Friday, October 2, 2009

Bottoms-Up, Not Top-Down

The above five photos graphically illustrate both the missed opportunities as well as the challenges now confronting Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to deliver the new-generation HTT-40 advanced turboprop trainer to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The first photo is that of the long-forgotten HTT-35 advanced turboprop trainer, in particular its full-scale mock-up, which was designed and fabricated in-house by HAL in the late 1980s and rolled out in the early 1990s—all in all a four-year effort. The objective at that time was to team up with a global avionics supplier (most probably THALES) and co-design the semi-glass tandem cockpits and offer the aircraft for evaluation by the IAF by 1998. However, after 1994 the HTT-35 disappeared, literally! One can only speculate on what exactly happened to this full-scale mock-up, or on why did the MoD or IAF HQ develop a coordinated ‘memory loss’ on the need to series-produce the HTT-35. For it was realised as far back as 1998 that the induction of fourth-generation combat aircraft such as the Su-30MKI and the likely induction of additional medium multi-role combat aircraft (M-MRCA) and the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) would force the IAF sooner than later into undertaking a critical revision of its flying training practices that included primary flying training, intermediate flying training, and lead-in fighter training (LIFT).

Each of these three stages requires a dedicated flying training aircraft, starting with benign turboprop trainers, followed by intermediate jet trainers (IJT), and culminating in LIFT aircraft, following which those destined to fly combat aircraft are assigned to a dedicated Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) to convert to a particular aircraft type by either training on tactical simulators for some 40 hours, or directly proceeding to gain flight experience for some 200 hours on the single/twin-seat operational combat aircraft. As a rule, therefore, air forces worldwide upgrade their fleets of flying training aircraft by first procuring advanced turboprop trainers, followed by intermediate or advanced jet trainers, and lastly, LIFT aircraft. For the IAF, however, this is not the way flying training is being or has been conducted for a number of reasons. Firstly, Air HQ has yet to induct a suitable turboprop trainer to replace its existing fleet of piston-engined HPT-32 Deepak primary trainers of 1980s vintage. Although HAL had in the mid-1990s done considerable R & D work on the HTT-35 tandem-seat turboprop training aircraft, such efforts, for mysterious reasons, could not culminate in the HTT-35 being put to series-production. Secondly, HAL has for the past two years been unable to accelerate R & D work on the indigenous tandem-seat HJT-36 IJT, work on which began in July 1999, but the first prototype aircraft was able to take to the air only on March 7, 2003. To make matters worse, it was only on March 9, 2006 that the Cabinet Committee on National Security approved the acquisition of the first 12 production-standard IJTs at a cost of Rs4,868.2 million, which means initial deliveries will only get underway by late 2009. Meanwhile, deliveries of all BAE Systems Hawk Mk132s will be concluded before even the first 12 HJT-36s start rolling out. This, consequently, will result in the IAF’s Training Command revising its LIFT syllabus first and the intermediate flying training curriculum later—a top-down approach—instead of undertaking a bottoms-up approach. What is likely to complicate matters even further is the IAF’s inability, till this day, to procure both cockpit procedure trainers and tactical flying training simulators for frontline combat aircraft like the upgraded MiG-21 Bison and the upgraded MiG-27Ms. It is another story that existing simulators for the HAL-built Jaguar IS/IM and Dassault Mirage 2000H/TH are in dire need of upgrades and refurbishment.

Given the accelerated induction of Su-30MKIs and the impending induction of new-generation M-MRCAs and FGFAs, it is therefore highly likely that the MoD will soon issue global RFPs for up to 60 new-generation turboprop training aircraft and the follow-on tranche of 57 LIFT aircraft. Simply put, LIFT encompasses the entire process of preparing aircrew to both fly and undertake flight/weapon systems management found on board fourth- and fifth-generation combat aircraft in the most effective way. The idea here is to utilise LIFT aircraft and its related tactical full-motion simulators in a way that replicates the flight control and management characteristics of those frontline combat aircraft that have cost-prohibitive direct operating costs per flight hour. Typically, a LIFT aircraft therefore is employed for imparting flying training in the following phases: transition, all-weather formation flying, combat manoeuvring, low-level navigation, ground attack orientation, cockpit systems management, mission planning, weapons delivery, and multi-mode radar operations. Though the Hawk Mk132 is often touted as having ‘morphed’ into a LIFT aircraft, it cannot yet be classified as a LIFT platform for the following reasons:

• A LIFT aircraft, in order to replicate the flight control characteristics of aircraft like the Su-30MKI, FGFA or MiG-29K, will be required to have a digital, quadruplex fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system. The Hawk Mk132 does not have FBW flight controls.

• The LIFT aircraft must be supersonic and have a thrust-to-weight ratio between 0.7 and 1.0, against 0.45 for the Hawk Mk132, which is subsonic in flight.

• High angle-of-attack capability while maintaining full control, and possessing a multi-mode pulse-Doppler fire-control radar is a must for any LIFT aircraft. The Hawk Mk132 is found lacking in both these areas.

It is purely for these reasons that aircraft manufacturers like Aermacchi of Italy, Russia’s United Aircraft Corp and the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries have developed new-generation supersonic LIFT aircraft like the M-346, Yak-130 and T-50 Golden Eagle. Aircraft like these have been optimised for imparting basic combat training, weapons employment training, and enhancing the aircrew’s on-board avionics-related systems handling/management skills. The secondary role of such LIFT aircraft in wartime could be both defensive counter-air as well as tactical interdiction missions. Given such realities, the options ahead for the IAF are three-fold:

• Revive the HTT-35 along with HAL (as the HTT-40) and equip the aircraft’s cockpits with AMLCD-based electronic flight instrumentation systems (see Photo 2 above) designed to enhance the trainee pilot’s aircraft handling and systems management skills.

• Accelerate the certification process of the single-engined HJT-36 IJT and upgrade its cockpits by installing AMLCD-based avionics and electronic flight instrumentation/management systems, all integrated by MIL-STD-1553B digital data bus.

In addition, a LIFT-specific mission planning system should be developed as an integral part of the LIFT curriculum. Such a system, replicating those of frontline combat aircraft, should enable rapid mission planning on the ground, with aircraft loading via a manportable data loader. The mission data loader should be fully compatible with all frontline operational ground-based training systems, and should also act as the data storage medium for mission recording automatically from power-on to shutdown. To enable full mission playback after flight, the system should record all display input data, with provision for event markers where required.—Prasun K. Sengupta


sachin_sathe said...

gr8 post!thx.

I think the exp of building LCA will come in pretty handy in this project especially in building a high composite content airframe & fbw which is nessesary if the trainer is to be at par with the likes of Tucano's & PC-21's.wht do u think?

Also regarding the LIFT req for IAF the slightly watered doen version of Tejas Mk.1 should suffice similar to the RAF which i think uses Gripen.wht do u think?

Vikas said...

Prasun ji
i guess there might be a typo. please confirm: "National Security approved the acquisition of the first 12 production-standard IJTs at a cost of Rs4,868.2 million, which means initial deliveries will only get underway by late 2019"

It may be late 2009

Pierre Zorin said...

The Super Tucano is the perfect combination of a turboprop with fourth-generation avionics and armament systems. In fact, this aircraft is the only truly multi-purpose solution available on the market.
The Super Tucano does what no other turboprop trainer can do. In addition to its jet performance, the Super Tucano has outstanding human-machine interface fully compatible NVG Gen III cockpit lighting innovations through in-flight virtual training for armaments and sensors five underwing and fuselage stations carrying a wide array of ordnance (conventional and smart).
It can operate in the most hostile environments and from unprepared runways, day or night.
Wasn't there some talk about getting Super Tucanos for training purposes to meet the shortfall, in fact absence of any decent trainer?I'm surprised that HAL & EMBRAER don't have a JV to produce them.India also need this type of aircraft for COIN especially in the South and the East.

Shiv Aroor said...

excellent post, prasun. i really enjoy the depth of your awareness on these things. super stuff.

Anonymous said...

Good post at the right time.Basic trainers with 1553 bus based systems and glass cockpit not necessary. The trainees will be totally new to flying and should have conventional flight instruments. Unless simebody sits on the head of HAL and point a gun ,deliver or perish ,things will not moveahead. HTT-35 must have been started by some enthusiatic person holding top post in HAL and having good links with IAF. As soon as the person i/c of HTT-35 retired/resigned gone back to IAF after deputation,the project might have been dumped. HAL though does have some dedicated souls,they are no match to Mr. Madhavan Nair and koshys,Alexs,Radhakrishnans to have an emotional and professional attachment to everything what they do and demonstrate to the space community.

Anonymous said...

why not use the LCA Mk.1 two seater version as the LIFT aircraft?

hacker said...

thanks prasun da
what are recent news about excaliber,kalantak,msmc rifles made by DRDO+OFB ,how did they perform in trails and about their posible induction.
why don't india use sniper rifle of 12.7mm caliber.
who are compiting for the indian army tender of Next generation Assault rifle,Carbine,Sub-machine gun and 7.62mm machine gun.
can you give me any news and image links of the new next geneartion assault rifle which drdo is making in the F-INSAS project.
Thank you

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Yo Sachin Sathe: The problem is that there is a critical disconnect and conflict of interest when it comes to ADA and HAL joining forces to co-develop new products. ADA wants to protect its own turf and does not want to share designing and product developmnent expertise with HAL, and wants to 'justify' its existence through the Tejas LCA Mk2 and is now proposing the MCA. HAL on the other hand, has consistently claimed that the DRDO had no business creating ADA as an aircraft design/development initiator. I for one believe that HAL is on the right in this case. Because, while ADA has been busy with the Tejas Mk1/Mk2 programmes, HAL has had to set up (at a much slower pace) its in-house aircraft R & D capabilities and consequently, today HAL is saddled with a growing list of new-generation aircraft/helicopters to be designed and developed! This today includes the HJT-36 IJT, HTT-40 turboprop trainer, LCH, the single-engined LOH variant of the Dhruv ALH, the 12-tonne medium-lift multi-role helicopter, the FGFA, and the IL-214 MTA! On top of all this, yet another govt-owned entity, NAL, has taken on the task of designing and developing the Saras and now wants more funding to dersign and develop the 70-seat regional twin-turboprop! Why such wasteful duplication? Why couldn't HAL be entrusted with the tasks of aircxraft design and development? Why should three govt-owned entities be involved in designing complete platforms? Where is the logic in this? At most, these ought to be classified as 'un-commercial' decisions. There's now only one way out of this organisational mess--undertake a strategic divestment of HAL and make it a public-listed aerospace entity, with the Govt of India (and not the MoD) holding being a stakeholder via golden shares, and at least two international strategic partners (like EADS and Russia's United Aircraft Corp). For it is only through such a move that HAL will be able to raise the necessary finances from international capital markets and undertake large-scale expansion of its in-house aircraft R & D capabilities. It is utterly unrealistic and totally impossible for HAL to keep asking the MoD for the funds required for its expansion, as such money will never be forthcoming in the required time-frame. And when that happens, all the R & D activities for the above-mentioned aircraft will have to be undertaken SEQUENTIALLY, instead of CONCURRENTLY. This is the PRINCIPAL problem facing HAL today. It is not about dearth of skilled human resources or availability/denial of technologies. As long as the reqd amount of finances are made available as and when reqd, everything will flow smoothly. Regretably, the mainstream media in India has never highlighted this critical shortcoming, and the MoD in its all-knowing wisdom continues to preach the mantra of 'navratna' industrial entities in India, which is an utterly discredited policy.
The tandem-seat Tejas Mk1 LSPs can and should be employed as LIFTs. No doubt about that.

To Vikas: Already corrected the typo. Thanks for the heads-up.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Pierre Zorin: The HTT-35 can easily be resurrected and equipped (as the HTT-40) with all-glass cockpit avionics WITHIN two years, provided the money is made available by MoD today. HAL had developed a solid foundation for developing an advanced turboprop trainer way back in the late 1980s! I can state with certainty that if the money starts flowing today, then within 12 months a flying prototype will be rolled out and within the following 18 months, it will obtain its certification of airworthiness from CEMILAC. It all boils down to unrestricted funding availability. By the way, I wonder what happened to the Pratt & Whitney Canada-supplied PT6A-65 engines that were procured in the early 1990s for the HTT-35. I guess they may have been diverted to NAL for the Saras project.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Shiv Aroor: Many thanks for your encouraging words. Truly appreciate them, as always. I guess it invariably boils down to folks like us to explain in layman's terms what all these 'hi-tech' tamashas all amount to. Once in a while, it pays to take a walk down memory lane, I guess. Cheers!

To Anon@2:47AM: My dear chap, the world has changed a lot since the early 1990s, believe me. And especially so in the arena of flying training. Long gone are the days when entry-level ab-initio flying training used to be conducted hands-on in an aircraft like the piston-engined HPT-32. Today, even before stepping into the cockpit of even a basic turboprop trainer, a trainee cadet pilot, as per universal norm, has to log in several hours of training in a) computer-based training tools b) cockpit procedures trainer c) low-cost flight simulator. Only after this can the trainee gain access to the turboprop trainer's cockpit. And when it comes to glass cockpits, be it for the turboprop trainer or an IJT or an AJT, only standby instrumentation is electro-mechanical (like the attitude heading and reference system, and altimeter), the rest is all AMLCD-based.
Regarding the HTT-35's genesis, it goes way back to the early 1980s when HAL developed the HTT-34, which was not quite a success story. HAL then went back to the drawing boards and came up with a far more mature design--the HTT-35. It was not the figment of anyone's imagination, rather it was a direct consequence of an IAF ASQR. What should be asked from the likes of A K Antony and the current IAF Chief is only one simple question: why was the HTT-35 project dumped when it was in the first place initiated as a follow-up to the IAF's ASQR?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Anon@2:56AM: Have already answered your query above. I'm all for it.

To hacker: You may perceive my answer to be a sarcasm, but I really mean it in all sincerity. You see, post independence India has had a rock-solid and time-tested reputation of endeavouring to develop the most complex weapon systems first (like Tejas, Arjun MBT, DDGs and FFGs) followed by developing the low-end systems like small arms and ammunition, RHIB assault/interceptor boats, ICVs, etc. Therefore, do cut some slack and give India some more time, say till 2014, when all the major capital-intensive projects like AEW & CS, Project 15A DDGs and Tejas Mk2 are completed, and then only will it be possible for India's industrial might to wholeheartedly undertake the development of these puny and futuristic but much less glamourous small arms.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Looks like the 2nd A-50E PHALCON is being readied for its ferry-flight to Agra. Check this out:

sbm said...

Prasun, the HTT-35 was displayed at Avia India 93 wasn't it ?

It was a good mock-up.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To sbm: That's right, it is 1993 vintage. Wonder where's the mock-up's final resting place. That makes the photo I've uploaded a collector's item, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Bolivia buys six K-8 jet trainers from pakistan any thoughts on that

Anonymous said...

Prasun da,

You didn't answer to my query in the last post,so i am re-writing here.Please answer.

You have written that discussions are on-going for a total of 90 more IRKUT Corp-built Su-30MKIs.So does that mean that if the deal goes through the IAF will have 50+140+40+50+40=320 Su-30MKIs.

What percentage of composites,both carbon fiber composites glass reinforced composites will be used to build the airframe of the Tejas Mk2 M-MRCA?The Tejas Mk1 LCA employs C-FC materials for up to 45% of its airframe by weight while the Typhoon employs 82% composites(70% carbon fibre composites + 12% glass reinforced composites).I think the composites % to be used on the Tejas Mk2 M-MRCA will be the same as that of the Typhoon.What do you say?

Is it true that the PAK-FA will be built using only 35% composites?Will it also be true for the Indo-Russian FGFA?In that case it will be a setback for our engineers as the Tejas Mk1 LCA itself employs more than 45% composites.Can you shed some light on this?What percentage of lightweight composites be used on the FGFA?

You have written in one issue of FORCE magazine about the IN's plan to build/procure 20 (DDG's + FFG's) in the next 10 years starting with the Project 15B DDG.Can you please tell me what these 20 warships will be?

sachin_sathe said...


i think with AK hell bent on streamlining the DRDO & making a leaner more efficient i won't be surprised if he just merges NAL & ADA & makes them akin to navies DGND also i think the direct & constant funding(reqd ammt) of all critical projects is given today then it will push defence Budget to 3.5% of GDP maybe more as the list is endless.

Call me crazy but considering the performance of Hawk i think totally overhauling the HF-24 design(new materials,engines an FBW mod. etc) could hav made a very good Trainer and wht do u think?

Regarding the MCA project i think it will remain separate & most likely turn into a UCAV & will take off afte 2013-2014 so as to maximize on gains from FGFA project thus i also wouldn't be surprised if IAF limits the MRCA purchase to just 126 & buys single seater 5th gen a/c(similar to Su-30K purchase before the twin seater starts entering the service.wht is ur take on this?

Venu said...

Good post Prasun,

Now its clear that HAL can't be blamed always.

Now, instead of developing a basic trainer from the beginning, can't we repair Deepak by integrated with a new engine. That will take less time and money to do I believe than planing to buy a new one or start development again from scratch.

Of course, as always, if needed, we get consultancy from Embraer or anyother experienced firm to quickly resurrect the aircraft.

I believe this can be done easily unless our babu's and their in chamchas in IAF are ready to forgo the moolah.

Anonymous said...

Prasun da,

According to this post
destroyers of Project-15 B series designated as City Class destroyers will have a modular superstructure.

This very report was confirmed by you in one of your earlier blogs.But then there was another report that the Project-15B series will actually be a follow-on to the Project-15A DDG and another project i.e.Project-15C series will have a modular superstructure.

So which report is true.Please clear my doubts.

Read these 2 reports
Would India benefit if it chooses the RD-33MK engine,main advantage being it sanction proof? The main disadvantage is that it would require big airframe rework and a whole new set of engineers(Russian)thereby delaying the Tejas Mk2 project further.

So what do you think will be advantage to India whether to go with the proven American GE414 or the reliable Russian RD-33MK.

Please explain the pros & cons.

Anonymous said...

The eu parliament members have hinted at revoking the eu policy of arms embargo on china since European defence manufacturers are seen to be denied access to the lucrative Chinese market.
There have been news reports on this about officials speaking in public about this change in policy
if this change in policy comes into effect it would be alarming for india
what kind of equipment do you imagine china would be willing to acquire from eu. Would the eu sell advanced military equipment without us components to china?

Anonymous said...

Prasun Thanks for your excellent posts. According to you by 2014 Tejas mk2 will enter squadron service which basically means 8 lsp+20+12+6 nlca+ 2np= 48mk1 + 4mk2 prototype will be produced by 2013 ie total 52 while the present production capacity is 8 Lca/year which keeps production line busy till 2015.
There was a report that by 2011 two production line of Lca which my guess is 16 Lca/year will open which fits into your projections. Have any idea on increased production rate.

Anonymous said...

Now i guess the reason for the debacle of HTT-35.Late Wingco(retd) RN sharma rose sharply to become chairman of HAL, surpassing many a senior executives, with in a very sharp span of time. once he retired from service, the new chairman could have dumped the project initiated by RN SHARMA. I doubt the prototype and its drawings exists anymore.As part of LEAN initiative they might have cleared the "invaluable garbage" as waste.

Anonymous said...

Prasun! why dont you use your good offices to convince MOD, that HAL should handover all the drawings of HTT-35 to Taneja aerospace to build few prottypes of HTT-35 on emergency basis.Tis saves lot of time and money!

Anonymous said...

Prasun da, good job. Nice article. Informative.

Can you please shade some light on LCH and P-15A's recent activities.

Anonymous said...

Prasun da, DRDO going for any UCAV development. We needthis very much.

We also need something like S-400, Barak-8 LRSAM is only 70 km while china already have S-300 and may be S-400. We need a long range SAM like S-400.

What do you say?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

Sachin Sathe: Are you really that naive to believe all that is being spewed out from the likes of A K Antony? These guys have a political shelf-life not exceeding five years and they're just not interested in creating enduring institutions, it is as simple as that. If anyone was really serious about streamlining India's military procurement procedures on a long-term basis, then it would have done the following ages ago:
1) Create a non-lapsable and rolling procuremnent fund (about US$20 billion) free from the annual fiscal limitations, thus making the defence budget's capital account into planned expenditure. Right now, the entire defence budget is classified as non-plan expenditure.
2) Given the fact that capital spending in percentage terms of the defence budget is actually reducing in real terms with every passing year (and spending on pensions is sharply rising), the only way to raise additional urgently required funding for military force modernisation is through strategic divestments in ALL existing defence PSUs. This has been the writing on the wall since the 1990s and yet has been ignored by all successive govts since then. And I don't think even this govt and especially the likes of A K Antony has the balls to make the long-overdue decisive restructuring and changes.
Regarding the MCA, there's no available funding for it as all the available funds will be devoted to the FGFA. It must be noted that ADA was touting the MCA at a time (since the early 1990s)when the FGFA offer was not on the table.

To Venu: As I explained above and yesterday, it is all a question of available funding. If HAL were to be given the strategic autonomy to raise its own R & D funds NOT via the MoD's annual allocations, but via the capital markets on an as-needed basis, HAL's productivity would be the same as Lockheed Martin or Embraer, believe me. The same rule also applies to ALL existing defence PSUs. I just can't figure out this totally discredited policy of nurturing wholly MoD-owned PSUs when even in China and Russia all existing military-industrial entities are joint-sector companies that are free to engage in risk-sharing shareholding alliances with European and US industrial giants!
The Deepak is already an obsolete design and as I explained earlier, the flying training regime has undergone radical changes since the time the Deepak entered service. And since HAL has already completed designing the HTT-35's airframe, all it now has to do is team-up with an avionics supplier (possible THALES as it is already involved with HAL since the 1990s) and complete the HTT-35's R & D within the next 18 months--provided the reqd amount of funds is made available. There's no need to team up with any existing OEM like Embraer or Pilatus or Raytheon or Korea Aerospace Industries since HAL has already designed the airframe, the most complex part of any aircraft's R & D effort. Only the engines and avionics will need to be imported and these can be supplied within eight months of contract signature.

To Anon@5:36PM: No, the K-8s were not sold to Bolivia by Pakistan's Kamra-based PAC. They were sold by China's Hongdu Aviation Industrial Group, a public-listed company which has also developed the L-15 Falcon LIFT.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@5:49PM: Yes, the IAF will have 50+140+40+50+40=320 Su-30MKIs AFTER the two supplementary contracts for the 50 + 40 Su-30MKIs are inked in future.
The Tejas Mk1 (LCA is not the term used anymore) employs CFC materials for up to 45% of its airframe by weight and 76% of total airframe surface, while the Typhoon employs 82% composites NOT by weight, but in terms of the total airframe surface. The Tejas Mk2's composites content will be more or less the same as that of the Tejas Mkl, which is quite good, nothing negative about it.
The amount of composites to be used in the Russian version of the FGFA will use 35% composites in terms of the aircraft's empty weight. But the Indian variant of the FGFA will have a much higher content, probably 48%.
In terms of future warships to be procured, it will include 4 Project 15B DDGs, three Project 15C DDGs, seven Project 17A FFGs, three additional Project 1135.6 FFGs (nos 7, 8 and 9), one IAC, INS Vikramaditya, and three LPDs by 2017.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@8:20PM: ALL warships have had modular since the 1980s superstructures, since the designs have always been done in a modular manner, even in India. That's not new. What's new is that in future construction of the modules will be done CONCURRENTLY at different locations, and not SEQUENTIALLY as has been the case so far.
Regarding the RD-33MK or RD33-3 versus the F414 and EJ200, the Russian turbofan is not on offer at all for the Tejas Mk2 and on October 12, when the RFPs are submitted, only two submissions will be considered: F414 and EJ200. The RFP is for 99 turbofans (firm order), with an option for another 49. As to the RD33-3/MK being reliable or proven it is too early to tell as the engine's first operational application will be on the MiG-29K/KUB, followed by the upgraded IAF MiG-29N-12. It will therefore take at least another four years to credibly establish the engine's reliability. But based on existing official figures from Klimov JSC, the total technical service life of the RD33-3/MK--quoted at 4,000 hours--is way below the 6,000+ hours of the F414 and EJ200.

To Anon@10:43PM: I've already posted in my previous reply the number of new turbofans to be ordered for Tejas Mk2. As for the Tejas Mk1, only 28 would be procured. As for the NLCA, it is still to early to tell how many production-series units will be ordered since the Navy first wants
to see how exactly the first two technology demonstrators will function.

To Anon@10:24PM: Why should it be alarming for India, when the US and its NATO allies will more than make sure that no new-generation force multipliers will be sold off-the-shelf to China? The US and the EU have made that abundantly clear. What is far more alarming is the 'masterly inactivity' being practiced by the Indian MoD mandarins by not undertaking the long-overdue structural reforms, like strategic divestments in defence PSUs and creation of a non-lapsable defence modernisation fund.

To Anon@6:39AM: Many thanks for your vote of trust, but transferring any kind of work activity for the HTT-35 to Taneja Aerospace will make matters far more complicated, as the company will have to start creating the manufacturing/assembly facilities from scratch, and will take a long time to acquire the teams of skilled workforce of the type already possessed by HAL. It is far cheaper and much less riskier to release the reqd R & D funds to HAL to produce the first two prototypes within an 18-month period.

To Pritam: Nothing new to say about either the LCH or P-15A DDG. Hopefully within the next 45 days the Barak-8's test-firings will begin. Regarding the LCH, it is good-to-go for the Indian Army (if not the IAF) and this is where A K Antony or the Cabinet Committee on National Security could display some balls by approving the Army's request for procuring LCHs in large numbers (by overriding the IAF's objections). As for UCAVs, the Rustom can definitely be developed into one if it were to be equipped with a fly-by-wire flight control system (like that on BAE Systems' Mantis) and twin turboprop engines (instead of the existing Rotax-type piston engines). The problem is: from where to acquire the turboprop engines? Who will supply Indisa with turboprop engines by breaching MTCR guidelines? Regarding the long-range SAMs, the PAD-1 and AAD-1 are already been developed by the DRDO. As such, they will be as potent, if not more potent than the S-300 or even S-400. Barak-8 is not LR-SAM and therefore it is MR-SAM with 70km-range. The Barak-8ER is the LR-SAM with 120km-range.

Nava said...

So the Barak 8 is behind schedule... Do you know why?

Also, check out this Israeli UAV:

Isn't it much more appealing than the NRUAV?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Is it behind schedule? I'm not yet aware of the details of the Barak-8's flight-test schedule. Maybe you are, are you? Care to enlighten me then?
As for the Picador VTOL UAV being 'more appealing' than the NRUAV, yes aesthetically it is, but in terms of performance in the high seas? The NRUAV will be a much more stable platform in the maritime environment of the type prevailing in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa. There are also other reasons why Aeronautics-built products will never be considered for sale in countries like India.

Nava said...

I'm pretty sure it was supposed to start testing in June-August...

And what might those reasons be? How about some mutual enlightenment?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: Maybe the Barak-8's lab-tests have already begun for fine-tuning the on-board avionics, prior to commencement of test-firings.
Regarding Aeronautics' saga in India, get ready to hear a bed-time story, which begins sometime in 1996 when several Israeli companies were firming up their marketing/business plans for India. At around that time, two Indian citizens with business residency in London--the Chaudhury brothers--made financial investments in Aeronautics by buying shares, with the aim of bringing in Aeronautics' products to India in a big way. But things started going wrong as, by 1999, it became known in the public domain that these two brothers were in fact 'middlemen' or 'arms merchants' that facilitated the sale of the Su-30s to India in 1995 and had also made huge profits by selling direly-needed spares of Russian origin to the Indian govt. Now, as you're well aware, it is legally forbidden in India to act as a middleman/agent/broker when dealing with any govt agency in India. So, ever since it became known that these two chaps were engaging in such activities (with unrevealed political connivance, of course), the Ministry of Defence in India had no choice but to blacklist them and prohibit them from doing business with the Ministry of Defence. Consequently, the brothers, utterly dejected, had to divest their shareholdings in Aeronautics under acrimonous circumstances, and are presently residing in London in self-imposed exile. As for Aeronautics, well, it continues to be on the Ministry of Defence's database of blacklisted companies. The obvious beneficiaries, on the other hand, that are reaping the whirlwind are IAI/MALAT and Elbit Systems.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
While googling for HTT-35, i came across something interesting. You need to read this article by Hormuz P. Mama, dated July 1994.

Why would they scrap a project that was in such an advanced stage?? They were even planning to export it. After having read your post & the above mentioned article, I'm damn sure this thing would've been a major hit! Quite heartbreaking to know it hasn't been the case.

Nava said...

Ah I see. I'm sure the bribing didn't stop there though...

Aeronautics is actually a very promising firm. In many ways, IAI's Malat and to a lesser extent Elbit could learn from their approach.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: I wish those Israeli politicians indicted on corruption charges had only sought 'operational guidance' from their Indian counterparts who have, since the early 1980s, perfected the operational art reqd for engaging in corrupt practices, especially those related to military procurement. Don't believe me? Read this for further 'enlightenment':

Nava said...

Finding a few non corrupt politicians is such a boon for a developing country. It's almost the bottleneck for development, in my experience anyway...

Nava said...

BTW I just finished reading "White Tiger". Did you read it?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Nava: I must confess that I'm not into reading works of fiction.
But I just read a brief review of it, which concludes by saying: "religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem--but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations". I can definitely vouch for this conclusion, having being witness to several 'marketing' parleys between potential military customers (in South Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, etc) and OEMs since the late 1980s. And some 'Anonymous' bloggers have even gone to the extent of claiming that my access to information is 'facilitated' by my alleged periodic employment of 'sleaze, money, bribes, booze, etc' (LoL)!

To Anon@1:16PM: What can I say! Only the present Defence Minister can offer a credible explanation of such a debacle and missed opportunity, although I'm pretty sure his answers will not be too convincing.

Anonymous said...

prasun, how would you rate a suitably modified MCA Mk1 for the LIFT requirement ?
it's quite similar to the korean T-50 isn't it ? so why not the LCA ?

Anonymous said...

Prasun da,

Thanks for the reply.

So in the 4 Project 15B DDGs,the construction of the modules will be done SEQUENTIALLY just like in the Project 15A DDGs,while in the three Project 15C DDGs and the seven Project 17A FFGs the construction of the modules will be done CONCURRENTLY at different locations.Which means only the Project 15C DDGs and the Project 17A FFGs will use the new method of modular construction.Am i right Prasun da?

Read this post by Ajai Shukla
where he has written that the US government has delayed the clearance required by Lockheed Martin, which was selected in June as a consultant for developing the Naval version of the Tejas,to provide the consultancy desired by ADA on the Naval LCA.

I want to know that if the the US government cannot grant even a consultancy partnership think what what will happen if the US government suddenly decides to impose sanctions on India in case of a war. Then all the US made weapons like the F/A-18 or the F-16 aircraft(if India decides to buy) or even the Tejas(with it's F414 engine which is most likely to be) will be a complete junk and along with it the billions of dollars that went with them.

So wouldn't it be feasible to go for a non-US aircraft like the French Rafale which is itself a very good aircraft and also combat proven(in Afghanistan) and is less likely to be hit by US sanctions even though there are US made parts in it for the multi-billion dollar M-MRCA acquisition.More ever France is areliable supplier.

What do you think are the chances of Rafale to win the M-MRCA competition,considering that the French are ready to give full ToT for the aircraft and full source codes for the radar.More ever Snecma is collaborating with GTRE to build the Kaveri engine which can then be used on the Rafale.The only disadvantage is it's cost which if the French want can bring it down.

Please answer my query.

Anonymous said...


Is it possible for Indian citizens to start a RnD companies in India for military technologies and sell their tech to companies outside India ? MOD won't be interested in anything developed in India.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@3:10PM: In my view, the tandem-seat Tejas Mk1 easily qualifies for being employed as a LIFT. All that is required is to install a mini-AESA radar like the Vixen 500e on board. That way, the aircraft can be employed for both LIFT as well as for defensive counter-air operations. But I'm given to understand that the IAF first wants to acquire additional AJTs, and not LIFTs.

To Anon@7:51PM: That's right. For the 4 Project 15B DDGs,the construction of the modules will be done SEQUENTIALLY just like in the Project 15A DDGs,while in the three Project 15C DDGs and the seven Project 17A FFGs the construction of the modules will be done CONCURRENTLY at different locations.Which means only the Project 15C DDGs and the Project 17A FFGs will use the new method of modular construction.
Regarding the Lockheed Martin-NLCA issue, all that Lockheed Martin is doing is following US State dept regulations, nothing more or nothing less. No one from the US govt is deliberately stalling India-US high-tech collaboration. In fact, the US has repeatedly said that the days of the Cold War era are long over and the US now counts India as its natural strategic ally. What more does anyone want the US to state?
Anyone who visits the various JV businesses (all R & D-based) already up and running in India will realise this.
Before I answer your other queries, perhaps you may clarify the following:
1) What is your definition of full ToT for the aircraft?
2) Who said that the US or others are not willing to share the AESA radar source codes?
3) Who has so far confirmed that Snecma Moteurs is collaborating with GTRE to build the Kaveri? Where did this come from? The offer to co-develop the Kaveri was made by France way back in the early 1980s, but that offer was never entertained by anyone in India.
4) Which French govt/industrial official has ever stated that the Kaveri will be powering the Rafale?
Cost is indeed a very critical factor as it is now a known fact that the Tejas Mk2 will afterall be a M-MRCA, therefore the MoD till this day continues to state that only 126 M-MRCAs are being imported. Since this is a sto-gap procurement from abroad, the lowest bid will definitely have a definite edge. Had India decided to go for a M-MRCA that is currently fourth-generation but has the potential to be upgraded with fifth-generation avionics, weapons and mission sensors, then for sure the Rafale would have been the optimum choice. But since only 126 M-MRCAs are being imported and with funding already committed for co-developing the FGFA with Russia, I'm afraid the Rafale's chances in India look slim.

To Anon@8:16PM: That has already been going on since 2002. The L-3 MAPPS facility in Bangalore has been doing just this.

Anonymous said...

Hello Prasun,
Is it true that the MiG-29K will have a limited weapons & fuel load for it to be able to take off from the deck of INS Vikramaditya? I've read some articles suggesting that a fully loaded MiG-29K simply cannot take off in such a short distance without catapult.

Finally, how many MiGs & choppers can the Vik carry in wartime configuration?

hacker said...

you r correct prasun da
can you tell me what is the changes between the T-90S and T-90M of india with the T-90M of russia.
what are the upgrades of the COMBAT IMPROVED AJEYA(T-72MK1).
what are the improvements of ARJUN MK2.

Anonymous said...

hello prasun you have a great blog
can you help me
i don't have a email id
i want to join the bharat-rakshak forum
so can you tell me a website from where i can get a email id so can i can join the bharat-rakshak forum
thank you

Avi Berentz said...

Are you serious or just pulling Prasun's leg?Just go to, create an email account and that is the ID you can use to log into any blogs...

Anonymous said...

I think using the Tejas Mk1 as a training aircraft is ill advised. First, the Tejas is an overkill for a trainer. It has been built for combat and using it for training will be very costly. A trainer aircraft must be very forgiving and tolerate mistakes made by the pilot. But the Tejas is a fighter built to be handled by experienced pilots.

Kannan,India said...

@ anon Monday, October 05, 2009 2:46:00 AM

For Bharat-rakshak need an ISP mail id.Like Asianet Airtel BSNL etc.Not gmail,yahoo id.This is to acertain your authenticity..& 2 keep good-mannered pakis out..;-)
Last time I checked..bharat-rakshak wont accept webmail id from free webmail services like gmail,yahoo etc..Dont know if its still is the case..You can call your ISP support for your mail id.
Most ppl dont usually care for ISP mail services since they have limited diskspace..

Anonymous said...

i wonder why pakistan is inducting jf-17 pos.there is no upgrade news nothing it seems useless figther while we r always upgradinding lca.

for bhartrakshak said...

for bharat raksak they have a thread for people with no email other than free ones. it's called recent members or something.

it explains what to do. someone I know registered with free email using that.

smith said...

To hacker@2:42:00 AM

For Arjun Mk2 1,500hp engine is being under development by DRDO. Also CVRDE, Avadi, has taken up Development of Defensive Aids System for Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) like Advanced Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (ALWCS) and Mobile Camouflage System (MCS). CVRDE also has decided to tie up with France's Nexter Systems to redesign the Arjun Mk1's turret and equip the Arjun Mk2 with an autoloader similar to that developed for the Leclerc MBT and Arjun Mk2 will also have well-proven concept of modular add-on NERA armour blocks on the turret and sides. Also Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML) had rolled out Bogie Flat Arjun Tank (BFAT) wagons of military rail ordered by the Army.

Arjun Tank Engine development
Defensive Aids System for Arjun Mk 2
Barracuda Camouflage
Bogie Flat Arjun Tank (BFAT) wagons

This is what I discover against my previous queries with Prasun da and some google work done by me.

Also I request to parsun da to post if he has any other update on Arjun mk2.

smith said...

Hi Prasun,

I had a small query that can PLAF counter India’s modern airforce with its sheer number the ideology that has drive the communist nation (USSR), the same which had been still followed by modern china. China has a less modern or say reliable or capable inventory as compared to India but not an absolute one these are still one which can do the job.

What are your views on the future context between two giants? Would it be possible for Indian to counter China just only with modern weapons?

Anonymous said...

Prasun da,

Thanks yet again for clearing my doubts.
The news in other blogs or editorials either gives half information or mal-information.So we as readers get confused to what is true or false.So i go to you to clear my doubts.That's why i believe it is the NO.1 defense blog.Keep the good work.

Anonymous said...

Prasun da,

To my query you have said that the lowest bid will definitely have a definite edge.In that case only the US made F-16 Super Viper & F/A-18E/F Super Hornet have the real chance of winning the bid.Mig-35 though cost even more less but it,s main disadvantage is that it is not a proven aircraft and is still in the prototype stage.

What do you think will the IAF go for? On one hand is the the proven F-16 but the IAF was not impressed with the F-16 in the exercises it had held with the USAF in the past while on the other hand is the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet which has impressed the the IAF pilots but might cost about 10-15 million $ more.

Going by the conditions put forwarded by the IAF officials in the m-mrca contract what can the total cost of both the F-16 Super Viper & F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Can the the Tejas Mk2 become a top-notch 4.5 generation fighter and beat even the SAAB Gripen JAS-39NG and the F-16E/F Block60 fighters?Will ADA be able to make it?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@2:33AM: There's no need for any catapult as the ski-ramp is there on INS Vikramaditya (and on the IAC) to provide enough lift for a fully-loaded MiG-29K to take off. Typically, about 14 MiG-29Ks (eight in the internal hangar bay) and six on the flight deck, plus three Ka-28PL/Ka-31s in the hangar bay and four Ka-28PL/Ka-31s on the flight deck can be accommodated.

To hacker: All these topics were covered long ago at:

To Anon@6:31AM: The term 'training aircraft' is too generic to describe the Tejas Mk1. The trainer aircraft you've described is applicable to the HJT-36 IJT and Hawk Mk132. The term LIFT is altogether a different product with vastly improved capabilities, such as that found on the USAF's T-38 LIFT. Therefore, the Tejas Mk1 will be the perfect LIFT to meet the IAF's future operational reqmts.

To Smith@4:44PM: Presently, in terms of air base infrastructure development the PLAAF within the Tibet Autonomous Region lags behind India. The same also applies to the prevailing balance of power in eastern Ladakh. Therefore, just as in 1962, the IAF holds the key to achieving battlefield superiority and dissuasive deterrence against the PLA along the northern front. The only area where the IAF is inferior is along India's northeastern front along Myanmar, as the PLAAF can rapidly achieve overwhelming air superiority out of Kunming and is also capable of acquiring airspace transit rights from Myanmar. Therefore, beefing up of the IAF's air base infrastructure throughout the northeast is a must and ought to get top priority.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@5:27PM: Many thanks. Talking of half-information in other blogs, I came across one yesterday at:
In that story, a claim has been made that organisations like the Defence Materials Research Laboratory (DMRL) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI) figure prominently in the “Entity Lists”, which have legally blocked supplies of materials, know-how and equipment to these two organisations. What the story does not spell out is when exactly these technology-denial regimes came into force, and what were the strategic alternatives available before such regimes came into force. Let me explain further: it was way back in early 1986 that France approached India and officially offered its proposal to team up with Indian R & D organisations to co-develop the Tejas LCA and all its associated sub-systems like the turbofan and missions avionics suite. This breathtaking offer was more or less identical to the offer that was made by France to the then Yugoslavia for co-developing the single-engined Novi Avion, which externally bore a close resemblance to the Rafale. By 1986 itself, it was known by GTRE that the greatest R & D challenges would be in the areas of engine hot-section and single-crystal turbine blades. Logically, it should have been clear then itself that holding the hand of SNECMA Moteurs would not be a bad idea afterall (since Dassault Aviation had already been roped in by late 1984 as the sole independent consultant for helping ADA prepare for the Tejas LCA's project definition phase). Yet, the French offer in its entirety was not taken up for mysterious (maybe egoistic) reasons. Consequently, when it was realised by 1992 that the GTX-35 Kaveri turbofan was overweight, GTRE had no option but to engage SNECMA Moteurs as the consultant for preparing a weight-budgeted variant of the Kaveri. And by 1993 the MTCR and other technology denial regimes had enrered into force, thereby preventing France and others from engaging in fundamental R & D activities with their Indian counterparts. What I'm trying to say here is that between 1984 and 1992 there were ample opportunities for organisations like the GTRE, DMRL and MIDHANI to strike mutually beneficial R & D/industrial production alliances with French aerospace industrial entities, but for reasons unknown, such opportunities were ignored or turned down. Consequently, what is happening today is in all critical R & D areas related to the Kaveri, all that the GTRE, DMRL and MIDHANI can say is: "work in progress". Of course, all these entities are under the mistaken impression that few would bother to walk down memory lane to dig out such missed opportunities! Well, they, including BROADSWORD, are sadly mistaken.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Anon@5:53PM: What the USAF has in service is the F1-6C/D Block 50/52, and not the Block 60 F-16E/F (of the UAE Air Force) that is being offered to the IAF. On top of that, the F-16IN Super Viper will be a notch above what the UAE Air Force has now got, in terms of network-centric warfare technologies and on-board systems. That is what the attracted the attention of the IAF. In addition, the F-16IN remains the lowest-cost option till today. As for the Tejas Mk2 M-MRCA, IF the Govt of India removes all financial constraints and gives a free hand to HAL to take critical decisions aimed at overcoming the production engineering curve, I have no doubt that within the next three years, the Tejas Mk2 will be ready for flight qualification trials, and will be as good, if not better, than the Gripen IN or F-16IN.

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To sbm: Do check out the following:

hacker said...

thanks prasun da and smith
IS the Rheinmetall 120-millimeter (4.7 in) gun smoothbore tank gun used on the German Leopard 2 considered for the arjun mk2 when is the scheduled time for the arjun mk2 prototype to roll out or is it delayed is there any vocal commitment for the numbers of arjun mk2 to be inducted

sbm said...

Prasun. I saw the articles.

Santhanam is probably correct but the tone of the debate reflects badly on all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Santhanam must have cried foul way back in 1998. At that time sanctions were still in place and so a new test wouldn't have made any change. At the same time the NDA govt. would have been under great pressure from the people to listen to Santhanam. If that had happened, we could have had a fully successful TN test at that time itself.

Anonymous said...

i have a feeling the HAL LCH is gonna go the HTT35 way - coordinated memory loss.

what do you think on this point mr. prasun sengupta?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To sbm: To me the most objective analysis of the entire episode has come from Capt (Ret'd) B K Subba Rao, who has brilliantly exposed the organisational deficiencies prevailing within the AEC. Unless the AEC itself is held to account, I'm afraid no objective assessment of any AEC-initiated project will be possible.

To Anon@7:27AM: As Santhanam himself has admitted, he did cry foul in May 1998 itself. But as Arundhati Ghose has said, if test-failures arose at that time, there was ample time between 1998 and 2001 to conduct additional tests. Why this was not done and why the then NDA govt declared an unilateral moratorium on further n-tests when there was no need to, remains a mystery. The then NSA to the NDA govt and other key decision-makers of the AEC must be held accountable for such strategic lapses. Like I said before, at the apex political-level, strategic visioning as a virtue is either totally lacking, or is frowned upon.

To Anon@8:07AM: May be yes, maybe no. Only time will tell. But this I can say with confidence: Had the MoD approved the Indian Army's plan for acquiring the LCH in large numbers (more than 120) as far back as 2007, then by now the first two LCH prototypes would have been flying. But this has not happened and now HAL finds itself in a situation in which, unless it succeeds in reducing the LCH's weight as per the IAF's requirements, the MoD will not release the much-needed funds which HAL requires for setting in motion the LCH's production engineering/tooling processes. This is exactly how delays are incurred in delivery schedules. And yet the likes of A K Antony seem oblivious to such lapses and shortcomings!

Prasun K Sengupta said...

To smith & hacker: To check out the following:

hacker said...

sorry prasun da but your link is not complete and so its not not working can you again give me the link
thank you