Target Firing of BRAHMOS Air Version by December
On June 25, India achieved a milestone after the successful test-flight of BRAHMOS missile on Su-30MKI aircraft carried out at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Nashik airport. Inching further, BrahMos Aerospace is planning to perform drop-test and firing test by the end of this year and induct the air version in to the Indian Air Force (IAF). According to officials, since BRAHMOS is a proven missile, only one actual test would be sufficient to induct the weapon system into operational service. Once done, the Indian Air Force (IAF) would acquire an exceptional offensive capability.
BRAHMOS cruise missile is one of the biggest success stories that Indian defence industry has managed to produce. BRAHMOS has been developed as a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia under BrahMos Aerospace.
BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile was initially developed as anti-ship version for launch from ship for the Indian Navy. Subsequently, the land attack version was developed for the Indian Army. Tests were later carried out from ship to land target. Coastal battery from mobile complex on land to ship is also available for the Indian Navy. Accepted by all the three defence services, land and sea-launched versions of this missile is already in service. Apart from the air-launched version, BrahMos Aerospace is also working on the upgrades such as submarine-launched and the hypersonic versions of the missile.
BRAHMOS is a two-stage missile. Solid propellant booster engine in the first stage brings it to the supersonic speed and the liquid fuelled ramjet in the second phase takes the missile to a speed of 2.8 Mach in cruise phase to deliver a 300kg payload. Russia has provided propulsion, while India is responsible for navigation based on inertial navigation system. The missile has the flight range of 290 km with the supersonic speed all throughout the flight. The missile has a universal launcher for its naval and land versions. Moreover, the same missile, without any modification, can be used against any ship or land targets. The air version on the other hand, will lighter in weight and even their carriers, Su-30MKI aircraft will need to be modified to carry the supersonic missile. HAL has undertaken these modifications within the country itself.
In March 2013, BRAHMOS created a record of sorts by its underwater launch from a pontoon platform. The navy was satisfied with the tests and gave the preliminary acceptance to have eight vertically launched BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missiles on each of P-75I submarines. Consider a realistic naval firepower potential a decade from now: All Kilo-class submarines will be fitted with the Russian Klub 3E-14E LACM. With each submarine carrying 16 to 18 of these 300km range missiles, the navy will have devastating firepower to employ in various tactical scenarios. This is not all. With P-75I submarines getting inducted into service, they would be fitted with both Klub 3E-14E LACM and improved BRAHMOS missiles; then, even reduced submarine numbers will be made good by better capabilities.
Indian Navy to Upgrade 10 Ka-28 ASW Helicopters
Indian Navy’s requirement for the latest Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) technology is being addressed by the defence ministry. The ministry had signed a USD 300 million contract in early August with Rosoboronexport to upgrade 10 Ka-28 ASW helicopters in Russia. According to the reports, the Ka-28s will be first sent for technical overhaul by the original equipment manufacturer — Russian Helicopters — and be brought back to India. Once they are back in India, the helicopters will be fitted with the advanced sensors at the naval base in Visakhapatnam.
Indian Navy has issued a request for the upgradation of its ASW helicopter fleet in 2008. The navy had time and again raised the issue of shortage while reminding that it had been relying on the obsolete sensor technology on Kamov-28s which needed urgent upgradation. Apart from Kamov-28, Indian Navy also operates 16 Sea King helicopters which are also in need of replacement. According to the latest agreement, all the 10 ASW helicopters will be modernised and upgraded in the next five years in Russia. While six of the 10 helicopters will get state-of-the-art equipment and advanced sensors, the remaining four will undergo basic upgradations of their engines and sensors.
Reports suggest that advanced sensors will be supplied by Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, for the upgradation process. However, instead of purchasing directly from the European company, India will rely on Rosoboronexport which will import the sensors and install them on Kamov-28s in Visakhapatnam. Selex’s Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance (ATOS) mission management system has been increasingly popular for a wide range of airborne Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) including anti-submarine warfare operations.
The navy has also taken delivery of the Ka-31 Early Warning helicopters from Russia after completion of repairs. These helicopters were overhauled in Russia by Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise, where they were originally manufactured. A total of 14 of the type which boasts a powerful on-board early radar warning system and retractable radar antenna for panoramic visibility are in service. The Ka-31 is used for early detection of ships or low-flying aerial targets (winged missiles, helicopters, planes), after identifying the detected targets, and their location and trajectory, the radar situation is transmitted to vessels at sea or land based command posts.
Uralvagonzavod Moves Ahead with Indian Army’s T-72 Modernisation
Russia’s battle tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod is currently undertaking an upgrade programme for Indian Army’s 150 T-72 tanks, the contract for which was signed in March this year. According to the upgrade programme, the Russian company will undertake modifications for the engine, make improvements for the sight systems, and enhance protection against armoured piercing shells which would apparently make the T-72 tank comparable to that of Indian Army’s T-90S tank. The estimated worth of this modernisation project is around USD 37 million.
This upgrade programme will add another 15-20 years to the T-72 tanks which will fight alongside T-90 and will retire after Arjun Mark-II MBT enters into service. The first batch of 32 upgraded tanks will arrive in India by the end of 2016.
Uralvagonzavod also offered some of the advanced systems that can be opted by the Indian Army for the T-72 and T-90 tanks. A tank mounted system for launching remotely detonated high-explosive projectiles through 125mm barrel is one such device. The system for the remotely detonated projectiles may be installed on T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks, multiplying their combat effectiveness in all types of combat operations. The projectile is intended to hit various types of armed targets, a wide range of unarmoured and lightly armoured targets including small surface targets, as well as low-speed aerial targets such as UAV and helicopters. The Russian company executive said that the system was “highly appreciated by the representatives of the Indian defence ministry”.
Sukhoi Design Bureau to improve serviceability of Su-30MKI
The operational reliability improvement programme for the Indian Air Force Su-30 MKI aircraft is being pursued by the Indian defence ministry. Recently, the defence minister had told the Parliament that the availability of Su-30MKI aircraft is 57 per cent and he hopes to increase it to 75 per cent by the end of the year. In order to achieve this goal, the ministry has roped in the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Sukhoi Design Bureau.
“The Russian OEM has introduced a number of measures to resolve the technical issues that have led to engine problems. The OEM has offered certain modifications or technological improvements for implementation in the production of new aero engines and during overhaul of engines”, Manohar Parrikar said. The modifications in the process of overhaul and maintenance, proposed by Sukhoi Design Bureau’s designers, are being implemented by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with the technical experts from Russia. “The OEM has also advised certain precautions/ predictive maintenance during exploitation of aero engines which have been implemented by the Indian Air Force (IAF)”, Parrikar added. Furthermore, the IAF has also finalised long term repair agreement with Russian OEMs to improve availability of aircraft for operational use.
The IAF currently plans to have 272 Su-30 MKI fighters by 2018. HAL’s Nashik production line is building the fighter. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) boasts licensed produced Sukhoi as one of its ‘Make in India’ success stories where they claim to have the capability to support the fighter fleet for the next three to four decades. HAL also claims that they can take export orders.
Recently, HAL achieved a milestone after undertaking the first carriage flight of Su-30MKI aircraft with BrahMos missile at HAL airport Nashik. HAL has signed a contract to modify two Su-30MKI aircraft for integration of the missile. In this contract, HAL has stated that it has presumed the role of OEM and modified the airframe of license-built aircraft. Around 40 aircraft are expected to be modified in the next few years. This maiden flight will be followed by series of test flights and complete evaluation and certification of BRAHMOS missile on Su-30MKI aircraft.
India and Russia Negotiate Terms for Ka-226T Helicopters
Indian Army’s urgent requirement for the light utility helicopters to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet could be met by Russian Kamov-226T helicopters. An agreement was signed on 24 December 2015 between India and Russia, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow that envisages setting up a joint venture with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for production of Ka-226T helicopters in India. “The financial implications will be available once the authorised organisations from both sides set up joint venture company and the contract with the ministry of defence for supply of helicopter is finalised”, defence minister Manohar Parrikar stated.
Speaking to the media at Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition, director for international cooperation and regional policy of Rostec, Viktor Kladov said, “If the process develops according to the plan, the corresponding firm contract will be ready by the end of 2016. We hope the relevant work will be started at the Indian production site as early as in 2017”.
The contract will be for at least 200 units of Kamov-226T helicopters and its modifications. Out of which 40 helicopters will be supplied in the fly away condition and the remaining helicopters will be assembled in India. The agreement also includes maintenance operation and repair of helicopters and providing them with technical support. India’s Ka-226T is to be equipped with modern navigation equipment. It can easily manoeuvre in both urban as well as non-urban environments such as mountains. The absence of a tail rotor and compact dimensions allows the use of small airfields.
“This is the first Russian-Indian high-tech project, implemented by the Indian government within the framework of the ‘Make in India’ programme”, said CEO of the Rostec State Corporation, Sergei Chemezov. “In the future, the programme can be extended and both partners are considering the possibility of joint access to other markets as well”, he added. “Russia and India have had long term cooperation with regards to the supply of Russian helicopters. The organisation of production of the light Ka-226T in India is a big step forward in the development of business relations between the two countries said the CEO of Russian Helicopters, Alexander Mikheyev. “Through the implementation of this ambitious project, we plan to strengthen the position of Russian Helicopters in the strategically important South Asian market. I am confident that the project will be successful and will open new prospects for cooperation between India and Russia”, Mikheyev added.
Almaz Antey’s S-400 ADMS to be Inducted Before 2022
In a recent statement in the Parliament, defence minister Manohar Parrikar had announced that the five units of S-400 air defence missile systems (ADMS) are planned for induction in to the Indian Air Force between 2017 and 2022 (13th five year plan). It was in December 2015, the defence acquisition committee (DAC), chaired by Parrikar, approved the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumpf air defence missile system manufactured by Almaz-Antey. This approval is estimated to create business opportunity of about USD 6 billion.
S-400 mobile (wheeled) multi-channel air defence missile system (ADMS) is designed for advanced air threat interceptions to include aircraft on varied missions, hypersonic cruise missiles, tactical and theatre medium-range ballistic missiles and other air threats at dense counter-measures scenario.
Rostec to Soon Finalise the New Contract for 48 Mi-17V-5 Helicopters for India
Rostec State Corporation is expecting to close a new contract for 48 units of Mi-17V-5 helicopters for the Indian armed forces soon. A commercial proposal was presented to the Indian ministry of defence in February this year and after the commercial terms are agreed upon, a firm order is expected to be received. Last September, the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) had cleared the purchase of the 48 helicopters, and the project is headed towards finalisation. During 2008 to 2015, Rosoboronexport had supplied a total of 151 units of the Mi-17V-5, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant of the manufacturer, Russian Helicopters. The helicopters were inducted into the military and paramilitary forces including the Border Security Force (BSF).
“Over a long time, Russian helicopters have gained a reputation for being very efficient and reliable machines and the intention of the Indian Army to purchase a new batch of Mi-17V-5 is proof of that. Since this is not the first contract for these helicopters, we assume that the negotiations will not take a long time… India has long been and remains our strategic partner, and we intend to maintain our leading position in the helicopter sector and increase Rostec’s presence in the region,” said Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation.
In March 2016, Rostec has announced its intention to sign a long-term maintenance agreement with Indian defence ministry to provide after-sale service for Mi-17 helicopters. “We have conducted negotiations with our Indian partners and we plan to sign a contract that will lay the foundation for collaboration between Russian Helicopters and India in an entirely new way. The company is shifting from offering separate services to providing comprehensive after-sales support. The possibility of such collaboration is now being discussed with the air force, navy and border patrol troops of India,” Russian Helicopter’s deputy CEO Igor Chechikov said at DefExpo 2016. “For us, it will be the first long-term service contract with India. Set prices and delivery dates for supplying equipment needed to repair our helicopters are among the advantages of this type of contract. It will boost Russian-made helicopters’ after-sales system to a new level.”
According to the preliminary agreement, Russian Helicopters will provide repairs to Mi-17 type helicopters and will supply spare parts for them throughout the entire life cycle of the rotorcraft. Repairs of helicopters operated in India will be performed by enterprises belonging to Russian Helicopters holding company. The contract’s life cycle is expected to be 3-5 years.
The Mi-17V-5, supplied to India, ranks among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type, incorporating the best engineering solutions of previous generations. Each Indian Mi-17V-5 has a complex navigation and electronic display KNEI-8, where the numerous indicators of various information systems of the helicopter are replaced with four multi-function displays, the presence of which unloads dashboards and greatly facilitates the work of the crew. The complex also simplifies pre-flight check of the helicopter with information from all sensors of conjugate systems on a single monitor screen.
India and Russia take FGFA project forward
After numerous delays, the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme seems to be back to the negotiating table, with fewer bottlenecks between India and Russia. Recent reports suggested that India is boosting negotiations with Russia on the joint development of the FGFA programme and is ready to make equal contribution to the project. Both the countries will now invest an estimated USD 4 billion into the project. This cost will include the cost of prototyping, test programmes, construction of production facilities and assembly lines, support facilities as well as the production of the aircrafts. The inter-governmental agreement (IGA) for development and production of the FGFA was signed between the two countries in October 2007. The preliminary design phase was completed in June 2013 against the planned date of August 2012. In 2015, India and Russia have agreed upon the amount of work during the research and development (R&D) stage of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) project.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was primarily involved with redesign of the structure for the twin seat variant and to oversee the integration of a number of systems that have been specified by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the Preliminary Design Phase (PDP). However, the IAF will go in for 144 single seat aircraft instead of the earlier requirement for 200 (including 48 two-seaters). HAL already has its engineers in Russia where co-development of the design drawings and R&D work is being done. Indian designers will have access to all design data and information and will contribute significantly towards the R&D work on the programme. It was earlier planned that three prototypes to be manufactured at Nasik in Maharashtra would begin flight testing by 2018.
All FGFA aircraft will be manufactured at HAL’s Nasik facility after production of the Su-30MKI is completed, while engines will be produced at Koraput in Orissa. This will continue the separation of production facilities for Russian aircraft by HAL at Nasik and Koraput, while Western origin aircraft are manufactured at Bengaluru.
Since the first flight of the Russian PAK-FA T-50 (FGFA) in January 2010 numerous test flights have been completed. Five T-50 Prototypes are currently taking part in the flight test programme with T-50-5 (fifth prototype) performing a ferry flight in December 2013. One of the prototypes also carried out the T-50’s first long range flight from Sukhoi’s manufacturing facility to Moscow over a distance of 7,000 km (4,350 miles) with two stops at Abakan and Chelyabinsk.
The Advanced Fifth-generation Aircraft Radar (AFAR) has a range of new operation modes, allowing increasing the target detection range, parallel working in ‘air-to-air’ and ‘air-to-surface’ modes, recognition and classification of group and single objects, simultaneously attacking multiple targets with precision weapons, and ensuring communication and electronic countermeasures compatibility.