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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.

Friday, May 28, 2010

DRDO Accuses Armed Forces of Favouring Imported Weapons

News by: Nicolas von Kospoth
                Managing Editor

Tejas LCA is among the list of India’s delayed defence programmes.

Amid India’s recent positive news of indigenous defence technology, such as the additional order for Arjun tanks, the Ministry of Defence and the country’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) exchanged blows in a general dispute on delays in procurement programmes. After the DRDO has been criticised for various delays in defence projects, the organisation’s chief, V K Saraswat, defended the DRDO’s performance and pointed out to alternative reasons.

In presence of India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the head of the DRDO recently made a strong statement, calling for responsibility to be shared by all involved parties, the DRDO, the Armed Forces and private industry partners. He accused, in particular, the Armed Forces of preferring the procurement of existing, foreign solutions over indigenously developed and manufactured defence systems. “The services also must understand that while the temptation may be overwhelming, to field proven, state-of-art imported systems, they (domestic industry) too have a role to play in the economic and industrial growth of the country. No foreign system can be customised to completely address our long term requirement,” he said, according to DD India.

Echoes from the other side of the divide

So far, the official echo to this accusation has been rather low-key. Among the few reactions is a statement by a serving Lt.Gen., cited by 8ak, saying: “There may be merit in what the DRDO chief is saying in terms of dependence on weapons imports, but then it is because of the incompetence of Indian Defence PSUs [Public Sector Undertakings – Ed.] like DRDO, HAL etc. that the Armed Forces are forced to import military hardware to keep its inventory in shape.” The unnamed officer underlined his criticism by opening old wounds: “Had we not taken three decades to develop the Arjuns, there would have been no place for the Russian T-90s in the Army, as by now even the improved Mark-II version would have been developed. But for the DRDO to say that we should not import and wait for them to deliver is ridiculous because if the security of the nation is threatened.”

Referring to the DRDO chief’s statement, another unnamed IAF officer told the Indian news service: “The belief that Armed Forces import because of the kickbacks involved has tarnished the forces reputation among the public. As a matter of fact, we import only because DRDO takes unacceptable time to develop military hardware. Therefore, by the time equipment is inducted into the forces, the GSQRs [General Staff Qualitative Requirement – Ed.] on which the product is developed become irrelevant and the product obsolete as other nations develop more advanced technology.”

Instead of adding to the recriminations, government officials have mostly identified a general requirement to speed up development and called upon the scientists and those in charge of research and development to improve their efforts and performance, in particular, in terms of time. The Prime Minister said during the National Technology Day on which DRDO’s Saraswat made his statement: “In many areas, we have moved fast, but our competitors have often moved faster. It is a fact our current level of self-reliance in defence R&D (research and development) is less than our capabilities and it needs to be stepped up significantly.” Urging the DRDO to work closely with the Armed Forces and industry, Manmohan Singh added: “We should be able to acknowledge and learn from our setbacks.”

The Prime Minister’s statement is in line with an earlier speech of the Indian Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony, at the 34th DRDO Directors’ Conference in February, which addresses and challenges the DRDO in a more direct way: „DRDO must not fritter away [government] resources and needs to do some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. On its part, DRDO will have to ensure that it retains its relevance in the face of an increased role for the private sector and fast-paced technological changes.” The defence minister added that the organisation “must also realise that it is not doing business in an age of monopoly and thus, needs to be open, receptive and to innovate in the changed times and circumstances.”

In a written statement to members of the Parliament of India early this month, the Defence Minister laid out the delays and increases of costs of prominent defence programmes. These include the Tejas light combat aircraft (4 years delay), the development of a naval light combat aircraft (more than 4 years delay), the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (more than 15 years delay) as well as the engine for the light combat aircraft (14 years delay). According to the Minister, “the reasons for delay in completion of the above projects and their cost escalation are due to technical / technological complexities; sanctions imposed by technologically advanced countries and various control regimes; increase in scope of work in terms of creation of more infrastructure, test facilities and their maintenance; change/enhancement in user requirements during development; deviations/failures during testing; extended and long-drawn user trials; etc.”

DRDO in Transformation

A solution to the obvious structural problems in Indian defence procurement seems difficult to identify and to implement. Being convinced that the DRDO has no choice but to be globally competitive, the Defence Minister announced in mid-May a restructuring plan to transform the DRDO “in form and substance” in an effort to create a greater Armed Forces-DRDO-industry interface.

The Defence Ministry’s statement explains: “The key measures include the establishment of a Defence Technology Commission with the Defence Minister as its Chairman, de-centralisation of DRDO management, making DRDO a leaner organisation by merging some of the DRDO laboratories with other public funded institutions with similar discipline, interest and administrative system, engagement of an eminent Human Resource (HR) expert as consultant to revamp the entire HR structure of DRDO and establishment of a commercial arm of DRDO.”


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rust and Roll For F-22; HASC Watches JSF


Rust is not something the average person thinks much about when it comes to designing high-tech weapons. But several years ago I reported on a major missile test defense test that was ruined because a part rusted that helped hold the missile in place before liftoff. And in February the entire F-22 fleet was grounded “due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit.” The affected parts were ejection seat rods. Congress is worried that similar problems could afflict the Joint Strike Fighter and has requested a report about lessons learned from the F-22’s experience.

Regardless of how lowly rust might seem at first glance, it is a huge problem for the military, costing about $20 billion each year. According to the House Armed Services Committee, roughly $7 billion of that rust is preventable. So, the committee, doing its job of congressional oversight, wants to substantially increasethe budget of a little known Pentagon entity, the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight, to improve the military’s ability to stop rust from crippling major weapons systems.

“The Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight has a proven record of successfully reducing corrosion costs, with a 50-to-1 return on investment on the 169 programs that have been implemented through it,” the HASC says in the summary of its bill. So the committee is increasing the office’s budget to a paltry $10.8 million, up from a tiny request of $3.6 million. Doing the math, that should result in a return of $540 million to the taxpayer. Kudos to Daniel Dunmire, director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight.

Of course, there’s usually a rub, and there is a little one this time. The HASC says that it has not yet gotten a “congressionally directed report” from Dunmire about those lessons learned from the F-22’s rust problems: “The Committee notes that it has yet to receive the congressionally directed report from the Director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight assessing the corrosion control lessons learned from the F-22 Raptor fleet—which was grounded in February 2010 for corrosion on ejection seat rods due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit—as they apply to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”

We hear little evidence of congressional irritation and expect the prospect of a bulging purse will only encourage OSD to cough up the report forthwith. Dunmire, who responded promptly to our inquiry about when the report would be done, said it should be ready by August.

ICBM to be a reality by next year: Saraswat

India is likely to enter the elite club of nations with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability as the over 5,000 km range Agni-5 missile was expected to become a reality by next year.

“Work is progressing satisfactorily in the development of Agni-5, which is expected to become a reality next year. With this, DRDO would have given India a comprehensive indigenous strategic capability, available with only a few nations of the world,” DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat said at the National Technology Day awards function.

Agni-5 will be the first canistered ballistic missile with range of over 5,000 km into Indian inventory, bringing possible military targets in the whole of China and Pakistan within striking range. The missile is likely to be tested early next year.

Missiles which are capable of being launched from canisters can be fired from multiple platforms and are easily transportable.

Commenting on the Indian missile programme, Mr. Saraswat said, “the success of Agni-3 and other tests have confirmed India’s strategic deterrence capability, which could not have been possible without the preceding developmental efforts in these programmes.”

Russian Armed Forces could receive more than 1,500 combat aircraft and about 200 air defense systems by 2020.

A new state arms procurement program for 2011-2020 will be adopted by the Russian government and signed by the president this fall, a deputy prime minister said on Tuesday.

“The deadline is the third quarter of this year,” Sergei Ivanov told reporters in Moscow.

The draft program stipulates the upgrade of up to 11% of military equipment annually and will allow Russia to increase the share of modern weaponry to 70% by 2020.

Ivanov said the Defense Ministry and all security-related bodies are expected to submit the lists of all necessary armaments within a week to allow the defense industry enterprises to plan their work with an optimal output for the next decade.

According to the draft program, the Russian Armed Forces should receive, in particular, more than 1,500 combat aircraft and about 200 air defense systems by 2020.

Ivanov earlier asked President Dmitry Medvedev to authorize the increase of financing for the defense industry by 100 billion rubles ($3.4 bln) annually to ensure the efficient implementation of the program until 2020.

The Russian military is expected to receive 27 combat jets, over 50 helicopters and five battalions of S-400 air defense systems in 2010 under the current arms procurement program.

MMRCA might be a “STRIKER”


Sources in IAF have informed idrw.org that, while Indian air force is closely monitoring performance of every aircraft which have come to India for trials, but more closely to weapons testing of the aircraft’s which have been done in India and also in the vendor country. Indian air force wants to induct aircraft which are Multi-role which literally means that Aircraft can perform both role of a fighter aircraft and a ground attack aircraft.

Defence Expert Rajesh Sharma further explains that concept of Multi-role aircraft’s have only came in 1980’s period. Multi-role aircraft’s are designed to perform equally good both in Aerial combat and also in ground strike, but each aircraft is different in performance and design, Combination ratio of Aerial combat and strike platform in each multirole aircraft will not be the same, Even when Sukhoi-30 mki is considered as Multi-role aircraft’s, but its superb aeronautic maneuverability and high AOA (Angle of Attack) makes it more closer to Air superiority fighter then a strike aircraft.

In our previous report we have mentioned that almost half the fleet of Mig-27 will be retired in next five years, and Mig-27 and Jaguar are backbone of the strike fleet in Indian air force. So now it seems that Aircraft with better Strike capability might gain some extra points in the MMRCA competition. Idrw.org don’t have any information in regards to which aircraft is doing better in this capacity but LEH testing with full payload was done to see which aircraft can also be able to carry highest payload in worst weather condition aircraft might encounter in India .

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MMRCA: A difficult choice for the IAF


The trial phase of the proposed purchase of the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) is nearing completion. Last heard, the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen was not able to take part as the company had brought a different (older?) model for trials supposedly because the new Next Generation model proposed for India was undergoing some trials in Sweden. Whatever the truth, the competition is heating up.

What should be the criteria for the final choice? The IAF strength has dwindled to some 30 squadrons in the last few years. But the effect has been mitigated to some extent by the induction of the Su-30, which, with its multi-role capability, long range and highly advanced avionics and armament suite, is far more capable than the phased out fighters such as the MiG-25, MiG-23 (MF/BN), MiG-21 and some others. In any case the Su-30, Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar combination have proved themselves in many joint exercises with the air forces of Singapore, the UK and US. Does it then mean that simply getting more Su-30s, and according to the Air Chief, some 150 more are being ordered, would make up the shortfall?

The Su-30 is a very large and heavy twin-engined fighter in the 30 ton class (empty weight: 18,400 kg, loaded weight: 24,900 kg, and maximum take-off weight: 38,000 kg), two engines of 131 kN max after burner thrust each) which gives a thrust to weight ratio at loaded weight of 1.07 and 1.15 with 50 per cent fuel. Its price is reportedly in the US$ 34-53 million range. That is not something to be scoffed at. Given such sterling qualities and a long, if at times uneven relationship with its manufacturer, Russia, why is the IAF looking for another fighter?

The main reasons could be to diversify the sources of foreign supply, access Western technologies, work out mutually beneficial Joint Venture (JV) deals and perhaps leverage the buy for larger foreign policy goals. Given the rapidly changing regional geopolitical scenario, the last factor seems critically important. Having set the background straight, let us now look at the six contenders for the MMRCA competition.

All six contenders are equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) airborne radar with only marginal differences in performance. There is also little difference in their armament carrying capacity and, where needed, such changes/modifications should be possible.

The French Dassault Rafale, the European Consortium Eurofighter Typhoon and the American Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet are all twin-engined fighters in the 25-30 ton class. All of them are reportedly very expensive, with reported prices ranging from Euro 48 million for the Rafale to Euro 88 million for the Eurofighter and US$ 58 million for the Super Hornet. Admittedly, these are only notional figures and no vendor/buyer is likely to divulge the real/actual price and the services, equipment, spares/maintenance support that it might include. Would the IAF want to purchase such ‘heavy duty’ and expensive (?) aircraft?

The MiG-35 is a further development of the MiG-29K version that the Indian Navy is now inducting. It was first unveiled at Aero India Show-2007 at Bangalore. While it no doubt has some extra wing area (8-10 per cent?), smokeless (?) and supposedly the latest version of the RD-33 engine fitted in the MiG-29, the Phazotron Zhuk AE- AESA radar with additional provision for the ground attack role, LCD Multi Function Displays (MFD) and possibly the option to fit Western avionics if needed, it is not exactly a proven design nor are its life cycle costs known. Its official price is not known but going by our past experience it is likely to be low.

That leaves us with the F-16 IN Super Viper (F-16 E/F Block 60) described by Lockheed Martin as, “the most advanced and capable F-16 ever,” and the JAS-39 NG Gripen. Both these are relatively lighter aircraft at a maximum all up weight of just 16,000 kg and yet each carries an external/armament load of around 8,000 kg. They are highly manoeuvrable multi-role fighters.

The F-16 has been around for nearly 40 years but it still commands respect among the experts. It is combat proven, has operated in all parts of the world in very demanding conditions and like the freak if admirable design of the venerable MiG-21 and DC-3 Dakota, is destined to be remembered as the best multi-role fighter ever. It comes with conformal external fuel tanks to reduce drag, and the GE F110-132A engine giving a maximum afterburning thrust of 143 kN. About 4400 F-16s have been sold to 25 countries so far. The aircraft has a total accumulated flight time of some 4.5 million hours and hence the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is likely to be very high. Snags and technical problems are likely to be more predictable. It should also help reduce life cycle costs to a large extent. The Saab JAS -39 Gripen is also reportedly as good. It is relatively new on the scene and has an American GE F 414G engine, which means that Sweden would have to get US permission before it is sold to India.

The issue of access to technology and how each vendor fulfils the ‘offset’ commitment is not yet known, but it is reasonable to assume that no country is likely to transfer the latest technologies without necessary safeguards and confidentiality/end-user agreements. The main issue, therefore, is one of continued reliable spares and maintenance support throughout the projected life of at least 30-40 years. Would Lockheed Martin keep the F-16 line open that long? Another sticking point may be that Pakistan also flies the same fighter. But then the Chinese air force (PLAAF) also flies the Su-30 in fairly large numbers and is likely to use them for another 30-40 years and that did not deter India from buying it in 1996. The Gripen has been offered at reduced cost to Bulgaria, so some further bargaining might be possible. The F-16 could also cost India less if the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route is followed but one cannot predict how the Obama administration would handle the deal and, who knows, Lockheed Martin might even transfer the entire production line to India as was once promised in the case of another American fighter the F-5.

There was some talk of the contract being split between two vendors and a separate tender for the AESA radar. This, in my opinion, might have been conjectured to meet the Tejas LCS radar requirements. India is already committed to buying six C-130J, 10 C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft and other equipment from the US and hence it might become somewhat easy to buy additional GE 404 or more powerful engines for the indigenous LCA.

In the final analysis, it seems that the political factor is likely to influence the choice of the MMRCA more heavily than just the performance parameters. As an old fighter pilot, however, I would always pitch for a light, easily manoeuvrable, agile and relatively inexpensive fighter that delivers every time, generates high sortie rates and is easy to maintain and train on a day to day peace time schedule. What counts in war is the number of fighters one can launch every hour, every day, day after day, with full confidence and ease of operation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Indian Defence Information completes One Thousand Hits!!!!

Today Indian Defence Information blog completes One Thousand Hits with more than 500 unique visitors and 20 followers in just 3 months duration.

I will continue to work hard to keep improving posting to make you all up to date and informed about the new developements of technology in Indian Military.

I salute to all our soldiers who fought for our country and serving to nation.  

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your support.Thanks so much for all the pageviews.

Thanks with Regards,
Sujit Kulkarni

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dedication of LCH to the Nation

Indian aviation fraternity in general and HAL in particular is eager to witness another milestone event, when Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri A.K Antony will dedicate the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the nation on coming Sunday at HAL Airport. Indigenously developed and built by HAL in a record time, a derivative of Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) is an attack helicopter first of its kind in India.


It became imminent for the MOD and Indian Air Force that the technologies acquired and developed on the Dhruv platform could be translated into developing a dedicated Light combat helicopter appended with newer technologies like low visibility features, Nuclear Biological and Chemical warfare protection, integration of the latest weapon systems, and electronic warfare suite. The HAL Fraternity expresses its gratitude to the nation, MOD and the Indian Air force for giving it yet another great opportunity in realizing this dream.


The LCH inherits many technical features of the Dhruv which includes the rotor system Transmission, power plant, Hydraulics, IADS, weapons system and Avionics. The features that are unique to LCH are Sleek & narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, tandem cockpits, crashworthy & self sealing fuel tanks, aero foil shaped stub wings for weapons, armour protection, NBC protection and, low visibility features Which make the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.

Development philosophy

LCH prototype development was based on the concept of design, ground testing and fabrication concurrently. This resulted in building the 1st machine within 40 months.

The design & manufacturing was carried-out using the state-of-art C.A.D/C.A.M facilities which obviated the requirement of an interface check rig. The ground testing included wind-tunnel testing, landing gear drop tests, and shake test.

A mock up was also built for evaluation by the Indian Air Force.

Development Team

The development team included members of HAL, Indian Air Force, the certification authorities CEMILAC ,DGAQA and the various suppliers of the onboard systems.

Capability and Performance

LCH will be fitted with a 20 mm Turret gun and can carry Rockets, Air-to Air / Air-to-Ground missiles on the weapon stations.

The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet pointed sight and Electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser range finder/laser designator. The LRF & LD facilitate measurement of range to the target & guidance to the Laser guided Missiles respectively. A Digital Video Recorder would enable recording of the vital mission for debriefing purposes. The turret gun skewing is controlled by the helmet mounted sight of the gunner.

The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Countermeasures dispensing system. It is also planned to integrate IR/Laser missile jammer on the helicopter.

The helicopter would be fitted with a Data Link for Network-centric operations facilitating transfer of the mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the Network, thus facilitating force multiplication.

The machine is designed for low detection (visual, aural, radar & infra-red) and includes armour protection of critical areas. A 30 minute dry running capability of the gear box is a built in feature to survive after a ballistic hit to the transmission system. Crashworthiness features are built into the wheel landing gear & structure.

Dual redundant systems also enhance the effectiveness of the helicopter in the battlefield environment.

The performance features of the LCH i.e. rate of climb, cruise speed, service ceiling are on par, if not better than other helicopter in its class like A129/Tiger and with bigger dedicated combat helicopters like Apache, Kamov 30 or Mi-35. LCH has all the makings of a winner in its class of helicopters.

Cost data ( Development cost, unit cost, maintenance cost & operating cost)

The development cost of LCH is very low compared to that of other helicopters in its class, ensuring lower unit costs compared to other attack helicopters. LCH design is optimized to ensure ease of maintenance with improved reliability of all the onboard systems to keep the operating costs low.


Self-reliance in such strategic machines forms an unequivocal requirement for India’s defence and products like the Dhruv & the LCH are missions in this direction. May the Light Combat Helicopter serve the nation for decades to come.

Army will get Tank Busters in LCH

Successful Roll out and the first “Official Test flight” of India’s Light combat Aircraft (LCH) happened on a Sunday morning of 23rd May, Indian Air force which already operates Mi-35 “Hind “for over two decade now will also be inducting some new Attack Helicopter to replace them soon for which Tender to leading manufactures have already been send, IAF has already ordered 65 of LCH, but big orders are expected from Indian Army.

Indian Army till date has not operated any Combat Helicopters in its long history but have worked with Air forces Mi-35 “Hind “in operations in Srilanka and in UN missions, Retired Army officer Prasad chawan told idrw.org “We were impressed by the Hind in various operations it was involved and we all ways wanted some in our fleet”, he also added “Army had asked for induction or purchases of this attack choppers for Army aviation but Air force could object to our proposal”.

But local development of LCH will mean that Army aviation will also have them, Army is excited about therecent development and Army orders for LCH will be more than double of what air force has put, Chawan explained “Mostly Attack helicopters are operated by Army aviation to provide cover fire for troops landing over enemy territory, air support and also has a Tank buster for moving field regiments” he also pointed out that Cobra Gunship in Pakistan is operated by Pakistani Army.

Chinese copy of Su-33 (J-15 ) Prototype spotted

A prototype of J-15 with arresting hook retracted beneath the redesigned tail cone has been spotted at Shanyang Aircraft Company . With all the attention paid to the Naval Aviation building up recently, it might not be a coincidence that the PLAN is not building any more destroyers. They just don’t have a bottomless funding as others have suggested.

The J-15 Flying Shark is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. It is a carrier-based fighter aircraft, and is believed to be the Chinese upgraded version with advanced avionics and AESA radar of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33.

Work on maritime patrol aircraft to start this year

The Hindu

Work on the Indian Navy’s latest acquisition, the long-range maritime patrol aircraft that will add strength to its ability in domain awareness and deal with threats below the surface, will get underway later this year.

For the present, the United States Navy is gearing up to put the second plane (T2) to test its primary mission system next month, having conducted preliminary trials for airworthiness during April on test plane one (T1) at its facility.

The Boeing Company is developing the long-range patrol aircraft for the U.S. Navy, called P8A, and the Indian Navy is getting the P8I to specifications as provided by it.

The contract was signed in January 2009, with the first delivery scheduled 48 months from the date.

“The Indian Navy is the first foreign customer that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy,” P8I Programme Manager Leland Wight told a group of journalists from India after a tour of the Renton facility here, where the737 platform, on which the P8 is being developed, is finally assembled.

The group was later taken around the T2, at the Puget Sound facility, where the aircraft is being prepared before being handed over to the U.S. Navy.

The aircraft has multiple weapon stations armed with anti-submarine Harpoon missiles, torpedoes in weapons bay that can be launched into water up to 1,000 feet and advanced radar and sensors. The plane can travel 1,200 nautical miles. It can stay on for four hours before heading to its base and with mid-air refuelling, it can undertake a mission for longer hours.

It has five identical mission operator consoles, with each having the ability to select which sensor they want to study with two observer stations. The aircraft is designed for user to expand and configure 21 crew seats.

The Indian Navy conducted a preliminary design review in October last and held a conference here in February this year. Equipment provided by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited to go on board is being checked. Fabrication of the first aircraft will begin during the last quarter of 2010, he said.

Technically, the Indian Navy has to arrange for acceptance trials for each aircraft it ordered, but it has decided to take delivery after initial ones, since the basic airframe and other equipment are being subjected to tests by the U.S. Navy. The Indian Navy has reserved the option to place order for additional four aircraft.

North Korean sub attack details start to emerge

Planeman's Analysis:

The attack was reportedly conducted by a previously unreported submarine type, but generally similar to the existing "P-4" class. The new class is essentially the DPRK in-service equivalent to the IS-120 Ghadir class exported to Iran and now locally produced there.

Network Centric, Light Combat Helicopter with all weather operability impresses IAF and Army Aviation

Photos from LiveFist

News Source: 8ak

HAL got compliments from all quarters today with the successful, official maiden flight of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in Bangalore today. With some good engineering and commonalities with the Advanced Light Helicopter platform, it took HAL just 40 months to develop the LCH project which started in 2006.

The 5.8 tonne LCH inherits many technical features of the ALH Dhruv which includes the hingless-rotor system, transmission, Shakti engines, hydraulics, IADS, weapons system and avionics. The features that are unique to LCH are sleek & narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, tandem cockpits, crash-worthy & self sealing fuel tanks, aero foil shaped stub wings for weapons, armour protection, NBC protection and low visibility features.

LCH is fitted with a 20mm turret gun which will be controlled by a helmet-mounted sighting system. Besides Air-to-Air missiles, it is believed that DRDO's Helina (NAG) anti-tank guided missile will also be integrated with this platform giving it significant air-to-ground attack capability.

The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet pointed sight and Electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/laser range finder/laser designator. The LRF & LD facilitate measurement of range to the target & guidance to the Laser guided Missiles respectively. A Digital Video Recorder would enable recording of the vital mission for debriefing purposes.

The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Countermeasures dispensing system. It is also planned to integrate IR/Laser missile jammer on the helicopter.

The helicopter would be fitted with a Data Link for Network-centric operations facilitating transfer of the mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the network, thus facilitating force multiplication. It has a sophisticated mission system called the Target Acquistion and Designing System (TADS).

The machine is designed for low detection (visual, aural, radar & infra-red) and includes armour protection of critical areas. A 30 minute dry running capability of the gear box is a built in feature to survive after a ballistic hit to the transmission system. Crash-worthiness features are built into the wheel landing gear & structure. Dual redundant systems also enhance the effectiveness of the helicopter in the battlefield environment.

HAL claims that the performance features of the LCH i.e. rate of climb, cruise speed, service ceiling are on par, if not better than other helicopter in its class like A129/Tiger and with bigger dedicated combat helicopters like Apache, Kamov 30 or Mi-35.

The development team included members of HAL, Indian Air Force, the certification authorities CEMILAC, DGAQA and the various suppliers of the onboard systems. LCH prototype development was based on the concept of design, ground testing and fabrication concurrently. The design & manufacturing was carried-out using the state-of-art C.A.D/C.A.M facilities which obviated the requirement of an interface check rig. The ground testing included wind-tunnel testing, landing gear drop tests, and shake test. A mock up was also built for evaluation by the Indian Air Force.

Besides the Indian Air Force, the helicopter has also impressed the Army Aviation Corp who could use it in a surveillance role as they await the Light Observation Helicopter which will be a single engine version for high altitudes. Operational clearance is expected in 2012 with EcoTimes reporting that induction will begin in 2014.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Report Concludes North Korea Sank South Korean Ship

South Korean Navy ships leave for patrol on Korea’s western coast.

By: DefPro

South Korean officials say they have proof that North Korea torpedoed the South Korean frigate Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. Officials in the South Korean capital of Seoul said an investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan found residue of an explosive used in a North Korean torpedo, and also found other forensic evidence clearly implicating North Korea.

“The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine,” a South Korean defense ministry statement said. “There is no other plausible explanation.”

The report reflects an objective and scientific review of the evidence, South Korean officials said. “It points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that North Korea was responsible for this attack,” officials said. “This act of aggression is one more instance of North Korea’s unacceptable behavior and defiance of international law. This attack constitutes a challenge to international peace and security and is a violation of the Armistice Agreement.”

Salvage experts raised the ship, which had broken in half, from the sea floor near Baengnyeong Island. The Cheonan had a crew of 104. Officials said the vessel was operating south of a disputed sea border on the western side of the peninsula in the Yellow Sea. The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton frigate built in 1989, was on a routine patrol mission.

A White House statement said President Barack Obama spoke with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and expressed his deep sympathy for the loss of the sailors. “The United States strongly condemns the act of aggression that led to their deaths,” the statement said. “The president spoke with President Lee on May 17 and made clear that the United States fully supports the Republic of Korea, both in the effort to secure justice for the 46 servicemembers killed in this attack and in its defense against further acts of aggression.”

The White House statement went on to say that North Korea must understand that belligerence toward its neighbors and defiance of the international community are signs of weakness, not strength.

“Such unacceptable behavior only deepens North Korea’s isolation,” the statement said. “It reinforces the resolve of its neighbors to intensify their cooperation to safeguard peace and stability in the region against all provocations.”

An international team of investigators from Australia, Great Britain, Sweden and the United States assisted South Korean experts in examining the forensic evidence left in the ship.

“We have reached the clear conclusion that [the] Cheonan was sunk as the result of an external underwater explosion caused by a torpedo made in North Korea,” said Yoon Duk-yong, of the investigation team. “The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine. There is no other further explanation.”

South Korea formed the joint civilian-military investigation group after the sinking and carefully shielded the group from a rush to judgment on the cause of the sinking, South Korean officials said.

The group found that “a strong underwater explosion generated by the detonation of a homing torpedo below and to the left of the gas turbine room caused Republic of Korea Ship Cheonan to split apart and sink,” the South Korean defense ministry statement said.

The group also collected parts of the torpedo, including a propulsion motor with propellers and a steering section from the site of the sinking.

“The evidence matched in size and shape with the specifications on the drawing presented in introductory materials provided to foreign countries by North Korea for export purposes,” South Korean officials said. Markings on the torpedo in Hangul are consistent with the marking of a previously obtained North Korean torpedo, they added.

“The weapon system used is confirmed to be a high-explosive torpedo with a net explosive weight of about 250 [kilograms], manufactured by North Korea,” officials said.

Indian LCH Eyes First Official Flight

The official first flight of India’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is set for May 23.

Designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the light chopper had its unofficial first flight on March 29. Since then, HAL’s Helicopter Complex has test flown the chopper as many as 20 times to check various flight parameters. The LCH is based on the Dhruv platform and features a glass cockpit.

HAL Chairman Ashok Nayak told AVIATION WEEK that the “designers, engineers and pilots are extremely happy with the performance so far. We are confident of flying the second prototype of LCH in August or September this year.”

Several other aircraft will precede the LCH during the event. According to insiders, the Intermediate Jet Trainer Sitara from the limited series production (LSP) block will be first to fly, followed by the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas LSP-3. “Then the Hawk [trainer] built from the raw material phase at HAL will grace the skies followed by an upgraded Dornier with glass cockpit,” an official coordinating the show says. “The first Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv from the 159 order block [105 Army, 54 IAF] will be next in line, and finally the baby of the moment, LCH, will enter.”

The Indian air force’s aerobatic helicopter display team Sarang (formed by Dhruv helicopters) has been summoned from Sulur air base to escort LCH in formation. The LCH will be piloted by Wing Cmdr. (ret.) Unni Pillai, HAL’s chief rotary wing test pilot, with Group Capt. (ret.) Hari Nair as co-pilot.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony is leading a group of top officials who will observe the first flight at HAL’s military air base here in Bengaluru. “The Su-30 MKI was to perform some aerobatics as per the initial plan, then the idea was dropped owing to air safety concerns considering the thick population in and around HAL airport,” a source says. “Now it will be on a static display only.”

The LCH team is expected to perform some limited maneuvers during the flight.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When Arjun beat T-90

BY : Shankar Roy chowdhury ( former Chief of Army Staff)

“Shootout at the OK Corral?” The Indian Army would undoubtedly frown at such frivolity, but scattered media reports and Internet chatter indicate that during the recent comparative trials pitching a squadron (14 tanks) of Russian T-90 tanks, currently the mainstay of the Army’s armoured forces, and an equivalent number of India’s indigenous Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT), the latter is said to have “performed creditably” and “outshot and outran” its Russian competitor. Details available in the public domain are understandably sketchy, but even allowing for journalistic hyperbole, these comparative trials should be of landmark significance as an indicator of the giant strategic strides by indigenous defence research and heavy engineering, something with which the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) Avadi would finally have reason to be pleased with themselves. For their part, the Indian Army and its Armoured Corps who had been extremely firm and demanding users accepting no compromises in standards of performance, now perhaps require to revisit their stand, and approve the current successful model of the Arjun for series production and induction into service as the country’s principal Main Battle Tank. It is to be sincerely hoped that when the time comes to take a decision the Indian Army will select the indigenous MBT vis-a-vis the T-90 as the replacement for the T-72 fleet, now well on its way to obsolescence.

The long and intensely tortuous development process of the Arjun has earned it considerable notoriety as a landmark case study of bad project management which crystallised and hardened cynicism amongst the user community, and though the tank still remains technologically contemporary, its prolonged gestation has already made it due for midlife upgradation. This is not unusual in series tank production, but with Arjun this will have to be incorporated on the production line with the very initial batch itself as and when series production commences, again only if substantial orders flow in from the users. In this context, it is understood that the DRDO would like an initial production order of 300-500 numbers of Arjun tanks to be placed, instead of the present 124, understandable as well as justifiable, because a larger run of initial production will facilitate rectification and upgradation on the production line. Generations of armour officers (now mostly superannuated) still shudder at recollections of the Vijayanta where an unproven and basically unsatisfactory design procured in a hurry turned into a highly defect prone tank which had to be intensively modified along the way on the production line until the later models were quite different from the initial batches (but nevertheless remained unsatisfactory!). Transfer of technology is also dependent on production numbers because foreign vendors refuse to transfer their best technology for limited production series if further production appears unlikely.

However, the sunny side is that the development processes has already stimulated growth in small but very high technology manufacturing agencies even if production lines for prototype models have been quite limited. These agencies are of course capital intensive, but have mainly come up in the medium and small scale private sector which is surely encouraging.

Retention of user confidence in the Arjun requires a sustained process of engineering and quality control by the DRDO and the ordnance factories which has not been their strong point so far. Unless the government succeeds in enforcing accountability on its agencies, for continuous technological upgradation of the tank while on the production line as well as quality control standards, MBT Arjun, a tank of contemporary design, will again loose the confidence of the user community. It is evident that MBT Arjun is emerging as touchstone case for the DRDO and HVF Avadi to prove their detractors wrong!

There is a requirement for government to break the mould of its traditional mindset and associate the considerable talents and capacities of the private sector as well as technological academia with the development and production of the Arjun. The private sector is better aware of the importance of continuous quality control for market survival amidst intense competition, something to which ordnance factories, used to assured monopoly markets over the armed forces, are not accustomed, and often accept lower quality standards because their commercial survival is not a factor.

At the end of it all, the Arjun remains a good standard design, extremely badly executed so far which can still be rescued but only if the ministry of defence can enforce accountability on the DRDO and the Ordnance Factory Board for technological upgradation, design rectification and enforcement of quality control within a laid down timeframe and as an ongoing process. This did not appear to be the case earlier, when the initial production batch of five tanks were formally handed over to the Army with much fanfare, and then immediately retrieved by the factory after the ceremony to rectify quality shortfalls as demanded by the exasperated users! These and other negative experiences have hardened user cynicism, but all that must become water under the bridge now, and users must accept Arjun as a Mark I version to be upgraded and improved during further production into a Mark II and beyond. The extension of the MBT programme into variants and derivatives based on the Arjun chassis must also begin to take shape, such as the planned “Bhim” self-propelled 155mm tracked artillery system for which earlier trials to adapt the T-72 tank chassis “on the cheap” had failed signally. (Similar ill-judged experimentation with the T-90 would be best avoided!).

In a wider national context, fielding the MBT Arjun is important for India’s contemporary and future strategic leadership as well as nascent military-industrial complex. Indigenous capabilities for development and production of sophisticated capital defence equipment are vital strategic capabilities for which Arjun, Tejas, Agni and the ATV (advanced technology vessel) have to be seen in their true geopolitical perspective as statements by an India seeking a world presence in the 21st century

Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury is a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Member of Parliament

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aakash Mk-2

Development work for Akash Mk-2 variant has begun, since recently Ministry of Defence officially granted funds and permission for its further development. Lately Akash Mk-1 has successfully demonstrated its ability in recently held user trials and Air force and Indian army has placed orders for procurement of Akash Sam Batteries.

Work on improvement of Akash SAM has been underway for a decade now and newer technology has been developed and DRDO is confident to field and test new Akash Mk-2 within 3 year period, major changes that Akash MK-2 will have is the range of missile, Army and Air force wants Akash MK-2 to have range of 40 to 60 km from its current range (Akash MK-1) of just 25 km. for that DRDO has been working on using better composite booster with lengthened booster section to achieve the desired range .According to sources DRDO will not have much difficulty in extended range of the Missile system but DRDO will have other set of problems in support systems.

Akash MK-1 is guided by phased array fire control radar called Rajendra BSR (Battery Surveillance Radar) which is PESA radar, while Akash Mk-2 will have a Rajendra derivative AESA radar to perform the same role, AESA radar will give it better tracking, and engagement functions. Work on AESA variant has begun and almost nearing completion, DRDO is also working on an AESA variant of Rajendra to be used as Weapons locating Radar (WLR); recently developed Rajendra WLR is based on PESA technology.

Second generation of Arjun Mk-2

Path for the development of the Second generation of Arjun Mk-2 has been cleared recently by the Ministry of Defence and funding allocated , while the Army has ordered more 124 Arjun Mk-1 to keep theproduction line in Avadi busy till the Arjun Mk-2 will start rolling out from 2013-14 onwards . DRDO rather than starting all over again the Arjun MK-2 will have the same design of Arjun MK-1, but major changes are planned for the new generation variant of Arjun Tank to keep up with the new technological changes which are been incorporated in the MBT’s world over .

Arjun MK-2 will have Battle Field Management System (BFMS) which will enable the tank to get feed from UAV‘s and Helicopters, which then enable the Arjun mk-2 tank crew much aware of their surroundings and better understanding of the battle zone, this will lead to improvement in coordinating with other Friendly tanks in the zone and also avoid Friendly kills, it will also give information regarding enemy tank movement along with their troops and help navigate terrain in the battle zone.

Self-diagnostic system (SDS) will also be added to Arjun Mk-2 which is like a health monitoring system. it will not only tell the tank crew if it is having any problem but also point out the trouble area , it is also important when Tank has taken multiple hits from different position and from different ammunition after a self-diagnose Tank crew will know exact damage inflicted on the Tank .

Arjun Mk-2 will get a new efficient 1500bhp engine which has been in development by DRDO in India its self, they are reports that a Indian Private industry is also working with DRDO on the engine development, currently Arjun MK-1 is powered by German supplied 1400bhp Engine which is quite old in design and technical parameters but still a powerful and respected Engine in the world.

NERA (non-explosive reactive armor) will be added to Arjun Mk-2 this will give the tank additional protection against anti-tank munitions, unlike ERA, NERA will enable tank to take multiple hits anti-tank munitions, but also increase the weight of Arjun MK-2 to 60 tons from its current weight (Arjun MK-1) of 58 tons.

It is much likely that Arjun Mk-2 will also spot Air-conditioning system for the crew, which will be powered from an APU which will draw its power from the Main engine of the Tank; this will enable the tank crew to operate in higher temperature of desert heat without any discomfort to the tank crew, Arjun MK-1 already has hardened electronics that function perfectly even in the Rajasthan summer without requiring any Air-conditioning system.

More changes will take place in Arjun Mk-2, above mentioned are mostly likely changes which will take place in the new variant.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Russia to develop “Stealth” combat Helicopters

Russian State Media has reported that Russia is planning to develop a Stealthy Attack Helicopter, Andrei shibitov, chief executive officer of the Russian Helicopter company said that “we are working on a concept of a 5th generation combat Helicopters which will be invisible to radars and will have good maneuverability to take on fighter aircraft in combat ” .

US Army with Boeing and Sikorsky had started similar program for development of a Stealthy helicopter code named RAH-66 Comanche, program was canceled in 2004 before it entered production. And only two prototypes were ever built, still Comanche had stealth design and internal weapons bay just like 5thgeneration fighter aircraft’s have in them.

Russian concept is still a concept and no funds have been sanctioned by Russian Defence ministry yet

Temperature control suits for Jawans soon

By: Idrw

Summer this season has been worst in decades but not much will improve in further years to come but a Indian army jawan who has to stand in this blazing heat in Rajasthan where temperature are hovering above 45®c while keeping an eye on Indo-Pakistan border can hardly complain over heat , Recent War Games in Rajasthan where Indian Army fielded Main battle tanks to practice its new “Two Front War ” doctrine where a tank crew in a T-72 MBT without an Air condition have to face 10®c more than the outside weather temperature due to cramped condition and hot engine just running behind the tank ,it can be exhausting and even the best trained Tank crew or a battle hardened jawan will suffer fatigue due to rising temperature . But that is about to change Dr T.P Baburaj head of Defence Institute of physiology and allied sciences under DRDO has been working on a Temperature Control Suits both for Tank crews and Army Jawan, DR Baburaj explains “ Due to heat stress and lose of excess body fluid and limited fluid intake can lead to Multiple organ failure , so we are working on two different types of Body suits for our soldiers ,one is an Air cooled suit for our Jawans which is still under testing in “ Human Climatic Chamber” in its premises where different temperatures can be created in the chamber to test the suit , and we have also successfully tested a Water cooled suit for Tank crew in Mahajan range Rajasthan , Water cooled suit with water has the fluid keeps the skin temperature down , and water in suite is maintained at 25 to 30®c by a small unit which is connected to the suit . Dr T.P Baburaj team is also working on Air cooled undergarments for Jawans .we at idrw.org only wishes them best of luck in their endeavor.

Airborne BrahMos Launcher Prototype

By: Idrw

India’s BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (BATL) is ready with the first prototype of an indigenous airborne launcher developed for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The air-launched version of the missile will be fitted to the Su-30 MKI aircraft.

BATL Executive Director N.R. Vishnu Kartha tells AVIATION WEEK, “This is the first time a mobile launcher for [the] BrahMos missile is being manufactured. We are ready with the first prototype.”

The basic design of the launcher was conceived by BrahMos engineers from Hyderabad and accepted by the Sukhoi Design Bureau. The main body of the launcher is made from high-strength aluminum. All the materials, processes and tests involved in making the launcher need to undergo stringent quality checks by the Director General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance at various stages.

The launcher must undergo one more final test before it is fitted onto the Su-30 MKI for flight trials. BATL has an initial order of 6.4 crore ($1.4 million) to deliver a total of five such launchers. “The launcher’s final test will be done at Hyderabad, which is the missile integration center. The launcher is a testimony to BATL’s technical know-how in delivering such complex equipment,” Vishnu Kartha says.

U.S. Industry Hit By LCA Clearance Problem

BY: AviationWeek.com

India is turning to Europe for support of the naval version of its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), after its initial choice of the U.S. was stymied by an inability to gain the requisite approvals from Washington.

India selected Lockheed Martin as the winner of a bid for consultancy work on its naval LCA, but failure to secure U.S. State Department licensing approvals — at least in a timely fashion — now has resulted in EADS being in negotiation for the work.

This is not the first time regulatory issues have tripped up U.S. ambitions in India.

In April 2009 EADS picked up flight test work on the air force LCA as result of Boeing being forced to withdraw. The U.S. manufacturer had been tapped for the project in 2008, but an inability to gain the required approvals from the U.S. administration forced it to pull its bid.

The naval LCA is being designed for short take-off, but arrested recovery (Stobar), with a first flight of the naval variant by December.

Neither EADS nor Lockheed are willing to offer comment beyond general statements. The U.S. company says it “continues to work with the U.S. government to support the LCA program. EADS, beyond confirming it has a consultancy contact (for the air force aircraft), says “both sides have agreed they will not disclose any details.”

In March, the Indian government told Parliament that “deficiencies have been detected in the airframe and other associated equipment of the naval LCA [Navy]. The Defense Research and Development Organization [DRDO] is working out [approaches] with various organizations for rectifying these deficiencies by suitable modifications to the engine/airframe design.” The consultancy is intended to support this effort.

The consultancy on the naval LCA involves auditing the aircraft’s current configuration and optimizing the aircraft’s landing gear and arrestor hook design. The intent is also to reduce the aircraft’s all-up weight by around 1,000 lb.

Sources involved with the program indicated that Lockheed’s inability to begin the consultancy on time had impacted the development effort, but the program itself was on schedule and progressing well. When ready, the naval LCA will primarily operate off Indian-built aircraft carriers, the first of which is under construction in Kochi.

The sources also said that with almost all of the LCA’s equipping and cabling complete, the first prototype is scheduled to roll out of its hangar by mid-July. Three months of integration tests will follow, including ground vibration tests, structural coupling tests and other test routines before a first ground run and taxi test scheduled for October. If all goes well, the first prototype will fly in December.

The front fuselage of the first naval prototype is identical to the fighter trainer (PV-5) that began tests in November 2009. The only part of the front fuselage in the naval prototype that will require a full routine of tests is a small additional control surface near the wing roots that is absent on the air force version. The naval variant will also have auxiliary air intakes.

Program officials admit that there have been multiple challenges in the design and configuration of the landing gear and arrestor hook assembly, especially in optimizing the aircraft’s sink rate, but were confident that it would prove itself during flight tests.

Apart from conventional takeoff and landing tests, the aircraft will undergo short takeoff and arrested landing tests at the Shore-Based Test Facility under construction at the Indian naval air station in Goa.

Unmanned Tejas in a decade

Source: LiveFist

Just saw this interview of DRDO chief M Natarajan to Vayu Aerospace & Defence Review, where he says, "We can adapt the LCA into becoming an advanced UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle), not immediately, perhaps 10 years down the road."

He also says, "As a corollary to these developments, we can think of a twin-engined LCA of the 18-20 ton category, gradually developing a spectrum of products... We can think positively of the LCA replacing MiG-21s, then we can think of a futuristic MCA to replace certain number of squadrons of medium multirole combat aircraft, but with more advanced technologies."

Regarding Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar's biography of the Tejas programme ("The Tejas Story"), and his assertion that ego clashes between the IAF and DRDO had caused the programme delays, Natarajan said, "Beyond 2000, this book has no relevance. Dr SR Valluri was there, then there was a designer from UK called Mendiratta. Dr Valluri had written to me when I took over. I said there was no reason to go back into the past. As of now there are no conflicts between the IAF and DRDO. DRDO took the initiative when Air Chief Marshal Tyagi was Chief of Air Staff and we asked them to position IAF officers at the LCA facility in Bangalore. As of now there are 25 IAF personnel with Air Marshal Nanjappa leading this LCA induction team.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coming Up On LiveFist

Coming Up On LiveFist

An exclusive three-part series on the Indian Ministry of Defence's 15-year weapons and capability induction plan across the three armed services. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A net assessment

Source: defence.professionals GmbH

Iranian Missile launch tests.

In tandem with its efforts to expand its nuclear capabilities, the Islamic Republic of Iran is making robust strides in developing ballistic missiles. The two programmes appear to be connected, with the aim of giving Iran the capability to deliver nuclear warheads well beyond its borders, though Iran steadfastly denies any interest in nuclear weapons and claims that its missiles are strictly defensive in nature.

Iran’s modifications of the North Korean No-dong missile, resulting in the longer range Ghadr-1, and its recent success in testing locally produced space-launch vehicles and two-stage solid-propellant missiles have heightened concerns. Yet the worst-case scenario projected at the end of the twentieth century about Iran being able to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States within five years has not materialised.

The IISS Strategic Dossier on Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A net assessment aims to contribute to the policy debate about Iran’s strategic challenges by establishing a shared understanding of the missile programmes. Produced by an international team of experts, the dossier offers the most detailed information available in the public domain about Iran’s liquid- and solid-fuelled missiles and its indigenous production capabilities. The dossier also analyses the military and strategic effectiveness of Iran’s potential arsenal, including both conventional and non-conventional warheads. By comparing Iran’s progress with that of missile-development programmes elsewhere, the dossier assesses the types of missiles Iran might try to develop in future, how long it could take, and what observable trends and indicators will allow other nations to monitor Iranian progress and to plan appropriate responses.

Ballistic Missile Arsenal

Iran’s acquisition of ballistic-missile technologies began in the mid-1980s, when it purchased a limited number of liquid-fuelled, Scud-Bs from several foreign sources to satisfy an immediate wartime need. The perceived success of Scud-B missile attacks during its war with Iraq led Iran to purchase additional 300km-range Scud-Bs (Shahab-1), 500km-range Scud-Cs (Shahab-2), and longer-range Nodong (Shahab-3) missiles from North Korea, beginning in the late 1980s and extending to the mid-1990s. Based on the number of imports, it is estimated that Iran today has approximately 200–300 Shahab-1 and -2 missiles capable of reaching targets in neighbouring countries. Iran can also hit targets about 900 km from its borders using the Shahab-3, which has a nominal payload of 1,000kg and was commissioned in mid-2003. A modified version of the Shahab-3, the Ghadr-1, which began flight tests in 2004, theoretically extends Iran’s reach to about 1,600km, but with a smaller, 750kg warhead. Information available within the public domain suggests that Iran has approximately six Shahab-3/Ghadr-1 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles and between 12 and 18 Shahab-1/-2 TELs, although this number may be growing.

Iran is also developing a new medium-range, solid-propellant missile, the Sajjil-2, potentially capable of delivering a 750kg warhead to a range of about 2,200km. Iran is the only country to have developed a missile of this reach without first having developed nuclear weapons. The solid-fuelled system offers many strategic advantages, including being less vulnerable to pre-emption thanks to its shorter launch-preparation time. The Sajjil-2, which was successfully flight-tested for the first time in November 2008, is still two to three years of flight testing away from becoming an operational system that can be deployed to military units. Iran has yet to demonstrate that the missile’s individual stages perform consistently and reliably under a variety of operational conditions. If deemed necessary, this new missile could conceivably be used for combat in late 2010 or early 2011. However, the history of solid-propellant missile programmes elsewhere suggests an initial deployment of the Sajjil-2 in 2012 or later is more likely.

Utility of Iran’s current missile arsenal

Iran’s ballistic missiles could be used as a political weapon to wage a terror campaign against adversary cities. While such attacks might trigger fear, the expected casualties would be low – probably less than a few hundred, even assuming that Iran unleashed its entire ballistic-missile arsenal and that a majority of the warheads penetrated missile defences. The military utility of Iran’s ballistic missiles is severely limited because of their very poor accuracy. The confident destruction of a single, fixed-point military target, for example, would require Iran to allocate a very significant percentage, if not all, of its missile inventory to one specific mission. Against large-area military targets, such as an airfield or seaport, Iran could conduct harassment attacks aimed at disrupting operations or causing damage at fuel-storage depots, but the missiles would probably be incapable of shutting down critical military activities. The number of TELs available and the delays necessary to reload would also be limiting factors to any massive attack.

The possibility of chemical or biological warhead use cannot be excluded, although Iran is not known to possess such weapons and has forsworn them by treaty. Even if armed with chemical or biological warheads, however, the missiles could not reliably and predictably deliver enough warfare agent over a wide enough area to stop an adversary’s military operations. Moreover, Iran has too few missiles, TELs and trained launch crews to sustain the delivery of chemical agent to the battlefield for more than a few hours. Civil-defence measures can be effective in minimising potential casualties in urban areas.

Nuclear warheads have a much stronger strategic logic and all of Tehran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of a nuclear payload, if Iran is able to make a small enough bomb. The most likely delivery platforms for a notional Iranian nuclear weapon would be the Ghadr-1, and possibly the Shahab-3, although the solid-propellant Sajjil-2, once it becomes operational, may supplant its liquid-fuelled counterparts because it offers greater operational flexibility and possesses a superior range–payload capacity. The Sajjil was possibly designed with the knowledge that the first nuclear warhead could weigh one tonne or more, and thus the Ghadr-1 would be inadequate. The re-entry body configuration for either the Sajjil or the Ghadr, however, imposes difficult technical challenges for Iran, primarily because such a notional nuclear device would have to be small enough to fit within the existing 600mm payload bay.

While Iran is capable of designing a new warhead section for the Ghadr and Sajjil missiles, the overall mass of the new re-entry vehicle loaded with a notional nuclear weapon would likely exceed 1,200kg. In this case, the Ghadr-1 may not be capable of reaching targets in Israel without being fired from points very close to the Iran­–Iraq border, making the launcher and missile vulnerable to pre-emptive strikes. If this is indeed the case, development of the Sajjil-2 would assume greater priority, as this missile, once fully developed, would be capable of delivering payloads of up to 1,500kg to about 1,500km, and would thus be suitable for threatening Israel, Turkey and most of the Arabian Peninsula.

Iran’s ballistic-missile industries

Iran has invested heavily in programmes to develop an indigenous liquid-propellant missile industry. These efforts began with the purchase of Scud-B and -C missile maintenance and assembly facilities from North Korea in the early 1990s. Tehran’s decision to procure the Nodong missile (Shahab-3) from North Korea in the early to mid-1990s, rather than design, develop, test and produce a more capable missile based on a cluster of four-Scud engines suggests that its technical wherewithal and indigenous missile capabilities were at that time limited. However, shortly after the turn of the century, Iranian engineers began asserting greater independence from foreign supply, starting with the major, foreign assisted re-design of the Shahab-3, which resulted in the longer-range Ghadr-1. Iran’s technical prowess has continued to improve over the past decade, and by 2009, the Islamic Republic had successfully integrated a second stage on to a modified Ghadr-1 airframe to create the Safir space launch vehicle, which put a small satellite into low-earth orbit. The February 2010 unveiling of a mock-up of the two-stage, Simorgh launch vehicle, based on a cluster of four Nodong engines, suggests that Iran plans to develop and use more powerful satellite carriers in the coming years.

Iran’s accomplishments over the past five to seven years are impressive. The Islamic Republic is deemed to have the capacity to modify existing missiles, to produce indigenously a large percentage of the necessary components to go into a missile, including the airframe and propellant tanks, create new systems by integrating available sub-systems and components, test new configurations, and fix the design or manufacturing flaws discovered during the development of new systems. These capabilities demonstrate unambiguously that Iran has created and applied a disciplined, structured engineering and programme-management process to its missile and space-launcher development programmes. Equally importantly, these endeavours have strong political support, judging from the financial resources they have been allocated. Iran’s growing and increasingly capable engineering and management infrastructure may, over the long term, be the greatest strategic legacy to emerge from its missile-development programmes during the past decade. However, it is important to recognise that future progress may still depend on significant foreign support and the supply of key materials, equipment and components.

Some of Iran’s future advances, especially in the field of space launch vehicles, will be governed by its ability to produce liquid-propellant engines indigenously. The absence of the necessary number of flight tests to validate engine performance and reliability, the nearly identical performance of the Shahab-1 and the Scud-Bs built in the Soviet Union (similarly the Shahab-2 and the Scud-C), and the uncanny similarities in the exterior features of the engines shown on Iranian television and those known to be of Soviet origin, point convincingly to a reliance to date on imported Scud and Nodong engines. However, speculation that foreign specialists may have helped Tehran to create a production line, combined with television images of Iranians fabricating engine components and Iran’s demonstrated modifications to the steering engines of the Soviet R-27 system for use on the Safir second stage suggest that the Islamic Republic may soon establish a liquid-propellant engine production line of its own, if it has not done so already.

In the field of solid fuel, over the past 25 years Iran has procured a series of licensed solid-propellant production lines. This has facilitated the development of an indigenous industrial infrastructure that is robust and capable, and the accumulation of the learned knowledge needed to support future endeavours. The solid-propellant missile production facilities and equipment in Iran today have a demonstrated capacity to manufacture rocket motors weighing up to 13 tonnes. It seems reasonable to conclude that the current production infrastructure was established to support the manufacture of the Sajjil-2 missile, though the facilities may have been procured with growth potential in mind. Regardless, the production of larger motors will impose significant challenges.

The strength of Iran’s tacit knowledge today is sufficient to design and produce larger solid-propellant motors, if the manufacturing equipment to support production is available. However, because Iran’s propellant specialists acquired most of their experience and know-how from Chinese tutors, the depth of their tacit knowledge is assessed to be too limited to design, develop, test and validate a new, more powerful rocket motor for an intermediate-range missile in less than the two- to three-year timeline experienced by the United States, USSR/Russia, China, France or India.

There exists no evidence to date to suggest that Iran can, on its own, develop or produce the individual components of a strap-down navigation and guidance system for ballistic missiles. Historic parallels suggest that Iran very likely must instead import complete guidance units. Nonetheless, Iran does appear to have some capability to assemble basic components for an inertial and guidance system, and the capacity to incorporate imported, factory-assembled guidance packages into its current fleet of missiles, a capability that seems adequate for the foreseeable future. Iranian engineers might seek to import better inertial navigation units or incorporate GPS receivers to enhance missile accuracy. However, without including precise thrust-termination capabilities or post-boost control systems, such improvements would be moderate at best. Therefore, Iran’s missiles armed with conventional warheads will very likely remain too inaccurate to be militarily effective.

Future missile prospects

Iran’s ability to produce new liquid-propellant missiles will be constrained by a continuing inability to design and develop a new liquid-propellant engine. Moreover, the primary sources of such engines – Russia and Ukraine – are now closely adhering to Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines. Consequently, Iran will almost certainly have to rely on the engine technology in its possession today for all future liquid-propellant missiles and space launch vehicles it may consider developing.

If Iran were to seek to develop a missile with a significantly longer range, it would have to build a much larger missile. Other alternatives, such as putting the Safir satellite launcher to military use or incorporating into a new airframe the R-27 main engines that may have ended up in Iran, would not extend the performance envelope already achieved with the Sajjil-2.

A multi-stage missile, powered by engine clusters is the most logical and probable configuration for a hypothetical future long-range, liquid-propellant missile or space launch vehicle with substantially increased performance. Iran has adequate industries to design and build larger airframes. It has already demonstrated an ability to build a two-stage missile with the staging technologies developed for the Safir and Sajjil-2. In addition, there are no apparent technical barriers to prevent Iranian engineers from creating an engine cluster using either Scud or Nodong liquid-propellant engines, as was indeed exhibited in February 2010.

Given the state of Iran’s liquid-propellant missile industries and its reliance on Scud and Nodong engines, the performance of future systems would likely correspond to that of the Soviet missiles built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, or possibly the Chinese DF-3. Assuming an approximately one-tonne warhead, a liquid-propellant missile capable of flying 4,000km – the approximate distance to the UK – would weigh in the order of 70–80 tonnes, and have a first-stage diameter in excess of 2.0 metres. The notional missile might resemble a two-stage version of the North Korean Unha-2 vehicle and rely on a first stage similar to that posited in the mock-up of the Simorgh space launcher. If Iran sought to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) using available technology, it would likely weigh in the order of 120 tonnes, and have a diameter of about 2.5m.

It is clear that if Tehran sought to build the capacity to threaten targets in Western Europe or the continental US with liquid-propellant missiles, the resulting systems would be very large and cumbersome. The projected size of the longer-range missiles would force Tehran to base and launch the missiles from fixed sites, most likely silos, as an above-ground launch pad would be too vulnerable to pre-emptive attack. Systems for launching missiles weighing 70 tonnes or more from an underground silo would require considerable time and investment to develop, and would necessarily involve multiple test launches.

If Iran were to decide to develop more survivable long-range missiles, it would logically follow the solid-propellant path. Although the Sajjil-2 is still in development, the sub-systems and basic technologies included in the medium-range missile could be leveraged to create a new missile with significantly longer-range potential. Test flights to date of the Sajjil-2 have shown that Iran can build a multi-stage, aerodynamically stable, guided, solid-propellant missile. Hypothetically then, Iran could combine and reconfigure existing Sajjil rocket motors to create a new three-stage missile. Two configurations seem reasonable: a three-stage version of the Sajjil, consisting of one first stage and two motors similar to the second stage stacked on top of one another, or a three-stage missile built with two first-stage motors, and a single second-stage motor. The thrust output of the Sajjil’s first-stage motor is more than sufficient to accommodate these two configurations, whose notional range–payload characteristics are, for a one-tonne warhead, 2,700km and 3,500km respectively. However, there are important caveats. Experimenting with a new configuration using unproven rocket motors would be a risky endeavour and would not contribute to Iran’s overall goal of mastering solid-propellant missile technologies. Moreover, despite the Sajjil-2 development efforts to date, it would still be necessary to conduct a series of flight tests to demonstrate the operational viability of a three-stage configuration, and develop the necessary firing tables, incorporate improvements and prove reliability.

Finally, if Iran were to seek to develop a ballistic missile with a significantly longer range, disregarding the propulsion mode adopted, two outstanding issues must be addressed. Iran would have to acquire tracking and telemetry systems that could be deployed on sea-based platforms to monitor future test flights that travel beyond the country’s borders. And Tehran would have to develop and implement technologies for protecting the warhead during high-speed re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. While these are conquerable challenges, both would require time, money and sustained effort.

Indicators and timelines

The average time needed to develop a new design and begin manufacturing prototypes for testing is typically between two and three years for liquid-fuelled missiles, and in some instances as long as five years. The development time for a new solid-propellant rocket motor is two years or more. With determined effort, most missile design and development activities can be hidden from public view or initially concealed within a commercial, space-launcher development programme. However, it is impossible to hide flight tests, which must be undertaken to verify and document a missile’s performance and reliability, uncover design and construction flaws, validate system performance under a variety of operational conditions, and train the military forces responsible for operating the missile. Rarely are fewer than a dozen flights performed before a missile system is deployed. Additional tests are required to identify and fix any flight failures during the test programme. The number of test flights can be minimised, by design or necessity. However, in such cases the time between tests almost invariably grows in order to ensure that each test yields maximum results. Consequently, the more interesting feature of a flight-test programme centres on the time needed to validate the missile’s design, performance and reliability, not the total number of tests.

Development timelines elsewhere and Iran’s own experience with the Shahab-3 and Ghadr-1 suggest that future Iranian missile-development programmes based on liquid-propellant engines will include a flight-testing effort that extends over at least two years, and most likely three to five years, and involve at least half a dozen test launches. Flight-test programmes for solid-propellant missiles historically take on average more than four years. To achieve a reasonable measure of reliability and confidence, a dozen or more tests should be conducted. Therefore, Iran is not likely to field a liquid-fuelled missile capable of targeting Western Europe before 2014 or 2015. A three-stage version of the solid-propellant Sajjil capable of delivering a one-tonne warhead 3,700km similarly is at least four or five years away from possible deployment.

The recent presentation of the Simorgh and the four-Nodong engine cluster that Iran claims is intended for future satellite carriers does not appreciably alter these projections because the time estimate accounts for the flight-test programme and not the easily hidden research-and-development phase. Iran’s space-programme activities will certainly provide valuable experience, but these efforts appear for now to be aimed at civilian applications. To date, Iran’s space programme launches have been proof-of-principle demonstrations, offering no immediate strategic value beyond symbolism.

The modifications needed to convert the notional space launchers into a ballistic missile will require time and flight testing in the military configuration along trajectories beyond Iran’s borders. Nonetheless, testing engine clusters will endow Iran with a potential propulsion system for intermediate and possibly longer-range, liquid-propellant missiles. Iran’s space-programme activities must, therefore, be closely monitored.

The experience of other missile-development programmes suggests that Iran is many years away from developing a ‘second-generation’ 4,000–5,000km intermediate-range solid-propellant missile, if it should so decide. The French and Chinese experiences suggest that second-generation systems lag behind the first generation by more than a decade, although India’s history suggests the timeframe could be shortened to six or seven years. Based on Iran’s missile-development history relative to the experiences of other countries, there is little reason to believe that the Islamic Republic can shorten the timelines significantly. It would still have to rely on imported technologies, components and technical assistance, and carry out a lengthy flight-test programme.

Logic and the history of Iran’s evolutionary missile and space-launcher development efforts suggest that Tehran would develop and field an intermediate-range missile before embarking on a programme to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the American East Coast, 9,000km away. It is thus reasonable to conclude that a notional Iranian ICBM, based on Nodong and Scud technologies, is more than a decade away from development.

Final word

In projecting Iran’s potential future missile capabilities, this dossier has adopted a ‘most likely outcome’ approach, based on the available facts about Iran’s progress to date and the historical experience of other countries. It is possible to put forward more alarming scenarios based on assumptions about massive foreign assistance and development decisions that compromise the performance and reliability of future missiles. We have not promoted such speculation, except where there is evidence that lends it credence.

(The purhcase form for the IISS dosier "Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A net assessment" as well as additional information can be found at http://www.iiss.org)
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