Friday, June 5, 2015

An year of defense under Modi

An year of defense under Modi

          Yesterday we had seen what was expected from Parrikar’s office. Today we’ll concentrate on what the DAC or the CCS has cleared. The DAC headed by the defense ministry is meeting repeatedly to fast track the acquisition process. In the DAC defense minister is assisted by chief of the armed forces and secretaries.

The crucial Rafale deal

          With an ambitious aim to provide IAF with the state of the art fighter jets, India in 2007 floated the MMRCA deal. IAF was to receive 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft from a foreign firm, even more ambitious was the plan to manufacture these jets in India under ToT. After an extensive and detailed technical evaluation in 2012, IAF cleared the Dassault Rafale taking into consideration the technical details, operational and maintenance costs over the EU pitched ‘Eurofighter Typoon’. 

   Even after a long negotiation drama Dassault and India never came into terms and the deal was in deadlocks for most of the time. Even diplomatic level meetings and negotiations had failed to yield any results.  Under the UPA term the MMRCA deal never materialized.

      The NDA government soon after coming into power put the MMRCA deal on fast track. Several diplomatic and high level management meets were held to help materialize the deal. A major announcement in this regard was made during Modi’s visit to France. 
         The government went into a G-G deal under which Dassault would supply 36 Rafale’s to India in fly away condition. The deal is estimated at around $8 billion. The decision has been criticized as being converted from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Make in France’ but such a move was very necessary taking into considerations the current scenario of IAF.  

         The government hasn’t official confirmed the fate of the MMRCA deal, being a globally awarded tender the procedure to cancel the tender is pretty long. The government will have to issue a notification canceling the tender informing the global contenders. A final agreement in this deal is still awaited.

 M777 Howitzer

     The DAC has given its principle accord to acquire 145 M777 howitzers for the Indian Army. The deal is valued at around Rs 4500 crore. The deal is cleared under the ‘Make in India’ campaign and has been awarded to BAE systems. BAE will now scout for an Indian partner to start with the production of these ultra light howitzers in India. These howitzers weigh around 3 tonne and can be easily transported by a heavy lift helicopter. 

     The deal will be taking place under the Foreign Military Deal (FMS). The M777 are highly capable battle guns which have seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan. M777 can fire a 155mm artillery shell up to 40km. The M777 will be the first artillery gun Indian Army will be seeing almost after 30 years. BAE has promised to relocate its final production line to India by collaborating with a local private firm.

 Apache AH64 and Chinook CH47

    The DAC has cleared the requirements of the Air force for Apache AH64 attack helicopters and Boeing manufactured Chinook CH47 heavy lift helicopters. IAF intends to acquire 22 AH-64D Apache longbow attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F heavy lift helicopters in a deal worth well over $3.1 billion.
      The IAF currently operates the aging Mi-35 which is the basic attack helicopters. To replace the aging fleet of these Mi’s IAF came with plans to acquire the Apache. The Apache is one some of the most feared machines on the present battle field, armed with Hellfire missiles an hover of the Apache can annihilate the enemy positions.

     The Apache’s have range of 476 km, powered by two GE T700-GE-701C engines the copter can climb almost 2500 feet/min. It can carry an array of weapons, with the M230 chain gun serving as the primary weapon system. Hellfire missiles, Hydra rockets and stinger missiles complete the whole weapons package. Apache seen excessive battle in Iraq and Afghanistan and has been the most after sought CAS platform for ground operations.

      The Chinook are the most versatile heavy weight lifters on the battle field. The Chinook are famous for the role they played in ‘Operation Geronimo’ and their hoist capability is unmatched by any other aircraft. The Chinook can hoist Howitzers, crucial supplies, battle field vehicles and even fighter jets. Powered by two Lycoming T-55-GA-714A turboshaft engines which collectively produce a thrust of 7056 kW. Chinook can be used to transport troops, supplies and artillery movement. 

     The Chinook can transport up to 55 troops or can hoist a maximum load of 12700 kg. They are surely the heaviest lift capable helicopters for the western bloc and have been receiving upgrades throughout its lifetime. Once inducted the Chinook will be the most capable lifter of the IAF and can replenish the front line forces with crucial supplies at shorter span of time.

Airbus C295 – The Avro replacement

     The decision to equip IAF with the Airbus C295 is a major breakthrough decision. One for it replaces the aging Hawker Sidley 748M twin turboprops and it is a huge boost for the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The deal also gains importance since it is the first deal to be signed under private partnership agreement. 

     The C295 acquisition for the first time will see the participation of an Indian based private company participating in an aircraft project. Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) have formed a consortium to supply IAF with 56 tactical transport aircraft under a deal worth around $2 billion.

      IAF will receive 16 C295 in fly away condition and another 40 aircraft will be manufactured in India under a TOT. The C295 is a new generation, highly versatile and combat proven tactical airlift aircraft. The aircraft is capable of carrying payloads up to nine tonnes. Powered by two powerful six bladed Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines which collectively produce 5290 hp the aircraft can attain a maximum cruising speed of 480 km.

   The short take-off & landing (STOL) feature guarantees the aircraft can land in short and rough airstrips or make shift airstrips and serve the nerve centre of the battle field. Rapid transfer and on flight care is the need of the hour when performing casualty evacuation missions for which it is fitted with Casevac and Medevac systems developed by Airbus. The aircraft can carry up to eight stretchers for performing Casevac missions and can serve as front line hospital when configured under Medevac mission carrying mobile intensive care units (ICU) with life support equipment.

Article Karthik Kakoor

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