Monday, 26 November 2012

Tejas Mk.2 Build Begins

Finally, HAL has begun the process to build the first Tejas Mk.2 air force prototype, envisioned as a slightly larger but much more capable fighter than the floundering Tejas Mk.1. On November 19, HAL's Aircraft Research & Design Centre (ARDC) floated the first of many requirements for raw materials -- alloys and such -- for the first Tejas Mk.2 (first pictures) prototype vehicle and other assemblies. More requirements will be put out over the next few weeks.

HAL is looking to put the Mk.2, powered by the General Electric F414-GE-INS6 turbofan engine, into the air in 2014. The highly anticipated Mk.2 programme will cost at least $542.44-million (Rs 2431.55-crore), comprising full scale engineering development. The IAF has put down an official requirement for 83 of the Mk.2s. Working on a detailed post on the Mk.2. No timeframe, though!

Frigate INS Tarkash Joins Indian Navy

Navy Statement: INS Tarkash, the second of the three stealth Frigates constructed at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad Russia, has been commissioned and inducted into the Indian Navy by Vice Admiral Shekhar Kumar Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command on 09 November 2012 at Kaliningrad, Russia. The array of weapons and sensors onboard the ship include the supersonic Brahmos missile system, advanced Surface to Air missile system, upgraded 100mm medium range gun, optically controlled 30 mm Close-in Weapon System, Torpedoes, Rocket Launchers and advanced Electronic Warfare/Communication suite. The ship is commanded by Captain Antony George, an ‘Anti Submarine Warfare’ specialist. The ship will join the Western Fleet of the Indian Navy by December end, this year.

MHA tells CRPF to opt for global tenders too on UAV

Union Home Ministry has advised the CRPF to buy the best available unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through global tendering instead of solely relying on public sector major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for procurement of the spying machines that are being used in anti-Naxal operations in the affected States.

At a review meeting of the CRPF recently, Union Home Secretary RK Singh stressed on the need to have a UAV plan and emphasized that “by having our own UAVs, we will be able to reduce dependency on NTRO/Indian Air Force.”

“CRPF should carry out the evaluation considering all relevant factors such as resolution, ceiling, payload, flight time, night vision, functionality, projectile requirement and also the topography of the area in which thee UAVs are likely to be deployed,” Singh told the top brass of the paramilitary.
Singh agreed to a CRPF proposal seeking authorization-cum-provision sanction for procurement of 10 mini UAVs besides expenditure sanction for purchase of two Skylark mini UAVs.
On a CRPF proposal to wet lease two Dauphin SA 365N helicopters from public sector undertaking Pawan Hans, the Home Secretary directed the Naxal Management division of the ministry to put up the case for approval. Singh also told the paramilitary officials that two helicopters are being provided to the Union Home Ministry by the Air Force and the same can be made available to the CRPF.

Singh also directed the police modernization division to put up the case for grant of sanction for authorization and expenditure for procurement of about 1300 motorcycles for elite anti-Naxal CoBRA B    attalions besides an additional 760 vehicles for the intelligence set up of the CRPF.
Union Home Ministry is also examining a proposal for procurement of about 500 hand-held satellite phones, 800 GPS-enabled personal tracker kits and 83 laptops for remaining Deputy Inspectors General. Singh also told the CRPF brass that the proposal for extending the eligibility for award of police (Antrik Suraksha Seva) Padak is being expeditiously processed by the Ministry.

DRDO conducts trials of Akashdeep aerostat

The DRDO has successfully tested its Akashdeep medium sized aerostat system, indigenously designed and built by the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), Agra, at the IIT Kanpur airstrip. The indigenously developed components on the high endurance surveillance system–the IAF requires more than 20–includes high performance PU Coated Nylon fabrics, Aerostat Balloon, Electro-Optical Tether, Electro-Hydraulic Control System, Smart-Active Pressure Control System, Helium Gas Management System and other systems.

According to the DRDO, “The prime objective of trials at IIT, Kanpur, to demonstrate endurance of the system constantly for five days at an altitude of one km without Helium top-up. The other objectives were improvising of integration methodologies to reduce integration time, testing of the new balloon, inflation using improved and modified Aerostat inflation safety net assembly and validation of dynamic stability data through instrumentation.” The IAF currently operates IAI/ELTA aerostatus for surveillance, but has expressed interest in the Indian programme as well.

Much-hyped air show fails to take off

A fleeting fly-past of the Sukhoi 30s and absence of the much loved Suryakiran dampened the spirits of people who had flocked the surrounding areas of the airport at Sonegaon to watch the air show organized by the Air Force Maintenance Command on Sunday.

Many terraces in the vicinity of the airport had turned into picnic spots as people gathered along with their friends and families to watch the much-awaited air show which they later dubbed as ‘flop show’. For many of them it turned out to be a get-together sans excitement.

The only thing which people could witness in the name of the ‘air show’ was a brief sighting of the Sukhoi aircraft which had arrived from Pune for the fly past. “It did not last even for a few minutes! I didn’t even realize when the planes flew over us like three huge birds,” said CV Raghav, a student.
The Sukhoi 30s, which were supposed to perform two sorties, had to abandon the second one due to miscalculations regarding fuel consumption, said an IAF source. “Due to domestic air traffic congestion, the aircraft was required to use up more fuel on way back to Pune,” the source said.
Some of the people were dejected as their expectations had skyrocketed after the publicity given to the event. “It was a flop show! Since there was so much hype in the media, we had organized a get-together on the terrace for our relatives who had come from Raipur and Amravati especially for the show. In the end, it was really embarrassing,” said Anand Joshi, a resident of Sonegaon.
Joshi added that even before they could realize what was happening, the show had ended. “We knew that Suryakiran aircraft were not going to be there. But we had read that Sukhoi and Jaguar would be coming along with the Akashganga team. The Jaguar couldn’t make it while the Sukhoi aircraft flew past us in a few seconds. We could only see the Akashganga troop descending,” he said.
Even though people outside weren’t lucky enough, the invited guests saw the Air Force drill team performing for the first time in the city. A team of 27 airmen swung the .303 rifles with bayonets fixed to them.

Nagpur: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will take over the spillover work of overhauling Sukhoi 30s, the fastest jet currently in its pack, from public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL). The number of aircraft in IAF’s fleet being more than HAL’s capacity, efficient maintenance of this aircraft by the PSU has been hampered, say sources.

A special cell will be created at one of the base repair depots under IAF’s maintenance command for the job. The work will have to be divided due to a large number of Sukhois with the IAF. This will ensure efficient maintenance and overhaul of the aircraft, said Air-Officer-Commander-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of the Maintenance Command Air Marshall Jagdish Chandra. He was speaking to newspersons on the sidelines of the air show by the command on Sunday. Both HAL and IAF will coordinate in the job, he said.

There were reports of HAL not being able to fully cater to the maintenance of this aircraft, which has to undergo overhaul after every 1,500 hours of flying or 10 years of use. Currently, IAF has around 150 Sukhois. The planes were inducted from Russia in 1997 and are presently being made by HAL under a production licence.

AMCA yet to take off from drawing board

In a recent Interview Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne said to an aviation magazine, that AMCA India’s homegrown fifth generation fighter aircraft is still to take off from the drawing board and still at feasibility study stage.

AMCA will be developed has Multirole aircraft medium weight 5th generation aircraft with stealth technology will be able to super cruise with advanced avionics and sensors had earlier mentioned that Agencies are working on two or three AMCA designs and Model shown in Aero India 2011 was just one of the model .

ASR issued by Indian air force last year , pretty much stressed high on Stealth characters of the aircraft which has lead to considerable changes in the original design , Air chief also mentioned that Engines , Avionics and designs itself , and the technology partners for the program  has not been finalised yet .

Sources have told that Tejas MK-II will carry many of the 5th generation technology; advance variant of this will later find its way into AMCA, first Tejas MK-II aircraft according to sources will be ready by end of 2013 or early 2014 and will have its first flight in end of 2014 .
Work on Design aspect of Tejas MK-II is complete and F414-GE-INS6 engine will power the Mk II version, Tejas MK-II is one meter longer then Tejas MK-I , and will have a stretched nose and larger section behind cockpit for incorporating avionics components.  Aircraft will be able to carry 1000 kg more on the external stores more than current 4000 kg carried by Tejas MK-I.

Nehru’s ambition to become world hero responsible for 1962 Himalayan blunder: Tipnis

“Former Prime Minister (PM) of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru’s ambition to become world hero, had surrendered the national security interest during 1962 Indo-China war,” said Air Chief Marshal Anil Y tipnis, former chief of Indian Air Force (IAF).Tipnis was in Chandigarh on Sunday to preside over a seminar on “India and China: After 5 decades of Sino-India War” organized by centre for security and strategy. Further referring the role of Nehru during the Indo-China war and his “failure” to act on prior information about Chinese intention, Tipnis said that the results of the war reflects his Inability to read writings on wall”. He added that the then political head of the nation must have stepped down because Indian troops were not having basic clothing and weapon and it was really shocking “how they ordered them to loose the war”.

Speaking on the issue, former army Chief, General V P Malik said that Nehru was the single face of India as far as foreign affairs were concerned at that time and his ‘Forward policy’ during the war was without application of mind because it was ordered without accessing our own strength, capabilities of air power and building infrastructure for the troops.
General Malik also rubbished Nehru statement made at that time on Indo-China war in Srilanka that “he has ordered his army to throw them (chinese) out “.

Malik added that the then home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had informed the government through a letter on November 7, 1950 about that the Chinese government is trying to delude us by professions of peaceful intentions but the letter was kept locked for 12 years.
General Malik termed the decision of not using air force at that time as “Unforgettable error of judgment”.

Malik also criticised the statement of Nehru made in 1962 that India is in better position in Ladakh region while the GOC of 15 corps, who was responsible for the security of Ladakh region, Lt Gen S D Verma had disagreed Nehru’s claim.
Bharat Karnad, Research Professor, Centre for Policy Research, was of the view that time has come when India should adopt the policy of Tit fo Tat with China. Karnad added that the historical experience says that ‘appeasing policy’ adopted by India for China, is not viable at present time.
He also emphasizes on spending India’s defence budget on developing strategic capabilities like what China is doing.

Former high commissioner of India to Pakistan, G Parthasarathy was of the view that for China, morality does not matter and the time has come when India need to be very firm with China. Speaking on the ocassion, Security analyst Ram Madhav said that the strategic culture in the country needs to be developed. Organiser of the seminar, former Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab, P C Dogra introduced the audience about the topic and the speakers.

ISRO eyes a 6-tonne ‘K {-a}’ band satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to foray into the powerful and high-throughput world of ‘K{-a}’band satellites by importing a six-tonne satellite, building one itself, or both.

It is looking at packing in 100 beams in a ‘next generation’ satellite compared to its regular 40, a senior ISRO associate and satellite expert said. It is testing the market to find a seller who could make it in the next 2 to 3 years as also be a partner in building such an indigenous satellite. It could take ISRO at least five years to work on it from scratch.
ISRO has assembled all its communications and Earth observation satellites in-house for some decades now. “We are trying out a different and twin-pronged approach here,” he said.
ISRO Satellite Centre or ISAC, the satellite assembly centre in Bangalore, earlier this month invited expressions of interest from global satellite manufacturers ‘for design, development, fabrication and operationalisation’ of a 6-tonne K{-a}-band spacecraft. It would weigh almost double the size of the biggest that ISRO has produced so far.
Experts say the K{-a}band will allow higher and faster data transmission on the Internet by at least two or three times what ISRO satellites now offer; and that it will suit VSAT operators who support this traffic.

“K{-a}band is the future, the world is moving towards it and if we don’t get in now, we will be left behind,” the scientist told The Hindu . “We have started building a six-tonne satellite at ISRO facilities, but it will take time.”
In 2010, ISRO sent up GSAT-4 with a K{-a}band transponder. However, its homegrown GSLV launcher failed. The next one, GSAT-11, is at least two years away.
The same year, it also built a K{-a}-band satellite, called HYLAS-1 (or Highly Advanced Satellite) for a fee for British operator Avanti in a tie-up with Europe’s Astrium.
A K{-a}band transponder can accommodate far more users more efficiently than ISRO’s older Ku band satellites, one of them said. However, a disadvantage was ‘rain fade’ or disturbed transmission during rain.

The latest exercise comes at a time when ISRO is desperately augmenting its satellite capacity by leasing foreign satellites partially or fully.

Indian Coast Guard Ship H-189 Commissioned

DSC_0135 by Chindits

Indian Coast Guard Ship H-189, the third of the series of twelve Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) designed and built by M/s Griffon Hoverworks Limited (GHL), UK was commissioned today at Mumbai by Vice Admiral SK Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command.
The 21 metres long Air Cushion Vehicle with 31 tonnes displacement can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots. The ACV is capable of undertaking multi-farious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and rendering assistance to small boats/craft in distress at sea. With the commissioning of H-189, the force level of ICG has gone up to 77 ships & boats and with the planned inductions the force level would be doubling by 2018.
The Air Cushion Vehicle H-189 will be based at Okha under the Administrative and Operational Control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (North-West). The hovercraft is commanded by Commandant Yogesh Dutta and has a crew of 02 Officers and 11 Enrolled Personnel.
The commissioning ceremony was witnessed by Inspector General SPS Basara, Commander Coast Guard Region (West), DIG BS Yadav, Commander Coast Guard Region (North-West) and other dignitaries from Central and State Government

Army scuttles Arjun trials to push through T-90 purchase

Top army generals are undermining India’s Arjun tank to push through a Rs 10,000 crore order for T-90MS tanks from Russia. Senior defence ministry (MoD) sources tell Business Standard that Arjun trials, proposed for the plains of Punjab, are being scuttled to prevent any high-profile Arjun success from jeopardising the import of more T-90s from Russia.
A proposal from the tank directorate for Arjun trials in Punjab has been placed on the backburner after instructions from the Military Operations (MO) Directorate. The powerful MO Directorate, more than any other branch of the army, deals directly with the army chief.
At stake here is the Rs 10,000 crore purchase of 354 new T-90MS tanks for six tank regiments for the China border. Business Standard had first reported the raising of these regiments (Sept 17, 2012, “In a first, Indian tank brigades to defend China border”). In the proposal that the government is considering for two tank brigades and a mountain strike corps, the army has put in the cost of 354 T-90MS tanks.
These new tanks will supplement the 1657 Russian T-90S, and 2414 T-72M tanks already deployed on the Pakistan border. So far, there are just 128 Arjun tanks in service, with an order for another 118 in the pipeline.
Contacted for comments, the Indian Army denies that the MO Directorate is blocking any trials.
Even as the Arjun tank --- developed in India by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) --- outperforms the T-90 in comparative trials held by the army, support for Russian tanks inexplicably grows. With the Arjun’s performance established, the army is now arguing that the 60-tonne Arjun is too heavy for the soft soil of Punjab and J&K; it must therefore be confined to the deserts of Rajasthan. That would mean that only 4-6 of the army’s 65 tank regiments can operate the Arjun tank.
The DRDO rebuts this logic, as do the tank units that actually operate the Arjun. “The Arjun’s heavier weight is distributed over a larger area because of its larger tracks. Its “nominal ground pressure” is lower than the Russian tanks. So the Arjun can actually move more easily in Punjab,” says S Sundaresh, the DRDO’s Chief Controller of R&D for armoured vehicles.
This is validated by history, says Lieutenant General (Retired) RM Vohra, who won a Mahavir Chakra in the 1971 war while commanding 4 HORSE, a tank regiment equipped with Centurion tanks. He says the 42-tonne Pakistani Patton M-48 tanks got mired in the soft soil of Asal Uttar, in Punjab, while the 51-tonne Centurion moved around that battlefield easily.
The T-90MS, a new, upgraded version of the T-90S that India bought in 2001, is regarded as well suited for the extreme cold of Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where the two new armoured brigades will operate. The Arjun, in contrast, is designed to withstand the heat of the Indian plains, where the T-90S has repeatedly malfunctioned in high temperatures. The T-90S now being built under license at the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, near Chennai, have proved less reliable than the Russia-built T-90S that were delivered initially.
“The army is justified in wanting the T-90MS for the China border. But it is wrong in scuttling the induction of the Arjun in Punjab and J&K. The Arjun must be given a fair chance. How can a Russian tank be given preference over an Indian one?” says a senior armoured corps general who is still in service.
The six tank regiments being bought for the China border will be divided between two armoured brigades, one located in Ladakh, and the other one in the north-east. Both sectors have valleys and plateaus in which China could attack with tanks. The new tank formation will safeguard these approaches and also provide a retaliatory capability in case of Chinese attack.
Business Standard, 26th Nov 12

The Legend Of Liao Ning 16

Within just two months of being commissioned, the Liao Ning (pennant no 16)—the   PLA Navy’s (PLAN) first aircraft carrier—on November 25 both received and launched its first two Shenyang Aircraft Corp-built J-15 combat aircraft (clones of the Su-33). It was on September 25, 2012 that China had commissioned the Liao Ning, which will primarily be used for testing purposes but it will also help defend “the interests of state sovereignty, security and development,” according to the country’s Ministry of National Defense. China’s then President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had attended the commissioning ceremony, thereby highlighting the political importance attached to the 990-feet Soviet-era vessel. 

The launch of the Liao Ning at the Dalian port made China the last of the five-member UN Security Council to own an aircraft carrier. “The delivery and commission of the Liao Ning is just a small step of China’s aircraft carrier procurement programme and there is a long way to go before we have a powerful navy,” the ship’s Commanding Officer, Rear Admiral Zhang Zheng said. “Today (September 25) will be forever remembered as the day China’s Navy has entered the era of aircraft carriers”. The Liao Ning is now being run by highly educated crew, including female sailors. Half of the commissioned officers on board hold masters or doctoral degrees, according to Mei Wen, political commissar of the aircraft carrier. The delivery of an aircraft carrier is not the end of an aircraft carrier project, especially when the carrier-based aircraft are not delivered. It is just an important result of a stage in an aircraft carrier project because the supporting weapons and carrier-based aircraft systems need to be further tested. It still needs a longer period of time for the aircraft carrier to form a joint combat effectiveness together with the aircraft carrier battle group and submarines. Generally speaking, after the aircraft carrier is delivered, it requires to undergo three preparatory stages in order to attain the status of an operational platform.
First stage: Sea Trials After Delivery: An aircraft carrier will first enter a series of sea trials lasting 18 months (after an aircraft carrier is developed for the first time) or 12 months (for follow-on vessels) after delivery to ensure that both crew and equipment meet the requirements of performing combat deployment tasks, which include loading and unloading of goods and materials and equipment, residential checks, preparation period of going to sea, tests and trial voyages before being sent back and final contract trials.

Second stage: Fine-Tuning. The period of being sent back to the shipyard after delivery, which normally lasts for several months, is a typical maintenance stage in the early phase of the whole life-cycle, aiming to amend the problems in the final tests and troubles found and postponed to be solved during trial voyages, and also to upgrade the various on-board carrier-based systems. The shipyard bearing the task after being sent back is similar to the shipyard of goods and materials and equipment because it is familiar with the aircraft carrier.

Third stage: Combat Deployment Preparation. The training for preparedness during war is the responsibility of the fleet forces command where the aircraft carrier is in, including the tests of air-defence operation system, anti-submarine warfare system, anti-ship combat system, electronic warfare system, and flying of carrier-based aircraft groups, as well as certification of the crew complement and their operational capacities. During the training period, the crew complement must accept comprehensive training to adapt to the aviation facilities of the aircraft carrier, such as the battle station exercises for dragging, rescuing and refueling, and battle station operational exercises on duty. The training and examination of operating personnel on takeoff and landing of the carrier-based aircraft are also essential. Before the new aircraft carrier enters formal service, the specialised technician personnel must conduct a comprehensive flight-deck inspection, including the distributed architecture, rigidity, strength and conditions of taking off and landing.
The Liao Ning had its weapons suite installed by April 2011. The suite includes four FL-3000N anti-missile systems each comprising a 24-missile launcher. The two metre-long FL-3000N missiles have a maximum range of 9km. Also installed for close-in air defence are twin nine-barrel variants of the Type 1130 cannon system, plus twin 18-tube countermeasures dispensers. For ASW defence, twin UDAV-1M 254mm RBU-12000 ten-tube ASW mortar launchers have been installed. Built by Russia’s ‘SPLAV’ Federal State Unitary Enterprise State Research & Production Association, the KT-153M launcher can fire two types of rounds: a decoy round (111S02) and an ASW rocket round (111CZG). The former is designed for the hydro-acoustic decoying, ensuring that an inbound active-homing torpedo is diverted. The latter is used both in a barrage mode to lay on an inbound torpedo’s trajectory a drifting mine barrage comprised of several warheads and in a depth-charge bomb mode.
Also on board is a locally developed Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS), which is used to give glidepath information to pilots in the terminal phase of landing on an aircraft carrier. IFLOLS, uses a fibre-optic ‘source’ light, projected through lenses to present a sharper, crisper light. This has enabled pilots to begin to fly ‘the ball’ further away from the ship, thereby making the transition from instrument flight to visual flight smoother. Additional improvements include better deck motion compensation due to internalisation of the mechanism. The Liao Ning on August 10, 2011 left its shipyard at Dalian Port in northeast China’s Liaoning Province after an eight-year refitting process. As it set sail, the Liaoning Provincial Maritime Safety Administration publicised a notice restricting navigation in waters off the Dalian coast, saying that vessels are forbidden from travelling through an area of sea 13--25 nautical miles wide and 22 nautical miles long in the northern Yellow Sea and Liaodong Bay from August 10 to 14, 2011.
The 323 metre-long Liao Ning will carry about 18 J-15 ‘flying shark’ heavy multi-role combat aircraft (a cloned version of the Su-33), about six Z-8K airborne early warning helicopters, and two Z-8K search-and-rescue helicopters. The vessel will also carry 2,500 tonnes of aviation fuel, allowing it to generate up to 1,000 aircraft and helicopter sorties without any replenishment. Crew complement will be 3,000. The J-15, developed and produced by the No112 Factory of Shenyang Aircraft Corp (SAC), features enlarged folding wings, strengthened landing gears with twin nose wheels, a pair of small canard foreplanes, a larger wing area to improve its low-speed handling, a shortened tail-cone to avoid tail-strike during high AoA landing, and an arrester hook. The avionics and weapons suites are both of Chinese origin. At least one Su-33 prototype (T-10K-3) was acquired from Ukraine in 2001 for airframe reverse-engineering purposes. The first J-15 prototype was assembled by SAC in 2008 and it made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, when it was powered by two Russian AL-31F turbofan engines. The first takeoff from a land-based simulated ski-jump occurred on May 6, 2010. For lead-in-fighter training for the PLAN’s aircraft carrier-based naval aviators, the FL-2000/JL-9 flying training aircraft has been modified to incorporate an arrester hook.
The Liao Ning, formerly known as the Varyag, was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role aircraft carrier of the Soviet Union. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Shipyard 444 (now Nikolayev South) in Nikolayev December 6, 1985. Design of the carrier was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau. She was launched December 4, 1988, but she was renamed Varyag in late 1990. Construction stopped by 1992, with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the vessel’s ownership was transferred to Ukraine, where the ship was laid up, unmaintained, then stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems, and was put up for auction. It was purchased at an auction for US$20 million by Chong Lot Travel Agency, a company widely believed to be a front for the PLAN. In April 1998, the then Ukrainian Trade Minister Roman Shpek announced the winning bid—US$20 million from Chong Lot Travel Agency Ltd, a small company based in China’s Hongkong SAR. The company subsequently proposed to tow the Varyag out of the Black Sea, through the Suez Canal and around southern Asia to Macau SAR, where it would moor the ship and convert it into a floating hotel and gambling parlour. It would be similar to the maritime attractions ‘Kiev’ in Tianjin and ‘Minsk’ at the Minsk World in Shenzhen. Considerable evidence suggested that the future of Varyag was linked to the PLAN and its programme to develop an aircraft carrier. Before the auction was closed, officials in Macau had warned Chong Lot that it would not be permitted to berth Varyag in the harbour. The sale was carried out anyway. Chong Lot is owned by Chin Luck (Holdings) Company of Hongkong SAR. Four of Chin Luck’s six board members lived in Yantai, China, where a major PLAN shipyard is located. Chin Luck’s Chairman then was a former career military officer with the PLA. In mid-2000, the Dutch ITC tugboat Suhaili with a Filipino crew was hired to take the Varyag under tow. Chong Lot could not get permission from Turkey to transit the dangerous Bosphorus Strait, since under the Montreux Treaty of 1936 Turkey has obligations to permit free passage, but has certain sovereignty and refusal rights. The Varyag spent 16 months under commercial tow circling in the Black Sea. High-level PRC government officials conducted negotiations in Ankara on Chong Lot’s behalf, offering to allow Chinese tourists to visit cash-strapped Turkey if the travel agency’s ship were allowed to pass through the Straits. On November 1, 2001, Turkey finally relented from its position that the vessel posed too great of a danger to the bridges of Istanbul, and allowed the transit. The Varyag was then escorted by 27 vessels, including 11 tug-boats and three pilot boats, and took six hours to transit the strait (most large ships take an hour-and-a-half). Sixteen pilots and 250 seamen were involved. At 11:45am on November 2, she completed her passage and made for Gallipoli and Çanakkale at 5.8 Knots (10.7kph). She passed through the Dardanelles without incident. On November 3, Varyag was caught in a Force 9 gale and broke adrift while passing the Greek island of Skyros. Sea-rescue workers tried to re-capture the hulk, which was drifting toward the island of Evia. The seven-member crew (three Russians, three Ukrainians and one Filipino) remained on board as six tugboats tried to reestablish their tow. After many failed attempts to re-attach the lines, a Greek Coast Guard rescue helicopter landed on Varyag and picked up four of the seven-an crew complement. One tug managed to make a line fast to the ship later in the day, but high winds severely hampered efforts by two other tugs to secure the ship. On November 6, Aries Lima (reported as both Dutch and Portuguese), a sailor from the tug Haliva Champion, died after a fall while attempting to re-attach the tow lines. On November 7, the hulk was taken back under tow and progress resumed at some 3 Knots. The Suez Canal does not permit passage of ‘dead’ ships—those without their own on-board power source—so the Varyag was towed through the Straits of Gibraltar, around the Cape of Good Hope, and through the Straits of Malacca. The tugs towing the Varyag maintained an average speed of 6 Knots (11kph) over the 15,200-nautical-mile (28,200km) journey, calling for bunkers and supplies at Piraeus, Greece; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; Maputo, Mozambique; and Singapore en route. The Varyag entered Chinese waters on February 20, 2002, and arrived on March 3 at Dalian Shipyard in northeastern China. China continued to assert that Varyag would be a casino. When Macau awarded new casino licences in February 2002, Chong Lot was not among the successful bidders. The Varyag was subsequently tied up at Dalian. The total cost of acquiring the vessel was over $30 million: $25 million to the Ukrainian government for the hull, nearly $500,000 in transit fees, and some $5 million for the towing services.

A Zinc Chromate primer was applied to the Varyag’s main deck in 2006 at Dalian. This is a primer for a non-skid surface to keep aircraft from skidding off of a carrier’s main deck. In late Arpil, 2009, the Varyag was moved from the pier in Dalian, to a dry dock about two miles distant. In 2009, at the Wuhan Naval Research Institute 711 or China Ship Design Institute, the PLAN embarked on building a full-scale deck and island mock-up of the Varyag. This included the ski-ramp and complete deck markings, the island superstructure and a complete array of sensors were added there. These fittings have been repeated in real-life on the Liao Ning itself as its island was rebuilt. Two full-size mock-up aircraft were also placed on the mock-up deck, one a Z-8 heavylift helicopter, and a strike aircraft that resembled a Su-33. On June 8, 2011 the Chief of General Staff of the PLA confirmed that China’s first aircraft carrier was under construction. On the morning of August 10, 2011 the Liao Ning began her first sea trial.

Friday, 23 November 2012

India test-fires ballistic missile interceptor

AAD concept graphic by Chindits

Signalling India’s readiness to deploy the home-grown Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system in the near future, an advanced interceptor missile destroyed an incoming target missile in a direct hit at an altitude of 15 km over the Bay of Bengal on Friday.

In Friday’s mission, missile technologists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the first time tested the configuration for destroying an incoming actual missile and another electronically simulated missile.

According to top DRDO sources, the electronically simulated target which mimicked a missile coming from a distance of 1500 km, was electronically hit at an altitude of 120 km.

Within minutes of the launch of the real attacker missile, a modified surface-to-surface Prithvi from Chandipur, the actual interceptor , Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile took off from Wheeler Island and destroyed the ‘hostile’ missile at an altitude of 15 km in the endo-atmosphere at 12.52 p.m.

As soon as target missile was launched, the Long-Range Tracking Radars and the Multi-Functional Radars tracked it and passed on the data to the guidance computer to launch the AAD, which homed on to the target missile and pulverised it.

Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat, Chief Controller, (Missiles and Strategic Systems), Avinash Chander, Associate Director, Research Centre Imarat, Sateesh Reddy and Programme Director, (AD Mission) Adalat Ali were present.

Celebrations broke out at Wheeler Island following the success of the mission, which was the eighth ballistic interceptor missile test. So far seven missions have been successful and one of them, the first one was conducted in exo-atmopshere at an altitude of 48 km in November 2006.

Keywords: Indian missile programme, interceptor missile

Two Interceptions took place:
 1) Simulate electronic (target missile -interceptor missile) at the height of 120 Km
2) Real modified Prithvi target missile and Real AAD interceptor at the height of 15 Km

Russian Officials Reveal J-31 Engine and Describe Sales to China

Russia has completed deliveries of 100 of the RD-93 engine under a framework agreement for 500

China’s recently flown second stealth fighter is powered by a pair of Russian-supplied Klimov RD-93 turbofans, AIN has learned. A large model of the design, which has been dubbed the J-31 in unofficial reports, was on display at Airshow China in Zhuhai last week, labeled as “an advanced multi-role fighter for the international defense market.” Russian officials at the show described the supply of military turbofans to China in some detail.

Speculation that the new fighter uses Russian powerplants was confirmed by Vladimir Barkovsky, deputy general director of the Russian Aircraft Corp. “MIG” and head of its engineering center named after Artyem Mikoyan. Although he mentioned certain design flaws, Barkovsky gave a generally positive general assessment for the new Avic fighter design. “It looks like a good machine, and although it obviously has some design solutions already tried on the U.S. fifth-generation fighters, it is not a copy but a well done indigenous design,” he told AIN.

Barkovsky expressed regrets over the Russian MoD’s decision not to develop a next-generation lightweight fighter, saying that it may lead to Russia losing out in this distinct market segment. RAC MiG’s most recent MiG-29M2 and its exportable derivative the MiG-35D, belong to the 4++ generation, he explained. Barkovsky further said that the Chinese fighter manufacturers have achieved notable progress with durability and reparability of their products. They have also improved their after-sales support system, which was deplorable a few years ago, he added.

Sergei Kornev, head of the aviation department of Rosonboronexport, told journalists at Airshow China 2012 that, with help from Belarussian advisors and specialized companies, the Chinese fighter manufacturers have managed to create a workable system of after-sales support. For its part, he continued, Russia has sold to China the documentation on overhaul and lifecycle support of the AL-31F series engines and helped it establish a well functioning system for keeping them serviceable.

Kornev added that during the next meeting of the Sino-Russian interstate committee for military-technical cooperation, which opened on November 21, Moscow and Beijing are expected to sign a number of agreements relating to intellectual property rights. Kornev said that this should further ease the transfer of Russian knowledge and expertise in the sphere of combat aviation and its after-sales support.

Engines account for more than 90 percent of all Russian aerospace exports to China. “In the past two years, we have signed large contracts with China for several hundred additional engines of the AL-31F, AL-31FN and D-30KP2 types. Shipments are now ongoing,” Kornev said. The D-30KP2 powers the Ilyushin Il-76 transport, while the AL-31 family powers the Su-27/30/34 series of combat aircraft, and the Chinese J-11 derivative. In addition, Russia has delivered improved performance AL-31FN Series 3 and later turbofans for China’s indigenous J-10 fighter.

Asked whether Russia has assisted China in its development of the WS-10A Tai Hang engine that is broadly similar to the AL-31F, Kornev answered that Russian specialists have not been briefed on this design and that Russia has never delivered AL-31F design documentation to China. Regarding the RD-93, which China mainly uses to power the JF-17 (FC-1) fighter, Kornev said that Russia has completed deliveries of 100 of the engine under a framework agreement for 500. Negotiations on the next batch are ongoing. “All juridical formalities regarding new sales are agreed upon; our negotiations are purely about commercial aspects, including price,” he insisted.

If Pakistan provokes, India will hit back

Islamabad should be left in no doubt that even a ‘neo-Gandhian’ Indian leadership would not sit by idly, in the event of a repeat of a 26/11-style terrorist attack Pakistan remains the focus of international attention today, primarily because of fears of its pernicious role in international terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Pakistan’s propensity for international terrorism lay exposed when Osama bin Laden was found to be living comfortably with his three wives and several children and grandchildren at the heart of the Abbotabad Cantonment. Its readiness to even resort to nuclear terrorism was earlier exposed when nuclear scientists like Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, with known links with Osama bin Laden, were detained after the 9/11 terrorist strikes and charged with helping Al Qaeda to acquire nuclear and biological weapons. Shortly thereafter, the redoubtable AQ Khan’s role in transferring nuclear weapons designs and knowhow to Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia became public, though the Americans deliberately avoided implicating Khan’s bosses in the Pakistan Army.

While concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists remain, international attention is now focused on the fact that with an arsenal of over 100 nuclear weapons, Pakistan today has the fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world, heading towards developing the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It is not however, any Pakistani General who has displayed an ability to explain why and how all this is happening. This responsibility has been left to Pakistan’s most savvy and hardnosed lady journalist-turned-diplomat Maleeha Lodi, well known for her close links with the Pakistan military establishment. Drawing attention to why Pakistan is rejecting international calls for concluding a “Fissile Material Cut off Treaty”, Ms Lodi avers that Pakistan has been seriously concerned by India’s conventional and strategic military build up. Predictably, she refers to the India-US nuclear deal and the subsequent waiver of NSG sanctions on India, as contributing to Pakistan’s accelerated development of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.

In the course of her rationalisation of Pakistan’s feverish quest for new nuclear weapons, Ms Lodi explains that after having recently acquired plutonium capabilities, Pakistan can now miniaturise its nuclear weapons, which was more difficult earlier, with heavier enriched uranium warheads. It is known that over the past one-and-a-half decades China has obligingly provided Pakistan with unsafeguarded plutonium reactors and reprocessing facilities. She avers that Pakistan is committed to developing a “full spectrum deterrence”, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons. India’s nuclear doctrine makes it clear that while it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, it will respond with nuclear weapons, if there is a nuclear attack on “Indian territory, or on Indian forces anywhere”.

Pakistan now quite obviously seeks to reserve the right to carry out terrorist attacks on India and threatens that if India responds with a conventional attack to another 26/11-style terrorist attack, Indian forces would face the use of Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons. Pakistani military officials evidently believe that India would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons, if its forces are attacked with tactical nuclear weapons. Mr George Perkovich, an American non-proliferation analyst, recently noted: “Thus far the people of South Asia have been spared the potential consequences of deterrence instability because Indian leaders have not retaliated violently to terrorist attacks on iconic targets. India’s ‘neo-Gandhian’ forbearance was counter to the prescriptions of deterrence and cannot be expected to persist as new leaders emerge in Delhi”.

While Pakistan has not formally enunciated a nuclear doctrine, the long time head of the Strategic Planning Division of its Nuclear Command Authority, Lt General Khalid Kidwai, told a team of physicists from Italy’s Landau Network in 2002 that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were “aimed solely at India”. Mr Kidwai added that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if India conquers a large part of Pakistan’s territory, or destroys a large part of Pakistan’s land and air forces.Mr Kidwai also held out the possibility of use of nuclear weapons if India tries to “economically strangle” Pakistan, or pushes it to political destabilisation. This elucidation, by the man who has been the de facto custodian of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal for over a decade and a prisoner of war in India in 1971-1973, was a precise formulation of Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. It now appears that Pakistan’s military wants to also keep open the option of mounting further Mumbai-style terrorist attacks, by threatening to lower its nuclear threshold by use of tactical nuclear weapons. Since India has no intention of wasting resources by a prolonged conflict with Pakistan or by seizing its populated centres, Pakistan should be left in no doubt that even a “neo-Gandhian” Indian leadership would not sit by idly, in the event of a repeat of a 26/11 style terrorist attack.

It is interesting that despite a large portion of Pakistan’s Army now being deployed on its borders with Afghanistan, confident that India will not take advantage of this development, the Army should be adding new facets to its nuclear doctrine, in order to keep open its options for using terrorism as an instrument of state policy, in relations with India. While the Zardari Government is sincere in seeking to improve ties with India, Pakistan today faces a situation where the Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani publicly warns the judiciary and the elected Government not to mess around in dealing with its serving or retired officers accused of corruption and manipulating elections. The sad reality is, however, that it is India that has yielded ground on terrorism continuously, after the 26/11 attack, starting with the surrender at Sharm el-Sheikh.

India resumed the composite dialogue with Pakistan in 2004, only consequent on a categorical assurance from General Pervez Musharraf that territory under Pakistan’s control would not be used for terrorism against India. India has now, in all but name, resumed the composite dialogue process, despite receiving no assurances either on an end to terrorism, or on bringing the masterminds of 26/11 to justice. The least we should have done is to insist on the centrality of action by Pakistan on terrorism, in the dialogue process. Feting its Interior Minister Rahman Malik is hardly going to make any difference in the minds of the Pakistan military, which not too long ago barred Mr Malik from entering its Headquarters in Rawalpindi. The swagger and bluster of Pakistan’s military is, however, going to depend largely on how the situation across the disputed Durand Line with Afghanistan plays out. It is on this situation that India should remain focussed.

DRDO to develop 155 mm field gun

Indian defence scientists have embarked on developing an indigenous 155 mm field gun. The project involves an investment of Rs 300-400 crore.

The ambitious project has been kick-started this year with the Armaments Research and Development Establishment as the nodal agency. The Ordnance Factories and private industry would be involved in the development and production, according to V.K. Saraswat, Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation

The indigenous gun will have better firepower, higher penetration capabilities and autonomous features. It will take a couple of years to demonstrate the first prototype version. At present the development and production partners as well as automation requirements have been identified and work is in progress, he said.

In the last 25 years, India has not produced its own field gun. The last field gun, the Bofors Howitzer, bought from the Swedish firm in the mid-1980’s, raised a big controversy. While the gun performed well in the Kargil conflict in the late 1990’s, off the battlefield it took a heavy political toll. It also resulted in no import and indigenous effort.

Further, several global vendors were blacklisted for various reasons. There are just one or two options to buy, hence it is imperative to make our own gun argues V.K. Saraswat.

In the past the defence research organisation led by the armaments establishment designed and developed the 120 mm rifle bore guns for the MBT Arjun (tanks). The last gun developed was the 105 mm type till the Bofors gun was introduced.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Looking East: First impressions of Cambodia


At first glance Phnom Penh reminds me of Imphal, capital of Manipur. The serinity, the clear blue skies, ever smiling people and pristine air, Cambodia has an uncanny resemblance to India's north-east.

And just as well. After all,  north-east is an important element in India's Look East Policy. As I have argued elsewhere, India has to fix north-east before it looks east.

Cambodia, a small but important player in ASEAN comity of nations and in East Asia, is playing host to two successive summits.

 On Monday, it will host the 10th India-ASEAN summit and the political more important East Asia Summit the next day.

As Air India One touched down at the Phnom Penh airport this afternoon, an Air China Jumbo Jet was already parked in the VIP arrival tarmac.

That, to me sums up India's predicament in South-East and East Asia: China has been a big player here much before India even began casting its eye eastward. New Delhi can only play catch up. And it is playing catch up in a big way. India thinks the right way to engage with South-east and East Asia is through trade and services.

So PM Manmohan Singh has brought with him Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who also biefed the on-board media on our way into Cambodia.

The Prime Minister also emphasised the importance India attaches to ASEAN, in a statement he made just before departing for Phnom Penh. He said: "Over the past decade, our engagement with ASEAN has become strong, comprehensive and multi-faceted. The Summit in Phnom Penh will give us an opportunity to preview and prepare an ambitious agenda for the Summit next month to take the India-ASEAN relationship to a new level. In this context, my ASEAN colleagues and I will also have the opportunity to review in Phnom Penh the recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group of India and  ASEAN.

The East Asia summit too has its own importance. With US and Russia both attending the summit as observers, Eäst Asia Summit has become an imprtant forum for all major international players to express their views on the ways to ensure security and stability in this volatile region. The on-going disputes in South and East China Seas are sure to figure in the summit meetings and the retreat to which PM Manmohan Singh and all leaders are expected to participate in Tuesday.

In his Statement the PM said: "East Asia Summit is the foremost forum for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region. This year, we are preparing to launch the negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership among ASEAN and its FTA Partners, including India. This is a giant step towards creation of an economic community in the region. This forum also serves as a useful platform for enhancing cooperation in the region and discussing regional security issues."

 On Sunday evening, The Prime Minister is expected to meet Philipinnes delegation but the real business actually begins on Monday.

For India, the time to seize the initiative in ASEAN region is now. That process may just get a big boost here in Phnom Penh over the next 48 hours.

Reporting war without media. Israel kicks up a debate

Can the armed forces, engaged in a real time conflict, also take on the role of journalists reporting the developments themselves while the battle is still being fought? This week, the Israeli Defence Forces have shown, it can do without the media by live blogging and live tweeting an attack on Hamas guerillas in the Gaza strip and uploading video of their rocket blasts to YouTube. (For a detailed analysis on what exactly the IDF did, read this:
This experiment (and thankfully for the media, it still remains an experiment), may trigger a new debate on the likely diminishing role of media in reporting conflicts across the world. With social media gaining ground and providing a readymade platform hitherto unavailable to the military, armed forces may well be tempted to direct and decide the discourse of a conflict, gradually reducing the role of the media and eventually ending it altogether.
A far-fetched scenario?
May be at the moment such a possibility looks absurd, but in the rapidly changing media landscape, it may not take too long for the military to latch on to this option and keep the media’s involvement in a conflict to a bare minimum.
For years, in fact close to two centuries in the modern war history, the media and the military have shared a love-hate relationship, each critical of the other and yet both acutely aware that neither can do without the other. Starting with William Howard Russell of the London Times, who reported the Battle of Crimea to the present day combat journos, reporting from the world’s hot spots has been one of the more glamorous and sought-after assignments in the media world.
The military has however variously regarded the media as a “necessary evil”, an “intrusive devil” and have even called media practitioners “those newly invented curse to armies who eat all the rations of the fighting man and do no work at all.” (Filed Marshal Wolsely talking about William Howard Russell!)
Even as far back as in 1863, Gen Robert Lee commented during the American War of Independence: It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command our forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor-geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I’m readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects and I’ll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials—after the fact.”

Then there are others like Gen Andrew Goodpaster, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during WW II who had a more balanced view. He had said: While there is—or should be—a natural convergence of interests in providing to the public accurate information about our armed forces and what they do, there is at the same time an inherent clash of interests (especially acute when men are fighting and dying) between military leaders responsible for success in battle and for the lives of their commands, and a media intensely competitive in providing readers and viewers with quick and vivid ‘news’ and opinion.”

The fact is: military and media continue to have an uneasy relationship despite so many decades of operating together. Military leaders have often painted a scary picture of the media. For instances, Napoleon had an occasion to say: “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

Or see what Gen Colin Powell, an American military hero and later Secretary of State once told his commanders: “Once you have all the forces moving and events have been taken care of by the commanders --turn your attention to television because you can win or lose the war if you do not handle the story right.”

In the Indian context too, the military has largely been wary of the media, the relations between the two often guided by personalities at the top rather than by an institutionalized media engagement policy. Absence of a pro-active approach has meant that the Indian armed forces are often seen to be playing “catch-up” in a crisis situation. While the Americans, singed by their bruising experience in dealing with media in Vietnam, evolved a new media engagement policy, in India, the armed forces are still struggling to come up with a coherent, responsive and in-tune-with-the-times media policy.  They are partly hampered by the archaic rules that govern their public conduct. The iron control that the MoD exercises over Service Headquarters also contributes to the flat-footed response that the armed forces come up with in their media handling.

Although of late there have been concerted efforts within the services to train and equip middle- and higher-level officers in media handling, the armed forces need to urgently review their existing policy and come up with a more modern and responsive strategy to harness media’s reach and influence.  That’s the least one should expect at the moment even as countries like Israel continue to break new ground in power and media projection.