Indian Navy Hunts for Sea-King and Kamov Chopper Upgrades

The Indian Navy is looking to upgrade its present fleet of Sea King and Kamov helicopters and purchase new helicopters to replace them in the coming years. Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area, told reporters in Panaji:

"We will soon augment helicopter force with the upgrade of Sea-king and Kamov helicopters ... Sea-king is anti-submarine warfare helicopter while Kamov is used for airborne early warnings ... For medium-range surveillance, we have the versatile medium-range recce aircraft Dornier-228s .. We are continuing to operate the TU-142s and IL-38s in the MR role.

The IL-38s were extensively refurbished in Russia with Sea Dragon radar and attack suite. For medium range surveillance, we have the versatile medium range recce aircraft Dornier-228s in a number of configurations .. We have completed our portfolio of surveillance assets with induction of unmanned aerial vehicles Heron and Searchers which can be controlled from ships"

The Indian Navy's helicopter fleet includes:
  • HAL Dhruv for utility purposes
  • Westland Sea King for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, utility and transport requirements
  • Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King for anti-submarine warfare
  • AĆ©rospatiale SA 316 Alouette III for utility purposes
  • Kamov Ka-25 Hormone
  • Kamov Ka-28 Helix-A for anti-submarine warfare purposes
  • Kamov Ka-31 Helix-B for airborne early warning requirements

MBDA Offers Taurus Missile System to Indian Air Force

European consortium MBDA has offered their 300 km-range Taurus stand-off missile system to the Indian Air Force (IAF) for its fighter jets such as the Su-30MKI.

"We have received a Request for Information (RFI) from the IAF for a stand-off long range missile from the IAF and we have offered the Taurus missiles as we feel that it meets all the desired requirements," Anders Axebark, the business development manager for the missile systems told a group of Indian journalists.

The Taurus air-to-ground missiles are manufactured by the Germany-based Taurus Systems GmbH, which is a joint venture between MBDA and and Swedish defence major Saab.

MBDA is a missile manufacturing firm based in Italy, Britain, France and Germany.

India is going to upgrade the first batch of its Sukhois in collaboration with Russia and is looking to enhance the capabilities of the aircraft by equipping it with new radars, long-range weapons and avionics.

Axebark said the IAF has already been briefed by the company at the Air Headquarters in New Delhi about the operational advantages that the missile would provide.

"The German Air Force is also planning to carry out a test-firing of the missile for the IAF in November at one of the field-firing ranges in South Africa," he said.

Axebark said that his company has also briefed the DRDO about the system and is looking for opportunities to co-develop anti-ship, surface to surface and transport aircraft-launched versions of the missile with the research organisation.

The Taurus GmbH is also offering the ground-launched version to the Indian Army.

The company claimed that the missile system can be used to take out hard targets such as bunkers and concrete shelters from a stand-off range of 300 km and it can track its target without using the GPS navigation system.

The MBDA has also offered its MICA and Meteor missiles to the IAF and said that they can be integrated with various types of aircraft operating in the IAF.

214 Fifth Generation Fighters, HAL Tejas Delayed, MRCA Deliveries by 2014

  • Indian Air Force has the funds for the MMRCA programme. There will be a realignment in committed liabilities and MMRCA deliveries should begin around by 2014.
  • Final operational clearance for HAL LCA Tejas has been delayed by one year.
  • Indian Air Force plans to induct the FGFA / PAK-FA as 166 single-seaters and 48 twin-seaters.
  • The Kargil runway to operate all aircraft types, including all fighters and strategic lift aircraft. The Kargil airfield will be made fully operational for Lockheed Martin C-130J, Boeing C-17s and Ilyushin Il-76s.
  • Indian Air Force will maintain 34 fighter squadrons. Squadron No. 17 will be phased out.
  • First four Mil Mi-17-V5s delivered last week. More deliveries expected in the coming days. By March 2012, the Indian Air Force will have 25 units and they will be based at Suratgarh.
  • Six additional Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules ordered. These will be based in the eastern theatre.

Russia to provide additional 42 Sukhoi fighters to India

An additional 42 Sukhoi frontline fighters will be provided to India by Russia under an agreement inked between the two sides during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit in Moscow.

With this pact, the total number of acquired or contracted aircraft by India in various stages of manufacture of the frontline Su-30 MKI fighters would increase to 272. The agreement for the upgraded Sukhois was signed by Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Director MA Dmitriev in the presence of Prime Minister Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev after their talks at the 12th annual Indo-Russian Summit at the Kremlin on Friday.

The pact, which was among the five agreements initialled between the two countries, came against the backdrop of a crash of an Indian Air Force's Sukhoi-30 near Pune.

The mishap, in which the two pilots ejected safely, raised some technical questions and also led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 120 planes pending investigations. An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and a general contract were signed in 2000 for the manufacture of 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft by HAL.

A 2007 protocol envisaged manufacture of a further 40 aircraft. Earlier, 50 Su-30 aircraft were purchased in phases prior to signing of IGA and deliveries started in the late 90s. The latest version is expected to include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and certain stealth features to avoid radar detection.

Significantly, the upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKIs will be able to carry a heavier weapons load, especially the airborne version of the Brahmos cruise missile. The first delivery of the upgraded Sukhois is expected in 2014 and the last by 2018.

Dassault Rafale is the winner of USD 10.4 billion Indian Air Force M-MRCA Deal

French company Dassault Aviation's Rafale has won the $10.4 billion deal to supply 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to the Indian Air Force (IAF). According to sources, Rafale won the multi-billion dollar deal as it was found to be similar to the French Mirage 2000 fighter jet, which is already being operated by the IAF.

Rafale beat the Eurofighter Typhoon to bag the deal. Rafale was preferred as its commercial bid was lower than Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter bid was backed by four partner nations - Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The IAF will buy the first 18 aircraft off the shelf while the other 118 will be manufactured in partnership with an Indian company.

The IAF had invited bids from military aviation majors to supply 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraf for which six contenders - Russia's MIG- 35, USA's F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin), F-18 Hornet (Boeing), Swedish Saab Gripen, European EADS EuroFighter Typhoon and Rafale.

Following lengthy field trials the Typhoon and Rafale were shortlisted while the rest were rejected as they failed to meet the technical qualifications specified by the IAF.

Russia to Field Air-Launched Missiles for Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA by 2014

Russia will complete development of advanced tactical air-launched missile systems for the Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter within the next two years, the head of the Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV), Boris Obnosov, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

"The development of Kh-35UE (AS-20 Kayak), Kh-38ME, Kh-58UShKE (AS-11 Kilter), and RVV-MD (AA-11 Archer) class missiles will be completed in 2012-2013," Obnosov said, adding the missiles were currently being tested.

By the time the T-50 fighter enters service with the Russian Air Force in 2014, its missile systems will be fully operational, Obnosov said.

Some of the missiles intended for the fighters -- such as Kh-31PD (AS-17 Mod 2) class missiles -- have already been tested using Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback) fourth-generation strike aircraft and put into serial production, he added.

The Kh-35UE tactical anti-ship missile has a maximum range of 260 kilometers; the supersonic Kh-31PD anti-radiation missile for use against air defense systems, can fly up to 250 kilometers; the Kh-58UShKE missile, designed to destroy pulse radars, can hit targets within 245 kilometers, and the short-range RVV-MD air-to-air missile has a maximum range of 40 kilometers.

The T-50, developed under the PAK FA (Future Aviation System for Tactical Air Force) program by the Sukhoi OKB, is Russia's first new major warplane designed since the fall of the Soviet Union. The jet made its maiden flight in January 2011 and two prototypes have since been undergoing flight tests.

India not sign MRCA deal this financial year

Dassault Aviation's fighter jet Rafale has emerged as India's choice in the 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) competition. The deal is estimated to be worth USD 10.4 billion making it one of the largest defense deals in the world.

We were among the first to report the story which has been confirmed by various mainstream media houses in India and France. The French President Nicholas Sarkozy welcomed the news as it was confirmed by a Dassault Aviation press release.

However Indian Defence Minister Mr. A.K. Anthony told reporters that this deal would not be signed in the current financial year (April 2011 to March 2012)

"Not this financial year"
-- Defence Minister A.K. Antony replying to Reuters

It will, however, soon be announced that Rafale has emerged as the lowest bidder.

In addition to the 126, an order for another 80 is a possibility which will keep the Dassault Rafale production lines active for nearly a decade.

The U.S. company Lockheed Martin has kept alive hopes of selling its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to India. One defense ministry source with knowledge of the negotiations said the life-time cost of the tender including training and maintenance may reach $15 billion. Previous estimates put the cost around $11 billion.

The defense ministry source said each Rafale was $4 million to $5 million cheaper than its rival and the plane was preferred by the Air Force.

"Unit-wise, the French plane is much cheaper than the Eurofighter. Moreover, the Indian Airforce, which is well-equipped with French fighters, is favoring the French fighter," said the source, who asked not be named.