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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Aero India 2017 Highlights-2

This year’s expo showcased two new-generation weapon systems that are expected to enter service by 2020 at best, these being the QR-SAM for the Indian Army’s Corps of Air-Defence Artillery (CADA), and the MPATGM for the Indian Army’s infantry battalions.
The QR-SAM will use a surface-launched version of the Astra-1 BVRAAM and it will use a Ku-band seeker developed by the DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and produced by VEM Technologies. The target detection and engagement radars are being developed by the DRDO’s LRDE laboratory, while overall systems integration is the responsibility of Bharat Electronics Ltd.
LRDE is also developing a new-generation target acquisition/fire-control system, called ATULYA, for the L-70 and ZU-23 anti-aircraft artillery guns used by CADA.
Another indigenous field artillery-specific solution developed by the DRDO’s LRDE lab is the L-band ‘Swathi’ weapon locating radar (WLR) at a cost of US$49 million. 
Under development since April 2002, this WLR was ready for series-production by Bharat Electronics Ltd by late 2011 and deliveries of 30 units are presently underway.
The IA had in September 2004 awarded a $300 million contract to Bharat Electronics Ltd to develop the Shakti ACCCS. Production deliveries commenced in 2008 and the system was commissioned on June 12, 2009. The ACCCS is a network of military grade tactical computers that automates and facilitates decision support for all the operational aspects of artillery functions from the Corps down to a Battery-level in a networked environment. It was jointly developed by the DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) and IA HQ’s Directorate General of Information Systems (DGIS). ACCCS is the artillery component of the IA’s TAC-C3I grid. Shakti’s three main electronic devices are the enhanced tactical computer, gun display unit and the hand-held computer. With these, five critical functions are performed, including ‘Technical Fire Control’ for trajectory computations, and ‘Tactical Fire Control’ involving the processing of fire-assault requests and ammunition usage/supply management. It also ensures ‘Deployment Management’ for field howitzers and forward observation/fire direction posts for defensive and offensive operations, ‘Operational Logistics’ for assisting in the timely provisioning of ammunition and logistics support, and ‘Fire Planning’ to facilitate the production of interleaved fire-assault plans, tasking tables and automatic generation of gun engagement programmes.
Most of the bureaucratic decks have already been cleared for a landmark, long-awaited  agreement between India and the US that calls for the joint development and production of the Indian Army’s next-generation manportable ATGM (MPATGM) that will use thermobaric-HEDP and tandem shaped-charge warheads optimised for high-altitude warfare and anti-armour engagements. This ATGM has been the subject of much speculation, like it being the SAMHO, or a derivative of Raytheon’s third-generation FGM-148 Javelin fire-and-forget ATGM.
In reality, the MPATGM has been under development since 2009 by the DRDL, with VEM Technologies being responsible for product engineering development. Raytheon has already secured US approval for 97% transfer-of-technology (ToT) for licence-producing the missile’s cooled mid-wave imaging infra-red (MWIIR) seeker, and will withhold only the target acquisition algorithms. Both Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will be responsible for the joint development of thermobaric-HEDP and HE/FRAG penetration-cum-blast warheads, while the re-usuable launchers and missiles will be built by both VEM Technologies and BDL. A cooled MWIIR sensor can passively lock-on to targets at up to 50% farther range than an uncooled sensor, thus allowing the firing crew greater and safer standoff distance, and less likely to be exposed to counter-fire. An uncooled long-wave infra-red (LWIR) sensor on the other hand brings increased repairs, decreased operational availability, and dangerous vulnerabilities, while a cooled IIR sensor saves lives, lessens fratricide, minimises collateral damage, lowers risk, and protects its firing platforms/crew. Present plans call for equipping the Indian Army’s existing 356 infantry battalions of the 1.13 million-strong Indian Army and the projected 30 infantry battalions to be raised in the 13th five-year defence plan (2018-2022) with some 6,000 MPATGM launchers and up to 26,000 missile-rounds (including war wastage reserves).
A similar practice had earlier led to the development of the 4km-range Nag ATGM and its air-launched HELINA variant. Back in 2005, the IA had ordered 443 Nag missiles and 13 NAMICA tracked carrier/launch vehicles, and is expected to order another 7,000 Nag missiles and around 200 NAMICAs. The 4km-range Nag uses a RCI-developed uncooled LWIR sensor containing an IR-CCD supplied by France-based ULIS/Sofradir. For the 6km-range HELINA, the DRDO has developed a two-way RF command-video data-link. The missile-to-helicopter down-link used to pass the LWIR seeker video works in the S band and the helicopter-to-missile up-link to pass steering commands works in the C band. In addition, a DS-SS modulation scheme is used for the command up-link while a conventional FM technique is used for video down-link, respectively.
Despite the fact that the LCA AF Mk.2’s (the term Tejas Mk.2 has now been discarded) final design has yet to be frozen, ADA nevertheless went ahead and released conceptual illustrations of this MRCA that can only serve to create further ill-informed confusion and false assumptions.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Aero India 2017 Highlights-1

Let us first browse through the site navigational aspects, shall we?
 Now to the outdoor exhibits.
The Rustom-2 MALE-UAV has been re-named (only God-knows-why) as TAPAS. Now to some of the prominent indoor exhibits.
This is a JDAM-type SAAW under development.
And now comes this bizarre poster being displayed at the Indian Air Force (IAF) booth, which claims that the Super Hornet is in service with the IAF!
Here are two Indian companies that have developed innovative, world-beating engineering solutions (whose IPRs are totally India-owned) that do not get to make headline-news, but which have significant export potential.
The full-scale mock-up of the IMRH was unveiled on February 14. To develop it as a fully certified product, however, is a totally different story, since this requires the industrial cooperation of a strategic industrial partner of foreign origin.
Below are some of the more interesting exhibits.
 This pod (above) was earlier the subject of widespread speculation among several 'desi' internet fanboys in dubious chat-forums who were spreading a false canard about this pod being the SAP-518 from Russia.
Here is the CAPTOR-E AESA-MMR with its swashplate mechanisam in action in both azimuth and elevation.
And being shown for the very first time in India is the EL/M-2083 aerostat-mounted airspace surveillance radar, two of which are already operational with the IAF.
Here are the deployment configurations of Akash-1 SAM
Now we come to the rather interesting QR-SAM project, under which LRDE will supply the truck-mounted active phased-array early warning/engagement radars, while BDL will supply the truck-mounted QR-SAMs and BEL will be overall systems integrator and manufacturer of the radars. The SAM to be used will be a variant of the Astra-1 BVRAAM that will use a locally-developed Ku-band active seeker. It is gratifying to see that a proposal that I had tabled way back in 2007 to the DRDO is now finally coming true.
 Below are more close-ups of the Uttam AESA-MMR.
Below are the DARE-designed cockpits of the Super Su-30MKI.
And the DARE-developed internal ASPJs for both the Jaguar IS/DARIN-3 and LCA Mk.2.
And the DARE-developed MAWS installation for the IAF's 40 Mi-17-IVs.
The HELINA missile's IR-CCD seeker has so far been able to achieve a range of 5km and efforts are on to increase it to 7km. A quad-rack launcher is also under design.
The Ishapore Rifle Factory of OFB has already delivered several Ghaatak 7.62 x 39 SLRs to the Kerala State Police, and its 7.62 x 51 variant is now undergoing field trials with the Indian Army, which has formally committed its determination to acquire them to replace the existing 5.56mm INSAS SLRs.
Some more internal exhibits below.
The Indian Navy (IN) on February 17, 2017 signed a Rs.200-crore contract with TATA Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL)-owned Nova Integrated Systems Ltd for the procurement of 12 Scanter-6000 X-band 2-D surface surveillance radars (SSR) developed by TERMA of Denmark under the ‘Buy and Make (India)’ category. The SSRs and their related command-and-control consoles will be installed on the IN’s Project 1241REM FAC-Ms, and Project 25 and Project 25A guided-missile corvettes. TERMA had earlier supplied Scanter-2001 dual-band (S/X) radars for India’s coastal surveillance system.  Nova’s bid was more than five times lower than the highest bidder. It had quoted US$30 million against rivals Tata Power SED with $44 million and Mahindra Defence Systems with $173 million. The SSR tender was the first to be issued under the ‘Buy and Make (India)’ category. The IN in future intends to procure a total of 31 SSRs, for which Nova is required to provide at least 50% indigenous content. Nova will also provide seven years of guaranteed maintenance and lifetime spares support. The SSR tender was floated in June 2013 and seven domestic companies had submitted their bids. In addition to Nova, Mahindra and TATA Power SED, bids were sent to Broadcast Engineering Consultants India, Data Patterns, Larsen & Toubro and Bharat Electronics Ltd. However, only Nova, Mahindra and TATA Power SED were shortlisted. Nova had teamed up with TERMA, Mahindra had partnered with ELTA Systems of Israel and TATA Power SED represented INDRA of Spain.
Earlier, TASL had on October 8, 2014 teamed up with TERMA for co-developing naval combat management systems (CMS). Subsequently, the two companies jointly established a CMS Development Centre in Delhi to work closely with the IN. 
SATCOM panels atop the CABS-designed A330-220 AEW & CS.
Astra Microwave-built sub-structures for NG-ARM and Astra-1 BVRAAM.
BEL’s airborne SDR (above) for both the Tejas Mk.1A and Super Su-30MKI has been rejected in favour of a RAFAEL-developed system (below) that combines both the SDR and the operational data-link (ODL) imto one single LRU.
DEAL-developed and BEL-built SDR for the Indian Navy.
BEL unveilled its latest STARS-V manpack radio for the Indian Army.
Nucon Aerospace Pvt Ltd-built components.
HAL-developed HTSE 1200 turboshaft for helicopters.
Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) had a well-attended booth at the expo.
Army Aviation version of the Rudra with air particle filter fitment.
SHDS Booth.
In response to several queries that I have received about what escort jamming is all about, the following three slides explain it all.