Sunday, February 26, 2017

HAL TEJAS Flies With Refueling Probe

The LSP-8 (Serial KH2018) made its first flight fitted with a Cobham in-flight refueling probe on 31st Jan 2017. The fixed probe is fitted in front of the canopy, and offset to the starboard side of the aircraft, similar to the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fixed refueling probes.

The first flight test was used simply to collect air data and to monitor aircraft performance with the probe attached. LSP-8 has already gone through all the required structural modifications and software updates required to enable in-flight refueling, and ground trials of in-flight refueling have been carried out successfully demonstrating the capability.

HAL will now replicate these trials in the air, first ensuring that the probe does not affect aircraft aerodynamics, then progressing on to multiple 'dry contacts' with a tanker before attempting actual 'wet' fuel transfers.

In-flight refueling is a critical requirement for Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the Tejas Mk1 for the Indian Air Force. While FOC had been earlier planned for March 2017, HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju recently confirmed that the milestone would not be achieved before December 2017.

Admin - IDN

IDN TAKE: 3F Advanced Systems MoU With UMS Skeldar

SAAB Skeldar V-200 Medium-Range VTOL Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The official partnership between 3F Advanced Systems and UMS SKELDAR – the joint venture between SAAB and UMS Aero – Europe’s only provider of both Rotary and Fixed Wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms, is the first collaboration of its kind in the subcontinent and the launch of the company’s ‘Make in India’ technological development program. Alongside the official Memorandum of Understanding signing took place at this year’s Aero India.

The first collaboration of its kind on the subcontinent, the agreement also marks the launch of 3F’s foray into the ‘Make in India’ market. SKELDAR V-200 is unique in the VTOL space due to its double payload capacity and ability to run on heavy fuel, making it the ideal platform for maritime and naval operations as well as military and civilian activities. Flexible and highly versatile, the system is multi-role meaning it can perform a wide range of applications including reconnaissance, identification, target acquisition and electronic warfare. Additionally, the drone is deployable with a number of COTS high resolution EO/IR, SAR and EW sensors.

The unique partnership with 3F Advanced Systems cements the business model of forming strategic relationships with key stakeholders across the world. The SKELDAR V-200, which is powered by proven SAAB technology, is a truly unmatched and versatile platform as demonstrated within several deployments, This was demonstrated at Aero India as part of the wider strategic technological development program,

The applications for UAVs are increasing rapidly among India’s armed forces, central and state police forces as well as among private sector organisations, which are all beginning to realize the immense utility and efficacy of UAVs. As part of the country’s "Make in India" program, the strategic requirement to provide this expanding marketplace with a best in class range of UAV platforms that can not only gather the required intelligence quickly and efficiently, but also be a cost-effective alternative to the manned aircraft and crews currently used. This is what India has gained thanks to the partnership with UMS Skeldar.

Admin - IDN

PMO Asks 41 Ordnance Factories To Furnish A Report On Their Achievements From 2013 Onward

Of late, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, too, has been critical of the work culture and target achievement of OFs.

New Delhi: Used to a lenient and patronizing attitude on their work achievements by the governments of the day, state-owned ordnance factories (OFs) — employing nearly a lakh workers in its 41 factories across the country — have been asked by none other than the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to furnish a report on their achievement from 2013 onward.

Confirming the development, a top source in the defense ministry told this newspaper: “The PMO has written the letter to the secretary, defense production, who controls the OFs. The February 16 letter seeks of OFs to give a report on all the items and products they have produced in the last three financial years along with details of the costs involved, besides photographic evidence.”

The source added that the reports have to be furnished by Tuesday (February 28) and the order includes not just the factories producing ammunition and weapons but also those producing and supplying clothing and other equipment to the troops.

Performance of OFBs has been anything but satisfactory. In 2013, OFBs could meet the targets on only 39 per cent of the items required by the Armed Forces. The PMO’s order is significant in view of soldiers from the armed forces and paramilitary taking to social media in recent days to vent their angst on the quality and quantity of items they are being given by the OFs. Of late, defense minister Manohar Parrikar, too, has been critical of the work culture and target achievement of OFs.

Tracing its origin to British India in 1787, OFs are the oldest and largest organisation in India’s defense industry. The 41 factories are divided into five verticals — ammunition and explosives; weapons, vehicles and equipment; materials and components; armored vehicles; and ordnance equipment. The 41 OFs are under the administrative control of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which is under the MoD’s department of defense production.

While the Army is the main client of OFs accounting for 80 per cent of the production, the Air Force and Navy together account for less than 4 per cent of the factory issues with paramilitary forces and the state police forces accounting largely for the rest.

The primary objectives of OFs are to supply quality arms, ammunition, tanks and equipment expeditiously to armed forces, to modernize production facilities and to achieve substantive self–reliance, to absorb latest technology and conduct in-house research and development besides enhancing the potential of small and medium enterprises in the country’s stated objective of indigenisation. There is a widespread belief that OFs have been falling far short of achieving their targets.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba To Visit UAE To Consolidate Ties

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba

NEW DELHI: With an aim to consolidate naval ties with Arab nations and to explore new avenues for defense cooperation, navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba is leaving on a five-day visit to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Bilateral defense interaction between India and UAE has been witnessing a steady growth since defense minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Gulf nation last year in May during which two nations had inked a MoU on the Mutual Protection of Classified Information along with other defense cooperation agreements. The Indian Navy cooperates with both the navies of UAE and Oman on many fronts, which include training and operational interactions.

The Crown Prince of UAE Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest for the last month’s Republic Day parade, an honour India gives to countries it considers key to its diplomacy.

A navy statement issued on Saturday evening maintained that Admiral Lanba's first destination will be the UAE where he will hold talks with Minister of State for Defense Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bowardi, Chief of Staff, UAE Armed Forces Lt General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, and Commander of UAE Naval Forces Rear Admiral Ibrahim Salim Mohammed Al Musharrakh.

"The visit aims to consolidate bilateral naval relations with UAE and Oman, as also to explore new avenues for naval cooperation," the navy spokesperson said in the statement.

In UAE, Admiral Lamba will visit the Ghantoot Naval Base as well as National Defense College where he will interact with the student officers. He will also tour the training facilities at the Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Naval College.

On the second leg of his trip, he will visit Oman from March 1-2 where he will hold bilateral talks Bader Bin Saud Bin Harib Al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defense Affairs of Oman, as also with the three service chiefs. The Admiral will visit the Sultan Qaboos Naval Academy and the Said Bin Naval Base where he will also visit the Fleet Maintenance Facility and the latest Khareef Class corvette, RNOV Al Shamikh.

Indian navy also claim that it cooperates with UAE's navy through Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC) and through the Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC) with Oman, the ministry said.

In addition, the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman have been conducting the bilateral Maritime Exercise 'Naseem Al Bahr' since 1993. 10 editions have been held so far, the last being held off Goa on January 16.

Both countries are also exploring possibilities of Indian defense manufacturers selling military equipment to the UAE.

How Government Plans To Curb Radicalization In Kashmir

The Ministry of Home Affairs has in a report said that the priority should be to ensure that the youth, especially the teenagers in Jammu and Kashmir do not get radicalized. The report was prepared to assess the situation in J&K and has now been sent to the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

The report takes a note of the stone pelters in the Valley and says that they should be booked under the Public Safety Act. However the first time offenders and the teenagers should be counselled and also kept in a remand home.

The report goes on to suggest a special development scheme for people before they are lured in by the separatists. For this the moulvis in the mosques must be encouraged to come forward and prevent radicalization, the report also states. The report calls on the information and broadcasting ministry to take steps in Kashmir. There are a large number of news outlets which propagate an anti-India message and the same needs to be curbed. The I&B division is defunct in Kashmir and action in this area is needed the report states.

There is an urgent need to change the political narrative in Kashmir. For this, control of mosques, media and madrasas is needed. The report also speaks about the need to strengthen the intelligence mechanism so that the moderate voices could be reached out to.

PAK SCAN: Strategic Anxiety Feared As India Inks Multi-Billion Dollar Missile Deal With Israel

A deck based Short-Range Ballistic Missile

NEW DELHI – India has inked a $2.5 billion missile deal with Israel to jointly develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile system for Indian military stirring anxiety among the south Asian members.

The multi-billion contract between the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) was approved by India’s Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of his visit to Israel, according to Indian media. 

The MR-SAM missile with a range of 50 km-70 km is the latest in a series of other variants of surface-to-air missile systems for the Indian Navy and Air Force being jointly manufactured by both countries.

As per the deal, five regiments of the missile, which consists of 40 units and 200 missiles, will be developed.

‘The system will be based on the older Barak system of Israel, which is in use in India. It is being changed as per requirements,’ a defense source was quoted as saying.

The system, which will be manufactured in India with 80 per cent indigenous content, would play a crucial role in developing the target homing system, the source said, adding delivery of the system would begin in 2023.

India and Israel are also in advanced stage of negotiations for the purchase of two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS).

General Rawat’s Warning To Separatists And Their Supporters Is Timely

Maj Gen G D Bakshi (Retd)

by Maj Gen G D Bakshi (Retd)

After laying a wreath at the funeral of his four men recently martyred in J&K, Gen Rawat delivered a stern warning to all separatists and their supporters. He cautioned them against deliberately interfering with the conduct of legitimate counter-terrorism operations of the Army by organised stone-pelting—designed to help the terrorists escape, distract our forces and cause needless casualties.

These stone-pelters have deliberately been seeking to provoke the security forces to try and create collateral damage and casualties, which can then be cynically exploited to trigger large-scale rioting and arson. Here are a set of cynical manipulators, clearly emboldened by the humane treatment and restraint exercised so far by our security forces.

As was expected, there was a storm of protests unleashed by the separatists who tried to twist the Chief’s words out of context. Surprisingly, even some national and mainstream opposition parties deliberately tried to instigate unrest over these very sober and highly called-for remarks by the Chief.

I had taken part in counter-terrorist operations in J&K for over a decade. I had operated in Kishtwar and volatile districts of Rajouri and Poonch when the terrorist movement was at its peak. In 2001, the heaviest casualties of over 2,000 had been inflicted on the terrorist tanzeems.

It was well understood in J&K that whenever an encounter started, the civilians would prudently vacate that area to avoid being hit by stray bullets or sustain collateral damage. The Army in turn confined its weapons’ usage to infantry, small arms alone. There has been no instance of the Indian Army employing offensive air power, tanks or artillery in J&K.

The same are freely used by the Pakistani Army in Balochistan, Sindh, FATA and NWFP. Collateral damage is the least of their concerns. For Operation Zarb-e-Azb, they deliberately drove some 18 lakh civilians out of their houses. We heard no complaints from any human rights organisation about these excesses.

The same HR organisations, however, had been hyper active in J&K and India. Their primary purpose has been to tie down the Indian Army’s hands and feet, and stymie its legitimate operations to an extent it cannot even use its small arms effectively.

Senior Army commanders were recently forced to apologize for shooting down wayward civilians who had deliberately defied orders to stop at a checkpoint. This emboldened the separatists and their supporters who have now begun to exploit the restraint exhibited by our forces.

What has so emboldened the separatists in the Valley? It is the support and incitement they have been receiving from the leftist liberal sections of the media and the political spectrum in India, and the machinations and money of the ISI.

Frankly, the primary cause of all problems in the Valley has been its abject ghettoisation and the virulent communalism that has been injected into this peaceful vale. This was once a haven of syncretic and tolerant Sufism. By and large, the Valley was peaceful during the Partition —till the Pakistanis sent in the Waziri and Mehsud Pathan tribesmen there to “liberate” it. It was some strange liberation.

It entailed the complete torching of towns, their abject loot and plunder and the rapes of women from seven to 70. Sheikh Abdullah had lamented: “The raiders had turned our mosques into brothels to satisfy their lust with our women”. He had said that with the last drop of blood he would oppose the two-nation theory.

GIFAS Supporting French Industry Efforts To Find Indian Partners

Was Aero India 2017 a good show for the French aerospace industry?

Aero India 2017 was a very good show for the companies that we represent. In addition to a certain number of official high-level contacts, the show was an opportunity to make business contacts with Indian companies in preparation for future partnerships. Companies were also able to reinforce existing links with Indian partners, particularly in the light of the “Make in India” initiative. The large French systems integrators made a certain number of contract announcements, while the GIFAS SMEs took advantage of the show to consolidate their presence in India. One PME, First, which is already present in India, inaugurated a new production facility in Devanahalli Aerospace Park, near Bangalore. Another, Axon’Cable, has started construction work on a new facility a short distance away, which will employ around 200 people. Also in the Bangalore area, Liebherr Aerospace has opened a new office in Whitefield. French companies have a strong presence in India (for more than 15 years in some cases) and are reinforcing their positions based on contracts already booked and on emerging prospects through cooperation and the “Make in India” initiative.

What is the role of GIFAS at an event of this type?

Pierre Bourlot, Managing Director of French aerospace industries association GIFAS, on French companies’ participation in Aero India 2017
At Aero India 2017, the French pavilion under the GIFAS umbrella contained 43 companies. If you add the six other companies exhibiting independently, France had the largest contingent of non-Indian companies at the show. Companies were present from all segments: civil and military aeronautics, defense and space. The pavilion, measuring more than 900m2, was a great success, as it created a unique platform for large groups and SMEs. Exhibitors are showing increasing interest in this type of arrangement. Two years ago, French industry was represented by “only” 33 companies. Clearly, the selection of the Rafale in India has been a catalyst for our member companies, who have understood the advantage of positioning themselves on this market, where cooperation is key.

Do you also facilitate contacts between SMEs and Indian companies?

Yes, GIFAS has a number of permanent missions to support our member companies, particularly SMEs. In addition to promotion and training, research and advocacy missions, we do indeed act as representative and coordinator for the French aerospace sector. GIFAS regularly organised missions to reinforce cooperation with companies in other countries by facilitating contacts for future partnerships and cooperation between companies in the French supply chain and their opposite numbers in other countries. Clearly, at Aero India 2017, this was one of the objectives behind the presence of GIFAS – to facilitate contacts between small French companies and local industry, and to organize meetings between French companies and Indian contractors.

The False Space Vs Survival Dichotomy

Here’s why all those naysayers are wrong about India’s record-breaking success at launching 104 satellites at one go.

by Phillip Keane

Earlier this month, on February 14th, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced the successful launch of a PSLV rocket containing 104 satellites, thus smashing the previous record for the number of satellites launched in a single rocket (the previous record being held by Russia who had launched 37 in 2014).

Opinions on social media were divided. On one side were the proud Indians who were (rightfully) chuffed with yet another achievement from ISRO. And on the other side, came the same tired old arguments which you hear whenever a developing nation attempts to do anything remotely related to space.

“Booo! India can’t even manage its own poverty! You should worry about your own people first before wasting money in space!” came the same mindless chant from people who know nothing about space industry economics.

Firstly, let me just point out that no government in the history of the world has ever diverted resources from space research into fighting poverty. Not that it would do any good anyway; you can’t combat poverty by throwing money at the problem.

Give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day… give him a space program and he can feed himself for a lifetime (to paraphrase that old Chinese proverb). The original proverb espoused the value of education and self reliance over charity and hand-outs. And as I am about to show you, space research is the gift that keeps on giving.

Five reasons why space research is better than a stupid fish:

  1. The Tamil Nadu Precision Farming Project in India have reported increases in yield of over 125 percent for maize crops by using satellite-based precision farming techniques. Similar yield increases are reported wherever precision farming is employed. Fact: Space technology does help to feed the poor.
  2. For every dollar spent on space research, between $8 and $14 is returned to the economy via tech spin-offs. If you don’t believe me, then throw away your cell phone because one in three cell phone cameras uses a camera that is derived from space tech.
  3. Speaking of spin-offs, NASA has over 2,500 spin-off technologies which benefit our daily lives here on Earth, many of those are used to save lives in developing nations. In fact, India is already reaping the benefits of ISRO spin-offs, including disaster monitoring systems, weather tracking tech and distress beacons to name but a few.
  4. Much of what we use today in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) global standards comes from NASA and DoD processes. Better project management equals more efficient projects, reduced cost and improved documentation. If India applies project management processes learned from ISRO projects on a wider scale, then this can only benefit the economy.
  5. And finally, societal value. This is a hard one to measure because the benefits are just too far reaching. In the years after the NASA Apollo missions, there were sharp increases in the number of people wanting to study Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) related subjects. Likewise, it is fair to say that India will benefit in similar ways, as a result of ISRO inspiring youth into STEM fields.

That is just a small selection of the benefits that can be gained from research into space. The “space or food” debate has been settled a long time ago, and it has been proven many times to be a false dichotomy; you can indeed have both.

So the next time you see someone online parroting that a developing nation must “fix their problems on Earth first” just show them this article or send them over to the NASA spin-off website and show them exactly how money is not “spent on space”… but rather it is spent on Earth and everyone—rich or poor—benefits from it.


Kansas Murder of Indian Techie: From Funds To Prayers, Here’S How U.S. Reacted

An undated photo shows killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla with his wife Sunayana Dumala in Las Vegas. (AP)

The killing of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in an apparent hate crime in Kansas City left residents in shock and a majority of people in Olathe saying, “we are not like this”.

Events leading up to the incident on Wednesday evening also show that despite rising hate crimes across the country, many had stood up for the two Indians – Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani – when 51-year-old US navy veteran Adam Purinton tossed racial abuses before opening fire.

Here’s how Kansas residents responded during and after the fatal shooting:

Friends At The bar

Kuchibhotla and Madasani, both 32, were enjoying an after-work drink in their regular bar when the accused started abusing them using racial slurs. Purinton as soon thrown out after other patrons complained.

Jeremy Luby, 41, a software developer, said he offered to pick up the tab for the two men, who thanked him during a brief conversation about work and cultural differences. “It was wrong what happened to them,” Luby said. “I thought it was a nice gesture to say, ‘I’m sorry someone was being rude to you like that’.”

After the shooting began, another patron, Ian Grillot, 24, said he tried to count the shots while he hid under a table. Thinking the gunman had run out of ammunition, Grillot said, he confronted him, only to be shot in the hand and the chest.

“People call me a hero…I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being,” Grillot said in a video released by the hospital where he received treatment.

Kansas Raises Funds For Victims

Three GoFundMe sites started for Kuchibhotla and the two injured have raised a total of more than $670,000 so far.

As of Friday, the site for Kuchibhotla, whose funeral will be in India, had “$496,196 out of $150 k”. A second combined campaign for Kuchibhotla and Madasani had close to $61,000 and a third site for Grillot was up to more than $200,000.

“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being.

“His wife Sunayana and his family are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses,” said a tribute on a page created by Kuchibhotla’s friend Kavipriya Muthuramalingam.

“We’ve set up this fund to help them with the funeral expenses and other ongoing grief/recovery support costs. This includes the very expensive process of carrying his mortal remains back to India, so his parents can say goodbye one last time to their beloved son.”

Another page was set up by a man in Shawnee, Kansas, who is not related to either of the victims or their families but was said to be upset about what appeared to be “a vicious hate crime.”

“Madasani will likely face extensive medical bills and the family of Kuchibhotla will now have to deal with the death of their beloved son, both financially and emotionally,” Brian Eric Ford wrote on the page.

“Let’s send a message that we will support those who are targeted — and stand against all who wish to spread hate — by raising funds to help the victims of this horrendous act of senseless violence.”

Prayers For The Dead And Injured

Residents of a Kansas City suburb gathered at a church to honour Kuchibhotla.

About 400 people sang, prayed and lit candles on Friday night at the First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas and those in attendance described the community as “tight-knit” and one that embraces diversity.

Mayor Michael Copeland encouraged people to come together and said, “One evil act does not divide a united community.”

The church offered counseling services and created a “hope banner” to use at a march scheduled for Sunday.

A Message of Hope

Senator Jerry Moran left a message with Olathe’s mayor, offering to help assure people from India who live in Kansas that the actions leading to Kuchibhotla’s death are “not the norm”.

“This is not the nature of Kansas, and we welcome people to the United States, particularly a company like Garmin and many others,” the Kansas Republican said.

The owner of the bar where Kuchibhotla was fatally shot said it will do anything it can to support the victims.

Owner Brandon Blum wrote on the website for Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, that the staff’s “thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims”.

'Tejas' Fighter Plane Developer Harinarayana Honored

Scientist Dr Kota Harinarayana, who is credited with developing India's first home-grown light combat aircraft 'Tajas', was today conferred honorary Doctor of Science degree by Ravenshaw University here.

Governor and University Chancellor Dr S C Jamir honoured Dr Harinarayana, born at Berhampur in Ganjam district, at the eighth Convocation of the University.

Dr Kota Harinarayana has worked with HAL and DRDO and has been the driving force behind developing 'Tejas'. He was awarded Padmashri in 2002.

'Tejas' is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class. It is a single engine, Compound-Delta-Wing, Tailless Aircraft.

Along with Harinarayana, two other distinguished scholars of the state, Prof Jitendra Nath Mohanty and Prof Gour Kishore Das, were also honoured on the occasion by the University with honoris causa.

At least 90 students of the University were awarded with PhD degrees on the day, while 30 postgraduate students and 32 undergraduate students were given gold medals.

The University Chancellor in his address called upon the graduates to be the flag-bearer of the emerging knowledge society. "Be ethical and transparent in whatever career you choose and contribute to the development of the State and the nation," Dr Jamir said.


Russia's Capitol Is Stacked with Super Powerful S-400 Missile Defense Systems (But It’s No Shield)

by Guy Plopsky

On February 21, 2017, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that yet another Aerospace Forces surface-to-air missile (SAM) regiment equipped with the lethal S-400 Triumf system was put on combat duty in the Moscow Oblast. Stationed in Solnechnogorsky District, the 584th SAM Regiment is the fifth regiment in the Oblast to be re-equipped with the S-400, bringing the total number of Triumf battalions deployed around the capital to 10 (two per regiment). In other words, more than one out of four S-400 battalions currently in service with Russia’s military is now stationed not far from Moscow City.

Given that a single S-400 battalion typically comprises eight transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles, the total number of S-400 TELs in the Moscow Oblast amounts to approximately 80 - a large figure by any standard (even when taking into account that a small number of these TELs were deployed to Syria in 2015 along with other system components). The Triumf, however, isn’t the only SAM system deployed by Russia’s Aerospace Forces in the Oblast. In addition to the ten S-400 battalions, each of the five regiments includes a battalion of Pantsir-S1/2 short-range gun-missile systems intended to defend the S-400 and other important assets against precision-guided weapons. Two of the S-400 regiments also include a battalion of older - but still formidable - S-300PM-series SAM systems. A further three S-300PM-series SAM regiments are likewise stationed around the capital.

Together, these eight SAM regiments (along with two radio-technical regiments) make up the 1st Air and Missile Defense Army’s 4th and 5th Air Defense Divisions that serve as the last line of defense for Russia’s political and military leadership. Russian military officials have expressed particular concern regarding low-flying cruise missiles and emerging hypersonic weapons, and have taken steps to improve the S-400’s ability to detect and intercept them. These steps include the continued deployment of mast-mounted and mobile 96L6 “all-altitude” acquisition radars capable of detecting targets at altitudes of up to 100km (60 miles), as well as the integration of new long-range, high-speed 48N6DM and 40N6 missiles with maximum operational ranges of 250 km (155 miles) and 400km (250 miles), respectively (the latter, however, is likely not operational yet).

The high mobility, short deployment times, sophisticated radars and advanced missiles of the aforementioned “double-digit” SAM systems have led many senior Russian military officials to express great confidence in their ability to repel aerial attacks against Russia’s capital. In April 2015, for example, then deputy chief of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces, Major-General Kirill Makarov, told Russian News Service that, thanks to the addition of new SAM systems, “Moscow is covered from strikes by an aerial opponent with a probability of 99%.” When asked by the interviewer whether Russia’s air defense can detect stealth aircraft, the Major-General replied that, at present, there are no stealthy “means of aerial attack” which they cannot detect. Makarov’s remarks were echoed several month later by Major-General Sergei Babakov who called US stealth aircraft a “publicity stunt.” Such remarks, however, are highly conclusory.

While Russia’s double-digit SAMs pose a serious threat to non-stealthy aircraft, their capabilities against very low observable cruise missiles and aircraft remain very limited. As The National Interest previously noted, “solving the problem of targeting low observable aircraft is something [the Russians] continue to work on - but it is doubtful [that] Moscow has resolved the issue.” Indeed, even Russia’s upcoming S-500 Triumfator-M is unlikely to offer meaningful improvements in this field over its predecessors; the new system is most probably oriented towards defense against ballistic missiles and emerging hypersonic weapons instead. A prototype of the S-500 is expected to be completed by 2020, and the first operational regiment - intended to defend Moscow and the Central Economic Region - will likely become operational sometime in the early 2020s.

Guy Plopsky holds an MA in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from Tamkang University, Taiwan. He specializes in air power, Russian military affairs and Asia-Pacific security

The Mind-Blowing Way America Planned to Fight a Nuclear War Against Russia

Updated U.S. B-61 Nuclear Bomb

by Sébastien Roblin

Today the use of nuclear weapons is a near-unthinkable military option of last resort. But back in the 1950s, that norm had yet to be established. The U.S. Army believed then that in the event of war with the Soviet Union, tactical nukes would be landing left and right across the battlefield. It therefore fielded the “Pentomic” division to fight on the anticipated nuclear hellscape. It even gave battalion-level commanders access to short-range nuclear shells, which risked blasting the units that fired them.

The motive behind the Pentomic divisions may have been more political than military. In the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration believed nuclear weapons were so powerful that conventional ground troops would be rendered irrelevant. The doctrine of “massive retaliation” dictated that the United States would respond to any Soviet attack with full-scale nuclear attack. Indeed, Eisenhower even considered going nuclear to prevent Vietnamese and Chinese Communist forces from securing battlefield victories that were hardly direct threats to U.S. national security.

Because the U.S. Air Force and Navy had the majority of nuclear-weapons systems, they received the lion’s share of military funding. Under the “New Look” defense budget of 1955, the Army was considered a mere garrison force to protect nuclear-weapons facilities. The infantry branch in particular fell from a height of 250,000 personnel during the Korean War to around 130,000.

Eager to get a bigger cut, the U.S. Army decided it needed to field a force fit for the nuclear age. At the time, U.S. infantry divisions still had the “triangular” force structure used in World War II, with units organized in threes: three companies in a battalion, three battalions in a regiment, three regiments in a division, and so forth. The battalions in each regiment were supposed to stick close together for tactical, logistical and communications support. However, military theorists worried that large regiments would be make ideal targets for nuclear attacks. To their thinking, numerous smaller, independent units would be more survivable.

Thus the Army coined the Pentomic division, so named because it was based around five battalions—renamed “battle groups”—each composed of five infantry companies. A sixth support company in the battle group included radars, a battery of 4.2-inch mortars, 106-millimeter antitank recoilless rifles and eventually the U.S. Army’s first antitank missiles, the French-made SS-10. The infantry squads were increased to eleven men each and issued squad-level radios for the first time, as well as new M14 semiautomatic rifles with twenty-round magazines that could be switched to (inaccurate) automatic fire.

The Pentomic divisions possessed no regimental level of organization. Instead, armor, artillery and logistical elements were detached from the division to reinforce each 1,400-man battle group. By 1960, the Pentomic divisions had five direct support artillery battalions, with one battery apiece of 105- and 155-millimeter howitzers, as well as a five-company tank battalion. These would be split up to support battle groups on the frontline, allowing the infantry units to remain self-sufficient even if they were cut off from support by radiation and advancing Soviet tanks.

The three Airborne Divisions then active were the first to convert to the Pentomic organizational structure in 1957, and all the active Infantry Divisions followed in 1958. The armored branch did not undergo conversion, as it already had a smaller and more flexible organization. In general, there was not much enthusiasm for the Pentomic system, as each division became smaller and lost much of the historical identity invested in the absent regimental units.

The Army’s first nuclear weapon system, the M65 280-millimeter cannon, lacked mobility. But soon rockets and lighter nuclear artillery shells made nuclear firepower available to divisional commanders in the Pentomic division’s general support battalion. World War II–era eight-inch M115 howitzers were issued W33 nuclear-tipped shells with a yield of up to forty kilotons. These could be lobbed up to ten miles away. Meanwhile, truck-mounted MGR-1 Honest John rocket systems could strike targets fifteen to thirty miles distant, depending on the model. The unguided 760-millimeter rockets were prone to scattering the length of a couple football fields off target, but a high level of precision wasn’t a priority when delivering thirty-kiloton nuclear warheads.

The ultimate upgrade to the Pentomic division came in 1961, when battle groups received the M28 and M29 Davy Crockett towed recoilless guns. These fired W54 .01-kiloton nuclear warheads that weighed seventy-six pounds. The miniature nukes emitted enough radiation to immediately kill everyone within five hundred feet of the point of detonation, and cause blindness or slow death in a much wider radius. But the 120-millimeter M28 had a maximum range of just slightly over a mile, which meant the crew of three could easily be affected by the radiation from their own weapon. The 155-millimeter M29 variant had double the range, making it somewhat more practical. Placing so many nuclear weapons in the hands of front line battle groups multiplied the chance of unauthorized use, and the more than two thousand rounds produced increased the likelihood of the man-portable warheads being lost or stolen.

In battle, a Pentomic division was supposed to keep its battle groups spread out in defensive islands, so that no more than one could be wiped out by a single nuclear strike. Pre-sighted Davy Crocketts deployed in Europe would irradiate key chokepoints, killing Soviet tank crews inside their vehicles and preventing other units from advancing through the area. When the division went on the attack, nuclear artillery would be used to blast holes through enemy lines which Pentomic battle groups could exploit.

Eventually, the Army evaluated the performance of the new divisions—and realized they were terrible. Five reinforced battalions simply weren’t as effective as three full regiments, especially in conventional warfare. Although the Pentomic divisions theoretically had 33 percent more troops in front line roles, they often needed to shift those troops back to logistical tasks because the support services were undermanned. The Pentomic battle groups also lacked battlefield mobility in the form of armored all-terrain transport. Eventually, divisional transport units received M113 APCs and H-34 helicopters in order to provide mechanized or airborne movement to one or two battle groups at a time—out of five.

Despite modernized communication systems, the Pentomic division also posed command-and-control problems. The colonel in charge of a battle group had to direct five to nine companies at a time once typical supporting units were accounted for, rather than the three to five a battalion commander would normally have to deal with. This was more than most officers could efficiently keep track of. The lack of a regimental organization also distorted the Army’s rank structure. The armies of Australia, Spain, Turkey and West Germany all considered adopting the Pentomic structure—and all gave up on it within a few years.

Most importantly, under President Kennedy the Pentagon switched to a doctrine of “flexible response,” which did not automatically assume escalation to nuclear warfare. This way of thinking was encouraged by improvements in Soviet nuclear capabilities. American military planners were horrified to discover from war games that even “limited” use of nuclear weapons would cause massive devastation to Europe, and so the Army reoriented itself towards winning conventional conflicts, as well as counterinsurgency in developing countries.

The Pentomic divisions fortunately never saw combat, though they came close to doing so in the Cuban Missile Crisis. After only five years, the Army began transitioning in 1962 to the ROAD division, which largely reverted to a triangular organization. The Davy Crocketts were withdrawn from operational units by 1968. While the Army retained nuclear artillery shells for several more decades, the passing of the Pentomic division marked the turning point when the Pentagon realized modern war wouldn’t necessarily involve a liberal sprinkling of little mushroom clouds—an epiphany we should all be thankful for.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Kanpur Train Accident: Congress Attacks Prime Minister Narendra Modi Over His ISI Remark

The Congress today (25 February) came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Kanpur train accident remark, asking why Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was allowed to investigate the Pathankot attack if it was guilty. Congress leader Tom Vadakkan expressed shock over discussing an intelligence report in a public rally, asking why nothing was done yet. He told ANI,

If it is the ISI, why was the ISI invited to Pathankot? Who hand-delivered Masood Azhar to Pakistan? The Prime Minister needs to answer these questions. If there is ISI link, why has nothing been done yet? Why aren’t the guilty been exposed? Why is investigation not in its proper place?

Resonating a similar sentiment, another Congress leader Shobha Oza condemned the Prime Minister for 'stooping down' and questioned the action taken in the Pathankot attack. She told ANI,

It is very unfortunate that the Prime Minister of a country discusses such issues, or stoops down to discussing such issues in a political rally. He uses such issues to politicise, which is very unfortunate. When they were in power in Punjab, how did terrorists reach Pathankot and why did they allow the ISI team to come and investigate there? Why do we see terrorists attack various parts of Jammu and Kashmir every day while they are in power there? He needs to answer all these questions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday (24 February) blamed conspirators sitting in Nepal for the November 2016 train derailment in Kanpur that claimed the lives of 149 people. "Kanpur rail accident in which hundreds were killed was a conspiracy and the conspirators carried it out sitting across the border (Nepal)," said the Prime Minister while addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Gonda.

The National Investigation Agency had in February confirmed that Dubai-based Shamshul Huda was the "mastermind" for the sabotage behind the Indore-Patna Express train accident in Kanpur on 16 November 2016.

GAGAN Navigation System-Compliant Aircraft May Soon Be Mandatory For Airlines

According to Boeing’s 2016 India Current Market Outlook (CMO), released last year, Indian airlines would require 1,850 new airplanes, valued at USD 265 billion over the next 20 years.

The government is likely to come out with a notification shortly making it mandatory for Indian carriers to only induct aircraft which are compliant with the newly-developed GAGAN navigation system in their fleets from January 1, 2019. GPS-Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) is an implementation of a regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), developed by India.

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had late last year convened a consultation meeting with all stakeholders on the issue. Sources say a mandate is now being prepared, which would make it compulsory for all domestic airlines to induct only those aircraft in the fleet which are equipped with GAGAN air navigation system. The combined fleet strength of Indian carriers including regional ones currently stands at over 450 planes.

Significantly, three domestic carriers — IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir– have placed orders with both Boeing of the US and European aviation major Airbus for large number of aircraft which are to be inducted over the next few years.

At present, majority of the aircraft in the country are not equipped with a particular type of GPS receiver compliant for satellite-based augmentation systems like GAGAN. These receivers help in precision guidance for landing at airports using satellite signals.

According to a senior AAI official, so far only four SpiceJet and two GoAir planes have the GAGAN system while a few non scheduled-charter planes are also GAGAN-compliant.

The National Civil Aviation Policy, announced by the government in 2015, made it mandatory for all aircraft being registered in India from January 1, 2019 to be GAGAN-enabled.

Jointly developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI), at an investment of Rs 774 crore, the new system offers seamless navigation to the aviation industry.

GAGAN system, which is said to make airline operations more efficient and cut costs as it reduces separation between aircraft with increase in air safety and fuel efficiency, was officially launched by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju in July, 2015.

However, for availing the system, airlines are required to make their fleet system compliant which entails huge investments.

Sources say that while smaller aircraft like ATRs and Bombardiers which are currently in Indian carriers’ fleets are already equipped with such a system, bigger planes like Airbus A320, A330, Boeing 737, B777 and B787s, among others, are not.