Tuesday, April 29, 2014

AURA , The Future of Indian Airforce

AURA or Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft is an Indian initiative at building an Unmanned Combat Air vehicle (UCAV) with special preference given to the stealth features. The examples of these UCAV’s are X47 of US , Dassault nEUROn (France) & BAE Taranis , all of which are on the initial stage of development & testing. The X47b program of US Navy being front runner as it has recently started taking off from the US Aircraft carriers.

The purpose of the DRDO is to provide the Indian Air force with an option to deliver the payloads to enemy location without endangering the life of the pilot . This will act along side with the PAK-FA & AMCA , the 5th Generations of fighter aircrafts that will start showing up on the IAF inventory towards the end of this decade or start of the next. The AURA program is also meant to compete with the other programs to provide the IAF with the best technically advanced UCAV which will form the backbone of the airforce in the next decade .

The important point to note is that DRDO has already made progress in the field of UCAV with the introduction of RUSTOM -2 UCAV which if going through the trails & is expected to enter service in few years. With two or more prototypes being built till now ,DRDO is fast tracking its UAV/UCAV programs to meet the requirements of the IAF.It also expected that most of the basic technological requirements for developing the UAV/UCAV will be tested on RUSTOM programs first before being implemented on to the AURA project.

One of the basic difference between the AURA & RUSTOM program is that the former is a stealth UCAV powered by a jet engine (possibly non after burning version of kaveri ) while the latter is a prop based engine . Both of this programs fulfill different purposes with Indian Armed forces ,one will serve as a surveillance UAV with long term endurance while the other will lead the attack on the enemy forces .

With the progress of DRDO programs in the coming days AURA is expected to make its first flight in 2015 .There is very less information about the program in the public domain because of it being a Black project, but the DRDO has shown its capabilities in the past years & Indian military establishment is also confident on the project.

One of the hurdle in the AURA project is the engine which is expected to be Kaveri non afterburning version , DRDO has not made progress in the indigenous jet engine project & the Indian military continues to depend on the foreign engine manufacturers for their requirements. With AL-41 & RD33 from Russia , F414 from US & Adour from Rolls-Royce the country depends on many manufacturers to keep its equipment's at par. The HAL manufactures some of these engines at India but one of the most important aspect of the engine manufacturing ,the blades of the engine comes from abroad & HAL just do the assembly work.

If the engine problem is solved by the DRDO bases Labs India will join the elite club of U.S,France,U.K. &Russia with jet engine manufacturing technology. China is also making strives of progress in this field but is still struggling with ws10 engine for its fighter aircrafts .

We only hope that DRDO make progress with the engine technology & the stealth technology so that project AURA could become reality for the IAF .With AMCA & FGFA projects the DRDO labs are already working on the stealth aspect of the project.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

India successfully test fires exo-atmospheric missile interceptor

The exo-atmospheric missile interceptor was successfully test-fired at the defence base in Odisha. This is the first time an exo-atmospheric missile is test fired as part the development of missile shield.



The indigenous Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile was fired from Wheeler Island off the coast near Dhamra port in Bhadrak district, about 170 km from here.



The missile intercepted an incoming ballistic missile as required, a modified variant of the Prithvi fired from a ship off the coast near the integrated test range at Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore district, about 70 km from Wheeler Island.

This test is to be followed by trial of cruise missile Nirbhay (whose maiden test had failed last year) and air-to-air missile Astra next month.


"The test was successful," test range director M.V.K.V. Prasad told IANS. "It is for the first time that we have successfully conducted the test of an exo-atmospheric interceptor," he said.

“The PAD interceptor missile has already demonstrated its killing capability at an altitude of 50 km and 80 km while the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile has destroyed the target missile at an altitude of 15 km to 30 km. Now the target is to achieve the interception at an altitude of 120 km to 150 km,” said the official.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

India's second navigation satellite placed : One step closer for Desi GPS


The Indian space agency launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV successfully 25 times in a row, bringing India one step closer to its own global positioning system or the 'desi' GPS. 

The 44 meter, 320 ton, PSLV rocket successfully lifted off into the sky at 5.14 PM from Sriharikota and 19 minutes later accurately placed India's second navigation satellite  IRNSS-1B in space.  A jubilant K Radhakrishnan, the ISRO Chairman, said, "PSLV in its 25th successive successful flight precisely injected India's second regional navigation satellite."   

The first Indian navigation satellite IRNSS-1A launched last year in July is working normally. All seven satellites are to be launched by March 2014.

The satellite navigation system will be a fleet of seven satellites that help provide precise locations within 20 meters. The 'desi GPS' or IRNSS will be similar in function to the American Global Positioning System (GPS) but regional in coverage. 

The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which would be under complete control of the Indian government. The requirement of such a navigation system is driven by the fact that access to foreign government-controlled global navigation satellite systems is not guaranteed in hostile situations. The IRNSS would provide two services, with the Standard Positioning Service open for civilian use and the Restricted Service, encrypted one, for authorised users (military).

India will be the sixth country in the world, after America, Russia, Europe, China and Japan to have this system. This is vitally necessary in times of war since most modern precision bombs and missiles depend on accurate positioning. Till now most of us have relied on the American GPS, very popular on smart phones but not accurate enough for military applications as it can't be relied upon for seamless coverage in times of war and the in-built error makes it un-suitable for precision strikes. 

The constellation of Indian satellites will continuously beam down data that can be read by special hand held instruments which when calibrated using sensors based on the ground can help pin point location. Today in its 26th flight India's workhorse rocket the PSLV hoisted a 1432 kilogram special satellite that also carries on it a precision clock called an atomic clock. The entire fleet of satellites is likely to be ready by 2016 when Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System will become operational.  

India's satellite system is designed to cover a region of about 1500 km on either side of the border, essentially covering the geographical region from where India has a perception of threat, and both Pakistan and China are within the footprint.