Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Israeli navy equipping warships with Indo-Israeli Barak-8 missile system

The Israeli Navy has Begun outfitting its main Battleships with a new missile system amid Growing threats posed by Syria ’s alleged Stockpile of advanced Anti-Ship missiles, the Yisrael Hayom Daily reported Sunday.

The Barak 8, co-developed by India and Israel, is a medium-range surface-to-air missile designed to defend against varied threats, including anti-ship missiles, manned aircraft, drones and supersonic cruise missiles.

The missile has a maximum speed of Mach 2 and a maximum operational range of 70 km. The system’s radar enables operators to simultaneously engage multiple targets, and intercept an incoming enemy missile as close as 500 meters from a naval craft.

The Navy’s procurement of the Barak 8, put off for years since the system’s Development was largely completed in 2010, constitutes a Response to the Growing Threat posed by Russia N-produced Yakhont “Ship killing Cruise missiles” said to be in Syria’s Possession, Yisrael Hayom said.

“No ships in history have been capable of controlling vast expanses like the Israel Navy will be able to with the Barak 8,” Yisrael Hayom cited a source “familiar with the details” as saying.

The navy is installing the missile on its Sa’ar 5-class warships. Naval officers estimated that the system will become fully operational in the coming months, according to the report.

Yet, the military’s comment on the report was not immediately available.

India’s Prahaar missile to be tested by DRDO

A prototype Prahaar tactical-range surface-to-surface missile was sent for flight testing at Site III at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Orissa, on 19 July, according to local press reports. Developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, the 150 km range Prahaar looks similar to India’s Advanced Air Defence interceptor missile and is probably a derivative of the latter missile.

It is designed to be fired from a wheeled launch vehicle that carries six ready-to-fire missiles, and requires two to three minutes to prepare to launch. Designed to deliver conventional warheads, Prahaar could enter service later this year or some time in 2014.

IAF chief, US discuss setting up of Indian space, cyber commands

Washington: India and the US discussed a host of issues, including the security situation in South Asia, East China Sea, anti-piracy operations and America’s help in developing two new commands—space and cyber—during a recent visit of Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne to Washington.

Commander of US Pacific Air Forces and Air Component Commander General Herbert Carlisle said the “relationship is great with Indian Air Force”.

Describing Browne as his “good friend”, Carlisle said during the Indian Air Chief’s last week’s four-day US visit they talked about a variety of things and regional issues.

“The other things that he talked about that the Indian Air Force, the Indian military is trying to develop a space command on the military side, because right now almost everything that is done in India in space is on the civilian and commercial side,” Carlisle said.

“They are trying to develop an Indian military space capability, as well as cyber capability,” he added.

Browne went to Colorado to meet the Space Command, during which he was briefed on how the US Space Command works, the organisational structure, technologies available, and the lessons that the US has learned from its experiences, Carlisle said, adding the two forces are likely to do subject matter” exchanges with experts in this field in the near future.

They also talked about the security situation in South Asia and what the two forces can do as partners to continue to work in that region.

“It is everything from west side, piracy going into Maldives, to East side what happening in the East China Sea and how we can continue to maintain security and stability in the region. We had very good discussion,” Carlisle said.

Responding to a question, Carlisle said, “China was very much discussed” during Browne’s US visit.

“I think, every nation in the Asia Pacific region has relationship with PRC (People’s Republic of China) and we have to be cognisant about. We talked about their issues and commonality with the PRC, they have border issues, but they also have trade,” he said.

“We talked about the fact that the US-China relationship is so important to the entire region. I heard that in Singapore, when I was there, I heard from the Indian Air Chief that you hear everywhere you go, how the United States and PRC manage and build their relationship which is critical to the entire region. He reiterated that.

“And again I think, the fact that every nation has a complex and many times challenging relationships. It is important that we US stay cognizant to the challenges that those nations face in dealing with the PRC,” Carlisle said, adding that they had “very good discussions”.

“We did not talk much about Afghanistan. We talked a little about his concerns. I think many nations there are concerned with what it looks like post 2014 and of course, the proximity of the border gives him (the IAF chief) concerns with potential for terrorism and other things,” he said.

As such Browne spent time in Colorado talking to Gen Charles Jacoby, Commander of US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defence Command about security and homeland defence and some of the things “potential if things went bad” in Afghanistan.

Carlisle said the Asia Pacific region is a priority area for the United States.

“Expanding engagement is one of the prime tenants of our strategy,” he said in response to a question.

Carlisle also extended “an apology” for cancelling the Red Flag exercise due to sequestration – or automatic budgetary cuts in the American armed forces.

“We did make a commitment about having Red Flag next year this time and they (Indians) are going to participate,” Carlisle said in response to a question, during a Defence Writers Group breakfast meeting.

“The sequestration had an impact wherein we had to cancel the Red Flag (exercise). Actually the Indian Air Force was going to bring Su-30 and participate in it,” he said.

Carlisle described as how Browne had worked hard to get permission from the Indian government to have IAF Su-30 participate in this exercise, which was scheduled to be held at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada this July.

During this exercise, IAF was scheduled to send a team of its top-line Su 30 MKI fighters along with support aircraft for the war game and spend more than Rs 100 crore.

During his visit, Browne also picked up the second C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft, which is being inducted into the IAF which forms part of its major component of its modernisation effort.

In fact, Browne “flew C-17 (from Long Beach in California) to Washington through Colorado”, he said.

14 countries interested in BrahMos missiles

Fourteen countries have already expressed interest in buying different modifications of a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, CEO and Managing Director of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace A. Sivathanu Pillai told reporters on Tuesday.
As far as I understand Russian authorities have nothing against such exports and the Indian government has final say,” he said, declining to disclose potential customers.

A. Sivathanu Pillai took part in BrahMos Industry Consortium Meet-2013, a conference devoted to public-private partnership in India’s defence industry, of which Brahmos Aerospace is a prime example.

India’s former president APJ Abdul Kalam expressed confidence that Russian and Indian governments should seize the opportunity to export BrahMos cruise missiles to other countries.

These cruise missiles with a range of 290 kilometers have already been put into service by India’s Ground Forces. India’s surface ships are equipped with BrahMos as well. Air-launched tests of these missiles should take place this year. Last March a submarine-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Second generation Pinaka multi-rocket system successfully test fired in Pokhran

The Pinaka Mark II Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System has undergone successful firing trials at Chandhan area in Pokhran field firing ranges. The trials which started on Friday were witnessed by officials of DRDO and Army trial teams.

“Pinaka Mark II trials were sucessfully conducted at the Pokhran field firing range. The target was successfully destroyed in Keru area which was located 30 km from the firing point. DRDO officers and Army officers have shown satisfaction on successful trails,” DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said.

“The state-of-art weapon for destroying and neutralizing enemy troop-concentration areas, communication centres air terminal complexes, gun and rocket locations and for laying mines by firing rockets with several warheads from launch vehicles has been developed by DRDO. High operational mobility, flexibility and accuracy are its major characteristics, which give the weapon an edge in modern artillery warfare for the Indian armed forces, the spokesperson said.

Meant to neutralise a large geographical area with a rapid salvo of rockets with a strike range of 40 km, Pinaka could fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds from a launcher. Pinaka was also put into field testing for assessing its capability during the Kargil conflict.

“The ongoing developmental trials at Pokhran field firing range in western Rajasthan by Army and scientists from DRDO were for the advance stage of development of Pinaka II weapon system. The development and trials will continue and the rocket is expected to be pressed into service any time now,” Gupta said.

Pinaka I is already in service.

Defence spokesman Col S D Goswami said, “Its quick reaction time and high rate of fire gives an edge to the Army during low-intensity warlike situation. The system’s capability to incorporate several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy.”

Touching the Skies: 25 years of Indian Remote Sensing Satellite System

"Taking the daring step of breaking into the elitist league of space programmes 25 years ago, with a purely development-based agenda, India is firmly at the forefront of earth observation today. Let’s take a look at the remarkable journey."

On April 26, 2012 PSLV C-19 roared into the skies from SHAR on the eastern shores of India carrying RISAT-1, the biggest of the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Series (IRS) weighing in at nearly 2 tonnes and carrying a state-of-the-art Synthetic Aperture Radar. It represented a major milestone in the overall Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Programme. Planning for the IRS Programme had begun in the late 1970s and the first satellite of the IRS series, IRS 1A, a 1-tonne satellite carrying two CCD cameras, was launched from Baikanur, onboard a Russian
Vostok launcher on March 17, 1988. As the Programme completes 25 years, it is worthwhile to
recount the IRS Story, the story of one of the most successful programmes of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The genesis
The story begins in 1969. Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Space Technology and Applications in
India, clearly saw the need for a remote sensing programme for an agricultural society like India.
This is what he said in his presentation of the “summary of the conference and recommendation
for initiatives” at the First UN Conference on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space at Vienna in 1969:

“When we came to Vienna, we thought that the areas of most immediate practical applications
would be communications, meteorology and navigation, in that order. But one of the most
striking things to emerge has been appreciation of the great potentiality of remote sensing devices, capable of providing large-scale practical benefits. One of the group discussions considered the cost effectiveness of these techniques, and it was pointed out that there is a high cost benefit ratio, which, for example, in cartography, can be as much as 18:1. The time has come to interest meteorologists, hydrologists, surveyors, agricultural specialists and other groups in such programmes. The chairman of the thematic session summarised the consensus that aircraft could initially be used because of their comparatively low cost. There is need, to begin
with, to understand problems of interpretation. Remote sensing cannot replace man on ground,
but can direct man’s efforts on ground to be more efficient.”

Sarabhai sowed the seed but did not live long enough to see the fruits as he passed away
in 1971. His successors in the Indian Space Research Organisation took the idea forward
through a series of steps which were to lead to the IRS Programme. These steps can be summarised into three categories. 

The first was a strategy to utilise opportunities that presented
themselves which could add to capacity building
. In remote sensing, these included an opportunity to develop a thermal scanner with CNES, launch opportunities for the Bhaskara series of satellites offered by the erstwhile Soviet Space Agency and the offer to become a Principal Investigator in the Landsat Programme. 

The second strategy was to pace technology by applications. Thus, right from the first aerial remote sensing surveys and Landsat data analysis, ISRO always had end users as equal collaborative partners. 

This led to a third strategy in the form of specific utilisation programmes for its satellites – first Bhaskara and then IRS. This strategy gave a focus to technology developers and opportunity to the user community to own the programme by providing a forum where they could voice their needs.

Following a series of experimental satellites like the Bhaskara launch on Vostok and RS-D1 and RS-D2 launched as experimental payloads on ISROs nascent SLV launcher programme, a committee
was formed by the late Satish Dhawan, the then Chairman ISRO, under the Chairmanship
of the late Dr T.A. Hariharan, a senior scientist handpicked by Dr Sarabhai from the Woods Hole
Research Laboratory, to come up with a blueprint for an operational Indian Remote Sensing satellite series. It included, among others, scientists like George Joseph, O.P.N. Calla, P.S. Goel and Y.S. Rajan who have since then become familiar names in the Space community. This committee, in its 1976 report ‘Future Indian Earth Resources Satellites’, recommended that ISRO should build a remote sensing satellite that could be launched with an Indian rocket. They felt that an optical Multi-spectral Scanner (MSS) similar to that carried by Landsat with a resolution of 100 metres would suffice for many Indian application needs. The committee also said an experimental optical sensor using the newly emerging Charge Coupled Devices (CCD) technology should also be flown as a back up to the MSS payload. Microwave payloads were also considered as important in view of the cloud cover problems during the major crop-growing season. The committee made a strong recommendation that those critical technology activities in the area
of sensors, spacecraft subsystems, data processing and data products are undertaken expeditiously for a possible 1982 launch.

Detailed consultations among the scientific and technical professionals in ISRO and outside
including the user community followed. The experience from Bhaskara and RS-D satellites and
other ISRO programmes like the Apple Communications Satellite proved valuable in the configuration of what was to become IRS-1. To get the end users involved in the process, a programme called the Joint Experiments Programme was launched in 1977 to develop a strong user community who could contribute to the programme by way of appplications development and inputs for the payload selection and design. Using Landsat imagery and imagery from ISRO’s airborne multispectral scanner (an indigenous offshoot of the thermal scanner developed with CNES), applications were developed for various areas like agriculture, hydrology, geology, geomorphology, land use, soil mapping and so on.

The launch
The IRS Programme was launched in late 1981 and its first project IRS was firmed up as a three
axis stabilised, sun synchronous satellite carrying two CCD cameras with resolutions of 70 m and
35 m in four spectral bands covering the visible and near IR parts of the spectrum. In 1982, the
project was cleared by the government and India made an announcement at the second United
Nations Conference on the availability of IRS data to the world community, especially the developing countries. Dr K. Kasturirangan was designated the project director and Dr George Joseph was the director for the development of the two CCD payloads. There would be two satellites IRS-1A and 1B and an engineering model 1E. IRS-1A would carry three Linear Imaging Self Scanning Sensors; one was LISS 1 with a resolution of 72.5 m and two others were LISS-2A and B with resolution of 36.25 m. The decision to drop the multispectral scanner and commit to a new technology, the Charge Coupled Device, for the sensors was path breaking. The only other satellite to opt for this technology was the French SPOT satellite launched in 1986. IRS-1A and SPOT-1 were thus contemporaneous, both leading the switch to this new technology.
In 1983, the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) was set up by the
Departments of Space and Science and Technology. The NNRMS was the brainchild of Prof Satish
Dhawan and Prof M.G.K. Menon to prepare various government departments as well as educational
institutions to make the fullest use of the IRS system. As part of this, three major efforts were
launched in the areas of forestry, groundwater exploration and wasteland mapping. On March
17, 1988 IRS-1A took to the skies from Baikanur atop a Vostok rocket
. Early on the morning of March 18, the excitement of waiting for IRS-1A to ‘open its eyes’ was palpable at the Shadnagar earth station of the National Remote Sensing Agency. The satellite was controlled from the ISRO Tracking and Telemetry Station in Bangalore. Each event was relayed by voice from Bangalore to Shadnagar; acquisition of the spacecraft as it rose above the southern horizon and the series of operational commands followed by ‘payload on’. A big cheer went up as the first images of the southern peninsula of India came into view on the quick look display monitor. India had stepped into the age of operational remote sensing from space.

IRS-1B, incorporating improvements arising from the analysis of the performance of 1A, was launched on August 29, 1991 again onboard Vostok from Baikanur. By this time, the PSLV
launcher was ready for its first developmental flight. It was decided to make IRS-1E flight-worthy
and launch it on the first developmental flight, PSLV-D1 from SHAR. The LISS 2 cameras were
replaced by an experimental payload from the German Space Agency DLR, called the Monocular
Electro-Optic Stereo Scanner. Unfortunately, the only PSLV flight to fail happened to be the D1 and IRS-1E failed to orbit. [B]Two remaining developmental flights of PSLV were used to launch experimental IRS satellites. PSLV-D2 put IRS-P2, carrying two LISS-2 cameras, into orbit on October 15, 1994. 

On March 21, 1996, PSLV-D3 launched IRS-P3 which carried a Wide Field Sensor, WIFS. A two-band version of this was already launched on IRS-1C. The version on P3 had an additional shortwave IR band. WIFS was a low-resolution sensor with a very wide coverage resulting in repeat coverage every five days. This trade-off between and resolution and coverage
was dictated by the need for enhanced repeat coverage to monitor situations like drought and
flood and to be able to monitor crops over their growth stages. P3 also carried an experimental
sensor called Modular Opto-electronic Scanner, MOS from DLR for remote sensing of the oceans.
Thus while D2 established confidence in the PSLV launcher D3 was useful to try out experimental
sensors. A word on the ISRO satellite naming convention: the P designation was applied to
prototypes. Successful prototypes were renamed and started a new series like Oceansat, Cartosat and Resourcesat. Meanwhile, the operational series continued with the design of IRS-1C and 1D. LISS-1 was replaced with a two-band WIFS while LISS-2 was replaced by LISS-3 having a resolution of 23m. LISS-3 also added a shortwave IR sensor at 70m. A new sensor called PAN was a steerable panchromatic high resolution sensor providing a resolution of 6m. An onboard recorder was added to provide global data. These changes were the result of feedback from the Indian user community as well as the need to be competitive in the global market.

 Although not explicitly stated, IRS 1C was designed to be a global player. Its WIF camera was unique and later copied by SPOT in its SPOT 4 and 5 satellites.

 The LISS 3 was slotted between the Thematic Mapper of Landsat (30m) and XSHRV of SPOT (20m). It lacked the second shortwave IR band and thermal IR bands of the TM but scored over the three bands of XS-HRV. The LISS-3 is a versatile sensor and the workhorse for most applications. PAN was, till the launch of IKONOS in 1999, the highest resolution civilian camera.

Going global
The failure of Landsat 6 and the upheaval in the international remote sensing scene caused by
premature commercialisation of remote sensing data acquisition resulted in a situation where
the global user community was left with very few options. They could depend on an ageing
Landsat 5 satellite or an expensive French SPOT satellite. The commercial wing of the Department
of Space, Antrix Corporation, addressed this vacuum and floated enquiries for global partners
to receive and redistribute IRS data worldwide. An agreement with EOSAT was signed in 1994
and consultations began between EOSAT and ISRO engineers on the nitty gritty of data reception. The first international IRS reception system was inaugurated in 1995 at Norman, Oklahoma in the US. Reception began with IRS-1B data and preparations were started for the simultaneous commissioning of IRS-1C data reception at NRSA Hyderabad station and the EOSAT station at Norman. On December 28, 1995 IRS-1C took to the skies from Baikanur onboard the Molniya launcher. IRS-1D was launched on September 27, 1997 on board the first commercial flight of PSLV, PSLV-C1. From now on PSLV would be the workhorse launcher for IRS.

Ocean sensing
The IRS series, operational and experimental, concentrated more on land-based applications.
This is to be expected as the major driving force for remote sensing applications were land applications such as crop forecasting, forest management, land management and mineral exploration. A Department of Ocean Development was created in 1981 and soon attention turned to ocean sensing, perhaps catalysed by Dr A.E. Muthunayagam, Director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, who took over as the Secretary of the Department of Ocean Development in 1994. The IRS programme responded with IRS-P4 which carried a new sensor called the Ocean Colour Monitor, OCM and a microwave sensor called the Multi-frequency Scanning Microwave Radiometer, MSMR. The OCM was used for studying the ocean colour to track ocean features like temperature, chlorophyll and pollution. The microwave sensors made a comeback at long last after the Satellite Microwave Radiometers, SAMIR on board Bhaskara 1 and 2; a hiatus of nearly 15 years. Also it is important to note that though the Hariharan Committee mentioned these sensors, it took time before an operational sensor emerged. IRS-P4 was launched on May 26, 1999. It was renamed Oceansat-1 and was followed by Oceansat-2 in September 23, 2009.

Tracing the terrain 
The next area to be addressed by the IRS Programme was the third dimension in geography — the terrain. IRS-1C and D carried steerable PAN cameras which could be used to image an area
from different directions to create a stereo pair, which could then be used by a photogrammetric
workstation to create a Digital Elevation Model of the terrain
. However, these were not dedicated for this purpose. To meet this requirement, IRS-P5, renamed Cartosat-1, carried two 2.5m resolution PAN cameras pointed fore and aft along the flight track. This ensured a complete stereo coverage of the country enabling users to create 3D models of any part of India or even the world. 

Another area covered by IRS is that of agile imaging at very high resolution. These are requirements of the security establishment as well as agencies like infrastructure and urban planning departments. This technology was first tried out on a Technology Evaluation Satellite (TES), which had 1m resolution and could be commanded to image a specific area. TES was launched on October 22, 1999

TES was followed by Cartosat-2 in January 10, 2007, Cartosat 2A on April 28, 2008 and Cartosat 2B on July 12, 2010.
The successors Meanwhile, IRS-1D was aging and required a replacement. This came in the form of Resourcesat. Resourcesat-1 was launched on October 17, 2003 and was a vast improvement beyond IRS-1C and D. In keeping with the ISRO naming policy, the first satellite was designated in the P category as IRS-P6. It carried an Advanced WIFS (AWIFS), which had a 740-km swath, 70m resolution and three bands, effectively bringing back LISS-1 resolution of IRS-1A and B with a very wide swath and therefore higher revisit. The workhorse sensor continued to be the LISS-3. Another new sensor was LISS-4, a multispectral upgrade of the PAN. Resourcesat-2 followed on April 20, 2011. The latest in the series of IRS satellites is RISAT-1 which in a sense completes the programme envisaged by the Hariharan Committee in 1976 by adding a Synthetic Aperture Radar to the constellation of sensors in space on board IRS satellites. 

Providing all-weather, day and night capability, RISAT-1 represents the acme of technological achievement. No other country in the world has such a huge constellation of operational satellites carrying a wide variety of sensors from the visible to microwaves and from 1m to 70m resolution.

Gorshkov one step closer to Indian Navy

India’s much-delayed Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, which sailed out into the Barents Sea earlier this month ahead of its Indian induction, cleared critical trials on Saturday, when it cruised at its top speeds of over 30 knots without any glitch.

It was during such a trial last year that the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier gave indications of trouble in its propulsion system in the form of a boiler malfunction and had to be returned to the Sevmash Shipyard in northern Russia for rectifying the glitch.

With the Kiev class warship clearing this crucial trial, it will now carry out manoeuvre trials when its ability to carry out combat operations would be tested, before it heads to the White Sea for the aviation phase trials of its air assets such as the MiG-29K maritime fighter jets and helicopters, according to sources in the Indian Navy here.

The sea trials in the Barents and White seas are part of its last-phase tests before it is formally handed over to the Indian Navy for sailing to India by November-December this year. Gorshkov, which has been rechristened INS Vikramaditya, will have Karwar in Karnataka as its home base.

The warship, which was ready by early 2012, had gone for similar sea trials in the summer of that year when all its systems, including propulsion, boilers, power generation and aviation systems, were tested.

After over several hundred hours of testing, a flaw was identified in the boilers, primarily because of its poor performance while attempting to cruise at top speeds, resulting in the warship not attaining its full combat-mode capability.

The trouble was identified in the low-grade Chinese-made firebricks used in the boiler insulation, instead of the usual asbestos. This prevented Sevmash from handing over the warship to the Indian Navy on December 4, 2012, as originally scheduled.

The boiler problem has now been rectified. But the sea trials are being repeated for all systems on board, before a 1,000-member Indian Navy crew and technical team headed by a two-star officer carry out the delivery acceptance trials.

“If all of the trials, both sea and delivery acceptance, go well, the warship will be delivered to India sometime in December 2013.

India offers Vietnam $ 100-million credit for military ware

In a first, India has offered a $ 100-million credit line to Vietnam to purchase military equipment. It will be used for purchasing four patrol boats.

The credit line was agreed upon around the time India once again expressed its resolve to remain involved in oil exploration activity in the Phu Kanh basin of the South China Sea. Vietnam says it is within its rights to invite India to explore for oil in this area. But China claims that this basin is within the “nine dotted line” or its zone of influence. The credit line is likely to be finalised by the time the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam visits India towards the end of the year.

Vietnam and India have long enjoyed strategic ties that include cooperation in the civil nuclear sector, training slots for Vietnamese military officers and frequent exchange of visits.

But this is one rare occasion when India is offering a defence-related credit line so far upfield. Usually, near neighbours squarely in India’s zone of direct influence have been the beneficiaries of New Delhi’s credit lines for the defence sector. For example, Mauritius, whose air force and navy have Indian defence hardware, was given credit lines to buy Indian patrol boats and Dhruv helicopters.

India has wanted to expand its defence ties with Vietnam to military hardware and one of the top- most items on the Vietnamese wish-list is the Brahmos missile, jointly produced with Russia, which, however, has close ties with both Vietnam and China and would not want to antagonise either.

Sources in the government wanted the credit line to be seen from the context of the overall drive to improve ties with South East Asian nations of which Vietnam’s close ties with India predate the Cold War. There has been a heavy traffic of high level visitors between the two countries that has led to a $ 45-million credit line for a 200-MW hydel project built by BHEL, offer of export of the Param supercomputer and a breakthrough for the Indian corporate sector though its Vietnamese counterparts have struggled.

The sources pointed out that India was beefing up security ties with all countries beyond its eastern flank as one of the vital components of its Look East policy. India and navies of some South East Asian countries have for long conducted the Milan series of naval exercises. The Indian Navy also conducts coordinated patrols with Thailand and holds joint exercises with Singapore and Japan.

Infiltration bid foiled by armed forces, 1 militant killed.

he security forces have foiled an infiltration bid along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir
and killed one terrorist in gunbattle, according to Times Now.

The incident has been reported from Kupwara district of north Kashmir.
According to reports, security forces have
recovered arms from the terrorist.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

DRDO to conduct Nag missile test trials soon

The missile complex of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here has been working on making Nag, a third-generation 'Fire-and-Forget' anti-tank missile for the past few years. It was almost a year ago when the Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) failed in its user trials by the Indian Army in Rajasthan. DRDO blamed it upon the high temperatures in the desert where the tests were conducted to bring the target temperature to the same level as that of the ambient temperature.

V G Sekaran, chief controller R&D (Missiles & Strategic Systems) and programme director, Agni, told TOI that trials for Nag with new 'more sensitive' and 'higher resolution' seekers being developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) of DRDO here will be conducted by this month end. 'Nag' is the baby of Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) of DRDO. According to G Satheesh Reddy, DRDL director, the new seekers would perform well even in extremely hot temperatures with more efficiency and accuracy in hitting targets with new improved detectors on the missile tip for sensing heat or infra red signals.

Dwelling into the reasons for the past failures, Avinash Chander, scientific advisor to raksha mantra and secretary Defence Research & Development and director general DRDO (Defence R&D Organisation), the high temperatures during the peak day hours in the desert resulted in heating up of the targets to the extend that it was the same as the surroundings. "As such, the seekers, which worked well otherwise till up to four kilometers or so, could not differentiate between the target object and the surroundings. Accuracy under such conditions worked well only till a limited range and now we are working on developing more sensitive and higher resolution seekers", he said, adding that the Indian Army will also participate in the development trials this month-end.

The DRDO chief claimed that once developed as per specifications, other foreign ATGMs currently being used by India shall be no match to 'Nag'. DRDO reportedly is also working on making the future versions of the missile lighter even though it is fired from a special Russian origin Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2 (named 'Namica' or the Nag Missile Carrier) in its terrestrial version. Meanwhile, a couple of months after these user trials failed, the government which so far has spent Rs 1,700 crores on Nag, had to give its nod for procuring second generation 10,000 Russian Konkurs-M, Anti Tank Guided Missiles at a cost of Rs 1,200 crores for infantry formations of the Indian Army. Though DRDOP has shelved its plans to build a wire-guided system for Nag, it continues to work on 'Helina', the helicopter or air launch version of Nag.

Army pilots to be made combat-ready in Bangalore

Pilots of the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps will be trained to be combat-ready here in Bangalore. The pilots who will fly the weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Rudra, will undergo simulator training in the months to come at the city based Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF).

HATSOFF, which already has a simulator cockpit for the civil, conventional variant of the ALH Dhruv has so far offered simulation-based training to over 100 Indian Air Force Pilots.

“The integration for the new simulator to train pilots on the weaponised ALH has been taking place and we would be starting training in the months to come,” an HATSOFF Official told dna.

According to a veteran helicopter pilot, the per-hour cost of training on a full mission simulator is generally below 55% of the hour cost of flying on an actual helicopter.

The Indian Army’s Aviation Corps first squadron comprising the ALH Rudra is also likely to be raised in Bangalore.

Government clears posting of 40,000 soldiers along China border

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today gave the much-awaited clearance for raising a Mountain Strike Corps.

The battalion will comprise 40,000 additional soldiers to counter China's military strength, sources said. It will cost Rs. 64,000 crore, to be spent over a seven year period, and will empower India's military with an offensive capability against China, so far been missing from its armoury.

The Strike Corps will be headquarted at Panagarh in West Bengal.
Apart from two more mountain divisions, the Strike Corps will have an independent armoured brigade, an artillery brigade.

The Indian Air Force or IAF too will deploy its newly-acquired medium lift C-130 J Hercules Transport Aircraft designed for aiding special operations.

India already has three Strike Corps: Division 1 is based in Mathura, Division 2 in Ambala and Division 21 is in Bhopal. However, all of them are ranged against Pakistan and are equipped for desert and plains warfare.

The planned expansion of military capacity is first such addition since 2009 when India decided to raise two mountain divisions in the north-east.

Each division with 15,000 soldiers is now fully formed and functional at Lekhapani and Missamari in Assam, at the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh.

Capability development and modernisation of the Indian Army

'A well structured and institutionalised planning process is in place for capability development and modernisation of the Indian Army'

Lieutenant General Narendra Singh, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCOAS) (P&S) Indian Army, in an interview with Lt General (Retd) V.K. Kapoor, Editor, SP’s Land Forces, spoke at length about the different modernisation drives of the Indian Army. Excerpts:

SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): In the reconstitution of responsibilities within the Army Headquarters, DCOAS (P&S) has been assigned far greater responsibilities. All the DGs of line directorates now report to him. Hence the role assigned to the DCOAS (P&S) has been enhanced considerably. How is the system functioning? What are your views in this regard?

Deputy Chief of Army Staff (P&S) DCOAS (P&S): 
The reconstitution of responsibilities in the Army Headquarters (HQ) has made the functioning smoother for all line duties as well as for the DCOAS (P&S). Having said that, I would say that there has not been any paradigm change of responsibilities or the hierarchy. As the DCOAS (P&S), I am responsible for the modernisation of the Army and managing the capital budget. The system facilitates consolidating requirements which are common to all the line directorates and projecting consolidated cases for modernising the Army. This leads to economy of scales and financial prudence. In addition, it obviates the duplicity of effort and reduces the gestation time for induction of new equipment. Arms and equipment like small arms, bullet proof jackets, night sights, vehicles and host of other equipment is being procured across the board. Various line directorates are nominated as the lead directorate for a particular type of equipment. This streamlines the procurement process, as coordination between the line directorates becomes much simpler, being directly under the DCOAS (P&S).

SP’s: Field Artillery’s equipment profile has been adversely affected by non-procurement of 155mm guns and howitzers, both self-propelled (SP) and towed variety, resulting in fire power deficiency in the Indian Army. This has been reported extensively in the media. Can you update us on the status of procurement of 155mm (Towed) guns to replace older generation equipment; acquisition of the 155mm/ 39 calibre ultra-light weight howitzers (ULH) which is being procured through the foreign military sales (FMS) route; procurement of 155mm self-propelled (SP) guns to fill existing voids.

DCOAS (P&S): The Army is looking at equipping Indian Artillery with state-of-the-art fire power platforms. Towards this end, several initiatives to procure various types of 155mm guns for varied operational roles are at various stages of fructification. A three pronged approach is being adopted, wherein the immediate requirement would be procured ex import; the medium-term requirements would be manufactured after absorbing technology transfers; while the long-term requirements would be met by indigenous developments.

SP’s: Army Air Defence is in dire straits. No new equipment has been inducted in the last three decades or so. All equipment currently held is outdated and in many cases obsolescent. What are the measures being taken to rectify this situation?

 A carefully formulated capability development plan of Army Air Defence has been put in place which is in line with the current Army Air Defence philosophy. The philosophy envisages a significant shift from point defence air defence system to theaterised employment of air defence resources. The concept of theatre air defence involves dynamic and centralised employment of air defence resources to provide layered and tiered area air defence cover against air and missile threats.

Necessary impetus is being given to progress numerous procurement cases, which are at varying stages of the procurement process. Issues of limited vendor base for technologically complex air defence systems, along with security restrictions on transfer of technology and limited indigenous capability for development of complex air defence systems had led to new equipment being inducted. These have now been addressed through research and development (R&D), transfer of technology, indigenisation and involvement of private industry.

SP’s: L-70 guns have been with us for more than 40 years. The radars of this system have been changed many times but the gun system has not been changed. They constitute almost 50 per cent of the strength of air defence systems in the Army. What is being done in this regard?

 L-70 guns, despite its vintage, have an effective range compatible with present day gun systems. The system has also undergone modifications for increased rate of fire, usage of improved ammunition and change of fire control radar. Currently, a two-pronged approach is being adopted for replacement of the L-70 gun, to include:

Upgradation of select number of existing guns with an improved sighting system, power laying and onboard power supply.
Procurement of a successor gun system in a phased manner to meet the balance requirement.

SP’s: What is the status of Arjun Mk II and what is the plan for further induction of Arjun tanks?

 MBT Arjun has been in operational service with the Indian Army since 2007. For an emerging world power, we have to be self-reliant, with a strong indigenous defence industry. Therefore, MBT Arjun is a step in the right direction. We are now focusing on introducing an improved MBT Arjun Mk II with upgrades, to make it a truly world class tank. The Army has clearly articulated its long-term perspective plan for induction of tanks based on its armour philosophy. MBT Arjun and its upgraded version have a defined role to play in this.

SP’s: What is the status of future main battle tank (FMBT)?

The FMBT will be an indigenously designed and developed tank. All stakeholders would be brought onboard as the project progresses. It would be based on the guidelines of the DPP and indigenous industry would be involved to the extent possible. The developmental project will be monitored in all stages of development, from the principal staff qualitative requirements (PSQR) stage to the bulk production, so that we get a state-of-art tank, comparable to/better than any futuristic tank of the world.

SP’s: In the alternate fuel vehicles (AFV) seminars held in the past, the requirement of light tanks for the mountains in the east as well as in the western sector had emerged. Is there any move in this direction? It seems that an Independent Armoured Brigade is being raised for the Eastern theatre with light tanks as reported by the media.

 The capability of an Army is an amalgam of equipment and manpower, both of which are processed in parallel for capability enhancement. The numbers required for the capability depends upon dynamics of threat assessment as well as financial prudence. To that end, Indian Army periodically carries out realistic threat assessment and formulates capability required for undertaking its mandated charter. Accordingly, modernisation and force structuring proposals are taken up with the government. As far as the equipment modernisation is concerned, any contemporary Army endeavours to maintain 30 per cent of equipment as state-of-the-art. Accordingly, Indian Army also endeavours to induct new equipment/weapon platforms as per operational requirements, in step with the current trends in the world. Towards that, various new platforms to be inducted in the Army are being considered for various arms and services.

SP’s: The overhaul of the T-72 tank is behind schedule by a few years. This will adversely affect the fleet of tanks held by the Army. How are we planning to get over this issue?

As you are aware, our T-72 fleet is being overhauled along with the upgrades. Our present overhaul capacity is also being enhanced. All these steps will ensure that the complete mid-life overhaul of the tank, along with the upgrades, is completed in an acceptable time frame which meets our operational requirement.

SP’s: Long-term strategic planning is the domain of DCOAS (P&S) as well as the VCOAS? Functionally how are the responsibilities shared between the two??

A well structured and institutionalised planning process is in place for capability development and modernisation of the Indian Army. The VCOAS is responsible for the overall direction, evolution and coordination of these plans. DCOAS (P&S) is responsible for execution and monitoring progress of this process. The responsibilities of the two offices, though separate, are complimentary to each other.

SP’s: Is the capital budget allotted to the Army adequate considering the voids in the inventory and requirements to modernisation and induction of new technologies?

 Though the initial allocations this year are low, there has never been a constraint of capital budget for modernisation and induction of new technologies. Adequate budgetary support has been promised for the new schemes as well as committed liabilities.

SP’s: The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2011 was formally released on January 13, 2011. One of the criticisms is that the Ministry of Defence has missed another opportunity to revamp the whole system as the initiatives introduced are of marginal nature and only aim at strengthening the stranglehold of the public sector. What are your views on this issue?

DCOAS (P&S): DPP 2011 has evolved as a comprehensive, representative and robust compilation based on the experiences gained while undertaking defence procurements in the past. These have been taken into account while preparing a functional and acceptable DPP in line with ground realities.

The DPP has recently been reviewed. An important aspect of the review is the preferred order of categorisation for all capital procurement cases. In this, “Buy Indian” and “Buy & Make (Indian)” will be the preferred categorisation. Procedures for “Buy & Make (Indian)” category have also been simplified. This is likely to give boost to indigenous production and bolster the participation of Indian industry in the defence sector.

SP’s: How is our offset policy being made more practical?

 The revised defence offset guidelines were ratified in July 2012. These guidelines have addressed major policy issues relating to expanding avenues for discharge of offset obligations through transfer of technology (ToT)/transfer of equipment (ToE) as valid means of offset discharge. Further, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been permitted to acquire a selected list of core technologies as part of offset obligations from foreign vendors. In order to incentivise foreign companies to engage India’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the revised guidelines have also, for the first time, allowed multipliers of up to three for technology acquisition by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Extension of banking period to seven years as against earlier period of two years will further facilitate the efficient discharge of offset obligations in the long term. The revised offset guidelines provide a relatively stronger monitoring system by way of creating a Defence Offsets Management Wing (DOMW) to replace the erstwhile Defence Offsets Facilitation Agency (DOFA), with more powers in terms of post contract management.

SP’s: What is the Army’s policy on sensors and surveillance devices and what is their status? In this we may include surveillance satellites, UAVs, LORROS, night vision devices, radars and other ground sensors. How far have we progressed in this direction?

 Battlefield surveillance is one of the most important force multipliers. Our surveillance philosophy caters to gap free surveillance from forward to depth areas. The sensors to be procured for strategic to tactical surveillance, have also been identified. These include aerostats, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), battlefield surveillance radars, weapon locating radars, long-range electro-optical sensors, sound ranging systems, etc.

Aerostats equipped with surveillance radars and real time communication links have been planned to be inducted. The Heron, a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV, has been acquired in addition to the Searcher I and II UAVs. Medium-range battlefield surveillance radars (BFSRs) have been introduced into the inventory of Army’s surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) units for enhancing the medium-range ground surveillance capability of the Army. The long-range observation system (LORROS) provides day and night surveillance capability. Development of Nishant remotely-piloted vehicle designed by the DRDO, to undertake battlefield surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time engagement of targets by artillery fire-and laser designation has been successfully completed. In addition, we are also going in for enhancing the night fighting capability of our soldiers and combat systems. It can thus be seen that the requirement is being addressed in a holistic manner.

SP’s: Reconnaissance and Surveillance Troops and Platoons of Armoured Regiments and Mechanised Infantry units respectively, can be excellent assets in war, if equipped appropriately. Is anything being done in this regard?

DCOAS (P&S): The Reconnaissance Troops and Platoons of Armoured Regiments and Mechanised Infantry Battalions are force multiplying assets and are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Combat Group Commander. While so far they are based on light wheeled vehicles, we are now working towards equipping them with specialised light armoured multipurpose (LAM) vehicle. These vehicles will have adequate firepower and state-of-the-art electronics and optronics. In addition, mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also planned to be inducted to provide reconnaissance support and extended reach to the Commanders on the field.

SP’s: What is the growth pattern of the Army Aviation which is a vital element of our offensive and defensive capability? By when will our Cheetah and Chetak helicopters be replaced?

 Army Aviation Corps since it’s raising, has transformed itself into a full-fledged arm and is poised to further grow exponentially, in tune with the capability development plan of the Army. The inherent knowledge of the Army aviators of ground warfare; and their affinity for troops on ground, makes Army Aviation a battle wining quotient for effect-based operations and tactical battle centric operations. In the medium and long term, Army Aviation will have varied capability of reconnaissance, utility, armed and attack helicopters to respond swiftly and effectively to the Field Force Commander’s requirement. As regards the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters; Cheetal and advanced light helicopter (ALH) are being inducted into the armed forces. Replacement helicopter are also being looked at. In addition, there are a large number of developmental projects in the pipeline like the light utility helicopter.

SP’s: The Army needs dedicated attack helicopters operated by the Army and in direct support of field formations in war. What are implications of the latest government notification in this regards?

 The future battlespace will witness complex, swift, short and very violent application of combat resources by the field force commanders who will need to ‘look, move and strike deep’. In order to gainfully employ and optimise the tasking of attack helicopters in the tactical battle area, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has vested the ownership of attack helicopters with the Army. Army Aviation as a manoeuvre arm in third dimension with its enhanced strike capability of attack helicopters will play a very decisive and lethal role; and provide intimate combat support to Battle Groups in the tactical battle area. Induction of these in the Army would be carried out in accordance with the capability development plans of the Indian Army.

SP’s: What is the status of the project future infantry soldier as a system (F-INSAS)? It does not seem to have progressed much.

 Project F-INSAS perceives the soldier as a system—a situation aware soldier capable of performing multiple roles in battle. His weapon, sight, surveillance system and communication equipment will be an integrated system. It is designed to enhance an individual soldier’s capabilities in terms of increasing his lethality while providing him necessary protection at the same time. We have moved from concept stage to execution stage of the project. In the initial phase, priority is being accorded to weapon systems, enhancing night vision, protection and battlefield mobility capabilities. The weapons and equipment are at various stages of procurement process and the project is progressing well.

SP’s: What is the progress of our efforts to modernise the Infantry at unit and sub unit level with particular reference to firepower, mobility, surveillance and reconnaissance and night fighting capability?

 The future wars are likely to be different from the ones we have fought in the past. Full scale conventional conflicts are likely to recede, giving way to sector specific, short, intense and destructive battles under a nuclear backdrop. In addition, we shall be witnessing a fusion of insurgency and terrorism with the operational environment having a high degree of ambiguity. Hence, it is imperative that we build our capabilities to face the entire spectrum of conflict, from asymmetric to conventional war under a nuclear backdrop.

Modernisation of the Infantry is being addressed on priority. State-of-the-art assault rifle and carbine are currently under advanced stages of procurement and shall be instrumental in enhancing firepower and lethality at the soldier level. To cater to the anti-tank defence at Infantry Battalion level, third generation, fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles and rocket launchers are being procured.

Enablement of the infantry to enhance the surveillance and effective engagement at night is the key priority area. Short-range battlefield surveillance radar (BFSR) coupled with mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would further enhance the surveillance capability of an infantry commander. The initiatives in the field of mobility includes induction of high mobility vehicles, light specialist vehicles and superior troop and load carriage vehicles, lending enhanced mobility in all terrain scenario.

The vision of the Infantry is to have a fully-empowered soldier equipped with weapons and equipment which has a decisive technological edge over its adversary. 

Kolkata to base Heron and Searcher MK II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

The stage is set for Heron and Searcher MK II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Navy to be stationed at the Behala airport.

According to officials, discussions between the Navy and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are at their final stage and work on building necessary infrastructure will start soon. The UAVs, with long endurance and stealth capabilities, will aid in search and detection and add punch to the surveillance capabilities of the Navy's Eastern Naval Command and coastal security as a whole.

The Navy first proposed the commissioning of a UAV squadron at Behala nearly two years ago. The AAI agreed to the proposal on principle and discussions began. The Navy plans to utilize about 15 acres of the airfield that it will obtain from AAI on a 30-year lease. Though the project was announced in 2011, there was some delay due to which doubts began to be raised on whether the Navy has backed out. In 2012, the Navy commissioned its third UAV squadron in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. UAV squadrons are also based at Kochi and Porbandar along the country's west coast.

"The Behala project is very much on. Our discussions with the AAI have reached the final stage. In fact,

Deputy chief of naval staff Vice-Admiral P K Chatterjee visited the Behala airfield recently along with AAI officials to take stock of the situation. It shouldn't take too long now for work to start," said Commodore Ravi Ahluwalia, naval officer in-charge, West Bengal.

Both the Heron and Searcher are Israeli-manufactured UAVs. The Heron has an operational speed of 130 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 32,800 feet. It has a range of 217 miles. The Searcher has an operational speed of 125 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. It has a range of 18 hours.

"The UAV squadron in Behala will be of great strategic importance due to its proximity to the estuarine parts of the Bay of Bengal. Normal surveillance is difficult in this terrain. There are several creeks and waterways there where vessels can seek shelter. In the past suspicious movement has been spotted in this region. Kolkata doesn't have a naval base and the closest one is at Visakhapatnam. This is why the drones will be extremely essential to ensure coastal security. This UAV base will complement the radar stations that have been planned at Haldia and Sagar Island," an officer said.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Indian Air Force (IAF) 2nd and 3rd C-17 Globemaster III Airlifter at Boeing's Long Beach production facility.

Indian Air Force Pilatus PC-7 MkII Basic Flight Training started Monday

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd is pleased to announce that the first Indian Air Force Basic Flight Training course using the PC-7 MkII aircraft commenced, as planned, on July 8, 2013 at the Indian Air Force Academy at Dundigal, Hyderabad.

The Indian Air Force, the Indian Ministry of Defence and Pilatus have achieved this long-awaited and significant milestone as promised and on time.
More than 80 cadets will participate in this first training course. The resumption in basic flight training was achieved following delivery of the fourteenth PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft in June 2013, fourteen months after contract signature.

In parallel, Pilatus has also provided training to Indian Air Force maintenance personnel and instructor pilots and has delivered a complete logistics support package.

The Pilatus team wishes the instructors and cadets at the Air Force Academy Dundigal, who are taking part in this first course, much success. Pilatus is confident that the introduction of the PC-7 MkII into the Indian Air Force training system will prove itself to be an extremely capable, safe and reliable training platform.
Pilatus looks forward to continuing deliveries of the 75 PC-7 MkII training aircraft to the Indian Air Force and in supporting the aircraft for the coming years.

The Indian Air force and its troubled relationship with the MiG-21

The crash of a MiG-21 Bison and the death of a pilot is yet another chapter in the troubled history of an aircraft that has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent times.

In today’s crash, the aircraft involved was the modified MiG 21 Bison which crashed while landing at the Uttarlai Airbase in western Rajasthan, killing the pilot.

By the Defence Minister’s own admission in March this year, there have been 29 fighter aircraft crashes over the last three years, of which 12 have been MiG 21s.

The Indian Air Force has been unable to replace the MiG 21. AFP

The MiG 21 Bison is an upgraded version of the MiG 21, which was dubbed the ‘flying coffin’ after a spate of crashes that killed its pilots. However it forms a major part of the Indian Air Force’s fighter jet squadron.

A Times of India article documenting the history of the MiG-21 in the Indian Air Force speaks of how a price advantage coupled with the fighter aircraft’s agility was what prompted the entry of the MiG-21 into the Indian Air Force. There are now over 1,200 such craft in the Air force fleet.

The article also documents why despite glowing praises from pilots who have operated them, the aircraft is a subject of controversy. Since 1971-72, as many as 380 of the 872 MiG 21s inducted in the IAF have crashed – a number constituting 43 percent of the fleet.

However, despite the controversy surrounding the aircraft, the delay in the purchase of 126 Rafale fighters and the development of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has meant that the upgraded version of the MiG 21 including the Bison, will remain operational till 2019, the Hindu had reported.

Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne was quoted as saying that of the 874 MiG-21s bought since 1964, 264 are still operational and with a new radar system and aiming-navigation system the aircraft was good enought for use till 2019.

The Bison variant of the MiG 21 will continue to form a major element of the Indian Air Force’s fighting force and despite the controversies will continue to play a major role in the years to come, until its replacements arrive.

Lift the lid off nuclear secrecy

We are just weeks beyond the fifteenth anniversary of the 1998 nuclear tests, and less than a year from the fortieth anniversary of India’s 1974 “peaceful nuclear experiment.” India is justly proud of what its nuclear scientists have accomplished.

In the face of an international regime to slow their progress, Indian scientists, engineers, and even bureaucrats and politicians collaborated to find a way to build an increasingly diverse nuclear energy infrastructure and the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

To overcome these obstacles, India built a closed, close-knit nuclear enclave. Now that it has done so, will that establishment open up?

Fifteen years after Pokhran-II, it is possible the world knows less about India’s nuclear weapons programme than any other nuclear state, except North Korea. This is not proud company for the world’s largest democracy to share.

The Indian public has settled mostly for quiescence about the programme, punctuated by a handful of commentators eager to cheer-lead the programme’s accomplishments.

Closed organisations develop pathologies that are often harmful to the broader public interest. Whether India’s nuclear stewards have avoided dangerous practices is unclear based on the scant public record.
Little in public domain

The Indian government has only shown the barest of glimpses of what steps it believes are necessary to ensure deterrence while maximising safety. By far, the most information we have on the topic comes from a one-page press release issued in 2003.

Ten years is a long time to go without additional public comment by India’s political leaders, particularly since there are signs of major developments in the nuclear programme during that time.

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran did reveal a bit more in a speech where he announced the existence of a Strategy Programme Staff to support the Nuclear Command Authority and a Strategic Armament Safety Authority to review storage and transport procedures for nuclear weapons.

Other than the existence of a body charged with safety, there is much that is not known. There are isolated, anecdotal reports that the Department of Atomic Energy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation have personnel screening programmes to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from access to nuclear materials, but no information on the programme has been offered in the public domain.

Nor is there information on whether the Indian armed forces have a similar programme.

This is not just an academic concern. India’s armed forces are not immune to mental illness, suffering a little over 100 suicides within their ranks each year. Nor are they immune from violent insubordination. The Atomic Energy establishment is not invulnerable to bad actors. After an episode in which someone spiked drinking water at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station with tritium, one nuclear power official is reported to have said, “Scrutiny of staff is totally missing in our power stations.”

There appears to be more screening for those working on nuclear weapons issues, but what that scrutiny entails is not clear. As far as is known in public, no individual has been held accountable for the Kaiga episode.

Elsewhere, DRDO’s record is not without blemishes. We still know very little about how one of its junior researchers was arrested in a terror plot despite having passed his background checks.

The National Investigative Agency has recently dropped charges against the researcher, but the episode is still troubling.
permissive action links

Fears that personnel screening programmes are insufficient have led most nuclear weapons states, including Pakistan, to develop some sort of “permissive action links”.

These prevent nuclear weapons from being launched or detonated without authorisation by political leaders.

Does India have permissive action links? We do not know. If India has them, are they robust and tamper-resistant?

Apart from a cryptic reference in a 1998 press release to “safety interlocks,” there is no public information. Vice-Admiral Verghese Koithara, in his 2012 study of India’s nuclear arsenal, concluded the National Command Authority had a “lack of confidence” in its ability to exercise control over nuclear weapons through electronic means, suggesting that permissive action links are absent or rudimentary.

A decade ago, if you had asked scholars studying India’s nuclear programme, they would have told you permissive action links were important, but not necessary in the Indian case.

India was believed to store its nuclear weapons in a partially-disassembled, de-mated state that made the weapons immune to unauthorised launch during peacetime. However, without any public justification, this appears to have changed.

Bharat Karnad reported in his 2008 study of the programme that part of the arsenal was kept mated in peacetime.

DRDO head Avinash Chander said something consistent with Karnad’s claim when he stated, “In the second strike capability, the most important thing is how fast we can react. We are working on cannisterised systems that can launch from anywhere at anytime…. We are making missiles so response can be within minutes.”

Cannisterised systems, where the missile is stored in a sealed tube, seem to imply warhead mating and assembly is done long before launch.

If India has decided to keep missiles mated in peacetime, the presence of tamper-proof permissive action links is essential to avoid unauthorised launches.

Speed can lead to accidents and mistakes, so heightened readiness is not cost-free. That said, a posture where warheads are mated and assembled in peacetime is the norm among nuclear weapons states. Pakistan appears to be shifting toward greater peacetime readiness as well.
US model

The US deterrent posture has its flaws, in particular, a reluctance to reduce weapons to appropriate numbers for the post-Cold War world. But it does provide a model in some ways.

The US has published in detail the technical safeguards that prevent inadvertent launches or costly accidents, as well as the procedural steps it takes to prevent dangerous individuals from having access to nuclear materials. When mistakes happen, punishment is swift and severe.

All individuals and organisations are fallible, and the US model also shows the importance of constant scrutiny and oversight. The established nuclear powers, including the US, have a disturbing record of nuclear accidents.

As recently as 2007, the US Air Force inadvertently transported six nuclear warheads, believing them to be conventional munitions.

Seemingly innocuous, the episode was serious: if the bomber transporting the weapons had experienced problems in flight, the crew would not have known to handle the weapons with extra care. On the ground, the weapons were not secured properly.

Eventually, the episode contributed to the resignations of the senior-most civilian and military US Air Force officials.

Imagine if a similar episode were to occur in India. Who would know? Would lessons be learned?

As India’s nuclear weapons status achieves greater acceptance, it can afford to be transparent about the steps it takes to prioritise safety.

The open question is whether it will do so, or fall back on old habits of secrecy.

(The author is a Ph.D candidate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Stanton Nuclear Security Pre-doctoral Fellow at RAND Corporation.)