Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rafale: L&T Technology Services forms a Joint Venture with Thales

Rafale at Aero India 2013
On June 26, 2014  Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) announced through a press release that its wholly-owned subsidiary, L&T Technology Services, has purchased 74% stake in Thales Software India Pvt. Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of Thales.

MoD is concurrently negotiating the Rafale contract with Dassault Aviation, Thales Avionics and SNECMA Moteurs and all three companies would be required to meet their Offset obligations under the Defense Procurement Policy.

L&T Technology Services will now manage, control, and oversee operations and delivery of services of the new joint venture. By retaining 26% equity stake in Thales Software India Pvt. Ltd., Thales will be able to meet its offset obligations while safeguarding its investments in India.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Rafale deal at the link below:

Rafale (IDP Sentinel)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

OFB's Dhanush 155-mm/45-cal Gun Cleared for Production after Critical Trials

Dhanush features advance electronic equipment for accurately laying the gun on target at long ranges. 

OFB's Dhanush 155-mm/45-cal towed gun on Friday, June 20, 2014 successfully completed critical trials at Pokharan paving the way for production to commence.

According to TNIE, the trials were witnessed by Minister of State for Defense Production Rao Inderjit Singh.

The trials cleared doubts about the gun arising from a barrel burst in August 2013, during last year's summer trials. OFB investigated the incident and concluded that neither the gun nor its barrel were at fault. It carried out internal firing trials to validate the conclusion.

Following Fridays success, the Army will now follow through the summer trials from the point where they were abandoned last year.

The gun successfully underwent winter trials at high altitudes in Sikkim last winter.

The Indian Army and Ordinance Factory Board have teamed up to build the 155-mm/45-cal Dhanush towed gun using TOT from the late 1980s contract to purchase 155-mm / 39-cal FH 77 B02 for the Army. Besides longer range than the Bofors gun, Dhanush features advanced electronics to accurately lay the gun on target.

The Army has projected an initial requirement for 414 of these guns, each of which will cost over Rs 14 crore, as part of its long-delayed artillery modernization program.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Dhaush towed gun at the link below.

Dhanush 155 mm/45 Caliber Upgraded Bofors Howitzer - IDP Sentinel

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Uranium Enrichment at Ratnahalli: The Hindu Plays Mischief!

Nuclear powered INS Chakra

The Hindu today  reported that IHS Jane’s experts believe the expanded Uranium Enrichment facility at Ratnahalli is expected to become operational by mid-to late-2015, greatly increasing the availability of enriched uranium in India. While some of the increased production would be utilized for fueling Indian nuclear submarines (there are currently two), there would  be enough remaining for India to build more nuclear and thermonuclear bombs.

Karl Dewey, Proliferation Editor at IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review, told The Hindu, "The enrichment plant is primarily built to provide uranium for submarine reactors. However, there will now be significant excess capacity that could be used for other purposes, such as developing nuclear weapons."

I believe the news report at best reflects a lack of due diligence on the part of the The Hindu, and at worst a pandering to interests inimical to our nation. (The Hindu has in the past done some very dubious reporting on India's relations with China.)

The Hindu news is no news! In October 2011, the Institute for Science and International Security released a Google Earth image that showed what appears to be a new uranium enrichment facility at Ratnahalli. The Hindu has published a similar Google Earth photo in its news today!

The Hindu report bizarrely alleges that India has expanded its Uranium Enrichment facility at Ratnahalli secretly.

Ironically, during an interview with The Hindu in September 2010, Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), was asked:

Where will the enriched uranium for these boats come from? There is only one Rare Materials Plant at Ratnahalli, near Mysore, to produce enriched uranium. Will the proposed Special Material Enrichment Facility in Chitradurga district in Karnataka be helpful?

Banerjee replied: Chitradurga will come a little later, not immediately. Our Ratnahalli plant capacity has been enhanced. But more than that, there is significant improvement in our technology. Usually, a term called Separating Work Units (SWUs) defines the technology level that we have achieved in this, and I can assure you that there has been considerable improvement in SWUs of our next generation caskets of centrifuges. The separating capacity of our centrifuges has improved. So total capacity enhancement at Ratnahalli has been done. We are confident of supplying the entire fuel for the set of….

You cannot say anymore that India does not have enrichment technology. India has its own technology and we can produce [enriched uranium]. We have not started doing it for large-scale commercial nuclear power stations, which require a much larger quantity of enriched uranium. We will be able to do that once we go to Chitradurga.

Clearly, Banerjee was far from secretive about the Ratnahalli expansion. 

There is more! In an interview to CNN-IBN in December 2011, Dr Banerjee alluding to the expanded capacity of the Ratnahalli plant and reiterated that India will have enough HEU from Ratnahalli to fuel its nuclear submarine fleet.

Clearly, The Hindu is not revealing any secrets about the Ratnahalli.

But there are secrets The Hindu needs to reveal? For example, what is its motivation to rehash old allegations as new news?

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below.

Uranium Enrichment Program - IDP Sentinel

Friday, June 20, 2014

DRDO Successfully Tests ASTRA BVR Air-to-Air missile Against Electronic Target

Astra missile test on June 20, 2014

DRDO and IAF on June 20, 2014 successfully tested the ASTRA BVR air-to-air Missiles from a Su-30MKI at the naval range off Goa. The missile was released from an altitude of over 6 km and successfully guided by the aircraft's weapon and radar system to an interception of the electronically simulated target at long range.

DRDO earlier carried out a air-to-air test of the  missile on June 9, 2014 to demonstrate its aerodynamic characteristics. The test today demonstrated repeatability, reliability and endurance of the Astra BVR-AAM as a weapon system.

The maiden air-to-air test of the missile was conducted on May 14, 2014.

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

Astra air-to-air missile (IDP Sentinel)

INS Arihant Sea Trials: Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gum!

INS Arihant mock-up at the Republic Day parade 2014

INS Arihant may or may not be undergoing sea trials.

DRDO Chief Avinash Chander told The Tribune on May 15, 2014 that sea trials of INS Arihant are already underway. :-)

He told PTI yesterday that Sea Trials would start in a month or two! :-(

INS Arihant may or may not be facing serious technical issues with its nuclear reactor.

DRDO Chief Avinash Chander told India Today during DefExpo, "What is going on right now is the power up phase, where the boat is building up her power, a progressive exercise which is being monitored." He added, "It is for the first time that we are going through a nuclear power up exercise in a submarine. It has to go through various levels of checks for safety and security reasons. But we are confident of completing it and going through, shortly."

Chander recently told PTI, "Arihant is going through the power-up cycle (in its nuclear reactor). It is the first time that we are doing the power-up cycle on a nuclear submarine. So, we are very cautious and going step by step."

The DRDO chief's statements may make you wonder whether time has stopped, or indeed reversed?

Look at it this way. If the DRDO and the Indian Navy announced that Arihant Sea Trials are about to commence, or are underway, there would be a lot of Chinese, Burmese (Chinese again, of course!) , Sri Lnakan (Yes, Chinese again) fishing trawlers off the Vizag coast and they won't be fishing fish! Many Panama registered merchant vessels with snooping equipment and US, British and Australian intelligence agents on board losing their way in the Bay of Bengal and ending up near Vizag! (The Russians would, of course, be sitting inside the sub!)

So what happens if the DRDO Chief inadvertently releases information about the Sea Trials to a Chandigarh based newspaper. And The Hindu does a follow-up and confirms the sea trials? Well...let me think...Yes! the DRDO Chief could make a contradictory statement to a government news agency (like the PTI?) to discredit the earlier reports.

I am not suggesting that is what happened.

It's up to each of us to decide what is happening with INS Arihant, nearly five years after its launch and nearly a year after its reactor went critical.

IDP Sentinel members can access all statements made by DRDO and Navy Officials on the status of the submarine since its launch at the link below to help them make a more informed guess.

INS Arihant SSBN (IDP Sentinel)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DRDO to Fast Track Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Development

Scale model of AMCA on display at Aero India 2013 in Bengaluru

DRDO Chief Avinash Chander recently told the press that the AMCA project would be fast tracked.

He said DRDO has identified certain key areas to focus upon, including UAVs and AMCA.

“We are giving UAVs a push in a big way. That is one of the key areas along with Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, ammunition etc.,” he said.

The GOI has yet to sanction development of prototypes, so the tenor of the DRDO chief's statement could well indicate that a nod from the Modi government would be forthcoming.

In 2013, there were press reports that the AMCA project had been shelved.

On May 17, 2013, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat refuted the reports telling PTI, "Currently, it is in the design stage. A good work is being done. After this we will go to government which will take a year's time'. There are three major technologies along with lot of associated technologies which have to be developed. DRDO was developing this."

He added that no decision had been taken so far on shelving the project by DRDO, HAL or Defense ministry.

Some of the new technologies that ADA wishes to incorporate in the AMCA include a FBW control system with photonic interface to reduce the length of wires (fly-by-light).

DRDO also plans to develop a completely new engine with foreign collaboration for the AMCA.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below

Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) (IDP Sentinel)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

ADE Initiates Structural Design Optimization of Rustom-II Composite Airframe

Rustom-II MALE UAV at DefExpo-2014

ADE has initiated a two year project to optimize the Rustom-II composite airframe, an indication perhaps of ADE's confidence in the design of its Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV and the UAV's suitability to the emerging needs of the Armed Forces.

The Rustom-II airframe is essentially FRP composite sandwich structure with metallic components. The airframe and its components are primarily made up of Carbon / Epoxy Composites with Acrylic foam as Core material in Sandwich structures with selective use of Glass/ Epoxy Composites. The metallic components are of Sheet metal or Machined. Integration of Airframe modules is carried out using standard fasteners, self plugging rivets and bonding.

Redesign of the airframe would be carried out using simulation and structural testing, ensuring weight optimization.

ADE recently released a RFI seeking vendor support for creating a team comprising composite airframe design expert, FEM analyst, structural testing expert, structural test rig designer, expert in hand calculation for stressing, based on stress flow weight optimization etc.

Rustom-II has been undergoing taxi trials and its first flight is expected to take place this year. DRDO aims to get the Rustom-2 certified by 2018. Optimization of the design and generation of structural strength and load data through simulations will be facilitate certification.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Rustom-II project at the link below

Rustom-2 MALE UAV (IDP Sentinel)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

DRDO Seeks Advanced Electro Optical Payload for Akashdeep Aerostat

DRDO's Akashdeep Aerostat

DRDO recently released a RFI for procuring two Long Range Electro Optic Paylod (LREO) systems for mounting on its Akashdeep Aerostat, a medium size, helium filled Aerostat capable of carrying electro-optic and COMINT payloads for surveillance. ELINT and RADAR payloads are also being indigenously developed for the system.

The LREO system will have two segments - airborne and ground.

Airborne segment will comprise of a Gyro-stabilized Gimbal Payload Assembly (GPA) integrating the following sensors.

(a) High resolution daylight Color CCD camera
(b) MWIR/LWIR Thermal Imager
(c) Laser Range Finder
(d) Narrow field of view Spotter
(e) GPS
(f) INS
(g) Stabilized turret Electronics

LREO’s airborne segment System will generate standard PAL video and digital video (HD) that would be transmitted over a fiber optic link to the ground segment placed at Ground Control Station for processing, and image exploitation.

IDP Sentnel members can read more about Akashdeep Aerostat and its LREO payload at the link below

Akashdeep Aerostat System - IDP Sentinel