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Friday, 20 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 20 Feb 2015

Russia blames ‘human factor’, IAF rejects charge
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 19
India’s oldest military ally Russia on Thursday blamed "human factor" for the crash of a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter in October last year. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has denied the charge. The crash near Pune had led to the grounding of the entire fleet of India's frontline fighter jet for almost two weeks. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had attributed the crash to ‘auto-ejecting’ pilot seats.

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said: “The IAF has not found anything wrong with the system (seat ejection) as of now…but this also does not indicate human error on part of the pilots”.

Earlier, Vitaly Borodich, senior vice president, military projects, Irkut Corporation told mediapersons at Aero India: “We have discussed the matter (Sukhoi crash) with India. Our stand is human factor and there is no such evidence that seat ejection caused the crash”.

Irkut is the subsidiary of Russia's state-run United Aircraft Corporation which is the umbrella organisation of that country's aerospace industry.

“An investigation is being carried out by a committee of specialists to establish the reason behind the crash,” said Borodich, who spoke in Russian. In the crash, the two pilots—Wing Commander Sidharth Vishwas Munje and Flying Officer Anup Singh— had survived, but were they taken off flying duty pending an inquiry. On being asked if the Russian team studied the flight data record of the crashed jet, Borodich said: “Yes…we studied everything, including the flight data, to arrive at this conclusion.” However, the IAF, which has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the crash, said it has yet to arrive at a final conclusion.
HAL to make light utility copters
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 19
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today announced the setting up of a ‘greenfield’ manufacturing facility to make light-utility helicopters (LUH).

The HAL, owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), produces some 20-30 helicopters annually which is way to less to meet the needs of the three forces – Navy, IAF and the Army – and also the needs of the paramilitary forces.

The forces need immediate replacement of the fleet of Cheetah/Chetaks which are based on the 1950s designed AlouetteAĆ©rospatiale 315B Lama of France.

HAL’s chairman T Suvarna Raju — appointed January 31 — said at Aero India here: “The government has approved the setting up of a new manufacturing plant for Light-Utility Helicopter.”

The facility will have an annual production capacity of 60 helicopters and will have separate complexes for aero-structures, engines, aggregators and residential quarters.

“We have acquired 610 acres from the Karnataka Government at Tumkur ( 72 km from Bangalore) for this facility. We will start the project by the middle of this year and commence production from April 2017,” said Raju.

Last year, the tender to buy 197 LUHs from a foreign vendor was scrapped and a decision was taken to make the helicopters in India.

“HAL will design, develop and manufacture LUHs at this facility indigenously. However, we are also exploring co-production opportunities with an overseas partner. Currently, we are in the process of identifying an overseas partner. The identification of a foreign partner is yet to begin,” Raju said.

The public sector manufacturer will invest Rs 400 crore to design and develop an LUH prototype by the end of 2015, which is expected to be ready for certification by April 2017.

The helicopter will be deployed in multiple naval roles and will be equipped with single French engine from Turbomeca – the same which powers the ALH, or the Dhruv.

HAL said it has successfully absorbed the technology for manufacturing Su-30 MKI, a 4.5 generation fighter, and is manufacturing the aircraft from raw material stage onwards. Till date, 150 Su-30 MKIs have been delivered to IAF since 2005.

HAL has developed capacities and capabilities to support Su-30 fleet for the next 30 to 40 years, he asserted. This will have significant export prospects since nearly 10 countries operate the Su-30 fleet.
We need planes, not necessarily French Rafale, says IAF Chief

Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 19
Expressing concern over the dwindling strength of fighter squadrons, Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha today said India urgently needed medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), but it need not necessarily be the French-made Rafale.

The IAF chief said gaps would be created by the phasing out of obsolete fighter jets, so the new lot of planes is needed.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing Aero India here, the Air Chief said the requirement was for a MMRCA-type fighter.

The IAF was to replace obsolescent aircraft such as the MiG-21, MiG-27 and their upgraded versions to maintain operational viability.

He said the IAF had selected French Rafale as it was the lowest bidder and the discussions are in final stage under the contract negotiation committee. Last October, the Air Chief had warned that the fleet was on its ‘last legs’.

Air Chief Marshal Raha said the talks with French Dassault Aviation was going on, but if it did not work out, the IAF might have to look for other options.

He ruled out any “plan B” as of now, if the deal was not worked out.
IAF gets its first Sukhoi fitted with BrahMos
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 19
The Indian Air Force now has a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet which can carry the deadly BrahMos super-sonic cruise missile. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today handed over the first BrahMos missile-integrated Sukhoi-30 MKI to IAF at the Aero India here.

“This is a proud moment for HAL. The successful completion of the first Su 30 aircraft integrated with BrahMos missile shows the synergy between DRDO, HAL and IAF. We are hopeful of rolling out the second aircraft in record time,” said T Suvarna Raju, Chairman, HAL.

SK Misra, CEO and Managing Director of the BrahMos, said some 40 fighter jets would be modified to carry the 2.4 tonne missile. The work on the second one has started.
Britain’s RAF _chases away 2 Russian jets

London, February 19
Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) jets chased away two Russian military aircraft flying close to UK airspace.

The two Russian bombers, spotted off the Cornwall coast yesterday, were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the “UK area of interest”, a Ministry of Defence official said. Russian Tupolev TU-95 bombers, also known as Russian Bear bombers, did not enter UK’s airspace, he said. “RAF Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched after Russian aircraft were identified. The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. he said. —PTI
Sukhoi Su-30 Crashes Blamed on Indian Air Force by Russian Firm
New Delhi:  Did pilots of the Indian Air Force deliberately crash a perfectly functional Sukhoi Su-30 fighter by ejecting from the aircraft in October in Maharashtra last year? The incident had prompted the temporary grounding of India's entire Sukhoi fleet.

Vitaly Borodich, a senior Vice President with Russia's Irkut, which designed the Su-30, told NDTV, "The Indian Air Force accepts human factors. We know it's the human factor." 

Mr Borodich was one of the Russian experts called in to help the Indian Air Force in its crash investigations; he has examined data from the flight data recorder of the jet.
Though Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha has ruled out a deliberate ejection by his pilots, months after the crash, he has no explanation for what happened. 

The Air Force chief told NDTV, "There is nothing wrong with the [ejection] system but there is still no human error. The Court of Inquiry report will be out soon." Asked to clarify his seemingly contradictory statement, he said that this was a recurring problem with the Sukhoi aircraft.

The October crash made headlines last year after the Su-30 flown by Wing Commander Sidharth Munje and Flying Officer Anup Singh inexplicably crashed when it was on its final approach to land at the Lohegaon Airbase near Pune. The pilots were not injured; their parachutes deployed, once they ejected from the jet, leaving the pilot-less aircraft to fly into the ground.

This is not the first time that the Indian Air Force has run into trouble with its Su-30 fleet. In 2008 in Bareilly, an airman conducting ground tests on the Su-30 was killed when the ejection seat fired from the aircraft and last year, two pilots on an Indian Air Force Su-30 inexplicably ejected when the jet was taxing for take-off in Jodhpur. Both of them survived. 

Like all modern ejection seats, the Sukhoi's Russian Zvezda K-36DM seat needs to be armed by lifting a lever to the side of the pilot. This is done when the aircraft is on the ground and is about to set off on a sortie. By arming the seats, the rocket under the pilot's seat is put in ready-to-fire mode. The rocket ignites if the pilot pulls the ejection handles located between his legs in the event of an emergency. Once the pilot does this, restraints pull the legs of the pilot to his chest,  the canopy of the aircraft shatters, and the ejection seat blasts out. The seat then separates automatically from the pilot and a parachute is deployed, bringing the pilot down to Earth safely. 

Russian experts say there is no fault in the mechanism of the K-36DM seat which could have prompted an automatic ejection since the Indian Air Force has subsequently cleared its Sukhois for full flight operations.

India has a contract for 272 Sukhoi Su-30 jets from Russia, most of which are being manufactured at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India under a license from the Russian firm Irkut. The Indian Air Force is the world's largest operator of this type of fighter jet.
Kalyani Group-Rafael JV to develop defence products

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India pitch appears to have caught the attention of global aerospace and defence companies, with the Pune-based $2.5-billion Kalyani Group on Thursday entering into a joint venture (JV) with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The JV aims to develop and manufacture a wide range of missiles, remote weapon systems and advanced armour solutions. In line with the new investment norms in the sector, which stipulate the Indian partner have majority control, Kalyani Group will hold a 51 per cent stake in the JV, while the rest will be with Rafael.

Neither side disclosed the size of investment in the JV. Kalyani Group Chairman and Managing Director Baba Kalyani said the investment would be “substantial” in the JV, which would be executed through Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd. “For the past one year, we were in talks with Rafael to explore a joint venture opportunity. Now, we have entered into an agreement with them. It is absolutely essential for us to have a tie-up with a foreign partner, as they bring technology and expertise,” he said.

“This is one of the first major joint ventures to be formed in the defence sector after the government hiked the cap on foreign direct investment in the defence sector to 49 per cent. It is also in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy to indigenise development and production of defence equipment,” Kalyani added.

In other steps that will help strengthen the indigenous defence production base, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), the public sector defence undertaking based in this city, on Thursday announced it would soon commence mass production of the Akash Missile System for the Indian Army. “We are already manufacturing the system for the Indian Air Force (IAF), while the production for the Army will commence very soon and be delivered to them over the next two to four years,” S K Sharma, chairman and managing director of BEL, told Business Standard at the Aero India show here.

Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) announced it would set up a greenfield manufacturing facility in Tumakuru district of Karnataka to manufacture light utility helicopters (LUH). “We have acquired 610 acres for this facility from the Karnataka government. We will start the project by the middle of this year and commence production from April 2017,” HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju said at Aero India on Thursday. The facility will have annual production capacity of 60 helicopters and separate complexes for aerostructures, engines, aggregators and residential quarters.

For its part, the Rafael-Kalyani JV will explore orders from the Indian defence forces and might look at exports at a later stage. On the products side, the integration of missile systems will be done by Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), a listed defence company based in Hyderabad. “We are looking at land near Hyderabad to set up a manufacturing facility and we wish to put in place a new factory within a year,” Baba Kalyani told Business Standard.

Andhra Pradesh’s push to attract investment from the sector was unveiled by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at the air show on Thursday.

Rafael will provide the JV technology to manufacture Spike missiles for the Indian armed forces, for which the government is slated to float a tender soon. “The JV will also manufacture weapons systems and advanced armour solutions for Indian, as well as global customers of Rafael,” Kalyani said.

The group would broadly focus on four new areas — artillery weapons, anti-tank missiles, armoured vehicles and aerospace components, he added.

S K Sharma, chairman and managing director of BEL, said the Army had placed an order with the company. While BDL will be the main integrator for the missile system, BEL will supply all major systems such as long-range capture surveillance and capture radar, fire-control radar and control systems.

The total size of the Army’s order for Akash Missile Systems with BDL is said to be about Rs 14,000 crore. “Our share in the total order is in the range of Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 4,000 crore, which will be delivered over the next four years,” Sharma said.

The home-grown Akash Missile System is the first indigenously built missile system in the country by BEL. The first order, worth Rs 1,200 crore, was placed by the IAF in 2008 and was successfully delivered by BEL for two squadrons. Subsequently, the IAF placed another order for six more squadrons. For that, production is underway and BEL hopes to complete it this year.

The Army has already placed an order with BDL for the Akash Weapon System, for two of its regiments. BEL will supply all radars, control centres, satellite data-links to BDL for integration with Army variants of Akash Weapon System.

The $2.1-billion Rafael, which designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a range of high-tech defence systems for air, land, sea and space applications, was set up as part of the Israeli ministry of defence, about seven decades ago. Rafael, Israel’s second-largest defence firm, offers an array of products ranging from underwater systems through naval, ground and air superiority systems to space systems.

At Aero India on Thursday, Chandrababu Naidu said Andhra Pradesh would set up a greenfield aerotropolis in Visakhapatnam district to attract Rs 3,000 crore of investment from the sector. The project will be spread over 7,500 acres and provide all infrastructure to investors.

The state has already received investment proposals from defence public sector undertakings such as BEL and Defence Research & Development Orga-nisation to set up plants. BEL has committed around Rs 500 crore to set up a new facility for a range of weapons systems.

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