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Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Tale Of Two Aircraft Carrier Construction Programmes

Keel-laying for Project 71 IAC-1 took place on February 28, 2009 and the hull was launched on August 12, 2013.
About 83% of the fabrication work and 75% of the construction work had been completed by August 2015. 90% of the hull body has been designed and made in India, about 50% of the propulsion system, and about 30% of the fighting capability is of Indian origin.
China’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, known now as the Type-001A, is expected to be launched by the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) in Liaoning province before June next year. Keel-laying took place in late 2013 and the 65,000-ton vessel is due for sea-trials by 2019.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Waging Retributive, Sustained Hyperwar

Despite all sanctimonious talk (about not retaliating with fire-assaults against ‘brotherly’ Muslim Kashmiris inside J & K’s Kashmir Valley) and bombastic bluster (about possessing full-spectrum strategic deterrence), all signals from across India’s western borders clearly point toward Pakistan being irretrievably bogged down by strategic and operational fatigue. And all this is due to—according to several retired senior Pakistan Army (PA) officers—India’s waging of multi-dimensional ‘Hyperwar’ against Pakistan on the psychological, military, economic and diplomatic fronts.
In fact, so lopsided is the present-day field deployment of the PA (with an alarming 57% now engaged in active LIC operations as against the peacetime norm of 33.33%) that hardly 11.6% of the PA is now being allowed rest & recuperation, again against the norm of 33.33%. Simply put, the PA even in the foreseeable future will be unable to go on the offensive in any theatre along Pakistan’s eastern front against India since, as per the PA’s own sequential OP-PLAN, it will be required to consolidate its gains along the Durand Line after the waging of the eight LIC campaigns (between 2004 and 2015) throughout the FATA badlands, while at the same time begin undertaking internal counter-terrorism campaigns all over Pakistan, to be followed by the launching of counter-extremism campaigns.
Clearly, therefore, the PA is neither capable of, nor is it equipped and stockpiled for waging any kind of LIC against its Indian counterpart, leave alone mulling any form of escalation at both the conventional and sub-conventional levels. Hence all the talk within Pakistan about the PA not retaliating in equal measure against India along both the LoC and the WB. But most importantly, since India late last September finally broke out of years of paralytic indecision and inaction on Pakistan’s 29 year-old proxy war, the aggressive Indian posturing backed up by actions on the ground have together produced two decisive results:

1) It has finally called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and signalled that India’s armed forces will no longer be restrained from mounting punitive conventional or sub-conventional ground campaigns inside hostile territory with limited objectives in mind.

2) Throughout both the WB and LoC, India has seized and consolidated her moral ascendency, meaning that while India is free to take unrestrained retributive covert or overt operations against the PA, the PA on the other hand cannot do so due to its severely lopsided ground deployment footprint along its western and eastern borders.

This consequently has severely demoralised the civilian population residing within PoK, especially in areas adjacent to the LoC stretching all the way from Bhimber right up to Kel. While the IA today can do a repeat of what it did in 1993 (when through artillery fire-assaults it closed down the 200 mile-long Muzaffarabad-Kel Highway), the PA can no longer do what it did in early 1999 (when it interdicted the Srinagar–Kargil–Leh Highway by infiltrating its infantry forces over a frontage of 180km to a depth of 10km from Drass to Turtuk) under OP Badr because the IA is today sitting atop all dominating heights along the LoC and can therefore conduct artillery fire-assaults from no less than five different locations in order to bring all traffic along the Muzaffarabad-Kel Highway to a complete standstill.

Adding to the troubles of the civilian populace of PoK, especially those residing close to the LoC, are the apathetic responses of both Islamabad and the so-called AJK Government, all of which is glaringly illustrated in the two following video-clips:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn3jpkF4xk8


Headed For Financial Bankruptsy
The following three reports detail the extent of financial unsustainability of the country as it now exists:




The most glaring indictment, however, cam earlier from the United Nations Development Program in Pakistan’s outgoing country representative, Marc-AndrĂ© Franche, in the following interview:


The five main points of this interview were:

Pakistan's Progress on Development Isn’t Fast Enough
Franche is quoted as saying he is frustrated that a country full of “capable and intelligent” people isn’t making more progress on reducing poverty and modernising the state. “The fact that even in 2016, Pakistan has 38% poverty; it has districts that live like sub-Saharan Africa; that the basic human rights of minorities, women and the people of FATA [tribal regions in the northwest] are not respected; that this country has not been able to get its act together and hold a census; or that it has not been able to push for reforms in FATA, an area that is institutionally living in 17th century. It is extremely preoccupying,” he said.

The Country’s Political Class Uses Its Power to Enrich Itself
The UNDP official said that the country’s elites needed to change their lives to help Pakistan.  “You cannot have a political class in this country that uses its power to enrich itself, and to favour its friends and families. This fundamental flaw needs to be corrected if Pakistan is to transform into a modern, progressive developed country,” he is quoted as saying. He said that elites take advantage of cheap labour while partying in London, shopping in Dubai and investing in property abroad: “The elite needs to decide, do they want a country or not,” he is quoted as saying. Franche also had a word for the propertied classes: “I have visited some very large landowners, who have exploited the land for centuries, paid nearly zero money for the water, and how they almost sometimes hold people in bondage. And then they come to the United Nations or other agencies and ask us to invest in water, sanitation, and education for the people in their district. I find that quite embarrassing,” he is quoted as saying.

Local Governments Need Real Power
Franche said that provincial governments in Pakistan don’t have enough power.  “Only KP [the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province] has a decent law that gives real power and real money to the local government. Local government does not mean that you just elect them and deny them fiscal resources or power,” he said.

Pakistan’s Media Is Manipulated
He also said the media should be one of the pillars of democracy, but “unfortunately, the level of dependence of the government on military authorities, and the degree by which a lot of media in this country is manipulated by powerful sources, are sources of erosion of democracy and erosion of the institutions that are the foundations of this country.”

Country Needs More Opportunities

“The apartheid of opportunities in Pakistan is horrible, which is why so many young people are trying to leave the country,” Franche is quoted as saying. “Pakistan will not be able to survive with gated communities where you are completely isolated from the societies, where you are creating ghettos at one end and big huge malls for the rich at the other end. It is not the kind of society you want your kids to live in.”

(to be concluded)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Never-Ending Torrent Of Unkept Promises

“Aim for the sky and try developing more-advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) despite being incapable of developing far less-advanced UAVs over the past 28 years.” That’s what best exemplifies the track record to date of the MoD-owned Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), notwithstanding the tsunami of congratulatory messages that start flowing in from the MoD and DRDO every time a ‘desi’ UAV’s experimental technology demonstrator takes to the skies. Below is a brief track record of the DRDO’s UAV R & D efforts.  
Following EX BRASS TACKS in 1986, there arose a requirement by the Indian Army for a tactical UAV capable of conducting battlefield surveillance. Consequently, it was decided in September 1988 that the DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) would indigenously develop this 380kg UAV, known as Nishant.
The Army finalised its General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) in May 1990, following which the first Nishant UAV technology demonstrator made its maiden flight in 1995. It was rail-launched from a hydro-pneumatic launcher imported from Finland, while its powerplant was a VRDE-developed twin-cylinder RE-2-21-P piston engine developing 21hp and weighing 10.5kg. By 2002, the Army had placed an order for eight Nishants along with two ground control systems worth Rs.800 million (US$17.9 million). 
User-assisted trials commenced in late 2008 and the confirmatory user trials at Pokhran were conducted in February 2011, following which the first four UAVs and their launch vehicles were delivered. However, the Army in 2015 refused to place a follow-on order for eight Nishants (each costing Rs.22 crores) and two ground control systems after a spate of crashes involving the already-delivered Nishants.
Recovered by a parachute, the Nishants were invariably damaged structurally and rendered unusable for long periods.
A wheeled version of the Nishant, named Panchi, has been under development by ADE since 2013 and its first technology demonstrator, powered by a VRDE-developed  four-cylinder RE-4-38-P engine (developing 38hp and weighing 22kg), made its maiden flight on December 24, 2014. No orders for this UAV have been placed by any end-user so far.
The ADE-developed Rustom-1 tactical UAV is powered by a single imported Lycoming O-320 engine developing 150hp and it made its maiden flight on November 11, 2009. Its production deliveries were due to commence in late 2013, but to date that has yet to happen.
The Rustom-2 MALE-UAV, powered by twin imported Austro Engine AE300 diesel engines each rated at 170hp, made its maiden flight on November 15, 2016. Its design was completed by February 2012 and in September 2013 a Rustom-2 technology demonstrator without any mission payloads began full-power taxi trials.
To be co-developed by the MoD-owned DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) at a cost of US$46 million, ihe initial requirement for this MALE-UAV is for 76 for all three armed services. The 3rd and 4th airframes underwent a design validation phase that ended in January 2016 and are meant for technology demonstrations and technical trials by the ADE. The 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th airframes for user-evaluations have been ordered as well. 
Today, the Rustom-2 minus its mission payloads weighs 2,400kg and efforts are on to try to reduce it to 1,700kg ONLY AFTER delivery of the first 24 airframes to the end-users, which have mandated that the Rustom-2’s multi-sensor payloads must weigh no more than 360kg and its endurance should be 25 hours.
The DRDO has so far claimed that the Rustom-2 will be capable of undertaking surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations and will therefore be capable of carrying different combinations of payloads, such as medium-range electro-optic (MREO) sensors, long-range electro-optic (LREO) sensors, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), electronic intelligence (ELINT) sensors and communications intelligence (COMINT) sensors.
However, only R & D work by IRDE on developing MREO and LREO sensors and by LRDE on SAR have been launched to date. The Ku-band SAR employs a mechanically steered planar-array antenna, instead of an AESA antenna as is now the global norm. 
Thus far, no R & D work has been initiated on the development of either compact COMINT/ELINT payloads, or a Ku-band SATCOM-based data-link system for beyond-line-of-sight flight-/mission-control.
Homegrown Mini-UAVs & Micro-UAVs
Since the previous decade, the ADE along with NAL and CSIR have developed several types of mini-/micro-UAVs, but none of them have as yet entered service.
HAL on the other hand has taken a route of its own when it comes to developing or marketing UAVs.
Lastly, there are the UAVs being offered by private-sector entities.