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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arjun Mk1A During Mobility Trials

This is one of two Arjun Mk1A MBT prototypes that are presently being subjected to mobility-cum-firepower trials. This photo, which appears in a four-page DRDO corporate advertisement published in the latest issue of THE WEEK magazine, was taken at the CVRDE’s proving ground at Avadi earlier this year. The second Arjun Mk1A prototype comes outfitted with the new digital hunter-killer tank fire-control system, inclusive of a target auto-tracker and  a newly-designed commander’s panoramic day/night sight that incorporates an IRIS thermal imager (from France’s SAGEM Défense Sécurité) and an eyesafe laser rangefinder. These optronic sensors are the same as that installed on the IRDE-developed commander’s panoramic day/night sight which is presently undergoing user-trials on board an upgraded T-90S MBT.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Truth, Only If Revealed, Shall Set You Free

Is it indeed a hoax? Is it a sheer waste of taxpayer’s money? Or is it an R & D venture that’s lacking direction and guidance from the apex-level decision-makers of India? The answers to all these questions can only be revealed AFTER one finds answers to the following questions:

1) What were the contents of the political directive given by the MoD to the DRDO in 1996 with regard to the aims and objectives of developing a BMD system?
2) How was the MoD to ensure that development of a BMD system by the DRDO did in no way diminish the deterrence value of India’s nuclear weapons arsenal and her retaliatory second-strike WMD doctrine?
3) On what terms and conditions did France, Israel and Russia agree in mid-1998 to provide key technological inputs by way of supplying off-the-shelf hardware and sub-systems required for the DRDO’s BMD-related R & D programmes?
4) What then was the resultant BMD launch control centre’s (LCC) architecture, inclusive of its launch control section, simulation section and shadow mission control centre (MCC) section, finalised?
5) What are the LCC’s six core missions?
6)  What are the LCC Task Controller’s 19 major functions?
7) How was the mission control centre’s (MCC) architecture defined?
8) What is the demonstrated kill-probability for the launch of four simultaneous (2 x PAD exo- and 2 x AAD endo-) interceptor missiles?
9) What is the projected kill-probability for the launch of four simultaneous (2 x PDV exo- and 2 x AD-1 or AD-2 endo-) interceptor missiles?
10) What is the projected engagement capability of a standalone terrestrial BMD system (without early warning from a constellation of four projected geostationary orbit-based missile monitoring satellites) in terms of simultaneously engaging multiple (how many) targets?

Do I know the answers (corroborated by evidence beyond doubt) to the above-listed 10 questions? You bet. Will they be revealed here? No, for the time is not yet ripe. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Russia-India Military-Industrial Cooperation Set To Increase In Scope And Size

Understanding was reached yesterday on a host of future potential procurement contracts and military-industrial cooperation programmes when the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, heading a high-level delegation to India, held discussions with the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) delegation led by Defence Minister A K Antony. On top of the agenda was the planned procurement of another three (Batch-3) Project 1135.6 guided-missile frigates (FFG) that would conform to the same specifications as those for the three Batch-2 Project 1135.6 FFGs that are now in delivery for the Indian Navy (IN). 
Also discussed were plans for Russian military-industrial involvement in forthcoming domestic shipbuilding projects like the planned construction of seven Project 17A FFGs and four Project 15B guided-missile destroyers, stepped life-extension programme (SLEP) for the three Project 15 DDGs, and another SLEP for the IN’s 10 existing Project 1241RE guided-missile corvettes, of which the first five were acquired off-the-shelf from Russia between 1987 and 1991, while six were subsequently licence-built by the MoD-owned Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) and Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) at a unit cost of US$35 million.
The discussions also included plans for proceeding ahead with the upgrading of the mission management system and mission sensors of the IN’s existing eight Tu-142ME LRMR/ASW aircraft by installing on each of them the Novella (Sea Dragon) suite, developed by St Petersburg-based Leninets Holding Company and already operational on board the IN’s five existing IL-38SD MRMR/ASW aircraft. Once completed, the upgraded Tu-142MEs, each armed with torpedoes as well as up to four Novator 3M54E Klub supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, are expected to remain in service until 2024.
While all the to-be-built principal surface combatants for the IN would be built by MDL and armed with vertically-launched BrahMos-1 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, the three Project 15 DDGs and five Project 1241RE guided-missile corvettes too will be retrofitted with inclined launchers for the BrahMos. The latter were designed by Russia’s St Petersburg-based Almaz Central Design Bureau and are currently each equipped with four P-20 Termit anti-ship cruise missiles and Harpoon-E target engagement system. Under the planned SLEP—to be carried out by GSL—the P-20s will give way to eight BrahMos missiles mounted on twin inclined quad launchers, while the Harpoon-E will give way to the Sigma-E suite.  
Therefore, it came as no surprise when Rogozin with the accompanying high-level military-industrial delegation visited BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd’s headquarters on July 17, 2012. There, he was shown a full-scale mock-up of the Army version of the BrahMos Mobile Autonomous Launcher and was briefed about it by Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace. Rogozin was also briefed on the achievements and progress the India-Russia JV had made in recent years, including a futuristic ‘Vision Plan 2050’ for developing newer technologies  to remain  a market leader in its fields of activity. After completion of this visit, Rogozin remarked: “I am delighted to see the enthusiasm of Indian and Russian specialists who have made the BrahMos project a success. I believe in its bright future as I believe in the future of friendship between our two nations.” Earlier, when addressing the young scientists, engineers marketing and management officials of BrahMos Aerospace  he said: “Latest technologies can be shared with close friends only , which has been seen in our cooperation in BrahMos, both  India and Russia are great countries and working together we can do wonders. I wish you all the best and success in the development of futuristic technologies for both our nations.”
During the Russian Deputy Premier’s visit, Dr Pillai highlighted the importance of the JV’s product being inducted into service with the Russian Navy, and expediting the development of new products, including the hypersonic BrahMos-2, to maintain technological edge over other countries and maintain its ‘First-in-the-World’ status. Rogozin was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to India Alexander Kadakin, Head of Federal Services for Military Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin, Head of Military Industrial Consortium NPOM Dr Alexander Leonov, Head of Tactical Missile Armament Cooperation Boris Obnocov, Head of United Aircraft Cooperation Mikhail Pogosyn, and the Head of Rosoboronexport State Corp Anatoli Isykin, and other Russian military-industrial officials.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Users Insist On Radical Makeover For Tejas Mk2

Vendor selection by the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in consultation with the Indian Air Force (IAF) for supplying various critical sub-systems of imported origin for the Tejas Mk2 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), which has been delayed by almost one-and-a-half years, is now expected to be concluded by next March. By then, the IAF would recommend the foreign vendor for supplying the integrated fire-control system (including an infra-red search-and-track sensor, or IRST, integrated with an AESA-based multi-mode radar, or MMR), and a frameless canopy actuation system. 
The IAF’s favourite choice is believed to be the Vixen850E AESA-based MMR integrated with the 55kg Skyward nose-mounted IRST, both of which have been developed by the UK-based Selex Galileo subsidiary of the Italy-based Finmeccanica Group, and is being promoted in India by Data Patterns Pvt Ltd. The Vixen 850e features an innovative roll-repositionable AESA antenna to provide a full +/-100-degree field-of-regard, which allows the aircraft to turn away after a BVRAAM launch, whilst still maintaining data-linking with the BVRAAM. Choice of the optimum combination of air combat missiles (both within-visual-range and beyond-visual-range) will be totally dependent on which fire-control system is finally selected, with the principal contenders being Raytheon and MBDA (AIM-132 ASRAAM/AIM-120C AMRAAM), RAFAEL of Israel (Python-5/Derby), MBDA (MICA family) and Russia’s Vympel JSC (RVV-MD/RVV-SD combination), which IAI/ELTA Systems will likely propose in case the Python-5/Derby solution is rejected by the IAF.
The principal lightweight PGM destined for the Tejas Mk2 (as well as for the Rafale M-MRCA and Mirage 2000UPG) is likely to be the AASM Hammer modular air-to-ground weapon built by France’s SAGEM Défense Sécurité. France’s defence procurement agency DGA on May 31 successfully carried out the first qualification test-firing of the laser terminal guidance version of the Hammer at the Cazaux air base from a Rafale M-MRCA. The target, a bridge pier located more than 50km from the release point, was illuminated by an airborne illuminator that was activated during the last few seconds of the PGM’s flight. The AASM Hammer’s guidance was deliberately initialised by offsetting the target’s GPS coordinates by over 50 metres. Thanks to its navigation, laser spot detection and terminal guidance algorithms, the AASM hit its target to within a metre. Prior to the impact, the PGM steered itself to a glide slope of 20 degrees, preferred for this type of operational scenario. The AASM Hammer is a family of air-to-ground PGMs comprising guidance and range augmentation kits attached to standard bombs. The GPS/inertial/laser guidance version, designated SBU-64 Hammer, joins the AASM range which already includes two other versions qualified for deployment by the Rafale: GPS/inertial and GPS/inertial/infra-red versions. The SBU-64 features a semi-active laser seeker in place of the infra-red imager, plus dedicated algorithms that are activated during the terminal phase. This version of the AASM can be used to attack moving targets.
Both the IAF and Indian Navy have also recommended that the projected cockpit of the Tejas Mk2 should offer a range of new and enhanced features such as a centric, modular concept of operation, enabling pilots to control and personalise the displays, applications and information sources. The IAF is believed to have zeroed in earlier this year on the CockpitNG option, which was originally developed by ELBIT Systems for the global F-16 upgrade market, and can be easily sourced from HALBIT Avionics Pvt Ltd, the joint venture between ELBIT Systems and the MoD-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). For the CockpitNG, an advanced display fusion engine has been developed, allowing information to be fused in multiple layers, yet displayed in one place. The new capabilities provide pilots with enhanced situational awareness and mission management, reduce pilot workload and support successful achievement of mission goals in all weather conditions. The CockpitNG, which is being shown for the very first time at the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA-2012), comprises a large area panoramic display (LAD), a low-profile head-up display (LPHUD) and the Targo helmet-mounted display/cueing system. New applications are projected on all elements of the CockpitNG, displaying all relevant data while hiding the irrelevant information to prevent overload. The LAD touch-screen offers a unique concept of operation, enabling pilots to personalise their displays, applications and information with a sweep of the finger, according to specific mission requirements. The cutting-edge 3-D map concept of operation, centered in large size, projects a 3-D image of the world, viewing fused information from own-ship sensors and data-link members’ sensors. The projection of fused synthetic and real-time pictures, videos, sensors and information makes any mission possible and supports successful achievement of enhanced mission goals in all weather conditions.
The 22-inch LAD with HD resolution, is a new-generation avionics display system designed to replace all conventional flight instruments and AMLCD screens, thus creating a full glass-cockpit. The display combines sensor fusion with a decision support system, in order to present all relevant information in a format that facilitates the pilot's missions. The LPHUD is designed as a combined solution for cockpits containing a large-area display due to its streamlined size and shape that requires less space than typical HUD designs. Providing sizeable enhancements for resolution, brightness, accuracy, reliability and maintainability compared to current-generation HUDs, the LPHUD employs digital display technology (LCD-raster display) and provides capability for video processing and image display functions, digital video interfaces, analogue deflection interfaces and sensor display fusion growth provisions. The TARGO HMD will deliver all mission-critical avionics and advanced applications directly to the helmet. Augmented reality will; be achieved by a combination of real-time videos and synthetic data projected on the visor, thereby enhancing pilot situational awareness and increasing operational success rates. When installed on board the Tejas Mk2, the CockpitNG along with its LAD and LPHUD, plus the OSAMC and the processor-cum management LRU will collectively offer significant weight-savings and at the same time make available additional internal volume for accommodating additionally mandated avionics like the IRST sensor, and the open-architecture and integrated defensive avionics suite, or IDAS.
What has already been confirmed thus far is that the two-way airborne operational data-links (ODL) will be supplied by HAL, which, among other systems, will also be supplying the OSAMC mission computer (to cater to the increased processing requirements of the new fire-control system, stores management functions, and a new-design glass-cockpit), the RAM-1701AS radio altimeter, TACAN-2901AJ and DME-2950A tactical air navigation system combined with the ANS-1100A VOL/ILS marker, CIT-4000A Mk12 IFF transponder, COM-1150A UHF standby comms radio, UHF SATCOM transceiver, and the SDR-2010 SoftNET four-channel software-defined radio (working in VHF/UHF and L-band for voice and data communications), and the Bheem-EU brake control/engine/electrical monitoring system, all of which have been developed in-house by the Hyderabad-based Strategic Electronics R & D Centre of HAL. SAGEM Défense Sécurité will supply the Sigma-95N ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system coupled to a GPS receiver (which is also on board the Su-30MKI and Tejas Mk1). The IDAS, which has been under joint development by the DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and Germany-based Cassidian since 2006, will include the multi-spectral AAR-60(V)2 MILDS-F missile approach warning system, the Tarang Mk3 radar warning receiver (built by Bharat Electronics Ltd), the open-architecture EW processor-cum management LRU, countermeasures dispenser built by Bharat Dynamics Ltd, and Elettronica of Italy’s Virgilius suite that makes use of ELT-568 directional jammers (now being installed on the IAF’s MiG-29UPGs), which make use of active phased-array transmitters for jamming hostile low-band (E-G) and high-band (G-J) emitters. The redesigned digital flight-control computer will be built by BEL.
For tactical strike missions, the Tejas Mk2 will be equipped with the Litening-3 LDP, supplied by RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems of Israel. The actuated retractable aerial refuelling probe, mounted on the Tejas Mk2’s starboard cockpit section, will be supplied by UK-based Cobham Mission Equipment. The same vendor will also supply the pneumatic air-to-ground stores ejection systems like release units, practice bomb carriers, multiple stores carriers, AGML-3 triple-rail launchers, and high-velocity ejection launchers, almost all of which are already operational on the IAF’s fleet of BAE Systems Hawk Mk132 lead-in fighter trainers. Cobham will thus join a growing list of foreign vendors associated with both the Tejas Mk1 and Mk2, which include Intertechnique SA, SAFRAN Group’s SAGEM Défense Sécurité subsidiary and IN-LHC ZODIAC of France; US-based GE Aero Engines, Hamilton Sunstrand, EATON Aerospace, MOOG, and Goodrich Aerospace; UK-based CHELTON Avionics, Penny + Giles, and Martin Baker (supplier of Mk 16LG zero-zero ejection seats); Italy’s Secondo Mona; and Germany’s Cassidian and Faure Herman. Indian companies involved include HAL, TAML, Data Patterns Pvt Ltd, Government Tool Room and Training Centre (GT & TC), and SLN Technologies Pvt Ltd.
The Tejas Mk2 will have a length of 0.7 metres more than that of the Tejas Mk1 for incorporating a stretched nose section and a modified fuselage section aft of the cockpit for housing an expanded complement of mission avionics LRUs), height of 4.6 metres (as opposed to 4.4 metres of the Tejas Mk1) to accommodate an enlarged vertical tail-section, and a wingspan of 8.2 metres—same as that of the Tejas Mk1—that, however, will feature an increased wing area. External stores capacity will be boosted to 5,000kg (as opposed to 3,500kg for the Tejas Mk1), while the twin internal air-intake ducts will be enlarged to cater to the increased airflow requirements of the 98kN thrust F414-GE-INS6 turbofan built by GE Aero Engines. India’s Ministry of Defence has sanctioned US$542.44 million (Rs2,431.55-crore) for ADA to develop the IAF’s Tejas Mk2 variant and the Indian Navy’s LCA Mk2 (Navy) variant so that the first Tejas Mk2 prototype can roll out by September 2013 and fly by December 2014, following which HAL would begin series-producing the MRCA by 2016. While the IAF is committed to procuring an initial 83 Tejas Mk2s, the Navy has expressed its firm requirement for 46 LCA Mk2 (Navy).

Just like the Tejas Mk1, the airframe of the Tejas Mk2 will incorporate 13 major composites-built structures fabricated by TATA Advanced Materials Ltd (TAML), which was awarded the contract after the state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) expressed its failure to deliver the structures on time. Structures to be produced by TAML for each aircraft will include a rudder assembly, fin assembly, 60 carbon-fibre reinforced (CFC) wing spars, 38 wing fuselage fairing skins, 20 wing fuselage fairing blocks, 41 CFC centre fuselage components, two forward undercarriage doors and two aft undercarriage doors.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How China Employs ‘Mis-Direction’ To Achieve Its Military-Industrial Objectives

Since the latter half of 1989, the US had imposed a prohibition on the export to China of all US-made military hardware and related technical data as a result of the conduct in June 1989 at Tiananmen Square by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In addition, in February 1990, the US Congress imposed a prohibition upon licences or approvals for the export of military hardware to the PRC. In codifying the embargo, the US Congress had specifically named helicopters of all types for inclusion in the ban. Despite this, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp (PWC), a Canadian subsidiary of the US-based United Technologies Corporation (UTC), and Hamilton Sundstrand Corp (HSC) the US-based subsidiary of PWC, knowingly and willfully consented to the export of 10 (ten) PWC PT6C-67C turboshaft engines (each rated at 1,679shp), which were delivered between 2001 and 2002 along with related HSC-developed dual-channel full authority digital electronic engine control (FADEC) software without obtaining an export licence from the US. Based on documents filed and evidence gathered for an on-going court case initiated by the US Departments of Commerce, Justice and State in the District of Connecticut, it has since emerged that PWC on June 28, 2012 pleaded guilty to violating the US Arms Export Control Act and making false statements in connection with its illegal export to the PRC of US-origin military software used in the development of the PLA’s new-generation attack helicopter, the 6.5-ton ZW-10, which has been under development since the mid-1990s at the Changhe Aircraft Industries Group (CAIG) and China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI), both based in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. 
In addition, UTC, its US-based subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand Corp (HSC) and PWC have all agreed to pay more than US$75 million as part of a global settlement with the US Justice and State Departments in connection with weapons export violations and for making false and belated disclosures to the US government about these illegal exports. While roughly $20.7 million is to be paid to the Justice Department, the remaining $55 million is payable to the State Department as part of a separate consent agreement to resolve outstanding export issues, including those related to the ZW-10. Up to $20 million of this penalty can be suspended if applied by UTC to remedial compliance measures. As part of the settlement, UTC and HSC have admitted conduct set forth in a stipulated and publicly filed statement of facts.
Although PWC knew since 1998 that the ZW-10 was destined to be an attack helicopter, it allegedly decided to ‘suppress’ this piece of information also failed to notify UTC or HSC about the actual application of their products. Instead, both UTC and HSC were reportedly told that their products were meant for a 7-ton civilian multi-role helicopter—the AC-352—that was apparently being developed by CAIG and CHRDI, and since the PRC’s own indigenous engine for the ZW-10, the WZ-16, had not yet been developed by the PRC’s China Helicopter Turbine Engine Corp (CHTEC), the PWC PT6C-67Cs and their FADEC software packages would be used only temporarily only for the ZW-10’s flight-test phase, and would later be removed for eventual and permanent application/fitment on board the AS-352. Furthermore, both UTC and HSC were reportedly given an assurance (first conveyed to PWC by the PRC) by UTC that their products would be exclusive to all civilian variants of the AC-352. Consequently, HSC began cooperating with CAIG and CHRDI, which lasted till early 2004. PWC remained involved in the ZW-10’s R & D efforts till June 2005.   
In a related development, as part of its efforts to keep UTC, PWC and HSC more than happy, the PRC’s Aviation Industry Corp (AVIC) decided to enlarge the financial cake by announcing on November 6, 2002 that PWC’s PT6B-67A engine (rated at 1,200shp) and HSC’s dual-channel FADEC had been selected on an exclusive basis to power the three-engined AC-313 civilian multi-role heavylift helicopter, while for the 7-ton EC-175 twin-engined civilian multi-role helicopter (which is being co-developed by AVIC and Eurocopter SA since December 2005), PWC’s PT6C-67E turboshaft, rated at 1,775shp, had been selected as the exclusive powerplant along with HSC’s dual-channel FADEC.
Based on my interactions with several PRC-centric industry officials since 1996 at the biennial Airshow China aerospace expos held in Zhuhai, it can now be confirmed with certainty that the CAIG and CHRDI were mandated by the PLA sometime in mid-1998 to develop four types of new-generation helicopters—attack helicopter, multi-role heavylift helicopter, single-engined 2-ton multi-role helicopter meant for use as a LOH/LUH (this being the AC-301) and a medium twin-engined helicopter—all three of which were required to be capable of undertaking ‘hot-n-high’ flight operations throughout the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other high-altitude regions of China.
Two flight-test prototypes of the ZW-10 were built in 2003 and two more in 2004. The first flight of Prototype No2 took place on April 29, 2003. The latter two prototypes were evaluated by the PLA Army by 2007. Originally designed by the 602nd Research Institute, 608th Research Institute, and the 613th Research Institute since the mid-1990s, the ZW-10 makes use of the indigenous GJV289A digital flight-control data bus, and is equipped with a fly-by-wire flight control system. The auxiliary power unit is centered on a brushless DC electric motor designed by Huafeng Avionics Co, a subsidiary of Guizhou Aviation Industries Group. The weapons package includes eight NORINCO-built 7km-range Lan Jian 7 (Blue Arrow 7/AKD-10) laser-guided anti-armour guided-missiles in box launchers under the stub wings, and a 30mm cannon mounted under the chin, aimed via a gunner’s helmet-mounted sight. Furthermore, TY-90 AAMs can be carried for use against hostile helicopters and slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft. The ZW-10’s mission avionics suite is integrated via a MIL-STD-1553B digital data bus, while its integrated EW suite—called YH-96—is the first of its type developed by the PRC that integrates the millimetre-wave fire-control radar, radar warning receivers, laser warning receivers, and countermeasures dispenser suite together. A large nose turret, developed by the 218th Factory of China North Industries Corp’s (NORINCO) Opticals Science & Technology Ltd subsidiary, houses the FLIR, TV camera, laser rangefinder and target designator. The pilots’ helmet-mounted sight was developed by the 613th Research Institute, while the 69.5kg millimetre-wave target acquisition radar has been built by China Northern Electronic Co, a subsidiary of NORINCO. Twin missile approach warning system (MAWS) sensors are installed on both sides of the fuselage behind the nose turret. The ZW-10 is also fitted with an integrated communications suite, four-axis automatic flight control system, and a ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system. The ultimate powerplant for the ZW-10 will be the CHTEC-developed and built WZ-16 engines.
The first prototype of the AC-313 multi-role heavylift helicopter made its maiden flight on March 19, 2010 and on September 2, 2010 one of the AC-313 prototypes set an altitude record for PRC-built helicopters by exceeding an altitude of 8,000 metres (26,250 feet) in a flight aimed at proving the on-board fuel, lubrication and hydraulic systems. The helicopter performed the feat at a mass of 9.2 tons (20,300 lb), compared with a MTOW of 13.8 tons. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a certification of airworthiness for the AC-313 on January 9, 2012. The AC-313’s main and tail rotor blades are made of composites, while its ball-shaped main rotor hub is built with titanium. Up to 50% of the airframe is built with composites, while titanium has been used for the remainder. The avionics suite, integrated via a ARINC-429 digital data bus, includes an all-glass cockpit, nose-mounted search radar, and a four-axis automatic flight control system. The AC-313 can carry either 27 passengers or a 4-ton internal load, or a 5-ton load on external slings.
The AC-352 medium twin-engined multi-role helicopter, which was first showcased at the Airshow China expo in Zhuhai in late 2010, bears a strong resemblance to the EC-175, and its military variant will be known as the Z-15. The Z-15’s powerplant too, like the ZW-10, will comprise CHTEC-developed and built WZ-16 engines. What remains unexplained to this day is why the AC-352, whose existence was known since 1998, has yet to make an appearance, let alone its maiden flight. Was it because CAIG and CHRDI were awaiting the transfer of the EC-175’s design packages from Eurocopter SA via AVIC—something that was possible only by 2008? Only time will tell.—Prasun K. Sengupta