Friday, November 30, 2012

Russia is developing a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier

For the past two years Russia has been designing a prospective Heavy Nuclear-Powered Aviation Cruiser, which should become one of the most important elements of the country’s national security at sea, a source in the Military-Industrial Commission under the government of the Russian Federation informed journalists. "The Russian Navy needs a futuristic platform, which would be dozens of years ahead of her time, and not just an analogue of modern aircraft carriers existing in the United States or other countries," he noted.

"The main requirement for this ship is its ability to act in all environments: space, air, water, land and underwater", the source emphasized. The Aviation Cruiser is expected to be put to use in the Russian navy in 2020. The new Aircraft Carrier will combine the properties of a command and control vessel and that of a powerful defensive ship. It is also planned to fit up this Aviation Cruiser with the most advanced equipment that has no analogues in the world.

Russian Aircraft Carrier - Admiral Kuznetsov ( Image Courtesy - )

The main purpose of such a ship is to deliver strikes at targets in the air, on water, on land and even in space. The latter task will be achieved if the ship works in a tandem with a group of orbital facilities. The Russian navy has 4 subdivisions - thus, it is planned that Russia will have 4 battle groups headed by Aircraft Carriers.” These groups will consist of the Aircraft Carrier itself, at least 6 more other Battle Ships and 1 or 2 Submarines.

The conditions which the commanders have put forward for the new ship is that it should spend a very long time without being reloaded with any energy from outside (it is planned that this will be reached by equipping the ship with nuclear reactors), be workable at any weather and have a high combat viability.

The displacement of the new Aircraft Carrier will be more than 50,000 tons, it will be considerably bigger than “Admiral Kuznetsov” but smaller than its modern US analogues. It will be able to take about 80 airplanes on its deck.

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Indian Air Force - Progress on Dassault Rafale Contract

Things seem to be moving at a faster pace with Indian Air Force quest for Dassault Rafale. After bagging the multi-billion dollar contract for supplying 126 Rafale fighter aircraft to IAF, French Dassault Systems has opened an Indian subsidiary company here. The company named Dassault Aircraft Services India Private Limited (DASIPL) is 100 per cent owned by its French parent company, officials said.

Dassault Rafale in full glory ( Image Courtesy - Dassault Aviation )

Earlier this year, Dassault Rafale had emerged as the lowest bidder in the IAF tender for supplying 126 combat aircraft edging out its European rival Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in terms of prices. The contract has been offered to Dassault and it is negotiating the terms and conditions and the final price of the aircraft with the Indian Defence Ministry officials.

Dassault has also entered into an agreement with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) for partnering in defence and homeland security sectors in the country. There was a possibility of the two companies working together in the combat aircraft deal here.

After finalising the deal, Dassault will have to reinvest 50 per cent of the contract's worth back into the Indian defence sector. Mukesh Ambani-headed RIL has made several efforts in the past to position itself in the defence, internal security and aerospace solutions sectors.

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INS Viraat to remain in service till 2020, in Kochi for a refit

INS Viraat has arrived in Kochi for its periodic refit at the Cochin Shipyard (CSL). The work is expected to last at least three months

The Indian Navy’s flagship, now berthed at the Cochin Port, is expected to be dry-docked at the shipyard, primarily for the restoration of its underwater surface and gears.

INS Viraat in Indian Ocean ( Image Courtesy - )

In the refit, INS Viraat’s hull and underwater equipment will be cleaned and probed for corrosion and, if need be, weak hull parts reinforced with fresh metal plates.

The hull will also get a fresh coat of corrosion-resistant paint. Everything underwater — the rudder, propeller and so on — will be checked and made fail-safe. Concurrently, the systems and equipment on board the ship will also get a lift as per the Navy’s maintenance schedule, naval sources said.

The INS Viraat is said to be in good shape and expected to be in service at least till 2018 or may be even 2020, by which time the Navy would have inducted the Vikramaditya and, possibly, the Vikrant as well.

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INS Vikramaditya to be inducted by last quarter of 2013

"The delivery of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya has been delayed to the last quarter of 2013", Defence Minister A K Antony said in Lok Sabha.

In reply to a written query, the minister said original cost of the project was finalised at $978.4 million in 2004 for its delivery in 2008 but in 2010, it was "renegotiated and revised" to $2.3 billion for delivery in 2012.

"The total cost of the project would remain at $2.3 billion at the time of delivery in last quarter of 2013," Antony informed the House.

INS Vikramaditya at sea trials ( Image Courtesy - )

On steps to meet operational preparedness of the Navy, the Defence Minister said, "In the interim, the operational requirement of the Navy would be met by INS Viraat, which would remain in service till the induction of Vikramaditya."

Antony said during trials of the warship in 2012, tests on the main propulsion plant could not be completed due to defects encountered on boiler section and its rectification is likely to take six months. However, during trials the aircraft carrier has performed well in almost all other areas including Mig 29 K take off and landings.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Airrcat Carrier INS Vikrant - Construction Progress Update

The Defence Ministry will soon move the Union Cabinet for an additional Rs. 2000 crore to meet the cost overrun for completing the first phase of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) being constructed at the Cochin Shipyard - on India's western seaboard.

The IAC, which is likely to be named INS Vikrant, is likely to be over 40,000 tonnes and is biggest ship that India has ever built. The construction of the ship has been delayed due several reasons primarily because India was unable to procure special steel from Russia and also because gear boxes produced by a Gujarat-based firm in collaboration with the German partner had been found to be faulty.

Public sector giant, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has come to rescue of the Indian Navy by producing the special quality steel. The first of the two remade gear boxes have reached Kochi a few days ago.

INS Vikrant under construction, at Cochin ( Image Courtesy - )

Defence Minister, Mr A K Antony who reviewed the progress of the construction of the ship today directed Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma to constantly monitor the progress of the construction and formed empowered apex committee. Defence Minister Antony has asked Cochin ship yard to come with a "firm date of delivery". Sources said that Mr Antony has also told the shipyard that "we cannot go on hearing excuses. Everybody has to be accountable for the warship which is a national project and responsibilities in case of further slippages will have to be fixed."

The aircraft carrier is critical to India's ambition to emerge as a dominant player in the Indian Ocean region. Although India needs at least two, if not three, aircraft carriers, however, to ensure that it has at least one carrier available at all times, at present it is still pushing the 50 year old British made war horse INS Viraat.

With the USA likely to reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Navy desperately needs major assets like Aircraft Carriers to maintain its presence and also shape the developments in the volatile gulf region. "It is because we're uncertain about when we are likely to get the next carrier we have been keeping INS Viraat in the best shape possible," a senior Naval officer told NDTV. 

INS Viraat which has gone through over a dozen major and minor refits, is currently undergoing another refit is likely to be in the docks and out of action till March 2013. This refit will make the carrier operational, at least till 2020.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Indian Navy commissions - INS Tarkash

Enhancing its firepower, the Indian Navy today commissioned 'INS Tarkash', the second of its three stealth frigates being built in Russia, at the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad there.

The warship, which is expected to sail into Indian waters in December, was commissioned by Western Naval Commander Vice- Admiral Shekhar Sinha, the Navy said in a release.

The first warship of the series, INS Teg, had joined the naval fleet earlier this year.

Armed with the 290-km range supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, the warship is part of the follow-on Talwar class project.

INS Tarkash on sea-trials ( Image Courtesy - )

It is also equipped with upgraded 100 mm medium range gun, optically controlled 30 mm close-in weapon system, torpedoes, rocket launchers and advanced electronic warfare suite.

"The induction of stealth frigate with an advanced combat suite and blend of Russian and Indian cutting edge technologies, will bolster our role as a key facilitator in promoting peace and stability in Indian Ocean region," the Navy said.

"The warship is commanded by Captain Antony George - an anti-submarine warfare specialist, and will join the Western Fleet by December end," it said.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slava Class Cruiser Ukrayina for Indian Navy

The Slava Class Cruisers are one of the very powerful surface combatants that are currently sailing the high seas, these cruisers are capable of three-dimensional warfare, may it be anti-surface, anti-submarine or anti-air. Slava Class Cruiser have a full displacement of 11,500 tons, sailing rate of 32 knots and cruising endurance of 7,400 miles. These Slava Class Cruisers of Project 1164 are armed with heavy long-range missiles.

Ukrayina, Slava Class Cruiser docked at Mykolaiv ( Image Courtesy - )

At present, Russia has three similar cruisers in the fleet. However, there is a fourth Cruiser which is still incomplete, and that is Ukrayina. Construction of Ukrayina started as Admiral Lobov Cruiser of Project 1164, it was launched in 1984 at Nikolaev shipyard but stalled at the final stage (the 90-percent readiness) due to the sharp reduction in military expenditures for Russian Navy. After 1991, Ukraine got the ownership of this Cruiser which was 95% complete now, and renamed it to Ukrayina in 1992. 

The government of Ukraine first intended to complete construction to have the Cruiser in its own Navy but later on thought to offer it to Russian Navy. Russian Navy unable to fund for the purchase by itself, in turn offered it to Indian Navy. However, as usual, lack of decision making capabilities of Indian leadership at that time wasted this opportunity.

Moskva, a Russian Slava Class Cruiser in full glory ( Image Courtesy - )

Now after years, and multiple rounds of discussions, both Ukraine and Russia are serious about the future of this 95% complete warship, and are again looking out for a prospective buyer. Slava Class Cruiser can be used to build a formidable task force around it. This task force will be capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and land-attack warfare, and can be used for blockade of enemy's sea lanes or as a deterrent to enemy naval fleet. Indian Navy does not have a large surface combatant like Slava, in its fleet. Ukraniya can be a major capability booster for Indian Navy and fits in perfectly into the naval doctrine to secure our sea lanes and deter any aggression from the enemy. Do hope that Indian leadership of present times will make some strategically wise decision, at least this time.

An Active Defence Original

Friday, November 2, 2012

CRPF looking to establish its own Air Wing

In a move that could be a precursor to the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) raising its own air wing, the para-military force is hiring two helicopters for troop movement in Maoist-dominated areas in nine states. These helicopters will be under the sole command of CRPF for operational purposes. So far, the CRPF has been relying on either the Indian Air Force or the Border Security Force who have their own Air Wing for troop movement and lifting injured during operations.

Evacuation of injured personnel by a Border Security Force Helicopter ( Image Courtesy - ) 

The CRPF, one of the biggest para-military force, has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking their nod to hire two choppers for operational purposes. "We have already forwarded a proposal to Ministry of Home Affairs for hiring two helicopters which will be maintained and controlled by the CRPF." CRPF DG Pranav Sahay told reporters at the 73rd annual press conference. Sahay was confident that the ministry will give a go ahead to their proposal.

There had been difference of opinion between the Air Force and the CRPF over emergency sorties. For instance, in a recent Jharkhand encounter, Air Force’s MI17 roped in for the evacuation of injured was delayed because of bad weather. Later, BSF’s Dhruv flew and airlifted injured personnel to a hospital in Ranchi. 

The CRPF believes that helichopters will give advantage to the force in thick jungles of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand in launching counter attack against the Maoists. Also, they will be able to save lives of injured personnel.

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Unidentified Flying Objects at India-China Border In Ladakh

Units of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) have reported Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOS) in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. An ITBP unit based in Thakung, close to the Pangong Tso Lake, reported over 100 sightings of luminous objects between August 1, 2012 and October 15, 2012. In reports sent to their Delhi headquarters in September, and to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), they described sighting "Unidentified Luminous Objects" at day and by night. The yellowish spheres appear to lift off from the horizon on the Chinese side and slowly traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing. These were not unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), drones or even low earth-orbiting satellites, say Army officials who have studied the hazy photographs taken by ITBP.

A UFO sighting reported by Brazilian Navy ( Image Courtesy - )

Such mysterious lights have been sighted before in Ladakh, a barren, 86,000 sq km heavily militarised zone wedged between Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Chinese-occupied Aksai Chin. The persistent sightings by the ITBP this year, however, worried the Army's Leh-based 14 Corps.

In September, the Army moved a mobile ground-based radar unit and a spectrum analyser-that picks up frequencies emitted from any object-to a mountaintop near the 160-km-long, ribbon-shaped Pangong Lake that lies between India and China. The radar could not detect the object that was being tracked visually, in dicating it was non-metallic. The spectrum analyser could not detect any signals being emitted from them. The Army also flew a reconnaissance drone in the direction of the floating object, but it proved a futile exercise. The drone reached its maximum altitude but lost sight of the floating object.

Intelligence officials say these objects could be a crude psychological operation by China, or sophisticated probes attempting to ascertain India's defences in Ladakh.

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