Saturday, October 30, 2010

F-35C Lightining II carrier variant with U.S.Navy colour's.

Latest Picture of F-35C Lightining II carrier variant with U.S.Navy colour's.

The F-35C carrier variant has a larger, folding wing with larger control surfaces for improved low-speed control, stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier landings, and a hook for use with carrier arrestor cables. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed while increasing both range and payload. With twice the range on internal fuel as the F/A-18C Hornet, the F-35C achieves much the same goal as the heavier F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The United States Navy will use the F-35C carrier variant. It intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets. The F-35C will also serve as a low-observable complement to the Super Hornet. On 27 June 2007, the carrier variant completed its Air System Critical Design Review (CDR). This allows the first two functional prototype F-35C units to be produced. The C variant is expected to be available beginning in 2014. The first F-35C was rolled out on 29 July 2009.

In October 2010 the United Kingdom decided to change its F-35B order to the F-35C. The Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are large enough to support non-STOVL operations and at least one will have catapults and arrestor cables installed to allow F-35C and allied naval aircraft operations. The number of F-35C aircraft to be procured has not been announced, although the stated plan is for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to operate a single variant.

Brahmos SL will be integrated with Scorpion Submarines

Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos has prepared a new version of the same name by a supersonic cruise missile, which can be applied to submarines. About this Itar-Tass on passing this exhibition Euronaval 2010 “said managing co-director of the joint venture BrahMos Alexander Maksichev.

“The rocket is ready for use from submarines,” – he said, recalling that the carriers of this variant of a cruise missile submarines will be like “Scorpion,” the order for which the Indian Navy deployed in France. Maksichev noted that in the near future will be summed up the tender for another batch of submarines. “We have initiated work to a set of airborne weapons and submarines of the party was included missile complex” BrahMos “, – said Maksichev.

Cruise missile BrahMos are in service with Indian Army and Indian Navy surface ships. Batch of missiles in ground-based version and ordered the Air Force of this country. In addition, work on adaptation BrahMos to the Su-30MKI Indian Air Force.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Indian Navy’s indigenous ship building: A success story

On 20 April 2010 the country’s first Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette (ASWC) for the Indian Navy under project P28, the 2500 tonne INS Kamotra was launched at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata. Four are of them are on order and in all 12 are intended to be built. On 29 April 2010 the Indian navy commissioned the indigenously built multi-role stealth frigate INS Shivalik and at 5300 tonnes it is the largest stealth frigate in the world. The hard to detect warships will form a crucial component of the Indian Navy for the first half of this century. These events herald the strides India has made in ship building and the coming of age of its shipyards. It can be undoubtedly said that the navy is the only service of the Indian armed forces carrying out modernization and indigenization with a long term plan with indigenization being the mantra. Setting aside the depleting submarine levels and delays in newer sub-surface inductions, the overall modernization and strategic planning of the Indian navy is going at a commendable pace with all the bureaucratic bottlenecks and political laxity notwithstanding. Even the Scorpion submarine project after all the delay is finally on track and construction is picking pace. There are currently as many as 39 warships and submarines on order with various Indian shipyards not including a couple of recently approved projects. The navy’s Directorate of Naval Architecture and the shipyards have come a long way from designing and constructing small offshore vessels to constructing aircraft carriers.

Recently the defense ministry has given the green signal the much awaited Rs.50,000 crore project to manufacture the second line of conventional submarines after the Scorpene’s with the help of a foreign collaborator. After the recent nod to the over Rs50,000-crore project for a second line of six submarines, the defense ministry has cleared another major program to indigenously construct four guided-missile stealth destroyers. Designated Project-15B for the four destroyers and valued around Rs.30,000 crore, it has been sent for final approval to the finance ministry. The P-15B program will be undertaken at Mazagon Docks (MDL) after the three Kolkata-class destroyers being constructed there under a long-delayed Rs 11,662-crore project, are finally delivered in 2014. The P-15B is basically a follow-on project of the 6,700-tonne Kolkata-class destroyers and will feature greater stealth and advanced sensor and weapon packages. The government also approved the construction of seven follow-on stealth frigates of project P17 (Shivalik class) to be constructed by MDL in Mumbai and GRSE in Kolkata. As is known, the construction of the indigenous aircraft carrier being built by Cochin shipyard Ltd. is going smoothly and should be launched to sea by this year end and commissioned in 2014. At 40,000 tonnes this is the largest ship ever built in India and with this India becomes only the seventh country in the world to design and construct aircraft carriers. The design for the IAC-II is also underway and this will be a much bigger and more sophisticated compared to IAC-I displacing about 65,000 tonnes.

But on the downside, the rate of building is very slow and doesn’t match the rate of phasing out of ships from service. Even the Navy chief has expressed displeasure over the delay in executing orders. The shipyards need to undertake a huge modernization drive to cope with the increasing qualitative and quantitative demands. Recently few private Indian conglomerates have forayed into ship building and have established world class facilities. The government and Navy should encourage and give an impetus to the private sector to strengthen the Indian military industrial complex.

With the changed threat perception after 26/11 combined with the aggressive Chinese foray into the Indian ocean region with its string of pearl’s strategy and the soon to expand exclusive economic zones have all highlighted the need for a strong Navy and finally the government seems to have woken up to the harsh reality. Slowly but surely, India is building a powerful three-dimensional blue-water Navy to protect its geo-strategic interests stretching from Hormuz Strait to Malacca Strait and with the indigenous route, is saving billions of precious foreign exchange. Hope the other services of the armed forces also take a leaf out of the Navy’s book for their modernization process.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

P-8A launches first sonobuoys

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- One of three P-8A test aircraft completed several sonobuoy launches on Friday, October 15. This event marks the first time the new Poseidon has launched sonobuoys since it began testing at NAS Patuxent River this summer.

A total of six sonobuoys were involved in three low altitude launches at the Atlantic Test Range. The range provides airspace for safe operating clearance of test missions.

Each P-8A employs a rotary launch system that uses three launchers with the capacity to hold 10 sonobuoys each and the capability of launching single and multiple shots. The system can accommodate any sized sonobuoy and the storage capacity of 120 is 50 percent greater than the P-3.

This event is just one integral part of the P-8A’s overall weapons system testing mission. Initial operating capability on the P-8A is scheduled for 2013 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

Russian aircraft carrier blueprint to be ready by yearend - Navy chief

MOSCOW: A technical design for a new-generation aircraft carrier will be ready by the end of the year, the head of the Russian Navy said on Monday.

In an interview with RIA Novosti, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said several organizations were working on the warship's design, including the Severnoye and the Nevskoye design bureaus.

He said it was too early to say what the new aircraft carrier will look like or what its specifications will be.

"Not even with regard to its displacement. The designers have been given a number of requirements. If they manage to pack everything into a matchbox, they are welcome," he said.

Some Navy experts believe the future aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered with a displacement of 50,000-60,000 tons.

The admiral said the Russian Navy needs carrier battle groups.

"If, for example, we do not have an aircraft carrier in the North, the battle capability of the Northern Fleet's guided-missile submarines will be reduced to zero after Day One because the submarines' principal adversary is aviation," he said.

Vysotsky stressed that a special state program was needed for an aircraft carrier to be built.

Russian Navy desperate for new planes

MOSCOW: Russian naval aviation is in critical condition, particularly the aviation units of the Black Sea Fleet, which may lose most of their fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the next five to six years.

This problem demands a rapid solution. Otherwise the new warships ordered under the 2011-2020 state rearmament program will be useless.

So far there are no official plans for equipping the navy with new fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. There have been no public reports or official statements regarding the purchase of new aircraft for the navy citing specific figured or parameters, except for the announcement of the purchase of 26 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum carrier-borne fighters.

Off-the-record comments and articles by experts indicate that Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-38 May and Tupolev Tu-142 Bear F/J maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft are currently being modernized, and that the navy will receive new helicopters under a program to provide a thousand new helicopters for the Russian Armed Forces between 2011 and 2020.

The navy has endured across-the-board cuts for the past 20 years, with naval aviation being the hardest hit. Long-range bomber units essentially no longer exist, and the number of combat-ready ASW planes has dwindled.

The air wing of Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and helicopters deployed on cruisers, ASW ships and frigates also face major problems.

The Black Sea Fleet is in a particularly bad state, as this was the only Soviet fleet that did not receive next-generation warships and aircraft in the 1980s before the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result, its aviation units still operate four Beriev Be-12 Mail flying boats, which were decommissioned elsewhere long ago. The fleet operates rapidly aging Kamov Ka-27 Helix and Mil Mi-14 Haze, which are the main helicopter models in use in other fleets.

Russia can replace these obsolete helicopters. Each year, Russia manufactures 100 helicopters for export and for its own needs. Considering the ambitious helicopter procurement plans under the above-mentioned federal rearmament program, the navy is entitled to its fair share.

Replacing ASW aircraft is even more critical. Russia now has an estimated 40 long-range aircraft, including 26-28 Il-38s and 15 Tu-142s in use in the Pacific and Northern fleets, while the Baltic fleet lacks any long-range aircraft.

Ground-based ASW planes have come a long way in the past few years. Owing to recent advances in airborne radio-electronic equipment, most industrialized countries have started converting these planes into multi-role maritime patrol aircraft.

The U.S. Navy's upgraded Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion anti-submarine and surveillance aircraft, the peer of the Soviet Il-38 plane, is a classic example.

Over the past 30 years, these planes have gained a number of new capabilies. They can attack ships with the help of new anti-ship missiles; they can function as AWACS-type early-warning aircraft; and they can patrol exclusive economic zones and territorial waters in search of smugglers and poachers.

The Russian Navy also plans to overhaul its 40 ASW aircraft. But 40 aircraft are clearly not enough to police Russia's coast. Russia has the longest maritime border in the world, a problem compounded by the melting polar icecaps. Although the United States has 130 planes of this class, many U.S. analysts also believe their number should be increased.

Russia cannot compete with the United States in terms of the number of naval aircraft, but it can certainly afford to make more of this class of aircraft, particularly the A-42, an advanced version of the Beriev A-40 Albatros/Mermaid flying boat, developed in the 1980s, which can fly patrol and rescue missions.

The Russian Defense Ministry has already announced plans to purchase these aircraft. However, a 2008 plan to purchase four A-42 search-and-rescue planes, as well as their multi-role versions later on, never materialized.

Lieutenant General Valery Uvarov, former commander of the Russian Navy's air-force and air-defense units, said the navy needs 15-20 new flying boats to meet the demand for search-and-rescue aircraft and to significantly enlarge the ASW plane fleet.

It is impossible to replace all obsolete aircraft with A-42 flying boats because it would take about 20 years for the Taganrog plant that manufactures them, as well as the smaller Beriev Be-200 planes for the Emergencies Ministry, to fulfill the contract for at least 40 such aircraft.

A good replacement would be the Tupolev Tu-204-P multi-mission maritime aircraft, which was developed on the basis of the Tu-204 medium-haul airliner. It resembles the state-of-the-art Boeing P-8 Poseidon, a converted B-737.

This aircraft could be mass-produced if the Russian Navy were to order a sufficient quantity, unlike the A-42 flying boats. This would provide much-needed support to the Tu-204 program, which has essentially no commercial orders.

It would be possible to assemble 50-60 such aircraft in the next ten years, along with a small number of A-42 search-and-rescue planes. This would alleviate the problem and form the foundation for the subsequent development of Russian naval aviation.

Russian Navy to receive new carrier-based fighters

MOSCOW: Russia's Navy will take delivery of the first MiG-29K (Fulcrum-D) fighters later this year, a Navy official said on Friday.

"This year we are planning to buy the first batch of several machines," he said.

He did not give an exact figure for the fighters, which are due to be deployed on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

The Navy earlier said it would buy a total of 24 MiG-29Ks in the next three to four years.

The military official said the Navy was currently using MiG-29K carrier-based multirole fighters and the more advanced Su-33 (Flanker-D) fighters, which will subsequently replace the MiGs.

"The Su-33s' service life is to expire in 2015, but we intend to extend it through 2025," he said.

Military analyst Konstantin Makiyenko has suggested that production of new Su-33 aircraft is possible but not cost-effective, given the small production volumes, whereas considering that India has already contracted 16 MiG-29Ks and could place an order for another 28, the latter option is more financially viable.

The 24 aircraft will cost an estimated $1 billion.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Next Bulava missile test postponed until later this year

Russia will not carry out the next test launch of its troubled Bulava ballistic missile in late October, as was previously planned, the chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff said on Thursday.

The latest test launch of the Bulava missile on October 7 was successful. The missile, which was fired from the Dmitry Donskoy submarine in the White Sea, hit its designated target in the Kura test range in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka region.

"We still need some time to analyze the results of the previous launch, but it is already clear that the missile performed well," Gen. Nikolai Makarov told reporters in Moscow. "The next test launch will be carried out later this year, but not in October."

The Bulava (SS-NX-30), a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), has officially suffered 7 failures in 13 tests.

Bulava test launches were put on hold after a failed launch on December 9, 2009, which was caused by a defective engine nozzle.

Makarov said that the missiles for the next two launches had already been manufactured under the strict supervision of the Defense Ministry, and are ready for testing.

Two test launches of the Bulava are planned before the end of 2010: one from the Dmitry Donskoy sub, and the other from Russia's newest strategic nuclear-powered submarine, the Borey class Yury Dolgoruky.

Russia's Pacific Fleet ready to receive Borey class submarines

A Pacific Fleet's naval base in Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula is fully prepared to host Russia's new Borey class strategic nuclear-powered submarines, a Russian military analyst said on Tuesday.

Borey class submarines, with the capacity to carry 12 Bulava ballistic missiles, are expected to constitute the core of Russia's strategic submarine fleet after 2018.

"Prior to the arrival of the Yury Dolgoruky submarine in Vilyuchinsk, all piers and main facilities at the base have been rebuilt, new security and communications systems have been introduced, and the training center has been modernized," said Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Defense Ministry's Public Council.

The Yury Dolgoruky, which has completed sea trials in the White Sea, is expected to enter service with the Russian Navy in the near future, pending the outcome of the Bulava testing.

Three other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky, the Vladimir Monomakh, and Svyatitel Nikolai (St. Nicholas) are in different stages of completion. Russia is planning to build eight of these subs by 2015.

Strategic submarines of the Pacific Fleet are included into the 16th Squadron, based in Vilyuchinsk.

The squadron includes four Delta III class subs - K-211 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, K-223 Podolsk, K-433 Sv. Georgiy Pobedonosets, and K-44 Ryazan, which was transferred to Vilyuchinsk from the Northern Fleet.

These submarines carry the D-16R missile system with 16 R-29R (SS-N-18) missiles and are being gradually withdrawn from service.

Russia could buy helicopter carriers by year end - military chief

Russia could sign a contract on the purchase of multipurpose helicopter carriers by the end of 2010, the chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff said on Thursday.

Russia is expected to hold an international tender on the construction of helicopter carriers for its Navy in the near future.

"Whoever is going to offer a better ship, shorter construction time frame and cheaper price, will be the winner [of the tender]. The contract could be signed by the end of this year," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.

Makarov added that France, the Netherlands and Spain will be invited to participate in the tender. They will compete with Russia's United Shipbuilding Company.

Experts believe that a French Mistral class amphibious assault ship is most likely to win the tender.

Moscow has been in talks with Paris on the purchase of a Mistral class warship on a 2+2 scheme whereby Russia will buy one or two French-built Mistrals and build another two under license domestically.

The Mistral class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

Grounded nuclear sub dragged free

The BBC's Scotland Correspondent Glenn Campbell witnessed the first part of the submarine's journey to safety.

A nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground in shallow waters off the Isle of Skye has been refloated, the Royal Navy has said.

HMS Astute was towed free by a tug at about 1800 BST and will be taken to deep water where a survey will be carried out on its rudder.

The £1bn submarine, described as the "stealthiest" ever built in the UK, was out on sea trials.

It became stuck on a shingle bank near the Skye Bridge at about 0800 BST.

The journey back to its base at Faslane on the Clyde could take several days.

HMS Astute, built by BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, is believed to have been undergoing sea trials as it is not expected to enter service until next year.

Aside from attack capabilities, it is able to sit in waters off the coast undetected, delivering the UK's special forces where needed or even listening to mobile phone conversations.

The 39,000 acoustic panels which cover its surface mask its sonar signature, meaning it can sneak up on enemy warships and submarines alike, or lurk unseen and unheard at depth.

The submarine can carry a mix of up to 38 Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise missiles, able to target enemy submarines, surface ships and land targets.

It ran aground outside the safe sea lane marked on Admiralty charts.

The channel that runs underneath the Skye Bridge has red and green buoys known as lateral markers to ensure vessels do not run aground.

HMS Astute appeared to be lying in shallow water several hundred metres beyond that safe route.

The Admiralty charts show submerged rocks in the area where the submarine got into difficulty but the Navy said it was grounded on silt.

The Royal Navy said the submarine was operating under its own power after being towed free.

It said the vessel would remain overnight in deep water.

HMS Astute will be assessed on Saturday to determine whether it can return to Faslane under its own power or if it requires assistance.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "It is a continuous process of assessment of the situation."

Scottish CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) expressed concern at the incident.
HMS Astute

John Ainslie, co-ordinator of Scottish CND, said: "This is just the latest in a long line of incidents involving nuclear submarines off the west coast of Scotland. These vessels are regular visitors to the seas around Skye.

"The Navy has several submarine trials areas near Raasay and Applecross.

"Inquiries into previous incidents have shown an appalling lack of common sense and basic navigation skills on these hi-tech submarines."

The Scottish government's Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Ministers are being kept regularly updated of the situation and the Scottish government is working with Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) to closely monitor developments.

"At this stage there is no indication of damage suffered by the vessel that might lead to a fuel leakage, although close contact is being maintained with the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) to keep the situation under review.

"We have also been advised by the MoD that there is no damage to the reactor or leakage of radioactivity from it."

Mr Lochhead added: "This incident does bring into very sharp focus the regrettable decision by the Department for Transport earlier this week to dispense with the four emergency towing vessels stationed in particularly sensitive locations around the UK coast.

"One of those vessels has been tasked with assisting the refloating of HMS Astute and today's developments raise serious questions about the decision to scrap them."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nuclear submarine HMS Astute runs aground off Skye

The Royal Navy's newest and largest attack submarine HMS Astute has run aground off Skye, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.

Described as the stealthiest ever built in the UK, the £1bn boat was being put through sea trials and was not armed.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "This is not a nuclear incident.

"We are responding to the incident and can confirm that there are no injuries to personnel and the submarine remains watertight."

The spokeswoman added: "There is no indication of any environmental impact."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was alerted to the incident at about 0819 BST.

The Royal Navy said it was on silt, not rock, and hoped to re-float HMS Astute at high tide at about 1900 BST.

If this operation was successful, the boat will be towed to deeper waters and divers sent down to check for damage.

The submarine would then be towed back to its base at Faslane on the Clyde over the course of several days.

He said: "When I woke up this morning and looked out my bedroom window I could see the submarine.

"I am very surprised how far in it has come as there are good navigational buoys there."

Mr McKerlich added: "There was a helicopter hovering over the top - it's now gone back and there are two Naval vessels from the local base, Kyle of Lochalsh, standing off to the north of her.

Eye-witness Ross McKerlich describes the attempts to rescue the listing submarine

"Earlier in the day they did have ropes and they were trying to tow but now the tide has gone back and they're just standing off."

Mr McKerlich said HMS Astute was in an area of shallow water where he would not risk taking his yacht.

The submarine has run aground outwith the safe sea lane marked on Admiralty charts.

The channel that runs underneath the Skye Bridge has red and green buoys known as lateral markers to ensure vessels do not run aground.

HMS Astute appeared to be lying in shallow water several hundred metres beyond that safe route. The Admiralty charts show submerged rocks in the area where the submarine has got into difficulty.

Martin Douglas, a former nuclear submarine engineer, said a concern for the crew was the provision of sea water to the boat's reactor.

He said: "The sea provides the primary cooling for the reactor system.

"There are many, many levels of back up systems, but they may have to find some interesting ways of getting sea water supply to the reactor."

Mr Douglas said the skipper and crew were highly trained to deal with extreme situations.

But he added that as the tide dropped more HMS Astute would be on display and secrets of its propulsion revealed.

HMS Astute, built by BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, is believed to have been undergoing sea trials as it is not expected to enter service until next year.

Aside from attack capabilities, it is able to sit in waters off the coast undetected, delivering the UK's special forces where needed or even listening to mobile phone conversations.

The 39,000 acoustic panels which cover its surface mask its sonar signature, meaning it can sneak up on enemy warships and submarines alike, or lurk unseen and unheard at depth.

The submarine can carry a mix of up to 38 Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes and Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise missiles, able to target enemy submarines, surface ships and land targets, while its sonar system has a range of 3,000 nautical miles.

Speaking to the BBC last month, HMS Astute's commanding officer, Commander Andy Coles, said: "We have a brand new method of controlling the submarine, which is by platform management system, rather than the old conventional way of doing everything of using your hands.

"This is all fly-by-wire technology including only an auto pilot rather than a steering column."
HMS Astute

Submarine HMS Trafalgar sustained millions of pounds worth of damage when it ran aground off Skye in 2002.

Two senior commanders were reprimanded after admitting that their negligence caused the incident.

The sea around Skye and the island of Raasay is used as a training ground for the Royal Navy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Fleet Tanker for Indian Navy Launched At Muggiano

Genoa: Today at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Muggiano (La Spezia) there was the launch of the first of two fleet tankers ordered by the Indian Navy, with delivery scheduled by the end of the year. Present at the ceremony were Arif S. Khan, ambassador for the Republic of India in Italy, Corrado Antonini, Chairman of Fincantieri, Admiral Franco Paoli, commander of the Naval Department of the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea. First announced at Euronaval in 2008, the order is the first surface vessel India has ever made to a European company and followed a selection procedure with strong international competitors, especially from Russia and Korea.

At 175 metres long, 25 wide and 19 high, the fleet tanker is a supply and logistic support vessel with a displacement at full load of 27,500 tonnes and a propulsion system of two 10,000 kW diesel engines enabling her to reach a maximum speed of 20 knots. Notable features of the vessel are its propulsion system incorporating a shaft with adjustable pitch propellers and a flight deck for medium weight helicopters (up to 10 tons). Maximum passenger capacity is 250 including crew and additional forces.

Equipped with double hatches the tanker can refuel four vessels at the same time.

In accordance with the new Marpol regulations of the International Maritime Organization regarding protection of the environment, the ship has been built with a double hull. This will afford greater protection to the fuel tanks, thereby avoiding the risk of pollution in case of collision or damage.

Cooperation with India started in 2004 when Fincantieri drew up two contracts with Cochin shipyard for the design of an engine (one of the most powerful non-nuclear propulsion systems in the world), technology transfer and provision of complementary services for the construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). Furthermore, in 2007 the company delivered the “Sagar Nidhi”, an oceanographic vessel for the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) of Madras, which is already operating off the Indian coast to the great satisfaction of the customer.

Fincantieri considers the East market and the development of cooperation with the high prestige Indian partner to be strategic, as witnessed by two events – the opening in recent years of a representative office in New Delhi and the company’s participation every year at the leading naval fair, “Defexpo”.

The partnership has been successful as the Indian Navy has exercised its option (provided under the original contract) and ordered a second sister fleet tanker, which is under construction at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente (Genoa) shipyard for delivery in late 2011.

CAG pokes finger at inferior steel in navy tankers

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has criticized the acceptance of inferior-grade steel used in the manufacture of fleet tankers of the Indian Navy by Italian firm, Fincantieri, saying it amounted to ‘undue favor to a foreign vendor in (the) procurement of fleet tankers’.

Not just the steel, the CAG also has a problem with the ‘excess provisioning of spares worth more than INR 300 million (USD 6 million) and under realization of offset benefit to Indian industry’ in the procurement worth INR 9.36 billion (USD 200 million).

The CAG’s report says the original Request For Proposal (RFP) had a mandatory stipulation requiring the use of ‘DMR 249A or equivalent grade steel’ in the construction of two fleet tankers, which it says is ‘almost double the cost of ordinary steel’.

The INS (Indian Naval Ship) Deepak (Lamp) in dry dock at Muggiano, Italy being launched last February.

The report recaps, “In order to maintain its approved force levels, Indian Navy’s Ship-building Plan envisaged addition of two fleet tankers (tanker) by 2008 and 2011 respectively. Accordingly, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to 12 firms in November 2005. In response to the RFP, only three firms responded, namely M/s Rosoboronexport, Russia (ROE), M/s Hyundai Heavy Industries Limited (HHIL) and M/s Fincantieri, Italy.”

It says, “Out of the three firms, only ROE offered a technical proposal for using DMR 249A/ or equivalent steel. The offer of HHIL was rejected due to noncompliance with RFP provisions which included non-usage of DMR 249A steel. Fincantieri’s proposal was stated to be compliant with the RFP conditions. However, the firm proposed to use DH 36 steel in place of DMR 249A steel.”

INS Deepak, launched into the sea.

The justification offered by Fincantieri for selection of DH 36 grade steel to the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) of the Ministry of Defense included problems in sourcing DMR 249A steel, the normal use of ordinary steel for tankers and that high resilience performance of DMR 249A was not necessary for the ship.

“According to the firm’s own admission, DH 36 grade steel has less weight and less resilience when compared to DMR 249A. The chemical compositions of DH-36 grade steel and DMR 249A steel are different and they cannot be treated as equivalent to each other. The prices of these two grades of steel are also different in as much as DMR 249 A grade is more expensive than DH-36 grade steel,” says the report, adding, “Nonetheless, the TEC opined that the DH 36 steel was equivalent to DMR 249A grade steel and accepted the technical bid of Fincantieri without taking cognizance of the offer made by the other two bidders. The Technical Oversight Committee also recommended the offer of Fincantieri. Later, when the commercial bids were opened, Fincantieri emerged as L1 (lowest bid) with a quote of Rs 723 crore. The offer of ROE was rejected as it was costlier, being based upon the prices of DMR 249A / or equivalent.

20,000-crore boost for Navy’s snooping power

NEW DELHI: In a strong booster dose to India’s maritime reconnaissance and “strategic sea-lift ” capabilities, the defence ministry has cleared the acquisition of four longrange surveillance aircraft and four big amphibious assault warships for the Navy.

MoD sources say the two big naval projects, whose cumulative worth is Rs 20,600 crore, were cleared by the defence acquisitions council, chaired by A K Antony, on Monday afternoon.

The four new aircraft will be the P-8 I Poseidon longrange maritime patrol aircraft , which will add to the eight such planes already contracted from Boeing under the $2.1-billion deal inked in January 2009. It will take this biggest-ever Indo-US defence deal till date past the $3-billion mark, making it even bigger, as was first reported by TOI last month.

The entire project to acquire the four amphibious warfare ships, called Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) in naval lingo, will be worth around Rs 16,000 crore.

The LPD project will be executed under the “buy and make” category of the Defence Procurement Procedure , which basically involves licensed indigenous manufacture in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer.

“At least two of the LPDs will be constructed at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) at Visakhapatnam, which was transferred from the shipping ministry to the defence ministry last year to meet national security requirements of building strategic vessels,” said a source. Both the P-8 Is and the LPDs are crucial to the Navy’s long-term strategic plans. The 12 P-8 I aircraft, the first of which is slated for induction by early 2013, will help India plug the existing gaps in its surveillance of the entire Indian Ocean Region.

Armed with torpedoes, depth bombs and Harpoon missiles, apart from being packed with long-range radars and sensors, the P-8 Is will also boost its anti-warship and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Four special ships for Navy

New Delhi: Signalling an important change in the long-term strategic plan of its armed forces, the Defence Ministry has okayed the purchase of four specialised ships that will triple the existing capability of launching offensive sea-borne “out of country operations” by the forces.

These ships, called the Landing Platform Docks (LPDs), are essentially a modern-day sea-based version of the Roman epic “Trojan horse”. Each carries in its huge lower deck hundreds of troops with tanks, vehicles and cargo. Such a ship can deliver men and equipment near a sea beach and does not need a berthing dock providing the option for landing thousands of troops near a spot chosen to attack.

The Defence Acquisition Council, headed by Defence Minister AK Antony, met earlier this week and cleared the purchase alongside the purchase of four additional long-range maritime aircraft for the Navy. The aircraft will allow dominance over the Indian Ocean. Currently, the Navy is woefully short of maritime surveillance platforms.

The additional LPDs were the first step towards increasing capability to launch “out-of-country operations”, set to be tripled over the next few years, sources said.

The Navy, at present, has one LPD, the INS Jalashwa, a 16,000-tonne displacement vessel. It was purchased form the USA for $50 million in 2007. The purchase of four additional LPDs would be done at a cost of more than $3.3 billion or Rs 18,000 crore. This time, the ministry has decided to call for a global tender. At least two of the ships would be manufactured at shipyard in India.

Forces that move across sea are referred to as “amphibious task force”. At present, India has the capability to move a Brigade, some 5,000 men, using the lone LPD along with a fleet of five smaller 4,500-tonne vessels called the Landing Ship Tank Large (LSTL) each of which can carry 10 tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 troops.

4 maritime patrol jets and 4 amphibious warships for Navy

New Delhi: India today took a major step towards upgrading its Navy's maritime air reconnaissance capability and amphibious warfare strength by deciding to order four each of P8I Poseidon aircraft and Landing Pontoon Docks (LPDs) totally worth over USD 5 billion.

The four P8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft will be an add-on to the eight that India ordered from the US in January 2009 for USD 2.1 billion or nearly Rs 10,000 crore. These four aircraft from the US aerospace major Boeing's stable would cost India about USD 1 billion (less than Rs 5,000 crore).

The four LPDs, on the lines of INS Jalashwa that India bought from the US for USD 50 million in 2007, would come at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore and a global tender would be issued for its under the Defence Ministry's 'Buy and Make' production policy. Under this, India would make the warships through license from a foreign firm.

The 17,000-tonne Jalashwa, formerly USS Trenton, is a Austin class amphibious warfare ship that can carry about 1,000 fully armed army men and has four beach landing craft and six helicopters.

The two decisions were taken at the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony and attended by the three armed forces chiefs and the defence secretary this evening, ministry sources told PTI.

The decisions come close on the heels of Antony and Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma's visit to the US last week when they had met the American security top brass to discuss both business and defence cooperation.

Now the proposals for both these purchases would be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for clearance, the sources added.

With the purchase of four more P8Is, Navy will operate a total of 12 of these aircraft that would plug a major gap in its capabilities to keep an eye on adversaries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), in which China has been making significant forays in the last one year citing anti-piracy operations.

The Poseidon will provide the Navy with an option of a long-range reconnaissance mission in the entire maritime domain in IOR that India has been claiming to be its area of responsibility.

Currently, though, Navy is woefully short of maritime surveillance platforms, operating eight aging Tu-142 turboprops and five Ilyushin-38s (upgraded in recent years), both of Russian origin.

It also has Israeli 'Heron' and 'Searcher-II' unmanned aerial vehicles to perform the same role, but at shorter distances.

Modeled on Boeing 737 commercial airliners with cruise speeds of 445 knots, the P8Is can also perform anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare roles, as they will be armed with torpedoes, depth chargers and Harpoon missiles.

These aircraft have a mission range of 600 nautical miles and six hours of loitering time. Along with mid-air refueling capacity, their range could be extended further to 1,200 nautical miles.

The first of the P8Is are expected to be delivered to the Navy by Boeing in 2013 and the rest to follow in the next six years, the sources said.

India to get Russian nuclear submarine in March

NEW DELHI: India's undersea warfare will receive a major boost after Russia transfers its nuclear-powered K-152 Nerpa attack submarine on a 10-year lease in March next year.

The governor of the Far East Khabarovsk region told reporters in Russia on Friday that the vessel is ready.

"The boat has been handed over [to the fleet] now. According to the agreement, it will be transferred to India in March next year," Vyacheslav Shport said, as quoted by the Ria Novosti.

The $900-million lease contract was drawn up after Moscow and New Delhi sealed a deal in January 2004, in which India agreed to fund part of the Nerpa's construction.

The 12,000-ton K-152 Nerpa, an Akula II class nuclear-powered attack submarine, was originally scheduled to be introduced into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra by mid-2008.

A crew of Indian submariners last year took part in sea trials of the submarine.

The boat, damaged in a fatal accident during tests last November, resumed sea trials last year in the Sea of Japan after extensive repairs.

On Nov 8, 2008, while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan, its on-board fire suppression system activated, releasing a deadly gas into the sleeping quarters. Three crewmembers and 17 shipyard workers were killed.

Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

India, US defence deal set to get bigger

NEW DELHI: India's biggest- ever defence deal inked with US till now is all set to get bigger. Plans are virtually final now to order another four P-8I Poseidon long-range maritime patrol aircraft to add to the eight already contracted under the $2.1 billion deal inked last year. Defence ministry sources say the project to acquire four more Boeing P-8I aircraft will be taken up for approval in the meeting of the defence acquisitions council, headed by A K Antony, on October 8.

It will be held in the backdrop of the recent visits of Antony and Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma to US. ''The new P-8Is will cost the same as each of the eight ordered in January 2009, without any cost escalation. There will also be similar offsets requirements. In the original $2.1-billion contract, the offsets were valued over $600 million,'' said a source.

India is going in for the 12 P-8Is to plug huge gaps in its maritime snooping capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which has become heavily militarised with even China increasingly making strategic forays into the region.

At present, Navy has a woefully-inadequate maritime reconnaissance fleet of eight ageing Russian Tupolev-142M turboprops and five upgraded Ilyushin-38SD aircraft, a dozen Israeli Heron and Searcher-II spy drones, and a few Dornier-228 squadrons.

Based on the Boeing 737 commercial airliners with cruise speeds of 445 knots, the P-8Is will not undertake just surveillance missions. They will also be capable of deadly anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, armed as they will be with torpedoes, depth bombs and Harpoon missiles.

They will have ''a mission radius'' of 600 nautical miles, with 5.5 hours on-station loitering time, and 1,200 nautical miles, with 4 hours on station. With mid-air refuelling, their operational radius will further go up. The first of the eight original P-8Is is slated to be inducted by early-2013, with the others following by 2016. The US Navy, too, will begin inducting the first lot of its 117 P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft around the same time.

P-8Is are being customised to Indian naval requirements, with communication, electronic warfare and other systems being sourced from India. For instance, defence PSU Bharat Electronics is delivering Data Link-II, a communication system to enable rapid exchange of information among Indian warships, submarines aircraft and shore establishments, for the P-8Is to Boeing. There is, however, the question of India having not yet inked the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) being pushed by the US as ''a sensitive technology-enabler'' for P-8I and other arms procurements.

But MoD and Navy are not too worried. Antony, in fact, told his American counterpart Robert Gates in Washington on Tuesday that while India appreciated the US government's view that pacts like CISMOA would ''facilitate access to high technologies'', there were still some concerns which needed to be addressed.

Mystery Chinese SSK Fuels Asia's Submarine Race

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has launched an unidentified new-type conventional submarine (SSK) at its Wuhan shipyard, according to Chinese reports on 9 September.

It is the third new SSK design revealed by China since 1994 and is likely to exacerbate regional anxieties that are propelling many Asian states to increase or establish submarine fleets.

Vague or altered internet images of this new SSK, which first appeared on the popular Chinese CALF web page on 10 September, led observers to think that it may be yet another Chinese internet hoax, but the submarine's existence was confirmed by much clearer images on 13 September.

While not much larger than the 3,000- to 4,000-ton Type 041 Yuan class, the new boat appears to incorporate Russian design influences, including a stouter hull with a reduced aft taper similar to the Project 667 Lada/Amur class, plus an elongated sail and hull-mounted retractable hydroplanes similar to the Project 636 'Kilo' class. However, in contrast to the sail of the 'Kilo', the new Chinese SSK incorporates hydrodynamic elements such as an intricately-faired leading edge with concave and convex curves.

While there remains a possibility that China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has engaged Russia's Rubin submarine design bureau to aid future submarine designs during previous encounters, Rubin representatives, while ready to confirm their willingness to sell new submarines to China, have refused to comment on possible co-operation with China. From late 1994 to 2006, the PLAN took delivery of eight Project 636 boats and four of the older Project 877 design Rubin-designed 'Kilo'-class SSKs.

Beyond what can be seen from the initial images, not much else is known about the size, features, main mission or capabilities of this new SSK. There is ample speculation on Chinese websites that the larger sail may house anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles or a new crew-rescue capsule. At the 2008 Zhuhai Airshow the China Aerospace Science and Industries Corporation revealed its C-705: a new smaller anti-ship cruise missile that could fit in the sail of this new SSK. There is also speculation that the new SSK uses a new double-hull design to improve combat survivability.

The Yuan-class is reported to use a new air-independent propulsion (AIP) system based on the concept of the Swedish Stirling engine, and it is known that Chinese naval research institutes have been investigating fuel cell and exhaust recycling AIP designs similar to the French MESMA (Module d'Energie Sous-Marine Autonome), so this new SSK may well utilise some form of AIP. There is also speculation that it may use a new propulsor pump, but this is considered unlikely as it would not be optimal for a slow-speed patrol profile. Early images of the aft area of the new SSK do not reveal a towed-array housing above the waterline, so it cannot be concluded that the new boat may have a greater anti-submarine capability.

Already China's growing submarine fleet is prompting regional reactions. China launched 13 Type 039 Song-class SSKs from 1994 to 2004 and, in addition to the 12 Russian-sourced 'Kilos' now in service, the US Department of Defense expects the PLAN will build up to 15 Yuan-class SSKs; five had been launched by mid-2010. In July it was revealed that Japan would revise its Defense Guidelines to allow for an increase from 16 to 20 submarines. However, some Japanese sources have told Jane's that a submarine life extension is being considered to allow this fleet to increase up to 25.

In addition to its nine licence-produced German Type 209/1200 SSKs, South Korea plans to build nine KSS-2 (licence-produced Type 214) SSKs by 2020, after which it may build up to six KSS-3 follow on SSKs. In late 2009 Vietnam completed a deal to purchase six 'Kilo' Project 636 SSKs with expected delivery between 2013 and 2019. Australia's Sea 1000 programme aims to replace its current six Collins-class submarines with 12 new SSKs starting in 2025. In 2005 Singapore purchased two AIP-equipped Archer-class (Västergötland) SSKs from Sweden, the first of which was completed in 2009. This year Malaysia has taken delivery of the second of two French and Spanish-built Scorpene-class SSKs while Indonesia is planning to acquire submarines by the end of the decade. While proposed for sale by the United States in 2001, Taiwan and the US have yet to finalise a programme by which Taiwan can acquire up to eight new SSKs.