Friday, October 31, 2008

Upgrades For Sea King Mk42B & Ka-28PL

To provide its new-generation principal surface combatants with extended precision warfare capabilities for both ASW missions and anti-ship strike operations via over-the-horizon targetting, the Indian Navy (IN) has initiated a two-pronged approach: procuring the initial 16 of a projected 60 new-generation shipborne 10-tonne multi-role helicopters; and upgrading the mission sensor suite of 18 of its AgustaWestland-built Sea King Mk42B multi-role, medium-lift, shipborne helicopters and 28 Kamov Ka-28PL ASW helicopters. Navy HQ has already issued restricted RFPs to AgustaWestland, Sikorsky Aircraft and NH Industries (part of EADS) calling for the off-the-shelf supply of an initial 16 helicopters. Contenders for fulfilling this requirement include AgustaWestland’s AW101, NH Industries’ NH-90, and Sikorsky’s CH-148 Cyclone.

For the existing Sea King Mk42Bs and Ka-28PLs to be upgraded at a cost of Rs6 billion and Rs8.5 billion, respectively, the only ultra low-frequency dipping sonar being offered for the selected helicopter is L-3 Communications’ Ocean Systems Division’s HELRAS DS-100, while low-frequency sonars being offered are THALESRaytheon’s FLASH and the DRDO-developed/BEL-built Mihir. Tactical anti-ship strike missiles being proposed include MBDA’s AM-40 Block 3 Exocet and Kongsberg Marine’s NSM. The belly-mounted search radar is widely expected to be the ELTA Electronics-built EL/M-2022H(A)3, while an ELTA-built optronic turret is favoured as a chin-mounted installation. The mission management suite likely to be selected is Galileo Avionica’s (part of Finmeccanica) ATOS-LW, which will also function as an acoustic signals processor. The 18 Sea King Mk42Bs will each have an all-glass cockpit similar to the one on board the Dhruv ALH, and its mission sensor/weapons suite will be the same as that on board the 16 to-be-acquired shipborne helicopters. Each of the 16 new shipborne helicopters will cost as much as Rs1.1 billion, and will be required to carry 15 combat-ready soldiers or two medium-range anti-ship cruise missiles.

The specified new enhancements for the Sea King Mk42Bs and Ka-28PLs include new composite main rotor blades, five AMLCD cockpit displays (two primary flight displays and three multi-function displays), an automatic flight control system (AFCS), twin AHRS for providing aircraft attitude and heading information to the cockpit display and AFCS. The AMLCDs will serve as replacements for a majority of the older style ‘steam gauges’ and provide the aircrew with a wealth of versatility and selectability in presentation of aircraft flight, navigation, and engine system information and monitoring. The AFCS will be of the 3-axis type with duplex architecture, comprising two AFCS computers and two AHRS. The duplex feature will give the AFCS a fail-passive and fail-operational capability after any first failure. The AFCS will also provide for attitude retention and automatic heading hold in a hover. For cruise flight modes the pilot will be able to opt for basic attitude retention or select to couple to heading or GPS, and altitude or airspeed for true hands-off flight. These new digital, solid-state units now allow for elimination of the older and sometimes shortlived spinning mass vertical gyros and directional gyros and their associated sensors.

The IN is also going in for five more Kamov Ka-31 airborne early-warning (AEW) helicopters worth Rs2.75 billion each, to add to the nine Ka-31s already inducted in 2003-2004.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mobile Calibrator for Avionics & Instrumentation On Board Su-30MKI & MiG-29K

Su-30MKI's Russia-Origin Air-to-Ground Weapons

The FAB-500M-62 with MPK and PBK-500U SPBE-K are GPS-guided, using the GLONASS GPS satellite constellation for course-correction updates.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CABS’ AEW & CS Detailed

In a path-breaking development, Brazil and India on July 3, 2008 inked a US$210 million agreement to jointly develop an airborne early warning and control system (AEW & CS) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The agreement was signed by Dr S Christopher, Director, of the Indian Defence Research & Development’s (DRDO) Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), and Luis Carlos Aguiar, Embraer’s Executive Vice President (Defence and Govt Market), in the presence of Marco Brandao, Brazilian Ambassador to India, and M Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to India’s Defence Minister and Secretary, DRDO. India, incidentally, had earlier acquired five EMB-135BT ‘Legacy’ executive jets, under a Rs7.27 billion contract with Embraer, to ferry VVIPs around the country and abroad. Under the latest deal, Embraer will modify its EMB-145 regional jet aircraft to carry the Active Array Antenna Unit (AAAU), developed by the CABS, on the aircraft’s fuselage. Three modified EMB-145s will be developed under this agreement, with the first being delivered by 2011. The various sub-systems of the AEW & CS’ mission management system will be integrated into the ‘modified green’ EMB-145 by CABS and the full-fledged AEW & CS will be flight-tested in India by CABS and the Indian Air Force (IAF) from 2012.

The AEW & CS’ S-band pulse-Doppler active phased-array radar will operate within the 2GHz to 4GHz bandwidth. The 8 metre-long, 900kg antenna (using 1,280 phase shifters) will be mounted on the upper dorsal spine of the aircraft’s fuselage. The radar’s dorsal unit (DU) will include the carbon-fibre radome, antenna array, RF distribution network, and 192 transmit/receive modules that will be cooled by ram-air. Each such module will comprise a power amplifier for the transmitted microwave signal, low-noise amplifiers as front-ends for the receiver channels, and phase shifters for accurate control of the signal phase in both transmit and receive modes. In the latter, amplification of the signal will be controlled as well. The phases and amplitudes will be continuously calibrated. Each T/R module will be connected to one vertical slotted waveguide on each side. An electronic switch in the module will select the side. By feeding the slotted waveguide separately in the upper and lower half, the beam will be shifted in elevation for height measurement. This shifting will be conducted by single-step phase shifters in the front-ends of the modules. A module-control databus will provide control of the modules to achieve instantaneous antenna beam-steering and the very low sidelobes required. A receiver/exciter processor will generate the pulsed microwave signals and send them to the antenna. It will also accept the received signals from the DU and generate both digitised video signals for signals processing as well as data signals for steering the beam. The transmit drive signal will be generated by a frequency synthesizer and will be up-converted and modulated for pulse compression (using polyphase coding), and will be amplified before being sent to the DU. A programmable signal-and-data processor will receive the returned radar signals from the receiver/exciter via optical data links in digitised quadrature video format. The radial velocity of detected airborne targets will be determined from the Doppler frequency via combined signals from the T/R modules. By combining these signals, the processor will modify the effective antenna sidelobe pattern to place nulls in the direction of hostile jammers. The processor will also perform coherent integration by Fast Fourier Transform that will form a Doppler filter bank. This will be followed by pulse compression, constant false alarm rate processing and binary integration. Due to all this, the AESA radar’s processor will generate clutter- and interference-free position data for all targets.

The two identical antennae in the DU will comprise a row of vertical slotted waveguides each with two sections that will each contain five slots providing low vertical sidelobes. By shifting the signal phase from the upper and lower parts respectively, two tilted lobes will be provided for measuring target altitudes. By adjusting the gain, a proper sidelobe in azimuth will be obtained. The AESA radar will provide 270-degree airspace surveillance coverage and have an instrumental range of 450km and detection range of 350km in a dense hostile electronic warfare environment. The radar’s optimum performance (with very low sidelobes) will be over the 120° azimuthal sectors on each side of the aircraft. In addition, the radar will also have a secondary sea surveillance mode. For the IAF, the radar will be configured for detection, tracking and height finding of airborne contacts, automatic track initiation and continuous tracking of up to 300 airborne targets, moving ground target detection and area ground mapping. In a severe EW environment the radar’s adaptive sidelobe cancelling feature will severely diminish the effects of hostile EW jamming. Pulse compression will be resorted to improve range resolution, while frequency agility will be used to avoid the negative effects resulting from hostile jamming. Doppler processing in both low- and medium-pulse repetition frequencies will be the main target detection mode amidst ground clutter, while horizontal antenna polarisation will provide an indication of the altitudes on which the tracked contracts are flying. High instantaneous bandwidth and Doppler resolution will enable the AESA radar to undertake target analysis via non-cooperation recognition techniques. For detecting hostile airborne aircraft, two mean antenna scan rates of 12 degrees/second or 3 degrees/second will be used, while a scan rate of 3 degrees/second will be used for detecting terrain-hugging or sea-skimming cruise missiles. Warships will be detected using a low-PRF without Doppler filtering. An adaptive radar control mode will control beam scheduling to share the total available time between search, confirmation of detections, and track updates. The radar will also include an L-band IFF transponder.

Inside the AEW & CS will be five tandem-mounted multifunction display/processor consoles that will make up the Central Tactical System (CTS) for providing tactical data management solutions via tactical aids, cues, alerts and bookkeeping functions. The platform will also have a communications suite comprising dual HF and five sets of V/UHF radios for enabling the exchange of tactical data with friendly land, sea and air forces as well as communicating with civilian ATC networks. A Link 16-type data link will provide automatic clear or secure communications channels via one of the HF radios and one dedicated UHF transceiver. The data link will be used for relaying information such as tracking cues, contact range, bearing, velocity, altitude and intercept vectors to friendly airborne combat aircraft, while the IAF’s ground-based Sector Operations Centres (SOC) will be networked with the AEW & C platform via the Ground Interface Segment (EGIS) that will provide two-way exchange of data between the airborne AEW & C platform and ground-based SOCs.

For self-protection, the AEW & CS will have on board a fully integrated defensive aids suite that will include multi-spectral optronic sensors and an ESM suite, designed for the protection of aircraft against infra-red/laser-guided MANPADS). This will in turn be fully integrated with wingtip-mounted lightweight chaff/flare countermeasures dispensing systems. Designed from the outset as a fully integrated modular system, the fully integrated defensive aids suite will combine radar/laser/infra-red/ultra-violet missile approach warning and countermeasures dispensing functions in a single systems controller. Another component will be the ESM suite that will combine the radar warning receiver and countermeasures dispensers with interferometer antenna arrays, a missile approach warning system, laser warning system, defensive aids controller, and a display-cum-control unit.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Friday, October 24, 2008

EADS' A319MPA Detailed

The 75.5-tonne A319 MPA, being proposed by EADS Military Transport Aircraft for the Indian Navy, is based on the A319CJ Corporate Jet (one of which is already being operated by the RMAF for the Prime Minister's Department). The platform combines the ground breaking fly-by-wire flight controls technology and with the most up-to-date design features, including the extensive use of lightweight composite materials, resulting in improved fuel consumption, increased durability and better corrosion resistance in the harsh environmental conditions of LRMR/ASW operations. The A319 MPA is provided with additional centreline fuel tanks and a ferry range of more than 4,000nm. It is also well-equipped with a state-of-the-art air-conditioned bomb bay with eight stations, placed on the rear fuselage, which provides the capability to transport and launch a variety of ASW weapons, including torpedoes, depth charges and mines. Enhanced ASuW capability is provided by four underwing points for carrying anti-ship cruise missiles. The on-board, open-architecture FITS mission management system enables the five-man mission crew to gather, process and display up to 20 times more technical and strategic data than was possible before.

The A319 MPA, like the P-8I—can be flown high, low, fast and slow and remain on-station for very long periods of time (eight to 10 hours without aerial refuelling) while carrying a variety of weapons and mission sensor packages. As the Indian Navy has clearly indicated its preference for a LRMR/ASW platform, the selected platform will be required to undertake the following primary naval missions:

* Monitoring of littoral approaches
* Support to the Indian Navy fleets in the high seas
* Anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
* Anti-surface unit warfare (ASuW)
* Over-the-horizon target acquisition and reconnaissance (OTHTAR)
* Intelligence gathering

To perform such functions, the selected platform will be required to takeoff with maximum engine power and climb to a cruising altitude of 42,000 feet, have a maximum rate of descent at more than 10,000 feet/minute, engage in tactical manoeuvres at the not-uncommon maritime reconnaissance altitude of 200 feet, and accomplish a wide range of tasks within a single sortie, including SSK search-and-destroy missions, monitoring sea traffic, launching anti-ship cruise missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, and engaging in communications relays and electronic signals intercepts. Land-surveillance missions are also a distinct possibility. The resulting aircraft will thus play a role in a number of emerging military doctrines of the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy has already completed evaluations of the P-8I Poseidon and A319 MPA, with the latter being offered with the EADS/CASA-developed FITS mission management system that in turn integrates an ELTA Systems-built EL/M-2022V(A)3 multi-mode search radar from Israel. But the FITS’ open-architecture and modular configuration based on state-of-the-art components allows easy reconfiguration and integration with alternative state-of-the-art radars like the Seaspray7000e I-band 360ยบ multi-mode active phased-array search radar from Italy's SELEX Sistemi Integrati. Boeing has pitched its P-8I for US$2.01 billion, while EADS Military Aircraft is reportedly asking for US$1.6 billion (for eight platforms). The Indian Navy early last January began negotiations with the two bidders so that the contract can be finalised before the next financial year ends in March 2009. The selected platform is required to operate for more than 15 years, fly at a speed of more than 200mph, and carry a multi-mode radar that can track 80 airborne and an equal number of surface targets, along with an IFF transponder, ESM/ELINT/SIGINT suite, EW suite for self-defence, chin-mounted optronic sensor operating in the 3-5 micron bandwidth, air-to-surface cruise missiles and torpedoes, sonobuoys, secure data links, and a tail-mounted magnetic anomaly detector. Between the two competing offers, the EADS offer appears to be more flexible and tailor-made as it will accommodate the Indian Navy’s peculiar operational requirements in terms the platform’s weapon systems and network-centric mission avionics suites. But most importantly, the proposed A319 MPA for the Indian Navy will simultaneously engage in long-range surface search and target tracking, remain capable of periscope detection in high sea states, undertake warship-imaging and classification using the high-resolution inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) mode of operation (for imaging and classifying small, fast-moving vessels that operate close to the shore), and use the spot-synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode for overland surveillance, ground mapping (via multiple resolution strip-map), identifying moving overland targets, conducting battle damage assessment, and provide real-time over-the-horizon targeting cues for anti-ship/land-attack cruise missiles. Other key superior performance parameters of the Seaspray 7000e radar that make it superior to other radar like Raytheon’s APS-137 or Telephonics APS-153 include:

* The receptor-transmitter of the Seaspray 7000e AESA is suppressed, as this function is performed by the tiles that make up the radar’s antenna. This in turn increases the radar’s RMA (reliability increases significantly).
* The radar utilises modular configuration items and allows functioning with several of these items in failure mode. For instance, the radar still functions with 10% of the tiles down.
* Much lower maintenance costs, although it has slightly higher acquisition costs than traditional radars.

In light of the above, prudence demands that the LRMR/ASW platform that will ultimately be selected should be based on a new-generation, highly reliable turbofan-powered airframe that can accommodate comprehensive maritime surveillance and attack capabilities, thereby allowing a smaller inventory of aircraft to provide high responsiveness for its three main roles (ASW, ASuW, maritime surveillance, and SAR), adaptable capabilities in maritime reconnaissance and attack operations, and high endurance (with provision for two sets of mission crew on-board) with a smaller support infrastructure. Though turbofan-powered MR/ASW platforms are most economical at high/medium altitudes and less economical at low altitudes, the transit to the operational area can be made at high-altitude and in a turbofan-powered aircraft this is not only economical on fuel but fast as well, compared to turboprop-powered aircraft. After transit, such platforms rapidly descend to the patrol area while using both turbofans for cruise flight, but as fuel is used up and the platform’s weight gets reduced, one engine is closed down. This allows the remaining turbofan to be run at an efficient RPM rather than running both turbofans at less efficient RPMs. A special ‘rapid start’ system should be fitted should the closed-down turbofan has to be started quickly again. Instead of relying only on airspeed for re-starting the turbofan, compressor air from a live turbofan could be used in a starter turbine, which rapidly accelerates the engine being started. For transit back to base, the closed-down engine can be re-started and the aircraft regain its high-altitude flight profile.

Care should also be taken by the Indian Navy to induct into service a new-generation synthetic training suite that will allow the aircraft operator to transfer training from the aircraft to a ground-based training system. This, consequently, will increase aircraft availability for operational missions while optimising flight and mission crew performance and capabilities.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Boeing’s P-8I MMA Detailed

A team led by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems on April 13, 2006 submitted its first detailed proposal to develop and deliver the P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (MR/ASW) aircraft for the Indian Navy. The proposal, destined to fulfill an Indian Navy requirement for eight such aircraft, calls for developing an India-specific variant of the P-8I Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), which is currently being developed for the US Navy as a replacement for existing Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions. The Indian Navy has to date received offers from EADS/Airbus (for the A319MPA) Boeing, Embraer (for its P-99), Dassault Aviation (for its Falcon 900MPA) and Rosoboronexport State Corp (for its upgraded Tu-142MSD), with the winner replacing the Navy’s existing eight Tu-142M Mod 3 long-range MR/ASW aircraft by 2012. Boeing’s proposal includes significant industrial participation for India’s growing aerospace industry, test and certification activities, and eight aircraft delivered over a four-year period. Under the Indian Navy’s request for proposals, bids were to be submitted by April 13, with first deliveries occurring within 48 months of the contract award. Boeing is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the P-8I MMA, and it leads an industrial team including CFM, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Smiths Industries. The US Navy plans to purchase 108 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2009.

Capable of extended broad-area and littoral MR/ASW operations for ten hours at a stretch, the P-8I MMA uses Boeing’s B.737-800 airframe, is powered by twin CFM56-7 turbofans each rated at, 27,300lb of takeoff thrust, and its wings will feature commercially proven raked or backswept wingtips. The P-8I MMA will be equipped with a mission avionics/sensor suite comprising:

* Northrop Grumman’s electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor, the directional IR countermeasures system, electronic support measures system, secure data link, and mission-planning support hardware.

* Raytheon’s upgraded APY-10 maritime surveillance radar and signals intelligence (SIGINT) solution; a GPS anti-jam, integrated friend or foe, and towed decoy self-protection suite; a broadcast information system (BIS); and secure UHF SATCOMS capability.

* Smiths Aerospace’s flight-management and stores-management systems.

Flight-test delivery of the first P-8A MMA is slated for 2009, with initial operational capability and series-production following by 2012. Elsewhere in East Asia, other prospective customers of the P-8A MMA in future could include Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ex Malabar 2008 Reveals Indian Navy's Shipborne EW Suites

Photos released by the US and Indian navies of Ex Malabar 2008 clearly reveal the following:

1) INS Godavari, INS Brahmaputra, INS Beas and INS Betwa are ALL equipped with RAFAEL's C-Pearl integrated ESM/EW suite and ELTA's EL/M-2238 S-band 3-D search radar. The first vessel to undergo such mid-life refits was, however, INS Viraat.

2) The Project 15-class DDG, INS Mumbai, is fitted with the DRDO-developed and BEL-built Ellora integrated ESM/EW suite.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pakistan Army's MBTs Detailed

I will do an in-depth report on the Pakistan Army's armoured warfare capabilities after attending the IDEAS 2008 exhibition, which will be held between November 24 and 28 in Karachi, Pakistan.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Eyes In The Sky: Part-1

For littoral maritime patrol/ASW and search-and-rescue within India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard Service (ICGS) are expected to acquire up to 12 aircraft each.

For meeting the IN’s and ICGS’ requirements, three principal contenders—Alenia Aeronautica’s ATR-72-500MP Surveyor, EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader and Bombardier Aerospace’s Q-300—are on offer. The ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is already in production to meet a Turkish Navy order for 10 such aircraft. Each such aircraft will be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes for ASuW and ASW missions. They 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 combines a powerful tactical command sub-system with the latest-generation sensor suites to ensure the success of 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’ modular architecture makes it possible to incorporate any combination of sensors, including search radar, FLIR turret, ESM/ELINT and COMINT suite, an acoustic signals processor, magnetic anomaly detector, and data links, as selected by the customer. AMASCOS, together with the THALES-built Ocean Master search radar, has been selected by Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

Another optional belly-mounted multi-mode radar being offered for the ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems’ 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. AESA technology ensures that failures cause only graceful performance degradation, thus offering a high order of availability improvements, especially in the mean-time-between-critical failures. This effectively makes Seaspray 7000E a fit-and-forget radar, massively reducing the requirement for spares holdings and test equipment, and significantly reducing cost of ownership. Additionally, via a mission software upgrade, the 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. Direct digital synthesis-generated digital pulse compression waveform supports optimised performance in all modes. The radar has been designed to function over the full spectrum of air, land and sea surveillance operational requirements, including small target and long-range detection, target classification, high-resolution range profiling and inverse synthetic aperture radar imaging. The radar also has weather and navigation modes, multiple target track-while-scan and a sensor fusion capability. Optional modes include high-resolution synthetic aperture radar ground mapping, ground moving target indication, airborne early warning, ESM integration offering high-accuracy angle-of-arrival information, and Identification Friend or Foe integration.
Competing against the ATR-72-500MP is EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader, which has to date already bagged orders from 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 developed by EADS/CASA. FITS is a flexible and modular system that 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 FITS mission suite comprises four multi-function consoles and integrates data from sensors including the Raytheon APS-148 SeaVue search radar or ELTA Systems’ EL/M-2022 (V)2 radar (selected by Chile), FLIR turret, daylight and low-level light TV cameras or other sensors. Two heads-up displays can also be fitted as an option. The communications suite includes three UHF/VHF radios, a single or dual HF radio, and an audio control system. The C-295MPA also comes fitted with a cockpit voice recorder, Identification Friend or Foe transponder, flight data recorder (FDR), and an emergency locator transponder. The aircraft is equipped with a dual THALES-built flight management system, controlled through two Multi-function Controller Display Units (MCDU), dual Type ADU 3000 air data computers, dual attitude heading and reference systems, two radar altimeters, and an optional Honeywell ground proximity warning system. Other on-board navigation equipment includes two multi-mode receivers, two automatic direction finders, one direction finder and two distance measuring equipment (DME) units. There are also three possible configurations for long-range and autonomous navigation: twin integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems (INS/GPS), two GPS or two GPS plus one INS/GPS. The colour weather radar, a Honeywell RDR-I400C, has search, beacon and vertical navigation ground mapping modes. Portuguese Air Force C-295MPAs are fitted with Northrop Grumman’s AN/APN-241 colour weather radar. The aircraft can be fitted with alternative communications and navigational systems to suit the customer country’s operational requirements. Optional equipment includes enhanced terrain collision avoidance system (TCAS), tactical air navigation (TACAN), category II instrument landing system, a microwave landing system and satellite communications. The C-295MPA can also be fitted with Indra’s ALR-300V2B radar warning receiver and BAE Systems’ ANALE-47 chaff/flares dispenser. Each mission sensor component of FITS is controlled by an operator using one of four multi-function consoles. The consoles are linked together via a high-speed LAN with central processors, which facilitate fast processing of all incoming signals. Despite the high level of complexity, the acquisition costs for FITS are low, particularly in view of the fact that commercial hardware, standard interfaces and modular software are used. The CN-235s of the US Coast Guard are also equipped with FITS mission management systems.

The third contender is the Q-300, which has been ordered by the Swedish Coast Guard and comes equipped with a mission sensor suite installed by Field Aviation Company Inc and supplied by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems. The suite comprises a surveillance radar, FLIR turret and and infra-red linescanner. Three such aircraft, designated DHC-8-Q300MSA, are to be delivered by the year’s end. Another operator of this type of aircraft is National Air Support (NAS) of Australia, which in March 2006 ordered five of them on behalf of the Australian Customs. Japan’s Coast Guard selected the Q-300MSA in December 2006, with a requirement for three aircraft. Each such aircraft has a dual-control cockpit with a Honeywell-built Electronic Flight Instrumentation System interfaced to a dual-channel SPZ-8000 digital automatic flight control system, an automatic flight director and autopilot. A flight management system can be fitted as an option. The flight deck can also be fitted with a Flight Dynamics HGS-2000 head-up guidance system to give the aircraft Category IIIA landing/takeoff capability.

The Honeywell avionics suite is the standard fit for the Q-300, and a Rockwell Collins avionics suite can be fitted as an alternative. The aircraft’s navigation suite includes a KNR-806 ADF, KDM-706A DME, Honeywell Gold Crown-3 communications and navigation system, and optional GPS and Primus P-660 colour weather radar. The Q-300 comes equipped with two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123B turboprop engines, each providing a power level of 1,864kW. The engines drive Hamilton Sundstrand 14SF-23 four-bladed, 3.96-metre-diameter propellers. The propellers are fitted with an electrical de-icing system. The wing-mounted fuel tanks store up to 3,160 litres of usable fuel, and optional auxiliary tanks provide an additional 2,540 litres of fuel, giving a total fuel capacity of 5,700 litres.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making Sense From Nonsense

The following analysis has reference to the on-going ‘controversy’ regarding the Malaysian Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) selection of the EADS/Eurocopter-built EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ medium-lift air-mobility helicopter as the eventual replacement for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) existing 26 Sikorsky S-61A-4 multi-role utility helicopters. While allegations are abounding regarding MINDEF’s competitive selection process, the following issues—especially those not yet raised by some of the bidders that have lost out to the EC-725--have to looked upon objectively. But first, a not-too-brief recap of how the requirement for the new air-mobility helicopters arose.

The Genesis
The history of the Nuri’s employment by the RMAF is a colourful but tainted one. The first batch of 16--each powered by twin General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines rated at 1,400 shp each--came into service in 1968. Not exactly the most suitable rotary-winged platform for operations in Malaysia’s hot and humid conditions, they nevertheless proved to be workhorses. However, from the very onset, the Nuri fleet encountered one calamity after another. From a peak of 44 airframes in the mid-1970s, the numbers began to dwindle as a result of crashes, and by the early 1990s only 26 airworthy airframes were left. What was once the pride of the RMAF’s rotary-winged transport force and the backbone supporting the Malaysian Army’s tactical air mobility requirements to combat the Communist insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s is today considered old and overdue for retirement. Although still employed in the transport support and VIP transport role, due mainly to the change in the RMAF’s airpower doctrine (since the mid-1990s) with regard to the responsibility for tactical air mobility requirements reverting back to the individual armed services of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), it has also become the primary airborne search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft for the RMAF. Why then has the RMAF been insisting on a dedicated combat SAR (CSAR) helicopter since the late-1990s when it is unlikely to undertake such operations in future? One must realise that CSAR helicopters simply cannot operate independently of the other supporting airborne elements because even if fitted with state-of-the-art EW suites, they would not be able to survive hostile AAA. In this respect, the RMAF would stand to benefit greatly by emulating the CSAR doctrine of the British RAF instead of the USAF. To the RAF, CSAR falls under the ambit of ‘special operations’, and is only to be undertaken when the odds are calculated to be favourable. During hostilities, downed RAF aircrew are expected to avoid capture using escape-and-evasion tactics and if capture is imminent, they are to surrender and rely on the Geneva Convention for being treated humanely as enemy prisoners of war. In peacetime, however, the RAF relies solely on SAR units located in strategic locations around the British Isles run by civil agencies, but is the overall coordinator of all SAR operations. This approach, besides being more practical, makes more economic sense for the RMAF.

RMAF’s CSAR Doctrine
Before 1993, the CSAR mission did not exist for the RMAF. The Nuris then were still employed in their traditional role of tactical troop transportation, and civil/military communications flights, including SAR. For its own SAR coverage, the RMAF depended on the national SAR mechanism which falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Transport’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) for coordination and control. Under this system, each agency, including non-government ones, were given the responsibility of being a search-and-rescue unit (SRU) as contributing agencies allocating airborne, maritime or ground-based resources to conduct SAR whenever an operation was activated. As the coordinating agency, the DCA decided when to call off the SAR effort. Despite the obvious lack of a proper command-and-control structure, this laissez-faire approach usually worked. The mid-1990s saw a major shift in the RMAF’s thinking in respect to SAR. This change occurred when it was decided that each individual armed services of the MAF was to assume responsibility for its own tactical air mobility requirements. At once it became apparent to the RMAF that at a stroke of a pen its Nuri squadrons (comprising the Butterworth-based No3 Sqn, Labuan-based No5 Sqn, Kuching-based No7 Sqn, and the Kuala Lumpur-based No10 Sqn) had suddenly lost their raison d’etre. The RMAF was thus faced with the prospect of having to follow the way of the Australian Defence Forces and hand over the entire medium-lift helicopter fleet to the main user, the Malaysian Army. The expected transfer of assets did not actually take place, and instead CSAR and attack helicopter operations emerged as the primary helicopter-based roles of the RMAF at around the same period, this primarily being a desperate attempt by the RMAF to retain its skills and expertise in the area of helicopter operations.

Since early 2001, two things have worked in favour of the RMAF with regard to the control of its Nuri fleet. Firstly, thus far, the Army has been unable to assume responsibility for its own medium-lift tactical air mobility as it has been struggling to even operate its SA.316B Alouette III helicopters (transferred from the RMAF to the Army Aviation Corps in April 1997), much less, the Nuris. Secondly, the Army in all probability has realised that it cannot relish the prospect of losing a big portion of its annual operational expenditure to cater for the Nuris’ flight operations, flying training, and periodic maintenance, repair and overhaul requirements. As a result, the acquisition of an integral heliborne air mobility capability has been left more or less unresolved, and now dangles like the ‘Sword of Damocles’. The question on everybody’s mind today is: does the RMAF still have custody of the role of heliborne tactical air mobility, or has this responsibility passed irreversibly to the Army? If so, what has the Army been doing about it?

In light of calls to replace the Nuris, what seemed an ordinary and unimportant decision made in the mid-1990s has now resurfaced to become a major determinant. The publicity surrounding the selection process for a replacement helicopter fleet is sure to bring to light the question of the Army’s tactical air mobility requirements/capabilities again. This time around, the RMAF is unlikely to be able to avoid the issue and will probably have to address it once and for all. It can either deal with it as part of the on-going Nuri replacement exercise, or isolate itself from it altogether and continue pursuing the CSAR agenda. If it decides on the former, however, the RMAF will suffer the risk of having the Army pursuing ownership of the helicopters acquired for replacing the Nuris, consequently splitting as it were, the capital budget allocated for acquiring medium-lift helicopters required for both air mobility and CSAR. What then is the most favourable option for the RMAF? It is obvious that for its own sake it should play down the disputed and problematic acquisition of a CSAR capability, and instead reclaim back ownership of the tactical heliborne air mobility role (that can now be enhanced to air assault for supporting the Army’s projected vertical envelopment operations) it has traditionally held thus far. For a start, it is the more substantive and desirable of two roles and it is presently the more competent armed service to undertake the job compared to the Army. Furthermore, the intended transfer of heliborne air mobility assets/capabilities is still only a paper exercise and not likely to be actualised, at least in the near-term, given the Army’s lack of support infrastructure capacity and operational interest. Uppermost in the minds of RMAF planners today should be the question of numbers.

Competitive Bidding Process
Following the Economic Planning Unit’s notification on October 10, 2007 authorising the MINDEF to issue global tenders for seeking bids to supply replacements to the ‘Nuris’, MINDEF on November 7 released the tenders, which called for the supply of 12 medium-lift air-mobility helicopters for the RMAF. As revealed by MINDEF Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah on October 17, the tender offers received by February 12 this year were:

T521/07/A/001: £341.88 million (RM2.08 billion) from AgustaWestland Helicopters, which proposed the AW-101.

T521/07/A/002: RM663.189 million from an unknown party.

T521/07/A/003: €104.632 million (RM494.9 million) from Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp, with the Mi-17V-5 on offer through its primary agent Vertical Master Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/004: US$220.496 million (RM777.45 million) from Sikorsky Corp, offering its HH-92 Superhawk through its primary agent Evergreen Aviation Resources Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/005: US$708.305 million (RM2.49 billion) from Boeing IDS, which offered its CH-47F Chinook.

T521/07/A/006: €233.345 million (RM1.1 billion) from Eurocopter SA, which offered the EC-725 Cougar Mk2+. The company's agent in Malaysia is Sari Varia Sdn Bhd.

T521/07/A/007: US$348.17 million (RM1.22 billion) for 12 Mi-172KFs being offered by Canada’s Kelowna Flightctaft Ltd via its primary agent Mentari Services Sdn Bhd.

The tender submissions were then split up into three parts for MINDEF’s technical evaluation committee, offset evaluation committee and price evaluation committee to evaluate. However, depending on MINDEF’s methodology of determining each bid’s tender value, it appears that Sikorsky’s bid was valued at US$427.20 million (RM1.452 billion), while Eurocopter’s bid worked out to RM2.317 billion, and the Mi-172KF’s bid worked out to US$264 million, or RM898 million according to figures made public by Mentari. MINDEF has not yet explained its methodology of arriving at the actual or final bid figures, but we must assume here that MINDEF has a perfectly rational reason for arriving at the final pricing levels. The committees’ conclusions were tabled at a Tender Board meeting on July 22 and were then forwarded to the Finance Ministry on August 4. MINDEF received the green light on September 3 to proceed with contractual negotiations, and Eurocopter SA was on September 15 issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the supply of an initial 12 EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ helicopters. Although the RMAF has projected an eventual total long-term requirement for 74 such helicopters, MINDEF has obtained sanction from the Ministry of Finance for procuring only 27 helicopters, of which 12 worth RM1.76 billion will be acquired under the on-going 9th Malaysia Plan, with the remaining 15 being ordered under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015). Eurocopter had since 2005 been proposing its EC-725 Cougar Mk2+ for both air-mobility and CSAR operations. Up until July 2007 the twin-engined EC-725 was almost certain to bag the RMAF’s order for ten 11-tonne EC-725s configured for CSAR. After that, however, it had to compete with the HH-92 Superhawk and AW-101 from for bagging the lucrative order from MINDEF for the supply of an initial 12 multi-role utility helicopters. What probably tilted the balance in favour of the EC-725 was Eurocopter’s demonstrated capability and intention to fully localise the EC-725’s through-life product support and depot-level maintenance requirements at its sprawling MRO facility now coming up at Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in Selangor State.

Explaining The Anomalies
While allegations are abounding regarding MINDEF’s competitive selection process, the following issues—especially those not yet raised by some of the bidders that have lost out to the EC-725--have to looked upon objectively.

1) Of all the above-mentioned bidders, the Mi-17IV was first brought to Malaysia by Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp during the LIMA 2001 exhibition and was extensively flight-tested after the exhibition by the RMAF. Subsequently, a visiting RMAF delegation led by the RMAF Chief to the MAKS aerospace exhibition in Russia last year was shown a civilian variant of the Mi-17V-5 (no96369) belonging to Kazan Helicopter Plant (KHP) by Rosoboronexport. The HH-92 Superhawk’s prototype from Sikorsky was demonstrated to a visiting RMAF team in the US more than a year ago. The EC-725 too was flight-tested and evaluated over a two-week period by the RMAF when the helicopter was brought to Malaysia during the DSA 2006 exhibition in April 2006, and during the LIMA 2007 exhibition in Langkawi early last December. Therefore, for some to claim that the RMAF and the MINDEF tender evaluation board did away with the practice of flight-testing the principal contenders of the contract is fallacious and wrong.

2) The Mi-17 will begin being phased out of service over the next five years by the Russian military end-users. That is why a competition is now underway within Russia between Kamov OKB (offering the Ka-92) and Mil Design Bureau (offering the Mi-38) for supplying the next-generation medium-lift helicopter to fulfill domestic Russian requirements. If the RMAF were to select either the Mi-17V-5 or Mi-172KF, while its initial procurement costs would be much lower, their through-life product support costs would be three times more than the figures quoted for helicopters like the EC-725, AW-101 and HH-92 Superhawk. This is because the RMAF will find it cost-prohibitive to maintain the airworthiness and serviceability of the Mi-17 once Russia stops producing spares for this helicopter over the next 10 years.

3) For the RMAF tender competition, there were two offers of the Mi-17: the Mi-17V-5 from Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp (whose factory cost is an estimated US$9 million per unit and was being offered for the RMAF for US$11.78 million), and the Mi-172KF (whose factory cost is an estimated US$11 million per unit but is being offered at an inflated marked-up figure US$22 million) being offered by Mentari Services Sdn Bhd. Interestingly, if either of the two parties were to win the contract, then they both would be sourcing the Mi-17s from the same OEM, i.e. KHP, based in Russia’s Tatarstan republic. And when it comes to military procurements from abroad, the customer (MINDEF in this case) universally requires guaranteed through-life product support from the OEM. Consequently, if MINDEF were to select the Mi-17 then the following questions would have required convincing answers:

a) While the Russian government would have given product support guarantees through its official weapons import/export agency Rosoboronexport for the Mi-17V-5, would the same guarantees be extended for the offer for the Mi-172KF?

b) If not, then who would guarantee through-life product support for the Mi-172KF? Mentari? Or its principal—the Canada-based Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd—or the helicopter manufacturer—KHP—from whom Kelowna was offering to source the Mi-172KF airframes and then retrofit them with cockpit/mission avionics sourced from Honeywell or BAE Systems or SELEX Sensors & Airborne Systems? Who would assume product liabilities in the event of a Mi-172KF accident-related Board of Inquiry establishing that the accident/crash was due to technical error? What if Rosoboronexport State Corp prevented KHP from cooperating with the RMAF during such accident/crash investigations?

c) Did the Russian government, through Rosoboronexport, authorise either KHP or Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd to supply the fully militarised (i.e. weapons-equipped) Mi-172KF to Malaysia? This question needs to be answered in detail because as per present Russian government guidelines, only Rosoboronexport State Corp is authorised to export Russia-origin weapon systems directly to foreign military customers after inking government-to-government contracts.

d) How many Mi-172KFs have been sold to date by the joint industrial venture between KHP and Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd to military customers (not for VIP transportation, but for undertaking air-mobility operations under combat conditions) worldwide? Which regulatory/flight certification authority has issued the MILSPEC-compliant certificate of airworthiness of the Mi-172KF’s military variant? Is such a CofA acceptable to the RMAF? Which regulatory authority will issue the STCs for the Mi-172KF’s customer-specified avionics suites? Will the Mi-172KF, or for that matter the Mi-17V-5, have additional built-in performance growth features, such as the incorporation of fly-by-wire flight control systems and in-flight refuelling systems, which will most likely have to be mandatory on-board systems especially since the helicopter would be required by the RMAF to remain operationally viable for the next 40 years?

Regrettably, the ‘naysayers’ and conspiracy theorists alleging irregularities in the EC-725’s selection process have yet to give rational and convincing clarifications regarding the four above-mentioned points.

4) Today, it only makes sense for countries like China and India to continue buying Mi-17s in large numbers because only these two countries have had more than 30 years of experience operating the Mi-8Ts and Mi-17s and have therefore established the huge domestic MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) infrastructure required to maintain and operate such helicopters. This is not the case with Malaysia, which requires either the helicopter OEM to set up extensive, brand-new MRO infrastructure to support a new helicopter-type, or upgrade existing MRO infrastructure at tremendous cost to service the new helicopter acquisitions.

5) As a consequence of the above, only Eurocopter (an EADS subsidiary) can be said to have comprehensively complied with the RMAF’s helicopter-related MRO demands (which played a pivotal role in tilting the balance in favour of the EC-725’s competitive bid) since only Eurocopter has to date made unilateral and substantial investments in its own sprawling helicopter MRO facility in Subang (which Sikorsky, AgustaWestland and the Russians are not known to have done thus far) since 1998. Such facilities, which will undoubtedly expand their capabilities as the EC-725s are inducted progressively, will enable the RMAF to fully localise the EC-725’s serviceability requirements, and ensure high availability and levels for its initial EC-725 fleet, which will undoubtedly be subject to intensive usage in its earlier years due to the demands of both operational conversion flying training as well as operational flying. One must also bear in mind that such MRO facilities will be fully authorised and certified by the OEM (Eurocopter), and as such will not be exposed to the third-party MRO liabilities of the type that has plagued the RMAF’s dwindling S-61A-4 ‘Nuri’ helicopter fleet. No one thus far, including Rosoboronexport or Mentari or AgustaWestland or Sikorsky, has officially bothered to explain how much the through-life product support costs of the Mi-17V-5 or Mi-172KF or AW-101 or HH-92 Superhawk would be if these entities were to establish in-country dedicated MRO facilities. Only if such expenditure figures are forthcoming from them would one be able to make accurate cost comparisons with the Eurocopter/EC-725 tender bid. Until then it remains a case of simplistic comparison of apples with oranges.

6) As a result of the above, when viewed from a techno-economic matrix, it was ONLY Eurocopter that ‘almost fully’ complied with the ASQRs of the RMAF while at the same time offering guaranteed through-life product support for the EC-725. The EC-725 of the type selected for the RMAF is presently operational with the armed forces of France and Saudi Arabia and has already been combat-proven in Afghanistan. The AW-101 is a combat-proven helicopter (which was recently selected by India for VVIP transportation), but the problem here was that the RMAF would have had to allocate substantial scare financial resources for setting up dedicated MRO facilities from scratch to support the AW-101 fleet. Sikorsky’s HH-92 Superhawk is estimated to have come in with the second-best offer (to be detailed in the near future) but militarily this helicopter is still an untested product since it has yet to be ordered in bulk by any armed forces worldwide.

In conclusion, it would do well to the ‘naysayers’ to view the entire issue through the prism of objectivity prior to making ill-informed conclusions based merely on speculative accusations of some ‘sore losers’.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Navy’s Own MRUAV Takes Shape

When it comes to tailor-made solutions for multi-spectrum maritime surveillance, it is the Indian Navy, and not the DRDO, that is in the driver’s seat. Adopting a hands-on approach, Navy HQ, along with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the MALAT Division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has begun co-developing what is called the Maritime Rotary UAV (MRUAV). IAI/MALAT refers to this vertical takeoff-and-landing UAV as the NRUAV. The fuselage for this vertical takeoff and landing UAV will be the same as that of a HAL-built SA.316B Alouette III/Chetak helicopter, while its upgraded powerplant will be the HAL/Turbomeca Ardiden 1H/Shakti engine mated to a newly-designed gearbox. Its principal on-board sensors will include a belly-mounted IAI-supplied EL/M-2022H(V)2 multi-mode radar, a nose-mounted stabilised MOSP optronic turret housing a low-light-level TV camera as well as a thermal imager, a four-element radar warning receiver developed by the DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), two-way secure data links, HAL-built Mk12 Mode 5 IFF transponder, and a rear-mounted Harpoon deck-arresting gear. Also being co-developed are the shipborne VSAT terminals and ground control stations, with the latter being a derivative of that for the Heron 2 UAV. The MRUAV’s conceptual design was first displayed by IAI/MALAT in Bangalore in February last year during the Aero India 2007 exhibition. The principal role of the MRUAV will include beyond-the-horizon surveillance, over-the-horizon targeting, ELINT, COMINT, ground mapping and location of moving ground-based targets, and airborne early warning. The MRUAV will not carry any on-board weapons for the moment, but could in future be armed with a single heavyweight torpedo or two lightweight torpedoes.

Development of such a UAV can rightly be described as ‘path-breaking’, and the Chetak’s airframe was a logical choice as it was not only available in plenty within India, but it also has a tricycle undercarriage (as opposed to fixed landing skis) that facilitates the UAV’s landing even in choppy waters in the high seas, thereby ensuring safe recovery on board the mother vessel. The project was conceived in 2005 and is the brainchild of none other than the current Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who initiated this project while he was FOC-in-C Eastern Naval Command and concurrently also one of the government-appointed Directors of HAL. “We are working with HAL to develop a new-generation UAV on a helicopter platform. It will be a path-breaking initiative and transform naval warfare,” Admiral Mehta remarked earlier this month. HAL Chairman and Managing Director Dr Ashok K Baweja revealed on February 6 this year that the MoD’s funding and sanction for the project were already getting into place and it will be started soon. “We have finalised the concept. The project clearance is on the way. We will start it shortly,” he said. When asked about involvement of a foreign technological/industrial partner in the project, Dr Baweja said that HAL has already identified the foreign partner for the project, but did not divulge further details. “We have already identified the foreign partner. We will require their help in the project as there are certain inputs that we will need,” he admitted. He added that the payload package of the rotary-winged VTOL-UAV, apart from surveillance equipment, will include twin auxiliary fuel tanks for increasing the UAV’s flight endurance.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Note: This story should be viewed as complementing the 3-part story on the NRUAV posted earlier by Shiv Aroor at

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Indian Navy’s CIWS Saga

The Indian Navy (IN) today enjoys the enviable status of possessing not one, but three different types of close-in weapon systems (CIWS) on board its principal surface combatants. While the Barak-1 and Kashtan-M CIWS have been operational since the late 1990s, the latest to join them is the Raytheon-built Vulcan Phalanx, which is on board the IN’s second largest warship (displacing 17,000 tonnes) and its first ever US-built warship--the INS Jalashva (ex-USS Trenton) landing platform dock (LPD). What follows below is a chronological recounting of events that explains how and why the IN has been acquiring CIWS suites from abroad.

The first CIWS to enter service was the Barak-1 PDMS, which in November 1995 was successfully test-fired in the Mediterranean Sea by the Israeli Navy in the presence of senior IN and Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) officials led by Dr A K Kapur, the then Project Director of the indigenous Trishul VSHORADS, with a single missile successfully destroying an incoming sea-skimming subsonic anti-ship missile at a distance of 5.996km using the command line-of-sight (CLOS) fire-control technique. By then the Barak-1 was already operational with the navies of Chile, Israel, Singapore and Venezuela. Subsequently, the IN proceeded to Russia where the Kashtan-M combined gun/missile CIWS made by Tulamashzavod Production Association, was demonstrated in the Baltic Sea. The visiting IN/DRDO delegation thereafter discovered that the Kashtan-M’s 9M311 missile was unable to engage sea-skimming targets at a distance below 1.5km (as opposed to the Barak-1’s 500 metres) and its warhead weight was only 9kg, as opposed to the Barak-1’s 22kg. Vice Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, the then Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, later confirmed the Barak-1’s superiority in an evaluation report prepared for Navy HQ. Responding to this report, the then DRDO Secretary and Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Dr A P J Abdul Kalam on February 29, 1996 wrote a letter to the then Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in which he acknowledged delays and deficiencies in the Trishul SHORADS’ indigenous R & D effort, which was to have been completed by 1994. Dr Kalam subsequently wrote: “The types of immediate threats and proposed acquisition of seven Barak-I systems by the IN have been presented. The Navy has confirmed that these Barak-1s will be installed on the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, plus three Project 15 and three Project 16A warships.... The above proposal by the Navy is agreed to...” However, the DRDO’s ‘approval’ for importing the Barak-Is from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had two satisfy two pre-conditions. First, “the Navy monitors and ensures the performance of the Barak-I, as claimed, and installs them at the earliest. Second, the Navy places the order immediately for Trishul SHORADS to give production thrust to the programme, whose R & D component is due for completion by 2002”.

Consequently, the Finance Wing of the MoD approved the procurement of all seven systems in 1996. By December the same year, Navy HQ completed an expanded internal paper evaluation of 12 potential CIWS options available for acquisition, including the THALES’ Crotale NG from France, BAE Systems’ VL Seawolf, OTOBreda of Italy’s Myriad, the Barak-1, Goalkeeper from THALES Naval Nederland, and the Kashtan from Russia’s Tulamashzavod. Upon being presented with results of the evaluation, Mulayam Singh Yadav on December 16 sought to know from the DRDO the R & D status of the Trishul SHORADS and whether it was possible to import the Barak-1 in smaller numbers for other IN warships to save on foreign currency. The DRDO did not answer Yadav’s queries. In January 1997, Navy HQ initiated a proposal as part of the planned modernisation of INS Viraat to retrofit it with the Barak-1 PDMS. It also urged the MoD once again to acquire a follow-on six Barak-1 PDMS for installation on board six of its warships. On February 9, the government’s Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) approved the Barak-1’s procurement for the Viraat alone. Subsequently, a high-level delegation led by the then Defence Secretary Taposh Banerji visited Israel and on February 14 inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for purchasing one Barak-1 PDMS suite (comprising 32 vertically launched missiles with 12km-range, twin EL/M-2221 STGR fire-control radars, and an ELTA-built EL/M-2238 STAR air/surface search radar) for US$17 million. On October 3, the CCNS approved the procurement of an additional six Barak-1 PDMS. However, no contracts were inked for the seven PDMS suites. On November 17, Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp and the MoD inked a US$1 billion contract for three Project 1135.6 guided-missile frigates (FFG) to be built by Russia’s Baltisky Zavod shipyard for the IN. During prior price-cum-contractual negotiations Russia had vigorously objected to the IN’s requests for installing two key non-Russian systems--Barak-1 PDMS and an integrated platform management system of Canadian origin (from L-3 MAPPS) on board these FFGs, citing prohibitive systems integration costs and systems integration risks as being the main reasons. Consequently, Russia’s offer of the Kashtan-M CIWS, built by Tulamashzavod, was accepted without any rancour by both Navy HQ and the DRDO. (The same is also the case with the three follow-on Project 1135.6 FFGs ordered in 2006).

On November 2, 1998 the then Defence Minister George Fernandes directly received a letter from the then Chairman of IAI which sought Fernandes’ personal intervention to get one Barak-1 PDMS inducted into the IN for the Viraat. Within the next 20 days, Navy HQ, then headed by Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, wrote to Dr Kalam for seeking his concurrence to import one Barak-1 PDMS, and also pressed the MoD for an early constitution of the Price Negotiations Committee (PNC). On November 3, Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, the then Chief Controller of the DRDO’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (and now CEO of BrahMos Aerospace and also the DRDO’s Chief Controller for R & D), wrote a letter to Dr Kalam suggesting that an indigenous CIWS solution--the Trishul SHORADS’s sea-skimming variant—would not only provide an option, but also meet the IN’s desired induction timeframe. He suggested that an immediate go-ahead be given for completing development of this variant of the Trishul on a fast-track basis (with the help of additional financial allocations), and called for the Barak-1 import option to be closed. He explained that if the end-user was financially committed to the project the results will be faster, while imports will only discourage the scientists.

On November 26, 1998 NHQ again wrote to the Defence Minister’s scientific adviser (Dr Kalam) and sought his early concurrence for importing one Barak-1 PDMS. Dr Kalam replied on January 20, 1999, saying that he had no objections as the CCNS had already approved its import for INS Viraat on October 3, 1997. Based on this, NHQ began constituting the PNC for the purchase. On June 15, 1999, at the height of Operation Vijay, Admiral Sushil Kumar, the then Chief of the Naval Staff, proposed the immediate importing of two Barak-1 PDMS. Dr Kalam opposed this proposal in a letter dated June 23, 1999. In the letter, Dr Kalam said: “It has been brought to the Raksha Mantri’s notice that the to-be-imported PDMS has a failure rate of nearly 50% as witnessed by the DRDO during firing trials by the IN. Even the cost of failure analysis by foreign suppliers is very high. We will be at the mercy of foreign suppliers for spares and support during the life-cycle of the entire system. Importing of any PDMS will take one to two years and there is no reason that the Trishul cannot be made ready before that”. On June 25, after meeting Dr Kalam, Admiral Kumar submitted a fresh proposal for procuring a total of seven Barak-1 PDMS to George Fernandes, who in turn overruled Dr Kalam’s opinions against importing the Barak-1, and formally gave the go-ahead for Admiral Kumar’s proposal on June 28. A draft CCNS note was put up to the then Defence Secretary T R Prasad, who on August 30 said that the CCNS had deferred its decision on the proposal, which would be considered by the next central government. On September 3, Fernandes wrote back to Prasad saying that the CCNS had to be apprised of the urgency of importing the Barak-1 PDMS and its approval had to be sought. On March 2, 2000 the CCNS, after taking note of the DRDO’s objections with respect to two of paragraphs on the CCNS’ draft approval note, approved for the second time the purchase of seven Barak-1 PDMS. On August 4, Dr A K Kapur wrote a letter to the chief of the PNC for Barak-1, Vice Admiral P C Jacob, who was then also the IN’s Vice Chief, stating that the formal evaluation task was not assigned to the combined IN/DRDO team that visited Israel in November 1995. Dr Kapur further wrote that a more comprehensive system for evaluating the Barak-1 was required before procuring them in quantity.

On October 23, the US$268.63 million (Rs5.8 billion) contract for procuring seven Barak-1 PDMS, including 224 missile rounds (worth US$69.13 million) and five EL/M-2238 3-D STAR surface/air search radars built by IAI’s ELTA subsidiary, was inked. The Barak-1s would subsequently be retrofitted on the Viraat, three Project 15 guided-missile destroyers or DDGs, and three Project 16A FFGs (Brahmaputra, Beas and Betwa). The EL/M-2238 radars were planned to be installed on the Viraat, the three Project 16A FFGs and one Project 16 FFG (INS Ganga). In December, the MoD formally informed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence that there will be ‘considerable delays’ in the induction of the DRDO-developed Akash and Trishul missile systems by India’s armed forces. On April 4, 2001 in the aftermath of the Tehelka revelations, Navy HQ publicly defended the Barak-1’s procurement, citing unavailability of the Trishul still being developed by the DRDO and the Pakistan Navy’s operational inventory of submarine-launched MBDA-built SM-39 Exocet and Boeing-built RGM-84A/AGM-84L Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles, as being the main reasons for importing such weapons. The Navy’s then Chief of Personnel, Vice Admiral Arun Prakash, disclosed that the Barak-1s would be installed on seven principal surface combatants in the next seven years. He also cited three reasons why other proven CIWS options had not been thoroughly evaluated. First, procedural difficulties would have inordinately delayed the induction of the chosen CIWS (Barak-1) if other systems had been brought into the fray. Second, the imposition of post-Pokhran-2 sanctions by the UK and US would also have stood in the way of acquiring a Western system. That left Israel as the only country capable of supplying vertically-launched CIWS suites compact enough to be retrofitted on existing IN warships.

In October, the DRDO and the three armed services jointly undertook a comprehensive review of the Trishul SHORADS project. The system was consequently found to be deficient on three counts: One, the missile’s guidance and control using the CLOS technique was encountering successive failures as the target-tracking radar’s beam (from the TMX-EO for the naval variant and BEL-built PIW-519 Flycatcher radar for the army and air force variants) was suffering from intermittent target lock-on breaks that resulted in the SAM missing the target widely. Secondly, development of the three-axis stabilisation system for Trishul had been inordinately delayed due to US sanctions. It was subsequently decided that while work on the Trishul’s R & D effort would continue, the armed services would be allowed to foreclose the Trishul procurement option and meet their immediate operational requirements through imports. In May 2003, the MoD revealed that India planned to buy an additional 10 Barak-1 PDMS by 2008. Later the same year, between November 16 and 22, two Barak-1 missiles fired from INS Delhi failed to hit their targets twice in trials conducted off the coast of Mumbai. In both instances, the Barak-1s failed to intercept two Russia-built P-18 Termit anti-ship cruise missiles whose warheads had been deactivated and replaced with telemetry tracking electronics. Following detailed investigations, the failures were attributed to electro-magnetic interference problems (involving the EL/M-2221 STGR radar and the Delhi’s MR-90 Orekh illuminators used for the Shtil-1 area air defence system) that were later rectified by a team comprising engineers from the Navy’s Weapons & Electronic System Engineering Establishment (WESEE), RAFAEL Armament Development Authority (maker of the missile) and IAI. Another test-firing conducted on November 26 successfully destroyed an inbound P-18. By late 2003, the DRDO had admitted its failure to develop a shipborne Trishul SHORADS-based CIWS due to serious design deficiencies, and the massive facility it had earlier established at INS Dronacharya in Kochi exclusively for the Trishul’s firing trials was closed down. Meanwhile, after evaluating competitive offers from 13 companies from Europe, Russia and the US, the MoD inked a US$100 million contract to acquire another four Barak-1 PDMS to be installed on three Project 17 Shivalik-class FFGs and on INS Ran Vijay, a Kashin 2-class DDG. On February 21, 2004, another test-firing of the Barak-1 resulted in a direct hit against an inbound P-18.

It was in late 2004 that senior IN commanders met at NHQ to discuss a DRDO proposal to co-develop the Barak-2 (called Barak-8 by Israel), a vertically-launched, 70km-range naval SAM with anti-cruise missile interception capability. The US$350 million contract for launching this joint R & D venture was inked on January 27, 2006. In addition, the MoD committed to acquire another three Barak-1 systems for the three Project 15A DDGs. In May 2006, Admiral Arun Prakash, the then Chief of the Naval Staff, disclosed that the Barak-2 would arm all future principal surface combatants of the IN, starting 2011. By now, both Army HQ and Air HQ too had decided to seriously evaluate the Barak-2 option, given the DRDO’s inability to develop the land-mobile Akash Mk2 M-SAM before 2010. On October 16, 2006 Admiral Prakash revealed that of the 14 live-fire evaluations of the Barak-1 conducted in India thus far, 12 had scored direct hits and the other two failed, one because of human error and another due to technical reasons. Presently, negotiations are underway between the IN and its US counterpart for retrofitting the 34-year-old LPD (Jalashva) with twin SeaRAM suites to supplement the Vulcan Phalanx CIWS.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Akash E-SHORADS Explained: Part 2

The Akash E-SHORADS surface-to-air missile (SAM), developed by India’s Kanchanbagh-based Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), officially has no takers as yet. The Akash’s R & D project has been in existence for the past 20 years. Originally slated for completion within a 12-year period, the project’s Rs5 billion R & D phase had to extended by another eight years due to previously unforeseen technological and operational challenges, especially with regard to its fire-control and missile guidance systems. When the project took off in the late 1980s, the DRDL had proudly claimed that target engagement will be undertaken by the ground-based, active phased-array Rajendra L-band Battery-Level Radar (BLR) and a track-via-missile guidance system for the missile. However, the sheer technological challenges forced the DRDL to abandon this path by the mid-1990s, and the DRDO’s Bangalore-based Electronics R & D establishment (LRDE) instead took up the development of a passive phased-array variant of the Rajendra target engagement radar, whose laboratory version had 4,000 phase shifters, a spectrally pure travelling wave tube (TWT) transmitter (which at that time was imported from THALES Nederland), two-stage superheterodyne correlation receiver for three channels, a high-speed digital signal processor, real-time management computer, and a radar data processor. For the 25km-range missile the radio command-link guidance technique was adopted. It was this system that was until 2002 being proposed an all weather area air defence system for defending vulnerable areas (VA) and vulnerable points (VP) against manned airborne targets approaching from medium and high altitudes. The system has been designed to neutralise multiple airborne targets attacking from several directions simultaneously, and is fully autonomous in terms of its operation. The Akash E-SHORADS is now being offered in two versions: one whose launcher is mounted on the hull of a T-72M main battle tank (for the Indian Army), and another mounted on a cross-country truck built by TATA Motors, this being for the Indian Air Force (IAF). When deployed, the Akash comprises a network of early warning, tracking, and engagement radars and fire-direction control centres, all functioning in a network-centric manner. The system has advanced battlefield management software, which carries out relative threat computation and pairing of targets and missiles and missile fire-control. Dr R R Panyam has been the Project Director for Akash since 2002. About 1,000 scientists from 13 DRDO laboratories have contributed thus far to the Akash’s R & D effort.
During a series of test-firings in realistic desert terrain combat conditions last December, the complete Akash Weapon System was fielded and its mobility assessed. The user trials of intercepting unmanned flying targets were conducted between December 14 and 21, during which the Akash successfully intercepted its targets five times in a row in this campaign. The fifth and last trial successfully took place at 2.15pm on December 21 during which one missile destroyed a manoeuvring, turbojet-powered Lakshya aerial target drone. The ten-day long user’s trials saw the participation of 300 officials from the DRDO, DPSUs, and private industries. Dr Prahlada, who conceptualised the Akash Weapon System and headed the project for nearly for two decades and is currently the Chief Controller for R & D (Missiles) at DRDO HQ, provided the leadership during the recent test-firing campaign. In the aftermath of these trials, the following observations from the end-users’ perspectives are noteworthy:
1) By the time mobility trials of the Akash’s Army variant were conducted at Pokhran between June 11 and 29 last year, followed by flyover trials as part of the IAF-specific variant’s firing trials at Pokhran between November 15 and 17, and systems performance trials of the IAF-specific variant conducted at the Chandipur-on-sea-based Interim Test Range (ITR) near Balasore between December 14 and 21 last year, it emerged that while the Akash had the systems configuration and logistics tail of a medium-range SAM, it terms of mission effectiveness, it was no better than an enhanced short-range air defence system (E-SHORADS).
2) The missile’s engagement range of 25km has since early 2003 been viewed has highly deficient by both the IAF and the Indian Army, both of which have since insisted on a minimum range of 40km (and preferably 50km) if indeed the Akash is to be employed for protecting VAs and VPs against multiple attacks from cruise missiles. It is for this reason that both the Army and IAF have indicated that they will more likely opt for a land-based, road-mobile variant of the vertically-launched 70km-range Barak-2 SAM (using the S-band EL/M-2248 active phased-array radar for both target acquisition and engagement), unless the promised longer-range Akash Mk2 is made available as soon as possible. It is this factor that, according to the IAF and the Army, makes the Akash a financially unviable medium-range SAM when viewed from a techno-economic matrix. Therefore, unless the DRDL develops a 40km-range variant of the Akash, the system will have no takers, neither in India or abroad.
3) The Akash’s Battery-level configuration has not yet demonstrated its ability to simultaneously engage four airborne targets each with three missiles. Both the Army and the IAF are of the view that the Rajendra BLR, in order to ensure a 99.8% probability of successful target engagement against both manned combat aircraft and especially cruise missiles (to detect them, both the Army and Air Force are acquiring the ELTA Systems-built aerostat-mounted EL/M-2083 active phased-array radars), needs to morph into an AESA configuration, as opposed to its existing PESA design. Both the Army and IAF are of the view that it order to stay technologically relevant for combating future airborne threat scenarios, AESA-based target engagement radars are mandatory. The Army has also specified that such radars perform all search, identification, tracking, and engagement functions, instead of having three different radars for all functions ranging from target detection to tracking to engagement.
To address these requirements, the DRDL has already initiated R & D work on the Mk2 variant of the Akash missile, which will make use of a newer, higher-energy HTPB-based composite booster propellant housed within a slightly lengthened booster section. Its fuel-rich sustainer propellant, based on magnesium/sodium nitrate/naphthalene processed by pressure-moulding techniques, will remain the same. The Rajendra BLR’s modular AESA variant now being fabricated will include a carbon-fibre cover in front of the antenna array, RF distribution network, and about 80 transmit/receive modules (using hybrid MICs and MMICs for transmit and receive chains) that will be air-cooled. Each such module will comprise a power amplifier for the transmitted microwave signal, low-noise amplifiers as front-ends for the receiver channels, and phase shifters for accurate control of the signal phase in both transmit and receive modes. In the latter, amplification of the signal will be controlled as well. The phases and amplitudes will be continuously calibrated. Each T/R module will be connected to one vertical slotted waveguide. The technology for miniaturisation and mass industrial production of the T/R modules is believed to have been obtained from ELTA Systems since 1998, with the Indian recipients of such technologies being Astra Microwave Products Ltd, BEL and ECIL. Incidentally, such T/R modules were originally developed for the LRDE-developed long-range tracking radar (LRTR), whose design and performance parameters bear more than a close resemblance to the EL/M-2080 ground-based active phased-array L-band long-range tracking radar, two of which were supplied in late 2001 under a US$50 million order placed by the DRDO with the ELTA Systems Group subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. For catering to the power supply requirements of the environmental control system of the Rajendra BLR’s AESA variant, the LRDE has selected Microturbo’s S20-G gas turbine-based APU, which weighs less than 80kg. It can easily be integrated into a compartment above the track passage of the T-72M. The S209-G runs on the same diesel fuel as the T-72M.—Prasun K. Sengupta