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Monday, June 13, 2011

Travails Of India’s DPSUs: The BEL Experience

Soon after he took charge as Union home minister in 2008, P. Chidambaram cleared a long-awaited proposal to procure 32,766 telescopic night vision devices (NVDs) for the paramilitary forces. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a prestigious public sector undertaking, bagged the contract. BEL started supplying the NVDs in September 2010. Till March 2011, it supplied 5,000 NVDs, of which 2,000 were tested. Ten per cent of the tested pieces were found to be faulty; the promised life of a piece was 10 years. The remaining 3,000 pieces are stored at defence depots, as the ministry is wary about deploying them in the field. Apparently, BEL charged the ministry twice the market price. And, there are fears about some of the components being sourced from the grey market. Regarding the NVDs in storage, a senior paramilitary officer said, “[As they were not tested], we will not be in a position to identify defective devices and seek replacement under the one-year warranty cover from BEL.” Following complaints, the home ministry has asked the defence ministry to investigate whether proper trial procedures have been followed and whether kickbacks have been paid. The story began in December 2006, when the home ministry put out a tender for NVDs. The tender stated that the devices were to be compatible with INSAS rifles and light machine guns (LMG) used by the paramilitary forces. For a long time, the ministry was unable to find a supplier. On November 19, 2008, during a target fixation meeting with the ministry, the Ordnance Factory Board said the Ordnance Factory Dehradun was developing an NVD for 5.56mm rifles and LMGs. It offered the device for trial. On February 23, 2009, Dinesh Batra, senior deputy general manager, BEL, wrote to R.S. Sharma, then director of procurement, home ministry, that it could supply the required device. BEL claimed that it had developed a state-of-the-art NVD based on XD-4 technology, in technical collaboration with Prizmatech, a subsidiary of Star Defence Systems, Israel. The company web site claims that “Prizmatech was established as Israel Defence Force’s biggest source for night vision devices.” In early 2009, a fresh ‘request for proposal’ was issued, leading to BEL winning the contract. On June 23, 2009, a trial was conducted at the Border Security Force range in Gurgaon. The trial team consisted of officers of the BSF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guard and Central Reserve Police Force. BEL provided two models for trial—PR-1614 F and BEANS-0802. Ordnance Factory Dehradun also supplied two models—PNS-3X for INSAS and PNS-5.5X for LMG. Both failed the trials. BEANS-0802 failed the trial and the other one scraped through. P.C. Joshi, joint manager, Ordnance Factory Dehradun, declined to talk to THE WEEK about the trial procedure and results. Allegedly, the trial team endorsed BEL’s claims without testing the device’s magnification, operating temperature, battery life (which should be 15 hours) and resolution. But the trial team insisted that the device should have cheek-rests. But, no cheek-rests have been provided till date. The trial team had also found that the NVDs were not fitting snugly on to the assault rifles as BEL had not integrated the sights with the guns. These issues created a lot of inconvenience to the shooters. So, the trial team strongly recommended that BEL submit the NVD for a retrial after fitting a cheek-rest and solving the slotting issues. Surprisingly, despite the shortcomings, no second trial or field trial was conducted. Normally, all equipment is trial-evaluated in varying locations and climatic conditions such as summer, winter, high altitude and desert. “That never happened,” revealed an officer who was on the board. Lt-Gen. (retd) P.C. Katoch, former director-general (information systems), Indian Army, said that a device being procured after a single trial was unheard of. “It should be tested in the places where it is going to be used,” said he. “It should be subjected to battlefield conditions.” Katoch said the four important performance parameters of an NVD are its signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), resolution, modular transfer function and lifetime (see box). “SNR is by far the most important parameter for an image intensifier tube [II tube],” said Katoch. An II tube is a vacuum tube device for increasing the intensity of available light in an optical system, and it constitutes 70 per cent of the cost of the device. THE WEEK learnt that BEL’s NVDs were not tested for SNR. In August 2009, the home ministry cleared the Rs:1,000 crore deal. On January 7, 2010, S. Chattopadhyaya, inspector-general, BSF, issued a proprietary article certificate in favour of BEL stating that no other Indian firm manufactured passive night vision telescopic sights. “A proprietary article is given if a company develops three parts—casing, optics and II tubes,” said an officer who was on the trial team. “BEL developed none of these three critical objects. I am surprised how they were awarded this certificate.” The proprietary article certificate was false because the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) and the Ordnance Factory Dehradun have supplied NVDs to paramilitary forces. In 2010, Assam Rifles had procured 2,000 night vision devices from BECIL, of which only five have developed snags. BECIL developed the NVD in collaboration with a Russian firm. The Opto Electronics Factory, under the Ordnance Factory Board, also makes night vision devices. Ordnance Factory Dehradun has supplied night vision devices to the CRPF in 2000, to Assam Rifles in 2002 and to the ITBP in 2007. On April 25, 2007, the ITBP paid only Rs:1,74,300 per piece to Ordnance Factory Dehradun, while BEL charged the home ministry Rs:3,50,000 per piece. BEL told THE WEEK that it had been supplying large numbers of binocular and monocular devices to the paramilitary forces over the past five years and that only a few devices had developed faults, which were being attended to. “Regarding supply of weapon sights for INSAS and LMG for paramilitary forces, BEL received the first order and started deliveries from September 2010,” BEL said. “Till March 2011, we have supplied close to 5,000 numbers of these night sights. These are currently under deployment and we have not received any complaints from our customers regarding supplies made up to now.” Documents accessed by THE WEEK reveal that BEL did not manufacture the NVDs. It was only sourcing them from Prizmatech in “complete knocked down condition” and assembling them. Prizmatech, in turn, was procuring the II tubes from Photonics, a French company. THE WEEK has with it a letter of intent dated January 26, 2006, reference number CV/CB/150601, signed by Cor Boet, director, Photonics, addressed to Moti Solomon, reportedly a majority shareholder of Prizmatech. The letter proves the Prizmatech-Photonics deal. Interestingly, many of the II tubes do not have the mandatory identification number. Paramilitary officials told THE WEEK that some of the II tubes could have been bought off the grey market. “If a device does not have an identification number, that simply means that it has been taken from the grey market,” said Katoch. What created suspicion about the authenticity of the II tubes was its low figure of merit (FOM), which characterises the performance of the tube. The FOM of an II tube is arrived at by multiplying the number of line pairs per millimetre with the tube’s signal-to-noise ratio. The BEL equipment’s FOM should have been around 1,000, but a senior paramilitary officer said, in field trials, it was less than 750 (see box). The officer also told THE WEEK that when the issue of the unmarked II tubes was raised, BEL temporarily stopped supply. It had reportedly promised to deliver 22,200 devices by March 2011. About the delay in delivery schedule, BEL told THE WEEK that it had not received any request for 22,200 NVDs to be provided before March 2011. The available orders were being executed as per the agreed delivery schedules, BEL said. When THE WEEK inquired with BEL about the missing cheek-rests, its reply was that cheek-rests were not needed, and therefore were not provided. “We have received a complaint about BEL’s night vision devices,” Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told THE WEEK. “We have asked the defence ministry to inquire about it because BEL works under the defence ministry. We hope to get the report from the defence ministry soon.” According to reliable sources, high on the suspicion list is R.S. Sharma, former director (procurement), home ministry (see box on page 44). “We have registered a case against him for allegedly granting undue favours to certain private firms in the procurement of 59,000 bullet-proof jackets,” said CBI spokesman R.K. Gaur. “We are also investigating his role and involvement in other procurement deals.” Another surprising element of the NVD deal was that there was no commitment from BEL and Prizmatech to provide spare parts. By the end of the trials, it was clear the device, in its current form, was not fit for service. So, the board proposed three options to the ministry. First, if BEL overcomes the shortcomings, the procurement may be made from BEL on nomination basis. Second, the NVDs may be procured through limited tender from PSUs. Third, procurement through a global tender. “The best option was to go global so that we could have chosen the best device at the best cost,” said a senior paramilitary officer. Pillai agreed to this view: “Normally, we go for a global tender. It is always good to go for a global tender because you get to know what the competitive cost of equipment is. If we do not have different prize disclosures, then we would not know whether that cost is the best cost for the weapon system.” Then why was standard procedure not followed? “We will look into the case and see what went wrong,” said Pillai. The lack of NVDs was felt acutely after the Maoist attack in Dantewada on April 6, 2010, which claimed the lives of 76 CRPF personnel. An internal inquiry report on Dantewada pointed out that the inability to spot the enemy at dawn left the troops at the mercy of well-armed Maoists. “Night vision goggles and gunsights are absolute treasures,” said Vijay Raman, former special director-general, CRPF, who was in charge of anti-Maoist operations. “The view through a passive NVD may be 40,000 to 50,000 times brighter than what the unaided eye sees. With them, you own the night. But if the device fails or creates hindrance, then the consequences will be severe. It may take a soldier’s life.” With the Indian market for NVDs projected at $1 billion, companies like Prizmatech are bullish on India. A defence ministry official said that one of the easy routes for foreign companies to enter India’s defence and domestic security market is through ‘transfer of technology’ deals, where they share technology with India. In the NVD deal, transfer of technology was allegedly the cover to win the contract. BEL told THE WEEK that initially some NVDs were supplied in fully finished form from Israel. “In the second phase, items were supplied in completely knocked-down condition. Assembly and testing was done at BEL before supply,” BEL said. For the rest, BEL did what it calls an “in-depth manufacturing of mechanical and optical components”. But the question remains: how can Prizmatech transfer technology, when the II tubes were made by Photonics? In the end, the ultimate benefactor of the deal was Prizmatech, which used BEL as a cover to sell a device they did not even manufacture! The ball is now in the defence ministry’s court. If BEL is found guilty of flouting procurement rules and procedures, will the home ministry cancel the deal? In this investigation, the defence ministry may find itself in an awkward situation as the Army has recently signed another contract with BEL for 30,634 third-generation NVDs. COVER STORY&programId=1073755753&contentId=9452197

Lt-Gen. (retd) P.C. Katoch is confident that technology will form the backbone of all future wars and conflicts, and that the man on the ground needs to be empowered with the best equipment available. Excerpts from an interview:
How important are night vision devices (NVDs) in modern warfare?
Today, most of the fighting happens at night. Whether it is war or fighting insurgency or terrorism, the soldier wants to fight at night. It enables you to surprise your enemy. Therefore, NVDs are critical for operational success. You should be able to see your enemy before he sees you and you should be able to fire at him and fire effectively. Every soldier must have an NVD.
How is the trial of an NVD done?
There should be a comprehensive trial directive. The trial for NVDs must be done in different locations under different weather conditions. It should be exposed to battlefield conditions. In the BEL case, they should have approached the Army for technical support to conduct the trials. The Army has been using NVD-fitted weapons for years.
What are the common problems with NVDs?
A common damage factor is exposure to bright light, rain, fog or even extreme humidity. These may damage NVDs. The battery is another issue. Every day, in Kashmir or in the northeast, troops are out on patrolling or search operations. At times it is not easy to recharge the battery. Then the question is whether we have sufficient batteries for the devices. When the handheld thermal imagers (HHTIs) were first imported from Israel and France, only one charger for four HHTIs was procured. That forced the infantry to improvise chargers, which may have caused damage to the equipment. The problem is that our public sector undertakings are way behind in developing NVDs. The NVDs of DRDO and BEL are not good; they are bulky and heavy.
How can we distinguish between real and fake NVDs?
Every part of the device should have an identification number. It is like a passport, it verifies your birthplace. A night vision scope has a set of optics, batteries, transformer, regulators and capacitors and an image intensifier tube. All these must have separate identification numbers. If an II tube does not have a number, it simply means it was purchased from the grey market. COVER STORY&programId=1073755753&contentId=9452198

In 2010, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested R.S. Sharma, former director (procurement), home ministry, on charges of corruption. A 1984-batch officer of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers, he was on deputation to the ministry. The CBI nabbed him for a scam in the procurement of 59,000 bullet-proof vests. Now, his name is at the centre of the night vision device scam, too. He is currently out on bail. The ministry had floated the tender for the vests in 2009. But as the deal ran into murky waters, it was put on hold for a year and Sharma was arrested. The immediate victims of the scam are the paramilitary forces, as they have to fight Maoists and armed insurgents without body armour. The case was a serious blow to the home ministry, as Sharma was involved in the modernisation of central police forces and in procuring and allocating weapons for them. The CBI had arrested Sharma’s alleged accomplices, too,—R.K. Gupta and wife Lavina Gupta, owners of Anjani Technoplast, an armouring firm. The charge was that Sharma favoured Anjani Technoplast’s bid for the vests, despite its product failing the trials. He is accused of leaking confidential data about the tenders and the trial process to Anjani Technoplast. The CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The night vision device scam has also come under the radar of the agency. Allegedly, Sharma and other government officials took bribes for providing inside information that gave BEL and Prizmatech, Israel, an unfair advantage while bidding for contracts. Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told THE WEEK that Sharma had been shifted from the ministry and that the ministry was fully cooperating with the CBI investigation. Said Pillai: “We have given the matter to the CBI. They are investigating not only this [bullet-proof vest scam] deal but other deals, too, which may come up during their investigation. As of now, Sharma stands suspended and charge-sheeted.” COVER STORY&programId=1073755753&contentId=9452196


Anonymous said...

How many Dornier 228 maritime surveillance are operated by the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy?

I have been trying to find this Dornier 228 MPA numbers?

How many Al-Khalid Tank And Al-Zarrar Tanks by PA. '

Has Al-Khalid Tank been exported by the Srilanka

Anonymous said...

What to say..........these Bureaucrats will be the end of us......................

In the meantime:

(a) Just read in India Strategic that the Jaguar's reengine will go to "single Vendor".....that means.......Honeywell............why did RR/Adour not revert/just lose out ?? Let's hope things move now............

(b) Have the new Mi-17V's started coming (were supposed to start from March 2011).....and, the new order of 59 more ???

(c) What new's of the Javelin ?? M-777 UL Howitzers ???

Anonymous said...

nice copy-paste job mate...

Anonymous said...

In which way our naval Tejus is less capable than Mig29k.

China has missile boat's and even selling to pakistan , why not india can do brahmos based hitech missile boat to cover our sea line against these bugs .

Anonymous said...

very nice article....its simply shows how Babus are simply risking life of our brave soldiers for few hundred thousand rupees.
bdw don't you think now BEL should be blacklisted by CBI and if found guilty MOD should cancel all dealings with BEL just as it blacklisted Denel and IMI. Just because it is GOI enterprise should it be spared?

Anonymous said...

hi sir can u enlighten us about the WMD-7 targeting pod?

i mean i have tried a lot but there is almost no data available about this targeting pod.

I will really appreciate if you can upload some brochures and provide its technical details.


Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@12.07PM: The 15 Do-228-201s acquired have all since been fitted with IAI/ELTA-supplied mission sensor/management packages that includes wingtip-mounted ELINT sensors and mission management consoles, BEL-built Tarang Mk3 RWR, and belly-mounted EL/M-2022 (V)2 search radars (replacing the earlier GEC-Marconi built Super Marecs). In addition, the Navy early last February inked a contract of undisclosed value with Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd (Elop) Ltd. (Elop) for procuring MicroCoMPASS (micro-compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) turret-mounted, multi-spectral optronic sensors, which will be fitted on board the 11 HAL-built Do-228-211s now in delivery. And earlier this month, another contract inked will result in the 16 Do-228-211 maritime patrol aircraft that have already been ordered being fitted with the MicroCoMPASS system as well. These ICG Do-228-211s will also have the DRDO-developed and BEL-built Supervision 2000 belly-mounted search radars. The ICG is also gradually upgrading its existing fleet of Do-228-201s, starting with three aircraft. A contractual flight acceptance test was successfully performed at Daman in September 2009 on the first MSS-6000 airborne maritime surveillance system built and fitted by the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) for the first Do-228-201 to be upgraded. The MSS-6000 comprises a SLAR (side-looking airborne radar (SLAR); an infra-red/ultra-violet (IR/UV) linescanner; high-resolution digital photography camera and a video system for visual documentation for evidence purposes. Data from all systems is processed, integrated and presented in one integrated view to the operator. All recordings are annotated with GPS data and digitally stored in an on board geographical database. Information from the sensors will be accessible from the operator’s console. It is displayed in real-time and is tightly integrated with a tactical map. The map will contain the current aircraft position and time marks on the flight track. The map image has a large number of operator selectable overlays such as background information (territorial borders, EEZ borders, exclusion zones etc), geo-corrected overlays from SLAR, IR/UV, observation and target notes as well as notes on location of captured images from cameras. This gives the right support to the MSS-6000 operator in every situation. All information from the mission is saved and can be compiled in mission reports and/or sent on to ground station and other units. Data and digital images are presented integrated with an electronic nautical chart database, and also correlated with the mission report, all at the fingertips of the user, to ensure maximum efficiency during routine surveillance as well as in emergency situations. The MSS-6000’s mission software also allows transmission of data to the ground in real-time as well as replay and analysis of the recorded mission on a separate ground workstation.
As far as armamens packages go, the Navy's and ICG's Do-228s are still equipped with only gunpods AFAIK.
No of Al Khalid MBTs built: 600. No of Al Zarrar MBTs built: 900. You can get info on these and other Pakistani MBTs at:
No Al Khalid MBTs have been sold to Sri Lanka.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@12.09PM: If the F125 turbofans go on the IAF Jaguars, then that is good news indeed. The Mi-17V-5s for the IAF have already started arriving on board An-124 cargolifters. The contract for the follow-on Mi-17V-5s has already been finalised. The contract for the BAE Systems-built LW-155 ultra-lightweight howitzers too is ready for signature, as is the contract for the Javelin ATGMs.

To Anon@1.51PM: Thanks mate.

To Anon@4.39PM: The naval LCA is not called Tejas. It is known as LCA (Navy) and as of now both the NP-1 and NP-2 are mere technology demonstrators. Only once the LCA (Navy) Mk2 emerges will one know how exactly it compares with the MiG-29K. But this much is sure: the MiG-29K's payload-carrying capacity will be more.
The 290km-range BrahMos can definitely go on board the Navy's existing Tarantul-1 guided-missile corvettes, but is it worth the cost? The Tarantul-1s don't have shipborne helicopters and consequently over-the-horizon targetting will not be possible to achieve. Therefore, what's the use of putting a 290km-range supersonic anti-ship cruise missile on board a warship that cannot engage hostile maritime targets beyond 50km? But there is one option: installing the land-attack version of the BrahMos on the Tarantul-1s.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Abhijit: There's no chance whatsoever of BEL being blacklisted by the MoD or GoI since DPSUs like BEL represent an intact vote-bank for the politicians. And that is precisely the reason why Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in Vizag, instead of being privatised or being sold off to Larsen & Toubro, was transferred from the Ministry of Shipping to the MoD. And guess what is the constituency of the present Minister of State for Defence Production & Supplies? The very same constituency in which HSL is located!

To Anon@11.07PM: The WMD-7 LDP is absolutely identical to the ATLIS-2 LDP, which was built by THALES (then Thomson-CSF) in the 1980s and sold to both India and Pakistan along with MBDA-built (then Aerospatiale) AS-30L missiles.

Anonymous said...


Thanks u sir for your detailed and ver informative reply.

I really appreciate it

Anonymous said...

WMD-7 is based on Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN not ATLIS-2

Justloook at the images and u will c

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@W2.40AM: How can the LANTIRN (comprising the AN/AAQ-13 navigation pod & AN/AAQ-14 targetting pod) or its export derivative (comprising the AN/AAQ-19 Sharpshooter targetting pod and AN/AAQ-20 Pathfinder navigation pod) form the basis of the single-unit WMD-7 pod? WMD-7 is employed for only target acquisition/designation. and not for low-altitude navigation.

Anonymous said...

some blogs says india is favour of israeli anti tank missile . what is the current news on Javelin , does india will sign javelin ( approx when).
any current situation of Ageis , which is offered for indian new project

Anonymous said...

i object to your statement. when late sri somu was mos for defence ,he transferred all the T-72 related projects to HVF,AVADI from ordinance factory,medak to safeguard his vote bank. Other than Hyderabad,no other DPSU exists anywhere in Andhra Pradesh. everybody flocks to Hyderabad in search of a job from all parts of AP!!!And all Hyderabadis flock to US of A!!!!This is the situation. BDL,BHEL,HAL have no factories outside Hyderabad in AP. So what's wrong if Mr. Pallam raju takes some interest in his own place.I dont think cong high command will allow a small fry to do that with out long term gains.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon Above: OFB Medak was and is engaged in only one activity since its inception: licenced-production of the BMP-2 Sarath ICV. As for whether or not any other DPSU exists in Andhra Pradesh, kindly check the latest ownership status of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd.

Anonymous said...

Hi............just heard that the Pilatus PC-7 MkII is L-1............that's great was the best of the 3 shortlisted.....hope they close the deal quickly........any news your end on this ????

"Goodtimes" for the IAF......Rafale/Eurofighter; C-17's, Honeywell F125IN for the Jaguars.......and, now this.....

Army must be saying - "mera number kaab aayega" !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Also, 2011-2012 should be a good year for the Navy........

INS Satpura by July-Aug 2011; INS Sahyadri by Dec 2011-Jan2012; INS Kolkata by May-June 2012.

Plus INS Teg coming in by end 2011 and INS Tarkash by Sept 2012 (the last INS Trikand by end 2012-early 2013).

and, hopefully, the INS Chakra before the end of this year (15th August ??).

and, INS Shakti by Sept/Oct 2011.......

And, the balance Mig 29's (total 12+4), all the new 11 Do-228-211's.......

and, hopefully will close a lot of pending orders and upgrades...........

Anonymous said...

Why drdo was worried for the arjun induction when OFB was the agency which was effect by its production.

Drdo work was only r&d for Arjun tank. Arjun rejection will only means to move next r&d i.e. FMBT. Then why was drdo pushing for arjun tank where OFB should be ideally pushing arjun tank.

buddha said...

hi sir
there is a news that Indian Air Force may select The Swiss Pilatus PC-7 Trainer aircraft as basic trainer
I want to know is India going to weaponised version of with 6 hard points

Anonymous said...

Seems the one shortlisted is the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II......which has 6 hardpoints with upto a total of 1040Kg external load.

NJS said...

Just now Boeing confirms about the C-17 : Indian MoD has signed ( FMS ) the deal with Boeing to purchase 10 nos .

Mohroum said...

Dear Mr.Prasun, as you may know Taimur, Pakistan's premier SLV has been built as early as mid-to-late-2008 and is currently housed in MTFR, Jhelum; awaiting launch since Pakistn has been pressurized by USA to avoid launching it thus far for fear of triggering an South-Asian Space Race (i.e. Pak-India space race) and subsequent inevitable weaponization of space. Could you please confirm:
1. Was this SLV built by SUPARCO or NDC considering that Tilla Launch Centre comes under SUPARCO?
2. With the current conditions of US stomping on Pakistan, do you think Taimur would be used for launching PAKSAT1R in August (the planned first launch of Taimur) or would it be a Long March SLV?
3. Thirdly, can you please elaborate on the propulsion used? Some sources suggest the use of a cryogenic motor while others suggest it will use the same boosters used in Shaheen.

I would really appreciate your time in answering my queries.


Anonymous said...

INDIAN ARTILLERY IN TRANSITION: The Indian Army is reorganizing its artillery arm and is planning to move to more and heavier guns with increased mobility. The Indians note several changes in the security situation which will require new thinking for the artillery:
@ Most of the targets along the border with Pakistan are now concrete bunkers which will require heavier (read 155mm as opposed to 75mm, 105mm, and 130mm) guns.
@ Most of the Indian Army is now mechanized, as is most of the Pakistani Army. This means both sides need guns that are more mobile, and which can fire farther and faster, to engage swiftly-moving targets and respond to enemy moves.
@ India currently has 14 different artillery calibers in service and wants to reduce this to as few as possible.
@ The development of roads in areas of rough terrain, as well as longer-ranged artillery, has reduced the necessity for mountain guns carried by pack animals.
@ The advent of tactical ballistic missiles has made it dangerous to concentrate large forces at one point on the battlefield. The only really "safe" way to concentrate combat power is to have many artillery units shell the same target (destroying it and opening a hole for mobile ground units to flood through). For this to work, however, the artillery must have long range, high-tech fire control, powerful heavy shells, and rapid fire so that the required concentration of shells can be delivered before enemy counter-battery fire forces the offensive artillery to disperse. India plans to retire its Russian-built 122mm howitzers by 2010. The one unit of 160mm mortars will be discarded within a few months. The 120mm Thomson-Brandt smoothbore mortars will be kept. By 2010, towed artillery will include only three weapons: Russian-built 130mm M46s, Swedish-built 155mm FH70s, and a few M46s converted from Russian 130mm to NATO 155mm barrels.--Stephen V Cole

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@9.05AM: The Pilatus PC-7 Mk2 will be a good choice, under the circumstances. But I hope you're aware that way back in the early 1990s, HAL had tried to develop a similar flying training aircraft called the HTT-35. You can read more about it at:

To Anon@10.24AM: I hate to dampen your enthusiasm, but you must bear in mind that all the locally built frigates and destroyers you've mentioned will remain terribly underutilised unless and until they're equipped with shipborne ASV/ASW helicopters, the orders for which are long overdue.

To Anon@2:06PM: The DRDO was made responsible not only for developing the Arjun MBT, but also helping the HVF to establish the production engineering expertise/infrastructure for building this MBT. It was, in other words, a turnkey project undertaken by the DRDO.

To buddha: The IAF reqmt is for a basic turboprop trainer for flying training only. There is therefore no need for acquiring either a weaponised basic turboprop trainer or a weaponised intermediate jet trainer. Weapons launch training and mission avionics operations/management training can easily be imparted on the Hawk Mk132s.

To NJS: To be noted is the fact that the C-17A Globemaster III contract is not just for the aircraft (which will explain the initial high procurement costs). It will be a turnkey contract under which the aircraft supplier will not only be reqd to supply the aircraft, but will also be reqd to supply the technologies reqd for construction of specially configured and temperature-controlled hangars, a base repair depot, spares supply warehouse, and all the necessary training aids reqd for flying training conversion and ground maintenance. This will be the third such turnkey contract to be signed by the MoD, the first two ones being the P-8I LRMR/ASW aircraft contract, and the C-130J-30 contract.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Mohroum: The Taimur is SUPARCO's product. Its main role will be to launch low-earth orbit microsatellites carrying optronic payloads for military reconnaissance. It will not have any cryogenic engines, but will have solid rocket boosters of the type employed by the Shaheen-2. For launching geo-stationary orbit communications satellites, SUPARCO will rely on China-launched Long March satellite launch vehicles.

Anonymous said...

I think many people have a lot of misconception regarding technology development. In cases of advanced technology like sub building, fighter development, satellite launch system development and the requires the entire national skills and not just a few institutions/people. you may be reminded of the war economy in second world war as a good example.
This is what even Prasun reiterates that is what India's case, because of lack of industrial infrastructure.

Even when you are spoonfed by a tech nation it will take decades to mature technology...China was given technology by Russia way back in 50s still it took close to half a century for it to mature to a level. India is still struggling even after having soviet support though not upto the extend the chinese received.

I was referring to a messege by Mohroum regarding the satellite launch capabilities of has to expect a hand of god if they have to quantum jump to a level where India is (we are not the benchmark though). Especially space is not a thrust area Pakistan sofar considered, unlike military and nuclear technology. One can say they can just use a screwdriver to convert a ballistic missile to a launch vehicle...but the answer is you may be able to propel a relatively small payload to a Low earth orbit,but cannot sustain it there with out ground support. it could serve like a fire works...go up, blow out. India has attained a certain level of maturity here though it is still evolving. we had around 17 PSLV launches successive and successful (2 ton to polar orbit)....and you are comparing it to a nation that has not send a small pebble to space for this purpose.

Anonymous said...

I read an article recently about a long range cruise missile of range 1000 km and speed mach 3.2 being developed by drdo but i have the doubt whether its Nirbhay with wrong specification ?
I mean are we developing one more cruise missile apart from Brahmos 2 and Nirbhay ?

As per the reports Arjun mk2 and LCH second prototype are under testing i wonder if you can post some pics for your fans ?/

Are we purchasing C27j also ? There were reports of IAF/IA thinking of purchasing around 25 of those.

When are the IN's helicopter deals being finalised ?

Are we purchasing Patriot or Arrow as we had shown interest in that also ?

Also you Javelin deal is almost finalized but a few months back i heard the contract was given to Israel for Spyker as none of the contender was willing to share tech with us except them. Is it true ?

Are we also purchasing Iron dome and David Sling ?

Apart from this, according to recent reports India and Russia will be developing a armed drone. Is it true ?/

sbm said...

I had thought that the PC-21 - evolved from the PC-7 MkII - was the Pilatus entry ?

Which is it ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
No Afghanistan in SCO neither is India or Pak. Seems an event with no useful outcomes for the regional players and US gaining a lot.Is this bcoz of US pressure or china distrusting India?Or have they given up on Afganistan and accepted its status as a US ally hosting its mil bases for the next 5 decades?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@6.09PM: The Nirbhay will be subsonic as it will be powered by a single NPO Saturn-built 36MT turbofan. Apart from the BrahMos supersonic multi-role cruise missile, the DRDO has also developed the Shaurya hypersonic cruise missile. The Mach 3.2 cruise missile you're referring to is the air-delivered munition (ADM), something like the French ASMP.
The 2nd LCH prototype was first shown last February at Aero India 2011 and it featured a pixelated camouflage design. A third LCH flying prototype is now under construction.
It is uinlikely that the C-27J from Italy will be purchased, since the EADS/CASA-built C-295 has already been selected for the BSF.
There are no plans to purchase either the Arrow-2/3 or the Patriot PAC-3 or Iron Dome or David's Sling.
The Javelin ATGM is being acquired to satisfy a manportable ATGM reqmt for the Indian Army's motorised infantry formations. The Spike-ER on the other hand is being proposed by RAFAEL for the IAF's LCH, in case the HELINA's R & D schedule is not adhered to by the DRDO (as is widely believed to be the case). Competing against the Spike-ER is MBDA's trigat-LR.

To sbm: It is the PC-7 Mk2, and not the PC-21. Both the PC-21 and Super Tucano are meant for those air forces that want only two types of flying training aircraft: an advanced turboprop trainer and a lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT). In the IAF's case, an advanced turboprop trainer with glass cockpit avionics isn't required since the IAF follows a three-tier concept involving the basic turboprop trainer, intermediate jet trainer (HJT-36 with glass cockpit avionics) and the LIFT. Had the IAF not gone in for the HJT-36 IJT, then the PC-21 and Super Tucano would have been in the fray.

To Anon@6.16PM: Kindly read the analysis at:

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To sbm: The LIFT I've referred to is the Hawk Mk132.

Anonymous said...

Hi..........had read somewhere/sometime back that the BSF C-295 shortlisting was thrown out because of some "forged signature" on it's recommendation by the IAF. The tender was "cancelled" and still has to be re-issued.

Also, what news on the ULH ???....Eurocopter/Fennec seems shortlisted from what i have heard.

Also, read in a israeli newspaper article about 2 months ago that the Spike had been selected. If i remember rightly it even gave the number of missiles/launchers. It did not specify if the user was the IA or the IAF.

flanker143 said...

sir plz make a post on the fmbt....and why is that army wants to go for a lighter tank ??

is there any update on the hand launched micro uavs for the army ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To flanker143: There is only one reason why FMBTs of not just India, but of others too, would be much lighter than what they are today: air-mobility. Wars of the future will involve expeditionary campaigns in which strategic mobility (moving swiftly from their peacetime locations to their staging and breakout areas) will be all-important.
Presently, the Indian Army employs UAVs only at the Corps- and Divisional-levels. Micro-UAVs will be used only AFTER the battlefield management system (BMS) and F-INSAS are made operational by 2016.

flanker143 said...

sir please shed more on the bms....

or a couple of links will do tha job
thanks in advance...

Anonymous said...

Was Bhim really worthwhile and accurate etc.

Anonymous said...

Here is the only source on the net with data on the WMD-7:

Suspended container screening and targeting with infrared, laser sensors, and television.
It is designed to search, recognize and identify targets day or night using infrared sensors, and television. It enables automatic target tracking, provides information about the distance and direction to the target shooting system for carriers. It is equipped with a laser designator and objectives to guide laser guided munitions. It provides visual information to assess the state of destination.

Length: 2.700 m
Score: 0.390 m
Weight: 280 kg

Operating range (target 12m x 12m x 10m):
ID: finding targets over 20 km, the identification of over 15 km
TV: Check the destination of over 22 km, the identification of over 17 km
Max. distance for a laser designator marking targets: over 13km

Electrical interface: MIL-STD-1760

According to the manufacturer's Farnborough 2010th

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@6.20PM: Accuracy of any field artillery howitzer is dependent on two main factors: sophistication of the artillery command-and-control system, and availability of weapon locating radars. What the firing trials of Bhim revealed and validated were only its firing consistency, tactical mobility and overall systems reliability, since at that time the 'Shakti' artillery command-and-control system and 'Swati' or TPQ-37 WLRs were unavailable.

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