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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

(Updated) Musings On Military-Industrial Reforms

Is there a dire need for a serving Air Marshal from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) HQ to become the new Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) of the Ministry of Defence-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL)? And if yes, then what good will he to do when his predecessors haven’t been able to? After all we are now being told by certain interested parties claiming to represent the ‘righteous’ point of view that “with an eye on the future and fed up with the ‘bureaucratic culture’ pervading throughout HAL, the IAF now wants to regain management control control of this DPSU. Appatently, the IAF has asked the MoD to appoint one of its three-star officers, instead of a bureaucrat, as the CMD of HAL once the present incumbent Ashok Nayak retires on October 31. MoD sources have also reportedly confirmed that IAF HQ has even proposed the name of its present Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations & Space), Air Vice Marshal M Matheswaran, an accomplished combat aircraft pilot now approved for the Air Marshal rank, for the post. Simultaneously, although a panel of names has also been drawn up to include Pawan Hans’ present CMD R K Tyagi, a Defence Accounts Service officer S N Mishra, who earlier was Joint Secretary (aerospace) in the MoD, and MSTC chairman S K Tripathi, among others, a concerted attempt is being made by certain spin doctors to characterize the IAF’s proposal as being ‘revolutionary’ which, on the face of it, supposedly makes a lot of sense. As HAL's biggest customer, the IAF is claimed to have every reason to be worried that most projects being handled by the DPSU have been plagued by time and cost overruns. The IAF, it seems, contends that HAL’s CMD should be someone who “understands aerospace concepts” and can “transform” HAL into a cutting-edge company, capable of delivering on time, to stem the IAF’s fast-eroding force levels, which are down to just about 32 combat aircraft squadrons from a sanctioned strength of 39.5 squadrons. Therefore, let us apply logical reasoning yet again and dissect the IAF’s alleged proposal that promises to be the single magic cure-all pill to wipe out all of HAL’s deficiencies.

Firstly, the present IAF’s Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Pradeep Vasant Naik—IF he indeed is behind such a proposal—ought to realise that by proposing such a ridiculous option he is only proposing himself to be the butt of jokes just like his colleagues now heading Navy HQ and Army HQ. Why? Simply because irrespective of whether the CMD of HAL is a three-star or four-star officer, he still will have to report to the civilian Secretary of Defence Production & Supplies (DPS) sitting at the MoD and obtain final clearances on each and every aspect of managing and administering HAL. The IAF’s proposal would have made sense ONLY had the MoD been totally integrated with the IAF HQ, and had the Secretary for DPS also been a three-star ranking officer. Consequently, small wonder that so much energy and effort is nowadays being expended on creating illusions about ‘jointness’, structural reforms, rightsizing, and inter-services cooperation when in fact the three armed services remain as divided as ever both operationally and strategically, while the MoD’s and Union Finance Ministry’s bureaucracy remains brazen, and executive branch of the Govt of India remains comatose. Such dysfunctional state of affairs has in turn adversely affected the force modernisation programmes of the armed services as well. Take the example of the HQ of the Integrated Defence Staff to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). It was Navy HQ that had in the not too distant past engaged in a futile attempt to deny its own senior-most officer—Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha--the post of the Chief of IDS (CIDS) to the COSC! Then there was the uncalled for controversy surrounding the age of the present Chief of the Army Staff.
Presently, while the HQ IDS is trying to introduce an element of discipline in the military procurement system (such as coordinating the procurement of LUH helicopters for the Army, Navy and the IAF), it can do very little since the CIDS, being a three-star officer, is junior to the four-star armed services chiefs. A brief explanation of the HQ of the IDS (known as Integrated Defence HQ or IDH) will help appreciate the procurement process better. Following the Group of Ministers’ report released in February 2001, it was agreed that as the institution of the four-star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would be the primary step in the structural reforms suggested for the MoD, the appointment of a three-star Vice-CDS was created within weeks. But as the post of the CDS was soon opposed by the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Defence, the appointment of the Vice-CDS became untenable (vice to whom?). Finally, the Vice-CDS’ office was renamed and the Chief of IDS to the COSC (CISC) came into being in September 2001. The CISC, who heads the IDH, now has two responsibilities: he is answerable to the MoD like any other secretary in the MoD; and on the military side he is answerable to the Chairman of the COSC. Unfortunately, there are two fundamental limitations to both these roles. For unlike the four departments of the MoD—defence, R & D, production & supplies, and finance—the IDH has not been designated as the MoD’s fifth department, and hence its activities are not coordinated by the Defence Secretary. The reason for this is that while the armed services personnel could theoretically be posted within the MoD, a civilian cannot be expected to understand and do the services personnel’s job. Consequently, the CISC essentially remains answerable only to the COSC, and has little or no reason to report to the Defence Minister. Within the COSC, the individual service chiefs remain more aligned with their service needs than with the common causes, and there is always dissonance between the purple team (comprising the IDH with officers from the three armed services) headed by the CISC, and the COSC. This shortcoming can only be overcome with the appointment of the CDS, who is equal in rank to the three service chiefs, and hence does not report to the COSC. The CDS would then become a voting member of the COSC and in that capacity he would provide single-point military advice to the Defence Minister. Therefore, had the three four-star service chiefs worked together to support the creation of the post of CDS, there would have been no need for them to individually and persistently explain to the Prime Minister’s Office and his National Security Officer (who by the way needs to have a serving three-star military officer as a Deputy National Security Adviser) the five cardinal truths about national security, and by now the DRDO would have become far more accountable since, fearing technical audits of its diverse R & D projects, it would have ended its skullduggery—once example of which is its recent proposal to indigenously develop a 155mm/45-calibre towed howitzer for the Army, while conveniently forgetting to hold consultations with the Indian Navy, which requires turret-mounted 155mm howitzers to serve as the main artillery armament for its future warship acquisitions.
Instead, the armed services HQs are as divided as ever when it comes to war-gaming the next round of all-out hostilities. While the Army today remains obsessed with India’s disputed land borders along the country’s western and northern frontiers and yearns for the day when it will be able to greatly reduce its dependence on the IAF for close air support, the IAF is thinking about fighting its own war in both tactical and strategic terms, while the Indian Navy today is too busy fulfilling its peacetime roles and is unable to articulate its relevance and contribution to the land war. To top it all, environmental concerns are being given more credence at a time when India’s Border Roads Organisation ought to expand and accelerate its border roadbuilding efforts (which China will definitely protest against). Already an emboldened Beijing now refuses to acknowledge the disputed 2,000km-long border it has with New Delhi in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, and the PLA has deliberately obstructed infrastructure development activities in Ladakh. And how has India responded? Instead of contesting the Chinese claims, India has resorted to appeasement of Beijing (something the latter is exploiting to the hilt) by not only suspending all infrastructure development activities in eastern Ladakh, but by also resuming exchanges of military delegations with the PLA. And as if this wasn’t enough, elements within the MoD are now claiming that the quantum leap being taken forward by the IAF in terms of upgrading its tactical and strategic airlift capabilities (both fixed-wing and rotary-winged) will make up for the acute shortages in road infrastructure along the LAC.

If the present IAF CAS indeed means serious business in terms of transforming the IAF into a capabilities-based air force, then it would do a lot better for the IAF HQ to undertake a critical self-appraisal of its future force ratio not based on the number of squadrons deployed, but on the force levels required to achieve its strategic and tactical objectives. Also, instead of objecting to the longstanding requirement for a four-star Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the IAF HQ ought to reflect upon the urgent need for integrating its theatre-based air commands with those of the Indian Army, thereby achieving true joint warfighting capabilities in terms of both planning and operations. And lastly, it ought to dust off and implement the far-reaching proposals once conceived by a previous CAS, ACM (Ret’d) S Krishnaswamy, who as far back as 2004 had advocated the creation of an apex body like an Aerospace Commission to oversee, among other things, the transformation of the IAF’s existing Base Repair Depots (BRD) as profit centres possessing high maintenance/repair/overhaul (MRO) skills. Under such a scheme, the BRDs (Kanpur/Chakeri-based 1 BRD dealing with MRO of Russia-origin transport aircraft, Chandigarh-based 3 BRD dealing with MRO of Russia-origin helicopters and engines for transport aircraft, Kanpur/Chakeri-based 4 BRD dealing with MRO of turbofans, Coimbatore/Sulur-based 5 BRD dealing with MRO of Western-origin transport aircraft and aircraft test equipment, New Delhi/Tughlakabad-based 7 BRD dealing with MRO of SAMs, Avadi-based 8 BRD dealing with MRO of support vehicles for Russia-origin aircraft and arrester barriers, Pune/Lohegaon-based 9 BRD dealing with MRO of electrical/electronic rotables for airborne and ground equipment, Nasik-based 11 BRD dealing with MRO of Russia-origin combat aircraft, New Delhi/Nazafgarh-based 12 BRD dealing with MRO of all electronic warfare systems, New Delhi/Palam-based 13 BRD dealing with MRO of radars and communications equipment, Guwahati/Borjhar-based 14 BRD dealing with MRO of radars and communications systems, Gandhinagar-based 15 BRD for MRO of diesel gen-sets and communications hardware, and New Delhi/Palam-based 16 BRD dealing with MRO of parachutes and survival equipment) would all be consolidated under one roof, which would then be turned into a joint-sector public-listed MRO company catering to the MRO requirements of both civilian air transportation aircraft and military aircraft. In other words, the IAF’s Nagpur-based HQ Maintenance Command should be assigned the task of only operating, maintaining and controlling the 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-level MRO activities of the IAF’s fleet of aircraft, and outsourcing the depot-level (4th-level) MRO requirements from the joint-sector MRO entity. In other words, create something like Krasny Marine Services Ltd and Rosoboronservice India Ltd, whose job it is to provide through-life product support for all Russia-origin hardware now operational with the Indian Navy by not only conducting in-country MRO activities, but also maintaining bonded warehouses with pre-stockpiled inventories of spares like the much-needed rotables and consumables. It is for this very reason that the Navy, unlike the IAF, has not faced an acute shortage of rotables and consumables (like aircraft tyres, seals, gaskets, filters, valves, tubes, pumps, hydraulics accessories, sensor tubes, transistors, lubricants, etc) concerning Russia-origin warfighting assets since 2006, while the IAF continues to face such shortages.
It should be noted here that contrary to what foreign mass-media like AW & ST and a few other misinformed or mischievous Indian media outlets have reported about the so-called poor Russian product support (alleging that this is due to unilateral price hikes, or this is Russia seen to be blackmailing or punishing India for not being lucrative procurement contracts for new-build weaponry), the reality is that the Nasik-based joint India-Russia venture called Indo Russian Aviation Ltd (IRAL), which was set up in the early 1990s by HAL, Rosoboronexport State Corp and RAC-MiG to pre-stockpile and supply the IAF with rotables and consumables for all types of Russia-origin aircraft, screwed up big time by not doing what it has been mandated to do, which in turn led to the IAF issuing a raft of global RFPs earlier this year asking for the supply of such items. It is no use blaming Russian original equipment manufacturers (OEM) simply because such OEMs are only dependent on their regional distributors (like IRAL) for receiving indents 12 months in advance for the quantum of spares required or the type of periodic MRO cycle to be implemented each year. This is how the global product-support supply-chain functions, and Russia is no exception. One can blame the OEM for not setting up regional distribution centres, but one cannot blame the OEM if a MoD-mandated, financed and controlled distributor screws up by failing to adhere to prescribed business practices. Therefore, Shri Arakkaparambil Kurian Antony, are you up to the task of implementing all that I’ve explained above in layman’s terms?--Prasun K. Sengupta  


Anonymous said...

Prasunda quite a well written and thought provoking article.

We have been in recent years there has been game of one upman ship on the post of CDS and no body wants to loose the turf war.

Can you clarify the following points

1> Why do you say DRDO as it exist now needs a well defined audit mechanism for its project , DRDO does internal audit for its project regularly , Is this a case of too many projects that DRDO cannot handle or manage , is this lack of skilled man power ailing DRDO projects ?

2> There has been many media report of lack of spares from Russia since they have been jacking up prices etc but you say its MOD and JV not doing its job , why is that we dont face spares issue with French,UK , Israel and US weapons ?

3> What is the percentage of weapons of Russian origin in the armed forces right now ? And similar percentage of Western systems ?

Keep up the good work.

Sarang said...

Why is this article not published on the front page of a leading Newspaper.

I guess the only way to force a strategic culture into our politicians etc, is to tell people that such a situation exists

The blogs reach so few

Abhishek Bannerjee said...

Hello Prasun Sir,

I wish to ask you few questions regarding ongoing/planned defense procurements.

1. Do you think the Tejas Mk2 can be comparable/better to/than Gripen NG or F-16 Block-52,60? Recently a news popped up that Pakistani F-16s have out performed EF Typhoon in an exercise. Is that true? Where do we stand then?

2. Few days back Ad. Arun Prakash mentioned AMCA in an article along with FGFA as future platforms, but Air Chief is hardly heard speaking about the plane when asked about IAF's future plans. Do you think IAF has confidence in AMCA and is actively backing the program? Or are they still skeptical about ADA and counting only upon FGFA?

3. Few months back an ADA official was quoted saying that AMCA would be "better than any 5th gen fighter currently flying" and it would fly by decade's end. Is that over-ambitious in your opinion? Do u think Tejas has indeed opened gates and made ways smoother for such advanced programs or is desi-stealth still a distant dream?

4. Can Shaurya be turned into a long range (~3000km) ship/sub-launched hypersonic LACM similar to tactical-tomahawk? Or is there other plan for the rumoured Mach 3.2 LRCM which resembles the ASMP?

5. Recently India tested the short range battlefield missile Prahar which was deemed to be an answer to Paki NASR. But is India developing/procuring any capability to shoot down such battlefield range missiles?

Thanks in advance. Sorry if my questions appeared to be naive. I am a complete lay man.

Abhishek Bannerjee

Anonymous said...

i dont get it, u ppl asking sengupta like as if he's a "know-all" or something??

SKINS said...

can you throw some light on Shardul class landing ship which is built by grse? wiki says it has over 90% ingenious content and how could it compete with other similar international products

Anonymous said...


Mirage UPGRADE deal Cleared

This means Eurofighter Typhoon for MMRCA

soumyadip said...

@ anonymous 1:24pm..

well we don't know much and prasun dada knows these things way better than u do so i guess its only natural that we all ask him... :):):)

Anonymous said...

@ Abhishek Bannerjee
''Pakistani F-16s have out performed EF Typhoon in an exercise. Is that true? Where do we stand then?''

Its not BVR air exercise , its close range dogfight, pakis PAF has well trained in this class / but RAF only well trained in bvr range only , not so good in close range(in my view) .

Anonymous said...

I back IAF 's point of view , lot of failure's and time run out due to momopoly HAL. upto know HAL is acting only as assembling agent , not stepped forward has manufacturer/Research even we got tech starting from mig 21/23/27/29- su 30mki, mirage ,jaguar. they can't even produce even better than gripen atleast in these 3 decades with lot money and also with foreign involvement, even after FGFA also they will not produce atleast true 4+ gen also (100%), as per AMCA also they will spend as new project, so what is the use of spending money extra for ToT .


Anonymous said...

@ Abhishek Banerjee

This is a FALSE report

PAF F 16 exercised with RAF TORNADO and NOT Eurofighter

The pakis are just telling Bull Shit

Tornado is a USELESS PLANE

SKINS said...

If gtre would tie up with snecma what benefit would it get in core areas of gas turbines?
Would snecma willing to part with its engine technology ?
And after this venture would gtre able to produce its further engines independently without any forigen help?
in What areas of expertise in metallurgy will we benefit
single crystal technology is transferred to hal by Russians will gtre be able to learn this technology for application?
Will this snecma deal fill the gaps of technology and know how with Indian gas turbine establishment?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.32AM: Many thanks. Here are the clarifications that you seek:
1) Internal audits are of no use as the DRDO lab concerned reports to the Secretary DRDO, who is also the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Raksha Mantri. Such audits are a closed-loop affair and not of the multi-disciplinary type. For instance, had the armed services been asked to spell out their reqmts regarding surface-to-surface battlefield support missile way back in the mid-1980s, then by the early 1990s itself we would have had something like the Prahaar, instead of the liquid-fuelled Prithvi. Secondly, we now have the on-going drama about a 50-tonne FMBT when, except for the Japanese, no one else--especially the US and Germany--is even bothered about such red-lines and their MBTs currently weight up to 67.5 tonnes. So would it be reasonable to even dream about the DRDO achieving a feat which only the Japanese have, and that too within the next nine years? Prudence therefore demands that the DRDO produce achievable and realistic options/solutions instead if promising the moon.

2) That's because the spares distributors for French, US, UK and Israeli OEMs don't screw up like IRAL. And with the US, in case of FMS sales, the customer country is compulsarily reqd to always maintain a funding of US$20 million parked with the US Defense Dept for each type of equipment imported from the US, so that if there's an urgent reqmt of spares, the reqd spares is shipped to its destination within 72 hours!

3) It is now about 70% of weapons of Russian origin.

To Sarang: Many thanks.

To Abhishek Bannerjee: Here are the clarifications:
1) If the MoD allows seamless teamwork between the IAF and ADA, then and only then the Tejas Mk2 can deliver what is expected of it. The prospect of any F-16 overwhelming an EF-2000 is at best a technological absurdity since the EF-2000 comes equipped with an IRST sensor that allows the EF-2000 pilot to visually spot the F-16 first. A cardinal rule in air combat is that the side that is the first to get a visual fix on the enemy prevails.

2) It all boils down to money. If the IAF finds out in future that the Tejas Mk2 and FGFA programmes cost more than what's been budgeted for, then it will be time start cutting corners and the axe will likely fall on the AMCA project. But as of now, no one has even spelt out exactly what will the AMCA be able to do which the FGFA will not be able to. To me, the AMCA as of now appears to be a project propped up by ADA just so that it can stay in business after finishing all R & D work on the Tejas Mk2 and LCA (Navy) Mk2.

3) The AMCA is projected to take to the skies only in the latter half of the following decade, and be inducted into service by 2035. That's what ADA officials told me last February during Aero India 2011. Whether it will receive adequate R & D funding remains to be seen due to the reasons I've mentioned above. What we're now witnessing is just a slugfest between ADA and HAL with regard to development of fifth-generation MRCA solutions. This is very damaging, to say the least.

4) No, it can't and there's no need for it. The projected supersonic ADM and its submarine-launched variants with a range of up to 1,000km will more than suffice.

5) The Barak-2/8 MR-SAM/LR-SAM combinations will indeed be capable of shooting down tactical cruise/ballistic missiles.

To SKINS: The Shardul-class LST-Ls do have foreign content in them like the bridge section and its navigation system, along with the marine navigation radar and licence-built propulsion system. But 90% is too high a claim. Nowadays, navies are more inclined to procure LPDs rather than LST-Ls.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@7.09PM: The fault is not HAL's but that of the prevailing management practices within the MoD and consequently, the DPSUs. If one were to introduce structural reforms like govt divestment from HAL and all other DPSUs, make their management structure totally autonomous and answerable to the public shareholders, you will witness a world-class transformation. The Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister must therefore once and for all break the stranglehold of the unions and bureaucracy over these DPSUs and make them publicly-listed entities.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To SKINS: It all depends on how well the Indian side is willing to embrace all that the French have been proposing since the 1970s. I'm working on an analysis of India-France military-industrial cooperation and will post it soon, which will give you most of your answers. Regarding single-crystal turbine blades, Russia hasn't provided the manufacturing technology, but merely the machining know-how. Development of turbofans for subsonic cruise missiles or target drones isn't that big a challenge, but just a question of funding availability. The GTRE has for years had at its disposal the Microturbo-built turbojets that once powered the Sea Eagle anti-ship cruise missiles which it could have reverse-engineered or re-engineered. But it could not do so because the MoD never sanctioned it and as a result India is today leasing Mirach 150 target drones from Italy, and has had to import the NPO Saturn-built 36MT turbofan for powering the Nirbhay target drone (which will replace the Mirach 150s).

SKINS said...

thank you very much you are the only one from whom we can expect an assured reply thanks a lot for this
how can i access your old articles the bar on the right do not show very old posts of yours


Anonymous said...

Does our Su30 mki with brahmos has capable of taking over Chinese AC , striking from 290 km.

Does DF-21 has capable to target our frigates / destroyers . atpresent our ship doen't have barack 8.

Pakistan is purchasing Missile boats , why not india brahmos based missile boat, avoiding every thing is easy , but for two way front war needs more than enough, media is much powerful , why not media's request high official's in MoD to looking in Missile boat with brahmos.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

TO SKINS: Many thanks. This blog is operational only from last April. My older but now decommissioned blog is at:

To Anon@8.57PM: BrahMos is a surface-to-surface, ship-to-ship and air-to-surface supersonic missile. It cannot be used for shooting down hostile aircraft. The DF-21D has yet to be test-fired against floating maritime targets. The Indian Navy does intend to retrofit its existing P-25 Kora-class and Tarantul-1 missile corvettes with the BrahMos.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:57 PM
Brahmos version dosen't comes with Air to Sea(ship)version .

MoD should consider Brahmos based Missile Boats , its highly effective in war period

Anonymous said...

if tejas comes out as exactly what has been proposed , then is it possible that iaf might inc it order which as of now stands only for 83 mk2's ??

there was pic on livefist showing a presentation of a new supersonic long range cruise something like it really under development by drdo , the pic said that this new missile will have range of 600km travelling at a speed of 3.2 mach !!

what is the status helina , tank ex , ins arihant ?

is tank ex a dead stick now ??

Anonymous said...

dnt delete ur old blog...

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

With Mirage Upgrade approved
Will The Final Price tag for Rafale Come down as there can be commonalities in many things

Or is it a message that Euro fighter Typhoon is going to be bought

C 17 when approved ALSO BROUGHT a good deal of HI TECH OFFSETS like High altitude testing facilities

Is it possible that Kaveri Snecma tie Up has been also formalised as a SWEETENER for this High priced deal

Mr. Ra said...

(1) Please inform that the upgraded Mirage will be better than or equal to which model of F-16.

Unfortunately F-16 has remained a benchmark since last 30 years and the time does not seem to pass.

(2) Is this Mirage up-gradation order justified in your overall opinion.

Anonymous said...

sir what happende to the aura ucav project and the indigenous medium mulirole helicopter projects.....

plz throw some light on these projects...

Anonymous said...

prasun i may sound naive but i had two queries...

1) what is the novator/k100
is it in service with IAF or we do have plans for it. Wiki says our airforce has it. It is projected as an awacs killer with 400+ km range (above the MTCR though payload less, but similar case of brahmos with low payload was kept below 300km)

2) also akash missile is slated to be 'capable' of nuclear warhead. what does this mean. why do we need a nuclear warhead for a shorads. is it possible to get nuclear warhead in 60kg payload?

3)Why do we actually have the Dhanush missile, it looks like navy was just kept with a prithvi only for sake of having ballistic missile with all forces. does it have any operational role, i mean can we keep a OPV with nuclear retalliatory missile by any sense?. Hope the K series missiles would actually help us.

this three things used to confuse me. if they are not state secrets i would like to know.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.50AM: The air-launched BrahMos is capable of both land attack and maritime strike.

To Anon@10.57AM: Of course if the Tejas Mk2 meets all the specified ASQRs of the IAF, then more will be ordered in follow-on tranches. Up to 150 could be ordered. The cruise missile you mention is the nuclear-capable air-delivered munition (ADM) which was mentioned in India’s draft nuclear doctrine prepared in 1998. Helina ATGM will be nowhere in sight until 2014, although its launcher is ready and was made by Alpha Technologies Pvt Ltd. Tank EXS is a dead stick, while the Arihant’s nuclear reactor has yet to achieve criticality.

To Anon@11.50AM: Don’t worry, I won’t.

To Anon@1.38PM: Well, if the Mirage 2000 upgrade deal goes through it could mean bad news for the Rafale, since the Indian MoD does not want to put all its eggs into the French basket. That is precisely why the French were advising India since last February not to go ahead with the Mirage 2000 upgrade and instead invest that money in the M-MRCA programme. Now, it seems that the EF-2000 could well end up as the IAF’s 4th generation M-MRCA. I don’t think the Mirage 2000 upgrade contract will come with any offsets, just like the MiG-29UPG contract did not. But I smell something rotten with the Mirage 2000 upgrade deal since it did not involve any competitive bidding for either the avionics package or the weapons package.

To Mr RA: The upgraded Mirage 2000s will be similar in performance to the Block 52 F-16C/D. The upgrade package isn’t justified not just in my view, but also the French view since the French definitely wanted the money to be spent on acquiring additional M-MRCAs should the Rafale be chosen.

To Anon@11.24PM: The Novator K-100 IS NOT in service with any air force. The Akash SAM round, if developed as an air-to-surface weapon, could—theoretically speaking--house a tactical nuclear warhead. But since the missile has limited range, it makes no sense to modify the Akash SAM into an ADM. The Dhanush was ‘thrust’ upon the Navy by the DRDO as the sea-based nuclear deterrent (quite foolishly, in my view). The Navy never really required it. The K-series of missiles will help if the IAF gets to deploy the K-15/B-05 Shaurya while the Indian Navy gets its desired 8,500km SLBM. Right now the DRDO is only working on developing the K-4 3,500km-range SLBM.

Anonymous said...

i am Anon@11.24PM

but still you didnt tell what is the novator k100.i guess it is a figmet of imagination of an enthusiast. but the wiki source has a picture also of it.

also what is meant by nuclear capable, does it mean that any missile with a decent conventional warhead (300-400kg) CANNOT be nuclear capable, even if developed inhouse and nuclear knowhow is there to minimize the warhead?

will a 3500km missile suffice to target deterrant to china from bay of bengal?, why did we cap the range (policy reasons?). the available sources say the development could be earliest 2017, will we not have a better propulsion, guidance system by that date for a true SLBM-ICBM. assuming that our ATV might be patrolling by 2016 or so.

also is shaurya nuke 'capable', though you mentioned it is precision strike weapon, given its mobility and stealth plus manoverablity will it not serve a little pinprick with a small nuke warhead ata range of 1900km(extended with small warhead as per source, if possible)

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@12.36AM: It means that any missile with a decent conventional warhead (300kg-400kg) can indeed be nuclear-capable. The Novator K-100 was first displayed during MAKS 2007 along with the Su-35BM. However, the K-100 has not yet entered series-production. The 3,500km SLBM will be able to reach China's prosperous Pearl River Delta and areas in Yunnan and Sichuan when fired from around the A & N islands. It remains to be seen if this SLBM can indeed be made to fit inside the 10-metre high pressure-hull of the Arihant. But what the Navy requires is a 8,500km-range SLBM that could be launched from the Indian Ocean region adjoining The Maldives and which again should be made to fit within the Arihant's pressure-hull. Whether such an SLBM can be developed by the DRDO, or whether the Arihant's compartment housing the SLBM silos would need to be enlarged (like those on the Russian Delta-3/4 SSBNs) remains to be seen.
The Shaurya is indeed nuclear-capable and it is not meant to be armed with a conventional warhead, but with a tactical nuclear warhead, especially when it is deployed with the IAF as a land-mobile battlefield support missile.

Anonymous said...

but you are confusing,
you say it is to be used as a battle feild missile to be used with a tactical nuke warhead. But as a stated policy we will not use first strike (also the policy as i beleive states that the retalliatory strike is intended to be a massive-read strategic- one with unacceptable damage)

did we have a change of that policy. i dont think we have the capability to match a nuclear war with china, (i pray that day comes after my life, as i beleive no one wins a nuke war every one loses it)

please do clarify, i vaguely remember you saying that k-15 is intended for tactical attack possibly by airforce.

do we need k100 or will we be able to get one.

thanks for your reply, your blog is very detailed and much more detailed are the excellent replies, hatsoff to you for keeping the enthusiasm in security affairs and keeping us informed

i hope some one higher up is reading your posts and if 1% action is taken we are much safer.

Abhishek Bannerjee said...

Prasun Sir,
Thank you for replying. But the 2035 date is too far!! I was expecting something around 2025 if not 2017-20 (as umpteen articles had quoted DRDO officials post AI'11).

I don't understand what is the meaning of this MMRCA TOT if that gives no boost to our indigenous capabilities? Even after getting the most cutting edge techs from front running global players, if we remain a generation or two behind the rest of the world, then what's the damn use of it? We could have simply ordered aircrafts at fly-away price. Both time and money could have been saved.

By 2025, US would be inducting 6th Gen crafts, and judging by its present pace, Russia & China would join the league by 2030. And we would induce our homegrown 5th gen plane in 2035? And that too is uncertain!! That means, even after 2-3 decades, the best homegrown fighter we would boast is Tejas Mk2 (I don't consider FGFA/PMF as indigenous or even a JV) which in turn implies we shall always remain 1-2 generation(s) behind the major powers and would have to run to others for spare parts and upgrades!!

Even Japan and S.Korea have plans to field homegrown 5th gen by 2020. Japs had promised to fly their bird, which was supposedly a mere Tech demo, in 3 years. But we have neither plan, nor will nor ambition..No wonder after every terror attack, our Honourable Cabinet Ministers proudly aver "War is not an option"..:P

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Abhishek Bannerjee: I suppose you’re expecting miracles to happen! As I had already explained several times before, there is a slugfest going on now between the ADA (who’s pushing for the AMCA) and HAL (which is in favour of according priority to the FGFA). Therefore, unless and until the FGFA programmes progresses, there will be no funding made available for developing the AMCA simply because no one has so far explained what the AMCA will be able to do which the FGFA will not be able to. As for M-MRCA-related ToT, I had exhaustively explained this at:
What the IAF wants in terms of technology transfer is ‘screwdriver technologies’ that will enable the IAF and HAL to undertake in-country maintenance of the aircraft. That’s all. M-MRCA-related ToT is not meant to teach India to emerge as another competitor to the world’s established developers/producers of combat aircraft. The kind of ToT you’re dreaming about takes place in only joint R & D projects like those involving the FGFA and MRTA, where the final product for India will not be competing against the almost identical Russian final product. And honestly, you cannot compare India’s industrial infrastructure with those of either Japan or South Korea, since in India’s case, industrial production accounts for less than 15% of India’s GDP. And even in the case of procuring raw materials like special-grade steel, although they’re made in India, the private and public sectors choose to instead import them from China due to cheaper acquisition costs. Therefore, kindly refrain from setting your expectations too high, as it will only make you more frustrated when you come face to face with the reality.

Anonymous said...

Mr Sengupta, While your intentions appear to be good, your comments and analysis are based on too many flawed understanding of technology and air power. Unfortunately, since most military professionals do not write, people like you get away with lot of misinformation. Most people are gullible. Given the fact that most in this country are reluctant to serve in the military ( that applies to our leadership. bureaucrats, and the media), the common man is condemned to accept discussions in such blogs as well informed. Here are a few corrections:-
The Tejas Mk I or II will never ever comply with the laid down ASQRs (incidentally these were laid down in 1985). Someone who understands aeronautics and design issues will be able to realise this. Aeronautics and Space are the technologies of the 21st century. Contrary to a lot of claims by DRDO and the Govt, India has serious weaknesses in critical areas.
The Tejas, an ongoing indigenous development for nearly 30 years, is yet to meet even the initial operational clearance requirements. Ultimately it will have to be cleared with few major concessions. That much for our indigenous capability. Are we not capable? Of course, we are capable. But to realise it we need good leadership and true professionals. We continue to be ruined by the bureaucratic culture that revels in mediocrity.
How much of Tejas is indigenous? It depends on imported engine for power, imported radar and sensors for weapon acquisition and aiming, imported EW systems for self protection, and imported weapons for its teeth! The only saving grace is the good work done in developing the Fly-By-Wire control system, which is very creditable. Here your suggestion that DRDO must be audited is a very valid and a strong requirement.
In this light the claim that ADA can make AMCA better than any fifth gen fighter is a big joke. Less said about it the better. As you said the motive is clearly to get another project that can ensure endless funding for the next 40 years.
Any design and development of aircraft should be led by the industry. But HAL has serious handicap in terms of work culture and leadership. HAL, until date has not been able to absorb any technology effectively. It is a bloated, inefficient and a slothful organisation. It does not make any profit. On paper it makes profit because everything is priced on a cost plus format, and you have a captive armed forces who are forced to lump it. Till date HAL has not been able to sell a single aircraft competitively primarily due to its poor quality control.
The problem lies with the dept of defence production, who use HAL to service them just like how Air India has been used. HAL has already reached the pits. Now to have a man like R K Tyagi head it is a sure invitation to disaster. His track record in Pawan Hans has been disastrous. HAL needs a professional, and someone who understands military aviation. Thats a lifetime work to develop. Thats where the IAF comes into the picture. No civilian can match this requirement. Obviously the bureaucrats wouldn't want any Air Marshal because a professional is not going to dance to their tunes. God help HAL!
Your assumption that IAF is only looking for "Screwdriver" technology for TOT in MMRCA is thoroughly misplaced and shows your ignorance of the issue. For the first time this procurement revolves not only on life-cycle costs but also on TOT focused on getting access to design knowledge and source codes. Unfortunately, the HAL which only looks at license production may not measure up to it.

Anonymous said...

India aspires to be a great power. But to be recognised as one it is not enough to be strong economically, you need to be strong militarily. You can not be strong militarily if your military depends on imported weapons to the extent of 80%. This means you have a serious weakness in technology. To be a great power you need to be a technology power, and in the 21st century this technology revolves around air and space power. We are nowhere near it. To come anywhere near being one, major overhaul of our thought process and understanding of military technologies is essential.