Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Third anti-submarine warfare corvette launched in Kolkata

People cheer during the launch of Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kiltan on the Ganges river in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant

In a major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant, the third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Aimed at enhancing the Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities, the warship, in a first of its kind, will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system.
Being built by one of India’s leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island — Kiltan — in the Lakshwadweep archipelago of India. It was launched by Chitra Joshi, wife of the Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi. Admiral Joshi and Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE Rear Admiral (retd.) A.K. Verma were present.
With nearly 90% indigenisation content, the building of the corvette was a major initiative, Navy officials said.
The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by this year-end. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year.
The remaining ships, according to GRSE, will be delivered by 2016. The fourth ASW corvette will be launched in 2014 and built, fitted and tested and delivered to the Navy in little over 20 months, the officials said.
Technological landmark
While lauding the efforts of GRSE in detail designing of the ship, Admiral Joshi singled out its technological landmark, as being the first ship in the country built with a composite superstructure of carbon fibre composite material, which will be successfully integrated with the main hull. Besides reducing the top weight, it would provide improved stealth features and reduce life cycle maintenance costs.
The hull form would be highly efficient with excellent sea-keeping and manoeuvrability characteristics having an overall length of 109 metres. The ship can cut through the sea at a very high speed of 25 knots. The advanced stealth features would make it less susceptible to detection and help in effective deployment of soft kill measures.
The Navy Chief said global economic slowdown had opened up opportunities for India’s defence ship-building yards. Economic recession had led to shutdown of many companies and the surplus capacities were being shifted to emerging economies like India.
Admiral Joshi said the ultimate test would be the country’s ability to export its products.
Out of 42 orders given by the Navy, 40 were being built indigenously by public or private sector enterprises. “Today, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have huge requirement of ships and the same are required to be produced without any time and cost overrun. Timely delivery of quality ships is the need of the hour. Modern shipbuilding technology and tools must be adopted to achieve this objective,” Admiral Joshi said.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Japanese Defense Ministry may sell sea rescue aircraft to India

The Defense Ministry is considering the export of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's US-2 sea rescue aircraft to India for civilian use, it was learned Sunday.

In view of India's long history of border disputes with China, the Japanese initiative may be aimed in part at China's aggressive maritime activity.

The US-2 is an amphibious plane internationally acclaimed for its ability to land in water in bad weather.

The ministry believes that shipping the aircraft to India would not violate Japan's ban on arms exports. The US-2 is not a weapon, a senior ministry official said

India readies hi-tech naval base to keep eye on China

Slowly but steadily, India's new futuristic naval base is beginning to take concrete shape on the eastern seaboard. The strategic base, with an eye firmly on China, will eventually even have underground pens or bunkers to protect nuclear submarines both from spy satellites and enemy air attacks.

Sources said a flurry of discussions and meetings have been held in the PMO and defence ministry over the last couple of months to firm up "expansion plans'' for a base located near Rambilli called "Project Varsha" on the Andhra coast — just about 50 km from the Eastern Naval Command headquarters at Visakhapatnam — over the coming decade. 

Though it's still very early days for Project Varsha, some bill it as an answer to China's massive underground nuclear submarine base at Yalong on the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, which houses its new Shang-class SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) and the Jin-class SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear missiles). 

Although land acquisitions and incremental development work on the base under the secretive project kicked off a few years ago, it is set to take off in a major way with the construction of tunnels, jetties, depots, workshops and accommodation. "Further land acquisitions for the sprawling base to be spread over 20 sq km are now underway, with long-term budget allocations also being planned,'' said a source. 

The endeavour dovetails into the overall policy to bolster force-levels on the eastern seaboard, with new warships, aircraft and spy drones as well as forward-operating (FOBs) and operational turnaround (OTR) bases, to counter China's expanding footprint in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

Naval assets to protect India's long coastline and keep watch over the crucial trade corridors in the Indian Ocean are essential to Indian interests. The strategic value of force projection beyond the Andaman islands is seen in terms of deterrence as well given the aggressive military Chinese expansion. India's own SSBN programme is also poised to turn the corner soon with sea trials of the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant slated to begin off Visakhapatnam. INS Arihant and its three "follow-on'' SSBNs, which will complete India's elusive nuclear weapon triad since they will be armed with the `K' series of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, as well as other frontline warships will be housed at the new base. 

The Navy plans to operate at least three SSBNs and six SSNs in the long run for effective nuclear deterrence. Moreover, after inducting the 8,140-tonne INS Chakra submarine on a 10-year lease from Russia last year, India is now negotiating the lease of another such nuclear-powered Akula-II class submarine, as was earlier reported by TOI. 

Project Varsha's ambitious scale in the years ahead will rival the expansive "Project Seabird'' under which the Karwar naval base has come up in coastal Karnataka to give India both strategic depth and operational flexibility on the western seaboard against Pakistan. While Karwar will decongest the over-crowded Mumbai port, the new base will do the same for Vizag on the east. 

Karwar can currently base 11 major warships and 10 yard-craft after completion of its Phase-I at a cost of Rs 2,629 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had last year approved Rs 13,000 crore for its expansion under Phase-IIA to ensure it can berth 32 major warships and submarines by 2018-19. 

Karwar will be the home base for aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov being refitted in Russia for $2.33 billion, as well as the six French Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks for Rs 23,562 crore.

RLV airframe under construction

A winged Re-usable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air breathing propulsion towards realising a Two Stage to Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable launch vehicle.

Major highlights of RLV-TD during the year include:

mission analysis based on static test propulsion performance, updating of autopilot design
in RLV-TD ascent phase and Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (TDV) descent phase, 6D simulations through COMETS & SITARA to validate Navigation and Guidance Control (NGC) design, liftoff studies and wind turbulence studies. Guidance and Autopilot designs were modified based on simulation results.

Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (TDV) structural model was realised. Fuselage and inter stage assemblies are realised for structural testing. Flush Air Data System (FADS) (FADS is also one of the critical technologies for AMCA) test article realised and integration procedure, FADS algorithm, avionics and leak tightness for pressure pick up assembly were validated through 1:1 FADS wind tunnel test at IIT, Kanpur.

Qualification model of Radar Altimeter was realised and balloon test conducted at TIFR, Hyderabad. Carbon-carbon (C/C) laminates for nose cap were realised through a new route. Functional qualification test of Launch Hold and Release System (LHRS) with dual pyro initiation carried out with simulated interfaces. 

The testing of HS9 booster stage separation system along with hydraulic line separation system was completed successfully. High altitude test of the 2 kN retro rocket developed for jettisoning spent HS9 motor was successfully conducted at SDSC SHAR.

The Integrated Technical Review (ITR) of RLV-TD by the National Review Committee in October 2012 has concluded that launch of RLV-TD HEX-01 mission in September 2013 is feasible

Human space program Updates:

As part of pre project activities, drop test of full scale Crew Module were conducted successfully to
understand the deceleration characteristics and validate the estimated values of ‘g’ level, touchdown
velocity and depth of penetration. Scale models of Crew Module have been realised for heat transfer
studies, plasma wind tunnel tests and aero-ballistic range tests were conducted. Mortar based parachute ejection and deployment tests carried out in single and clustered configuration. Environmental simulation chamber has been realised for testing of ECLSS functional modules and flight suit systems. Flight suit has been successfully tested in vacuum chamber for leak rate assessment and material compatibility under vacuum conditions.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Focus On Priority Areas: Antony To DRDO, Pics -- Defence Investiture Ceremony

The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today complimented the top brass of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for their remarkable achievements in recent years, most notably, for Agni-5 and the BrahMos missile systems.

Inaugurating the 37th Directors’ Conference of DRDO here, Shri Antony said, these successes should not, however, make us complacent and the unfinished projects, which are in the pipeline for a very long time, should be concluded at the earliest. In this connection, he drew the attention to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project and said DRDO must not extend further the date beyond 2014, set by the DRDO Chief Dr VK Saraswat, for the Final Operational Clearance of the Tejas for induction into the Indian Air Force.

Shri Antony asked the DRDO scientists to focus on priority areas and said the ultimate test of success of the organisation lies in the satisfaction of the users i.e., the Services.

 Referring to some recent developments which have put the defence acquisition process under the scanner, Shri Antony said, such incidents highlight the need to look within and make us realise that there is absolutely no substitute to self reliance.

“If our indigenisation goals are to be realised, DRDO will have to take the lead in this regard. Other stakeholders, for instance, the Services, the Ministry of Defence and private industry in the defence sector too must cooperate to ensure quick, honest and transparent acceptance of the systems”.

He said, all the stakeholders must meet at regular intervals to undertake periodic reviews and suggest corrective action. Both DRDO and the Services must place more trust and confidence in each other’s abilities and work with close synergy. “The concept of block acceptance and spiral development that is being followed in most leading countries of the world must be embraced after due deliberations and required changes”, Shri Antony said.

Responding to the DRDO’s request for enhanced budget, Shri Antony said, allocation of funds will not be a constraint but at the same time, spending the money most judiciously and with all the transparency at our command must be your watchword. He said, continuous funding would be required for R&D to survive, but with more emphasis on indigenisation and self reliance, we would save a lot of money in the long run, although, we might have to invest more to begin with.

Others who spoke on the occasion included the Minister of State for Defence, Shri Jitendra Singh, the National Security Advisor, Shri Shiv Shankar Menon and the DRDO Chief Dr VK Saraswat.

Nation’s missile programme is not derived from our space launch vehicles

Are our missiles riding into space on launch vehicles developed for satellites? Western think tanks have long suspected that the Indian space and guided missile programmes are intertwined. But such an assumption – often fuelled by security concerns about proliferation of ballistic missiles – seems far off the trajectory when one considers the relative success of our space programme and the not-so-good record of the country’s missile development programmes.
The talk of convergence between the two programmes is based on the logic that both satellite launch vehicles and missiles deploy similar launch technology. “The basic technology may be same. However, a satellite is sent into space while a missile reaches outer space and then re-enters the earth’s atmosphere, after which it has to engage the target correctly,” pointed out Dr Ajey Lele, strategic expert at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA).
Small fraction
Dr Dinshaw Mistry of the University of Cincinnati, who has examined the extent of links between ballistic missile and space rocket programmes in regional powers, said that missiles were derived from existing space launchers in just a small fraction of cases.
“In the 1980s and early 1990s there was some convergence between the two programmes because a 9-tonne, solid-fuel rocket was used for both India’s lightweight space rocket, SLV-3, and for its Agni-I and Agni-II missiles,” Mistry said.
Since then, he said, there has been considerable divergence. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has built Agni-III systems that use 30 to 40-tonne solid-fuel systems, while the state agency has built the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with 130 to 140-tonne engines.
PSLV, which last month had its 22nd successive successful flight from Sriharikota, has emerged as the workhorse launcher of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). PSLV also launched India’s first spacecraft mission to moon, Chandrayaan-I, in 2008, and is slated to launch the country’s first interplanetary mission to the Mars later this year.
Mistry said “the space programme has been successful because it focused on one main system – PSLV – and has conducted over 20 launches of this system. The missile programme has spread its attention over more than five different missiles and, therefore, repeatedly switches time and resources among systems”.
“Traditionally, India has had space and missile development as two independent and separate programmes. We have enough technical and scientific manpower who work independently on these programmes. The talk of convergence is Western propaganda to push technology denial,” pointed out Lele.
In fact, space scientists said, ISRO’s launch programme has developed constantly under technology-denial regimes after the first nuclear explosion at Pokhran. Though there are no formal links between the DRDO and ISRO, the movement of scientists between the two organisations and informal exchange of notes is not ruled out.
ISRO success
ISRO attributes its success to its multi-disciplinary technology development teams, setting up of appropriate research and development labs, establishing critical manufacturing capability in industry, development of elaborate quality assurance protocols, test and evaluation procedures and well-equipped launchpads.
Key technologies developed by the agency include solid-propellant motors, earth-storable liquid propellant engines, avionics and navigation systems. For the GSLV, it has developed a cryogenic propulsion system, which was initially imported from Russia. It is also working on air-breathing propulsion and technologies related to reusable launch vehicles.

BJP questions ‘shift’ in defence procurement policy

Defence Ministry’s move to have ‘life cycle cost’ clause in tenders for military hardware, including in one for the 126 Multi-Role Medium Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), has come in for questioning from BJP which fears this could be misused for corruption.
BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has written to Defence Minister A K Antony, raising a number of questions over the “conceptual shift” in the defence procurement policy. 
Sinha has expressed apprehensions about misuse of the new clause close on the heels of a major scam that unfolded in the Defence Ministry’s VVIP helicopter deal with Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland.
Sinha has questioned the logic behind having such a clause and wondered what would be the contractual obligations for the life of an equipment.
He has underlined that in the absence of an enforceable obligation, the ‘life cycle cost’ (LCC) could be rendered a “dead letter”.
The former External Affairs Minister has suggested that the apprehensions about the clause being misused can be addressed by binding the vendors by “enforceable contract” to ensure its contractual obligations.
Referring to the MMRCA, he has said that two of the seven “elements” laid down in defence procurement policy in June 2007 were omitted in its case.
Sinha said doubt arises that if the model approved in 2007 is flexible, then would it not be changed from time to time, from acquisition to acquisition to favour a particular vendor.
The two elements dropped were ‘cost of total technical based reserves’ and ‘cost of transfer of technology’.
The government has argued that these elements were mentioned in the Request for Proposal for the 126 MMRCA contract under a separate head as these fighters would have to be spread across 5-6 different locations and these have multiple systems which require large inventory of such reserves.
Sinha has questioned whether the Defence Ministry has consulted the Finance Ministry on this “conceptual shift” and whether the latter has agreed to it.
He has also wondered whether it would not be advisable to consult the CAG in advance and have the concept examined in view of the “momentous nature” of this change to avoid any problems in future.
Sinha has also questioned how it will impact upon the defence offset policy and the interest of the domestic industry.

Govt clears Rs 1,500 crore proposal for Pinaka rockets

To enhance the Army’s firepower, the government has approved a Rs 1,500 crore proposal for production of more than 2,000 rockets for the Pinaka multi- barrel weapons system.
The Army requires more than 2,000 of these rockets to equip its 10-12 regiments comprising the Pinaka launchers. 
A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has given a nod to the proposal moved by the Defence Ministry for upgrading the capabilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for producing these rockets, sources told PTI here.
As per the proposal, OFB, under the Department of Defence Production, will upgrade facilities at nine of its factories engaged in the production of Pinaka rockets, they said.
With a focus on indigenisation to avoid scams in acquisition of foreign military hardware, the Defence Ministry has also decided to pump in Rs 15,000 crore to augment domestic military production.
The major plans of OFB include augmentation of production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for armoured vehicles and setting up of 155mm howitzer production plants.
The Ministry’s Department of Defence Production has decided to hike the allocation from Rs 583 crore during the 11th Plan period to Rs 15,000 crore for modernisation of the production capabilities of OFB during the current Plan.
After the recent VVIP chopper scam, Defence Minister A K Antony had stated that indigenous defence production was the only answer to avoid such scandals. The Ministry would change policies in that regard, he had said.
OFB list includes upgrading of 130mm M46 field artillery guns to 155mm 45 calibre standard, development of 155mm 52 calibre mounted howitzers and integration of the 105mm field guns on BMP combat vehicles.

DRDO developing ultra lightweight UAV

DRDO is developing an ultra light-weight Unmanned Aerial Vehicle which can be used by troops for reconnaissance of their area of operation. ”The Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) has a span of 300 millimetre (mm) and weighs 300 grammes. It has been equipped with day-light TV camera. Cruise speed is 20 knots (37 kmph) and operational altitude is 30-100 metres,” DRDO said in Defence Ministry’s annual report.The MAV can be used for close-range situational awareness by troops within a radius of two kilometres and it is expected to be useful in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in North East and Jammu and Kashmir, it said. 
Earlier, the Defence Research and Development Organisation had developed a 1.5 kg Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) called ‘Netra’. It was developed by Pune-based Aerial Research and Development Establishment (ARDE).
With successful design and development of various UAVs, ARDE is planning to diversify the technology and make technologically superior products, DRDO officials said.
The agency is also designing UAVs with bigger ranges and endurance to penetrate deeper in the operational areas and enemy territories.
‘Rustom’ is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) being developed by it for the three services.
Another UAV ‘Nishant’ is tasked with intelligence gathering over enemy territory and also for reconnaissance, training, surveillance, target designation, artillery fire correction and damage assessment.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

India's futuristic soldier to be ready in three years

 India is set to launch her first 'futuristic' infantry soldier after three more years. According to officials at the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which is headquartered in Kolkata, many of the separate segments are ready and need to be integrated into one system. This will allow India to enter a select club of nations experimenting on a 'futuristic' soldier system. India's Future Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS) programme is comparable to FELIN of France, IdZ of Germany, FIST of Britain and the Future Force Warrior of the US. Israel is also developing a similar system that will turn an infantry soldier into a complete system."A task force has been created with members from OFB, the Army, DRDO and other organizations. We have set a deadline and the first variant is likely to be launched in the next three years. We are preparing equipment that will allow a soldier to adapt to his surroundings, whether the hot desert terrain in Rajasthan or the freezing heights of Siachen. He will be armed with special weapons and communicate through satellite links. The visor of his helmet will allow him to get a clear view of the battlefield and see his adversaries, even beyond obstacles. His visor will also have normal and night-vision sights to allow him to use his weapon easily," said Sartaj Singh, member, ammunition and explosives, OFB.

According to sources, eight to 10 infantry battalions are likely to be equipped with the F-INSAS system by 2015. All infantrymen are set to be covered by this system by 2020. An interesting fact about this system is that the soldier would generate enough power while on the move to keep the gadgets fitted on his body running. Special sensors fitted to his boots will enable this. OFB is also in the process of developing a weapon with interchangeable barrels that would be capable of firing 5.56mm, 7.62mm and 6.8mm caliber ammunition.

The OFB, along with ARDE has also developed a carbine for the Army that is undergoing user evaluation at the moment. According to officials, this should be ready in the next one to one-and-a-half years. They are also very upbeat about the prospect of the 155/52 mm howitzer which is an upgraded version of the 155/45 mm Bofors. The new guns have been developed by eight ordnance factories and undergone six in-house trials. "The existing weapons system had a range of 27-29 km. The one we have developed has a range of 38-39 km and uses all kinds of ammunition that the Army uses now. We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Russia to create a Joint Venture for the manufacture of SMERCH rockets. Russian experts visited our production units two weeks ago and things will now move fast," another official said.

OFB chairman H S Chaudhury said that his organization has orders of over Rs 50,000 crore in hand at the moment. OFB is exporting its products to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia and several European countries such as Germany, Greece, Russia and France. "The organization is also exploring avenues for long term partnerships for exports with some South East Asian countries," he said.

India test-fires submarine-launched version of BrahMos missile

VISAKHAPATNAM: India today successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal — becoming the first country in the world to have this capability.

The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon near here, BrahMos CEO A Sivathanu Pillai told PTI.

This is the first test-firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290km, he said.

He said the performance of the missile during the test launch was "perfect".

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

The maiden test of the submarine-launched version of BrahMos comes over a week after the indigenously built long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target in its first test.

"BrahMos missile is fully ready for fitment in submarines in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world," Pillai said.

Defence minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

India test fires first underwater Brahmos cruise missile First Photo

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

PHOTO: The Remains Of Nirbhay-1

Major DRDO projects running behind schedule : AK Antony informs Rajya Sabha

Major projects of the DRDO, including Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and airborne early warning system, are running behind schedule by up to 13 years.This information was furnished in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday by Defence Minister AK Antony in response to questions.
Giving details, he said the probable date of completion of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Phase-II is up to March 2015 as against the original schedule of December 2008 while that of Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System to March 2014 from October 2011. 

Similarly, the probable date of completion of Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Navy) Phase-I is December 2014 as against March 2010 and that of Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) to December 2015 from May 2011.
In case of Aero-engine Kaveri, the date has been extended within the sanctioned cost and scope. The original date was December 1996 which has been revised to December 2009.
Antony said reasons for delay include ab-initio development of the state-of-the art technologies, non-availability of trained and skilled manpower in respect of ab-initio development projects and non-availability of infrastructure/ test facilities in the country.
As far as construction of submarines is concerned, Antony said, “There is delay, which has been attributed to delay in procurement of construction materials.”
The project is being closely monitored by Ministry of Defence and Indian Navy to complete it without any further delay, he said, adding, “Detailed information cannot be divulged in the interest of national security.”

Probe ordered into reports of hacking of DRDO computers

Reports suggesting that the computers of highly-sensitive Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have been hacked have created a flutter in the Government which today ordered a probe into the issue.
According to media reports, Chinese hackers have had access to some sensitive information. 
When asked about it, Defence Minister A K Antony said, “Intelligence agencies are investigating the matter at this stage and I do not want to say anything else.”
The Minister was asked if the DRDO computer networks containing sensitive information were hacked and if information was compromised.
The Defence Minister later asked Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma to inquire into the matter and submit a report, Ministry sources said here.
Commenting on the issue, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said, “As per available information, no incidence of breach of security of DRDO’s computers has come to notice. Appropriate measures are in place for safety and security of computer systems.”
In the past also, such incidents have occurred and the Defence Ministry has taken several actions to stop thehacking of sensitive information pertaining to armed forces.
Recently, the Navy had to take action against some of its officers in the Eastern Command after their networks were hacked as they did not follow the standard operating procedures.

34 MiGs met with accidents in five years

Thirty-four MiG fighter jets of the Indian Air Force were involved in accidents in the last five years and six pilots and five civilians were killed in these crashes, parliament was informed Wednesday.
Technical defects and human error were the two main causes of the accidents, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
“During the last five years (2007-08 to 2011-12) and current year 2012-13 (up to March 7, 2013), 34 MiG fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force have been involved in accidents/crashes In these accidents, six pilots and five civilians were killed,” Antony said.
He said every IAF aircraft accident is thoroughly investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to ascertain the cause of accident and remedial measures are taken accordingly to check their recurrence.
“The IAF has taken various measures relating to invigoration of aviation safety organisation, analytical studies and quality audits of the aircraft fleets to identify vulnerable areas and institute remedial measures to reduce aircraft accidents, including establishment of an Ornithology cell for bird surveys at flying bases,” the minister said.
He said that all flying bases have been visited by senior aerospace safety personnel of the IAF to apprise the operating units suitably and get views for enhancing aviation safety.
“Accident prevention programmes have been revitalised, including steps to train pilots to prevent accidents due to human error which includes increased use of simulators,” he said.

Indian soldier’s beheading: ‘Attack carried out by Pakistan army’s SSG group’: A K Antony

The attack on an Indian Army patrol in January, in which one soldier was beheaded, was carried out by Special Services Group of Pakistan Army, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.
In a written reply to a question in the House, he also said that intelligence reports have indicated that Chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Sayeed had visited the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir prior to the attack.
“On January 8, 2013 the Special Services Group of Pakistan Army executed an attack on an Indian Army patrol in which two Indian soldiers were killed. One soldier was beheaded in the attack,” he said.
The Defence Minister further informed the House that inputs analysed by Military Intelligence indicate that,”terrorists affiliated to LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad were involved in the attack”.
“Intelligence reports also indicate that Pakistani terrorists and Chief of LeT Hafiz Sayeed was reported to have visited the LoC areas prior to the attack,” Antony said. In reply to a separate question whether government has announced to consider to award the two soldiers on Republic Day, who were killed in the incident, Antony said, “As on date, no citation/ recommendations pertaining to the specific incident have been received.”
Each year gallantry awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day and Independence Day to recognise the acts performed by the individual beyond call of their duty, he said.
“As per existing procedure, a case for award is initiated by the Unit and forwarded to Service HQs duly recommended by the Commanders in chain for consideration by their Honours and Awards Committee. If the case if found fit, the same is forwarded to the Defence Ministry for further consideration by the government,” he said.
In reply to a question on clashes along the international boundaries of the country, the Defence Minister said 188 such incidents have taken place along the LoC and International Border (IB) in last three years.
According to the figures provided by the Defence Ministry, 2012 saw maximum number of 93 such incidents. In 2011 and 2010, 51 and 44 such incidents took place respectively. 29 casualties were reported in these incidents, Antony said.
“All ceasefire violations with Pakistan are approximately retaliated through return of fire/protested through established mechanism of hotl ines, flag meetings and Director General of Military Operations Talks etc,” he said.

If voted to power, NDA will double army’s size: Rajnath Singh

Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh on Wednesday painted a grim picture of country’s “dwindling economic and military might under the UPA rule” and said “if NDA returns to power at the Centre, it would double the size of the Indian army, go in for its rapid modernization and withdraw the decision of FDI in retail”.Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Rajnath said: “History is proof that India has never waged a war against any country. But to maintain peace in the region, having an army capable of facing emerging challenges is a must. We see a need for strengthening our forces as China is broadening its bases in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Its bid to capture water resources in Tibet is also not a hidden fact. The highways created in PoK by China pose an increased threat to India.”
“While China recently hiked its defence budget by 10.7% to $157 billion, India’s spending is just 2% of the GDP. Despite being aware of all these facts, the UPA government at the Centre has turned a blind eye towards the threat emerging on the borders. A lack of willingness on part of the UPA government has weakened the diplomatic efforts required for facing the challenges being posed by China and some other hostile neighbours. Though there’s a need to modernize and double the size of the Indian Army, the UPA is indulging in corrupt practices like the Augusta helicopter scam.”
“Performance of the UPA government on the economic front has been equally bad. Fiscal and current account deficits have increased sharply and the government has failed to check the rising inflation. As the UPA is only worried about the deficit of oil companies, it has deregularised petrol and diesel prices. It doesn’t care for the common people who are facing hike in fuel price every month. All the while, the government is busy setting new records of corruption and scams,” said Rajnath.
He claimed that “the performance of BJP ruled states like Gujarat, MP, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka has helped in maintaining the country’s GDP rate”.
While the UPA government is banking on foreign capital to boost the country’s economy, the BJP would welcome FDI only in infrastructure, he said. “We are not in favour of FDI in retail as it would harm the interests of crores of small traders and farmers. If we return to power, we will withdraw the decision to invite FDI in retail,” said the BJP president.
He also targeted the UPA for its inability to handle the case of Italian marines and not coming clean on land deals of Robert Vadra.
Taking to task the SP and BSP governments in UP for unaccounted expenditure, Rajnath said “they won’t be able to befool the people any further”. He said though the SP has spent Rs 8.5 crores for distributing unemployment allowance, it has wasted Rs 12 crores on holding the function for distribution of cheques among the beneficiaries. “Had the government checked this wastage of money, the unemployment dole could have been increased,” Rajnath said.
He condemned the UPA government for the delay in finalising the land acquisition bill due to which many ambitious projects were lingering. Defending he performance of local MP Murli Manohar Joshi, he said “he should be judged on the basis of his performance in Parliament”.

The Nirbhay Launch

Long range cruise missile Nirbhay was successfully launched today at 1150 hrs from launch complex, Chandipur, Odisha,  meeting the basic mission objectives successfully.  After travelling approximately mid-way, deviations were observed from its intended course.  Further, flight was terminated to ensure coastal safety.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Govt Keeps Decision Hanging On 'Clean' Torpedo Deal

A deal for Black Shark torpedoes, built by Finmeccanica subsidiary WASS, has been held up for months following a steady stream of complaints that corrupt practices helped the deal through. The latest was reportedly a letter from a Member of Parliament. The war has been over Atlas Elektroniks, the contender that lost out in the deal (here's a detailed report in the Business Standard newspaper). The torpedoes are intended to arm India's Scorpene attack submarines under construction at the Mazagon Dock Ltd shipyards in Mumbai.

As things stand, it appears that a decision remains hanging despite committees declaring the deal 'clean'. Here's what Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in Indian Parliament today:

"The contract for procurement of Black Shark torpedoes has not yet been finalised. Representations/references have been received from different quarters including from one competing vendor and Members of Parliament. Special Technical Oversight Committee was constituted with approval of DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) to review the evaluation process and complaints received. The STOC has opined that the procurement has been progressed in accordance with the laid down procedures, in keeping with the provisions of the RFP (Request for Proposal) and DPP-06 in transparent and fair manner. The DAC has considered the STOC Report and accepted the same in September, 2012. Government has not taken a final decision on the procurement."

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Maximum Human Rights Violation Complaints Against Indian Army, This Year : 51 In Northeast

The Indian Army has 51 cases of human rights violations in the northeastern sattes in this year alone. Defence Minister A K Antony informed Parliament this week that 51 complaints in this year had been filed against the Indian army in the northeast, for violation of human rights.

An officer told this newspaper that in this year's 51 complaints in the northeastern states, seven complaints are of custodial deaths, meaning civilians arrested by the Indian army for interrogation and killed while in custody.

The rest of the complaints are about raiding, checking, molestation and harassment of civilians by the army personnel. But all allegations have been refuted by the army, with no major punishment awarded to its personnel. Only some junior-level personnel have been punished and in most cases the petitioners have withdrawn their complaint cases.

A Naik from the Indian Army's 287 Field Regiment, Anil Kumar Upadhyay, at Nawjan area in Sibsagar district, Upper Assam,was handed over to the police when he tried to molest a 19 year girl. The girl was collecting firewood in Dolopa village when the incident took place in July 2012. The Army human rights cell demoted the soldier and sentenced him to three months rigourous imprisonment in military custody.
It may be noted that the Parliament reply comes at a time when Irom Sharmila of Manipur was in Delhi to appear before a Delhi court on charges of allegedly attempting suicide as she has been been fasting for 12 years, demanding withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), from Manipur.

Among all the northeastern states Manipur and Assam are the most volatile and have the maximum army presence. The 3 Corps of the Indian army is headquartered in Dimapur, Nagaland, while the 4 Corps is is Tezpur, Assam, both are sensitive formations. All northeastern formations come under the Kolkata-based Eastern Command.

In 2010, complaints about human rights violations recieved were 29, in 2011 they were 25, in 2012 they were 26, while in 2013 till now they are 51, totalling upto 131 in the last four years.

Human Rights cells were established in the year 2003, beginning with Jammu and Kashmir. These cells are at the Command and Corps level, headed by a Colonel-ranking officer.

In Jammu and Kashmir in 2010 human violations cases have been 18, they were five in 2011, four in 2012 and none in 2013 so far.In all other states there have been only 20 cases in four years.

Antony informed the Lok Sabha that the ,"Army takes suitable action to dispose of above complaints in consultation with units/ formations and other agencies concerned in the matter. Further, in order to strengthen Human Rights Division, the Human Rights set up has been expanded down till Corps level."

Indian Cruise Missile Nirbhay Debut Test Tomorrow

Speculating on a debut missile launch by DRDO is always a long-drawn gamble, but this could be it for the agency's Tomahawk-like long range cruise missileNirbhayWith a launch window that opened yesterday off the country's east coast test range, the missile is expected to be test-fired for the first time tomorrow morning.

Mostly used to a series of ballistic missiles (the BrahMos isn't really Indian is it?), there is a great deal of justified attention in how an indigenous cruise missile programme will acquit itself. The Nirbhay is said to be a 750-1,000 km range weapon system.

As I've posted here before, the Nirbhay, shrouded in secrecy for long, is understood to be a two-stage high subsonic cruise missile with loitering capabilities. Sources suggest that apart from the engine (apparently supplied by NPO Saturn), the rest of the system is fully indigenous.

Let's hope the test goes through tomorrow, and luck to the test team. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Indian interest in V-22 Osprey intensifies

The Indian armed forces appear ready to consider the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey as a possible future platform. What began as a preliminary interest in the world’s only operational tilt-rotor aircraft, has blossomed into a specific set of missions that the Indian services have flagged as possible future Osprey roles in India. While it has been known for a while that the Indian Navy has shown preliminary interest in the Osprey as a potential carrier-borne AEW&C platform (and therefore for carrier on-board delivery), it is now known that the Indian Air Force has asked for briefings on the aircraft for the combat search & rescue (CSAR) and special forces roles.
The Indian forces have also flagged specific queries about the V-22′s ability to fly to the country’s island territories in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The platform’s unfuelled range has elicited sharp interest. After acquiring the C-130J for the special operations role, the IAF is now extremely keen on considering the hugely flexible tilt-rotor role as it expands its special forces capability in tandem with the Army.
IAF sources informed SP’s, ”After a shaky start, the V-22 is now a proven platform with the US Marine Corps and it has demonstrated its capabilities well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have requested preliminary information based on certain scenarios which we have arrived at, which could possible be addressed by a tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22.” A team from Bell and Boeing held unofficial briefings with Indian armed forces officials at the recently Aero India 2013 show in Bengaluru.
The US Marine Corps uses the V-22 for combat assault, amphibious assault and sustained land operations, while the US Air Force CV-22 is for for long-range special operations and contingency operations. The Indian Air Force would be interested in all of these missions for a possible special operations role in the future, as also for humanitarian relief.

Indian Army plans to create close-to-real battlefield situation for training

Seeking to provide a close-to-real battlefield situation for its troops to train, the Indian Army is working on a Rs 40-crore plan towards modernising infrastructure at two of its main field firing ranges in Pokharan in Rajasthan and Babina in Madhya Pradesh.

“Under the plan, we are looking to develop the firing ranges into world class integrated training fields for our troops”, Army officials said. The modernisation of the two firing ranges would be a follow-up of the upgradation of infrastructure at the Army’s biggest firing range in Mahajan in Rajasthan.
The upgradation of infrastructure at the ranges would make the training there more realistic and provide a “close-to-real battlefield scenario for troops” while practising war-fighting there, they said. The ranges would also be provided with short and long-range firing ranges and also strengthens the road and other infrastructure there.

The Army has 66 field firing ranges at the moment which is having an impact on its capability to train its soldiers and practice live firing of weapon systems. Recently, Defence Minister AK Antony had said that out of the 104 firing ranges held by the Army in 2009, “38 were deleted from the list due to their not being available for use by the Army and also not being re-notified by state governments concerned in spite of relentless efforts”.
Out of the remaining 66 firing ranges of the Army, 15 are currently de-notified by various state governments, he had said.

The dragon gets a bear hug

Russia is resuming the supply of advanced weapon platforms to China in a move that may have implications for India.
At the end of last year, Russia concluded a framework agreement with China for the sale of four Amur-1650 diesel submarines. In January it signed another intergovernmental agreement for the supply of Russia’s latest Su-35 long-range fighter planes.
If the deals go through, it will be for the first time in a decade that Russia has delivered offensive weapons to China.
It will also mark the first time that Russia has supplied China with more powerful weapon platforms compared with Russian-built systems India has in its arsenals. In the past, the opposite was the rule.
For example, the Su-30MKK jet fighters Russia sold to China were no match for the Su-30MKIs supplied to India at about the same time. The Chinese planes had an inferior radar and without the thrust vectoring engines the Indian version had.
This time the situation looks reversed. The Amur-1650 submarine is far more silent and powerful than the Kilo-class submarines the Indian Navy has in its inventory. India’s Su-30MKI will be no match for China’s Su-35 which is powered by a higher thrust engine and boasts a more sophisticated radar, avionics and weapons, according to a leading Russian military expert, Konstantin Makienko.
China’s acquisition of the Su-35 will also question the wisdom of India’s plan to buy the French Rafale, the expert said.
“The sale of Su-35s to China will shoot down the value of the Rafale for India,” Mr. Makienko, who is deputy head of Russia’s top defence think tank, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, toldThe Hindu.
“The Rafale will stand no chance against China’s Su-35,” the expert explained. “The Su-35’s Irbis radar has more than twice the detection range of the Rafale’s Thales RBE2, and will lock onto its target well before the Russian plane becomes visible for a retaliatory strike. The 117S engines of the Su-35 are also far more powerful than the Rafale’s Snecma M88.”
The Russian Air Force is just beginning to take delivery of the new aircraft and China may become the first country to import it. The relatively small number of Su-35s China plans to buy, 24, should not deceive anyone, Mr. Makienko said. China followed the same buying pattern for the Su-27, initially ordering 24 planes and ending up with more than 200 Su-27s and its licence-built version, the J-11.
The supply to China of more advanced weapon platforms than those available to India appears to contradict some basic geopolitical realities. India remains Russia’s most trusted partner whose defence requirements have never been refused. By contrast, Russia has always been apprehensive of the Chinese dragon and suspicious of its intentions towards resource-rich and population-poor Siberia.


There is consensus in the Russian strategic community that Moscow should exercise maximum restraint in providing China with advanced military technologies. Experts were shocked to find out that Chinese engineers had mastered the production of clones of most weapon systems cash-strapped Russia supplied to China in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Russian arms sales to China plummeted in recent years as China switched to domestic production, while Moscow became more cautious in offering Beijing cutting-edge technologies. Not only did China illegally copy Russian weapon systems, but it also began to export those undercutting Russian sales of higher-priced original platforms.
Some experts even called for a complete halt to arms sales to China, arguing that demographic pressures and a growing need of resources may one day push China to turn Russian weapons against Russia.
“We should stop selling them the rope to hang us with,” warned Alexander Khramchikhin of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis.
However, the risks of selling advanced weapons to China took a back seat in Moscow’s calculations after Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term a year ago. Last year, Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, signed contracts with China worth $2.1-billion, the company’s head Anatoly Isaikin said recently. The renewal of sophisticated weapon supplies to China should be seen in the context of geopolitical games in the China-U.S.-Russia triangle.
“The balance of power between America and China will to a large extend depend on whether and on which side Russia will play,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, foreign policy analyst.
Russia and China are revitalising defence ties at a time when their relations with the U.S. have run into rough waters. Moscow is deeply disappointed with Mr. Obama’s policy of “reset,” which is seen in Moscow as a U.S. instrument of winning unilateral concessions from Russia, while Beijing views Mr. Obama’s strategic redeployment in the Asia-Pacific region as aimed at containing China.


Russian defence sales to China are also driven by profit motives as arms manufacturers seek to compensate for the recent loss of several lucrative contracts in India, where they face growing competition from the U.S., Europe and Israel. Also, Moscow seems to be less concerned today about the so-called “reverse engineering” of Russian weapons in China as the ability of the Chinese industry to copy critical technologies appears to have been overrated.
“China’s programme of developing the J-11B family of aircraft based on the Su-27 platform has run into problems,” said Vasily Kashin, expert on China. “China’s aircraft engines, which are essentially modified version of Russian engines, are way too inferior to the originals and China continues to depend on the supply of Russian engines.”
In the past three-four years, China has bought over 1,000 aircraft engines from Russia and is expected to place more orders in coming years.
“When and if China succeeds in copying Russia’s new weapon platforms the Russian industry will hopefully move ahead with new technologies,” Mr. Kashin said.
India can also easily offset the advantage that new Russian arms supplies may give China, experts said.
“To retain its edge in military aviation, India needs to speed up the development of a 5th-generation fighter plane with Russia and go for in-depth upgrade of its fleet of Su-30MKI fighters,” Mr. Makienko said.


However, the resumption of massive Russian arms supplies to China could still be a cause for concern in India. Closer defence ties between Moscow and Beijing are an offshoot of strong dynamics of their overall relations. China is Russia’s top commercial partner, with bilateral trade expected to touch $90 billion this year and soar to $200 billion by 2020. Mr. Putin has described China’s rise as “a chance to catch the Chinese wind in the sails of our economy.”
This contrasts with sluggish trade between India and Russia, which stood at $11 billion last year; even the target of $20 billion the two governments set for 2015 falls short on ambition. India risks being eclipsed by China on the Russian radar screens. As Russia’s top business daily Kommersant noted recently, even today, Russian officials from top to bottom tend to look at India with “drowsy apathy,” while Mr. Putin’s visit to India last year was long on “meaningless protocol” and short on time and substance.

India's Eastern Command Military

The Indian Army's Eastern Command Military Tattoo & Army Equipment Display was held in Kolkata from Feb 2-3. Apart from the usual "Know Your Army" exhibition, the highlight of the event was a sky-diving event followed by mock-hostage rescue drill performed by the para commandos of the 21 Parachute Regiment (Special Forces). The sky-diving team was led by Colonel Saurabh Singh Shekhawat, KC, SC, SM, VSM. Before the audience could recover from the awe-inspiring sky-diving, the mock-hostage rescue drill commenced with two Para-Commandos doing a quick recon on Cheetahs followed by slithering ops from two Dhruvs.

DAC To Take Up 197 Copter Deal: Minister

Defence Minister A.K. Antony in Parliament today: "The proposal for acquisition of 197 Light Utility Helicopters is due for consideration of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). The procurement procedure has been conducted in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure. No formal enquiry has been instituted in the case of procurement of the 197 Light Utility Helicopters."

The Minister also spoke today on the prospective  blacklisting of Finmeccanica or AgustaWestland: Here's what he said:

"On the report of the arrests of the Finmeccanica Chief and Chief Executive of Agusta Westland Spa in connection with the investigations in Italy regarding alleged wrong doing and unethical conduct by M/s Finmeccanica, parent company of M/s Agusta Westland, U.K., the CBI was asked on February 12, 2013 to conduct an enquiry into the matter. Further details will be available on receipt of report of CBI. A Show Cause Notice has been sent to M/s Agusta Westland, U.K. on 15th February, 2013 asking them to explain as to why steps should not be initiated for cancellation of the Contract. The operation of the Contract has been put on hold and further payments to M/s Agusta Westland, U.K. stopped. No decision to blacklist the Company has so far been taken."

He also said:

"Following reports of the arrest of the Chief Executive of Finmeccanica in connection with the investigations in Italy regarding alleged wrong doing and unethical conduct by M/s Finmeccanica, parent company of M/s Agusta Westland, U.K., the CBI was asked on February 12, 2013 to conduct an enquiry into the matter. The CBI has registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) on February 25, 2013 in this matter. While the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had received a letter dated 14th December, 2012 from Shri Prakash Javadekar, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on the subject matter, media reports relating to alleged payment of kickbacks/bribes by M/s Finmeccanica started surfacing since February 2012. Ever since then, MoD has pursued the matter with the Embassy in Rome to get credible information regarding the status of investigation and authenticity of the documents/records being cited in various media reports. Given the independence of the Italian Judiciary from the executive and the preliminary investigations being covered by 'Secrecy' clause under the Italian law, no concrete information was received. The matter was also taken up, through the MEA with the U.K. Government in view of the alleged involvement of a British consultant and the fact that the contract had been signed with M/s Agusta Westland, U.K. The UK side informed MEA that they have not launched any investigation and are awaiting the results of the Italian investigation in order to ascertain whether any further action needs to be taken. MoD had, thus, taken prompt action to seek factual information from the concerned Authorities."