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.

DRDO delivers 5 Daksh ROVs

The first batch of five remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Daksh, designed and developed by Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) [R&DE (E)], Pune, was handed over to Maj Gen Rakesh Bassi, SM, Director General Combat Engineers, by Shri S Sundaresh, DS and CC R&D (ACE&SI), DRDO, in a flagging off ceremony held on 19 December 2011 at R&DE (E).

A limited-series-production order for 20 Daksh has been placed by the Indian Army after extensive trials, testing and acceptance.

Daksh, a state-of-the-art ROV, will be an invaluable asset for Bomb Disposal Units of the Army, Police and Paramilitary Forces for handling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and hazardous objects. It is the first indigenously developed unmanned vehicle or mobile-robot in the country.

Maj Gen Bassi said that it is an excellent effort made by DRDO and congratulated the Robotics Group of R&DE (E) for their tireless efforts. He added that the users will exploit the full potential of the system.

Shri Sundaresh, in his address brought out the importance of Daksh and added that future battlefields will prominently contain different unmanned ground vehicles. Dr S Guruprasad, Director, R&DE (E), said that the system has been trial-evaluated by the Indian Army and proven at various locations.

The technology has been transferred for production to three firms, viz., M/s Dynalog (I) Ltd, M/s Theta Controls and M/s Bharat Electronics Ltd.

Shri Alok Mukherjee, Project Director, Daksh, gave a brief account of the developmental efforts put in by the scientists and engineers from concept to production stages and said that the development was a joint effort with active participation of the industry right from its inception.

United States has not offered F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to India: Pentagon

Press Trust of India has quoted Pentagon spokesperson Commander Leslie Hullryde confirming that, contrary to press reports, the United States has not made available Lockheed Martin's advanced, fifth generation fighter jet F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to India.

However, it was noted that should India express an interest, the United States would submit technical information and initiate a discussion.

"Should India indicate interest in purchasing the JSF, the United States would be prepared to provide information on the JSF and its requirements (infrastructure, security, etc) to support India's future planning"

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; one is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant.

The F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. JSF development is being principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom and other partner governments providing additional funding. The partner nations are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. The F-35 took its first flight on 15 December 2006.

BAE Systems to deliver 145 M777 Ultra Light Howitzers to the Indian Army

The Defence Ministry on Friday cleared a Rs 3000 crore deal to buy 145 M777 ultra light howitzers from the USA defence manufacturer BAE Systems.

The M777 artillery guns are essentially used in the mountains. These guns are air transportable and are currently used in Afghanistan by the US Army where their performance has been commendable.

India will procure the M777 howitzers from the US through the Foreign Military Sale program. The M777 is a 155mm 39 calibre towed gun and is the world's first 155mm howitzer weighing less than 10000 lbs (4218 kg). The M777 can fire 5 rounds per minute and its firing range is about 30 km maximum.

The US and Canada are currently using the howitzers. This gun has also a digital fire control system. The US Marine Corps and US Army inducted the M777 for the first time in November 2002.

The M777 matches the firepower of current generation 155 mm towed systems at less than half the weight. The howitzer is equipped with a 39-calibre barrel. The muzzle velocity (at Charge 8 super) is 827m/s.

The lighter weight and smaller size allows the M777 to be transported by USMC MV-22 Osprey, CH-47 helicopter or truck with ease, so that it can be moved in and out of the battlefield more quickly than the M198. The smaller size also improves storage and transport efficiency in military warehouses and air/naval transport.

The gun crew required is an operational minimum of 5, compared to a previous size of 9. It was first fielded in Iraq in May 2007 and in Afghanistan in February 2008. The M777 can be transported by helicopter, transporter aircraft and ship.

The M777 is equipped with two wheels. When the M777 is in the firing position, a firing platform is lowered to the ground under the forward part of the carriage and the wheels are raised clear of the ground.

It uses a digital fire-control system similar to that found on self propelled howitzers such as the M109A6 Paladin to provide navigation, pointing and self-location, allowing it to be put into action more quickly than earlier towed and air-transported howitzers.

India takes up AWACS programme for air superiority

India has just taken up development of the Rs 6,000 crore Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) that will have the capability to penetrate "longer distances" enemy territory by way of radars and electronic warfare systems without venturing into the region physically, a top defence official said on Friday.

Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, Secretary in the Department of Defence (R&D) and Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) VK Saraswat said DRDO just started the programme, after clearance from the government recently.

Asked how it's different from the indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system, he said: "AWACS is a heavier and high endurance system, which can give you in terms of coverage about 360 degrees as against AEW&C which is about 270 degree coverage."

In addition, (compared to AEW&C) AWACS flies at a higher altitude and it can penetrate into the enemy territory - not physically - (but) by way of radars and EW (electronic warfare) systems to longer distances and it can be in sky for larger durations, besides giving better visibility.

Both has a role. All over the world, people have AEW&C and AWACS in a tandem mode because each one does its role and that's what our country is also doing", Saraswat said.

He said two AEW&C aircraft would be ready this year, adding, "By 2014, we will complete delivery of all the three aircraft (AEW&C) to Indian Air Force".

Meanwhile, Saraswat also said that the DRDO has conducted a flight of "guided bomb". "It's a bomb which can fly for about 40-50 or even more kilometres in a guided mode and it can be released from an aircraft," he said

He said the guided bomb is a totally indigenous effort, from designing, development and realisation including explosive content in them, as also guidance and control.

China mulls buying Russian submarines

State arms exporter Rosoboronexport has signed a framework agreement
with China on the joint development and construction of four non-nuclear
Amur-1650 conventional submarines for the Chinese Navy, a news report
said Thursday.

The final contract is tentatively worth $2 billion and is expected to be signed
by the parties no earlier than 2015, Kommersant reported.

The agreement stipulates for two of the submarines to be built in Russia and
two in China, with special provisions in place in the contract to ensure that no
intellectual property is copied from the Russian side, a source close to
Rosoboronexport told the business daily.

An additional agreement for the first stage of work could be signed by the end
of the year, he said, adding that a Russian contractor had not yet been selected
for construction of the submarines.

China may become the first buyer of the Amur-1650 submarines, beating out
India and Venezuela, both of which previously expressed interest, Kommersant

Another source close to the arms exporter said the submarine contract "is very
important for Russia and tops the presidential list of projects with China."

WZ-10 armed helicopters in flight training

An army aviation brigade under the Nanjing Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People's
Liberation Army (PLA) organizes a helicopter flight training, in a bid to temper the tactical skills of the pilots and the helicopter operation-and-control capability.

Cheng Jianzhong, chief of staff of an army aviation brigade under the Nanjing Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), is China's first batch of super-level pilots of WZ-10, first batch of all-weather pilots of WZ-10, and also the first batch of pilots who completed the fire test with WZ-10's all kinds of weapon systems.

China's First Heavy Transporter Y-20 Takes Off

The prototype of China's first indigenously-developed heavy transport aircraft, Y-20, takes off from an unidentified airport for its first test flight Saturday afternoon, January 26, 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]

China began test flights Saturday for the prototype of its first indigenously-developed heavy transport aircraft, Y-20, a craft similar in size to the Russian IL-76 and somewhat smaller than the U.S. C-17.

The plane took off at around 2:00pm, according to CCTV News. But it didn't specify where the test was conducted.

The Y-20 program is part of an effort to develop an indigenous long-range jet-powered heavy transport aircraft, a top priority in China's "Medium- and Long-Term National Science and Technology Development Program (2006-20)" (MLP).

Y-20 is developed by Xian Aircraft Industry, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country's leading military aircraft maker.

Earlier reports said it's able to accommodate most large PLA combat and support vehicles, including the Type 99 series tanks, with a capacity to carry up to 66 tons of goods.

Modernisation of Chinese Navy a ‘major concern’: Navy Chief

Expressing great concern at the rapid modernisation of the Chinese Navy, Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi on Monday clarified that India’s interests in the disputed South China Sea will be protected at all costs.
“Yes you are right. The modernisation (of Chinese Navy) is truly impressive… It is actually a major major cause of concern for us, which we continuously evaluate and work out our options and our strategies,” he told a press conference.
The Navy Chief was replying to a question on contingencies in South China Sea to protect Indian interests there and impression about the Chinese Navy’s modernisation.
Answering a volley of questions about South China Sea over which India had a tiff with China in 2011, he said although India’s presence in that maritime region was not on
“very very frequent” basis, it had interests like free navigation and exploitation of natural resources there.
“Not that we expect to be in those waters very very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where country’s interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that. Are we holding exercises for that nature? The short answer is yes,” Joshi said.
Talking about Indian interests in the South China Sea, he said the first of it included freedom of navigation.
“Not only us, but everyone is of the view that they have  to be resolved by the parties concerned, aligned with the international regime, which is outlined in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that is our first requirement,” he said.

Manoeuvrable version of BrahMos successfully test-fired

In a move to further sharpening the defence arsenal, India on Wednesday successfully test-fired a highly manoeuvrable version of BrahMos from a naval warship off the coast of Vishakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal.
The 290-km range supersonic missile is capable of ripping its target with sheer accuracy, officials say.
This is the 34th launch of BrahMos after the successful October launch from INS Teg in the Arabian Sea.
“At 9.30 am, the missile blasted off in a pre-designated war scenario taking a ‘double- manoeuvre in S-form’ hitting the designated target ship just one meter above water line. The sheer velocity and power of hit made the missile rip through the ship’s hull,” BrahMos Aerospace CEO A Sivathanu Pillai said.
The BrahMos missile system was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2005 when it began arming the Rajput-class guided missile destroyers and inducted subsequently in many warships.
BrahMos is capable of acquiring data not only from the American GPS but also from Russian GLONASS satellite systems also, which ensures double redundancy.
In the last stage, the seeker takes over and the target is located with accuracy of few meters which ensures no chances of survival for the target. “This has been proved once again on Wednesday and with bull’s eye accuracy,” officials said.
Defence Minister AK Antony congratulated the warship commander and Indian Navy and BrahMos team for the demonstration of capabilities, they said.

Agni V gets Chinese media talking about Indian military strength

The display of India’s military strength, specially the intercontinental ballistic missile Agni-V, has been highlighted by Chinese official media in Beijing on Saturday.
The highlight of the 100-minute Republic Day parade was the display of nuclear-capable Agni-V, capable of striking targets some 6,000 km away, State-run Xinhua news agency said in its report.
Agni V’s test in April last year evoked interest in China as it, for the first time, brought in its range far off Chinese cities.
China too has its ICBMs that could reach nooks and corners of India.
The test put India in the elitist club of countries with intercontinental missiles which included the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, the Xinhua report said.
It said that along with the missile, the domestically designed Arjun main battle tank, supersonic cruise missile Brahmos, Pinaka multi- barrel rocket launcher, a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) warfare reconnaissance vehicle, a bridge-laying tank and a mobile integrated network terminal system were also paraded during the event.
The Dhruv advanced light helicopter of the Indian Army, the “eye in the sky” atop an Embraer 145 airborne early warning and control aircraft of the Indian Air Force were also shown besides Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter, the report said.
China-India bilateral ties, including the defence relations were on upswing in recent years.
While the Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie made a rare visit to India last year, the militaries of the two countries this year decided to resume military exercises.
For the first time two countries have decided to scale up their defence engagement to all the three forces-Army, Navy and Air Force.

Final trials for INS Vikramaditya

New DelhiINS Vikramditya - India's second aircraft carrier- is back on its feet. Three of the ship's eight boilers that had malfunctioned during trials in last year have been "opened up and set right," a senior Navy official told NDTV.

Originally built as the Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Union, the $2.3 billion (about Rs. 12,500 crore) aircraft carrier is being refurbished by Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter for India, its biggest customer.

The induction of the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier that can carry about 30-odd aircraft was delayed by almost a year, leading to a severe reprimand by Defence Minister AK Antony in October.
Sources told NDTV that the problems in the ship's boilers had surfaced when the aircraft was pushed to perform at speeds over 26-27 knots per hour. The INS Vikramaditya can do a maximum of about 28 Knots per hour. The Sevmash shipyard in Russia which is refurbishing and refitting the aircraft carrier hasn't officially informed India about the possible reason for the malfunction of the boilers.

In sea trials last year, the ship sailed for 100 days and its flight deck - the most critical part of an aircraft carrier - is operational, senior officials told NDTV. 

The MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter jet will be positioned on the Vikramaditya. It will be equipped with Russian-made KH-35 air to air missiles.

But because the seas in Northern Russia are frozen, the INS Vikramaditya can sail out of the port only in June this year for "delivery acceptance trials" - the penultimate stage before a ship is commissioned.

On acceptance of the ship from the builder, it will be formally commissioned with the Indian tri-colour being hoisted on top of ship after which start its journey to towards India.

The Navy intends to commission the ship in Russia and sail it back to India by October- November 2013. It is expected to join active service by December.

Interestingly, the Indian Navy will showcase the aircraft carrier on January 26 at Republic Day parade in New Delhi. The Navy tableau will include a scaled-down model of the INS Vikramaditya.