Saturday, January 29, 2011

E/A-18G Growler is painted in a throwback three-tone paint

NAVAL AIR STATION, NORTH ISLAND, Ca. (Jan. 26, 2011) An E/A-18G Growler from the "Vikings" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Wash., arrives at NAS North Island. The Growler is painted in a throwback three-tone paint scheme (circa 1944), honoring Air Group 85 which operated from USS Shangri-La (CV 34) during World War II. The specially-painted Growler is one of more than 200 naval aircraft, from pre-World War II to the present day, participating in a Parade of Flight over San Diego Bay, kicking off a series of nationwide events celebrating the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

F/A-18 Hornet in a jet painted in a vintage WWII paint

On Jan. 13, F/A-18 Hornet Pilot Cmdr. Mitch Conover prepares for takeoff at NAS Jacksonville, Fla., in a jet painted in a vintage WWII paint scheme used from late 1943 to late 1944. Painters at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast are applying heritage color schemes to several military aircraft for the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

France Signs Contested Russia Warship Deal

SAINT-NAZAIRE, France - France on Jan. 25 inked a lucrative agreement to sell four Mistral-class warships to Moscow, with two to be built in Russia, a move bitterly opposed by former Soviet states in the Baltics.

A Mistral-class amphibious assault ship is moored at a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, on Jan. 25. France and Russia have signed an agreement for four ships. It calls for France to build two Mistral-class ships at Saint-Nazaire and two in Russia. (Lionel Bonaventure / Agence France-Presse)

The deal for the amphibious assault ships will be the first sale to Russia of such technology by a NATO country.

France's NATO allies - in particular Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.

Leaked diplomatic cables showed that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also raised Washington's concerns while on a visit to Paris last year.

The deal was announced while President Nicolas Sarkozy was visiting the STX naval shipyards in the western port of Saint-Nazaire, where the vessels will be built in partnership with France's state-owned military contractor DCNS.

"The governments of the two countries agree to give their full support to the construction of two [warships] in France and two in Russia," said a joint French-Russian statement released by the French presidency.

Sarkozy told shipworkers in Saint-Nazaire that the deal represented 6 million hours of work and 1,500 jobs over four years.

A previous deal announced late last month concerned the construction of two Mistrals in Saint-Nazaire and mentioned the possibility of building two more.

The deal unveiled Jan. 25 did not mention how much technology France would transfer to the Russians to enable them to build the ships, nor did it mention how much the ships were being sold for.

France has been negotiating with Russia since 2009 on the deal to sell Moscow the Mistral-class ships, which is priced at around 500 million euros ($680 million).

Russian state shipbuilder OSK boss Roman Trotsenko told Interfax news agency that the unit price agreed was "less than 600 million euros."

STX said the first Mistral would be delivered in December 2013, and would be 80 percent built in France and 20 percent in Russia.

A Mistral-class ship can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, about 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.

The Russian army has said such a ship would have helped it win its August 2008 war with ex-Soviet neighbor Georgia within hours rather than days.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - states ruled by Moscow until 1991 - have repeatedly criticized France's plans since Paris began negotiating the warship sale.

The Kremlin only withdrew its troops from their territory in 1994, three years after they won independence when the communist bloc collapsed.

The three states, with a combined population of 6.8 million, still have rocky relations with Russia, notably since they joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.

U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., sharply condemned the sale of the four warships, calling it "a threat to some of America's friends and NATO allies."

"I strongly oppose France's sale of the Mistral to Russia," he said. "This ship is a threat to some of America's friends and NATO allies, and I worry that this decision could set a troubling precedent within NATO of advanced weapons sales to the Russian government."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

With new fleet tanker, Navy to have enhanced footprint

The Indian Navy on Friday took a step further towards increasing its combat footprint with the induction of the INS Deepak fleet tanker that will give it formidable capacity to carry out operation far from Indian shores. The Deepak, first of the two new Italian fleet tankers being inducted into the Navy, will not only support Indian warships in all missions abroad but will also form a crucial part of the Western fleet as the main re-supply vessel for the INS Vikramaditya (former Admiral Gorshkov) that is set to join the Navy in two years.

Commissioned into the fleet by Defence Minister A K Antony, the tanker ship is one of the largest vessels of the Navy with a displacement of 27,500 tonnes and has been designed to refuel large ships like the INS Viraat within a few hours. The warship has been designed by the Italian Fincanteri Shipyard specifically for the Indian Navy and has been delivered in a record time of 27 months. Its sister ship, the Shakti, is expected to arrive before the end of this year. The Deepak class Fleet tankers will be the mainstay support ships of the Indian Navy in the first half of the 21st century and have the additional capacity to carry more than 500 tonnes of weapons that can be used to resupply combatants in the high seas.

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, describing the tanker as one of the most modern in the fleet, said that its induction would add ‘significantly to the Indian Navy’s ability to conduct and sustain operations distant from our coast, a factor that is central to the Navy’s ability to protect and promote India’s maritime interests and national security in today’s world’.

“The ship not only represents an increase in our operational flexibility and reach, but also our ability to maintain credible presence for prolonged durations in areas important to our national interests. Besides this, she will also enhance our ability to extend humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and medical support to friendly nations in the region,” he said.

Antony, while commending the Italian designers for the ship design, said that the Indian Navy has achieved its rightful place in the strategically vital Indian Ocean Region. “A ship such as Deepak, with an ability to sustain the Indian fleets at sea for prolonged periods, is a vital asset to ensure Indian Navy’s continuous presence in our area of interest,” he said.

* Length — 175 m
* Breadth — 25 m
* Full load displacement — 27,000 tonnes
* Transport cargoes — 17,900 tonnes
* Dry cargo — 510 tonnes
* Crew capacity — 36 officers and 212 sailors
* Maximum speed — 20 knots
* Fuel transfer rate — 1,000-1,500 tonnes per hour
* Guns — Four AK 630 guns
* Weapon carrying capacity — 510 tonnes

K-15 test rescheduled to Jan 31

The DRDO has rescheduled the test-firing of submarine launched ballistic missile ( SLBM) K-15 to January 31. It was supposed to be test-fired from an underwater platform off the Vishakhapatnam coast on January 20. “The test was first scheduled on January 16, but was postponed to January 20. Now it has again been rescheduled to January 31 due to delay in arrangements. It is a coordinated exercise of both land and Navy personnel,” a source said.

“India can join the league of five nations, Russia, US, France, Britain and China, with the successful launch of the K-15 missile. These countries already possess advanced missiles that can be launched from a submarine,” sources said.

The indigenously developed K-15 or the B-05 missile are 10 metres in length, one metre in diameter and weighs ten tonnes with a strike range of around 700 km.

This missile uses solid propellant and carries a conventional payload of about 500 kg to one tone and also be fitted with a tactical nuclear warhead. “The missile is ready for the test. But preparation is on for locating the Pontoon (replica of a submarine) inside the sea. The tracking machineries and technical equipment have been shifted from the integrated test range to Vishakhapatnam,” the source added.

The K-15 missile has been tested at least six times and is in serial production. The missile was initially test-fired under the name of Sagarika project. While its launching was recorded partial success twice, the rest were claimed as “successful trials” by the DRDO.

The missile, which can be compared with the Tomahawk missile of US, is India’s response to Pakistan’s Babur missile. The source further said that the Navy has reportedly been insisting for the test of K-15′s cruise variant as it is hard to be obstructed and has pinpoint accuracy.

“Cruise missiles are more difficult to detect and hence less vulnerable to anti-missile defence, which can track and destroy ballistic missiles with comparative ease,” a defence scientist said. “Besides, the K-15 missile, India has another missile which can also be launched from a submarine. In a joint collaboration with Russia, a submarine-launched version of BrahMos cruise missile has been developed,” he added.

Italian-Built Fleet Tanker INS Deepak Commissioned Into Indian Navy

INS Deepak, the first of the two Fleet Tankers to be built by M/s Fincanteri Shipyard, Italy, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai by the Honourable Raksha Mantri (RM), Shri AK Antony, today 21 Jan 11 at an impressive ceremony. The Naval Dockyard wore a festive look with all warships ships dressed overall with flags of different colours and shapes.

On arrival at the South Breakwater of the Naval Dockyard, the RM was received by Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, Chief of the Naval Staff, and Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. The Defence Minister was presented a 50-man Guard of Honour. At the commissioning ceremony which was held on the Helicopter deck of INS Deepak, the ships Commanding Officer, Captain VK Madhusoodanan, read out the commissioning warrant which was followed by the hoisting of the National flag and the Naval Ensign for the first time and breaking of the Commissioning pennant on the ships mast. The RM unveiled the Ship’s name plaque thus marking the formal induction of INS Deepak into the Indian Navy and the Western Fleet.

Addressing the gathering, the Defence Minister stated that our Navy has embarked on an ambitious shipbuilding programme to provide it with the required maritime assets to meet its mandate. “Indian defence shipyards are working to their full capacity to meet the country’s warship requirements” he said. “India’s continued presence in Indian Ocean waters necessitates pursuing our strategic and diplomatic interests for which a ship such as Deepak, with an ability to sustain the Indian fleets at sea for prolonged periods, is a vital asset to ensure Indian Navy’s continuous presence in our area of interest”, he added.

Designed by Fincanteri Shipyard specifically for the Indian Navy, this ship is one of the largest ships of the navy, 175 metres long, 25 metres wide and has a full load displacement of 27,500 tonnes. The ship has been designed, constructed and delivered in a record time of 27 months and is a second generation ship. The erstwhile Deepak, commissioned in Nov 1967 was decommissioned in Apr 1996 after a glorious 29 years of service in the navy.

She is of double hull configuration in keeping with the latest MARPOL and SOLAS regulations. Though INS Deepak is essentially a tanker it is a thoughtfully designed and versatile platform capable of a large number of roles. In addition to its traditional role of supplying fuel to ships at sea, the ship is also capable of transporting and supplying ammunitions, materials and provisions. It is also capable of undertaking Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations with its modern medical health facilities.

The Deepak class Fleet tankers will be the mainstay tankers/ support ships of the Indian Navy in the first half of the 21st century. The ship has a maximum draft of 9.1 m and displacement of 27000 tons of which a large percentage (17900 tons) is the cargo carrying capacity. This includes 15250 tons of fuel, 510 tons of solid cargo (including ammunition and spares) and 6 containers. The ship has a maximum speed of 20 knots and an endurance of 10,000 Nautical miles at a speed of 16 knots. The ship is equipped with four AK-630 guns for close defence supplied by Ordnance Factory Board and high–tech fire control system supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited. In addition the ship has sophisticated electronic surveillance and communication equipment supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited. The ship is also capable of carrying an integrated helicopter flight and can stage all helicopters being used by the Indian Navy.

The ship is specially designed to function as a command platform. The sensors and other equipment fitted onboard have a large percentage of indigenously manufactured components, especially the communication and Combat Information Management System. The ship has state -of -the art aviation facilities and can operate various types of helicopters from its deck including the Seaking and the indigenously manufactured ALH. The ship presently has a crew of 15 Officers and 182 sailors.

The commissioning of INS Deepak is a mile stone achievement for the navy as it would revolutionalise the combat support operations at sea and extend the reach of the naval power of the nation. The ceremony was also attended by HE Sanfilece Monteforte the Italian Ambassador in India, senior officials from the Indian Navy as well as the Italian Shipyard Fincantieri.

Friday, January 21, 2011

PAEMB - Plan of Organization and Equipment of the Navy of Brazil

The Naval Power provides exclusivity with planning for achievement of naval and naval assets for the period 2011/2031

With the development of the National Defense Strategy (NRS), the Navy of Brazil (MB) has been instructed to inform the Ministry of Defence with the means to fulfill their duties satisfactorily in the END. Besides informing the necessary means to MB would need to inform such means as it was seeking and what would be the liaison with the national industry. Thus emerged the Plan of Organization and Equipment of the Navy of Brazil - PAEMB (former PEAMB).

The numbers contained in PAEMB are desirable, however, numbers are very difficult to achieve in coming decades. For this reason, in late 2010, the Navy of Brazil established a plan for obtaining naval and aircraft for the period 2011/2031.

In planning under PAEMB, Brazil's navy will deploy in the North / Northeast a Second Fleet, however, the period between 2011 and 2031 that should not occur.

PA2 design of the proposed French Marine Nationale. The Navy of Brazil plans to build an aircraft carrier with similar configuration to replace the NAe

Of the two planned aircraft carriers in PAEMB, MB should start building the first unit in 2015, and its incorporation will occur in 2025, replacing the aircraft carrier St. Paul . This ship will travel between 50,000 and 60,000 tons. Apparatus will arrest two for landing and takeoff of aircraft to catapults. A second unit may be constructed from 2031.

The MB has already hired eight units of the C-1 Trader for COD missions / AAR. These units must be delivered from 2012. Currently, MB is finalizing the acquisition of four S-2G Tracker that will be transformed into AEW aircraft. A second batch of four S-2G should be hired later this decade.

Two years after the Air Force (FAB) which will decide his fighter / attack, the MB will hire 24 units of the same model to operate in the future aircraft carrier.

A second and a third batch of four Sea Hawk helicopters should be hired until 2031. Of the 16 Super Cougar to be delivered, will be exclusive to transport 8 and 8 will be used on attack missions, armed with missiles PM-39 Block 2.

The class "Mistral" French is a strong candidate for the multi-purpose vessels pursued by the Navy of Brazil

Of the four multipurpose vessels (NPM) provided for in PAEMB, The first two are starting to be obtained from 2012. The first unit will be built in 2020 and second in 2024. These means will shift between 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes. Will be equipped with dock and replace all Dock Landing Ships (NDD) and Landing Ship Car Combat (NDCC) in operation today.

Of the 30 PAEMB escorts provided for in the May 1, with 6,000 tons displacement, must be contracted until 2013. The first unit will begin to be built a year after signing the contract and will take six years to complete. This initial batch will be able antissubmarino, and antiaircraft antissuperfície point will be designated as escorts for general use (EG). In the second batch of five units is planned to have four area defense capability with missiles of medium and long range. 10 / 1 The escorts must be incorporated until 2031.

Of the 12 Ocean Patrol ships (NPaOc) of 1,800 tonnes in the PAEMB, the first 4 are yet to be announced in 2011 and construction should begin in 2012. The first unit to be incorporated in 2015. The others every two years. A second batch of four ships should also be contracted and built before 2031.

Of the 46 patrol vessels of Class "Macaé" (500t) provided for in PAEMB, two have already been constructed, four are under construction. A second batch of six units must be hired by 2015. A third lot, also of 6 units should be hired in the 20s. , Totalizing 18 units by 2031.

Of the 15 submarines of diesel-electric propulsion (S-BR) provided for in PAEMB, four have already been hired. The first is already under construction in France. These will be incorporated in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021. In 2021, the first submarine class "Tupi" is disembodied. A second batch of four S-BR will be hired to go replacing the submarines of Class "Tupi" and "Tikuna. Thus, one can conclude that the MB intends, starting at 2020, always keep proculsão eight submarines in diesel-electric operation.

Of the six nuclear submarines (NS BR) provided for in PAEMB. The first-SN BR has already been hired and should be incorporated in 2025. Depending on the evaluation of this medium, from 2030 new units can be hired, or else a new class of enhanced nuclear submarines could be developed.

5 of logistic support vessels (NApLog) provided for in PAEMB the first to be hired by 2012, and was incorporated in 2015. Two more units must be contracted until 2031. These resources will offset 22,000 tonnes and will be capable of supplying fuel at sea, including aviation, lubricants, ammunition, water and foodstuffs.

These are the main programs that are developed by MB in the period 2011/2031. The completion of these depends on the budgets provided by successive governments to come.

Breaking News: Pakistani frigate collides against the dock

The frigate PNS Alamgir (ex-USS McInerny), which was sold to the Pakistan Navy earlier this year, was damaged early on Friday after ramming the pier Northside shipyard where the ship is undergoing renovations before being delivered, causing heavy damage to the dock and the bow of the ship.

Pakistan Navy said at the time of the accident, the ship's engines were being tested and there was no fuel or oil spills at sea.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

HMS Queen Elizabeth - starts construction in Portsmouth

Construction of the new Royal Navy aircraft carrier at Portsmouth. The work is in progress at the stern of HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy's 60,000 tons - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - The shipyard workers in Portsmouth are starting the second major phase of construction - construction of the massive section of the stern of HMS Queen Elizabeth .

The ships were saved from cuts in defense under the coalition government, but the HMS Prince of Wales will not enter service. It will be built, but not placed into service, being placed in reserve, as the government's strategic defense. October is scheduled to review the cuts of $ 4.7 billion in four years. The new aircraft carriers will replace the HMS Invincible , HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal . HMS Invincible , deactivated in 2005, was offered for sale on an Internet auction site of the Government, while HMS Ark Royal - flagship of the Navy - will be off this month and HMS Illustrious in 2014. HMS Ark Royal was withdrawn ahead of schedule by cutting defense, along with Harrier jets from RAF - which means no aircraft will be able to fly from British aircraft carrier until 2019, when the HMS Queen Elizabeth will come into service.

Ken Smith a welder, said: "Obviously it's a prestigious job, the more work that the Navy has ever had, so it is very important. "So I hope we continue with some frigates after that." Head of the project, Paul Bowsher said he was "immensely proud to be involved in a complicated engineering project." "But it's very, very important for Portsmouth, which is important for BAE Systems and certainly for the construction of an aircraft carrier for the Navy for the future." Parts of the vessels are being built in yards throughout the UK. The first sections, performed in Portsmouth, will be delivered to Rosyth in April 2012.

Last week, the Royal United Services Institute, said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would have to make additional savings of $ 1 billion-$ 2 billion per year if it were to avoid overspending in 2015. Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said the review had significantly reduced the underfunding, but more work was needed. In November, the United Kingdom and France signed a new treaty in which the defense agreed to share aircraft, keeping at least one ship at sea between the two countries at once. Each will be able to use another aircraft carrier in some way, certainly, for training and possibly for operations.

Harpoons: India to pay US almost three times more than Pak

The defence ministry is set to procure 21 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and its five training varieties of ATM 84L Harpoon Block II from the US government for a total of $ 200 million (approximately Rs 909 crore).

But this price is about 200 per cent more than what Pakistan paid four years ago for the same missiles, the Harpoon Block II. While the average unit cost of the missiles for India is a little less than $ 8 million (approximately Rs 36 crore), Islamabad paid only about $ 3 million (approximately Rs 13 crore) per unit. Pakistan's consignment of 130 units had cost $ 370 million (approximately Rs 1,682 crore).

While the defence ministry refused to comment on the deal in response to a written questionnaire, the US government's Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the US Congress about the impending deal under the foreign military sales (FMS) programme.

The corporate beneficiary of the contract will be Boeing Inc, which was the original manufacturers of the missile.

The quoted price of $ 200 million for the missiles is not negotiable as, under the FMS, after notification and a clearance from the US Congress, Washington will be sending a ' letter of offer and agreement', which can only be accepted.

The navy spokesperson, Commander PVS Satish, who confirmed the details of the deal said: " I had handled a similar FMS contract some time ago. As far as I know, the offer price is the final price." The defence ministry can argue that the Indian contract has associated equipment, parts and logistical support. But the deal with Pakistan also had similar components.

The Indian price covers containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, the US government and contractor's technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support.

Pakistan's sale also included five encapsulated Harpoon command launch systems, 115 containers, missile modifications, training devices, spare and repair parts, US government and contractor engineering and logistics support services. The defence ministry refused to give a response when questioned on the rationale behind the 200 per cent hike.

Indian Navy accelerates Nuclear Submarine programme

New Delhi. The Indian Navy has begun construction of second and third of its nuclear submarines, speeding up the indigenous underwater capability programme.

According to well placed sources, while work on Arihant, the first nuclear submarine that was launched in 2010, was going on as scheduled, construction of the hull and sub components of the remaining two submarines was also underway. Considerable experience has been built from the development of Arihant, and the successive two submarines would be successively more potent with more power and punch.

The Indian Navy also hopes to get the nuclear powered K-152 Nerpa from Russia around March 2011, and that would help Indian officers and seamen in gaining renewed experience in operating nuclear vessels. Indian crews are already training on board the vessel, an Akula-II class 12,000 tonne submarine.

Russia, as part of the Soviet Union, had given the first nuclear vessel to India in the late 1980s on a 10-year lease, but whatever experience Indian sailors got on operating it was lost as most of them have retired and the programme was not renewed.

There was no official confirmation on what is happening on building the nuclear submarine capability, but Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma, told newsmen on his Navy Day press conference that the Naval Headquarters was aware that the Navy’s submarine fleet was getting old and required a renewed effort to build an honourable number of both nuclear and conventional submarines.

Arihant itself is due to be commissioned in 2012.

Naval sources indicated that some of the Indian warships could be equipped with nuclear arms as part of India’s No-First-Use-But-Massive-Retaliation Policy.

“We have Arihant. It is there. We have a triad in place now, but we have to use it as effectively as possible. We will have Arihant going within two years. There is progress in the project, despite some initial hiccups,” the Naval Chief said without giving any details.

Self reliance through indigenization is absolutely essential, he significantly stressed.

It may be noted that in the coming years, the Indian Navy’s submarine fleet could come down to as low as only eight submarines, from its existing strength of 15. And these are also old despite some periodic upgrades. The Navy has 10 Soviet vintage Kilo class submarines and four German HDWs. The 15th is a very old Foxtrot class, and set to be decommissioned.

Responding to a question by India Strategic, he observed: “There was a downward trend because of the gap that took place. For 17 years, we didn’t commission any indigenous submarine. That is why this gap took place.”

Conceding that there was a delay in the Scorpene programme, Admiral Verma said that it was now on track.
The French DCNS has reportedly offered two more submarines to make up for the depletion in addition to the six Scorpenes it plans to deliver from 2014 onwards. The Scorpenes are being build at the state-run Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL).

Admiral Verma said that the emphasis was on strengthening all the dimensions, and with data links and indigenous combat management systems, be they surface, sub-surface and air. And that the Navy had also decided to order four more Boeing P8-I maritime reconnaissance and anti-ubmarine warfare aircraft from the United States. The maritime and coastal surveillance and protection was of paramount interest so as to prevent a repeat of 26/11/2008 terror attacks by Pakistani saboteurs.

The Navy and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) are going to use a number of networked aircraft and other assets to monitor the seas, and the Navy is also acquiring Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft to further augment its surveillance capabilities.

The first P8-I, the metal for which has already been cut at Boeing’s Seattle factory, is due for delivery in January 2013, around the time this hi-tech aircraft is also delivered to the US Navy. Admiral Verma and a high level visited the US recently and he said he was happy that the production of this “extremely modern and capable aircraft” was on track.

One good thing about the Indian Navy, he pointed out, was its capacity to design its warships, and integrate them with state-of-the-art sensors. All future development programmes are aimed at inducting the highest available levels of technology into the indigenous military industrial stream.

He reminded that the Navy Day is marked to commemorate the daring and innovative actions taken by our Navy during the 1971 conflict that helped contribute to India’s resounding victory. The Navy Day is an occasion to remember our war heroes and rededicate ourselves to the service of the nation. Indeed, the theme of this Navy Week, ‘Glorious Wake, Vibrant Future’, reflects this very sentiment.

Admiral Verma said that over the past year, the Indian Navy had maintained a high tempo of operations. “Our ships, submarines and aircraft have conducted sustained operations towards safeguarding our maritime interests. We have operated in tandem with navies of friendly nations in the form of naval exercises, as well as cooperative security initiatives in support of our foreign policy. We have consolidated our coastal security organisation and infrastructure. In addition, we have moved steadily forward in our quest for greater indigenisation of our equipment along with nurturing of our human resources.”

Elaborating, he pointed out, There were 36 ships and submarines on order in various Indian shipyards now, and largely on-track.

The construction of the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier at Kochi was progressing satisfactorily, though with some initial hiccups, and the refurbishment of Vikramaditya – aka Gorshkov – in Russia was doing well.

Russian sources told India Strategic that work on Gorshkov was at a satisfactory pace and the ship was due for delivery before the Navy Day in December 2012 under the Russian government’s sovereign guarantee. Indian officers and crew are supervising and training on it.

Admiral Verma said that while the Navy’s first stealth frigate INS Shivalik was already commissioned, two more ships of the same class were on the anvil.

Then, three Kolkatta class Destroyers, four advanced anti-submarine corvettes, four offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), and a second sailing ship, were in various stages of construction.

In addition, five more OPVs, two Cadets Training Ships had been ordered from private shipyards, while the Government had also sanctioned four modern Landing Platforms Docks (LPDs) and a second line of six advanced submarines under Project 75 with high ToT levels. Apparently, the Navy is happy with INS Jalashwa, the decommissioned LPD USS Trenton that it bought for a pittance from the US in 2007 for amphibious role concepts.

The second line of submarines will have higher levels of underwater capability with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP).

There are also three follow-on ships of the Talwar class from Russia and two replenishment tankers from Italy, both due shortly.

Admiral Verma said that Mid-life Upgrades (MLUs) on 13 Rajput (erstwhile Kashin) and Godavari Class were also being conducted to significantly modernise them as 21st Century combatants.

As for naval aviation, Admiral Verma said that while the naval variant of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft was progressing, the Navy was training on the six carrier capable Mig 29Ks it had received from Russia at INS Hansa in Goa. A total of 16 plus 29 of these aircraft had been ordered.

It may be noted that the Navy is also looking for bigger aircraft carriers, of 60,000 tonnes plus, and it is possible that it would build them with foreign collaboration. Indigenous capability though is the key.

These carriers would launch the aircraft by catapults and land them by arrestor wires. Some presentations are reported to have been made by US companies in this regard, as only they have the technology.

There was emphasis on strengthening the helicopter fleet also.

Admiral Verma observed that the Navy was stepping up the technological training facilities for its officers as a high degree of competence was needed in operating modern warfare assets. This would enable the officers and men to move to civilian assignments also after retirement.

2 new fleet tankers to boost naval presence

NEW DELHI: With the induction of a spanking new fleet tanker this month, to be followed by another one in June-July, Navy is all set to get a major booster dose in its blue-water warfare and strategic reach capabilities.

Much like mid-air refuellers extend the operational range of fighter jets, the two Italian-made fleet tankers will enable destroyers, frigates and other warships to operate for prolonged periods on the high seas without returning to harbour for replenishment.

"Fleet tankers constitute an essential part of the Navy's blue-water or deep-strike capabilities. The tankers can also be used for evacuation and disaster relief,'' said an officer.

The first tanker, christened INS Deepak, is being inducted under the April 2008 contract inked with M/s Fincantieri Cantieri Navali of Italy for 159.32 million Euros. It will join the two older fleet tankers, INS Jyoti and INS Aditya, being operated by Navy.

INS Deepak will be commissioned at Mumbai on January 21, with the second one INS Shakti slated to arrive by June-July. With a full-load displacement of 27,500 tonnes, the 175-metre long INS Deepak will be able to carry 17,900 tonnes of cargo, including 15,250 tonnes of fuel. Equipped with four AK-630 guns, the large ship has an endurance of 10,000 nautical miles at a speed of 16 knots.

Induction of the tankers is in tune with India's endeavour to build a powerful three-dimensional blue-water Navy to protect its geo-strategic interests stretching from Hormuz Strait to Malacca Strait. India, of course, is also jostling for strategic space with the expanding Chinese footprint in the Indian Ocean.

Armed with its maritime capability perspective plan 2005-2022, Navy wants to ensure its force-levels do not dip below the existing 130 warships, 65 of which are "major combatants'', with older vessels slated for progressive retirement.

Consequently, it currently has over 40 warships on order at Indian shipyards, which include the Rs 23,562-crore project for six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai and the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier being built at the Cochin Shipyard.

Then, of course, there is the ongoing refit of the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov or INS Vikramditya for $2.33 billion as well as construction of three additional Talwar-class stealth frigates (Teg, Tarkash, Trikhand) for around Rs 6,000 crore in Russia.

The Cabinet Committee on Security last month also cleared the Rs 35,000-crore construction of four guided missile stealth destroyers at MDL after the three Kolkata class 6,700-tonne destroyers already being constructed there are finally delivered in 2012-2014. The government has also cleared the Rs 45,000-crore construction of seven more stealth frigates at MDL and GRSE (Kolkata).

The biggest programme, of course, will be the over Rs 50,000-crore `Project-75-India' to acquire six new generation stealth submarines, equipped with tube-launched missiles and air-independent propulsion, but it is still two years away from being finalised.

France transferring Submarine Technolgy to India

New Delhi. India should be able to produce more than one sophisticated submarine every year, thanks to the transfer of high technology from the France-based leader in naval defence systems, DCNS.

According to Patrick Boissier, Chairman and CEO of DCNS, which is executing India’s biggest submarine building programme for six diesel-electric Scorpene submarines, said that India’s Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) had already “absorbed the demanding technologies associated with hull fabrication” and that hulls for the first two submarines had been completed.

The delivery of the advanced combat systems for the first submarine would also be complete soon.

Boissier, who was in New Delhi as part of French Pressident Nicolas Sarkozy’s delegation, said that “construction of hulls for the third and fourth submarines was in progress while the frame to receive the hull of the fifth submarine is under manufacture.”

Boissier observed that Asia would see a staggering growth in the number of submarines in the next 10 years, and various countries in the region could acquire some 100 submarines. There were naval defence opportunities both in South-east Asia and the Arab Gulf region.

DCNS was particularly keen to cooperate with Indian companies, both public and private sector towards building indigenous capabilities, and also to invest in the defence sector in India for building ships and submarines.

He said that DCNS was looking up to collaborating with India on the next line of six more submarines, as also to supply components for nuclear power plants. France has proposed that its Areva should build several 1650 MW units. Areva has developed technology for the biggest and the most advanced nuclear power plants in the world.

Notably, the Scorpene project has been delayed but Boissier said that at present, DCNS was “conducting genuine transfers of technologies and of know-how at an unprecedented level.”

“We are providing our Indian partners with technical assistance to manufacture equipments through indigenisation programmes.”

It may be recalled that India had bought four HDW submarines from Germany in the 1980s, but due to controversies and allegations, whatever little transfer of technology was done was lost, and all those who trained on the contemporary systems of the 1980s, have retired or left MDL.

According to MDL Chairman and Managing Director Vice Admiral H S Mahi, the first Scorpene should be launched by 2014, and the process should be smooth in the new timeframe.

He also says that MDL could now make submarine pressure hulls without any foreign collaboration.

Boissier visited MDL and met with Mahi to review the progress of the Scorpene construction.
It may be noted that MDL is sourcing some important critical sub-systems from other companies. Nonetheless, DCNS has offered to modify the Scorpene design and supply Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems for the last of the two submarines.

The Indian Navy is terribly short of submarine capability, loaded as it has been with the old Soviet vintage Foxtrot and Kilo class, and four German HDWs. A tender for six more P 75-I more advanced submarines, with AIP capability for longer underwater stay, is likely to be floated in 2011 for simultaneous construction at two or three shipyards to make up for the delay in acquisition.

The underlying theme though is Transfer of Technology and building indigenous capabilities. The value of this project could be twice that of the current Scorpene project, and match or exceed the estimated $ 10 billion-plus cost of 126 Medium Multi Role Aircraft (M-MRCAs) being acquired by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Boissier said that it should be logical for DCNS to bag this project, as an extension of the ToT that it would have transferred to the Indian shipyard.

“We understand that India wants to build indigenous capabilities, and we are ready to transfer the best of the technologies.”

As for the AIP, the tender for the Scorpenes did not have this requirement, but DCNS had now offered to fit this system on the last of the two submarines under the ongoing project.

"We have made an informal proposal to the Navy for AIP technology in the last two of the Scorpenes that will be built at MDL. Now it is up to the navy to take a call on this proposal. We have held informal discussions in this regard."

AIP allows a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen and it usually excludes the use of nuclear power, but is about augmenting or replacing diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels. US, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden are some of the countries which have the AIP technology on their submarines.

Boissier concluded: Through local partnership arrangements, such as the one we have with MDL, we can offer the Indian Navy the ability to build vessels in India, based on proven designs and incorporating the full range of DCNS technologies. Local partnerships will also facilitate in-service maintenance and through-life support. These are win-win partnerships for greater heights, where all parties enhance their capabilities.

BrahMos is the standard for India-Russia Defense Collaboration says Moscow Defense Brief

The success of Indo-Russian Joint Venture (JV) BrahMos for the development and production of lethal cruise missiles has set the standard for future joint defence projects with greater Indian participation, according to a respected Russian defence publication the Moscow Defense Brief.

"BrahMos has been an unqualified success. The numerous benefits it has already yielded include: commercial profit for both partners; a tangible improvement in the fighting ability of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force; development of new technologies, which has been especially important to the Indians; a chance for Russia's NPO Mashinostroyeniya corporation to put its potential for innovation to good use," Moscow Defense Brief (MDB) quarterly writes in its latest issues.

"The BrahMos Aerospace Ltd. joint venture has become a vehicle for future implementation of other Russian-Indian projects, on an even large scale and with greater Indian participation," the journal notes in an article contributed by top defence expert Dr Ruslan Pukhov the journal notes.

It underscored that the valuable experience of BrahMos, a fifty-fifty JV between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyeniya, in overcoming various legal, organizational and financial hurdles, will be invaluable during the implementation of other bilateral programmes, including the future joint projects of Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) and fifth generation FGFA fighter. The company is known to be already working on new hypersonic missile. But the unique experience accumulated as part of the BrahMos programme since 1998 has paved the way for even more ambitious goals, including new strategic ballistic and cruise missiles.

"For India, BrahMos has become one of the first standardized weapons systems which can be deployed by all three armed services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force," MDB underscores. It noted that the Indian Navy was the initial customer for the new missile, which can be carried by a variety of naval platforms. These include the majority of the existing and future surface ships. The first ships to be equipped with BrahMos were Project 61ME (Kashin-Mod class) destroyers.

Two of them, the Ranvir and the Ranvijay, will also be fitted with 8-missile vertical launch systems.

Other ships that will carry BrahMos include three Project 15A (Kolkata class) destroyers now being built in India, the future Project 15B destroyers, future Project 17A frigates and three Project 11356M (Talwar class Batch 2) frigates now being built for India at the Yantar Shipyards in Kaliningrad. The future Talwar class Batch 3 frigates will also be equipped with the new missile, regardless of where they will be built.In addition to surface ships, the Indian Navy plans to deploy BrahMos on submarines and possibly on land-based patrol aircraft.

The suitable airborne carriers include the Russian Il-38SD ASW aircraft and, in a few years' time, the Boeing P-8I Poseidon ASW aircraft which India has already ordered in the United States. The Indian Army has bought hundreds BrahMos missiles in the mobile land-based configuration. They will be used not only against ships but also as a high-precision weapon against land targets such as command posts and key infrastructure facilities (the Block II LACM version).

The Indian Army has ordered 134 mobile anti-ship land-based BrahMos Block I missiles in 2006-2009 and another 240 land-attack BrahMos Block II in 2010, for a total of about 3bn dollars. Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force is awaiting the completion of the development of an air-launched version of BrahMos, to be deployed primarily with the Su-30MKI fighters. The Su-30MKI-BrahMos weapons system will be a truly lethal combination. First deliveries are expected in 2012. At some point the Indian Air Force will also receive the BrahMos Block II version, which is designed to engage land targets.

MDB does not rule out that the 126 medium multirole fighters (MMRCA) for which India has announced a contract will also be fitted with BrahMos missiles. "Not only the MiG-35 fielded by Russia in the MMRCA tender, but its Western rivals -the F/A-18, Rafale and Typhoon fighters can all serve as carriers of BrahMos Block II missiles," Moscow Defense Brief writes.

The missile's ability to be launched from a wide range of platforms and engage a variety of targets has generated very large sales. At present the demand of the Indian armed forces is estimated at 1,000 such missiles at the very least.

In fact, the need to fulfil the Indian orders is holding back exports to other countries. The most conservative estimate for the size of the market for BrahMos throughout the life of the project is 2,000 missiles, worth over USD 10 billion. "For Russia, the success of BrahMos has improved the chances of winning Indian contracts for aviation and naval platforms. It is usually the exports of platforms that normally drive the sales of weapons to be fitted onto those platforms.

But in the case of BrahMos, it is the other way around: the missile is driving the sales of aircraft and submarines that can carry it," Dr Pukhov writes in Moscow Defense Brief quarterly.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SAAB 340 MSA, SAAB 2000 MPA Offered for Indian Navy Maritime Surveillance Requirements

Swedish defense major Saab has confirmed to India Defence ( that the SAAB 340 Maritime Security Aircraft and the SAAB 2000 Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft have been offered to the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy respectively to meet the security and surveillance requirements across India's vast coastline.

"We have already made a presentation to Coast Guard for SAAB 340 Maritime Security Aircraft as a contender for Mid-Tier Maritime Patrol (MTMP) aircraft program and are waiting for further updates from them."

"We have offered SAAB 2000 MPA to Indian Navy under medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) program."

-- Mr. Inderjit Sial, Saab's Country Head for India

Saab 340 MSA

The Saab 340 MSA is multi-role surveillance aircraft for detection, clasification and identification of maritime contacts. It is also a powerfull Search-And-Rescue asset and is capable of operating independently or in unison with other marine and land-based assets.

* Cost Effective Surveillance - With a maximum endurance of 7 hours and a maximum range in excess of 1,300 NM.
* Reliable Sensors - Equipped with proven sensors for detecting, classifying and identifying maritime surface contacts.

Saab 2000 MPA

The Saab 2000 MPA is a multi-role airborne surveillance platform for Maritime Domain Awareness. It offers Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance, ISR, maritime patrol and enforcement options either working alone or together with other assets and that ensures your command of the maritime arena.

* Long Range and Long Endurance - With a maximum endurance in excess of 9 hours and a maximum range in excess of 2000 nm.
* Advanced Sensors - The Saab 2000 MPA is equipped with advanced sensors for detecting, classifying and identifying surface and subsurface targets.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Russia To Pay Almost $2B For French Warships

MOSCOW - Russia will pay France 1.37 billion euros ($1.81 billion) for two Mistral-class assault warships that Moscow agreed to purchase from the NATO member last week, news reports said Dec. 30.

"The first ship will cost 720 million euros and the second 650 million euros," the RIA Novosti news agencies cited a source close to the negotiations as saying.

The deal, which involves joint construction of the vessels, is the first sale to Russia of such naval high-tech by a NATO country.

It has been condemned by Alliance members from the three Baltic nations, with leaked cables showing that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also raised the issue while on a visit to Paris this year.

The helicopter carrier costs about 500 million euros ($650 million) and it was not immediately clear why Russia was paying a premium.

Moscow had sought to purchase the craft together with their sensitive equipment and the December 24 announcement in Paris made no mention of whether Russia had got its way.

The source close to the negotiation said Moscow was paying a higher price for the first craft because most of it would be produced in France, with Russia's share in the project growing by the second vessel.

"If Russia's share of construction on the first ship is 20 percent, it may reach up to 40 percent for the second ship," the source told RIA Novosti.

The source said the third and fourth ships would be fully manufactured in Russia as per agreement, but gave no time frame of when the craft would be built.

A Mistral-class ship can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.

LCS Contracts Awarded to Lockheed Martin, Austal USA

Lockheed Martin and Austal USA received contracts Dec. 29 to build more Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for the U.S. Navy, all but assuring that each company will build 10 more of the fast, small warships over the next eight years.
The U.S. Navy has awarded construction contracts to both Lockheed Martin and Austal USA for future Littoral Combat Ships. (U.S. Navy)

Both companies succeeded in their bids to build more of the ships because, Navy officials said, they were able to reduce the cost of each new vessel to levels significantly below Congressionally- imposed cost caps.
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As a result, the long-stalled program that over the past six years has only produced four ships now stands to ramp up to produce 20 ships between now and 2015.

"The awards represent a unique and valuable opportunity to lock in the benefits of competition and provide needed ships to our fleet in a timely and extraordinarily cost-effective manner," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement.

The new contracts give each shipbuilding team one ship to build now, with another in 2011. Two more per year for each team will follow in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The move caps off a whirlwind period that began Nov. 3, when Navy officials revealed they wanted to change the program from a down-select to a single design, to one that would allow them to build both types of LCS. Contract offers from each shipbuilding team, the Navy said, were so attractive that the deal was essentially too good to pass up.

Adding to the sense of urgency was the fact that the contract offers from each team would expire in December, and follow-on offers were likely to be higher.

Special permission from Capitol Hill was needed to give deals to both shipbuilding teams, and the Navy's top officials embarked on a determined lobbying effort to get attention for the LCS - no mean challenge when the lame-duck Congress, having failed to get much done prior to the Nov. 2 elections, came back to Washington needing to find ways to keep the government running and address a host of issues.

Despite Congressional annoyance at the Navy's bad timing and deep concerns about the rushed nature of the request, a measure allowing the Navy to buy the ships was attached to a continuing resolution passed Dec. 21 in the session's last hours.

The contract awards were announced one day before the prices were to expire.

Until now, the Navy would not reveal the contract offers from Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, citing Pentagon acquisition rules that prohibited disclosure of competing offers. The awarding of contracts to both teams removed those rules.

The contract for Lockheed's ship, the yet-to-be-named LCS 5, is for $437 million. The contract for LCS 6, Austal USA's ship, is for $432 million.

The differences in prices reflected each team's contract proposal, Sean Stackley, the Navy's top weapons buyer, told reporters Dec. 29.

"This was not a negotiation, this was a competition," Stackley said. "The final proposals are reflected in the numbers that were awarded."

Noting that these were "fair prices all wrapped within fixed-price incentive contracts," Stackley took pains to note that, looked at in a variety of ways, the LCS program was now well within the Congressional cost cap of $480 million per ship.

The average per-ship target price for Lockheed ships is $362 million, Stackley said, with a goal of $352 million for each Austal ship.

Government-furnished equipment (GFE), such as weapons, add about $25 million to each ship. Another $20 million is figured in for change orders, and a "management reserve" is also included.

All told, Stackley said, the average cost to buy an LCS should be between $430 million and $440 million.

"Under all circumstances, the prices for these ships fall well below the cost cap," he declared.

A total of $2.9 billion in savings will be realized because the Navy was able to act now, Stackley said, adding that the money will be plowed into other shipbuilding programs.

Unusually in a service that strives for commonality in its systems, the ships will come with different combat systems -- different radars and sensors, different computers and software. Several witnesses in a Dec. 14 Senate hearing on the LCS proposals criticized this approach.

Stackley said "options for proposals" have been solicited "to go to a common sensor. We are evaluating but have not made a decision."

The costs of maintaining two separate systems, including logistics and training needs, will result in "about a 1 percent premium," Stackley acknowledged. Over the life of the planed 55-ship LCS fleet, that would mean about "$300 million in net present value," he said.

But Rear Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director of the Navy Staff's Surface Warfare Division, noted that the savings from the overall deal ease the situation.

"It's a very good deal for the taxpayer," Pandolfe said, "and the savings more than cover the additional costs of two combat systems."

The contracts will be a shot in the arm for both shipbuilding teams. Lockheed's ships are built at Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., which has been laying off workers due to a lack of work. On Dec. 4, the yard launched its second LCS, Fort Worth (LCS 3).

Austal USA, which builds its ships in Mobile, Ala., is in better shape, with a contract and options to build at least ten Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSVs) for the Navy and Army. Their second LCS, Coronado (LCS 4), is about 45 percent complete and will be launched in 2011.

The switch to building and fielding both types of LCS will mean several issues now will need to addressed, including where to base the ships. The first ships will operate from San Diego, and several Navy officials have said the likely East Coast LCS base will be Mayport, Fla., home to a number of frigates that are to be decommissioned over the next few years.

But no decision has been made on a second base, Pandolfe said, and for now the LCSs will initially call San Diego home.

Other considerations will include how to operate the ships - in mixed groups using both types, for example, or in homogenous formations. There have also been proposals to base the single-hull LCS 1 Lockheed type in the Atlantic, where harbors are generally smaller and shallower, and keep the LCS 2 Austal trimaran type in the Pacific, where harbors tend to be larger.

"No decision has been made to do that," Pandolfe said. "We will look at different options as to how to base these ships."

But, he added, "we're looking forward to operating them to see how they complement each other."

Another decision closer to a resolution could be that of what surface-to-surface missile system to buy, following cancelation of the Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) missile.

One option, some insiders have suggested, is the Griffin, a small missile developed by Raytheon for special operations use.

But officials are not yet ready to confirm that choice.

"We have looked at approximately 50 different missiles," Pandolfe said. "We've identified one that is an attractive candidate. We are socializing that right now within the Pentagon. We are not yet ready to make an announcement."

Stackley appeared almost jubilant over the LCS contracts.

"There was nothing but goodness there," he said of the Lockheed and Austal USA proposals.

He would not rule out a future downselect to one design. Among long-range goals for the program, he said, the "simple alternative is to sustain competition between the two industry teams. The alternative is go to a downselect for a single design, either out of need for requirements or affordability, or performance or otherwise."

He also praised Congress for its support.

"Congress strongly supported this award," Stackley said. "Their future continued support will rely on performance of the program going forward."