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.

(Courtesy: domain-b.com)