Wednesday, March 31, 2010

India's Light Combat copter makes first flight

March 29 had been selected for a landmark attempt: The first flight of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Already a year late, and facing criticism for having gone several hundred kilograms overweight, the LCH had much to prove.

Attack helicopters involve the most complex aeronautical, stealth, sensor and weapons technologies.

HAL's state-of-the-art LCH aims to gatecrash an exclusive club of light attack helicopters that includes Eurocopter's Tiger and China's ultra-secret Zhisheng10 (Z-10).

In high-altitude performance, the LCH will be in aclass by itself: Taking off from Himalayan altitudes of 10,000 feet, operating rockets and guns up to 16,300 feet, and launching missiles at UAVs flying at over 21,000 feet.
At 3.30 pm, the twin Shakti engines roared to a crescendo and the LCH pilots, Group Captains Unni Pillai and Hari Nair, lifted off the ground.

The futuristic helicopter, all angles and armoured sheets, flew for adistance just a few feet above the runway; then cheering and clapping broke out as it climbed to 50 feet. 

Over the next 15 minutes, Pillai and Nair put the LCH through its first flight test, doing a clockwise and then an anti-clockwise turn, hovering motionless and circling the airport four times.

"It is a big day for all of us, especially those involved in the LCH's design and fabrication," Ashok Nayak, chairman and managing director of HAL, told Business Standard .

"We were going to have the first LCH flight in December but, for one reason or another, it kept getting delayed." A feared predator in the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter is a key weapon system against enemy tanks.

Once an enemy tank column is detected, attack helicopters speed to confront them, flying just 20-30 feet high to avoid radar detection with enemy rifle and machine-gun bullets ricocheting off their armoured sides.

Hiding behind trees or a ridgeline, they pop up when the tanks are about 4 kilometres away to fire missiles that smash through a tank's armour.

Excess weight has been the main reason for the delay in the LCH programme. The heavy armour needed for protection against enemy fire conflicts with the need for a light, highly mobile helicopter that can twist and dodge and hover stationary to allow pilots to aim and fire their missiles.

The LCH was supposed to weight just 2.5 tonnes when empty; but the design team found that it actually weighed 580 kg more than that.

At lower altitudes, this would not be a significant drawback. But, at the LCH's flight ceiling of 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet), this would significantly reduce the LCH's payload of weapons and ammunition.

Last September, the chief of HAL's Helicopter Complex, RSrinivasan, told Business Standard that the LCH's weight would be progressively reduced over the first three Technology Demonstrators (TDs) of the LCH.

"We will find ways of cutting down TD-1 by 180-200 kg; TD-2, will be another 100 kg lighter; and TD-3 will shave off another 65-75 kg. That would leave the LCH about 200 kg heavier than originally planned, but the IAF has accepted that." HAL chief Ashok Nayak today confirmed to Business Standard that this schedule was on track.

"The weight reduction that we had targeted for TD-1, which flew on Monday, has been met. The second prototype, TD-1, which will make its first flight by September, will be lighter still." The Indian Air Force (IAF) has said that it needs 65 LCHs; the army wants another 114.

If the development programme is not delayed further, the LCH will enter service by 2015-2016. To meet its needs till then, the Ministry of Defence floated a global tender for 22 attack helicopters. With only three companies responding, that tender was cancelled last year.

But HAL remains confident since most of the key technologies in the LCH -- e.g., the Shakti engine, the rotors and the main gearbox -- have already been proven in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, 159 of which are being built for the army and the air force.

Simultaneously, the LCH's weapons and sensors are being tested on a weaponised version of the Dhruv. These include a Nexter 20 mm turretmounted cannon, an MBDA air-to-air missile, and an EW suite from SAAB, South Africa.

India's Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is developing an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for the LCH.

Based on the already developed Nag ATGM, the HELINA (or HELIicopter-mounted NAg) missile can destroy tanks from a distance of seven kilometres.

A feared predator in the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter is a key weapon system against enemy tanks, flying just 20-30 feet high to avoid radar detection

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Exclusive look at Indian Navy's new warship

On April 1, the Indian Navy will launch a new warship, a missile destroyer in the P-15 alpha class.

The indigenously made destroyer was built at India's biggest warship-building shipyard, the Mazgaon Docks in Mumbai.

"This is the third ship of the Project 15 alpha class which are essentially the follow ons of the very successful Delhi-class. They are missile destroyers and one very big difference is that most of the weapon systems are entirely indigenous. So it is a very big landmark. Now this 15 alpha has even better equipment fit, various systems are more advanced than even the Delhi class. So it is a much better ship," says retired Vice Admiral H S Malhi, Chairman and MD, Mazgaon Docks Limited.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hat-trick for missile technologists, armed forces

In a hat-trick for missile technologists and the armed forces in the last two days, Agni-I, which can carry nuclear weapons and has range of 700 km, was flight-tested successfully from the Wheeler's Island, off the Orissa coast, on Sunday.

The ship-based Dhanush and Prithvi-II were test-fired in a salvo mode on Saturday.

The medium range surface-to-surface Agni-I, fired at 1.07 hours from a mobile launcher, homed in on the target within a few metres of accuracy as it splashed down in the Bay of Bengal.

The launch was carried out by Army personnel as part of a training exercise.

Best-ever launch

Describing it as one of the best-ever launches, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials said the specialised navigation and guidance system enabled the missile to reach the target with a high degree of accuracy after a 500-second flight duration.

During the course of the flight, it reached an altitude of 300 km and re-entered the atmosphere, withstanding high temperatures of more than 2,000 degree Celsius, as specially-developed heat shields provided protection to the electronic components and the payload.

The radars and electro-optical tracking system along the coast monitored the missile's path and trajectory-related parameters in real time.

Two down-range naval ships, about 700 km from the Wheeler's Island, tracked the missile reaching the target.


The 14-metre tall Agni-I is a single stage, solid-propelled weapon system. It can carry a payload of 1,000 kg.

It is equipped with features to defeat the enemy's anti-ballistic missile system.

The Agni series of missiles form the mainstay of India's nuclear deterrence programme.

The launch operations were monitored by Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and DRDO Director-General V.K. Saraswat, Programme Director (Agni) and Director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory Avinash Chander, Director of the Research Centre (Imarat) S.K. Ray, and Director of the Defence Research and Defence Laboratory P. Venugopalan.

Dr. Saraswat congratulated the Army and DRDO teams for the successful launch.

India tests nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile

India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, 700-km range ballistic missile Agni-I from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast, a day after launching two other short-range missiles. "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-firing of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," S P Dash, the director of Integrated Test Range on the island, about 100 km from here, told PTI.

Fired from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid fuel, roared into the sky leaving behind a column of thick orange and white smoke at about 1305 hours.

"After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.

The missile was equipped with a new navigational technology which helps it to home on to the target. During today's test-launch, the weapon system achieved a precision-hit after reaching a height of 300 kms, defence sources said in New Delhi.

The user of the missile, the Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads of upto one tonne, has already been inducted into the Army.

"The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile," said a DRDO scientist.

The entire trajectory of today's mission was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored close to the impact point.

India had successfully test-fired two nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles Prithvi-II and Dhanush in quick succession from different locations off Orissa coast yesterday.

Dhanush was test-fired from INS Subhadra, about 50 nautical miles from Puri, while Prithvi-II was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the ITR.

Prithvi-II has a range of 295 km while Dhanush, the naval version of Prithvi, can cruise upto 350 km.

On March 22, the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia, was successfully test-launched from INS Ranvir, also off the Orissa coast.

Friday, March 26, 2010

GSLV-D3 Launch A Major Milestone For Indian Rocket Science

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3), fitted with an indigenous cryogenic stage, from Sriharikotta in April, and the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C15) in May, P. S Veeraraghavan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said on Wednesday.
Terming the launch of the GSLV-D3 by April-end "a landmark in indigenous technology," he said the vehicle would put into orbit an advanced communication satellite (GSAT- 4). "So far we have been using Russian cryogenic engine."

Mr. Veeraraghavan was speaking at the inaugural of a seminar on 'Application of nuclear and space technology for the benefit of farmers,' here.

The PSLV-C15 would put into orbit Cartosat 2B, an Algerian satellite, two Canadian nano-satellites and a satellite developed by students of various colleges in Karnataka some time in the beginning of May.

Growing demand There was a growing demand for more communication satellites, especially from television and cable networks. Now the ISRO was launching four satellites a year. The number of satellite launches had to be increased gradually.

"The 11th Plan demanded 30 missions. To achieve the objective, at least eight satellites have to be put into orbit every year," Mr. Veeraraghavan said.

ISRO to launch GSLV-D3 in April and PSLV-C15 in May

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing for big launches this year that will a landmark for the technology developed within the country.

The Indian space agency will launch a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3) in April and the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C15) in May from Sriharikotta, indicated the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, P. S Veeraraghavan on Wednesday.

The launch in April will include an indigenous cryogenic stage. Mr. Veeraraghavan described the achievement as "a landmark in indigenous technology," as the agency was using cryogenic engines from Russia until now.

He was speaking at a seminar on 'Application of nuclear and space technology for the benefit of farmers' when he expressed that the launch vehicle will put an advanced communication satellite called GSAT- 4 into the orbit.

The other vehicle, PSLV-C15 will put into orbit Cartosat 2B along with an Algerian satellite, two nano-satellites from Canada and a satellite developed by students of various colleges in Karnataka.

The demand for communication satellites have been growing from various TV channels and other institutions. The 11th Plan demanded 30 missions, indicated Mr. Veeraraghavan. "To achieve the objective, at least eight satellites have to be put into orbit every year," he added.

‘Prithvi-II’ and ‘Dhanush’ missiles test fired successfully

India on Saturday successfully testfired indigenously developed ballistic missiles ’Prithvi—II’ and ‘Dhanush’ from different locations off the Orissa coast, adding more firepower to the armed forces.

“The tests were successful. Both the missiles testfired early today met all the parameters,” the director of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, S P Dash, told PTI.

While the ‘Prithvi-II’ was testfired from complex-3 of ITR Chandipur, 15 km from here, from a mobile launcher at around 0548 hours, the ‘Dhanush’ was fired from INS-Subhadra in the Bay of Bengal near Puri at around 0544 hours by the Navy personnel as part of user training exercise.

The test firing of the short-range, surface-to-surface ’Prithvi-II’ ballistic missile having a range of 295 km, which has already been inducted into the armed forces, was a user trial by the Army.

The sleek missile is “handled by the strategic force command”, the sources said.

Prithvi, the first ballistic missile developed under the country’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), has the capability to carry 500 kg of warhead and has liquid propulsion twine engine.

With a nine-metre length and one-metre diameter, Prithvi-II uses an advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory and reach the targets with a few metre accuracy.

The entire trajectory of today’s trial was tracked down by a battery of sophisticated radars and an electro-optic telemetry stations were positioned in different locations for post-launch analysis, defence sources said.

The nuclear-capable ‘Dhanush’, the naval version of Prithvi, followed the pre-designated trajectory with text-book precision and two naval ships located near the target have tracked the splash, sources said.

The 350-km range missile will give the Navy the capability to attack enemy targets with great precision.

The sophisticated radar systems located along the coast monitored its entire trajectory, the sources said.

The single stage missile, weighing six tonnes, is powered by liquid propellants.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Antony commissions new generation Coast Guard vessel

Defence Minister A.K. Antony commissioned ICGS Vishwast, a new generation Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel (OPV), at an impressive ceremony here Wednesday.

'Vishwast, meaning 'Trustworthy', is a projection of the Indian Coast Guard's will and commitment to maritime order and security,' a defence ministry statement said.

ICGS Vishwast, the first of its class, has been indigenously designed and built by the Goa Shipyard Limited and is equipped with the most advanced navigational and communication sensors.

The special features of the ship include an integrated bridge system, an integrated machinery control system, a high-power external firefighting system and an indigenously built gun mount.

The infrared surveillance system to be installed on board will provide additional capability to detect targets at night that otherwise could evade radar detection due to their small size or rough weather.

The ship is designed to carry one helicopter and five high-speed boats for search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, exclusive economic zone surveillance, high speed interdiction and marine pollution response missions.

The ship is 90 metres long, displaces 2,400 tons, and is propelled by 9,100 KW twin diesel engines to attain a maximum speed of 26 Knots. At economical speeds, she has an endurance of 4,500 nautical miles and can stay at sea for 17 days without replenishment.

'This sustenance and reach, coupled with the most modern weapons, provides ICGS Vishwast the capabilities of performing the role of a command platform for the conduct of all Coast Guard operations on both the high seas and close to the coast,' the defence ministry statement said.

Crewed by eight officers and 82 men, ICGS Vishwast will be based at Chennai under the administrative and operational control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Interceptor missile test today

As part of building a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence shield, India will conduct a missile interceptor test off the Orissa coast on Sunday.

During the test, an indigenously-developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile will engage and destroy an incoming target missile, a modified Prithvi, in an endo-atmospheric interception at a low altitude of 15 km.

The Prithvi will take off from the Launch Complex-3 at Integrated Test Range in Balasore. Within minutes, theAAD, will be fired from the Wheeler Island.

As the target missile climbs to an altitude of 120 km and descends rapidly, the AAD, equipped with a radio frequency seeker, will zero in onto the “hostile” projectile and destroy it at a low altitude.

Sunday's test will be the fourth such test being carried out by scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

India To Testfire Advanced Air Defense Missile on Sunday

India is to testfire its indigenously developed Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa Sunday, Press Trust of India (PTI) cited Defence Ministry sources as saying Saturday.

"The missile, which is capable of destroying any hostile ballistic missile at a low altitude, will be testfired from the Intergrated Test Range in Wheeler Islanad in Chandipur in the state's Balasore district. The missile is to destroy a target in mid-air over Bay of Bengal. The interception is to take place at low altitude," the sources said.

AAD is an anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 30 km. AAD is single stage, solid fueled missile.

On Dec 2007, AAD successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi- II missile acting as an incoming ballistic missile enemy target. The endo-atmospheric interception was carried out at an altitude of 15 km.

On March 6, 2009, India again successfully tested its missile defense shield, during which an incoming "enemy" missile was intercepted at an altitude of 75 km.

Friday, March 12, 2010

ICBM Agni-V to be test-fired within a year

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to launch its Agni-V missile by early 2011, said DRDO distinguished scientist and Chief Controller (R&D), Life Sciences, Dr W Selvamurthy on Thursday.
Selvamurthy was addressing presspersons at the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL). “The Agni-V ‘surface to surface missile’ will be able to cover 5,000 km radius with a pay load of 1.5 tonne of both nuclear and conventional warfare,” he said.
Selvamurthy said that Agni-V was a three-stage missile unlike Agni-III- -which was a stage 2 missile.
He said that the Agni-V could be called an ‘Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)’ since it had the capacity to cover 5,000 km radius.
On the Agni-III missile, he said the tests conducted on the missile have been satisfactory and the army will take its decision regarding the induction of the missile. He said that space security is also a major concern.
“DRDO has not taken up any antisatellite space programme. But if required, it is well prepared to develop and design such a mechanism.”
Steps to combat chemical, biological warfare
Selvamurthy further said that the DRDO has also taken major steps to combat NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) Warfare. “The DRDO has invented a ‘Portable Gas Chromatograph’ which can detect chemical warfare agents. This has been converted into a three chemical paper which will be placed on the uniform and any change in colour will enable the soldiers to detect chemical contamination,” he added.
On the threat of biological warfare, he said that DRDO has invented an antigen-based diagnostic kit that would help diagnosis of typhoid, leptospirosis, dengue, H1N1, malaria, plague, anthrax and other diseases. “DRDO has developed a H1N1 kit which is much superior to the existing kits used worldwide. The kits used across the world cost Rs 8,000, while the kit invented by DRDO would cost only Rs 1,000. Using these kits, the detection of the H1N1 virus can be done within 1 hour while the normal kit would take around 10-12 hours,” he added.
Besides, the invention of Recce Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicle Daksh would also help in identifying chemically contaminated areas.
Remote Operate Vehicles have also been helping in the removal of radiation source which can be a problem for the soldiers. DRDO has also come out with mobile decontamination vehicles,” said Selvamurthy.
He said systems worth Rs 600 crore have already been inducted by the DRDO. He said the cabinet committee has given its approval for granting Rs 300 crore for NBC research.
Future battle scenario
On the topic of advanced warfare, Dr Selvamurthy said that DRDO had recently held a brain storming session on ‘Battle Scenario 2020,’ which discussed the possible battle scenarios in the future.
Focus on army’s needs
“Apart from providing weaponry mechanisms for the armed forces, the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) is also involved in catering to the human needs of the military,” said DRDO Chief Controller (R&D) Dr W Selvamurthy. He was speaking at the inauguration of the two-day national seminar on ‘Futuristic Food Requirements of the Armed Forces-Stakeholders’ organised by the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) in Mysore on Thursday.
The army men need to be fit and healthy to be part of a winning troupe. DRDO is actively involved in catering to their needs by providing the right kind of food to soldiers serving in diverse and extreme climatic conditions, he added.
Dr Selvamurthy said that around five laboratories were fulfilling the food requirements of the army.
“DRDO has also invented hybrid varieties of seeds used to cultivate garlic, chillies, cauliflower and other vegetables in cold conditions. Besides, DRDO has been providing fresh food to armed forces.”

Indian Army to test fire Nag missile in May

The Indian Army is gearing up to test fire the indigenously-built Nag anti-tank missile from Rajasthan in May.

The short-range missile, developed by Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, will be inducted in the Army after completing the final round of test trials, sources said.

The Army has earmarked Rs 335 crore to buy 443 Nag missiles.

Nag is a third generation missile which operates on the “fire-and-forget” principle.

While the land version of the missile has a range of 4 to 6 km, its air version has a range of 7 to 8 km.

The 42-kg missile can fly at a speed of 230 meters per second.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why towns are saying 'Try Me' to Google

Communities across the country are going gaga over Google.
With hopes of becoming a test bed for the online search giant's ultra-fast Internet network, Topeka, Kansas, temporarily changed its name to Google.
Duluth, Minnesota, created a spoof YouTube video mocking Topeka's effort, pledging to rename every first-born male Google Fiber and female Googlette Fiber.
Highlands Ranch, a suburb south of Denver, is gathering community members to form a human "We Love Google" sign at a local high school football stadium.
"We know we have to do something unusual to get Google's attention," said Jamie Noebel, community-relations manager for Highlands Ranch.
Google announced plans last month to a build a fiber-optic network that would offer residential Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second - about 100 times faster than the speeds available to most Americans today.
Put another way, users would be able to download a high-definition movie in less than a minute, compared with more than an hour on speeds currently available.
The company said the service may reach up to 500,000 people and asked communities interested in becoming a trial location to essentially submit an application by March 26. Google says it will weigh factors such as "community support, local resources, weather conditions, approved construction methods and local regulatory issues."
The test community or communities will be selected this year.
Google has long had a testy relationship with traditional broadband providers, battling over issues such as "network neutrality" - an effort to prevent companies such as Comcast and Denver-based Qwest from offering tiered pricing for access to their networks.
Google doesn't necessarily want to be an Internet service provider. It's using the "experiment" to show that faster broadband speeds can be offered by companies other than cable and telecommunications firms.
"We'll manage our network in an open, nondiscriminatory and transparent way," Google states on the project's Web page.
Google will have to dig up roads and connect fiber-optic cables directly to homes, similar to the network upgrade Verizon has undertaken in its local phone-service territory.
By working directly with local governments, Google can cut some of the red tape that often slows such buildouts, such as right-of-way issues.
And city officials across the country are showing they're more than willing to work with Google.
Longmont in northern Colorado is quick to note that the city owns its own electric utility, giving Google easy access to infrastructure it may need to roll out the service.
"There's a lot of hype out there, but once you get through the hype, we've got a lot of attributes," said Tom Roiniotis, director of Longmont Power & Communications.
He said the St. Vrain Valley School District is planning a YouTube video contest to promote Longmont, which also owns an 18-mile fiber-optic ring that Google can tap into

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Restriction of officiating pay under FR 35 - clarification - regarding


Government of India

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

Department of Personnel & Training

New Delhi the 8th March, 2010.


Subject: Restriction of officiating pay under FR 35 - clarification - regarding.
The undersigned is directed to say that in terms of the provisions contained in Fundamental Rule 35, the Central Government may fix the pay of an officiating Government Servant at an amount less than that admissible under the Fundamental Rules. Accordingly, orders have been issued from time to time indicating the circumstances and the extent to which provisions of FR 35 would apply. ThisDepartment's OM NO. 18/7/98-Estt (Pay-I) dated 15th December, 1998 lays down the ceilings based on the pay scales sanctioned by the Government on the recornendation of the Fifth Central Pay Comission.
2. The question of revising these ceilings consequent upon implementation of CCS(RP) Rules, 2008, which have replaced pre-revised pay scales by the running pay bands and grade pay, has been considered by the Government and the President is pleased to decide to replace the existing criteria of basic pay regarding imposition of the above restriction by the criteria of pay in the pay band. Accordingly, the pay under FR 35 shall be restricted so as not to exceed the basic pay in the revised scales by more than the amounts shown below:

a) For employees in receipt of Pay in the pay band above Rs.14,880 p.m.

12-1/2% of the basic pay subject to a maximum of Rs.2,000 p.m. (including the difference of grade pay between the feeder and the promotional post)

a) For employees in receipt of Pay in the pay band upto Rs.14,880 p.m.

15% of the basic pay subject to a maximum of Rs.2,000 p.m. (including the difference of grade pay between the feeder and the promotional post)

3. Insofar as the rate of increment to be drawn in cases where the pay is fixed under FR 35 is concerned, the Government servant may be allowed to draw his annual (F.No.1/4/2009-Estt(Pay-I) dated 8 March, 2010) increment @ 3% of the basic pay granted to him after imposition of restrictions under FR 35.
4. In so far as persons serving in the Indian Audit & Accounts Department are concerned, these orders issue in consultation with the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's destination Mars for ISRO

After the moon, it is destination Mars for the Indian space agency. Work on the next generation launch vehicle Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III, planned for a 2011 launch, took a big leap with the ground test of liquid core stage late on Friday.

Scientists conducted the static test or ground firing of its liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV Mk III launch vehicle for 150 seconds, monitoring about 500 parameters, at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facility at Mahendragiri on March 5, 2010, evening. The next static test for 200 seconds will be conducted after analysis of this data.


The next-gen rocket is world's third largest in fuel mass and length and its 200-ton 25-m long solid propellant rocket booster - next only to US and Europe space shuttles -- has been developed in house.

Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] officials say the new 42m or 12-storey building high 6.3 ton rocket can put a four-ton satellite in orbit while also packing more transponders in one space flight. The GSLV Mk-III can also be used for the 2015 human spaceflight besides sending meaningful probes to Mars and other inter-planetary missions.

ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told India Today that the agency, operating on a Rs 5,000-crore shoestring budget, has planned major milestones in the future. Last year, the agency was all over the moon with the successful Chandrayaan-1 moon mission and achieved a big high putting into orbit ten satellites on a single Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), becoming the first country to achieve the feat; while eight satellites were foreign two - Cartosat-2 and Indian Mini Satellite - were made in India.

Measuring 17 meters in length and 4 meters in diameter, L110 is an earth storable liquid propellant stage with a propellant loading of 110 tons. With GSLV Mk-III intended to launch heavy satellites into geostationary orbit India will also become less reliant on foreign rockets for heavy lifting. This rocket also comes at a time when the US had prevailed upon Russia, citing the Missile Technology Control Regime [MTCR],  not to transfer to India the Russian made cryogenic engine that had powered GSLV-1 forcing Indian scientists to develop an indigenous one.

We are on for very exciting times indeed, said Radhakrishnan who took over from Madhavan Nair late last year. The sky is not the limit for the Indian space agency whose budget is less than a tenth of NASA.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

India's emerging maritime clout

The Indian Defense Ministry’s Sixth Land and Naval Defense Systems Exhibition held in New Delhi last month showcased newly inducted equipment by the country’s navy and army. Defexpo 2010 saw over 650 companies from around the world display their products and systems for possible acquisition by India’s military.

But the indigenously developed Shaurya missile, capable of being fired underwater by Indian submarines, was the pièce de résistance of the exhibition. The missile is a canister-launched, solid-fuelled hypersonic surface-to-surface tactical weapon capable of carrying a payload of conventional or nuclear warheads.

With a range of 700 to 1,900 kilometers, the trajectory of the missile, unlike ballistic missiles, can be preprogrammed to make it difficult for anti-missile systems to intercept.

Using conventional fuel-air explosive warheads, the missile can cause devastation similar to that of a mini-nuke. The missile has been optimized for the Indian nuclear submarine program, represented by the nuclear-powered INS Arihant submarine.

The formal induction of MiG-29K maritime fighter planes by Indian Defense Minister A.K. Anthony on Feb.19 is expected to strengthen the Indian navy’s air arm. The aircraft, nicknamed Black Panther, will be part of the 303 Squadron and will fly from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, presently under modernization in Russia.

In the interim period, the MiGs will be tasked for defense duties off the west coast of India. The twin-engine aircraft, capable of covering a tactical radius of around 2,000 kilometers and fitted with beyond-visual-range missiles, will provide potent air cover to the naval fleet in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. The aircraft is also capable of air-to-air refueling, which enhances the time on task.

The maritime strike capabilities of India, deep into the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, have leapt to a new level with the combined strengths of the Navy’s MiG-29Ks and Sea Harriers, and the Jaguars and Sukhoi SU-30MKI fighters of the Indian Air Force. That is in addition to the existing maritime surveillance aircraft types IL-38, TU-142 and the maritime Dornier-228.

A dedicated naval satellite for the Indian Navy is ready for launch by the Indian Space Research Organization this year. The satellite will further improve existing surveillance and net-centric communications in the Indian Ocean region between the navy’s ships, submarines and aircraft.

INS Arihant, the indigenously produced nuclear-powered SSBN submarine, left the Indian port of Vishakhapatnam for sea trials in the Indian Ocean on Feb. 25. Two more submarines of the same class are being produced and will be inducted for trials in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

India’s Defense Ministry took over the Hindustan Shipyard Limited in the port city of Vishakhapatnam this year to augment its submarine production program. Generous assistance and partnerships with the Russian government are also aiding India’s future naval production programs. The political guidance of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is visible in this sphere.

The induction of the Akula-II class of SSN submarines from Russia is apace and the first submarine will be in India in June, christened the INS Chakra. The hunter-killer submarine is one of the quietest in the world today. The Russian government is keen to continue its military relationship with India, with a visit from Putin to New Delhi scheduled this month.

A new facet of India’s defense diplomacy has been Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Feb. 27, at the invitation of the Saudi king, to discuss ways to combat terror affecting both nations. The visit is a first by an Indian prime minister in 28 years.

The Saudi government surprised Singh with a red carpet welcome at Riyadh airport, accompanied by the entire Cabinet. An extradition treaty and a plan to train Saudi naval officers in India are being finalized. Cooperation in the energy sector and protection of sea lanes vital to both countries were also on the agenda.

India’s maritime clout is finally emerging in the Indian Ocean region after determined displays in anti-piracy patrols and humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the 2007 tsunami.

Isro tests low-cost rocket

Forty-eight hours after the news about Chandrayaan-1's discovery of ice on the moon, here comes more good news. On Thursday, Isro successfully tested a new generation high performance sounding rocket marking a major step towards low-cost access to space by India.
"Today's flight marks a major step towards developing a low-cost access to space," Isro chief spokesperson S Satish told TOI, while pointing out that there could be another test during the next three months.
Designated as advanced technology vehicle (ATV), it weighed three tonnes and is the heaviest sounding rocket ever developed by Isro. The launch took place at 8.30am in Sriharikota. Satish said for the first time India tested air breathing propulsion technology. The rocket reached an altitude of 46 km in 120 seconds after lift off. It then splashed into Bay of Bengal — the total duration of the mission being 240 seconds.
Once fully operational these hi-tech sounding rockets have the capability to fly payloads weighing between 200 and 400 kg up to an altitude of 800 km. "The basic role of sounding rockets is to carry out space research and study the upper atmosphere," he said.
Explaining the new technology, he said in a conventional rocket, fuel and oxidizer are taken as a mixture which increases the weight of the vehicle. But, in an air breathing rocket, oxygen is taken from the atmosphere for burning the fuel. He said the main advantage of this system is it reduces the weight as well as the cost of the rocket itself. It could also result in India-built rockets being able to fly heavier payloads. Studies by Nasa have shown that it costs about $10,000 per pound to place a payload in orbit.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ISRO conducts flight testing of advanced sounding rocket

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully conducted the flight testing of its new generation high performance sounding rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) on Wednesday.

Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV-D01), weighing 3 tonnes at lift-off, is the heaviest sounding rocket ever developed by the ISRO. It carried a passive scramjet engine combustor module as a test bed for demonstration of Air- Breathing propulsion technology.During the flight, the vehicle successfully dwelled for 7 seconds in the desired conditions of Mach number (6 + 0.5) and dynamic pressure (80 + 35 kPa). These conditions are required for a stable ignition of active scramjet engine combustor module planned in the next flight of ATV.

The successful flight testing of ATV-D01 is a step ahead towards the advanced technology initiative taken up by the ISRO in the area of Air- Breathing propulsion.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DRDO to conduct fourth test of interceptor missile

In less than two weeks, India will test its Ballistic Missile Defence shield again, by launching an interceptor missile to kill an incoming “enemy” ballistic missile mid-flight.

This is the fourth time that the Defence Research and Development Organisation will be testing its interceptor missile.

While the incoming missile will lift off from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Orissa, the interceptor will blast off from the launch complex on the Wheeler Island, off Damra village, said V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister.

A variant of the Prithvi missile will mimic the enemy’s ballistic missile trajectory. An Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile will confront and kill it, in endo-atmosphere, at an altitude of less than 20 km. The launch window is between March 10 and 15. The Prithvi is a single stage, surface-to-surface missile that uses liquid fuel. The AAD is a single stage anti-ballistic missile that uses solid fuel. It is 7.5 metres long.

The DRDO scored three successes in a row when its interceptor missile tests conducted on November 27, 2006, December 6, 2007, and March 6, 2009, were on the target.