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Friday, 13 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 13 Feb 2015

Indian Firms Set Teams for Helicopter Tender
NEW DELHI — In India's first helicopter competition reserved for domestic defense companies, teams have been established between top defense companies Larsen & Toubro with Airbus Helicopters and Tata Advanced Systems with Sikorsky Aircraft to produce a light utility helicopter (LUH).

Other corporate arrangements include Mahindra Defence Systems teaming up with Bell Helicopter and Punj Lloyd with Russian Helicopters. The domestic companies have to respond by Feb. 17 to a request for information (RFI) they received in October to provide the helicopters on a Buy and Make (India) basis in the $2.5 billion tender.

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics also is negotiating a tie up with Russian Helicopters.

None of the overseas or domestic companies would discuss their partnerships.

A Ministry of Defence official said there is no certainty that the helicopters built by the domestic companies would be cheaper than importing them directly.

"The idea is to build capabilities in India to build the defense industrial base and have in-house life-time support and maintenance," the official added.

While the RFI describes purchase of 197 light utility helicopters — 133 for the Army and 64 for the Air Force — India has a requirement for more than 400, said an Air Force official.

Defense analyst Nitin Mehta, however, is not sure if the program will ever take off in the domestic sector.

"The fresh procurement process for LUH, which has begun after the cancellation of the earlier global tenders, will further delay the acquisition of the much-needed helicopters. The domestic private sector companies, having no experience in making helicopters and will begin from scratch, will add to the delay which will ultimately prove counterproductive," Mehta said.

"At [some point] India will have to buy the much-needed LUH from the global market on a fast-track basis," Mehta said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Dec. 11, had offered to build in India the Ka 226 LUH for domestic and export purposes. However, the government decided to pursue an open competition.

The RFI says the LUH will be needed for reconnaissance and surveillance, to direct artillery fire, for quick-reaction teams for special missions, aerial photography, serving a scout role in conjunction with attack helicopters, and to monitor nuclear, biological and chemical incidents.

The tie ups only represent an initial intent to partner in the helicopter tender and become formal only after responding to the RFP.

When the Modi government came to power in May 2014, it canceled a 2009 global re-tender to purchase 197 LUHs and instead issued the RFI only to domestic defense majors as part its policy to build domestic industry capabilities. At the time of cancellation of the tender, Eurocopter's (now Airbus Helicopters ) AS550 helicopter was in competition with Russia's Ka-226T built by Kamov.

In August, the MoD also canceled a 2012 tender to buy 56 naval utility helicopters in which Airbus Helicopters and AgustaWestland were competing.
Anil Ambani's Reliance Group forays into defence manufacturing sector

The Reliance Group, headed by billionaire Anil Ambani, is foraying into the defence manufacturing sector, joining the likes of Reliance Industries, the Tata Group, L&T and Mahindra Group to tap into what could be a $100-billion market in 10 years.

The group, which has interests from telecom to infrastructure and financial services to power, has set up Reliance Defence and Aerospace (RDA) as a wholly owned unit of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, and named Rajesh Dhingra, a former mana ..
'India Has Reached Maturity of Technology for Defence Requirements'
Bangalore: India has reached maturity of technology in realising its defence services requirements and it is necessary to exploit the potential of the private industry to increase the production rate, a top Defence Research and Development Organisation official said on Wednesday.

"...we have been growing from nowhere. In the last two three decades we have reached the maturity to the international level, almost closer to the international level in terms of technology of aircraft, helicopters and missiles and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV)," DRDO Director General (Aeronautical Systems) K Tamilmani told reporters here.

AeroIndia is an opportunity for India to showcase the strength in the Aeronautical field, he said briefing about the five-day aero show beginning here from February 18, which would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Make in India" is the theme of the 10th international edition of the aerospace and aviation exhibition.

He said "now engine technology is one thing we need to focus little more, remaining areas we have reached almost closer to where we need, what India needs to build with the technology available."

With Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, technology is available for any product to be realised for the future for the Indian Defence Services, either Air force or Navy or Army, he said.

"On helicopter technology - LCA has given us great input to decide whatever type of helicopter we are doing -- whether it is five tonne category or ten tonne category, India is capable of doing. All technologies are available including production technology," he said.

Stating that Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has been a successful programme though started a little late, Tamilmani said "today all the technology required for the UAV programme is available."
Air Power And Future Battlefields: India’s Needs – Analysis
As the 10th edition of Aero-India gets underway at Bengaluru (18-22 February 2015), attention will be focused on big-ticket deals like the long-pending multi-billion dollar acquisition of the MMRCA by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Discussion will centred on whether or not the government is having second thoughts about buying the Rafale fighter from France vis-à-vis adding to the existing fleet of Su-30 MKI aircraft acquired from Russia.

What will not find mention is the fact that both these aircraft are very expensive multi-mission fighters that cannot be risked to strike ground targets in the tactical battle area teeming with air defence weapons. As a future war on the Indian subcontinent will in all likelihood result from the unresolved territorial disputes with China and Pakistan and will be predominantly a conflict on land, the ability to acquire and accurately hit targets on ground will be a key requirement for the IAF.

During the Kargil conflict in the summer of 1999, air-to-ground strikes by fighter ground attack (FGA) aircraft of the IAF played an important role in neutralising Pakistani army defences. The destruction of a logistics camp at Muntho Dhalo was shown repeatedly on national television. In conflicts in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya and, more recently, the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, FGA aircraft have achieved laudable results, especially while using precision guided munitions (PGMs).

Hence, the importance of close air support in modern wars must not be underrated. A few missions of FGA aircraft and attack helicopters can deliver more ordnance by way of dumb 1,000 lb bombs in a few minutes on an objective selected for capture than a 155 mm medium artillery regiment can deliver in 20 to 30 minutes. In critical situations, particularly in fast flowing mechanised operations, accurate air strikes can save the day. The battle of Longewala during the 1971 war with Pakistan is a good example. Also, it is a truism that accurate air strikes against the enemy in contact that can be seen by own troops provide a psychological boost to the morale of ground troops.

IAF aircraft that are earmarked for ground strikes need to be armed with PGMs in large numbers to achieve the desired effect. Free flight 1000 lb and 500 lb bombs cannot be dropped with the precision necessary to destroy individual bunkers, pillboxes and armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs). Modern jet aircraft flying at supersonic speeds and constrained by the threat posed by air defence weapons in the TBA, such as hand-held, shoulder-fired SAMs like the Stinger and the Unza, cannot be expected to achieve precision with rockets and Gatling guns. Only terminally homing laser-guided and TV-guided bombs and air-to-surface missiles with stand-off capability can provide the necessary reach and accuracy.

During the Kargil conflict, sustained, accurate and high volume concentrated artillery firepower and air-to-ground strikes by the IAF eventually won the battle for India by completely decimating enemy sangars and enabling the infantry to assault virtually unopposed. Tiger Hill and many other enemy-held mountain ridges were finally re-captured with very few casualties. The battle winning utility of ground and aerial firepower in limited wars was established beyond doubt. In view of the firepower capabilities that will be necessary to fight and win India’s future wars, the IAF needs to re-assess the suitability of its weapons platforms and ammunition holdings to support operations on land and launch a concerted drive to acquire the required means.

Ideally, the IAF should be equipped with a specialised, dedicated ground strike aircraft of the A-10 Thunderbolt/Warthog or the Russian SU-25 or SU-39, all of which are relatively slower moving, enable greater precision to be achieved in aiming, can carry several tonnes of payload per sortie, including air-to-ground precision strike missiles and bombs, and can absorb a lot of damage from the enemy’s air defence weapons. Writing about the role played by the US air power during Gulf War I, Robert H Scales Jr has stated, “The A-10 was devastating once the ground war began and once the aircraft dropped low enough to provide effective 30 mm cannon support.”

Dedicated ground strike aircraft cost only a fraction of the cost of multi-role fighter aircraft such as Mirage-2000 and the future MMRCA. It is certain that in the coming decades, the IAF will continue to be called upon to launch ground strikes with precision munitions in support of the army.

Quite obviously, the IAF cannot afford to acquire new, dedicated ground strike aircraft from its present meagre budget. Once the need for such aircraft has been adequately debated and is established beyond dispute, additional funds will have to be provided to the IAF for their early induction.

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