Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Is The MiG-35?

No one from Russia, it seems, can give a convincing answer to this very simple question. Earlier last February during the Aero India 2009 exhibition, Mikhail Pogosyan, who presently wears two hats—Director-General of RAC-MiG and Director-General of Sukhoi Corp—had made two interesting revelations: one, that the MiG-35’s single-seat and tandem-seat variants will be rolled from the Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol Aircraft Plant by August this year; and two, there would be maximum mission systems commonality, inclusive of the AESA radar, between the MiG-35 and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) that will be co-developed by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC). Both these revelations have since been contradicted with the passage of time. The Indian Air Force (IAF) had expected the roll-out of the single-seat and tandem-seat versions of the MiG-35 latest by mid-October and be made available for a week-long phase of flight evaluations within India later this year, followed by a second round of evaluations (involving test-firings of precision-guided munitions) in Russia within the first quarter of next year. And as for systems commonality, especially pertaining to the AESA radar, it became evident last August that it will be the Zhuk-AE from Phazotron JSC that will go on board the MiG-35, while the FGFA will be equipped with a variant of the MIRES Sh-121 AESA-based multi-mode radar, which is now being developed by Tikhomirov NIIP. The Zhuk-AE AESA which has repeatedly been shown on board the MiG-29M2 No154 M-MRCA (built in 1990) since 2007 is now officially described as being a functional technology demonstrator containing 600 transmit/receive modules, while the definitive series-production variant of the Zhuk-AE will have 1,000 T/R modules. And the MiG-29M2 No154, which has deceptively been painted as the MiG-35 and been used in the past for giving joyrides to some India-based broadcast media journalists and a few IAF pilots, is now being described by RAC-MiG as just a ‘proof-of-concept’ demonstrator!

It has now emerged that RAC-MiG had built two prototypes of the shipborne MiG-29 as part of the contract to supply 12 MiG-29Ks and four MiG-29KUBs to the Indian Navy. These two prototypes—a tandem-seat MiG-29KUB No947 and a single-seat MiG-29K No941—made their maiden flights in January and June 2007, respectively. (By the way, these two prototypes were the first brand-new MiG-29s to be built by RAC-MiG after a gap of 15 years!) Following the conclusion of the flight certification and weapons qualification phases, the single-seat MiG-29K No941 was and is still being subjected to a modification programme aimed at deriving the definitive single-seat MiG-35. This perhaps explains why RAC-MiG has publicly displayed (during MAKS 2007 and MAKS 2009) the MiG-29KUB No947, but has never even revealed the existence of the Indian Navy-specific MiG-29K No941 to date. It is now believed that the Russian Air Force, as part of a Kremlin-initiated bailout package for debt-ridden RAC-MiG, will place an order for 24 MiG-35s by 2012, while the Russian Navy will procure 24 MiG-29K/KUBs in 2012 to replace the existing Su-33 shipborne combat aircraft.

According to RAC-MiG, the definitive MiG-35 will have larger wings to accommodate 10 underwing weapon stations, plus a belly-mounted station to house the Novator-built 3M-14AE Kalibr-A subsonic 290km-range air-to-ground land attack cruise missile. To make the MiG-35 a truly network-centric platform RAC-MiG has already initiated industrial participation negotiations with Israel’s SIBAT, plus avionics OEMs from Italy (Finmeccanica/Elettronica) and France (SAGEM for the Sigma-95 RLG-INS, which is also on board the Su-30MKI).—Prasun K. Sengupta

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Impressions

Here’s what we know so far by visually observing the crash of the Ecuadorian Air Force-owned Dhruv ALH at Quito on October 27: of the three Dhruv ALHs flying over an air base during celebrations to mark the 89th anniversary of the air force, one of them apparently swung 90 degrees and started losing altitude. As the video clip of the incident shows, the two-man aircrew who are in all probability highly experienced aviators, instinctively resorted to the autorotation technique (the only available option) to regain control and to their credit it must be said that they did succeed in slowing the rate of descent, although within the available 8 seconds, they could not stabilise the helicopter, which in turn led to a half-controlled descent and touchdown, with the stricken Dhruv ALH coming to rest on its portside, with the two-man aircrew managing to leave the helicopter by themselves after the crash before being taken to Quito's Military Hospital. The video clipping also showed the Dhruv ALH’s main rotor blades and tail rotor blades functioning, but not enough to indicate if the tail-rotor hub and tail-rotor shaft were in a fully functional state. Based purely on the available video clipping, it would seem that:

• The ill-fated Dhruv PROBABLY suffered from a sudden loss of power in either one of its twin Ardiden-1H (Shakti) engines, jointly built by HAL and Turbomeca. But catastrophic failure of both engines or failure of both the LH and RH sides of the main gearbox (MGB) can be ruled out. It is also PROBABLE that either one of the two fuel supply tanks (which supply fuel independently to the two engines) was starved of fuel-flow from the the Dhruv ALH’s three main fuel tanks, which house the pumps required for ensuring the fuel-flow to the fuel supply tanks.

• The above two probabilities PROBABLY contributed to the sudden reduction of supply of power to the tail-rotor gearbox via the tail-rotor drive shaft, resulting in the helicopter veering off to the left while losing altitude at the same time.

The only saving grace then, and the only available option for the aircrew then was to resort to the autorotation technique, which they did and that is probably the only reason they were fortunate enough to survive to fly again in future. Full marks to them!—Prasun K. Sengupta

I am enclosing below all the FAR Part 29standards that the Dhruv ALH complies with. FAR Part 29: Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Rotorcraft
Federal Aviation Regulations Subpart A - General
o Sec. 29.1 - Applicability.
o Sec. 29.2 - Special retroactive requirements.Subpart B - Flight
o Sec. 29.21 - Proof of compliance.
o Sec. 29.25 - Weight limits.
o Sec. 29.27 - Center of gravity limits.
o Sec. 29.29 - Empty weight and corresponding center of gravity.
o Sec. 29.31 - Removable ballast.
o Sec. 29.33 - Main rotor speed and pitch limits.
o Sec. 29.45 - General.
o Sec. 29.49 - Performance at minimum operating speed.
o Sec. 29.51 - Takeoff data: general.
o Sec. 29.53 - Takeoff: Category A.
o Sec. 29.55 - Takeoff decision point (TDP): Category A.
o Sec. 29.59 - Takeoff path: Category A.
o Sec. 29.60 - Elevated heliport takeoff path: Category A.
o Sec. 29.61 - Takeoff distance: Category A.
o Sec. 29.62 - Rejected takeoff: Category A.
o Sec. 29.63 - Takeoff: Category B.
o Sec. 29.64 - Climb: General.
o Sec. 29.65 - Climb: All engines operating.
o Sec. 29.67 - Climb: One engine inoperative (OEI).
o Sec. 29.71 - Helicopter angle of glide: Category B.
o Sec. 29.75 - Landing: General.
o Sec. 29.77 - Landing Decision Point (LDP): Category A.
o Sec. 29.79 - Landing: Category A.
o Sec. 29.81 - Landing distance: Category A.
o Sec. 29.83 - Landing: Category B.
o Sec. 29.85 - Balked landing: Category A.
o Sec. 29.87 - Height-velocity envelope.
o Sec. 29.141 - General.
o Sec. 29.143 - Controllability and maneuverability.
o Sec. 29.151 - Flight controls.
o Sec. 29.161 - Trim control.
o Sec. 29.171 - Stability: general.
o Sec. 29.173 - Static longitudinal stability.
o Sec. 29.175 - Demonstration of static longitudinal stability.
o Sec. 29.177 - Static directional stability.
o Sec. 29.181 - Dynamic stability: Category A rotorcraft.
o Sec. 29.231 - General. o Sec. 29.235 - Taxiing condition.
o Sec. 29.239 - Spray characteristics.
o Sec. 29.241 - Ground resonance.
o Sec. 29.251 - Vibration.Subpart C - Strength Requirements
o Sec. 29.301 - Loads.
o Sec. 29.303 - Factor of safety.
o Sec. 29.305 - Strength and deformation.
o Sec. 29.307 - Proof of structure.
o Sec. 29.309 - Design limitations.
o Sec. 29.321 - General.
o Sec. 29.337 - Limit maneuvering load factor.
o Sec. 29.339 - Resultant limit maneuvering loads.
o Sec. 29.341 - Gust loads.
o Sec. 29.351 - Yawing conditions.
o Sec. 29.361 - Engine torque.
o Sec. 29.391 - General.
o Sec. 29.395 - Control system.
o Sec. 29.397 - Limit pilot forces and torques.
o Sec. 29.399 - Dual control system.
o Sec. 29.411 - Ground clearance: tail rotor guard.
o Sec. 29.427 - Unsymmetrical loads.
o Sec. 29.471 - General.
o Sec. 29.473 - Ground loading conditions and assumptions.
o Sec. 29.475 - Tires and shock absorbers.
o Sec. 29.477 - Landing gear arrangement.
o Sec. 29.479 - Level landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.481 - Tail-down landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.483 - One-wheel landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.485 - Lateral drift landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.493 - Braked roll conditions.
o Sec. 29.497 - Ground loading conditions: landing gear with tail wheels.
o Sec. 29.501 - Ground loading conditions: landing gear with skids.
o Sec. 29.505 - Ski landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.511 - Ground load: unsymmetrical loads on multiple-wheel units.
o Sec. 29.519 - Hull type rotorcraft: Water-based and amphibian.
o Sec. 29.521 - Float landing conditions.
o Sec. 29.547 - Main and tail rotor structure.
o Sec. 29.549 - Fuselage and rotor pylon structures.
o Sec. 29.551 - Auxiliary lifting surfaces.
o Sec. 29.561 - General.
o Sec. 29.562 - Emergency landing dynamic conditions.
o Sec. 29.563 - Structural ditching provisions.
o Sec. 29.571 - Fatigue evaluation of structure.Subpart D - Design and Construction
o Sec. 29.601 - Design.
o Sec. 29.602 - Critical parts.
o Sec. 29.603 - Materials.
o Sec. 29.605 - Fabrication methods.
o Sec. 29.607 - Fasteners.
o Sec. 29.609 - Protection of structure.
o Sec. 29.610 - Lightning and static electricity protection.
o Sec. 29.611 - Inspection provisions.
o Sec. 29.613 - Material strength properties and design values.
o Sec. 29.619 - Special factors.
o Sec. 29.621 - Casting factors.
o Sec. 29.623 - Bearing factors.
o Sec. 29.625 - Fitting factors.
o Sec. 29.629 - Flutter and divergence.
o Sec. 29.631 - Bird strike.
o Sec. 29.653 - Pressure venting and drainage of rotor blades.
o Sec. 29.659 - Mass balance.
o Sec. 29.661 - Rotor blade clearance.
o Sec. 29.663 - Ground resonance prevention means.
o Sec. 29.671 - General.
o Sec. 29.672 - Stability augmentation, automatic, and power-operated systems.
o Sec. 29.673 - Primary flight controls.
o Sec. 29.674 - Interconnected controls.
o Sec. 29.675 - Stops.
o Sec. 29.679 - Control system locks.
o Sec. 29.681 - Limit load static tests.
o Sec. 29.683 - Operation tests.
o Sec. 29.685 - Control system details.
o Sec. 29.687 - Spring devices.
o Sec. 29.691 - Autorotation control mechanism.
o Sec. 29.695 - Power boost and power-operated control system.
o Sec. 29.723 - Shock absorption tests.
o Sec. 29.725 - Limit drop test.
o Sec. 29.727 - Reserve energy absorption drop test.
o Sec. 29.729 - Retracting mechanism.
o Sec. 29.731 - Wheels.
o Sec. 29.733 - Tires.
o Sec. 29.735 - Brakes.
o Sec. 29.737 - Skis.
o Sec. 29.751 - Main float buoyancy.
o Sec. 29.753 - Main float design.
o Sec. 29.755 - Hull buoyancy.
o Sec. 29.757 - Hull and auxiliary float strength.
o Sec. 29.771 - Pilot compartment.
o Sec. 29.773 - Pilot compartment view.
o Sec. 29.775 - Windshields and windows.
o Sec. 29.777 - Cockpit controls.
o Sec. 29.779 - Motion and effect of cockpit controls.
o Sec. 29.783 - Doors.
o Sec. 29.785 - Seats, berths, litters, safety belts, and harnesses.
o Sec. 29.787 - Cargo and baggage compartments.
o Sec. 29.801 - Ditching.
o Sec. 29.803 - Emergency evacuation.
o Sec. 29.805 - Flight crew emergency exits.
o Sec. 29.807 - Passenger emergency exits.
o Sec. 29.809 - Emergency exit arrangement.
o Sec. 29.811 - Emergency exit marking.
o Sec. 29.812 - Emergency lighting.
o Sec. 29.813 - Emergency exit access.
o Sec. 29.815 - Main aisle width.
o Sec. 29.831 - Ventilation.
o Sec. 29.833 - Heaters.
o Sec. 29.851 - Fire extinguishers.
o Sec. 29.853 - Compartment interiors.
o Sec. 29.855 - Cargo and baggage compartments.
o Sec. 29.859 - Combustion heater fire protection.
o Sec. 29.861 - Fire protection of structure, controls, and other parts.
o Sec. 29.863 - Flammable fluid fire protection.
o Sec. 29.865 - External loads.
o Sec. 29.871 - Leveling marks.
o Sec. 29.873 - Ballast provisions.Subpart E - Powerplant
o Sec. 29.901 - Installation.
o Sec. 29.903 - Engines.
o Sec. 29.907 - Engine vibration.
o Sec. 29.908 - Cooling fans.
o Sec. 29.917 - Design.
o Sec. 29.921 - Rotor brake.
o Sec. 29.923 - Rotor drive system and control mechanism tests.
o Sec. 29.927 - Additional tests.
o Sec. 29.931 - Shafting critical speed.
o Sec. 29.935 - Shafting joints.
o Sec. 29.939 - Turbine engine operating characteristics.
o Sec. 29.951 - General.
o Sec. 29.952 - Fuel system crash resistance.
o Sec. 29.953 - Fuel system independence.
o Sec. 29.954 - Fuel system lightning protection.
o Sec. 29.955 - Fuel flow.
o Sec. 29.957 - Flow between interconnected tanks.
o Sec. 29.959 - Unusable fuel supply.
o Sec. 29.961 - Fuel system hot weather operation.
o Sec. 29.963 - Fuel tanks: general.
o Sec. 29.965 - Fuel tank tests.
o Sec. 29.967 - Fuel tank installation.
o Sec. 29.969 - Fuel tank expansion space.
o Sec. 29.971 - Fuel tank sump.
o Sec. 29.973 - Fuel tank filler connection.
o Sec. 29.975 - Fuel tank vents and carburetor vapor vents.
o Sec. 29.977 - Fuel tank outlet.
o Sec. 29.979 - Pressure refueling and fueling provisions below fuel level.
o Sec. 29.991 - Fuel pumps.
o Sec. 29.993 - Fuel system lines and fittings.
o Sec. 29.995 - Fuel valves.
o Sec. 29.997 - Fuel strainer or filter.
o Sec. 29.999 - Fuel system drains.
o Sec. 29.1001 - Fuel jettisoning.
o Sec. 29.1011 - Engines: general.
o Sec. 29.1013 - Oil tanks.
o Sec. 29.1015 - Oil tank tests.
o Sec. 29.1017 - Oil lines and fittings.
o Sec. 29.1019 - Oil strainer or filter.
o Sec. 29.1021 - Oil system drains.
o Sec. 29.1023 - Oil radiators.
o Sec. 29.1025 - Oil valves.
o Sec. 29.1027 - Transmission and gearboxes: general.
o Sec. 29.1041 - General.
o Sec. 29.1043 - Cooling tests.
o Sec. 29.1045 - Climb cooling test procedures.
o Sec. 29.1047 - Takeoff cooling test procedures.
o Sec. 29.1049 - Hovering cooling test procedures.
o Sec. 29.1091 - Air induction.
o Sec. 29.1093 - Induction system icing protection.
o Sec. 29.1101 - Carburetor air preheater design.
o Sec. 29.1103 - Induction systems ducts and air duct systems.
o Sec. 29.1105 - Induction system screens.
o Sec. 29.1107 - Inter-coolers and after-coolers.
o Sec. 29.1109 - Carburetor air cooling.
o Sec. 29.1121 - General.
o Sec. 29.1123 - Exhaust piping.
o Sec. 29.1125 - Exhaust heat exchangers.
o Sec. 29.1141 - Powerplant controls: general.
o Sec. 29.1142 - Auxiliary power unit controls.
o Sec. 29.1143 - Engine controls.
o Sec. 29.1145 - Ignition switches.
o Sec. 29.1147 - Mixture controls.
o Sec. 29.1151 - Rotor brake controls.
o Sec. 29.1157 - Carburetor air temperature controls.
o Sec. 29.1159 - Supercharger controls.
o Sec. 29.1163 - Powerplant accessories.
o Sec. 29.1165 - Engine ignition systems.
o Sec. 29.1181 - Designated fire zones: regions included.
o Sec. 29.1183 - Lines, fittings, and components.
o Sec. 29.1185 - Flammable fluids.
o Sec. 29.1187 - Drainage and ventilation of fire zones.
o Sec. 29.1189 - Shutoff means.
o Sec. 29.1191 - Firewalls.
o Sec. 29.1193 - Cowling and engine compartment covering.
o Sec. 29.1194 - Other surfaces.
o Sec. 29.1195 - Fire extinguishing systems.
o Sec. 29.1197 - Fire extinguishing agents.
o Sec. 29.1199 - Extinguishing agent containers.
o Sec. 29.1201 - Fire extinguishing system materials.
o Sec. 29.1203 - Fire detector systems.Subpart F - Equipment
o Sec. 29.1301 - Function and installation.
o Sec. 29.1303 - Flight and navigation instruments.
o Sec. 29.1305 - Powerplant instruments.
o Sec. 29.1307 - Miscellaneous equipment.
o Sec. 29.1309 - Equipment, systems, and installations.
o Sec. 29.1321 - Arrangement and visibility.
o Sec. 29.1322 - Warning, caution, and advisory lights.
o Sec. 29.1323 - Airspeed indicating system.
o Sec. 29.1325 - Static pressure and pressure altimeter systems.
o Sec. 29.1327 - Magnetic direction indicator.
o Sec. 29.1329 - Automatic pilot system.
o Sec. 29.1331 - Instruments using a power supply.
o Sec. 29.1333 - Instrument systems.
o Sec. 29.1335 - Flight director systems.
o Sec. 29.1337 - Powerplant instruments.
o Sec. 29.1351 - General.
o Sec. 29.1353 - Electrical equipment and installations.
o Sec. 29.1355 - Distribution system.
o Sec. 29.1357 - Circuit protective devices.
o Sec. 29.1359 - Electrical system fire and smoke protection.
o Sec. 29.1363 - Electrical system tests.
o Sec. 29.1381 - Instrument lights.
o Sec. 29.1383 - Landing lights.
o Sec. 29.1385 - Position light system installation.
o Sec. 29.1387 - Position light system dihedral angles.
o Sec. 29.1389 - Position light distribution and intensities.
o Sec. 29.1391 - Minimum intensities in the horizontal plane of forward and rear position lights.
o Sec. 29.1393 - Minimum intensities in any vertical plane of forward and rear position lights.
o Sec. 29.1395 - Maximum intensities in overlapping beams of forward and rear position lights.
o Sec. 29.1397 - Color specifications.
o Sec. 29.1399 - Riding light.
o Sec. 29.1401 - Anticollision light system.
o Sec. 29.1411 - General.
o Sec. 29.1413 - Safety belts: passenger warning device.
o Sec. 29.1415 - Ditching equipment.
o Sec. 29.1419 - Ice protection.
o Sec. 29.1431 - Electronic equipment.
o Sec. 29.1433 - Vacuum systems.
o Sec. 29.1435 - Hydraulic systems.
o Sec. 29.1439 - Protective breathing equipment.
o Sec. 29.1457 - Cockpit voice recorders.
o Sec. 29.1459 - Flight recorders.
o Sec. 29.1461 - Equipment containing high energy rotors.Subpart G-Operating Limitations and Information
o Sec. 29.1501 - General.
o Sec. 29.1503 - Airspeed limitations: general.
o Sec. 29.1505 - Never-exceed speed.
o Sec. 29.1509 - Rotor speed.
o Sec. 29.1517 - Limiting height-speed envelope.
o Sec. 29.1519 - Weight and center of gravity.
o Sec. 29.1521 - Powerplant limitations.
o Sec. 29.1522 - Auxiliary power unit limitations.
o Sec. 29.1523 - Minimum flight crew.
o Sec. 29.1525 - Kinds of operations.
o Sec. 29.1527 - Maximum operating altitude.
o Sec. 29.1529 - Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.
o Sec. 29.1541 - General.
o Sec. 29.1543 - Instrument markings: general.
o Sec. 29.1545 - Airspeed indicator.
o Sec. 29.1547 - Magnetic direction indicator.
o Sec. 29.1549 - Powerplant instruments.
o Sec. 29.1551 - Oil quantity indicator.
o Sec. 29.1553 - Fuel quantity indicator. o Sec. 29.1555 - Control markings.
o Sec. 29.1557 - Miscellaneous markings and placards.
o Sec. 29.1559 - Limitations placard.
o Sec. 29.1561 - Safety equipment.
o Sec. 29.1565 - Tail rotor.
o Sec. 29.1581 - General.
o Sec. 29.1583 - Operating limitations.
o Sec. 29.1585 - Operating procedures. o Sec. 29.1587 - Performance information.
o Sec. 29.1589 - Loading information.Appendices• Appendix A to Part 29 - Instructions for Continued Airworthiness • Appendix B to Part 29 - Airworthiness Criteria for Helicopter Instrument Flight • Appendix C to Part 29 - Icing Certification • Appendix D to Part 29 - Criteria for Demonstration of Emergency Evacuation Procedures Under §29.803

The military variants of the Dhruv ALH adhere to the following FAR/MILSPEC standards:
US Army Aeronautical Design Standard-33E (ADS-33E)Flaw-Tolerant Rotor System: FAR/JAR 29.571,
AM 29-28Crashworthy Fuel System: FAR/JAR 29.952,
AM 29-35Flaw-Tolerant Drive Train with Over Torque Certification: FAR/JAR 29.952, AM 29-28
Turbine Burst Protection: FAR/JAR 29.901, AM 29-36
Composite Spar Main & Tail Rotor Blades with Lightning Strike Protection: FAR/JAR 1309(h), AM 29-40
Engine Compartment Fire Protection: FAR/JAR 29.1193
Redundant Hydraulics & Flaw Tolerant Flight Controls: FAR/JAR 29.571, AM 29-28
Aircraft-Wide Bird Strike Protection: FAR/JAR 29.631, AM 29-40
Crashworthiness Standard: FAR/JAR 29.561, AM 29-38
Crashworthy Seats Conforming to MIL-STD-1472B
Cockpit Instrumentation Lighting Conforming to MIL-STD-85762A
Avionics Databus: MIL-STD-1553B or ARINC-429
Autopilot Accuracy: MIL-F-9490D
Embedded MIL-STD-188-141B ALE Link Protection
Embedded MIL-STD-188-110B data modem

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The BMD Challenge

While India has taken some significant steps toward the development of a homegrown ballistic missile defence (BMD) system since 1998, these nevertheless constitute only the ‘crawl’ phase of the R & D effort, with the ‘walk’ and ‘run’ phases yet to kick in. Several challenges are yet to be overcome, including the development of high-velocity interceptor missiles, a ground-based battlespace management system (BMS), and a three-tier network comprising BMD deployment packages for point defence, for area defence and for theatre defence. The best indications of the shape of things to come are the existing BMD systems already operational in Israel and in the US, and are explained in some detail in the above slides.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Dragon’s REMCF Explained

In developing a comprehensive appreciation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) already formidable presence in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the neighbouring western province of Xinjiang, one needs to take note of the fact that Xinjiang, with its domestic oil fields in the Tarin Basin and its role as a hub for oil and gas pipelines arriving from Pakistan and Central Asia, has now become China’s main source of non-seaborne hydrocarbons-based products. The TAR, on the other hand, possesses large amounts of zircon, chromium, rutile, magnesium and titanium that are needed by China’s heavy industries. Large amounts of cobalt and copper also lie astride the now operational 1,118km-long Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Consequently, the immensely strategic value of these regions and their resources has resulted in the increased deployment of the PLA’s rapid reaction forces (RRF, or kuaisu fanyin budui), and also better known as ‘Resolving Emergency Mobile Combat Forces, or REMCF) to these regions in order to prepare for any contingencies that might threaten its interests. To support the rapid deployment of its REMCFs in TAR and Xinjiang, the PLA in 2007 completed the construction of two major heli-bases and a massive ELINT/SIGINT station in Aksai Chin to conduct early-warning and border surveillance missions that could, potentially, substantially threaten Indian Army positions in Sub-sector North and Sub-sector West and the Saltoro Range. The two new heli-bases are the biggest in the world at 16,000 feet and could accommodate 300 medium-lift air-mobility helicopters, light armed aeroscouts and attack helicopters at a time. Simultaneously, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) last made operational an air base near Xining in Western China. Last but not the least, the Golmund-Lhasa-Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR) network has now tripled the PLA’s offensive power against India, with reinforcements reaching from the Beijing and Shanghai military regions in 18 hours instead of the earlier 80 hours. Besides, the rail networks also now enable the REMCF formations from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces to be deployed by rail in less than 12 hours to carry out limited but intensive offensive campaigns against deployed Indian forces in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The PLA began raising its first REMCF formations in the late 1980s. A 100,000-man fully mechanised REMCF specialising in combined-arms land campaigns was established in 1992 and placed under the direct control of the Central Military Commission (CMC). This mission-oriented REMCF was given the tasks of border defence, dealing with internal armed conflict, maintaining public order, and conducting disaster relief missions. For creating this REMCF, each PLA Group Army Corps of every Military Region (MR) selected an Infantry Division to be the designated REMCF for dealing with emergency situations in every Military Region (MR). This was followed by a second tri-service 300,000-strong REMCF formation (also under the CMC’s command) in 1998, made up of the PLA Army’s 91 Division and 121 Division, the PLA Navy’s 5th Amphibious Landing Detachment, and the PLA Air Force’s (PLAAF) 15th Airborne Division. The 15th Airborne Division comprises three airborne brigades. The 43rd Brigade, stationed in Kaifeng, Henan Province, is attached to the Jinan MR. The 44th Brigade, stationed in Yinshan, Hubei Province, is attached to the Lanzhou MR. The 45th Brigade, stationed in Huangpi, Hubei Province, is also attached to the Lanzhou MR. The Division also includes elements of the PLAAF’s 13th Transport Division. The Division too is directly under the CMC’s control (and not under the PLA’s General Staff Department). Strategically, the airborne troops are considered to be a reserve force, yet in tactical terms they are deployed as an advance force. It can also be reconstituted as an air-mobile RRF.

The PLA Army has also since established a Regiment-level Army Special Force (ASF) in every MR as an RRF unit, directly under the MR HQ’s command. The principal officers of the ASF, including the commander, political commissar, and chief of staff, are full Colonels. Officers above the Platoon-level are University graduates and receive further education in the Army Command Academy. In every Group Army, a Battalion-level special reconnaissance task force has been set up under the Group Army HQ’s command. Officers and men of this ASF are selected from reconnaissance and technical units of every Group Army. The wash-out rate is about 50% after receiving further tests and training. In addition, every MR has established special training facilities for their ASF/RRF units. These facilities impart training on ‘five defences’, including means to defend against nuclear/biological/chemical attacks, electronic countermeasures, and employment of precision-guided weapon systems. The timeframe of each exercise for such RRF/ASF elements is three days and troops are given a two-day food ration. The exercise missions include occupying and defending strategic key points, sabotaging airfields, anti-air attack, anti-reconnaissance, and survival course training. Combined-arms tri-services RRF and REMCF exercises (conceptualised and directed by the PLA’s first combined-arms tactical training centre in the Nanjing MR) were first carried out in 1995 and 1996 in the Gobi desert, the Tibetan and Xinjiang highlands, and in the southwestern tropical forests to enhance the RRF’s and REMCF’s adaptive survival capabilities.

The ASF/RRF units currently deployed throughout the TAR specialise in the conduct of reconnaissance combat operations (RBD), which involves the extensive use of signals intelligence, helicopters (air-mobility, armed aeroscout and attack) and high-mobility reconnaissance teams to provide actionable intelligence for light mechanised infantry formations which are then able to serve as blocking forces to ambush and halt retreating hostile ground-based interdiction forces, as well as provide fire coordination for long-range field artillery and tactical air support. The operational environment in the TAR and Xinjiang regions—comprising the world’s largest mountain ranges and high desert plateaus—has required that lighter forces be deployed, since the terrain and the long borders are generally unsuited for operations to be undertaken by large heavily armoured formations. Consequently, the PLA Army has equipped its Brigade-sized REMCFs in Tibet and the 6th Independent Division in Xinjiang—the first fully mechanised infantry Division to be deployed at this height—with wheeled armured fighting vehicles and all-terrain logistics vehicles. These include the NORINCO-built WMZ-550 four-wheeled, WMZ-551B (Type 92A) six-wheeled and WMZ-525 eight-wheeled family of armoured personnel carriers (APC), armoured infantry fighting vehicles (AIFV) and tank destroyers, and the WMZ-551A (Type 92) and WMZ-501 Type 86 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and PLZ-95 combined gun/missile air defence system mounted on a tracked hull. These vehicles are organised along the lines of a cavalry battalion. In both regions, the AIFVs are equipped with one-man high elevation turrets that are mounted with 25mm and 30mm automatic cannons. Such turrets allow the AIFVs to engage targets located high in the mountains. In addition, the ability of the 25mm/30mm cannons to penetrate light armour gives it a measure of security if it were to face light tanks.

The structure of the 6th Independent Division follows the standard PLA triangular organisation, comprising three mechanised infantry or armoured Platoons to a Company, three Companies to a Battalion, three Battalions to a Brigade and three Brigades to a Division. The Division comprises three mechanised infantry Brigades, one MBT Brigade (equipped with Type 96G MBTs), one field artillery Brigade (equipped with SH-1 155mm/52-calibre motorised self-propelled guns, WS-2 and AR-2 MBRLs), one air defence Brigade (equipped with the PLZ-95, Yitian SHORADS and KS-1A M-SAMs), one helicopter wing, and a logistics Brigade. The Division HQ comprises a combat engineer Battalion, an electronic warfare Battalion, a chemical defence Battalion, the Company-size Division HQ Staff, an integral air defence unit and a quick-reaction force Company. There are a total of 351 Type 86 AIFVs in this Division, which are supported by an Artillery Brigade of 72 155mm/52-calibre PLZ-05 guns and a MBT Battalion of 99 Type 96Gs. Type 89 tracked armoured command vehicles are liberally provided throughout the Division down to the company-level to provide command-and-control capabilities. The Type 86 AIFV sports a one-man universal turret containing a 30mm chain gun. The turret also has greater depression and elevation to enable individual windows and mountainsides to be engaged. The Battalion’s support Company includes one mortar Company (armed with 10 W-99 82mm mortars mounted on 4 x 4 vehicles), an automatic grenade launcher (AGL) Platoon with two vehicles each equipped with two 35mm AGLs, one anti-tank Platoon of two vehicles sharing three anti-tank guided-missile systems (the HJ-9A mounted on ZFB-05 APCs). There are 18 ZFB-05s in each Brigade providing 72 anti-tank guided missile launchers in the Division. There is also an air defence Platoon of three PLZ-95s with four FN-6 VSHORADS missiles per vehicle for a total of twelve. The Division has 27 motorised air defence vehicles and has 108 VSHORADS launchers that come under the operational control of the air defence Brigade, which comprises one Battalion of 24 towed 57mm anti-aircraft guns and one Battalion of 18 towed twin 3omm ‘Giant Bow’ anti-aircraft guns. An air defence Platoon of six PLZ-95s and one Yitian launcher are attached to the field artillery Brigade. A new addition to the 6th Division is a helicopter wing with one squadron of six Harbin Z-9G attack helicopters and one transport squadron of six Mi-17V-5 air-mobility helicopters.

Operational logistics are provided assets that are attached to the REMCFs as required. The all-terrain vehicles and weapons (built by NORINCO, Yongkang ADBTEV Vehicle Co Ltd in Zhejiang, Chongqing Yonghui Technology Development Co Ltd, Chongqing Jinguan High-Technology Group, and Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing Co Ltd) are much lighter than those in other PLA Army mechanised units, reducing their logistical footprint and providing tactical mobility, allowing for more roads and bridges to be used during operations. In addition, a wide range of wheeled light specialist vehicles have been inducted into service. These vehicles can be armed with weapons that include the NDM-86 7.62mm sniper rifle, PF-98A 120mm LAW, PF-89A 80mm LAW, QJG-02 12.7mm HMG, Type 82 106mm RCL, Type 88 5.8mm sniper rifle, Type 89 12.7mm sniper rifle, and the Type 91 35mm grenade launcher.

For ultra-low-level air defence of installations like heli-bases, air bases and logistics bases, state-owned China North Industries Corp (NORINCO) has begun delivering two new systems to the PLA Army: the LD-2000 close-in weapon system (CIWS); and the Yitian VSHORADS. The LD-2000 is mounted on a locally developed cross-country 8 x 8 truck. To provide a more stable firing platform, four stabilisers are lowered to the ground. Mounted at the rear is the remote-controlled turret armed with a 30mm seven-barrel cannon. Two ammunition boxes each hold 500 rounds of ready-to-use ammunition. One magazine holds armour-piercing discarding-sabot and the other high-explosive rounds. The 30mm cannon has a cyclic rate of fire of 4,000 rounds/minute out to 3km, but airborne targets will be engaged between 1km and 1.5km. The power-operated mount is unmanned and laid onto the target by a gunner who is seated in a fully enclosed module to the rear of the cab. Mounted on the top of the 30mm gun mount is a wide-band tracking radar and an optronic fire-control system, which also incorporates a laser rangefinder. Target information comes from a wheeled command/control vehicle fitted with a CPMIEC-built TD-2000B surveillance radar, which controls between three and six LD 2000 firing units. Another version of the LD-2000 comes equipped with the gun plus six TY-90 VSHORADS missiles.

The Yitian VSHORADS is mounted on NORINCO’s WZ-551 series 6 x 6 APC. A turret, armed with four TY-90s located either side of the sensor package, is mounted on the upper part of the WZ-551’s chassis. The sensor package comprises an optronic system, above which is mounted a new 3-D radar that can be folded down into a horizontal position while travelling. The 3-D radar has a detection range of 18km and a tracking range of 10km. Targets can be tracked either in the optronic mode or in the radar mode, with the latter being especially useful when there is a threat of electronic countermeasures. Yitian also features an automatic target tracking and engagement capability and can engage targets with a maximum velocity of up to 400 metres/second, with a claimed reaction time of six to eight seconds. The TY-90 solid-propellant missile has a maximum effective range between 300 metres and 6km, with altitude coverage from 15 metres up to 4km. The fire-and-forget missile is transported and launched from a box-type container and has four fins at the rear and four control surfaces at the front. Once the missiles have been fired, new missiles are reloaded using a support vehicle. The WZ-551 chassis includes a nuclear/biological/chemical warfare protection system, and a central tyre pressure regulation system that allows the driver to adjust the tyre pressure to suite the terrain being crossed. A 12.7mm machine gun is mounted at the front right side of the vehicle for local defence, with a bank of three electrically operated smoke grenade launchers mounted either side of the turret. Optional equipment includes an identification friend-or-foe capability.

For airborne EW operations in support of limited war campaigns conducted by REMCFs, the PLAAF has deployed the Y-8XZ platform since April 2007. The aircraft features large fairings forward of the main landing gear compartments, as well as two large plate antennae on each side of the rear fuselage. Other features include twin-blade antennae on both sides of the vertical tailfin, a wire antenna underneath the rear fuselage, and a SATCOMS antenna on top of the real fuselage. The Y-8XZ can also be pressed into service for conducting psychological operations and has on board high-power broadcast equipment

The PLA’s Army Aviation Unit (AAU), raised in April 1986, is tasked with deploying armed aeroscout (Z-11), air-mobility (Mi-17V-5) and attack helicopters (ZW-9G) to support ground operations. The AAU is directly under General Staff Department (GSD) command, and has been seen in several combined exercises in Northern China (Huabei), TAR and Xinjiang performing reconnaissance, anti-armour attack, special forces insertion, electronic countermeasures operations, and command post relocation. For reconnaissance operations by night, the AAU has in its inventory several Z-9G helicopters equipped with imaging infra-red LORROS sensors using secure data links to provide near-real time fire-support observation and coordination in high-altitude terrain. To enter service in the near future will be the Zhisheng ZW-10A twin-engined light attack helicopter. It may be recalled that Pratt & Whitney Canada had sent 10 PT6C-67Cs engines to China in 2001 and 2002 under a Canadian government export license for use in the 6-tonne AMHU medium-lift helicopter that is currently under development by China National South Aviation Industry Ltd, Changhe Aircraft Industries Group (CAIG) and China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI), both based in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. It has now been confirmed that these engines have mysteriously ended up in the ZW-10A, whose maiden flight took place on April 29, 2003. China, however, claims that the two helicopters are being developed on a ‘common platform’ that share common rotors and transmissions. The tandem-seat ZW-10A is fitted with a fly-by-wire flight control system, twin glass cockpits, nose-mounted optronic turret, and a chin-mounted 20mm cannon. The electronic warfare suite, developed by CETC International, includes a radar warning receiver (RWR), laser warning receiver, infra-red jammer and chaff/flare dispensers. Twin stub wings provide four stores stations for external ordnance like the HJ-10A laser-guided missile and TY-90 laser-guided air combat missile.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Sunday, October 18, 2009

IPMS For New Indian Warships

The above four slides explain what exactly is the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), which L-3 MAPPS is supplying for the Indian Navy's three Project 17 FFGs, three Project 15A DDGs and four projected Project 15B DDGs. The Bangalore-based subsidiary of L-3 MAPPS was set up in early 2002 to specifically undertake systems integration-related applications software development for interfacing the IPMS with the Ukraine-based Zorya/Mashproekt M36E gas turbine-based propulsion plants of the Project 15A and Project 15B DDGs. All 10 warships will also have on board the EMDINA combat management system (CMS) originally co-designed by the Indian Navy's Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and TATA Power as part of project MEDINA for further details, proceed to:
The EMDINA CMS is a follow-on to the EMCCA Computer Aided Action Information System (CAAIS), also co-developed by WESEE and TATA Power, under Project MECCA and is presently on board the three Project 16 FFGs, three Project 16A FFGs and three Project 15 DDGs.--Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

China Ups The Ante

While the October 1 parade for celebrating 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) saw the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) 2nd Artillery Corps publicly showcasing for the first time its 2,500-km range DF-21C road-mobile ‘cannistered’ medium-range ballistic missile and the road-mobile ChangJiang-10Zai (Long Sword) 2,200km-range land-attack cruise missile (LACM), what was not revealed was how exactly would these missiles be guided to their intended targets. For strategic targetting of both land-based and sea-based targets, the 2nd Artillery Corps has been, since the late 1990s, deployed a mix of overhead recce satellites equipped with both optronic sensors as well as synthetic aperture radars (SAR). Belonging to the ‘Yaogan’ or ‘JianBing’ family, the constellation presently comprises the Yaogan-1 Yaogan-3 and Yaogan-5 satellites equipped with SAR antennae (supplied off-the-shelf by Russia’s NPO Mashinostroneyie), and the Yaogan-2, Yoagan-4 and Yaogan-6 satellites equipped with optronic sensors. All these satellites were designed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp’s (CASC) No5 Research Institute and No8 Research Institute, with final fabrication and systems integration taking place at the CASC’s Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

To date, the 2nd Artillery Corps has already implemented the launch-control protocols and ultra-secure SATCOMS-based communications networks required for employing both the land-launched and air-launched variants of the CJ-10A cruise missile against both land-based and seaborne targets. Development of the CJ-10A and its launch platforms (including the Hong 6K bomber) was led by the Hubei-based 9th Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), which is also known as the Sanjiang Aerospace Group, or 066 Base. Series-production is now underway at the Beijing-based 3rd Academy, also belonging to CASIC. The navigational and fire-control components of the CJ-10 are produced at the Shanghai-based Xinxin Factory, which was set up in the late 1990s with the help of military-technical assistance from Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The CJ-10’s maiden test-flight took place on August 10, 2004. It is widely believed that the CJ-10 is an exact clone of the Korshun LACM (developed in Ukraine) and weighs 1,090kg, has a wingspan of 3.1 metres and diameter of 0.514 metres, and a length of 6.3 metres, 0.26 metres longer than the Kh-55. This slight difference in length comes from placing the Korshun’s R95-300 turbofan within the rear of the missile’s fuselage, with an air intake underneath. The Kh-55’s engine, in contrast, pops out of the rear section after launch, and hangs beneath the missile’s fuselage during cruise flight. By making the Korshun (and the CJ-10) more streamlined, like the Tomahawk cruise missile, Ukrainian designers succeeded in reducing the missile’s overall radar cross-section by eliminating the unwanted right angles of the exposed engine, which reflect telltale radar energy.

Another new-generation nuclear-armed missile deployed since 2007 by the 2nd Artillery Corps is the Dong Feng 21C (NATO reporting name: CSS-5 Mod-3) MBRM, which has a range of 1,700km when carrying a 2,000kg payload. The fully cannistered ballistic missile is carried on a 10 x 10 wheeled WS-2500 transporter-erector-launcher vehicle, which has a maximum load capacity of 28 tonnes. According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the DF-21C can be armed with fuel air explosive-based (FAE) and electromagnetic pulse-based (EMP) warheads, which could typically be employed against high-value strategic land-based targets, or against aircraft carrier-led battle groups. When used as part of a coordinated strike package, both the CJ-10 and DF-21C could significantly up the ante (as force multipliers with strategic reach) against any adversary, while keeping the threshold of hostilities limited to the conventional level. In India’s case, the widespread deployment of these two missile systems by the PLA in either the Tibet Autonomous Region or the Chengdu Military Region could in one stroke neutralise the operational advantages of offensive airpower projection now enjoyed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in northeastern and northern India, unless India begins a large-scale deployment of theatre-based ballistic missile/cruise missile defence networks that are backed up by a robust constellation of overhead recce satellites for strategic reconnaissance-cum-targetting purposes.

To this end, India’s satellite-based overhead reconnaissance and related strategic targetting capabilities were significantly boosted when the state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched India’s second dedicated, military-specific, operational recce satellite—RISAT-2—on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C12) from the Sriharikota-based Satish Dhawan Space Centre on April 20 this year. The RISAT-2 was bought off-the-shelf from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for India’s Dehra Dun-based National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) as part of the fast-tracking of procurements of critical hardware required for strategic deterrence, along with related ground receiving stations and imagery interpretation systems. It is virtually identical to the 300kg TecSAR/Polaris synthetic aperture radar-equipped satellite that was launched by ISRO’s subsidiary Antrix Corp for Israel on board the PSLV-C10 rocket launcher on January 21, 2008. Following RISAT-2 by the year’s end will be the ISRO-built RISAT-1, 1,780kg overhead recce satellite equipped with a C-band active phased-array synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and developed at a cost of Rs4 billion (see:

India’s first dedicated operational military reconnaissance satellite was CARTOSAT-2A (see, which was launched on board the PSLV-C9 on April 28, 2008. This was preceded on January 21 by the launching of the TecSAR/Polaris at a cost of Rs550 million. Weighing 300kg, both the TecSAR/Polaris and RISAT-2 can take pictures of the earth through cloud and rain, 24 hours of the day utilising electronic beam-steering techniques. The IAI-produced satellite features mesh antennae panels which, once opened, provide high-fidelity reflections of the Earth’s surface. Aside from IAI-subsidiary ELTA Systems, producers of the 100kg SAR payload, program subcontractors include Tadiran Spectralink and RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems, producers of hydrazine thrusters and other propulsion components. TecSAR was placed into its intended orbit with a perigee (nearest point to earth) of 450km and apogee (farthest point to earth) of 580km with an orbital inclination of 41 degrees with respect to the equator. As the Polaris’ manufacturer—the MBT Space Division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)--wanted a ‘core-alone’ configuration of the PSLV-C10 to put Polaris in orbit, the four-stage rocket launcher did away with the six strap-on booster motors, and weighed only 230 tonnes at liftoff. The Antrix Corp subsidiary of ISRO is now hopeful that it will also bag the follow-on contracts from Israel to launch another two recce satellites of the Polaris family in future.

By February 3 last year, initial streams of TecSAR/Polaris-generated SAR imagery had reached Israel’s highly-secure ground station on the Tel Aviv-based campus of IAI. Once initial imagery was analysed and the satellite’s various operational modes were determined to meet user requirements, the TecSAR/Polaris was certified as operational. Until then, IAI and Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN) technicians proceeded through an extensive intialisation and calibration testing regime that began about an hour after launch, with first receipt of the satellite’s signals. TecSAR/Polaris and RISAT-2 promise a qualitative upgrade in strategic intelligence not only because of the all-weather, photographic quality imagery they generate, but by their ability to linger longer over targeted areas of interest. Both satellites feature a unique combination of in-orbit agility and electronically-steered beams that allow operators to capture more images over a wider area in each rotational pass. Agility is provided by high-powered, yet low-weight reaction wheels that allow the satellite to alter its orbiting attitude as it travels some 7.5 kilometres per second. In parallel, electronic switching of the radar beam allows operators to back-scan critical target areas and utilise multiple modes of image collection, thereby maximising every second of the typical 8.5-minute overpass of a given area. Both satellites can operate in any inclination and at a wide range of altitudes. The payload is designed to collect imagery in three distinct operating modes: Spot mode for collecting a large number of high-resolution images per orbit; strip mode for capturing many hundreds of medium-resolution imaging swaths; and beam-scanning mosaic mode for very wide coverage at lower, yet ‘extremely valuable’ resolution. The satellites are also inherently capable of detecting and tracking moving targets. During a single pass, due to extraordinary flexibility of the beam and the agility of the satellite itself, the TecSAR/Polaris or RISAT-2 can capture widely spread targets at the same time. The estimated footprint, or area of image collection, is more than 500 square kilometres. If a normal satellite provides a 25km footprint, one can multiply by 20 or even 30 to get the coverage provided by these two satellites in mosaic mode. By activating the reaction wheels, they make a back-scan that allows them to linger more time in a certain area. Their added value thus lies in this unique combination of electronic switching of the beam and the mechanical agility of the satellites that allows one to achieve a phenomenal capability for high-resolution imaging over very large areas. But beyond expected imaging improvements, TecSAR/Polaris and RISAT-2 will provide significantly enhanced revisit time for monitoring ballistic missile launching sites, seaport activities, weapons production facilities, troop movements and other militarily-significant changes. Both these satellites can circle the Earth every 90 minutes.

Almost as anxious as its Israeli counterpart for the TechSAR/Polaris’ success is Northrop Grumman Corp, which hopes to parlay the lightweight, high-resolution SAR-equipped satellite into a new, US niche market for operationally responsive space systems. An exclusive teaming agreement with IAI now allows Northrop Grumman to co-produce slightly-modified TecSAR clones--dubbed Trinidad--to be held in storage for launch by US users at a mere 30-day notice. When the two companies announced their agreement in April 2007, they stressed that implementation of the prospective launch-on-demand initiative was contingent upon the successful launch and operational performance of the Israeli spacecraft. Each Trinidad satellite could be manufactured in about 28 months at a very small fraction of the cost of other US SAR-equipped satellites. Within two years, this satellite will be ready for launch by a very low cost launcher like the Minotaur four-stage Space Launch Vehicle of the Orbital Sciences Corp. The commercial partners still need to wait for IAI to complete all testing, certification and other activities demanded by its Israeli government customer. But following full validation and initial operation of TecSAR/Polaris’ multi-mode, X-band radar-imaging collection capabilities, Northrop Grumman has received the data it needs to convince potential US users of the benefits to be had from the system. According to Northrop Grumman, preliminary plans call for the US firm to invest in a mobile ground station modified to capture, receive, store and process TecSAR/Polaris imagery provided by the IAI ground station. The plan is to actually demonstrate the satellite’s capabilities to prospective customers.

India’s CARTOSAT-2A, which has a spatial resolution of 0.7 metres, will be followed in future by the 2B, 2C and 2D, with these having high-resolution cameras capable of supplying imagery with 0.5-metre spatial resolution. India currently has in orbit four dual-purpose satellites that can be used for military overhead reconnaissance. CARTOSAT-1 (see or IRS P5 (Indian Remote Sensing Satellite) was launched on May 5, 2005 into a 618km-high polar sun synchronous orbit by the PSLV-C6 rocket. It carries two panchromatic (PAN) cameras with 2.5-metre resolution that take black-and-white stereoscopic pictures of the earth in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The swath covered by these PAN cameras is 30km, and they are mounted in such a way that near-simultaneous imaging of the same area from two different angles is possible. This facilitates the generation of accurate three-dimensional maps. The cameras operate in the 500-750nm wavelength and are tilted +26 degrees and -5 degrees along the track. CARTOSAT-1, weighing 1,560kg, also carries a solid-state recorder with a capacity of 120 Giga Bits to store the images taken by its cameras. The stored images can be transmitted when the satellite comes within the visibility zone of an Earth-based ground station. The 680kg CARTOSAT-2 (see, designed for supplying scene-specific spot imagery, was launched into the intended 639km polar orbit by the PSLV-C7 rocket on January 10m 2007. CARTOSAT-2 has a single PAN camera capable of providing scene-specific spot imageries for cartographic applications. The camera is designed to provide imageries with 1-metre spatial resolution and a swath of 10km. The satellite can steer along and across its track up to 45 degrees. It has been placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 630km and has a revisit period of four days, but this can be improved to one day with suitable orbit manoeuvres. Several new technologies like two-mirror-on-axis single camera, carbon fabric reinforced plastic-based electro-optic structure, large size mirrors, JPEG-like data compression, solid-state recorder, high-torque reaction wheels and high-performance star sensors are employed on board CARTOSAT-2. The satellite has a revisit interval of four days.

The third overhead recce satellite currently in orbit is the Technology Experiment Satellite or TES (see, which weighs 1,108kg and was successfully placed in 568km sun synchronous orbit on October 22, 2001 using the PSLV-C3 rocket. The technologies demonstrated thus far on board TES are attitude and orbit control systems, high-torque reaction wheels, new reaction control systems with optimised thrusters and a single propellant tank, lightweight spacecraft structure, solid-state recorder, X-band active phased-array antenna, improved satellite positioning system, miniaturised power system, and two-mirror-on-axis camera optics. The TES has a PAN camera capable of producing images of 1-metre resolution. In attention to these and the CARTOSAT-2 family of satellites, India will later this year launch the RISAT-1, which will carry a C-band (5.35 GHz) SAR with a spatial resolution of 3 metres to 50 metres and a swath of 10km to 240km. The Earth-facing side of the AESA-SAR antenna is a broadband dual polarised microstrip radiating aperture. The antenna will comprise three deployable panels, each of 2-metre x 2-metre size. Each of the panels is sub-divided into four tiles of size 1-metre x 1-metre, each consisting of 24 x 24 radiating elements. In each tile, all the 24 x 24 radiating elements are grouped into 24 groups, with each group comprising 24 elements spread along azimuth directions, which are fed by two stripline distribution networks feeding for V and H polarisation. Each of these groups of 24 radiating elements is catered to by two separate T/R modules feeding two separate distribution networks for V and H operation with the same radiating patches. Present plans call for deploying up to seven RISAT-type recce satellites by 2015.

Another reconnaissance satellite that was launched on September 23 this year by ISRO was OCEANSAT-2 (see, which would study the oceans and the wind surface of oceans. It is more powerful than the OCEANSAT-1 (launched in May 1999), which was nearing the end of its life cycle. The OCEANSAT-2, placed into a near-polar sun synchronous orbit of 720km, carries an ocean-colour monitor and a Ku-band pencil beam scatterometer, which is an active microwave radar and operates at 13.515GHz providing a good resolution cell-size swathe of 50km x 50km. It also carries a radio occulation sounder for atmospheric studies. The ocean colour monitor payload is an eight-band multi-spectral camera operating in the visible-near infra-red spectral range. This camera provides an instantaneous geometric field-of-view of 360 metres covering a swath of 1,420km. The back-scattered beams from the ocean surface are measured to derive the wind vector. OCEANSAT-2 will be used for sea state forecasting, coastal zone studies, and also provide inputs for weather forecasting and climatic studies of consequence to the movements of both naval surface combatants and submarines. Its orbital path, combined with the wide swathe of both payloads, will provide an observational repetity of two days. For providing the high-accuracy navigation inputs for precision-guided munitions as well as for long-range navigation over land, sea and air, ISRO last year initiated the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) project, which calls for the deployment of a constellation of seven low-cost, GPS satellites in geo-stationary orbit over the next five years. Its footprint will be regional, and will include the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan plateau, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.—Prasun K. Sengupta

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ottavio Quattrocchi’s Lasting Gift To India

With the executive branch of the Govt of India now seemingly determined to permanently and legally bury the Bofors scandal and accord Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi the privilege of having the last laugh, I’ve endeavoured to draft out a chronological timeline that illustrates the sheer havoc caused by this scandal to the Indian Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan. The timeline runs from 1982 to 2005.

From 1982 the Government of India (GoI) is on the lookout out for a towed 155mm/39-calibre howitzer along with a family of artillery rounds, charges, fuzes and gun-towing trucks. The requirement is for 1,840 howitzers, of which 410 are to be imported off-the-shelf and the rest to be built in-country with progressive local content. The howitzers are required to re-equip 92 of the Indian Army’s Medium Artillery Regiments. The competition is shortlisted in December 1982 to SOFMA/GIAT Industries of France offering the TR-155, Bofors AB of Sweden with its FH-77B, UK-based International Military Services with its FH-70B, and Austria’s Voest Alpine (later NORICUM) with its GHN-45.

Between October 1982 and February 1986, the Indian Army does no fewer than seven evaluations of the relative merits of the towed howitzers offered by the bidders. In the first six, the TR-155 is clearly preferred to the FH-77B.

Between May and July 1984, the Price Negotiations Committee (PNC) set up for the towed howitzer acquisition by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is officially informed by the four contenders about their agents in India. Following a discussion of this matter in the PNC, its Chairman, Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar, meets representatives of the four contenders on May 3, 1985 and informs them that “the present GoI does not approve of the appointment of Indian agents acting for foreign suppliers; that in case they had made provision for any commissions for their Indian agents, they should make a suitable reduction in their offers; and that they would be disqualified if it came to the notice of the GoI that they had appointed Indian agents”.

In November 1985, the GoI’s choice, based on advice from Army HQ and a recommendation by the PNC, shortlists the TR-155 and FH-77B.

From January 1986, bids from both the shortlised contenders are received. On March 11, Bofors AB submits its best and final offer. On March 12 the PNC decides to issue a Letter of Intent to Bofors AB for the purchase of FH-77Bs. The matter goes through five tiers of official approval and three Union Cabinet Ministers on a single day, before it is approved by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in his additional capacity as Minister for Defence on March 14, 1986. The contract, dated March 24, 1986 and valid for a 14-year period, is entered into between the GoI and Bofors AB and is valued at SEK8.41 billion or Rs14,377.2 million (US$1.3 billion). The amount reportedly includes $50 million in secret payoffs made by Bofors AB to three or more recipient arrangements and these payments, far from representing any ‘winding-up costs’, are percentage payments tied to specified supplies against the total order and to realisation of the payments by the GoI.

In early 1987, Army HQ formally asks the MoD’s approval to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for procuring acoustic-based and radar-based artillery locating systems.

In April 1987, following media disclosures in Sweden about the illegal payoffs, the GoI in 1989 indefinitely suspends all commercial contacts with Bofors AB. Consequently, the licenced-production of 1,430 FH-77Bs to be undertaken by India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is shelved. All 410 FH-77Bs and 527,000 rounds of seven types of 155mm ammunition are delivered by Bofors AB by January 1990.

In June 1989, the MoD sanctions the OFB’s Badmal Factory to produce a range of 155mm ammunition, with the planned date of completion being June 1993 in two phases. The Factory concludes a contract with US-based Day & Zimmerman in May 1994 for the design, supply and commissioning of a 155mm ammunition filling plant with a capacity of 50,000 rounds per annum on single shift at a cost of Rs293.6 million, including a foreign exchange content of $6.88 million. The planned date of completion of the project is December 1996. The machinery is received in six consignments from October 1995 to June 1997 as against the contracted date of May 1996. The plant is commissioned in May 1998 to produce only three types of 155mm rounds.

In 1991, Army HQ finalises its GSQR for a tactical UAV, and the DRDO’s Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) commences work on developing the Nishant tactical UAV. The project is due for completion by 1995 but is delayed till 2002.

Out of seven types of indigenous 155mm ammunition required to be delivered during 1991-1993, OFB develops only four types of rounds between 1992 and 1998. Against the Army’s requirement of 585,000 rounds, Army HQ places orders for only 237,000 rounds of seven types.

Between 1993 and 1994, the MoD purchases 480 (24 Regiments) M-46 130mm towed howitzers worth Rs100,000 each, of which 100 howitzers come from the Czech Republic, and 380 from Russia.

In 1994, Army HQ proposes the off-the-shelf procurement of nine Regiments of 152mm 2S19 MSTA tracked SPHs from Russia and later modifying them in-country to accept 155mm/52-cal barrels made by either Bofors AB or Soltam.

By 1995, Army HQ reformulates its Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP), under which it plans to replace its 14 different medium artillery howitzers (towed and self-propelled) with 155mm/52-cal towed, motorised and tracked howitzers for the majority of its Artillery Regiments by 2025. Army HQ also says that over the 9th (1997-2002), 10th (2002-2007), 11th (2007-2012) and 12th (2012-2017) Five Year Plans, it seeks 400 additional tracked and motorised SPHs. Also, two Regiments of the DRDO-developed 214mm Pinaka MBRLs (comprising 36 launchers) worth Rs11 billion are to be acquired by the end of the 10th Plan in 2007 out of the total plan for six Pinaka MBRL Regiments.

In April 1995, the MoD decides to begin importing 155mm ammunition from South Africa as the OFB supplies only 49,257 complete rounds against the Army’s demand of 136,000 rounds as of March 1995.

By October 1995, 20 pre-production Prithvi SS-150 surface-to-surface missiles are delivered to the Army to form the 333 Missile Group. The Group with 16 liquid-fuelled, single-stage SS-150 road-mobile missile launchers (and a total of 60 missiles, including reserve rounds) has two Sub-Groups, each of which are further sub-divided into two Troops with two launchers each. The Group is based at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh State.

In 1996, Army HQ decides to accept 12 Searcher Mk1 UAVs (originally destined for Singapore) from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) for delivery in 1998.

In the summer of 1996, Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd (now owned by BAE Systems) demonstrates on a no-cost-no-commitment basis its 155mm/52-cal tracked self-propelled howitzer (SPH), comprising the AS-90 turret mated with the hull of a T-72M1 main battle tank (MBT). During firepower trials in the plains, the SPH fires a family of 155mm rounds out to 41.6km. The mobility trials in the desert, however, show the SPH to be underpowered. GIAT Industries, with its GCT turret mounted on a T-72M1 hull, and Denel/LIW with a similarly mounted T-6 turret—therefore decide not to demonstrate such hybrid, tracked SPHs in India.

In mid-1996, Russia’s Rosoboronexport State Corp and Ekaterinberg-based Uraltransmash propose to co-develop with the DRDO and OFB a hybrid 2S19M1/MSTA-S tracked SPH that combines the hull of the T-90S MBT with a turret containing a 155mm/52-cal barrel that is jointly developed by Bofors AB and Volgograd-based Barrikady State Production Association. The MoD and Army HQ ignore this offer.

In 1997, the United Front-led GoI under Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and later Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral formalises a declaration inked earlier in the year with South African President Nelson Mandela under which the centrepiece of the bilateral relationship is the concept of a long-term strategic partnership, especially for co-developing a family of 155mm/52-calibre towed autonomous howitzers, plus tracked and motorised SPHs.

In March 1997, the MoD inks a contract with South Africa’s Denel Group for importing 80,000 HEER 155mm rounds and 20,000 fuzes at a cost of Rs1.88 billion with free transfer of technology to produce them in-country due to the OFB’s delayed indigenous development of HEER rounds by five years, non-development of 155mm illuminating rounds, and to offset the existing deficiency of 86,955 rounds.

On May 1, 1997 Army HQ starts work on raising the Army’s 40 Artillery Division (now part of the Ambala-based 1 Strike Corps). The Division is to have two Gun Brigades (with six Medium Regiments of which one will have 155mm tracked SPHs, two with motorised 155mm SPHs and three with 155mm towed howitzers) and one Regiment of 122mm BM-21 Grad MBRLs; and one Composite Brigade comprising one Prithvi SS-150 Missile Group, one Regiment of Pinaka MBRL with 18 launchers, one Regiment of 12 Smerch-M MBRLs, and one RSTA Group comprising six Searcher II/Heron II UAVs, two TPQ-37 Firefinder counterbattery radars and four medium-range, BEL-built Stentor battlefield surveillance radars.

In May 1997, the MoD authorises OFB to build two new, dedicated facilities for producing a family of 155mm ammunition and their related charges and fuzes in cooperation with the Denel Group.

During firepower trials conducted at the Pokhran Field Range in 1997-1998, one 130mm M-46S towed howitzer upgraded by Israel’s Soltam Systems (but utilising the carriage and recoil system of the original gun) to the 155mm/45-cal standard is test-fired using extended-range base-bleed ammunition out to a range of 39km.

In early 1998, engineering development work begins on the Bhim tracked SPH, comprising Denel/LIW’s T-6 turret housing a 155mm/52-cal barrel and the hull of the Arjun Mk1 MBT.

In early 1998, Rosoboronexport offers the 9K58 Smerch-M (Tornado) 300mm MBRL to the Army.

In early 1999 Russia’s Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau offers the Krasnopol-M KM-2 laser-guided 155mm projectile, along with related 1D-22 laser target designators and 1A-35I/K shot synchronisation systems. While it is tested to perfection in February 1999 at the Pokhran Field Range, firepower tests at altitudes of 3,700 metres in the Karbuthan Field Range in Kargil fail, after which KBP asks for more time to make modifications to the round and its range table. During the third trial, after modifications, there are two correct hits and two misses and the conclusion is that the Krasnopol-M is still not fit for mountain warfare. Later, it is tested again in the Mahe Field Range in Ladakh after which it is realised that it works in high altitudes with a height differential between targets and gun positions. Approval for acquiring 1,000 Krasnopol-M rounds worth Rs1.51 billion is given by the NDA-led GoI’s Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) in April 1999.

In May 1999, against an urgent requirement, a conditional contract is signed with KBP for the supply of 1,000 Krasnopol-Ms and 10 laser designators worth $34.75 million.

In late May 1999, Army HQ leases one IAI-built Searcher II UAV system comprising one ground control station and four UAV vehicles from Israel’s Ministry of Defence for a one-year period for Rs300 million.

In June 1999 during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan, Lt Gen Shamsher S Mehta, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning and Systems), proposes the leasing of 40 Denel/LIW-made G-6 motorised 155mm/45-cal SPHs with the eventual aim of acquiring them in large numbers once the border conflict ended. The proposal, which moves rapidly upwards within the MoD for approval, stresses the ‘commonality’ factor between the G-6 and the tracked Bhim SPH. The Army’s proposal is ultimately rejected by the MoD’s Finance Department as being impractical and too costly.

On June 17, 1999 Army HQ says that it requires 155mm red phosphorous ammunition to gain the advantage of incendiary effects in addition to laying smokescreens during Operation Vijay. A contract is concluded on August 20, 1999 with the Denel Group for 9,000 rounds worth $12.69 million (Rs551 million). A technical delegation visits South Africa in June/July 1999 and clears Denel as a single vendor. The contract stipulates the delivery of 1,000 rounds within four months after the export license is obtained, and the balance between six and nine months. The first lot of 1,200 rounds is received at the Pulgaon-based Central Ammunition Depot only in June 2000, and QC inspections are not completed until October 2000. The delay is caused primarily due to problems in getting ships through the Ministry of Surface Transport for transporting the consignments.

In July 1999, the MoD lifts its self-imposed ban on commercial deals with Bofors AB.

In August 1999 and January 2000, respectively, the MoD signs contracts for importing 9,000 rounds of smoke and 7,300 rounds of 155mm illuminating ammunition from the Denel Group at a total cost of Rs1.07 billion for Operation Vijay.

In August and December 1999, the MoD inks two contracts with Rosoboronexport for various types of ammunition worth $92.62 million (Rs4.02 billion), including 45,000 rounds of 130mm VOF/RVC rounds (worth $6 million) of which only 30,000 rounds are serviceable up to April 2003.

In August 1999, the MoD inks a contract worth SEK186 million (Rs976.5 million) with Bofors AB for procuring urgently needed spares (489 items) for the FH-77Bs Of this, SEK143 million (Rs750.8 million) is to be adjusted towards the recovery of exuded HE-107 rounds supplied earlier by Bofors AB. The spares are delivered between March and November 2000. A follow-on but bigger spares package worth $23.26 million is ordered later to make the 100 FH-77Bs (cannibalised earlier) operational. Bofors AB also offers to upgrade the FH-77Bs to the FH-77BO5L52 standard by introducing a 52-cal barrel, along with TCM and BONUS sensor-fused guided-rounds.

In October 1999, the MoD inks a contract with state-owned Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) for 67,000 M-8513 fuzes for 155mm rounds and 400 fuze setters at a total cost of Rs815.9 million. The fuzes are to be imported/assembled from components supplied by a South African firm. As per the contract, deliveries are to begin in October 1999. After failing to adhere to the delivery schedule, the South African firm makes a request in November 1999 for supplying M-8513 fuzes of 1989 to 1992 vintage being held by the South African Army, as against the 1994 vintage indicated in the firm’s technical offer. The MoD’s approval is communicated, after which the firm then supplies 15,000 fuzes of 1989-1990 vintage in December 1999 and 95% of the contracted amount for these fuzes (Rs172.7 million) is paid.

By late 1999, the sole prototype of the Bhim tracked SPH is ready for user’s mobility/firepower trials. Over the next four months it is tested in the plains and deserts and achieves a sustained rate of fire of 116 rounds in 60 minutes, firing ERFB-BB rounds out to 42.1km, and VLAP rounds out to 52.5km when using the M64 Bi-Modular Charge System (BMCS). The T-6 turret also houses a ring-laser gyro-based modular azimuth position system (comprising a vehicle motion sensor, dynamic reference unit, and a control display unit) that provides land navigation/direction cues for an autonomous navigation and gun-laying system. A prominent cover is fitted over the recoil/recuperator assembly and an automatic travelling lock for the 52-cal barrel is carried at the front of the glacis plate. The Army projects a requirement for 520 tracked SPHs valued at $972 million, or $2.4 million per T-6 turret. State-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) is designated as lead contractor for the Bhim’s in-country production.

In 2000, Army HQ orders 32 Searcher II UAVs from IAI, of which 16 systems are delivered by 2001.

In January 2000, the MoD inks a $11.98 million (Rs524.7 million) contract with the Denel Group for 7,300 rounds of 155mm illuminating rounds (with 24km-range), based on a June 1999 requirement. Deliveries begin in May 2000. As against the rate of $1,440 per round, inclusive of transfers of manufacturing technologies, that was contracted for in 1997 with Denel, the MoD contracts a rate of $1,641 this time, a cost escalation of 14%.

In March 2000 the final contract is inked between the GoI and KBP to buy the Krasnopol-M after the MoD is apprised of the conditions attached to the round’s usage and the Defence Minister’s waiver is taken for departing from the GSQR procurement procedures. Deliveries begin in early April 2000.

In 2000, the DRDO begins developing a new 122mm rocket to replace those of Russian origin for the Army’s existing BM-21 Grad MBRLs. The new rocket will use a case-bonded composite propellant and a low-calibre thrust chamber, offering an enhanced range of 35km compared to the BM-21’s current 20.4km range.

In March 2000, Soltam Systems wins a contract worth $47,524,137 for upgrading 180 M-46s to 155mm/45-cal M-46S standard. A follow-on deal will provide kits to OFB further retrofit another 250 M-46s. A total of 400 M-46s for 20 Regiments are earmarked for upgrade.

In 2001, Army HQ orders six Heron II UAV systems from IAI.

In January 2001, Army HQ issues a RFP for procuring an initial 15 acoustic weapon locating (AWL) systems worth Rs1.5 billion ($33.33 million). The total requirement is for 70 systems to detect mortar, tube artillery and MBT fire. BAE Systems’ Hostile Artillery Locating (HALO) system and SEL-THALES’ SMAD system are offered.

On November 29, 2001 the MoD says that the OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory has started receiving 180 M-46S howitzer upgrade kits from Soltam. The project is temporarily suspended by the MoD in mid-2002 because of quality problems.

In early 2002, Russia’s Tula-based Splav State Research and Production Association brings an improved Smerch-M MBRL to India for field trials. The Smerch-M can fire the 9M528 projectile, which uses a high-energy composite propellant to give an increased range of 90km, and a new warhead that scatters 25 anti-tank mines. It can also be fitted with a warhead containing five Bazalt MOTIV-3F anti-armour sub-munitions, each of which has dual-colour infra-red sensors for terminal guidance, and kinetic-energy fragmentation warheads that can penetrate 70mm of armour at an angle of 30°.

On February 18, 2002 Army HQ issues RFPs to five foreign manufacturers of 155mm/52-cal motorised SPHs and invites them to subject their SPHs to firepower/mobility field trials in India starting April 2002. The RFP states that the requirement is for 300 such SPHs, comprising the off-the-shelf purchase of 180 units and the supply of 120 units in knocked-down condition for equipping 40 Regiments. The RFP recipients include SWS Defence (formerly Bofors AB) with its FH-77BD, Denel/LIW with its G-6 and the T-5 Mk2000 Condor, GIAT Industries with its CAESAR, Karmetal of Slovakia with its Zuzana, and Soltam Systems with its ATMOS. Both SWS Defence and GIAT decline to take part in these competitive trials as they suspect the MoD and Army HQ to have already decided to award the contract to Denel/LIW. Consequently, only the ATMOS and G-6 arrive in India for the trials on a no-cost-no-commitment basis.

In February 2002, the MoD signs two contracts with South Africa’s Denel Group under which the OFB will set up its 40th ordnance production facility in Nalanda to undertake the licenced-production of 155mm BMCS developed by Denel’s Somchem subsidiary; and modify its facility in Bolangir with the help of Denel’s Naschem subsidiary to undertake the licenced-production of the M2000 Assegai (Spearhead) family of 155mm ammunition. The family includes the M2000 high-explosive, M2000 low-fragmentation, M2000 practice, M2001 cluster (containing 42 bomblets), M2002 smoke, M2003 illuminating, M2004 smoke red phosphorous and the M2005 VLAP (Velocity-Enhanced Artillery Projectile). All of these can be fitted with a base-bleed unit. The MoD also signs a contract to buy 200,000 BMCS modules off-the-shelf in April 2002, with deliveries ending by December 2006. Denel’s main competitor for these two contracts is SWS Defence.

Also in February 2002, Army HQ issues an RFP plus invitations for in-country firepower/mobility trials for towed autonomous 155mm/52-cal howitzers. The projected requirement for such howitzers is for 1,580 units (for 20 Regiments) of which about 400 (five Regiments) worth $663 million will be procured off-the-shelf. The three competitors are: the SWS Defence’s FH-77BO5L52; Denel/LIW’s G-5 Mk2000; and Soltam’s ATHOS 2052. Again, GIAT with its TR-G2 howitzer declines to take part. None of the contenders met the Army’s GSQR in the two rounds of field trials, conducted in 2002 and 2003. The Army’s Director-General of Artillery produces a non-committal evaluation of the three contenders, and does not rank the howitzers by order of merit. The MoD requests the contenders to retrofit the howitzers with driver’s night vision navigation devices for a third round of field trials to be held in early June 2004.

In May and November 2002, the MoD signs Letters of Agreement (LoA) to acquire 12 THALES Raytheon Corp-built AN/TPQ-37(V)3 Firefinder counterbattery radars along with 26 AN/VRC-90E SINCGAR radios and related training, spares and logistics packages all worth $142.4 million (Rs9.5 billion) through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. Delivery of the radars will be completed by September 2006.

In June 2002, Army HQ raises 41 Artillery Division, now attached to the XXI Strike Corps of the Army’s Southern Command.

In April 2003 the MoD approves induction of the Pinaka Mk1 MBRL with a 37.5km range and directs the DRDO’s Armaments Research & Development Establishment to continue efforts to improve the rocket’s range to 40km by using enhanced solid propellants.

In July 2003, successful user trials of a modified M-46S are conducted. Following this, work begins on upgrading 180 M-46s, but is subsequently capped at only 40 units.

On July 10, 2003 the US Army delivers two AN/TPQ-37(V)3 Firefinders on a two-year lease for training purposes. Initial operator and crew training for 16 Indian Army personnel had begun in April 2003 in California.

In August 2003, the Army’s Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) unit at Mhow, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, conducts the first round of competitive field evaluations of AWL systems offered by BAE Systems and SEL-THALES. The latter is teamed up with state-owned ECIL. It joined the competition in 2002 as did Tilaker Cannon of Australia, which later withdrew its bid during the early stages of the trials.

In September 2003, the PNC is constituted for the Bhim tracked SPH project. The PNC is seeking a 15% reduction in Denel/LIW’s asking price of Rs130 million ($2.9 million) for each T-6 turret. Orders are planned to be placed for 124 Bhims for equipping nine Regiments.

In October 2003 the GoI’s CCNS clears the acquisition of two Regiments of the Pinaka MBRL (36 launchers) worth Rs11 billion plus 5,000 rockets worth Rs5 billion; two Regiments of the Smerch MBRL (24 launchers) worth Rs22 billion; along with three Regiments of the Bhim tracked SPH (54 units); nine Regiments of G-6 motorised SPHs, and nine Heron II and Searcher II UAVs.

By November 2003, Army HQ rejects the procurement of the Iskander-E—a solid-fueled, land-launched single-stage ballistic missile with a range of 280km and capable of carrying a payload of up to 480kg.

In December 2003, the MoD creates a PNC for finalising a contract for procuring 180 G-6 motorised SPHs for Rs31 billion.

On January 23, 2004 the Prithvi SS-350—a solid-fuelled, two-stage variant—is flight-tested by the DRDO. It uses a high-energy solid propellant (HTPB/AP/Al) that allows greater range (350km to 600km) and payload (500kg to 1,000kg) capability.

In February 2004, IAI begins work on developing for India the first two solid-fuel LORA missiles with a range of up to 300km. Specifications for the missiles were submitted by Indian Army officials in November 2003. Army HQ says it needs 36 LORA missiles worth $800 million and the India-specific ones, whose R & D work is being fully funded by India, will be a 300km-range version. The Army plans to conduct up to 10 test-firings of the missiles before placing a bulk order with IAI.

In March 2004, Army HQ conducts the third round of evaluations and trials for the competing HALO and SMAD AWL systems.

In September 2004 Army HQ awards a contract to BEL to build a DRDO-developed Artillery Combat & Control System (ACCS), dubbed Shakti. Developed by the DRDO’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), the Shakti ACCS comprises artillery computer centres, Battery computers, remote access terminals and gun display units. Deliveries will begin in late 2005. The Army aims to spend about $300 million by 2015 to fully deploy the ACCS in all its Artillery Regiments.

In December 2004, Israel Military Industries (IMI) inks a $40 million contract with the MoD for upgrading the existing Russia-made BM-21 Grad MBRL rockets and improving their precision and range. The contract could expand to as much as $1 billion over a period of five years.

On December 22, 2004 the first production version of the land-based BrahMos supersonic, multi-role cruise missile is successfully test-fired from the Pokhran Firing Range. Each BrahMos Regiment comprises three Batteries each with four Mobile Autonomous Launchers (each with three vertically-launched missiles), three Mobile Command Posts, one Fixed Command Centre, nine missile replenishment vehicles, and three maintenance support vehicles. The Regiment can fire 36 BrahMos missiles against different targets within seconds over a frontage of 600km.

In January 2005 El-Op of Israel’s Portable Lightweight Laser Designator (PLLD) and EADS/CILAS’ DHY-307 PLLD begin undergoing competitive field trials at Pokhran in Rajasthan. Six of El-Op’s PLLDs have been in service with the Indian Air Force since 2001. The Army wants 90 PLLDs worth $266 million (Rs1.2 billion) before considering the purchase of IAI’s LAHAT laser-homing anti-tank missile for the infantry. The Army will also use the PLLDs in conjunction with its Krasnopol-Ms.

By January 2005, the 444 Missile Group and 555 Missile Group equipped with conventional warhead-carrying Prithvi SS-150 missiles are operational.

In February 2005, the PNC concludes negotiations with Rosoboronexport for the Smerch-M MBRL.

In February 2005, Army HQ places orders for four Nishant UAV systems from the DRDO’s ADE for delivery by 2007, with another eight systems to be procured between 2007 and 2012. Each system comprises a mobile hydro-pneumatic launcher mounted on a BEML-built Tatra 8 x 8, six 350kg UAVs each with an El-Op FLIR turret, a three-man Ground Control Station, and an antenna tracking system.

In April 2005, the MoD’s PNCs suspend work on the project to acquire 180 G-6 wheeled SPHs and 54 Bhim tracked SPHs following publication by the South African newspaper Cape Argus of a report claiming that the Denel/Mechem, after winning a contract to supply 100 NTW-20 anti-material rifles and related ammunition to the Army, paid 12.75% of the contract value ($393,720) as commissions on December 8, 2002 to Isle of Man-based Varas Associates, which had reportedly influenced the MoD’s decision to choose Denel/Mechem as the preferred supplier of the rifles. The MoD had concluded an initial contract in July 1999 with Denel/Mechem for 100 NTW-20s and 100,000 rounds of (14.5mm and 20mm) ammunition at a cost of $5.4 million (Rs232.2 million). Another 200 NTW-20s and 150,000 rounds of ammunition arrived in March 2002. In September 2003, a third contract was signed for 400 more NTW-20s. The Army requires a total of 1,200 NTW-20s

Consequently, the MoD instructs Army HQ to revise its two GSQRs and issue fresh Requests for Information (RFI), which is done.