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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

‘Desi’ Yellow Journalism At Its Very Best

Thus far, at least two ‘desi’ journalists seem to have insinuated that if the Government of India pushes through a certain procurement contract for a particular piece of hardware (in this case the 12 AgustaWestland AW-101 helicopters for VVIP transportation worth Rs3,546.17 crore or 560 million Euros) with efficiency and alacrity, then there’s something definitely unusual and fishy about this whole exercise, since these two ‘desi’ journalists are obviously of the view that such procurement exercises (i.e. the efficiency and alacrity with which the Govt of India pushed through the purchase of the AW-101s) are unusual simply because  such  “efficiency and alacrity” are “totally lacking in the purchase of anything for the armed forces”. In addition, it has been alleged by one of these two ‘desi’ journalists (see: & that the AW-101 fails ‘to make the cut’ by not complying with the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR), especially the 40 mandatory parameters laid down by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Specifically, it has been alleged that: the AW-101 does not come equipped with a missile approach warning system (MAWS); the AW-101 does not come with a product warranty, which should be either three years or 900 flight-hours; and that the selected VVIP transportation helicopter ought to have flown in altitudes above 17,000 feet in order to transport VVIPs out to India’s remote areas. Needless to say, all such allegations are manifestly false and deeply mischievous, as the following data will reveal.
Requests for Proposals (RFP) or global tenders were floated December 2006 by India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to seven helicopter manufacturers, and all responses had been submitted by February 2007. Following this, the H-92 Super Hawk from US-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp and the AW-101 from Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland Helicopters were shortlisted. However, both the H-92 and AW-101 had performance parameter deviations, with AgustaWestland having one deviation short than Sikorsky Aircraft. The IAF had specified that the helicopters on offer be at least twin-engined and fitted with a SATCOM-based communications suite; have glass cockpits and digital flight controls; come equipped with automatic flight management systems and a rear-entry ramp; incorporate additional ballistics hardening of the airframe; come fitted with a main-cum-tail rotor de-icing system using heated blades; have an integral emergency flotation system plus twin wide sliding cargo doors; be equipped with wire-strike and lightning-strike protection systems; have an on-board health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) to facilitate predictive maintenance practices; mount a new-generation on-board defensive aids suite comprising radar/laser warning receivers-cum-missile approach warning systems, chaff/flare countermeasures dispensers, plus mountings for accommodating miniaturised directional infra-red/laser jammers at a future date; and feature a high tail-boom since it would allow the VVIP’s motorised vehicles to come right next to the rear-ramp and not expose' the protected persons to a threat from anyone in the vicinity.
Although the IAF conducted on-site flight-trials of both the H-92 and AW-101 between January 14 and 19, 2008, it was only in December 2009 that the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCS) approved the procurement of 12 AW-101s from AgustaWestland. Subsequently, a contract was signed by the MoD and AgustaWestland Ltd on February 8, 2010. The contract included an extensive five-year logistics support service and initial aircrew and technician training (see: Out of these 12 AW-101s, eight will be configured for VVIP transportation and the remaining four helicopters will be the non-VVIP version for usage by the Special Protection Group’s Counter-Sniper Group and Counter-Assault Group. The first six AW-101s will be delivered in the latter half of this year, and all deliveries would be completed by 2013.

Let us now address and disprove in detail the allegations and insinuations that were listed out in the very beginning. Firstly, there’s the allegation/insinuation of this deal being pushed through with remarkable “efficiency and alacrity”. This is a blatant lie, pure and simple. The entire AW-101 procurement exercise—starting with the issuance of RFPs right up to contract signature—lasted 38 months. Compare this with the procurement exercise, initiated in late 1982, for procuring the refurbished aircraft carrier INS Viraat, 20 AgustaWestland-built Sea King Mk42B helicopters, 25 BAE Systems-built Sea Harrier FRS Mk51 and five T Mk60 V/STOL combat aircraft, which took only NINE MONTHS to negotiate, finalise and ink—a record that remains unparalleled till this day and is worth emulating.

Secondly, regarding the MAWS, it needs to be stated that while sensors associated with any helicopter’s integrated defensive aids suite (IDAS)—such as radar/laser warning receivers and countermeasures dispensers suite are regarded as standard fit, items like MAWS, DIRCM and active continuous wave/pulse jammers are not and are therefore either supplied as customer-furnished equipment to the helicopter manufacturer for on-board installation, or are retrofitted in-country by the helicopter operator at an approved MRO facility. In the AW-101’s case the IDAS includes a combined radar/laser warning receiver package that includes the Tarang Mk3 (developed by the DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment—DARE—and built by Bharat Electronics Ltd) and a laser warning receiver from SaabTech of Sweden, the AAR-60(V)2 MILDS-F MAWS from Germany-based Cassidian, and chaff/flare countermeasures dispensers from Vinten of UK. The photo below shows the installation areas of the AW-101’s combined radar/laser warning receiver and MAWS.
In fact, this very IDAS suite has also been selected for installation on the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd-built Dhruv Mk4 (Rudra) helicopter gunship and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and will also be retrofitted in-country on to a third of the 139 Mi-17V-5 armed utility helicopters now being delivered to the IAF by Russia’s Tatarstan-based Kazan Helicopter Plant. These retrofitted Mi-17V-5s will also be equipped with ELBIT Systems-built C-MUSIC missile countermeasures turrets (see photo below for the installation area).
Thirdly, regarding the so-called product warranty, which should be either three years or 900 flight-hours, this is in fact the guaranteed product-support package (since product warranty for any type of aircraft never exceeds a period of 18 months) that AgustaWestland has generously extended up to a five-year period through AirWorks Pvt Ltd, its India-based MRO facility. Fourthly, regarding the service ceiling issue, the AW-101 is capable of going up to 15,000 feet ASL, while the H-92 can attain 14,000 feet, and the Mi-17V-5 19,690 feet. However, in reality, the AW-101s will never be required to fly above 10,000 feet simply because no India-born VVIP worth his/her salt will ever bother to spend two successive weeks for mandatory accilimitising in the event of he/she wanting to visit high-altitude areas located between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. This is because anyone wanting to go to such altitudes for the very first time needs to gradually acclimatise above the height of 10,000 feet by spending six days for Stage 1 at 10,000 feet, followed by four days for Stage 2 at 12,000 feet and four days for Stage 3 at 15,000 feet.

Lastly, a word about the Mi-17V-5, which has been touted as being a cheaper alternative to the AW-101. It needs to be noted that firstly, all members of the Mi-8 and Mi-17 families make use of only a single-channel hydraulics-control system under which the hydraulic actuators of all four control circuits are mounted in a single hydraulic package on the main gearbox, together with other parts of hydraulic system. In all Western (and HAL-built) twin-engined helicopters, however, such an arrangement is viewed as unacceptable from a flight safety point-of-view, and they therefore use a dual-channel hydraulics-control system. Secondly, by January 2008, there wasn’t even a single Mi-17 anywhere equipped with an IDAS. For it was only in December 2007 that the US Defense Department inked a contract worth US$322-million for 22 Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant-built Mi-17s (meant for Iraq) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, under which these Mi-17s were to be fitted with Honeywell-supplied cockpit avionics/instrumentation, FLIR Systems’ AN/AAQ-22 Star Safire FLIR pod, identification-friend-or-foe system with encryption, AAR-60(V)2 MILDS-F MAWS, and VHF/UHF/HF radios. While US-based ARINC Inc is the prime contractor and systems integrator, the Mi-17s were supplied by Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant to Air Freight Aviation, a Russian company based in the United Arab Emirates that undertakes all retrofit work under ARINC Inc’s supervision. Therefore, early disqualification of the Mi-17 for the IAF’s VVIP transportation helicopter requirement was a foregone conclusion as far back as early 2010.Prasun K. Sengupta


Heberian said...

Hello Prasun!
Thank you for a very factual article. Obviously, some folks dont do their homework.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Prasun,
I mean how can these reporters even think that Mi17 had a chance against a chopper like A101 ? Its real funny...

1. Hey i don't remember India placing the follow on order for 59 Mi17V5 yet. So isn't the total number of Mi17V5 on order is 80 ? When can we expect this follow on order ?

2. Also how is MOD reacting towards the follow on orders about C130j, C17 and P8i ?? I mean are they willing to spend money ?

3. Also both IAF and IN has expressed an interest to keep a fleet of around 10 amphibious aircrafts last year. Any progress on that ? Can we expect MOD to approve this ?

4. Also i read your comment on the recent Arihant article in the last thread. The article says approval for 2 more subs were given, shouldn't it be S-4 and S-5 ?? I mean do you remember the reports of L&T completing the hull of 2nd and 3rd sub in late 2010 and then in 2011 reports came that work on second sub started. So why would L&T build the 3rd hull if the MOD's approval wasn't even given ? I mean haven't L&T burnt enough ? GOI decided to have a second SSK line few years back and that was suppose to be a private production line and considering LnT's involvement in ATV they thought they had chance and even government encouraged them and now when their second shipyard in TN is almost ready govt. is thinking of giving P75I to MDL and HSL.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Heberian: Very many thanks.

To Anon@11.58AM: The follow-on order for 59 Mi-17V-5s is almost a given and will be inked in the new financial year for sure, as will the orders for a follow-on six C-130J-30s and four P-8Is. The six follow-on C-17As will be ordered in FY 2013. There's been no progress on the SAR amphibians. Instead, priority is being accorded to the procurement of common-airframe MRMR/ASW & medium-range MPAs for the Navy & ICGS. Regarding the S-3 & S-4 SSBNs, it must be borne in mind that L & T never engaged in hull-assembly. L & T only fabricates various compartments and the double-hull sections, which are then shupped off to the Vizag-based SBC for final assembly. MoD approval for S-3 and S-4 was given way back in 2006 and it was because of this that S-2 (Arihant) was launched in July 2009, since the facilities at SBC didn't have enough space for stocking up the accumulating fabricated sections of S-3. Work on final assembly of S-3 began in late 2009 and it will be launched by early 2013. The S-5 is still on the drawing boards & will have a greater displacement for accommodating the K-4 SLBMs.It's all there at:
Bottomline: the news reporter has made erroneous reports about S-3 & S-4, & is deeply confused.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for your responce...

I can see the value of MRMR/ASW & medium-range MPAs over SAR amphibians. You heard about MOD's approval for 9 medium range range MPAs ?? I hear the number in the follow on order is not fixed yet, is this number can go too high may be say around 30 ??

I am still a little bit confused here...
So the recent approval is about S-3 and S-4 or the larger S-5 and S-6 or no such approval is given in 2012 ?? Is this S-5 design gonna be totally different or the bigger version of Arihant ? Also i hear there is also a 6000 km range SLBM planned alongwith this K-4 (3500 km). So will this S-5 be able to house that SLBM also ?

Is the number of heavy lift chopper (Chinook or Mi26) can also go high ? I mean is their a clause for additional heavy lift chopper in that deal or just 15 ? Same with heavy attack chopper (Apache) ?

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@1.44PM: It is six MRMR/ASW platforms for the Navy & 3 MPAs using the same airframe for the ICGS. Yet again, these 'desi' news reporters have screwed up by not giving the breakdown. The ICGS requires 26 medium-range MPAs. Regarding the S-3 & S-4 yiou're confused because you haven;t read the 'Bottomline' that I had referred to above. There was no 'recent' approval for S-3 or S-4, because the approval was given in 2006. The S-5 will look something similar to a scaled-down Delta-3 SSBN (I had uploaded its design drawing last year in the thread dealing with Dr Avinash Chander's visit to Moscow). The S-5 will be able to accommodate only the K-4 SLBM. There's no project yet within India to develop a 6,500km-range SLBM. The reqmt for heavylift helicopters meant foer the IAF is about 30 units. For attack helicopters, the reqmt is for 36 units.

Anonymous said...

Thanx alot Prasun,

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasun,
when can we see a war between India and China again. If we don't have a 8000 km range SLBM, no one in India want a war with china .
Bottom line is we gonna loose more land to China in near future or rather we are loosing it already slowly.

KSK said...

Whats so game changing about it?
160 Kms range seems to be too low...what will its operational features??
Is any other country developing similar weapons???

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Dashu: There is already an on-going proxy war between China and India, which began in the mid-1970s when both China and Pakistan began coordinating with one another for subverting India militarily. When it comes to full-scale hostilities for the future, it is still four to six years away and will involve only a high-intensity limited border war in which the nuclear escalatory ladder will not be completely climbed, i.e. at the most threats of using tactical nuclear weapons will be made by China. Therefore, to deter China, what India first and foremost needs are not SLBMs, but tactical nuclear warheads capable of being launched by Nirbhay ALCMs and land-launched Shaurya TBMs.

Anonymous said...

Prasun da, Namoskar
Hope your are doing ok. I have a question regarding the ongoing artillery modernization programme, recently from certain "desi" defense forum I came to that OFB has been given a mandate by army to build two prototypes of Bofors it true? if it is then what's your opinion about the ability of OFB to successfully carry out this mandate and what's the future of the much delayed artillery modernization programme?....thank you.

Mr. Ra 13 said...

These points explain the copter deal in a proper light.

Shaurya said...

You better see the movie Transformer: Revenge of the fallen. :D

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To KSK: EMRG will indeed be a game-changer on several counts. Firstly, it does away with explosive charge-bags/modular charges. Secondly, the sheer distances the rounds can go out to, especially if such rounds are ‘smart’, i.e. GPS-guided. And since such rounds are much cheaper to produce than NLOS-BSMs like the Prahaar, they can be employed for laying trargetted and precise fire-assaults from distances in the high seas that are even beyond the range of most coastal anti-ship cruise missile launch batteries. Lastly, since such smart projectiles (like the ERGM), when launched from the EMRG, can hit targets well beyond the horizon, hostile counterbattery radars will be of no use at all. Apart from the US, China too has conducted some test-firings from an EMRG, which has been under development since 2002.

To Dutta: Yes, the OFB has been instructed by the MoD to develop two prototypes of the FH-77B howitzer: one with a 39-cal barrel and another with a 45-cal barrel. Will the OFB be able to deliver? Well, that depends on several factors, such as OFB’s own in-house production engineering/manufacturing expertise, and OFB’s willingness or unwillingness to team up with a strategic industrial partner like the BAE Systems/Mahindra Defence joint venture. Serious IPR issues are involved here. In fact, this whole issue was covered in this blog several threads earlier.

To Mr.RA 13: Even if there’s corruption involving only the Italians and if the Italian inquiry conclusively proves this, then two things should happen: those Italians involved will obviously have to face the consequences from the European Parliament under various OEDCD conventions to which Italy is a party; and secondly, India should demand that AgustaWestland either refund the overpriced quantum as liquidated damages, or adjust the amount against the contractual values of future product-support agreements inked between the MoD & AgustaWestland. If this is done, then no one in India will get his/her fingers burnt, and contract implementation won’t be hampered. The last thing anyone with blinkers on needs to do is follow the disastrous path taken earlier by the MoD, which led to the unnecessary and illogical blacklisting of the entire DENEL Group.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Mr.RA 13: Yet another example of disingenuous ‘desi’ journalism appears here:
So, going by BROADSWORD’s logic, Beijing would be so scared of the Indian Navy’s ability to block China’s commercial and military shipping in the Indian Ocean that it would instead prefer to re-route all its commercial shipping from the Middle East and East Africa to instead enter the Red Sea, cross the Suez Canal and enter the Mediterranean Sea, then proceed to the Baltic Sea and begin circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean and arrive in Dalian via Vladivostok, and then proceed downwards into the South China Sea to disgorge their cargo! Classic case of one’s imagination running as high as a Bald Eagle, I guess!!!
No one seems to be bothered about more down-to-earth issues like, for instance, now that the PC-7 Mk2 BTTs will form Tier 1 of the IAF’s pilot flight training curriculum, and this will be followed by Tier 2 with the Hawk Mk132 AJTs, then logically there should be no room left for the HJT-36 IJT (and consequently the HJT-36 is now being given a quiet burial) and instead the need now arises for a lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT) for grooming two-man aircrew teams destined for the Su-30MKIs. And what better option than a tandem-seat variant of the Tejas Mk1, about 40 of which are required. Ideally, the plan to first 40 single-seat Tejas Mk1s ought to be scrapped (as these are mere interim/temporary solutions pending the arrival of the Tejas Mk2, and instead priority ought to be given to producing 40 tandem-seat Tejas Mk1s configured as LIFTs.

Unknown said...

Hey Prasun, great article!

Why are only 1/3rd of the Mi-17s for IAF are getting the same IADS as the Rudra/LCH/AW-101? Will the remainder not have any IADS at all? It seems counter-intuative to only have part of the fleet equipped with such kit.

Also will a FLIR/EO pod be fitted to the new Mi-17 V5s? If so which FLIR/EO pod will it be, when and what proportion of the fleet (if not all) will be fitted with them?

Also is there any plans/liklihood of a follow-on order of these helos? as 12 (8 configured for VVIP) flights seems like a very small number to serve the PM/President/High ranking ministers (even seen service chiefs use this helo). And as the 4 for utility purposes are for the SPG does this mean these 4 will remain with PM/Pres solely as they are the only protectees of SPG.

And do you think we are likely to get more press realeses/images/vids of these birds in construction/flying soon like LM did with IAF C-130-30Js as we get closer to delivery date?


Unknown said...

+ the pic you have posted of the AW-101 in grey (the utility version not-VVIP version) where did you get this pic from? And could you post more such pics?

Anonymous said...

excellent suggestion regarding Tejas Mk1 as we all now know Mk2 is going to be in IAF and equally sad news about HJT63. I would not say sad news as it was expected.
IJT project at HAL was never meant to see the light from the very beginning. HAL needs serious restructuring and govt should stop giving illogical favour when rewarding any contract .else add some punitive clauses in contract to bring accountability in HAL

buddha said...

Defense News reports that the Indian Army is about to order Spike missiles and peripheral equipment in a $1 billion deal. Indian Ministry of Defence officials told the magazine that the order is for 321 launchers, 8,356 missiles, and 15 training simulators, and peripheral equipment.--------sir what is the present status of the deal

THINK TANK said...

Prasun Da Ur making mockery of other journalist by saying "DESI Journalist" R U the "VIDESHI ' one here...???

buddha said...

will Russia give(as China & Iran) its
Kh-55 (missile family) to India with Indian inputs-?

Anonymous said...

Hi PRASUN, why only a third of the Mil Mi-17v5 fleet being fitted with IADS and an IR jammer? What about the rest ? Will they feature the IADS? Will they also feature the music IR jammer? Also why are they not being fitted with DIRCM instead of the present jammers? Will all of the Mi-17v5 carry nose mounted FLIR pods for improving navigating ability ? How effective is the MUSIC IR jammer? Pls rep.

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Unknown: Only those Mi-17V-5s meant to fly within the combat zone will come fitted with IDAS and IAI/TAMAM-built FLIR pods, while those employed for rear-area logistics will not. The same applies to the Rudra, Dhruv Mk4 & upgraded An-32Bs. There won’t be any follow-on orders for the AW-101. Indian’s armed service chiefs won’t be using the AW-101s. The photo of the AW-101 is that of the VVIP version and comes directly from the OEM.

To Dashu: In the MoD’s parlance, HAL’s restructuring only means that there will be additional horizontal expansion of capabilities to cater to the extra workload. What HAL needs is strategic disinvestment so that it can become an independent and publicly-listed corporate entity so that it does not have to approach the MoD everytime it requires R & D funds.

To Buddha; DEFENSE NEWS has been claiming this for the past two years! This is the very same package that is meant for the Javelin ATGM. Simulators are not part of the deal, since the simulators will always be acquired from local sources.

To THINK TANK: Not only am I the ‘Videshi’ one, but I’ve never ever claimed to be a journalist either.

Mr. Ra 13 said...

Yes, China can manage profitable trade only with the Northern Europe through Arctic sea routes, till the democratic Russia is happy about it.

China may not be generally afraid of the Indian blockade or presence in the Indian oceans, however it may go apprehensive if it suspects any American hand behind it here or anywhere.

You are justified that IJT-36 shall be scrapped in view of the prevailing developments and that Tejas-Mk1 shall preferably be a tandem seat trainer.

Anonymous said...

When are we gonna start inducting ATGMS ?? Spike or Javelin....

When is the Skyranger start to enter in the indian armd forces ?

buddha said...

SIR it would be great if you put your thought on Torpedo Advanced Light inducted by Indian navy & developed by DRDO
Thanks & Regards

Anonymous said...

Indian "Patriot" ? HAHaHa.

Munish Sharma said...

very good and highly informed article.

I had several doubts before reading this article.

Anonymous said...

‘TAL’ TORPEDO how good is it?
And how many have been ordered?
Where was testing done..Where they successful?

KSK said...

"Not only am I the ‘Videshi’ one, but I’ve never ever claimed to be a journalist either. "

Do u mean that u r not Indian?

Instead of mocking the DESI journalists try to provide THEM with the right info .... from u r posts I know that u r passionate about defense and its tech but for these DESI journalists it may be only a job ...
I like ur blog and respect ur knowledge but you mock these DESI journalists every chance u get

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Buddha: The Light Weight Torpedo has been indigenously developed by the National Science and Technology Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam. The Light Weight Torpedo (TAL) is an electrically propelled, self- homing torpedo which can be launched both from ships and helicopters. It can hunt submarines with a speed of 33 Knots with endurance of six minutes in shallow and deep waters. The Torpedo weighs around 220kg. BDL is manufacturing these torpedoes at its Visakhapatnam Unit.

To Munish Sharma: VMT

To KSK: Indian citizen? Yes. Resident of India? No. And it's not my responsibility or obligation to provide any kind of information to any journalist. But yes, whenever spurious reports arising out of ignorance are made, then all I can do is point them out and correct them in my blog. That's not mocking by my definition. On the contrary, it is these 'desi' journalists who mock at the intelligence of the average discerning Indian citizen by spewing out outrageously erroneous information. A prominent example of this was a story on HEADLINES TODAY about the Andaman & Nicobar Command in which it was stated that China is building an air base in Great Coco Island and that this base is also completed. The question to be asked then is: where's the proof? Is there any photographic evidence of this? Did HEADLINES TODAY even bother to buy a few satellite imagery photos of this so-called air base from either Antrix Corp or DigitalGlobe to substantiate its claim? Any other self-respecting mass-media entity based in Europe or North America would have first acquired the evidence before making such outrageous, misleading and mischievous claims. And you still expect folks like me to overlook such professional lapses and adopt a 'chalta hai' attitude???

Prasun K. Sengupta said...

To Anon@10.26PM: Indeed, & you've only proved my point. What such reporters & these so-called unnamed MoD spokespersons require is a sound whacking with a baseball bat, so that when the time times to induct the Barak-2, they won't describe it as an Indian THAAD!

Anonymous said...

Hi , in a previous comment u had said that all the Mi-17v5 will come equipped with IR jammer. Those which are meant for rear area logistics they will not have even chaff and flare dispensers? Also how many AN-32 s are meant for frontline operations? If during wartime the unprotected Mi-17V5 are needed for frontline duties or troop transport then what will the IAF do?

Anonymous said...

HI Prasun,

Are there really US special forces from PACOM stationed in India to train us in Counter terrorism activities?
It would generate a huge controversy if it was reported with visuals in major TV news
Regarding the arctic passageway, what kind of possibilities do u think has opened up in commercial and military spheres?
Russian coastal cities might benefit bcoz of being located along the shipping line.

Anonymous said...


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