Archive for December, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013
By : The Tribune
The Defence Acquisition Council headed by A.K. Antony this week accorded Acceptance of Necessity to the Indian Navy for the Rs 13,440 crore project that envisages these vessels as a replacement for the existing Abhay-class corvettes commissioned between 1989 and 1991.

The plans of the Indian Navy to acquire 16 indigenously built shallow-water anti-submarine vessels, for which it has received clearance from the Defence Ministry, takes forward the project that fits into their overall task of defending the long coastline in the changed maritime security environment of the region.The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister AK Antony this week accorded Acceptance of Necessity to the Indian Navy for the Rs 13,440 crore project that envisages these vessels as a replacement for the existing Abhay-class corvettes commissioned between 1989 and 1991.

The four vessels — INS Abhay, Ajay, Akshay and Agray — have been in service for over two decades with the Indian Navy. These are customised variants of the Russian Pauk-class corvettes.

The Navy has expressed interest to procure new vessels under the ‘Buy Indian’ category. Under this, Indian shipyards will be asked to build these ships and the yards in turn, can seek design from a foreign partner.

Over the past few years, several Indian companies have shown interest in building ships for the Indian Navy and some of them have entered into collaboration with foreign ship builders. The effort is part of the government move to expand the domestic defence manufacturing base and begin the process of reversing over-dependence on imports.

Explaining the strategic importance of shallow-water anti-submarine vessels, Commodore Ranjit B Rai (retd), former Director, Naval Intelligence and Operations, said: “These will be a replacement for the Abhay class and will provide defence against any special operating vessels (Midgets) including those operated by Pakistan and China close to the harbour.”

The anti-submarine vessels are deployed to tackle and destroy underwater threats and also undertake low-intensity maritime operations. These are equipped with torpedoes and missiles and SONAR detection equipment to ferret out submarines in shallow waters.

The DAC clearance for acquisition of two Deep Submergence Rescue Vessels by the Indian Navy is also long pending. These vessels are required to go under water to bring up the personnel from disabled submarines.

The decision comes in the backdrop of the August 14 INS Sindhurakshak accident in Mumbai and also at a time when the Indian Navy is set to expand its fleet of underwater boats. At present, the Navy operates Kilo, Shishumar and Foxtrot-class submarines with another six Scorpene class — currently being built with French collaboration at Mazagon docks in Mumbai — also scheduled to join the service over the next few years.

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December 24, 2013
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The induction of the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas into the Indian Air Force will be a `game changer’ for the country’s air defence preparedness, says Avinash Chander, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. “Though delayed, the India developed fighter aircraft has emerged as a `contemporary aircraft, as good or in a way better than the competitors in its class”, Avinash Chander told Business Line.The LCA signals the country’s indigenous capability to develop a major air-based weapon platform and a step towards achieving self-reliance in aircraft design, fabrication and manufacture. It has laid a sound base for a smooth take off in the efforts to develop more advanced fighter aircraft in the future, Avinash Chander, the Chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said.The fighter aircraft, which obtained the Initial Operation Clearance on December 20, is a step away from induction into the IAF to replace the ageing MiG-21 aircraft. The immediate plan was to induct six squadrons of the IAF with the Tejas. This means about 120 aircraft. Already, the IAF has placed orders for two squadrons. Similarly, the Indian Navy will have at least 40 of the naval version of the fighter aircraft.

In the next 10 years, at least 200 LCA numbers are expected to bolster the country’s air strike power. The HAL, which will manufacture these aircraft will provide 16 per year. It has built capacity and will further ramp up production facilities.

The DRDO Chief saw Rs 100,000 crore opportunity in the next decade in the defence aircraft industry for the country. The gradual induction of the LCA will ensure a forex saving to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore. In addition, the savings on life cycle and maintenance costs will be close to that figure in the long run, he explained.

There is tremendous scope for small and medium enterprises to make components and sub-systems and supply to HAL. It will also lead to creation of expertise and industrial infrastructure in the country.

By : DNA India
Though the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) entered the social media space only a couple of months ago, the Isro’s efforts to publicise its ambitious interplanetary expedition have been well paid off.

Though the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) entered the social media space only a couple of months ago, the Isro’s efforts to publicise its ambitious interplanetary expedition have been well paid off.The MOM is amongst the most talked about topics on Facebook in the country. The MOM or the Mangalyaan as it is popularly referred to on the Facebook page is the fifth most talked about topic in India.

“Thanks to the curiosity of the teeming netizens, MOM is amongst the most talked about topics on Facebook in India,” announced Isro MOM Facebook page.

The others in the list are: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who also tops the list followed by recently-retired cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, iPhone 5s and RBI governor Raghuram Rajan.

In the run up to the launch of its first inter-planetary mission, Isro took to social media to connect with netizens and update the activities relating to the MOM’s launch.

The space agency launched an official MOM Facebook account on October 22 giving an insight of the Isro expedition to the Red Planet.

The page is frequented by a large number of followers curious to know about the status and health of the spacecraft and also on Isro’s activities pertaining to MOM.

Many netizens also give their feedback and suggestions. Till date the MOM Facebook page has had 288,089 likes and 32,215 talking about it.

By : The Hindu
The induction of Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer six months ago has brought a qualitative change in the training of future guardians of Indian skies, Air Vice-Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Deputy Commandant and in-charge of Training at Air Force Academy said.

The induction of Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer six months ago has brought a qualitative change in the training of future guardians of Indian skies, Air Vice-Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Deputy Commandant and in-charge of Training at Air Force Academy said.While cadets used to get about 25 hours of flying training earlier, induction of Pilatus has increased this to about 60 flying hours. At the end of the basic training, the cadets are now completing a total of 14 hours of solo flying as compared to just one hour earlier.

Bridging the gap

“Induction of Pilatus aircraft has plugged a vital gap in the basic flying training of cadets and with the presence of advanced navigation aids in the aircraft, teaching the basics of flying has become much easier and safer,” Mr. Chaudhari said. Pilatus has features like glass (digital) cockpit, Instrument Landing System, and advanced communications systems.

The Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 Mark-II aircraft was inducted in Indian Air Force (IAF) to fill the gap created by the grounding of the indigenous HPT-32 basic training aircrafts in June 2009. During the intervening period, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured jet trainer Kiran Mark-II was used to teach basic flying skills.

“Ideally, training of a fighter pilot should progress from turbo propeller aircrafts to slow jet trainers and then to fast jet trainers. For this reason teaching basic flying with Kiran Mark-II was difficult as it is a slow jet trainer,” Mr. Chaudhari explained.

With induction of Pilatus trainer, the Kiran Mark-II aircrafts have been sent back to Hakimpet Air Force Station to be used in the second stage of flying training for fighter pilots.

However, this equilibrium may not last long as the fast aging Kiran Mark-II aircrafts would be decommissioned soon.

“Kirans may have to be grounded in about four years and a suitable Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) should be inducted to replace them,” Mr. Chaudhari observed.

A total of 75 Pilatus PC-7 aircrafts are being procured from the Swiss company in which 60 will be positioned in AFA and 15 will be used in training flying instructors in Tambaram, Chennai. AFA, till date, has about 28 Pilatus aircrafts.

Passing-out parade

About 203 trainees from various branches of IAF will graduate from AFA and receive commissioning from present IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne on December 14. Of the 203 cadets, 37 are female cadets. The final Passing Out Parade will also contain a colourful fly-past and acrobatics by different aircraft.

By : Indian Express
 
 
India is finally gearing up for the maiden test firing of its submarine launch of longest range and nuclear capable ballistic missile code-named K-4 from an underwater platform off the Vizag coast by end of next month. The missile flies in hypersonic speed and is the world’s best weapon in this class.

India is finally gearing up for the maiden test firing of its submarine launch of longest range and nuclear capable ballistic missile code-named K-4 from an underwater platform off the Vizag coast by end of next month. The missile flies in hypersonic speed and is the world’s best weapon in this class.

The much-awaited test which was scheduled for September was postponed due to technological developments. The indigenously developed 3,500-km range missile has been planned to be test launched from a pontoon (replica of a submarine) positioned nearly 50 feet under the sea surface.

The missile is the longer version of K-15, dubbed as B-05 missile which has been test fired at least 10 times. Though it has been designed to cover a distance of 3,500 kms, sources told The Express that this time the test would be conducted for a range of about 1,500 km.

The K-4 missile was developed very fast as many systems used in the missile were already perfected during the development of B-05 missile. The new missile will enable India to target China and Pakistan from its waters.

A defence scientist associated with the missile said some of its sub-systems had already been tested successfully earlier and the missile with full configuration was ready for its first launch. “We are leaving no stone unturned to make the mission successful. We want to achieve close to zero circular error probability (CEP) accuracy,” he said. 

The K-4 is one of the most ambitious projects of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and it was kept under wrap for years. Plans are also afoot to induct the B-05 missile, which has a strike range of nearly 700 kms, in the armed forces next year. This missile will also be test fired from the indigenously built India’s first submarine INS Arihant after it completes sea trials in 2014.

Defence sources said the K-4 missile is about 12 metre tall having a diameter of 1.3 metre and weighs around 17 tonne. It is capable of carrying a warhead of around 2 tonne and uses solid propellant.

Once inducted, the missile will not only complete India’s third leg of the nuclear deterrent, but also be the second strike weapon system in its much touted nuclear doctrine. It can target major Chinese cities even remaining away from the Chinese water. It could better be characterised as a hypersonic cruise missile, since it remains within the earth’s atmosphere. Making the K-4 even more survivable is its ability to manoeuvre, following a twisting path to the target which makes it very difficult to shoot it down.

The next missile in this series is K-5 which will have a strike range of nearly 5,000 km.

AGNI-III ON SCHEDULE ::
Range integration was conducted in the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast for the proposed test firing of 3,500 km range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-III. The weapon is scheduled to be test fired from the Wheeler Island by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army on December 18. It is the second user trial of the indigenously built surface-to-surface missile. This test will follow one each developmental trial of 4,000-km range Agni-IV and 5,000-km range Agni-V missile next month

The Indian Navy is designing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that it wants in its fleet, costs permitting. An indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the Arihant, is now in trials in the Bay of Bengal.

The Indian Navy is designing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that it wants in its fleet, costs permitting. An indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the Arihant, is now in trials in the Bay of Bengal.The Indian Navy “desires” to have three operational carriers in its fleet but the only one in use currently, the INS Viraat, is rusting away faster than it would like.

“The INS Viraat is ‘long in the tooth’ (outdated and too expensive to maintain),” the chief of naval staff, Admiral D.K. Joshi, said here today.

Naval headquarters is gradually beginning to take the view that the ship will have to be decommissioned before the planned end of its extended tenure in service.

The 55-year-old carrier has had several refits that have cost the defence budget heavily.

The navy commissioned the INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Gorshkov) in Russia last month. The carrier, now on its way to India, will take about six months after berthing in Karwar on the west coast to be made fully operational. It is expected in Indian waters in January.

Only the US Navy operates two or more aircraft carriers — always nuclear-powered — in Asia. The importance of aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean region is right now a matter of focus for strategists after China commissioned its own, the Liaoning, earlier this year.

China also announced last week that it was imposing an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea, over waters disputed by Japan and South Korea. Aircraft carriers are the naval platform-of-choice for “sea control”.

The Indian Navy will take a final call on its proposed 65,000-tonne nuclear-powered carrier after studying the experiences of the UK and France.

Naval headquarters has set itself a deadline of two months in which to freeze the design. Nuclear propulsion would give the vessel a longer life but the reactor is expensive to build.

But India has fitted an 80MW reactor, with Russian help, into the Arihant submarine. Nuclear propulsion also provides longer endurance and therefore capability to deploy the vessel farther for extended periods.

The UK abandoned the idea of nuclear propulsion for its Queen Elizabeth II carrier, now being built for its Royal Navy, because of the costs involved. France is the only country barring the US that has built a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on its own, the Charles de Gaulle.

The other decision, apart from the propulsion, that the naval design department is yet to freeze is whether the second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) should have Catobar (catapult assisted take-off barrier arrested recovery) like the US carriers or a flight deck for short take-off and arrested recovery (Stobar).

The 65,000-tonne IAC-2, tentatively named the Vishal, follows the Vikrant, or IAC-1, a conventional diesel-gas powered 44,700-tonne vessel being built in Kochi.

The Viraat, the only operational carrier with the navy currently, is planned to be in service till 2017 when the Vikrant is scheduled for commissioning. The Vikrant was floated out of the dry dock in Kochi in August this year.

Force Seeks Desi Help After Problems With Cos Abroad

Shishir Arya TNN 


Nagpur: The Tatas may have pulled out of the race to enter the banking business, but the group, along with six other corporate houses, is vying to bag the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) contract to overhaul its Russian fighter and transport aircraft. 
    Others who have shown interest in the contract include Max Aerospace and Taneja Aviation, according to a senior IAF source. 
    Facing recurring problems with the original equipment manufacturers abroad, the IAF now plans to hand over a part of the work for extending the life of its Mig-29 and AN-32 aircraft to domestic companies. The request for information was floated around two months ago, to which these seven business houses responded, the source said. Confirming this, Air Marshal P Kanakraj said the process is being managed by IAF’s maintenance command at Nagpur. Kanakraj is air-officer-commanding-inchief of maintenance command; he added that this was the first such venture. 
    The IAF will initially assist the private players, who will later take over all the overhaul-related work. 
    Bids will be invited in a month and IAF hopes the deal would be signed around March 2014. A source said the contract is worth a few thousand crores. 
    MiG29s and AN-32s were procured from erstwhile USSR and the original equipment manufacturers are no longer able to supplies fresh spares. The IAF is keen on extending the life of over 45 Mig-29s, and 65 AN-32s. After Ukraine overhauls 40 AN-32 aircraft, the rest 65 will be redone in India. However, going by the schedule, eight AN-32s should have been ready, but by now only two have undergone the process. There are also problems with the supply of spares. 
    The IAF also plans to assemble Swiss trainer aircraft Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft being acquired by India. After delivery of 76 aircraft, the next 100 will be assembled at the base repair depots of the maintenance command. IAF has so far been relying on its vendors as well as HAL for this job.

DESI TOUCH: The IAF hopes to sign the contract, said to be worth a few thousand crores, by March 2014

 

India has emerged as a large net importer of arms over the past decade. The year 2001 saw an opening up the defence sector to private players and allowing up to 26 per cent foreign direct investment.

India has emerged as a large net importer of arms over the past decade. The year 2001 saw an opening up the defence sector to private players and allowing up to 26 per cent foreign direct investment. In 2006, the first formal Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) was put in place. The key objective of the defence offset guidelines was to leverage capital acquisitions to develop the defence industry, improve defence research and encourage development of synergistic sectors like civil aerospace and internal security. The guidelines were last revised in August 2012 and the latest DPP-2013 came into effect on June 1.Some form of barter system has existed for centuries, but the US was the first to coin the term ‘offsets’ as an inducement to sell arms to underdeveloped friendly countries, and in return, either purchased goods or made local investments. The ground position today is that the major arms sellers of the world such as US, UK, France and Germany label such regulations as protectionist, and are not in favour of defence offsets. On the other hand, most countries have high defence offsets regulations. China has no formal offsets policy. Australia does not accept indirect (civilian) offsets, unless they bring benefits to the country’s defence industry.

In India, all contracts above $65 million require 30 per cent of offset. Indian firms and joint ventures are exempted from offset obligations provided the indigenous content is over 50 per cent. India also accepts subcontracting in outsourced services, such as engineering and defence software. Clearly, Indian offsets’ requirements are not unreasonably stringent.

Nearly 122 open defence offset contracts signed around the world between 1997 and 2010 have only partially been executed due to various issues. It is clear that offset management is very complex, as has to be managed to the satisfaction of two parties. The US, being one of the largest exporters of high technology weapons, has been vocally moderating offset policies around the world.

Offsets are a powerful marketing tool to motivate a purchase. Major defence contractors are conscious of the psychological power of offsets in democracies. What constitutes a legitimate offset, are questions still searching for answers. The physical valuation of offsets is complex. Value of parts locally sourced could be straight-forward, but cost of transfer of technology (ToT) and helping set up industrial base could be vague. Co-production and subcontracts are the best forms of direct offsets.

Offset/industrial partnership management organisations have emerged. Offset India Solutions (OIS), an Indian company, extends a partnering approach to provide customised expertise to international companies for fulfilling their offset obligations throughout its lifecycle. Offsets management itself has, thus, become an industry.

The new offset guidelines promote investment in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by applying a multiplier factor of 3.0 to the offset calculations. It also facilitates technology acquisition from a select list, by the defence research and development organisation (DRDO). The offset discharge banking period is extended to seven years. Period of execution of offset contracts is now allowed up to two years beyond the period of main procurement contract.

Indian defence manufacturing industries’ capability to absorb offsets is still evolving. To achieve high indigenous content in high technology products is not easy. At present, the exclusion of services for purposes of value addition in India is a dampener. All this results in complex extended negotiations. One would recall the long time that Indian agencies and French aerospace company Dassault had to iron out offset issues during the MMRCA negotiations. One recent successful offsets management case is that of Pilatus Aircraft, Switzerland, setting up an electrical harness manufacturing capability, along with Bharat Electronics (BEL) in Bangalore. The electrical harnesses manufactured by BEL would be for the Pilatus global supply chain. The contract which includes an integrated ground based training system, and a comprehensive logistics support package, covers the 30 per cent offset obligation. Pilatus Aircraft entered into a contract with the Indian government last year for the supply of 75 PC-7 Mk II turboprop basic trainer aircraft for the IAF.

The companies that want to build long-term defence relations with an emerging power like India would find good offsets solutions.

A Financial Times study projects 15,000 defence contracts in the decade ending 2022, with offset obligations of $100 billion. Top five US defence contractors — Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon would be saddled with $ 42 billion of the obligations. Even as Indo-US defence trade reach new highs, offsets and defence FDI policies continue to act as roadblocks. Notwithstanding, US president Barack Obama reaffirmed during his recent meeting with prime minister Manmohan Singh that the US would grant India the same privileges reserved for its closest allies in respect of transfer of defence technology, co-production and co-development.

US sales of military equipment to India have grown from zero in 2008 to around $9 billion in 2013. Projects worth tens of billions are in the pipeline. India’s expectation combined with a 26 per cent cap on FDI in the defence sector limits the interest of American firms to fulfill Indian requests for high-technology defence items. Defence contractors are not only worried about intellectual property rights or the technology moving to unintended sources, but also about some of the recipients developing technologies and later becoming competitors at their expense. India has a significant manufacturing industrial base. It has, under licence, produced thousands of aircraft over five decades. It has a very successful space programme. Therefore, it should not be difficult to find local offset partners. Pilatus has recently set a good example for others to follow.