Friday, December 19, 2008

India and Russia Agree on Helo Deal, Review Joint Defense Projects

India agreed to buy 80 Mil Mi-17V-5 helicopters worth $1.2 billion during a visit to Delhi by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev early this month. These will replace 35-year old Mi-8 choppers the Indian Air Force currently flies. The deal includes weapons options and an offset obligation worth $405 million. Accompanying Medvedev were Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov and United Aircraft Corp. chief Alexei Fedorov.

Most of the key Indo-Russian defense projects were discussed during the visit, including the joint development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA); modernization and transfer of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India; multipurpose cargo aircraft, a long-mooted joint development; and the delivery of more Su-30MKI combat aircraft and licensed production by Hindustan Aeronautics.  Regarding the FGFA, Fedorov said the two countries would sign a contract early next year to jointly develop the fighter. Sukhoi is already working on the project.

Additionally, Medvedev said the two countries must agree on a revised contract for the troubled modernization and transfer of the Admiral Gorshkov carrier to India, but no progress was reported during the talks. In 2004, Rosboronexport signed a $750 million contract for the work, but Russia subsequently claimed another $1.2 billion would be required to overhaul the ship and deliver MiG-29K fighters and Ka-27/31 helicopters.

Indian military tests Smerch MLRS

Indian defence scientists have successfully tested the Russian-manufactured Smerch (Tornado) Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

At least five tests, which gauged flight stability, accuracy and consistency, were held at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur. 

"The Smerch can launch 12 rockets at a time," a defence scientist told Express Buzz. "It is able to fire single rockets or salvo from two to all 12 rockets. A full salvo lasts 38 seconds."

The scientist also explained that the MLRS was capable of launching surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. "The system can be integrated with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide a new dimension to artillery defence system," he added.

According to Army Technology, the 9K58 Smerch 300mm MLRS was designed to defeat soft and hard-skinned targets, artillery and missile systems. The MLRS fires a 300mm 9M55K rocket with a solid propellant rocket motor capable of a 20-70km range.

The 9M55K rocket, which measures 7.5m in length and weighs over 800kg, can be fitted with a warhead containing 72 HE-FRAG (High-Explosive Fragmentation) submunitions. Alternatively, the rocket is capable of handling a HE-FRAG separable unitary warhead as well as five Bazalt MOTIV-3F anti-armour submunitions.

It should be noted that the Indian Army  test-fired a modernised Smerch-M system in 2002, which featured an automatic rocket preparing and launching system, along with an increased projectile range of up to 90km.  X

Thursday, December 18, 2008

India builds defence missile shield with US

India is soon to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United States to boost its missile defence system. The MoU is aimed at giving India the state of the art technology that will allow it to intercept any threat from ballistic missiles.

In the cold war era Russian and Americans were in a state of conflict, tension and competition. Both the superpowers were engaged in costly defence spending and in a massive conventional and nuclear arms race and numerous proxy wars.

Then American President Reagan's dream-dubbed star war didn't quite shape up but was scaled down to a more realistic version of ground-based anti-missile systems.

India's Agni missile -- a strategic strike missile -- is being tested. Now, India is joining hands with the United States of America to create its own missile shield to protect and destroy.

The missile defence programme is intended to be a defensive screen with the ability to track and destroy incoming ballistic missiles. The command centre communicates target information to ground-based interceptors. This can then intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missile warheads outside the earth's atmosphere. Called kill vehicles, these interceptors isolate the warhead from the missile decoy.

India will now have access to these technologies and will also ask the US to allow it to observe missile tests like this. The crucial help will come in enhancing capabilities of its own command centres which will act as the brains of the missile defence system.

India will now use this advance technology to defend its territory and keep its forces in a state of readiness.

India's first, BrahMos launched in vertical configuration

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile with a strike-range of 290 kms was on Thursday successfully test-fired in a vertical launch configuration for the first time by the Indian Navy.

With this launch, BrahMos has become the world's first and only supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from both vertical and inclined positions from naval platforms. "BrahMos missile was successfully test fired in vertical-launch configuration from an Indian Navy ship in the Bay of Bengal today," Defence Ministry sources said.

The test, the sources said, was carried out at midday from a moving Rajdoot class warship. The vertical launcher used in the test has been designed and developed by the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Corporation.

"The test has proved and demonstrated the new universal vertical launcher designed and developed by the Corporation," they said. "The mission objectives of the test were fully achieved," the sources said.

The launch, carried out in presence of senior Navy officers and DRDO scientists, will give a boost to the future deployment of BrahMos in the naval platforms, they said.

"This will give a boost to ongoing programme of future ship installation for the missile. It will be installed in vertical launch configuration in all the future ships of the Indian Navy. This will include the both ships under construction and the ones who come back to shipyards for refurbishment," the sources added.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tejas (LCA) Fighter Jet High-Altitude Trials at Leh Successful: DRDO

India's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has achieved a major milestone when its prototype landed at Leh air base in the high-altitude Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. "Tejas (LCA) programme reached a major milestone when the prototype vehicle PV-3 landed at Leh on December 13 this year at 1326 hours," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials said here on Tuesday.

The event is seen as significant on many counts as Leh airfield is situated at an altitude of 10,600 feet and is one of the highest airfields in the world with a temperature variation ranging from plus 5 degrees Celsius to minus 20 degrees Celsius. The objective of the current phase of flight trials at Leh was to expose the on-board systems to the extreme low temperatures while making an assessment of the aircraft performance in the rarefied atmospheric conditions, DRDO officials said.

Two Tejas prototypes PV-3 and LSP-2 were involved in this important environmental test. The LSP-2 prototype powered by the latest IN20 engine with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) is in the Standard of Preparation (SOP) that would be cleared for induction into the IAF service soon. As per reports received from the trial location, the current phase of flight trial was progressing well with aircraft and systems performing well, as expected, officials said.

The aircraft were soaked overnight in cold weather, with temperature around minus 20 degrees Celsius and powered up next day for operation, officials said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Missile defence for Delhi

A missile defence system for the national capital is being deployed by the Indian Air Force.

Three Israeli-made balloon or blimp-held radar called Aerostat will be deployed around New Delhi after an intelligence alert of a threat from low-flying aircraft. An Aerostat is also being deployed in Agra for the Taj Mahal.

The Aerostat-based missile defence system is a generation behind the systems used by the US. India is in talks with the US and Russia to check out their more advanced missile defence systems (such as the Patriot III and the SV-300). Its Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is also carrying out trials for an indigenous Prithvi Air Defence system.

The Aerostat radar has been used along the international border in Punjab and in Gujarat (Kutch). The radar is currently in use in south India after the LTTE used aircraft to bomb Sri Lankan military facilities last year.

An official of the Indian Air Force said the decision was taken after defence minister A.K. Antony held a meeting last week and asked the service to mount an extraordinary vigil. Following that, security was beefed up at airports.

The deployment of the Aerostats is in line with that measure, the officer said.

The EL/M 2083 Aerostat radar was bought from Israel in 2004-2005. The blimps have a maximum altitude of 13,000 feet. They are tethered to the ground. The radar they carry has coverage of up to 300km.

The radar is used for surveillance and also has IFF (identification friend or foe) capability. For the national capital, the Aerostat will be connected to batteries of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

If the radar signals an unidentifiable aircraft approaching, it can be programmed to trigger the SAMs automatically.

However, the Indian Air Force usually alerts fighter aircraft squadrons in the vicinity of the capital — in Gwalior, Hindon or Ambala, for example — to be ready to scramble.

The officer said Delhi has no-fly zones over strategic areas (such as over Rajpath and Raisina Hill). Besides, the threat perception for the city was assessed to be higher than that for other urban centres in the country.