Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eurofighter Typhoons

Artist's first impressions of the ATV !!

These are the first impressions of an artist as to what the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), the indigenously made nuclear submarine, would look like.

Kindly do not use photographs/material without prior permission of the blog owner. Copyrighted photos

Monday, June 29, 2009

RFP for towed guns cancelled second time

The story is out in People's Post, issue dated July 6, 2009.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) or tender for the Indian Army's towed artillery guns has been cancelled for the second time, thereby pushing back the artillery's modernisation programme even further. Coming close on the heels of the Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s recent black listing of seven companies, of which Singapore Technologies was dealing with artillery equipment, under charges of corruption, this cancellation may not be good news for the army, which is presently being headed by an Artillery Chief.

MoD sources have confirmed to People's Post that the reason like before, when the tender was cancelled for the first time, is again the same; that of being a single vendor situation. It may be recalled that in April 2007, the MoD had cancelled the tender for the 400 towed guns as Bofors, a product of Bae Systems Land and Armaments Division, emerged as a single vendor, which according to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), cannot be entertained. The contract is worth Rs 8000 crore for the 155mm Howitzers. This time it was the Israeli Soltam that became the single vendor.

Bofors was sold to US artillery giant United Technologies five years ago. It became part of the BAE consortium a three year ago when it was bought from United Technologies by BAE. Bofors had come under a cloud following allegations that it had paid kickbacks to secure a deal for 410 howitzers in the 1980s. The company was removed from the blacklist during the 1999 Kargil conflict, when spares were desperately needed for the guns during the conflict.

After the tender was re-floated in 2007, among the top bidders were Bofors and Soltam of Israel, while South African Denel was shown the door after it was black listed on corruption charges.

Bofors again faced rejection in the trials, while competing with the Israeli Soltam, on grounds of not meeting the laid down parameters. The then Army Chief General J J Singh had said that the rejection of the 155 mm .52 caliber (FH77 B-05 L52 towed 52 calibre artillery) Bofors gun was not under political pressure, but Bofors did not meet certain parameters laid down by the army.

Emerging as a clear winner in the trials, the rejection of Bofors in favour of Soltam came as a surprise to BAE Systems SWS Defence, the owners of the Bofors gun. The Swedish SWS Defence company now owned now by the British BAE Systems, with the gun production facility still in Sweden, had participated in all of the four rounds of trials held over a period of five years, between 2002 and 2007.

When People's Post contacted BAE Systems, the officials said that they were not officially informed of any cancellation the second time and they had bid FH77B in response to the RFP for 400 towed 155mm 52 calibre howitzers.

The Artillery at present is using the Swedish 155mm guns of .39 calibre. As part of its modernisation and up gradation plan for the medium regiments, the Indian Army had visualised its artillery arm to be upgraded to the new 155mm with .52 calibre. The 400 guns will equip 20 odd artillery regiments of the army, which are currently using the vintage 130mm and 155mm with .39 calibre guns.

As part of its modernisation and upgradation programme in the 11th Plan, the army had tendered for 400 guns, mostly of the towed variety. Mobility tests conducted in different theatres and weather conditions clearly made Bofors emerge as a single vendor in the towed category tests using standard ammunition. The army is said to have asked for validation tests using non-standard ammunition as both Bofors and Soltam floundered in the tests conducted using non-standard ammunition. The remaining guns are of the tracked and wheeled self propelled variety.

Tested in all weather conditions, the last round of trials conducted towards the end of last year were held in Pokhran for summer tests at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges (MFFR) and winter tests in Ladakh for high altitude performance. And the mobility tests were conducted in Sikkim.

A senior artillery officer has said that the upgradation of the artillery was of utmost importance. Also since the deal would have about 80 percent of co-production in India under transfer of technology, therefore the army was looking at local Indian players. But since there was no one in India who was into making guns, therefore different companies would be engaged for making different parts of the gun, he added. Anyone could respond to the tender, who could deliver the 155mm guns. Among the private Indian manufacturers Larsen and Toubro has shown interest in the co-production with a foreign vendor, whoever wins the contract.

BAE has also informed that besides the Bofors, they also have the M-777 gun, which is currently being used by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army as their next generation Medium Force weapon.

As for the M-777 for Indian use, it is an extremely capable but very low weight artillery system that may suit some of the Indian Army's artillery requirements in the future.The M-777 is the world's first 155mm Howitzer weighing less than 4218 kilogram, and is highly mobile on land, at sea and in the air

Exclusive photos of the Super Viper

The latest F-16IN Super Viper photos specially shared with Chindits by Lockheed Martin. Take a look at the aircraft against the sky background. Superb stuff !!

Photos by Lockheed Martin

IAF's UN mission to Congo

Why only this particular photograph has been used of those from the IAF who have gone to Congo on a UN mission. Well, the officer in the middle , the first row was my classmate during our MA years. He is Squadron leader Ajit Kumar Tiwari, a chopper pilot.

On June 20, 2009, some 285 IAF air warriors swapped their regular grey ‘side caps’ with the distinct ‘blue beret’ worn by UN peacekeepers worldwide, to form part of the Indian UN Peace Keeping Mission that left for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The IAF saga of contributing to UN peace-keeping missions began when IAF sent a flight of Canberra bomber aircraft as part of the United Nations Operations in Congo (ONUC), in 1962.

Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance (AOM), Air Marshal KM Rama Sundara flagged-off the Indian Aviation Contingent-II, from Palam that day. The contingent is led by Group Captain Manavendra Singh.

The contingent will operate six Mi-17 utility helicopters and four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Bukavu, in eastern DRC. Currently the IAF operates two aviation contingents from DRC, the other being stationed at Goma.
Mi-17s would be primarily used for troop insertion and extraction, casualty evacuation, logistic supply, search and rescue, reconnaissance and observation. The primary role for the Mi-35 helicopter, equipped with night targeting system, would be offensive armed support as escort, and independent offensive operations.

Parsis want sea link to be named after Manekshaw

The Parsi community of Mumbai has been protesting for the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to be named after Field Marshal S H F J Manekshaw. The sea link, recently built and dedicated to the nation by HCC, is India's first and longest open sea cable-stayed bridge.

Considering that India (read Mumbai) has a strong 110,000 population of Parsis and some landmarks in Mumbai like the Nariman Point named after them, it should not be tough for the State government to name the bridge after Manekshaw.

Field Marshal Manekshaw, was the first Field Marshal of India, who passed away last year in Wellington, at 94. He was also the first Parsi to become Field Marshal and was the oldest surviving Field Marshal of the world last year when he expired.

Hope the govt takes note of the request and names the bridge after the late Field Marshal.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I keep my date with Sam !

R.I.P Sam 'Bahadur' Manekshaw - April3, 1914-June 27, 2008

The oldest Field Marshal in the world, SHFJ Manekshaw, passed away last year after a prolonged lung disease, in Army hospital, Wellington.

On November 16, 1999, I met Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw for the first time. As his maroon Mercedes with five shining stars below the bonnet, screeched onto the road leading to the newly constructed war memorial of the Indian Military Academy (IMA), opposite Khetrapal Auditorium, early morning, we all stood up and I was left agape, partly by the stiff, upright and glowing officer and partly by the car he had alighted from. He had a certain aura about him. He had been invited to inaugurate the war memorial.

I went up to him during the tea break to wish him, when the then Deputy Commandant of IMA, Major General K K Karnik introduced me to him and said, "Here's our young instructor, who teaches the boys." Sam asked me, "What's your age young lady?" Seeing the media persons around him, I went close to him to whisper my age, to which he exclaimed if the boys listened to me or not. I just smiled, when Maj Gen Karnik chipped in saying, "Sir, the boys never miss her class." The Field Marshal, in his usual witty and flirtatious manner said, "I wouldn't either." I made an entry, of the biggest compliment in my life, in my diary, in red.

The same evening during the Dinner Night at the officer's mess of IMA, the Field Marshal went up to a newly wed bride of a young Captain, wearing a huge 'mangalsutra'. After exchanging the initial pleasantries with the ladies, Manekshaw went close to the new bride and saw the ornament closely and said, "Young lady I like your Kamasutra." The Captain's wife was embarrassed, and didn't know how to react.

At a bara-khana in a Gorkha unit, Manekshaw and his wife were invited, where a young, newly commissioned officer was made his wife's LO. At the end of the party, the young officer came up to the couple to ask Mrs Manekshaw her next day's programme and started fumbling 'Sir'...Ma'am'…'Sir'…..when Manekshaw turned to his wife and said, "Darling, take the young officer around and please show him that you don't have balls!!" ----A Garhwal Rifles Colonel posted in Delhi.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flight interview


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gujarat State govt asks for Army's ecological battalion

The story is out in People's Post , issue dated June 28.

The Gujarat State Government has asked the Territorial Army (TA)'s Ecological Task Force (ETF) to conduct a survey and prepare a plan to raise a similar task force in the state, to combat natural calamities, like the tsunami and cyclones and study the possibility of raising a green patch in the marshy areas of the state.

A survey was conducted by the Commanding Officer of the Delhi-based 132 Ecological battalion, Colonel D R Semwal, in November 2008, in the state, especially in the Rann of Kutch, Sir Creek and the coastal areas. Under Green India mission there are plans to raise atleast six to seven more such battalions through out the country. The mission is being considered as an expansion plan to the success of the already existing eight battalions in the country, in Jammu, Dehradun, Delhi, two in Assam, Pithoragarh, Simla and Jaisalmer, where the units are mainly engaged in preserving and maintaining wildlife of the area.

Certain region specific tasks are also undertaken, like the Delhi-based 132 Ecological battalion is also responsible for checking illegal mining, encroachment, preserving the flora and fauna and conserving the forest grassland.

Usually, small units with a Company or two, these eco battlions which have been functioning for the past 26 years, have been aiming at soil conservation, afforestation and protection and development of grasslands.

The Delhi state government has asked for an additional Company of 100 men to be placed in the Asola area for its wildlife sanctuary protection.

A source revealed that the Gujarat proposition was an expensive one, as it involved motor boats for surveillance purposes. The survey report has been submitted with the Central government's Environment and Forest Ministry, from where it will be cleared and sent to the State government, and thereafter conveyed to the Army for action. Mostly the cadres in these battalions are ex-servicemen and local labour is contractual, thereby providing employment to the retired and unemployed alike.

Since the Sir Creek area is marshy is nature, said an officer, and most of Gujarat has desert and salt patches, therefore it is difficult for a green cover to come up easily, but mangroves are being envisaged in the place.

Under the Green India mission, these units would in different states would be funded by the Central government through the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Coastal areas of Gujarat, which are under threat from tsunami, cyclones and other natural calamities, need to be controlled through plantations of forests for which special equipment is required, Citing expenses in the equipment required along with other surveillance equipment like motor boats, an officer told People's Post, "The proposal might take time, but the State government is very keen and we have given them a full blue-print about the requirements."

Men in these battalions are trained in forestry in the Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute.

India gives Sri Lanka anti aircraft air defence artillery gun battery

This story is out in People's Post , issue dated June 21.

In keeping with its policy of not providing Colombo with offensive weapons, New Delhi is said to have given an air defence artillery gun to the Sri Lankan army, which was used in the recent conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In the more than a month-long conflict between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Tigers, the anti-aircraft battery comprising four guns and a radar, were placed at the Colombo International airport for detecting air strikes.

Indian Army's Additional Director General of Public Information, Major General V K Narula, told People's Post, "An air defence battery was given a couple of months back. Whether it shot down an air strike or not is not known." Refusing to further comment on the same, the officer denied having knowledge of the type of battery given.

Sources have confirmed that the aircraft detection radar did detect an air strike by the LTTE and also shot it down.

Of the various kinds of air defence equipment in use in the Indian army, two important ones are the L-70 and the ZU-23. The 40MM Swedish L-70 with its 12 kilometer range, has been in service with the Indian army since the 1960s. Produced indigenously under license from the Swedish company, by the Ordnance Factory Board, the army has more than 600 such guns.

The Russian ZU-23, with its range of 2.3 kilometers, is a lightweight, automatic, towed anti-aircraft artillery gun, and the Indian army has around 800 of them in service. Used mostly by airborne units, this particular gun operating in a troop or battery of four guns, has a flycatcher radar in the middle of four guns.

The four guns in a battery or troop are connected to the radar which detects flying objects, primarily aircraft and the guns shoot them down when they are identified as a foe by the Command post, which is at a distance and is manned by specialised officials.

According to sources, the LTTE air strike which was shot down by the Indian gun was not a very sophisticated aircraft and was detected easily.In the past New Delhi has given Indira II radar for aircraft detection to the Sri Lankan airforce, which have been installed at their critical air bases.

As a matter of policy India does not favour supply of offensive weapons to Sri Lanka, but has been providing detection aids.

More AWACS for IAF & Navy

The story is out in People's Post, issue dated June 21.

After the first Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), arrived recently and was inducted successfully into the Indian Air Force (IAF), there is a joint proposal all set to be put up before the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for additional AWACS, very soon. The proposal, jointly to go by the IAF and the Indian Navy , for 12 more AWACS will be taken up by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), soon for consideration, and the contract is likely to be signed by 2012.

The IAF has expressed the need for eight AWACS , while the Navy needs four for its over-all coastal surveillance. The new AWACS too would be under the tri-nation deal, between India, Russia and Israel.

Dedicating the huge IL-76 Russian transport aircraft integrated with Israeli avionics and navigation equipment, done by the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI), to the nation here on May 28, 2009, Defence Minister A K Antony had expressed his apprehensions about the other two AWACS being delivered on time. The deal for the three Phalcon AWACS, worth 1.1 billion dollars was signed by the NDA Government in 2004, the first of which arrived late last month, after some delays. The remaining two would join by the end of this year.

Since one AWACS covers as much as 400 kilometers area, the big 'eye on the Indian sky' meant for an enhanced situational awareness of all flying objects, the Phalcon system would put large parts of Pakistan, including the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, under Indian surveillance, thereby giving India a strategic advantage over Pakistan as essentially what the Phalcon will do is to provide over-the-horizon surveillance capability that allows directing air defence operations in a more efficient manner in terms of providing command and control. The system will alter the dimension of the see-through capability of the IAF beyond conventional visions of ground-based and tethered electromagnetic sensors.

Calling it more than a force multiplier, former Air Chief F H Major had said that the sophisticated advanced system provided greater visibility and flexibility in launching air operations and lent more awareness of the surroundings.

With the AWACS, based in Agra's number 50 Squadron, India joins the club of only six more nations to operate this sophisticated system, which are the US, Russia, Britain, Japan, Australia and Turkey and other nations which too operate the AWACS, having less capability and which are not that advanced are Pakistan, Brazil and Greece. Islamabad has said that Pakistan is due to get its first advanced and sophisticated AWACS towards the end of this year.

With future wars being fought from space with extensive use of space technology, the AWACS would play a major role. War room strategies would be worked out using AWACS and satellites that would beam vital information from space to earth stations.

Former naval Chief, Arun Prakash, told People's Post, "The one which the IAF has got is too huge for the navy, as these surveillance aircraft need to be operated from a ship. If the IL-76 AWACS come then they would be shore-based and each of the two coasts, East and West, need atleast three each, making it a total of six for the navy."

Currently the navy operates the Russian helicopters Kamov-31 whose primary role is aircraft detection and interception. There are about eight of them in service with the navy and they chiefly operate from the aircraft carrier. The US-based aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin had put up a proposal with the Indian Navy for its E-2 Hawkeye fixed-wing aircraft for the purpose of airborne warning and control, but the Hawkeye is a large aircraft, in which the Navy wanted modifications if it had to operate from ships as large aircraft cannot land and take off from ships.

Retired Admiral Arun Prakash further stressed that each aircraft carrier of the Navy would require atleast two-three such surveillance aircraft and it would be of use only if such aircraft operated from ships rather than shore, but their endurance doesn't allow them to operate from ships, as ships remain out at sea for days and weeks. Not just the Hawkeye but also the IL-76 AWACS of the IAF were huge for the Navy and would require modifications, if they were to operate from ships, or else it would be suitable for them to operate from land, which may not be very effective for the Navy, he added.

The naval requirement for AWACS assumes importance in the wake of Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh's, recent statement that India's area of influence extended from Malacca Straits to the Gulf of Aden.

IAF sources have confirmed to People's Post that operating well within economic cruising limits (ECL), which is 200 kilometers inside the border (western front), the system at its optimum height , which is 30,000 feet, would be in a position to cover atleast 1000 kilometers distance, which means it could overlook Iran. Depth of penetration increases as height increases. Adding further, the source said that initially the AWACS would be placed and put under training in Agra, but later each operational location would have atleast one and therefore around 10-12 would be in a position to place a cover of security and surveillance around the country, covering the neighbouring countries.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show--Centenary Year (15-21 June)

Kindly refrain from using these exclusive photos anywhere without prior permission from the blog owner.

Photos by : Guillem Monsonis

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show--Centenary Year (15-21 June)

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show--Centenary Year (15-21 June)

Kindly refrain from using these exclusive photos anywhere without prior permission from the blog owner.

Photos by : Guillem Monsonis

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show--Centenary Year (15-21 June)

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show, 15-21 June- Centenary Year

Kindly refrain from using these exclusive pictures anywhere without the permission of the blog owner as they are copyrighted.

Photos by : Guillem Monsonis

Chindits EXCLUSIVE !!! Le Bourget-48th International Paris Air Show--Centenary Year