Thursday, August 30, 2012

Update : HAL AMCA - Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft

The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), formerly known as the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA), is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation stealth multirole fighter being developed by HAL. In Indian Air Force, it will complement the HAL Tejas, the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA, the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and the Dassault Rafale.

Unofficial design work on the AMCA has been started. A naval version is confirmed as Indian Navy also contributed to the funding. The AMCA will be designed with a very small radar cross-section and will also feature serpentine shaped air-intakes, internal weapons and the use of composites. A wind-tunnel testing model of the MCA airframe was seen at Aero-India, 2009.



An artist impression of HAL AMCA ( Image Courtesy - indiandefence.com) 


AMCA will be equipped with missiles like DRDO Astra and Precision Guided Munitions. The aircraft will feature extended detection and targeting range with the ability to release weapons at supersonic speeds. The aircraft's avionics suite will include AESA radar, electronic warfare systems and all aspect missile warning suite. AMCA is in  preliminary design phase from August, 2011. The final design is expected to be shown to the air force by 2012, after which full scale development on the aircraft may start.

News Courtesy - russiadefence.net

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Final Operational Clearance - LCA Tejas targeting Feb 13

India’s indigenously developed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is likely to win its Final Operational Clearance, following testing as part of an air exercise in February, 2013. The single-seat, single-engine supersonic fighter will be put to the test during the “Iron Feast” exercise to be held in Pokhran, Rajasthan.

“The Tejas will display its capabilities in the exercise, where its lethality, endurance and precision will be tested, and if the aircraft meets all parameters, its first squadron will be  deployed in Bengaluru,” says Air Marshal Anjan Kumar Gogoi, chief of Southwestern Air Command.




Tejas ready for a Test Flight ( Image Courtesy - thebharatmilitaryreview.blogspot.com )

As of March, the LCA had undergone more than 1,800 test flights up to speeds of Mach 1.4, Initial Operational Clearance was achieved in January 2011. The Tejas is designed to carry air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided and standoff weaponry.

The Indian air force (IAF), which has ordered 40 Tejas Mark I, has begun to induct the LCA, according to a ministry official. Out of the 40 aircraft, 20 were ordered under the IOC standards, and remaining 20 under Final Operational Clearance standards. IAF plans to induct six LCA squadrons over the next 10 years, the official adds.



News Courtesy - aviationweek.com

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Indian Air Force Transport Fleet C-130, C-17, MTA IL-214

The MRCA contract of 126 aircraft (may go up to 200) for Indian Air Force has been in such a limelight, that it has pushed many other important developments into the shadows. One such development has been augmentation in the fleet of transport aircraft for IAF. 

Indian Air Force had been relying on Antonov An-32 Cline for medium airlift, and on Ilyushin Il-76 Candid for heavy airlift, for multiple decades. Few years back, IAF realized that time has come for an upgrade of existing platforms and induction of new platforms inline with the strategic goal of maintaining the air superiority, both in terms of transport squadrons as well as the combat squadrons.

Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules was the first decision on those lines. followed by Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, both being acquired from United States. Along with that came the development of UAC/HAL MTA in partnership with Russian Federation. 

Indian Air Force transport aircraft inventory should have the following aircraft, by year 2020 -


Antonov AN-32 Cline ~ 08 Tons
Ilyushin IL-76 Candid ~ 50 Tons
Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules ~ 20 Tons
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (by 2013) ~ 80 Tons
UAC/HAL MTA IL-214 (under development) ~ 22 Tons





IAF's An-32 Cline on a sortie ( Image Courtesy - airteamimages.com )




IAF's Ilyushin-76 at Red Flag Exercise in United States ( Image Courtesy - bharat-rakshak.com )




IAF's C-130 J Super Hercules on its way to India from United States ( Image Courtesy - xairforces.net )




A C-17 Globemater on a test flight after upgrade ( Image Courtesy - anupkumarchaturvedi.com )



An artist representation of HAL/UAC Multi-role Transport Aircraft ( Image Courtesy - airforce-technology.com )


The interesting part of HAL/UAC MTA development is that it is being developed to replace AN-32 Cline. As per the current timeline, MTA should be ready to join IAF by 2016. So, MTA will start flying along with AN-32 and would start to replace it from 2025. But MTA is a bigger aircraft with 22 tons payload and will replace a much smaller aircraft An-32 with just 8 tons payload. Hence, this replacement, though looking a normal replacement process from outside, will actually increase the transport capability of IAF, manifolds !!!


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

IAF getting its Training Program back on track with Pilatus

Indian Air Force is now going fast track on development of its training infrastructure. After remaining mired in stagnant years due to lack of decision making and painful procurement process, finally there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

The training curriculum of Indian Air Force consists of three stages - 
  • Stage 1 - Basic
  • Stage 2 - Intermediate
  • Stage 3 - Advanced

If we rewind few years, then this is how trainer aircraft were mapped to each stage -
  • Basic - HAL HPT-32 Deepak
  • Intermediate - HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mark I
  • Advanced -  HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mark II

But there has always been problems with this setup; pilots had to directly move from Kiran Mark II to Mig 21. MIg 21 was an extremely demanding aircraft for a pilot. As one senior pilot had famously mentioned, "Mig 21 is a beautiful, but an unforgiving aircraft." This was one of the major reason that so many precious lives and formidable war machines were lost from 90s to 2000. An inexperience pilot on a Mig 21 was not a very good combination, however, Indian Air Force had limited choices on that front. But Indian Air Force had recognized that this is a severe problem and had to be resolved at the earliest.

IAF went into the overdrive to look for a better aircraft for "Advance Stage Training" of its pilots, so that transition to Mig 21 could be streamlined in an efficient manner. As progress towards search for a trainer aircraft towards "Advanced Stage Training" was underway, there came another threat in form of obsolescence of HPT-32 Deepak, whose rate of accidents started shooting up. Finally when one aircraft crashed in an aero-show at Hyderabad, IAF realized that it has got another major problem in hand.

In year 2012, things are finally started to look up in much better shape for IAF, as far as its training program is concerned. If we take a look at present and the future, then this is how trainer aircraft are / will be mapped to each stage -

  • Basic - Pilatus PC-7 ( From Feb 2013 )



Pilatus PC-7 on a sortie ( Image Courtesy - softpedia.com ) 


  • Intermediate - HAL HJT-36 Sitara ( Under development )


HAL Sitara on a test flight ( Image Courtesy - defenceforumindia.com )


  • Advanced -  BAE Hawk



BAE Hawk in IAF colours ( Image Courtesy - defence.pk )


We do hope that with the induction of these sophisticated training platforms, Indian Air Force will be able to train its pilots in the best possible way, as it had always desired.


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Indian Air Force all set for Dassault Rafale

Addressing questions raised over the process of selecting Rafale fighter planes, Government is going ahead with the procurement of 126 French combat aircraft and effort is being made to complete the deal in few months down the line.




Rafale getting ready for action ( Image Courtesy - airliners.net )

Contract negotiations for the multi-billion dollar deal will resume soon. Government is making efforts to conclude the deal during this financial year, sources said.

News Courtesy - ibnlive.com

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Zeppelin Rises Again - First Flight of US Airship


The U.S. military first hybrid airship took off on its maiden voyage in second week of August 2012, hovering above New Jersey in a successful test flight. The LEMV, which took off from New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst base, was piloted for the test flight of 90 mminutes, but has the ability to function as an unmanned vehicle. It can float at an altitude of about 22,000 feet for upto 21 days, and can travel at about 92 mph. The LEMV’s strong skin - a blend of Vectran, Kevlar and Mylar - can endure a reasonable amount of small arms fire from enemies on the ground.




First test flight of LEMV ( Image Courtesy - aopa.org )

Lakehurst, where the LEMV took flight, is no stranger to airships. The base is also the site where there was a tragedy of Hindenburg crash in 1937. Lakehurst seems to have risen back as a Phoenix, with this test flight of US Army Airship.

LEMV also has significant endurance, and can stay afloat above a battlefield or insurgent hotspot for up to 21 days - at a fraction of the cost of other military options.



First test flight of LEMV ( Video Courtesy - youtube )

In a statement, the U.S. Army said the LEMV 'is intended to be used to conduct long-term intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, and persistent stare-type missions, and can also be used as a communications relay.'


News Courtesy - aopa.org and dailymail.co.uk

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nostalgia - INS Vikrant and INS Viraat sailing together

Found a rare photograph of INS Vikrant (retired in 1997) and INS Viraat sailing together sometime in 90's. INS Vikrant is at the rear, and INS Viraat is at the front in this picture.

A sheer nostalgic moment looking at INS Vikrant steaming ahead in full glory. Sometimes, I really wonder, if it is possible to make a refit on INS Vikrant and use it for naval training purpose. Or, may be to convert it into an LPH (Landing Platform Helicopter). 

Russian Federation has brought back so many mothballed warships (rusting for decades while moored at shipyards), back to active duty - Admiral Gorshkov Aircraft Carrier (renamed INS Vikramaditya, for our navy itself), proposed reactivation of Kirov Class Battle Cruisers, planned reactivation of Slava Class Cruiser Ukrayina for Russian Navy, which was launched in 1990 and is still docked at harbor of Mykolaiv, Ukraine.


INS Vikrant and INS Viraat sailing together in 90's ( Image Courtesy - martinfrost.ws )

It is sheer day-dreaming, I know, but wouldn't it be a sheer delight to see INS Vikrant steaming once again in Indian Ocean, in the same formation with INS Viraat, just one more time !!!

Think about it and please do post your comments on this.

Indian Navy - Comparison of Nuclear Submarine Fleet

Till April 2012, there was an exclusive group of world powers who had nuclear submarines in their fleet. India Navy gatecrashed into this group, by inducting INS Chakra in its fleet, an Akula Class SSN leased from Russia for ten years.

I have compiled a metrics of global powers and their nuclear submarine fleet, to show where Indian Navy is at present and how it would fare in a decade from now. I have intentionally excluded United States and Russian Federation as both of them are way ahead from rest of the navies, in terms of numerical strength of their nuclear submarine fleets.


SSN SSBN
China 09 05
France 06 04
UK 06 04
India 01 00


Chinese Navy -

China has 9 SSNs in its fleet  - 5 Han Class and 4 Shang Class. It has got 5 SSBNs - 1 Xia Class and 4 Jin Class.

French Navy -

France has 6 SSNs in its fleet from Rubis Class. It has got 4 SSBNs  from Triomphant Class.

Royal Navy (UK) -

UK has 6 SSNs in its fleet - 5 Trafalgar Class and 1 Astute Class. It has got 4 SSBNs  from Vanguard Class.

Indian Navy -

India has 1 SSN in its fleet - INS Chakra from Akula Class. It has got no active SSBNs  as of now.

However, INS Arihant SSBN is under sea trials and is expected to be commissioned by 2013. Three more hulls of Arihant Class are in different stages of construction. So, it is expected that by 2020, India Navy should have a fleet of 4 SSBNs. 

However, things are not that clear on SSN front. It is not known whether Indian Navy has any active SSN develop program, defence sources are tight-lipped on that, and there has been no official confirmation or denial about it. In that case, Indian Navy would need to exercise the option of leasing second Akula Class submarine from Russia. It would become must by 2015-2016, when Indian Navy will have two Carrier Battle Groups in its arsenal, and each would need to have a potent sub-surface escort, in form of a nuclear-powered attack submarine. An ideal scenario would ask for at least 4 SSNs to escort two Carrier Battle Groups.

Tejas set for final Air Trials


India's indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas will be put to final test at the forthcoming air exercise `Iron Feast', to be held at Pokhran, in Rajasthan, in February next year.

Tejas will be tested for its capabilities, its lethality, endurance and precision at the air exercises, ahead of inducting it in the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Anjan Kumar Gogoi, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South-Western Air command, said at a press conference in Jaisalmer.

Tejas had undergone successful performance trials, including weapons trials ahead of its operational clearance and is now planned to be finally cleared for service after this exercise. The Tejas was cleared in January 2011 for use by Indian Air Force pilots.





Tejas speeding on a runway ( Image Courtesy - thebharatmilitaryreview.blogspot )


If the LCA's performance is found to be on par with IAF's requirements on every parameter, the first Tejas squadron will be deployed in Bangalore, he said.

The IAF is reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy may order up to 40 single-seater to replace its Sea Harrier FRS.51 and Harrier T.60.

News Courtesy - domain-b.com

Friday, August 24, 2012

Indian Embraer AEW&C - More on Indian "Eye in the Sky"


Some more details on Embraer AEW&C -

The aircraft, with the indigenous Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) radar, will be an “eye in the sky.” The radar can look 240 degrees within a short time and has a range of 350 km. It can track more than 500 targets simultaneously.

Mr. Christopher, the Programme Director of the AEW&C system, said - “The important modes of operation of the system are surface surveillance and air surveillance. While the primary radar mounted on the aircraft is the AESA, the secondary surveillance sensor is the Identification of the Friend or Foe (IFF) system.The IFF system was developed by the CABS. The IFF determines whether the target, determined by the primary radar, is a friend or foe.” 

The most critical component in AEW&C is the AESA radar, which is developed by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (ERDE), Bangalore, and the antenna called Active Antenna Array Unit (AAAU), made by the CABS. The radar is the processor part of the AAAU.




Embraer AEW&C moving to its new home ( Image Courtesy - DRDO )


CABS engineers said it was a challenge for them to integrate the AEW&C system components with the aircraft, which had to be modified. The AAAU weighed 1.5 tonnes and it had to be mounted on the fuselage without affecting the aircraft’s stability.

News Courtesy - thehindu.com

INS Vikrant to be launched in 2013

Admitting delay in construction of the Navy's indigenous aircraft carrier, the government on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the launch of the ship is now expected to take place next year. In a written reply to the House, Defence Minister A K Antony said, "The complexity of the project and this being the first ship of its kind being built in India, has led to timelines being extended."

As per the phase-I, the first launch of the ship was envisaged in October, 2010, he said. "However, due to delays in receipt of steel plates and pre-launch equipment like diesel alternators and gearboxes, the launch of the ship is now expected in 2013," Antony said.



Artist Impression of INS Vikrant ( Image Courtesy - defencewatch.in )

Declaring India's intention of having at least two carrier task forces with aircraft carrier warships as the pivot of such battle groups, Antony said the country should be capable of deploying them on two locations soon.

"To maintain effective presence in our area of interest, Indian Navy should be capable of deploying carrier task forces in two geographically separated locations," he said.

News Courtesy - zeenews


Embraer AEW&C of Indian Air Force reaches India

India's first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system based on a fully-modified Embraer aircraft has reached Bangalore from Brazil, ahead of integration of DRDO-developed mission systems and flight trials. The AEW&C platform landed at the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) late Wednesday night, 22 Aug 2012, at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport in Bangalore, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) release said.

"The aircraft and its crew from IAF and the Brazilian plane manufacturer Embraer were given a hearty welcome with water cannons," the DRDO release said.


IAF's Embraer AEW&C Aircraft taking off ( Image Courtesy - bharat-rakshak.com )

The indigenous AEW&C will enable the nation to deploy an alternative electronic eye in the sky, in addition to the three Il-76 based Phalcon radars the Indian Air Force (IAF) operates.

"The arrival of this aircraft marks the beginning of another phase of journey leading to the next major milestone of integration of the DRDO developed mission system, which will be followed by development flight trials in India beginning of 2013," the release said.

This is the first of the three aircraft delivered by Embraer for which the contract was signed in 2008. The next plane in the series is expected to arrive in India in December.

News Courtesy - newstrackindia.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Russian SSBN - Yury Dolgoruky to join fleet in September


Russia's newest ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), the Project 955 Borey class boat Yury Dolgoruky, will be handed over to the fleet in September, a source in United Shipbuilding Corporation said on Friday. 

Its sister ship, the Alexander Nevsky, will carry out a further Bulava test launch in November "as part of its state trials," he said. Alexander Nevsky is also likely to be commissioned by year’s end. Both of these SSBNs will initially join Northern Fleet, but would be subsequently moved to Pacific Fleet.




Yury Dolgoruky, at trials ( Image Courtesy - english.ruvr.ru )


The Borey class will become the mainstay of the Russian Navy's strategic nuclear deterrent force, replacing older Project 667 (NATO Delta 4) boats. The class will consist of eight boats, all armed with Bulava missiles.

News Courtesy - en.ria.ru

INS Vishal to be a CATOBAR Aircraft Carrier


The Indian navy is likely to call an end to its tryst with ski-jump aircraft carriers, deciding that its next big vessel will be a flat-top with a catapult-launch system.


Artist Impression of INS Vikrant, a STOBAR Carrier ( Image Courtesy - warshipsifr.com )

While India's first home-built carrier, known as the Vikrant, is to be a 44,000-ton short-takeoff-but-arrested-recovery (Stobar) carrier, the second ship—tentatively titled Vishal (“Immense”)—is seen as a 65,000-ton flat-top with a steam-catapult system. The Naval Design Bureau, which oversees design and implementation of all indigenous warship building efforts, is expected to freeze its requirements by year-end.




Artist Impression of a CATOBAR Carrier ( Image Courtesy - navyrecognition.com )


A commodore with the Naval Design Bureau says, “A decision has been taken to move away from conventional STOBAR and Short-Take-Off-Vertical-Landing (STOVL) designs.”

The Indian carrier Vikramaditya—the former Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov—and first indigenous carrier (Vikrant) will be transition vessels to Stobar operations. The next logical step is catapult-assisted takeoff-and-barrier-arrested recovery (Catobar), “which brings with it immense advantages in the mix of assets we can deploy on deck,” says the commodore.

A flat-top configuration also supports the navy's interest in fixed-wing airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft for operations off a carrier, and comes as good news for Northrop Grumman, which has spent the better part of the last decade pitching its E-2 Hawkeye to the Indian navy.


News Courtesy - aviationweek.com

Apache Combat Helicopter coming to India !!!

India is getting ready to order 22 heavy-duty Apache helicopters for around $1.4 billion, in what will be yet another big defence deal to be bagged by the US.

In the battle for the attack helicopters, Boeing's AH-64 D Apache Longbow met all air staff qualitative requirements during the field trials conducted by the IAF, while the Russian Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-28 Havoc failed to pass muster.


Apache Combat Helicopter in action ( Image Courtesy - ridelust.com )

"It's just a matter of time before the contract is inked for the Apaches after final commercial negotiations. Most of the hurdles have been cleared,'' a defence ministry official said.

The deal will also include advanced AN/APG-78 fire control radars for the Apaches as well as Hellfire anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

News Courtesy - en.ria.ru

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stealth FGFA to be unveiled in India by 2014‎

The initial version of FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft), being jointly developed by India and Russia and tipped to be one of the most-advanced in the world, will be unveiled in India in 2014. The FGFA with stealth features is slated to be inducted in the Indian Air Force by 2022. 

"The first prototype of the FGFA is scheduled to arrive in India by 2014 after which it will undergo extensive trials at the Ojhar Air Base (Maharashtra). The second prototype will arrive in India in 2017 and the third prototype will arrive in 2019. Based on the experience of test-flights of the each prototype, the final version of the FGFA would be developed for operational service. We are hopeful that the aircraft would be ready for induction by 2022," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne told a news agency.
 

First Flight of Sukhoi T-50, Russian variant of FGFA ( Image Coutesy - ausairpower.net )

India plans to acquire 214 of these fighter planes by the end of 2030 at an estimated cost of over USD 30 billion. Russia has already developed three prototypes of the aircraft which are being used for carrying out test-flights. FGFA with stealth features would be smaller than Indian Air Force frontline aircraft, Su-30 MKI.

The IAF is in the process of phasing-out Russian-origin MiG series fighters which are almost forty years old in operational service. The FGFA along with the Russian-origin Su-30 MKIs and the 126 MRCAs would be the mainstay of the Air Force for the next four decades.

News Courtesy - zeenews

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Indian AEW&C Aircraft delivered by Embraer

After many delays and disruptions, India's Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), dreams have finally taken off with the latest delivery of an AEW&C platform from Brazilian aircraft-maker Embraer.

India, on Thursday, took delivery of the Embraer 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft following the completion of a host of tests conducted by both Embraer and the Indian Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) which designed the phased array radar which sits atop the aircraft. The first of the three AEW&C aircraft comes equipped with India’s first-ever airborne Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar, giving it the capability to detect missiles and hostile fighters at all angles.


Indian AEW&C ( Image courtesy - shephardmedia.com )

This surveillance aircraft would now move to DRDO Labs, to be fitted with Mission Systems Avionics and will commence the developmental trials, after successful ground evaluation clearances. This new platform would give the Indian Air Force capability of operating both the longer range Israeli-made IL-76 Phalcon AWACS as well as the shorter range Brazilian EMB 145.

In another paralle-running project, as a follow-on contract worth $800 million, India in 2011 had ordered another two advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS which will be delivered in 2015. IAF already operates three Phalcon AWACS, and is looking to increase the order to a total of twelve platforms.


Indian AWACS ( Image Courtesy - bharat-rakshak.com )

News Courtesy - thehindubusinessline.com

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Russian Navy - Return of Akula !!!

A Russian Akula-Class nuclear-powered attack submarine, loaded with cruise missiles, has been patrolling near the US strategic nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, the home base for eight of America’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
Armed with various types of torpedoes, including those with nuclear warheads, anti-submarine-warfare missiles and long-range (3,000 kilometers) nuclear cruise missiles, Akula-Class SSNs are the most advances attack submarines of Russian Navy, capable of destroying both nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. It is alleged that the Russian sub went undetected for weeks, its presence was detected only when it had completed its patrol and left the area. This could also mean that it might have been relieved-of-duty and has been just replaced by another Akula, which is now on stations, around the coast of United States.

Vepr, an Akula Class SSN ( Image Courtesy - rt.com )
The report alleges that powerful US hydro-acoustic sensors deployed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, supported by powerful military satellites, were unable to detect a submarine Russia has deployed for the past two decades. 
Sending a nuclear-propelled submarine into the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean region is another demonstration by Russia that it is still a big player on the world’s political-military stage.
The last time Russian subs were supposedly detected near US shores was in 2009, when the New York Times reported on two Russian nuclear-powered assault submarines patrolling the Atlantic some 200 miles off the American coast. The report also mentioned future Russian plans to build dozens of new submarines, which will be even more sophisticated than Akula.
News Courtesy - rt.com
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Indian Navy - Naval Fleets

This article is solely focused on Indian Naval Fleets, as there has been limited information available in public domain around them -  How many fleets India has ? Where are they home-ported ? What is the general structure of the fleet when it moves to the open ocean on a mission or on a strategic exercise. Naval fleets do not sit idle in the peace time, on the contrary they are actively engaged on variety of missions throughout the year. 

A naval fleet may be absorbing an altogether new platform in the fleet, like Shivalik Class Stealth Frigate, or Akula Class SSN. The arrival of a new type of platform requires development of a new standard-operating-procedures and their implementation through exercises. The capability enhancements brought into the fleet by the new advanced platforms needs to be gauged and validated, so that they can be judiciously employed and exploited to the maximum in the hour of need.

Another case could be development of a a new naval doctrine - due to changes in the threat levels in the area-of-operations; acquisition of a new platform by an adversary, this newly-acquired strength of an adversary needs to be countered. The new naval doctrine needs to be validated through exercises based on scenarios which simulate real-time situations.

Coming back to the Naval Fleets - India has got three major Naval Fleets, namely - Western Naval Fleet, Eastern Naval Fleet and Southern Naval Fleet. Apart from these three major fleets, there is another fleet based in Andaman and Nicobar, known as Far Eastern Naval Fleet under Andaman and Nicobar Joint Service Command. Far Eastern Naval Fleet is still under a development stage, but considering the current geopolitical scenario, it is destined to be the most strategic and active fleets of Indian Navy within a horizon of two to three years.


Indian Naval Bases ( Image Courtesy - Wikipedia )

Western Fleet moves under the flagship of INS Viraat, with a battle group supported by Delhi Class Destroyers, Talwar/Shivalik Class Frigates, Sindhughosh Class Diesel-Electric Submarines, and Aditya/Deepak Class Replenishment Tankers. The major bases of Western Fleet are Bombay and Karwar. INS Vikramaditya is expected to be home-ported at Karwar, along its Carrier Battle Group.

Eastern Fleet currently has INS Jalashwa, Trenton Class LPD, Delhi Class Destroyers, Talwar/Shivalik Class Frigates, Sindhughosh Class Diesel-Electric Submarines, and Aditya/Deepak Class Replenishment Tankers. Along with these platforms, INS Chakra, an Akula Class SSN is also home-ported here. INS Arihant is also expected to be home-ported on a new naval base Rambili under Eastern Naval Command, which is under construction and is being developed as a major base for nuclear-powered submarines. The major base of Eastern Fleet is Vishakhapatnam, which will soon be augmented by the new naval base, INS Rambili.

Southern Fleet has a number of platforms targeted towards coastal defense, naval training, and piracy control, these platforms include INS Tir, INS Kalpeni, INS Sukanya, INS Tarangini, etc. The major base of Southern Fleet is Kochi.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Russian SSBN Novomoskovsk, Delta Class Ballistic Missile Submarine returns to service

The Russian Navy's SSBN Novomoskovsk has been refitted and returned to service with the Northern Fleet, it will serve another ten years before being decommissioned in 2022, Fleet Spokesman Captain First Rank Vadim Serga said on Monday.

The Project 667 type boat (NATO Delta 4) arrived at its base in the port of Severomorsk on Monday after the refit at the Zvezdochka shipyard at nearby Severodvinsk. "The boat's life after refit and modernization will be extended by another ten years," Serga said.

The refit of the Novomoskovsk included hundreds of improvements, "making the boat quieter, increasing its ability to detect other submarines, increasing its survivability and nuclear safety," he added. Novomoskovsk is the second Northern Fleet 667 boat to be refitted. Last year, the Verkhoturye underwent a similar refit at Zvezdochka and was returned to service.
 

Russian SSBN Novomoskovsk ( Image Courtesy - en.ria.ru )

The Novomoskovsk's refit began in 2007. The boat was originally built at Sevmash in June 1987 and entered service in 1990. The boat was the first to launch a scientific satellite into orbit with a ballistic missile in 1998. The 667 class boats displace 12,000 tons, they are armed with 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

News Courtesy - en.ria.ru

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Finaly Indian Navy sailing to embrace Private Shipyards

With the Navy keen on getting submarines in adequate numbers quickly to make up for its fast depleting submarine fleet, roping in private yards is on the agenda of both the Navy and Defence Ministry. Currently only two government yards in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam are making submarines for the Navy.

Larsen and Tubro (L&T) is believed to be the front runner after it proved its worth with the Arihant programme in which it successfully made the hull of the first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant. L&T yard in Gujarat is understood to have made the second nuclear-powered submarine as well.


An artistic representation of submarine from L&T shipyard ( Image Courtesy - brahmand.com )

The first batch of new submarines (Project-75) is delayed by three years. The first Scorpene submarine being manufactured at Mazgaon Dock Ltd in Mumbai will be ready by 2015 and the entire fleet of six submarines should be inducted by 2018.

To reduce delivery time, the Navy proposed to make first two submarines in P-75 I on the yard of foreign collaborator and the remaining four on Indian yards.

News Courtesy - deccanherald.com

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Indian Navy now looking for SSN - Nuclear Powered Attack Submarines

Encouraged by the technological leap in the form of Arihant Class SSBNs, Indian Navy is now turning its attention to SSNs, Nuclear Powered Attack Submarines. A potent CBG (Carrier Battle Group), centered around INS Vikramaditya would definitely require escort from an SSN, to protect itself from under-sea threats. Fortunately, Indian Navy has got INS Chakra in its arsenal to escort INS Vikramaditya CBG.

But come 2017, when INS Vikrant II will be sailing with its own CBG, Indian Navy would struggle for a nuclear-powered under-sea escort for this second CBG. One option could be lease of second Akula Class SSN, reportedly another 60% complete hull of an Akula SSN is lying in a Russian shipyard. Other option could be to develop an indigenous SSN with the help of experience gained from the development of Arihant Class SSBNs. French also chose the same path, first developing the SSBNs of Redoutable Class, which was later followed by the development of Rubis Class SSNs.


INS Chakra ( Image Courtesy - ndtv.com )

There has been some clues dropped by defence sources in the recent past about another "black-project" related to development of an indigencous SSN, however, there has been no offical confirmation so far.

A member from the Centre for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi, has recently stated that India is planning to develop a fleet of six SSNs, adding that within seven years the country should have a varied fleet which would, in theory, be able to block Chinese access to the Indian Ocean via the Strait of Malacca. "They could be sitting off Karachi – or China. It's an investment for the future," he pointed out.
News Courtesy - telegraph.co.uk


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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Indian Navy : Tenders for 4 Landing Platform Docks - LPD

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi today, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Nirmal Verma mentioned that pretty soon tenders will be issued for four Landing Platform Docks - LPDs. At present, Indian Navy operates just one LPD, INS Jalashwa erstwhile USS Trenton, acquired from US Navy.


San Giorgio Class LPD of Italian Navy ( Image Courtesy - .jeffhead.com )

However, no further information on LPD was mentioned in the press conference, including its design and whether construction would be in Indian or a foreign shipyard. A full-length deck LPD design provides number of options for the navy, including usage as Light Aircraft Carrier, by operating VTOL Aircraft like Sea Harrrier or F-35B, in special circumstances. Japanese Hyuga Class LPH (Landing Platform Helicopter) and South Korean Dokdo Class LPH are capable of operating VTOL aircrafts with minimal modifications, same applies for HMAS Canberra Class LPHs which are under construction for Australian Navy.

Defence Analysts have been of the opinion that Indian Navy should also go for the similar full-length deck LPH design so that in case of a small skirmish, these LPHs can address those situations. These LPHs can be used to project Indian maritime power across anywhere in the Indian Ocean, from Strait-of-Hormuz to Strait-of-Malacca, while deployment of Aircaft Carriers considered only in serious situations.

Indian Navy has been pushing for construction of at least two LPDs in a foreign shipyard, citing huges delays in Indian shipywards ranging from Shivalik Class Frigates to Vikrant II Class Aircraft Carrier.

News Courtesy - business-standard.com

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