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Sunday, April 2, 2017

From T-6/Bhim To K-9/Vajra-T: Tracing The Tracked SPH Merry-Go-Round-1

It was in March 1994, that Indian Army (IA) HQ formulated the GSQR for tracked self-propelled howitzers (T-SPH) SP by using the 152mm 2S19M1/MSTA-S T-SPH as the baseline performance parameter benchmark. In response to an RFI, proposals were received in December 1994 from five OEMs and subsequently, field mobility-firepower trials on a no-cost no-commitment basis of four different hybrid T-SPHs (from France, the UK, Russia and South Africa) were conducted between April and July 1995. During these trials, the option of using the T-72M hull for mounting the turret-mounted howitzer proved to be a failure due to powerpack-related mobility deficiencies and thus IA HQ rejected all four offers.
In mid-1996, Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp and Ekaterinberg-based Uraltransmash proposed to co-develop with the DRDO a hybrid 2S19M1/MSTA-S T-SPH that combined the hull of the T-90S MBT with a turret containing a 155mm/52-cal barrel that was to be jointly developed by Bofors AB and Volgograd-based Barrikady State Production Association. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and IA HQ both ignored this offer due to its techno-economic complexities. In May 1997 it was decided by IA HQ that the AS-90 turret offered by UK-based VSEL and the T-6 turret of South Africa-based DENEL Land Systems  ought to be mated with the hull of the CVRDE-developed Arjun Mk.1 MBT and both these hybrid T-SPH options ought to be evaluated through fresh field-trials. 
Only DENEL accepted this offer, with VSEL declining to take part in the competition. In the meantime, IA HQ had amended its GSQR in March 1998 that now specified the requirement for both tracked and wheeled self-propelled howitzers of 52-calibre—the desired quantities being 120 and 814, respectively under the 10th Army Plan.
After conducting trial evaluations from July to September 1999, IA HQ in September 2000 recommended the induction of the hybrid T-6 T-SPH, known as BHIM, into service. In October 2000, the MoD’s Department of Defence Production & Supplies (DDP & S) nominated the MoD-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) as the nodal production agency for indigenous manufacture of the BHIM in collaboration with DENEL. However, in March 2002 this decision was reviewed and the MoD-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) was nominated as the nodal production agency even though BEML had no expertise in the field. As such, BEML was not even prepared for submitting its production plan within the stipulated time. The Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) in June 2002 accorded  approval in principle for the acquisition of 120 BHIM T-SPHs. Thereafter, in the same month, RFPs were issued to DENEL and BEML. Based on their commercial proposals, the MoD’s price negotiations committee (PNC) began negotiating with both between August 2002 and December 2003. In December 2004, the MoD decided to submit the BHIM’s procurement plan for CCNS approval. However, due to the blacklisting of the entire DENEL Group by the MoD in June 2005 due to the former’s alleged involvement in making illegal payments to certain agencies as commissions relating to another procurement (that of DENEL-built NTW-20 anti-materiel rifles), all contracts and negotiations with DENEL were abruptly cancelled.
In June 2006 the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cancelled the earlier hybrid T-SPH solution and instead approved the procurement of an integrated T-SPH system under the ‘Buy Global’ category with the stipulation that various T-SPHs be trial-evaluated in-country on a no-cost no-commitment basis. The RFP was issued in May 2007 to 29 OEMs worldwide, but finally only one OEM (South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin, formerly Samsung Techwin) offered a techno-commercial offer and thus the RFP was retracted as it was a single vendor situation. In February 2008, the DAC once again reiterated its preference for an integrated T-SPH system, following which an RFP was issued in August 2008 to 11 OEM s for submitting techno-commercial offers. Yet again, only Hanwha Techwin responded in March 2009 and hence the RFP was again withdrawn. However, on the request of some OEMs, the date of submission of bids was extended by eight weeks i.e. up to June 25, 2011.
Four companies, including TATA, the OFB and the BEML, bid for yet another new RFP that was issued in January 2011. Along with Hanwha Techwin teamed with Larsen & Toubro (L & T) that offered the K-9 Vajra-T, an upgraded version of OFB’s offer—the 152mm 2S19M1/MSTA-S—participated in the field evaluation trials held from March to August 2013 at the Pokhran Field Firing Range in Rajasthan. Subsequently, the K-9 Vajra-T (Thunderbolt) was shortlisted for acquisition in late September 2015 following extended field0trials that were concluded in early 2014. The MoD thereafter began price negotiations with L & T. On December 22, 2015 the MoD opened the techno-commercial bid of L & T as it was found to be the only T-SPH to comply with all the specified techno-operational parameters of the IA.
However, it was only on March 30, 2017 that the CCNS accorded its approval for the Rs 4,875-crore ($750 million) contract (to be inked next week) that now calls for the procurement of four Regiments each with 18 K-9s and four K-10 tracked ARV/ammunition re-supply vehicles (88 vehicles), plus 10 K-9s and two K-10s, with an option for procuring another three K-9 Regiments and 12 K-10s. The first 10 K-9s and four K-10s will be supplied within 18 months of contract signature, with the balance following in the next two years. 
L & T will licence-build 13 major sub-systems (including the fire-control system, ammunition handling system, muzzle velocity radar, and the NBC filtration system) of the K-9 Vajra-T at its facilities in Talegaon and Powai, with final-assembly of the semi-knocked-down kits supplied by Hanwha Techwin taking place at Talegaon. 
L & T will also procure (from Russia’s JSC V. A. Degtyarev Plant) and install the NSV 12.7mm heavy machine guns on the K-10s, and will also equip all vehicles with the BEL-supplied  FOG-based autonomous land navigation system, IRDE-developed driver uncooled thermal imagers, and STARS-V Mk.3 radios for communicating with the IA’s DRDO-developed ‘Shakti’ artillery fire-assault direction system.
To be attached to each K-9 Regiment will be an OFB-supplied Carrier Command Post Tracked (CCPT), plus BEL-supplied motorised medium-range battlefield surveillance radar (BSFR-MR) and its motorised communications vehicle. 
It is very likely that the K-9 Vajra-Ts will be operated by the IA Western Command’s Ambala-based 40 Artillery Division, which in turn will come under the command of the Ambala-based II Corps (which includes the Patiala-based 1 Armoured Division, Dehra Dun-based 14 RAPID Division and the Meerut-based 22 Infantry Division). This is because the IA believes that even though it will make serious attempts to ensure that the next round of high-intensity conventional hostilities remains confined to the mountains of Jammu & Kashmir and PoK, there could well be a spillover to the plains of northern Punjab. In any future limited high-intensity war that India’s armed forces will be called upon to fight in the mountains, gaining, occupying and holding territory and evicting the enemy from Indian territory occupied by the enemy (i.e. PoK) will continue to remain a critical military aim in both mountains and the adjoining plains along southern Jammu (i.e. the 116 sq km Chicken’s Neck area). And consequently, only massive asymmetries of manoeuvre warfare backed up by pulverizing fire-assaults in-depth through a joint Air-Land campaign will possibly achieve the desired military objectives within a 72-hour period. A combination of rocket-based and tube-based field artillery assets, accompanied by survivable airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) force-multipliers will enable the IA to simultaneously fight the contact, intermediate and deep battles. In offensive operations on future battlefields, the IA’s field artillery Divisions will therefore be required launch fire-assaults through ‘attack by firepower’ concepts in conjunction with other ground combat echelons (armoured and mechanised infantry formations backed up by Army Aviation-operated attack helicopters—all consolidated into Integrated Battle Groups, or IBGs) to shape the battlefield and, ultimately, create suitable conditions for the decisive defeat of the enemy. Precision field artillery firepower will therefore be required to systematically degrade the enemy’s preparations for the attack from the concentration area onwards by undertaking effects-based operations (EBO). The concentrated application of massed tube/rocket artillery firepower will thus seek to disrupt the enemy’s combat cohesion throughout the defensive battles. 
In theory, mechanised infantry, self-propelled tube/rocket artillery, and armoured forces are mutually supporting: while artillery rains destruction to the front and flanks as ICV-mounted infantry protects main battle tanks (MBT) from hostile guided/unguided anti-armour weapons. Simultaneously, the MBTs protect the ISVs and the follow-on APCs from hostile armoured forces and static, dug-in strongpoints. In practice, though, both ICVs and APCs will have problems keeping up with the fast-moving MBTs during the main attack; their armour protection will be insufficient to survive at the point of the attack (thanks to the availability of tandem warheads for ATGMs whose engagements ranges keep on increasing; and consequently all the battle drills between friendly armoured forces and mechanised infantry (practiced in peacetime) will frequently break down if there is a lack of sufficient team-training prior to combat. The solutions therefore have to be technological, tactical, and structural.
In order to provide a lethal, integrated combat team whereby each system (armour, mechanised infantry, field artillery and army aviation) provides mutual support, any offensive by an IBG will have to be a highly orchestrated and synchronised lethal ballet built around a manoeuvred firepower schedule where fire-assaults will have to be fired in pre-determined phases, with the T-SPGs advancing behind a wall of sizzling shrapnel precisely in accordance with those phases. The T-SPHs will accompany the combined armoured/mechanised infantry attacks and provide direct fire-support on resisting enemy strongpoints. Here, even multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) like the Pinaka-2 equipped with terminal-guidance sensors for precision strike will be used in direct fire-support against a particularly stubborn enemy.
In order to develop mature IBGs that excel in mutually supportive combined-arms warfighting and that never slows down and loses the momentum of the attack, the need of the hour now is to acquire few select force-multipliers (the weakest existing links in the chain) that will enhance the IA’s real-time RSTA capabilities, as well as ensure the survivability of MBTs through armed armoured vehicles that are built like MBTs and which can provide mutual close-combat support for infantry-laden ICVs. In other words, they should provide protection against hostile ATGMs, dismounted infantry, static strongpoints, attack helicopters and fixed-wing combat aircraft. They will need to be an integral part of the armoured formation, but at the same time it should not be a vehicle with five turrets and multiple weapons. 
To be concluded

207 comments:

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Chiru said...

US just used MOAB near Afghan-Pak border. Is trump sending any message to pak?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To BLACKURRANT & RAJESH MISHRA: A USAF MC-130 aircraft dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on April 13, 2017 against a series of caves used by Islamic State militants. The strike occurred at 7:32 pm (1502 GMT). It was dropped in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan,. Also known as the "mother of all bombs," the GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797kg) GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003, just days before the start of the Iraq war. According to the Air Force, the last time the MOAB was tested in 2003, a huge mushroom cloud could be seen from 20 miles (32km) away.

The US has begun considering adding a new kinetic energy weapon to its arsenal in hopes of countering advances in Russian nuclear technology that could potentially threaten US tactical military dominance. Called the Kinetic Energy Projectile, the weapon is a tungsten-based warhead launched at more than three times the speed of sound that bursts into numerous flaming, metal fragments easily capable of piercing most conventional types of armor, according to Aviation Week. The Army is looking into fitting the new super-weapon onto existing launch platforms that are capable of supplying sufficient charge to shoot the projectile at such speeds. One reason for the weapon would be to respond to Russia's pursuit of miniaturized nuclear warheads fired by MBTs. The weapon was first tested in 2013 at Holloman AFB in New Mexico and remains in the conceptual phase, meaning the US military likely has not yet taken ownership of the project. The futuristic weapon was tested using the so-called Livermore method, which combines "advanced computer simulations with focused experiments." “Kinetic energy projectiles are warhead systems that take advantage of high terminal speeds to deliver much more energy onto a target than the chemical explosives they carry would deliver alone,” said Randy Simpson, a weapons programmes manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To SOMNATH: LoLz! Only in India can someone expect matters to reach their logical conclusion just through the issuance of a few written directives! This ain't Sony Playstation stuff. A lot of simulations & operations analysis go into it. Russia was at it from 1992 till 2007, so it will give you a good idea of what such structural reforms & their complexities are all about. As to how to go about it, I had already explained earlier a few times that too that such reforms can evolve only out of national simulations that can only be carried out at command & simulation centres of the type available with the US, Russia & China. Does India possess such infrastructure? No. Therefore, can such structural reforms of enormous copmplexity ever emerge in India? Never. Without the reqd infrastructure it is extremely foolish to hope for such structural reforms to emerge. And finally, these reforms should have begun from June 1998 itself. Now just imagine how much time India has lost by creating only Committee after Committee on this very same issue, i.e. trying everything else but the most logical & common-sensical approach!!!

To ABHAY JAIN: That pertains to certain critical components of the existing Afour engines of the Jaguar IS whose IPRs were shared with GTRE & MIDHANI so that they could be indigenised.

To KOLLA: And where were all these 'Pindits' when Indian merchant marine personnel were taken prisoner by Somali pirates since the previous decade? Why did the UPA-1/2 not send the MARCOS to rescue them? Can he answer all that?

Shankar said...

Dear Sir

With Regard to Kulbhushan Jadhav ; India should NOT engage in ANY exchange
of any sort with Pakistan

Jadhav is already dead after so many months in Prison and after having been tortured

He is of No use to us ; The ISI Guy we got from Nepal is a real asset

We cannot let him go

Infact the advantage of Jadhav's Hanging is that the PEACE LOBBY in India will be
completely Nuetralised for ever

They will be in No position to dictate Peace Talks with Pakistan

Also we can give RAW a Free Hand to carry out its operations

Just Forget about Jadhav

Emotions Dont Give ANY Success

Pierre Zorin said...

At a press briefing Trump said he has spent a bit of time with Xi in Flrida and started to like him. He is a very good man and is working hard and would rein in North Korea.I just summarised but he actually praised Xi Jin Ping quite admirably. Is this a genuine accolade do you think or a reverse psychology binding the man with praises so he won't be able to stand aloof anymore for the sake of his own reputation? Reminds me of a Yes Minister episode where the Minister deliberately announced in public that his public servants would be most keen in safeguarding privacy principles and right now his admirable secretary Sir Humphrey was working hard to get the legislation through! This obviously was forcing Humhprey's hand because the civil service was dragging its feet against the minister's wishes. Perhaps an apt analogy in the real world?

ajit said...

Fallon said "Rolls-Royce is working with DRDO on new gas turbine engine technology”

Phipson, who accompanied Sir Fallon at the press briefing, said “This is a very high-thrust engine. It has the highest thrust possible in a jet engine"

The next step is to have a technology demonstrator in 12 months, he added.

are you sure he was talking about the adour mk821?

AVIRAL said...

Prasun da,
1)What do you think, The upcoming summer in Kashmir will be more violent?? What should GoI do to keep control over ISI and its seperatist leaders in Kashmir.
2)Today in an interview NSCN-IM "army chief" said that they have option to go with China..Is it a threat or a mere tactic to get attention of GoI..?? Also the peace agreement signed in the presence of PM Modi is kept secret. Can you please list some of the points which GoI is trying to hide from Indians..
3)If India helps CPEC succeed, it will basically end up negotiating with China for any future trade deals with countries to its North-West. There are some corporate giants in India who are lobbying GoI to join CPEC. What is India doing to counter CPEC or it will end up automatically and will make Pakistan a mere puppet of China.

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