Sunday, April 27, 2014

PDV Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor BMD Phase 1: Maiden Test Photos & Video

PDV Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor BMD Phase 1: Maiden Test on April 27, 2014. Photo Credit: DRDO

The maiden test of the Prithvi Defense Vehicle (PDV0 Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) interceptor missile on April 27, 2014 was a proud moment for DRDO and the nation.

The PDV missile will replace the existing PAD-1 exo-atmospheric interceptor of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Phase 1.

The PAD-1 has a solid fuel first stage and a liquid fuel second stage. Liquid rocket fuel tends to be corrosive. Once its loaded into a stage, the stage must either be used or discarded. As such, the use of liquid fuel is incompatible with the qualitative requirements of an operational BMD interceptor.

The PDV is a two stage, all solid fueled, which facilitates easy storage and quick launch.

PDV Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor BMD Phase 1: Maiden Test on April 27, 2014. Photo Credit: DRDO

It is capable of intercepting enemy missiles at altitudes upto 150 km, ensuring that the enemy warhead debris burns up in the atmosphere, causing no ground contamination.

The missile features a dual mode (IR and Active radar) seeker, and like the PAD, has a directional warhead.

The missile is equipped with an innovative system to allow it to maneuver at altitudes up to 150 km, well outside the earth's atmosphere. (In the photo above you can see that the second stage does not have any aerodynamic control surfaces such as fins; they would be ineffective outside the atmosphere.)

The kill vehicle of the interceptor, equipped with an attitude control mechanism, reaches a speed of 1,500 m/sec before impacting its target.

A modified PAD-1 missile, launched from a ship, was used in the test on Sunday. The mechanism used to stabilize the missile during launch from a ship is clearly visible in the video clip above.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the BMD Phase 1 and the PDV missile at the link below.

DRDO Successfully Tests New PDV Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor

PDV Exo-atmospheric interceptor of BMD Phase 1 Maiden Launch on April 27, 201

DRDO successfully tested its new PDV exo-atmospheric interceptor at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odhisha on April 27, 2014.

The PDV interceptor successfully engaged its target approximately 125-km above the surface of the earth outside its atmosphere. The target, a PAD missile fitted with a second stage, was launched from a ship in the Bay of Bengal at 0907 hrs; it flew a trajectory similar to that of a 2,000-km range ballistic missile.

The entire interception was automated - radar detection of the "enemy" missile, its tracking and trajectory prediction, launch and command guidance of the PDV interceptor towards the enemy missile and the final interception.

Following launch, the PDV initially used its Ring Laser Gyro Inertial Navigation System (INS) and a Redundant Micro Navigation System to fly an interception trajectory using uplinked target location data from ground radars.

Once the missile exited the atmosphere, its heat shield jettisoned and the dome of its IR seeker opened; the IR seeker was automatically aligned towards the computed location of the target location.  For the subsequent interception, the PDV relied on its Inertial Guidance system and target location data obtained from its IR seeker.

The PDV features a maneuvering gimbaled directional warhead.  However, for the maiden test a dummy warhead was used, as the focus of the test was to validate the ability of the IR imaging seeker to discriminate, acquire and track the target. DRDO is in the process of precisely determining how close the interceptor warhead flew to the target missile to ascertain if the target would have been destroyed had there been a warhead on the interceptor.

Avinash Chander, SA to the Defense Minister, told the press, "The mission’s main objective was to track the target missile. We wanted to see the performance of the IR seeker. The warhead in the interceptor missile was not meant to be exploded in this mission. Since we did not fire the warhead, the debris did not fall."

Chander added,  "We have to work out the missed distance between the target missile and the interceptor. Based on that, the hit-to-kill would take place. We are not able to say right now whether the hit-to-kill took place.”

The missile interception was monitored in real-time by the Telemetry/Range Stations, at various other locations.

According to a DRDO press release, the mission was completed and the interception parameters were achieved.

The PDV interceptor has been developed to destroy an enemy missile as its warhead separates from the booster to re-enter the earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 125-140  km.

The test on Sunday demonstrated the PDV's ability to discriminate between the harmless booster and the potent warhead, destroying the later with a hit-to-kill strike.

The two stage all solid fueled PDV replaces the two stage solid and liquid fueled PAD missile as the exo-atmospheric interceptor of BMD Phase-1 system.

With a liquid fueled second stage, PAD wasn't a viable missile defense interceptor, since it required fueling immediately before launch. delaying interception. (Once fueled, a liquid fuel rocket motor must either be used or discarded because of the corrosive nature of the liquid fuel.). Not surprisingly, the PAD has been tested just two times so far, that too in the initial phases of BMD development - On March 6, 2006 and November 27, 2006. The PAD was likely intended to be a technology demonstrator / stop gap missile.

The all solid fueled PDV is capable of immediate launch. It is designed to intercept enemy missiles at altitudes upto 150 km, ensuring that the enemy warhead debris burns up in the atmosphere, causing no ground contamination.

The second stage of the PDV missile is equipped with an attitude control system to allow maneuvering at altitudes up to 150 km, well outside the earth's atmosphere, where aerodynamic control surfaces like fins are ineffective. The kill vehicle of the interceptor reaches a speed of 1,500 m/sec before it impacts the target.

Development of PDV has taken DRDO much longer than planned. DRDO first indicated that it is ready to test the missile in July 2010.

Ballistic Missile Defense Overview

India's Ballistic Missile System is being developed in two phases under a capability based deployment plan.

In the first phase, which is currently underway, DRDO is developing a system for defense against missiles with less than 2,000 km range, like Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles and China's solid-fuel Dongfeng-21 (NATO designation: CSS-5).

In the second phase, system capability will be upgraded to defend against missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km that can additionally deploy decoys or maneuver.

BMD Phase 1 System is a two tiered terminal phase interceptor system comprising of

  1. PAD / PDV exo-atmospheric interceptor missile for intercepting targets outside the atmosphere. 
  2. Advanced Air Defense (AAD) endo-atmospheric interceptor missile for intercepting targets up to an attitude of 30 km . 
  3. 'Swordfish' Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). The Swordfish LRTR has been developed jointly by LRDE, Bengaluru and ELTA of Israel. It is based on the Israeli Green Pine early warning and fire control radar imported by India from Israel in 2001-2002.
  4. Multi Functional Guidance radar that tracks the incoming missile in its terminal phase and guides the interceptor missile onto the target. The DRDO developed the guidance radar in collaboration with French company, Thales.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about India's Ballistic Missile Defense Project at the link below.

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)

IAF Akash Missile Twin Tests on April 26, 2014: Photos & Additional Details

The second IAF Akash poised for launch during the twin missile test. Photo Credit: DRDO
DRDO has released additional details about the IAF's successful multiple launch test of the Akash missile at the ITR in Chandipur, Odisha on April 26, 2014.

Both the tests involved high speed maneuvering targets towed by Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA), simulating enemy fighters. One missile engaged its target in the incoming mode and the other in the receding mode.

The Akash missile systems as well as the PTAs were operated by Indian Air Force personnel to simulate a realistic engagement to verify the missile's capability in different envelops.

The first missile leaves its launcher during the April 26, 2014 test. Photo Credit: DRDO

Akash Missile Orders

The IAF has placed orders for a total of 8 Akash missile squadrons - An initial order for 2 squadrons in 2008 and a follow-up order for 6 squadrons in 2010. The Army has placed orders for two Akash regiments.

Akash missile is manufactured at Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). It's associated radars are produced by BEL, which  is the nodal production agency for the IAF order. (Interestingly, BDL is the nodal production agency for the Army order.)

Total production orders placed by Services (IAF and Indian Army) for Akash missile system roughly amounts to Rs 23,000 Cr. DRDO has so far delivered missile systems worth Rs 3,500 Cr to the services. 

In addition, the 3D-Central acquisition radar (3D-CARs) of the missile system. is being delivered to the three services against differeing requirements and is in continuous production.

A close up of the missile as it leaves its launcher. Note the guards on the four intakes of the ramjet second stage are still in place. Photo Credit: DRDO

IAF Order Fulfillment

The IAF has already inducted the two Akash missile squadrons delivered against its initial order. 

DRDO's press release for the April 26, 2014 tests suggests that the IAF asked for the missile tests on April 26, 2014 to reassure itself that production lot missiles would perform to their claimed specifications.

The press release also quotes Akash missile Project Director, Shri G Chandramouli as saying:

It is a notable achievement that the entire equipment of sophisticated radars, control centers, launchers & ground support systems for Indian Air Force have been realized and produced in less than two years indicating the integrated capability of DRDO, DDP, Inspection agency MSQAA and Indian Industry. A path has been created for continuous production of sophisticated surface to air missile systems in the country through this program. 

The statement suggests that though the IAF placed its initial order for two Akash missile squadrons in 2008, production didn't start till 2011 or 2012.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Akash missile at the link below

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Navy Wants Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for Mine and Harbor Defense: L&T Adamya AUV a Frontrunner?

L&T Adamya AUV at DefExpo 2014

MOD has initiated procurement of 15 lightweight (man-portable) and 10 heavyweight Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) from Indian Vendors for Mine Reconnaissance and sea bottom mapping.

A RFI circulated by the MOD states that the robotic device should have an on-board propulsion system, possess three dimensional maneuverability,y and be controlled and piloted by an on-board computer. The AUV would have a communication link with control platform on ship/shore but the Navy would also prefer an Automatic Target Recognition capability.

AUVs are being developed worldwide to assist in mine detection and sea bottom mapping of harbors and other areas of interest. Other AUV applications include Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Clandestine Monitoring, Environmental Monitoring, even Anti-Submarine Warfare.

Based on endurance and ease of handling requirements, the Navy has a requirement for both light weight (man-portable) and heavy weight AUVs for the Indian Navy.

The Navy prefers a low maintenance vehicle with an automatic computerized system for carrying out integrated checks in assembled condition. The results from the checks should be recorded and displayed for analysis.

L&T's Admaya AUV

L&T's Adamya AUV

During DefExpo 2014 in New Delhi, L&T displayed its Adamya AUV. Adamya (the Sanskrit adjective translates to - impossible to subdue or defeat) has been developed in-house by L&T. It's unique in its ability to be launched from the torpedo tube of a submarine.

The vehicle has a modular design and can be configured with different depth rated shells eliminating the need to pressure-proof the internal electronic system. It's subsystems can be accessed externally for rapid diagnostics and turnaround servicing.

The vehicle, batteries and internals can be taken apart and packaged into air-ship-able sections, allowing the vehicle to be swiftly deployed in remote areas.

The Adamya navigates with real time position accuracy. It has a velocity logger, an inertial navigation system with GPS update. It looks ahead using a Forward Looking Sonar (FLS) and a Under Water camera.

The 850-kg AUV with a diameter of 533-mm and length of 5700-mm is powered by Lithium-polymer batteries with enough charge to keep it going for 8-hr at 4 kts. Two contra-rotating propellers give the Adamya a top speed of 6-kt, and a cruise speed of 4-kts. The vehicle is also capable of hovering.

The vehicle communicates with its control platform using RF, acoustic or Ethernet via attached cable.

Akash SAM Successfully Tested Twice

Akash Missile see through model on display at DefExpo 2014

IAF personnel carried out two tests of the Akash Surface to Air missile at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha on Saturday, April 26, 2014 as part of user trial. 

A defense source told PTI, "The sophisticated Akash missile was test fired twice in quick succession from launch complex-3 of ITR at about 11.55 am and 12 noon." 

Both the missiles were launched against targets towed by a PTA flying over the sea.

ITR Director M K V Prasad described the trials as being "fully successful."

The IAF tested an Akash missile on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 from the ITR.

The New Indian Express reported on April 24, 2014 that the missile missed its target - a pilot-less target aircraft (PTA). 

An official at the launch complex told the newspaper, "The missile was to destroy the PTA at an altitude of nearly 2 km as per the pre-designated coordination. But the mission failed as the weapon could not destroy the target. Though it attained the desired altitude, it failed to pass through missed-distance proximity."

The proximity fuse can be variously set to explode with 10, 20 or 100 meters of the missile, according to the official.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Akash missile at the link below

Friday, April 25, 2014

Indian Navy Initiates Procurement of Advanced Close In Weapon System (CIWS) for New Warships

The Kashtan CIWS fitted on IN Talwar class frigates.

The Indian Navy has initiated procurement of 20-30 mm Close in Weapon System along with the associated electro-optical surveillance cum tracking radar, integrated surface to air missile and gun control systems.Earlier this month the service sent RFI's to vendors known to be producing such systems.

The Navy intends to procure approx 25 in number 20-30 mm Close in Weapon Systems (CIWS) comprising of the following sub-systems:-

  1. A surveillance-cum-tracking radar. 
  2. An Electro Optical (EO) system. 
  3. Integrated Surface to Air (SAM) system. 
  4. A 20-30 mm caliber gun along with gun control system. 

The CIWS should be optimized for both surface and air engagement, by day and night, of low and high flying, sea skimming air targets and attack craft, boats, mines, objects floating on water surface, and other similar surface targets.

The Navy wants an automatic search and track capability against anti-ship sea skimming missiles and approaching attack crafts.

The CIWS should be able to generate Fire Control Solution (FCS) and control an associated gun. It should be possible to interface the CIWS with the ship's Combat Management System (CMS)

Vendors are required to indicate their willingness for ToT, including critical technologies, elaborating range and depth of ToT being offered. They are also required to confirm their willingness to provide offsets as laid down in DPP-2013 if value of the contract exceeds Rs 300 crore.

Last date for responding to the RFI is May 30, 2014.  The vendors short listed for issue of RFP would be intimated.

India's OFB locally manufactures the AK-630 CIWS comprising of 6x30mm guns and the MP-123 "Vympet" fire control radar under a TOT agreement with Russia. The system is fitted on recently acquired Russian ships.

India's Talwar class stealth frigates acquired from Russia are fitted with 2 x Kashtan Close In Weapon System (CIWS) with twin GSh-30K six-barrel 30 mm rotary cannons and  2 x 4 tubes to launch 64 9M311 missiles.Project 15 destroyers made at Mazagon Docks are also fitted with the Kashtan system.

However, the Navy now wants to procure a better CIWS as standard fit for its new warships including INS Vikramadity and the Project 15A destroyers currently being fitted at MDL,

Recent Navy RFIs (IDP Sentinel)

Project 15B Stealth Missile Destroyer: Mazagon Docks Invites Other Dockyards to Participate in Construction

Silhouette of P-15B destroyer displayed at Mazagon Docks Limited pavilion at DefExpo 2012

Mazagon Dockyard Limited (MDL), a defense PSU, intends to leverage capacities available within the country at other private and public sector dockyards in order to speed up construction of Project 15B stealth missile destroyers for the Indian Navy.

In order to shortlist firms of repute as partners in the construction program, on April 7, 2014 MDL invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from private and public sector dockyards for block fabrication, outfitting, transportation and delivery of blocks at MDL for Project 15 ships.

Project-15B destroyers are being built using modular construction.

DNA reported on April 25, 2014 that L&T would bid for the project.

The Indian Government approved the construction of four 6,800-ton destroyers by Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) in August 2010. There was no competitive bidding for the project which is a “follow-on” to the currently underway Project 15A - construction of three Kolkata class destroyers at MDL.

Construction of Project 15B destroyers was to start after MDL launched the last Project 15A destroyer INS Chennai on April 1, 2010, but didn't.

It was earlier projected that the four ships would be completed in the 2012-2014 time frame.

Considering that the first of the class ship is yet to be launched, it is unlikely that any ship from the project would be delivered to the IN before 2020.

Akash Missile Test Failure Exposes Limitations? Maybe Not

Akash Missile Test on February 24, 2014. Photo Credit: DRDO

An official at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha told the New Indian Express on Thursday, April 24, 2014 that the Akash missile test on April 23 by IAF personnel failed.

"The missile was to destroy the PTA at an altitude of nearly 2-km as per the pre-designated coordination. But the mission failed as the weapon could not destroy the target. Though it attained the desired altitude, it failed to pass through missed-distance proximity," said the official.

The proximity fuse of the missile can be variously set to explode within 10, 20 or 100 meters of the missile, according to the official.

Earlier in February 2014, DROD conducted a series of successful tests on the production models of the Akash being delivered to the Indian Army to equip two regiments. During the first test was on February 21, 2014 the missile successfully intercepted an approaching target being towed by a Laskhya PTA. In the second test on February 24, 2014, the missile scored a hit  on a receding target towed by a Lakshya PTA. A third test was carried out on February 26, 2014.

Following the February tests, DRDO said in a press release that mission objectives had been met. A "few more trials are planned in different engagement modes."

It is possible that the Thursday failure of the missile occurred during an engagement mode other than approaching or receding.

According to the DRDO, the fully-automated Akash has an 88% kill probability within a specified kill zone. In other words, if the PTA aircraft was maneuvering a single miss would not be alarming. If the PTA was not maneuvering the failure would certainly be disturbing.

Two more tests of the missile are reportedly planned as a part of the current series. If the failure on Wednesday was out of the ordinary, we could see an cancellation of the upcoming tests.

IDP Sentinel members can peruse additional information on the Akash at the link below.

Akash Missile (IDP Sentinel)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Six IAF MiG-29s Being Upgraded to MiG-29(UPG) Standard in Nashik

MiG-29 UPG. Photo Credit: RAC MiG

Upgrade of the IAF's fleet of 62 MiG-29 aircraft to MiG-29(UPG) standard is underway at Nashik, India with six aircraft currently being upgraded using kits supplied by RAC MiG.

The upgrade of the IAF's MiG-29  fleet started in Russia in 2012. It moved to India this year, after RAC MiG delivered six MiG-29(UPG) aircraft to the IAF, 3 in 2012 and 3 in 2013. The company has also supplied kits for upgrading the remaining aircraft to India fulfilling its contractual obligations.

MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told reporters recently, "In 2012 and 2013 we had delivered three planes each. We also delivered the technological kits that are needed for the assembly, repair and modernization of planes of the Indian Air Force. So, we have fully met all our obligations."

He added that the first six planes "are already at a good stage of repair and modernization” at Indian facilities. “These works continue. A large group of the MiG corporation experts are there. They, along with our subcontractors that participate in the project, transfer these aircraft and train the Indian colleagues to assemble planes.”

In March 2008 Russia's RAC-MiG signed a $964 million contract with MOD for modernization of 62 MiG-29 fighters (54 fighters and 8 trainers).  The project was expected to be completed by 2013, but is now expected to be completed by 2016.

Upgrade Support Contracts

During MAKS-2013, RAC MiG and India’s Basant Aerospace Private Limited signed two contracts worth $55 million as part of a general offset contract with India.

The first contract, worth $43 million, is for establishing a service center in India for servicing and repair of the Zhuk-ME airborne radar produced by Fazotron-NIIP.

The second contract, worth $12 million, is for creation of a service center in India for repair of equipment specific to MiG-29 (UPG) and MiG-29K/KUB aircraft spanning Avionics, Radar, Hydraulic System and  Structural Parts.

As part of the agreement, RAC MiG will train IAF technical staff to service and repair assemblies and provide equipment to setup the centers.

In April 2014, Sergei Korotkov, chief executive officer of Russian Aircraft Corporation (RSK) MiG told reporters that the service center would be operational from next year.

“This year we have already provided equipment for this onsite service center, which was built as part of the agreement, and, starting next year, this service center should operate in accordance with the contractual obligations that were taken by both sides,” Korotkov said.

A MiG representative said the next step calls for the creation of a warehouse in India for MiG-29K Aircraft spare parts.

The first lot of the 62 upgraded Russian-built aircraft will be deployed at Adampur air base in the border state of Punjab.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the MiG-29UPG project at the link below

MiG-29 Upgrade (MiG-29UPG) (IDP Sentinel)

IAF Facing Hurdles in Acquiring Additional 106 PC-7 Mk-2 Aircraft?

Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2 at Aero India 2013 in Bengalure

The IAF in 2013 acquired a modern Basic Flying Trainer (BFT) - Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2. The serivce is very happy with the aircraft, for which it paid good money from its budget, money that it could have well spent on acquiring more fighters to arrest the downward spiral of its fighter squadron strength, and thereby keep the country militarily strong! (Okay, maybe I made that too dramatic!)

The IAF was forced to divert money from its budget to  purchase the pricey PC-7 Mk-2 after waiting endlessly for HAL to fix serious issues that plagued the HPT-32 BFT that the IAF was using earlier. (Despite its slow speed, the HPT-32 turned out to be a widow-maker from the start, but the IAF made do with it for many years through sweat, tears, blood and jugaad (and this time I am not dramatizing) hoping that HAL would fix the issues with the aircraft.

Having inducted the PC-7 Mk-2 and found it worthy of the money spent on it, the IAF now wants to place an additional order for 106 aircraft, as a follow-up to the initial order for 75 aircraft.

When the GOI approved procurement of 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2 in May 2012, it was agreed between IAF, MOD and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) that a follow-up order for 106 aircraft would be placed on a joint venture between HAL and Pilatus.

HAL has now backed out of the agreement and is cheekily offering to sell its still on paper HTT-40 BFT to the IAF. The IAF isn't amused, and for good reasons.

Going by HAL's past record, there is no chance the HTT-40 would be ready in time to meet the IAF's requirement. (Actually, going by past HAL record, the HTT-40 may never be ready - the  Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT)  HJT-36 Sitara being a case in point. Having invested a lot of money in its development and waited long years, the IAF is now on the verge of giving up on the Sitara which has serious low speed handling and spin issues. Frustrated by the lack of progress on the project, the IAF recently floated a RFI for an alternative aircraft.)

The IAF doesn't want HAL to fritter away its very limited aircraft design talent on developing a new aircraft (HTT-40); instead it wants HAL designers to focus on bringing the Sitara project to fruition quickly, so that the IAF money invested in the project doesn't go waste.

Deferring to the IAF's preference for more PC-7 Mk-2, not HTT-40, aircraft, MOD on March 15, 2014 sought information from Indian companies for supply of 106 Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2 under the category of Buy and Make (Indian) as stipulated at Para 4(c) of DPP-2013.

Competing Indian vendors are expected to form a joint venture with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Switzerland and supply an initial lot of aircraft with support equipment in flyaway condition under the Buy portion of the procurement, and the remaining aircraft and equipment through licensed production/indigenous manufacture in India under the 'Make' portion.

The IAF wants the supply of the 106 aircraft to start in 2015-16 and be completed by 2020-21.

The first 10 of the 106 aircraft would be bought off the shelf, 28 in semi knocked down kits, and 68 in completely knocked down kits.

A recent press report suggests that the RFI has not generated any response from Indian private companies. The report quotes  an unnamed official from Tata Group as saying that the order quantity isn't sufficient to interest private companies.

The executive says that "under the tender’s terms all interested Indian companies will have to first talk to Pilatus and then calculate their cost. Pilatus would be the main beneficiary under the Indian program, leaving little profit for the domestic firms."

I am skeptical about the report for several reasons. Firstly, a shadowy executive in "Tata Group" (Which isn't a company to begin with; the term alludes to the Tata group of companies) speaking on behalf of the entire Indian private industry sort of freaks me out. It doesn't sound like good reporting to me.

Secondly, an order for 106 aircraft with  just 50% local make and assured TOT isn't trivial by any reckoning. It's a dream come true for any private sector wannabe aircraft manufacturer. HAL considered the order large enough in 2012. Isn't the private sector supposedly more efficient? Seriously, does the reporter know of any private aircraft manufacturer that started with a government order for 106 aircraft, that too for an aircraft that the company invested nothing in developing?

Thirdly, a small order can agreeably push up unit costs, but if the client is ready to pay the costs what is the problem? How can someone make a statement that there will be little profit for domestic firms when the contract price hasn't even been negotiated?  Why would a private firm refuse to even discuss the issue with MOD?

Fourthly, what possible problems does the executive envisage in talking to Pilatus? Is an all paid for trip to Switzerland that daunting? (Talk to me. Send me to Switzerland. My math is good enough for cost calculations!)

Finally, we are talking about a RFI not a RFP. So why is the executive talking about a tender?

Is it that the shadowy executive doesn't exist?

Surprise! Surprise! The report ends with a not too subtle plug for HAL's HTT-40!

My own reading of the situation is that the IAF is going to stick with the Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2, because it's the sensible thing to do. The service rightly doesn't want to add another aircraft to its inventory, pushing up revenue costs. Local manufacture or outright purchase, the PC-7 Mk-2 is going to be cheaper than the HTT-40, because the latter's price tag would include the entire development cost, which is not the case for the PC-7 Mk-2. I have already touched upon the need for HAL to focus on the Sitara, not to mention improve its design, manufacture and support capabilities.

In January 2014, it was reported that the IAF has sought MOD nod for producing the Pilatus PC-7 Mk-2 trainer at 5 BRD in Sulur, near Nashik. The IAF proposal is reportedly backed by Pilatus, which sent a team to Sulur to inspect the facilities available there. The cost of producing the aircraft at Sulur is assessed as being comparable with the price paid for the 75 aircraft purchased earlier.

Hopefully, the IAF would not be pushed into taking such an extreme step. But if it is, the country and MOD in particular must back the IAF. A push for indigenous military hardware manufacture can only succeed if poor performance is not rewarded, as has been the case with HAL in the past.

On a humorous aside, if MOD really wants the IAF to rethink its additional PC-7 Mk-2 buy, MOD should order HAL to manufacture the aircraft. The IAF is more likely to lose its enthusiasm for an aircraft, if it's manufactured by HAL!

Update on April 24, 2014

On April 24, 2014 the IAF released a corrigendum to its initial RFI extending the last date for acceptance of a response to July 21, 2014. The corrigendum is likely to have been issued in response to a vendor request.

It's likely that Pilatus Aircraft will itself tie-up with an Indian company and clinch the additional order. The company's Deputy CEO Jim Roche told Express in a e-mail interview in April 2014 that the company has set “a short-term objective” for itself “to use the opportunity afforded by the successful trainer aircraft deal to establish production capabilities in collaboration with local industry players, such as HAL, BEL and other like companies” in India.

He said the original contract already had a provision for 50 per cent additional aircraft -- numbering 37 planes -- to be procured under the same terms and conditions as the current batch of 75 being delivered by Pilatus.

“This provision is still valid till 2015. Should there be a requirement to supplement that provision, I am quite sure that the government of India will inform us accordingly in good time to avail of the advantageous terms and conditions of the current contract,” he said.

Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Basic Trainer for IAF - IDP Sentinel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Indian Navy to Receive 6 MiG-29K/KUB Aircraft in 2014

MiG-29KUB on INS Vikramaditya during sea trials. Photo Credit Sevmash

The Indian Navy will receive six MiG-29K/KUB aircraft in 2014 bringing to 13 the total number of aircraft delivered against a $1.5-billion contract for the supply of additional 29 MiG-29Ks singed on March 12, 2010.

Director General of RAC "MiG" Sergei Korotkov, told the press in April 2014 that the company had delivered 7 MiG-29K/KUB to the Indian Navy by end 2013 and would deliver 6 more aircraft in 2014.

On December 29, 2012, RIA Novosti reported that MiG had delivered in December a batch of four MiG-29K/KUB shipborne fighters against the second order for 29 aircraft, fulfilling its contractual obligation for the year 2012.

RAC MiG completed delivery of 16 aircraft against the initial order for 12 MiG-29Ks and 4 MiG-29KUBs in September 2011.

MiG is currently producing 16 aircraft per year. The remaining 10 aircraft to be produced in 2014 are earmarked for the Russian Navy, which placed an order for 20 aircraft (16 MiG-29Ks and 4 MiG29KUBs) in February 2012.

MiG plans to nearly double production rate to 30 aircraft per year by 2017. In the past, the company has said it expects the Indian Navy to sign a third contract for 24 MiG-29K/MiG-29KUB aircraft.

The Russian Navy will base its MiG-29 aircraft on its lone aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetzov. The heavy Su-33 aircraft (a navalized Su-27) currently based on the carrier are expected to complete their residual lives in 2015.

IDP Sentinel members can view additional details on the MiG-29K aircraft at the link below.

MiG-29K (IDP Sentinel)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

DRDO Plans Nirbhay, Astra Tests in May 2014

Nirbhay cruise missile maiden test on March 12, 2013

DRDO Chief Avinash Chander told the press in Bhubaneshwar on April 19, 2014 that the second test of the Nirbhay cruise missile would be conducted in May 2014, following test of the BMD exoatmospheric interceptor in end April. He was in the city to address convocation of Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University.

DRDO has been planning the Nirbhay test for a while. Earlier on February 4, 2014, the DRDO Chief told the press on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress that the second test would take place before February end. Still earlier, the Hindu reported on November 24, 2013 that a second test of the Nibrhay missile is planned in December 2013.

The debut test of the Nirbhay cruise missile at 11:50 AM on March 12, 2013 was aborted after about 20 mins of flight, as the missile deviated from its intended course.

The test was planned to the max range of the missile, which is 1,000 km. Following launch from a road mobile launcher, the first stage rocket booster separated, the second stage turbojet engine starter fired, and the engine attained full thrust; the missile reached a cruise speed of 0.7 M (460 k or 900 kph).

The missile is reported to have successfully navigated to two way-points before veering off course towards the coast.

The missile was flying at a height of 4.5 km when the mission was aborted by switching off the missile's engine. The missile had traveled around  300 km (30% of its envisage range.) at that point. All the parameters till then  were exactly as planned. The missile crashed on land.

DRDO's Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), told The Hindu, "All the aspects of cruise vehicle were tested and verified. That is a major achievement."

He told Business-standard, "I would call the test 80 per cent successful. The Nirbhay demonstrated that it could take off correctly, establish a cruise profile, and navigate to its initial way-points. These were new performance parameters that we had never tested before, so we are satisfied that the test proved those. But then, one of the sub-systems malfunctioned and we had to terminate the test. All that remains is to determine why this happened and to rectify the flaw."

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Nirbhay missile at this link.

DRDO's Astra and the Russian R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles on a LCA at Aero India 2013.

DRDO has also scheduled the maiden air launch test of the Astra air-to-air missile in May 2014. The missile would be launched from a Su-30MKI.

IDP Sentinel members can read about the development trials of the Astra missile at this link.

Monday, April 14, 2014

DRDO Plans Test of New Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Exo-atmospheric Interceptor

AAD (endo-atmospheric) Interceptor Missile test on March 6, 2011

DRDO will test its the new PDV interceptor missile on April 27, or April 28, 2014 according to The Hindu.

The BMD Phase 1 PDV interceptor will engage a target enemy missile as its warhead separates from the booster to re-enter the earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 125-140  km. The test will demonstrate the PDV interceptor's ability to discriminate between the harmless booster and the potent warhead, destroying the later with a hit-to-kill strike.

The two stage all solid fueled PDV replaces the two stage solid and liquid fueled PAD missile as the exo-atmospheric interceptor of BMD Phase-1 system.

The  PDV uses a dual mode (IR and active radar) seeker. In comparison, the PAD interceptor uses inertial navigation with mid-course correction from 'Swordfish' Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). In its terminal phase, PAD switches to active radar homing.

The PDV retains the PAD interceptor's maneuvering gimbaled directional warhead that can rotate 360 degrees to explode towards the incoming missile in order to destroy. Because it is directional, the 30 kg interceptor warhead is able to generate an impact equivalent to a 150 kg omni-directional warhead.

With a liquid fueled second stage, PAD isn't a viable missile defense interceptor, since it requires fueling before launch, delaying interception. Not surprisingly, the missile has been tested just two times so far, that too in the initial phases of BMD development - On March 6, 2006 and November 27, 2006. The PAD was likely intended to be a technology demonstrator / stop gap missile.

The all solid fueled PDV is capable of immediate launch. It is designed to intercept enemy missiles at altitudes upto 150 km, ensuring that the enemy warhead debris burns up in the atmosphere, causing no ground contamination. The missile is equipped with a innovative system to facilitate maneuvering well outside the earth's atmosphere where aerodynamic surfaces are completely ineffective.

During the upcoming test, a modified PAD launched from a Navy ship will fly the trajectory of a 2,000 km range "enemy" missile. The new PDV interceptor, launched from a Navy ship, will attempt hit-to-kill destruction of the target missile.

Tortured Development

Development of PDV has taken DRDO much longer than planned.

The first trial of the missile was initially scheduled for late June or early July 2010.

DRDO next scheduled a test of the interceptor missile in end June - early July 2011.

"We will have a test in end June or early July and are calling this new missile the PDV and it will have two solid stages," Dr Saraswat said.

On February 14, 2012, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat told  Express News Service that the missile would be tested by the end of 2012.

“If every thing goes as per the plan, the new missile that can also carry the directional warhead would be test-fired by the year-end,” Saraswat said.

In May 2013, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat told The Hindu that the next test of the BMD would take place in July 2013. It would involve a PDV missile and demonstrate an interception at an altitude of 100-150 km

The Hindu reported on September 30, 2013 that DRDO plans the debut test of PDV missile in the last week of November 2013.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about India's Ballistic Missile Defense Project at the link below.

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agni-1, BMD Interceptor, Akash Missile Tests Planned

AAD-05 during 7th test on February 10, 2012.

Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army plans to test the Agni-1 MRBM on Friday, April 11, 2014, using a randomly selected missile from the production lot.

The Agni-1 test would be followed on April 19 by a test of  DRDO's Ballistic Missile System (BMD) endo-atmospheric interceptor missile. A Prithvi missile flying a trajectory similar to that of an IRBM would serve as the target.

Starting April 21, Indian Army and Air Force personnel will conduct a series of 12 tests of the Akash missile.

It's not clear from the report as to which BMD interceptor is to be tested -  BMD Phase 1 interceptor, or the BMD Phase 2 interceptor.

DRDO has carried out 8 tests of its BMD Phase 1 system so far, the last being on on November 23, 2012. During that test, the Phase-1 endo-atmospheric interceptor AAD successfully intercepted a Prithvi missile flying the trajectory of a missile with a range of 600 km to 1,000 km.

In the past, DRDO has claimed that BMD Phase-1 is ready for deployment.

BMD Phase-2 is designed to intercept  ballistic missiles with ranges greater than 5,000 km.

The Hindu reported on September 30, 2013 that DRDO has completed design of the Phase 2 interceptor missiles - AD-1 endo-atmospheric interceptor and AD-2 exo-atmospheric interceptor - and trials would be held next year.

IDP Sentinel members can read details about BMD Phase-1, BMD Phase-2 and BMD Phase-1 tests at the link below:

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DRDO's Hypersonic Missiles and Maneuvering Re-entry Warheads Take Shape in New Hypersonic Wind Tunnel

Graphic by Siddharth Pandey for IDP Sentinel

DRDO's quest for hypersonic missiles and maneuvering re-entry missile warheads received a boost with the official commissioning of the 0.5-m hypersonic wind tunnel at IISc Bengaluru on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

The wind tunnel is already being used to develop the design of DRDO's HSTDV, a technology demonstrator for the Brahmos-2 hypersonic missile. (Other than their names, nothing else would be common between Brahmos and the hypersonic Brahmos-2.)

As of now, IISc is in the process of fabricating a sub scale model of the HSTDC and developing its nozzle design. The scale mode will be used to ascertain booster panel separation forces at Mach 6.0. (A rocket booster would accelerate the HSTDV to Mach 6 and fall away on burnout.) IISc is expected to be complete development and testing within 8 months.

B Vasudevan, head, Hypersonic Wind Tunnel, at IISc told TOI on April 7, 2014, "We have tested seven of these vehicle models and this will be the eighth."

HSTDV is reported to have achieved M 6.5 in wind tunnel testing so far.

The 0.5-m Hypersonic Wind Tunnel at IISc, Bengaluru is the second largest such facility in the country, with the largest being the ISRO funded hypersonic wind tunnel at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center of ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram.

A DRDO official told the TOI that the tunnel cost about Rs 6 crore and similar facilities abroad have been constructed at costs of over hundreds of crores of rupees.

"This facility will save the country a lot of money as we're charging only about Rs 2 crore for tests which would cost Rs 15 or Rs 20 crore in Russia or some other countries," he said.

The official also claimed that the HSTDV project would be be the equivalent of Nasa's X43.

DRDO's 1-m Hypersonic Windo Tunnel

DRDO is in the process of setting up an additional 1-m hypersonic wind tunnel at the Missile Complex Shamirpet (Badamafi) in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 300 - 400 crore.

The new hypersonic wind tunnel would facilitate research and development of futuristic hypersonic missiles and re-entry vehicles which requires generation of extensive aerodynamic data.

DRDO has tendered for a contract to build the facility that it wants completed within 48 months of contract signing.

Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Facility consists of three major systems i.e, High Pressure System, Wind Tunnel System and Vacuum System. High pressure system provides dry air at 300 bar and ambient temperature and vacuum system provides the required vacuum for various tunnel operating conditions. Wind Tunnel System provides the required flow conditions to be simulated for testing the models.

The facility will facilitate testing of various parameters of the Hypersonic Technology Development Vehicle (HSTDV), including engine performance.

"It is pivotal to test the [HSTDV] in the range of up to Mach 12. This will be a unique installation in India," DRDO Chief VK Saraswat told AW&ST on November 22, 2010.

On November 1, 2012, Janes reported that DRDO plans to conduct the first flight trial of the HSTDV in the next 12 to 18 months.

DRDO sources told the website that initial ground tests with the kerosene-fueled scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) had been completed and the propulsion system is now being integrated with the air vehicle.

Roughly 10 engine runs have been completed although the development team has yet to undertake a sustained 20-second burn, which is the operating time required for initial flight trials. DRDO expects to reach the milestone "soon."

IDP Sentinel members can read more about DRDO's HSTDV project at the link below:

Hypersonic Technology Development Vehicle (HSTDV) (IDP Sentinel)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Russian S-400 'Triumph' Missile Sale to China Would Weaken Indian Deterrent

S-400 Triumph system on display at DefExpo 2014

President Vladimir Putin has reportedly green lighted the sale of S-400 "Triumph" AD system to China and the two countries are negotiating the number of systems to be sold and their value.

The sale of the Russian missile system to China, would inevitably erode the effectiveness of the already very limited Indian nuclear deterrence.

Ironically, Russia has repeatedly offered the system to India, but India has spurned the offer, betting heavilly on its homegrown BMD system.

The Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) reported in 2012 that Chinese Defense Ministry had expressed interest in buying S-400,

On March 2, 2014 Service Director Alexander Fomin told "Kommersant" that the two countries are now negotiating a deal, following a go ahead from President Vladimir Putin in early 2014.

Sources close to FSMTC, told Kommersant that initial negotiations are focused on the purchase of one battalion (eight launchers) of the missile complex.

The Russian decision to sell the missile system to China is not linked to its dispute with the west over Crimea, says the official.

The Russian General Staff and the Federal Security Service have in the past resisted sale of the system to China till their own demand for the system are fully met.

The manufacturer of the missile, Almaz-Antey, has already commenced delivery of the first regimental sets of S-400 to the Russian troops. By 2020, 28 regiments are expected to be equipped.

 In January, 2014 Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced plans to build three new factories to produce missile defense systems, which would enable "Almaz-Antey" to step up production.

However, sale of the missile system to China is unlikely to commence before 2016.

In 2010, Russia fulfilled a contract to supply China 15 battalions of antiaircraft missile systems S-300.

The S-400 (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

The system is expected to form the cornerstone of Russia's theater air and missile defenses up to 2020 or even 2025.

Indian Navy Seeks Design Consultant for Constructing Naval Air Station at Karwar

INS Vikramaditya, which is based in Karwar, is seen here escorted by a IN Harrier on arrival in the Indian Ocean in January 2014. Photo courtesy Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy has sought Expression of Interest from design consultants for constructing a Naval Air Station (NAS) at Karwar within 4 to 5 years, as part Project Seabird Phase IIA.

The NAS will feature a main, 2,000m x 45m runway (15/33) with a  2,000m x 23m parallel taxiway, a standby 1,000m x 30m cross runway (04/22), link taxiways, hangars, ordnance loading apron, ATC tower, MET building and all associated operational, admin, storage, fueling system, security facilities and services, including power, water, fire fighting sewage, etc. 

The main runway will support Precision Approach Category CAT I in the 33 direction and non precision approach in the 15 direction.

Navigational aids at the NAS will include Radar (SSR/ASR)/ CADF/ AFLS/ ILS/ DVOR/DME & PAPI for runways, airfield lighting and communication facilities.

Supporting infrastructure would include residential accommodation and messes for officers and sailors, boundary wall, drainage, roads, culverts, flood mitigation measures, electrical substation and lighting of the complete air station.

The envisaged NAS facilities are intended to meet the following objectives:-

(a) Provide self contained airfield to support the operations of fixed wing aircraft, Helicopters and UAVs by day and night from the Naval Air Station, Karwar. 
(b) Support transit operation of military aircraft belonging to Indian Air Force and Indian Army. 
(c) Provide limited diversionary facilities to aircraft op m nearby airfields.
(d) Provision for expansion in future catering to the requirement of operation of civil/ commercial aircraft. 
(e) Provide requisite facilities for all the necessary operational, training and logistic support to air squadrons which will be based at NAS. 
(f) Provide Residential facilities viz. Officers Mess & Single Sailors accommodation. 
(g) Provide adequate Communication, IT and security facilities required for the efficient operation, management and security of the sensitive Naval Air Station.
(h) Provide power supply, water distribution system, fire fighting facilities and sewage treatment plant etc.

The site/ land required for the development of the Naval Air Station is already in the possession of the Indian Navy. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Project Seabird Phase IIA including that for the development of the Naval Air Station at Karwar, has been prepared by the consultant appointed for this purpose. 

The design consultant selected by the Navy would be required to prepare engineering drawings and draw up specifications, prior to tendering for contracts; manage and monitor the capital cost during the design and construction phase, prepare Terms of Reference (TOR)/ tender documents for selection/appointment of contractor(s) for the package.

IDP Sentinel members can find additional details on Project Seabird at the following link

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Indian Army Initiates Procurement of Towed Air Defense Guns

L-70 AD Gun Indian Army. Photo Courtesy Indian Army

The Indian Army is planning to procure towed Air Defense (AD) Guns and ammunition with Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT). The new AD Guns will presumably replace the L-70 AD guns currently in service.

The Army has released a RFI from OEMs/Vendors in India for a gun that is capable of engaging air targets during day and night using Fire Control Radar and  Electro Optical Fire Control System (EOFCS). The gun should also be capable of engaging air targets passively, without the Fire Control Radar. Preferred gun caliber is 30-mm or above; the guns are required to be broad gauge transportation compatible.

The Army wants a gun that can effectively engage targets in mountainous terrain.

Self Propelled AD Gun and Missile System

In January 2010, the Indian Army released a RFI for procurement of Self Propelled AD Gun Missile System. The Army is looking for an all weather engagement capable system, with the gun and missiles mounted on the same or different vehicles. If they are mounted on the same vehicle, either the guns or the missile should be slaved to the fire control radar. If they are mounted on different vehicles, the gun should be slaved to the fire control radar. The gun must also be capable of engaging aerial targets with or without the fire control radar.

The gun should have a effective range of 2,500-m or more and be capable of engaging targets to an altitude of 1,500-m. The missile system should have an effective range of 5-km or more and be capable of engaging targets travelling upto speeds of 500-m/sec with an SSKP of not less than 70%.

The rail transportable system should be capable of moving 50 Km cross country in a day with on board fuel tank and in addition be able to operate for eight hours in a day without refueling.

Hybrid BIHO 30mm Gun and Missile Air Defense System

Tata Power SED is collaborating with South Korea's Doosan DST to produce a hybrid version of Doosan's 30mm BIHO Self Propelled anti-aircraft gun system. The hybrid system will field the existing twin 30mm guns as well as VSHORAD missiles and will be mounted on chassis of K-21 IFV manufactured by Doosan DST, but the hull and chassis of the IFV will be manufactured, using alternate material, based on Doosan TOT,  at Tata's new manufacturing facility being set up on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

IDP Sentinel members can get more information at the links below

Self Propelled Air Defense Gun Missile System - IDP Sentinel
Tata Power SED's Hybrid BIHO 30mm Gun & Missile Air Defense System - IDP Sentinel