Monday, February 28, 2011

Russia may deliver first upgraded MiG to India in 2011

Russia could deliver the first modernized MiG-29 fighter jet to India as early as in 2011, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) said on Wednesday.

India signed a $960 million contract with Russia in 2008 to upgrade its five squadrons of 69 MiG-29 fighters, which have been in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) since mid-1980s.

"The first upgraded plane, I think, will be delivered in 2011," Mikhail Pogosyan said on the sidelines of the Aero India 2011 air show, which opened on Wednesday in Bangalore.

"The whole upgrade program will be carried out on schedule agreed with the Indian side, and it will take several years to implement it," Pogosyan said.

The upgrades include a new avionics kit, with the N-109 radar being replaced by a Phazatron Zhuk-M radar. The aircraft is also being equipped to enhance beyond-visual-range combat ability and for air-to-air refueling to increase flying time.

The upgraded aircraft will be armed with sophisticated air-to-air missiles, high-accuracy air-to-ground missiles and 'smart aerial' bombs.

In 2007, Russia also sold India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a license to manufacture 120 RD-33 series 3 turbojet engines for the upgrade.

The first six aircraft are being upgraded in Russia while the remaining 63 will be refitted at the HAL facility in India.

IAF MiG-29 Upgrade Program

IAF's first upgraded MiG-29 took to air a couple of days back in Russia as part of MiG-29 Upgradation program to increase the capability and service life of these frontline jets which were inducted into the IAF in 1980's. The first image of the MiG clearly shows a hump on its back which probably houses new and much more advance EWS (Electronic Warfare System). As part of the upgradation program the MiG-29 will receive following additions:

# New Engines: The existing RD-33 engines will be replaced by the upgraded RD-33 Series 3 engines which will be manufactured by HAL (Deal to mfg 120 units was signed in 2005). These engines boast a engine life of 2000hrs along with BARK-88 FADEC and KSU-941UB Removed control system.

# New Radar: A new radar will be installed replacing the older Phazotron RLPK-29. The new radar is Zhuk M2E which is a slot array radar and not a PESA. It will have a faster processor, allowing it to classify targets by type (for instance, fighters, bombers and helicopters) and to break-out formation targets flying at 20-30 meters apart. The radar can also be programmed to identify aircraft by type – in the case of a new type, it can record its reflected signal and later use it for identification. (Aviation Week)

# New sighting and targeting system: The MiG-29 will get UOMZ's KOLS-13SM FLIR, Sh-3UM-1 Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting system.

# New Ejection Seat: The existing ejection seats will be replaced with the K-36 D made by Zvezda.

# Other Systems: BKTsO Digital signal processor, BTsVM-90/BTsVM-486-2 (onboard computer), L-150NU (passive guiding missiles station), SVR video recording system, KARAT-B whole recording system, BINS-SP navigation system with GPS, A-053 radio-altmeter, MS-2 voice warning system.

The program also includes purchase of more missile, rockets, bombs and external fuel tanks. Notably it includes R-77 missiles which have range of 80kms and 160kms however it is not known which one India is getting.

Image: IAF Mig-29 with Serial Number KBU-3301 (Changed from KB-3301)

Russia proposes equipping Indian SU-30MKI with AESA Radar

Russia has offered to equip the Indian Su-30MKI aircraft with the electronically scanned array radar to bring them on par with the most modern fighter aircraft in the world. Currently the technical configuration of the upgraded aircraft with onboard AESA radar is being discussed by Russian and Indian experts.

The upgraded aircraft could be equipped with perspective Russian or foreign-made weapon, including Indo-Russian “BrahMos” anti-ship missiles, an Irkut statement said at Aero India 2011 A multirole Su-30MKI aircraft which became a sort of symbol of the IRKUT Corporation deserves an honourable place in the exposition of the company (stand 24, hall A). Fighter developed by JSC “Sukhoi Design Bureau” on demand of the Indian Air Force are mass-manufactured at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant. The IRKUT Corporation delivers to India ready-made Su-30MKI fighters as well as Su-30MKI technical kits for license production by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Corporation.

Program production of Su-30MKI for the Indian Air Force and its modifications for other countries is being developed successfully. For a number of parameters it has no equal in the entire history of Russian military-technical cooperation with foreign states. The total value of contracts approaches $9 billion. Under agreements more than 150 fighter aircraft were delivered to the Air Forces of India, Malaysia and Algeria.

The model of Yak-130 combat trainer developed by the JSC “Yakovlev Design Bureau” – a part of the Corporation is displayed at the IRKUT Corporation’s stand.

The aircraft was chosen as the main aircraft for basic and advanced training for pilots of the Russian Air Force. In 2010 the fist serially produced Yak-130 combat trainers were inducted in the Russian Air Force. The IRKUT Corporation also carries out two contracts on Yak-130 deliveries for foreign customers. Pre-contract negotiations are underway with several other potential customers.

India’s upgraded MiG-29 flies

The first MiG-29UPG destined for the Indian Air Force has flown.

The first MiG-29UPG destined for the Indian Air Force made its first flight from manufacturer RAC MiG’s Gromov LII airfield near Moscow.

Up to 63 surviving MiG-29 and MiG-29UB IAF aircraft are being upgraded with the first six undergoing upgrade in Russia - the remainder will be worked on at HAL Nasik in due course. All upgraded aircraft are due to have been returned to service by 2013.

The upgrade includes new RD-33-3M turbofan engines, ejection seat, central digital computer, Zhuk-ME radar, helmet-mounted targeting system and upgraded navigation and radio systems.

Friday, February 25, 2011

COPE NORTH'11-1 (Part-4)

COPE NORTH'11-1 (Part-3)

COPE NORTH'11-1 (Part-2)

COPE NORTH'11-1 (Part-1)

Japan-US joint exercise Cope North 11-1 multiple appearances

U.S. Air Force and Navy and the Japan Air Self Defense Force to conduct a joint Japan-US combined air exercise COPE NORTH 11-1 Feb. 13 to two U.S. Air Force base in Guam began in ANDERSEN. This training is conducted by 25 bilateral air operations between the two countries to enhance capacity to conduct large-scale training.

Training for the purpose of Japan's defense capabilities to enhance cooperation between the two countries is to provide a place for. Large-scale training conducted by the U.S. Pacific Air Force headquarters and training in 2010 compared with 50% increase in the number of sorties have been carried out., '

This time, Andersen was repeated 11 times in the field to train Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands in the Farralon De Medinilla Range silpoktan dropped 5 times in the Japan Air Self Defense Force conducted the training.

COPE NORTH training first from 27 November 1978 in Japan between December 1 last training was conducted at Misawa base in 2010 and then held February 7 to 19 is planned to be conducted every two times. Since 1978, thousands of trained U.S. Air Force and Japan to maintain readiness has been highly honed his skills.

600 people participated this year in training U.S. forces and 300 people attended Japan.

Also participating in training fighters are as follows.

Misawa base in Japan, 14 combat squadron 35 Fighter Wing F-16CJ Fighting Falcons
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska-based squadron 354 fighter wing 18 hypothetical F-16 C / D Fighting Falcon
Yokota base in Japan 36 374 C-130 Hercules transport squadron
961 Kadena air base in Okinawa, Japan, air traffic control squadron 18 E-3B Sentry)
Japan Atsugi Naval Air Base Wing 5 aircraft carrier squadron VAQ-136 EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare
Japan Atsugi Naval Air Base Wing 5 aircraft carrier early warning squadron VAW-115 E-2C Hawkeye
506 Expeditionary Air Force Base, Guam Andersen air refueling squadron KC-135.

Chitose base squadron 201 F-15J Eagle
Misawa base 601 E-2C Hawkeye squadron
Misawa F-2 fighter squadron base 8

U.S. Air Force announces next tanker aircraft

Air Force and Defense Department officials announced the award of an engineering and manufacturing development contract valued at more than $3.5 billion for the KC-46A aerial refueler to The Boeing Company today.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said in the briefing that many factors were evaluated during the tanker selection process.

"This selection process determined whether or not the proposals demonstrated the ability of an offerer to deliver all 372 mandatory requirements and whether non-mandatory capabilities would be addressed," said Secretary Donley, emphasizing that both offerers met the mandatory requirements. "It also took into account fleet mission effectiveness in wartime, and life cycle costs as embodied in fuel efficiency and military construction costs."

Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn noted the "competition favored no one except the taxpayer and the warfighter."

The Air Force-led selection effort included experts from the larger DOD community, including staff from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and independent review teams during each step of the process.

The thorough and transparent selection process was marked by continual dialogue with offerers to ensure the Air Force had a clear understanding of their proposals and the companies clearly understood the service's analysis of their offers, said Secretary Donley.

Secretary Donley also highlighted that the warfighter was in charge of stating the requirements for the tanker, and that meeting those requirements enables the aircraft to go to war on day one.

"General Schwartz and I are confident in the fact that when our young pilots, boom operators and maintainers receive this aircraft, they will have the tools they need to be successful at what we ask them to do," the secretary added.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz shared the secretary's sentiment.

"I'm pleased with how this has produced an outcome after an exhaustive effort by hundreds of the department's very best people, that we will get about delivering the capability that's long overdue," General Schwartz said.

While the focus of the briefing was on the award of the contract, Secretary Donley addressed basing considerations for the aircraft, stating that those decisions involve other organizations and will take place over the next couple of years.

Secretary Donley also reiterated the service's commitment to provide quality equipment to the warfighter.

"To the men and women of our Air Force, today's announcement represents a long-overdue start to a much-needed program," Secretary Donley said. "Your Air Force leadership, supported by Dr. (Ashton) Carter and others throughout the Department of Defense, is determined to see this through, and we will stand behind this work."

Air Force and DOD officials complemented both offerers and thanked congressional oversight committees and their staffs for working with the department during the contract process that served the warfighter and taxpayers well.

The program expects to deliver the first 18 aircraft by 2017.

With Typhoon, India gets tech, freedom to act

Mr Andrew Gallagher, CEO-MD of BAE Systems India, says India should avoid American and buy the Eurofighter Typhoon to reap both capability and strategic benefits. Excerpts from an interview.

The Typhoon is the ‘youngest’ aircraft in the MMRCA competition. The flip side is that it’s still a work-in-progress…

If you buy an F-16, you know what you are getting — a 1970’s product. If you go for the Typhoon, it’s been in service for six years with the Eurofighter air forces, you are getting the best platform available today, and the opportunity to upgrade it.

What do we gain in politico-strategic terms from buying European?

The Typhoon purchase will promote a couple of things. One, India’s stated ambition to develop an indigenous defence capability, in particular in this area because the Eurofighter consortium, with the full support of the governments of Germany, UK, Italy and Spain, will deliver the technology transfer commitments and the know-how, not just the source code and the paperwork. We won’t find ourselves caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare, which perhaps will happen in the case of another country, in terms of the ability to transfer technology, which will allow India a degree of sovereignty which it would not otherwise have.

With the US, you are still in CISMOA discussions, and other technology cooperation discussions that are yet to be resolved. Moreover, India has already bought the P-8I, the C-130J, it’s buying the C-17, how many more deals do the Americans want? The law of diminishing returns begins to kick in somewhere. For us, India will be buying 126 Typhoons. Money talks. India will be a key partner going forward and it will develop the aircraft according to its own needs.

Eurofighter nations build military capability in the belief that they will go to war only in coalitions, not alone. Is there a conceptual issue here with regard to the Typhoon, because India has to fight its wars alone?

What we will do is to provide India the capability to develop the aircraft to its own requirements. So, if that means that India thinks it is going to go to war on its own with its neighbours or other nations, under our obligations in the deal, we will work with India to develop the aircraft in the way that it needs. And we will also ensure that if there’s any degree of interdependence, India will have access to the support and capability that it needs to ensure its legitimate national security interests, whatever they are.

Is there US technology in the Typhoon, and will it be difficult getting unrestricted access to it?
It’s not impossible on occasion. But, in principle, if India buys the Typhoon, the relationship with India is such that whilst there may be a problem from time to time, any technology transfer which requires US approvals will come through.

I mean, BAE Systems has 45,000 employees in America, we are the fifth biggest supplier to the Pentagon. So, the US absolutely knows where its interest lies, and I have no doubt whatsoever, provided we behave responsibly, the US will step up and do the right thing.

The Big Deal nears the finish

Asked about China’s latest wonder, a stealth fighter called the J-20 that the US alleges was built by ‘stealth’ practices, Air Chief P.V. Naik shot back recently, “Is reverse engineering ethical or is it an illegitimate entry through the backdoor?”

It was an unusual outburst of helplessness for a military man who, more than anyone else, knows well that it does not matter how a country obtains its military capability, but only that it possesses it. As Deng Xiaoping once said, “It does not matter whether the cat is white or black so long as it catches mice”.

Air Chief Naik’s frustration was perhaps more at the fact that India is still some way from getting a fully capable Tejas LCA, let alone dream of a fifth-gen fighter. Perhaps the one area in which the Indian military still enjoys a lead over the Chinese military — air combat — is in danger of slipping, unless India acts quickly to refurbish its capability.

China, after all, is pouring billions into acquiring modern air superiority and multi-role fighters such as the Su-27 variants and the Su-30 MKK from Russia, building its own J-10 and JF-17 fighters in the hundreds and, worst of all, arming Pakistan too with them. Pakistan is beefing up its own F-16 fleet with new aircraft and, for the first time, American beyond visual range (BVR) missiles — the benefits of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds in the war on terror.

Meanwhile, suffering from collective obsolescence and a great many MiG aircraft crashes, the IAF’s strength is depleting. In the wake of the 1962 humiliation at China’s hands, it was estimated that the IAF would need to have 64 fighter squadrons. By the 1990s, though, squadron strength had peaked at about 42 and had begun to fall. Today, the IAF is left with anywhere between 29 to 34 squadrons, against a sanctioned 39.5. The IAF desperately wants to touch 45 squadrons by 2020.

The importance of the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) — which, per the armed forces’ Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan will go up all the way up to 260 fighters — cannot be overstated.

It's a big deal — in fact, the biggest defence import deal for India so far, and the biggest contract up for grabs for the world’s military equipment giants. It’s also the most complicated military buy decision that the IAF and the political leadership face. For starters, just the technical and field evaluations had over 600 test points for each aircraft. Yet, if a decision is not made in the next few months, it could be a very big disaster for the IAF’s short to medium-term warfare capability.

To be sure, the MMRCA procurement process has reached an advanced stage. The IAF has given the ministry of defence its report on the technical and field trials of the six aircraft in contention, reportedly without picking a favourite or even a shortlist — Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN, Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F, the Eurofighter (UK-Germany-Italy-Spain) Typhoon, the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Gripen IN and the Russian MiG-35 are vying for the contract — leaving that task to the MoD bureaucracy.

An MoD Technical Oversight Committee is currently looking at the ‘offset’proposals — a requirement that the winning contractor source a certain amount of the value of each aircraft that India buys from Indian industry — submitted by the contenders for the deal. Simultaneously, their proposals for transfer of technology, critical for the rapid development of an Indian capability to build advanced fighters, are also being examined.

At the end of this process — expected to end in a week or two — the TOC will ‘down-select’ a few companies to go to the next stage of the bidding process. The price bids of the short-listed companies will then be opened in front of the bidders. The lowest price bidder, designated L1, will be called by a Contract Negotiation Committee to finalise the terms of the deal. Once that’s done, the defence minister, then the finance minister and finally the Cabinet committee on security will have to sign off on the contract.

At the recent Aero India show, ACM Naik said this will be done by September, but MoD officials have told this newspaper it will happen no sooner than the end of the year or early next year, if all goes well. That caveat is important.

Corruption has always been the big bugbear, but the MMRCA process has, so far, been admirably unaffected. The IAF and the MoD have, in fact, gone out of the way to ensure that the process is clean and transparent.

Trouble, however, could come from elsewhere. For one, as the air chief himself said, a losing contender could put a spoke in the wheel — such corporate sniping has forced the MoD to re-tender or even cancel procurements in the past. Or, the finance ministry could well play spoilsport, as it did with the refueling tanker deal recently.

No matter who puts the spoke in the wheel, ultimately it is the country’s security that will be put at risk unless the IAF can begin to induct the aircraft by 2015-2016. Beyond that date, the MMRCA will either have to be scrapped or the aircraft will become a costly, even unnecessary, acquisition.

Nonetheless, it’s not an easy decision to make. For starters, should India buy an aircraft to meet merely IAF's capability requirements or, when it is spending over $10 billion — potentially $25 billion — should its choice be based on obtaining critical technology and strategic benefits? Even if only the IAF's capability requirements were kept in mind, should it go for a ‘combat-proven’ fighter essentially of 1970s/80s design (f-16), but whose development potential is at an end? Or, should it go for the newest, albeit relatively unproven, fighter that has ‘potential’ for improvement for the next 40 years (Typhoon, Rafale)?

Should the IAF insist on a fighter that has a working active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar today (F-16, F/A-18) or should it take the risk of choosing one for which an AESA radar is still under development?

Should the IAF simply go for the cheapest aircraft, while keeping its resources for a future acquisition of a so-called 5th-gen fighter, the F-35? Should it scrap the MMRCA, forget the F-35 and simply buy more of the most capable fighter it already has — the Sukhoi-30 MKI? Or should it buy the most expensive, but also apparently the most capable aircraft in the race — the Typhoon — to hedge against a possible failure of its own future aircraft project?

And what should India’s political leadership look to gain from such a big contract?
In March 2005, America declared its intention to “facilitate India’s defence transformation” by not only selling fighters but also “transformative systems” that would “help India become a major world power in the 21st Century”. Should India take the promise at face value and buy an American fighter, to possibly build an alliance against China?

Or, should India buy the Eurofighter Typhoon, and give the European defence industry a fillip in an attempt to preserve our preferred multi-polar world order? Should we buy the French Rafale because France, like India, likes to keep its independent flag flying and is ready to give us “100 per cent” technology?

In the end, it is very likely that even within the tight two-stage bidding process, India’s bureaucracy and political leadership will find creative ways to ensure that political and strategic considerations and India’s need for technology decide the final choice of aircraft.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Company: Boeing
* Proven aircraft with potential for future development. Meets AESA radar requirement.
* India has chosen the GE F-414 engine for Tejas Mk 2. F-18 will mean a common engine for the two aircraft, a maintenance and support advantage.
* Is expected to come in at less than $70 million a unit.
* Excellent, but all-American weapons package.

Company: Dassault
* The darkhorse in the race is now apparently among the top choices.
* Comparable to the Eurofighter in most respects, and better than the F-18 in many.
* French air force has recently cleared the AESA radar to go on the fighter.
* French President Nicolas Sarkozy has apparently promised 100 per cent technology transfer.

Eurofighter Typhoon
Company: Eurofighter GmbH
* Apparently the most capable aircraft in the competition on a number of parameters.
* The ‘youngest’ aircraft in the competition, with potential for future development.
* Does not have a working AESA radar on the aircraft as on today. But one is under development.
* Biggest attraction: Eurofighter countries demand no agreements; won’t impinge on Indian sovereignty.

F-16IN Super Viper
Company: Lockheed Martin
* Perhaps the most-proven and combat-optimised fighter among the contenders, it has AESA radar, a key IAF requirement.
* Is expected to come at $60 million a unit.
* Has been offered with removable Conformal Fuel Tanks. Among the most manouvreable air-to-air fighters without CFT.
* Excellent, but has an all-American weapons.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

RED FLAG 11-2 (Part-4)

RED FLAG 11-2 (Part-3)

RED FLAG 11-2 (Part-2)

RED FLAG'11-2 (Part-1)

The exercise will include U.S. forces aircraft from Nevada, Florida, South Dakota, Louisiana, Missouri, Germany, Arizona, Minnesota, Belgium, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Kansas flying F-15s, F-16s, E-3s, A-10s, B-1s, B-52s, C-130s and KC-135s. In addition to U.S. aircraft, the United Arab Emirates Air Force will take part with the F-16E Block-60.

Friday, February 4, 2011

AERO INDIA'11 - Eurofighter Typhoons land in Bengaluru

Two Eurofighter Typhoons of the Italian Air Force arrived safely in Bengaluru today to showcase their outstanding operational capabilities at Aero India 2011. The air show will be held at the Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru between the 9th and 13th of February.

This is the first time that the Italian Air Force Typhoons have visited India and will thrill the visitors attending the 8th edition of the Indian aerospace exhibition with breathtaking manoeuvres and aerobatics from the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft.

Eurofighter Typhoon is one of the competitors in the Indian Air Force MMRCA tender and is regarded as the most advanced aircraft in terms of performance and technology. The Typhoon combines high combat effectiveness with low cost of ownership making it the best value for money combat aircraft worldwide.