Saturday, January 31, 2009

India to conduct Ballistic Missile Defence tests

India is preparing to conduct is third Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) tests. Test in February will be the first test after the Mumbai attack. Test will involve testing the indigenously developed with help from Israel “Swordfish" long-range tracking radar.

Earlier two tests were successfully held in November 2006 and December 2007 involving the use of Prithvi Air Defence (PAD Exo-Atmospheric) and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD Endo-Atmospheric) interceptor systems. It appears that the main purpose of the forthcoming tests is to validate the capabilities of the Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR).It is also predicted that target missile will be fired from a longer distance than before to assess the capability of radar to track the incoming missile from long distance. Target missile will be intercepted by the PAD Exo-atmospheric interceptor missile at an altitude over 50 to 80 km from earth. Missile defense version of its Prithvi medium-range ballistic missile was first tested in 2006. Due to its liquid-fueled first stage of short range ballistic missile, the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD) is certainly nowhere near an ideal system.

Dr. VK Saraswat, distinguished scientist & chief controller of missiles and strategic Systems (CC-MSS) informed the media that "We have done some thinking on cooperation with countries such as Russia, United States and Israel in this programme and we have taken their help also in developing some of the technologies, such as the 'Swordfish' radar for the BMD with Israel".
The February tests will be followed by another round of tests before of the year aimed at using AAD Endo-atmospheric missiles to intercept missiles at altitudes up to 15 km. The configuration, according to DRDO, more than matches the capability of the American Patriot anti-missile system.

DRDO claims that the Indian BMD would be qualitatively a far superior missile to the PAC-III, considering the former's larger range and greater flexibility of deployment. Such claim have been rejected due to the fact that till now AAD was tested only once in very restrictive test environment from a fixed platform. On the other hand Patriot series have evolved from decades of testing, improvements and operational use in the real war time. Now the Patriot-3 is itself a fairly unconvinced system and high kill probability that Lockheed-Martin proclaims is definitely not accurate as it is at best achieved under very restricted and benevolent test environment. During the gulf war where USA had clear advantage of an enemy who could only deploy ancient Scud series missiles, Patriot missile system malfunctioned several times resulting in destruction of friendly forces and failed to engage and intercept several primitive cruise missiles fired on Kuwait City from Iraqi coastal missile batteries. Lt Gen Dennis Cavin(retired) who works in Lockheed's air defence technology division is of the view that the AAD's hit-to-kill capability is at best suspect, and it's kill probability is unproven due to the fact that AAD will need dozens of test before it can be compared with the missiles like Patriot-3.

DRDO has held a few rounds of preliminary discussions with officials from Lockheed-Martin to quickly bring the indigenous anti-ballistic missile systems to maturity .The Lockheed-Martin Missiles & Fire Control Division based at Dallas, TX has been asked to come forward with a roadmap on how to quickly mature the AAD program.

Two successful tests of a complex technology is only the beginning. Real work actually starts now. Therefore Lockheed-Martin’s team is currently holding technical level dialogue with DRDO to chart out a possible partnership that, if successful, will see an infusion of PAC-3’s advance technology into the AAD to help India operationalize its Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) by the second half of next decade. It will be many years before India has a moderately effective, indigenous missile defense shield. It is now being given to understand that if tests in 2009 and beyond are successful then the DRDO is looking at a possible initial deployment of the BMD system by 2015.

India’s task of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) becomes more difficult given the fact that its principle foe Pakistan has wide verity of advance ballistic and cruise missiles. In response to India’s efforts of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Pakistan is now developing MIRV for its Shaheen-II ballistic missiles and future Shaheen-III missiles. Currently both shaheen-I and Shaheen-II ballistic missiles are using radar correlation terminal seeker along with GPS updates to achieve extremely accurate CEP and carry re-entry vehicle that can fly evasive maneuvers, making it immensely problematic to intercept by anti-ballistic missile defence systems.

Friday, January 30, 2009

BrahMos cruise missile failure: Is it the first one?Why DRDO wants to hide the failure?

Latest test of Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has failed, though initially test was declared as a success by the Defense Ministry and Defence Research and Development Organisation. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is basically a soviet era supersonic antiship cruise missile designed to sink heavily defended naval warships like destroyers and aircraft carries, but due to lack of options in land attack cruise missile India is trying to adopt the BrahMos antiship missile for land attack role.

Later on problem was partially confirmed by an official release. "There were minor hitches in the last stage of the BrahMos missile during the current test at the Pokhran ranges of Rajasthan," BrahMos Aerospace Corporation's director Dr Sivathanu Pillai said. "The missile performance was absolutely normal until the last phase, but the missile missed the target, though it maintained the direction."

Questions that comes into mind is, was it the first failure of BrahMos missile or was it first one which was leaked out and exposed by the Indian media? Why DRDO wants to hide the failure? One must not forget the fact that this is not the first such incident, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has a long history of such incidents where several weapon tests were claimed to be huge success were later on either exposed by the Indian media as failed tests or India’s armed forces have to reject such claims. Therefore, DRDO has done itself little good by claiming success in its test-firing of the BrahMos missile, till the Indian media exposed the bogus nature of their claim. Even if one accepts DRDO’s latest position that performance of the missile was normal till the last phase, when it began malfunctioning, the fact that BrahMos land attack cruise missile was meant to hit its target precisely but missed the target completely leaves little room for claims of any success.

DRDO had declared previously several times after working on different missile programes for decades and spending crores of rupees that they have been tested successfully and are ready for induction in India’s armed forces but later on these claims lost their credibility when these missiles failed in the field tests conducted by the Indian armed forces. Surface-to-air Trishul missile is one such case where Missile was claimed to be tested several times and declared ready for use by DRDO but failed in actual trails by Indian armed forces. Government foreclosed the Trishul missile program of the DRDO due to its inability to meet critical operational requirements. Not very different is the case of two other missile systems, Akash and Nag. Similar is the case of the Akash medium range surface to air missile which is rejected by the Indian army after several failures in trails and was able to secure only a token order form the Indian air force for its requirement for medium range surface to air missile. Indian air force has placed a large order for SPYDER-MR medium range SAM from Israel. Nag anti tank missile is also having similar troubles as inspite to claims of several dozen of successful tests it is yet to enter in operational service and Indian army is placing major import-license production orders for antitank requirements from Europe.

Another example, Agni-III ballistic missile test by the DRDO in July 2006 was a failure as missile failed just after few seconds and fell into the sea but DRDO then maintained that the test was a successful partially and the problem arose only subsequently. The scientific temper, as reflected in intellectual honesty, openness and dedication to work. Taking into account typical history of DRDO one can’t be sure of success of the previous test.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ROKETSAN : T-122 Sakarya rocket system

Agreement for cooperation between MKEK and TUBITAK - SAGE to develop the 122mm medium range artillery rocket was signed in the early 1990's and by using solid propellant technology of MKEK, SAGE developed a 122mm artillery rocket which was designated as Mizrak (Spear). For the launcher system two proposals were made by the
  1. TUBITAK - SAGE with MKEK offered the Bora design, which very much resembled Yugoslavian M-77 Oganj MBRLS.

  2. ROKETSAN with KaleKalip offered the Sakarya design.
ROKETSAN & KaleKalip's design was selected due to the advantage of the computerized fire control system. First prototype of this 122mm MBRLS on 6x6 tactical vehicle was first revealed to public in 1995 and fire tests were executed the same year in Karapinar Firing Range, Konya. Limited series production systems were delivered to Turkish Land Forces Command for evaluation in 1996 and full scale production deliveries commenced in 1997. Turkey rejected different offer made by Germany including the transfer of around 130 110mm LARS (Light Artillery Rocket System) MBRL systems in mid 1990's due to in confidence in system.
The T-122 Sakarya MBRL System that is designed to be autonomous artillery rocket system that can be used for indirect fire support mission during day and night, and in all weather conditions against area targets. There are two versions of T-122 MBRLS in service with Turkish land forces: MAN 26.281 6x6 (earlier production models) and MAN 26.372 6x6 mounted systems.

There are two set of 20-round tubes on the launcher, which can be hydraulically traversed and elevated. T-122 Sakarya rockets can be fired singly or in salvo. A full salvo of 40 rockets can be launched in 80 seconds. Reloading is via a hydraulic loading crane which is mounted on the launcher. When deployed in the firing position, four stabilizers are lowered to the ground under hydraulic control to provide a more stable firing platform.

T-122 Sakarya is designed to fulfills its mission independently or under battery organization of six T-122 MBRL's and can completes the firing mission of 40 rockets in 80 second, can deliver 740kg of warhead in a ripple firing and is operated by 5 men crew in regular usage or 3 men crew in emergency case.

The firing mission of the launcher is controlled with an onboard FCS which can do Built In Test (BIT) before and during firing, calculate firing data automatically for 122 mm rockets with different warheads using a precise flight simulation software, automatically aim and stow the launcher, fire the rockets in single or ripple in 2 sec. intervals, store up to 20 target locations. ROKETSAN now offers sealed launcher pods, which are specifically designed to resist harsh environment. These maintenance free pods are loaded at factory level by ROKETSAN. The rocket fuses are set remotely by the FCS.

T-122 Sakarya MBRLS is in serial production as of 2008 and more than 72 systems have been delivered to Turkish armed forces, including more than 18 systems to Cyprus Turkish Peace Corps. Currently Turkish land forces command is looking to purchase sealed launcher pods and TRK / SRK series of rockets with submunitions. T-122 Sakarya is deployed for suppression of enemy artillery, supporting muzzled artillery fire, providing direct fire support into depths of enemy lines and engaging high value targets such as air defence systems, command & control centers, supply lines, etc.

ROKETSAN has successfully exported TR-122 Sakarya MBRLS series to United Arab Emirates with the sale of 10,000 TRB-122 and TRK-122 rockets to be used from Italian made FIROS-25 122mm MBRLS. ROKETSAN was established in 1988 through the order of Defence Industry Executive Committee. Its main focus is on design, development and production of guided and unguided rocket and missile systems and related subsystems for the domestic use and for export. ROKETSAN has participated in international projects like production and test launching of motors of Stinger missiles for the European consortium, design and production of the flight termination unit of ESSM in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase. The company currently produces various parts such as thrust vector control, warhead and control sections. One of the newest research and development projects of ROKETSAN is Cirit (Jereed) 2.75" laser guided rocket system for T-129 attack helicopters. Consisting of a laser seeker, guidance and control unit and moving surfaces installed on a 2.75" unguided rocket. Roketsan successfully tested its new 2.75in air-ground rocket in a precision-guided version in 2006. Cirit is expected to enter serial production in 2009. The laser guided rocket is 1.9m long, weighs 14kg and has a maximum range of 8km.

Pakistan Navy will get AEW&C and UAV soon

Chief of Naval Staff. Noman Bashir has said that Pakistan Navy will shortly acquire Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to further strengthen its air fleet.He said this while talking to the press while addressing the induction ceremony of a Fokker aircraft and commissioning of T 56 Engine Test Bench, held at Pakistan Navy Aviation base PNS Mehran on Thursday. He said that with the introduction of Z-9 helicopter from china, new AEW&C UAVs for maritime patrolling role and more P-3C Orion - maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft Pakistan navy will be in much stronger position than ever before. Pakistan navy will soon place order for the U-214 SSK from German firm HDW to enhance its undersurface warfare capability. Pakistani navy had previously requested a possible sale for refurbishment and modification of three excess P-3 aircraft with the E-2C HAWKEYE 2000 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Suite.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tactical Uqab UAV detailed

There are two versions of Uqab UAV. One is tactical version of UAV with the flying range of 150km onwards while other one will be a strategic version of the UAV which can go up to 350km onwards. Both tactical and strategic versions of UAV systems can undertake a pre-programmed mission or can be piloted by the Air Vehicle Controller. The strategic version of the UAV has the capability to adapt to the change of mission during the flight. It can transmit information and data through ground control station and can even change the flight path, height and speed according to the situation.There were three companies that competed and offered their UAS systems for the tactical version of Uqab UAV to Pakistan army.

  1. Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) with its ‘Huma-1 and under development Huma-II.

  2. Advanced Computing and Engineering Solutions (ACES) with its Eagle-Eye-P1 UAV and larger Eagle-Eye P-II UAV.

  3. Albadeey with its Hud Hud II UAV and Hud Hud III UAV which is an enlarged version of the Hud Hud II UAV.

Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) exhibited its ‘Huma-1’ tactical UAV in ideas 2006. It is a UAV that performs a wide range of remote sensing tasks. Range is 500km, max speed 180km/h, endurance 5-6hrs, and it has a 100km operational radius. It carries a 20kg payload and includes a real-time video transmission system. It has a 14.4ft (4.4m) wing span, 130kg (285lb) maximum take-off weight, zero length take-off using a rocket booster and is recovered by parachute. The truck-launched Huma-1 has been flying since 2003 and is intended to operate as a battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance asset. IDS says that, in addition to Huma-1, it is now working on a larger derivative that will provide increased payload and endurance but will remain within the tactical air vehicle category. Huma tactical UAV is build from composite materials and uses Radar absorbent paint for very low RCS.

Advanced Computing and Engineering Solutions ACES displayed its ‘Eagle-Eye-P1’ UAV and also exhibited the ground Control Station (GCS) from which it is controlled. The ‘Eagle Eye-P1’ tactical UAV has an 80km range, 3hr endurance, and 120km max speed. Tracking is GPS based, and it carries a 30kg payload of a 'pan, tilt & zoom' video camera for real time digital video surveillance. The Eagle Eye PI/II systems are both runway dependent. ‘Eagle Eye-P1’ with a 16.5ft span and 130kg MTOW flew for the first time in 2002, ‘Eagle Eye-PII have 18.9ft span, MTOW of 175kg PII followed in 2005.

ACES's Eagle Eye-P2 tactical UAV has a 100km range, 4hr endurance, and 150km max speed. Tracking is GPS based, and it carries a 40kg payload of a video camera and telemetry system for real time digital video surveillance. It is controlled from a GCS.

Albadeey also displayed two surveillance UAVs, the ‘Hud Hud II’ and ‘Hud Hud III’. The ‘Hud Hud III’ is an enlarged version of the ‘Hud Hud II’ with greater endurance (6hrs) and range (100km). It can carry a 40kg payload which is usually a high resolution CCD camera, GPS, and frequency modulated L Band video transmitter.
All the competitors have 100km operational radius which is less than required 150km. ACES's Eagle Eye-PI/II tactical UAV’s were selected by the for further development under name Uqab tactical UAV. It took another year to fully meet the requirement and then user trials started in 2007 by Pakistan army. On March 20 Thursday, 2008 it was declared by the ISPR that Pakistan successfully conducted a final test flight of its indigenously-developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, senior military officers and scientists witnessed the test of the Uqab

A strategic version of the Uqaab UAV that will go to 350km+ is under development and will need to incorporate advance technologies which will soon be ready. Strategic version of the Uqab UAV might be able to attract interest from the Pakistan Air force and Pakistan navy at some time in future. Pakistan navy is looking into acquiring its own squadron of UAV with a SAR for maritime surveillance, with the antenna stored in a large belly fairing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

US to sell Cobras to Turkey

Amidst reports that Turkey has been negotiating with Russia for the purchase of around 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure to meet its urgent needs in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Pentagon has developed a formula that will allow it to sell four or five Cobra attack helicopters to Ankara.

Under this new formula, the US-based Bell Helicopter firm will interrupt the Cobra production currently under way for the US Marine Corps and instead use the production line to manufacture helicopters for Turkey, according to well-informed Turkish defense industry sources in Ankara. Top Pentagon officials will submit this plan for approval by the new administration under Barack Obama, who took office yesterday as the 44th US president, Today’s Zaman has learned. The US had turned down a Turkish request made early last year for the purchase of AH-1W “Whiskey” Super Cobra attack helicopters as a stop-gap measure for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which has a shortage of Cobras in its inventory. The US had cited the unavailability of Cobras and offered instead Boeing-made Apache attack helicopters, which were turned down by Ankara. Turkey has six AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters ready for combat from its original 12, while the remaining six either crashed or are no longer in service.

Today’s Zaman learned in December last year that Turkey had started negotiations with Russia for the purchase of around 32 Mi-28 attack helicopters at a cost of around $1 billion. Until the attack helicopters that Turkey will produce in cooperation with AgustaWestland over the next five years begin to enter service, Turkey planned to buy Russian attack helicopters to bridge the gap, domestic defense industry sources had said. Ankara’s plan to buy Russian helicopters as an interim measure might have prompted the US to develop a formula to sell Cobras to Turkey, a Turkish defense industry source said. Though both Turkish and the Russian sources were quiet over a possible Turkish purchase of Russian helicopters, on Dec. 28 Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian helicopter chief Andrei Shibitov as saying that the Turkish government was exploring the possibility of purchasing helicopters, although no deal had been signed.

Though Ankara signed a deal worth around $3.5 billion with AgustaWestland for attack helicopters in June last year, the TSK turned down AgustaWestland’s offer to sell off-the-shelf A129 Mangusta attack helicopters as an interim measure. The TSK turned down the Italian offer on the grounds that the existing A129 helicopters would not have met its urgent requirements.

The project with AgustaWestland involves the joint production of 50 helicopters with an option for another 41 at the facilities of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the main contractor in the project, using the maximum amount of domestic resources. The helicopters to be produced at TAI will be named T129 and will be based on the Italian A129 design, but configured to meet Turkish requirements. The first T129 helicopter is scheduled to be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces Command on June 24, 2013. The remaining 49 helicopters are planned to be delivered within four-and-a-half years after that date.

Arjun Tank Disaster Part IV: Final words

There are several questions that arise in mind when someone reads the history and news reporting about the Arjun tank project and first one is always, who is responsible for this mess? Is it DRDO or Ministry of Defence or Indian Army? Different experts from Indian media, Indian army, DRDO and Indian government are trying to put blame every one but themselves.

Golden question is who should be making the choices that which tank should be bought? Should it be

  1. Standing Committee on Defence/ Indian parliament

  2. DRDO

  3. Ministry of Defence

  4. Indian Army

As in the end it will be the Indian army officers which are going to the battle field , they are the one who are going to ride the horse in battle not the Standing Committee on Defence or indian parliament or DRDO, so it should be Indian army’s choice which should be respected at all costs. I think that irrespective of the weight and other features, if Indian army is given a choice as to which tank they would like to ride to battle, which tank would you choose? And their answer is very clear, they have decided in favor of importing the T-90s then going for the Arjun.

It is the government’s problem that they want to secure and develop their weapons industries or they want to make the weapons supply secure by local production, so they prefer the locally made weapons. On the other hand for the armed forces of Indian, it is the secondary matter as their first priority is to protect nation and its interests from enemies on the armed front not the local industries which are offering the low quality high priced products.One must remember that a project that doesn’t meet the time requirements or technical requirements or cost per unit requirements or research and development costs is a failed project.Arjuns price tag was supposed to be US $1.6 million (2 crore rupees, to total 15.5 crore for the whole project) but now it costs something like 4.2 million $ to 5.6 million. it has failed to met its induction requirements number of times,its cost of development have already gone much above original estimates and Indian army looks towards Russia for their requirments. Remember that most of India's roads are in the 40 ton military classification range, save for national highways' 70 ton range. Arjun extends 6cm beyond the official 3cm limit on either side of a standard Indian flatbed railcar, strategic transport would be extremely difficult. This would also require that India refurbish large sections of her rail network, as well as acquiring new rolling stock . It's width and weight, Indian Rail to charge the Army over-dimensional consignment (ODC) costs, which are 150% over normal costs. The Indian Ministry of Defence allocated US$ 3.9 million (R165 million) to develop three Arjun-capable flatbed rail cars wagon by January 1999. So DRDO is wishing that IA should invest in the weapon system which will have very limited Strategic mobility?

DRDO in the end did realize that Arjun will not be able to fulfill the requirements of Indian army so they offered Experimental Tank (Ex-Tank) to the Army. Ex-Tank featured the automotive system of the Combat-improved T-72 mated with the MBT Arjun gun turret. But Indian army did not shoed enough interest in the project. According to the brochure I was given at CVRDE, here's what the Ex-Tank's salient features are:

  • Improved light weight KANCHAN armour with optimised thickness to give better protection to the frontal arc

  • 120mm Arjun rifled gun firing FSAPDS and HESH ammo

  • Fixed type semi-combustible cartridge case ammo

  • Integrated FCS based on stabilised sighting system to engage moving targets from moving tank

  • Reduced reaction time and increasing first round hit probability

  • TI integrated GMS for NF capability

  • Fully stabilised independent Commander's Panoramic Sight for surveillance, acquisition and target engagement

  • Standby Gunner's articulated sight as backup for GMS

  • Ergonomically designed crew station for better fighting capability

  • Double pin steel track with detachable rubber pad for enhanced tractive effort

  • Ordnance design allows replacement of gun barrel without dismantling the turret

  • 18 ready rounds located in turret

  • Fully integrated collective NBC system to offer freedom of operation in contaminated environment

  • 4.5 kW auxiliary power unit fo silent watch mode and battery charging
    Global Positioning System for accurate navigation

    Specifications:Crew: 4 Combat weight: 47 tons Power to Weight ratio: 15.65 kW/ton Ground pressure: 0.09 N/sq mm Suspension type: Torsion bar with hydro-gas struts Length: 9.19m Width: 3.37m Height: 2.24m Ground clearance: 0.47m Max speed: On road: 60 km/h Cross country: 40 km/h Gradability: 30° Trench crossing: 2.6m Vertical Obstacle Climbing: 0.85m Shallow fording: 1.2m Gun: 120mm rifled Depression and Elevation: -10° to + 17.5° Ammunition: 32 rounds (FSAPDS & HESH) Rate of Fire: 6-8 rounds per minute Co-Axial Machine Gun: 7.62mm Anti-aircraft Machine Gun: 12.7mm FCS: Director type Gun Control System: Electro-Hydraulic Ballistic Computer: Digital

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Arjun Tank Disaster Part III: Present situation

In mid-November, DRDO chief A.P.J. Abdul Kalam told to a closed-door meeting of his ministry's Parliamentary Consultative Committee that the Arjun had been tested for 20,000 km and cleared for 'limited series production'. But before a crowd at the National Defence Academy in early December, the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ved Prakash Malik denied that Arjun's induction into the army was being delayed and added that some unspecified tests and improvements had to be carried out before the army could accept them. By early May, 1998, the US decision to impose sanctions on India could possibly jeopardize the Arjun's further development, since some US companies were supplying elements of the main gun-sighting and fire-control systems for the Arjun tank. There was also speculation as to whether Germany would stop supplying MTU engines. Arjun Executive Board (AEB) narrowed their choices for an FCS to Thomson CSF and Elbit of Israel (which could also be used in the T-72M1). The imported components used in the Arjun rose from 27% in the 1987 Prototype to 60% in the 1998 version.The Comptroller and Auditor General's report on the summer 1997 trials, released in mid-1998, noted six premature transmission failures and frequent overheating of the transmission fluid, probably because the imported transmission assembly had been overloaded. At that time it was estimated that the first Arjun MBT would roll out in 2000, with 20 to 30 more manufactured per year. After the 124 Arjun I's are finished, the Arjun II would begin series manufacture.It was estimated that first 120 tanks would cost $4.2 million each, while other cost estimates places the figure at $5.6 million each per tank by 2001, given a purchase of 124 tanks to equip two regiments. Production of the first batch of tanks might take more than the planned five years, given the capacity at the Avadi factory.

The Army had cleared the MBT Arjun for production and placed an indent on March 30, 2000 for the manufacture of 124 tanks by 2009 for two regiments. The present cost of the MBT Arjun is Rs.16.80 crore and the cost of T-90 is around Rs.12.00 crore. The cost of Arjun compares favourably with contemporary Western MBTs of its class, costing in the range of Rs.17 to 24 crores. Some of the state-of-the-art technologies incorporated in the Arjun are modern integrated fire control system with Fire Control Computer and MRS, Hydro-pneumatic suspension, Kanchan Armour, highly lethal and accurate FSAPDS ammunition and NBC protection. The major imported systems in the tank are the power pack and gun control system from Germany and Delft-SAGEM gunners main sight from OIP Belgium.

Last year news appeared in Indian media that DRDO has installed a black box-like instrument in the indigenous main battle tank (MBT) Arjun which is under development for nearly 36 years, following attempts to “sabotage” its engine. Minister of State for Defence (Production) Rao Inderjit Singh has also hinted at a conspiracy to “sabotage” the Arjun tank in April. “The possibility of sabotage needs to be examined. The engines fitted in the tanks were German and were performing well for the past 15 years. I wonder what has happened to them overnight,” Singh had said, talking about the reported failures of the tank. But on Dec 11, 2008 Indian Defence Minister AK Antony informed Rajya Sabha that the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun was not tampered during any trials.

Fourteen Arjun tanks were handed over to the Indian Army for user trials last year but were returned to the manufacturer - the Combat Vehicles Development Establishment - with a list of defects. These included a deficient fire control system, inaccuracy of its guns, low speeds in tactical areas - principally the desert - and the tank’s inability to operate in temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius. “The Arjun can, at best serve us for another five or maximum 10 years. What we need is a tank that can serve us for the next 20 to 25 years,” an officer said. “I’m not saying it is a bad tank. It’s just not suited for our requirements. We need a futuristic tank that is at par with those available around the world, we will purchase the 124 tanks we have contracted for but no more beyond that,” the officer added.

The army’s thumbs down could well prove to be the last nail in the MBT project, analysts said, pointing to the fact that parliament had been informed in March that the tank had failed to deliver during its winter trials earlier this year. “We have just carried out the trial in winter. The tank performed very poorly. There have been four engine failures so far,” parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence quoted an army officer as saying.

Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and his predecessor, General J.J. Singh, had on separate occasions expressed their unhappiness with the tank. “What we have today is a mid-level technology. What we need is a tank of international quality,” Kapoor said last November. Singh had spoken in much in the same vein during a major exercise in Rajasthan’s Thar Desert in April-May, 2007. “We have to make sure the troops are not exposed to any disadvantage,” Singh replied cryptically when asked about Arjun’s performance during the five-day Exercise ‘Ashwamedh’ for which a squadron of 14 Arjun tanks was deployed. The defence ministry Monday admitted in Parliament that the indigenous main battle tank (MBT) Arjun has shown some recurring defects, besides having some faulty parts, in the just-concluded winter trials. “Failure of power packs, lower accuracy and consistency have been noticed during the ongoing Accelerated User Cum Reliability Trials by the Army,” Minister of State for Defence (production) Rao Inderjit Singh told the Lok Sabha. “During the trial, the tank also witnessed shearing of top rollers and chipping of gun barrels,” Singh added. “Following the army’s adverse report on the tanks after winter trials last year, the DRDO had suggested a joint assessment be conducted but the army refused this outright,” In December 2008, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Lok Sabha in reply to a written question. “There has been some delay in the issue of tanks to the Army due to design modifications and removal of defects noticed during various trials by the Army,” he said.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Submarine repair takes forever

Submarine repair takes forever

New Delhi: Over-emphasis on indigenous work is hurting India's readiness for war.As India's vital submarine arm struggles with dangerously low numbers, a top-end submarine has been taken out of the fleet for a repair programme.The shocking part is that the repair schedule will last 10 years. Such upgrades have previously been done overseas in two years. One could compare this to a submarine being laid comatose, at least in the case of the INS Sindhukirti, a frontline Kilo class attack submarine of the Indian Navy.It's been in dry dock at Vizag for a refit programme for close to five years now. It seems that Hindustan Shipyards, the government-owned contractor with little experience in submarine upgrades, will take at least another five years before the submarine can be put to water again.Unavailable to the submarine-starved Navy for 10 of the 30 years of its useful life, the Sindhukirti is as good as a write off."How viable is a surgery which requires a healthy patient to be in a hospital bed for one-third of his life? That is the approximate analogy for the mid-life upgrade for this submarine INS Sindhukirti, the Dry Dock Queen. Four submarines are stuck in such protracted upgrades. Not surprisingly, just nobody is accountable," said our defence correspondent.Russia took just two years each to upgrade six similar Kilo class submarines for the Indian Navy.The government insists that it is now building national capability with inhouse upgrades."That kind of expertise did not exist in India before and this is for the first time that we are trying it out here. Instead of sending them to Russia all the way, this one is being offloaded to Hindustan Shipyards. There are some problems in their procurement procedures. It takes a little longer than is expected," said Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Suresh Mehta.What this trade-off on time does to India's military readiness is anybody's guess. It took a recent CAG report to blow the lid of the Indian Navy's worst kept secret: that the vital submarine arm faces a crisis of numbers.The shocking revelations of the report were:

  • Only seven of India's 16 submarines are available for combat at any time.

  • 10 of these 16 ageing submarines will be due for phase-out by 2012.

  • To maintain current numbers, one submarine needs to be inducted every two years but there's been no addition since 2001.

  • India's only submarine-making facility in Mumbai was kept idle for 12 years.

India Issues RFP for Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircrafts

Indian Ministry of Defence issued a request for proposals (RFPs) for six medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft. India has already inked a $2.1 billion deal with Boeing for the supply of 8 customized P-8A Poseidon Maritime Multimission Aircraft (MMA), designated P-8I, for use by the Indian Navy. This was the biggest deal defence ever between India and the US, surpassing the 2007 $962 million deal for the supply of six C-130J `Super Hercules' aircraft for Indian special forces. India will get its first P-8I towards end-2012 or early-2013, with delivery of the remaining seven aircraft expected to be completed by 2015-16. Under the contract India has an option to order four to eight more such planes.

The Indian Coast Guard also is looking for six MRMRs but without an Airborne Early Warning system. Contenders are ATR-72MP/ ATR-42MP, EADS C-295MPA/C-235MPA, Dassault's Falcon 900MPA and Embraer P-99A platforms. Most favourable contenders are Alenia Aeronautica’s ATR-72-500MP Surveyor, EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader and Dassault's Falcon 900MPA. The ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is already in production for Turkish Navy’s order of 10 such aircraft. ATR-72-500MP Surveyor can be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes for ASuW and ASW missions. The ATR-72-500MP Surveyor will also be equipped with the THALES-built AMASCOS (Airborne Maritime Situation and Control System) maritime surveillance system, as well as electronic warfare and reconnaissance systems, and will also be used for maritime search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. AMASCOS will allow ATR-72-500MP Surveyor to conduct maritime patrol and surveillance missions that include maritime surveillance (EEZ surveillance, surveillance of shipping, drug interdiction, etc), anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, SAR, electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), joint littoral warfare operations, and environmental monitoring. AMASCOS, together with the THALES-built Ocean Master search radar, has been selected by Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey. Optional belly-mounted multi-mode radar is offered for the ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems’s X-band Seaspray 7000E 360° active phased-array fire-control radar. The radar comprises two line replaceable units: the COTS processor and an AESA antenna that are typically at least 25% lighter than their mechanically scanned radar equivalents. Seaspray 7000E provides a wide range of extended surveillance modes, such as moving target indication and high-resolution ground mapping, or interfaces with guided-weapon systems to provide anti-ship cruise missile mid-course target and guidance information.

FALCON 900 MPA is based on the FALCON 900 DX, latest version of the FALCON 900 family. It is modified to carry out the whole range of maritime patrol missions. It carries radar under the fuselage, retractable FLIR, two oversized observation windows, sonobuoys/marker launcher, one fife raft drop door for SAR operations and under wing pylons. The floor plan is based on a seven crew concept: two pilots, one technical co-ordinator (TACCO), one Deputy TACCO, one Acoustic operator, two observers. The flight deck is designed for two-pilot operations. The glass-cockpit EASy, developed by DASSAULT AVIATION is the most advanced flight deck system in the world. It dramatically increases safety and efficiency of the flight deck crew during all the phases of the mission. The FALCON 900 MPA is powered by three Honeywell TFE731-60 engines with 5,000 lbs thrust. Each engine is controlled by a Digital Electronic Engine Computer (DEEC) allowing the best efficiency and minimum consumption during each segment of the mission. In 2005 Dassault offered the Falcon 900 MPA for $45 million per plane.

The mission system of the FALCON 900 MPA incorporates state-of-the-art technologies in both sensors and sub-systems. It allows carrying out efficiently the various tasks dedicated to a multi-mission aircraft with a reduced crew thanks to automatic functions and analysis. The THALES AMASCOS mission systems is composed of a radar fitted in a radome under the fuselage, a retractable FLIR located in the nose cone, Electronic Support Measure (ESM) , acoustic subsystem and analyzer , Three to four multifunction workstations with color displays, data link, A complete communication suite including a satellite liaison and self protection system.

EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader has been ordered by Chile, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. On March 22, 2001 this aircraft was selected by the United Arab Emirates as the winner in its Shaheen 1 MPA competition. Competing with the C-295 were rival aircraft from Alenia Aeronautica and Bombardier Aerospace. The UAE has since acquired four C-295MPAs, equipped with the FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System) mission fit which has already been selected by the Spanish Air Force and the Portuguese Air Force for its P-3B Orion MP/ASW aircraft upgrade programme. The C-295MPA builds on the track record of EADS/CASA’s earlier CN-235MPA aircraft, which is well established in service with the Irish Air Corps, Indonesian Navy and Chilean Navy. The Chilean Navy last October purchased three C-295MPA Persuaders, with an option for another five. The aircraft’s flight deck is fitted with dual controls for the pilot and co-pilot. The cockpit is equipped with fully digital and integrated TopDeck avionics suite supplied by THALES. The AMLCD displays, including four 152mm x 203mm (6-inch x 8-inch) are compatible with night vision goggles. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines, each rated at 1,972kW and at 2,177kW with auto-power reserve. The engines drive HS-568F-5 six-bladed composite propellers developed by Hamilton Sundstrand. The aircraft carries a fuel load of 7,700 litres, giving a maximum range of 5,630km.

The Navy's MRMR is supposed to replace the aging Islander fleet of 10 aircraft, which will be used for training and possibly shared with the Coast Guard. Two have already been gifted to Myanmar. The aircraft will have a range of over 500 nautical miles with an endurance of around 6 hours. In addition to eight Boeing P-8Is, the Navy will also be getting 11 new Dornier short-range aircraft. India has been focusing on the need for new and updated technology.

Friday, January 16, 2009

China hands over jet trainers to Pakistan Islamabad

China today handed over to Pakistan eight advanced jet trainers that will be used to train pilots for transition to fourth generation combat aircraft.The eight Karakoram K-8P jets were handed over at a ceremony at a PAF base that was attended by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) and a Chinese delegation, said an official statement.The JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft and K-8P trainer jets have been jointly developed by Pakistan and China, which have close defence ties. The K-8P is an advanced trainer that is already being used at the PAF Academy in Risalpur to train fighter pilots.The statement said the K-8P jets had enhanced the basic training of PAF pilots and provided a "potent platform for their smooth transition to more challenging fourth generation fighter aircraft". PTI

How Secure Are Indian Nukes?

By Adnan GillLos Angeles, CA
India already enjoys the dubious distinction of running the most unsafe nuclear program, now it can hold the crown for running the most insecure one too. The Indian nuclear program has become a serious threat to world security. By and large, the security threats posed to its nuclear reactors stem from within. It is a ticking time bomb waiting to be tripped by the numerous insurgencies and separatist movements plaguing India, or by natural disasters. Well over half of India is virtually controlled by insurgent groups, like the Naxalites, where the government’s control is minimal to non-existent. Other security threats emanate from the Indians choosing to construct their nuclear facilities on coastlines prone to natural disasters like the monstrous tsunami of 2004.
India is afflicted with countless insurgencies. Over 53 per cent of its geographical territory is under the control of insurgents and separatists. A debilitating insurgency in the Indian-controlled-Kashmir is still carried strong by groups like All-Parties Hurriyat Conference. The Sikh Khalistani movement seeks to create an independent Sikh State out of India's breadbasket state of Punjab. Northeastern India is bled by at least 50 separatist movements, out of which, the most prominent and oldest one is the Naga militant group/National Socialist Council of Nagalim. However, the most serious threat to Indian national security is posed by the leftist Naxalite separatists. Prime minister Manmohan Singh described this Maoist insurgency as "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country".
Once dismissed as little more than an irritant, the Maoist movement is gaining ground in India. The Naxalites are fighting the Indian government in states like Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Over 45 per cent or two-fifth of Indian territory is now under Naxalite influence which extends to 15 States, affecting 509 police stations. Currently, as few as 25 battalions of military and central paramilitary forces are fighting the armed Naxalites who have a presence in 220 districts and are in absolute control of over 160 districts, and spreading wide and far. They have over 55,000 well-trained, well-armed and highly motivated cadres, hi-tech weapons in plenty and a well-honed fighting strategy. Indian intelligence agencies believe that Maoists of India and Nepal have also begun joint operations. Sri Lanka's LTTE and French Maoists are providing full support to the Indian and Nepalese Maoists. In return, the Indian Maoists provide shelter and training camps to Nepal's Maoists.
A day after the British police said they foiled a major plot to attack transatlantic airliners, and exactly a month after Mumbai, India's commercial hub, was hit by a series of bomb blasts, the US embassy in India warned American citizens of possible attacks in or around New Delhi and Mumbai. The US embassy spokesman warned, "Likely targets include major airports, key central Indian government offices, and major gathering places such as hotels and markets." Judging from the September 8, 2006, horrible bomb blast in Malegaon (Maharashtra), which claimed at least 37 victims, it would be safe to assume that the warnings issued by the US embassy were based on credible information. Even though the public warnings issued by the Americans did not include direct threats to the Indian nuclear facilities, still the Indian government deployed 38 elite commandos at its Kalpakkam fast breeder reactor in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. At the same time, the Press Trust of India reported additional commando deployments at other nuclear facilities. It reported, “The armed forces were given the responsibility of securing [nuclear] facilities and NSG commandoes were deployed at many nuclear plants.”
Few details are available regarding the security standards in place for the Indian nuclear program, but they are believed to be primitive and outdated at best. Depending on the sensitivity of materials, it is generally believed that different levels of security are in place, including fencing and sentries. Physical barriers are installed at nuclear facilities in an effort to deny access to the sensitive areas, and access control is maintained over personnel by visually verifying paper laminated identity cards.
Security experts believe a well-conceived attack on Indian nuclear assets by any number of highly-motivated insurgents and/or their sympathizers can potentially materialize in any of the following scenarios:
Scenario # 1: The insurgents steal an intact nuclear weapon from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and detonate it in the middle of Mumbai. Though highly improbable, of all the separatist threats facing India, perhaps the gravest is the possibility of militants obtaining a fully assembled nuclear weapon and detonating it in a metropolitan. Insurgents could potentially acquire nuclear weapons through one of two plausible ways. They could steal an intact nuclear weapon from existing arsenals, or they could buy a stolen weapon. If an Indian separatist group exploded just one nuclear weapon in a major metropolitan, hundreds of thousands of Indians could die and millions will be seriously injured.
Scenario # 2: The insurgents fashion a crude nuclear weapon by stealing fissile material from the Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant (KARP) and explode it in Chennai. In November/December 2004, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that India possesses 300-470 kilograms of plutonium, enough to produce up to 120 nuclear weapons, and a reasonable amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU). According to the report by David Albright and Kimberly Kramer titled ‘Stockpiles still growing’, “India may now be producing HEU in significant quantities at a gas centrifuge plant it has been working on for many years.”
Since only a relatively small amount of HEU or plutonium is needed to build a bomb, separatists could potentially steal enough material to build one or more nuclear weapons. A crude nuclear weapon would need 40-50 kilograms of HEU. However, a more sophisticated design would use approximately 12 kilograms of HEU or 4 kilograms of plutonium. The theft of HEU from uranium enrichment plants like the ones at Trombay and Mysore would be especially worrisome, because it is relatively straightforward to make a bomb using this material. The insurgents could acquire enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon and the expertise to construct a workable bomb.
Scenario # 3: The insurgent sympathizers smuggle highly radioactive material out of the Nuclear Fuel Complex to detonate a radiological dispersion device or ‘dirty bomb’ in Hyderabad. In an example of security blunder that could have resulted in the theft of fissile material, in August 2006, security was tightened in and around the Narora nuclear power plant after three men working there were arrested for giving fake addresses at the time of their appointments. Unbelievably, the men were given access to the facilities without first conducting thorough background checks.The problem is that India does not only have 22 declared -- including under construction -- nuclear reactors, but it also has about 60 -- less secure -- agencies connected with nuclear activities. India is well known for lax security and overworked systems; security experts believe smuggling of radioactive materials to be highly probable.
Scenario # 4: Naxalites sabotage KARP facilities to cause large release of radiation in Chennai. Security experts think the nature of specific threats to Indian nuclear facilities may include an attack with explosive laden trucks driven through the security parameters to be exploded next to the nuclear reactors or next to the turbines spun by highly radioactive steam. In the past, such tactics had been employed with marginal success by the Iraqi insurgents who breached the Green Zone (Baghdad) security wall by exploding a truck next to the wall. A second truck drove through the hole in the wall and exploded inside the Green Zone by the second suicide bomber. India is no stranger to suicide bombings. In the first recorded instance of suicide bombing in South Asia, ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber.

Insurgents may even employ other innovative tactics like mounting an aerial attack using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or an aircraft in a suicide mission. Naxalites are believed to be armed with short- and long-range rockets. An attack on the nuclear facilities with rockets is also a realistic possibility to cause panic and facilitate breaching of security parameters. The consequences of such attacks could include release of radioactive matter such as contaminated heavy water, pressurized radioactive steam, uranium dust clouds, iodine or cesium, and the associated fires and explosions could cause catastrophic structural failures. In fact, the Indian nuclear program has a history of structural failures. For example, in 1994, owing to faulty design, the concrete containment dome of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) collapsed.
Scenario # 5: The most realistic scenario. In the aftermath of a massive tsunami, insurgents effortlessly get their hands on unguarded nuclear weapons stored at the unsecured military bases, and fissile materials from the KARP, BARC and/or Tarapur Atomic Power Stations and disperse these weapons and fissile materials all over India. They also sell the loot and stage multiple nuclear attacks. The December 26, 2004 tsunami devastated the coastal stretches of Tamil Nadu. The unimaginable force of the tsunami literally uprooted or flattened every security boundary that was supposed to protect the peripheries of the 500MW prototype fast breeder reactor coming up at Kalpakkam. The security personnel at the facilities were either killed or fled, virtually leaving the nuclear reactor insecure and unguarded for days to come.
In March 2006, the under construction 1,000 MW Koodankulam nuclear power plants were rocked by earthquake tremors. The tremors were strong enough to create severe panic and fear among the local population about the safety and security of the nuclear power project. According to a statement released by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy and the South Asian Community Center for Education and Research, "The quake, very close to the Koodankulam reactor site, raises urgent and important questions about the safety of the plants and the security and well-being of the people in Kanyakumari and other southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala". The statement further addressed the slack attitude of Indian authorities towards the safety and security of its nuclear plants: "The local people's concerns about the impact of these plants on their safety, health, livelihoods and well-being have all been simply dismissed so far." Arguably, their fears are not unfounded. It’s not if, but when someone will take advantage of a natural disaster by stealing the fissile materials and/or nuclear weapons from the Indian facilities.
Unfortunately, that’s not where Indian nightmare scenarios will end. In its mad pursuit to become a mini-nuclear power, India is going to ridiculous lengths to amass nuclear technologies in an amateurish hope to enhance its ability to generate additional fissile materials for its nuclear stockpiles. In an example of ultimate irresponsible and reckless behavior, the Indians have tried to negotiate with the Russians to build nuclear reactors even in the open seas. On November 19, 2003, the Indian news daily, The Hindu, reported a conversation between the Indian national security adviser Brajesh Mishra and the Russian atomic energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on a Russian offer of floating nuclear plants in international waters off the Indian shores, because then, the ownership of the plants can remain with the supplier. How India and Russia planed to protect the floating nuclear power plants in open seas against hurricanes, accidental collisions, terrorist attacks, aerial or underwater attacks, or sabotage is anybody’s guess.
As a member of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and under UN Resolution 1540, India is required to establish the highest standards of security for its fissile materials. Sadly, so far, the security standards at Indian nuclear facilities are believed to be rudimentary and primitive at best. The Indian nuclear program is fast becoming a serious threat to world security. Rising radioactive plumes from the sabotaged Indian facilities or nuclear explosions will certainly poison the food and water supplies in the Subcontinent. Depending on the time of the year, the radioactive dust from India can be carried by the prevailing upper atmosphere winds all the way to Western Europe and even to the United States!

Arjun Tank Disaster Part II: Development years and Arjun’s first fight

Arjun Tank Disaster Part II: Development years and Arjun’s first fight On 9 January 1996, in a ceremony which was attended by then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, Arjun tank was formally unveiled and declared ready for mass production. Scientific Adviser to the Defense Minister, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Indians consider the Arjun comparable to the M1A2 Abrams, Leopard 2 and Leclerc. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shankar Roy chowdhury pointed out that while some of the tank's parameters needed to be 'further fine-tuned', they have enough confidence to plan different Arjun variants like self-propelled artillery version, Observation Post Vehicle and Air Defence with Guns and missiles, recovery, engineer and bridge layers. New bridge layers and recovery vehicles would be necessary because Arjun tank was substantially heavier when compared with the Indian army T-72M1 series. Most of India's roads are in the 40 ton military classification range, save for national highways' 70 ton range.

The 59-ton (58.5 tons) 15th Variant can achieve a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour (55 mph) and cross-country of 40 kilometers per hour with it's 1400 HP power plant. The Arjun's hydro-pneumatic suspension can be hardened or softened, according to the terrain and the 1610 litre fuel tank allows for a cruising range of 200 km (120 miles).The semi-automatic transmission, hydrodynamic torque converter and integral system are local designs (The designers seek to raise local from 60 % to 80 %). The service brake consists of a hydraulically operated high-performance brake disc that is incorporated into the final drive. The Arjun's crew compliment is the traditional four; commander, gunner, loader and driver. There are both limitations and advantages to this arrangement that any tanker will recognize; three-man crew with autoloaders can develop a higher rate of fire for shorter periods of time, but four-men crew allow the crew to accomplish more maintenance-related tasks with less fatigue. To insure crew survivability, production versions will have the indigenously-researched and developed Kanchan' composite armor, an automatic fire detection and suppression system, and a NBC protection system designed and built by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
It exerts a ground pressure of .84 kg/cm. square and can climb a gradient of 35 degrees (necessary for crossing Rajasthan sand dunes). Since the river-strewn Punjab area 'ditch cum bund'' defences caused innumerable problems during the 1971 War, the Arjun can cross 1.4 meters deep channels and 2.43 meter trenches.The MRS-equipped, rifled l20 mm gun (known as Gandiva', or Arjun's Bow) is made of ESR steel and fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. It's Rate of Fire is listed as six to eight rounds. All main gun rounds use a semi-combustible cartridge case with increased energy propellant for higher muzzle velocity and greater penetration characteristics. In addition to the usual suite of rounds, an anti-helicopter round is under development as well. On-board ammo is stowed in water-tight containers (indicating possible wet-stowage).The Arjun's fire control system includes a laser rangefinder, ballistic computer, thermal imaging night sight, stabilized panoramic sight for the tank commander, and a secondary telescopic sight. (One source had this system based on the Vijayanta's Mk 1B FCS developed by BHEL, which may have been fitted to one of the earlier prototype tanks). The gunner's main sight consists of a daylight, thermal sight and laser rangefinder channels. The common sighting head mirror is stabilized in elevation and azimuth. The daylight sight has dual magnification while the thermal imager provides a night vision facility to the gunner and the commander. The LRF (integral to the gunner's sight) has a range of nearly 10 km. and a Thermal Imager (which can 'see'' at around five-and-a half km, recognize a target at 3.1 km. and identify targets at 2.5 km). The Arjun Fire Control System's ability to fire on the move during the night is a major step forward for Indian armored forces. The commander's panoramic sight all-round surveillance without the TC moving his eyes from the sight and also without disturbing the lay of the turret. The Field of View is stabilized with the help of a two-axis rate gyro mounted on the platform of the head mirror.

Arjun’s first fight

Apparently, some problems were identified since the Arjun design profile was frozen again in July 1996, which would have allowed production to commence when funding became available. However, some design elements fell far short of army specifications. The 15 Pre-Production Series (PPS) tanks were supposed to be supplied to three armoured regiments for testing in 1996, but it wasn't until 27 August that the Defence Production and Supplies Secretary ordered them from the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi. Indian media estimate placed the project cost at US $ 112 million or 400 million Rupees).At least one Arjun fielded by the 43rd Armoured Regiment participated in the 48th Republic Day parade on 27 January 1997. Delivery of the prototype lot was completed in April, field trials were again declared completed and series production was to start in early June '97. However, the list of faults after twenty years of development was not encouraging. In addition to unspecified but numerous technical modifications to its fire and gun control systems (the Commanders Periscopic Sight, the Laser Warning Sight and the Muzzle Reference Sight have been found 'unreliable'), the fire control system in particular has been found unable to perform in temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. The DRDO has been comptemplating scraping the current Arjun FCS in favour of whatever is accepted for the T-72M1 upgrade programme.Since the Arjun extends 6cm beyond the official 3cm limit on either side of a standard Indian flatbed railcar, strategic transport would be extremely difficult. This would also require that India refurbish large sections of her rail network, as well as acquiring new rolling stock (This is nothing new, as the Germans had this problem with the ÔTiger' Mk VI in World War II). It's width and weight, Indian Rail to charge the Army over-dimensional consignment (ODC) costs, which are 150% over normal costs. The Indian Ministry of Defence allocated US$ 3.9 million (R165 million) to develop three Arjun-capable flatbed rail cars wagon by January 1999.
The German MTU MB 838 Ka-SOl 1 ,4OOhp diesel engine and transmission derated at high temperatures, with an estimated 20-25% powerloss from engine to drive sprocket while operating in desert temperatures of 45-500 Celcius. Ammunition stowage had to be reduced in order to increase engine cooling and the 15th PPS can not fire over the engine deck at 00 elevation because of the bulky cooling pack. This powerpack choice also resulted in bulges in the hull side walls. The problems with the hydropneumatic suspension can possibly be linked to the Arjun's difficulty in climbing sand dunes and other obstacles easily, with a sharp drop in speed in its attempt to do so. Furthermore, the inert gases needed would be another item added to the supply trains.As of mid-year, the 15th Arjun Mk I was to be the basis for the production model4. The defects noticed during the user trials of Mk.1 , including overheating of the engine in Rajasthan desert areas, had been 'by and large overcome' and certain other complaints were being addressed. CVRDE has mostly rectified the other problems in the hydro-pneumatic suspension.Another problem in the Arjun's development was that more than half the components (FCS, engine, transmission unit, tracks, thermal sight, night sight) are imported, with the design components 1970's and 80's vintage.Furthermore, the technology transfer agreements for the imported engine, gun control system, fire-control system had most vendors (like MTU and Holland's Oldelft, which makes the LRS 5 Fire Control System) producing components in India in a phased manner.
The production of 100 Arjun Mk.1 MBTs was expected to start by late 1997 (during the Ninth Defence Plan) at an estimated cost of US$ 2.8 million [Rs. 10 crores] each, though the Army feels that the 100-tank lot might take more than five years, given the capacity at the Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory near Chennai and its commitments to various sectors of the armed forces. The first production tank was promised by 19985.
A later claim by DRDO stated that it needed up to (Rs 1,800 crores) to produce 120 tanks over the next five years, with each one costing US $ 4.2 million [Rs 15 crores] (about a 2,000 % increase in project cost since 1974).Another cost estimate figured that the Arjun will be over Rs 26 billion by 2001 for two or three regiments (124 tanks), totalling around US $5.6 million (Rs 200 million) per tank. This escalating estimate does not include the cost of ammunition, spares and engineering support for the Arjun's induction into service, which is estimated at over (Rs 5 billion).One reported Government-sanctioned figure for Arjun development and T-72M1 upgrade (with most going to the Arjun) is US $1.12 Billion (Rs 40 billion) spread out over the next three to five years.Despite promises made by the Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram, that lack of funds would not come in the way of India's defence needs, some officials were skeptical over deadlines being maintained by the production and subcontractors which might result not only in cost escalation but also affect defence preparedness. Detractors think that (baring drastic changes) the country's progressively shrinking defence budget, coupled with the persistent technical problems, would delay any serious Arjun serial production until 2002/2004. In early August, 1997 General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, Army chief of staff, promised officers and soldiers of the 13th Armoured Regiment that the Arjun would enter production soon. Less than two months later, DRDO was shaken by the desertion of scores of military scientists and engineers lured to the more lucrative private sector, jeopardizing the success of the Arjun project.As of 18 September, the Indian Parliament approved a $6.9 Billion (250 billion Rupee) Five-Year Defence Budget. In this 1997-2002 budget, some 40 Billion Rupees has been allocated for the Ajeya rebuild programme, and another 1 Billion Rupees for the first 100 Arjuns.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Comparison of military power, Pak-India

Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)
Unfortunately India and Pakistan had adversarial relations since sixty years. After the Mumbai carnage Pakistan is under threat of pre-emptive strikes. Fourth Indo-Pakistan war could be triggered by another terrorist attack anywhere in India. This is a dangerous scenario. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and war drums for the fourth war are getting louder. It is in order therefore to comprehend Indian military capabilities, and Pakistan's ability to defend itself. Defense capability is an interplay of economic and military potential. Indian economy is booming, and its GDP growth is in double digits. The global recession has impacted Indian economy, but its defense capability remains intact. Military power and capabilities are sustained by economic and industrial potential. Geography, demography, population, oil resources and reserves, industrial capability including defense production, dollar reserves, self reliance, education, quality of manpower and leadership have a bearing on military power. Seven lakh Indian troops are tied down in Jammu and Kashmir. India has over one hundred billion dollar reserves. The West, Israel and Russia are India's weapon suppliers.Indian Army has eighteen Corps with 34 Divisions including four Rapid Action Divisions, which would spear head ground offensives. Pakistan Army has ten Corps and twenty five divisions. Indian Army has eighteen Infantry, ten Mountain, three Armored, and two Artillery Divisions. Besides it has five Infantry, one parachute, thirteen Air Defense, and four Engineering Brigades, designated as independent formations. In addition there are two Air Defense Groups, and fourteen Army Aviation Helicopter units. This is a sizeable force, capable of launching major offensives from several fronts. The decentralized command structure will be an advantage, as compared to Pakistan's centralized Army command organization. Pakistan Army has an active force of 620,000 well trained personnel, with 528000 reservists, and 150000 para-military troops. Pakistan armed forces are seventh largest in the world. Pakistan Army's doctrine of "Offensive Defense", evolved by General Mirza Aslam Beg was put to test in 1989 in Exercise Zarb-e Momin. The doctrine is to launch a sizeable offensive into enemy territory, rather than wait for enemy strikes or attacks. In case of Indian land offensive Pakistan Army and Air Force will respond with land and air offensives to gain and hold enemy territory. Before embarking on further offensive, gains shall be consolidated. In 1990 the Central Corps of Reserves was created to fight in the desert sectors , where enemy land offensives are expected. These dual capable formations trained for offensive and holding actions are fully mechanized.Pakistan Army has ten Corps including the newly formed Strategic Corps. The Army has twenty six divisions (eight less than India). Two more divisions were raised as Corps reserves for V and XXXI Corps. Pakistan Army has two armored divisions, and ten independent armored brigades. Presently one hundred thousand troops are stationed on the Pak Afghan border to fight terror. Special Service Group-SSG comprises two airborne Brigades i.e. six battalions. Pakistan Army has 360 helicopters, over two thousand heavy guns, and 3000 APC's. Its main anti-tank weapons are Tow, Tow Mk II, Bakter Shiken and FGM 148 ATGM. The Army Air Defence Command has S.A- 7 Grail, General Dynamics FIM-92 Stinger, GD FIM Red Eye, and ANZA Mk-I, Mk-II, Mk-III and HQ 2 B surface ti air missiles. Radar controlled Oerlikon is the standard Ack Ack weapon system. The ballistic missile inventory of the Army is substantial. It comprises Ghauri III and Shaheen III IRBM; medium range Ghauri I and II and Shaheen II, and short range Hatf I- B, Abdali, Ghaznavi, Shaheen I and M -11 missiles. All the ballistic missiles can carry nuclear war heads. Nuclear and conventional weapon capable Babur Cruise missile is the new addition to Pakistan's strategic weapon inventory. Number of ballistic missiles and war heads are almost the same as India has. So there is a parity in nuclear weapons, which is a deterrent.Indian armor is of Russian origin. Out of 2295 Indian Army's Main Battle tanks, 2235 are of Russian origin. The main battle tanks are; 310 T-90-S Bishsma's (300 are on order), 1925 T-72M Ajeya's.. The T-90 and the T-72 have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. T-72 though old is the backbone of Indian Armor Corp's. 268 Ajeya's have been upgraded with Israeli Elbit thermal imaging systems. 1000 T-72 MBT's are awaiting up-gradation. There have been several instances of T-72's gun barrel bursting. 124 Indian made Arjun (heavy 56 ton) MBT are on order. Sixty Arjun's are in operational service. Arjun's engine overheating problem has not been solved. Arjun has a 120 mm gun, but is unfit or desert operations.Pakistan Army is equally strong in armor, capable of giving a fitting response to any Indian military adventure. Main Battle tanks Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar are the backbone of Pakistan's armor Corp's. Both are Pakistan made. Pakistan's tank armory comprises :five hundred Al-Khalid MBT's; 320 Al-Zarrar type 85 II MBT's, 500 Al-Zarrar MBT's; 450 79II AP (Chinese type 81 upgrade, and 570 T-80 UD MBT of Ukranian make. In addition Pakistan has 880 Type 59, which were procured from China in 1970.This makes a total of three thousand six hundred and twenty tanks. All Pakistani MBT's except T-59's have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. Indian armor offensives in Kashmir, Punjab, and Sind would be effectively challenged by Pakistani armor and mechanized formations, depending on PAF's ability to keep the skies over the battle areas clear of Indian Air Force. India's modern air defense system has Israeli Arrow anti-missile missiles, and 90,000 surface to air missiles-SAM's. India has one hundred nuclear armed ballistic missiles (Agni-1 and Agni II), and Brahmos the new supersonic cruise missile. Indian Army is well trained, equipped and highly professional, and so is Pakistan Army.Air power is likely to play a key, if not a decisive role in any future major or minor India-Pakistan armed conflict. The aim of Indian pre-emptive strikes will be maximum destruction by surprise air attacks, combined with shock commando action. A possibe scenario is; intensive bombing of the target to be followed by attacks by armed helicopters and ground assault by heliborne Commandoes. An overview of Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force will help comprehension of IAF's offensive capabilities, and defensive capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. Indian Air Force has 3000 aircraft including training, transport, helicopters and 800-1000 combat air craft, which operate from sixty air bases, including Farkhor airbase in Tajikistan.. Six hundred IAF's strike and air defense fighters are expected to be operational. Pakistan Air Force has 630 aircraft, which include 530 combat aircraft, with 400 operational at any time. In 1996 India signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of 90 Su 30 Mk-1 multi-role fighter-bombers. In 2004 a multi-billion licence was signed for building additional 140. 240 Su30-Mk-1's were ordered, 120 are already in service. With a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 and range of 8000 Km with refueling and ability to carry tons of conventional munitions and nuclear weapons, it is a lethal and menacing weapon system for the strike and interception role. Other IAF's advanced strike and combat aircraft are: 51 Mirage-2000 (of Kargil fame), 60 Mig-29's (for air defense), 250 old Mig-21's (110 have been refurbished with Israeli help), 47 Jaguars and 70 Mig-27's for ground attack. 220 LCA Teja's under manufacture at HAL Bangalore will start entering service in 2010... IAF's fighter pilots are well trained and have out shone American pilots during joint exercises.Pakistan Air Force has 200 rebuilt Mirage- 3's ( for night air defense) and Mirage-5's for the strike role. They can carry nuclear weapons. They have been upgraded with new weapon systems, radars, and avionics. Additionally the PAF has 42 F-16's, 150 F-7's including 55 latest F-7 PG's. Manufacture of 150 JF 17 Thunder fighters (jointly designed) is underway at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra. The JF -17 Thunder is a 4th generation fly by wire multi-role fighter aircraft. Eight are already in PAF service. An order has been placed with China for the purchase of 36 JF-10, a Mach 2.3 -5th generation multi-role fighter, comparable in performance to the Su-30 Mk-1 with the Indian Air Force. PAF is on Red Alert, and is maintaining full vigil to intercept and destroy IAF intruders. During the recent air space violation, the IAF intruders were in the sights of PAF's F-16's, but were allowed to escape unscathed to avoid a major diplomatic crisis. PAF pilots and technicians are well trained, high professionals, who will be able to prove their mettle in the future battle with India. A comparison of Indian Navy and Pakistan Navy reveals that Pakistan Navy could inflict substantial damage to the Indian Navy. Indian Navy has 16 submarines; Pakistan Navy has ten, some are brand new. Indian Navy has 27 war ships, Pakistan Navy has ten. Indian Aircraft Carrier Veerat, will be a menace, and must be sunk by submarine or air attacks, if it attempts to block Pakistan's sea lanes or ports. It is hoped that better sense prevails and India desists from invading and attacking Pakistan. If it does, the consequences will be horrible for both the countries.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Arjun Tank Disaster Part I: History

After the war of 1971 ended, the Indian army realized the limitations of their tank fleet in the unforgiving desert conditions of Rajasthan, so they initiated their own indigenous MBT design. In 1972 Indian army put together requirements for a new main battle tank that will enter service in India's army. At that time Indian industry had experience building British Vicker Mk.1 Medium Tanks under local name Vilijanta and the Soviet T-72M Main Battle Tank. In 1974 India decided to develop a new main battle tank on its own and development project was named MBT-80 (Main Battle Tank of 80-ties). The first MBT-80 proof-of-concept vehicle was laid out in 1974 by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) of the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO).

Twenty six years later the end product strongly resembles the Leopard II, though its development process was plagued with delays and its future is in doubt. Based on 1971 battlefield experiences, the MBT-80 was to have a locally-designed, rifled 120mm main gun, a diesel power plant because Indians considered the turbine engines as fuel guzzlers and a computerized fire control system with a laser range finder. One of the early 'Chetek' prototypes was unveiled to the public on Indian Republic Day, 26 January 1984.
Another public rollout followed in April 1985, after which the name Arjun (named after a mythical Hindu warrior prince1) became the official name. Five prototypes (with an ultimate goal of 20 preproduction vehicles) undergoing technical testing were scheduled for desert trials during the summer of 1985. Indian Army Chief of Staff Gen A.S. Vaidya and Dr V.S. Arunachalam (Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister) were present at the ceremony and declared that Arjun will be in in service by the end of the decade.
At the time, Arjun had a German MTU-based 1400 HP diesel (until a home-grown one was ready), with a weight of 52 tones much higher than the sketch concepts which were around 40-45 tons and a price tag of US $1.6 million (2 crore rupees, to total 15.5 crore for the whole project). The locally-developed engine, which the Indians hoped to produce 1300-1500 HP from, only delivered 500HP.In 1984 the DRDO started claiming that the transmission was Indian, not German. The Arjun used a modified Tank Fire Control System (TCFS) which was an upgrade project for the British Vicker was based on the Marconi SFCS600 useing Barr & Stroud Tank Laser Sight and IR8 Thermal Imager. The project got more support after the Pakistan's announcement to fit Royal Ordnance 105mm L7 Main Guns to their Type 69 fleet in December 1985 as well as China's assistance in developing MBT-2000 at the end of the 80's.
Meanwhile, Arjun development costs continued to increase, from October 1980 Rs. 56.55 crores to Rs 280 crores in May, 1987. The DRDO conducted the first technical trials in 1988. Indian Defence Minister Sharad Pawar on October 1991said that there were 12 prototypes Arjun MBT's 'in an advanced stage of development. General B.C. Joshi, the former Army Chief (now deceased), foresaw two Armoured Regiments of 45 Arjuns apiece, but insisted that 10 imperatives be met in 1994 before the tank could be accepted by the Army. In 1993 the first six prototype tanks were handed over to the 43rd Cavalry Regiment for troop trials at Rajasthan's Mahajan range. Accuracy trials from mid-1994 indicated an erratic first hit ratio that ranged from 20-80%. At that point, it was said that the first production Arjuns will be in service by 1995.
The Pakistani deal with the Ukraine to purchase T-80UD/T-84's announced in the fall of 1995 caused another flurry of activity in the Indian military community .Indian Army which had considered the results excellent started to question the tanks abilities. Arjun tank failed field trials in June. More trails and tests were set for August and November but Indian government decided that the US $ 100 million programme has progressed too far to be terminated.

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