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Tag Archives: IAF
Bharat Karnad | 26th Apr 2013 - Deccan Chronicle
The Indian Air Force has been clever over the years in a petty sort of way. Short-range or medium-range combat aircraft and so on are uniquely IAF nomenclature; no other Air Force has such categories. In the age of aerial tankers, describing warplanes by their radii of action is a distraction.
Forty years ago the IAF invented another category of warplanes — “deep penetration and strike aircraft”, which permitted the purchase of Jaguar. The IAF sees this sort of thing as a harmless ruse to serve its interest.
Amarnath K, Menon and Gaurav C. Sawant – April 13, 2012 – India Today
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was set up in 1958 with a vision to “provide our defence services a decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions”. The DRDO has clearly failed in its mission.
There is no bigger indictment of India‘s premier organisation for research and development in military hardware than the fact that 54 years after its establishment, India still imports 70 per cent of its equipment requirements. In 1997, India best known defence bureaucrat and the then scientific adviser to defence minister, APJ Abdul Kalam, had said that India should bring the hare of imports in defence equipment purchases down to 30 per cent by 2005. No progress has been made. The percentage is still 70-30 in favour of imports.
Open Magazine – feature
BY Madhavankutty Pillai 31st March 2012
From battle tanks to mosquito repellents to dosas in space, the DRDO is a laboratory of sweeping ideas, many of which will take a lifetime to execute.
Express Investigation: Delayed Research; Delayed Organisation – Part – Seven
DRDO gets it right when it works unlike DRDO
Posted: Sat Nov 18 2006, 00:00 hrs
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 17:
For all its defences against non-performance, the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), ironically, has only to look within for ready templates of distinction. Programmes that have met targets are an isolated few but they worked well because their ethic symbolizes a fundamental breakaway from the tedium of the larger organisation’s default approach. Self-reliance, a term battered by DRDO’s track-record on showpiece programmes, shines beneath the hood in the Navy’s sonars, avionics and electronic warfare systems on IAF fighter aircraft and missiles developed under corporate foreign joint ventures.
The first two were developed on time because of the labs linking up with the armed forces right from the initial stages and, significantly, leadership that keeps young scientists on their toes. The latter, because international partnerships mandate a more professional approach to programme completion.
One of the most successful DRDO laboratories is also one of the least known, tucked away silently in the Trikkakara suburb of Kochi, fomenting applied research and technology to give the Navy real self-reliance in critical sensor systems.
The Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), the only DRDO lab to win both the Silicon Trophy and Titanium Trophy for excellence, has, in the last two decades, given the Navy an impressive 87 per cent self-reliance in acoustic sensors for warships and submarines. All Navy warships, including foreign ones, as a result, are fitted with DRDO sonars like the APSOH, HUMVAD and HUMSA, and the Navy does not need to import. Now, it is putting its finishing touches to the USHUS sonar for the Navy’s Kilo-class submarines and the Mihir dunking sonar for HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopter, all well within their projected timeframes.
Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh, formerly the Navy’s Southern Commander at Kochi, said, “The NPOL’s success is from user involvement right from the word go. The steering panel is headed by a serving Naval commander who sets the agenda, efforts between the DRDO and Navy are joint.”
VK Aatre, former NPOL director who went on to become DRDO chief, agrees. “When I was there, we could not distinguish between designers, Navy personnel and production engineers,” he said. “We shared an excellent rapport. The difference here was that the user was part of the design team.”
The lab’s current director V Chander, an IIT-IISc alumnus, has espoused applied research like no other DRDO establishment, working not for idealistic invention, but delivering quality, fool-proof sonar systems to the Navy. How?
First, he’s rechristened the HR cell as People, Academics, Research & Training. He’s made sure young scientists get to spend time with the Navy for extended periods of time rather than labour away only in their laboratories. Third, he’s made sure that the level of involvement with warships and the Navy is so high that projects are either completed or prudently foreclosed before despondence and lassitude can set in.
Vice Admiral Singh, as DG Defence Planning in 2000, recommended to the Task Force on the Reorganization of Higher Defence Planning, that the country’s R&D labs be rationalized on the lines of NPOL. What ensued, another story entirely, was a turf war that saw the idea quietly dissipate. Another area where DRDO has shone despite itself is avionics and electronic warfare systems for IAF fighter aircraft.
The IAF’s most advanced fighter, the Sukhoi-30 MKI, flies with avionics developed by the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) in Bangalore, and has proved so good that the new British Hawk advanced jet trainers and the license-produced units of the upcoming contract for 126 foreign fighters, will be armed with DARE avionics and electronic warfare systems.
For now, in addition to the Sukhois, these arm IAF Jaguars and MiG-27s which, combined, have over 30 DARE electronic systems, including mission computers, electronic warfare suites, laser rangers and multifunction advanced cockpits.
A testimony to DARE’s work: in 2003, the Royal Malysian Air Force ordered radar computers worth Rs 21.15 crore (75 per cent of DRDO’s officially declared export value of Rs 27.93 crore) from DARE for its Sukhoi-30MM fighter fleet, and is interested in buying more.
Air Marshal JS Gujral, formerly IAF Central Air Commander and Deputy Chief in charge of acquisitions, feels DARE has done an excellent job in a world where such technology is simply too advanced to share. “DARE’s projects have succeeded also because of deep interfacing with the IAF. They have maintained a high mark in defence output and timeframes compared to DRDO’s other not-so-successful ventures. Across the board, the avionics and electronic warfare systems by DARE match up with the best in the world. The IAF has been very happy with what they have provided us,” Gujral said. DARE Director RP Ramalingam said, “DRDO has realized that if there is a WW III, the winner will be the side that can best control the electromagnetic spectrum, and has therefore placed India as a competent force in the world map of avionics.”
Foreign joint ventures, on the other hand, have compelled DRDO to put out more realistic predictions on time and cost. The BrahMos missile project, which began development in 1998 as a corporate joint venture with Russia and resulted in a world-class cruise missile that other countries now want to buy, was completed in just six years at a cost of Rs 667 crore – no time and cost overruns.
Similarly, the new generation Barak-II surface to air missile for the Navy, being developed by DRDO in a JV with Israel, is officially to cost Rs 2, 606.02 crore and be ready by May 2011, a far more realistic predictive frame than any other missile project under the indigenous IGMDP.
The defence sector does not have a policy for foreign direct investment, but DRDO open to joint ventures with foreign partners. No wonder then, that on June 7, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence said, “BrahMos model should be followed in other projects also. Private sector should be given more opportunities in defence production and user participation should be encouraged from R&D stage.”
Express Investigation: Delayed Research; Delayed Organisation – Part – Four
23 yrs and first fighter aircraft hasn’t taken off
Amitav Ranjan , Siv Aroor
Posted: Wed Nov 15 2006, 00:00 hrs
New Delhi, November 14:
At its last meeting in December 2005, the General Body of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the society developing the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, recorded one fact: the Indian Air Force, despite official plans to ultimately buy 220 LCAs, would order only 20 aircraft.
And that the IAF had refused to push the order up until it’s convinced that the new 2010 deadline, the project’s third consecutive time over-run, would be met.
The IAF had more than a reason.
According to latest official figures that will shortly be tabled by the Standing Committee on Defence in a report for Parliament, available with The Indian Express, DRDO’s 23-year-old indigenous fighter aircraft programme, taken as a whole — including the radar, jet engine and Naval variant — would have wiped away a minimum of Rs 9444.5 crore by 2010. Aggregate cost over-run: Rs 4,094 crore. Delay: 12.5 years and counting.
By DRDO’s own testimony in June to the same committee, there are still “certain complexities,” although it claims it will produce the 20 LCAs on order from the IAF by December 2011. But that would still be understandable if the LCA was in any way ready.
Five months after the ADA meeting, Air chief S P Tyagi communicated in no uncertain terms to then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee that his force could not depend on the programme in the short term. Shortly thereafter, he told The Indian Express: “We have to see if it is a suitably modern aircraft when it is complete. Right now we just cannot take any decisions. We can only wait for initial operational clearance (in 2008).”
The implication: the IAF is not sure if the LCA would have slipped down a few generations by the time it’s inducted. But the Standing Committee only had this to say: “The Committee are constrained to note that, keeping in view the ever-increasing delay in operational clearance of LCA, early induction of the same as IAF squadrons seems to be an unrealistic proposition.”
Just how unrealistic it is is something that has come to characterize the LCA programme ever since its inception in August 1983, and culminating now in a gravely unready fighter aircraft that the IAF could have no choice but to induct in large numbers from 2012.
Consider the following: Despite a battery of nine test pilots who have been embedded with the LCA programme, the IAF has refused to officially certify any technological aspect of the LCA apart from its structural strength, until initial operational clearance (IOC). Air Headquarters said so, in a written reply to this newspaper. The clearance should have been achieved by 2007 but its new schedule is 2008.
After a four-year wait following the rollout of the LCA technology demonstrator in 1997 for a first flight, former Air chief S Krishnaswamy made out an official case in 2003 for a “limited series induction” of the aircraft to give the IAF a chance to familiarize itself. He told The Indian Express, “The LCA is not full in any way, each prototype is different. I was a staunch supporter of indigenisation but am also very critical. How long can you keep on developing a product?”
The eight promised Limited Series Production fighters, envisaged as a part of the Rs 3,301.78 crore second phase of the programme, are nowhere in sight. The LCA, which should have undergone weapons trials by 2003, will now only undergo “dummy” trials in December 2007 according to DRDO chief M Natarajan, putting a big question mark on the possibility of IOC by 2008.
The real problem: the HAL-DRDO multi-mode radar, the very brain that will guide the LCA’s weapons, is not ready. After spending Rs 166.8 crore since 1997, HAL has decided to bring in a foreign technical partner to bail it out. The radar has been tested on an HS-748 Avro, but persistent problems with software and its signal processor have forced HAL and DRDO to admit their failure.
DRDO has justified the delays and their impact on the IAF’s preparedness by pointing to a revision of the development strategy because of a foreign exchange shortage in the 1990s, US sanctions, re-designing composite wings for weapon definition after January 2004 and extensive on-ground and independent evaluation.
After a cost and time overrun of Rs 2,456 crore and 13 years since 1996, DRDO admitted to the Standing Committee in June that it could complete the Kaveri engine only under a foreign joint venture. Problems that have crippled the Kaveri, according to the latest DRDO testimony, include critical glitches in aerodynamic, aero-mechanical, combustion and structural integrity.
Most significantly, DRDO has admitted to the Committee that to improve performance and safety issues, a JV could be attempted. Former DRDO chief V K Aatre said: “When I retired (in August 2004), there were some loose ends in the programme involving the radar and jet engine. But I am surprised they have still not been resolved.”
The DRDO was pulled up in January by the Standing Committee to explain how the LCA’s delays would impact the IAF’s modernization. Their reply: “IAF only can state the possible impact of delay on modernization exclusively due to LCA.”
But at Air HQ, an unofficial and approximate damage analysis of the LCA’s delay, shared with The Indian Express, is to the tune of Rs 11,440 crore in forced upgrades (some variants of the MiG-21 that the LCA was to replace will be forced to serve till 2019-2021 at least) and stop-gap acquisitions.
This does not include the purchase of 126 fighters potentially worth Rs 30,000 crore that the IAF will shortly begin an acquisition process for. In an unusual move, the Naval LCA will use air data systems from Russia’s state-owned Rosobornexport, which will also create a shore-based test facility for the Rs 948.90 crore development. MiG Corporation will conduct a design review and be DRDO’s chief consultant.
Express Investigation: Delayed Research; Delayed Organisation – Part – Two
Armed Forces wait as showpiece missiles are unguided, way off mark
Amitav Ranjan Posted: Mon Nov 13 2006, 00:00 hrs NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 12:
Antony asks DRDO to build credible missile defence system
Agencies – Indian Express
Posted: Fri Jun 03 2011, 15:01 hrs
Defence Minister A K Antony today asked the DRDO to prioritise the development of 5,000-km range ballistic missile while building a credible missile defence system for the country.
He also congratulated the Defence Research Development Organisation for developing the interceptor missile allowing India to join an elite club of nations possessing such advance technology.
“DRDO must demonstrate the capability to develop missiles of the range of 5000 km at the earliest. This is a challenge for the DRDO and I hope they will successfully meet this challenge at the earliest,” he said here.
DRDO muddles through 439 projects
Rajat Pandit, TNN Aug 16, 2006, 03.01am IST
NEW DELHI: From missiles, radars and electronic warfare programmes to even juices, mosquito repellents and titanium dental implants, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) does it all. And, by and large, flounders in them all, with technical glitches, time and cost overruns.
The case to support the indigenous LCA programme
Ashok Parthasarathi and Raman Puri
|The facts with regard to perceived cost and time overruns and performance shortfalls in perspective|
There have been several articles in the press critical of projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in general, and specifically the programme relating to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), now named Tejas, and the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. Indeed, whenever a significant event that involves indigenous R&D, particularly defence-related, occurs, or a crucial decision is set to be taken, articles originating from within the defence “system,” or from vendors who see their business prospects threatened, appear. The real facts relating to the programme need to be put in context.
Sanctioned in ’83, LCA Tejas is yet to take off
Rajat Pandit, TNN Feb 12, 2008, 01.55am IST
NEW DELHI: When defence minister A K Antony witnesses a flight demonstration of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in Bangalore on Tuesday, he should take a close look at the fighter which typifies all that is wrong with defence projects in India.
The LCA project was sanctioned way back in 1983 at a cost of Rs 560 crore to replace the rapidly aging MiG fighters.
A quarter of a century later, with project costs already pegged at Rs 5,489.78 crore, the LCA is still at least four years away from becoming fully operational.