Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Farcical Trials



This is what best explains the four rounds of exhaustive field-trials conducted thus far by the Indian Army on a no-cost no-commitment basis (from 2002 to 2007) of the two 155mm/52-calibre towed howitzers—BAE Systems/SWS Defence’s FH-77BO5L52 and Soltam Systems’s ATHOS 2052. For it was during Operation Vijay in mid-1999 that made Army HQ realise the urgent need for not the towed howitzers, but truck-mounted, lightweight, motorised 155mm/52-calibre howitzers. In fact, by mid-July 1999, Army HQ was desperately seeking authorisation from the Cabinet Committee on National Security for inducting without any further delay about 60 G-6 155mm/45-calibre motorised howitzers from South Africa’s Denel Group. At the same time, Denel and the state-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) teamed up to co-develop the Condor or the T-5, comprising Denel/LIW’s G-5 Mk2000 155mm/52-cal gun mounted on a BEML-assembled TATRA 8 x 8 vehicle. During the DEFEXPO 2000 expo, however, the Condor was not exhibited. The only motorised howitzer then displayed at the expo site was the ATMOS from Soltam Systems. Let us now briefly go back to late 1999 when the Army realised that, firstly, it was still possible to wage a limited conventional war even after the nuclearisation of South Asia, provided the adversary’s nuclear threshold was not violated; and secondly, such limited wars would not involve full-scale territorial conquests, but would instead involve the waging of parallel wars or hyper-wars aimed at seizing the operational initiative, engaging the adversary in detail, and severely degrading the enemy’s war-waging potential via a series of grinding wars of attrition where the side with superior manoeuvre war-waging capabilities, accompanied by decapitating massed fire-assaults directed and coordinated by superior network-centric battlespace surveillance systems, will be the ultimate winner.
This consequently, resulted in Army HQ deciding to acquire the required quantum of tube artillery-based firepower by a) seriously evaluating the prospects of acquiring up to 220 motorised 155mm/52-calibre howitzers by issuing Requests for Information (RFI); b) expediting the induction of 430 upgraded M-46S 155mm/45-cal towed howitzers (for 20 Regiments) that have since 2002 been supplied by the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) under licence from Israel’s Soltam Systems (the M-46S is now the Army’s tube artillery system with the longest reach, being able to fire ERFB-BB rounds out to 38.5km and VLAP rounds out to 42km when using bi-modular charges); and c) issuing Requests for Proposals (RFP) in late 2000 for 1,580 towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers, for which only BAE Systems/SWS Defence’s (formerly Bofors AB) FH-77BO5L52, the Denel Group’s G-5 Mk2000 and Soltam’s ATHOS 2052 and the FH-2000 from Singapore’s ST Engineering responded and also sent their respective howitzers for competitive mobility and firepower evaluations/trials. France’s Nexter Systems (then GIAT Industries) and Spain’s Santa Barbara never took part in the competition as they were reportedly convinced that they would not enjoy a level playing field since, for political reasons, only the Israeli and South African offers would be taken seriously and shortlisted. While these evaluations/trials were close to being concluded, Operation Parakram was launched on December 17, 2001 that saw the biggest-ever wartime mobilisation of the Indian Army since 1971. It was during this mobilisation that Army HQ clearly realised that it was doctrinally prepared only to fight the last war (as rehearsed during Ex Brass Tacks in 1987), and not the next war. What does this mean?
In the mid-1980s, the Indian Army’s offensive warfighting doctrine had called for up to three Strike Corps (mobilised over a comfortable 30-day period in the build-up to hostilities) punching deep down into enemy territory in a lightning campaign characterised by overwhelming superiority in terms of armoured might, field artillery firepower, and combined arms warfare waged by mechanised/motorised infantry formations. In late 2001, however, the success of India’s coercive diplomacy depended entirely on the speed with which the Army could deploy and concentrate its forces in launch-pads along the country’s western borders. In this, the Indian Army clearly failed to score over its Pakistani counterpart in operational terms because it had to rely on external lines of communications (i.e. deploying from its peacetime locations deep within India’s hinterland to its staging areas) that resulted in a Strike Corps taking at least 17 days to be fully deployed and become combat-ready, and all three Strike Corps (I Corps with its 31st Armoured Division, II Corps with its 1st Armoured Division, and XXI Strike Corps with its 33rd Armoured Division) taking 30 days to be fully deployed, with two in Rajasthan and one in Punjab. Pakistan’s geography, on the other hand, ensured that all of the Pakistan Army’s armoured and mechanised infantry formations, using interior lines of communications, could launch offensive operations against India within 96 hours. It was this state of affairs that led to a standoff without any operational advantage to either side between January and March 2002, and the only way this was rectified by Army HQ, then under the bold and audacious leadership of COAS Gen ‘Paddy’ Padmanaban, was by redeploying the sole Strike Corps from Punjab into Rajasthan in April, thus resulting in all three of the Army’s Strike Corps being poised for offensive operations at their launch-pads across the Thar Desert, a scenario that had never before even been wargamed! In theory, this redeployment consequently resulted in the Holding Corps-level formations in Punjab and Jammu becoming vulnerable to a pulverizing strike from Pakistan’s armoured might, and was later rectified only by the redeployment of the Army’s strategic reserve formations--the 2nd, 3rd 6th, 14th, 16th and 23rd Independent Armoured Brigades, and the seven Independent Infantry Brigades—to Punjab and Jammu.
From the Indian armed forces’ perspective, the most important lessons that emerged from the OP Parakram standoff were two-fold: in future a lack of clarity within the Union Cabinet of the day on India’s overall war objectives may result in the country’s political leadership dithering till the last moment in issuing mobilization orders; and that being the case the armed forces had to come up with as new warfighting doctrine that would enable it to swiftly mobilize (within 72 hours) and retain the operational initiative by adopting a forward-deployed posture before the adversary can, and re-organise and re-equip both its Holding Corps-level formations with highly mobile Brigade-sized integrated offensive formations. Thus was born the so-called Cold Start Doctrine (now called Pro-Active Strategy), which was officially unveiled on April 28, 2004 by Army HQ. The most significant aim of this new doctrinal transformation is to strike offensively with eight Integrated Brigade Groups (IBG) without giving away any battle indicators of mobilization and thereby significantly reduce the reaction time and early warning normally available to Pakistan, and this in turn means that each such IBG will have to be forward deployed even in peacetime and have an ORBAT that puts an enormous premium on mobility and the ability to wage all-weather offensive operations simultaneously across eight sectors in a fluid battlespace without provoking the threat of a Pakistani nuclear response, but at the same time greatly dissipating the Pakistan Army’s defensive war-waging potential. The IBGs, now being raised by selectively merging the Army’s seven Independent Armoured Brigades and the seven Independent Infantry Brigades, were originally conceived by HQ Southern Command.
Which brings us back to the sad and unending saga towed field artillery howitzer trials. By late 2002 it was evident that the days of towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers were clearly numbered and therefore Army HQ decided to re-issue RFPs for such guns, but this time the number of units required was reduced from 1,580 to 400 (for five Regiments) worth US$663 million. This time, however, both ST Engineering and France’s Nexter Systems clearly smelt a rat and decided not to respond to the RFP. Both of them had by then received clear vibes from Army HQ that eventually the FH-77BO5L52 would be selected over Soltam’s ATHOS 2052, with the winner replacing the existing 410 FH-77BO2L39s and being able to fire ERFB-BB rounds out to 42.1km, and VLAP rounds out to 52.5km when using bi-modular charges. And as it turned out, during the unprecedented fourth round of trials, the FH-77BO5L52 prevailed over the ATHOS 2052 in terms of several critical reliability and performance parameters, one of which apparently included the amount of paint that would peel off the gun barrels due to sustained firing! So why is Army HQ now seeking the bizarre fifth round of firing trials? It is widely believed that if Army HQ could have its way, it would ideally like to totally do away with the acquisition of towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers and instead acquire an initial 180 airmobile 155mm/52-cal motorised howitzers, with up to 814 17-tonne motorised howitzers (for 35 Field Artillery Regiments), now known as Mounted Gun Systems, being acquired eventually. RFPs for this requirement, though, have yet to be issued. Another priority acquisition identified by Army HQ is for up to 120 airmobile ultra-lightweight 155mm/39-calibre howitzers that can be transported underslung by medium-lift helicopters. This type of howitzer is currently available from only two sources—BAE Systems’ LW-155 and ST Kinetics of Singapore’s Pegasus. This then leaves us with only two probable conclusions as to why Army HQ is now being made to dilute its GSQRs and seek a fifth round of competitive trials for towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers: either to accommodate a new competitor that has already been promised this contract by the Govt of India due to ‘extraneous’ reasons; or trying to wear out and eventually force BAE Systems/SWS Defence to unilaterally withdraw in sheer frustration, which will conveniently enable the present UPA coalition government to distance itself from the ‘ghost of Bofors’ at a time when general elections are around the corner. Small wonder, therefore, that BAE Systems has now refused to bid for the airmobile ultra-lightweight 155mm/39-calibre howitzer programme on ethical grounds—Prasun K. Sengupta

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

drdo better start working on howitzer project it will b the best thing

Anonymous said...

to prasun

it was rajiv gandhi who screwed the bofors deal and thats y UPA
doesn't want bofors deal again despite the bofors guns beat others

Anonymous said...

to prasun

some more questions

how does astra missile competes with future ramjet missiles in operational ranges

like meteor has operational range
100km

aim120c has operational range 105

and r 77 has operational range of 100 km
how does astra compares to these figures

and please also post

AMRAAM 120C VS R77

Anonymous said...

:drdo better start working on howitzer project it will b the best thing

Ya we can have it ready in 2050.

Anonymous said...

do you have any pictures of IAF at Daulat Beg Oldi
Thank you

Anonymous said...

abe question master why dont u do some research of ur own instead of telling prasun all the time :-P

meteor will have a range 120-140 km. but lower end for effective engagement.
same for aim-120-d.
r-77 has range of max 75 km. (high alt launch at speed m1.5)
astra is designed to achieve 110 km in same conditions. it will be a very capable missile in its full version and allow india to outrange aim 120c5 equipped paki fighters.

Anonymous said...

agree, high time DRDO gets started

Anonymous said...

to anon above

drdo better start working on howitzer project it will b the best thing

Ya we can have it ready in 2050.
--------------------------------------------
i think drdo will not take 3-4 years to make it cuz its not the product which requires extensive tech to develop and drdo already has developed main gun for arhun tank which is quite good so whats wrong with 155 gun to develop

Anonymous said...

Prasun bhai, can we please have an article on Akash, Trishul, Nag, Astra, Rajendra radar etc? You are one of the few bloggers who publish what PEOPLE want and we reallt want 2 hear on this. Keep up your standards and dont end up like Shiv and worse still Ajai who have no respect for people who comment on their blogs and just publish what ever hell they want.

Forever with Trishulgroup,

Sonu.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Sonu bhai: Many thanks for your words of appreciation, which are always welcomed and digested in good faith. But I think you're coming in a bit too hard on Ajai & Shiv. We ALL have our respective niche areas are are not in competition with one another. Rather, we sincerely attempt to complement one another from time to time. My blog, as you will have realised by now, is more hardware-oriented and attempts to portray images/issues from a defence-industrial standpoint. That said, kindly rest assured that I will continue to upload stories concerning not onlt the indigenous R & D efforts of India and related matters, but also those pertaining to military-industrial activities in Pakistan and China.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@7:53AM: There's no need really for the DRDO to re-invent the wheel since BAE Systems/SWS Defence has already teamed up with TATA while South Korea's Samsung Techwin has teamed up with Larsen & Toubro to develop futuristic 155mm/52-cal motorised howitzers. Similarly, Punj Lloyd has teamed up with Singapore's ST Kinetics to co-produce the Pegasus lightweight howitzer. Where the DRDO can play a pivotal role is to get these private sector players together to develop a family of 155mm/52-cal guns that can not only be used as field artillery howitzers, but also as main guns on naval warships. There's tremendous scope for technological convergence and R & D for common-user items, which the DRDO, strangely, does not seem to have grasped when it could have in the 1990s itself. Had that been the case, then today we would have already had a naval shipborne variant of the Rajendra APAR, while the weapon locating radar could have been ready by 1999 itself, had work on it begun in the early 1990s. I once asked this very question to Dr V S Arunachalam, the then Secretary of DRDO, way back in 1991 when we briefly met in Singapore, but I did not get satisfactory answers, maybe because either the DRDO was then suffering from an acute shortage of R & D funding, or the Army had not yet framed the WLR's GSQR.

Anonymous said...

y is it always "co developed"? cant tata and LnT make it themselves?

Anonymous said...

"Had that been the case, then today we would have already had a naval shipborne variant of the Rajendra APAR,"

rajendra is a PPAR ie pesa

Anonymous said...

HI MAN, WHY DID YOU NAME THIS BLOG TRISHUL?

IS IT IN MEMORY OF TRISHUL MISSILE?

JUST CAME ONBOARD

TQ

Anonymous said...

prasun faster updates ie more quick posts with pics thx

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@9:56AM: Careful mate, otherwise some of these DRDO wannabes who never reveal their true identities (and therefore deserve to be taken with a fist-full of salt) will jump over you for calling the Rajendra a PESA. But rest assured, the L-band Rajendra target engagement radar is active phased-array. The antenna has 2,000 ferrite phase-shifters (if I'm not mistaken) and the original laboratory prototype had 4,000 of them.

To Anon@9:45AM: No, the simple answer is they can't. And why should they, when a strategic industrial tie-up between two industrial giants results in a customised weapon system being developed and mass-produced? And why this unending and unrealistic facination for building everything indigenously? Just show me one country that produces totally 100% indigenously designed and produced weapons? Nowadays it is just not financially viable to engage in such practices. One has to be part of the global supply chain. Even companies like Germany's Rheinmetall are importing off-the-shelf the chemicals and propellants required for 155mm artillery rounds from China. And if I'm not mistaken, even all the Indian tricolours made of plastic that are held by the kids during independence and republic days are ALL Made in & Supplied By China! That is why I keep on emphasising that what matters today is not an indigenous, locally established assembly line for each and every weapon system, but the acquisition the core technological competencies required for giving the armed forces FULL OPERATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY over the weapons they are meant to use, i.e. no restrictions on acquiring leading-edge technologies (either locally developed whenever economically feasible, or importing them if readily available) and no restrictons on their deployment/usage options.

To Anon@10:01AM: TRISHUL is my company's name. Hence the blog too is called TRISHUL. Will shortly change the logo from TRIDENT to TRISHUl as well. There are no linkages to the Trishul SHORADS project of the DRDO.

dd7 said...

The antenna has 2,000 ferrite phase-shifters (if I'm not mistaken) and the original laboratory prototype had 4,000 of them.

Please elaborate. Can't make head or tail of what you mean. less "ferrite phase-shifters", does it mean the production one is worse?

For supply chain chemicals and all is fine but not for design and engineering..... for example when USA designs their tanks and systems do they CO-DEVELOP with other countries primarily? NO. Talking about Indian Flags have nothing to do. I have no objection if India imports PAINT or BOLTS or STEEL from China for producing these systems but certainly NOT CO-DESIGNING OR CO-DEVELOPING!!

Anonymous said...

Prasun,
Do you have any article in the pipeline regarding why the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) position was never filled despite the recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee. In general an article on Indian Military's Chain of Command, Decision Making process would be appreciated.
Thanks for all the great work.

Anonymous said...

To Anon@9:56AM: Careful mate, otherwise some of these DRDO wannabes who never reveal their true identities (and therefore deserve to be taken with a fist-full of salt) will jump over you for calling the Rajendra a PESA. But rest assured, the L-band Rajendra target engagement radar is active phased-array. The antenna has 2,000 ferrite phase-shifters (if I'm not mistaken) and the original laboratory prototype had 4,000 of them.
if they are from drdo, it makes a lotta sense why they will not reveal their true identities. helping u does not mean they compromise on their professional issues.

ferrite phase shifters- so what? thats exactly what a pesa has! its only when those phase shifters are integrated into individual mmic tx/rx units does it become an aesa.the bars has ferrite phase shifters. the an/spy-1 has ferrite phase shifters..

in fact, its surprising that u dont even know rajendra is a pesa since drdo has been about it from ten years.

i think the drdo "wannabes" can tell a lot about the drdo radar prgrams but since ur attack i doubt they will keep visitng trishul..but you must have a reason for driving them all away.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@11:22AM: Till this date, NOT ONE DRDO poster displayed in public during any expo has claimed that the Rajendra is PESA. Show me one official document that says the Rajendra is a PESA. Don't make any vague unprovable remarks unless you have iron-clad proof. Like I said much earlier a few days ago, I don't want to see nameless and faceless 'DRDO wannabes' making unsubstantiated claims in my blog. Either stand up and be accounted for, or just bugger off. And for your info, if the Rajendra indeed is a PESA and the DRDO had mastered this technology more than 10 years ago, why on earth would the MMR of the LCA not have a PESA antenna array till this day? And why is it the case that so far only the Rohini 3-D CAR is being put to production? Why not the 'Rajendra', which has been under development since the early 1990s?

Anonymous said...

ajai dont even care about anyones questions compared to prasun. n so u guys r ranting n taking opportunity of his kindness in replying most of the logical questions pointed at him. simple as that

but actually the rajendra radar is a pesa radar no doubts about that prasun u better refresh youself.

Anonymous said...

ok prasun best way 2 proove urself is to upload some brochere of rajendra n see what it says because even in bharat-rakshak says its a pesa. actually pesa on plane is different from pesa on ground so thats why on tejas still cannot. or since got some drdo wannabees they are also welcome to furnish some pics of brochere which will be easily available 2 them. hehehe

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Roger that. I got all six DRDO posters regarding the Akash SAM project and will upload them. By the way, they were obtained way back in April 2004 at an expo during which I got a first-hand briefing on the 'Rajendra' from both Dr Panyam and Dr Prahlada. That should tell you enough for tht time-being.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@11:21AM: The general consensus within the Indian armed forces as far back as 2004 was to first create the mindset for jointness that would in enhance unity of command as far as force deployments/operations/campaigns were concerned. For this mindset to take shape, the environment conducive to plan for and launch joint operations was necessary, which in turn could only be created if integrated tri-service theatre commands were created. Thus the Chiefs of Staff Committee decided that the nucleas of such a joint command-and-control structure be the first one to be formed. Thus was born the HQ Integrated Defence Staff, which in future will become the Secretariat for the Chief of Defence Staff. The other tri-service integrated commands that have since been created are the Andaman & Nicobar Command, and the Strategic Forces Command. Similar integrated theatre command HQs will follow in future under which all the respective C-in-Cs from the Army, Navy and Air Force will be housed under one roof. For instance, the GOC-in-C Southern Command, AOC-in-C Southern Command & FOC-in-C Southern Command will all operate out of one single HQ, instead of the present practice of operating from their own respective geographically-separated command HQs. The overall commander of such an integrated command HQ will be rotating from service to service. Only after such a practice has been institutionalised and well-implemented will the post of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Vice Chief, and their Deputy Chiefs will be established, with the HQ Integrated Defence Staff functioning as the functional secretariat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Prasun,

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

Prasun, Shubho Bijoya !!

I am sorry to send you such a long article here, in future if u can send me your e-mail I will mail the bigger articles there.

Going by your excellent article and I would like to place emphasis on the word "extraneous circumstances" which is so true, I am forwarding an article that appeared in a right wing press in Pakistan. Would like your comments on the point mentioned in this article. Here is the article:

When the Native American’s were fighting the White man, the settlers sold them a few obsolete used Smith and Wessons (many with curved barrels, and dented eye-sights), but mostly it was Small Pox impregnated blankets and a lot of alcohol. A lot of alcohol. USA and Russia are now dumping substandard planes on India–While billions starve in South Asia, corrupt South Asian politicians are happily wasting away Billions, garnishing kickbacks, fooling an illiterate & emotional population with the mirage of military might, portending the triumphalist media’s farce of “Great power status”.

Are the F-35s and the F-22s the Wild Wild West version of the guns, and the Nuclear agreements, the blankets and the alcohol. All this with a lot of kickbacks. A lot of kickbacks.

US predatory nuclear mafia chomping at the bits for Indian Dollars

India bought hundreds of Russian Flying Coffins. Is it buying cremation discs again?

The Chinese ordered 250 kits of the Mig 29. After receiving 150 planes they canceled the order. At the point China became technologically independent and began manufacturing a superior version of the plane. Russia was angry at Russia but could not do anything.

The Indian defense establishment has poured billions into fake research and development and then asked the country to purchase expensive useless toys from Russia and the West. The much heralded “Transfer of Technology (ToT) remains an elusive and ephemeral goal. Neither Russia nor the USA is either committed to commercial suicide. US corporations which exist for profit are not prone to economic and technologicalal hari kari–keep the illusion of “local manufacturing” alive, but are constrained by investor interests to really give up the “Coca Cola formula” to the Indians.

There are several news items that lead us to analyze the defense procurement practices of the Indian establishment.

1) The 500th Flying Coffin of the Indian Airforce crashed a few weeks ago. This marked a world record for any Airforce. No other Airforce in the world has had so many crashes. Pilot error, equipment malfunction or just pure incompetence has led to this ignominious award to the IAF.

2) With the Indian embrace of Uncle Sam, Russia is peeved at the Indo-American relationship. Flush with Petro Dollars The Russian bear has is elided India in the development of new fighter jets and doubled the price of the aircraft Carrier that it is selling to New Delhi.

3) The Russians are now dumping a stripped down version of the Mig 29 to India without any participation in the development of the plane. Datapoints: Trials begin March 2009, and Indian Defense contractors will not be chosen ’till December 2008. Decision on which components to be made in India have yet to be decided.

The new stripped down version of the Mig29 being sold to India has already been designed by Russia. In years gone by, during the post USSR era, the penury stricken Russian arms industry was looking for buyers. It found few. India sanctioned by the USA at the time plopped down billions. Now the world stage has changed. India is snuggling up to the Russian nemeses– the USA. According to press reports, the Russiansare not very keep on using India as equal design partners in airplane development projects. Russia wants Indian Dollars for supply of kits which it had agreed to during lean times.

Designs for the PAK-FA have already been frozen by the Sukhoi design bureau, which means that Indian aircraft engineers have already missed out on the criticalknowledge curve of aircraft design. Also, the unequal status of the Indian and Russian aviation industries means India will be the junior partner contributing very little except finance. India Today. September 29th, 2008

The Indians were furious that the Russians flush with Petro Dollars were not participating in a joint design of the aircraft. According to reports the decibel level of the meeting was “frank” (diplomatic euphemism for direct yelling at each other)

“So if we have missed out on the design phase, we have to analyse the cost-benefits of acquiring only super cruise and stealth technology for $ 10 billion,” asks Air Vice Marshal Kak. India Today. September 29th, 2008

4) The US has signed a “Nuclear Deal” with India which in effect actually forces India as part of the Nuclear Proliferation treaty (NPT) even though successive Indian Governments have refused to sign the NPT. The Nuclear dealalso prohibits India from ever testing a nuclear device with intrusive inspection of more than half of India’s nuclear plants and heavy monitoring of the new ones. The Indian Left is wise to the dance of of death with the USA, but the Indian National Congress has forged through– with a tango with the US defense contractors (very lucrative for the politicians in power).

5) The Indian Missile program (Trishul, Agni etc) is a total failure and is being scrapped and substituted by purchase of advanced missiles from Russia.

6) The Indian Main Battle Tank (MTB) is a colossal failure and India has admitted to it by purchasing 500 new T-90 russian tanks for more than 1 Billion Dollars.

India’s main battle tank Project Arjun is, unfortunately, more flab than brawn. More a heavyweight than a performer. A potpourri really, with a French engine, and German seals fitted into an Indian hull and turret. And transporting this heavyweight is going to be another problem, which could limit its operational performance.

Arjun was basically planned as an ambitious project with complete indigenous components and assemblies.


It has now been revealed that the Arjun’s sub-systems were all imported except for the hull and the turret. The imported assemblies include all major sub-systems such as engine, transmission, track-suspension, gin and fire control. Our experts are of the view that their integration, “leaves much to be desired”. The auxiliary power unit from France did not perfectly fit in the tank, with the German seals not meeting the General Staff qualitative requirements of withstanding temperatures up to 150 degree Centigrade


The barely measured up to 120 degrees. Arjun is therefore quite a “khichri” with the French engine, withGerman seals fitted into the Indian hull and turret mounting a not very accurate 120mm gun Major General M. L. Popli (retd.) Full story: Arjun vs Al-Khalid main battle tanks

7) The Indian LCA fighter aircraft has been in development for more than a decade with no output. In normalcircumstances this would be considered a failed project. Now new engines have been ordered and the project has a perpetual life of its own. Like a Maruti which took a Fiat 124S and painted a huge Indian flag on it, the LCA will emerge as in import with a tricolors painted on it.

Is the F-35 a total failure like the F-111? Australians think so! The F-35 is not a proven fighter design that has demonstrated a baseline of performance in service, however; it is a developmental aircraft in the early days of its test program, which is scheduled to continue until 2013.

As one might expect, that status makes the F-35 a controversial long-term bet in many of the program’s member countries. The USA is looking at its budgets, and has concluded that it can afford about half of the annual aircraft buy it had planned during the program’s early years. Its fellow Tier 1 partner Britain is reportedly re-evaluating its planned F-35B order in light of rising costs and problematic defense budgets. Sharp controversy has erupted in Tier 2 partner the Netherlandsover long-term costs and industrial arrangements, leading to politicalpressure for a competitive bid. Tier 3 partners Norway and Denmark have both traveled down that same road, and are holding open competitions that pit the F-35 against Saab’s modernized JAS-39NG GripenSept 30th, 2008. Defense Industry Daily (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/)

Indian politicians corrupt to the core are mischievously selling the vision of “India as World power” to the illiterate emotion population and a triumphalist press to busy covering soft porn in Bollywoodto investigate the truth.

On Sept 11/08, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has asked for a full report from Australia’s DoD, in response to public reports that a classified computer simulation of an attack by Russian-built SU-30 family aircraft on a mixed fleet of F-35As, Super Hornets and F-22s, had resulted in success for the Russian aircraft. Fitzgibbon, who questioned the strategic logic behind Australia’s plans for an F-35/ F-18F fighter fleet while in opposition, asked for anAustralian Department of Defence review, and added that:

“I’m determined not to sign on the dotted line on the JSFuntil I am absolutely certain it’s capable of delivering the capability it promises and that capability can be delivered on time and on budget.” Sept 30th, 2008. Defense Industry Daily (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/)

8) India is purchasing $126 Billion Dollars worth of aircraft from the USA. Part of the new fleet of Indian aircraft will be the American plane called the F-35 which is pure junk and been unable to live up to any of its stated parameters. The ubiquitous criticism of the F-35 has led the USAF to cut the orders of the plane to half the original number. The Australians flying the plane are beyond furious.

This analysis by Pierre M. Spey, a key member of the F-16 and A-10 design teams, cast sharp doubt on the F-35’s capabilities:

“Even without new problems, the F-35 is a ‘dog.’ If one accepts every performance promise the DoDcurrently makes for the aircraft, the F-35 will be: “Overweight and underpowered: at 49,500 lb (22,450kg) air-to-air take-off weight with an engine rated at 42,000 lb of thrust, it will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter…. [F-35A and F-35B variants] will have a ‘wing-loading’ of 108 lb per square foot…. less manoeuvrable than the appallingly vulnerable F-105 ‘Lead Sled’ that got wiped out over NorthVietnam…. payload of only two 2,000 lb bombs in its bomb bay…. With more bombs carried under its wings, the F-35 instantly becomes ‘non-stealthy’ and the DoD does not plan to seriously test it in this configuration for years.

As a ‘close air support’… too fast to see the tactical targets it is shooting at; too delicate and flammable to withstand ground fire; and it lacks the payload and especially the endurance to loiter usefully over US forces for sustained periods…. What the USAF will not tell you is that ‘stealthy’ aircraft are quite detectable by radar; it is simply a question of the type of radar and its angle relative to the aircraft…. As for the highly complex electronics to attack targets in the air, the F-35, like the F-22 before it, has mortgaged its success on a hypothetical vision of ultra-long range, radar-based air-to-air combat that has fallen on its face many times in real air war. The F-35’s air-to-ground electronics promise little more than slicker command and control for the use of existing munitions.” Sept 30th, 2008. Defense Industry Daily (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/)

APPENDIX A FOR REFERENCE AND DETAILS ON THE F-35 farce

The F-35’s Air-to-Air Capability Controversy 29-Sep-2008 20:28 EDT

F-35AF-35A test flight
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter/ Lightning II program is reaching a criticalnexus. In order to keep costs under control and justify the industrial ramp up underway, participating countries need to sign order agreements within the next year or so. The F-35 is not a proven fighter design that has demonstrated a baseline of performance in service, however; it is a developmental aircraft in the early days of its test program, which is scheduled to continue until 2013.

As one might expect, that status makes the F-35 a controversial long-term bet in many of the program’s member countries. The USA is looking at its budgets, and has concluded that it can afford about half of the annual aircraft buy it had planned during the program’s early years. Its fellow Tier 1 partner Britain is reportedly re-evaluating its planned F-35B order in light of rising costs and problematic defense budgets. Sharp controversy has erupted in Tier 2 partner the Netherlandsover long-term costs and industrial arrangements, leading to politicalpressure for a competitive bid. Tier 3 partners Norway and Denmark have both traveled down that same road, and are holding open competitions that pit the F-35 against Saab’s modernized JAS-39NG Gripen.

Australia hasn’t yet reached that point, but September 2008 has featured a very public set of controversies around the F-35’s performance. In the current environment, the altercation in Australia has become a controversy with implications, and responses, that have reached well beyond that continent’s shores….

* F-35: September 2008’s Australian Altercation
* F-35: Air to Air Analyses
* Additional Readings

F-35: September 2008’s Australian Altercation

AIR_F-111_and_F-18_RAAF.jpgThe current roster

On Sept 11/08, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has asked for a full report from Australia’s DoD, in response to public reports that a classified computer simulation of an attack by Russian-built SU-30 family aircraft on a mixed fleet of F-35As, Super Hornets and F-22s, had resulted in success for the Russian aircraft. Fitzgibbon, who questioned the strategic logic behind Australia’s plans for an F-35/ F-18F fighter fleet while in opposition, asked for anAustralian Department of Defence review, and added that:

“I’m determined not to sign on the dotted line on the JSFuntil I am absolutely certain it’s capable of delivering the capability it promises and that capability can be delivered on time and on budget.”

On Sept 12/08, Australia’s opposition Liberal Party waded into the fray in support of its previous decision to buy the F-35A. It asked the new minister to release the results of the recent Air Combat Capability Review, and geton withhis decision. On Sept 25/08, the RAND Corporation stepped in with a statement of their own concerning the August 2008 Pacific Vision simulation:

“Recently, articles have appeared in the Australian press with assertions regarding a war game in which analysts from the RAND Corporation were involved. Those reports are not accurate. RAND did not present any analysis at the war game relating to the performance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nor did the game attempt detailed adjudication of air-to-air combat. Neither the game nor the assessments by RAND in support of the game undertook any comparison of the fighting qualities of particular fighter aircraft”

The end result left the Australian controversy without much substance. Even so, the timing of this contretemps could not have been worse from Lockheed Martin’s perspective. Just 3 days earlier, the left-wing American Center for Defense Information had released “Joint Strike Fighter: The Latest Hotspot in the U.S. Defense Meltdown.” This analysis by Pierre M. Spey, a key member of the F-16 and A-10 design teams, cast sharp doubt on the F-35’s capabilities:

“Even without new problems, the F-35 is a ‘dog.’ If one accepts every performance promise the DoDcurrently makes for the aircraft, the F-35 will be: “Overweight and underpowered: at 49,500 lb (22,450kg) air-to-air take-off weight with an engine rated at 42,000 lb of thrust, it will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter…. [F-35A and F-35B variants] will have a ‘wing-loading’ of 108 lb per square foot…. less manoeuvrable than the appallingly vulnerable F-105 ‘Lead Sled’ that got wiped out over NorthVietnam…. payload of only two 2,000 lb bombs in its bomb bay…. With more bombs carried under its wings, the F-35 instantly becomes ‘non-stealthy’ and the DoD does not plan to seriously test it in this configuration for years. As a ‘close air support’… too fast to see the tacticaltargets it is shooting at; too delicate and flammable to withstand ground fire; and it lacks the payload and especially the endurance to loiter usefully over US forces for sustained periods…. What the USAF will not tell you is that ‘stealthy’ aircraft are quite detectable by radar; it is simply a question of the type of radar and its angle relative to the aircraft…. As for the highly complex electronics to attack targets in the air, the F-35, like the F-22 before it, has mortgaged its success on a hypothetical vision of ultra-long range, radar-based air-to-air combat that has fallen on its face many times in real air war. The F-35’s air-to-ground electronics promise little more than slicker command and control for the use of existing munitions.”

On Sept 18/08, Lockheed Martin fired back in “F-35: Setting the Record Straight.” It takes direct aim at both the Australian press reports, and the CDIarticle, noting that external weapons clearance is part of the F-35’s current test program. Lockheed Martin added that:

”….The Air Force’s standard air-to-air engagement analysis model, also used by allied air forces to assess air-combat performance, pitted the 5th generation F-35 against all advanced 4th generation fighters in a variety of simulated scenarios…. In all F-35 Program Office and U.S. Air Force air-to-air combat effectiveness analysis to date, the F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois…. In stealth combat configuration, the F-35 aerodynamically outperforms all other combat-configured 4th generation aircraft in top-end speed, loiter, subsonic acceleration and combat radius. This allows unprecedented “see/shoot first” and combat radius advantages.

The high thrust-to-weight ratios of the lightweight fighter program Wheeler/Sprey recall from 30 years ago did not take into consideration combat-range fuel, sensors or armament… We do consider all of this in today’s fighters….

….Simply put, advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access—all before the F-35 is ever detected, then return safely to do it again.”

Note that Lockheed Martin’s release does not address infared stealth against modern IRST (infa-red scan and track) air to air systems, which are present on advanced European and Russian designs and have ranges up to 70km. Nor does it make any claims concerning superior maneuverability against thrust-vectoring opponents like Russia’s MiG-29OVT and the most modern members of the SU-30 family, or canard-equipped “4.5 generation” aircraft like the Dassault Rafale, EADS Eurofighter, or Saab’s Gripen.

F-35: Air to Air Analyses

AIR F-35 Left Wingover Rear ViewF-35A #AA-1

Both the CDI’s analysis, and Lockheed Martin’s reply, are incomplete.

Spey has undertaken a similar analysis of the F-22A Raptor for CDI, but aircraft pilots have said that his analysis in key areas like maneuverability is poorly done, and does not match provable reality. This justifies strong caution in accepting Spey’s analysis, and Lockheed Martin’s reply offers additional reasons for doubt. In fairness to Spey, it should also be said that combat experience with his A-10 aircraft in Afghanistan et. al. does back up his contentions concerning the limitations of fast jets, and the capabilities required for close air support.

In the F-22’s case, reasons could be advanced to explain why Spey’s F-22 analysis parameters were wrong, such as the F-22’s thrust vectoring and controllable tail surfaces to offset Spey’s unidimensional wing loading analysis, the tacticalimplicationsof having the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, and stealththat has defeated AWACS aircraft and worked against internationalfighter pilots even at relatively short ranges. F-22 pilots have also racked up incredibly lopsided kill ratios in American and international exercises, far in excess of “normal” performance for new aircraft, that back up their pilots’ performance claims.

This is all much harder to do for the F-35, which remains a developmental aircraft and lacks key aerodynamic features like combat thrust vectoring (Harrier, SU-30 family, MiG-29OVT, F-22A), canards for fast “point and shoot” manevers with high off-boresight short-range missiles (some SU-30 family, Rafale, Eurofighter, Gripen), or loaded supersonic cruise (F-22A). The F-35 has also been designed from the outsetto feature less stealth than the F-22A, though it will be stealthier than contemporary 4.5 generation European and Russian aircraft. Aircraft intake size and hence volume are set unless the aircraft is redesigned, and wing size, angle and loading can all be observed.

AIR SU-30MKI Eurofighter Tornado-F3Indra Dhanush: SU-30MKI, Eurofghter, Tornado F3

The F-35’s explicit design goal has been stated as being the F-16’s equal in in air to air combat, at a time when the F-16’s future ability to survive in that arena is questioned. The question naturally arises: what special features give the F-35 a unique ability to prevail against the kind of advanced, upgraded 4.5 generation and better fighters that it can be expected to face between its induction, and a likely out of service date around 2050 or later?

Classified simulations whose assumptions are shielded from the public may indeed demonstrate the attested results, but their foundations are outside any public scrutiny, and amount to a claim that must be taken on faith. That may not be very convincing in the political sphere. Especially since models of this type have been wrong before, due to the well-known phenomenon of incorrect or missing assumptions producing results that don’t match the test of battle.

Ultimately, solid proof comes from use in combat against peer opponents. Israel’s nuclear program removed that perennial testing ground, by ending the consistent string of conventional wars that used to be the globe’s top source for that kind of information. Nor has any other source for that kind of peer conflict data emerged since the 1990s. If the F-35 lacks that kind of backing, well, so do all of its competitors.

These days, an imperfect but acceptable substitute may be available via performance in multinational exercises like Red Flag or Indra Dhanush, where some of the opponents will have less institutional incentive to soft-pedal comparative performance claims in the name of a united organizational front.

F-35B STOVL LandingX-35B STOVL

The F-35 does have the equivalent of a Sniper ATP reconnaissance and targeting pod built in, and experience on the front lines indicates that its presence goes significantly beyond just “slicker command and control for the use of existing munitions.” That addresses an important component of the F-35’s overall rationale – but it does not address the air to air dimension.

As it happens, that air to air dimension will not be a priority for every customer.

Some customers may be quite satisfied witha manned fighter that offers good international/NATO commonality, the ability to perform basic airspace sovereignty duties, good survivability against medium to advanced air defenses if encountered, off the shelf surveillance and targeting capabilities that exceed all other contemporary fighters, and the ability to carry enough weapons to support international missions against opponents up to the level of Serbia or al-Qaeda and the Taliban. For those countries, even an F-35 that matched Spey’s characterization might well suffice.

Questions of industrial benefits and costs, rather than air to air capabilities, will dominate fighter replacement discussions in those countries. The F-35 program has already seen a 54.4% increase in overall program costs per aircraft delivered from 2001 to the present day, and the US GAO believes that another 14.5% rise to about $327 billion for 2,456 American fighters could still lie ahead. If the GAO is correct, it would place the fully-loaded program cost of each F-35 at $137 million . That price is not at all the same as the “flyway cost” of buying an individual aircraft, but it does affect program partners if the USA isn’t prepared to bear those additional program costs alone. Or if rising costs force the USA to slash its own procurement numbers yet again, a move that would affect the aircraft’s production economies of scale and learning curves.

Budgetary and industrialconcerns will always be part of the debate, but some customers may also have stricter performance requirements to deal with.

If a country needs aircraft to operate from small aircraft carriers or amphibious assault LHDs, the AV-8 Harrier’s age and projected phase-out plans will make the F-35B STOVL(Short Take Off, VerticalLanding) their only non-Russian option. Customers in this category include the US Marine Corps, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and others. Very large LHDs, or small carriers equipped with ski-jumps, may also allow some competition from the less flexible STOBAR (Short Take Off But Assisted Recovery) MiG-29K, which India’s navy plans to induct by 2011 or so. For those customers, the choice boils down to having fighter jet launch capability from those platforms – or not.

F-35CUS Navy F-35C

On the flip side, if maintaining regionalor localair superiority is a priority mission for any replacement fighter, then air to air performance against enemy aircraft becomes extremely important. This is certainly true for the US Navy’s carrier fleet, for Australia’s RAAF, and to a lesser extent for the future British Navy. With these customers, Lockheed Martin must either depend on politicalinertia, or advance plausible, non-classified rationales that explain why its F-35s will perform as an air superiority fighter. Australia may have been the first potential customer to raise the issue this openly in the political sphere; it is unlikely to be the last.

What’s common to every potential F-35 customer, of course, is the time factor. Competitively tested performance, and firm costs, are still some years away. Even so, many defense departments around the world will need to make decisions before that evidence becomes available.

Hence the current political conundrums in country after country, and the tension that inevitably surrounds any program of this size before key commitments are made. As Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman puts it:

“If the JSFprogram succeeds in locking up its international partners, the project could be within reach of its goal of an F-16-like, mid-four-digit production run…. But if JSFfalls short of its goals – as almost every major military aircraft program has in the past 25 years – it will throw the re-equipment plans of a dozen air arms into disarray.”

shriya said...

Love you Prasun..

Max said...

^^

LOL.. excellent picture :-P

Anonymous said...

Hello Prasun K Sengupta

Happened to stumble upon this blog. Are you a defence analyst? Your articles are really superb.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To: Bengal Under Attack: Shubho Bijoya to you and all your loved ones too. Regarding the article you uploaded, it seems on first impression to be the common ranting of one of several retired senior Pakistani armed forces officials who always moan about the 'hegemonistic and bullying nature' of India. They never tire of uttering such remarks, knowing fully well that given the precarious state of their economy and having run out of allies that previously bailed out the failed state, Pakistan can only be envious of India's defence spending levels and accept with the greatest of difficulty and objectivity that no longer is the maintenance of any kind of strategic military parity between the two belligerents possible. In fact, whenever I've officially interviewed high-ranking Pakistani military officials in the past, inevitably India cropped up, despite me not even having mentioned India nor having solicited their views on comparisons between the two countries. Such is their phobia or myopia. In fact, in April 2002 when I was interviewing the then Chairman of Pakistan Ordnance Factories he very clearly claimed that the 9/11 attacks and alleged their links with Pakistan were all disinformation and that in reality it was the Jews & Hindus that were responsible for this global conspiracy. Now if this is how the senior Pakistani military elite think, there's no way then that one can reason with such closed-loop mindsets.

max said...

@Prasun

100% true. Just go to any Pakistani forum or blog and somehow India crops up from the blues, although most of the time it has nothing to do with India. Plain inferiority complex.

BENGAL UNDER ATTACK said...

Prasun,

Paks' response can be understood but you did not tell me whether the assertions made in the article about the inferior quality of hardware (aircrafts that apparently the Aussies hate, the Chinese have scrapped) are true or just propoganda?

Anonymous said...

i dont care if it was written by Pakis or Porkis but the fact remains that yes, they r notoriously corrupt and buying not for the country's needs but their own pocket needs. It is necessary for TATRA trucks or BMP2 vehicles (can't we make somethings like those)?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Bengal Under Attack: Yes, they are mostly propaganda and frustrated outbursts. If indeed the picture painted by them was true, then by now Pakistan would have enjoyed strategic superiority over India, leave alone strategic parity. The stark reality is that the Pakistan Armed Forces are today being forced to adopt a dual-track approach to their weapons procurements: buying from the West because the West wants them to for political and financial reasons; and buying similar weapon systems from China due to their genuine operational requirements. This policy itself will drive Pakistan to total financial dependency on the West, or at worst, total bankruptsy.

trisha said...

rather than plainly and conveniently using Pakistan as a scapegoat lets accept some of our faults that are highlighted in that article (by Bengal Under Attack) and hopefully we can move away from it in future.