Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Photos of Indian Navy's MIG-29KUB FULCRUM-D

Russia's MiG aircraft maker said it has successfully tested four MiG-29 jets due to be delivered to India.

During the tests Sep 28-29, the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters conducted several take offs and landings on the deck of the (Admiral Kuznetsov) aircraft carrier in the Barents Sea, the company said Tuesday. Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy.

Russia tests fighter jets before delivery to India

MOSCOW: Russia's MiG aircraft maker said it has successfully tested four MiG-29 jets due to be delivered to India.

"During the tests Sep 28-29, the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters conducted several take offs and landings on the deck of the (Admiral Kuznetsov) aircraft carrier in the Barents Sea," the company said Tuesday. Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy.

Russia and New Delhi signed a contract Jan 20, 2004, stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India as part of a $1.5 billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.

The aircraft were earlier inspected by Indian technical experts and also used in a five-month flight-training course for the Indian pilots. The aircraft are expected to be delivered to India in mid-October.

Meanwhile, Russia has pledged to finish the overhaul of Admiral Gorshkov by 2012 if additional $1.2 billion funding is provided by New Delhi. After modernisation, the carrier will join the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, and is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Made-in-India 'INS Shivalik' to be inducted soon

NEW DELHI: Soon, very soon, India will add another lethal punch to its growing ‘‘blue-water’’ warfare capabilities by inducting an indigenously-designed and manufactured ‘‘stealth’’ frigate.

The 5,300-tonne frigate, INS Shivalik, armed with a deadly mix of foreign and indigenous weapon and sensor systems, is currently undergoing ‘‘advanced’’ pre-commissioning sea trials.

Interestingly, apart from Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems, Klub anti-ship cruise missiles and other weapons, the multi-role frigate is also armed with the Israeli ‘Barak-I’ anti-missile defence system. Already fitted on 11 frontline warships like aircraft carrier INS Viraat and destroyer INS Mysore, the 10-km range Barak-I can intercept incoming Harpoon and Exocet missiles, launched from platforms like P-3C Orion aircraft and Agosta-90B submarines which Pakistan has acquired from US and France.

‘‘INS Shivalik is the first stealth frigate to be designed and built in India. It’s a matter of great pride for the country. It should be ready to enter service in Navy in November,’’ said director-general of naval design, Rear Admiral M K Badhwar. The Project-17 to construct three stealth frigates — the other two, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, will be delivered in 2010-2011 — at a cost of Rs 8,101 crore at Mazagon Docks has, of course, been plagued by delays ever since it was approved by the government in 1997.

But now, with the programme on the verge of completion, the defence ministry has approved Project-17A to construct seven more frigates, with even more stealth features, for around Rs 45,000 crore. Navy initially wanted two of the seven new frigates to be built abroad to avoid time overruns. But MoD shot down the proposal, holding that four will be built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and the other three at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers at Kolkata, said sources.

Navy currently has 34 warships and six submarines on order to ensure its force-levels do not dip below the existing 140 or so warships. The new inductions will help Navy strengthen its role as a ‘‘potent maritime force’’ and ‘‘stabilising influence’’ in the Indian Ocean, capable of ‘‘destruction of enemy’’ and deterrence as well as ‘‘coercive’’ and ‘‘peace’’ diplomacy.

The stealth features incorporated in the Shivalik-class frigates, including inclined surfaces, will considerably reduce their radar cross-section. To reduce the noise signature, the designers have gone in for low-noise propellers, propulsion devices and machinery, as also ‘‘vibration damping’’.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Warship enters Mazagaon waters

MUMBAI: INS Kochi, the second warship of Project 15A, was launched at Mazgaon on Friday morning even as small flags adorning her fluttered in the wind. With dock workers chanting "Ganpati Bappa Morya'' in the background, Madhulika Sharma, wife of Admiral Nirmal Verma, chief of naval staff, inaugurated the 163-m-long ship that entered the waters for the first time.

The process of equipping her with various armaments and weapons will start soon, and finally, she is scheduled to be handed over to the navy in August 2012.

This indigenously-designed warship will have state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, stealth features with the help of which enemy radar cannot spot it easily an advanced action information system and a host of other advanced features. It will also be fitted with the supersonic BrahMos surface-to-surface missile system. The warship's air defence capability, designed to counter the threat of enemy aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, will revolve around the vertical launch, long-range, surface-to-air missile system, which is being co-developed by the DRDO. It also has a multi-function radar system.

Even as the warship was launched amid fanfare, dock officials, in an informal interaction, said the almost-$ 4-billion licensed production of six conventional Scorpene submarines has been delayed. According to the original plan, the first submarine was supposed to be being delivered to the Indian Navy in December 2012. "But now, the process will be delayed for two years and the first one is expected to be ready only in December 2014 and the second a few months later,'' an official said.

While Mazagon dock officials attributed the delay to teething problems, defence minister A K Anthony, during the launch of India's first nuclear submarine INS Ari'hant at Vishakapatnam on July 26, had blamed it on "problems in the absorption of technology'' by the Mazagaon dockyard.

The Scorpene project got underway in 2005 when India and France signed an agreement for the licensed manufacture of six Scorpene submarines at the Mazagon dock.

While addressing the audience at Mazgaon after Kochi's launch, Verma said that "delays and cost overruns have been a major cause of concern to the naval headquarters”. ”Such situations have sometimes compelled the Indian Navy to resort to imports,'' he said.

Admitting to the two-year set-back, officials said the delivery time of the submarines to the navy had been brought forward from a year to eight months and the programme would definately be completed in December 2017, as it was decided in the original plan.

According to the officials, the first Kolkata-class warship launched in April 2006 at Mazagon dock is expected to be delivered to the navy in August 2011 and that will be followed by Kochi in August 2012.

Dock CMD H S Malhi said the organisation would complete 50 years in May 2010. "With orders in place the amount is likely to go up to Rs 80,000 crore to be executed till 2020 the Mazgaon Dock Limited is in the league of the world's largest and the busiest shipyards,'' Malhi said.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

India launches warship 'INS Kochi'

MUMBAI: India's latest addition to the Navy - warship INS Kochi, a Delhi-class destroyer, was inaugurated on Friday. This is the second warship of ‘Project 15-A’, built by Mazgaon Dock Limited.

Warship INS Kochi, of Indian Naval Service, after its launch from the Mazagaon Dock in Mumbai on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma on Friday said a serious relook at the inefficiencies of Navy is required and an indigenous warship building system needs to be conceptualised.

Verma said, "Fluctuating funding in the past has compelled the Navy to resort to (warship) building in abroad, but now there is an urgent need to emulate worldwide trends in warship building (in the country)."

The 6,500-tonne INS Kochi, launched by Verma's wife Madulika, is the second warship in the 'Project 15-A' under which
three guided-missile destroyers with stealth and multi-role features will be built.

"The destroyer has been launched using pontoon-assisted technique, employed for the first time in the history of indigenous warship building. The technique helps in overcoming slipway constraints which hinder heavier vessel movement into deeper waters for fitting its superstructures such as decks," chairman and managing director of Mazgaon Dock H S Malhi said.

INS Kochi has advanced stealth features that make it less vulnerable to detection by enemy radar. Its weapons system include nuclear capable supersonic BrahMos surface-to-surface missile.
(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

US clears Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for India

14 September 2009, IANS

NEW DELHI: The US government cleared yet another high technology system for India, the ‘‘futuristic’’ shipboard Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management.

The clearance has been described by diplomatic sources as a fallout of the ‘‘successful’’ visit of secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the signing of the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) of military equipment being supplied or sold by the US to India. Like the Boeing P 8I Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft (MMA), of which the Indian Navy has already ordered eight aircraft, the Hawkeye E-2D is the very latest and is yet to be delivered to the US Navy.

India is the second country, after the UAE, to be cleared by the US state and defence departments for sale of this sophisticated system. The US navy has sanctioned $432 million for trials of the aircraft, currently underway at the naval air station Patuxent River in Maryland. The naval systems command based there provides engineering and testing support for new naval systems and weapons.

The Hawkeye E-2D has been under the US government’s consideration for India for some time. In fact, in 2007, Pentagon sources in Washington indicated the aircraft was being cleared, but apparently the previous version, Hawkeye E-2C, was eventually offered to which the Indian navy said ‘‘no’’ in informal discussions.

The aircraft is being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, a leading US player in aerospace, warships, missiles, combat radars and electronic warfare systems.

Northrop Grumman’s programme manager for international business development Tom C Trudell told a magazine that the aircraft has ‘‘just been cleared by the US government for India’’ and that a presentation was made to the Indian navy in August in New Delhi.

Indian navy officers had witnessed the capabilities of the Hawkeye E-2C but told the US officials that as the equipment India buys would be used for years, it must be the best and the latest with future capability insertion potential.

Future aircraft carriers of the Indian navy would also have to be equipped with catapult launching systems, for which it is already looking around.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Four MiG-29K fighter jets to join Indian Navy in October news

Moscow: The first four of 16 Russian-made MiG-29K/KUB fighter jets, purchased by India as the air complement for the upgraded Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) aircraft carrier, will be delivered to the Indian Navy in October this year, reports quoting Indian defence sources say.
The 'K' series aircraft are navalised versions of the MiG-29 fighters currently in service with the Indian Air Force. While the MiG-29K designation refers to a single-seat version the MiG-29KUB refers to a two-seater, which are primarily trainers.

India had contracted for the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India as part of a $1.5 billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy in a deal signed on 20 January 2004.

The carrier part of the deal has since run into rough weather over cost escalations.
"The aircraft are expected to arrive in mid-October. They will be assembled and tested in flight. After that they will be put in service," the defence source has been quoted as saying.

With the Admiral Gorshkov still undergoing overhauls, and delivery not expected to be made before 2012 at the earliest, the MiG aircraft will remain shore-based.

The two MiG-29Ks and two MiG-29KUBs were officially transferred to India in Russia earlier this year, where they were inspected by Indian experts and used in a five-month flight training course for Indian pilots.

As for the Admiral Gorshkov overhaul, Russia and India are still negotiating a new deal with latest reports emanating from Russia suggesting a new agreement would very likely be signed in October this year.

Under the original 2004 contract, work on the aircraft carrier was to have been completed in 2008. However, Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernization, and asked for an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi dubbed as being "exorbitant."

An Indian offer in 2008, to raise refit costs by up to $600 million, was rejected by Russia as being inadequate. The ship has been docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years.

Post- modernization, the Gorshkov is expected to provide useful service for 30 years.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gorshkov price to be finalised soon

India will receive Russian nuclear submarine shortly, says Navy Chief

NEW DELHI: Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Thursday said the Indian Navy would soon be receiving a Russian nuclear submarine, even as the programme to build French Scorpene submarines here was running behind schedule.

Addressing a press conference ahead of his last day in office on Monday, Admiral Mehta said the country would soon complete negotiations over the price of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) for possible delivery by 2012.

The arrival of the Gorshkov would augment the Navy’s quest to have three such warships in its fleet. Currently, it has INS Viraat, which has just undergone an extensive refit, and the third aircraft carrier is under construction at the Kochi shipyard.

Admiral Mehta also said the project of building the country’s indigenous nuclear submarine, which was heralded with INS Arihant, envisages constructing two more nuclear powered submarines.

The INS Arihant was launched for sea trials last month, and Admiral Mehta said India would soon have the proven delivery capability that would make the adversary “face far more damage than they can bear.”

The Navy Chief distanced himself from a report quoting senior Defence scientist K. Santhanam that the 1998 nuclear tests by India did not yield the desired results, adding that the country’s nuclear deterrent capabilities were “proven and capable enough.”

“As far as we are concerned, we go by the views of the scientists. They have given us certain capability and that is capable enough to provide deterrence and they are proven,” he said in response to questions about the capabilities of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Admiral Mehta denied that the Navy grounded the entire fleet of Sea Harriers after the recent crash. He said a board of inquiry had been constituted to probe the incident, and checks were taking place on the remainder of the fleet that would be flying soon.

On Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s recent visit to the Maldives and reports of India setting up a base there, he said it was neither the policy nor the intention of the Government to set up naval bases overseas.

Reacting to his early comments on China’s naval dominance, Admiral Mehta clarified that while China is a power in the Indian Ocean region, he had never mentioned that its navy was more superior to India’s.

(Courtesy: THE HINDU)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Malaysia’s Scorpene-class submarine to call at Kochi

KOCHI: The Royal Malaysian Navy’s first submarine, the Scorpene-class KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, will make a port call here on Tuesday on its maiden voyage from Toulon in France to Sepanggar in Malaysia.

Coming as it does at a time when India is building six Scorpene-class submarines, through technology transfer, at the Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai, the visit gains significance for the Indian Navy. Fruitful interaction between both Navies will take place during the vessel’s stay.

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman is the first of the two Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines ordered by the Malaysian Navy. Jointly built by French DCNS and Spanish Navantia, the submarine was formally handed over to it at a ceremony held at the French naval base in Toulon in late January.

On July 9, it began its homeward journey and called at Jeddah and Djibouti.

Full crew complement

After a three-day stopover here, it will depart for Lamut and Port Klang in Malaysia before surfacing at Sepanggar in Sabah in early September to be home-ported at the naval base there.

The submarine, captained by Commander Zulhelmi Ithnain, has a full complement of 31-member crew.

Sea trials

Malaysia signed the deal to acquire two Scorpene-class submarines in 2002, and KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, named after the country’s first Prime Minister, was launched in October 2007.

The year-long sea trials during which Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and missiles were fired from it successfully ended in December last year.

The Royal Malaysian Navy will take delivery of its second submarine, KD Tun Razak, later this year.

(Courtesy: THE HINDU)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

N-submarine to give India crucial third leg of nuke triad

VISAKHAPATNAM: There’s still a long way to go for INS Arihant to become fully-operational.
“Each and every system has to be tested and flushed clean. It will take four sets of flushing and a year before the miniature 80 MW nuclear reactor, and its containment vessel fitted in the submarine’s hull, attains criticality,” said a senior officer connected with the ATV (advanced technology vessel) project.

Moreover, at present, it will be armed with only the 700-km range two-stage K-15 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), which pale in comparison to the well over 5,000-km
range missiles of the US, Russia and China.

The Chinese fleet of 62 submarines, with at least 10 of them nuclear-powered, for instance,
is readying itself for its new JL-2 SLBM, which has a strike range of over 7,200-km, capable
of rattling even the US. India is still some distance away from the extended range K-5
missile with a 3,500-km strike range.

Be that as it may, India with INS Arihant has taken a big leap forward towards developing
the all-important third leg of its nuclear triad — the ability to fire nukes from the land, air and sea. The first two legs, in the shape of fighters like Mirage-2000s jury-rigged to deliver nuclear warheads and the Agni series of rail and road mobile missiles, are already in place.

What makes a nuclear submarine the most preferred option is that it’s extremely difficult to
detect and target by an adversary. Unlike conventional diesel-electric submarines, a nuclear-powered submarine can operate underwater for unlimited periods of time. This is especially important for a country like India, which has a declared no-first-use nuclear doctrine and, hence, must have a survivable and lethal second-strike capability to retaliate against a conceivable first pre-emptive strike by an enemy.

The PM clarified, “We do not have any aggressive designs, nor do we seek to threaten anyone.” He added, “We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that which is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems. Nevertheless, it’s incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological developments worldwide. It has been rightly said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Obliquely pointing to the two more ATVs already sanctioned by the government under a budget
of around Rs 30,000 crore and much bigger SSBNs after them, the PM said the “lessons learnt
from this launch” would enable the ATV programme to “achieve better results in the coming years”.

Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, said INS Arihant was a “significant step” towards
a potent and credible second-strike capability. The PM, Antony, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh
Mehta, DAE chief Anil Kakodkar, ATV director-general Vice-Admiral (retd) D S P Verma praised Russia for their “consistent and invaluable cooperation” in India’s nuclear submarine

What was left unsaid was that India would also get an Akula-II class nuclear submarine, the
12,000-tonne ‘K-152 Nerpa’, on a 10-year lease by end-2009 as part of a secret contract
signed with Russia in January 2004, along with the package deal for refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and MiG-29K fighters. India’s eventual goal is to field three SSBNs of its own much before 2020.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Glaring lapses in Gorshkov, Scorpene, Hawk defence deals: CAG

NEW DELHI: Sleazy wheeling and dealing, huge delays and financial irregularities continue to pervade all defence deals. The Comptroller and Auditor General has now hammered the defence establishment for glaring lapses in the two biggest naval projects — acquisition of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and indigenous construction of six French Scorpene submarines.

This comes even as India under Russian pressure is getting ready to shell out almost $2 billion (Rs 9,680 crore) over and above what was initially a `fixed price contract' of $974 million for Gorshkov's refit, while the Rs 18,798-crore project to construct six Scorpenes at Mazagon Docks has slipped two years behind schedule, as first reported by TOI.

A senior CAG official, in fact, dubbed the Gorshkov deal as the "biggest defence mess-up" ever, stopping just short of calling it a "scam". ``The defence ministry did not provide us with full cooperation and access to documents for Gorshkov. As for the Scorpene project, undue favour and financial advantage was shown to the French vendor,'' he said.

In its latest report tabled in Parliament on Friday, the nation's auditing watchdog also punched holes in several other major defence projects, including the Rs 8,120-crore project for 66 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers). Interestingly, this also comes at a time when India is negotiating a follow-on order for 57 more Hawks.

While the desperate need for an aircraft carrier, a modern submarine fleet and AJTs to train rookie pilots cannot be overstated, what the CAG report underlines is a sordid saga of squandering away of public money, without even a hint of long-term strategic planning, whichever be the political dispensation in charge.

If the earlier NDA regime inked the initial $1.5-billion package deal for Gorshkov and the Hawk AJT contract in the run-up to the 2004 general elections, the UPA government in its first avtaar finalised the Scorpene project in October 2005, amid swirling allegations of kickbacks.

Coming down particularly heavily on the Gorshkov affair, the CAG report said, ``Indian Navy is acquiring a second-hand refitted carrier that has half the life span and is 60% more expensive than a new one.''

Originally meant to plug the `five-year carrier gap' in the Navy's capabilities from 2007 to 2012, Gorshkov is still a `high-risk' proposition since its delivery acceptance trials may not be completed even by 2012, it added.

Russia, as reported earlier, is demanding a whopping $2 billion more over and above the initial $1.5 billion contract of January 2004, under which the carrier refit was pegged at $974 million and the rest earmarked for 16 MiG-29K fighters to operate from its deck.

The CAG report pointed to a 2004 naval assessment that a new aircraft carrier, with a life of 40 years, would cost $1,145 million and take 10 years to build.

Gorshkov, in turn, would run for only 20 years. ``The acquisition cost has more than doubled to $1.82 billion in four years,'' said CAG, taking the $1.2-billion figure demanded by Russia in 2007 into account.

Listing out Gorshkov's `limited operational capabilities', CAG in particular expressed worry that a close-in weapon system — to detect and destroy incoming hostile missiles and aircraft — would be fitted on it only during its first refit in India around 2017.

As for the Rs 18,798 crore Scorpene project, under which the six submarines were to be delivered between 2012 and 2017, CAG blasted the government for taking nine years to finalize it despite Navy's depleting underwater combat force-levels.

Navy's projections show it will be left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two virtually obsolete Foxtrot — by 2012. ``This would lead to serious operational ramifications,'' said CAG.

The government's delay in finalising the Scorpene project led to increase in its costs by Rs 2,838 crore. ``The submarine design selected has also not proven its efficacy in any other navy,'' it said.

``Moreover, the contractual provisions resulted in undue financial advantage to the vendor of a minimum of Rs 349 crore, besides other unquantifiable benefits,'' it added.

As reported earlier, the project has been dogged by some controversy, with allegations of kickbacks made in the October 2005 contracts signed with two French companies — Rs 6,135-crore with M/s Armaris (a DCN-Thales joint venture) for transfer of technology and construction design, and Rs 1,062-crore with M/s MBDA for sea-skimming Exocet missiles.

"Large concessions in respect of warranty, performance bank guarantee, escalation, arbitration, liquidated damages, agency commission were bestowed on the vendor," said CAG.

Similarly, CAG rapped the government for taking 22 years for finalising the Rs 8,120 crore project to acquire 66 Hawk AJTs, which were sorely needed to help train IAF rookie pilots on the intricacies of combat fighter jet flying and reduce crashes.

It also pointed out that the contract was concluded with BAE Systems in a single-vendor situation, without reviewing the `air staff requirements' laid down in 1987, as also slippages in delivery schedules, pricing anomalies in supply of spares and the like.
The Gorshkov Saga

* Mid-1990s: Negotiations on the partly-burnt 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov between India and Russia begin. Russia touts it as `a free gift' to India, with the condition that India will pay for its refit and the fighter jets to operate from its deck

* January 2004: India and Russia finally ink $1.5-billion package deal for Gorshkov, which includes $974 million for its refit and the rest for 16 MiG-29K fighters. Gorshkov to be delivered by August 2008

* Mid-2007: Russia demands additional $1.2 billion for refit over and above the $974 million, and pushes back delivery to December 2012. India panics, sends teams to inspect warship and negotiate. Both sides agree refit work `grossly underestimated' earlier. India pays advance of $250 million

* 2008: Russia now wants $2 billion more, over initial $974 million figure, for refit. By now, India has paid $500 million as advance. It renames Gorshkov as INS Vikramaditya

* 2009: Flurry of negotiations, with India paying another $102 million and trying to get overall refit cost pegged closer to $2.2 billion instead of $2.9 billion. Fresh refit contract likely to be sealed by August. Delivery will be delayed beyond Dec 2012

Why is Gorshkov needed?

Gorshkov forms a crucial part of India's plan to have two operational `carrier battle-groups' by the middle of the next decade. The country's solitary and ageing 28,000-tonne carrier INS Viraat is currently undergoing another life-extension refit to ensure it can run at least five more years. Moreover, the delivery of the 37,500-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier being built at Cochin Shipyard is likely to take place only by 2014-2015 or so.

MOD contention: A new aircraft carrier of Gorshkov's size and displacement would cost around $4 billion. A carrier is not available off-the-shelf and takes at least 10 years to build. After extensive refit, Gorshkov will run for another 30 years.

CAG: At best, Navy will be acquiring, belatedly, a second-hand ship with a limited life span of 20 years by paying significantly more than what it would have paid for a new carrier. Moreover, Gorshkov will not have a close-in weapon system against incoming missiles and aircraft till her first refit in India in 2017.

Refit work on Gorshkov

Lying berthed at the Sevmash shipyard for over 12 years, ongoing work on Gorshkov entails removal of the huge missile launchers on the bow to build a ski-jump at a 14.3 degree angle for MiG-29Ks, apart from new-generation communication, air defence and other weapons, including new missile systems. A lot of equipment on the 283-metre long carrier like cables, steel, motors, turbines, boilers and the like also needs to be completely replaced.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bulava missile will without doubt enter service - Russian Navy

MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile will enter service with the Navy despite a series of failed test-launches, the first deputy chief of the Navy General Staff said on Saturday.

On July 15, a Bulava SLBM self-destructed after its first stage malfunctioned when it was fired from the submerged Dmitry Donskoi strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea.

"We are committed to this missile flying," Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Six of the 11 test launches of the Bulava have ended in failure. The launches were temporarily suspended and the missile components were tested in the labs after a series of previous failures.

Burtsev said the cause of the latest failure was not a human error, but most likely a technical problem.

"The submarine crew painstakingly accomplished all set tasks," he said.

The admiral added that the Bulava test launches from the Dmitry Donskoi will continue in the near future, and the missile will be later tested on the Yury Dolgoruky strategic submarine, the first of the new Borei class vessels.

The Russian military expects the Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based ballistic missiles, to become the core of Russia's nuclear triad.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borei-class nuclear-powered submarines.

(courtesy: RIA Novosti)

Russia's new nuclear sub completes first round of sea trials

MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti) - Russia's newest Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, has completed the first round of sea trials and is returning to a shipyard in northern Russia, the Sevmash plant said on Friday.

Sea trials of the submarine, which is expected to be armed with new Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles, started on June 24 in the White Sea.

"A team of workers and submariners has successfully completed the set tasks," Sevmash general director Nikolai Kalistratov said.

He added that the Yury Dolgoruky would still have to pass a number of sea trials later this year to test equipment and performance levels.

The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.

The construction cost of the submarine totaled 23 billion rubles (about $713 mln), including 9 billion rubles ($280 mln) for research and development.

Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash plant and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build eight of these submarines by 2015.

According to Navy officials, fourth-generation Borey class nuclear-powered submarines will form the core of Russia's fleet of modern strategic submarines, and will be deployed with Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets.

(courtesy: RIA Novosti)

Friday, July 17, 2009

India set to launch nuclear-powered submarine

NEW DELHI: Fifty-four years after the world's first nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus took to the ocean and distance records thereafter, India's long hunt for its own N-sub has finally entered the last lap.

Sources say India's first nuclear-powered submarine, built under the top-secret ATV (advanced technology vessel) project, will be 'launched' for 'preliminary trials' at the shipbuilding centre at Visakhapatnam naval dockyard around 10 days from now.

In fact, if things go as planned, it will be PM Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur who will break the 'auspicious' coconut against the ATV hull on July 26 to mark India's entry into the exclusive club of US, Russia, China, France and UK, which design and operate nuclear submarines.

Extensive sea trials will, of course, have to follow after the first of the three approved ATVs, designed to carry a miniature 80MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) and its containment vessel in the hull, is put in the water by flooding the dry dock at the naval dockyard.

"It will take a minimum of two years before the first 6,000-tonne ATV can become fully operational," said an official. Nevertheless, it will constitute a big step towards India's endeavour to build a 'credible nuclear weapon triad' — the capability to fire nukes from air, land and sea.

India does have fighters like Mirage-2000 jury-rigged to deliver tactical nukes as well as nuclear-capable Agni ballistic missiles. But airbases and missile launch infrastructure can conceivably be taken out with a crippling first-strike by an enemy. This is where the triad's third leg comes in, especially for a country like India which has a declared no-first-use nuclear doctrine.

A nuclear submarine, whose reactor usually needs to be refuelled only after a decade or more, provides a difficult-to-detect-and-target platform for launching punishing retaliatory nuclear strikes.

Even US and Russia have ensured that two-thirds of the strategic warheads they eventually retain, under arms reduction agreements, will be in the shape of SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles).

Interestingly enough, India's first ATV is to be named INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies). Incidentally, defence minister A K Antony earlier this year declared the ATV project was in the "final stages now". This was indeed a rare admission because even existence of the project, first conceived during Indira Gandhi's reign as PM in 1970 but which really got going only in the mid-1980s, has been officially denied in the past.

With a massive Rs 30,000-crore funding, it still remains largely a 'black' project even 11 years after India came out of the nuclear closet with the Pokhran-II tests in 1998.

But while a formidable weapon, a nuclear-powered submarine by itself does not give strategic deterrence. For that, ATV needs to be armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic or cruise missiles.

So, DRDO has been concurrently working on the equally hush-hush Sagarika project since the mid-1990s, under which the 700km range K-15 missile has been tested from submersible pontoon launchers till now. The next challenge is to test-fire the K-15 missile from the ATV.

Moreover, with US, Russia and China fielding over 5,000km range SLBMs, Indian scientists are also working on an SLBM variant of the 3,500km Agni-III missile. For a country which had build only two diesel-electric German-origin HDW submarines at Mazagon Docks in 1992-94, constructing a nuclear submarine was never going to be easy.

Building a SSBN or a "boomer", after all, is an incredibly complex process, with marine, nuclear and missile technologies all being integrated into a holistic whole. ATV's meandering saga has extended from Vishakapatnam dockyard, where the basic submarine hull and structure have been fabricated, to the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam, where the PWRs have been built and tested, apart from several other secretive facilities chipping in with their expertise.

Designing the miniature nuclear reactor, fuelled by highly enriched uranium, was obviously one of the main hurdles, with initial designs by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre failing to work. Then, the nuclear technical expertise of Russia and some others was sought to overcome the technical roadblocks. Now, with the ATV launch finally happening, the defence establishment is keeping its fingers crossed. The eventual aim is to field three SSBNs well before the next decade ends.

(Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lada-Class Submarine...

AMUR-950 Design
AMUR-1650 Design

The Russian Navy's Project 677 (Lada) is a submarine class designed by the Russian Rubin Design Bureau. The class is sometimes referred to as the Saint Petersburg (or Sankt Peterburg) class, after their lead ship. A program to develop a "fourth generation" diesel-electric submarine, it produced a highly improved version of the Project 636 Kilo class with much quieter, new combat systems, and air-independent propulsion.

St. Petersburg began initial sea trials on 29 November 2005.

The Lada-class diesel submarine launched in October 2004 is the best in the class featuring virtual silence, powerful missiles and torpedoes, and sophisticated sonar equipment. The Admiralty Shipyard is building another three Lada-class submarines, and plans to launch between four and six of them by 2015.

Several less capable variants — like the Project 1650 class (named for the Amur river) — have been designed for export.

Russian Newest Borei-Class SSBN Submarine "YURY DOLGORUKIY"

Borei-Class Design
Yuriy Dolgorukiy

The Borei class (or Borei; Russian named after Boreas, the North wind) is a type of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine produced and operated by Russia. It is intended to replace the Delta III and Typhoon class in the Russian Navy.

Work on the first unit of the Borei class (officially designated Project 935) started in 1996. A new submarine-launched ballistic missile was developed in parallel, called the R-39UTTH "Bark". However, the work on this missile was abandoned, and a new missile called the Bulava-30 was designed. The submarine needed to be redesigned to accommodate the new missile, and the project name was changed to Project 955. The vessels are being built at the Northern Machinebuilding Enterprise (Sevmash) in Severodvinsk, and were designed by Marine Equipment Design Bureau (Rubin). Because of the failure of several Bulava test launches, some experts have suggested that the Borei submarine could instead be armed with R-29RMU Sineva missiles. The Sineva is already in active duty on the Delta IV class submarine.

The Borei is claimed to represent the state of the art in submarine design, incorporating characteristics that make it superior to any submarine currently in service, such as the ability to cruise silently and be less detectable to sonar. Advances include a compact and integrated hydrodynamically efficient hull for reduced broadband noise and the first ever use of pump-jet propulsion on a Russian nuclear submarine. Costing some $890 million USD, Borei is approximately 170 metres (560 ft) long, 13 metres (43 ft) in diameter, and has a maximum submerged speed of at least 46 kilometres per hour (25 kn; 29 mph). Smaller than the Typhoon-class, the Borei was initially slated to carry the same number of missiles (20) but has been forced to sacrifice 4 missiles due to the increase in mass of the 45-ton Bulava SLBM (a modified version of the Topol-M ICBM[citation needed]) over the proposed R-39UTTH "Bark".


The launch of the first submarine of the class, the Yury Dolgorukiy, was scheduled for 2002 but was delayed because of budget constraints. The vessel was eventually rolled out of its construction hall on 15 April 2007 in a ceremony attended by many senior military and industrial personnel.The Yuriy Dolgorukiy was the first strategic missile submarine to be launched in the seventeen years since the end of the Soviet era; in fact, it was the first Russian (rather than Soviet) vessel. Currently, there are two more Borei class submarines under construction, named Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh. The planned contingent of twelve strategic submarines is expected to be commissioned within the next decade (five "Project 955" are planned for purchase through 2015).

Although the Yuriy Dolgorukiy was officially rolled out of its construction hall on 15 April 2007 the submarine was not put into the water until February 2008. By December 2008 it had yet to be armed with Bulava missiles and is therefore not fully operational, although ready for trials at sea on 24 October 2008. On November 21 2008 the reactor on the Yuriy Dolgorukiy was activated and on 19 June 2009 begin its sea trials in the White Sea after having some minor problems with its nuclear reactor.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Russian nuclear subs for India - one or two?


MOSCOW: A senior Russian government official has dismissed media rumours that his country planned to lease several nuclear submarines to India. According to a media report, the official said that the contract envisioned transfer of only the 'Nerpa' vessel.

The 12,000-ton K-152 'Nerpa' is a Schucka-B class (NATO: Akula-II) nuclear attack submarine meant for lease to the Indian Navy for a period of ten years. The submarine was left unfinished with the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union and was subsequently completed with Indian funds.

"We will lease only one submarine. In my opinion, India needs the sub more for enhancing its prestige rather than for accomplishing specific goals," Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, reportedly said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

The comment by the deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation runs completely counter to the comment reportedly made by the head of the same organisation in mid-December 2008.

"Yes, there is a real possibility of leasing for ten years several of our nuclear powered multi-role submarines of Project 971 of 'Shchucka-B' class," the Director of Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Mikhail Dmitriyev was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS in that mid-December report.

The same report also quoted officials as saying that the Nerpa (to be inducted into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra) would provide a quantum jump to India's naval capabilities, which is now sought to be contradicted by this report.

The Nerpa suffered a serious accident on 8 November 2008 while undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers were killed.

According to Russian navy officials, sea trials will resume in early July and the submarine is scheduled to be delivered to India by the end of 2009.

The Schucka-B class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines, virtually at par with the best the likes of the United States Navy have to offer.

The Akula purchase

Earlier reports in the Russian media, going as far back as the summer of 1998, spoke of an Indian Navy delegation visiting the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet's Schucka-B/Akula submarine base and expressing an interest in the November of that year for possible purchase of two of these submarines.

The request was followed up on by then Russian defence minister Igor Sergeev on his visit to New Delhi in March 1999. Reports indicated that at this point of time the Russians brought up the issue of completing the unfinished hulls of two Schucka-B/Akula subs with Indian funding. These would have been the Nerpa and the Gepard with the first of the Schucka-B/Akula II class, the Vepr, already being commissioned in 1995.

Details were never released but it was understood that the subs would be given out on lease as then Russian laws did not allow export of such sensitive items as nuclear submarines. There was also the problem of keeping American and Chinese sensitivities in mind as both nations were bound to cry foul if the Russians announced the lease or sale of these submarines.

It will have to be kept in mind that in 1999 Russia was at a particularly vulnerable juncture of its national development, post the collapse of the Soviet Union and was not interested in raising hackles of any country, particularly the Chinese or the Americans.

1999, incidentally, was also the year when the Indian government decide to hike funding for its indigenous nuclear submarine, the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) programme, to about $10 billion with guaranteed funding for its entire duration.

From this period onwards, as far as the sale/lease of the Schucka-B/Akula submarines to the Indian Navy was concerned, no further details were available.

A 2006 analysis by a Russian business journal took a look at the announcements made by the Russian defence ministry regarding its annual revenues for the year 2005 and spotted a discrepancy that could only be explained if the Indians should have paid out money for the construction of two and not one Schucka-B submarine.

Around the same time, to confuse matters even further, reports began to circulate that India had paid $650 million for the 10-year lease of a single Schucka-B.

Very likely, as has happened with all contracts signed in the period 1998-2004, the contract for the Akulas - should it be for twins - would now be hanging fire with the Russians determined to negotiate a higher price for completion and subsequent lease of the second submarine than was earlier committed to.

A discrete silence from the New Delhi may be indicative of its desire not to reveal its 'blue water' strategies, before the means to deliver them should fructify.

With the Chinese navy (PLAN) already fielding a large nuclear submarine force, which allows it to extend operations to the Indian Ocean region with ease, the Indian Navy needs not just a token presence of a single nuclear submarine but also the comfort of numbers.

It's not certain when the indigenous ATV ''baby boomers'' are likely to slip into the water. It is also not certain if it's a single ATV hull that has been laid down at the Vizag yard or two. What is certain is that the Indian Navy needs a nuclear submarine force in numbers soon, given the dramatic turnaround in the capabilities of the Chinese Navy and the rise in strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

All of the world's high and medium intensity conflicts are located in this strategic area, including the American-led Global War on Terror (GWOT). Given the incredible rise in the price and importance of petroleum and the massive amount of shipping tonnage that is now criss-crossing IOR waters the region has assumed significance previously accorded only to the Atlantic seaboard at the peak of the Cold War.

It has been noted, particularly with the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier affair that the Russians let their intentions to re-negotiate existing contracts be known through inspired media reports. It has also been noted that after a period of silence, and denial, New Delhi is then forced to acknowledge the troubles they are faced with regard to a particular 'Russian,' contract.

Such tactics may have resulted in prices of Russian contracts being revised upwards, but they has also seen a significant erosion in the Russian domination of the Indian defence market as the Indian defence establishment is now making it a point to source ever larger portions of their requirements from non-Russian sources.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boeing P-8A Poseidon Successfully Completes 1st Flight

SEATTLE, April 27, 2009 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T-1 successfully completed its first flight April 25, taking off from Renton Field at 10:43 a.m. and touching down at Boeing Field in Seattle at 2:14 p.m. The P-8A performed a series of flight checks, reached a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet, and landed after three hours, 31 minutes in the air.

"This is a significant accomplishment for the P-8A team, as it moves us one step closer to delivering the next maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to the warfighter," said Capt. Mike Moran, P-8A program manager for the U.S. Navy. "Today's flight is a clear demonstration of the program's commitment to delivering this critical capability on time and the result of a tremendous effort by the joint Navy/Boeing team. I commend Boeing for putting its 'A-Team' in place on this program and enabling the Navy to leverage Boeing's experience, expertise and, more importantly, dedication to make this aircraft a reality."

Prior to takeoff, the P-8A team completed a limited series of flight checks, including engine starts and shutdowns. During the flight, test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations, autopilot flight modes, and auxiliary power unit shutdowns and starts.

"This is an exciting day for the P-8A program and a tribute to the hard work of the entire team," said Bob Feldmann, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager. "We understand the needs of the U.S. Navy and maritime patrol community, and we are dedicated to meeting every one of our future milestones on or ahead of plan."

The integrated Navy/Boeing team will begin formal flight testing of the P-8A during the third quarter of this year. Before that, Boeing will paint the aircraft, install additional flight test instrumentation and conduct a series of ground tests.

The P-8A, a derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation. The team currently is assembling and testing the first five P-8As.

The Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8As to replace its fleet of P-3C aircraft. Initial operational capability is planned for 2013.

Latest Picture of P-8A POSEIDON

These are the latest picture of P-8A Poseidon....

Monday, June 15, 2009

US P8I aircraft at INS Rajali soon

US P8I aircraft at INS Rajali soon

14 June 2009, Express News Service

ARAKKONAM: The P8I Poseidon, a next generation maritime surveillance aircraft will soon be part of the INS Rajali, a premier naval air station located at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.
The world’s most technologically advanced aircraft of its type, assembled by the US aerospace major Boeing, is expected to be inducted with the Indian Navy in about one and half years.

With this, India would be the first country to use the P8I Poseidon, which combines superior performance and proven reliability with the world’s most advanced mission system.

The P8I, a customised version for the Indian Navy, is based on the hugely successful Boeing-737 commercial airliner. The navy had in November 2006 expressed an interest in the aircraft as a replacement for its existing fleet of Il-38 aircraft that are nearing the end of their service life.

The P8I Poseidon aircraft will also be armed with Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and depth bombs to give them potent anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability.

According to Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, NM, Flag Officer Naval Aviation (FONA), the aircraft is the part of 400 latest aircraft, which are to be added with the India Navy in the next 10 years.

“Moreover, in the forthcoming two plan periods our defence will have a tremendous growth in terms of technology,” he observed, while interacting with reporters at the passing out parade to mark the graduation of the 72nd Helicopter Conversion Course here on Saturday. When questioned about security measures in the wake of terrorism threats, he said, impetus has been given to the coastal security for which the Coast Guard and Navy are working together.

“On the other hand, the Officers Training Academy at Goa has been shifted to Ezhumalai in Kerala, where the officers are being trained,” he added.
On Saturday, seven pilots of the 72nd HCC attained their goal that they set out to achieve. The FONA awarded certificate of qualification and the coveted ‘Wings’ during the parade. The passing out pilots will move to new operational appointments at Mumbai, Vizag, Daman, Chennai and Kochi flights.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Navy’s sub project slips on time, climbs on cost

Navy’s sub project slips on time, climbs on cost
9 June 2009, Rajat Pandit, TNN, TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: In a major blow to Navy's already shrinking underwater combat capabilities, the mammoth Rs 18,798 crore project to construct six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai has now slipped around two years behind schedule.

Defence ministry sources say the latest assessment shows the delivery of the first submarine, initially scheduled to roll out by December 2012, would not be possible before end-2014.

Moreover, the entire project is going to be hit with a huge cost escalation, which will take total costs much beyond Rs 20,000 crore, because France is demanding virtually double the money to supply some critical equipment to MDL.

"Negotiations for these `MDL procured material packages', which include almost everything other than combat systems, have been underway for a year now. The French say costs have doubled since the contracts were inked in October 2005,'' said a source.

"Consequently, though submarine hulls are being fabricated in MDL, there is nothing to put inside them at present. MoD has now approached the Cabinet Committee on Security for fresh approval for the cost escalation,'' he added.

The October 2005 contracts with French companies include the Rs 6,135 crore one with M/s Armaris (DCN-Thales joint venture) for transfer of technology, combat systems and construction design, and Rs 1,062 crore with M/s MBDA for sea-skimming Exocet missiles.

A Rs 5,888-crore contract was also signed with MDL for indigenous submarine construction, with another Rs 3,553 crore earmarked for taxes and Rs 2,160 crore towards other items to be acquired during the project.

Navy, on its part, hopes the lost time can be made up to some extent if the approvals come quickly for the Project-75 Scorpene project. All the six submarines were to be initially delivered by December 2017, one per year beginning from 2012.
A big delay will hit Navy hard since its projections show it will be left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two Foxtrot — by 2012.

As it is, the Foxtrot submarines are obsolete now, and the number could further dip to just five by 2014. This is alarming since both Pakistan and China are rapidly augmenting their underwater combat capabilities.

After inducting three French Agosta-90B submarines, with the last one PNS Hamza even having air-independent propulsion (AIP) to boost its operational capabilities, Pakistan is now looking to acquire three advanced Type-214 AIP-equipped submarines from Germany.

China, of course, is way ahead. It has 62 submarines, with around 10 of them being nuclear-propelled, and at least one Xia-class and two Jin-class being SSBNs (nuclear submarines with long-range ballistic missiles).

Though India has also begun its hunt for six more new-generation submarines under Project-75A, worth over Rs 30,000 crore, it will take "several months'' before even the global tenders (request for proposals) are floated for them.

"Initial information obtained from Russian (Rosoboronexport), French (Armaris) and German (HDW) firms, among others, are being studied at present. We want P-75A submarines to have a high degree of stealth, land-attack capability and AIP,'' said an official.

There is also the indigenous secretive ATV (advanced technology vessel) programme, under which the first of the three nuclear-powered submarines being built is to be "launched into water'' on August 15.

But a fully operational ATV, with SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) capabilities, is at least three years away. Navy, incidentally, will also get the Russian 12,000-tonne Akula-II nuclear-powered attack submarine on a 10-year lease by this year-end.