Welcome to Indian Defence Information

Indian millitary system is a very well organized section of defence that we all feel proud of as Indians. Indian millitary forms the backbone of Indian Defence. Newer and improved weapons are needed by the army to fight back. To make yourself up to date and informed about the new developements of technology in Indian Military, browse through this blog. Know how technology has been highly embraced in our Indian Millitary System.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

India successfully tests N-capable Prithvi II, Dhanush missiles

India today successfully test-fired indigenously developed ballistic missiles 'Prithvi II' and 'Dhanush' from different locations off the Orissa coast, adding more firepower to the armed forces.

"The tests were successful. Both the missiles test-fired early today met all the parameters," the director of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, S P Dash, told PTI.

While the 'Prithvi II' was test-fired from complex-3 of ITR Chandipur, 15 km from here, from a mobile launcher at around 0548 hours, the 'Dhanush' was fired from INS-Subhadra in the Bay of Bengal near Puri at around 0544 hours by the Navy personnel as part of user training exercise.

The test firing of the short-range, surface-to-surface 'Prithvi II' ballistic missile having a range of 295 km, which has already been inducted into the armed forces, was a user trial by the Army.

The sleek missile is "handled by the strategic force command", the sources said.

Prithvi, the first ballistic missile developed under the country's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), has the capability to carry 500 kg of warhead and has liquid propulsion twine engine.

With a nine-metre length and one-metre diameter, Prithvi II uses an advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory and reach the targets with a few metre accuracy.

The entire trajectory of today's trial was tracked down by a battery of sophisticated radars and an electro-optic telemetry stations were positioned in different locations for post-launch analysis, defence sources said.

The nuclear-capable 'Dhanush', the naval version of Prithvi, followed the pre-designated trajectory with text-book precision and two naval ships located near the target have tracked the splash, sources said.

The 350-km range missile will give the Navy the capability to attack enemy targets with great precision.

The sophisticated radar systems located along the coast monitored its entire trajectory, the sources said.

The single stage missile, weighing six tonnes, is powered by liquid propellants.

Friday, March 26, 2010

PAK-DA: Future Russian Bomber Project

The Russian Air Force PAK DA is a fifth-generation strategic bomber intended as the replacement of aging Tu-95MS, T-22M3 and Tu-160 long-range bombers by 2020. This new attack aircraft would be used in both conventional and nuclear conflicts using high-precision weapons. The PAK DA concept relies on the ability to fly at stratospheric altitudes (50,000 meters) with stealth features to avoid enemy air defenses. It remains unclear if this new airplane will be able to fly at hypersonic speeds. Besides, the PAK DA could be used as the basis for a stratospheric reconnaissance plane

Thursday, March 25, 2010

INS Shivalik - Ajai Shukla's Blog

In a stable full of carthorses, goes the saying, it’s easy to spot the racehorse. We drive into the high-security Mumbai Port Trust and, in the distance, through a clutter of freighters, tugs and dredgers, we quickly pick out the sleek lines of the INS (Indian Naval Ship) Shivalik.

This is India’s newest and most advanced frigate, receiving its finishing touches from its manufacturer, public sector shipyard Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL). Before being commissioned as a frontline naval warship, the Shivalik is being put through harbour and sea trials, a rigorous process to ascertain that all its systems, weapons and sensors are working in perfect synchrony.

Business Standard is here on the INS Shivalik to take a first look at the first stealth warship that India has ever built. A stealth warship is designed to be near invisible to the electronic sensors that navies use to scan the oceans. It’s very shape evades detection by radar; it is engineered to give off minimal infra-red (IR) emissions; and every piece of equipment on board, from engines to toilet flushes, are designed to work silently so that the ship cannot be heard by the enemy’s sonar and acoustic sensors.

This stealth will allow the INS Shivalik to sneak up on the enemy, undetected, and destroy him with a range of high-tech weaponry at the disposal of its gunnery officers.

The Shivalik was born of a growing concern over India’s 7516 kilometers of coastline, and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2 million square kilometers. India’s trade interests --- 90% by volume and 77% by value is transported by sea --- also demanded a more powerful navy. Policymakers also believe that a rising India must be able to protect major international trade routes (100,000 freight vessels annually; one billion tons of oil) which transit close by Indian shores. And so, carefully following a policy of indigenisation, India has launched a major warship building programme. Currently, 42 naval vessels are under construction; 38 of them, like the Shivalik, are being built in Indian shipyards.

Arriving at the Shivalik, it is hard not to be impressed. Even by the bristling standards of warships, the 142 metre-long Shivalik is a menacing looking man ‘o war. Conspicuously missing is the friendly sight of sailors going about their business on the decks; all that is hidden behind a wall of steel, which covers the ship’s sides, from the water level all the way up to the mast. This is part of the stealth design; the sloped steel plates absorb and scatter radar waves, preventing them from bouncing back to announce the presence of a warship.

Overall, the Shivalik conveys a dangerous beauty, which has become the hallmark of Indian-designed warships. When the Indian destroyer, the INS Mysore, participated in an International Fleet Review in the UK in 2005, the Duke of Edinburgh --- a Royal Navy officer himself --- came on board to congratulate the crew on what he called “the handsomest ship in the review”.

We are greeted at the Shivalik’s gangway (the ladder which links the ship with the jetty) by Captain RS Sundar, the Superintendent of Project 17, the navy’s 8000 crore rupee project to build three stealth frigates. INS Shivalik is the first of the three; also nearing completion at MDL are INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, which are scheduled for completion in late 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The Shivalik, we learn, is the first Indian warship that is built with Indian steel. The Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has finally mastered the art of mass-producing specially toughened warship-grade steel, called D40S. No longer will India shop abroad for thousands of tons of steel for each warship it builds.

Captain Sundar escorts us through the Shivalik with an enthusiasm that comes from working at the cutting edge of warship technology. Only a handful of countries --- the US, Russia, France, Sweden, Germany, the UK and Italy --- have mastered stealth technology. It is extremely difficult to hide a 5000-ton behemoth like the INS Shivalik. There are stealthier warships than the Shivalik but they are smaller vessels. The Swedish Visby class vessels, amongst the stealthiest ships in the world, are mere corvettes, at 600 tons. The French Lafayette class frigates, almost as hard to detect, weigh in at 3600 tons. Russia’s Krivak class stealth frigates, three of which fly Indian Navy flags (they are termed the Talwar class), also weigh just 3600 tons. In contrast, the Shivalik --- 4900, tons when empty, 5600 tons when fully fuelled, watered, victualled, crewed and armed --- is significantly bigger, packing a heavier weapon punch than its smaller rivals.

A walk around the Shivalik’s weapons stations shows up a true all-round capability. The Shivalik’s complement of weapons (see box) caters for enemy threats from all three dimensions. What makes this mix of weaponry unique is the extraordinary level of electronics engineering that allows all their radars and control systems, located in close proximity to one another, to function together without interference or jamming.

Besides the weaponry on board, the Shivalik’s two helicopters --- which operate from a flight deck to the rear of the frigate --- search for and destroy enemy submarines anywhere within their radius of operation. Two Sea King helicopters will fly from here, until Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) develops the naval version of the Dhruv. Flying slowly at low altitudes, they drop a “dunking sonar” into the water to detect tell-tale submarine sounds. Enemy submarines located are finished off with depth charges or torpedoes.

Captain Sundar then takes us into the bowels of the Shivalik through a series of waterproof hatches and ladders. There are four deck levels above water and four below; that makes the Shivalik is as high as an 8-storey building. In the lower decks lies the engine room, where two French-made Pielstick diesel engines power the warship for normal running. When quick bursts of speed are required, especially in battle, two General Electric (GE) gas turbines kick in, powering along the Shivalik at speeds in excess of 30 knots (over 55 kmph).

The GE gas turbines are now in the midst of controversy, as reported earlier by Business Standard. The new US administration has ordered GE to --- pending a review of relations with US allies like India, the UK and Australia --- stop work on commissioning the turbines. The Ministry of Defence is searching for a way to bypass this ban, perhaps by using a non-US GE agent to commission the turbines. This unexpected delay could delay the Shivalik’s commissioning by up to three months. But MDL remains optimistic: a blackboard on the deck counts down the days for commissioning: it says 58 days.

The Indian Navy is waiting.


Anti-air defence : Radar-guided Shtil missile system.

Point Defence : Two Barak-1 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS)

Missile System and Two AK-630 Rapid Fire Guns

Anti-surface : Eight Klub Vertical Launch System (VLS)

missiles cruise missiles, with a range of almost 300 kilometers

Anti-submarine : RBU 6000 rocket launchers, total 24 barrels. Also,

two onboard helicopters, with sonars and torpedoes

Main gun : OtoMelara 76 mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM)

manufactured at BHEL, Haridwar. This can

fire at ground and aerial targets 15-20 km away]


Kochi shipyard : Indigenous aircraft carrier

Mazagon Dock, : Project 17 : Three Shivalik class frigates

Mumbai Project 15-A : Three Kolkata class destroyers

Project Scorpene : Six Scorpene submarines
Garden Reach : Project 28 : Four anti-submarine corvettes

Shipyard, Kolkata Ten fast attack craft

Two Landing ships for amphibious warfare

Goa Shipyard : Three OPVs (Offshore Patrol Vessels)

Private yards : Six survey vessels

The Shivalik in battle: a lethal video-game

“Network-centric” is the new buzzword that defines the high-tech combat of today. The Shivalik is supremely well equipped for the new digital battlefield.

In the days of cannon and sail, a warship’s Captain directed battle from the ship’s Bridge, from where he could observe what was happening as the combatants closed in, raking each other with cannon-fire. Today it all happens at far longer ranges. Battle, for the Shivalik’s Captain, would be a high-stakes video game conducted from an Operations Room, the enemy only a blip on a radar screen.

The nerve centre of the Shivalik’s battlefield capability is an indigenous design triumph called the AISDN (short for ATM-based Integrated Services Digital Network). This is a backbone network that allows all electronic information from the Shivalik’s systems and sensors --- e.g. engines, navigation devices, radars, weaponry, radio sets and control systems --- to be transmitted digitally all over the warship on a common data base. Designed by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in partnership with Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), this common carrier takes vital information to the Shivalik’s commanders in real time on multi-function displays.

“This is as good, if not better than comparable systems on any warship in the world”, says Captain Sunder. “On earlier warships, weapons had a separate data bus, sensors had their own bus, and so on. Now, the AISDN integrates all that, and also information coming from sensors outside the Shivalik, such as from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).”

Taking feed from AISDN, is another network, the Computer-aided Action Information Organisation (CAIO), which brings to the captain a complete electronic picture of the battlefield. This is the heart of the weapons exploitation system, laying out for the Captain all the information about targets being picked up by the warship’s sensors and radars.

This will also be transmitted to the ship’s Executive Officer (XO), the second-in-command after the Captain, and the man responsible for the ship’s weaponry. From his console, the XO electronically assigns each detected target to one of his weapons.

When the Shivalik’s radars detect an enemy aircraft, the CAIO will show it up on the consoles automatically. The CAIO includes a Decision Support System that will suggest what to use to shoot down the aircraft; the final decision, though, is that of the commanding officer. He could decide to use the 76mm gun; the command will go electronically from his console to that of the gunnery officer controlling the gun. Alternatively, he could choose to use a missile. Either way, the detection, the information, the allocation of a weapon to the target and the actual engagement itself, would all be done electronically.

Assisting the Captain in managing the battle would be a multi-function, touch-screen console called the Integrated Versatile Console System (IVCS), providing pinpoint navigational information, the ship’s course, position, and its engine parameters.

The ship’s movements are controlled through an Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS) that links all the ship’s engines and other auxiliary machinery, via optic fibre cabling, to various control points. The Shivalik’s four generators, which together produce 4 Megawatts of power, enough to light up a small city, are controlled through the Automated Power Management System (APMS), which senses the requirement of power at all times. No sailors are needed to constantly monitor power requirement or to switch on and off the generators.

The Shivalik is also equipped for the nuclear and chemical battlefield. It is the navy’s first ship with a Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS), which filters all air going into the ship at all times, including the air being used by the engines. This would remove radioactive, chemical and biological impurities, protecting the crew and the systems. For this reason, the Shivalik is centrally air-conditioned and has no portholes. There are also decontamination facilities on board in case the ship passes through an area where the radioactivity from a nuclear strike still lingers.

Crew comfort on the Shivalik

Life on a warship can be tough. The living conditions during extended deployments out at sea have traditionally meant long watch duties, monotonous meals out of tins, and cramped living with little privacy. But now, officers and sailors who man (or woman) the INS Shivalik can look forward to better conditions.

The first clear improvement will be in the food. Of the Shivalik’s crew of 35 officers and 222 sailors, some 24 sailors are employed in cooking, cleaning up and managing the stock of food in refrigerated compartments called “cold rooms” and “cool rooms”.

The cooking arrangements on board are fully automatised. A McDonald’s-style deep fat fryer gleams in a corner. A stainless steel chapatti-maker turns out 500 chapattis per hour. A high-capacity dosa machine stands next to it, designed by the Central Food Testing and Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. But one part of their design is clearly the navy’s: the damper spring on which each machine is mounted. It would never do to be picked up by an enemy submarine because of vibrations from a chapatti maker!

The sailors also say that, in heavy seas, the churning of the crew’s stomachs results in most of the food being fed --- either directly or indirectly --- to the fish.

Despite the high-tech fitments, some things never change in a traditional navy. The kitchen, the dishwashing room and the dining room are still called the galley, the scullery and the wardroom respectively!

We go across to the living area. In place of the wooden bunk beds and rusty tin wash basins of earlier warship cabins, the Shivalik’s crews will enjoy swanky, modular furnishings custom-manufactured in India by the marine division of Godrej. Built in standard sizes, these are fire-resistant, long-life and easy to maintain, clean and replace.
And in a bow to gender correctness, the Shivalik is India’s first warship with a cabin specially built for women officers. While similar in most respects to the men’s cabins, I was pointed out two significant differences: the ladies’ cabin has an attached bathroom, and also extra wardrobe space! I also noted that it was located right next to the Captain’s cabin.

Arjun tank outruns, outguns Russian T-90

India’s home-built Arjun tank has emerged a conclusive winner from its showdown with the Russian T-90. A week of comparative trials, conducted by the army at the Mahajan Ranges, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, has ended; the results are still officially secret. But, Business Standard has learned from multiple sources who were involved in the trials that the Arjun tank has outperformed the T-90 on every crucial parameter.

The trial pitted one squadron (14 tanks) of Arjuns against an equal number of T-90s. Each squadron was given three tactical tasks; each involved driving across 50 kilometres of desert terrain and then shooting at a set of targets. Each tank had to fire at least 10 rounds, stationary and on the move, with each hit being carefully logged. In total, each tank drove 150 kilometres and fired between 30-50 rounds. The trials also checked the tanks’ ability to drive through a water channel 5-6 feet deep.

The Arjun tanks, the observers all agreed, performed superbly. Whether driving cross-country over rugged sand-dunes; detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets; or accurately hitting targets, both stationery and moving, with pinpoint gunnery; the Arjun demonstrated a clear superiority over the vaunted T-90.

“The Arjun could have performed even better, had it been operated by experienced crewmen”, says an officer who has worked on the Arjun. “As the army’s tank regiments gather experience on the Arjun, they will learn to exploit its capabilities.” With the trial report still being compiled — it is expected to reach Army Headquarters after a fortnight — neither the army, nor the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), which developed the Arjun tank in Chennai at the Central Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE), are willing to comment officially about the trials.

The importance of this comparative trial can be gauged from a list of those who attended. Witnessing the Arjun in action were most of the army’s senior tank generals, including the Director General of Mechanised Forces, Lt Gen D Bhardwaj; strike corps commander, Lt Gen Anil Chait; Army Commander South, Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna; and Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen JP Singh. The Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen AS Sekhon also attended the trials.

Over the last four months, the army had systematically signalled that it did not want to buy more Arjuns. The message from senior officers was — 124 Arjun tanks have been bought already; no more would be ordered for the army’s fleet of 4000 tanks. The comparative trial, or so went the message, was merely to evaluate what operational role could be given to the army’s handful of Arjuns.

“The senior officers who attended the trials were taken aback by the Arjun’s strong performance,” an officer who was present through the trials frankly stated. “But they were also pleased that the Arjun had finally come of age.”

The army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), which has bitterly opposed buying more Arjuns, will now find it difficult to sustain that opposition. In keeping out the Arjun, the DGMF has opted to retain the already obsolescent T-72 tank in service for another two decades, spending thousands of crores in upgrading its vintage systems.

Now, confronted with the Arjun’s demonstrated capability, the army will face growing pressure to order more Arjuns.

The current order of 124 Arjuns is equipping the army’s 140 Armoured Brigade in Jaisalmer. With that order almost completed, the Arjun production line at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi, near Chennai, needs more orders urgently. The Rs 50 crore facility can churn out 50 Arjuns annually. That would allow for the addition of close to one Arjun regiment each year (a regiment is authorised 62 tanks).

Tank experts point out that conducting trials only in Mahajan does not square with the army’s assertion that they are evaluating a role for the Arjun. Says Major General HM Singh, who oversaw the Arjun’s development for decades, “If they were evaluating where the Arjun should be deployed, they should have conducted the trials in different types of terrain: desert, semi-desert, plains and riverine. It seems as if the army has already decided to employ the Arjun in the desert.”

The Arjun’s sterling performance in the desert raises another far-reaching question: should the Arjun — with its proven mobility, firepower and armour protection — be restricted to a defensive role or should it equip the army’s strike corps for performing a tank’s most devastating (and glamorous) role: attacking deep into enemy territory during war? Each strike corps has 8-9 tank regiments. If the army recommends the Arjun for a strike role, that would mean an additional order of about 500 Arjuns.

But Business Standard has learned that senior officers are hesitant to induct the Arjun into strike corps. Sources say the Arjun will be kept out of strike formations on the grounds that it is incompatible with other strike corps equipment, e.g. assault bridges that cannot bear the 60-tonne weight of the Arjun.

HAL Sunabeda unit gets new facility for Sukhoi-30 - The Hindu

The engine division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Sunabeda in Orissa's Koraput district has got a separate overhauling department for Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft.

The facility was inaugurated by Union Minister of state for defence, M M Pallam Raju on Saturday.
The people of the state must be feeling proud for having a division of HAL at Sunabeda, Rju said. He also visited the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation at Jeypore in the same district.

The minister, who reached Sunabeda in a special helicopter, also reviewed the performance of the engine division of HAL, a public sector undertaking of the Government of India.

The engine division of HAL has a long term plan to undertake manufacture of AL-31FP engines for Sukhoi-30 KLI aircraft under license, sources said. The division has a unique distinction of manufacturing almost all types of components required for the manufacture and overhaul of engines and spares for service exploitation.

Sukhoi-30 MKI is a twin-engine military aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation and is overhauled at the HAL’s engine division at Sunabeda before being supplied to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vertical launch of BrahMos missile successful - The Hindu

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, lifted off vertically from Naval destroyer INS Ranvir and punched a hole in a decommissioned vessel 290 km away in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast on Sunday.

The missile, which was fired at 11.30 a.m. from INS Ranvir, climbed 200 metres vertically, then manoeuvred at supersonic speeds to cruise horizontally before smashing into the vessel INS Meen.

This is the 22nd launch of BrahMos, which has already been inducted into the Army and the Navy. It has been jointly developed by India and Russia.

According to A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, it was “a perfect mission” with the missile hitting the target precisely. Helicopters, which flew over the site of the target, had confirmed that INS Meen had been hit and damaged. It was taking in water.

Dr. Pillai said there were several advantages when the missile was launched vertically from a ship. It provided 360 degrees coverage of the target. In a vertical mode, the space it occupied in the ship was less. The missile could be totally hidden. This vertical launch was uniquely designed.

“No equivalent”

He called BrahMos “a formidable weapon”, which had “no equivalent.” It had a successful track record. The missile is nine-metre long and weighs three tonnes. It can fly at almost three times the speed of sound and can reach targets 290 km away. It is essentially an anti-ship missile.

Pat for engineers

President Pratibha Patil and Defence Minister A.K. Antony congratulated the missile engineers and the Naval personnel on the successful launch, Dr. Pillai said.

India to get second AWACS on Thursday

 India to get second AWACS on ThursdayIndia will receive another Israeli-made Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) on Thursday, giving it the second 'eye in the sky' for enhanced surveillance that would virtually cover the entire nation.

The second AWACS will arrive in Jamnagar in Gujarat and will be deployed in Agra, IAF officials said here today.

With the arrival of the second AWACS, officials said the IAF can keep an eye on both the eastern and western front at the same time.

"After the induction of the third system, we would be able to virtually cover the whole nation at one go," they added.

The system, primarily used for detection of incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft from hundreds of kilometers away, can also direct air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets. It also helps detect troop build up across the borders.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Indias arms import doubles in 5 years - Ajai Shukla's blog

The world’s most credible monitor of the annual US $30 billion international arms trade --- the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI --- reveals in its just-released report for 2009 that India is the world’s second-biggest arms buyer over the five-year period from 2005-2009, importing 7% of the world’s arms exports. Only China imported more weaponry, 9% of the world’s total.

Since the numbers of contracts signed by a country, or weaponry bought or sold by it, can fluctuate significantly from one year to another, a five-year average offers a more stable indicator of trends in the global arms bazaar.

But India seems likely to top next year’s five-year rolling average as China increasingly builds rather than buys weaponry. The SIPRI report clearly points to China’s decreasing dependence on weapons imports. For the five year period under review, China’s annual arms imports declined from $3.5 bn in 2005; $3.8 bn in 2006; $1.5 bn in 2007; $1.5 bn in 2008; to a mere $0.6 billion in 2009.

The SIPRI report notes: “With the exception of a handful of helicopters from France and Russia, no major conventional weapons were delivered to China in 2009, although transfers (including via licensed production) of engines for aircraft, ships and armoured vehicles from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, France and the UK continue.”

In contrast, India continues to import rather than build its defence equipment. From 2005-2009, India’s annual arms imports doubled from $1.04 bn in 2005; $1.25 bn in 2006; $2.2 bn in 2007; $1.8 bn in 2008 and $2.1 billion in 2009.

India’s major capital imports include 82 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters and T-90 tanks from Russia, and an A-50/Phalcon Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system integrated by Israel.

The United States, currently India’s sixth-biggest arms supplier, seems likely to leapfrog to second position once New Delhi starts paying for a series of recent and ongoing acquisitions. The period under review does not reflect India’s purchase of C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft for $1.1 billion; or the $2 billion acquisition of P8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. India has also submitted procurement requests to the US for ten C-17 Globemaster airlifters, worth an estimated $2.4 billion; and for 145 M777 ultralight howitzers worth about $647 million. Initial payments for all this equipment could start this year.

The SIPRI report also highlights how US military aid has sharply boosted Pakistan’s buying power in the international arms bazaar. Islamabad’s annual purchases grew dramatically from $0.33 bn in 2005; $0.26 bn in 2006; $0.6 bn in 2007; $0.9 bn in 2008; to $1.15 billion in 2009.

Pakistan’s recent purchases include two F-22 Jiangwei frigates and the first of up to 300 JF-17 Thunder fighters from China.

Amongst arms exporters, the US has dominated 2005-09, accounting for 30% of international weapons sales. Russia is next with 23% of the global market, followed by Germany (11%); France (8%); and the UK (4%). The big gainer in this group is Germany, which has doubled its share when compared to the preceding five-year period, i.e. 2000-2004. UK arms sales, in contrast, declined by 13% in the same period.


(all figures in millions of US dollars)

China’s arms suppliers 2005-2009: (Total imports: US $ 10892 million)

Russia 9647

France 368

Ukraine 351

Switzerland 325

UK 150

Germany 51

India’s arms suppliers 2005-2009 (Total imports: US $ 8398 million)

Russia 6458

UK 696

Israel 423

Poland 283

France 154

USA 147

Germany 93

Uzbekistan 90

Netherlands 35

Italy 20

Pakistan’s arms suppliers 2005-2009: (Total imports: US $ 3292 million)

China 1215

USA 1164

France 301

Switzerland 156

Germany 123

Sweden 107

Ukraine 58

Turkey 47

Italy 47

Libya 45

Russia 29

The world’s top five suppliers and recipients

United States : 30% of global market

[Key importers were South Korea (14%); Israel (11%); and UAE (11%)]

Russia : 23% of global market

[Key importers were China (35%); India (24%); and Algeria (11%)]

Germany : 11% of global market

[Key importers were Turkey (14%); Greece (13%); and South Africa (12%)]

France : 8% of global market

[Key importers were UAE (25%); Singapore (21%); and Greece (12%)]

United Kingdom 4

Key importers were United States (23%) India (15%) Saudi Arabia (10%)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

India gets Russian N-submarine for 10 years

India will soon have a nuclear-powered attack submarine prowling deep under the seas. Away from the spotlight on nuclear power reactors, aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and MiG-29Ks, India and Russia quietly firmed up the 10-year lease of the K-152 Nerpa submarine during Russian PM Vladimir Putin's visit here last week.

With the final lease and training agreements now in place, India is dispatching a 50-member submarine crew, including 8-10 officers, to Russia to train on the Akula-II class nuclear submarine. "The Indian naval team will be leaving within 15 days. They will first undergo intensive training on Nerpa and then bring it to India on the 10-year lease,'' said a defence ministry source on Tuesday.

The lease flows from a secretive agreement inked between New Delhi and Moscow in January 2004, with India funding part of Nerpa's construction at Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in Russia with an initial $650 million. Nerpa was to be inducted in Indian Navy as INS Chakra by mid-2008 but technical glitches delayed the process. Then, just as it began its sea trials in November 2008, 20 sailors were killed on it due to a toxic gas leak. After repairs, Nerpa is fully-operational now.

India had also leased a `Charlie-I' class Russian nuclear submarine from 1988 to 1991. That submarine, too, had been named INS Chakra but the expertise gained was steadily lost since India did not operate any other nuclear submarine thereafter. The over 12,000-tonne Nerpa in itself will, of course, not fulfil India's long-cherished aim to have a credible nuclear weapon triad -- the ability to fire nukes from land, air and sea.

While Nerpa is nuclear-propelled, it will not come armed with its long-range nuclear-tipped missiles due to international treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime. But it will contribute in other ways. For one, it will train Indian sailors in the fine art of operating nuclear submarines. This will be useful when India's own nuclear submarine, the over 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, becomes operational by 2011-2012.
Two, Nerpa will be used to provide protection to INS Arihant, which will be the launch platform for nukes after it becomes operational. Armed as it will be with torpedoes and and 300-km Klub-S cruise missiles, Nerpa will be a silent, lethal hunter of enemy submarines and warships.

Three, Nerpa will help India in its objective to have three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range missiles) and six SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) in the long-term.

Unlike conventional diesel-electric submarines which have to frequently surface to replenish oxygen to recharge their batteries, a nuclear-propelled submarine can operate underwater for virtually unlimited periods of time. Consequently, a SSBN or a `boomer' is considered the most difficult-to-detect-and-target platform for launching nuclear strikes.

While India has only 16 ageing conventional submarines at present, all the 71 US submarines are nuclear-powered, while 14 of them are SSBNs. China, in turn, has 10 nuclear submarines in its 62-submarine fleet, with three of them being SSBNs.

"Arjun MBT Meets Performance Objectives", Team waits for Army's report - Livefist

The indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT) has "met all performance objectives" at the recent month-long trials in Rajasthan, according to sources who witnessed them. The Army's trial is expected to submit its report and findings latest by the end of this month. Despite what the Defence Ministry seems to be putting out, DRDO is confident that the game isn't over -- that the Army may still be prevailed upon to place an order for at least 176 more tanks. Watch this space.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Russia to make 1,000 stealth jets, eyes India deal - HT

Russia will build more than 1,000 stealth fighter jets within four decades, including at least 200 for its traditional weapons buyer India, the head of plane maker Sukhoi said on Friday. Sukhoi test-flew its long-delayed fifth-generation fighter at the end of January, and Moscow said it would be able to compete with its U.S. F-22 Raptor rival built more than a decade ago.

Sukhoi said last week it hoped the fighter, codenamed T-50, would be ready for use in 2015.

"If you talk about warplanes of this type, there is definitely a market for it if we produce more than 1,000 jets," Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters on the sidelines of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to India."We have all grounds to believe that there will not be tough competition on the world market," he said.

He said Russia would produce more than 1,000 of the planes within 35 to 40 years.After the test flight, Putin said Russia had plenty of work to do on the plane.

Analysts say Russia's plans for a joint venture with India to produce the stealth fighters will likely be watched with unease by India's uneasy neighbour Pakistan and regional rival China.

Pogosyan said an agreement on joint output of the jet with India was still in the works and did not say when a deal might be signed. "I believe that more than 200 planes will be delivered (to India)," Pogosyan said.

"I think (Russia's) defence ministry will buy no less than this amount," he said. About 600 of the planes would be sold elsewhere, he said. Analysts say several nations, including Libya and Vietnam, have already expressed interest in the fifth-generation fighter.

"Apart from America, the only other fifth-generation project is Russia's, while the Europeans have given up such plans," Pogosyan said. "Probably the Chinese will try and promote such a product, but I think they face an immense amount of work to make their product competitive," he said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old allies, new friendship - Kanwal Sibal is a former Foreign Secretary, Government of India. (Hindustan Times News)

Vladimir Putin deserves our esteem. On assuming power in 2000 he reversed the Yeltsin era drift in India-Russia relations and established a strategic partnership with India. His current visit is his fifth to India in 10 years, testifying to the personal commitment of this pragmatic and practical-minded man to Russia’s India relationship.

In the strategic sectors, much has been achieved in the last decade. Russia has given us its most-advanced aircraft, tanks, rocket launchers, cruise missiles, frigates, etc, consolidating its position as India’s biggest defence partner. The joint development and manufacture of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (T-50) and the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTR) is intended to give India crucial design capability. The lease of a Russian nuclear-powered submarine and technical assistance in developing our own Arihant give us a strategic sea-based punch. In the nuclear sector, apart from currently building two nuclear reactors at Kudankulam, Russia will build four more at the same site. Its proposed nuclear agreement with India excels in technology transfer terms anything we have signed with others, with an eye on a bigger share of the Indian nuclear pie. Russia is ready to give us access to Glonass (Russian GPS system) military signals, unobtainable from any other source, with civilian applications providing business opportunities.

Defence ties have not been problem-free. Because defence supplies constitute the core of the bilateral relationship, defence transactions maintain their rhythm lest the loss of their cementing force affects the entire relationship. Serious problems such as those of inadequate product support, non-adherence to delivery schedules, cost escalation, incomplete transfer of technology are tolerated.

The aircraft carrier Gorshkov, with a four to five-year delivery delay and steep cost escalation is a glaring case. In view of the high Indian dependence on Russian equipment, such problems affect combat readiness and disrupt planning, prompting calls for diversifying sources of supply. With Israel and France effectively competing and the US making steady headway, Russia’s privileged position as a supplier will be increasingly challenged.

At the political level, India and Russia believe in a multipolar world and a rule-based international order. They are opposed to international terrorism and religious extremism. In translating these positions into practical, mutually reinforcing policies, there is less clarity.

In the context of cooperative multipolarity, the biggest question mark is China. It tends to define its core interests unilaterally and expects others to respect them even if they are arbitrarily defined, and lapses into the language of abuse and belligerence when it feels challenged. India and Russia do not have a common vision on China. Can they develop one on the essentials even as both countries continue to engage China, as they should? Not in the foreseeable future because of Russia’s strategic need of China to counter western pressures on it.

Russia has shown reluctance to wade into India-Pakistan issues publicly. While it condemns terrorist attacks against India, it is less frontal than even the US about the involvement of Pakistan-based terror groups in such attacks. It may not want to create any misunderstanding with the US on the India-Pakistan issue by appearing to encourage a tougher Indian response to Pakistani provocations.

The contrast between India’s economic relations with the US and Russia is striking .The modern sectors of the Indian economy and its most dynamic players are tied to US/Western markets whereas India-Russia economic ties remain limited and their rapid expansion appears unlikely. Even the target of $10 billion of two-way trade by 2010 remains unmet. The India-Russia energy partnership is stagnant. This imbalance in our two strategic relationships needs correction.

On Afghanistan, Russia has given additional transit rights to Nato forces as it sees some advantage to itself in US operations against extremist forces that could destabilise Central Asia and, eventually, southern Russia. In international conferences, Russia is focussing on the important issue of drug trafficking and is quiet about the Taliban. The Central Asians are not active in Afghan discussions. A Russian initiative is needed to chart a hedging strategy involving India, Iran and the Central Asian states against a Taliban return.

A resurgent Russia is necessary for maintaining a desired level of equilibrium at the global level. The space created by the weakening of Russia is being filled in by an increasingly assertive, nationalist, militarily more potent and demographically huge China. Any form of a US-China diarchy would be at the expense, in particular, of large and autonomous countries like India and Russia.

Indian Air Force Signs €560 Million Contract For 12 AW101 Helicopters

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that a contract has been signed by the Government of India for the acquisition of twelve AW101 helicopters that will perform government transport duties. The contract, valued at around € 560 million, includes an extensive five year logistic support service and initial aircrew and technician training. Over 180 AW101 helicopters have been ordered by customers around the world so far to perform a wide range of government, public service and military missions. The AW101 has logged nearly 200,000 flight hours in service in Italy, UK, Denmark, Portugal, Japan and Canada whilst delivering exceptional performance and high levels of safety.

Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland said “This significant order by the Indian Air Force to meet its government transport helicopter requirement confirms the correct vision and strategy of AgustaWestland in India. Several years ago we identified India as one of the pillars of our expansion strategy, from both the market and the industrial points of view. Today we have a significant and growing presence in both the military and commercial markets Additionally we now have strong industrial relations with Tata Son, with whom we have established a Joint Venture initially for the production of the AW119 Koala but soon this will become a wider platform for our growth in the region. The particularly good personal relations with Ratan Tata, who recently visited AgustaWestland at Cascina Costa, will further enhance the joint commitment to the expansion of the helicopter industry in India to satisfy various requirements which are estimated to be valued at €5-6 billion in the short to medium term.”

AgustaWestland is proud to have been doing business in India for almost 40 years with the delivery, in 1971, of an initial batch of Sea King helicopters to the Indian Navy for anti-submarine warfare. AgustaWestland continues to provide support, training and upgrade services to the Indian Navy for its fleet of Sea King helicopters. In 2005 AgustaWestland sold its first AW109 Power helicopter to the Government of Rajasthan and since then sales of its civil product range have taken-off with orders being placed for over 30 aircraft including additional AW109 Powers, the new Grand light twin engine helicopter, the AW119Ke single engine and the AW139 medium twin. Recently orders in the commercial market have been made by AgustaWestland’s authorized distributor, Sharp Ocean, for two VIP-configured Grand New light twins and one AW119Ke, marking the entrance of the state-of-the-art Grand New type in the country. With a growing fleet and order book AgustaWestland has also expanded its service network in India to deliver greater levels of local customer service and support through OSS Air Management Pvt.Ltd and Air Works India Engineering Pvt.Ltd, to service and support AgustaWestland’s range of modern high performance commercial helicopters. Last month AgustaWestland and Tata Sons signed a Shareholders’ Agreement for the formation of an Indian joint venture company which will establish in India a final assembly line for the AW119 helicopter. The AW119 is also the AgustaWestland contender for the Indian Ministry of Defence’s Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) programme. An AW119 demonstrator is currently conducting a series of demonstrations to the Indian Armed Force’s as part of the evaluation process for the Indian Ministry of Defence’s RSH programme. The AW119 has already demonstrated its outstanding capabilities operating at altitudes in excess of 6,000 m in the Himalayas and will carry out further demonstrations in hot environmental conditions in the coming months. Additional Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard helicopter requirements for light observation, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, combat, border and coastal patrol duties allows AgustaWestland to foresee a potential market worth approximately €5-6 billion for over 600 military helicopters in India in the next ten years.

Nirbhay -Subsonic Cruise Missile

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a new-generation cruise missile that draws parallel to the long-range American Tomahawk missiles that took the world by surprise during the 1991 Gulf war.

The new missile, the scientists say, can destroy targets at a range of 1,000 km.

Addressing a seminar on naval systems 'Navararms 07', Avinash Chander, the director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, said the cruise missile named.Nirbhay is under development and it would fill a critical gap in the missile capabilities of all three services.

The proposed missile would be a terrain-hugging weapon, and would be capable of delivering over two-dozen warheads. The missile can give most ground radars a miss, and would use gyros for inertial navigation system.

Chander said Nirbhay was a logical step after India's success with Brahmos, super sonic cruise missiles that can travel almost 300 km with conventional warheads. Brahmos is now under induction into the Army and Navy.

The Indian military plans to mount the missile system on several upcoming platforms, including submarines, proposed long-range maritime aircraft that is being procured etc.

According to the senior scientist, Nirbhay would meet several demands that Brahmos would not, including delivering a warhead at a longer range.

Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA)

NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier)is a tracked ICV built for the army. It is equipped with a thermal imager for target acquisition. NAMICA is a modified BMP-2 ICV produced as "Sarath" in India. The carrier weights 14.5 tonnes in full combat load and is capable of moving 7 km/h in water. The carriers are capable of carrying 12 missiles with 8 in ready-to-fire mode. The NAMICA carrier was put through transportation trials covering 155 km during summer trials.


Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA) is a vehicle which carries NAG ATGMs in ready-to-fire condition

Concept to Realisation

Built on modified BMP-II platform using special armour


28V DC Servo System with 3-axis velocity control

Launch mode: Azimuth (endless) / Articulation / Vertical lift

Advance Sighting Systems

Single wire System

High pointing accuracy

Ergonomic man-machine interface

High Safety

EXCLUSIVE: Artist's Impression on MIRV Warhead on Agni-V From Mr. Shiv Aroor's blog

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Prithvi Air Defence (PAD)

Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is an anti-ballistic missile developed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside atmosphere (Exoatmosphere). Based on the Prithvi missile, PAD is a two stage missile with a maximum interception altitude of 80 km. The first stage is a liquid fuelled motor that uses two propellants and oxidizers while second stage is solid fuelled.

Work on the PAD began in 2000 with a planned $1 billion development budget. The system is being designed and developed at the missile complex in Hyderabad in southern India by engineers at three DRDO laboratories: the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, the Imarat research center and Advanced Systems Laboratory.All the parts of the system, except the main radar and the interceptor guidance packages, were developed in India, DRDO sources said.The system includes one radar system that tracks both the incoming missile and the outgoing interceptor, another that helps classify the incoming weapon and sends data to the interceptor batteries, command-and-control computers, and a transmitter to help guide the interceptors, another DRDO scientist said.

When deployed, the PAD will include multiple radars and their control centers, interceptor batteries and their control centers, spread out over as much as 500 kilometers.The second phase will include more tests, and will include homegrown interceptors with ranges beyond 100 kilometers. It will end by 2012, when the system goes into operational service, Indian Air Force sources said.The interceptor rocket has a liquid-fueled first stage that uses two propellants and oxidizers, and a solid-fuel second stage with a gas thruster that can turn the rocket at more than five Gs.

India is developing a robust anti-missile defence system that will have high-speed interceptions for engaging ballistic missiles in the 5,000 km class and above. India has recently demonstrated the capability to handle such targets up to 2,000 to 2,500 km,

The missile carries sensors to guide it to its target.For exo-atmospheric intercepts, the system's main sensor is the Israeli Green Pine radar, which has a 600-kilometer range. India imported two Green Pines three years ago, one in operating condition and one as a kit that was subsequently assembled.The PAD has two intercept modes, each of which is designed to hit a target within four minutes: exo-atmospheric, or above 50 kilometers; and endo-atmospheric, or lower than about 30 kilometers. The first anti-missile defence system, which was successfully test-fired Dec 6, 2007 from the integrated test range in coastal Orissa, demonstrated the capability to intercept targets at 45 to 50 km (exo-atmospheric) as well as at 15 to 20 km (endo-atmosphoric) altitudes and disintegrating them.

The tracking and fire control radars were developed by state-run DRDO in collaboration with Israel and France. With the development and production being taken up concurrently, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in Bangalore has been commissioned to roll out more radars for short, medium and long range use in association with the private sector.'LRDE has a full-fledged facility at Kolar to assemble and calibrate the radars required by the defence forces.

For exo-atmospheric intercepts, the system's main sensor is the Israeli Green Pine radar, which has a 600-kilometer range. India imported two Green Pines three years ago, one in operating condition and one as a kit that was subsequently assembled. The lower intercepts are guided by a radar acquired from another country.

Baptised as the Prithvi Air Defence system, the agile interceptor has now been renamed as Pradyumna.DRDO needs to carry out at least three to four trials with both versions before the missile shield ready for operational use. “The test is likely to be conducted Chandipur off the Orissa coast. Phase I of this programme is slated to be completed by 2009, while it is to secure operational clearance by 2012-13.

DRDO says its missile system is comprable to the Israeli Arrow system and the American Patriot system, both of whose manufacturers are courting the Indian defence establishment for likely orders.DRDO expects ballistic missile shield to take care of threats from existing Chinese and Pakistani missiles.

China and India at sea - Growth vs Decline

A recent assessment of Chinese naval power by US Intelligence was, inadvertently, put on the Net and, therefore, accessed by many. Actually, there is nothing very revealing in the data. There are many Chinese Navy (PLAN) watchers, including many in our own country, who have pretty up-to-date information on its capabilities and shipbuilding plans. The American document lists PLAN holdings as nine nuclear submarines (three of them with nuclear weapons of long range), 53 conventional diesel-powered submarines, 74 destroyers/frigates and nearly the same number of amphibious ships and coastal patrol boats equipped with missiles.

Allowing for the fact that this inventory includes quite a few platforms of doubtful quality and effectiveness given their age, a more realistic order of combat would be in the region of seven nuclear submarines (three with nuclear weapons), about 30-odd diesel submarines and 45 destroyers/frigates. If one looks at the longer term, say 2020, with PLAN ship and submarine acquisition plans as known today, as also phasing out of existing vessels, their force level might comprise two aircraft carriers, 40-45 diesel submarines and about 55 destroyers/frigates; the numbers might be a little more or less, but not by much. Budgetary support to maritime power has been increasing every year as growth of a strong PLAN is a key element of China’s military modernisation.

Faced with this picture, India’s own story is remarkable. The Navy’s share of the defence allocation, which progressively rose from 10 per cent in 1974 to 13 per cent in 1986 and to nearly 19 per cent in 2007, has dropped sharply over the last three years, to 17 per cent in 2008, 15 per cent in 2009 and now to 14.5 per cent in the year ending on 31st March 2010, less than what its share was nine years ago, in 2001. This, when the political leadership has constantly been harping on the theme of safeguarding the country’s burgeoning interests at sea and on the importance of the Indian Ocean in India’s security. This is accompanied by under-utilisation of funds provided, in part due to delayed delivery of ships, e.g., Gorshkov (Vikramaditya), but largely by delays in approval and finalisation of major acquisition projects, both indigenously and from abroad. Clearly, decision making in the Ministry of Defence is now very fragile, both in speed and quality. Any discerning observer can see that the country’s maritime power is not just stagnating but is on a steep decline.

As far as aircraft carriers go, of which the Navy needs three, the old Viraat cannot last more than five years. With Vikramaditya expected to come by 2012, there will be two such ships and if the new Vikrant (under construction at Cochin Shipyard, and due to be launched in the first quarter of 2011) is delivered by 2015, there will be two aircraft carriers in 2020, a level we had until 1997. The picture regarding destroyers/frigates — the major ocean-capable ships — is unhappy. There are 14 today and nine more in the pipeline, three being acquired from Russia and six under different stages of construction at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai; the first of the MDL ships could come this year and if the remaining five are delivered in the next 10 years, the figure could reach 23 by 2020. From this must be deleted all ships built earlier than 1990, which would either be scrapped or become irrelevant for the work required to be done; there are 10 of these, so the effective remaining numbers of such ships will be a mere 13.

Approval has been accorded for building six more frigates, three each at MDL and Garden Reach Shipyard (GRSE), though selection of a suitable foreign shipyard as collaborator is nowhere in sight. The question of MDL delivering even one of these in the next 10 years is absolutely laughable for all those who have closely monitored the performance of this yard over the years. GRSE has not built such a ship for 10 years. Allowing for the fact that facilities and skills will have to be re-established and, of course, for the deal to be finalised, which itself might take quite some time, not more than one and at the most two ships might come from here by 2020 — this in the most optimistic scenario. In short, the Navy will have somewhere between 14 and 15 destroyers/frigates by 2020, just where it stands today.

The picture in diesel submarines is even more dismal. By 2020, all boats built before 1990 would be gone, leaving us with just four. Six Scorpene submarines are on order, two through import and the other four to be built at MDL. The imported ones are sure to come in the next three to five years; the others are a question mark, as all work at MDL is at a stop, awaiting revised price approvals. Allowing that all four come, the force level of diesel submarines will be no more than 10, much fewer than the numbers operational today. As for nuclear submarines, Arihant, launched by the Prime Minister some months ago, should be operational by 2014 or so. In short, do not even think of where the PLAN will be in 2020. Our own Navy will be short of even its present levels.

Are there any ways in which we can rectify this sad situation? Yes, even if they will not undo the great damage that has been done in the last three years by the dismal performance of a Ministry of Defence completely out of sync with strategic compulsions of national security. For one, place orders now for a follow-on Arihant and a repeat Vikrant. Both can be delivered by 2020, as their building does not come in the way of either MDL or GRSE. This will take the numbers of nuclear submarines to two and of aircraft carriers to three. Second, convert the six-frigate order (three each) on MDL/GRSE into two each and order two from the foreign shipyard, which itself must be done very speedily. If this is done, the Navy will have 17 such ships by 2020 — ironically, the number it had in 1971. Third, place orders for six more diesel submarines, three to be built at a new yard (Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam has just been taken over as a defence undertaking) and three directly from the collaborating yard. If this is processed with urgency, there is a good possibility of four being available, taking the total to 14 — what we have today.

But all this can be done only if the system works with a sense of urgency and with its feet on the ground, overruling exaggerated and over-optimistic projections by MDL/GRSE, when both know full well that their claims are fanciful. The same can be said of the civil bureaucracy involved in this decision. There is no accountability and the ‘dramatis personae’ would have gone long before the first steel plate is cut in either yard. It is time for the Minister to take fresh stock; his immediate and decisive intervention is essential. This is no time to take stock of China’s growing maritime power. It is time to come to grips with the worsening state of our own.

A Perspective on Regional Air Power - Ramesh Phadke

According to media reports India has recently embarked on the most ambitious air power modernisation programme in its entire history. The proposals include the 126 MMRCA for US $10 billion, ten C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft worth $2.4 billion, eight Boeing P8I LRMP (for the Navy) worth $2.1 billion, six Lockheed Martin C-130J for $962 million, six second-hand Sea King helicopters (for the Navy) and a whole host of other equipment including many helicopters for the Indian Army. There are also reports of the Indian Air Force buying some 12 used Mirage-2000 fighters from Qatar.

The last time the IAF did so was in the 1979-89 period during which almost all of its current assets were purchased. Beginning with the BAE Jaguar in 1979, the IAF acquired in quick time the MiG-23 (BN&MF) strike and air defence aircraft, the MiG-25 the Mach 3 high altitude strategic reconnaissance aircraft, An-32 medium lift transports, Il-76 heavy lift aircraft, additional Mi-17 helicopters, Mi-25/35 attack helicopters, Mi-26 super heavy helicopters, Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters, MiG-29 air superiority fighters and the MiG-27 strike aircraft, completing a comprehensive overhaul of its fleet. (In response to the IAF Jaguar Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft (DPSA), Pakistan soon got some 40 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States.) The IAF also slowly phased out the Fairchild Packet C-119, the Dakota DC-3, Caribou, Otter, Toofani, Mystere 4A, Gnat, Ajeet and the Hunter and later the Canberra light bomber aircraft as well.

In 1996 it also acquired the Sukhoi 30MKI (Flanker), the modern air superiority fighter which could roughly be compared to the US F-15. Current estimates are that besides the 50 odd Su-30 aircraft with the IAF, some 140 more have been ordered from Russia and another 140 are to be manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under licence. There is, however, some confusion about these figures.

The HAL is also slated to participate with Russia in the development of the fifth generation fighter to the extent of 25 per cent. The fighter made its first flight recently and it is believed that since most development is more or less complete India would again end up manufacturing it under some sort of ‘licence’ arrangement.

By the turn of the century its flagship fighter programme bore fruit when the LCA, later named Tejas, flew in February 2001. In the last nine years it has completed most of the flight test work and is due to get its IOC or Initial Operational Clearance by the end of 2010 and begin entering IAF squadrons by 2012.

The HAL-made Dhruv light helicopter also started series production around the same time and has recently been exported to Chile.

The IAF’s current strength is around 600 of which the MiG21 fleet of FL, M, MF and Bis types comprise 293 aircraft. But can we really say whether all is well with its war fighting capability? The combat strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has dwindled from 39 to nearly 30 squadrons. There are reports of poor serviceability in many of the fleets, the MiG-27 and 29 upgrade programmes are taking their own time, only a dozen or less of the much vaunted AJT BAE Hawks have been inducted and in the year or so since they began training operations it is rumoured that spares package of the entire fleet of 66 trainers has been used up.

Following a fatal accident of the HPT-32 basic trainer in July 2009 in which two experienced instructors were killed, the IAF grounded the entire fleet of the HPT-32 and switched to ‘all jet training’ on Kiran Mk-1 and II trainers. A debate goes on if this is indeed a better way to train its pilots ‘ab initio’ or should it do so with new aircraft. In the meantime a Request For Proposal (RFP) for some 75 basic trainers has been issued by the government but given our experience of defence procurement it will take anything from three to five years to actually get these trainers. The IJT or the Intermediate Jet Trainer programme is also lagging behind and the HTT-34 project to produce a turboprop basic trainer roughly in the same class as the Toucano was shelved in the early 1980s. Since the Kirans are already over 30 years old it is feared that the IAF’s training schedule and its operational preparedness would be adversely affected simply because there would be fewer pilots to fly the new aircraft that would be inducted by then.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has recently received an additional 18 F-16 of the Block 52 series taking its total to 64, seven JF 17 (also known as FC-1) Thunder fighters from China and has ordered some 36 J-10 fighters and hopes to get even the Super 10 when it is ready. The Super-10 incidentally is an upgraded version of the J-10 with a TVC engine locally made in China. The PAF is also eying the Chinese L-15 supersonic trainer. Pakistan has also ordered eight Erieye AEW&C from Sweden and is to get some S-70 Super Cobra helicopters from the United States to improve its capacity for anti-terror operations. Its current strength is reportedly 383 combat capable aircraft including 41 obsolete Chinese A-5, 129 F-7 PG/MG (improved Chinese version of the MiG-21), nearly 113 vintage Mirage III/V, some 64-plus F-16 fighters and seven FC-1/JF-17 of which some 150 are on order. PAF officials are aiming to finally acquire a whopping 200 FC-1 and 150 J-10s from China in the next decade.

The Chinese Air Force officially known as the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) currently possesses some 1653 combat capable aircraft (and in addition the PLA Navy has another 290) of which some 30 per cent are current generation including 84 J-10, 116 J-11(Su-27), 97 Su-30MKK, 156 JH/FB-7, 516 J-8, and 540 J-7. It is noteworthy that since its unveiling in 2003-04, the PLAAF has already inducted 84 J-10 fighters of the roughly F-16 class, which means that China has the capacity build 40 to 50 fighters per year.

Not only has China built the first ever Airbus outside Europe but has rolled out a Cessna-162 basic trainer and is planning to produce some 1500 of these aircraft. According to Aviation Week & Space Technology (AWST) Annual Review Resource Book 2009, ‘Aircraft Forecasting’ Report, China would rank among the major producers of modern fighters in the current decade with the capacity to produce 45 to 48 fighters of the J-10 and J-11 class. This means that the PLAAF would field some 1500 to 2000 modern fighters by 2020.

In addition to some 1500 Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), China has recently modified some of its land-based Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM) to carry conventional warheads for use as Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. These missiles are capable of hitting moving targets like aircraft carriers on the high seas. China has already fielded its own version of the AWACS, intercepted a missile in an exoatmospheric engagement (January 2010) and destroyed a satellite (January 2007). In addition it recently launched the third of its geo-synchronous Compass-3 satellites in its effort to complete its own satellite navigation system (like the American GPS) comprising 30 medium orbit satellites and three geosynchronous ones.

In light of the above, India has little choice but to complete its procurement as quickly as possible if the IAF is to be ready to face a conventional conflict. Although India has shown the utmost restraint in its response to terror attacks from across the border, it must always maintain the capacity of launching a punitive strike against Pakistan if and when necessary. It is this capacity that will eventually help deter a terrorist strike or a conventional war.

India has, however, shown extreme reluctance to use force; perhaps for good reasons. But the result is that employment of air power is seen as the very last option. Although things have reportedly improved, many Indian thinkers consider use of air power as escalatory, think it is ineffective in the high mountains and shun it for fear of collateral damage. Given the US experience in Afghanistan, especially the Kunduz incident of last year in which some 100 innocent civilians were killed, air power has taken much flak. In spite of all the developments in precision fire power there is still no way of identifying insurgents or terrorists operating in small groups. So fast jet combat air power is perhaps not always effective against insurgents but no one can write its epitaph. Even after a drone has identified a terrorist hideout a fighter aircraft may be required to finish the task as happened in a recent engagement in the AFPAK region.

China’s increasing emphasis on anti-ship, cruise and conventional ballistic missiles, both land and sea based, raises new questions of a robust response. The PLAAF may well use these in large numbers in the initial stage of a conflict achieving surprise, selective damage, and economy of effort in a lethal air defence environment. Whatever India decides, it cannot but rely on air, or more correctly, aerospace power.

Monday, March 8, 2010

India Plans To Induct LCA in 2011

India expects to induct the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), already delayed by more than 15 years, into the Air Force by March 2011, said Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony.

Antony provided the date in a written reply to the Indian Parliament March 8, adding that a high-level review is being conducted quarterly by the chief of the Air Staff and monthly by the deputy chief of the Air Staff.

The Air Force has already inducted 20 LCAs into the Initial Operational Clearance stage. The service has a requirement for more than 200 LCA-type aircraft.
LCA weapon installation is proceeding, with the integration of a multimode radar to the weapons suite nearing completion, Defence Ministry sources said.
"There was a delay in the development of LCA due to certain technical complexities and denial of critical technologies. $717.8 million was sanctioned for the development of LCA, which includes manufacture of eight numbers of limited series production aircraft. An additional $538.2 million has been approved by the government for LCA Phase-II program," Antony told Parliament.
Conceived in 1983, LCA is an advanced technology, single-seat, single-engine, supersonic, lightweight, all-weather, multirole, air superiority fighter designed for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea combat roles.


The intermediate jet trainer, designated HJT-36, is known in India as the Sitara ('Star'). Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) started design work on the intermediate jet trainer in 1997. The concept was initially developed as a successor to the successful Kiran trainer for the Indian Air Force and Navy. HAL was awarded a contract in 1999 by the government of the Republic of India for the completion of development, testing and certification of two prototype IJT aircraft.

In February 2003, a contract for an initial 16 trainers for the Indian Air Force was placed. An Indian Air Force demand for 200 to 250 aircraft is envisaged with a market potential for higher numbers. Two prototype aircraft have been built. Over 280 flights have been completed by the aircraft. The HJT-36 is scheduled to enter service with the Indian Air Force in 2010.

Construction of the first prototype, the S3466, started in 2002 and it completed its first flight in March 2003. The second prototype aircraft, the S3474, completed its first flight in March 2004. The HJT-36 took part in the air display at Farnborough International Air Show in 2006. At the Aero-India air show in February 2007 in Bangalore, whilst taking part in the air display, the first prototype crashed on the runway when taking off.

The aircraft provides high-speed training for pilots entering level II training. The maximum operating speed is Mach 0.8 and the g-limits are from +7g to –2.5g. The service ceiling for the trainer is 12,000m (39,370ft).

HJT-36 design

The aircraft is of light alloy and composite construction, using a conventional low wing design with a sweptback wing of 9.8m span and 18° leading edge sweepback.

About a quarter of the aircraft's line replaceable units are common with the HAL Tejas trainer aircraft.
The aircraft is fitted with hydraulically retractable tricycle-type landing gear. The single-wheeled main units retract inward and the twin nose wheel unit retracts forward.

Training cockpit

The cockpit uses a conventional tandem two-seat configuration with the trainee pilot forward and the instructor in the raised seat to the rear. The single-piece canopy gives the pilots good, all-round vision. The seats are lightweight zero-zero ejection seats, model K-36LT manufactured by Zvesda. The pilots have both conventional and manual flight controls.

The aircraft has a full glass cockpit and digital avionics. The cockpit layout conforms to the style of current-generation combat aircraft.

Smiths Aerospace was contracted to supply the integrated avionics system, which includes open systems architecture mission computer, an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) and air data computers.

The cockpits are equipped with active matrix liquid crystal displays supplied by Thales. The instructor's station in the rear cockpit has a data entry display panel.

The avionics suite includes a head-up display and head-up display repeater unit supplied by Elop. The aircraft has cockpit communications and dual VHF and UHF communications.

HJT-36 weapons

The aircraft has five external hardpoints for carrying weapon systems. There is one centreline hardpoint under the fuselage and two weapon pylons under each wing for carrying rocket and gun pods and bombs. The maximum external payload is 1,000kg.

Turbofan engine

The ITJ engine is installed in the rear section of the fuselage and fitted with a bifurcated air intake. The aircraft carries 1,150l, 917kg of usable fuel in the fuselage and wing tanks.

The prototype aircraft are powered by a Snecma Larzac 04-H-20 turbofan non-afterburning engine developing 14.12kN.

In the summer of 2004, Hindustan Aeronautics announced the selection of the Saturn AL-55 turbofan engine rated at 16.68kN for the production series intermediate jet trainer. The AL-55 engine is being developed by NPO Saturn and produced at the Ufa Engineering Building Association (UMPO) in Russia.

An agreement between the governments of India and Russia for the licensed production of the AL-55I engine in India was reached in August 2005. The agreement included assistance in setting up the AL-55I production facilities at HAL's aeroengineering centre at Koraput. The first AL-55I engine was delivered in June 2008.

The aircraft is fitted with a 9kW starter generator and two nickel cadmium 43Ah batteries.

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