Saturday, December 20, 2008

BrahMos MRCM Operational With Indian Navy

The BrahMos supersonic multi-role cruise missile (MRCM) being co-produced by BrahMos Aerospace Ltd, a Russia-India joint venture company, continues to evolve in terms of its versatility and on March 5 this year a ship-to-shore land attack variant of this missile was test-fired (this being the missile’s 15th successful firing) from INS Rajput’s inclined launcher and it scored a direct hit against a designated target located in one of the islands of India’s Andaman & Nicobar Island chain. And on December 18, the Indian Navy’s (IN) second Kashin II-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG) to be equipped with the BrahMos (including four forward-mounted in inclined position and eight stern-mounted vertically-launched missiles) conducted the first successful vertical launch of the MRCM in the Bay of Bengal. Consequently, the BrahMos MRCM is now operational as an anti-ship cruise missile, and well as a land attack missile launched from both warships and ground-based mobile autonomous launchers (MAL).

The Indian Army (IA) on June 21 last year officially received its first Battery of the BrahMos MRCM in the presence of Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the then President and Commander-in-Chief of India’s armed forces; Defence Minister Arakkaparambil Kurian Antony; and Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh, the then Chief of the Army Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. In all, the IA will possess a total of some 250 land-attack variants of the BrahMos MRCMs, including war wastage reserves, by 2017. It was on February 3, 2005 that the Government of India’s Cabinet Committee on National Security had approved the IA’s plans to raise the first of three Regiments of the BrahMos’ MRCM as part of the 40th and 41st Artillery Divisions in the 10th and 11th Five-Year Plan periods (2002-2007 and 2008-2013). Each Battery comprises three Batteries each comprising four MALs, a Mobile Command Post (MCP), a Fixed Command Centre, four replenishment vehicles and three maintenance support vehicles. Each MAL carries three vertically-launched BrahMos missiles, and covers a frontage of 600km. The missile launcher’s launch beam is articulated to make the launch cannisters vertical through a high-pressure hydraulic system controlled by an electronic controller. The COTS-based launcher control system (LCS) functions in coordination with the MCP-mounted fire-control system (FCS) and a mast-mounted millimeter-wave line-of-sight secure communications system. Each MAL has a containerised power supply system consisting of 40kVA diesel generating set and 40kVA PTO alternator, a 2 x 7.5kVA single-phase UPS with integral battery bank for 15 minutes back-up power generation, and a 5kVA single-phase diesel generator.

The IA will use the BrahMos MRCM to decisively shape and influence the deep battlespace. The missile flies at a cruising speed of Mach 2.8 (to be increased in future to Mach 7), has zero circular error probability, is equipped with a long-range imaging infra-red seeker or an optional active radar seeker with built-in electronic counter-countermeasures features, and can take out mobile or stationary targets on land and in the high seas 290km away. It is 9 metres tall, weighs three metric tonnes, and carries a conventional 300kg warhead with 90kg TNT content. It has two stages—a solid propellant booster stage, and a ramjet-powered second stage using liquid propellant. Compared to existing subsonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos is superior by a factor of 3 in terms of velocity, 3 times better in flight range, 4 times better in terms of seeker range, and 9 times superior in terms of kill energy. Billed as a weapon unleashing technological asymmetry in the battlespace, this MRCM is capable of tilting the balance of war in favour of the possessor who can use it imaginatively and decisively. Under its new warfighting doctrine, the IA plans to wage a series of ‘knowledge-based’ deep battles by denying hostile ground forces the ability to employ their forces and assets not yet engaged at the time, place, or in the strength of their choice. Operating in a network-centric environment, the IA will use the BrahMos MRCM to hit the enemy as deep in his own territory as possible. The depth of these strikes will mostly range in excess of 150km from the Forward Edge of Battle Area. In order to fully optimise the BrahMos MRCM’s operational parameters and ensure synchronised battlespace management in a network-centric warfare environment, the Army is now in the process of fielding the indigenous Command-level Battlespace Surveillance System; Corps-level ‘Shakti’ Artillery Command, Control & Communications System; Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS) and its related Division-level Force Multiplier Command Post (FMCP) and Brigade-level Mobile Communications Terminal (MCT); all of which will be used for target acquisition, designation and engagement under near-real-time conditions by the BrahMos MRCM. The ‘Shakti’, CIDSS and FMCP will all employ secure tactical data links to receive data and imagery from not only medium-altitude long-endurance and high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), but also airborne ISTAR aircraft and space-based assets like synthetic aperture radar-equipped imaging satellites. This in turn will enable a single BrahMos Regiment to launch 36 MRCMs to successfully engage critical targets with pinpoint accuracy within a matter of seconds. Each missile can be pre-programmed to fly multiple flight trajectories through up to eight waypoints permitting turns up to 80º, traverse any type of terrain from sea-level to high altitude, and engage targets whether on forward or reverse slopes of mountains and valleys. The IA will consequently possess all the key attributes--knowledge, speed, precision end-game targeting solutions, and lethality—that are required for engaging in full-spectrum, knowledge-based joint warfare in a network-centric battlespace environment.

It was on February 12, 1998 that BrahMos Aerospace, an India-Russia joint venture company, was created for developing a multi-role, supersonic MRCM capable of being launched from principal surface combatants, submarines, ground-based mobile launchers, multi-role combat aircraft and maritime patrol/ASW aircraft, has achieved significant developmental milestones over the past nine years. The first test-flight of the BrahMos MRCM occurred on June 12, 2001 and the second followed on April 28, 2002, both from fixed on-shore launchers. The third test-flight was conducted on February 12, 2003 from
INS Rajput, a Project 61ME Kashin II-class DDG of the (IN), while the fourth took place on October 29, 2003 from a fixed on-shore launcher. The fifth test-firing was conducted on November 9, 2003 from a wheeled, road-mobile launcher. The sixth test-firing on November 23, 2003 was from INS Rajput, and a seventh test-firing took place on June 13, 2004, from a road-mobile launcher. The eighth test was conducted on November 3, 2004, again from INS Rajput.

For series-producing the MRCM, the sprawling BrahMos Integration Complex (BIC) in Hyderabad was commissioned in early 2004. The BIC today contains dedicated facilities such as standby generators; compressed air facility; inward inspection block; storage facilities for mechanical, electrical and electronic systems, bonded stores fuel filling area, magazine storage areas for propulsion systems and explosive devices, ultrasonic testing and sub-system test facilities, machining shop, and precision co-curing/autoclave facilities. BrahMos Aerospace has created a consortium of 20 Indian and 30 Russian industries since 2002 to undertake production of the MRCM’s intricate precision components and subassemblies, which number more than 2,000. The Indian companies include private and public sector companies, such as Larsen & Toubro, Godrej & Boyce, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, and Electronics Corp of India Ltd. While the Indian firms are providing the MRCM’s airframe, launch tubes, wheeled MALs and MCPs, digitised inertial navigation and flight control systems, fire-control system, imaging infra-red seeker, secure two-way data links, and mission software, Russian companies like NPO Mashinostroyenia and GRANIT Central Scientific Research Institute are providing the liquid-fuel ramjet engine, and the SGH active radar seeker for the missile’s anti-ship variant. All these components and sub-systems are finally installed and integrated at the BIC. In April 2004, Brahmos Aerospace tied up with Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp to globally market the BrahMos family of MRCMs. The agreement on joint export promotion of the BrahMos family of MRCMs missile was inked by Andrey Beliyaninov—the then Director General of Rosoboronexport; Professor Dr Herbert Yefremov, Director-General of NPO Mashinostroyeniya; and Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and Managing Director of Brahmos Aerospace.

The first production version of the land-based surface-to-surface variant of the BrahMos MRCM was successfully test-fired on June 13, 2004 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-Sea in Orissa State, facing the Bay of Bengal. This was followed by the second launch of the same variant of BrahMos on November 21, 2004 at the Mahajan test range in Pokhran, Rajasthan. The third test-firing of the MRCM—a variant for the Army—took place on November 30, 2005 from the ITR, while the fourth and test-firing (the 14th for the BrahMos) took place from the same site on April 22 last year. BrahMos Aerospace received the required financial allocations in December 2005 to begin R & D work on developing an air-launched variant of the missile. This variant will weigh about 2.5 tonnes, incorporate a smaller rocket booster, and have additional control fins for stability during launch. Meanwhile, an integrated team of experts for doing weapons qualification-related engineering work has been sourced from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Bangalore-based Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment, BrahMos Aerospace, DRDO’s Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification and the Bangalore-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Sukhoi Experimental Design Bureau to jointly develop the airborne weapons management system and related launch control system required for enabling the Su-30MKI Mk3 heavy multi-role combat aircraft to carry a solitary BrahMos in the centerline belly-mounted pylon plus an additional two missiles—one under each wing. The IAF intends to order 60 air-launched, land-attack/maritime strike BrahMos MRCMs between 2008 and 2013. The IN too intends to arm its yet-to-be-acquired new-generation maritime patrol/ASW aircraft as well as its existing eight Tu-142M long-range MP/ASW platforms with the air-launched BrahMos.

R & D efforts are also underway now to qualify the BrahMos in a modular, vertically launched configuration on board platforms like the Amur 1650 and Type 636 diesel-electric submarines (SSK). The SSKs will be able to carry eight BrahMos missiles contained within a vertical launch system (VLS). IN vessels to be armed in future with the BrahMos MRCM include the three follow-on Project 1135.6 guided-missile frigates (FFG) that were ordered in July 2006 and which will be delivered between 2010 and 2012 by Russia’s Kaliningrad-based Yantar Shipyard JSC (these will each have eight BrahMos MRCMs on a single eight-cell vertical launch system, or VLS), the three Project 15A Kolkata-class DDGs (now being built by Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Ltd or MDL, for delivery between 2009 and 2012) each of which will have a VLS containing 16 BrahMos MRCMs, and the seven MDL-built Project 17A FFGs each of which will have a 16-cell VLS. In addition, the already concluded development of both inclined quad missile launchers and the modular VLS launch concept by BrahMos Aerospace for naval applications will significantly boost the missile’s export prospects, since a variety of both existing and projected warships will be able to house such launchers with minimal structural modifications. In 2005, the IN made good its promise to be the country’s first of the three armed services to induct the BrahMos into operational service. The induction process began in February 2005, with INS Rajput being the IN’s first warship to be equipped with the BrahMos. By the year’s end, this DDG was retrofitted with another twin 2-tube launchers, resulting in a total of eight BrahMos missiles being carried on board. The IN had by late 2005 placed firm orders for 18 BrahMos MRCMs. On July 27, 2006 the IN formally declared operational the warship-launched BrahMos MRCMs at INS Kalinga, the Navy’s principal naval base at Visakhapatnam. The IN has to date installed BrahMos MRCMs on INS Rajput, (four in canisters inclined at 15° and another eight in vertical launchers fabricated by Larsen & Toubro in the stern adjacent to the helicopter deck), while two more such DDGs--INS Ranvir and INS Ran Vijay--are now being armed with similar inclined and vertical launchers. INS Ranvir was upgraded by December 2006, with INS Ran Vijay following this December. Thus, in all the IN will have 256 BrahMos operational MRCMs by 2015 on board 16 principal surface combatants. The missiles on board are capable of both maritime strike and land attack.

For potential export customers requiring inclined missile launchers, BrahMos Aerospace has developed a modular package comprising the following:

Base Structure, which forms the interface between the launcher structure and the warship’s deck structure and is welded to the ship deck in longitudinal direction at an angle of 4° to the horizontal.

Launcher Structure, a welded lattice structure constructed out of box sections. It has eight support pads bolted permanently to the base structure. This structure has clamping arrangements at three places corresponding to third, fifth and seventh supports of the missile canister. The clamp assemblies are in two halves. The bottom halves are permanently bolted to the launcher structure whereas the top halves are removable. This structure supports two missile cannisters. An optical measuring element has been provided on the structure to measure the alignment of the canister with respect to the warship’s axes.

Thrust Bearing Structure (TBS), which is welded to the top deck of the warship and its base structure with proper alignment. This structure transfers the launching loads to the warship’s deck.

Bottom Resting Unit (BRU), which comprises two parts--cylindrical shell and dish end. The cylindrical shell comprises the cannister with electrical connectors connected to the cannister. The dish end is bolted with the cylindrical shell. The BRU rests against the TBS on the launcher.

Cannister Loading Supports, which are required during the loading of the missile cannister on to the launcher when the sea is having moderate movements. While loading, the cannister is first placed on these loading supports. The assembly is then transferred to the clamp assembly by lowering the loading supports and moving back until the cannister is positioned and the locating pin matches perfectly.

Loading Gear, which comprises two main units--lifting beam and its accessories, and a hydraulic power pack. The lifting beam is designed for tilting the missile cannister in air in any desired angle in the range of 0° to 20°. It handles the cannister by holding it at the handling supports. A hydraulically-driven screw in the lifting beam is used to tilt the missile cannister to the desired angle with the help of hydraulic power pack. The lifting beam is designed to handle the cannister, weighing up to 4.5 tonnes, including the BRU’s weight.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Indian Navy's MiG-29K Tactical Simulator

The Indian Navy recently took delivery of its MiG-29K full-mission flight simulator from Germany’s Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH (RDE) and this training aid will be commissioned into service at Dabolim by the year’s end. Final systems check-outs are now underway. The full-mission simulator comes equipped with the Evans & Sutherland-built Avior high-fidelity stereoscopic laser-based image projection system. For the MiG-29K aircrew it will ensure an exceptionally high degree of realism in simulating take-offs and landings on an aircraft carrier. In simulating a night landing, for example, the lights of the runway can be simulated extremely vividly. One can only hope that the IAF takes a page out of the Indian Navy’s pro-active, well-established and consistent practice-cum-timetables of acquiring full-mission simulators for both fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pakistan’s Ballistic Missile Arsenal Detailed

Contrary to widespread popular belief, the bulk of Pakistan’s arsenals of ballistic and cruise missiles of Chinese and North Korean origin that have been acquired from the late 1980s till to date are armed with conventional high explosive (HE) or fuel air explosive- (FAE) based warheads. Such weapons, to be employed in wartime for striking hostile static/land-mobile military and strategic economic infrastructure targets, are currently being re-equipped with hybrid inertial navigation systems and terminal homing sensors that will significantly reduce the weapons’ circular error probable (CEP). In parallel, efforts are being made to overcome the critical shortcomings in the area of strategic target acquisition-cum-designation through the induction of force multipliers such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and a constellation of overhead reconnaissance satellites, with Iran, Turkey and Ukraine being the major technology-cum-financial partners of Pakistan in these fields.

Pakistan’s nuclear weaponisation programme, which is estimated to have cost US$10 billion thus far, has, since the early 1980s, been planned and sustained by the Directorate General of Combat Development (DG-CD), Special Works Organisation (SWO) and the Missile Technology Board (MTB), all of which were created by the Pakistan Army’s Rawalpindi-based General HQ. The principal nuclear warhead-carrying ballistic missiles are an estimated six solid-fuelled two-stage Hatf-6/Shaheen-2/M-18/DF-25 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) of Chinese origin, an equal number of liquid-fuelled single-stage Hatf-5/Ghauri-1/Nodong-1 IRBMs of North Korean origin, and about eight solid-fuelled single-stage Hatf-4/Shaheen-1/CSS-6/M-9/DF-15 TBMs that were inducted into service on March 8, 2003. The Ghauri-1 was inducted into service on January 8, 2003 under the 47th Missile Group of the Pakistan Army’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC). The Ghauri-1’s pre-surveyed launch pads and related underground command-and-control bunkers are located at Sargodha on the Kirana Hills in Punjab province, and at Ras Koh mountain range in Chagai in Baluchistan province. The nuclear-tipped Shaheen-1’s and Shaheen-2’s launch pads are located in the lower Hunza Valley and Deosai Plains. To manage its nuclear forces, Pakistan on February 3, 2000 created a National Command Authority (NCA), whose nuclear-hardened command-and-control bunkers are located in tunnels dug deep inside the mountains of the Karakoram Range in Gilgit, Chitral, Skardu and Doran, all located in the Northern Areas (NA). The NCA is responsible for policy formulation and will exercise employment and development control over all strategic forces and strategic organisations. The NCA comprises an Employment Control Committee (ECC), a Development Control Committee (DCC), and a Strategic Plans Division (SPD). The President/Chief of the Army Staff heads the NCA, while the Prime Minister (PM) chairs the ECC. Other members include the ministers of foreign affairs, defence, interior; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; the Chiefs of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy; Director-General of the SPD; and technical advisers as required. The DCC controls the development of strategic assets. The PM also chairs the DCC. Other members include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; the three armed service chiefs; Director-General of the SPD; and representatives of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) and the National Development Complex (NDC). The SPD acts as Secretariat for the NCA and is responsible for establishing a reliable command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence network. The SPD is co-located with the Joint Services HQ in Rawalpindi.

Ballistic Missile Forces
Pakistan’s quest for acquiring conventional warhead-carrying ballistic missiles began in September 1988, when Islamabad inked a contract with Beijing for ‘wet-leasing’ for a 10-year period some 80 solid-fuelled single-stage M-11 (Hatf-3/Ghaznavi/CSS-7 Mod 1/DF-11) 280km-range TBMs carried and launched from MAZ-543 8 x 8 vehicles, and thirty-four 600km-range M-9 (Hatf-4/Shaheen-1/CSS-6/DF-15) TBMs. China then insisted that these missiles, powered by solid-fuel rockets, carry only conventional HE/FAE warheads and remain deployed only in locations at Sargodha and within the lower Hunza Valley. China also refused to re-life the missiles beyond 1999. These missiles were developed by the state-owned China National Precision Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC) and China Metallurgical Equipment Corp (MECC), assembled by the Sanjiang Aerospace Group in Yuanan, 210km west of Beijing in Hubei province, and the entire contract was serviced by the state-owned China Great Wall Industry Corp (CGWIC) under the supervision of China’s state-owned Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (COSTIND). By December 1988, China commenced deliveries of M-9 and M-11 TBMs, with all remaining deliveries being concluded by mid-1992. Between January and March 1989, the then Pakistani PM Miss Benazir Bhutto decreed that an IRBM to be developed by KRL (now known as the Institute of Industrial Control Systems) with North Korean assistance be called Al Zulfikar. By early 1990, Pakistan had inked a $516 million turn-key deal with CGWIC and CPMIEC to establish localised industrial facilities for licence-building a total of 64 solid-fuelled missiles such as: the Hatf-3/Ghaznavi/M-11/CSS-7 Mod 1/DF-11 (with a CEP of 250 metres and carrying a 500kg conventional warhead), Hatf-4/Shaheen-1/M-9/CSS-6/DF-15 (with a CEP of 50 metres when carrying a 1-tonne conventional warhead), Hatf-6/Shaheen-2/M-18/DF-25 IRBM (with a CEP of 300 metres and carrying a 1-tonne nuclear warhead), and another 64 Hatf-2/Abdali/P-12 precision-guided tactical missiles each with a 180km-range, CEP of 15 metres and carrying a 500kg conventional warhead. While China agreed to supply the jigs, lathes and moulding/machining/milling tooling required for fabricating the missile sub-assemblies, it insisted that Pakistan independently source raw materials like Grade 18Ni (250) maraging steel, nono steel, powder materials for flame- and plasma-sprayed coatings, corrosion-resistant neodymium iron boron magnets, ablative liners, beryllium-aluminum alloys that can be cast into complex shapes that need little or no machining; plus propellant-related materials like aluminum oxide powder, acrylic acid, ammonium perchlorate, polybutadiene, monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. Beijing also refused to supply nuclear warheads for any of these missiles, but agreed to keep its options open for the M-18 and M-9 in case India became a declared nuclear weapons state in future.

By late 1990, Pakistan had created the state-owned NDC for establishing a chain of industrial facilities at Fatehjung in the Tarwanah suburb of Rawalpindi (final assembly plant), plus at Lahore, Karachi and Gujranwala. These facilities included a solid-propellant and chemicals plant to produce aluminum powder fuel, ammonium perchlorate oxidizer, hydroxyl-terminated poly-butadiene binder, curing agents and other ablative materials; a guidance and control centre for fabricating inertial navigation and flight control systems (actuators, radar altimeters, warhead control suite, safety and arming systems, and fuzes), and conducting trajectory analysis and software development; automatic missile testing and launch control systems for carrying out pre-launch testing procedures like for automatic gyro-aiming and fabricating all-terrain, all-weather, mobile missile launchers; a facility for building telemetry systems used to transmit data in S bandwidth for in-flight tests of guided-missiles; a facility to build power batteries; an aerodynamics-cum-structural analysis centre providing engineering solutions for aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, gas dynamics, weapon designs, structural analysis, computer software development, and networking supported by experimental model analysis and wind tunnel facilities; and a production facility with computer- and numerically-controlled lathes and milling machines, die-casting machines, heavy-metal working facility, dynamic balancing machines, coordinate measurement machines, and a heat-treatment facility to temper high-strength metal alloys. Overall, the NDC’s facilities were an exact replica of the Sanjiang Aerospace Group of China’s facilities in Hubei.

In June 1992, KRL and DG-CD officials visited North Korea’s Sanum-dong guided-missile development centre to examine the Nodong-1 IRBM. Between August 4 and 7 the same year, North Korea’s then Deputy Premier-Foreign Minister Kim Yong-nam travelled to Pakistan to discuss the licenced-assembly of Nodong-1s. On May 29 and 30, 1993 Pakistani and Iranian officials were present for Pyongyang’s test-firing of one Nodong-1. On December 30 the same year, PM Bhutto travelled to Pyongyang and struck a deal to purchase technical design data of the Nodong-1 and use it to indigenously develop the Al Zulfikar. On August 22, 1994 Pakistan paid CPMIEC $15 million for a contract under which the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) 2nd Artillery Corps was to train Pakistan Army personnel to deploy and launch the Shaheen-1 and Ghaznavi TBMs. A month later, a PLA team of instructors arrived at Sargodha. Concurrently, NDC began work on building the instrumented 200-hectare Flight Test Range at Sonmiani, 75km north of Karachi, Sandhak, 50km east of the Iranian border in Baluchistan province, and at the Ratla Range off the Siwalik Hills west of Dera Ghazi Khan. In September the same year, a delegation led by Choe Hui-chong, the then Chairman of North Korea’s State Commission of Science & Technology travelled to Pakistan and visited KRL. During this visit, Choe inked a $220 million deal to provide Pakistan with fuel tanks and liquid-fuelled rocket engines for the Al Zulfikar IRBM, which by then had been renamed as the Hatf-5/Ghauri-1, along with 12 fully-assembled Nodong-1s and related launch-control systems valued at $60 million, plus their fixed-base launch facilities in the Kirana Hills off the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) sprawling air base at Sargodha. These items were produced by Pyongyang’s 4th Machine Industry Bureau of the 2nd Economic Committee. By April 1996, Changgwang Sinyong Corporation (aka North Korea Mining Development Trading Corp) began delivering 12 Ghauri-1s in fully knocked-down condition, plus equipment for assembling them at a new customised facility built by KRL at Kahuta. The Ghauri-1’s land-mobile MAZ-543TLM wheeled transporter-erector-launchers were supplied off-the-shelf by the Sungni General Automotive Factory of the 2nd Machine Industry Bureau. At the same time, work began on the construction of related missile test-firing infrastructure near Nowshera in the North West Frontier Province, at Dera Ghazi Khan (in the Dallana tribal area near the Suleiman Range), and the Mashhood Test Firing Range at Tilla Jogian in Punjab’s Jhelum district, with a monitoring station located at Basti Jarh, some 6km from Dera Ghazi Khan along the Dera-Quetta road. In December 1997, Pakistan’s then Army Chief Gen Jehangir Karamat, accompanied by the then Director of KRL Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, visited North Korea’s 125 Factory where the Ghauri-1/Nodong-1s were being built. Following this, North Korean IL-76MD transports began making about three flights a month until January 1998, when the number of flights increased three-fold. These flights ferried in technical experts and telemetry crews to KRL between February and March 1998.

In July 1998, the Pakistan Army conducted its first launch drills involving a Missile Group of Ghaznavi TBMs at the Deosai Plains in Pakistan-administered ‘Azad’ Kashmir. In August the same year, Beijing had agreed to keep at least six M-18s armed with tactical nuclear warheads on permanent standby at Chengdu in Sichuan province and pledged that in the event of Pakistan facing dismemberment during future military hostilities with India, these M-18s would be deployed to pre-surveyed launch pads in the lower Hunza Valley and Deosai Plains by a Mechanised Brigade of the PLA’s 2nd Artillery Corps, thereby constituting Pakistan’s minimum credible nuclear deterrent. The missile launch codes, however, were secured by the PLA, and were not shared with Pakistan, meaning China would not endorse Pakistan’s nuclear first strike doctrine. In September, unable to obtain complete operational sovereignty over its China-origin nuclear warheads and M-18s from Beijing, the DG-CD, through the MTB, authorised KRL to develop three variants of the Hatf-5/Ghauri IRBM, all of which were to be nuclear-tipped, carrying warheads co-developed by the PAEC and North Korea. The 1,300km-range Ghauri-1 was to carry a 700kg warhead, while the Ghauri-2 was to have a 2,300km-range and 700kg warhead, and Ghauri-3 a range of 3,000km. The same month, construction began with North Korea’s civil engineering assistance at Sargodha air base of six above-ground fixed-base Ghauri storage/assembly/launch sites, along with related hardened underground command-and-control centres in the Kirana Hills. In early 2001, the National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM) was formed through the merger of MTB, Project Management Organisation or PMO, the Air Weapons Complex or AWC, Pakistan Maritime Technologies Complex or MTC, and the NDC. NESCOM was charged with fast-tracking the licenced-production of missiles of Chinese origin like the Hatf-4/Shaheen-1/CSS-6/DF-15/M-9, Hatf-6/Shaheen-2/M-18/DF-25, Hatf-2/Abdali//P-12 and Hatf-3/Ghaznavi/M-11/CSS-7 Mod 1/DF-11A.

By May 2002, operational Abdali precision strike missiles (with a CEP of 30 metres) with conventional warheads and GPS-based navigation systems were deployed along the Deosai Plains, Gujranwala and Mangla, while the Shaheen-1s were deployed to pre-surveyed launch pads in the lower Hunza Valley. The Ghaznavi TBMs were inducted into service on February 22, 2004. Present plans call for the Pakistan Army to deploy two three Missile Groups each of the Abdali and Ghaznavi (grouped under two separate Artillery Brigades (these being the Hyderabad-based Missile Brigade South comprising Missile Groups 25, 35 and 40 and the Sargodha-based Missile Brigade North comprising the 14, 28 and 47 Missile Groups) during hostilities, with all missiles being armed with conventional HE or FAE-based warheads. Each such Group comprises 18 Ghaznavi TELs each with one ready-to-fire missile and two missile reloads, and 18 Abdali TELs each with two ready-to-fire missiles and two reloads. A Group can also be divided into three Batteries (with six Ghaznavi TELs and six missiles plus two reloads and six Abdali TELs with 12 missiles and 24 reloads). Presently, Batteries of the Abdali and Ghaznavi are deployed at Gujranwala, Okara, Mangla Multan, Jhang, Sonmiani, Quetta and Dera Nawab Shah. Joining them in 2009 will be the Babur land attack cruise missile (LACM).--Prasun K. Sengupta

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Babur LACM & Ra’ad ALCM Detailed

While the world is now more than well-conversant with the ‘Wall Mart’ of nuclear weapons proliferation that was created by Pakistani metallurgist Dr A Q Khan since the mid-1990s, substantial details have emerged since late 2004 about a parallel ‘Wall Mart’ that Dr Khan had built up, this time for acquiring LACMs off-the-shelf. Also smuggled out of Kiev by August 2001 were detailed production engineering data packages of a LACM called Korshun, which had by then been developed by Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk-based Yuzhnoye State Design Bureau, with production tooling being built by the Yuzhnoye Machine-Building Production Association, or Yuzhmash. The Korshun’s powerplant was a redesigned RD95-300 turbofan that bore a strong resemblance to the 36MT engine developed by Russia’s NPO Saturn. Dimensions of the Korshun, which was identical to the Raduga-developed Kh-65SE LACM (first displayed in August 1992), included a wingspan of 3.1 metres, length of 6.3 metres, diameter of 0.514 metres, and a mass of 1,090kg. Range of the LACM was then claimed to be 600km when carrying a 500kg warhead.

As the entire Kh-55SM/Korshun smuggling operation (from late 1997 to August 2001) was bankrolled by Iran, Teheran in early 1998 staked its claim for leading the R & D effort aimed at producing the Korshun into a ground/sea-launched LACM with industrial help from China and Pakistan. Iran next established Project 111, under which it clandestinely acquired from Ukraine the technical data packages for fabricating the Korshun’s (now called Ghadr by Iran, Babur/Hatf-7 by Pakistan and the Dong Hai DH-10A by China) solid propellant booster and its propellant; RD95-300 turbofan for cruise flight; the fuselage structure and warhead casings made of 15CDV6 maraging steel, titanium-stabilised steel, HE-15 aluminum alloy and polymers; and ground-based X-band monopulse radars and optronic telemetry tracking systems for LACM test-flights. Pakistan’s NDC subsidiary of NESCOM was contracted to provide computer software related to fluid mechanics, atmospheric flight mechanics, and astrodynamics. While the DH-10A derivative of the Korshun was to have a hybrid GPS/fibre-optic gyro-based inertial navigation system giving it a CEP of 20 metres, Iran and Pakistan opted for an imaging infra-red (IIR) terminal guidance system for which China in 2002 created a consortium of state-owned R & D institutes and companies (called the Xi’an Sicong Group) that included the Shanghai Institute for Optics & Fine Mechanics, China North Opto‑Electro Industries Corporation (OEC), Changchun Institute of Optics & Fine Mechanics, and Luoyang Opto-Electro Technology Development Centre. These entities had earlier obtained vital IIR technology inputs from Russia’s NPO Astrofizika and Ukraine’s TOCHNOST.

By late 2003, the General Armaments Dept of COSTIND, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp’s (CASC) 3rd Aerospace Academy (also known as China Haiying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy or CHETA) and 8359 Research Institute had, along with the Beijing University for Aeronautics & Astronautics, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China State Electronics Systems Engineering Corp, Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corp and the Tianjin Institute for Power Sources had completed fabrication of the first six prototypes of the 1,500km-range DH-10A LACM, and in August 2004 the first test-firings were conducted at an instrumented offshore range in the Bohai Sea. The LACMs were fitted with a hybrid inertial navigation system using a fibre-optic gyro coupled with a GPS receiver and a digital radar altimeter to provide a CEP of 20 metres. In early 2005, flight-tests of another variant of the DH-10A, having a range of 600km and equipped with a fibre-optic gyro coupled to a Xi’an Sicong Group-built digital scene-matching terminal-homing system using IIR seekers with 40º field-of-view, were carried out. This missile was later to become the 500km-range Babur, while its 280km-range anti-ship variant, incorporating an active radar seeker with 40km range for anti-ship strike, was designated as the C-602/YJ-62 and offered for sale worldwide since September 2005 by CPMIEC. The DH-10A has since been deployed by China with both conventional HE/FAE and tactical low-yield nuclear warheads, with the latter developed by a consortium of China’s 7th Research and Design Institute, owned by the China National Nuclear Corp, China Metallurgical Equipment Corp (CMEC) and China Southwest Institute for Nuclear & Fluid Physics.

The Babur and C-602, though, differ in several aspects. The most visible difference is the engine installation. The Babur’s twin-spool RD95-300 turbofan, derived from the 36MT engine developed by Russia’s NPO Saturn, is embedded in the tail and uses a ventral air inlet duct (which pops out after missile launch) and tailcone exhaust. The missile’s rear section also mounts a four-surface tail control assembly with anhedral on the stabilators. The 700lb thrust engine with a thrust-to-weight ratio of 4.8:1 comprises a single-stage centrifugal compressor, two-stage fan with a two-stage low-pressure booster, a reverse-flow annular combustor with rotary injection, a turbine section with one high-pressure and two low-pressure stages. It uses a special high-density blended aviation turbine fuel that has more energy for a given volume than standard fuels, and can endure harsh weather conditions and long storage periods. The Babur has a length of 7.2 metres, diameter of 0.52 metres, wingspan of 2.67 metres, and a 450kg HE blast/FAE warhead. After its launch by a solid-fuel booster, the cruise turbofan cuts in, giving the Babur a cruising height of 1km (that drops to 200 metres in the terminal phase), speed of 880kph and a range of 600km. The C-602, on the other hand, is a conventional cruise missile design, with mid-body wings that deploy following launch. The fixed ventral air inlet is mounted slightly forward of the cruciform tail fins. The missile is 6.1 metres long (without the 0.9 metre-long launch booster), and weighs 1,140kg. The solid propellant booster weighs an additional 210kg. The C-602 has a cruise speed of Mach 0.6, carries a 300kg HE blast warhead, is powered by a small turbojet, and has a stated range of 280km, with the missile flying at an altitude of 30 metres during the cruise phase of an engagement. In the terminal phase, the missile descends to a height of seven metres, and it can be launched from truck-mounted launchers, from warships as well as from medium multi-role combat aircraft.

In the Babur’s case, although China has supplied NESCOM with the jigs, lathes and moulding/machining/milling tooling required for fabricating the LACM’s sub-assemblies, it has asked NESCOM to independently source raw materials required for machining and moulding the sub-assemblies. It is for this reason that NESCOM has had difficulties in mastering the Babur’s production engineering-cum-process challenges. The Babur’s IIR terminal seeker—offering a CEP of 10 metres—has been supplied off-the-shelf by Xi’an Sicong Group. NESCOM was in late 2005 authorised by the Pakistan Army (with COSTIND’s consent) to join forces with Turkey’s military-industrial entities for developing a stretched, ground-launched, 1,000km-range variant of the Babur equipped with HE blast/FAE-based warheads. As far as the Babur’s motorised 8 x 8 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) goes, the CASC has, for reasons of plausible deniability, sub-contracted the Sungni General Automotive Factory of North Korea’s 2nd Machine Industry Bureau to develop and supply off-the-shelf the vehicle as well as the reloader vehicle, both of which are reverse-engineered variants of the Russian MAZ-543TLM vehicle. The TEL has a length of 13.36 metres, width of 3.02 metres, maximum road speed of 55kph, unrefuelled range of 650km, and is powered by a 600hp Deutsch diesel engine with all four axles driven. There is a separate 10kW electrical generator to power the missile’s pre-launch operations and two hydraulic pumps to raise the missile cannisters to their launch positions before launch. The TEL is supported by four hydraulic jacks during the missile launch. Each TEL houses six LACMs that are each contained inside rectangular cannisters similar to the ones developed by CPMIEC for its WS-2/3 families of multi-barrel rocket launchers, and which are elevated to an inclined position of 70º prior to missile launch. The TELs will also be accompanied by another 8 x 8 vehicle equipped with a directed-energy-based self-defence system, this being NORINCO’s ZM-87 Disturber portable flash-blinding high-energy laser with 10km range. Present plans call for the Pakistan Army to raise two Babur Battalions—the 23rd and 26th Missile Group--(at a rate of one Battery every year starting 2009), with each having four Batteries each with six TELs housing 24 LACMs and 24 reloads and 12 other supporting vehicles, all manned by 175 personnel.

As part of its efforts to bolster its offensive firepower the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has begun inducting into service the Hatf-8 (also known as ‘Raad’ or ‘thunder’ in Arabic) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). Described as having a range of 350km (220 miles) and equipped with an imaging infra-red (IIR) seeker with digital scene-matching capability, the conventionally armed ALCM has been under development since 2003 and will be capable of being launched by the PAF’s fleet of F-16, upgraded Mirage IIIEA and JF-17 ‘Thunder’ combat aircraft. Military-industrial entities responsible for developing the ‘Raad’ are Pakistan’s Wah Cantonment-based Advanced Engineering Research Organisation, or AERO (previously known as the Air Weapons Complex) and the Kentron subsidiary of South Africa’s Denel Aerospace Group. Typically, two ALCMs will be carried by the combat aircraft’s two inboard underwing pylons, each of which is rated at 2,041kg for manoeuvring flights at up to 5.5 g. Targets to be engaged by the ‘Raad’ include static targets like hardened aircraft shelters, bunkers and command-and-control centres, bridges, airspace surveillance radar stations, as well as strategic industrial infrastructure such as telecommunications nodes, ports and petrochemicals refineries. The missile weighs 1,200kg, has a 450kg (9,92lb) high-explosive fragmentation warhead, has a length of 5.1 metres, diameter of 0.17 metres and a wingspan of 3 metres (with its twin horizontal fins deployed), is powered by a turbojet (a reverse-engineered Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbojet producing 5.4kN thrust), cruises at a speed of Mach 0.8, and is a fire-and-forget missile optimised for pre-planned attacks.

Following an Air Tasking Order, the operating PAF squadron will prepare the Raad’s mission data files with the pre-planned data, together with the latest operational intelligence. The flight path of the ALCM will then be planned on a dedicated server-based system that can support up to 16 ALCM launches. This capability enables the pilot to launch the ALCM from a relatively wide window, which does not expose him to risks of detection and engagement with hostile ground-based air defences. Once launched, the missile follows a path semi-autonomously, on a low-altitude flight path (at an altitude of 250 metres) and is guided by GPS and terrain-matching to the area of the target. Close to the target, the missile ‘bunts’, i.e. it climbs to an altitude of 500 metres intended to achieve the best probability of target identification and penetration. During the bunt, the ALCM’s nose cone is jettisoned to allow a high-resolution IIR seeker to observe the target area (the ‘bunt’ enlarges the seeker’s forward field-of-vision). As the IIR seeker acquires the target and compare it with files stored in its memory, the aimpoint will be identified and tracked and be used as the reference for terminal guidance. The target acquisition process is constantly repeated with a higher resolution data set to refine the aimpoint, as the missile closes in on the target. Tracking will continue against this refined aim point until the precise target location is identified. On its terminal phase just prior to impact, the ‘Raad’ will be positioned at the optimum dive angle pre-selected during mission planning. The IIR seeker has a 3-metre circular error probability. The ‘Raad’ will also be equipped with an ‘abort’ mechanism, which will be initiated only if conditions for potential high collateral damage are expected. In such a situation, the mission will be aborted and the ALCM will then fly to a predetermined crash site.

Military industrial cooperation between Pakistan and South Africa dates back to the mid-1990s when the PAF sought Denel Aerospace’s expertise for developing a family of precision-guided munitions for ground attack as well as a family of air combat missiles. In February 1996, soon after the PAF concluded a US$50 million deal with Italy’s Galileo Avionica for the supply of 30 Grifo-M3 airborne multi-mode pulse-Doppler radars for the upgraded Mirage IIIEAs, contractual negotiations began on a $160 million contract with Kentron to cover the licenced-production by AERO of the latter’s U-Darter within-visual-range air-to-air missile (a reverse-engineered R550 Magic-2 missile developed by MBDA). Following this, the PAF by April 1999 had commenced contractual negotiations with Denel Aerospace for co-development of a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) under a project codenamed H-2, as well as a family of ALCMs under Project H-4. Flight tests of the BVRAAM got underway in 2001 and the resultant missile is now the AERO-produced variant of Kentron’s 60km-range R-Darter missile, which in turn is a derivative of the Derby BVRAAM developed by Israel’s RAFAEL Armament Authority.

The first ALCM to be developed under Project H-4 was a 120km-range surgical missile armed with high-explosive runway-cratering bomblets, as well as a passive radiation seeker for targeting hostile ground-based air defence radars. This is a derivative of the MUPSOW ALCM that has been under development by Kentron since the early 1990s and incorporates twin side-mounted air intakes and fixed horizontal and vertical tailfins. Thus far, the PAF has conducted two successful qualification flights of the MUPSOW, these being done on April 22 and December 17, in 2003. Following this, AERO and Kentron began work on developing the ‘Raad’ by carrying out minor modifications to the MUPSOW’s airframe, which included a stretched fuselage, a fixed ventral air intake and twin vertical tailfins, and incorporation of twin swivelling horizontal fins. The PAF’s present plans call for the procurement of 120 anti-runway variants of the MUPSOW and 50 anti-radar variants, and up to 500 ‘Raad’ ALCMs.

For acquiring the much-needed strategic targeting capability by 2012, Pakistan and Turkey have joined forces with Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye Design Bureau to develop and deploy up to four multi-spectral overhead reconnaissance satellites each with a visible band resolution of 0.9 metres with a 10km swath. According to an agreement inked between Beijing and Islamabad last month, all these satellites will be launched by CGWIC’s Long March 3A rockets from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. For theatre-wide real-time reconnaissance and generation of MGIS and TRS data bases in support of conventional fire assaults by TBMs and LACMs, the PAF will buy up to 12 WZ-2000 HALE-UAVs, while the Pakistan Army in December 2006 began acquiring a fleet (four systems each with five UAVs) of 450kg Falco tactical UAVs whose deliveries by Italy’s Galileo Avionica (the Italian unit of SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems and part of the Finmeccanica group) are now underway. The WZ-2000, developed by a consortium of Chinese entities like the Chengdu Aerospace Corp, Luoyang Opto-electro Technology Development Centre, China National South Aviation Industry Ltd, Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and CLETRI, will come be fitted with a chin-mounted, stabilised optronic turret-mounted sensor, as well as a nose-mounted X-band SAR along with related transmitter/receiver modules and a programmable digital signal processor. Each Falco UAV, on the other hand, comes equipped with a new J-band data link, a 70kg dual sensor payload comprising an EOST-45 infra-red and electro-optical turret and Selex’s new Gabbiano X-band SAR radar. The Falco has a takeoff and landing footprint of around 60 metres (195 feet) and can operate for 14 hours at an altitude of 19,700 feet. Its ground control station allows planning, re-tasking, simulation and rehearsal of missions as well as being a valid support for the operators’ training. The station can control up to two UAVs and allows the operator to manage the payloads, sensors and data collected in real time.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mahindra Defence's AXE 4 x 4 FAV

During DEFEXPO 2008 last February, India’s three principal automotive giants—TATA Motors, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS)—unveilled several new wheeled armoured vehicles that are being offered to the armed forces of both India as well as several other African countries. TATA’s 1.2-tonne light specialist vehicle (LSV) has been designed as a single platform capable of undertaking diverse missions such as reconnaissance, counter-insurgency operations for special forces and even as an ambulance. The LSV has an adaptive automatic transmission, 60% gradeability, 300mm vertical obstacle climbing ability, 45% approach angle, 45% departure angle, 255mm ground clearance, can operate in a temperature range of –20 degree to +55 degree Celsius, and has a maximum speed of 105kph. The light armoured troop carrier (LATC) with RCWS (remote-controlled weapon station) is designed for movement of troops of Section-level strength for counter-insurgency operations. The vehicle protects the troops against small arms fire and is fitted with bulletproof glass. The LATC’s floor is protected against hand-grenade blasts. The vehicle also has a split-air conditioning unit for crew comfort, is fitted with suspended seats and has seat belts for additional safety. The fuel tank is filled with explosive suppression material. The 8 x 8 developed by TATA is capable of being configured to a host of military applications for missile/weapon carriage/towing stations; housing surveillance equipment, communications and electronic warfare platforms, and bridge laying kits; carrying MBTs; serving as medium recovery vehicles; housing mobile specialist workshops; and serving as hook loaders and load carriers. The vehicle comes powered by a powerful 380-420hp diesel engine and a versatile 9-16 speed gearbox, with heavy-duty transfer cases driving the hub reduction tandem axles to address the requirements of high speeds and severe gradients. An optional automatic transmission is also available in this range. The compensating bogey suspension, capable of operating under severe terrain conditions with full air brakes having optional ABS, takes on a heavy-duty frame. The vehicle is also fitted with a tiltable military cabin with good all around visibility, and is compatible to up-armouring.

Ashok Leyland’s competing 4 x 4 LSV is an all-wheel drive, multi-purpose vehicle with a power-to-weight ratio in excess of 25kW/tonne. The fixed windscreen on the driver’s side enhances driver comfort without being exposed to the vagaries of nature, while the drop-down windscreen on the left side enables the commander to fire the LMG in a wide arc from his command post. A conveniently located trap-door facilitates easy operation of the LAW launcher. This aircraft/helicopter transportable vehicle also has a collapsible tent on the right side. Communications is ensured by a radio with its own power source. The LSV can carry a crew of four besides the driver and the commander, and can be made self-contained with sufficient rations, water, utensils, stove, bedding, etc. A night vision system using a thermal imaging camera offers the driver vision enhancement during night and the ability to detect, recognise and identify the objects on road in zero-light conditions. The electronic image can be viewed on a display screen conveniently positioned so that the driver does not have to take his eyes off the road to navigate. It also facilitates manoeuvrability in the most severely degraded visual conditions caused by smoke, fog, dust and such like for carrying out logistics as well as frontline operations. The LSV is currently undergoing trials at the Vehicle Research & Development Establishment in Ahmednagar, and also at Leh for high-altitude, peak winter trials. The Stallion 6 x 6 is a high-mobility alternative to the popular Stallion 4 x 4 in desert and sandy conditions. It is an all-wheel-drive version that meets Indian Army GSQR requirements in terms of power-to-weight ratio and other parameters. It is powered by an 8-litre engine developing 260hp at 2,500rpm. It has a maximum torque of 745NM at 1,500rpm. The transmission comprises a hydraulically operated 380 dia Valeo clutch and a 6-speed synchromesh ZF gearbox (6S 850). A fully-built vehicle, it comes with a suitable load body and gives excellent mobility in extremely difficult underfoot conditions, including deserts. The Integral Power Steering reduces driver fatigue. The vehicle also has a hydraulic hoist for self-loading and unloading of ammunition, apart from a winch that can be used for self-recovery. It has a mud tracking capability of 330mm and can attain maximum speeds in excess of 90kph. Provision for external starting of the engine is available. Following rigorous trials over varied terrains and climatic conditions, the Stallion 6 x 6 has been approved for induction into the Indian armed forces. The 6 x 6 field artillery tractor (FAT) is a common gun tower and is designed to meet the future needs of the armed forces. The FAT is ideal for towing 155mm field artillery howitzers. The continuous all-wheel drive ensures high mobility across various terrains, including sand. A centralised tyre inflation mechanism enables the driver to vary the tyre pressure to suit different terrain. There is also the option of run-flat tyres. The FAT is powered by a 430hp engine, but engine options of up to 500hp are available. It is fitted with cab and crew cabs (with air conditioning as optional) that have been indigenously developed by Automotive Coaches & Components Ltd (ACCL), an associate company of Ashok Leyland. The option of an armoured cab is available too. The FAT has a hydraulic crane for self-loading and unloading. It is also fitted with a 16-tonne winch for recovery and self-recovery.

MDS’ AXE 4 x 4 fast attack vehicle, or FAV, has a 2,700cc Ssangyong engine, which generates 173bhp at 4,000rpm and a healthy 340NM of torque at 1,800rpm. It also has fully independent suspensions on all four wheels and comes in a petrol-engined variant as well. It is being offered to meet an Indian Army requirement for an initial 228 LSVs that are meant for the Reconnaissance Platoons of the mechanised infantry battalions. The Marksman is India’s first armoured capsule-based light bulletproof vehicle and is designed to provide protection against small arms fire and under-belly grenade attacks. It can also be used for conventional roles such as armed reconnaissance and convoy protection. The Mahindra Striker is a new-generation general-purpose light military vehicle, while the RG-31 mine-protected vehicle—being offered by Mahindra jointly with BAE Systems, is built to protect personnel against small arms and mines/IEDs. MDS is now at an advanced stage of setting up a special military vehicles (MSMV) facility at Faridabad. This facility will have advanced facilities for in-house R & D, prototype fabrication and systems integration of vehicles for military use.--
Prasun K. Sengupta

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lifting The Lid Off Project India

It was in the mid-1980s that the Indian Navy (IN) was promised by both the then government-in-power as well as the DRDO that the IN would, by 2004 have an SSGN derivative of the indigenous nuclear-powered Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) technology demonstrator. However, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the financial crisis of 1991 and the ‘Shakti’ series of five nuclear weapons tests of May 1998 all contributed to the ATV project’s R & D timetable being drastically revised, and its performance parameters being redrafted by late 2000. What the IN now wanted were three SSGNs and at least one SSBN. According to Russia’s Ministry of Defence, the issue of dry-leasing of two Akula-3 SSGNs was first discussed during talks which began in St Petersburg on September 15, 1999 between the then Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov and his Indian counterpart Admiral Sushil Kumar. The lease issue was firmly in the agenda of both India and Russia by October 2000 after both countries inked a Declaration of Strategic Partnership. In February 2001, Rosoboronexport State Corp’s Deputy General Director Viktor Komardin officially stated that India had expressed an interest in leasing a single Akula-3 SSGN. On June 5, 2001, however, Russian newspapers reported that India and Russia were planning to sign a contract by the end of 2001 for the completion of two unfinished Project 971A Shchuka-B SSGNs which were under construction at the Amursky Shipyard at Komsomolsk-on-Amur (this being the Akula-3 K-152 Nerpa) and the Akula-2 K-337 Kuguar, whose construction at Severnoye Machine-Building Enterprise in Severodvinsk) had begun in 1993. Russian Defence Ministry officials confirmed that this issue was discussed on June 4 during the inaugural meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) in which Russian Deputy Premier Ilya Klebanov and India’s then Defence and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh took part. On January 26, 2002 while visiting Amursky Shipyard, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov confirmed that Russia planned to lease two SSGNs to India. The terms of the yet-to-be-inked contract would include the training of IN submarine crews in Russia and the lease of two SSGNs for five years each, beginning in 2004. It was in late 2002 that the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) reportedly committed itself to acquire at least one SSGN for the IN based on purely China-centric threat perceptions. Consequently, Navy HQ firmed up its plans to dry-lease for a period of 10 years (with an option to increase it by another five years) the K-152 Nerpa (the Seal), a Project 971A Shchuka-B (Akula-3) SSGN whose keel was laid down in 1986. The Letter of Intent for leasing the SSGN under ‘Project India’ was inked on February 8, 2002 in New Delhi during the 2nd session of the IRIGC-MTC between the then Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and the then Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes. On November 24, 2002 final price negotiations for the lease began took place during Klebanov’s visit to New Delhi. Rosoboronexport officials then stated that fabrication of the two SSGNs will resume after India pays the first tranche of $100 million as per the contract. The final lease contract for only the Nerpa for the time-being, valued at US$650 million (Rs26 billion), was inked in New Delhi on January 20, 2004.

The Nerpa is the 15th SSGN and the second Akula-3 built under project 971 (codenamed Shchuka) and was designed by the St Petersburg-based Malachite Marine Engineering Bureau under Chief Designer Georgy Chernyshev who, after his death in 1997, was succeeded by Yuri Farafontov. While the Severnoye Machine-Building Enterprise has to date built seven Akulas, while the Amursky Shipbuilding Plant has built eight. The Akulas built by the former have been named after land-based beasts of prey, while those built by the latter bear the names of fish and other marine animals. The latest version of the Akula SSGN is the Akula-3 and its dived displacement is 13,800 tonnes, full dived speed is 33 Knots, operational diving depth is 520 metres and maximum diving depth is 600 metres. The SSGn can carry up to 40 weapons ranging from cruise missiles to torpedoes to sea mines. The Akula-3 comes with a two-stage noise supression system and all compartments are shockproof, which results in a five-fold reduction in the level of acoustic fields when compared to the Akula-1. Both the Nerpa and its sister vessel, the K-335 Gepard, are the first ‘3+ generation’ nuclear-powered submarines of Russian origin that have a centralised integrated platform management system (IPMS) and a combat management system (CMS), all of which have resulted in the crew complement being reduced to only 73. The IPMS is called ‘Molibden-1’ and has been developed by the Krylov Central Research Institute, while the CMS was developed by the St Petersburg-based Aurora Research & Production Association FSUE, which has also supplied the 15-module submarine monitoring-cum-data recording system. The integrated sonar suite has been developed by Morphyspribor Central Research Institute and Akvamarin JSC, and built by FSUE Taganrog Priboy Plant. The Nerpa’s most visible distinguishing features are the more elongated and slightly pugged barriers (to its port and starboard) for retractable gear and a more aft-mounted compact gondola mounted on the aft vertical fin, which houses a low-frequency thin-line towed-array sonar suite.

To be christened as INS Chakra, the K-152 Nerpa will be commissioned in August next year at Bolshoi Kamen in Vladivostok and will arrive 15 days later at Vizag, HQ of the IN’s eastern Naval Command, after undertaking a ferry voyage through the Western Pacific and entering the Indian Ocean after transiting through the Lombok Straits. In January 2007, work began on modifying (at a cost of $135 million or Rs5.4 billion) the SSGN to accept on board up to 18 Novator 3M53E/3M14E multi-role cruise missiles as well as TEST-71ME and TEST-71ME-NK torpedoes (built by Russia’s DVIGATEL FSUE and Region State Research & Production Enterprise) that will be fired from the SSGN’s six 533.4mm and four 650mm tubes. The Chakra commenced harbour trials last April and by last June had begun its pre-sea trial phase. The hull will also feature twin flank-array sonars for being used as a torpedo approach warning system, and a stern-mounted distinctive ‘bulb’ on top of the rudder housing an ultra-low frequency thin-line towed active/passive sonar array. INS Chakra’s crew complement will be all-Indian. Some 300 IN personnel, comprising three sets of crews, have for the past 3.5 years been extensively trained and type-rated to man the SSGN at a specially built secure facility in the town of Sovnovy Bor near St Petersburg. They are now back in Russia this for pre-commissioning activities. The IN will be using this SSGN for the following:
· Undertaking anti-submarine patrols along the southeastern and southwestern parts of the Indian Ocean.
· Establishing a series of restricted submarine patrol sectors in far-flung areas of the Indian Ocean to allow persistent undersea warfare operations unimpeded by the operation of, or possible attack from, friendly or hostile forces in wartime; and without submerged mutual interference in peacetime.
· Perfecting the art of communicating with submerged SSGNs using VLF, UHF SATCOMS, SHF and EHF frequencies, and using maritime surveillance/ASW aircraft as mission controllers for the SSGNs.
· Exploring ways of evolving a robust and nuclear first strike-survivable two-way communications system comprising shore-based, airborne and submerged elements to ensure that the SSGN’s commander receives explicit rules of engagement and strategic targeting data.
· Analysing the pros and cons of having either a decentralised C³ network for certain types of missions, or a tightly centralised network by developing command automation via network-centric warfare strategies.
· Trying to achieve submarine internet protocol connectivity and working on solutions that will deliver a reduction in time latency, increased throughput and the ability to maintain communications at speed and depth. One technology demonstrator already developed by the DRDO by still classified comprises a submarine- or air-launched recoverable tethered optical fibre (RTOF) buoyant 450mm diameter buoy which, upon reaching the surface, deploys a low-frequency acoustic projector to a preset depth, enabling reach-forward from the Fleet Command’s SSGN operating authority via a built-in SATCOM antenna. A pager is then activated via SATCOM and paging and target cueing messages are sent to the submarine at a data rate of 2.4 kb/second. Consideration is also being given to the use of a swimming communications device, such as an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which would surface to exchange data via SATCOM via a repeatable 32kb/second communications window, and then return to the host SSGN for download. A prototype AUV for undertaking such operations has already been developed by the DRDO.
· Use of RTOF buoys, which provide data rates of around 32kb/second while the SSGN is cruising at 8 Knots and is more than 244 metres underwater. The IN’s longer-term network-centric vision includes the use of distributed undersea networks, offering the submarine a network of known underwater nodes to be used to download large amounts of information, while remaining at depth. The concept calls for a field of acoustic sensors, UHF local area network-linked platforms and SATCOM buoys.
· Establishing a protocol for undertaking deep-sea crew rescue and salvage operations using the IN’s yet-to-be-acquired remotely operated rescue vehicles (RORV) and related launch-and-recovery system (LARS) and a fully integrated self-contained emergency life support system (ELSS) package.

However, it must be noted that the acquisition of INS Chakra give by no means give India the long-awaited third leg of the nuclear triad. Neither will the SSGN come under the tri-service Strategic Forces Command. Simply put, the Akula-3 SSGN will be armed with Club-S anti-ship/land attack cruise missiles which, along with the on-board torpedoes, will give the SSGN a formidable sea-denial capability along a 200nm arc contiguous to India’s coastline as well as in the Indian Ocean Region. Russia, which adheres to the Missile Technology Control Regime along with the NPT and START-2 treaties, is obligated to ensure that INS Chakra does not carry on board any nuclear weapon whatsoever. Furthermore, the SSGN’s employment in wartime too will be highly restricted and its rules of engagement will have to be cleared with Moscow, thus limiting India’s operational sovereignty over the SSGN. In fact, it is due to this very reason that the ATV project is being undertaken to ensure that India’s nuclear deterrent, in the long run, remains effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements of credible minimum deterrence.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prowler Of The Deep

For at least a decade speculation has been rife on two major issues: India’s quest for acquiring a credible sea-based element of the country’s nuclear weapons triad; and the Indian Navy’s (IN) projected plans for acquiring on lease SSGNs of Russian origin. More often than not, it is the Russian mass media that has been more accurate in reporting key developments on these two issues, while its Indian counterpart has been engaging in speculations ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. What follows below is a detailed analysis of India’s continuing quest for acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for strategic nuclear deterrence.

ATV stands for Advanced Technology Vessel (carrying the hull codename P-4102), which will be a technology demonstrator displacing less than 7,000 tonnes dived and will NOT be an operational nuclear-powered submarine. It will be used for validating the ATV’s 90mW nuclear-powered propulsion system, the vessel’s structural integrity as well as the on-board mission sensors, combat management system (CMS), and integrated platform management/battle damage management system. The ATV will thus be used for validating various technologies and performance parameters for two types of fourth-generation operational nuclear-powered submarines that are being proposed for series production the following decade: three attack submarines (SSGN) each displacing 7,500 tonnes when dived, and a single SSBN displacing some 12,000 tonnes dived. The ATV, to be built with NQ-1, a derivative of HY-80 grade steel, will be divided into an engine compartment, reactor compartment (containing a 90mW pressurised water-cooled water-moderated reactor [PWR] using uranium-aluminum dispersed fuel (cermet) housed within zirconium cladding), a forward compartment housing the vessel’s CMS, integrated platform management system (IPMS), depth-finding echosounder, a mid-frequency active/passive sonar suite comprising a bow-mounted sonar transducer array as well as twin hull-mounted flank arrays, and a torpedo compartment containing three 21-inch (533.4mm) torpedo launch tubes designed and built by Larsen & Toubro (L & T) that will be able to launch heavyweight anti-submarine and anti-ship torpedoes (the TEST-71ME and TEST-71ME-NK models built by Russia’s DVIGATEL FSUE and Region State Research & Production Enterprise).

The ATV’s twin flank-array sonars will be used as a torpedo approach warning system, and a stern-mounted distinctive ‘bulb’ on top of the rudder will house an ultra-low frequency thin-line towed active/passive sonar array to be built in future by state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), broadband expendable anti-torpedo countermeasures developed by RAFAEL of Israel, as well as four universal vertical launcher capable of launching submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). The Navy has already projected a requirement for SLBMs with 8,500km-range and the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is expected to develop such an SLBM by 2012.

The related Launch Preparation System and Centralised Real-Time Fire-Control System has been built by BEL as has the CCS Mk3 composite communications system and ATM-based broadband integrated data network. The ATV will feature double-hull construction, dramatically increasing the reserve buoyancy by as much as three times over that of a single-hull vessel. Ballast tanks and other gear will be located between the inner and outer hulls, and limber holes will be provided for the free-flooding sections between the hulls. The ATV’s pressure hull will have four major compartments and the standoff distance between the outer and inner hulls will be considerable, reducing the possibility of inner hull damage. The engine room will feature sound-isolation couplings to prevent transmission of vibrations to the ocean from major fresh-water circulating pumps in the steam cycle. The CMS (comprising a commander’s multi-function console, manoeuvring control console, three weapons management consoles and one EW console), and IPMS (comprising three consoles) are now being developed by TATA Power’s Strategic Systems Division in collaboration with BAE Systems. The retractable masts viewed from bow to stern will include an optronic periscope (to come from the joint venture between Italy’s Riva Calzoni & India’s Larsen & Toubro), along with one I-band surface search/navigation radar and one low-level air defence radar, VLF/VHF/EHF/SHF radio and UHF SATCOM antennae, and one integrated electronic warfare suite [4CH(V)2 Timnex II], all to be supplied by Elbit Systems. The mast fairwater section of the ATV will house a magnetic compass sensor, combined SATCOMS/radio antenna, air supplier for diesel engines, search radar antenna mounted on a non-hull-penetrating optronic search mast, attack periscope housing optronic sensors, plane position indicator, rudder steering unit, course repeater, distance measuring sonar, and a sail plane drive. The ATV will have a double layer silencing system for the power train. Main propulsion machinery will comprise a high-density PWR reactor core rated at 90mW, and a steam turbine developing 35mW. Two auxiliary diesel engines will provide emergency power. The nuclear propulsion system will drive a seven-bladed fixed-pitch propeller with cruciform vortex dissipaters, and provide a maximum submerged speed of 33 Knots and a surface speed of 15 Knots. A reserve propeller system, powered by two motors rated at 370kW, will provide a speed of 4 Knots.

The ATV’s pressure hull will be rated for diving down to a hull-crush depth of 600 metres. The vessel will carry sufficient supplies for an endurance of 80 days and will be operated by a crew complement of 50. The outer hull will be fitted with anechoic and vibration damping coatings to reduce the vessel’s acoustic signature to no more than 110 decibels. The indigenously developed rubber-based anechoic tile will contain thousands of tiny voids, and their function will be two-fold: to absorb the sonar sound waves of active sonar, and reduce and distort the return signal thereby reducing its effective range. The tiles, each of which are 4 inches (100mm) thick, will also attenuate the sounds emitted from the vessel, typically its engines, to reduce the range at which it can be detected by passive sonar. The ATV’s scheduled operational cycle will be divided into 2.5 years, five years and 7.5 years. To mount a patrol, the ATV will require 15 days to be prepared for a 60-day endurance cruise, following which 10 days will be required for replenishing provisions and changing the crew complement. The period between two cruises will be 25 days, while dock repairs and storage battery replacements will be conducted within a 20-day period. Yard repair for the ATV will be conducted over a 12-month period.

Up until 2004 a casual stroll around the Central Government Office Complex or Kashmir House—the current seat of the armed forces’ HQ Integrated Defence Staff in Delhi—revealed the Indian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) unique approach towards managing this project. A simple, twisted signboard marked the office of the Director-General, ATV project, from where the ATV’s planning, design and fabrication efforts were being directed. The ATV’s design-cum-industrial coordination effort was directed from the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE) Building, located near the HQ of India’s Research & Analysis Wing. In 2005, both these offices were relocated under one roof to ‘AAKANGSHA’ (Hope), a heavily guarded building located behind the United Services Institution and within an Indian Army enclave near Palam Airport. The Prime Minister heads the Steering and Funding Committee of the project, which is monitored by the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, who is also Secretary of the MoD-owned Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). The ATV Project’ Directors have always been Vice Admirals who upon their retirement from the IN had been re-employed at Secretary-level. In addition, there are six retired IN officers of the rank of Rear Admiral who run various segments of the programme (such as weapon systems, CMS, IPMS, acoustic signature management and sonars, integrated powerplant/propulsion system, and communications/electronic warfare). Overall, it is the DRDO that is running the entire project, while the DAE is responsible for developing the close-cycle nuclear propulsion system, a task the latter was entrusted with in 1976. However, since neither the DRDO nor the IN’s Directorate of Naval Design have any hands-on experience in designing submarines, the DRDO in 2002 contracted Russia’s St Petersburg-based Malachite Marine Engineering Bureau under Project 78 to produce production engineering drawings (using TRIBON CAD/CAM software) for the ATV’s hull sections. This drawings were delivered to L & T by late 2003 and included those for the pressure hull, shrouded propulsor, upper and lower rudder segments, starboard hydroplane, aft anchor light, aft rudder and hydroplane hydraulic actuators, Nos1,2,3 and 4 main ballast tank, propeller shaft, high-pressure bottles, towed-array sonar’s cable drum and winch, main ballast venting system, aft and forward pressure domes, air treatment units, naval stores, propeller shaft thrust block and bearing, circulating water transfer pipes, lubricating oil tank, starboard condenser, main machinery mounting raft, port and starboard turbo-generators, combining gearbox, main turbines, steam delivery ducting, aft equipment compartment, watertight bulkheads, manoeuvring room citadel, manoeuvring room’s isolated deck mounting, switchboard room, diesel generator room, static converters, main steam valve, reactor section, forward air-lock, air-handling compartment, waste management system, air-conditioning ducting, galley, forward section’s isolated deck mountings, batteries, junior ratings’ mess, RESM office, commanding officer’s cabin, portside communications office, diesel exhaust mast, snort induction mast, VLF/VHF/SHF/EHF masts, ESM mast, search radar mast, UHF SATCOM mast, integrated comms mast, starboard and portside visual masts, navigation mast, bridge fin access, junior and senior ratings’ bathrooms, battery switchroom, control room consoles, sonar operator’s consoles, senior ratings’ bunks, medical berth, weapons stowage-cum-handling compartment, bow-mounted sonar array, maintenance workshop, depth-sounder and obstacle/mine avoidance sonar room, forward hydroplane and its hydraulic actuators, hydroplane hinge mountings, main administrative office, junior ratings’ berths, torpedo tubes, water transfer tank, torpedo tube bow caps, air turbine pump, weapons embarkation hatch, rigid-hull inflatable boat stowage area, hinged fairlead, anchor windlass, and anchor cable locker. All these sections will be ready for final assembly within the pressure hull by 2011. Final assembly work will take place at the Vizag-based Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) that is headed by a retired Vice Admiral and lies adjacent to the IN’s Naval Dockyard. The entire hull-section welding effort (with the help of 25 major industrial contractors and 250 other vendors) is overseen by the Hyderabad-based Defence Material Department, headed by a retired Rear Admiral.

In March 2007, the MoD decided to hike the project’s financial allocation to Rs140 billion (US$3.3 billion) of which some $2.5 billion is being sourced from the Rupee-Rouble debt settlement scheme that was bilaterally worked out by New Delhi and Moscow way back in 1993. Now, instead of the debt settlement taking place in 2037 as originally envisaged, successive payment tranches to the tune of Rs8 billion ($200 million) per annum will be made by India through to 2016 and in return Russia will help the DRDO realise all the R & D mission objectives of the ATV project (over a three-year period starting 2012, when the ATV will commence its sea trials, and culminating in the conclusion of the sea trials three years later), and subsequently assist in initiating the production of the three SSGNs and one SSBN over a 15-year period starting starting 2015 as currently envisaged by the MoD. Under a separate, yet-to-be-inked contract, Russia will provide technical expertise to the IN for building two planned underwater naval bases (one each along the coastline of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala), each of which will cost some $1.5 billion to build and will contain twin underwater submarine tunnel entrances leading to separate berths for accommodating both SSGNs and the SSBN, a hardened underground tunnel for storing nuclear warheads for the SLBMs, plus a command-and-control centre. Subject to approval from the Cabinet Committee on National Security at a later date, both the SSGNs and SSBN will be built by L & T’s Defence Engineering Division at a new $500 million state-of-the-art mega-shipyard that will be operational in Kakinada, Orissa, from 2010. The ATV fabrication facility within this shipyard as well as L & T’s existing fabrication facility in Hazira, Gujarat, are now being built and equipped with the help of Russia’s Krylov Central Research and Scientific Institute, Central Research Institute for Shipbuilding Technology, and the Region Scientific Production Association.

The DAE’s Trombay-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 1976 began work on designing a generic, miniaturised PWR. Altogether, four different types of designs were considered. The first, a water-cooled, water-moderated reactor, used 248 fuel assemblies as its core. The fuel was cermet in zirconium cladding. However, this design was rejected in late 1976, while the second was discarded in 1979, and the third in 1981. The BARC had shelved the first three PWR designs because of engineering objections from the IN. Despite this, BARC succeeded in fabricating a pilot PWR in the early 1990s using the fourth design. By late December 1995 the DRDO had made considerable progress in the design of a 600-tonne pre-test capsule made of titanium that was fabricated in 1994 by Mumbai-based Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd’s Precision Equipment Division. From there the capsule was transported to the PTC. The capsule, containing the BARC-built PWR (with a diameter of 10 metres) was unsuccessfully subjected to on-shore and submerged structural integrity tests in November-December 1995. In June 1996 the programme suffered further setbacks following additional failed tests of the PWR and its containment vessel. This was attributed to the unsuitable design of the reaction control-rod insertion and withdrawal mechanism. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the DAE tried in vain to buy a rod-worth minimiser (RWM) used by reactor operators to guide and monitor the proper sequences for the remotely-controlled withdrawal and insertion of reaction control-rods. By early 1997, the DRDO made serious and successful overtures to Russia for procuring shipborne PWRs and related machinery off-the-shelf. On October 5, 2000, after India and Russia inked an agreement on a news blackout on sensitive information exchanges in the areas of defence and nuclear cooperation and appointed watchdogs to enforce compliance with the new agreement, Moscow agreed to supply an initial two VM-5 PWRs, their related propulsion machinery, plus their detailed engineering drawings off-the-shelf. These arrived at Vishakapatnam in late 2000. These propulsion systems, however, were not brand new, but were unused and originally built for usage on board civilian ice-breaking ships. In addition, Moscow insisted that such hardware be used for replication only, and be integrated with the propulsion system on-shore, and not be installed on any shipborne platform. Adoption of this approach meant that while Russia was not violating its obligations made under the NPT and START-2 nuclear non-proliferation and arms reduction treaties, it was, on the other hand, helping the DRDO and the DAE to overcome the R & D ‘know-how’ challenges by leapfrogging straight ahead to the ‘know-why’ stage. By early 2003, L & T as prime industrial contractor was contracted for fabricating the ATV’s hull sections (with technical assistance from Russia’s Malachite Marine Engineering Bureau, Krylov Central Research and Scientific Institute and the St Petersburg-based Central Research Institute for Shipbuilding Technology), while the DRDO’s Naval Chemicals and Metallurgical Laboratory and Mumbai-based Advani Oerlikon Ltd began supplying indigenously developed metal-cutting and welding solutions to the SBC, where the ATV’s final hull assembly began in 2004 and. The universal vertical launcher to be used for launching the SLBM is being indigenously designed and built by L & T. The IN has also built a Russia-designed facility--the Special Safety Service—adjacent to the SBC for monitoring the health of the people working inside the ATV and the radiation leaks emanating from the vessel. State-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) was contracted by the DRDO to develop the PWR’s heat exchanger in cooperation with Godrej & Boyce, electrical generator and the propulsion system’s geared turbine (connected via a set of reduction gears to a fixed-pitch propeller), transmission shaft and gearbox, with L & T fabricating the seven-bladed fixed-pitch propeller. Pune-based KSB Pumps Ltd (an Indian subsidiary of KSB AG of Germany), is supplying the power-driven centrifugal and eccentric screw pumps and butterfly valves each comprising a cast-iron body with ductile iron or stainless steel disc and EPDM/nitrile rubber liners. Seamless piping is coming from the Maharastra Seamless Ltd subsidiary of the D P Jindal Group. Advani-Oerlikon Ltd is producing welding electrodes and machines for welding the ATV’s hull sections and pipelines, while Kirloskar Electric Company Ltd is building the switchgears, water, air and chemical flowmeters, plus electrical cables, transformers and capacitors. Russia’s St Petersburg-based Malachite Marine Engineering Bureau has been roped in to act as the DRDO’s principal designer-cum-independent design consultant and validate the ATV’s hydrodynamic design/performance parameters. By October 2004, the first PTC-built and VM-5-derived indigenous PWR went critical on-shore at Kalpakkam. The highly enriched uranium fuel for the PWR was supplied by the DAE’s Ratnahalli-based Rare Materials Project (RMP) near Mysore. Two months later, the reactor was integrated on shore with the propulsion system. On November 16, 2005, the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee (now external Affairs Minister) stated in Moscow during the 5th session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) that Russia had agreed to help India build both the ATV and the 37,500-tonne Project 71 Integrated Aircraft Carrier through technology transfers. By mid-2006, a fully integrated and closed-cycle PWR-powered propulsion system was shipped to Vizag, which has since been encased within the ATV’s L & T-fabricated reactor and engine compartments. By late last year, a propulsion simulator and an IPMS simulator co-developed by TATA Power and BEL were installed at the SBC.

The integrated sonar suite is being developed by the DRDO’s Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory and will be series-produced by BEL. The flank-array sonars’ underwater omnidirectional transducers are 60mm hollow spherical elements fabricated from lead zirconate titanate type-4 material. Fabrication of the light (outer) hull and pressure (inner) hull sections has been undertaken directly at the SBC and is the most challenging part of the ATV’s fabrication process. The hull has been constructed with very high precision, since the inevitable minor deviations are resisted by the stiffener rings, but even a 1-inch (25mm) deviation from roundness results in more than 30% decrease of hydrostatic load. The total pressure force of several million tonnes must be distributed evenly along the hull and be oriented longitudinally, as no material will resist such force by bending. The entire ATV hull thus uses expensive transversal construction, with the stiffener-rings located more frequently than the longitudinals. The welding technique involves twin tandem submerged-arcs for rotated sub-unit circumferential butts, and for frame-to-hull and web-to-table tee butts. Pressure hull static circumferential butts and sub-unit vertical seams are being welded by a mechanised (positional) FCAW process, and semi-auto FCAW is used for all other welding. For non-destructive testing and examination of the butt welds, digitised ultrasonics (using time-of-flight diffraction techniques) are being employed.

For destroying ASW helicopters equipped with dunking sonars, the DRDO and RAFAEL of Israel in early 2006 began co-developing a submarine-launched air defence missile system that will include twin three-cell vertical canisters each containing a ready-to-fire Python 5 missile that can be launched by the ATV from a submerged depth of 50 feet. This variant of the Python 5 air combat missile will have a 12km range. The ATV’s eight torpedo tubes will be capable of launching the TEST-71 family of torpedoes.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Moscow Comes Calling

When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev comes calling on his maiden official visit to India on December 5, expect a changed, more realistic and sober engagement posture devoid of any arrogance coming from the delegation that he will be leading. For the Russia that had been testing India’s patience for the past two years, especially with regard to Russians demands for re-negotiation of the multi-billion contract for supplying the 44,570-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, is not the same Russia that exists today. For the past five months, Russia’s problems in both the domestic and foreign fronts have only increased. Consider the following:

· Russia’s five-day limited border conflict with Georgia last August only served to highlight the block obsolescence of the former’s military might and only accelerated NATO’s determination to push further eastwards via Ukraine and Georgia, thereby completing the strategic encirclement of Russia.

· The aftershocks resulting from the global liquidity crunch has seen several Russian financial institutions crash like a pack of cards. The country’s benchmark RTS stock market index dropped by 70% since last May and the Kremlin is now grappling with its worst financial crisis in a decade, helped no less by the falling global crude oil prices, a massively overheated domestic economy, the steadily falling value of the Rouble, and double-digit inflation (13 per cent).

· The Kremlin’s decision to start an aggressive foreign policy has not been accompanied by a corresponding, aggressive foreign trade policy. Instead, its recent decision to decline joining the World Trade Organisation is widely being seen as a serious blunder.

· Growing fears of government interference in business and perpetuation of the system of unaccountable redistribution of national financial resources among private oligarchic empires close to the Kremlin have resulted in foreign institutional financial investors exiting Russia in droves, thereby raising the prospects of a severe downturn and a long-term crisis in the country’s financial sector.

· The quantum of Russian weapons exports to its traditional customers has been steadily decreasing for the past three years, especially when it comes to China, India, Iran and Malaysia. Though alternate markets have been sought and penetrated in Indonesia and Venezuela, the future outlook for Russian weapons exports remains bleak, especially if Russia is seen as an unreliable military-industrial partner that wants to re-negotiate already signed-and-sealed contracts of the type inked for INS Vikramaditya.

· Lastly, both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are widely believed to be advocating solutions from opposite ends and which also seemingly contradict each other. While Medvedev favours widespread economic reforms and feels the need to add more substance to his anti-corruption initiatives, Putin is widely believed to be intolerant of dissent from his junior partner, since any crack in the monolithic system of power could trigger an avalanche of desertions and revelations that would demonstrate that rampant corruption is not a mere defect in his course of expanding state control over the economy, but its core substance. Putin’s approval ratings still remain high, but the social contract of ‘Putinism’, according to which the population enjoys the fruits of petro-prosperity while ignoring the shameless thievery of the ruling elite, is now all set to expire.

The peculiar two-headed form of leadership was designed by the over-confident ‘Tsar Vladimir’ for presiding over a permanent party of distributing tonnes of easy money, but it cannot function anymore in the situation of escalating squabbles between elite clans and gathering social discontent. Cutting President Medvedev down to size may have been easy, but now Putin has to decide how much longer he can postpone the hard tasks of managing rather than explaining away the crisis that has transformed his pet projects into toxic assets.It is against this backdrop that President Medvedev is coming to India and all indications are that a far more realistic appraisal of the future state of bilateral military-industrial cooperation will be visible. While Putin reportedly favours a Euro-centric foreign policy and accords greater priority to re-claiming Russia’s influences in its near-abroad—especially in Central Asia and China (the Kremlin’s recent approval for exporting the Su-35M and Su-33M, both armed with Yakhont supersonic multi-role cruise missiles, has to be seen in this context)—Medvedev, being a technocrat, favours a more broad-based approach that focuses more intensely on South and Southeast Asia, and the African continent. For the Indian Navy, Medvedev is known to favour a mutually beneficial solution to the INS Vikramaditya’s quagmire, under which a far-more amenable and financially viable supplementary contract will be inked between India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Rosoboronexport State Corp to expedite the aircraft carrier’s refit and upgrade. In return, the Russian shipyards will be accorded preferred vendor status for supplying a substantial number of pre-fabricated modules for the two 37,500-tonne Indigenous Aircraft Carriers (IAC), the first of which is now being fabricated at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL). Also up for grabs for the Russian shipbuilding industry are two major projects: one, for the co-design and joint fabrication of five guided-missile destroyers under Project 15B (for which the Project 22350 DDG is being offered); and the co-design and joint fabrication of seven guided-missile frigates under Project 17A, for which Moscow is offering the Project 1167 FFG.-- Prasun K. Sengupta