Sunday, 27 May 2012

Next-Generation “Space Fence”

Space is big. Objects in space are very dangerous to each other. Countries that intend to launch objects into space need to know what’s out there, in order to avoid disasters like the 2009 collision of 2 orbital satellites. All they need to do is track many thousands of man-made space objects, traveling at about 9 times the speed of a bullet, and residing in a search area that’s 220,000 times the volume of Earth’s oceans.

The US Air Force Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts leads the procurement for the USA’s Space Fence, which is intended to improve space situational awareness as legacy systems in the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) are retired. With a total anticipated value of around $6.1 billion over its lifetime, Space Fence will deliver a system of 2-3 geographically dispersed ground-based radars to provide timely assessment of space objects, events, and debris.

The Space Fence program will provide a radar system operating in the S-band frequency range to replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) VHF “Fence” radar that currently performs detection of orbiting space objects. The Space Fence will have a modern, net-centric architecture that is capable of detecting much smaller objects in low/medium Earth orbit (LEO/MEO). It was slated to go live by 2015, but current GAO reports believe this will be 2017 at the earliest.

In 1980, there were 5,396 total objects to track. In 2010, there were 15,639. Space Fence is expected to grow that set very quickly, because the higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will allow for the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than the current systems allow. At the same time, global political and technology trends are accelerating the absolute number of these objects in space.

The current AFSSS is also known as a “fence” because several transmitters and receivers create a narrow, continent-wide planar energy field in space. There are currently 9 AFSSS sites (3 transmitter, 6 receiver), located on a path across the southern United States from Georgia to California along the 33rd parallel. Energy emitted from the transmitter sites forms a fixed position, very narrow, fan shaped beam in the north-south direction extending across the continental United States in the east-west direction. One or more of the receiver sites receives energy reflected from objects penetrating the beam.

The new Space Fence system would reduce the number of sites to 2 or 3. John Morse, Space Fence Program Manager, Lockheed Martin MS2 Radar Systems:

“The new Space Fence will be located in geographically dispersed areas to give us better coverage in the Southern Hemisphere in particular. It will also enhance the space situational awareness by being able to see smaller objects….Space Fence will be a system of systems that consists of 2 to 3 large S-band radars and those radars will join other sensors in the space surveillance network and provide space situational awareness to the Air Force….The scope of the Space Fence contract includes sensors, mission processing, data processing, facilities, and communications, the whole system requirement….In order to use the space domain, we need to have accurate space situational awareness….We need to know where things are so we can use space when and how we need to use it. So the military application can be summed as giving the Air Force enhanced space situational awareness.”

The Space Fence procurement is broken down into the following phases: Phase A, Preliminary Design Review, System Development, Deployment and Follow-on support. System development is scheduled to begin in June 2012, with the first Space Fence radar site providing initial operational capability by the end of fiscal year 2015, and the final site providing full capability by 2020.

To fit this program into its larger context, the US GAO characterized 4 facets of space situational awareness (SSA), an umbrella term that includes but it not limited to tracking space debris:

Detect, Track, and Identify. The ability to discover, track, and differentiate among space objects. Space Fence will anchor this facet, but it won’t be the only asset used for this purpose.

Threat warning and Assessment. The ability to predict and differentiate among potential or actual attacks, space weather environment effects, and space system anomalies. Space Fence may be able to help with this task, but in a secondary way.

Intelligence characterization. The ability to determine performance and characteristics of current and future foreign space and counterspace system capabilities, as well as foreign adversary intentions. Better monitoring of space may help with intelligence collection, but in a tertiary way.

Data integration. The ability to correlate and integrate multisource data into a single common operational picture and enable dynamic decision making. Out of scope for Space Fence. The USA’s pending Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS) will play a large role here, and must be ready, or the amount of data generated by the new radars will exceed the system’s capacity.

Over the 2011-2015 period, Pentagon expects about 66% of their $3.3 billion SSA investment to buy new sensors, about 21% on JMS for data integration, and the other 13% on extending the lives of current sensors, and other SSA-related programs.

At an estimated program cost of $6.1 billion over its lifetime, Space Fence will be the USAF’s largest single investment in SSA sensors. It will serve alongside new systems like the SSBS satellite, the pending ground-based RAIDRS electromagnetic interference detection system, and DARPA’s pending ground-based Space Surveillance Telescope. They’re designed to boost the existing Space Surveillance Network, which includes 29 ground-based Department of Defense (DOD) and privately/foreign owned radar and optical sensors, at 17 worldwide locations; plus a communications network, and primary and alternate operations centers for data processing. Most of the sensors are mechanical tracking, phased-array, and continuous-wave radars, but optical telescopes are also used.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

China modernization

The Defense Department’s 2012 Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China report details China’s growing military capabilities, and points to areas of cooperation between the United States and China, a senior DOD official said here today.

Delivered to Congress today, the annual report discusses China’s security and military strategy, developments in China’s military doctrine and force structure, the security situation in the Taiwan Strait, U.S.-China military-to-military contacts, and the nature of China’s cyber activities directed against the Department of Defense.

Other information in the report includes the People’s Liberation Army investments in China’s aircraft carrier program, anti-ship ballistic missiles and aircraft development. It also discusses China’s pursuit of its “new historic missions.”

China is building its military to be able to fight and win “local wars,” said David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. Helvey briefed the Pentagon press corps on the report.

The Chinese military is learning from the lessons the U.S. military has compiled since the Persian Gulf War, he said. The Chinese call this strategy “informatization,” and Helvey said this is the phrase the Chinese use to encompass the revolution in military affairs. China uses this term to mean the role of information and information systems “not only as an enabler of modern combat, but a fundamental attribute of modern warfare,” he said.

The Chinese carefully watched U.S. and coalition military forces, beginning from the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, through today.

“One of the things that the PLA has consistently highlighted is the role of advanced information technology not only for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but also enabling precision fires,” Helvey said. “And when they talk about fighting and winning local wars under conditions of informatization, that’s the type of warfighting environment that … they’re talking about.”

Helvey said Chinese leaders view the first two decades of the 21st century as China’s “period of strategic opportunity.”

As China’s economic power has boomed, its influence has expanded. “As these interests have grown and as China has assumed new roles and responsibilities in the international community, China’s military modernization is also, to an increasing extent, focusing on investments that would enable China’s armed forces to conduct a wide range of missions, including those that are far from China,” Helvey said.

Last year, he said, the People’s Liberation Army demonstrated the capability to conduct limited peacetime deployments and military operations at great distance from China, including noncombatant evacuations from Libya, counterpiracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and peacekeeping operations. Still, the focus remains on the Chinese military preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait.

In addition to Taiwan, China places a high priority on its maritime territorial claims, Helvey said. “In recent years China has begun to demonstrate a more routine and capable presence in both the South China Sea and East China Sea,” he said.

Helvey stressed the opportunities the situation presents to both the United States and China. Chinese ships and crews could work with international partners to tamp down piracy. Air, naval and ground forces could conduct humanitarian and disaster relief exercises together.

“There’s an opportunity for China to partner with us and with other countries to address the types of challenges that we all face in the 21st century,” he said.

Helvey said other portions of the report detail continued Chinese investments in nuclear forces, short- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft, and integrated air defenses, cruise missiles, submarines and surface combatants and counter-space and cyberwarfare capabilities. Many of these capabilities “appear designed to enable what we call anti-access and area-denial missions, or what PLA strategists refer to as counterintervention operations,” Helvey said.

The January 2011 flight test of China’s next-generation fighter aircraft, the J-20, highlighted China’s ambition to produce advanced fighter aircraft. The flight, which occurred during then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ visit to China, points to an effective operational capability no sooner than 2018.

Other steps include sea trials of China’s first aircraft carrier, which it purchased from Ukraine in 1998. The ship could become available to the PLA Navy by the end of the year, “but we expect it’ll take several additional years for an air group to achieve a minimal operational capability aboard the aircraft carrier,” Helvey said.

China has also made investments to improve its capacity for operations in cyberspace, he said.

“That is something that we pay very, very careful attention to,” Helvey said. “There is the potential for these types of operations to be very disruptive — disruptive not only in a conflict, [they] could be very disruptive to the United States, but other countries as well.

“That’s one of the things about military operations in cyberspace,” he added, “that there can be cascading effects that are hard to predict.”

The report is DOD’s effort to forecast China’s intentions, Helvey said. While there have been improvements in transparency within the Chinese military, he added, much still occurs in secret. He pointed to developments in cyber, space and with foreign-bought weapons systems as not being part of China’s published national security budget.

That budget grew 11.2 percent from 2011’s $91.5 billion to $106 billion — continuing two decades of hothouse growth.

Helvey said the report is an effort to ensure the United States isn’t taken unawares by China’s military progress, but he acknowledges there will probably still be some surprises.

“We have seen in the past, instances where China has developed weapons systems and capabilities that appeared either earlier than we expected or that we were surprised when we saw it,” he said. “I think that is something that we have to anticipate and expect.

We’re paying very careful attention to China’s military modernization,” he added, “but we’ve been surprised in the past, and we may very well be surprised in terms of seeing new weapons and equipment in the future.”

Russia develops air defense lasers

According to CEO of Russia’s Almaz-Antei advanced arms makers Dr Vladislav Menshikov, his company continues work, started decades ago in the Soviet Union, to develop powerful airborne lasers capable of shooting down hostile aircraft and incoming missiles. Sources say a weapon of this kind can destroy targets travelling at altitudes of up to 40 kilometers.
Chief Editor of the Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defence) journal Dr Igor Korothcenko is ‘moderately skeptical’:
“Laser weapons will catch on, but not before 30 to 40 years from now. The problem is that developing them is exorbitantly costly. In the near future, guided missiles will be doing the air defence job. In the meantime, Russia has made considerable progress in laser weapon development. Its work in this field is focused on powerful airborne laser guns.”
Laser weapon R and D in the US is on hold, but is likely to be reactivated, as the Americans build missile defence systems and consider plans to take weapons to orbit. Russia is doing everything in its power to avert a costly arms race in space.

Monday, 21 May 2012

New russian helicopter Ka-62

Russian Helicopters, part of Russian state defense industry holding Oboronprom, and a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters and producer of some of the world’s most iconic, innovative and widely operated models, today presented the new model of the medium multi-role Ka-62 at the 5th international helicopter exhibition HeliRussia 2012.

The presentation took place on Russian Helicopters Day at the company’s stand (1E, 1F) in Moscow’s Crocus Expo international exhibition centre (pavilion 1, room 4).

“We are delighted to present the new model of the medium multi-role Ka-62 to the Russian aviation market,” said Dmitry Petrov, CEO of Russian Helicopters. “The new model combines all of the traditional qualities that generations of purchasers have come to expect from Russian-made helicopters, and is reliable and easy to operate. The designers have worked particularly hard to reduce the helicopter’s environmental footprint and increase its operational cost-efficiency. I am sure that the new model’s expanded functionality will find increased demand among traditional buyers and will also attract new purchasers.”

Built using new technologies and materials, the Ka-62 is a single-rotor design, with an enclosed tail rotor and an airframe and propeller blades consisting of over 50% polymeric composite materials.

The version presented today can be fitted with two Turbomeca Ardiden 3G engines, providing 1,680 hp. The modular design and dual channel FADEC make the Ardiden 3G highly reliable and easy to use, with the benefit of exceptionally low fuel consumption. The helicopter will also include a glass cockpit developed by St Petersburg-based company Transas.

Other features include a five-blade rotor, secondary hydraulics circuit, energy-efficient wheeled landing gear, strengthened fuselage and fuselage attachment points and shock-absorbing seats for the crew and passengers.

The Ka-62 is designed for cargo transportation, medevac and search-and rescue operations, and can also be used in the oil and gas sector and for corporate purposes.

Visitors to the Russian Helicopters stand at HeliRussia 2012, the fifth iteration of the event, running through May 19, can also see helicopters in serial production including the Mi-8/17 and Ka-32A11BC, as well as the upgrade programme for the super-heavyweight Mi-26T2. The stand also features the light Ansat and Ka-226T, which are scheduled to go into serial production. Also on show are the military Mi-28NE Night Hunter, Ka-52 Alligator and Mi-35M, as well as the upgraded Mi-8/17, which supplied to the Russian Ministry of Defence and by Rosoboronexport to the foreign buyers.

The Ka-62 will be produced at the Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company in Russia’s Far East. The first flight is scheduled for August 2013, with certification by the Interstate Aviation Committee and first deliveries set for 2015. Russian Helicopters also plans to have the Ka-62 certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Russian Helicopters, JSC is a subsidiary of UIC Oboronprom, which in turn is a part of Russian Technologies State Corporation. Russian Helicopters is headquartered in Moscow. The company comprises five helicopter production facilities, two design bureaus, a spare parts production and repair facility, as well as an aftersale service branch responsible for maintenance and repair in Russia and all over the world. Russian Helicopters was established in 2007. In 2011 its IFRS revenues increased 27.8% to RUB 103.9 billion. Deliveries reached 262 helicopters.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

J-20 against F-22

China may be building its own version of next-generation fighter planes, which are touted to have similar capabilities like US’ latest breed of super jet fighters, a new report has revealed. 

The Pentagon’s 2012 annual report revealed that the January 2011 flight test of China’s next-generation fighter prototype, a J-20, highlights China’s ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics, and super-cruise engines. 

The report comes a month after a second prototype of the J-20 was reportedly spotted hovering around a Chinese airfield, more than a year and a half after China’s only other known prototype made its first public flight. 

According to ABC News, the three attributes described by the Pentagon are among the advanced capabilities of a F-22 Raptor, the stealth fighter jet introduced by the US Air Force and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, which has been named as the most sophisticated fighter plane on the planet. 

However, currently the entire fleet of F-22s, which cost the US government an estimated USD 79 billion, has been slammed with strict flight restrictions due to safety concerns for pilots. 

Although reports suggest that China may not be possessing more than a couple J-20s, a US government report on Chinese weapons systems released last month claimed US intelligence as estimating that at least some J-20s could go combat operational as soon as 2018. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Challenges in front of PAK FA T-50

Seven years before its scheduled completion, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has already announced a two-year delay in the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) India and Russia are to jointly develop.

Defence Minister A K Antony has been saying the FGFA would join the Indian Air Force by 2017. On Monday, his deputy, M M Pallam Raju, told Parliament, “The fifth generation aircraft is scheduled to be certified by 2019, following which the series production will start.”

The FGFA is the flagship of the Indo-Russian partnership. Both countries say it would be the world’s most advanced fighter. But interviews with Indian designers who have overseen the project suggest significant disquiet. There is apprehension the FGFA would significantly exceed its current $6 million budget, because this figure reflects the expenditure on just the basic aircraft. Crucial avionics systems would cost extra.
On the positive side, Indian designers say the FGFA project would provide invaluable experience in testing and certifying a heavy fighter aircraft that is bigger and more complex than the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), India’s foundational aerospace achievement.

The Russian and Indian air forces each plan to build about 250 FGFAs, at an estimated cost of $100 million per fighter. That adds up to $25 billion each, in addition to the development cost.

The FGFA’s precursor has already flown. In January 2010, Russian company Sukhoi test-flew a prototype called the PAK-FA, the acronym for Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsy (literally prospective aircraft complex of frontline aviation). Now, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will partner Sukhoi to transform the bare-bones PAK-FA into an FGFA that meets the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s requirements of stealth (near-invisibility to radar), super-cruise (supersonic cruising speed), networking (real-time digital links with other battlefield systems) and world-beating airborne radar that outranges enemy fighters.

But Sukhoi insists the PAK-FA already meets Russia’s requirements, says N C Agarwal, HAL’s design chief, who spearheaded the FGFA negotiations until his recent retirement. HAL worries Russia might ask India to pay extra for further development, particularly the avionics that transform a mere flying machine into a lethal weapons platform. That would leave the $6-billion budget in tatters.

The IAF clearly wants a top-of-the-line FGFA. According to Ashok Nayak, who spoke to Business Standard as HAL’s chairman before retiring last October, the IAF has specified 40-45 improvements that must be made to the PAK-FA. These have been formalised into an agreed list between Russia and India, the Tactical Technical Assignment.

A key IAF requirement is a ‘360-degree’ AESA (airborne electronically scanned active) radar, rather than the AESA radar that Russia developed. Either way, India would pay Russia extra: either in licence fee for the Russian radar; or hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, for developing a world-beating, 360-degree AESA radar.

Nor is the IAF clear on whether the FGFA should be a single-seat fighter like the PAK-FA, or a twin-seat aircraft like the Sukhoi-30MKI. A section of the IAF backs a single-seat fighter, while another prefers two pilots for flying and fighting a complex, networked fighter. During the ongoing preliminary design phase (PDP), for which India paid $295 million, the two sides would determine whether developing the PAK-FA into a twin-seat aircraft (inevitably more bulky) would reduce the FGFA’s stealth and performance unacceptably.

“The single-seat FGFA is essential for the IAF, and we will transform the Russian single-seat fighter into our single-seat version with a large component of Indian avionics. The twin-seat version will depend on the PDP conclusions,” says Nayak.

The PDP also requires Sukhoi to hand over design documentation to HAL, providing it a detailed insight into the design processes of the PAK-FA. Since India took years to decide to join the FGFA project, HAL missed out the design phase entirely.

The 18-month PDP, which terminates this year, will be followed by the ‘R&D phase’, which could take another seven years, says the HAL chairman. The FGFA would be designed in both countries. About 100 HAL engineers already operate from a facility in Bangalore. Another contingent would move to Russia to work in the Sukhoi design bureau.

“Our boys will learn the Russian language, their way of working, their design rules and their design norms. We are left-hand drive, while they are right-hand drive. The Russians say they would part with all these things,” says Nayak.

But the most valuable learning, say HAL executives, would take place during the FGFA’s flight-testing. “Unlike the basic design phase which we missed out on, we will actually gain experience during flight testing. This phase throws up dozens of problems, and we will participate in resolving these, including through design changes,” says Agarwal.

HAL designers also relish the FGFA’s specific challenges. For achieving stealth, its missiles, rockets and reconnaissance payloads are concealed in an internal bay under the wings. Before using these, a door slides open, exposing the weapon for use.

The Russians clearly believe HAL possesses useful capabilities, including the ability to design the AESA radar. Also attractive is India’s experience in composites.

“The LCA programme has generated a high level of expertise in composite materials within the National Aerospace Laboratory and some joint teams. The FGFA requires ‘higher modulus’ composites, which can withstand the 120-130 degree Centigrade temperatures that arise whilst flying at Mach 1.7 speeds,” says Agarwal.

Despite the continuing imponderables, HAL believes the FGFA project provides genuine technological skills, far more useful than licensed manufacture. Agarwal says, “We will pay some $6-7 billion to France for the licence to build the Rafale in HAL. In the FGFA project, a similar sum would bring in genuine design knowledge that will help us in the future.”

PAF : PAF to take over IAF

Terming the Indian Air Force (IAF) as "crisis-hit" and rocked by various scams and infighting, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) claims that the PAF would overtake the IAF in the next one or two years. Stating that the Indian media has expressed shock and dismay over the revelations that the IAF would lose its superiority to the PAF, a release by PAF said: "The squadron strength of the IAF will drop to just 31 during the country's 12th five year plan (2012-2017)."

"At present, the IAF is operating 34 fighter jet squadrons, as compared to the 26 operated by the PAF. However, the IAF needs to operate 39.5 squadrons to maintain its superiority over the PAF due to a wide variety of issues like geographical disadvantage," it added.

The statement on Monday also claimed India "seems to have overlooked the procurement of much needed fighter aircraft, needed to guard its skies. The IAF also plans to phase out around 125 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 fighter jets during 2014-2017. It plans to replace them with the HAL Tejas, whose induction is likely to get delayed."

On the other hand, the PAF is moving forward with a number of high profile aircraft deals. Pakistan recently received 14 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (Block-52) aircraft from the US. It is likely to acquire 14 more within a short time.

The PAF is also actively pursuing aircraft deals with Chinese aerospace companies. It has finalised a deal to purchase 36 Chengdu J-10 multirole fighter aircraft from Chinese aircraft manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. The PAF is likely to induct these aircraft in 2014, according to the statement.

Reports say that the PAF would purchase as many as 150 fighter jets from China in the long run.

Pointing out India's recent defence deal with the French aerospace manufacturer Dassault Aviation for 126 Dassault Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, the statement claimed "the deal has come under increasing scrutiny after allegations of kickbacks being given to Indian defence officials. Even if the deal goes forward, the delivery of the fighter jet is expected to take a long time. Earlier the Dassault Rafale was rejected by nations such as Singapore, South Korea, Morocco and Switzerland, citing lack of advanced technology and cost."

It also claimed: "Ever since the current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took over for a second term in 2009, the defence scene has remained murky and problematic for the Indian government."

"The Army chief, Gen V K Singh, who undertook a number of reforms within the armed forces, was asked to resign this month by the defence minister, citing an error in his officially reported date of birth. The opposition claims that the government terminated Gen Singh's services since he was opposed to the corruption in the armed forces. A loyalist of the ruling Indian National Congress party, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, will take over the leadership from Gen V K Singh on June 1, 2012," it added.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery projectiles

Raytheon Company has fired four Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery projectiles from the Denel-manufactured G6 self-propelled howitzer as part of a field trial demonstration.

Multiple rounds of the combat-proven Excalibur successfully fired from the G6 155mm wheeled howitzer out to a range of 38 kilometers (23.6 statute miles), with all rounds landing within 5 meters (16.4 feet) of the target.

“These trials demonstrated Excalibur can give a true precision capability to G6 howitzers that can enhance the warfighter’s defensive posture,” said Kevin Matthies, Excalibur program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Excalibur improves tactical war fighting capability by providing precision that is essential to close-combat operations.”

The U.S. Army has demonstrated Excalibur in scenarios designed to defeat specific point targets while avoiding damage to structures, non-combatants and friendly forces. This targeting capability provides flexibility to engage at the tactical level, avoiding unintended consequences. Significantly fewer Excalibur rounds are required to defeat a target, lessening the burden of logistics.

About Excalibur
Successfully fielded in 2007, the Excalibur 155mm precision-guided, extended-range projectile is the revolutionary artillery round used in theater today by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Using GPS precision guidance technology, Excalibur provides accurate, first round, fire-for-effect capability in an urban setting. Excalibur is considered a true precision weapon, impacting at a radial miss distance of 6 meters from the target.

Russian ICBM to fuel with Liquid fuel

Russia will only be able to adopt a new 100-ton liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) intended to penetrate the US missile defense system by 2022. Russian military mentioned the possibility of the new ICBMs in 2009 but the official decision to launch development of the new silo-based missile designed to replace the Voyevoda R-36M2 Satan ICBM was only announced late last year.

“Statistics says it will take about ten years,” said Andrei Goryaev, deputy director of the Russian missile maker NPO Mashinostroyeniya. He said it was hard to make any forecasts about the timeframe. “If the country has not done it for 30 years then difficulties are inevitable,” he said. Strategic Missile Forces chief Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said in December that Russia’s current solid-propellant ICBMs might be unable to penetrate U.S. missile defenses that the country is deploying in Europe to protect against possible attacks from ‘rogue states’ such as Iran and North Korea.

Russia has expressed concerns that the U.S. missile shield might threaten its national security. Presently, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces reportedly have over 400 ICBMs, including 171 Topol (SS-25), 70 Topol-M (SS-27), and three RS-24 Yars missiles.

Monday, 7 May 2012

India : Future Missile Technology


Agni-5 missile is entirely different from the Agni 3 and 4. The second and third stage booster of the missile are made entirely of composites. The third stage is a new booster that is developed. It is the lowest end of the tapered cone that ends with the warhead. That itself, in terms of composites, is a breakthrough. The navigation system is highly accurate. This missile travels at over Mach 20 in its terminal stage. Both the ring laser gyros (a device that measures the orientation of the missile and helps in inertial navigation) and the accelerometer (which measures the missile's rate of acceleration) are indigenously developed as part of the indigenous ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme. A backup navigation system that was less accurate but more robust was put in place. This navigation system was supported by a unique fault tolerance software that was installed in the missile. The re-entry nose cone that contains the warhead had to be completely redesigned with new material and resins. This is because when the missile re-enters the atmosphere, it is hurtling towards the ground at over 20 times the speed of sound. Friction on the nose cone causes temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees centigrade. This system had to be proved on the ground and that was a major technological development for us.

India is also working on a canister-launched system for the Agni-V. They have designed a canister that can eject the 50-tonne missile 50 metres in the air and fire the first stage. The canister will allow us to store the missile for ten years with no maintenance. The missile will be carried on railcars and on a 12x12 road-mobile truck. 

Costs and production of the Agni-V? 

The A5 costs approximately Rs.50 crore per missile. The DRDO is working with production agencies for this. 

Tracking such a long-range missile? 

The Agni-V required a different range deployment. The range of over 5,000 km meant the missile would land north of Antartica. That meant the ships tracking the launch would have to sail nearly a fortnight before the launch window. 

Does DRDO have the capability of destroying satellites in space? 

Today, India has all the building blocks for an anti-satellite system in place. India have a Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) used in the Ballistic Missile Defence Programme that has a range of over 600 km. India will increase the range to 1,400 km allowing us to track satellites in orbit. It is far more difficult to intercept ballistic missiles than it is to intercept satellites. Satellites follow a predictive path. 

In the BMD project, missile track and intercept a 0.1 square meter target over 1,000 km away. A satellite is ten times larger-over 1 meter wide. The first-stage booster developed for the Agni-V can inject a warhead 600 km into space. The kill vehicle actually homes in onto an incoming missile. Missile have the Infra-Red and Radar frequency seekers on the kill vehicle that accurately guide it to its target. 

Phase of development is the BMD programme? 

Phase-1 of the BMD programme will be completed by 2013. In this, India will intercept Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles with a range of 2,000 km. The second phase will be completed by 2016. In this, India will be able to intercept intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) with ranges over 5,000 km. Phase-1 has two missile interceptors called the PAD and the AAD. This year, India will be testing a new interceptor missile called the PDV. This missile will replace the PAD. Two missiles, the AD1 and the AD2 will be tested by the end of 2013 under Phase 2 of the BMD. 

Land-based variant of Cruise defence missile? 

An underwater missile has to deal with the pressure of a10 metre column of water above it. Hence the configuration of the missile is different. It is heavier, the structure is different. Unlike the Agni missile, this missile carries a lot of dead weight. The Arhinat submarine will test all its systems 2012. 

The first successful trial of the LR-SAM was in 2010. After this scientists have decided on a complete change of configuration. India will have another test of the modified missile in Israel in June 2012. The missile system has already been integrated into the first P15A warship (the INS Kolkata, being built at Mazagon Docks Ltd, Mumbai).

India`s Missile defense system Ready

India has developed missile defence shield which can be put in place at short notice to protect at least two cities, bringing the country on par with an elite group of few nations. The shield, developed by DRDO, has been tested successfully and an incoming ballistic missile with the range of up to 2,000 kms can be destroyed. The system is to be upgraded to the range of 5,000 kms by 2016.

"The Ballistic Missile Defence shield is now mature...We are ready to put phase one in place and it can be put in very short time," DRDO chief VK Saraswat told in an interview.

He said the shield, as part of phase one of the programme, can be put in place at two places in the country, where the infrastructure is available. However, the two places have not yet been identified and the selection will be made at the political level. The DRDO used variants of Prithvi missiles as simulated targets and successfully intercepted missiles in test-firings.

"We have carried out six successful launches and demonstrated the capability for 2,000 km targets...We have demonstrated it in two layers that is endo-atmospheric (inside the Earth's atmosphere) and exo-atmospheric (outside the Earth's atmosphere)," Saraswat said.

He said all the elements such as long-range radars and tracking devices, real-time datalink and mission control system required for the missile system have been "realised" successfully. Under the phase two of the project, the premier defence research agency would upgrade the system to handle ballistic missiles with range of 5,000 km. This phase is expected to be ready by 2016.

The system required for phase-II of the project is being developed, he said, adding that for this purpose, ships are being built from where the target missiles would be launched. The DRDO chief said the phase two of the project is expected to be completed by 2016. Talking about the advancement of the system, Saraswat said the missile defence shield has been "automated" to an extent where human intervention would be required only if the mission has to be aborted.

The DRDO chief said the Indian missile defence system is comparable with the US Patriot 3 system, which was successfully used during the 1990 Gulf War against Iraq. As part of its efforts to protect itself from enemy missiles, India is developing this two-tier BMD which can intercept enemy missiles at altitudes of 80 km and 150 km. The DRDO is thinking of intercepting the missiles at higher altitudes as it would give it more response time in case the first attempt is a miss and the second layer of the system can be put into action.

The system was first test-fired in November 2006 elevating India into the elite club of countries to have successfully developed an Anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia and Israel.

China copies Su-30MK2 to J-16

China has apparently copied the Russian Su-30MK2, and is operating it as the J-16, claiming that the aircraft is of Chinese design. More unauthorized pictures of the J-16 are showing up, via Chinese with cell phone cameras and Internet access. It's pretty clear that the J-16 is a copy of the Su-30MK2.

Russia and China jointly developed the two seat version of the Su-30, as the Su-30MKK in the late 1990s, and, a decade ago, an upgraded version (the Su-30MK2). China has received about a hundred legal Su-30MK2s, but now nearly identical J-16s are showing up.

This kind of blatant technology theft is nothing new. The Chinese J-11 jet fighter is an illegal Chinese copy of the Russian Su-27. This plagiarism has been a source of friction between Russia and China for nearly a decade. It all began, legally, in 1995, when China paid $2.5 billion for the right to build 200 Su-27s. Russia would supply engines and electronics, with China building the other components according to Russian plans and specifications. But after 95 of the Chinese built aircraft were built, Russia cancelled the agreement. They claimed that China was using the knowledge acquired with this Su-27 program, to build their own copy of the Su-27, the J-11. Russia kept the piracy issue quiet for a as long as it could, and warned the Chinese that simply copying Russian technology would produce an inferior aircraft. Apparently the Chinese did not agree, and are continuing their work on the J-11, using only, what they claim is, Chinese technology.

The J-11 is believed to now include better electronics and some other Chinese design modifications. China can manufacture most of the components of the J-11, the one major element it must import are the engines. China believes it will be free from dependence on Russia for military jet engines within the next 5-10 years. Currently, China imports two Russian engines, the $3.5 million AL-31 (for the Su-27/30, J-11, J-10) and the $2.5 million RD-93 (a version of the MiG-29s RD-33) for the JF-17 (a F-16 type aircraft developed in cooperation with Pakistan.) Despite the ongoing technology theft dispute, Russia still sells jet engines to China for its illegal copies of Russian aircraft. China agreed, in 2008, to stop stealing Russian military tech, but went on to ignore that agreement, and deny that it had reneged on its promise to stop the tech theft.

The Su-30MK2 is a 34 ton fighter-bomber similar to the American F-15E. The Su-30MK2 can carry 8 tons of smart bombs and missiles. It can be refueled in the air and is equipped to operate over land and open water. The Chinese Navy is operating 24 Su-30MK2s and some of the J-16s that have already been built.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

North Korean submarines goes invisible on radar

After Pyongyang threatened to wage “special action” against Seoul, a number of North Korean submarines have disappeared, a South Korean government official told the JoongAng Ilbo. 

“Eight or nine submarines of the North’s East Sea Fleet are missing from our radar,” the high-ranking South Korean official said on Monday. “We are figuring out whether the submarines are conducting a military drill or an actual mission.

“The missing submarines vary in size, from the 1,000-ton shark-class vessel to a former Soviet Romeo-class one (1,300 ton),” the official added. 

Military sources say that North Korea currently owns roughly 70 submarines, including the 1,500-ton Rajin-class vessels or Yugo-class infiltration coastal ships. When North Korean submarines are anchored at base, they can be seen by a satellite. 

It’s been more than a week since the North publicly threatened to attack Seoul, saying they will stage special military action in an unprecedented, “peculiar” way. 

Police have beefed up security near local broadcasting and newspaper companies, which North Korea has pinpointed as “sources of provocation,” to counter a possible military attack. 

In 1996, North Korea sent a spy submarine to the eastern coastal city of Gangneung to collect information on a South Korean Navy installation, but the mission failed. 

However, South Korean government officials see the possibility of infiltration by the missing submarines as low. 

“North Korea tends to increase military drills and activities of submarines during April and May, in order to check their capabilities after wintertime,” a high-ranking military official told the JoongAng Ilbo. 

“We think those missing vessels are not midget submarines for infiltration purposes but medium-sized ones designed for warfare, which means they won’t attempt to penetrate into South Korea.” 

An official for the Ministry of Unification told the Korea JoongAng Daily that “North Korea conducts submarine exercises regularly,” implying that the missing ships are part of a regular drill. 

“But the timing of their disappearance matters,” the official said. “The South Korean military is closely watching the situation in the North.”

US Navy out of money for F/A-XX programme

An interesting investigation has revealed some details about the future US Navy F/A-XX programme which aims to replace the multi-role fighter aircraft F/A-18 Hornet and its latest version F/A-18 Super Hornet. 

The programme goal is to replace the entire US Navy cutting edge fleet with a 5th or even a 6th generation aircraft by 2030. 

The US Navy has already issued a request for information (RFI), effectively starting the search for that successor. 

But many doubts have been raised that the current US Navy's economic situation will not have sufficient funds for the programme in the fiscal year 2014 budget. Moreover, many controversies are related to the F-35C programme (the aircraft carrier version of the Lockheed Martin 5th generation fighter). In fact, it is to be noted that America never planned to buy this version, focusing only on the "A" and "B". 

The US Navy explained that the F-35C would replace the earlier Boeing F/A-18A Hornets, but it does not have enough power and enough payload to replace the Super Hornet. This consideration also sparked some sharp comments. 

"There is no expectation of additional funds for this effort. It is also in direct competition with the next generation bomber for the USAF and follow-on UAS platforms" the American DoD said. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Singapore Requests F-15SG Pilot Training and Support

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress April 30 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Singapore of a possible sale of follow-on support and services for Singapore’s Continental United States (CONUS) detachment PEACE CARVIN V (F-15SG) based at Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) for a five-year period. The estimated cost is $435 million.

The Government of Singapore has requested a possible sale of follow-on support and services for Singapore’s Continental United States (CONUS) detachment PEACE CARVIN V (F-15SG) based at Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) for a five-year period.

MDE includes: 40 GBU-10 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units, 40 MXU-651/B Air Foil Groups, 84 GBU-12 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units, 84 MXU-650/Bs Air Foil Groups, 124 MAU-169L/Bs Guidance Control Units, and 3 P5 Combat Training System Pods.

Also included: commercial vehicles, publications and technical documentation, tactics manuals and academic instruction, clothing and individual equipment, execution and support of CONUS exercise deployments, airlift and aerial refueling, support equipment, spare and repair parts, repair and return, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $435 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for economic progress in Southeast Asia.

Singapore needs this training and munitions to support its F-15 aircraft. This program will enable Singapore to develop mission-ready and experienced pilots to support its current and future F-15 aircraft inventory. The well-established pilot proficiency training program at Mountain Home Air Force Base will support professional interaction and enhance operational interoperability with U.S. forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

There is no prime contractor involved in this proposed sale. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Singapore.

There will be no adverse impact on the U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

The Rise of Embraer

The story of how Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A. (Embraer) became one of the leading aircraft manufacturers in the world and one of the most successful instances of neoliberal privatization policy has become a case study. Established in August 19, 1969 as a government-controlled company, Embraer began building the EMB-326 Xavante advanced trainer under license from Italian Aermacchi. Nevertheless, it was the EMB-200 Ipanema crop duster and the EMB-400 Urupema glider its firsts in-house developed aircrafts.

By the 1980s Embraer’s product list grew with the introduction of the AMX International advanced trainer, a shared development project between Aermacchi and Embraer, followed by the highly successful EMB-312 Tucano primary trainer. However, Embraer’s true milestone in becoming a world-leading manufacturer was the EMB-120 Brasilia. The aircraft was Embraer’s first civilian product built based on market evaluation and evolving demands, introducing class leading performance.

Nevertheless, the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s hit the Brazilian economy hard; by the early 1990s the government laidoff thousands of employees across the country. Implementing neoliberal reforms and after 25 years of government-controlled, Embraer was privatized on December 7, 1994.

The privatization of Embraer by the Brazilian government was a major turning point for the company. The new structure of shareholders introduced leading standards of efficiency and a rigorous business culture driven by the principal element of capitalism, profits. Currently, the company’s commercial aviation segment makes up 64% of its revenue, followed by executive aviation with 19%, defense and security 15%, while the other 2% is customer support.

In the post-privatization period, the company’s first product was the Embraer Regional Jet (EJR) 145. Originally developed under the government-controlled company, the aircraft later evolved into the ERJ-135 / 140 / 145 civilian family aircraft, as well as its military variants: the EMB-145 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), EMB-145 Multi Intel ground surveillance and the EMB-145 marine patrol (MP). Embraer also developed the EM-314 Super Tucano primary trainer and counter-insurgency (COIN) in the late 1990s.

In the past decade, Embraer has immensely expanded its product line. The greatest growth has been in the commercial aviation with the introduction of the highly successful ERJ-170 / 175 / 190 / 195 family aircraft. At the same time, the company has immensely expanded in the executive jet market as well with its Phenom 100 / 300, Legacy 450 / 500 / 600 / 650 and the Lineage 1000.

Although Embraer has suffered some setbacks in its intentions to expand into U.S. defense, the company is planning some bold moves in with the development of the KC-390. The aircraft will compete head-to-head with Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, capable of transporting large amounts of cargo and perform tanker missions, lifting a maximum of 23 tonnes (50,706 pounds) at a distance of 1,400 nautical miles.

Embraer is planning to further expand its defense segment with the development and production of Predator class medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) through a joint-venture with Israeli Elbit Systems. Even more important is the FX-2 fighter competition to supply the Brazilian Air Force with a first batch of 36 aircrafts. The winner of the FX-2 competition (currently being disputed between the Boeing F-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen) will deliver an unprecedented level of technology transfer and know-how to Embraer.

Embraer went from a bust government-controlled company in 1994 to the third largest aircraft manufacturer today, with an international presence in the United States, France, Portugal, China and Singapore. In the post-privatization period, Embraer has maintained a competent management and rigorous discipline in its product development. The progress after 1994 has been astronomical to say the least. Since 1994 the number of employees raised considerably from 3 thousand to 23 thousand in 2008, while aircraft deliveries also rose from 4 aircrafts in 1996 to 246 in 2010.

The most challenging obstacles that Embraer faces are not from foreign competition, but from within Brazil. The country suffers from high corporate taxes, high production costs, lack of skilled workforce and a stubborn government that refuses to open its markets, a move that even if partial will greatly benefit its aerospace industry. Time will tell if its well established culture of efficiency, discipline and competence will continue; but one factor is certain, Embraer’s success story is undeniably remarkable in a region notorious for industrial disappointments.

Back to basics of short-range air defense

Forty-seven paratroopers from E Battery, 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, took part in national training operations at Fort Irwin, Calif., March 1-27.

Soldiers from 1st platoon joined nearly 3,500 Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at the National Training Center, known as NTC, to conduct the first decisive action force on force rotation in nearly 10 years.

The platoon was under the leadership of 1st Lt. Terrance Minor and Sgt. 1st Class John Nelson, Sr.

“The outstanding achievements of the platoon reflected the extensive amount of training and evaluations we underwent over the last four months,” Minor said.

Many of the Soldiers were excited about the opportunity to test their field craft, system employment and engagement skills learned at Fort Bragg. The platoon also conducts quarterly joint operational assessment exercises with 82nd Airborne Division and Avenger gunnery evaluations to remain readily available to deploy at a moment’s notice.

“We were glad to provide air defense support for XVIII Airborne Corps and brigades within the 82nd Airborne Division. Integrating and working with units outside of corps was a fairly easy,” said Capt Anthony Wheeler, unit commander.

“The mission at NTC was an exciting challenge. We learned a lot,” said Sgt. Donald Thomas, Avenger team chief.

The platoon had four critical objectives during the NTC training: Validation of six fire units and two sensor nodes; provide and maintain 100 percent airspace coverage; deny hostile aircraft the ability to affect 3-3 HBCT operations and integrate all assets with the brigade’s Air Defense Airspace Management Cell, or ADAM, to enhance operational readiness.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Minor’s platoon was ready for this mission. They were on stand-by for the global reaction force this past quarter, which requires them to be ready and available to deploy at a moment’s notice to execute their assigned mission. I saw the training rotation as an opportunity to build the Soldiers capabilities and combat power by fully exercising their critical and collective training skills,” said Wheeler.

Throughout the NTC training operations, 3-3 HBCT heavily relied on the ADA platoon’s ability to establish aerial threat deterrence in a timely manner while protecting critical assets.

“The platoon successfully engaged and destroyed numerous hostile platforms. Air defense assets along with ADAM and brigade aviation element mission command countered all threats which directly aided 3-3 HBCT with the achievement of their training objectives,” said Wheeler.

Six paratroopers were recognized as heroes of the battle for their superior performance during the exercise. The Soldiers recognized were Staff Sgt. Victor Alvarado, Sgt. Austin Ryder, Staff Sgt. Shawn Feeley, Pfc. Nichols Nicholas, Spc. Kindel Holeman and Spc. Robert Ressetar. The awardees received an Army Achievement Medal and a unit coin.

Thwarting Hackers

In the last 10 years, cryptography researchers have demonstrated that even the most secure-seeming computer is shockingly vulnerable to attack. The time it takes a computer to store data in memory, fluctuations in its power consumption and even the noises it emits can betray information to a savvy assailant.

Attacks that use such indirect sources of information are called side-channel attacks, and the increasing popularity of cloud computing makes them an even greater threat. An attacker would have to be pretty motivated to install a device in your wall to measure your computer’s power consumption. But it’s comparatively easy to load a bit of code on a server in the cloud and eavesdrop on other applications it’s running.

Fortunately, even as they’ve been researching side-channel attacks, cryptographers have also been investigating ways of stopping them. Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and her former student Guy Rothblum, who’s now a researcher at Microsoft Research, recently posted a long report on the website of the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity, describing a general approach to mitigating side-channel attacks.

At the Association for Computing Machinery’s Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC) in May, Goldwasser and colleagues will present a paper demonstrating how the technique she developed with Rothblum can be adapted to protect information processed on web servers.

In addition to preventing attacks on private information, Goldwasser says, the technique could also protect devices that use proprietary algorithms so that they can’t be reverse-engineered by pirates or market competitors – an application that she, Rothblum and others described at last year’s AsiaCrypt conference.

Today, when a personal computer is in use, it’s usually running multiple programs – say, a word processor, a browser, a PDF viewer, maybe an email program or a spreadsheet program.

All the programs are storing data in memory, but the laptop’s operating system won’t let any program look at the data stored by any other. The operating systems running on servers in the cloud are no different, but a malicious program could launch a side-channel attack simply by sending its own data to memory over and over again. From the time the data storage and retrieval takes, it can infer what the other programs are doing with remarkable accuracy.

Goldwasser and Rothblum’s technique obscures the computational details of a program, whether it’s running on a laptop or a server. Their system converts a given computation into a sequence of smaller computational modules. Data fed into the first module is encrypted, and at no point during the module’s execution is it decrypted. The still-encrypted output of the first module is fed into the second module, which encrypts it in yet a different way, and so on.

The encryption schemes and the modules are devised so that the output of the final module is exactly the output of the original computation. But the operations performed by the individual modules are entirely different.

A side-channel attacker could extract information about how the data in any given module is encrypted, but that won’t let him deduce what the sequence of modules do as a whole. “The adversary can take measurements of each module,” Goldwasser says, “but they can’t learn anything more than they could from a black box.”

The report by Goldwasser and Rothblum describes a type of compiler, a program that takes code written in a form intelligible to humans and converts it into the low-level instruction intelligible to a computer. There, the computational modules are an abstraction: The instruction that inaugurates a new module looks no different from the instruction that concluded the last one. But in the STOC paper, the modules are executed on different servers on a network.

According to Nigel Smart, a professor of cryptology in the computer science department at the University of Bristol in England, the danger of side-channel attacks “has been known since the late ’90s.”

“There’s a lot of engineering that was done to try to prevent this from being a problem,” Smart says, “a huge amount of engineering work. This is a megabucks industry.” Much of that work, however, has relied on trial and error, Smart says. Goldwasser and Rothblum’s study, on the other hand, “is a much more foundational study, looking at really foundational, deep questions about what is possible.”

Moreover, Smart says, previous work on side-channel attacks tended to focus on the threat posed to handheld devices, such as cellphones and smart cards. “It would seem to me that the stuff that is more likely to take off in the long run is the stuff that’s talking about servers,” Smart says. “I don’t know anyone else outside MIT who’s looking at that.”

Smart cautions, however, that the work of Goldwasser and her colleagues is unlikely to yield practical applications in the near future. “In security, and especially cryptography, it takes a long time to go from an academic idea to something that’s actually used in the real world,” Smart says. “They’re looking at what could be possible in 10, 20 years’ time.”

Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and her former student Guy Rothblum, who’s now a researcher at Microsoft Research, recently posted a long report on the website of the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity, describing a general approach to mitigating side-channel attacks.

US Navy F/A-XX Program

The US Navy has launched mid-April an official RFI for the F/A-XX carrier-based strike fighter. The F/A-XX is intended to replace both F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft currently in service in the US Navy by the years 2030ies. 

The official RFI for the sixth generation fighter, issued by the Department of the Navy Naval Air Systems Command Aircraft Division, goes as follow:

The Director for Air Warfare (OPNAV N98) has requested NAVAIR Warfare Analysis and Integration Department (AIR-4.10) to conduct trade space refinement as a precursor to an analysis of alternatives for candidate strike fighter aircraft replacements for the FA-18E/F and EA-18G.

The intent of this research is to solicit Industry inputs on candidate solutions for CVN based aircraft to provide multi-role capability in an A2AD operational environment. Primary missions include, but are notlimited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS). Also consider the ability of your concept to provide other capabilities currently provided by strike fighteraircraft, such as organic air-to-air refueling (AAR), Tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA), and airborne electronic attack (AEA). The trade space refinement activity will characterize a broad trade space, to include unmanned, optionally manned and manned aircraft. System attributes and system capabilities will be considered in the context of cost and affordability. Concepts that are derived from legacy aircraft, “clean sheet” new design aircraft, as well as innovative technology concepts specifically tailored for the operational context are all relevant. Please provide a separate whitepaper for each technology concept or family of related and complementary technology concepts; multiple white papers may be provided.

As a top level summary of some of the required system capabilities, the air vehicle should be capable of addressing the following needs:

1.Capable of operating from CVN 68 and CVN 78 class aircraft carriers, as part of the Carrier AirWing (CVW), with minimal impact on the ship configuration and the operations of the rest of theCVW.

2.This aircraft will be a complementary CVW asset to the F-35C and an unmanned persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) vehicle with precision strike capability.

3.The ability to conduct persistent, penetrating operations in an A2AD operational environment.

4.The ability for an IOC in the 2030 timeframe. If a spiral approach to incorporation of systems and/or technology to achieve full operational capability is employed, provide the timeline toachieve full capability.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

IAF Mirage-2000 back on duty

IAF's frontline Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft, which were temporarily grounded following two crashes in February and March, have begun operational sorties following a detailed investigation of their systems and components. 

"The Mirage-2000 aircraft are being progressively checked and cleared for flying one by one," said the IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway today.  The aircraft were cleared for sorties few days ago following a thorough inspection of their systems. 

The fleet was grounded for inspection for almost a month. The IAF had temporarily grounded the entire fleet of Gwalior-based Mirage-2000 aircraft to carry out detailed investigation of their systems and components following two crashes within a span of 11 days in February and March. 

Both the crashes took place within minutes of the aircraft taking off from its base on routine training sorties. Pilots flying the trainer version of the aircraft had managed to bail out safely and escaped the crash with minor injuries. IAF has already set up a Court of Inquiry ( CoI) to look into the reasons for the crash. 

A team of engineers and technicians from French firm Dassault, which built these aircraft, had also arrived at Gwalior to assist the IAF personnel in the investigations. The first crash took place on February 24 near Bhind in Madhya Pradesh soon after takeoff. The second accident took place on March 5, 100 km south-west of Jaipur near a village in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. 

These aircraft were inducted into the IAF in the mid-80s and have proven their sound flight safety record. 
The IAF has recently signed two deals worth over USD 3.2 billion for upgrading the capabilities of the Mirage 2000 with French companies Dassault, Thales and MBDA.

Friday, 27 April 2012

LCA Navy flies

The first prototype of the Light Combat Aircraft Navy (NP-1) finally took to the skies on Friday.

The maiden flight of the NP-1, which has been facing consistent delays for over a year, took place when the aircraft piloted by Commodore KM Maolankar, Chief Test Pilot and Wg Cdr M Prabhu, Flight Test Engineer of the National Flight Test Centre took off from the HAL airport at 12.10 am.

The flight, which lasted for about 21 minutes within the designated flight envelope, carried out the planned tests successfully.

The test flight was carried out with landing gear extended as a routine practice during the maiden flight, and was accompanied by a chase aircraft, a Tejas and Hawk AJT was on standby during the flight.

Scientific advisor to the defence minister, VK Saraswat, who witnessed the flight said that the first flight of the NP-1 has brought pride to India and that the country has joined another elite club of countries capable of designing, developing, manufacturing and testing four plus generation Carrier Borne Fly-by-Wire Ski Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) aircraft.

The LCA Navy is the country’s first indigenous effort to build a carrier borne Naval Fighter aircraft. The aircraft is the second STOBAR aircraft in the world after the Russian deck-based aircraft. However, the LCA Navy is only carrier borne fighter aircraft in the light category.

Sharing his experience Maolankar said that being the first flight the mandate was to take-off and land safely.

He added that the aircraft flew about 30 km from the base from where it got airborne, reached an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level and clocked a speed of about 450 km per hour. It also reached an angle of attack to 16 degrees.

The LCA Navy programme commenced in 2003 and the development plan of the Naval version envisages building of two prototypes, a two-seat trainer (NP-1) and a single-seat fighter (NP-2), as technology demonstrators to carry out carrier suitability certification and weapons integration.

Compared to its Air Force counterpart the LCA is different as it has a new stronger and longer landing gear, arrester hook for ship deck landing, front fuselage drooped for better over the nose vision to facilitate ship landing, an additional control surface to reduce ship landing speed and consequential changes in various systems.

The NP1 aircraft would be flying with the GE-F404-IN20 engine.

Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Satish Soni who was present on the occasion said that the next target would be to attain the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by 2014.

PW210 Engine to Power X4 Helo

Pratt & Whitney Canada’s (P&WC) PW210 engine has been selected by Eurocopter to power the next-generation X4 helicopter. The PW210-powered X4 is expected to enter into service by 2017. Pratt & Whitney Canada is a United Technologies Corp. company.

The PW210 engine – the latest in P&WC’s turboshaft product line – is powering a new era in helicopter flight with three applications confirmed. By the time the X4 enters service in 2017, the PW210 family will have accumulated well over half a million flying hours across the three platforms.

“With a PW210 engine you get high power, fast response and the lowest fuel burn in this market segment,” said Richard Dussault, Vice-President, Marketing, P&WC. “That means payload and range benefits that keep our customers’ assets flying efficiently and reliably.”

The PW210 is a state-of-the art engine that is designed to meet all the requirements of the most modern helicopters. “We have focused our technology on fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and maintenance technologies that deliver real value to our operators,” added Dussault.

The new-generation features of the PW210 include:

Compact, light-weight architecture delivering the best in class power-to-weight ratio and fuel burn for longer range and improved payload capabilities;
Advances in materials and compressor design, including P&WC proprietary alloys, demonstrated on new-generation engines for maximum durability and best lifecycle value;
Dual-channel FADEC (full-authority digital engine controls) for fast and accurate pilot control;
State-of-the-art diagnostics capability, including automatic fractional cycle counting to minimize downtime and keep PW210 operators flying.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Eurocopter dating back more than 15 years,” added Dussault. “This and our long-standing experience in the helicopter market, gives us unique insight to deliver tailored engine features and comprehensive customer support for the diverse missions our customers fly.”

The PW210 engine, like all P&WC engines, is backed by a comprehensive customer service network in the industry, including more than 30 P&WC-owned and designated service facilities and more than 100 field support representatives around the globe, a 24/7 Customer First Centre for rapid expert support, advanced diagnostic capabilities and a large pool of rental and exchange engines.

“We stand behind our products and beside our customers with proactive, flexible customer service and aftermarket solutions to keep them flying and eliminate downtime,” said Dussault. “With our comprehensive support capability, we are available around the clock and around the world with flexible service solutions to support any mission our customers fly.”

The X4 marks the third application for the PW210 family of engines, joining the PW210S certified in 2011 and the PW210A which is slated for certification in 2013. P&WC is a leader in civil turboshaft engines for the civil helicopter market and continues to invest in new products for the future. P&WC helicopter engine deliveries have more than tripled over the last decade.

Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defence-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 per cent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s helicopters account for 33 per cent of the worldwide civil and parapublic fleet.

Founded in 1928, and a global leader in aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) is shaping the future of business aviation with dependable, high-technology engines. There are currently more than 49,000 engines in service on more than 28,000 aircraft operated by some 10,000 operators in 200 countries. Based in Longueuil, Quebec (Canada), P&WC is a United Technologies Corp. company.

F-16 MIG's Engage

U.S. pilots from the 555th and 510th Fighter Squadrons based out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, have been given a rare opportunity to train and share experiences with Bulgarian air force MiG-21 and MiG-29 pilots during their deployment here in support of Thracian Star 2012.

Since the start of the training mission on April 18, Bulgarian and American pilots have been flying together and working toward the goal of the exercise: to strengthen partnerships, increase interoperability between NATO allies and maintain a standard of excellence.

Throughout the month-long bilateral training exercise, Aviano F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots will spend more than 60 hours per week flying close air support, basic fighter and air combat maneuvers, tactical intercepts, defensive counter air and large force missions with Bulgarian MiG-21 and MiG-29 pilots.

“We are performing the same mission sets we do at home station, but we are integrating the Bulgarian pilots into the training,” said Capt. Bryan Faughn, 555th FS F-16 pilot. “It gives us an opportunity to see how another country’s air force works. They are a professional air force just like we are and they take pride in what they do. We are gaining experience while working with an international partner – it’s a unique opportunity.”

To gain better insight into both the tactics of the pilots and the capabilities of the different aircraft, pilots have gone on ride-along flights in the other country’s jets.
Capt. Kirby Sanford, 555th FS F-16 pilot, was the first American pilot to get the opportunity to ride in a MiG.

“It was truly an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Sanford said about his flight. “It really highlighted the advantages of both aircraft and showcased the mindset, skills and techniques of the Bulgarians.”

“Though the MiG is an older aircraft, it is still a very capable aircraft,” he continued. “It just goes to show that even an older aircraft can be a formidable adversary with the right pilot.”

Bulgarian air force Capt. Petar Milkov, was the first MiG-29 pilot to fly in an F-16 during Thracian Star 2012. The aircraft was piloted by Col. David Walker, 31st Operations Group and Thracian Star detachment commander.

“I was very impressed by the cockpit ergonomics, ease of flight and mission complexity,” said Milkov. “This bilateral training with my American colleagues is a great chance to extend our partnership in a professional, cultural and personal manner. I also hope to enrich my personal experience and make new contacts.”

While the language barrier could have made it difficult for Bulgarian and American pilots to find common ground, Sanford says they all have one thing in common that makes it easy to relate to one another: a love of flying.

“We’ve all wanted to be fighter pilots since we were young,” he said. “That’s a good basis to start from. We already have something in common that each of us can relate to that has brought forth a mutual respect between us.”