Friday, February 24, 2012

Latest Mi-17 V5 choppers formally inducted into IAF

India formally inducted its latest Mi-17 V5 armed helicopters from Russia to enhance its
operational capabilities including carrying troops and cargo to high altitude areas.

Marking the formal commissioning of the choppers in the Indian Air Force (IAF), Defence
Minister A K Antony on Friday symbolically handed over its keys to the Commanding Officer of one of the units operating the machines.

“The new Mi-17 helicopters will help in adding muscle to IAF's capabilities to carry out operations assigned to it,” the Defence Minister said while addressing the gathering of senior IAF officials.

India has placed orders for 80 such choppers from Russia and the first batch was inducted in the last week of September last year.

The first three units of the helicopters will be raised at Bhatinda (Punjab), Srinagar (J-K) and Bagdogra (West Bengal).

Over 20 such flying machines have already arrived and are deployed at various locations in the northern sector, Air Force officials said.

The Mi-17 V5 falls in armed helicopter category, with substantial and effective firepower. It has the latest and more powerful engines that will enhance its payload carrying capability at higher altitudes.

“The Mi-17 V5 is an upgrade of Mi-17 choppers in the medium-lift category and is equipped
with state-of-the-art avionics and on board navigation nystems,” IAF officials said.

On the machine's capabilities, they said, “It has on-board weather radar, state-of-the-art autopilot and is compatible with the latest generation night vision goggles.”

The Mi-17 variants have operated in various types of terrain, including Siachen Glacier, and have also proven their mettle in UN missions.

Friday, February 17, 2012

AAD-05 Interceptor Successfully Tested

DRDO air defence missile AAD-05 has successfully hit ballistic missile and destroys the ballistic missile at a height of 15 kms off the coast of Orissa near the wheelers island. a modified prithvi missile mimicking the ballistic missile was launched at 1010hrs today from ITR Chandipur. radars located at deferent locations have tracked incoming ballistic missile. interceptor missile was completely ready to take off at wheelers island. guidance computers have continuously computed the trajectory of ballistic missile and launched AAD05 interceptor missile at a precisely calculated time. AAD-05 interceptor missile initially guided by the inertial navigation system with the target trajectory continuously updated by the radar, the on board guidance computer guided the aad-05 interceptor missile towards the target missile. the onboard radio frequency seeker identified the target missile and guided the aad-05 interceptor missile close to the target missile and hit the target missile directly and destroyed it. warhead also exploded and destroyed the target missile into pieces.

Radar and eots systems have tracked the missile and also recorded the fragments of target missile falling into the bay of bengal. it is one of the finest missions where the interceptor has hit the incoming ballistic missile directly and destroyed at a 15 kms altitude. india has joined a very few advanced countries, who have these ballistic missile defence capabilities.

India is the fifth nation to have these capabilities in the world. the mission was carried out in the final deliverable user configuration mode.

Scientific Advisor VK Saraswat has reviewed the total configuration and mission and also witnessed the launch. shri avinash chander chief controller r&d (mss) and P Venugopalan director drdl carried out the flight readiness review of both the target missile and interceptor missile. D S Reddy, programme director air defence system alongwith his team have carried out all the preparations for the launch successfully. shri sp dash director itr, dr sk chaudhuri director rci and shri satish kumar director spic and other top drdo scientists were present during the mission. the mission was also witnessed by the senior officials of tri-services.

A K Antony has congratulated all the scientists for the successful demonstration of ballistic missile defence.

The Mission Control Centre for the AAD interceptor trial held on 10th February 2012 was deployed in Master-Slave configuration at DRDO Hyderabad and Wheeler Island, Orissa to ensure high availability with built in fault tolerance at each location.

The Mission Control Centre of the Indian BMD programme is one of the most advanced, automated net-centric Command and Control systems in the world.

The Master MCC located more than a thousand kilometer away at Hyderabad from the Missile test range, received the target data in real time from multiple weapon system radars. The complete Air Situation Picture during the BMD trial was provided to the MCC commander using advanced data fusion and target classification techniques.

After the classification of the target as an enemy Ballistic missile, Mission Control Centre issued engagement orders to the AAD Launch Centre located at Wheeler island in Dhamra.

The complete engagement sequence from target detection to destruction was controlled by Mission Control Centre in net-centric mode of operation. The interceptor missile lifted off from Wheeler island destroying the target at an altitude of 15 km.

The AAD Trial has successfully demonstrated complete functionality in deployment configuration of Mission Control Centre for the Ballistic Missile Defence Programme.

F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-3 with a 1,000-lb inert test GBU-32 in an open internal weapons bay for loads testing.

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Marine Corps Maj. C. R. “Jimi” Clift flies F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-3 Dec. 19, 2011 with a 1,000-lb inert test GBU-32 in an open internal weapons bay for loads testing. Significant weapons testing for the F-35B and F-35C variants is scheduled for 2012, including fit checks, captive carriage, pit drop and aerial drop tests.

What is French fighter Rafale?

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. It is called an "omnirole" fighter by its manufacturer.

Development of the Rafale began in the late 1970s when the French Air Force and Navy were seeking replacements for its aircraft. France tied up with four other countries to produce an air dominance fighter. However, due to disagreements, the venture failed.

To satisfy the Ministry of Defense's stringent criteria, Dassault built a technology demonstrator to prove the viability of its new product. Once approved, further developments led to the current Rafale variants.

Introduced in 2000, the Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations with the French Navy.

Once the price negotiations with Dassault Aviation are finalised, the Rafale will fulfil the Indian Air Force's requirement for a Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

Dassault Rafale deal: New fighter is good but price is worrying

At one level, there is nothing surprising about the decision of the government to begin price negotiations with the Dassault company to purchase their Rafale to fulfill the Indian Air Force's requirement a Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

Once the IAF decided that it wanted the best fighter, not necessarily the most economical, it was clear that choice would be between Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale.

According to analysts, it is the better multi-role fighter than its nearest competitor, the Eurofighter, and slightly cheaper. So following the "L1" criterion that the government usually follows, of accepting the lowest bid, the Rafale has been chosen.

Given the stringent technical criteria that the IAF insisted on, there should be no doubt that the Rafale will be a first-class fighter and that it is as good as the Eurofighter in the air-to-air role, and somewhat superior to it in the air-to-ground role. The issue, rather, will relate to costs.

Already the original MMRCA deal, which was supposed to be for $ 10.4 billion, has ballooned to $ 20 billion- plus for 126 aircrafts. The final bill will only be known after the price negotiation process is done.

The MMRCA competition was a somewhat peculiar one. How do you reconcile putting aircraft like the small single engined Jas 39 Gripen and the F-16 against the heavy twin engined Eurofighter and Rafale? Initially, the requirement seemed to be to meet the needs of the Light Combat Aircraft, which had been delayed.

But clearly, including the heavy multi-role fighters changed that mission. From the outset, the air force had been talking about the need to worry about 'life cycle costs' (LCC) of the fighter they were going to buy.

But how could they compare the LCC of the light fighters with that of the heavy ones? Only in the end did the IAF decide that they wanted a heavy, twin-engined fighter and they shortlisted the latter two aircraft last year. And now they have decided in favour of the Rafale.

The issue of life cycle costs will not go away even now. When the Rafale comes in, it will be in addition to an existing fleet of Su-30MKIs, MiG-29s, Mirage 2000s, Jaguars and other aircraft. Over the years, the IAF has realised the high price they have had to pay for this multiplicity of types.

This is an era when air forces have been sharply reducing their aircraft types to keep costs down.

It is no secret that India will be the first country, after France, to have decided to operate this fighter. This means that a substantial part of the development costs of the aircraft will be borne by us. The Rafale is still in the beginning stage of its development cycle.

Three countries have considered acquiring the Rafale, come close to it, and then backed out - Brazil, UAE and Switzerland. The parsimonious Swiss decided that the Rafale was too expensive and are looking for a cheaper alternative.

As for the UAE, last November, Sheikh Mohammed, deputy of the UAE's armed forces, said that the Dassault offer was "uncompetitive and unworkable [in] commercial terms". The UAE was angered by the French demands of Euro 2 billion to develop the fighter.

Now, the French have the rich Indians to do what the poor Arabs and the Swiss could not afford.

What India needs to worry about is the cost of running its air force. It already has a large number of twin engine fighters and will get more in the form of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) from Russia.

Indeed, with the Rafale joining squadron service, the air force will be top- heavy because there will not be enough light fighters which can carry out combat air patrols on the cheap.

The air force is making its bed, but it is the taxpayer of the country that has to sleep on it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Photos of Rafale

Indian Air Force may get 126 Rafale fighter planes

While final negotiations between Dassault and the MoD are still to take place, it appears that the size of mega deal could be above Rs 75,000 crore.

The Rafale fighter aircraft built by France’s Dassault Aviation has emerged the lowest bidder in the contest to sell the Indian Air Force (IAF) 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft. According to sources in the defence ministry, the Rafale has emerged marginally cheaper than its rival fighter, the Typhoon, fielded by a four-nation consortium, Eurofighter.

In reaching this conclusion, the IAF has calculated the Rafale would be cheaper than the Typhoon to buy, manufacture and fly over its entire four-decade service life. No prices have been made available, but MoD sources say the Rafale would cost some Rs 25 crore less than the Typhoon apiece.

The ministry did not respond to phone calls, an email and an SMS request for official confirmation.

However, Dassault sources confirm the ministry has informed the company that it has emerged the lowest bidder. Dassault remains unwilling to share details of its winning bid. A ministry committee, the Contract Negotiation Committee or CNC, will now engage with Dassault to hammer down the price before signing a contract.

The ministry had initially budgeted Rs 42,000 crore as the total cost of the 126-fighter contract. Ministry sources say India will, in fact, pay substantially more than that. The final deal size is subject to negotiations, and could go up to Rs 75,000 crore.

Dassault will be required to supply 18 “made-in-France” Rafales in three-four years. After that, manufacturing will progressively shift to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bangalore, which will build a new manufacturing line for the Rafale.

The Indian contract is a lifeline to the beleaguered French company, which has so far failed to sell a single Rafale fighter abroad.

The French air force and navy have cut down their initially projected requirement of 336 fighters; so far, they have ordered just 180 Rafales. In a TV interview last month, France’s Defence Minister, Gerard Longuet, declared the Rafale production line would shut down if no foreign orders were forthcoming.

India will be the foreign buyer that resuscitates that production line. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya had declared its interest in buying Rafales, but was overtaken by history. Ironically, the Rafale flew sorties against Gaddafi’s militia during the Libyan civil war last year. Brazil was earlier on the verge of ordering 36 Rafales, but new Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff does not share the pro-Dassault enthusiasm of her predecessor Luiz Inacio de Silva.

The Rafale will eventually equip six squadrons of the IAF, each authorised 21 fighters. It is a delta-wing fighter with canards, which make it highly manoeuvrable and also allow it to land at speeds as low as 200 kmph. This makes it suitable for aircraft carrier operations, a key advantage over the Typhoon.

The fighter needs just 1,300-1,400 feet of runway to get airborne, an advantage in operating from air bases close to the border. Two Snecma M88 engines power the Rafale, allowing it to “supercruise” or fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners. A key system is the Thales Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which is still under development. The Indian contract demands transfer of technology for the AESA radar.

The order of 126 Rafales caters only to the IAF’s requirement. The Indian Navy, too, has expressed interest in the Rafale (amongst several other fighters) for its aircraft carrier fleet. While the INS Vikramaditya (formerly, the Russian Gorshkov) will deploy MiG-29K fighters, the under-construction Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, with another vessel to follow, will also require carrier-borne fighters. A naval version of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is close to flying. However, there is likely to be an additional requirement for heavy fighters like the Rafale for the naval fleet. Experts have forecast India would eventually acquire about 200 medium multi-role combat aircraft.

The IAF evaluated six fighters for this massive contract -- Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper; the Russian MiG-35; the Swedish Gripen NG; the Rafale and the Typhoon. After flight trials in 2010 and early 2011, the Rafale and the Typhoon were shortlisted in April 2011. Commercial bids from Dassault Aviation and Eurofighter GmbH were opened in November 2011. The IAF’s evaluation and selection processes have won widespread acclaim from aviation watchers worldwide.

Statement by the French Presidency on MMRCA deal, 31 January 2012

President Sarkozy has learned of India’s selection of the Rafale with a view to the Indian air force acquiring 126 fighter planes.

France welcomes the Indian government’s decision to select the French plane and enter into exclusive negotiations with Dassault. This announcement comes following a very high-level, fair and transparent competition between two European finalists. The Rafale was selected thanks to the competitiveness of its total cost over the aircraft’s lifetime, after being shortlisted in April 2011 on the basis of its top-level operational qualities.

Negotiation of the contract will begin very shortly, with the French authorities’ full support. It will include major technology transfers guaranteed by the French state.

The implementation of the Rafale project will illustrate the depth and breadth of the strategic partnership between France and India.

'We are disappointed': European EADS on losing MMRCA deal

NEW DELHI: After losing out to the French Dassault Rafale the India's biggest-ever military contract for supplying 126 combat aircraft, European EADS today said it was disappointed over the development but respected the Defence Ministry's decision.

India today issued a letter to French defence major Dassault informing it that it was the lowest bidder in the tender and would be offered the multi-billion dollar contract for 126 Medium-Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

"Although this is not yet a contract signature and contract negotiations are still ahead, we are disappointed. However, we respect the decision of the Indian defence Ministry," EADS Cassidian -- the makers of the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft said in a release.

The company said that with the Eurofighter Typhoon, it had offered the most modern combat aircraft available to the IAF.

"Based on the Indian Government feedback, we will now carefully analyse and evaluate this situation together with our European partner companies and their respective governments," it said.

Eurofighter Typhoon is manufactured by a four-nation consortium including the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy and all four governments were backing the bid in the Indian tender.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dassault Rafale wins MMRCA deal beating Eurofighter Typhoon

NEW DELHI: French company Dassault Rafale today bagged India's biggest-ever contract for supplying 126 combat aircraft for the air force, edging out European competitor EADS in the multi-billion dollar deal.

The French firm was declared as the lowest bidder, according to which it will get the contract under India's defence procurement procedure, sources said.

"The French firm Dassault Rafale has emerged as the L-1 (lowest bidder) and cheaper than its european rival EADS (maker of Eurofighter) in the tender and will be offered to supply the aircraft to the IAF," the source said.

They said the representatives of Dassault here were informed about the development in the morning and further negotiations on price will be held with them in the next 10-15 days.

The contract will be signed only in the next fiscal. According to the Request for Proposal (RFP), the winner of the contract will have to supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the IAF in 36 months from its facilities and the remaining would be produced at HAL facilities in Bangalore.

Six companies including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35, Swedish Saab Gripen alongwith Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale were in the race in the beginning.

But in April last year, the defence ministry shortlisted Dassault and EADS, evicting the American, Russian and Swedish bids.

The process was started with the issuing of a global tender in 2007 after which all the six contenders were subjected to extensive field evaluation trails by the Indian Air Force at several locations across the globe.

Samtel poised to take off with air force fighter fleet

After bagging a Euro 1.47 billion (Rs 9,600 crore) contract for upgrading the Indian Air Force’s fleet of 51 Mirage-2000 fighters, French defence electronics giant, Thales, is now an 800-pound gorilla on the Indian defence scene. And its Indian partner, Samtel Display Systems (SDS), is emerging as a company to watch as it swoops alongside Thales onto India’s burgeoning aerospace market.

Thales’ offset liability from the Mirage upgrade contract amounts to Rs 441 million Euro (Rs 3000 crore). That induces Thales to source from SDS a significant share of the avionics (aviation-electronics) for upgrading the Mirage-2000. SDS, with whom Thales has a joint venture company, Samtel Thales Avionics, is poised to meet that requirement. SDS already supplies Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), India’s sole aircraft manufacturer, with cockpit displays (multi-function displays, or MFDs) for the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters that are built at HAL’s Nashik plant. The Ghaziabad-based company is also competing to build avionics for the IAF’s forthcoming Sukhoi-30 MKI upgrade.

And if the Rafale fighter --- built by Dassault with a large avionics component from Thales --- is chosen by the MoD as the IAF’s new medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), SDS could benefit enormously from another wave of offset-driven orders for display systems and other avionics in the 126 MMRCA.

“We are looking at a turnover growth from Rs 60 crore in 2011-12, to about Rs 500 crore in 2015-16,” Puneet Kaura, Executive Director of SDS, told Business Standard.Samtel Thales Avionics (Thales 26%; Samtel 74%), which was incorporated in 2008, is Thales’ only joint venture in India. The French company is currently setting up another JV with Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) for manufacturing radar components.

“Thales wants to build on our maturing relationship to make us a major supply source for avionics. They are looking at India very seriously, given the size of the deals they have signed or are contemplating,” says Puneet Kaura.

Thales shares Kaura’s optimism. Eric Lenseigne, who heads Thales India, says that India is a key market, both in defence and in the civilian areas of transportation, signalling, communications and automatic fare collection systems. Thales fare collection systems are installed on the Delhi Metro.

“We are keen on growing our joint venture in India, Samtel Thales Avionics. Samtel has key capabilities, and the capability to grow. We do not rule out their becoming a part of our global supply chain… provided they develop the way that we would like them to develop,” says Lenseigne.

So far, SDS’s key technological breakthroughs, such as the Su-30MKI displays, have been achieved indigenously. But now, as it progresses to cutting edge avionics the company requires technology infusion. For this, Samtel Thales Avionics, is a key vehicle.

An example of the futuristic avionics that SDS hopes to supply is the Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) System, which is standard kit in the Rafale as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon. This passive sensor detects enemy aircraft at ranges of 60-70 kilometres through the heat (infrared) that they emit. Unlike a fighter’s airborne radar, which gives away one’s own position by emitting an electronic beam, an IRST is entirely stealthy since it emits nothing.

Thales plans to offer the IRST to the IAF on a “Buy and Make (Indian)” basis. This category of procurement (specified in the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2011, or DPP-2011) requires an Indian partner to absorb critical, high-end technologies and develop capabilities within India. Thales has told the IAF that Samtel Thales Avionics would do 50% of the design and development work in India.

Both Samtel and Thales tell Business Standard that they will enhance Thales’ share of the
JV, if the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit is raised from the current 26%. “If the
FDI cap is raised to 49%, we have agreed that Thales’ holding in the JV will go up to 49%, while we will come down to 51% This is not a written agreement, but we have an understanding,” says Kaura.