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AUDITOR NO TO NAVY’S RS 6,000 CRORE DEAL

defNew Delhi: The attorney-general (A-G) has recommended cancellation of a proposed defence deal for the acquisition of eight minesweeper vessels, estimated to be worth about Rs 6,000 crore, from the South Korean Kangnam Corporation after allegations of involvement of middlemen, official sources in the ministry of defence (MoD) have confirmed.

 

The MoD had sought the view of A-G Mukul Rohatgi in the matter. The government may now find it difficult to ignore the opinion of the A-G and the deal could soon be cancelled, much to the dismay of the Navy, which is desperate to add more minesweepers to its fleet.

 

In the process to acquire eight minesweeper vessels for the Indian Navy, South Korean Kangnam Corporation had already been declared as the lowest bidder from a list of three vendors and was expected to clinch the deal. The allegations had first surfaced during the tenure of the previous UPA-2 government.

 

Fears are being expressed that such a move could adversely affect the operational preparedness of the Navy. Minesweeper vessels clear the waters of enemy mines in the event of a conflict.

According to the proposed deal, Kangnam Corporation was to supply two minesweepers to the Navy, while the remaining six were to be built in India through technology transfer.

 

The Modi government had, in August this year, scrapped a seven-year-old global tender worth thousands of crores for the acquisition of 197 helicopters for the Army and IAF after the acquisition process was mired in allegations of corruption.

(Source: Deccan Chronicle November 4, 2014)

 

 

SRI LANKA, INDIA JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE COMMENCES

 

Special Operations personnel of the Sri Lankan and Indian armies will be engaged in a joint military exercise from Monday

 

A contingent of Indian Army Special Force troops together with a corresponding Sri Lankan contingent of Special Forces and Commandos, along with Navy and Air Force personnel will launch the training Exercise – Mithra Shakthi’ at Uva-Kudaoya Commando Regiment Training School (CRTS) Monday, reports the Colombo Page web site.

 

A contingent of 168 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Army Special Forces and Commando Regiment, accompanied by 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Navy and 16 officers and other ranks from Sri Lanka Air Force, together with 42 Indian Army Special Force troops, will participate in the exercise until November 23.

 

The ‘Exercise – Mithra Shakthi’ is an initiative, designed largely by the Indian Army following the ‘Annual Defence Dialogue’ (ADD) that was co-chaired in Colombo early October by both Indian Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur, and Secretary to Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

 

Implemented under the directions of the Sri Lankan Army Commander Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, the exercise is aimed at sharing knowledge and experience between Special Operation Forces of both Sri Lanka and Indian Armies through enhancement of interoperability, joint efforts and mutual exchange of Special Operation tactics.

 

Following the ADD held in January 2012, a Sri Lankan contingent of 48 service personnel took part in a similar Exercise in New Delhi, India at the invitation of the Indian Army.

(Source: Business Standard November 4, 2014)

 

INDIA MUST ACQUIRE SURVEILLANCE CAPACITY TO MONITOR BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER

 

New Delhi: Defence analyst Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar on Monday said that the bomb blast which took place near the Wagah border in Pakistan poses a very serious internal security challenge for Pakistan, adding that India would have to acquire the capacity for surveillance on both sides of the border.

 

“The suicide attack at the Wagah border is a very serious internal security challenge for Pakistan. The fact that the suicide bomber could enter the area despite the security calls for a certain degree of internal review by the Pakistani agencies,” Commodore Bhaskar told ANI here.

 

Commodore Bhaskar further said that the activities of terrorist groups in Pakistan call for deep introspection, both within India and Pakistan.

 

“The internal security of Pakistan has been challenged by the Pakistani Taliban and its various support groups. This particular incident has many elements that should call for deep introspection both within Pakistan and India which is directly affected by any development that takes place near the Wagah border,” he said.

 

He further said that since the incident took place close to the border, India must develop its surveillance capabilities to keep an eye on both sides of the border.

 

“For us the cause for concern is the fact that the incident took place so close to the Wagah border, which means that there is a probability that the same kind of attack can take place on the Indian side or along the border. India would have to acquire the capacity for surveillance not only on its side of the border but on the other side of the border as well,” he said.

 

Earlier on Sunday, a reported 55 people, including three security personnel, were reportedly killed and nearly 200 injured when a suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb at Wagah in Pakistan, just after the flag-lowering ceremony at the border crossing.

(Source: Zee News November 4, 2014)

 

NAVIES OF FRIENDLY COUNTRIES KEEN ON INDIAN SONARS

 

India is looking to export indigenously developed hull-mounted sonars and negotiations are at an advanced stage with the navies of three to four friendly nations.

 

SONAR (an acronym for Sound Navigation and Ranging) is used to detect underwater targets. Like radar, used to detect long-range aerial and other targets, sonars have applications in underwater surveillance, communication and marine navigation.

 

Three units of these sonars have been exported to Myanmar. Officials from Bharat Electronics Limited and the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory visited the neighbouring country and installed them a fortnight ago. BEL produced the sonars while the Kochi-based NPOL, a naval lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), designed and developed them. BEL had signed the Rs.150-crore contract for the three sonars with Myanmar in January 2013. Director-General of DRDO (Naval Systems and Materials) Bhujanga Rao told The Hindu that there was a demand from other nations too. Naval officials from three to four countries came to India and held discussions.  Mentioning different sonars developed for the Navy, he said that a versatile, new-generation system USHUS has been installed on India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, Arihant. It has a higher range and can withstand high static pressure of water. Observing that it was superior to Russian equivalents and comparable to the best in the world, he said that sonars on all Russian-class submarines being operated by the Indian Navy would be replaced with USHUS.

 

Another advanced hull-mounted sonar HUMSA-NG (new generation) was also developed and the Navy had placed orders for its installation on different platforms such as destroyers, frigates and corvettes, Dr. Rao said. A sonar for detecting intruders like divers had been developed for installation at harbour entry points and to protect offshore installations. It will be ready for deployment in a year.

(Source: Hindu November 4, 2014)

 

THE INDIAN NAVY HAS A BIG PROBLEM: THE SUBSURFACE DILEMMA

 

The United States’ strategic reorientation towards the Indo-Pacific has been accompanied by a heightened interest in matters maritime. In contrast to the primary theaters of the Cold War, the region’s strategic and economic geography is strongly defined by its wide oceans, narrow choke points and contested waterways. As a result, the naval profiles of Asia’s two great rising powers, India and China, have attracted a hitherto unprecedented level of attention.

 

Meanwhile, the very nature of maritime competition appears to be undergoing a radical transformation. The proliferation of precision-guided weaponry has resulted in the erection of increasingly formidable land-based reconnaissance-strike complexes, structured around dense constellations of anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) complexes. The growing ability of coastal states to both locate and prosecute mobile targets offshore has raised questions over the survivability of expensive, high-signature surface vessels, and maritime competition is increasingly being driven underwater. While much commentary has been made on the drivers and motivations behind China’s growing submarine fleet, the Indian Navy’s perception of the undersea domain has only infrequently been discussed. How do security managers in New Delhi view issues such as undersea warfare or the future of subsurface competition in the Indian Ocean? What are the Indian Navy’s priorities in terms of subsurface force structure and anti-submarine warfare (ASW)? How close is it to realizing its stated objectives? And what kind of acquisitions could best help the Indian Navy shield its fleet and maritime environs from unwelcome submarine activity?

 

Since its inception, the Indian Navy has been a carrier-centric force with a service culture heavily geared toward blue-water operations, surface warfare and sea control. India’s 2009 Maritime Doctrine clearly reflects these organizational proclivities, stipulating that “[s]ea control is the central concept around which the [Indian Navy] is structured, and aircraft carriers are decidedly the most substantial contributors to it.” With rare exceptions, Indian Navy chiefs have been surface warfare officers or naval aviators.

 

Nevertheless, Indian naval planners have long had a strong appreciation of the risks posed by marauding enemy submarines and the advantages to be derived from using subsurface assets for forward-deployed sea denial and choke point–control. The sinking of an Indian frigate, the INS Khukri, by a Pakistani Daphne-class submarine in the war of 1971, features amongst the Indian Navy’s darkest hours, and security managers in Delhi have traditionally harbored a somewhat proprietorial attitude toward the Indian Ocean, fretting over underwater encroachments. Whereas during the Cold War, Indian strategists pointed to the mushrooming of U.S. submarine pens in Diego Garcia, nowadays concerns revolve more around China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

 

India’s Dwindling Conventional Submarine Force::

 

Since 1999, the Indian Navy has repeatedly stated that it would require at least twenty-four conventional submarines in order to both prevail in a high-intensity conflict with Pakistan and deter extra-regional powers. This force structure has been sanctioned by India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), and was reportedly reiterated in the most recent version of the Indian Navy’s classified Maritime Capability Perspective Plan.

 

Unfortunately, after a series of accidents and cascading delays, the Indian Navy’s submarine flotilla has shrunk down to only eleven operational boats—seven Russian Kilo-class submarines and four German HDW submarines. No new diesel-electric submarine has been commissioned for the past fifteen years, and many of the existing boats are over a quarter-century old. In October 2005, the Indian Navy signed a landmark deal for six French Scorpene-class boats. All submarines were to be built in India, at Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, under a technology-transfer agreement. For a variety of reasons ranging from reported teething problems in the absorption of new technologies, to abstruse and never-ending pricing negotiations, the schedule for delivery has been repeatedly pushed back. Indeed, whereas the Scorpenes were initially projected to join the fleet between 2012 and 2017, it now only looks as though they will be battle-ready by 2022. Project 75I, a follow-on program for six next-generation SSKs equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) and land-attack capabilities, was only just cleared by India’s Defense Acquisition Council, after years of increasingly desperate appeals by India’s naval officers to fast-track the process. Initially, the plan was to import two boats once a foreign vendor had been selected, then license-build the remaining four, but it now looks as though the Indian Navy has opted to construct all six boats in India with foreign assistance. It will probably take a few years to select the vendor, then another eight to ten years to build the submarines in question, rendering the prospect of them joining the fleet before 2030 extremely unlikely.

 

India’s Naval Nuclear Ambitions::

 

In parallel to its conventional submarine fleet, India has been investing in nuclear-powered platforms. In 2012, the Indian Navy commissioned the INS Chakra, an Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), which it acquired from Russia on a ten-year lease. When it was commissioned, it was described as a potential force multiplier for India’s rapidly decaying submarine fleet, and as opening the door in the future for blue-water submarine operations. Whereas India’s diesel-electric submarine fleet is primarily located along its western coast, the INS Chakra has been stationed along its eastern seaboard—and is clearly positioned to address the Chinese threat. There have been persistent rumors of plans to lease a second Akula, although nothing has yet been officially confirmed.

 

The most significant development with respect to India’s submarine force occurred in 2009, when India launched its first indigenously developed SSBN, the INS Arihant. The Arihant’s reactor went critical in August 2013, and it is expected to formally join the fleet some time in 2015. At present, it is slated to be fitted with up to twelve 750-km range Sagarika K-15 SLBMs, which is considered by many Indian commentators to be “grossly inadequate.” Due to these range limitations and the short refueling cycle of the boat’s nuclear reactor, it is unlikely that the Arihant will deploy on deterrent patrols any time soon, and should thus be viewed—for the time being, at least—as something of a test platform and technology demonstrator, rather than as a viable, rugged component of India’s deterrence structure. This may change in the future, however, as India continues to develop longer-range SLBMs, such as the K-4, which has an advertised range of 3,500 km, or the K-5, which is still in the design phase and projected to have a range of 5,000 km.

 

New Delhi is cognizant of the fact that in order to enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent, particularly vis-a-vis China, whose strategic centers are located along its eastern seaboard, it will need to develop larger SSBNs with greater missile-carriage capacity and more powerful reactors. The development of a sea-based deterrent constitutes a colossal new undertaking for the Indian Navy, whether in terms of technological development, supporting infrastructure or even in terms of nuclear doctrine and command and control arrangements. Under the aegis of Project Varsha, a large new SSBN base is being built in Rambilli, 50 km southwest of the eastern port of Visakhapatnam, and an Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) communications station was recently erected next to India’s Very Low Frequency (VLF) station in Tamil Nadu. India aims to eventually acquire a SSBN fleet of four to five indigenously produced vessels, all of which will most likely be based along its eastern seaboard. This is primarily due to the fact that the Bay of Bengal is deemed a great degree more suitable for nuclear submarine operations—and perhaps in the future for SSBN bastion development—than the shallow and congested waters of the Arabian Sea.

 

India’s Perception of the Undersea Domain::

 

India’s concerns with regard to the undersea domain are twofold. The first, more immediate concern is Pakistan, which currently operates five SSKs, three Agosta-90B submarines and two more antiquated Agosta-70 boats, along with three Cosmos-class midget submarines. Unlike India’s conventional submarines, Pakistan’s Agosta-90Bs are equipped with AIP, and senior Pakistani defense officials have intimated that Islamabad could soon conclude a long-discussed deal to procure six additional SSKs from China. Pakistani naval planners have traditionally focused on offensive sea denial and coastal interdiction. Indeed, as one former Pakistani chief of naval staff noted, “Submarines have all along been [Pakistan’s] main strength and at the heart of our naval strategy of offensive sea denial.”

 

For the Indian Navy, acquiring and preserving the ability to successfully establish localized sea control within cluttered and bathymetrically challenging waters is of critical importance. If India can no longer credibly threaten Pakistan’s sea lines of communication or operate within strike range of Pakistan’s major ports, it will lose its capacity to translate its naval superiority into effective coercive power. New Delhi would find itself deprived of one of its few viable options to impose costs on Pakistan, and India’s ability to dissuade Pakistani acts of subconventional provocation would find itself further reduced. An addition of another six submarines to Pakistan’s inventory could severely impede India’s ability to exert sea control along Pakistan’s Makran Coast. India’s surface fleet might experience difficulty in locating and prosecuting Pakistani diesel-electric and midget submarines, particularly if they chose to “bottom” and evade sonar detection by settling on a shallow seafloor, switching off their engines, and closing their seawater inlets. Even the hypothetical presence of such platforms deployed along Pakistan’s coastline could create a “subsurface threat-in-being” for the Indian Navy and discourage it from deploying some of its more valuable assets.

 

In the future, the Indian Navy might consider developing a more distributed undersea battle network, composed of smart mines, midget submarines, sensors and UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles), in addition to larger submarines, in order to help reconnoiter, and, if necessary, sanitize contested undersea environments. UUVs, in particular, are likely to fulfill an increasingly wide spectrum of tasks, ranging from mine warfare (MIW), to underwater intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR), and ASW. There have been reports that India intends to acquire up to six 150-ton midget submarines for its special ops MARCOS unit, as well as up to ten indigenously developed UUVs for littoral surveillance purposes. These are steps in the right direction.

 

India’s more long-term concern is related to Chinese submarine deployments in the Indian Ocean. Since December 2008, China has regularly rotated naval task forces in the Indian Ocean, ostensibly for anti-piracy missions. Indian observers, however, have expressed concern over the second-order effects of such deployments, noting that they have allowed Chinese naval intelligence units to better survey the Indian Ocean’s underwater topography and record bathymetric conditions. Similarly, Beijing also signed a contract allowing it to explore polymetallic sulphide ore deposits over a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Southwest Indian Ocean’s seabed. This has been perceived by India’s Directorate of Naval Intelligence as an excuse for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to map the region’s notoriously challenging undersea terrain, with future submarine operations in mind. In 2013, the Indian press leaked the findings of a classified Indian Defense Ministry report, which allegedly reported that Chinese nuclear submarines were “making frequent forays into the Indian Ocean.” These assertions have been partially confirmed by Lt. General Michael Flynn, the Director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, who declared in February 2014 that China had “recently deployed for the first time a nuclear-powered attack submarine to the Indian Ocean.”

 

More recently, a Song-class SSK berthed in the Sri Lankan port of Colombo before heading out for escort missions in the Gulf of Aden. In the past, Indian naval officers had repeatedly asserted that the forward deployment of Chinese submarines—and particularly of Chinese SSNs—in the Indian Ocean would be cause for grave concern. Now that Beijing’s subsurface penetration of the Indian Ocean has been confirmed, it will be interesting to see how the Indian Navy chooses to respond to what, no doubt, constitutes an unwelcome new strategic reality.

 

The Importance of the P-8I::

 

India’s acquisition of eight Boeing P-8I (Poseidon) Neptune Aircraft—with an option for four more—constitutes perhaps one of the most encouraging developments, as it will significantly enhance the Indian Navy’s ability to conduct long-range maritime reconnaissance and ASW. The Poseidon’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will also allow the Indian Navy to more easily detect diesel-electric submarines’ periscopes—a critical factor when addressing the Pakistani submarine threat. Presently based at Rajali, in Tamil Nadu, India’s P-8Is will eventually be deployed to India’s Eastern Naval Command. With a mission radius of 600 nautical miles for six hours on station and up to 1,200 nautical miles for four hours on station, India’s P-8Is will allow the Indian Navy to greatly enhance its maritime and littoral surveillance capabilities over the Bay of Bengal, as well as its ability for maritime interdiction and ASW.

 

There are concerns, however, over the security of the P-8I’s communications, as well as over its lack of electronic warfare self-protection abilities. Indeed, due to India’s continued refusal to sign the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA), the P-8I was delivered without secure and encrypted communications, and satellite navigational aids. As a result, India’s P-8Is are slated to be equipped with an indigenously developed communications system, the Data Link-II system, whose reliability and effectiveness have been openly questioned by some Indian naval officers.

 

The Damaging Effects of Bureaucratic Dysfunction::

 

India’s growing challenges in the undersea domain are exacerbated by certain glaring capability gaps in its surface fleet’s ability to conduct deep-water ASW (anti-submarine warfare). As of now, India’s major surface combatants are only equipped with hull-mounted sonars. While observers have commented on the efficacy of these indigenously developed sonars in the higher thermoclines of the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy urgently requires new types of sonar in order to effectively address the growing threat posed by both nuclear and diesel-electric submarines. Active variable depth sonars (VDS) will be required to better monitor the movements of quiet diesel-electric submarines, while passive towed arrays will be needed to effectively detect the noise emitted by nuclear power plant machinery. Going forward, the best approach for the Indian Navy might be to pursue a VDS so as to address the diesel threat, and a multifunction towed array in order to both listen for the returns from the active VDS, and the noise continuously radiated by lurking nuclear submarines. In short, acquiring a multifunction towed array would allow Indian surface ship commanders the operational flexibility to choose to remain silent and simply listen for the sounds of enemy submarines, or to “ping” active to bounce sound off the hulls of any subsurface intruders.

 

These hardware deficiencies can be attributed, as often in India, to the dysfunctional state of the nation’s higher defense management. Even though the Indian Navy has been trying to import advanced towed arrays for its ships since the 1990s, the Indian Ministry of Defense has, until recently, repeatedly blocked these attempts in favor of mostly fruitless indigenous efforts, such as the Nagan. There are indications that this bureaucratic obstructionism may soon dissipate, but it will take some time before India’s frigates and destroyers are equipped with more advanced sonar systems. Concerns over the vulnerability of India’s surface ships to subsurface attack have been compounded by the fact that the Indian Navy now suffers from an acute shortage in ASW helicopters. Indeed, it currently has only eleven aging Kamov-28 and seventeen Sea King helicopters to help screen a fleet of over 130 boats. Once again, the Indian Navy’s requests to move ahead with a contract for longer-range, and better equipped, helicopters have been met with an unsavory mixture of bureaucratic incompetence and political diffidence.

 

Earlier this year, India’s naval chief, Admiral DK Joshi, resigned after a series of dramatic accidents, two of which took place aboard SSKs and—in both cases—led to a tragic loss of life. In the course of a recent and much discussed interview, the embittered admiral deplored the difficulties he had experienced in obtaining timely repairs and refits of his vessels and drew attention to what he perceived as forming the true cause of India’s continued military dysfunction:

 

“The root cause is this dysfunctional and inefficient business model that we have (…) While professional competence, accountability and responsibility is with the service, this is not the case with authority. (…) For example, when it comes to changing submarine batteries, which are available indigenously, or commencing refits and repairs of ships, aircraft, submarines in Indian yards, the service (navy) does not have that empowerment. (….) Where there is authority, there is no accountability. And where there is responsibility, there is no authority.”

 

Until these larger structural and institutional issues are addressed, it would appear that—notwithstanding India’s beleaguered naval officers’ best efforts—the nation’s subsurface challenges are likely to grow, rather than diminish.

(Source: National Interest November 4, 2014)

 

JAPAN GETS CONTRACT TO BUILD STRATEGEIC ROADS ON INDO-CHINA BORDER

 

The overstretched Border Road Organisation (BRO) has been taken off from building and maintaining 40 per cent of the roads falling under its jurisdiction. Japanese have been given the job to make strategic roads, mostly bordering China.

 

In a meeting with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) held late last week, India has agreed to give about 2,000 kilometres of road along the Chinese border to JICA. JICA will be providing financial assistance as well as technical expertise to construct and improvise the roads. BRO has about 5,000 km of road under its supervision.

 

Situated mostly along the North Eastern states and Uttarakhand, these roads are of strategetic importance to India. Improving NH 39 between Imphal and Kohima, roads between Maram and Dimapur and Ukhrul and Tadubi in Manipur, Shillong and Dauki and construction of Dauki bridge in Meghalaya are some of the projects that JICA will be undertaking. Barring Arunachal Pradesh, border roads along all the other North East states will be done by JICA.

 

The decision of taking away some of the border roads from the BRO has been doing round of the corridors of power in the transport ministry for more than a year now. Last year, the ministry had decided to give some of the roads to PWD. However, the deal could not be finalised then.

 

Now with Japan sharing its expertise on building bridges, tunnels and constructing roads on hilly region, it will build about 2,000 kilometres of roads along the border, some of which are also strategetic roads for India. “The Japanese agency has suggested to us that instead of just laying roads, the roads on the hills should have

more bridges and tunnels. That makes them withstand any natural and human calamity. We are exploring those options,” said an officer of the ministry.

 

The ministry is also of the view that BRO is overburdened and needs to share its roads work. “BRO is a part of transport ministry and is involved in building and maintaining national highways. JICA will help ease out BRO’s burden,” added the officer.

 

The road has also been taken away from BRO, because the Japanese government policy does not permit the country to take up any project in another country which involves working with armed forces. “If roads continue to be with BRO, then we will not get technical and financial assistance from Japan. The road is only being taken away temporarily. It will be handed over to BRO after the completion of work,” added the officer.

(Source: DNA India November 4, 2014)

 

 

SKY THRILLER – WHEN FIGHTER PLANE JAGUAR STRIKER CHASED NIRBHAY MISSILE

 

Bengaluru: Among the tweets that went viral on Oct 17, 2014, the day India successfully test-fired its first subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay, one read, “Jaguar fighter chases Nirbhay missile!” This tweet from this writer took many by surprise. Fighter plane chasing a missile was definitely a new phenomenon for many devotees following India’s military might.

 

And, two weeks after India’s successful attempt of launching Nirbhay, details are now available with OneIndia about the well-coordinated ‘sky thriller’ choreographed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and executed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) with support from the Indian Navy.

 

According to sources, the IAF readied two Sukhois (one on as a stand-by) at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station ahead of the launch. The pilots were thoroughly briefed about the designated flight-path, timing of the launch and duration of the flight. Hotlines at the DRDO’s Interim Test Range (ITR) in Balasore and IAF HQ in Delhi were busy with the top brass ensuring that the missile sky chase by the fighter goes as planned.

 

“We had a Sukhoi chasing Nirbhay during the terminated mission last year. The pilots had then captured the missile’s journey till it started to veer off from the assigned trajectory. This time due to some last-minute technical issues, we had to hold the Sukhoi back and decided to sent a Jaguar on chase duty,” an IAF official said.

 

The IAF had initially planned for a MiG-27, but Jaguar got the nod finally because of its higher endurance levels. The Jaguar was flown in from the Ambala base to Kalaikunda.

 

Pilots will have to keep a safe distance ::

The official said that Mirages, Jaguars and Sukhois were used in the past to chase long-range missiles. “The video footage becomes a vital data for the scientists to see the behaviour of the missile. Experienced pilots are generally picked up for the job, which involves lots of coordination. First the pilots will have to pick the launch point and later will have to keep a safe distance while chasing the missile. Whenever the Navy fires a missile, the IAF gets involved with the chase duties,” the official said.

 

He said since the flight envelope is already planned and most of the parameters of the missile are known well in advance, the pilots normally have an easy task, capturing the missile in motion.

 

“The speed and the way point navigation (in case of Nirbhay) was well known to the pilots. The video footage looks very similar to Nirbhay’s first launch. This time we couldn’t chase the missile’s entire journey as the Jaguar was short on fuel and we had to peel off after 45 minutes into the chase,” he added.

 

Inspiring role by IAF & Navy, says DRDO Director-General ::

According to Dr K Tamilmani, Director-General (Aero), DRDO, the IAF and Navy played an ‘inspiring role’ during Nribhay’s launch. “One helicopter with a diver was kept ready in case of any eventuality to the chase aircraft. Another chopper was ready at the Kalaikunda base. With the support of both IAF and Navy, we were able to capture Nirbhay’s outing,” Dr Tamilmani said.

 

A great coordinated effort, says ADE Director For P Srikumar, Director, Aeronautical Development Establishment, the chase by Jaguar was equally important as the launch of his pet weapon, Nirbhay.

 

“It was definitely a marathon coordination effort ::

Airborne resources like helicopters are commonly used to record the lift-off and splash down of missiles. Chase aircraft being deployed to capture various phases of flights have become a common practice now. The fact that we are able to synergise the efforts of various agencies and obtain valuable information during such important missions gives us the confidence that we are on the right track of development of indigenous systems,” Srikumar told OneIndia.

 

Chasing is a skilled job, says Tejas Test Pilot ::

Terming chasing in air as a skilled job, a seasoned Tejas Test Pilot with the Aeronautical Development Agency says that the success often depended upon precision planning.

 

“You cannot be early or late. You got to be at the spot soon after the missile is launched. In the case of Nirbhay, it flies like an aircraft making the job easy for the pilot. He can match up with the missile’s speed and even get closer,” says the Test Pilot, you has been associated with the Tejas project for over a decade. To a query on the dangers of following a missile, he said that the chase aircraft has to always stay out of the weapon’s field of way.

 

“The weapon should not lock on to your aircraft and you should never go ahead of the missile. There are incidents of chase aircraft being hit by the missile in the United States. Normally we keep a safe distance knowing that the missile can behave strange at times, especially if it is fired from an aircraft,” he said.

 

“I have captured the Tejas firing R-73 (Russian-made) supersonic missile, flying a chase aircraft. It is a tough task as the missile disappears from your sight within no time (since it is supersonic). Here the key is to capture the release and initial movements of the missile,” he added.

(Source: One India November 4, 2014)

 

ARMY TRAMPLES ON FAULTY DRDO STUDY ON SIACHEN DEPLOYMENT

 

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit this Diwali to the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen, to applaud the Indian army troops deployed there again brought into national focus the difficulty of operating under such adverse climatic conditions.

 

A study by Defence Research and Development Organisation, India’s premier defence research institute, to find solutions and shorten the acclimatization period has been junked by the Army.

 

Keeping unforeseen events in mind, the Army wanted to reduce the pre-acclimatisation training period to faster deploy its troops to high-altitude locations in cases of emergency. And for this, the DRDO was mandated to carry out a study  on how to reduce the pre-acclimatisation  training period in May 2009 with budget of over `3 crore. Delhi-based Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a wing of DRDO, carried out the study for which they selected 210 soldiers. In order to study the soldiers’ physiology changes, they were asked to stay in a make-shift chamber filled with nitrogen for intermittent periods. But the Army has rubbished the study report and criticised the methods adopted by the DIPAS scientists.

 

In a strongly worded  four-page letter to DIPAS on 10 September, the office of the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) has raised serious objections and sought explanation on various key points related to the study including selection of troops for the study, use of multiple investigators to collect data, use of master step test as an indicator of exercise performance for high altitude and disparity in heart rate date from the same cohort at different points of the report.

 

DIPAS had used intermittent hypoxia study at sea level before dispatching soldiers to high-altitude locations. Explaining the terminology, a DRDO scientist said that Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) is a test protocol usually given to the individual with reduced oxygen concentration as prevailed in high altitude for pre-acclimatising them at sea level in a normobaric hypoxic chamber, before they are deployed for high mountain warfare.

 

On the basis the outcome of the study, two costly normobaric hypoxic  chambers were planned to be set up in Chandigarh to cater northern command and Sukhna for eastern command troops with a cost of over `10 lakh.

 

Reacting strongly to the samples of troops taken, that had men who had already served in high-altitude postings, the DGAFMS raised concerns on the validity of conclusions drawn from the data presented. While seeking justification for the selection of re-inductees as study subjects, the Army has said, “Current knowledge on the phenomenon of de-acclimatisation is limited. It is accepted by many experts in the field that certain physiological changes induces on exposure on high altitude may persist beyond one month of return to sea level.”

 

“Hence the choice of re-inductees as study subjects raises questions about the validity of date being presented, especially since the aim of the project is to extrapolate the findings to healthy soldiers being rapidly inducted to high altitude, in all probability, for the first time,” DGAFMC said in his detailed response to DIPAS study.

 

When contacted, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta refused to comment as it is a classified matter.

(Source: New Indian Express November 4, 2014)

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