Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scorpion Jet offered to IAF

Scorpion Jet offered to IAF 

       With the Problems in LCA and other Trainer Jets IAF seeks a good platform, which could be cost effective, low operating cost and it should be perform Close Air support mission, Recon mission for longer time, since the LCA failed the above aspects which have less than 500 kilometers of Combat radius, which pushed back the LCA from IAF for decades, and incapability of ADA and HAL also a reason for that.

Fully Armed Scorpion Jet
        So IAF always looking for a good Ground attack platform in lesser operating and procurement cost, due to the Heavy manpower and armor threats from both China and Pakistan IAF also need a good CAS fighter who gives dominant air support to the foot soldiers, The IAF has good numbers of Modern Air superiority fighters like Su 30 MKI and MiG 29 UPG, the Super Sukhoi, T 50, FGFA is in pipeline, and Good Numbers of Medium strike Multirole Platforms like Mirage 2000 TI and upcoming Rafale both can perform mission outside friendly territories, also the Jaguar will be used for Deep Strike and SEAD missions until the arrival of AMCA,

        But here  IAF heavily lacks of a Good Ground Attack platform which can assist the Ground Troops, the IAF relies on other fighters to perform such CAS and Recon missions which is a Over kill, an Armed Mirage who flying around a Clock mission somewhere in the Borders for Close Air support is an over kill, earlier IAF used Helicopter Gunships like Mi 35 and Armed Mi 17 v5 but both lacks speed altitude and Range, So the place again left for a Good cost effective CAS platform.

         The same is also for USAF they relies on A 10 which is a Good platform for CAS, A 10 is the best platform for CAS, whenever enemy hears it was the A 10, he will stays in the hideouts, otherwise he would end up with the Bullets or PGM. But the main problem is the high operating and Maintenance cost, so the Americans needs a Plane that would be stay in the Air long time with Munitions also have Recon elements. Whose cost would be minimal, both in procure, flying and Maintenance.

         Here American and Indian needs is equals, India Chooses the Rafale for MRCA as well as CAS and Armed Recon missions (Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance) (LAAR). While the Americans still looking for a good platform, they found nothing so the managed to keep with F 35 and F 15. 

          But two US companies identifies the Shortage of Such platform both USAF and most other countries, So they managed to create a Fighter who can do all the above missions and yes with the desirable low cost both flying maintaining and procurement. and they rolls out the Scorpion Light Attack Jets early 2013. 

         The USAF, Pentagon officials analyzed the Scorpion Jet. but they found many problems and declined to use in the Air force, the main problem lies on the Payload. Scorpion offers good Recon elements but lacks the Payload, for that it can be used only for COIN missions not in regular warfare, also the Flight have worst performance in lo lo lo and hi hi hi mission, good in Medium Altitudes only, these are the two main reasons why USAF didn't look the Textron Scorpion. 

        So they looks for buyers from foreign countries, Recently The US officials says that they were ready to give the Scorpion to Indian Air force, this is the second time they were offering the scorpion to IAF for both LAAR and Training missions. 

       But reality is the IAF should neglect the Scorpion for the same reason why USAF neglected the Scorpion, 

        If we compared the LCA Tejas with the Scorpion, which can outperform Scorpion each and every aspects, expect the Combat Radius, where Scorpion have 1400 km of Combat Radius without Drop Tanks, Tejas have 500 kilometers even with the Drop Tanks. here Tejas costs $32 Million per piece and costs $12,000 to $16,000 per hour, but Scorpion costs only $20 Millions and Flying costs less than $3000 per hour.

         But Tejas have many other advantages but all will be downsized due to the Combat Radius, Redesigning the Tejas  with same mission characteristics but with longer Combat radius that is not below 1000 KM, is a good choice for IAF, and that it can be ordered in hundreds which gives  the IAF upper edge in Asian Air forces, 

The Scorpion Light Attack

The Scorpion Light Attack/Trainer Jet

Fully Loaded LCA

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TATA Airbus Teaming up for Tactical Transport for IAF

 TATA Airbus Teaming up for Tactical Transport for IAF

       It’s from the stables of IAF again, a new replacement project seems to have reached the final rounds of negotiations. The new Modi-led government has re-issued the request for proposal (RFP) for 56 transport aircraft worth an estimated $2 billion. These aircraft will be replacements for the aging Hawker Sidley 748M twin turboprops serving the IAF as tactical transport aircraft which are being retired at an alarming rate. The tactical transport aircraft is basically used to carry out recon missions, ferry Special Forces and play a major role in causality evacuation from the battlefield. RFP for this program was floated several years ago but was cancelled after several loopholes were brought to notice by the vendors. 

     With the need for these aircrafts being urgent, any plans for co-development would have hampered the operational capabilities of the air force. Being the first deal, to be signed under private partnership program, the deal promised to nurture the ‘Make in India’ campaign will to newer horizons.  In accordance to the deal, the Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will be liable to supply 16 aircraft in fly away condition and another 40 aircraft will be manufactured in India under a TOT. Though the deal offers a reliable platform to foreign players, the deal has been for long haunted by the private partnership the vendors have to sign up. Initially the deal received heightened interests from foreign vendors but with the private partnership in deadlocks most of the vendors pulled out of the deal, except for Airbus. Facing a single vendor scenario, the deal has been now referred to the DAC chaired by the MoD will now decide the future path of the deal.   

      Initially Antonov’s An-26, the Ilyushin Il-112, Alenia Aermacchi C-27J and EADS Casa C-295 were eager to be part of the deal. Airbus formed a consortium with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL). The other foreign vendors were in talk with L&T and Mahindra and Mahindra but failed to sign up with any Indian companies largely due to the persistent ToT clauses. Airbus then pitched up its C295 as a competitor for the program. IAF at the present operates a sizeable fleet of An-26 and had showed inclination towards the aircraft but Antonov till date has not been able to form a consortium with any Indian firms, even though L&T was rumoured to be in talks with Antonov the deal between them never materialized.

With Modi visiting Airbus facility during his trip to France, the deal is probably headed towards C 295. Furthermore the present government has shown renewed interested in inviting foreign investments. Airbus released a statement reaffirming its "commitment to produce in India," echoing Modi's “Make in India” mantra. Tom Enders, Airbus executive was quoted saying “India already plays an important role in our international activities and we even want to increase its contribution to our products".

Airbus C295

    The C295 is closely associated with the Spanish-Indonesian co-developed CN235 aircraft for its roots lay with the aircraft. Airbus started out by modifying the basic designs of CN235, with plans to enhance the lift capability of the CN235, Airbus stretched the fuselage considerably and this saw the birth of C295 with a 50% increased lift capability. The CN235 was powered by two GE CT7 series engines, with weight added up to the aircraft, the CT7 failed to power the aircraft. Airbus soon zeroed in on the PW 127 series engine to power the aircraft. The aircraft has a wing span of 84 ft and is 80 ft in length. C295 witnessed its maiden flight in late 1998.

     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 aircraft is also fitted with a pressurized cabin which can house up to 70 passengers and can attain a cruising altitude of 30000 feet. 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 center of the battle field.

  The aircraft is designed with a pressurized 41 feet long cabin which can accommodate up to 70 personnel and the cargo hold employs the state-of-the art pallet system. The cabin has dedicated pallet systems which can carry up to five pallets measuring nearly 88 X 108 In and can carry cargo weighing up to 4,536 Kilos on one pallet. 

     To facilitate easier movement of the cargo from the hold the aircraft is provided with a rear ramp door, through which the cargo can be off-loaded efficiently. Provided with the STOL the aircraft can take off and land from any unsurfaced/unprepared airstrip and this will help the forces a long way since the aircraft can land supplies or evacuate causalities right from the center of the battlefield. The aircraft requires a minimum of 2200 ft of runaway to takeoff under normal operating conditions and will need around 1050 ft of runway for a safe landing. The aircraft provides 1300 km of operational range at maximum load and with minimal load the aircraft provides a range of up to 5000 km.

    The aircraft can perform airdrop of paratroopers and supplies for which the aircraft is equipped with an 88 in wide platform which employs a Container Delivery System (CDS). 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 be turned out to Casevac missions in very little time where the aircraft will accommodate stretchers and basic medical equipment but performing a Medevac mission requires more complex turnovers where the aircraft will have to accommodate stretchers, advanced medical equipment's and also support and specialized teams. 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.

     The avionics package of the aircraft is robust and carries forward most of the systems from its predecessor the CN235. Most of these systems have received upgrades over time and form a versatile avionics function for an aircraft like C295, the systems are basic and the operational cost of these systems is minimal. Thales avionics provided the rest of the avionics package. Highly Integrated Avionics System (HIAS), an advanced integrated avionics system based on the Thales Topdeck avionics suite. The C295 glass cockpit with digital avionics includes four large active matrix liquid crystal displays.

     The main stay radar of the aircraft will be the AN/APN241 radar which comes with a high resolution SAR mapping mode. The main update the C295 received was the Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) which will enhance the patrol and surveillance to a great extent. Equipped with FITS the aircraft can perform an array of missions be it anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare or SAR operations the FITS will enable the crew to work more efficiently using its automated control features.

     FITS is a system entirely developed by Airbus, an on-board suite of networked computers and displays provides the crew with the required information in a processed manner which allows the crew to work efficiently. The aircraft comes with Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and Laser Warning System (LWS), and chaff/flares dispensers. The aircraft will be equipped with an integrated electronic warfare suite, which includes a Bharat Electronics radar warning receiver and missile approach warning system and Bharat Dynamics countermeasure dispensing system.

Editor Karthik Kakoor

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dhanush The Indian 155mm 45 cal Artillery

Dhanush The Indian 155mm 45 cal Artillery

Dhanush Gun in Winter Trails

      Haunted by the purchase of Bofors India has always been on a lookout for a more reliable artillery fun.  India signed a deal with the Swedish company back in 1986 for the Bofors under which, India was to procure 410 pieces of 155mm Howitzer field guns at an estimated cost of $285 million.  But the deal was troubled from its inking, the scandal brought to light by the Sweden radio served as a major setback to the deal. The Bofors did prove their battle worthiness in the Kargil operation but since then never went any up gradation and the numbers of the crucial artillery guns have dwindled down to as low as 200. The need for these weapons is one of the most urgent needs of the army.

       The UPA government weighted plans to procure a latest Artillery gun from a foreign vendor and under ToT to continue productions and development in India. The Congress led government which had signed the deal in 1986 had suffered dearly losing the power owing to the Bofors deal and the UPA government was always reluctant to ink a deal. 

   At the same time the OFB was asked to come up with a design which would empower Indian Army with a reliable and powerful Artillery gun. The OFB choose the Bofors design for the base layout and decided to develop upon the design which would result in a very composite piece of machinery. 

          The program was code named Dhanush, OFB joined hands with L&T and Bharat forge for developing an indigenously developed howitzer which was to be handed over to the army for tests by 2013. The Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) was selected as the lead developer for the program under which the gun was to feature a 155mm 52 calibre and the gun would offer a operating range of 38 kilometre.   

     The gun is claimed to be around 80 per cent indigenously developed the  APU, electronic dial sights and the thermal gunner sights are at the moment the components being imported but DRDO promises to indigenously develop these units in the coming years.

      By 2014 OFB handed over a highly advanced and robust Artillery gun named the Dhanush to the army, the army then went on to claim the product as one of the most reliable products to be ever placed on the battle field. 

   The Defence ministry then placed order for 114 Dhanush guns from OFB, each of these guns costs nearly 11 crore. The guns went under serial production last year and OFB handed over 18 Dhanush to the Army last year, and has plans to produce nearly 50 units this year and has plans to ramp up productions with newer facilities and will be supplying the army with 100 more guns in 2016, which would effectively complete the Initial orders.

    The Army has a requirement of about 400 long range howitzers, the tests of the Dhanush had hit dead ends owing to the barrel burst when the Dhanush was undergoing live round fire trials in Pokran range. But OFB did prove it was a failed ammunition round and not the barrel itself and OFB agreed to redesign the barrel. 

      Dhanush was recently test fired from the Pokran range yet again and was monitored for its performance under high temperature. Dhanush performed exceptionally well and performed missions well within the nominated parameters. Dhanush also was tested for low temperature operations in Kashmir valley where the gun performed under the set parameters and was successful in eliminating preset targets. 

     Briefing the media about Dhanush performance the Defence Minister on 27th April made public the test statics, and quoted all tests was successful and the Army was a satisfied lot with the gun's performance.

       Experts believe the 45 Cal Gun id effective for stop gap measure, but the real force multiplier would be the 52 cal Artillery with 155mm barrel which is still under development. India currently operates the M 46, an Soviet era field guns which enjoys a range of 39 kilometer thanks to its 155mm barrel and this could be used as an basic outline for the underdevelopment 155mm barrelled gun. 

Editor Karthik Kakoor

The Bofers Gun
Dhanush in Hot weather Trials
OFB Dhanush in Def Expo