India accelerates AMCA fighter development
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is working feverishly with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Aeronautical Development Agency to develop the indigenous Advanced Multirole Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
- The modular design of the fifth-generation twin-engine single-seat aircraft is said to be finalised. ‘That is what we are putting our energies into,’ ACM Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria said recently. More than most of his predecessors, Bhadauria has supported the need to focus on indigenous design and manufacturing.
- Six squadrons of AMCAs are planned initially. The first flight is expected in 2024-25, followed by trials and tests. It will be in full production by 2029, to be followed by the Mk2 version by 2036.
- Amid the ‘Make in India’ mantra, HAL could soon announce a JV along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and a private company to progress the AMCA program. Once signed, it will be the first time the private sector has worked on the same platform as HAL rather than just being a tier supplier.
- Raman Sopory, founding president of the Aerospace & Defence Consultants Society of India, said: ‘HAL has to constantly evolve and there must be an export angle to this.’
- Plans to work with Russia on joint development of a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) were set aside by early 2017. ‘We have no plans to import any FGFA, nor will we enter into any joint agreement with a foreign country,’ said Bhadauria.
- The twin-engine AMCA, which is to have an indigenous AESA radar, has been a long time coming. In 2018, $60 million was allotted for prototype design and R&D. The project will face similar technology and knowledge transfer challenges as FGFA, because ‘no nation is willing to share its stealth technology’, a senior official admitted.
- However, an agreement is on the cards between the UK and India to co-create a new 110kN jet engine for which India will get IP. The new engine core will not be based on the Eurojet EJ200 due to the complex IP ownership within the EuroJet Turbo consortium.
- Anil Gupta, military head of Airbus India, said: ‘Getting ToT [transfer of technology] for a new engine design is good progress from the technology infusion point of view.’
- The initial contract with Rolls-Royce is likely to be for 140 engines over a nine-year period. Before then, the 25t-class AMCA will be powered by the General Electric F414 delivering more than 90kN of thrust. South Korea’s KF-X also uses the F414.
- Stealthy aircraft carry weapons in internal weapon bays to avoid detection. However, the Indian-made Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile is 3.6m long. ‘Since it doesn’t fit into the bay, its length will have to be reduced,’ said an official.
- An unmanned version of the AMCA will have to wait. ‘Any system needs proper control and guidance. The pilot-in-the-loop system has to be replaced. Challenges remain on where they will test it…It isn’t easy and, at the moment, it is wishful thinking,’ a senior IAF engineer told Shephard on condition of anonymity.
Largest Solar Power Plant of Navy Commissioned
- Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, PVSM, AVSM, NM, VSM, ADC Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command commissioned a 3 MW Solar Power Plant at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala on 22 July 2020, via virtual conferencing. This is in line with the Govt of India initiative of ‘National Solar Mission’ to achieve 100GW of solar power by 2022.
- The solar plant is the largest in the Indian Navy and has an estimated life of 25 years. All components have been indigenously sourced, including 9180 highly efficient monocrystalline solar panels employing the latest technology. The project has been executed by Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (KELTRON).
- Despite heavy monsoons and restrictions due to COVID-19, all concerned agencies including Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) continued work on the project adhering to all guidelines/ protocols against COVID-19 and executed the work in a timebound manner.
- The Solar Power Plant project will help Naval Station Ezhimala in reducing the carbon footprint and is one of the many initiatives undertaken by INA towards a clean and green environment. Surplus power generated will also feed the KSEB electricity grid.
Israel to send top defence R&D team to develop 30-second coronavirus test in India
- As part of a special joint-initiative, India and Israel are developing a novel coronavirus rapid testing apparatus that will be able to produce results in a mere 30 seconds.
- In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the Israeli mission in India announced that a special planned flight will carry a high-ranking Ministry of Defence R&D team from Tel Aviv to Delhi in the coming days. This team has been working alongside India’s chief scientist K Vijay Raghavan to develop a rapid testing kit for Covid-19.
- The Israeli embassy added that mechanical ventilators will also be delivered to India by means of the same special flight. These ventilators are being exported to India owing to special permissions issued in this regard by the Government of Israel.
- “Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, (Israeli) PM Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have held three telephonic conversations in which they promised mutual assistance in dealing with the virus and committed to joint technological and scientific research between the countries,” the Israeli mission in India stated. It went on to say, “Merging Israeli technology with Indian development and production capabilities aims to allow a swift resumption of normal life alongside the virus.”
- According to the embassy, Israeli companies chosen by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, and Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have been granted access to India to provide technology that would allow medical professionals to monitor and treat Covid-19 patients with minimum contact. “These Israeli technologies can be mass produced at a lower cost and could in future be jointly exported to third countries,” the Israeli mission in India added.
- The mission also stated that this initiative is reciprocal. “In the first outbreak of Covid-19 in Israel, India gave Israel special authorization to acquire medicine, masks & protective gear. Now, Israel is proud to reciprocate this significant gesture & grant authorization for purchasing of respirators to its great friend in the east.”
- Israeli Ambassador to India Dr Ron Malka said, “I am proud to lead this Israeli delegation to India. It is at times like this that our friendship is tested, and the State of Israel is happy to lend a helping hand to India in this complicated and difficult time. I am confident that India and Israel can work together to find innovative and cheap solutions to help the world overcome this crisis.”
- “The Covid-19 pandemic is a global challenge, so it is only right that the solution be a global scientific cooperation between countries. India and Israel’s military R&D cooperation is well known for its success. I have no doubt the same will be seen in the private sector joined by brilliant scientific minds from both countries to introduce a breakthrough in swift and simple testing procedures,” Dr Ron Malka added.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu could visit India later this year: Indian envoy
- Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu could visit India towards the end of this year as Delhi seeks to expand its traditional defence partnership with Moscow notwithstanding its growing ties with USA, according to Indian envoy to Russia D Bala Venkatesh Varma.
- “…Russia has demonstrated understanding of India’s position on the border issue and supported a bilateral dialogue between India and China aimed at resolving problems. And we are completely satisfied with the progress of our military-technical cooperation with Russia and the rapid delivery of weapons, so we look forward to the visit of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to India towards the end of this year,” Varma told in an interview with leading Russian language newspaper Izvestia on Thursday. Russia has assured India defence supplies amid standoff with China.
- When asked about impact of Indo-USA ties on Delhi’s traditional partnership with Russia, the envoy said, “India has a strategic partnership with the United States and cooperation on global issues. But India pursues an independent foreign policy. We have never joined any alliance and will not do so in future. We take independent decisions regarding defense procurement, and I see no contradiction between further development of India’s defense relations with Russia and those with the United States. Between India and Russia, there are traditional friendly and partnership relations. Our military cooperation with the Russian Federation will continue, considering the interests of India in the field of national security.”
- On the recent Sino-Indian standoff, Varma noted, “India and China are negotiating through diplomatic and military channels about the situation on the Line of Actual Control in the border areas between the two countries. In particular, Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval have conducted talks with their Chinese counterparts.“
- “At the same time, while India seeks to resolve these problems through dialogue, we have made it clear that we will not do business with China as usual until there is a complete disengagement of military forces along the Line of Actual Control and de-escalation in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols. As Prime Minister Modi noted, this is an era of development, and the era of expansion has come to an end.”
- He, however, pointed out that bilateral issues are not on the agenda of the RIC, BRICS or SCO formats. Recently Russia held meetings of the foreign ministers of the countries belonging to these three associations, and none of them touched upon bilateral problems. “We are grateful to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,” the Ambassador affirmed.
- The envoy further pointed out that India does not believe in trade war with any country. The ban on some Chinese apps is a measure to ensure digital security.
- “In order to support domestic producers, given the severe economic impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister Modi announced “Atmanirbhar Bharat” program that aims at strengthening the country’s domestic capacity. But our doors remain open for foreign cooperation. And here, by the way, there are several opportunities for cooperation between India and Russia in the field of defense production, construction of railways and inland waterways, pharmaceuticals, and digital technologies. I believe that Russian and Indian companies will build productive and profitable partnerships.”
- When asked about Indo-Pacific construct the envoy explained, “We believe that the Indo-Pacific Concept is aimed at promoting cooperation, connectivity and compliance with international law and norms, in one of the most significant parts of the world. And the central role of ASEAN in Indo-Pacific is one of the key principles. Along with India’s Act East Policy, our Prime Minister announced the Act Far-East Policy, last year in Vladivostok, under which India is considering cooperation with Russia on Russian territory of the Far East. There is a huge potential for cooperation in the areas of energy, economics, trade, investment opportunities and communications in the territories from Yamal to Vladivostok and up to Chennai. India and Russia share common interest so that the Indo-Pacific region becomes a region of peace, stability and economic prosperity, so that no country seeks unilateral advantage at the cost of the entire region.”
- Meanwhile in Delhi addressing a meet organised by ORF on BRICS Russian envoy to India Nikolay Kudashev stated, “BRICS was not invented to fight or contain anyone, rather than to support efforts of the international community on the issues related to peace and sustainable development, democratization of global governance, financial and economic architecture reform, promotion of humanitarian contacts.”
- “At the same time, we are against any unilateral geopolitically motivated actions and illegal extraterritorial sanctions, which create instability, mistrust and unpredictability. This shared approach is vividly materialized in our growing coordination in various UN bodies, G20, East Asian Summit, OPCW and other structures. We proceed from the understanding that search for the unifying agenda and expansion of the common ground to find solutions for global challenges.”
- “Today, when India is preparing to take over as the UN Security Council will remain a priority for us non-permanent member for 2021–2022, there are increasing expectations that we will further enhance our coordination within BRICS on the current international agenda. We believe that moving towards these tasks we will approach the upcoming summit of BRICS in St. Petersburg this autumn with solid achievements and plans, which would lay ground for the coming Indian Chairmanship in the grouping in 2021,” Kudashev noted.
India, US negotiating UAV co-development programme: Pentagon official
- The US and India are negotiating a co-development programme for the air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a top Pentagon official has said.
- Addressing the India Ideas Summit organised by the US-India Business Council on Tuesday, the top Pentagon official said that the US Air Force research labs have signed a cooperative research and development agreement with an Indian start-up to support the development of the air-launched UAV.
- “I would like to highlight a very exciting project we are currently negotiating- air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV will be a co-development programme between the US Air Force Research Labs, the Indian Air Force, India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation, and an Indian start-up company,” said Ellen M Lord, under-secretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment.
- The Pentagon’s point person for the ambitious US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), Lord said that they were planning to hold the next DTTI group meeting in the week of September 14 and the second meeting of the DTTI industrial collaboration forum the week before.
- Often described as the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Lord said that the US-India defence cooperation has made great strides in the last few years.
- This cooperation has led to closer relationships between the two governments and also increased stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Noting that US defence sales to India have grown exponentially over the last 10 years, she said the US is striving to become India’s first choice in defence solutions.
- The last year has seen many firsts in DTTI, she said, adding that the first project agreement for co-development is in negotiation.
- The first industrial cooperation forum was held, she said. She also announced the release of the industrial guidance for the participation with DTTI.
- “The industrial cooperation is a key focus area for the future of defence collaboration, and we think that this industry guidance will increase industrial collaboration within the DDTI framework,” she said.
- “The United States welcomes any partnership that enhances US national security objectives, decreases defence procurement costs and leads to greater supply chain stability,” Lord said.
- Noting that the US government reviewed and commented on India’s defence procurement procedure or DPP, Lord said they were encouraged to see the procedures for loans and leases added.
- “The United States is aware that many countries, including India, use offset in defence sales. The US government will not take part in any negotiation concerning offsets between the industry and a foreign government.
- “We encourage all governments to ensure that offset processes are transparent and applied equally to all competitors,” Lord said.
DRDO establishes COVID-19 Testing Facility at DIHAR, Leh
- DRDO has established a COVID-19 testing facility at the Leh based laboratory Defence Institute of High-Altitude Research (DIHAR) to enhance the rate of testing to identify the Corona cases in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The testing facility will also help in keeping close watch of the infected persons. The facility meets the safety standards and guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The centre was inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Shri RK Mathur on 22nd July 2020.
- The testing facility at DIHAR is capable of screening 50 samples per day. The facility can also be utilized for training manpower for COVID testing and will be of great help to address future bio-threats and carrying out R&D activities pertinent to agro-animals diseases.
- In his address, LG Shri RK Mathur lauded the efforts of DRDO in fighting Covid 19 and thanked Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D & Chairman DRDO for making this facility available at DIHAR. He expressed hope that the facility will help in the treatment of infected persons.
- The Lieutenant Governor also inspected the testing facility. He was briefed about the bio-safety aspect of the testing facility and precautionary measures to minimize cross-contamination and safety of researcher, health professionals and the environment.
- Dr OP Chaurasia Director DIHAR, Brig JB Singh Commandant, Dr Padma Gurmet Director NRISR, Leh, Dr Mutup Dorjey CMO along with his team of doctors from SNM Hospital, Leh and other senior army officials and DRDO scientists were present on the occasion.
- DIHAR is one of the life sciences laboratories of DRDO working on cold arid agro-animal technologies. The laboratory is screening and identifying the medicinal and aromatic plants to exploit them for use for defence purposes and also on greenhouse technologies for high altitude and cold desert areas.
Air HQ gets “Best Maintained Building Award” by CPWD
- Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan), Rafi Marg, New Delhi has been adjudged the ‘Best Maintained Building’ pan India by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for the year 2020. Air Headquarters won the award in 2019 as well.
- Air HQ(VB) also won the 1st prize in CPWD ‘Annual Flower Show & Garden Competition 2020’ in the ‘Prestigious Office Building’ segment. The award was won in 2019 as well. Air HQ(VB) has also been awarded ‘BEE 5 Stars Label ‘ by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in 2019.
- Anecdote: Railway Bhawan & Vayu Bhawan are similar buildings and constructed at the same time. Then Air Chief, Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee, on his own, walked in to the newly constructed building , without any formal sanction, and that’s how it became Air HQs, named Vayu Bhawan.
IAF’s half-marathon in Limca Book of Records
- IAF had organised a Half-Marathon simultaneously across 100 AF Stations on 14 April 2019 as part of Birth Centenary Celebrations of Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh DFC.
- 12600 Air Warriors ran the Half Marathon covering a total distance of 2.6 Lac Km.
- This unique feat of mass participation by an organisation to complete over 21 Km at the same time was given a place in the 2019 edition of Limca Book of Records.
- The official certificate has been received by the IAF recently.
- AMCA is a:
- Fourth generation twin-engine twin-seat aircraft
- Fifth generation twin-engine single-seat aircraft
- Fourth generation twin-engine single-seat aircraft
- Fifth generation twin-engine twin-seat aircraft
- Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command:
- Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
- Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, PVSM, AVSM, NM, VSM, ADC
- Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, AVSM, VSM
- None of the above
- Principal Scientific Advisor of India:
- S. Kiran Kumar
- K. Vijay Raghavan
- Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay
- Rajagopala Chidambaram
- Indian envoy to Russia
- Taranjit Singh Sandhu
- D Bala Venkatesh Varma
- T. S. Tirumurti
- Jawed Ashraf