Monday, 15 April 2013

India to spend $3 billion for 3 more Talwar-class frigates

Russia is going to get a fresh order of building three more Talwar-class stealth frigates for India later this year which is likely to be worth $3 billion. The frigates have substantially enhanced Indian Navy’s firepower in the region mainly because of their stealth capabilities.

Knowledgeable sources told RIR that the Indians have already orally conveyed their in-principle decision to Russia to construct three more Talwar-class frigates. A formal contract is likely to be signed after Russia delivers to India the third and final Talwar-class stealth frigate INS Trikand, being built at the Yantar shipyard in Russia. The delivery is expected in June 2013.

The game-changer aspect of the Talwar class frigates is its stealth technology and a special hull design. These features enable the Talwar class frigates to be extremely useful in a wide range of missions like finding and eliminating enemy submarines and large surface ships. The Talwar-class frigates are the first Indian Navy warships to have stealth features.

What the Fresh Deal May Entail

Sources in the Indian defence establishment said the mood is quite upbeat about the successful Talwar-class frigates experiment and once the current cycle gets completed after the delivery of INS Trikand, the Indian Navy will take a call on issuing a formal order to Russia.

The new set of frigates will be more technologically advanced and each of the next three Talwar-class frigates will be equipped with BrahMos missiles. The existing Talwar-class boats and the upcoming INS Trikand are not BrahMos-equipped because they were designed before the BrahMos naval variant could be developed.

Therefore the greatest USP of the upcoming order for three more Talwar-class frigates would be that for the first time these frigates will be fitted with BrahMos. “This is the single most important reason why the Russians don’t really have to worry whether they are going to get this order or not,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

Likely irritants

It is a question of when, not if, Russia would be getting the fresh order for the Talwar-class frigates. The Indians would pitch for inclusion of a financial penalties clause for Russian failure to meet delivery deadlines. The Indians are unhappy that the Russians invariably fail to meet the delivery deadlines and eventually jack up the prices too.

The same problem has been witnessed in the Talwar-class frigates episode. Though the boats are doing well, the delivery deadline was pushed back by one year or so for all the vessels. Even INS Trikand was scheduled to be delivered to India by April 2012.

Russia will have to streamline its procedures and remove recurring problems of delays and price hikes. In December 2010, Russian shipbuilding plant Yantar had asked Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, for an additional $100 million to complete construction of the three frigates for the Indian Navy. However, in this case it was an internal problem relating to VAT refund and the Russians this time did not jack up the already negotiated price.

Staggered Payment

Another good thing from the Russian point of view is that it would be a government-to-government dealing wherein floating of global tender will not be required.

Stung by the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopters scandal, the Indian Ministry of Defence is likely to stipulate a stringent and transparent payment schedule. In the case of Agusta Westland deal, the MoD was flustered when it realized that only India stood to lose if it were to scrap the chopper deal because the Italian company had been paid more than fifty percent of the total amount though just about 33 percent of the work had been done.

Therefore, the contract for the new deal would focus on staggered payments after a mutually agreeable advance payment is made.

India had awarded a $1.6 billion contract to the Yantar shipyard in 2006 to build three modified Talwar class for the Indian Navy. The final trials of INS Trikand have already started in the Baltic Sea. Yantar shipyard spokesman Sergei Mikhailov has been quoted in a recent RIA Novosti report as saying that INS Trikand was cleared for final state trials on April 4, 2013 which should be completed by this month end.

The Indian Navy got a major fillip to its firepower with the arrival of its latest acquisition INS Tarkash at Mumbai on December 27, 2012. Built by the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, INS Tarkash was second of three project 1135.6 (follow-on Talwar class) ships ordered by Indian Navy, the first being INS Teg which joined the fleet in June 2012.

What Makes Talwar Class Frigates Formidable

These ships, a modification of Krivak III class Russian frigates, are designed to carry and operate one heavy duty early warning helicopter which can provide over-the-horizon targeting. The Talwar-class frigates can also have the indigenously built Dhruv light combat helicopter.

The frigate’s efficacy in anti-submarine warfare can be gauged by the fact that its RPK-8 rocket system has a firing range from 600 to 4300 metres and the depth of engagement of up to 1000 metres.

Its combat data system independently generates combat missions based on situation analysis, determines optimal number of missile firings, displays information on the state of ship-borne weaponry and transmits data to protection systems.

The Talwar-class frigate is armed with a new 3M-54 Klub attack anti-ship system with a vertical missile launcher. This anti-ship system is an 8.22 meters (27 ft) long missile using active radar guidance with a range of 220 kilometres. It is a three-stage missile in which the terminal stage reaches supersonic velocity (Mach 2.9) when it is approximately 20 km (12 miles) from its target.

Friday, 12 April 2013

In a first, pvt Indian firms can bid to make artillery guns


Crossing an important milestone at the last meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the Ministry of Defence has, for the first time, decided to allow Indian private entities to participate in a bid for making artillery guns.

It is learnt that while approving the Army's proposal for upgunning of 300 more 130 mm M-46 field guns to a 155 mm gun system, the DAC on April 2 also decided that the request for proposal (RFP) would also go to interested private players. The Ordnance Factory Board, which used to automatically get these orders, will now be one of the contestants.

This is the first time that South Block has decided to let the Indian private sector make an offensive weapon platform. While companies have been keen, the opportunity has never come. However, private entities such as the Tatas and L&T have been involved in making important ancillary equipment such as launchers for the Pinaka missile.
The upgunning of 130 mm guns was originally awarded to Israeli firm Soltam which completed the first lot of 180 guns but it was then blacklisted. It was no longer possible to proceed with the original plan of upgunning all 480 guns of 130 mm.

Some transfer of technology did take place but it has all remained mothballed with the gun carriage factory in Jabalpur, sources said. In 2010, the Army did float a request for information for the remaining 300 guns but the process ran into delays.
For an Army facing shortage of artillery guns, this move is also being seen as a test case for opening the doors to the Indian private sector to manufacture lethal weapon systems given the problems India faces as a major global arms importer.

Besides, the DAC meeting, headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, also gave its stamp of approval to a new process of acquisition by which buying globally would be the last option. A new gradation has now been set under which the first priority would be to 'buy Indian', the next would be 'buy and make Indian' that would allow private entities room for collaboration, after which would come options of 'buy and make global' and then 'buy global'.

This, sources said, is another step aimed at giving priority to the Indian private sector so that they can set up defence manufacturing units in India, either on their own or through collaboration. All this will be part of the new Defence Procurement Policy, which is expected to be finalised at the next DAC meeting on April 20.
Significant changes are also expected in the preparation of Qualitative Requirements (QRs) for the purchase of military equipment. The new policy is likely to make it clear that once the DAC approves a set of QRs, then no deviation would be permitted. But if necessary for any technical reason, it would have to be approved afresh by the DAC.

Insiders said that Ministry of Defence still remains opposed to increasing the FDI limit in the sector from 26 to 49 per cent. The view is that there exists a provision to approve such investment in special cases depending on the nature of technology to be transferred and that is as far as the Ministry would like to go for the moment.

Israel set to bag another mega Indian defence deal

Israel seems all set to bag yet another mega defence deal to equip all the 356 infantry battalions of the Indian Army with third-generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). While Russia is far ahead in the lead, Israel is trying to stave off a strong challenge from the US to remain the second largest arms supplier to India.
The Rs 15,000-crore project will involve an initial direct acquisition of the man-portable "tank killers", with a strike range of 2.5-km, followed by transfer of technology (ToT) to defence PSU, Bharat Dynamics, for large-scale indigenous manufacture.
The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), led by A K Antony, took up the procurement of the fire-and-forget Israeli "Spike" ATGMs for clearance on April 2. But the case was kept "pending" after being referred for "a technology scan" since it was "a single vendor situation" without any competition, said sources.
The DAC can approve acquisition of a state-of-the-art weapon system, aimed to gain a qualitative edge over adversaries, in a single-vendor situation only after "a technology scan" is conducted by HQ IDS (integrated defence staff) in consultation with DRDO. "The scan basically certifies it's not possible to get the weapon system from anywhere else. The DAC will consider the case after the scan," said a source.
The 1.13-million Army is pushing the "critical" project since it has a huge shortfall of 44,000 ATGMs of different types, half its authorised inventory at present. Moreover, both Pakistan and China — the latter with third-generation ATGMs — have zoomed ahead in this capability of stemming enemy armoured attacks.
The "buy global" project for the shoulder-fired ATGMs had begun — after DRDO failed to deliver an indigenous system — with the Israeli Spike being pitted against the American FGM-148 Javelin missiles. But the US could not assure India of providing full ToT to allow indigenous production. Consequently, only the Spike ATGMs underwent extensive field trials conducted by the Army.
The force is keen to begin inducting the new ATGMs soon to ensure each infantry battalion deployed in the plains has eight ATGM launchers (each with 12 missiles), and those in the mountains have at least two, by the end of the 12th Plan (2017). "Even mechanised infantry battalions will get them later," said the source.
At present, the Army is making do with second-generation Milan (2-km range) and Konkurs (4-km) ATGMs, produced by BDL under licence from French and Russian companies, which are wire-guided and do not have fire-and-forget capabilities.
A part of the deficiency will be met by the induction of the long-delayed indigenous third-generation Nag ATGMs, which are vehicle and helicopter-mounted, with a 4-km strike range. The Army has already placed an initial order for 443 Nag missiles and 13 Namicas (Nag missile tracked carriers).

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

India makes headway with ELF (Extremely Low-Frequency) site construction

Imagery taken by DigitalGlobe in January 2013 provides an update on the construction of India's new Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF) facility in the south of the country.
The construction began in March 2012, when Admiral Nirmal Verma, chief of the naval staff of the Indian Navy (IN), laid the cornerstone for the ELF facility near the village of Vijaya Narayanam, about 23 km north of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. It is co-located with the IN's Very Low-Frequency (VLF) communications station, which transmits at 18.2 kHz.
The ELF station, which is believed to be being built by Indian firm Larsen & Toubro, will have nuclear-hardened bunkers and is expected to be commissioned in 2015. Russia is closely associated with the research and development for the facility, which is expected to be similar to Russia's own ELF transmitter at the ZEVS facility near Murmansk.
ELF transmission is used to communicate very brief commands to submerged submarines. Such transmissions can travel thousands of miles and through extended depths of seawater. ELF transmissions are generally initiated during circumstances in which conventional communications channels have been disrupted or destroyed.

Monday, 1 April 2013

156 air warriors inducted into Indian Air Force

Air Commodore Mullick advised air warriors to channelise their zeal and enthusiasm in right direction, be highly disciplined and take pride in being an Air Warrior.
Stressing the development of professional skills, Chief Non Technical Training Officer (CNTTO) Air Commodore Pawan Mullick of Head Quarter Training Command, said they can be developed only through continuous learning during different stages of training.
Air Commodore Mullick was addressing after reviewing the Passing out Parade of 156 Airmen of Non Technical Training Institute (NTTI), who were inducted into the Indian Air Force as full fledged Air Warriors, at Sambra.
He reminded the newly inducted airmen about the great tradition of IAF to render selfless service in the defence of our nation, amply demonstrated during war as well as in peace.
The reviewing officer said that ample opportunities are available in the IAF to improve one’s individual profile and growth in service depending on merit, self resolve and commitment.
Air Commodore Mullick  also advised them to channelise their zeal and enthusiasm in right direction, be highly disciplined and take pride in being an Air Warrior. Group Captain Stanzin Thinless, Station Commander of Air Force Station, Belgaum, received the Reviewing Officer. Trophies were presented to meritorious airmen.
Among the prize winners, Air Craftsman Digvijay Singh Solanki topped the General Service Training, Leading Air Craftsman (LAC) Satyam Pal was adjudged as Best All Rounder and best in Accounts Asst Trade. Whereas LAC Abdul Malik was declared Best in Admin Assistant Trade.

Russia upgrades six MiG-29 planes for India, 63 to be upgraded in India

Six Indian MiG-29 fighter planes have been upgraded in Russia and the remaining 63 will be upgraded in India, an official from the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG said at the aerospace exhibition LIMA 2013 on Saturday, March 30.
He said the modernisation is carried out in two stages. At the first stage, six planes were flown to Russia, accompanied by an Indian project team, which will then teach specialists in India.
Three of the six planes have already gone back home. The other three are being upgraded at Nizhny Novgorod’s Sokol, which is part of MiG. They will be handed over to India before the end of the year.
At the second stage, the remaining 63 fighter planes will be upgraded in India by Indian specialists.
The modernisation programme was launched in 2009 in cooperation with India’s HAL.

Quick, ‘flawless’ Tejas LSP-8 First flight

After having received the Flight Readiness Review Board’s (FRRB) clearance for the flight, the most advanced edition of India’s Light Combat Aircraft’s (LCA)—Tejas—limited series production-8 (LSP-8) completed its maiden flight here on Sunday.
The flight happened without the aircraft having completed “high-speed taxi trials,” which is considered mandatory. Officials, however, maintain that with the confidence gained by the flight crew and the certifying agencies during the build and ground checks, a decision was taken to proceed with the first flight without going through a separate high speed taxi trial.
Sources point out that the hurried flight,  skipping the high-speed taxi trial, could have been conceived in the backdrop of Defence Minister A K Antony recently telling HAL not to extend the final operational clearance for Tejas.
The LSP-8, along with LSP-7 are the configurations marked for the Initial Operational Clearance-2 (IOC-2). LSP-8 is the last aircraft in the Limited Series Production programme. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman R K Tyagi said “the performance of the aircraft, which was flown covering a flight envelop at supersonic speeds at an angle of attack of 20 degree, was flawless.”
With this, the Initial Operational Clearance-2 (IOC-2) for the aircraft can be expected soon, sources said. Air Cmde K A Muthana, Programme Director (Flight Test), piloted the aircraft with a build standard akin to the IOC standard.
“It underwent a series of rigorous checks by the certifying and inspecting agencies during the last fortnight with a few taxi checks to assess the performance,” an HAL official said.
The flight clearance was accorded after ensuring that all the aircraft systems were functioning satisfactorily on ground.
Aircraft systems related to fuel, environment condition, electrical and avionics which had undergone a series of modifications based on feedback from earlier aircraft also functioned well.