajectories, unlike say air-to-air missiles. We conduct thousands of tests through modeling and simulation in our labs under different conditions. The actual flight trials are to validate what is predicted in simulation tests, match the algorithms," he added.
-   Times of India

June 25, 2013

Rafales to touch Indian sky in 2016

With the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Dassault Aviation ironing out differences over the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), the supply of the Rafale aircraft is expected to begin in 2016-17.

According to a report in US-based Defense Update — a portal on military technology and defence news — French defence minister Jean-Yves Drain will visit India soon to conclude the MMRCA contract so that the supply of the first batch of aircraft can begin in 2016-17.

During the on-going Paris Air Show, HAL brass met with the top executives of Dassault Aviation to review the progress of the ongoing projects. “Both the teams expressed satisfaction on the work already achieved by the integrated teams and renewed their commitment towards successful completion of the various projects,” said a recent statement from HAL.

India’s plan to buy 126 fighter-jets from Dassault has been delayed even though the company won the fiercely fought bid two years ago. There have been reports that the deal has been delayed as Dassault and the government has not been able to finalise the role of HAL in the deal.

According to the deal, Dassault will provide 18 of the 126 aircraft in fly-away condition and the remaining are to be manufactured by the HAL. Media reports have stated that Dassault Aviation wants two contracts to be signed, one for the aircraft manufactured by it and another for the aircraft to be build by the HAL.

That apart, in the past, the French aircraft manufacturer has also expressed doubts over the technological and manufacturing capability of the HAL.


June 21, 2013

‘Missile Man’ Kalam wants military to gear up for cyber-attacks on economy

With the rise in internet usage and cloud-based systems, the country’s economy could face threats online, former President APJ Abdul Kalam said

Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Thursday said the country’s military engineers should learn the art of cybersecurity to safeguard the Indian economy from attacks online.
Addressing engineering graduates at the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME) at their convocation ceremony, Dr. Kalam said cyber-attacks had the potential to cripple the Indian economy.
He said the growth of internet technology and cloud-based systems in the past few years had created room for cyber espionage and warfare. Nations are electronically connected and everything is in digital form, which will definitely attract attacks in cyberspace. Efforts to spread awareness among police and other security agencies should be increased, he felt.
On the economy
Dr. Kalam hoped that the 600 million youth of the country would help India become an economic powerhouse — one of the objectives of the Vision 2020 statement.
“Trouble began after 2008 when the GDP [growth] was eight per cent. After that, GDP [growth] gradually began to decrease due to economic problems in Europe and US. I still feel that the young in India will work hard and take the GDP levels to more than nine per cent,” he said.
Indigenous military technology
Fielding questions from the audience, the Missile Man said that in another decade, the use of indigenous military equipment will increase.
“At the moment, only 50 per cent of our military equipment is indigenous. In another one decade, our goal should 75 per cent,” he said.
Commenting on the present system of education, he said the government’s efforts should be at the primary level.
“Inspiring creativity and excellence should only be at the primary level. At this level, we should concentrate on preparing children for the future. Education should not create degrees but produce persons who can generate employment,” he suggested. Commandant, MCEME, Lt. Gen. S. M. Mehta and other top officers were present on the occasion.

The Hindu

June 19, 2013

IAF gets it's first C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft

The first of ten Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft, being purchased by India from the US, touched down at Hindon airbase near the capital Tuesday, marking a milestone in the modernisation of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

An official release said the C-17 Globemaster III was received by Air Marshal S. Sukumar, deputy chief of air staff at Hindon airbase.

The aircraft will be based at Hindon. The IAF took delivery of the aircraft June 11 at Long Beach, California, in the US, following training of its ground and air crew.

The release said the aircraft will enhance the operational potential of the IAF with its payload carriage and performance capability.

It would also augment strategic reach of the force during disaster relief mission. "The induction of the C-17 is a major milestone in the modernisation drive of the IAF," the release said.

The C-17 is a high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed military-transport aircraft and can fly long distances, carrying large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain in the day or night.

India Today

June 18, 2013

Larsen & Toubro bids for Rs 4,000 crore defence contract; bullish on foreign markets

To expand its presence in global market, engineering major Larsen & Toubro plans to bid for hydrocarbon projects outside the country, even as it is aggressively getting into the domestic defence sector worth around Rs 8,000 crore.

As part of defence thrust, the company has bid for a Rs 4,000-crore contract from the Coast Guards and is also plans to bid for an equal amount of contracts from the Navy.

On the international side, L&T is looking at markets including Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Africa, apart from West Asia and the US, where it currently has a significant presence in the hydrocarbons business, L&T president for heavy engineering) MV Kotwal told reporters here today.

"We see a huge opportunity in the hydrocarbons sector in the international market. We recently entered the Russian market by bagging a Rs 250-crore contract. There is still a four-times potential business there which we plan to tap," he said.

"We have already bid for four Indian Coast Guard contracts worth Rs 4,000 crore. We expect a final decision on this to be taken in the next six months," Kotwal said.

Already L&T is working on a Rs 2,000-crore order from the Coast Guard contract to supply 54 vessels, at a cost of Rs 30-40 crore each.

Besides this, the company is also planning to bid for two landing platform dock projects ranging from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 2,000 crore each, to be awarded by the government.

The government is planning to build four multi-purpose landing platform docks, out of which tow will be given to private-sector firms, he said.

"A request for proposals for the docks will be finalised in the next few months," Kotwal said, adding, "in the next two years, we expect to see significant improvement in the sector, and we are prepared to meet this demand."

Though there has been a downturn in this sector over the past two-three years both in the international as well as in the domestic markets, the momentum is expected to revive in the coming years.

"We are expecting a significant number of projects in the hydrocarbon business," he said, adding, "nearly 55 per cent of orders in this business will be contributed from overseas."

Economic Times

June 14, 2013

India can only be safe, secure by adapting newer technologies: Brahmos CEO Pillai

Newer technologies and changes would have to be adopted and adapted to ensure that India as a nation remains safe and secure, a senior scientist has said.
Speaking exclusively to ANI on a wide range of issues with a focus on encouraging the 580 million youth of the country who are aged 35 and below, to use their educational achievements and other skills in ensuring India's global growth in several spheres, Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Controller (R and D), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and CEO and MD of Brahmos Aerospace, said missile technology wise, the objective is to achieve "high speed, high power and precision."
He said BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, is now developing hypersonic technology for the BrahMos missile which can travel at five to seven times the speed of sound.
"The company is roping in academics to develop the requisite technology before going in for designing and developing missiles which can travel at Mach 5 to 7 (five to seven times the speed of sound). It will be BrahMos II version next to the present variants of Mach 2.8 to 3.5," Dr. Pillai said.
Speaking specifically about a book "Thoughts for Change", which he has co-authored with former President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, where there is a mention of ten futuristic technologies that India can access and adapt, Dr. Pillai said the world has progressed from the stone age to the nuclear age, and in the new millenium, convergent technologies would be more relied upon as "this is a hugely useful technology".
"With bio-technology and information technology converging, this technology will provide the best thinking process... New types of robotics are coming up. In the days to come, automation will play a huge role in terms of development and soci-economic progress. The human race has spent so many years on earth, and therefore, there is always a need to migrate. Hence, we are trying to explore new options," Dr. Pillai said.
"The Brahmos missile today is of the highest quality. It has super precision. We are working on hypersonic technology, which will be the future," he added.
He revealed that Brahmos Aerospace is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, in developing technologies for high temperature material required to build the missile, cram-jet propulsions and energy modules and the requisite algorithms.
He added that the Moscow Institute of Aviation would produce technologies for propulsion, kinetic energy modules for the hypersonic version.
In all probability, these initiatives would take a minimum of five years to crystallise, he said.
BrahMos is currently working on blueprints for setting up a production centre, choice of vendors for supply of necessary components and investment structure.
The next step is to develop missiles that can come back to the originating mode after destroying designated targets, he said.


June 10, 2013

Navy's ongoing hunt for heavy torpedoes leads to delay in modernisation process

A fresh hunt for heavy torpedoes for its new line of warships and a setback in the delivery of new destroyers has the Indian navy reeling under pressure of delay in major modernisation programmes.

The process to acquire new torpedoes was set rolling recently after the first attempt to purchase the weapon got embroiled in controversies.

With Finmeccanica's conduct in the VVIP helicopter deal for the Indian Air Force coming under scanner, questions have been raised on the company's participation in other contracts though no punitive action has been taken against it by the government so far.


The acquisition of torpedoes was held back because the front runner, Black Shark torpedo, was being made by a Finmeccanica subsidiary called WASS.

Even though the ongoing $300 million project to procure 98 torpedoes has not been cancelled officially, the navy has issued Request for Information (RFI), re-launching the process to procure the weapons. An evaluation committee had given an "all clear", but despite that the project had not moved further.

The German rival Atlas Elektronik had also raised questions about Black Shark's selection.

Sources said a fresh process of induction was initiated so that the torpedoes could be made available for all the warships and submarines in the pipeline - including Project 75 (Scorpene), 15A (Kolkata class destroyers), 15B (follow on of Kolkata class destroyers).

At the moment, navy warships are equipped with old Russian heavy torpedoes. The new torpedoes were also to be integrated with the French Scorpene submarines under construction.

Even as the torpedo issue was being sorted out, the navy was hit by the delay in project 15A for the construction of three Kolkata class destroyers

The first ship of the class, being constructed at Muzgaon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, was scheduled to be delivered in July. But technical problems were detected during the sea trials of the destroyers - the largest warships to be constructed and designed at MDL.

It is estimated that the project has been delayed by at least six months as the new destroyer would now be made available only by early 2014.

Project 15A, under which three destroyers have to be built, is already running two years behind schedule. The revised deadline for the delivery of first ship was mid-2013. The project was going on track keeping up with the revised deadline but the snag was detected during the sea trials of the ship.

India Today

Airbus Military launches improved C295W transport for India

(IANS) Airbus Military has launched an uprated C295W medium transport aircraft with winglets and more powerful engines with an eye on the Indian military and civil aviation market.
In official briefings at the recent launch ceremony here, company officials mentioned India more that a dozen times in view of the impending replacement of 56 HS-748 transporters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) while Airbus Military Chairman and CEO Domingo Urena-Raso told India Strategic (www.indiastrategic.in) that he expected the number of selected aircraft in this category to be more than 100.
According to India Strategic's own estimates though, the figure could touch or exceed 200, keeping in mind the growing requirements of the armed forces, paramilitary organizations like the Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), civil operations in India's mountainous Himalayan states and even the secretive Aviation Research Centre (ARC) of India's external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The aircraft is to be produced in the private sector, and once the assembly/ production line is set up in the country, new and follow-on orders are easier to get.
Urena-Raso, who can be described as a very pleasant and confident person based on the interaction he had with visiting journalists and this writer, said Airbus Military was in touch with some Indian companies for the aircraft's production in India as per the IAF's recently-issued Request for Proposals (RfP) - or tender - but gave no details. He pointed out though that a production facility is only about four to five percent of the costing in an aircraft's manufacturing project.
The first C295W - W denoting winglets - was displayed before a group of visiting journalists from around the globe.
Rafael Tentor, senior vice president, said that the 90 kg of winglets and modifications added to the existing C295 aircraft would enable it to operate in India's hot as well as high Himalayan airfields.
The engines have been given new settings.
Said Tentor: "The aircraft uses the same Pratt & Whitney (Canada) PW127 turboprops engines which power all versions of the C295. The increased power is available from implementing new procedures recently certified by Canada and Spain, permitting operation in the climb and cruise phases at higher power settings at the discretion of the operator."
"When implemented at higher altitudes and hot temperatures, these procedures improve operation over very high terrain such as the Andes (in South America) or the Himalaya mountains with only a minor influence on maintenance costs. The winglets were demonstrated in flight-trials which showed positive results for a weight penalty of only around 90 kg," Tentor added.
The first production C295W will be available from end-2014. The aircraft can carry troops, equipment, electronic warfare systems or an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) antenna.
Tentor said that over the 2003-12 period, Airbus Military has commanded a 51 percent share of the light and medium aircraft (C235/C295) market with 157 (of the global total of 306) aircraft purchased by about a dozen countries.
Both Urena-Raso and Tentor pointed out that defence budgets in the US and Europe were shrinking and that global arms and aviation firms were increasingly looking to Middle East and Asia, particularly India, which has to replace most of its outdated Soviet-vintage equipment.
As for India, the IAF's RfP has been sent to eight contenders from Europe, the US and Russia. As per the tender, which has to be submitted by October, the HS-748 replacement aircraft has to be made in India in collaboration with an Indian partner with technology transfer and production arrangements. The global vendors are reportedly in final stages of finalizing their tie-ups.
Airbus Military's C295W and Alenia Aeronautica's C 27J Spartan are putting up a tough fight. The latter has engines and configuration similar to Lockheed Martin's C130J which IAF has acquired (6 + 6 aircraft) and maintenance should be easier with some element of commonality.
The only problem is that Alenia is a Finmeccanica company, which also owns AgustaWestland. The IAF's order of 12 VIP AW101 helicopters from it is under the scanner due to allegations of kickbacks emanating from Italy.
The Indian defence ministry has also ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry and till it clears Finmeccanica of any wrongdoing, its chances of winning any Indian tender from the army, navy or air force are near impossible.
IAF had acquired the HS-748 Avro from Britain's Hawker Siddeley from 1964 onwards. It was later produced by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.


First C-17 to arrive in India shortly

The Indian Navy isn't the only service that gets the bask in the glow of a brand new American-built bird. The IAF will soon welcome to India its first Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III heavy-lift transport aircraft, due to arrive shortly. The window of arrival is May-June, so teams are all set to ferry the first bird back to homebase, Hindon AFS.
All ten aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2014, by which time operations will already be in full swing. Batches of Indian pilots and loadmasters have been undergoing training with the USAF at Altus, Oklahoma and will be the lead teams that bring in the C-17 into Indian service. Once deliveries begin this month or the next, the Indian Air Force will rapidly begin a process to determine whether it plans to buy 6-10 more aircraft from Boeing. Such a decision will need to be quickly made since manufacturing operations will begun winding down at Boeing's Long Beach facility towards the end of 2014, and it will need firm orders to keep such a massive facility open. Sources indicate the IAF has already conveyed to the government that it would require at least 20 C-17s for meaningful operations on the type, and given its responsibilities.


June 8, 2013

IAF to close deals worth $25 bn this fiscal including MMRCA, Boeing Apache Longbow helicopters

Deals worth $25 billion are expected to be closed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) this fiscal, its largest ever procurement. These include the long-awaited $20-billion 126 MMRCA, three C-130J special-operations planes (as a follow-on order), 22 Boeing Apache Longbow strike helicopters ($1.2 billion), 15 heavy-lift Boeing CH Chinook helicopters ($1.4 billion) and six European A-330 MRTT ($2 billion) mid-air refuelling tanker planes. Air Chief NAK Browne said: “IAF is witnessing an unprecedented phase of modernisation. Capability enhancement can be seen across the spectrum. Five major deals estimated at $25 billion are slotted to be closed this fiscal.”
Sources told FE: “Talks are on for a follow-up order for six more C-130J from Lockheed Martin. Orders for three have been placed. Also, the IAF is expected to get 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift aircraft at $5 billion. The delivery of the aircraft is scheduled between June 2013 and June 2015. Like in the case of C-130J, IAF also plans to increase its C-17 fleet by 10 more such planes.”
The IAF is also inducting 139 Russian Mi-17 V-5 medium-lift helicopters for an estimated $2.4 billion. The workhorse Mi-17 has been in service for decades, but the new-model, V-5, is a vastly superior machine with new engines, rotor blades and avionics. An IAF order for 80 Mi-17s is already being delivered, which is likely to be followed by an order for 59 more.
As part of its modernisation plans, earlier in May, the ministry of defence issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) to eight foreign aerospace vendors, inviting tenders for co-producing 56 medium transport aircraft to replace the aging fleet of Hawker Siddeley 748M Avro aircraft. The deal could be worth about R28,000 crore.
Among the companies invited to bid are Boeing of the US, Ilyushin of Russia, Antonov of Ukraine, Franco-German consortium EADS and Alenia Aeromacchi of Italy. As reported earlier by FE, the pre-bid meeting will take place on June 19. The MoD has given bidders five months to choose and tie up with an Indian Production Agency (IPA) and submit their “techno-commercial proposals”. Of the total capital outlay of R86,741 crore for new buys this fiscal, finance minister P Chidambaram has allocated the maximum for IAF (R38,558 crore), followed by Army (R17,822 crore), Navy (R9,626 crore) and Defence Reseach and Development (R5,058 crore)

Financial express

June 7, 2013

Lohegaon airbase upgrade likely by August: Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale

The Indian Air Force (IAF) authorities here have given strong indications to the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) about the likelihood of the much-anticipated modernization of air field infrastructure (MAFI) project taking off by August.
"A team of the private contractor, hired for MAFI project, is expected to visit Lohegaon airbase in the next 10 days for an initial survey. Another team will visit in the subsequent period. The air officer commanding (AOC) of the airbase has told us that the project work will begin by end of July or August," Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale (Retd), who heads the MCCIA's civil aviation committee, told reporters on Wednesday.
The IAF has planned an ambitious Rs 1,220 crore makeover for 30 air fields across the country in phase-I of the MAFI project. The idea is to make these air fields capable of handling modern transport and fighter aircraft. For instance, the IAF is in the process of acquiring 126 modern combat aircraft like the French Rafale jet and has recently inducted six C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, which involve use of modern equipment.
Recently, the IAF completed a MAFI pilot project that involved modernisation of the Bhatinda air field in Punjab and now plans to start work at four more air fields including the Lohegaon airbase.
The project will see the Lohegaon air field getting a new state-of-the-art instrument landing system (ILS), distance measure equipment, tactical air navigation system, automated air traffic management system, which is to be provided by US defence major Raytheon, and new runway lights, among other things. The ILS, a key navigational aid, enables smooth landing of aircraft in poor visibility conditions caused by inclement weather. The entire phase-I contract has been bagged by Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division.
During his visit to the Armed Forces Medical College here in August last year, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, had declared that the MAFI project works at Lohegaon will commence from November 2012. However, the project failed to take off as the authorities awaited the feedback from the pilot project at Bhatinda. "There were technical issues that needed to be sorted out before the focus could shift to the other air fields," said Gokhale.
According to MCCIA president S K Jain, the apprehension about MAFI works causing major disruption in the civilian flight operations from the Lohegaon civil enclave for six months, has now been removed by the IAF authorities. "We have been told by the AOC that the constraints on account of the runway works under MAFI, won't last for more than two to two-and-a-half months," said Jain. "The initial focus will be on the peripheral works that will take nearly four months and the remaining two months of more will be for the runway works when the constraints would come into effect," he said.
As of now, the Lohegaon civil enclave handles 90 aircraft movement every day i.e. 45 take offs and 45 landings. "The IAF authorities have assured us that they will make every attempt to see that all the 90 aircraft movement will be maintained during the MAFI works," said Jain. The works are to be implemented during night time between 10 pm and 8 am.
Jain said, "The IAF authorities have assured us of accommodating flights during the 8 am to 10.30 am slot that is normally reserved for the air force's daily flying exercises and between the 7.30 pm and 10.30 pm slot. Already, the latter slot has been reduced to two hours, from 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm."

Times of India

June 5, 2013

India, Australia to strengthen defence ties

India and Australia have decided to implement a slew of defence cooperation initiatives to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, which range from stepped up military exchanges and regular defence dialogues to maritime security and a joint naval combat exercise in 2015.

This came after defence minister A K Antony held extensive talks with his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Perth and Canberra on June 4 and 5.

"The two ministers acknowledged the deepening bilateral strategic and defence cooperation. They agreed to continue to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region (IOR)," said an official.

Though both countries are wary of China's expanding military might and its growing naval forays into the IOR, they are opposed to any multi-lateral strategic construct or axis in the Asia-Pacific which might be seen as a move to contain Beijing.

But in the backdrop of China's increasing assertiveness in the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in escalating maritime territorial disputes with its neighbours, India and Australia emphasised that mariritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law is critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia Pacific and IOR.

In a joint statement issued after the Antony-Smith talks, the two countries agreed on six points to promote bilateral defence cooperation. One, to continue to have regular bilateral defence ministers' meetings. Two, to promote exchanges between the defence establishments and the armed forces of both sides, including through the regular conduct of the Defence Policy Dialogue, Armed Forces Staff Talks and professional military exchanges.

Three, to continue ongoing bilateral naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between the navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015. Four, to continue to cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region bilaterally and through various multilateral fora, including the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus. Five, to enhance IOR cooperation, including through the framework and priorities of the IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium) and the IOR-ARC. And six, to promote the sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences through participation in training courses in each other's military training institutions. Antony also accepted Smith's invitation for the participation of Indian warships' in the International Fleet Review to be held in Sydney in October 2013.

The two ministers noted that both the countries are already cooperating through the IONS, which Australia will chair next year, along with hosting the IONS conclave of chiefs in Perth in March 2014, and the IOR-ARC of which India is currently chair and Australia the next chair. Earlier, speaking at a reception hosted for him at Perth, Antony said the defence cooperation between India and Australia has increased substantially in the last few years.

"India values its strategic partnership with Australia and is committed to further strengthening the bilateral relations in various areas including defence,'' he said.

Referring to the IOR, Antony said it was critical to India's maritime interests. The security of shipping along with sea-lanes is of vital interest to us,'' he said. Smith, in turn, said the 2013 Australian Defence White Paper outlines the profound strategic changes'' that are occurring as economic, strategic and military weight shifts to our part of the world'', the Indo-Pacific region. India and Australia have a shared interest in helping to address these strategic changes, including through defence collaboration,'' he said.
Times of India

Agni-V warming up for a canister-style trial launch

ndia’s long-range ballistic missile Agni-V is warming up for a canister-style development trial launch in the next one month. The Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) newly-appointed Chief Controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) Dr V G Sekaran confirmed to Express on Tuesday that all preparations for the second trial of the 5,000-km-puls missile are in place.
“We are ready, but need to get some clearances as these are all linked to the policies of government. The early induction of Agni-V tops my list of priorities. The Agni-V user deliverables should happen next year,” Sekaran said. The missile had its maiden launch in April 2012.
He said the Agni-IV (4,000 km strike range) will cross the last mile with another launch before it enters the production mode. “Our emphasis will be to equip the user at the earliest and iron out all issues at lightning speed. On the tactical side, we have the Akash missile systems, LR-SAM (Long Range-Surface to Air Missile) and Nag coming up in a big way. Simultaneously, the futuristic systems will all get converted into projects,” the top missile scientist said.
When asked whether these futuristic systems will get embedded on to a possible Agni-VI, Sekaran refused to give details and said: “We are studying various missile technologies such as MIRV (Multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles) and MaRV (Manoeuvring re-entry vehicles (MaRV). As and when the nation wants us to deliver, we will be ready with these technologies. It will be not right to speak on a missile programme without any sanction. But, we are working on enhanced systems for future missiles.”
Giving an update on various ongoing missile projects, Sekaran said that the Astra has completely undergone a design change following issues it had in the past. “We have had good flights, post new-design and also conducted some captive trials. It is in a good shape now and it should gear up for firing from an aircraft soon. The project is definitely out of woods,” he said.
The Nag missile, which had issues with its Infra Red (IR) seeker, too is gearing up for crucial user trials, while the missile’s carrier (NAMICA) will take some more time before cleared for trials.


June 3, 2013

DRDO to focus on low-intensity warfare

The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) appears to have big plans to arm the defence forces to tackle low-intensity conflicts.

During an interaction with the media on Sunday, Avinash Chander, who took over as DRDO chief on Saturday, said that while it was important to be ready for conventional war, handling of unconventional warfare and low-intensity conflicts was assuming increasing significance. "Low-intensity conflicts have many unique features. These conflicts do not follow any given set of rules. Nor do they have a predefined theatre, boundaries or limits. Handling of such conflicts necessitates evolution of tailor-made technology solutions," Avinash Chander said.

One of these is development of radars that can sense through foliage or detect buried objects or get information behind walls, the DRDO director general said, adding that a wide range of sensors providing day and night vision assistance have potential applications for low-intensity conflicts.

Pointing out that detection of explosives and their safe neutralization is one area where equipment developed for military application is finding wider use, he said that a detection kit allowing fast detection and analysis of military explosives is in production.
  Times of india

June 1, 2013

Govt set to clear 40,000-strong force along China border

The Cabinet committee on security (CCS) could soon grant approval to the Army's proposal to raise a mountain strike corps along the China border.

The CCS approval would be given after the ministry of defence (MoD) gives its final clarification to certain questions raised by the finance ministry, sources said. The MoD is not expecting any further objections from the finance ministry over the ambitious proposal to raise a dedicated offensive capability in the north-east border with China.

The strike corps is expected to cost Rs 62,000 crore spread over the entire 12th Plan (2012-17).

The Army has proposed a mountain strike corps, two independent infantry brigades and two independent armoured brigades to plug its operational gaps along the entire line of actual control (LAC) with China, as well as to acquire offensive capabilities.

India started the catch-up game with the Chinese military and infrastructural capabilities only in the past decade, and is now furiously working to find some kind of parity with Beijing. The mountain strike corps would be a significant step towards the catching up, a senior official said.

The raising of the new formations will together cost over Rs 81,000 crore during the 12th Plan period. However, some parts of the entire build-up, especially the independent brigades, will spill over into the 13th Plan period.

The proposed mountain strike corps, with over 40,000 soldiers and headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal, will for the first time give India the capability to also launch offensive action into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the event of a Chinese attack. The corps will have two high-altitude divisions for rapid reaction.

India has already raised two new infantry divisions at Lekhapani and Missamari in Assam in 2009-10. They are operationally tasked to defend Arunachal Pradesh.

India is also beefing up its missile and fighter capabilities along the China border in its desperate bid to catch up with a burgeoning China's military capabilities and developed infrastructure up to the border.

The proposal for raising India's first mountain strike corps has been hanging fire over the last few years. The finance ministry has in the past returned the file to the MoD objecting to the huge financial commitments. A few days ago, the finance ministry has sought further few clarifications. "It is just a matter of formalities," one source said.

Even as India plays catch up, China has built aggressive military and infrastructure capabilities. It has at least five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads along the Indian border. This would allow China to move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1 there.
Times of India

Pilatus to set up aircraft manufacturing unit in India

Swiss aircraft maker Pilatus is planning to set up a manufacturing facility in India. The firm, which is supplying 75 basic training aircraft PC-7 to the Indian Air Force, intends to set up a facility that will initially manufacture airframes for its single-engine turboprop PC-12 aircraft.
“This will be our third support facility for PC-12 aircraft, the other two being in Portugal and Poland. It will be part of our offset commitment in India,” Jim Roche, Vice-President of the company, told newspersons on the sidelines of a function to mark the induction of the first set of PC-7 aircraft into the Indian Air Force.
The Union Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh inducted the training aircraft at the IAF Academy, Dundigal on the outskirts of Hyderabad, in the presence of N.A.K. Browne, Chief of Air Staff.
Roche said the airframes that will be manufactured in India would be shipped to Switzerland for final assembly of the aircraft. He however was not willing to give a time-frame or possible location for the proposed Indian facility.
Pilatus has so far sold 1,200 PC-12 aircraft worldwide and 12 in India. It is a nine-seater that is effective for surveillance, evacuation and disaster management operations. It is currently developing the PC-24, claimed to be the first ever business jet for use on short unmade runways. “We are looking for its roll-out by early 2017,” he said.

Trainer aircraft

The Chief of Air Staff said India expected to receive all the 75 PC-7 trainer aircraft by August 2015. “We signed the agreement in May last and have already received 12 aircraft. By end of this year we will have 30. The total agreement is for Rs 3,500 crore,” he said.
As part of the agreement, Pilatus will be setting up a training facility with simulators and maintenance unit for these aircraft in Hyderabad.
On modernisation, Browne said India was likely to complete negotiations for the flight refuelling aircraft Airbus 330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) this year. 

Businessline -The Hindu