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Friday, October 21, 2011

Update On The Latest IAF MiG-29 Crash

Based on the two-way communications intercepts received by IAF HQ by this evening, this is what probably happened on the night of October 18 over the Chokhang mountains of the Lahaul and Spiti valleys, which have ranges and peaks located between 13,000 and 18,000 feet ASL. At dusk, two MiG-29s based at Adampur AFS and belonging to the 8 Wing (which comprises 47 ‘Black Archers’ Sqn and 223 ‘Tridents’ Sqn) took off on a night-flying composite CAP sortie, along with a Su-30MKI from Leh AFS that was flying top cover. Between the Lahaul and Spiti valleys the MiG-29 flight leader got disoriented and lost his way and it boiled down to the flight’s No2--Sqn Ldr Dharmendra Singh Tomar--to help his flight leader find his way back to Adampur AFS. In the process of doing so, Sqn Ldr Tomar asked the ATC centre at Adampur AFS permission for descending to a lower altitude than originally authorised. Reportedly a few seconds after such authorisation was obtained, the aircrew of the Su-30MKI, which was cruising at an appreciably higher altitude but was in visual contact with the two MiG-29s, witnessed a bright explosive flash along one of the mountain ranges. As of now, at total of 15 MiG-29s, including at least one twin-seater, have been lost or written off in accidents.

Could such a mishap have been avoided? Most definitely no, especially for aircraft like the IAF’s MiG-29s whose cockpit avionics/instrumentation is not NVG-compatible. Had the IAF’s MiG-29UPGs been flying a similar sortie, then its pilots would have had the benefit of employing helmet-mounted night-vision goggles, which allows for the combination of both a direct visual and an intensified image to be presented to the pilot’s eyes. The two images are combined in a 1:1 relationship and complement each other. The benefits of the system have been extensively proven since the late 1980s in low-level night-attack flying trials, which used a fully integrated NVG-compatible cockpit and forward looking infra-red (FLIR) generated head-up display imagery, together with a head-down multifunction display. The HUD display is seen through a direct visual path, and it is not degraded by unnecessary image intensification as it would be with conventional NVG systems. Additionally, the direct vision path through the optical combiner arrangement makes monitoring of cockpit displays and instruments considerably easier while the ability to scan either side of the combiners enhances peripheral vision and ensures better spatial awareness. The direct vision path also removes problems normally associated with light to dark transitions as the intensified image becomes progressively more noticeable as the direct visual image fades. Such helmet-mounted NVGs are compact and rugged, and the restrictions on head mobility imposed by the depth of conventional NVG systems is avoided. While the system incorporates a single-handed quick-release mechanism for the helmet interface, it can be configured to include an automatic separation system on ejection and designed growth will enable it to accept the latest image intensifier technology as it becomes available. The IAF must therefore ensure that its pilots flying night sorties (using combat aircraft that have NVG-compatible cockpits) over forbidding high-altitude terrain should in future be equipped with at least such helmet-mounted NVGs, or even the new-generation helmet-mounted displays like the ones available from BAE Systems, ELBIT Systems and THALES, which have built-in night-vision sensors and operating modes.

For its existing fleet of An-32B tactical transports, which will be logging the bulk of the night-flying sorties to and fro the ALGs, there is an urgent need to equip such IAF-operated aircraft with enhanced flight vision avionics (EFVA) of the type presently on board the C-130J-20 Super Hercules transports and to be available on the C-17A Globemaster III. Such EFVAs are readily available from:
  
BAE Systems
(http://www.baesystems.com/BAEProd/groups/public/documents/bae_publication/bae_pdf_eis_q_hud_brochure.pdf)

Lastly, transitioning from a day schedule to a night one is not an easy feat for the human body, as it takes the body approximately a week to adjust fully to a night schedule. There is also the increased fatigue associated with this transition. Another factor is the increased demand on human sensory faculties since normal visual cues are not available. Finally, there is the need to prepare the aircrew mentally for a night mission. Lastly, cockpit resource management is critical at night, especially for a two-man aircrew team.Prasun K. Sengupta

72 comments:

Pawan said...

It is great loss to nation when a trained pilot die or severely injure in accident.I pray he come out alright.
I also hope this is last accident to lack of NVG as all other current fighter planes are being upgraded with FLIR/ NVG facilities.
I will not say IAF & Govt should learn from it because IAF already new this limitation but cannot do much & Govt Babus in MoD will be busy planning their weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun
can u pls provide an update on the two ALH DHRUV crash,especially the one in Sikkim in april 2011 and the recent one if any available

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Pawan: I do share your deep regrets and extreme disappointments. However, I do not expect miracles to happen overnight, since mindsets and attitudes take a long time to change. Gradually, as the IAF (as it now seems) gets more accustomed to the flight training and flight safety practices followed by Western air forces )thanks to the C-130J-30 Super Hercules and C-17A Globemaster III inductions), things will take a turn for the better. But what has prevented the IAF from installing all-weather EFVAs on its upgraded An-32Bs? Why did the IAF decide only after OP Safed Sagar in mid-1999 to begin fitting countermeasures dispensers on board its Russia-origin combat aircraft like the MiG-27M and transport aircraft like the An-32B? Why were the MiG-21FLs, MiG-21Ms, MiG-21bis, MiG-23BNs, MiG-23MFs and MiG-27Ms not equipped with such self-protection systems from the time they were inducted into service? Why haven’t flight simulators been acquired for the MiG-21/23MF/23BN/27M/29s since the early 1960s? Why hasn’t any flight simulator been acquired for the upgraded MiG-21 Bison, MiG-29 and MiG-27UPG for the past two decades? Why hasn’t Pawan Hans acquired its own low-cost Dhruv ALH and Mi-171 flight simulator? Why haven’t the existing Dhruv ALHs of the Army and IAF not yet been equipped with countermeasures dispensers and radar warning receivers? Why hasn’t the IAF and Army not yet placed any orders for low-cost flight simulators for their respective fleets of Dhruv ALHs? At least 40% of the fatalities (due to human error) attributed to the MiG family of combat aircraft could have been avoided had such flight simulators existed. Also, one should ask why did the Indian Navy insist on first commissioning its MiG-29K flight simulator in DAB even before the arrival of the MiG-29Ks from Russia. To me there’s only one answer: criminal negligence and culpability of the owners and operators of such aircraft! Compare the differences in approach to flying training as defined by the IAF and Indian Navy and the obvious conclusions will be evident. The truth, after all, is not often what we perceive it to be. And, most regretably, the country's so-called investigative reporters and their media/broadcast channels will never even bother to ask such basic and elementary questions.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@12.32AM: Check this out: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111021/jsp/frontpage/story_14650522.jsp

Anonymous said...

have a look at this report:

http://www.vayuaerospace.in/images1/Chengdu_Aerospace.pdf

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@1.56AM: Pity the JF-17's RD-93 turbofan and its poor serviceability rate. It is evident that the PAF's preference is clearly for F-414 or EJ-200 turbofans, which will be beyond reach. The WS-13 turbofan is also a few more years away from being fielded.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

Check out the interior of the PLA Army's Type 99 MBT at: http://news.cntv.cn/china/20111020/118390.shtml

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct on the RD-93. Not much chance of western engine (cost escalation). However things will get interesting once the 10tonne WS-13A is available. This bird will be even more of threat if it can carry more than two BVR missiles.

The interior of Type 99 look great, very network centric. Do you think China may be about to surpass Russia in Tank technology innovation?

http://china-defense.blogspot.com/2011/10/video-of-day-go-ahead-take-this-type-99.html

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

^^^^
Metallurgy has always been a Chinese weakness as far as R & D goes. Therefore, in areas such as turbofans, RHA and applique composite armour panels, China will continue to lag behind Russia. What enabled China to make some rapid strides over the past decade in areas like optronics, digital communications, ballistic/cruise/air-defence/anti-armour missiles and powerplants for armoured vehicles and warships was its virtual buy-outs of designs from and military-industrial production centres located in the former CIS Republics, especially in Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltic States and the Central Asian Republics. However, these were all based on 1980s technologies. It now remains to be seen if Chinese R & D institutes and OEMs can continue to sustain the R & D momentum for developing the next generation of weapons over the next two decades.

Anonymous said...

Could the accident have been avoided if the MKI was guiding back the Mig instead of second Mig?

Anonymous said...

Hey Prasun whats the situation with the night vision for choppers ? SAAB was producing some HUD for us in collaboration with HAL or someone else. Are they in service ?

What about the night vision sight for weapons and NV goggles for infantry ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@5.36AM: No, that would not have helped at all, since the Su-30MKI hailed from Leh AFS and therefore its aircrew probably wasn’t as familiar with the flight route back to Adampur AFS as the MiG-29 flight No2 was. What now will probably be investigated is how the MiG-29 flight leader managed to recover back to base, what was his flight profile while on the way back, did he too descend to a lower flight altitude or was it just his No2 that did so and for what reason, etc. The communications transcripts are now being studied and analysed by a Board of Inquiry.

To Anon@5.57AM: Presently, only the Mi-25s and Mi-35Ps have NVG-compatible cockpit instrumentation/avionics. The Dhruv Mk4, upgraded Mi-171s and new Mi-17V-5s will also have NVG-compatible cockpit instrumentation/avionics, as will the to-be-selected LUH. Such upgraded cockpits have also been developed for the Cheetal helicopter. The upgraded MiG-29UPG and upgraded Mirage 2000H/THs too will have NVG-compatible cockpit instrumentation/avionics along with the TopOwl HMD that has built-in night-vision aids. The MiG-29Ks already have TopOwl HMDs and the Tejas Mk1/2 too will have such HMDs (ELBIT Systems’ Dash Mk5). That only leaves the MiG-21 Bisons, MiG-23Us and MiG-27UPGs, Jaguar IS/IMs, plus existing Mi-8Ts, SA.315B Lama/Cheetahs and SA.316B Alouette III/Chetaks without any NVGs or HMDs.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@5.57AM: Hopefully the IAF will now realise the need for installing all-weather EFVAs on its upgraded An-32Bs and in future on the IL-76MDs as well as the IL-214 MRTA. Not installing such readily avasilable avionics is downright criminal, eapecially when the C-130J-30s and C-17A Globemasters have them as standard fit.

Anonymous said...

Dear Prasun Ji,

Has the IAF really compromised India’s security by revealing the locations of the IAF’s helicopter drop-zones in J & K and the North East? Kindly clarify it for all of us.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon^^^: For the nth time, the locations and terrain elevation data of not only all these DZs, but also of 400+ other DZs spread throughout the North East are easily available from two commercial sources: commercial flight navigation charts made by companies like Jeppesen that are sold worldwide to any aircraft operator, and ICAO’s global database on airports, airfields, heliports and makeshift helipads (which also double-up as drop-zones). In addition, magazines like FRONTLINE had, as far back as 2003, published a detailed report on such DZs in the North East at: http://www.flonnet.com/fl2019/stories/20030926001709200.htm

Anonymous said...

Compared to T-99, turret of Arjun Mk1 looks rock solid. And their(Chinese) guns are not famous.

Anonymous said...

Timely article! Kudos!

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@7.45AM: What's most interesting is that for the first time this MBT has been shown publicly in desert camouflage paint, probably because it being deployed in either the Taklamakan Desert (coming under the Lanzhou Military Region) bordering eastern Ladakh, or in areas adjoining the Gobi Desert along Inner Mongolia.

To Anon@7.51AM: VMT

Anonymous said...

Would having the lost Mig-29 pull up above the terrain helped since the 2nd flight was in communication with it instead of the 2nd reducing altitude?

Anurag said...

@Prasun Da,
Any new info regarding the GTRE Kaveri-marine??I heard that this engine was able to generate 13.2 mW power output-is that true??Can't our IN use them in its Rajput class DDGs,P 28 Kamorta class ASW corvettes and new Landing ship tanks??
Can you please post some interial pictures of Arjun MkI MBT??Do Arjun MkI has an BMS like the Al kalid and can you post some pictures of the BMS(if any)??And lastly,don't you think that DRDO has surpassed the Russians in composite armor technology??

Thanks in advance.

Austin said...

Chinese Type 99 looks quite good and the interiors are similar to western types with LCD and Navigational aids.

buddha said...

sir
recently read about the induction of Agni -3

DOES India(IA) want to get CAS aircraft like Su-39

sir Can super su-MKI can match the
SU-35 or Su-34 in its performance

your opinion is expected

Anonymous said...

Please come out with such exposé more often PKS. I envy your writing style. It's clear and easy to understand even for beginners since you clearly define abbreviations. There was a serious vacuum when you stopped blogging for over a year from your old Trishulgroup blog. I mean we had some nincopoop journalists which tend to spew out half baked stories. Then you have bloggers like Livefist who post a picture with a caption "story coming tomorrow" - never comes; and other stories of how he was invited to Sweden and had a free ride in a Gripen. Not to forget Broadsword who posts some bombastic articles with little substance and a heading which makes little sense. Bharat Rakshak does a good job in collecting news articles in the main page and their forums have some pretty good contributors but also an equal number of jerks. Your articles may not be 100% spot-on but they bring in a whole new perspective that in most cases is completely plausible. Keep the good stuff going!

F said...

Prasun,

Would be accurate to say that as a general rule of thumb, Russian fighter engines, radar and other flight components like landing gears, etc, have a shorther operating lifespan than their Western equivalents and in the case of engines and radar have a shorter TBO and MTBF?

Also, why did the RMAF and IAF go for the Chobham refueling pod fortheir Su-30s? Can't the UPAZ pod do the job?

Anonymous said...

agni V launch possibly in 2012 feb. as usual but just 2 months delay hope better late but latest but it is just a hope!

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@9.54AM: It appears that both MiG-29s were cruising at the same altitude, but the flight leader was confused about his exact location, given the fact that it was nighttime and visibility was was limited to starlight conditions. That’s probably the reason why the No2 asked for permission to descend lower so that distinguishable landmarks like peaks or valleys could be visually spotted, but in doing so he may have misjudged the topography, which resulted in a controlled flight into terrain (CFT). Had he been wearing night-vision goggles or a HMD fitted with night-vision sensors, he could have easily avoided the CFT scenario.

To Anurag: What’s now happening with the KMGT is that the GTRE is trying to establish the gas-turbine’s total technical service life, based on the number of sustainable operating cycles. This is a long drawn-out process where no shortcuts are available. Once this stage is crossed sometime by late next year, the gas-turbine will obtain its certification, following which it will be available for commercial exploitation. The only two viable candidates for making use of this gas-turbine will be either the four Project 15B DDGs or the seven Project 17A FFGs, provided the gearboxes and transmissions are of imported origin but are licence-built by the likes of Kirloskar. This is because indigenous design and development of the gearbox
and transmission will consume more time. Such gas-turbine propulsion systems are also suitable for new-generation stealthy corvettes (but not like P-28 Kamorta-class ASW corvettes) and air-cushion vehicles.
Photos of the Arjun Mk1’s interior are already available in several sites. As for the BMS, the photo was uploaded by me at: http://trishulgroup.blogspot.com/2009/01/indias-born-again-t-90m-mbt.html
The ELBIT Systems-designed BMS terminal looks like this: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_44d3OT-xI3U/SYCpxxKWOXI/AAAAAAAAAmQ/g9NWxv_ut64/s1600-h/T-90M%27s+ELBIT+Systems%27+BMS.jpg
Regarding composites armour technologies, the Russians have had a very long headstart over India and are still ahead in the game.

To AUSTIN: The interior layout for the driver’s compartment is impressive. However, the Type 99 is still regarded as an interim solution (like the Type 96G), with the definitive heavy MBT being the latest ZTZ-99A2, which weighs over 60 tonnes and comes with a 1,500hp engine. Still, the Type 99 MBT will be quite a potent weapon up in Eastern Ladakh and hopefully the Indian Army will deploy something newer than the existing T-72M1s or T-72CIAs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
On a different note aren't turbo prop Cargo airlift planes cheaper to operate compared to Jet Engined ones. Take for example IL-76 compared with An-70 ? Both have similar airlift capacities. Well it is true that in Heavy lift category like the C-17 there are no equivalent turbo props. But in the Medium-heavy category wouldn't it be economical to have more no of turbo props in Medium category and a few jets in heavy category in IAF fleet?
And between An-70 and A400M which one is better ? They have different airlift capacities An-70 (47 ton) and A400M (35 ton) but An-70 is a lot cheaper then A400M. On the long run including initial cost, maintenance and overhaul which one will be cheaper of the two? Please give your view

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Buddha: Inducting such strategic weapons into service is only one-half of the story. But what about the other half concerning their declaratory strategy, their development and deployment strategy, and their employment strategy? How many Indians—military officers, scientists, engineers, technocrats or bureaucrats—have so far undergone professional courses on such topics conducted by nuclear weapon-states like the US, Russia, France or the UK? Has a military-technical audit been done by India’s armed forces—the principal operator of such weapons—to verify the efficacy of such weapons? Is there a single integrated operational plan (SIOP) governing the employment of such weapons and if so what exactly are the respective crossover points (regarding strategic targeting priorities) concerning such weapon systems of both India’s and those of India’s neighbours? Unless and until convincing answers to all such questions emerge from the executive branch of the Govt of India, India’s nuclear deterrence posture will remain ambiguous and lack credibility, which consequently can cause both underestimation/overestimation and miscalculations of the enemy’s WMD capabilities, and cause India’s WMD-armed neighbours to engage in nuclear sabre-rattling of the type we’ve been witnessing since 1987.
Regarding CAS, the IAF does not require aircraft like the Su-39 or A-10A simply because the existing combat aircraft like the Jaguars IS, MiG-27Ms, Mirage 2000s and Su-30MKIs can all launch standoff PGMs like laser-guided bombs and TV-/laser-guided anti-armour missiles if required. But one weapon the IAF requires in large numbers is the anti-armour missile like either the millimeter-wave radar-guided Brimstone, or cheaper alternatives like the laser-guided Nimrod or MLGB. Even a Tejas Mk1 armed with six such PGMs and a Litening-2 laser designator pod will be quite a potent tactical strike weapon.

Shree said...

You have been a strong opposer of the NAL led regional aircraft but see what APJ.Kalam has to say

http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=739098

I too think this project should go ahead and as NAL has had some experience (though not good) with the Saras it may yield more fruitful results and it can also learn from MRTA with Russia...we should be able to achieve dividends...

China has built an aircraft that rivals A320 why shouldn't we develop atleast a 90-seater????? Its a matter of prestige .....

Anurag said...

@Prasun Da,
many thanks.But one thing you have to consider-Russia may be decades ahead in many defence related fields than us but not on composite armor techs.Their T 80s got repeatedly blown to pieces by simple RPG 7s used by Chechen rebels,even the T 90M can't withstand RPGs without its Kontact 5.But the Kanchan module defeated both 125mm IMI Mk2 rounds and ARDE Mk2 rounds at point blank range fired from the 2A46M2 L52 gun of T 90S.That's why I told India is ahead of Russia in composite armor tech.I would like to know your openions.
By the way,do you have any infos regarding the bulletproof Patkas-now standard issue to IA??How does it fare with other ballistic helmets worldwide??

Thanks in advance.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@7.41PM: Very many thanks & will try to oblige, although I’m not inclined towards splashing out any kind of ‘Breaking News’ or ‘Exclusive News’. What I frequently endeavour to do is just ask the most basic/elementary questions and try to seek answers to them. And as a matter of both practice and obligation, I believe that one must do one’s homework and be prepared to reply to any kind of queries, especially on the issues dealt with in this blog. But get often get the feeling that this willingness or ability to patiently and persistently answer such queries is frawned upon or looked down upon by many who can only be classified as envious jerks who tend to get personal and lose all sense of civility or rationality. Then there are others who also run decent blogs (like LIVEFIST & BROADSWORD) but who either aren’t bothered to engage in two-way communications or when they do, they end up either scowling or displaying utter disdain—an attitude I consider utterly distasteful, to say the least.

To FARIS: Yes, that’s true, because even in the post-Cold War era Russia’s new weapons purchasing customers are still purchasing weapons that were originally designed and developed during the Cold War era, when the USSR’s policy was pretty much what the Japanese auto sales policy is, i.e. use and throw. That’s why, a MiG-29 operator like the RMAF, which is used to ensuring that its combat aircraft pilots log in at least 25 flying hours every month, came in for a rude shock when it discovered that such practices are way above the norm when it came to the MiG-29. As far back as 1991 when I met the General Designer of the MiG-29, Rostislav Belyakov, at a seminar held in conjunction with the Paris Air Show, he clearly stated then that the MiG-29 was designed and certified to log in only 120 hours of flight every calendar year! Which means that for the IAF or RMAF, given their respective flying training/combat proficiency maintenance practices, these two air forces would be able to exhaust the total technical service life of the MiG-29 in half the period that was originally envisaged by MiG OKB, and this consequently translates into the need for investing heavily in in-country aircraft rebuild facilities for re-lifing the engines and airframes. The situation began changing only after 2003 when the Russians realised that they have no choice but to adhere to Western standards if they want to survive as credible exporters of weapon systems, and consequently we see products like the Mi-17V-5, MiG-35 and the T-50 PAK-FA which will have significantly enhanced service lifespans and reduced MRO reqmts.Regarding the Cobham AAR pods, they’re much lighter and also impose lesser drag penalties than the UPAZ.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@11.41PM: Let’s see if that happens, since the weather along the coast of Odisha at that time can take a turn for the worse.

To Anon@11.55PM: It all boils down to the techno-economic matrix of the aircraft operator, based on the per-hour direct operating costs, which is dictated by the duration of the flight in terms of cruise speed, or the distance to be flown. The faster one flies in a fuel-efficient manner, the more sorties it will be able to fly within a given timeframe (that’s why the Chinese Y-20 strategic airlifter will use the fuselage of the An-70, but be powered by four turbofans). Also coming into play then is the quality of air base infrastructure available. One cannot really compare the fate of the An-70 with the A400M since from the outset, the Europeans wanted to have an indigenous product for sustaining their military aerospace industries.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Shree: I have been a strong opposer of the NAL-led SARAS project simply because, firstly, from the start the project never spelt out its ultimate commercial objectives (like obtaining EASA or FAA certificate of airworthiness or CoA in order to ensure the aircraft’s commercial viability), and without obtaining such CoA, even the IAF would not touch it, rest assured. And without such CoA, there will be no hull insurance coverage available and without insurance, no prospective commercial operator of the SARAS will emerge, and without producing at least 60 such aircraft, the R & D investments made will never be recovered. Secondly, the SARAS has been designed and developed only by scientists, with minimal engineering inputs and that’s why the airframe’s weight budgeting remains an impossibility till this day. Now, turning to what A P J Abdul Kalam said, it is a typical stereotype remark reminiscent of the days of the licence raj, when import substitution was upheld over export promotion. Consequently, substandard products emerged from India from the late 1950s, while the newly industrialised economies like South Korea and Taiwan began churning out world-class export revenue-generating products by striking smart strategic industrial partnerships with OEMs from the US and Japan. And how much later was such a smart partnership created in India in the form of the Maruti-Suzuki JV? Now, coming to what A P J Kalam did not say or explain: how will the 90-seat regional airliner compete with the likes of low-cost aircraft OEMs like Embraer or China’s AVIC? What is the estimated demand for such regional airliners within India over the next 20 years? What makes one think that the likes of Boeing and Airbus will by then not have captured this market in India by introducing new-generation versions of its existing B.737NG and A319? Who will be the foreign strategic industrial partner which NAL will have to engage for R & D support and consultancy? How much time will be taken to establish the kind of R & D/skilled human resource supply/aircraft certification infrastructure required for developing this airliner? Is it worthwhile to re-invent the wheel when HAL is already co-developing the IL-214 MRTA with Ilyushin OKB? Why can’t a civilian airliner variant of the MRTA be developed within a much shorter timeframe? Afterall, the MRTA will be a STOL aircraft (as opposed to the RTA-90 which will require longer runways) and can therefore operate from a far greater number of airfields in Tier-2/3 cities/townships than the RTA-90 will be able to. Let us not forget that China started obtaining US FAA CoAs for its turboprops and regional jetliners from the early 1990s, while the HAL-built Dhruv ALH has yet to obtain its CoA from Europe’s EASA, something which it had promised to do so in July 2005, & we’re still waiting for it to happen. Therefore, only after A P J Kalam answers all the questions I’ve raised above will one be able to make an objective assessment of his enthusiasm for the RTA-90 project.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anurag: It will be unfair to compare the T-80 or even T-90 with the likes of an Arjun Mk1 or Leopard 2A6. Both the T-80 and T-90 are legacy designs and the T-80 was used in the Caucasus in a way it wasn’t meant to be. In reality, anyone firing an RPG or LAW at any MBT’s engine compartment will immobilise the MBT. A fairer comparison will be possible with the recently unveilledT-90AM and its future variant for the Russian Army, which will be even heavier thanks to better protection measures, since even the Russian Army now wants a MBT powered by a 1,500hp engine. In addition, tanks like the T-72 and T-90 in the Indian Army are classified as medium battle tanks, while the Arjun Mk1 is classified as a main battle tank. And this classification comes straight from the Indian Army’s Ahmednagar-based School of Armoured Warfare, and isn’t a figment of my own imagination. If you really want to assess Russia’s competencies in composite armour technology then the FGFA and T-50 PAK-FA will be a good starting point, since these aircraft will be using such technologies in a big way, as opposed to the usage of titanium now on the Su-30MKI.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Shree: Craving for prestige is fine, provided it is affordable and achievable, and does not turn into the futile chase of a pipedream.

Anurag said...

@Prasun da,
Thanks for clearing the doubt.Obviously it's unfair to compare Arjun MkI to T 90 as both are of different classes altogether.So,don't you think that Arjun type tanks will give a much greater headache to PA Alkhalids and T 80UDs than T 90s??Won't it be logical for the IA to replace T 72s with Arjun MkII??They don't have to replace them one for one,two T 72s can be replaced by one technologycaly far superior Arjun MkII.This will reduce the numbers of tanks in the panzer corps but the capability of the panzer corps will rise by many folds.Besides,why do they need 4000+ tank force when no battle in the subcontinent have massed more than 1000 tanks on either side??When I see the force structure of the IA panzer corps I use to get confused,may be because I am new in this field.Your openions will come in very handy,so Please try to reply.

Thanks.

F said...

Anurag,

Certain areas of the T-72 and
T-90, including the rear part of the turret which is not protected by ERA, can be pierced by 25mm sabot [non-DU] rounds. Agreed Prasun?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anurag: The Al Khalid, Al Zarar & T-80UD MBTs in their present configurations will find the Arjun Mk1/Mk2 to be potent killing machines due to the latter’s hunter-killer capability (meaning you see and shoot first), superior cannon firepower and enhanced crew comfort levels that contribute to greater crew endurance on the battlefield. The T-90s will be able to destroy the Al Zarars without much difficulty. Also, the Arjuns have HESH ammo firing capabilities to engage dug-in hostile infantry forces, something the Al Khalids, T-80s and Al Zarars cannot. Another option will be to integrate the Arjun Mk2’s turret with a T-72M1’s hull, which could be up-armoured with Kanchan modular armour plates and be equipped with the same 1,150hp engine as that on the T-90AM. Such a medium tank, capable of firing both APFSDS and HESH rounds, will be extremely effective in areas like eastern Ladakh. Therefore, personally I would still like to see the T-72’s hull be put to good use for the next 20 years, while having a total Arjun Mk2 fleet of at least 1,200. At the same time, the T-90S MBTs ought to be upgraded to T-90AM standards. Yet another option that could be explored is using the existing T-72’s hull to replace the BMP’s hull for the NAMICA, under which a modified, hydraulically raisable mast-mounted mechanism housing eight Nag ATGMs, a gunner’s target engagement system, and a commander’s panoramic sight, can go in place of the T-72’s existing turret. However, even if all this was put into effect, the Army would still require its own fleet of attack helicopters (about 120) and armed a similar number of light armed aeroscout helicopters. Afterall, if the Indian Army wants to reduce its mobilisation time and achieve swift concentration of massed anti-armour firepower while giving little or no warning to the enemy, then the best way to do this is with such helicopters, thereby ensuring the swift and decisive vertical envelopment of enemy forces.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To FARIS: The rear portion of the turret can be up-armoured with add-on modular armour plates if required, but not with ERA tiles. But 25mm sabot rounds penetrating the T-90’s rear turret portion? I don’t think so. But the entire rear engine compartment is also defenceless, unless slat armour is used as an add-on.

Mr. Ra 13 said...

Is there any real upgrade plan for T-90S and T-90M for conversion in to T-90AM. Will this activity be cheaper or costly.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Mr.RA 13: From the OEM--Uralvagonzavod--the upgrade plan for existing T-90S/Ms has been finalised and validated. For the Indian Army, the restricted RFI for upgrading the existing T-90S variants was hand-delivered to the Russians early last month. It will be cost-effective since these MBTs are already approaching their half-lives and a deep upgrade is therefore due.

Mr. Ra 13 said...

Thanx for the kind reply.

Realist said...

To Anonymous at 7:41: Well said, to the point and hilarious descriptions ;)

Anonymous said...

The fuck them Prasun. (forgive the expression). Answer those you you believe is genuine and to those jerks out there, just ignore. Who says you must answer each and every body here? There are a few fools who would oppose anything good out there but on the brighter side, look at the number of avid followers you have? Instead of picking out the black spot on the white paper, look at the larger white. At the end of the day one thing is certain - people can post the rantings at you because you practice one very fundamental thing important in the exchange of ideas - that is freedom of comments (i.e. no censorship). Look at the rest? Even genuine comments at times get weeded out! So don't take too much to heart and proceed with your good work...

Anonymous said...

anon @ 7.41 ----well said n spot on... ur descriptions hit the nail on d head.. lolz

vk saraswat aka parrot said...

somebody let loose the parrot again!!! click above

Anonymous said...

hey prasun... how r u?

"Indian Army chopper lands in PoK, Pak Army detains four" is the news i'm sure u have read

is this also due to "criminal negligence" of not fitting whats required on the Chetak fleet? Isn't there any sort of weather warning to all IAF manned aerial vehicle as used in the commair sector?

By the way I have a another clarification sought (Commair related). I'm not sure if you follow "Air Crash Investigation / Mayday" on Discovery. But there was this pretty old episode on the mid-air collission (worst in history) between an Saudi 747 and Kazakh Il76. One key finding was the collission could have been averted had there been secondary radar, which IGIA didn't have (pathetically). Apparently they were supposed to be installed sometime before the disaster but as usual - delays. Who supplied / delayed on these secondary ground radars? Was it BEL? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

By the way I agree with that Anon @ 7.41. ‘Breaking News’ or ‘Exclusive News’ does not mean the likes outlined somewhere above where Saraswat comes and says "next year we will launch nuclear carrier" or "2013 we will create a missile that can destroy Yama who's in hell".... we want exposes, as termed above, that we cannot find in the conventional media led by a few numbskulls.... thx for everything btw...

Intelligence said...

Anon - 5.24

Secondary surveillance radars that could have avoided Charki Dadri crash was Bharat Electronics-Westinghouse Combine manufactured Mono-Pulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR). Before the order a quote was sent to Cossor,(subsidiary of the Raytheon). The important thing here is Cossor Radars were superior (solid state) and cheaper. In fact the BEL-W radar model was already phased out in USA some years back from then. Eventually it turned that Cossor radars would become more expensive because of newly imposed duty on such equipments. BEL-W radars on the other hand were CKD with eventual ToT to BEL. So BEL won the order. However as fas as I know, BEL only manufactured a handfull of such radars and now makes no more, despite paying a bomb to Westinghouse. Problem was they entered into JV with Westinghouse even before getting sufficient orders in hand...

Anonymous said...

Prasunda, i beg to differ on the point of RTA. It is a rather obscene dream, i agree. Also i agree with you that it might be uneconomical in short term.
But what Dr. Kalam was mentioning is the need for developing such an aircraft and not on our work culture which never have clearly stated objectives.
Agree that MRTA may be utilized for commercial roles, but again we will be only a shareholder in it. just like su-30mki, or even FGFA where we call ourselves as partners but the world knows what is our share. your own example will say a lot. Maruti has been a best seller and spectacular success of Indian Industry. But no one will ever concede that it was Indian capability that developed the car. But a much smaller and less capable Nano caught headlines in the world, just simply because it was an Indian design.

Infact these overambitious goals are the best test beds for our defence/aeronautical scientist. They have all been known for 'cutting edge' technology in missiles, n-tech, weapons etc, which tend to be non competitive and where ever it is competitive we have the explanation of our lost bus and competitor head start.

I am sure our engineers and scientists are world class in their own merit (since the same gusy perform better in the West in these hitec industries). What is lacking is a system which appreciates it here. and i am no dreamer to beleive that it is going to happen now. But having said that we cannot say we will only go for a beaten track.

unlike the saras if we have clear cut plan (agreeing with on this point that Dr. Kalam has to answer this point how are we going to have such a plan) we can gain confidence in an area which all the world admires. simply like ISRO managing a decent name in the world launchers, we can have a decent name among aeronautical industry which is a benchmark of capabilities.

of course we dont have the entire capabilities with us and consultancy (and not JV) and subcomponents might have to be sought from outside.

this is an opportunity for us to have self confidence. A matter of national pride (just as chandrayaan), but of course certification and commercialization has to be done in corporate style (and infact Indian corporates could be selected in this role)

how are we going to compete with Brazil, china?...if we want we can and past need not necessarily be our sole guidance

I am not a techo person, any technical shortcomings in the post is duly apologized.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the Advanced Combat Trainer aircraft that HAL came up with in 2005? Why has IAF not shown any interest in it?? When we can produce 4th gen fighters, why do we need to import much less complicated trainers?? South Korea actually evolved a low-end trainer into an intermediate fighter..

There is hardly any other country which is so callous about the lives of its soldiers..

Anonymous said...

What are the facilities coming with C-17 deal? Will it help indigenous aviation and aeroengine development in any way?

Anonymous said...

Sir,
Is HAL Medium Lift Helicopter the same as Dhruv Mk4?? I thought it was a separate program by the name IMRH similar to M-17 in design and size!! Can Dhruv Mk4 carry 15-20 armed men in battle? Ideally IA needs something like Black Hawk..

Please throw some light on the sort of helmets, boots, BPJs and pads issued to regulars compared to that of other major militaries..What is this cylindrical helmet called Patka? Looks really cheap and unprotected to me..

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.55AM: Very many thanks.

To Anon@1.14PM: You’re right….statements like these must always be made by either the Raksha Mantri himself, or by the National Security Adviser, who looks after all matters pertaining to strategic weapon systems. The DRDO’s DG & Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister Dr V K Saraswat should made made from refrain from making such utterances, as a matter of policy. In addition, when talking about financial allocations, he should have spelt out the whole truth, which is the MoD should religiously adhere to the five-year spending practices (for medium- and long-term military R & D projects), instead of approving financial allocations once every year. By not adhering to such practices, the MoD has successively made a mockery of the country’s five-year plan periods. And even when well-meaning policy initiatives were introduced by the NFA govt in 2003 by creating a non-lapsable defence modernization fund, the UPA govt abruptly and without any valid reason terminated this ground-breaking initiative!!! That really shows who are the real enemies of India.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@5.24PM: This ‘incident’ was clearly a case of in-flight navigational error aided by inclement weather. I very much doubt if the SA.315B Lama/Cheetah LUHs have on-board GPS-based navigation systems. Installation of such systems would have helped matters, as would the usage of helmet-mounted NVGs. It appears that the AAC Cheetah first breached the 8km no-fly zone that exists either side of the LoC and international border (as per the CBMs mutually rectified by both countries) and subsequently intruded into Pakistan-controlled airspace in the Olding sector. I very much doubt if the helicopter was militarily forced to land by Pakistan. In my view, the helicopter aircrew displayed superior judgement and decided to land in a Pakistan-controlled area most probably due to the worsening weather and due to his low fuel reserves (that explains why the helicopter was refuelled in Pakistan prior to its return to Kargil). To the relief of everybody the matter was resolved swiftly and successfully using the appropriate institutional channels on both sides. In addition, the Pakistan Army probably did not want this incident to be blown out of proportion since presently there’s only 3,500 soldiers guarding the LoC (rather thinly spread) due to the Army’s re-deployment of troops to the west for on-going counter-insurgency operations. But had the LUH been equipped with radar warning receivers/missile approach warning system or even a FLIR turret, then the Pakistan Army would probably have detained the helicopter for a detailed inspection.
This reminds me of the Pakistan Navy’s Breguet Atlantic ATL-1 shootdown incident of August 10, 1999. Based on conversations I’ve had thus far with no less than three separate Pakistan Navy aviators (who are all navigators by vocation), it seems that for the PN, it is SOP to take off from PNS Mehran and proceed on a northeasterly heading and engage in navigational exercises nefore heading back to PNS Mehran. However, in doing this, the PN MP/ASW aircraft are frequently instructed by military ATC to adopt a holding ‘racetrack’ pattern due to the very busy civilian airspace corridor prevailing in the area, which is flanked by civilian airports like Sindhri, Nawabshah, Sehwan Sharif and Hyderabad. Based on ATC comms intercepts and radar plotting, the Pakistan Navy concluded that the unlucky ATL-1 made a fatal navigational error (due to mental disorientation) during its holding pattern and instead of heading back on a southeasterly axis during its return flight, it mistakenly adopted a southwesterly approach route, which in turn caused it to intrude into Indian airspace over Gujarat.
Regarding the ATC radars, they were built by Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman) and licence-assembled by BEL. It is the ASR-9 MSSR with Mode S transponder. Now BEL is licence-assembling the Italian ATCR-33 MSSRs for the joint civilian/military ATC centres that are now coming up.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@7.16PM: The point I’m trying to make is why re-invent the wheel when there are much more urgent priorities? When HAL is involved in co-developing the IL-214 MRTA, why not encourage it to develop two civilian variants (for passenger transportation and air-cargo transportation) as well, which will lead to industrial economies of scale being achieved? Why should one engage in duplication of work effort? Why can’t a team of NAL, ADE, ADA, GTRE and DARE instead pool their respective strengths to up-scale develop a turbofan-powered Rustom-2 HALE-UAV, which is urgently required in large numbers by both the three armed services as well as the Coast Guard?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@9.48PM: The ACT project was a pipedream from the start, since the Hawk Mk132 lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) does everything that the IAF wants for its trainee fast-jet aircrew. If at all there is a reqmt for a supersonic LIFT in future, then the tandem-seat version of the Tejas Mk1 will be eminently suited for the task. WRT the existence of “hardly any other country which is so callous about the lives of its soldiers”, it’s not just about soldiers, but about her citizens too. Just look at the blatant disregard shown by the likes of Pawan Hans for the DFCA’s mandatory airworthiness directives.

To Anon@9.50PM: The high-altitude aero-engine test facility as part of the C-17A industrial offsets will definitely come in handy for developing the definitive Kaveri turbofan for the Tejas Mk2, as well as the turbofan to be chosen for the MRTA.

To Anon@10.02PM: Yes, the Dhruv is a light medium-lift helicopter in the 5-tonne category. IMRH is also a medium-lift helicopter, but it comes in a heavier medium-lift (10/12-tonne category, like that for the Mi-17 or Eurocopter Cougar or Sikorsky Black Hawk. The Patka is highly suited for those involved in counter-insurgency operations where protection is sought mainly against hostile sniper fire. The more conventional helmets are meant for protection against snipers as well as from shrapnel expended from high-explosive munitions like artillery rounds, hand-grenades and bombs.

Shree said...

Sir,
I completely agree with what you pointed out regarding the certifications of our ventures.
*But I dont know if it will be easy to convert MRTA,Which will be used to transport cargo and personnel ,and also has diameter same as C130 but less in length.
Also RTA will be used to as a Point A 2 B vehicle and will need its hull to be less in diameter and more width to fit 90 persons.

Give me one example where what you say has been done?????????
Even if it is done it wont be Indigenous

*It is also true that a lot needs to be done in terms of selecting a partner to help us but it is absolutely necessary to do all that and there cannot be a shortcut.

U Yourself said that South Korea and Taiwan formed JV with US, Japan to make world-class export revenue-generating products and I bet it all was not easy...
we are a lot late but ..Better Now Than Never...

*And We know we messed up with Saras but it was our first such project and I am sure NAL has learned a great deal from it and will follow better procedures hereon.
Saying NAL should not pursue such project because of one very first not very successful attempt is like saying India should host Olympics because of CWG.

*And regarding market demand of RTA.
Remember ..the size of our market now and in future and also that... Indian Air Transport has no where reached its full potential so demand for such aircraft only from domestic airlines to connect only domestic Tier2&3 cities will be more than enough to make it profitable venture...
As for the competitiveness of such product ... come ooon it will be Indian ... look at the chinese and russians their national and domestic carriers will place orders in their aircraft anyway.... I am sure it will be the same for us...

*Just think and hope if RTA is successful what other ventures it will lead to..... and if we wont pursue this now then you can add one more to your list in article of lost opportunities......

Lastly I realize that a lot of it will be very hard and there are a lot of 'Ifs' involved and everyone of your questions should be given serious thought but this is one project which is as important as developing our own AESA and Kaveri Jet engine ... RTA should go forward....

Lets all cross our fingers and hope for the best...

Mr. Ra 13 said...

I hope now you have cleared the Patka in one Jhatka. Lol...

Mr. Ra 13 said...

For some more on Patka, may please see:

http://www.securemobileindia.com/more.php?SubcatId=67&id=30&Title=Bullet-Proof-Products

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Mr.RA 13: I hope so too (LoL!). Many thanx for the weblink.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Atlantique incident, it is completely Pak's fault since after intruding Indian airspace and warned by interceptors to land in India, the aircraft tried to make a dash (a hostile move)! That alone gave the Indian Air Force the rationale of shooting it down... in addition, IAF had reported of past airspace intrusions using the same aircraft as well. The matter was brought up in the ICJ and Pakistan lost doe to all these reasons.

Anonymous said...

Prasun,

The map released by the IAF which showed the flight path of PN Atlantique does not corroborate the 'lost in the woods' theory given by you - based on your conversation with PN aviators. If anything, the actions of PN a/c were deliberate and it simply ran out of luck this time.

AMARDEEP said...

hello sir,

R.I.P.!! when the all IAF mig 29 upgrade gonna complete. what is difference between IAF mig 29s and INDIAN NAVY MIG 29K.


THANKS

Anonymous said...

Is there any plan to upgrade Small Arms Industry esp OFB, or any private players willing to take up Small arms R&D??

The Armed Forces and Paramilitaries are procuring diverse weapons from diverse sources. Won't this create serious maintainence and ammunition issues?? Why are the Govt and IA not so serious about indigenous small arms?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.25AM: My comment above dealt with the probable reason for the airspace intrusion, and never dealt with any kind of blame game. The two issues are totally unconnected.

To Anon@3.45PM: On the contrary, the IAF map showing the PN ATL-1’s flightpath decisively proves what I’ve explained above. Give me just one probable reason why a MP/ASW aircraft would engage in deliberate airspace intrusion over land and that too flying solo without any escorting combat aircraft. What is it that an MP/ASW aircraft can do while flying over Indian soil that a much more smaller and agile combat aircraft can’t do?

To AMARDEEP: There are two distinct differences. The Indian Navy MiG-29K has a much heavier and styrengthened landing gear than the IAF’s MiG-29UPG. Secondly, the IAF’s MiG-29UPGs have an operational data-link (ODL) of Israeli origin that is customised for communicating with A-50I PHALCON AEW & C platforms, whereas the ODL for the MiG-29K is of Russian origin for communicating with the Ka-31 AEW helicopter.

To Anon@9.25PM: No it won’t, since the product support reqmts for small arms are not as capital-intensive as those for aircraft or warships.

Anonymous said...

Prasun,

This is anon@3:45pm.

The Atlantique a/c was picked up by IAF radars initially at Badin - which >150kms as the crow flies from Karachi. What kind of holding pattern would place PN A/C that far from Mehran AB, the home of the squadron to which Atlantique belonged? Also, if you see the map plotting the path of Atlantique here (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Kargil/Atlantique.html), it clearly shows that the plane was deliberately doing what it did. Pr, the PN aviators are one heck of stupid flyers.

Anonymous said...

Since the PN-ATL1 did intrude unintentionally in to Indian airspace, why did it not just land as instructed by the Mig's instead of getting shot down. In most probability the crew would have been repatriated.

Shrini said...

Hi Prasun,
I am following you blog for past some time its a gud one for people like me who wants to know about the Indian defense I have only one que where do you think the IAF training lagging leaving aside the technical snag that I have happed in the recent past ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.40PM: Yes, had it landed inside India the crew complement's lives would have been saved. However, the ATL-1's aircrew took the wrong decision and paid for it with their lives. They probably also understood that if they landed inside India then the Indians would most definitely try to seek access to the aircraft's mission managemrent system/EWE threat library. This in Pakistan would be viewed as treasonous and therefore, better to take the chance to flee rather than give the Indians an intelligence bonanza on a silver platter.

To Shrini: The singular area where the IAF flight training pacctices lag behind is in the area of flight simulation. For combat aircraft like the Mirage 2000s and Jaguars which came with flight simulators, the flight safety record has been far better. Had such simulators been procured for the MiG-21s and MiG-27Ms and An-32Bs then the number of fatal accidents involving such aircraft types would have been much lower.

Shrini said...

Hi Prasun,
Thanks for your reply, then i think its not a tough job to create some customized flight simulation for our IAF considering the fact that we are a powerhouse in IT and s/w area which i think any of the Indian company can do this job easily .

Regards
Srini

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