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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TATRA Versus TATA

After a gap of 29 years, the cat has at long last leaped out of the bag and with it, a can of worms has been opened by no less a person than the present Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army, Gen V K Singh. His latest televised revelations (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxx3GtGTaPY&feature=player_embedded) finally answers the question that I have been raising since 2005: why should the Indian Army be equipped with left-hand drive heavy-duty vehicles of imported origin if they are after all being licence-built by the state-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) under a transfer-of-technology (ToT) contract inked way back in the early 1980s? There are presently some 7,000 such left-hand drive vehicles in service with the Indian Army, and less than 1,000 with the Indian Air Force (IAF) that have been shamelessly been paraded during almost every Republic Day parade since the mid-1980s. But what has caused the latest furore is this: despite intense lobbying by BEML through the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Dept of Defence Production & Supplies (DPS), the MoD and its Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in 2005 chose TATA Motors above BEML for supplying the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles for those Akash Mk1 E-SHORADS already ordered by the IAF, while two years ago both Army HQ and IAF HQ jointly selected the TATA Motors-built 6 x 6 heavy-duty truck as the TEL for the SpyDer-SR SHORADS Batteries on order from Israel’s RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. The total number of vehicles to be supplied by TATA numbers more than 2,000 if one also includes the support vehicles for housing field repair workshops. Obviously highly miffed by such decisions—especially since this has for the first time set a precedent under which DPSUs like BEML’s traditional monopoly as a supplier of such vehicles for India’s armed forces was cast aside and which could also have a domino effect in future—the Czech Republic-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) TATRA AS, allegedly through its UK-based marketing arm VECTRA Group, decided to explore every means of regaining its monopoly status when it comes to supplying heavy-duty trucks, and the result, as we all know now, is the alleged offer by a retired Lt Gen to bribe Gen V K Singh.  
However, as expected, India’s hyperventilating broadcast news media seems to have missed the woods for the trees. For instance, the entire focus has been on this retired Lt Gen, despite the obvious fact that it is simply beyond the means of this retired Lt Gen to offer the Rs13 crore (US$2.5 million) bribe out of his own pockets. Obviously therefore, this retired Lt Gen was allegedly acting as a messenger on behalf of his principal, which can only be either the UK-based VECTRA Group, or an offshore front company affiliated to the VECTRA Group. This then leads us to ask the following questions, which I had first raised some two weeks ago:

1) How does one explain the UK-based VECTRA Group’s dealings in India with TATRA AS of the Czech Republic, when it is BEML that is the sole distributor of TATRA vehicles in India? (See: http://www.vectragroup.com/contact.asp)

2) Does it mean that BEML and the VECTRA Group have a financial understanding under which VECTRA collects royalty payments from BEML for every unit of TATRA vehicles sold in India, and then shares such payments with certain Indian citizens or NRIs possessing offshore savings accounts?

3) How come the VECTRA Group’s helicopter charter service is the ONLY one that has been granted permission to operate out of Greater NOIDA?

4) Isn’t it true that this helicopter charter service is also the unofficial agent/promoter in India of the Eurocopter AS.550C3 LOH/LUH?

4) Is there any connection between an Indian by the name of Ravinder Rishi (see: http://www.vectragroup.com/newsletter-jan12/Message-From-The-Chairman.html) and the MoD-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL)?

5) Is it true that the VECTRA Group had hired two retired senior service officers about four years ago for actively lobbying for the AS.550C3s?
Remember the big splash made in April 2007 when the MoD reportedly leaked news about the Eurocopter-built AS.350C3 Fennec winning the competitive bid for supplying new-generation single-engined light observation-cum-utility helicopters for the Army and the IAF? Well, the news is that this result was already known seven years ago, when HAL and Franco-German Eurocopter SA had inked a Global Industrial Cooperation Partnership Agreement in February 2005 to jointly produce Ecureuil and Fennec helicopters for the world market. Yet, Eurocopter’s rival, Bell Helicopters Textron, prudently decided to give the MoD the benefit of the doubt and took part in the in-country flight evaluations of its Bell 407 ‘Shen’ variant throughout 2006. But it got the shock of its life when in May 2007 the MoD invited Eurocopter for final contractual negotiations. And this happened even after the Fennec convincingly failed to perform as advertised during the ‘cold soak’ tests in January 2007 at the IAF’s Leh air base during which both competing helicopters’ engines had to be switched off overnight and re-started at high-altitude the following day. Apparently, the Bell 407 had no problem activating its engine with the help of the internally-mounted battery-operated starter-generator. But the AS.550B3 Fennec could not follow suit and it had to remain grounded for 48 hours, awaiting the arrival of an external ground power unit (GPU) from Greater NOIDA. Consequently, fed up with the charade of flight-tests, Bell Helicopters decided for good measure not to take part in the subsequent round of competitive flight trials. Reportedly, Bell Helicopters now believes that HAL and Eurocopter are now hand-in-league to divide the MoD’s now inflated order for LOH/LUH helicopters (for all three armed services)—have the cake and eat it as well. Nothing else can explain how HAL could have stated in 2009 that it will require a ridiculous timeframe of six years to develop a single-engined 3-tonne variant of the twin-engined 5.5-tonne Dhruv ALH! Could it therefore be that Gen V K Singh is determined to clear this mess as well and is it a consequence of all this that the OEM for supplying the LOH/LUHs has not yet been selected? It does seem so, at least to me.

Which now brings us to another reveleation made by Gen V K Singh about the Army’s field artillery rationalisation programme (FARP). But before that, it will be worth reproducing the MoD’s statement in Parliament on March 19, 2012: The Govt of India had secured the right of ToT during the purchase of Bofors FH-77B 155mm/39-cal field artillery howitzers. Though all the technological documents as per the ToT contract were received by the MoD-owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) from Bofors AB, the ToT was not carried forward as the dealings with the technology provider, (Bofors AB) were suspended. Further, no indent was placed by the Army on OFB for manufacture and supply of complete FG-77Bs. Capital expenditure of Rs376.55 crore (US$75 million) was sanctioned by the Govt of India in March, 2012 for creation/augmentation of Large Calibre Weapon manufacturing capacity in Ordnance Factories. Earlier on November 28 last year, this is what Defence Minister A K Antony had said at the Lok Sabha: The OFB  has been manufacturing the major components of the FH-77B, such as the barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, and supplying all these to the Army as spares.

It would therefore seem that the all-important gun-trails and gun-carriages of the towed FH-77B have yet to be indigenised, and all related work to this effect has at last been initiated by the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF). It now remains to be seen if the GCF can master the metallurgical processes required for series-producing the gun-trails and gun-carriages. Meanwhile, one experimental FH-77B incorporating all OFB-built components, along with Bharat Electronics Ltd-supplied mizzle velocity radar, fire-control computer and its AMLCD-based terminal, VHF radio, fibre-optic gyro-based land navigation system (serived from the one developed by HAL for the Arjun Mk1 MBT), direct aiming sight, and interfaces with the DRDO-developed and BEL-built ‘Shatki’ ACCCS artillery fire-direction system, is presently undergoing firing trials at the DRDO’s Balasore-based Proof & Experimental Estsblishment (PXE). The OFB has been ordered by the MoD to offer two complete GCF-built FH-77Bs for field trials that are due to take place in March 2013 and last until the end of the same year. If successful, then an order for 400 of these GCF-built FH-77Bs will be placed and executed between 2014 and 2019.  
In a related development, in response to a global RFP issued in August 2008 by Army HQ for upgradation of an initial 100 of the existing 360 155mm/39-calibre FH-77Bs, the GCF has proposed a modification package under which a new-design 155mm/45-cal barrel (which was originally developed for the OFB’s in-house upgraded M-46 Metamorphosis variant) , breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system, and elevating and traversing cylinders will be developed and offered for series-production. The competing proposal has come from the $21.25 million joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd and BAE Systems (which was created in December 2009 as a land systems-focussed, joint venture defence company, based in Faridabad, with the company’s equity split being 74% Mahindra and 26% BAE Systems), which has proposed its FH-77B05L52 package that includes BEL-built components, along with a ToT offer that will enable GCF to receive via ToT all drawings and production-engineering data required for locally producing the 155mm/52-cal barrel, breach mechanism, muzzle-break, loading trough, recoil system along with the elevating and traversing cylinders, with the redesigned gun-trails and gun-carriages being built by the Mahindra-BAE Systems JV at Faridabad and being supplied to GCF for final assembly and systems integration. India’s Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju confirmed on March 1, 2012 that the Indian Army has already placed orders for an initial 100 modified FH-77B05L52s with OFB. Further updates and announcements in this issue are expected to emerge during the DEFEXPO 2012 expo.

Which brings me to the most interesting question: will Army HQ next issue an RFP calling for the development of a motorised version of the GCF-built 155mm/39-cal FH-77B, for which OFB already has a risk-sharing joint-venture agreement with TATA Motors? It would make perfect sense if such an RFP were to be issued in the near future, since the Army’s requirement for such motorised howitzers (in 39-cal configuration) is for 800+ units, while those for a motorised 52-cal configuration exceed 1,800 units.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Friday, March 23, 2012

Taking Stock Of China’s Airpower Build-up In Tibet

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seems to have taken serious note of India’s determination since 2007 to beef up its force projection capabilities along the arc stretching from eastern Ladakh all the way up to the India-Nepal border adjacent to the southwestern portion of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and in turn is now proceeding to counter India’s moves by undertaking its own build-up of offensive airpower capabilities in the same area. Translated for the layman, it means that A) the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will realise its tactical objectives on the ground by resorting to massed fire-assaults (against forward-deployed Indian ground forces) delivered by a numerically superior deployed force comprising tactical non-line-of-sight battlefield support missiles (NLOS-BSM) and long-range multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL) capable of firing rockets equipped with sensor-fuzed munitions (SGM); B) such rocket artillery-based weapons would be employed for the ‘deep battlespace’ in tactical areas that are ideally suited for deployment of such weapons, i.e. the flat, locational deserts around eastern Ladakh and the foothills opposite Uttarakhand State; C) while increased use will be made of NLOS-BSMs and tactical ballistic missiles (TBM) to neutralise the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) offensive airpower generation capacities that would be located in Jammu & Kashmir (J & K), the PLA Air Force’s (PLAAF) manned combat aircraft backed up by AEW & C platforms would be employed for blunting/neutralising any localised ground offensives (during the contact battle phase) that could be mounted by the Indian Army.
Presently, the IAF’s Western Air Command (WAC) can deploy some 150 combat aircraft of various types within air bases located inside J & K, these being Adampur (capable of housing Mirage 2000Hs, MiG-29B-12s and Jaguar IS), Awantipura (MiG-21 Bisons, MiG-29B-12s and Jaguar IS), Pathankot (MiG-21 Bisons and MiG-27UPGs), Srinagar (Su-30MKIs, MiG-21 Bisons and MiG-27UPGs), Udhampur (MiG-21 Bisons), Leh (MiG-29B-12s and Su-30MKIs) and Thoise (Su-30MKIs). WAC by early 2002 had firmed up plans for phase 2 of its transformation process along the northern front and in mid-2003 a solitary Su-30MKI Mk2 did a trial-landing at the IAF’s Leh (located at 10,680 feet ASL and having a 9,000 feet-long runway) and Srinagar air bases. This was preceded by the Su-30MKI pilots during a few route-check flights and runway overshoots with MiG-29B-12s to familiarise themselves with the overall sortie pattern, weather conditions and the operating terrain. It was only after this that the four Su-30MKI Mk3s from the Barielly-based No24 Squadron along with 12 pilots landed at Leh on September 16, 2008 (in two phases of four each) for a 10 day-long deployment that also saw the Su-30MKIs each logging up to four training sorties per day and also doing overshoots of the runways at Srinagar and Thoise air base (located 10,066 feet ASL and hosting a 10,000 feet-long runway). Thoise is the acronym for Transit Halt of Indian Soldiers Enroute. Prior to this historic deployment, was another pathbreaking achievement on May 31, 2008 when after a 44-year break, an IAF An-32B tactical transport aircraft landed on the 2.3km-long sandy airstrip (now lengthened to 3km) at the 12,037 feet-high advanced landing ground (ALG) in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in the sub-sector north (SSN) area of Ladakh at 6.17am. This was followed by another An-32B landing at the refurbished ALG at Fukche (at 14,200 feet ASL) on September 24, 2008, with the Nyoma ALG, south of Chushul, at 13,400 feet ASL being activated on on September 18, 2008. The 3,400 feet-long ALG at Dharasu at an altitude of 2,950 feet in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi hills bordering China was made operational in the second half of 2010 without much fanfare. All these ALGs facing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) will eventually have a 3km runway length and will be used for aerial logistics support.
According to the PLA’s appreciation, these air bases and ALGs will be ideal targets for the PLA Army’s NLOS-BSMs and TBMs, which have already been stockpiled in both Xinjiang and Aksai Chin. To date, 13 tunnels dug into the mountains have been built at Xiadulla, 98km from the Karakoram mountain pass between Ladakh and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, while another similar NLOS-BSM storage facility is located at Qizil Jilga, 40km off the LAC in eastern Ladakh near the Western Tibet highway.
However, when it comes to interdicting the supply lines of India’s forward-deployed ground forces in both eastern Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the PLA plans to employ a combination of massed fire-assaults from heavy-calibre MBRLs as well as battlefield air interdiction sorties carried out by Su-30MK2s and J-10s, with the Su-27SKs being employed along with the ZDK-03 AEW & CS platforms for defensive counter-air and airborne battle management taskings. And it is exactly for engaging in such scenarios that the PLA conducted its first joint expeditionary Army-Air Force live-fire exercise on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau (at an altitude of 15,420 feet, or 4,700 metres) between July 27 and August 9, 2010 that involved an infantry battalion of the PLA Air Force’s (PLAAF) XV Airborne Corps and six Su-27SKs drawn from the 97th Regiment of the Chongqing/Baishiyi -based 33rd Fighter Division (95661 Unit). Preparations for this exercise began in March 2010 and by May a train loaded with combat support equipment like ZBD-03 armoured infantry fighting vehicles had arrived in Lhasa using the Qinghai-Tibet railroad, the first time ever that the GLD’s Military Transportation Department had made use of this railroad.
In addition, for the second year in a row, the PLA Army and the PLAAF last year conducted Brigade-level live-fire exercises on the foot of the snowcapped mountains on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres. Though the exercises, dubbed as Integrated Joint Operations (IJO), were conducted under the command of the Tibet Military District, which comes under the Chengdu Military Region (MR), a few select field artillery and armoured formations belonging to the Lanzhou MR also took part in the combined arms exercises, which got underway last July and lasted till last October.
PLAAF elements again deployed in 2011 Shigatse air base between last August and November, these being six Su-27SKs and three Su-27UBKs from the Chengdu Military Region’s (MR) Chongqing/Baishiyi-based 33 Fighter Division’s with 98 and 99 Air Regiments, and three J-10s from the Mengzi-based 44 Fighter Division’s 131 Air Regiment (based in Luliang). While some of the Su-27SKs engaged in defensive counter-air sorties, others were armed with 122mm S-13 and 266mm S-25 air-to-ground rockets for straffing runs. The J-10s on the other hand were armed with PL-11 beyond-range and PL-8 within-visual-range air combat missiles for air superiority taskings, and also took part in daytime precision strikes by dropping LT-2 laser-guided bombs (LGB), which were guided to their targets in both daytime and at night by man-portable laser target designators. And in another first for the PLAAF, a detachment of four J-10 MRCAs from 131 Air Regiment began a two week-long deployment at Shigatse starting January 21 this year, during which tactical airspace dominance exercises were conducted in coordination with the PLAAF’s ground-based airspace surveillance radar stations deployed within the Tibet Military District. And last February, a detachment of four J-10s from the 131 Air Regiment practiced the dropping of LT-2 LGBs (which were guided to their targets in both daytime and at night by man-portable laser target designators) and gravity bombs. 
Shigatse is now being upgraded into Tibet’s first all-weather air base capable of sustaining high-intensity offensive air sorties, and is now protected by the JL-3D-90A long-range airspace surveillance radar, a Battery of HQ-12/KS-1A MR-SAM air defence system and a combination of FN-6 MANPADS, LD-2000 point-defence systems, and SmartHunter low-probability-of-intercept radars. During hostilities, Shigatse, falling under the Lanzhou MR, could also receive reinforcements from the Yinchuan AB-based 6 Fighter Division with 16 (Su-27SKs and Su-27UBKs), 17, 18 & 139 Air Regiments; Wulumuqi AB-based 37 Fighter Division comprising 109 (J-8Fs at Changji), 110 (Urumqi South) & 111 (with J-11s at Korla-Xinhiang) Air Regiments; and Wugong AB-based 36 Bomber Division with its 106, 107 (Lintong) and 108 (Wugong) Air Regiments, and the 93942 AAA Missile Brigade.
Since all types of combat aircraft to be operated over Tibet have to fly at the critical limit of their respective flight envelopes with reduced safety margins, and since the unpredictable weather there calls for a high level of flying skills (veteran pilots’ oft-repeated warning is: “you can take chances with the hills, you can take chances with the weather, but it is suicidal to take chances with the weather and the hills at the same time”.), it will be interesting to see in future whether:
·  The PLAAF initiates the development of rocket-powered LGBs (like the AASM from SAGEM) for its Su-27SKs and J-10s, since such PGMs offer distinct advantages over their gliding counterparts when used for hitting targets located at high altitudes.
·  The 106, 107 and 108 Air Regiments are equipped with newly-built H-6K bombers that are capable of launching CJ-10K air-launched cruise missiles.
·  The PLAAF deploys its H-6U aerial refuelling tankers in support of its future periodic deployments of Su-27SKs and J-10s (each of which are equipped with four external fuel tanks during their ferry flights and two during battlefield air interdiction sorties) to Shigatse.
·  The PLAAF accelerates the development of conformal fuel tanks for its J-10s—Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ELF Comms Facility Coming Up

The Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Nirmal Verma, will tomorrow lay the foundation stone for an ELF communications station that will come up over the next three years at a site not too far from the Koodankulkam nuclear powerplant in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. Construction of this station, coming under the ambit of the DRDO’s ATV Project Office, will be carried out by Larsen & Toubro in a turnkey basis. Expected to be commissioned by 2015, this ELF communications station, complete with nuclear-hardened underground bunkers (able to withstand pressures of 10,000 psi), will bear a close resemblance to the Russian 82Hz ZEVS facility (see: http://www.vlf.it/zevs/zevs.htm) located at the Kola Peninsula northwest of Murmansk. Needless to say, Russia is closely associated with the R & D for such a facility, with minimal DRDO inputs. When completed, India will be the third country after the US and Russia to host an ELF communications station.

The ELF communications facility constitutes the third leg of a triad of projects being implemented by the DRDO’s ATV Project Office, with the other two being construction of the S-1 ‘half boat’ at Kalpakkam and the S-2, S-3, S-4 and S-5 SSBNs; and development of the 750km-range K-15/B-05, 3,500km-range K-4 and eventually the 8,500km-range SLBM, which in the past had been mistakenly referred to as Agni-6. The ELF communications facility will be specifically employed for communicating with both the Indian Navy’s projected fleet of SSNs and SSBNs while they are on undersea patrols in and around the Maldivian trenches deep within the southern part of the Indian Ocean, a fact I had highlighted way back in 2009.Prasun K. Sengupta  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

ELBIT Systems At DEFEXPO 2012

Visitors to the booth (Israel Pavilion, Booth 11.10B) will have an excellent new multimedia presentation, “Fire Support in Action”, which will feature a live combat scenario demonstrating how Elbit Systems’ products and systems, focussing on its artillery and mortar arrays, provide ultimate fire-support and self-protection for manoeuvring forces in closing sensor-to-shooter loops. The presentation will allow viewers to experience a dynamic live combat mission with dramatic special effects, replicating how the systems work in fully realistic views. Like previous Elbit Systems’ presentations, which have won prestigious international awards for their innovative approach, this one promises to be just as memorable and exciting. Among the systems participating in the presentation: ATHOS and ATMOS artillery, Cardom mortars, 30mm unmanned turrets (UT), precision-guided munitions (PGM),  Hermes 900 and Skylark I-LE UAS, Combat NG, IR Centric, Engager, PAWS, DIRCM and more.
 
A Display of Future Soldier Solutions:Dominator Integrated Infantry Combat System (IICS) is an integrated infantry combat system that enables full situational awareness from the infantry battalion-level down to the individual soldier. Dominator dramatically shortens the sensor-to-shooter loop, enhancing the combat effectiveness of the dismounted soldier.
The following advanced electro-optic systems will be presented as part of the Dominator IICS solution:
LILY-S is an un-cooled lightweight short-range thermal weapon sight (STWS) and monocular camera for small arms, enabling users to detect, acquire and engage targets day/night in adverse weather.
CORAL-CR & Mini Atlas is a hand-held thermal imaging camera with targetting capabilities and precision electronic goniometer for enhanced target acquisition.
CORAL is a lightweight, high resolution hand-held dual-FOV personal thermal imaging camera that provides excellent picture quality for infantry, scout and perimeter defence missions.
PLLD is a portable lightweight laser designation system for day/night laser designation to stationary or moving targets, for all types of laser-guided munitions.
COYOTE 45/75  is a very lightweight, un-cooled, medium-range thermal imaging scope that uses thermal detections to produce visible video images for reconnaissance and observation, under dust, fog, smoke and night time conditions.
Long-View CR is a versatile combined day/night system for very long-range observation and target acquisition, for use by intelligence and surveillance units, special forces and reconnaissance vehicles.
MARS reflex sight is based on the cutting-edge concept of combining an innovative, high-precision reflex sight with a laser pointer, significantly enhancing the operator's ability to quickly acquire and engage targets.
AIM weapon-mounted laser pointer family are advanced, battle-proven laser-based aiming systems designed to support high-precision instantaneous fire, especially in unexpected scenarios.
COYOTE Pocket Scope (PS) is a very lightweight high-performance un-cooled thermal hand-held pocket scope that significantly boosts the war-fighter’s capabilities, round-the-clock, in all-weather-conditions.
Mini N/Seas is a compact, monocular night vision system that offers high-resolution and a clear, bright image in adverse environmental conditions.
Rattler G is a hand-held, dismounted miniature coded target designator/marker, enabling combatants to bring effective fire to bear on hostile targets.
MARS is an un-cooled, hand-held dual field of view FLIR thermal imager with target acquisition capabilities, featuring extremely lightweight and compact dimensions.
Engager is an advanced covert remote reconnaissance and targetting system designed for the use of intelligence, infantry and special forces units for long-range intelligence gathering, targetting and laser-guided missions.
Elbit Systems’ C4I software solutions for the infantry, together with decades of communications experience accumulated by Tadiran Communications, offers extensive, battle-proven expertise for the most intense combat scenarios. A comprehensive communication setup will be demonstrated "live" in a special demo room and will include the following systems:
Tadiran SDR-7200 software-defined radio.
Tadiran SDR-7200 HH is a hand-held, lightweight software-defined radio for the dismounted soldier.
Tadiran PNR-1000A is a Personal Network Radio providing on-the-move situational awareness.
MIPR (Military IP Radio) is a tactical IP radio delivering high-speed broadband data communications to the battlefield.
MRS-R is a military satellite router, scalable in performance and capability, making it an optimal BLOS communication solution for all the levels of the command.
GRX-4000 is a latest generation dual-band high-capacity line-of-sight (HCLOS) broadband radio relay system.
Bro@dnet is the first fully-operational, battle-proven military wireless infrastructure solution that enables secure broadband communications, integrating all echelons of the military.
Elbit Systems Land and C4I is a pioneer in Combat Vehicle integrated systems and a supplier of more than 7,000 systems and sub-systems for new Main Battle Tanks, Light Armoured Vehicles and upgrade programs worldwide.

EoShield is a Vehicle IR Countermeasures system that provides soft protection against anti-tank ground missiles. The system provides 360-degree protection shield for a wide variety of ground platforms.

Elbit System-Kinetics will showcase the following products and systems: Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), Life Support System (LSS) and Individual Crew Cooling System.
Elbit Systems is a leading provider of high performance turnkey UAS solutions, including advanced air vehicles, ground control stations and intelligence management centres. Skylark I-LE (Long Endurance) is a derivative of the legacy Skylark I UAS, already operational with several armed forces worldwide. In addition to major improvements implemented, Skylark I-LE has been upgraded to offer longer endurance of up to three hours and enhanced robustness. Hermes 900 is a next-generation MALE UAS featuring multi-mission, multi-payload capabilities with class leading payload carrying capacity. Hermes 450 is a high performance, deployable, mature, reliable, high capacity, long endurance, multi-payload multi-role tactical UAS. Hermes 90 is a expeditionary high performance, low cost, tactical UAS, affordable and runway independent, ideal for manoeuvring forces. Skylark II is a highly covert, small footprint, tactical UAS that is electrically propelled and capable of operating beneath cloud cover. SIGINT Payloads for UAS including Emerald AES-210V (ELINT) and SkyFix (COMINT).

A world leader for over four decades in the field of Electronic and Information Warfare as well as Intelligence and C3 systems, Elbit Systems EW and SIGINT Elisra will present:
New Launch: VWS radar, a new continuous wave (CW) radar, specifically designed for active protection systems (APS) to be installed on board any light or heavy armoured vehicle and various stationary applications.
IR CENTRIC is the only operationally proven system of its kind. This force multiplier provides self-protection and unified, interconnected capabilities, including missile and hostile fire detection and warning, countermeasures, situational awareness and collision alert.

Elbit Systems, with its comprehensive airborne systems capabilities, can provide a single sensor or an entire cockpit avionic suite.  The following will be displayed in the booth:
New Generation ANVIS/HUD Aviator Night Vision Imaging System HUD.
AMPS (Advanced Multi-Sensor Payload System)  optimised for a full-range of airborne intelligence tasks, AMPS completes the cycle that starts with initial gathering of vital intelligence and ends with Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA).
MUSIC (Multi-Spectral IR Countermeasures) provides air transportation aircraft with optimum protection against MANPADs. The heart of MUSIC is an innovative laser technology, which causes the system to emit a narrow laser beam towards an approaching missile, jamming its guidance system.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tejas Mk1’s Future Prospects

It has cost India Rs140.47 billion—spent over a period of 29 years—to acquire the core technological and industrial competencies required for producing a home-grown medium multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA) like the ‘Tejas’. In the process a total of 40 laboratories owned by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), 25 academic institutions, 300 public-/private-sector companies, and a combined design/engineering team made up of 600 personnel had to be roped in to realise the national dream of developing a fourth-generation M-MRCA for both the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy (IN). The entire R & D programme was divided into 1,200 packages, while for flight certification purposes, the aircraft was categorised into 17 major systems with 346 line-replaceable units (LRU) and 33 software-embedded systems. Additionally, in order to bridge the technological and infrastructure gaps of two generations, critical ground-based facilities like the National Flight Testing Centre (NFTC) were built over the past decade.
Yet, despite all these, the ‘Tejas’—designed by the DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)-- still incorporates a substantial amount of systems, sub-systems and components of foreign origin, notable the turbofan and key components of the navigation-and-attack system and the airborne multi-mode radar (this being the Israel Aerospace Industries-built EL/M-2032 for the ‘Tejas’ Mk1). Principal foreign vendors associated with the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 and its Mk2 variant include Intertechnique SA and IN-LHC ZODIAC of France; US-based GE Aero Engines, Hamilton Sunstrand, EATON Aerospace, MOOG, and Goodrich Aerospace; UK-based CHELTON Avionics, Penny + Giles, and Martin Baker (supplier of Mk 16LG zero-zero ejection seats); Italy’s Secondo Mona; and Germany’s Cassidian and Faure Herman. UK-based Cobham is in discussions with IAF HQ about retrofitting a retractable refuelling probe. Indian companies involved include Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Tata's Advanced Materials Ltd (TAML), Data Patterns Pvt Ltd, Government Tool Room and Training Centre (GT & TC), and SLN Technologies Pvt Ltd.
The programme for indigenously developing the ‘Tejas’ light combat aircraft (LCA) was initiated in August 1983, when India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) sanctioned an interim development cost of Rs5.6 billion for carrying out the project definition phase (PDP). After completing the PDP, the report was submitted to the MoD and a proposal to build seven LCA prototypes was made. The MoD consequently split the programme into the Technical Development Phase and Operational Vehicle Development Phase. The Full-Scale Engineering Development Programme Phase-I (LCA FSED Phase-I) was sanctioned in April 1993 at a cost of Rs21.88 billion (including the interim sanction of Rs5.6 billion given in 1983). The scope of FSED Phase-I was to demonstrate the core technology competencies in areas such as airframe design and development, digital fly-by-wire flight control system and the navigation-and-attack system, so that a decision could be taken to build operational prototypes at a later stage. Under FSED Phase-1, two ‘technology demonstrator’ aircraft were built without any adjustments for inflation or foreign exchange appreciation, even though the US$ had shot up from Rs26 to Rs47 during that period. The forex component of Rs8.73 billion should have been adjusted to Rs16.42 billion. LCA FSED Phase-I was completed on March 31, 2004. While Phase-I was in progress, the MoD decided to concurrently go ahead with the building of operational prototypes. The scope of FSED Phase-2 was to build five IAF-specific prototypes, including a tandem-seat operational conversion trainer, and two naval prototypes (a single-seater and a tandem-seater) and also to build the industrial infrastructure required for producing eight LCAs per year and build eight limited series production (LSP) aircraft. The MoD sanctioned FSED Phase-2 of the programme at a total cost of Rs 33.02 billion on November 20, 2001. Phase-2 was consequently split into two phases, namely, initial operational clearance (IOC) and final operational clearance (FOC). The design and performance parameters of ‘Tejas Mk1’ LCA’s operational version were finalised in 2004 to meet the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) requirements and overcome obsolescence, since the original design was of early 1990s vintage). This in turn contributed to additional time and revised cost schedules for Phase-II.  The governing body of ADA in its 41st meeting held on November 22, 2007 made a detailed review of the R & D programme and deliberated on achievements vis-à-vis objectives of the FSED Phase-2 programme, and recommended the extension of FSED Phase-2’s likely date of completion till December 31, 2012 (IOC by December 2010 and FOC by December 2012), with GE-F404-IN20 turbofans being used to power the Tejas Mk1 LCA, and to develop and productionise the aircraft’s Mk2 variant, and also recommended the constitution of a cost revision committee (CRC) to assess additional requirements for R & D funds.
The need for extending the PDC for FSED Phase-2 was due to:
·  Complexity of the systems design and very high safety standards, which required extensive testing to ensure flight safety.
·  Incorporation of configuration changes (for example the Vympel R-60 close-combat air-to-air missile was replaced by the R-73E, which required design modifications) to keep the aircraft contemporary.
·  Non-availability of the indigenous Kaveri turbofan, due to which design changes were carried out to accommodate the GE-F404-IN20.
·  Change in the development strategy of the airborne multi-mode radar (which was then being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) and associated changes on the aircraft.
·  Major development activities concerning the mission management avionics suite and defensive aids suite had to be undertaken in order to make aircraft contemporary, which took time but yielded results (for example, the development of an obsolescence-free open architecture avionics system).
·  US sanctions imposed in May 1998 also led to delays in importing certain items and developing alternate equipment, since vendor identification and development to production-cycle took time.
The need for revised FSED Phase-2 funds sanction was mainly due to:
·  Neutralising the effect of inflation/delivery point cost against the sanctioned level at 2001 and the increase in manpower cost of HAL.
·   To meet the programme management expenditure due to extended timeline till December 2012.
·   Maintain and operate 10-15 prototype vehicles and LSP aircraft for four years up to 2012.
·  To maintain and upgrade the design, development and test facilities up to 2012.
·  To complete the activities, which were not costed in the original estimates.
The CRC, after careful consideration of the projections made and taking into account the increase in the cost of raw materials, manpower, additional activities to complete the IOC and FOC, maintenance of industrial facilities and expanded scope of the R & D programme, recommended an additional fund of Rs24.75 billion for completing FSED Phase-2 activities for the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 with a projected date of completion (PDC) of December 2012, Rs24.32 billion for developing the IAF-specific ‘Tejas’ Mk2 with an alternate, more powerful F414-GE-400 turbofan (under the LCA FSED Phase-3 programme) and Rs3.95 billion for its technology development programme (all totaling at Rs53.02 billion), plus Rs19.21 billion for developing trhe Navy-specific Tejas Mk2. The recommendations of the CRC were accepted by the MoD and in November 2009, sanction was accorded for continuing full-scale engineering development of the ‘Tejas’ Mk2 till December 2018. FSED Phase-3 has since been launched concurrently with the on-going FSED Phase-2 programme. Thus far, ADA has spent Rs60.51 billion on developing the IAF-specific ‘Tejas’, out of the Rs79.65 billion allocated thus far. Additionally, Rs7.46 billion (of the sanctioned Rs17.29 billion) has been spent on developing the the naval, aircraft carrier-based variant of the ‘Tejas’. Both the IAF and Indian Navy are respectively funding 40% of the Tejas Mk2’s R & D expenditure, with ADA picking up the rest of the tab. Thus, by 2012, the total development cost for the IAF-specific and Navy-specific ‘Tejas’ variants will total Rs96.90 billion, another Rs43.53 billion will be spent on developing the Tejas Mk2, bringing the total cost to Rs140.47 billion.
Presently, the IAF is gearing up to form the first ‘Tejas’ Mk1 squadron--No45 ‘Flying Daggers’ Sqn—which will initially be first raised in Bengaluru before relocating to Sulur in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu in 2013. Two LSP aircraft—LSP-7 and LSP-8—will be used for flight evaluations (for achieving full operational capability, or FOC) by the IAF’s Bengaluru-based Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) starting June last year and led by the IAF’s Wg Cdr Paranjal Singh (experimental test pilot) and Wg Cdr Manish Kumar (flight-test engineer). Two other LSP aircraft—LSP-4 and LSP-5—built to comply with the IAF’s specifications for the ‘Tejas’ Mk1—have been located at the NFTC for realising the flight certification/weapons qualification objectives. For achieving FOC, LSPs 7 and 8 will both be subjected to a tedious certification-cum-flight envelope extension process that will involve field-tests for each and every component and validation of their performance parameters, such as drop-tank ejection, stores integration and ejection, airframe flutter, pitot tube performance, airborne fire-control radar’s modes of operation, and robustness of the digital, quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control system, navigation-and-attack system, stores management system, and the defensive aids suite. Also explored will be the aircraft’s ability to sustain increased g-force levels, higher angles of attack, and improved instantaneous and sustained turn rates. Logically, ADA should have been able to achieve all these objectives prior to handing over the first two ‘Tejas’ Mk1s (LSP-2 and the tandem-seat PV-5) to the IAF on January 10 last year. However, ADA’s inability to complete the flight certification process on time, coupled with the ‘Tejas’ Mk1’s (unforeseen) increased takeoff weight has resulted in the IAF now shouldering the burden of completing the aircraft’s flight certification/weapons qualification processes. The issue of overweight has also resulted in the aircraft’s earlier GE-built F404F2J3 turbofans (11 of which were acquired for powering the TDs and PVs) now being superceded by the 85kN-thrust F404-GE-IN20 turbofans on board the IAF-specific LSPs and the 40 production-standard ‘Tejas’ Mk1s on order, and the consequent redesigning of the production-standard ‘Tejas’ Mk1’s fuselage to accommodate the engine, as well as incorporate larger air-intakes for catering to increased air-flow requirements.
The first two production-standard aircraft--SP-1 and SP-2--will be handed over to IAF by July, with SP-3 and SP-4 following by the year’s end. The first 20 of 40 SP models are now being assembled by HAL in four custom-built hangars that can presently handle an annual production run of eight aircraft. The airframes of these aircraft will incorporate 13 major composites-built structures fabricated by TAML, which was awarded the contract after the state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) expressed its failure to deliver the structures on time. Structures being produced by TAML for each aircraft include a rudder assembly, fin assembly, 60 carbon-fibre reinforced (CFC) wing spars, 38 wing fuselage fairing skins, 20 wing fuselage fairing blocks, 41 CFC centre fuselage components, two forward undercarriage doors and two aft undercarriage doors. Earlier, HAL on February 16 last year ordered an additional 24 F404-GE-IN20s worth US$100 million to power the first ‘Tejas’ Mk1 operational squadron. This follows an initial February 2004 purchase of 17 F404-GE-IN20s engines worth $105 million to power a limited series of LSP and production-standard aircraft, and two naval prototypes. The F404-IN-20 has to date completed more than 350 hours of accelerated mission testing, which is the equivalent of 1,000 hours of flight operation. Last year, HAL and ADA commenced weight reduction work on the flightworthy LSPs under a two-pronged approach. Firstly, the removal of on-board telemetry instrumentation has reduced the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 LSP-7’s weight by 400kg. Secondly, by re-engineering several of the cockpit-mounted AMLCDs and related sub-systems, another 300kg in weight savings will be achieved on LSP-8. These in turn will result in the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 having a total weight of 10.5 tonnes with full internal fuel tanks and two R-73E within-visual-range air combat missiles. The maximum projected weapons payload (distributed among seven pylons) is 3.5 tonnes, while the maximum takeoff weight is targetted by the IAF at 13 tonnes.
Systems integration work for the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 has been an area of both enormous challenge and missed opportunities. For instance, the indigenous X-band multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar (with a mechanical scanning antenna) remains highly overweight, and has still not been fully developed by HAL. Secondly, the IAF HQ mandated six years ago that the original Honeywell-built H-4524L ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system be replaced by the SIGMA-95N (built by SAFRAN of France), which was followed in 2008 by the selection of ELTA Systems of Israel’s EL/M-2032 multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar for the ‘Tejas’ Mk1. All this involved a total redesign of the aircraft’s fire-control and navigation-and-attack systems, and writing new software algorithms for the DRDO-developed open-architecture mission computer. Consequently, it was only on April 23, 2010 that LSP-3, equipped with the EL/M-2032, took to the skies. It was only after this milestone that work on full-scale weaponisation of the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 got underway. For air superiority missions, the ‘Tejas’ Mk1 will use the Vympel-built R-73E and the 50km-range Derby beyond-visual-range air combat missile, the latter coming from  Israel’s missile RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. The IN’s ‘Tejas’ Mk1 variants, on the other hand, will use a combination of RAFAEL-built Derby and Python-5 air combat missiles. However, both the IAF and IN have decided to use RAFAEL’s Litening-3 laser designator pod for all-weather air-to-ground precision strikes, and Elbit Systems of Israel’s TARGO helmet-mounted display/cueing system.Prasun K. Sengupta

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Arrow-3 Programme Advances

Ben Gurion International Airport, March 1, 2012: The first test of the advanced Arrow 3 weapon system will be performed in the near future, confirming the interceptor missile’s effectiveness. A series of different tests will be run on the system to establish its high level of reliability within a short period. Itzhak Kaya, head of the Arrow missile programme at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), announced this today at the Military & Aviation Exhibition 2012 that was held in Airport City near Tel Aviv.
Kaya said that Arrow 3, the improved model of the Arrow system, using the advanced and upgraded Green Pine radar system, is more capable than ever to deal with future threats. The previous tests of the weapon system, conducted a few weeks ago, were successful. The Arrow weapon system demonstrated improved identification of attacking missiles, ensuring successful target interception with high levels of certainty. Kaya said that “recent tests are being conducted according to the multi-year plan of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and our American partner. The programme is on track, meeting its expectations as a high priority defense system. As far as I know, there is no threat to the future of the programme”. Addressing the possibility of a first export deal of the Arrow system to foreign countries, Kaya said: “Arrow 3 is an exceptionally efficient and unique system, and I am certain that it could answer the needs of various countries and become a key element in their defencee programmes. Currently there isn’t an export deal on the agenda. In any case, such issues would be handled by State officials. Deals of this scale require a prolonged process, and they are guided by governments”.