Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Agni-III missile test-fired successfully

Balasore, May 7 (PTI) India today successfully test-fired its 3000 km range surface-to-surface nuclear capable Agni-III missile for the second time giving the country a capability to hit targets as far as deep inside China.
The all solid fuel missile took off from Wheelers Island off Orissa coast at 09:56 hrs and achieved its full range and accuracy by reaching its pre-designated target in 800 seconds.

"The missile is now ready for induction," jubilant DRDO scientists told reporters after the missile achieved its target in a copy-book style.

With this second successful test-firing, India now joins a select group of nations having intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) with ranges upto 3000 kms. The missile will give the nation the capability to target cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai.

It was a sort of golden jubilee gift of the DRDO to the nation as the organisation is about to launch from Monday celebrations to commemorate 50 years of its existence. The success of Agni-III paves the way for India to build its truly intercontinental range missiles Agni-IV with a range of 5000 kms in the near future.

A miniaturised submarine-launched version of the Agni-III called Agni-III SL is also being developed and could be test-fired shortly. PTI


Friday, April 18, 2008

India's battle tank of future & love for Russia

Ajai Shukla in New Delhi
April 19, 2008 03:31 IST

The battle lines have been drawn. At stake is the future of one of India's most prestigious defence products: the Arjun Main Battle Tank.

In its 29th report, which was tabled in Parliament earlier this week, Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence writes that it is 'startled' to be told that the tank had performed poorly in winter trials, and that it was miles away from meeting the army's requirements.

Business Standard has come to know from three different members of the Standing Committee on Defence that it is more than 'startled' -- it is frankly disbelieving of the army's deposition.

In its last annual report for 2007-08, the committee was told by the ministry that the Arjun tank was 'a product unique in its class', an improved system over the T-72, Rs 6-8 crore cheaper than its contemporary system in the West, far superior (in firing accuracy) to the other two tanks (T-72 and T-90), driven for over 60,000 km and fired more than 8,000 rounds and 'there was no problem'.

After the army representative slammed the Arjun, the Standing Committee chairman, Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, as well as the defence secretary and several other members agreed that the committee would formulate a clear policy on India's tank of the future.

Underlying this decision is the belief amongst most members of the Standing Committee that the army is biased against the Arjun tank and is in favour of continuing to use the Russian T-72 and T-90 tanks. There were clear factual inaccuracies in the army's deposition before the Standing Committee. The most glaring of them is the army's suggestion that it is carrying out trials on the Arjun's performance.

In fact, the army has already accepted the Arjun for introduction into service, based upon its driving and firing performance over the years. After firing trials in summer 2006, the trial report (written by the army) said: "The accuracy and consistency of the Arjun has been proved beyond doubt."

The ongoing trials in Pokhran are being cited by the army as Accelerated Usage cum Reliability Trials. In these, two Arjun tanks were run almost non-stop for 3,000 kilometres, not to judge performance, but to evaluate the tank's requirement of spare parts, fuel and lubricants during its entire service life.

In fact, it is the Arjun's developer, the Central Vehicle R&D Laboratory, Avadi, that has long demanded comparative trials, where the performance of five Arjuns would be gauged against five Russian T-90s and T-72s. The army has consistently sidestepped that invitation.

The army has also testified incorrectly to the Standing Committee about four engine failures during the recent AUCRT. In fact, sources closely associated with the trials say, the problems were with four gearboxes manufactured by German company Renk AG. A world leader in transmission systems, Renk representatives are already in Pokhran and Avadi, analysing and resolving the problem.

The army does not mention, but problems were also experienced with four hydro-pneumatic suspension units (HSUs), which leaked after the Arjuns had run 2,000 kilometres.

But Arjun's makers say 2,000 kilometres is the service life of the suspension; normally they would have been replaced before the point at which they leaked.

Officers closely associated with the Arjun, as well as several members of the Standing Committee on Defence, contrast the army's approach to the Arjun with the navy's acceptance of indigenous projects.

They say the navy has achieved striking success in building its own warships by associating itself with the project right from the design stage; warships are accepted into service and many hiccups overcome during their service lives. In contrast, the army is resisting accepting the Arjun until every last hiccup is resolved by the DRDO.

An application to interview the army's Director General of Mechanised Forces was approved by the MoD eight months ago. However, the DGMF has not granted an interview so far because of 'scheduling problems'.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Russia offers India aviation secrets in fighter contract bid

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) March 14, 2008
Russia is ready to hand India military aircraft engineering secrets in a bid to win a 12-billion dollar (7.65-billion euro) aviation contract tender, Interfax agency reported Friday.

"If the Indian government decides to buy the MiG-35 (fighter), we will transfer to India the key technologies used in these aircraft including fifth generation technologies," manufacturers MiG said in a statement.

These 'fifth generation' elements include what analysts have said is greatly improved manoeuvrability on older models, plus a new radar system capable of simultaneously tracking, and attacking, over 20 targets from the cockpit.

The Indian government announced in February it had extended a deadline for global military aviation giants to bid to sell a fleet of 126 fighter jets to replace ageing MiG-21 hardware.

Under the tender conditions, 18 aircraft will be delivered up front -- with the rest to be built in India.

Other world military aviation giants competing for the contract include Americans Boeing and Lockheed Martin, French group Dassault, the European consortium behind the Eurofighter and Saab of Sweden's Gripen brand.

Monday, March 24, 2008

presExercise ‘Brazen Chariots’ displays India’s military might

Pokhran, Mar 20: The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force jointly conducted large-scale war manoeuvres in the Thar Desert on Wednesday, baring their newly acquired lethal weapons platforms and systems during the exercise ‘Brazen Chariots’, to showcase their respective capabilities.
Senior military dignitaries of over 60 countries, including China and other guests were impre
ssed by the rapid response and firepower of the armed forces to disrupt the enemy’s decision cycle.
In the biggest war game in rec
ent years, the military stressed on the concept of combined land and air warfare as different to the past attrition style of warfare where one arm played the significant role.
The venue of the exercises was around 100 km from India’s border with Pakistan. Pakistan was informed, but its representative was not invited as the process of working out confidence building measures with the neighbour is still in progress.
The exercise showca
sed flexibility, variety and reach of air power in future wars.
Army Chief Deepak K
apoor said that the aim of the exercise was to check the "efficacy of the modern weapons that we have."
He commented upon the synergy between the Army and
the Air Force, and said that they intended to carry out with these joint operations to see its impact on different targets.
General Kapoor further said that all thos
e objectives set during the Exercise ‘Brazen Chariots’ have been achieved.

The T-90 Bhishma tanks, built with Russian collaboration, displayed their firepower. The exercise involved engagement of an air target by shoulder fired air defence missiles, special heliborne operations, fire of multi barrel launcher batteries, heli drop, and deployment and firing of mortar battery.

The army had mobilised over 37,000 troops from the 21 Corps and fielded its cutting edge weapon systems for the exercise to address the dynamic changes sweeping today's battle space. Storming targets, practising tactics in the harsh environment and dropping from the sky were few highlights of the operations.

The IAF closely supported the surface forces with the induction of airborne troops, providing logistical support while its frontline fighter aircraft, including the Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, MiG-27, MiG-21 Bison and armed helicopters, unleashed their firepower to

Agni-1 fully operational after test-fire success

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, March 23 Agni-1, India’s workhorse missile with a range of 700 km, has attained full operational capability following a successful test-fire from the Wheeler Island, off Orissa coast on Sunday.

At 10.15 a.m. scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Indian Army (main user) launched the surface-to-air Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). In about nine minutes, the missile attained its desired distance, trajectory and demonstrated its operational capabilities.

Describing the test as a ‘complete success’, Dr Avinash Chander, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and Programme Director of Project Agni, said, “The terminal data tracked by two naval ships and total performance from the radars at the Interim Test Range (ITR) showed that the missile performed to its optimum capacity exactly as expected.”

The significance of the test was that the Agni-1 missile had met the full specifications and requirements of the user, alongside meeting the mission objectives, Dr Chander told Business Line from the Wheeler Island.

Agni-1 has already been inducted into the Indian Army. Sunday’s test-fire is also a demonstration of the user’s preparedness in handling the missile system. The all-composite body, indigenous missile was developed by Indian defence scientists and produced by the public sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Australia to buy Super Hornet fighter jets, says minister

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) March 17, 2008
Australia will proceed with a 6 billion dollar (5.6 billion US) plan to acquire 24 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets from the US Navy, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said Monday.

The newly elected Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd considered scrapping the purchase, which was agreed by the previous administration of conservative leader John Howard.

But Fitzgibbon said after a review of Australia's air combat capabilities, the government had concluded the Super Hornet fighters were capable aircraft and the only ones that would be ready by 2010 when they are due to replace the current F-111 fighters.
Fitzgibbon said that while the government would honour the contract, the replacement of the current F-111 fighters was "made in haste but is now irreversible".
"The cost of turning the F-111 back on would be enormous and crews and skills have already moved on," he said.
Fitzgibbon said the Super Hornet was capable of fulfilling Australia's needs.

"We embrace the Super Hornet as a very special aircraft which is more than up to the job," he said.
"It is the only aircraft which can meet the small delivery window created by the former government's poor planning processes and politically driven responses," he said in a statement.

The Royal Australian Air Forces' current fleet of F/A-18 Hornets will remain in service until 2015 when they will be gradually replaced by the new Lockheed F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
The Howard government last year ordered the 24 extra Super Hornets from the US to ensure there was no air capability gap between the retirement of the F-111s and arrival of the JSF.

"Cancelling the Super Hornet would bring significant financial penalties and create understandable tensions between the contract partners," Fitzgibbon said

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Japan deploys sixth high-tech Aegis destroyer

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 13, 2008
Japan put into service Thursday its sixth destroyer equipped with the high-tech Aegis radar system, three weeks after an identical vessel rammed and sank a tuna boat killing two fishermen.

The US-developed Aegis system can track incoming missiles by radar. It is seen as Japan's frontline defence against nuclear-armed North Korea.

The 7,750-tonne destroyer Ashigara was handed over to the defence ministry by its builder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., at the company's shipyard in Nagasaki in southern Japan, a ministry official said.

The vessel, which cost some 140 billion yen (1.4 billion dollars), will be deployed to the nearby Japanese naval base of Sasebo, the official said.

The Ashigara, which can accommodate 300 crew members, is the same size as the 165-metre (545-foot) Atago, Japan's largest destroyer.

The Atago was commissioned a year ago but now is docked for investigations after it crashed on February 19 into a seven-tonne fishing boat outside Tokyo Bay on its way back from a visit to Hawaii.

The tuna boat's two crew members, a father and his adult son, are presumed dead.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has yet to pinpoint the cause of the accident, which briefly triggered opposition calls for Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba to resign and led to a fall in the government's approval rating.

Both Fukuda and Ishiba went to the fishermen's village to apologise for the accident.