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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Dream Come True For The IAF

Back in 2007, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) began work on commissioning its advanced landing grounds (ALG)—spread along the rolling valleys and hills in the mountainous and forested northwestern and northeastern regions of India, it soon realised that some of these ALGs, with modest upgradations, could also serve as peacetime locations housing dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms on temporary deployments. The only item lacking at that time was the availability of high-wing STOL turboprop aircraft equipped with ISR sensors and mission management suites. Specifically, the IAF wanted a platform that could overcome the otherwise unmanageable clear air turbulence owing to mountain waves, low-level wind shear, and low clouds, and which could easily take off from and land on ALG located at altitudes of between 4,000 feet and 6,200 feet, and whose runways have a length of between 3,600 feet and 4,200 feet and a width of between 60 and 75 feet (which is half that of a normal runway), and which, unlike conventional airfields, are not equipped with stopways, overruns and undershoots.

It would now appear that the IAF’s prayers have finally been answered. For, on June 21 at the on-going Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Airbus Military and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) decided to combine forces to jointly develop and market a new version of the Airbus Military-built C-295 platform fitted with a fourth-generation airborne early warning and control (AEW & C) system produced by ELTA Systems, a wholly owned IAI subsidiary. The primary sensor of this AEW & C platform will be a 360° rotating AESA-based multi-mode radar that will also be capable of conducting ground surveillance and real-time moving ground target indication from standoff distances. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed at the Le Bourget Airshow by IAI Corp’s VP and ELTA President, Nissim Hadas, and Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña. The network-centric C-295 AEW & C is being designed to provide high-quality 360° surveillance for creating in real-time an integrated air, ground and maritime ‘Situation Picture’ and the electronic order of battle. A C-295 fitted with a rotodome demonstrator has been conducting flight-trials from Airbus Military’s Seville facility since June 8. Initial tests have shown that the aircraft is aerodynamically an excellent platform for this purpose. ELTA Systems and Airbus Military are now conducting engineering studies to integrate the mission suite, including the rotodome-mounted AESA radar and EADS/CASA’s seven-man FITS mission management suite, into the aircraft. In order to optimise the platform for operating in and out of ALG-type airfields, the C-295 AEW & C will come equipped with a chin-mounted FLIR. It will also house a belly-mounted radome housing a 360° rotating inverse synthetic aperture radar, which will perform ground-mapping and ground target profiling operations.

As per the IAF’s future force structure projections, at least six such platforms are required for supplementing the existing fleet of three A-50EI PHALCON AEW & C platforms. A follow-on order for two additional A-50EIs was placed by India’s Ministry of Defence with IAI last March.—Prasun K. Sengupta


sachin_sathe said...


this sounds like a very interisting develpoment.With ACM Naik stating tht he wants more out of the ALG's in the north. Can this project be used as follow-on for phalcon AEW?
how will it compare against it?
the indian phalcon project uses aesa arrays in a triangular setup in a radome.Can it replace the rotodome in the picture?Also, what does this this say for the C-295 which i think is also part of MRMPA project?

Anonymous said...

Sounds really good......

also, good to hear about the follow-on order of 2 more Phalcons.....still with the IL-76/78 airframes ?? What are delivery schedules ?? 2013-14 ??

How does this impact the Embraer 145 AEW&C on order (3 plus 3 options) ?????

Any chance of the MOD announcing the L-1 of the MMRCA during the Paris Air Show ?? (specially if it is the Rafale !!!!)

Anonymous said...

I recently read reports of IAF placing follow on orders for 2 more phalcon, is it true ?//

Is this radar more advance than the one order by IAF ?

IN has recently issued RFI for Medium-Multi Role Helicopters, is this RFI separate from the one from 16 MMR helicopter ?

When are these IN helicopter deals being signed ?

Has India showed to be part of any of the next generation helicopter project being initiated byt all the helicopter giants like Sikorsky x2, Kamov 90,92 etc. ?

Is India entering into a JV with Russia for a UAV and Mikoyan LMFS also ?

Are we going solo on FMBT or we will be partnering with someone ?

Are we still developing those 1000 T90 Bhishm for which we have signed agreement with Russia ?

Is there any report of IAF placing more orders of Su30 mki because HAL seems to be confident about it ?

Are we getting second Akula or not ?

Is there any report of India placing order for 4 more advanced Talwar class frigate ? Because a few months back Pipavav publicaly revealed that there is huge possibility that Russia might transfer their development to Pipavav ?

When is 4 LPD deal going to be finalized and is their any indication that IN might go for LHD instead of LPD ?

Sri Lakshmi defense sol. revealed their new light armored vehicle. Is there an report that our armed forces will purchase these vehicles or they will continue to operate those old vehicles ?

Is army considering for increasing the order of Arjun mk2 ? Also can you post pics of Arjun mk2 ?

Anonymous said...

I still have doubt , does india will go for Javelin anti tank missile - any update

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
I asked a couple topics back about a long range supersonic cruise missile which is suppose to fly by 2014 and you said Shaurya.

What exactly is Shaurya ? I mean its not exactly a cruise missile, but operates sometimes like one. You are saying about supersonic while according to reports it can travel at a speed upto Mach 6 which makes it hypersonic.

So please clear this, is Shaurya a 750 to 1900 km hypersonic cruise missile with speed upto Mach 6 ?//

Anonymous said...

Continuing with Shaurya missile...
When is it entering in the army and are we building longer range version also because there were reports ?

Also is Shaurya not based on k15 missile of k series ??/

Anonymous said...

hi prasun seems there is some typing mistake.
U mentioned altitude of 4000 to 6200 feets.
But nyoma is at 13300 fts. And almost all the ALGs are above 10000 fts

Anonymous said...

Hi, are u in France? if you are does India have any products on display Prasun? thanks.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Sachin Sathe: The AESA radar on the C-295 will have a rotating antenna. The C-295 AEW & C will be able to engage in ISR missions out of areas hitherto considered impossible as it will be capable of operating out of ALG-type airstrips, especially in the northeast.

To Anon@8.57AM: The follow-on two A-50EIs will arrive in India by 2014. Thus far, no EMB-145 AEW & CS platforms have been ordered for the IAF. The only EMB-145s ordered to date have been for the DRDO/CABS' technology demonstration programme. The C-295, being a high-wing STOL aircraft, can operate out of airstrips/ALGs out in the northeast and in Uttarakhand which the EMB-145 cannot.
The L-1 status of the M-MRCA competition will be announced only next month. Dassault Aviation is the frontrunner as of now.

To Anon@9.25AM: 1) Yes. The radar is the same EL/M-2075. 2) Yes, the RFI is separate as the first RFP is for 10-tonne helicopter for the Project 17 FFGs whereas the RFI is for up to 15-tonne helicopter for the P-15A DDGs. 3) No. 4) No. 5) FMBT will be in partnership with an international designer and developer of MBTs, just like the FICV project. 6) T-90M Bhishma is already developed and is being built by HVF. 7) No. 8) No. 9) No. 10) RFP for LPDs should be released by next year. 11) No idea. 12) Not at the moment.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@2.29PM: Shaurya is the land-based version of the K-15 SLBM. It is essentially a ballistic missile but it can also fly a depressed trajectory at hypersonic speeds just as the supersonic BrahMos does. The Indian Army has not yet ordered the Shaurya and will not do so until the GoI decides to decommission the existing Prithvi SS-150s.

To Anon@6.41PM: No, I'm tucked away somewhere in the northeast for on-going product user-trials. HAL has only a small booth as usual and top officials of HAL and BEL are present at Le Bourget, according to my colleague who is attending the expo. Quite a few Indian journalists have been taken there on all-expenses paid junkets sponsored by Airbus Military, Boeing, DCNS and Finmeccanica. That's the reason why some of the latest posts featured on some of the the Indian blogs feature products of only Boeing, Eurofighter and Dassault. Based on what I've received thus far from my colleague, several new products of interest to India have been showcased, especially small-diameter multi-mode PGMs from Israel Aerospace Industries. The Dash Mk5 HMD has been selected for the to-be-upgraded Jaguar IS as has the AIM-132 ASRAAM. The IAF will soon place orders for another four aerostat-mounted radars from ELTA to add to the two in service (one has since been damaged as the aerostat collapsed in an accident). The EL/M-2084 Arudhra MMRs now in delivery are of the long-range type and are optimised for early detection of inbound ballistic and cruise missiles. The HJT-36 IJT's IOC, earlier scheduled for this month, has now been postponed till the year's end. And the Brazilians are very happy at the persistent delays in the IL-214 MRTA programme as this will enable Embraer to score early export successes with its KC-390. Honeywell and THALES have been shortlisted by HAL for supplying the MRTA's glass cockpit. The BR-715 turbofanm from MTU-Rolls Royce may be finally selected as the preferred turbofan. The Chinese AVIC pavilion is mighty impressive as it is showcasing the C-219 regional airliner.

Anonymous said...

what is the chance of this airframe integrated with the DRDO's CABS balance beam radar?

Anonymous said...

hey thankx from that update from france dude :)

SSG said...

What happened to the plan of PD-14M engine powering MTA ?

Anonymous said...

thanx prasun

Anonymous said...

This a/c is useful for a country like Israel which has flat desert terrain. How effective will it be in mountainous terrain? Tethered Aerostat radars can do the job far more cheaply and efficiently than these planes which will cost a ton to purchase and operate.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@8:58AM: Nil.

To SSG: The IAF has specified a non-Russian turbofan solution. The Ruskies are free to develop their own turbofan for the MRTA for their own domestic consumption.

To Anon@7.03PM: You're wrong on two counts. Firstly, if you re-read what I've said above, the C-295 AEW & CS is not only for airborne early warning and control, but is also designed to be employed for persistent real-time air-to-ground surveillance from standoff distances, something which tethered aerostat-mounted radars do not do. Secondly, tethered aerostat-mounted radars are not designed to be employed for extended durations 24/7. The IAF tried doing that in Barnala and lost it to an accident. Even if aerostat-mounted radars are deployed over mountainous terrain, they are likely to be shot down by intruding combat aircraft or even attack helicopters. Therefore, in terms of both deployability and availability, a manned ISR platform is far more cost-effective than an tethered aerostat-mounted radar.

Anonymous said...

Can we sAy that C-295 AEW & C is essentially capable of providing E-3 aew7c and e-8 and MPA capabilities in a single platform? (smaller in size but capabilities are there)?

It looks like smaller version of Chinese zdk-03? any updates on its status?

Is PN going for the hinese zdk-03?

Anonymous said...

how many tethered aerostat-mounted radars are operated by india

Anonymous said...

EF Typhoon has announced Aesa will be ready by 2015, but as per IAF it says by 2014 onwards mmrca jets will be started delivering, do Rafael has upper hand , it announced by 2013 aesa will be fixed on aircrafts .

Second line of submarines any updates

AAD/PAD SAM possibly when it will be entered in service

Anonymous said...

Hey Prasun, i have some questions about FGFA project.

According to reports India and Russia will be spending around 5-6 billion $. The reports said most of our spending will be on ground infrastructure. What does it mean ?/

I mean are we expecting this time that we will be building all basic infrastructure like wind tunnel for developing a fully indigenous fighter jet ?/

Is Russia willing to give us their stealth tech ?/

What 5th gen technology is Russia willing to share with us ?

When is the first prototype of FGFA going to fly ?

Will the FGFA prototypes be flying in India or we have no role ?

Is India and Russia going to form a new company like Brahmos for 5th gen project ?

Is India looking to build a third 5th gen fighter jet with Mikoyan?

Has India shown any interest to be part of Russian UCAV Skat ?

What is India gaining from MRTA project ? I mean after this whether we will be able to build RTA -70 on our own ?

Is Russia partnering up with India on FMBT project ?

Anonymous said...

PKS: Quite a few Indian journalists have been taken there on all-expenses paid junkets sponsored by Airbus Military, Boeing, DCNS and Finmeccanica. That's the reason why some of the latest posts featured on some of the the Indian blogs feature products of only Boeing, Eurofighter and Dassault.

*ahem ahem* // and how about the C-295 AEW&C that someone is trying to promote to Indian Forces as "dream come thru"

I guess you missed out IAI and ELTA from your list up there :)

Austin said...

Prasun , I am not sure why IAF would specify another engine for MRTA since PD-14M is quite capable engine in fuel economy , maintenance ,noise and cost and can match any western engine in its class.

Re-engining the MRTA would be cost and time prohibitive and would really not make much sense , we have not even though of Re-engining the IL-76 which carries the old D-30 fuel inefficient engine with more modern PS-90A

Anonymous said...

To Prasun,
I read a recent interview of AC Marshall PV Naik, he said about 214 5th gen fighter to be inducted in the service. Is it possible that he might be mistaken by this number? (because this number is odd, 216 could have completed the squadron also).

What happened with the number 250-300 ?

Are we inducting 50 single seater t-50 ??

Recent reports of Mq-4c being offered to IN by NG as a reply to a RFP. Has US government agreed to this ? If yes then how many of these will be inducted ??

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@12.45PM: Yes, it will be capable of real-time airspace/ground surveillance as well as provide airborne battle management and land-based battlefield management support. The ZDK-03 will be strictly for AEW & C and airborne battle management. The first prototype is currently undergoing flight-tests.

To Anon@12.54PM: Two.

To Anon@2.46PM: No updates on the P-75I SSK programme. AAD/PAD/PDV missiles are all technology demonstrators. No one in India has thus far authorised any funding for fielding an operational BMD network.

To Anon@2.59PM: Bulk of the funding from India’s side will be employed for setting up the design facilities as well as facilities for testing and validating avionics design and systems architecture. Russia will not give India any stealth-related technology, but will share the FGFA’s stealth capabilities with India. The first FGFA prototype is due to fly (on paper) by 2015. At least one of them will fly in India for flight-tests. A new JV company will be formed between HAL and United Aircraft Corp of Russia. India does not want to co-develop the Skat UCAV. Regarding the MRTA project, India will for the very first time learn how to design and develop multi-role airlifters and their related flight deck avionics. RTA-70 is a sheer waste of time and money since it will never be able to financially compete with the likes of ATR and EADS. The FMBT project has been shelved in favour of the FICV project.

To Anon@12.48PM: The only difference being the Indian journos on all-expenses paid junked will be mandatorily reqd to produce write-ups on products produced by the sponsorers, while my write-ups are not financially sponsored/supported by any OEMs. Guess you missed this point.

To Austin: In what way has the PD-14M demonstrated its capabilities to date? All we know are only its expected performance parameters. The alternatives like the BR-715 and CFM56 already exist and have proven their performance over the past several years. Hasn’t anyone learnt anything from the AL-55I experience thus far? And what’s this issue of re-engining, when the MRTA hasn’t even be engined thus far? Rather than put the entire MRTA programme into jeapordy (by awaiting a turbofan yet to emerge, as has been the case with the HJT-36 IJT), the IAF will be better off if it goes for a proven engine that is easily available.

To Anon@6.49AM: 214 is the projected number of tandem-seat FGFAs to be acquired. No single-seat T-50s will be acquired for the IAF. MQ-4C UAVs have indeed been approved for export to India and that’s why it was being promoted at Aero India 2011 last February. The reqmt is for eight such UAVs. Also note that the IAF Chief in his NDTV interview didn’t utter a word about the HJT-36 IJT since it is now a matter of common sense that with the expected arrival of the PC-7 Mk2 basic turboprop trainer and the existence of the Hawk Mk132 lead-in fighter trainer, the reqmt for an intermediate jet trainer will become totally irrelevant. What a sheer purposeful waste of money!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanx for the reply Prasun...

You said " FMBT project has been shelved in favour of the FICV project. "
What does it mean ?? Is FMBT program will also be like FICV competition ?

Why IN wants to buy only 8 MQ-4C ? We have such a big coastline which is completely porous.
Is IAF also interested in purchasing these because it is a good way to cover major cities, air ,naval and army bases under surveillance ?

You said Russia won't give us any stealth tech but will give us stealth fighter. Then why the hell are we funding FGFA if we are not getting anything out of this ?/ I mean its just like mki program but instead this time we are unnecessarily spending 6 billion$...

Austin said...

To Prasun: Its true that PD-14M has not been demonstrated but neither has the MRTA so far , the PD-14 series of engine is under priority development because it will eventually power Russias civil MS-21 which is a high priority and well funded project for them , its specs closely matches P&W 1400G GTF engine in Fuel Economy ,Noise and is 15 % cheaper.

They can always use PS-90A or its advanced cousin PS-90A2 engine that would meet the thrust and fuel economy requirement of MRTA

I really see no good reason why IAF would want a Western Engine , but then knowing IAF appetite to complicate things its possible.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@8.37AM: In terms of priorities, the reqmt of FICV is greater than that of the FMBT. Therefore, the FICV project is being taken up first as it is also less riskier and the platforms types reqd are in far greater numbers. Private industry will be playing a far greater role, since Greaves Cotton has already developed and tested the 600hp engine on the DRDO's Abhay FICV technology demonstrator and the GDLS-supplied automatic transmission has been successfully integrated with the engine. TATA Motors and L & T will also be enrolled into the FICV project. It could well be the case that if the Arjun Mk2 MBT's user trials are a success (as is likely to be the case) then up to 600 Arjun Mk2s are likely to be ordered for the Army.
Regarding coastal surveillance all existing gaps will be plugged by 2015 once the SaabTech-supplied system is commissioned (see The MQ-4C is for broad-area surveillance around the country's island territories for which eight units will more than suffice. The IAF and Army do not require such HALE platforms as they want MALE-UAVs like the Heron-TP and Rustom-I/H.
To really understand the reasons behind the investments planned into the FGFA, one must understand the politics behind the programme. In an ideal world one would have expected that following the successful implementation of the Tejas LCA programme the ADA would have graduated on to the AMCA. However, the politicking between ADA and HAL is not always understood by many. HAL, which wanted to acquire the same type of aircraft R & D capabilities as ADA has, has apparently succeeded in convincing a gullible MoD that it needs to duplicate (in terms of R & D capabilities) whatever ADA has achieved or created thus far. And that is exactly why the HJT-36 IJT project will lumber on despite its total irrelevance now that the IAF is going for the PC-7 Mk2 basic turboprop trainers. Lots of taxpayers' money being wasted just to keep the unions and bureaucrats happy, but ironically no one seems to be fasting onto death over such issues!!!

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: The PS-90A is meant for airlifters far bigger than the MRTA, like the projected IL-476. The MRTA was originally conceived in the mid-1990s with engines like the BR-715 or CFM56 in mind by both Ilyushin OKB and IRKUT Corp. In my view going for an already existing turbofan solution will be far less riskier than awaiting a turbofan that doesn't yet exist simply because it will expedite the MRTA's design and flight certification phases. After the experiences of delayed availability of the AL-55I and the yet-to-emerge AL-41F, I'm personally not too convinced about the Russian style of prioritising, and therefore wouldn't take any chances with the PD-14. Also, as a rule, engine development is a far more drawn-out process than airframe design and development.

Austin said...

PrasunDa, its true that PS-90A1 will be used for bigger aircraft but a pair of it can be used to power the MRTA as they are of similar thrust engine , IL-476 ofcourse uses four of them.

I have followed PD-14 development closely for some time , the trials are suppose to start in 2013 with certification expected in 2014 , PD-14 in civil version is equivalent to the military 5th Gen engine with specs matching the Western 5th Gen engine of PW1400G and LEAP-X that would power C919.

You can read more on its development and the different version planned for in the link

If they do not want to risk with a new engine , considering the first flight of MRTA is slated for 2016 which is quite some time from now , they can go for PS-90A or its advanced version PS-90A2 which is a ETOP 120/180 rated engine.

They are offering PD-14 to reengine all the PS-90 variant once its available since it will offer 15 % better fuel economy over any PS-90 types and conforms to stringent ICAO standard.

I have seen MRTA being advertised with both the engine , so I would assume PS-90 is plan B if PD-14 fails to materialises in time

Atul said...

Hi Prasun;

There was a news item on DRDO testing a SDB (Small diameter bomb). What is it? A precision guided mutition? Link.

Anonymous said...

Any updates and position of 145nos howitzers /Javelin ATM orders from US

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: On paper the PD-14 can have the very best of specs and parameters, no doubt about it. The main concern for everyone, however, remains the Russian aerospace industry's ability to produce such a turbofan as advertised and claimed. There are far too many examples of past Russian promises that have failed to materialise, the IL-476 from Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar being the latest example. Far more safer therefore to rely on something like the CFM56, more than 100 of which are already flying with Indian airliners and with the IAF's B.737NG VIP transports and for which in-country product support is readily available, unlike that for the PS-90A.

To Atul: That news item is a pure fake. Leave alone a tri-mode seeker, even a single-mode seeker is still under development and that too a laser seeker for the Sudarshan laser-guided bomb.

To Anon@5.27PM: The contract documents for the 145 LW-155 howitzers is ready for signing while those for the Javelin ATGM were ready as dar back as last February. The latter must have already been inked but not publicised as the Javelins are meant for the Para (SF) battalions. For the Indian Army's Dhruv Mk4 the PARS-3LR is being proposed along with RAFAEL's Spike-ER, as the HELINA is unlikely to be available before 2015.

Austin said...

Prasun , the PD-14 engine has far greater stake in a key civilian airline project the MS-21 then MRTA , MRTA can still go along with PS-90 but for MS-21 a 4th gen engine like PS-90 is not an options.

There is nothing specific of Russian industry regarding delays or challenges , look at US JSF program or Dreamliner 787 its all filled with technology challenges , delays and over budget , any high tech path breaking project has its own pitfalls even for experienced hands.

On your suggestion to use Western engine , can you tell me what advantage can CFM56 bring to the table that PS-90A/A1/A2 cant , in terms of fuel efficiency or maintenance.

How long will it take for HAL to certify the MRTA with a western engine ?

What is the cost benefit analysis if done by HAL for PS-90/PD-14 vs CFM56 for MRTA ?

I have not read in any recent interview from HAL or IAF chief saying they need a western engine for what ever reasons.

Finally we do not have a history of IAF fleet using Western Engine on a Russian Aircraft or vice verse.

Hence I believe the MRTA/Western Engine theory is a non-starter at best.

Anonymous said...

5:27 PM Anon
Thanks for reply

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

Please reply to my question

Why India is ADAMANT on FGFA
What is wrong with PAK FA

Will the 2 seater FGFA compromise with the stealth characteristics of the original PAK FA

Will FGFA REMAIN a STEALTH plane at all ?

Anonymous said...

Sir do you have any information about the Chinese Y-8 antisubmarine aircraft and new Y-20 (supposed to fly this year)?

What type of y-8 aircraft is this?

Chinese E-8?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: The PD-14 and MS-21 till this day exist only on paper and their funding levels are neither assured nor transparent, unlike the MRTA’s joint R & D agreement between India and Russia. Furthermore, comparing programmes for developing the Dreamliner 787 and F-35 JSF with that of the MS-21 and PD-14 is like comparing apples and oranges. In case of the former there are already firm orders, whereas for the Russian products all there is are intents to acquire and produce. As for MRO capabilities reqd for CFM56 versus those for the PS-90 family, the difference is elementary: CFM56 MRO capabilities exist NOW within India, whereas those reqd for the PS-90 don’t. According to IRKUT Corp’s statements since 1998 it will take barely a year to certify the CFM56 on the MRTA since the CFM56 is already flight-certified. In case of the PD-14-powered MRTA two separate flight certifications will be reqd: one for the airframe itself and another for the engine, since the latter is a brand-new product still under development. The above two points (i.e. availability of in-country expertise to handle CFM56’s MRO reqmts and non-existence of the PD-14 and its separate flight certification) themselves explain the cost-benefit ratio in favour of the CFM56. I too haven’t read anywhere about the PD-14 being offered to HAL or the IAF for the MRTA. On the other hand, the Aero India 2011 show dailies carrying Alexey Fedorov’s interviews openly mentioned Western turbofan options for the MRTA. Lastly, the MRTA will not be a Russian aircraft but will be a joint R & D product with two distinct manufacturing /final assembly facilities located in India and Russia. Hence, in light of all the above, the MRTA/PD-14 engine theory is a non-starter at best.

To Anon@5.55PM: Why India is ADAMANT on the FGFA? Why not? If the IAF wants a FGFA before the end of this decade then what’s wrong with it? There’s nothing wrong with the PAK-FA AFAIK. The tandem-seat configuration of the FGFA will not compromise the FGFA’s stealth characteristics.

To Anon@2.11AM: The Y-20’s maiden flight will only take place next year. It will bear a close resemblance to the An-70 but it will be powered by four turbofans. The photo of the Y-8 variant is the naval EW version.

Austin said...

@ Prasun , the risk for PD-14 is much lower then MRTA as these engines have more need for other program and MS-21/PD-14 is a well funded program , no matter what happens with MRTA.

Dreamliner and MS-21 uses the same technology and has very high composite content although they are different class of aircraft.

Can you scan the interview by Fedorov and put it up if you have it with you ? I did not come across it and never saw HAL or IAF say any thing on western engine for MRTA so far.

Anonymous said...

HI Prasun,
1) I want to know whether Rustom-H is turboprop or turbofan ?? There are reports of NPO-Saturn 36MT turbofan engine to be used in Rustom-H...

2) When is it getting ready ? CAn it be ready by 2015 ?

3) Is Rustom-1 going into production or its just a tech demonstrator ?

Anonymous said...

Please post some video or picture of LCH td-2 and arjun mk2...

Anonymous said...

When are we launching IA, IAF and IN satellites ??/

How many t90 is IA inducting ? I heard that 1000 t90 which IA signed deal with Russians is cancelled, then why aren't they inducting Arjun instead ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: Ask any airframe designer and he/she should explain to you which of the two--aiframe or engine--is more difficult to develop. One cannot compare the Dreamliner with the MS-21 simplky because the industrial capabilities of Boeing and IRKUT Corp are two worlds apart. If you were to find out how long Boeing took to develop the Dreamliner with all the resources at its disposal, then you will be able to find out how much longer the Russians will take to replicate the Dreamliner (in my estimation at least another decade). Furthermore, the Russians are not world-renowned for large-scale use of composites on any airframe, and instead prefer using aluminium alloys and titanium alloys. Lastly, I'm highly surprised that you're unaware of or haven't yet read about the MRTA's powerplant options, which have been extensively written about in Russian, Western and Indian aviation magazines since 1998. For viewing IRKUT Corp-supplied illustrations of the IL-214 MRTA powered by CFM56 turbofans, do visit:

To Anon@10.43AM: Rustom-H will be piston-engined, as will the Rustom-I. Both of them are likely to be series-produced jointly by HAL and BEL. Judging by the time taken to develop the Nishant UAV, it would appear that both versions of the Rustom will enter service only towards the end of this decade. The 36MT turbofans are for the Nirbhay UAV-simulating drone. As you may be aware, the Lakshya drone has been an utter failure and presently Italian Mirach 150 drones are being used for air defence gunnery training purposes by both the IAF and Army at Suryalanka and ITR Chandipur. The Nirbhay will replace the Lakshya within two years.

To Anon@10.44AM: Don't have them, as I'm not into broadcast journalism.

To Anon@11.37AM: The IN's first communications satellite should go up later this year. There's been no cancellation of licenced-production of the T-90S.

Anonymous said...

Thanx alot Prasun...

How many satellites will be there for each service ? What is the progress with IA and IAF satellites ??

IRNSS project is different from these satellites ?

So by the end of the decade IA will be operating 1620 T90s (current 620 + 1000 through license production)?

According aviationweek's recent report Rustom will be turbofan...

What happened to Indo-Polish light tank ? IA was supposed to induct 300 such tanks...

Any progress on ultra light howitzer deal ? I mean are we going to purchase them this year ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@8.19AM: The defence communications satellite will be used by all three armed services. The IRNSS satellites are totally different as they are only to be employed for GPS navigation.
Regarding the T-90S, here are the actual figures: It may be recalled that in February 2001, India bought its first batch of 310 T-90S MBTs worth US$795 million, of which 120 were delivered off-the-shelf, 90 in semi-knocked down kits (for licenced-assembly by the Ministry of Defence-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory, or HVF, in Avadi), and 100 in completely-knocked down kits. This was followed by a follow-on contract, worth $800 million, being inked on October 26, 2006, for another 330 T-90M MBTs that were to be built with locally-sourced raw materials. The third contract, worth $1.23 billion, was inked in December 2007 for 347 upgraded T-90Ms, the bulk of which will be licence-assembled by HVF.
Regarding Rustom-H, it was clearly shown through both photos and scale-models during Aero India 2011 that it will have twin piston engines. Furthermore, as far as numbers go, the IAF wants only HALE UAVs amounting to six per threatre command, while the Army wants four MALE-UAVs and one GCS per Division and four HALE-UAVs and one GCS for every Corps. Therefore, If one were to do the math, then one will realise that the figures being quoted by AW & ST are totally wrong. The kind of numbers AW & ST has quoted apply more to UAVs for the Army’s Battalion-sized formations, for which the ELBIT Systems Skylark-1LE has already been selected in principal, but no procurement has taken place as both the Battalion-level BMS and F-INSAS systems architectures have yet to be finalised.
There was no project to begin with for developing a light tank with Polish assistance. The LW-155 ultra-lightweight howitzer deal should receive CCNS approval any time. The fixed-price contract has already been drafted and finalised.

Austin said...

At Prasun : Lets see what comes up may be the next time you or Force interviews HAL chairman they can directly ask this to him, that should settle it for good.

I was talking more in terms of technology involved with MS-21 and Dreamliner the technologies are the same , as far as composites goes the Russian uses 40 % composite in MS-21 , Dreamliner has 50 %.

MS-21 is a breakthrough product for their industry ,MRTA is hardly a break through product.

Austin said...

At Prasun , Any idea on details of this deep upgrade of T-72 constitute and how many will be upgraded ?

So there will be two upgrades of totall T-72 Fleet one is the DRDO CIA upgrade and the other is the deep upgrade , Can you put some numbers to both ?


Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun.....longtime No new Post....busy with next issue of Force ??

Also, read today that Mirage 2000 upgrade + 400 MICA missiles etc coming up together for approval in next CCS meeting shortly ???????

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: Those interviews have already appeared in the Day 1 show daily issues of FORCE for Aero India 2009 and 2011, and the Day 1 issue of FLIGHT Int'l's show daily for Aero India 2011. But the best evidence is in seeing the differences. Just try comparing the engine nacelle designs of the MC-21 and MRTA and you will discover that all MRTA scale-models shown thus far during the MAKS 2009 expo and Aero India 2011 expo have shown the MRTA with Western engines (BR-715 or CFM-56 or P&W's PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan (further info on this available at:

You can see the photos of the engine nacelle designs of the IL-214 MRTA scale-models at:

The photos above clearly show that the engine nacelle designs are in no way similar to those for the PD-14M. AS for composites application, your statement about "Russian uses 40% composite in MS-21 , Dreamliner has 50%" is erroneous because the Dreamliner is flying today, while the MC-21 has yet to emerge in any physical form. Advertising and making claims about a futuristic product does not automatically translate into present-day reality, as we all have experienced with similar earlier Russian claims and the eventual reality. Consequently, to say that the MC-21 USES 40% composites is factually incorrect. EXPECTED TO USE will be more appropriate.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: There are two upgrade programmes for the Indian Army T-72Ms: one is the T-72CIA with a Russia-supplied 1,000hp engine, Polish fire-control system incorporating an Elop IR camera plus DRDO-developed ERA tiles. 700 units have already been upgraded in this manner. For the second batch of 700 T-72Ms awaiting upgradation, the on-going competition is between Rosoboronexport State Corp/Uralvagonzavod JSC on one hand, and Larsen & Toubro/Raytheon on the other. Both are reqd to demonstrate their solutions on a no-cost no commitment basis. This is the second time such competitive trials are underway. The first one was in 2004 when THALES and ELBIT Systems had demonstrated their respective solutions.

Austin said...

Actually there is no point comparing MS-21 engine with MRTA , since MS-21 has so far been displayed only with PW1400G engine , there are no known mockups of PD-14 engine displayed so far but details shown at their website resembles the MRTA engine , again these just appear that way , it could be a western or PS-90 engine.

I will check if i have the issue you have mentioned with the interview.

Comparing those models i really do not know if that helps much since i am not certain they are ever built to scale or build to original MRTA , for all we know those are generic model that appear similar to MRTA but not built to scale or are identical to MRTA

But i will keep this discussion open lets see which engine MRTA comes up with , my bet is on PS-90 or PD-14 but then I am happy to loose the bet :-)

Austin said...

At Prasun: Actually if you read June techfocus of DRDO you would find that the DRDO CIA upgrade does not include engine or EL-OP seeker upgrade.

The upgrade is quite modest and it improves protection via ERA and firefighting capability and few basic stuff like navigation etc

The next batch of upgrade would be a deep upgrade involving engine , TI system and other improvement perhaps all that CIA has like ERA,Navigation etc

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: The DRDO's 'Tech Focus' says that the Arjun MBT is powered by a V90 turbo-charged water-cooled diesel engine. Are we then to assume that this engine is not the MTU-built MB838Ka-SOl just because it has not been mentioned? One must note that the DRDO Tech Focus in question is only highlighting those items/systems that have been developed in-house by the DRDO labs. It will almost never highlight or identify foreign systems/components by name or model no that are installed on board. On the section dealing with the T-72CIA it refers to a 'sight for direct firing' on page 6. More details on the Polish 'Drawa' TFCS for the T-72CIA can be found at:´s-T-72-Upgrade-Program-Project-RHINO&s=d906c3e24eda4ff9008091b9de395255

In fact, the contract with Poland for Project Rhino was inked in April 2002. The 840hp V-84MS (not 1,000hp as I had earlier said) engines and transmission for the T-72CIAs (to replace the V-46-6 780hp engines) and V-92S2 V-12 1,000hp engines for the two Tank EX technology demonstrators (mentioned on page 9 of the DRDO Tech Focus) were procured from a manufacturing plant located in Kazakhstan.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: You would have also noted that the DRDO Tech Focus issue in question does not even mention the T-6 turret-mounted 155mm/52-cal howitzer cannon from DENEL/LIW when describing the BHIM tracked SPH. Furthermore, one would have expected the issue to at least mention the upgraded BMP-2K Sarath ICV, which has the ELBIT Systems-built TISAS fire-control system (being serviced in India by Alpha Technologies Pvt Ltd as shown on posters at the company's booth during Aero India 2011) and provision for firing the Konkurs-M ATGM. But, strangely, the DRDO Tech Focus makes no mention of such a significant upgrade project!

Austin said...

At Prasun : Isnt that article on T-72 Upgrade is from FORCE issue ?

Yes there is a possibility that DRDO newsletter would be mentioning its own product that is part of CIA program

Are you aware about the details and status of BMP-2M upgrade program , how many will be upgraded and the nature of the upgrade ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Austin: No, it wasn't from FORCE, although FORCE has since 2005 carried several articles on Project Bison's completed Phase 1 and the projected Phase 2. Regarding the BMP-2M ICV upgrade, all details about the type of capabilities being sought are mentioned in the publicly available RFI. The Kliver turret with Kornet-E ATGMs could be one solution. Another could come from a Romania-Israel joint offer. About 700 BMP-2Ms are envisaged.