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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More Photos of Tejas SP-1

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First images of Tejas SP-1 during Sept 30 maiden flight

 Photos: HAL CorpCom


Tejas production variant SP-1 makes maiden flight in Bangalore | First flight without telemetry support | Two test variants on 'bombing mission' in Jaisalmer

Tejas seems to be out of the woods with the production variant's first flight. Photo: Basani Satish Kumar 
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) wait to induct a home-grown fighter jet into its squadron inched a step closer when the first Tejas series production (SP-1) aircraft kissed the skies on Tuesday. Military sources confirmed to Express that during the 25-minute flight, Tejas SP-1 touched a maximum speed of 0.6 Mach, copying textbook maneuvers befitting a maiden outing. The sole take-away from this flight was the fact that there was no telemetry support to the pilot.
Built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and designed by Aeronautical Development Agency, the Tejas SP-1 was flown by seasoned Test Pilot Air Commodore (Retd) K A Muthanna, with a Hawk trainer as the chase aircraft. “We did the HSTT (High Speed Taxi Trial) on Monday and the test results were flawless. During today’s flight, the pilot had no link-up with the telemetry team during the entire duration of the flight. This is a first for the programme, similar to what happens while in a squadron scenario,” an official associated with project said.
The build of the Tejas SP-1 seems to have given the team huge confidence to go for the maiden flight. “We had no corrections to make before and after the flight. This is different from what we were used to on earlier occasions. The production version aircraft is definitely superior on all fronts. We will resume the flight on SP-1 after a week,” the official said.
While the programme has to travel some more distance before the much-awaited induction into the IAF, two Tejas aircraft from the flight test programme are currently in Jaisalmer undertaking 'bombing mission.' “New weapons (250 kg and 450 kg bombs) are being integrated into the aircraft. The AoA (Angle of Attack) is also coming closer to 26 degrees, which helps the pilot to undertake care-free manoeuvring. In the next there months we are also lining up the aircraft to fire some new missiles as well,” the official said.
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Also read: Did SP-1 fly for me?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tejas SP-1 maiden flight

#BreakingNews Sources say that Tejas SP1 had its maiden flight today with a Hawk aircraft as chase. As this posts go live, SP-1 is still flying. (Update soon)
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5 home-grown MAVs ready for production | ADE-NAL combo to transfer ToT to HAL

Indian Eagle (previously Imperial Eagle), a mini air vehicle, during one of its demonstration flights. (Below) members of India's MAV club.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Indian security agencies including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Security Guards (NSG) are likely to have small wings of micro and mini air vehicles (MAVs) under their commands soon. Developed jointly by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), these unmanned desi MAVs will soon get on to a mass production mode at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) facilities. HAL is expected to sign an MoU with ADE and NAL on transfer of technology (ToT) to manufacture custom-built MAVs.
Under a 2008 programme sanctioned with an initial seed money of Rs 20 crore, the ADE-NAL combo developed three micro air vehicles namely Black Kite, Golden Hawk and Pushpak. The team also developed two mini air vehicles, Indian Eagle (previously Imperial Eagle) and Sly Bird (see box). In the last six years, these MAVs underwent development trials demonstrating their capabilities. Each MAV, including the ground support systems, is expected to cost between Rs 5-10 lakhs depending upon their configuration.
In an exclusive interview to Express, V S Chandrashekar, Associate Director, ADE, said that the MAVs offer great advantages for undertaking security missions. "They are compact, man-portable (can be carried in a backpack with just two persons required for operation), easy to unpack and can be deployed within 10-15 minutes. They are difficult to be detected and very effective for close range and low-level surveillance," Chandrashekar, who holds the rank of an Outstanding Scientist in ADE, said.
In addition to CRPF, NSG and BSF, some of the state police agencies also have shown interest in deploying these systems. "Our teams have been giving functional demonstration of the MAVs to these agencies. The ownership cost of these MAVs is significantly less compared to the bigger unmanned aerial vehicles. Thus multiple vehicles could be deployed for completing a mission. Police teams can fly these MAVs over urban populace and assess issues of safety and collateral damage during accidents or riots. The advanced data helps to plan missions before mass deployment of forces," Chandrashekar said.
To a specific query whether these MAVs can be seen in armed roles in future, the top scientist said that the days are not far off when these systems carry miniature lethal payloads. "Definitely, these can get deployed for creating nuisance in the operational environment by making critical systems inoperative by jamming and interference. Kamikaze missions (aerial attacks) are also possible with the MAVs," he said.
THE MAV CLUB: MAVs -- Golden Hawk, Black Kite and Pushpak -- are in the 300 mm class. They weigh about 300 to 450 gms and have an endurance of 20 to 30 minutes. At about 20 knots cruise speed it has a range of 1 km and can climb to a ceiling altitude of 100 metres. They carry a fixed daylight camera.
Indian Eagle and Slybird are slightly bigger MAVs and weigh about 3.5 kgs with an endurance of 50 to 60 minutes. At about 20 knots cruise speed it has a range of 10 km and can climb to a ceiling altitude of 300 metres. They carry gimbal-mounted daylight or infra-red camera.
These MAVs are hand-launched and possess fully autonomous cruise abilities using waypoint navigation. They are recovered by soft belly-landing and the entire mission is monitored using Toughbook-based Ground Control Station, where image exploitation algorithms are processed in real-time.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
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Friday, September 26, 2014

IAF takes off with firms plans to make Aero India bigger | Survey of helipads, hospitals begin | Aero India 2015 from Feb 18-22

Dorniers bask in the sunlight at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bangalore, as the IAF gears up to celebrate its 82nd birthday on October 8. Photo: Vinod Kumar T
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has begun the preliminary rounds of preparations for the 10th edition of the biennial air show to be held at the Air Force Station (AFS) Yelahanka, in Bangalore, from February 18-22, 2015. The Aero India-2015 will be seen through ‘a new window of opportunity’ by the aerospace and defence industry now, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ pitch. The IAF officials said that they are preparing the ground to accommodate more participants during the air show.
Speaking to Express on the sidelines of a media visit to AFS Yelahanka on Wednesday, ahead of the 82nd IAF Day celebrations on October 8, Air Commodore S C Gulati, Air Officer Commanding of the station said that initial talks with various state government agencies have already begun. “These are early days of preparations and we have the SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place. We hope that the coming show will be bigger in all aspects and AFS Yelahanka is warming up for the task,” said Gulati, a seasoned IAF pilot with close to 8000 hours of flying. Survey of hospitals and helipads in Bangalore are underway as part of the disaster management plan.
No air space clogging: To a specific query whether the training activities at AFS Yelahanka will be hit if HAL Airport is reopened for commercial operations, Gulati said that IAF’s modern traffic management systems are capable of handling the situation. To another query whether the current activities at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) have eaten into the traffic space of the base (as reported by the media earlier), he said the training schedules have not been affected.
“Our training patterns have not changed and are proceeding as planned. We operate on the assigned air space and both HAL and KIA too do the same. Paris has got three airports and London has four,” said Gulati, who was part of the Air HQ Communication Squadron, flying the Boeing Business Jets, carrying VIPs. The AFS Yelahanka has the record of being the single largest base in India with maximum number of flying hours. It has to its credit over 20,000 hours of flying, annually.
Modernisation on track: As part of the IAF’s ongoing modernisation mission, AFS Yelahanka will soon get a new station HQ with the construction work almost entering the last lap. An official who interacted with the media said that the induction AFS Yelahanka is poised to increase in the near future. “Some of the old buildings from where we are operating are from the British era. It’s but natural to move into new space. This is a diversion base for various operational aircraft as well and we do maintenance of our assets also,” an official said.
AFS Yelahanka gives training in formation flying, para-trooping, special night operations, casuality evacuation and VIP flying. Transport aircraft including the AN-32s and HAL-built Dornier-228s are the prime assets of the station. In addition, the station houses the Training Command communication flight, Dornier Tettra School and two helicopter units (112 HU & 109 HU). A 24x7 SRE unit (Surveillance Radar Element) also operates out of this station. “During the recent floods in Jammu and Kashmir, we had flown relief material to Srinagar. Our aircraft have also evacuated 285 passengers from Srinagar to different locations,” the official added.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

India@Mars: Mission Accomplished

EXPRESS EXCLUSIVE: India has been living with Mars Mission; Mangalyan has the blessings of the people: ISRO Chief

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The fate of India’s Rs 450-crore Mars Orbit Mission (MOM) – Mangalyan – will be out by 1 pm (IST) on Wednesday, when the exact parameters of the orbit will be known to the space scientists. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said that the Mars Orbit Insertion set to be executed on Wednesday morning will be the most challenging task of the mission. “If everything goes by our original plan, then Mangalyan will have a total life of six months,” Radhakrishnan told Express, during an exclusive interview at Antariksh Bhavan.
"The mission had three major challenges. The first one was the launch of MOM using PSLV-XL in November 2013; then the Trans-Mars Injection done in December 2013. Here the challenge was to give the required velocity in specific periods. Finally, we will undertake the most critical task of Mars Orbit Insertion on Wednesday," the top space scientist said. Mangalyan is the cheapest Mars mission being undertaken by any nation so far.
With the scientific temper of the whole nation skyrocketing with every bit of MOM moments being captured and cheered for last 300 days, Radhakrishnan said the overwhelming response from Indians across the globe inspired his team. "India has been living with this mission. The sentiments and richness of the comments of every Indian moved us. It made all of us really proud. It has been a great pleasure reading every bit of views that poured in during the last 10 months. It is a priceless feeling when the nation stands behind you and echoes in one voice -- We are with you. Mangalyan has the blessings of the people," Radhakrishnan said.
Mangalyan will get into the orbit at 8:15 am today with the engine firing scheduled at 07:17:32 (7 hours, 17 minutes and 32 seconds). “After a delay of 12 minutes, by 07:30:02, we will come to know whether the burning has started. The entire burning will be for 1453 seconds (24-plus minutes). Within four minutes of the burning, the scientists would receive the first data. There is a communication blackout set to occur 20 minutes into the engine burning, with the radio link between MOM and ground station getting blocked by Mars. The operations during this period will be carried out autonomously. The link will restart again at 08:00:16,” he said. On Wednesday, the Mars colour camera is also expected to be switched on, after the mission progresses ahead on the expected path.
Terming Monday’s four-second test-firing of the liquid engine as a ‘mission guided by wisdom and executed by youth,’ Radhakrishnan refused to take any credit for Mangalyan’s success so far. “The show goes on. The guidance of all our seniors, the relentless efforts of my team in ISRO and the support of the whole nation have brought us this far. There are around 100 scientists directly involved in this mission,” Radhakrishnan said. 
Under no pressure: When asked whether he was under any kind of pressure, Radhakrishnan said with a smile: “Pressure? I will be with my team today (Tuesday) night and will wake up at 3 am tomorrow (Wednesday). There’s nothing like pressure if you keep doing your work. As Bhagavat Gita says: Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana (You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions),” Radhakrishnan said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Experts want India to step up efforts in electronic warfare

Electronic warfare experts and award winners from aerospace and defence fields, during an event organised by the Association of Old Crows in Bangalore. Photo: Nagesh Polali
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Electronic Warfare (EW) systems are poised to play a lead role in combating low-intensity conflict (LIC) in India. Dr U K Revankar, president of Association of Old Crows (AOC) India chapter, an organisation of top EW brains, told Express on Saturday that the sooner India embraces latest EW technologies, the better it will be equipped to tackle LIC in future.
"The importance of EW is ever increasing with the systems becoming more complex and sophisticated. The EMS-based (electro-magnetic spectrum) technologies are essential for the internal security of our country. The defence R&D, system integration process, production of EW systems and field operational roles with our armed forces have to be at a bigger pace," Dr Ravankar, said. 
He said the EW domain in India must expand both technologically and commercially to support the armed forces. "While indigenisation of EW systems, their production and induction should be encouraged with explicit timelines, India must also acquire the best EW practices from across the globe," Dr Ravankar said. He said with further support of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Ministry of Defence, the AOC can evolve a 'standard for EW systems development' in India.
Dr A T Kalghatgi, Director (R&D), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), told Express that the engineering challenges in EW domain is growing rapidly. "Miniaturisation of systems with greater digital capabilities have become the norm in modern warfare. There are many areas we need to ramp-up our competences, including performance testing," Dr Kalghatgi said. He said the modern EW systems will have to be software-intense and fault-free, enabling an upper hand to the user .
He said as the lead technology integrator for a number of advanced weapon platforms of Indian armed forces, BEL has already made inroads in the field of EW systems. "We are progressing steadily with a Rs 1000-crore investment plan," he added.
S S Sundaram, Director General (Electronics & Communication Systems), DRDO said that that the EW systems act as a force-multiplier to the armed forces. "New EW techniques like chip-jamming have taken centrestage now. The United States has an integrated cyber warfare programme and we too are in the race to be among the best in the world," he said. On Saturday, Sundaram also gave away AOC awards to eight individuals for their contributions to EW systems.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Panchi, wheeled-version of UAV Nishant, warms up for first flight

Above exclusive photos (1&3) show Panchi, the wheeled-version of Nishant UAV, undergoing taxi trails at DRDO's Kolar facility in Karnataka. 
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Defence scientists are all set to unveil the wheeled-version of India's homegrown unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Nishant. The UAV named Panchi, means bird, will be capable of taking off and landing from semi-prepared runways, thereby reducing the turnaround time between missions.
Sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told Express on Wednesday that Panchi has already been transported to the testing facility in Kolar. "We have completed the taxi trials and are readying it for the maiden flight. Panchi is currently undergoing some refinement and the mission readiness team will further asses the UAV before the maiden flight," a scientist working with the project from Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) told Express. Similar to Nishant UAV, Panchi can be used for reconnaissance, intelligence gathering missions over hostile territory, target designation, surveillance and also to assess damages during natural calamities. 
Once operational, Panchi will join the ranks of other proven wheeled UAVs from across the globe, including Searcher, Heron, Global Hawk and Predator, capable of the conventional takeoff and landing. "With the requirement for extended endurance and payload carrying capacity, the focus of launching and recovery of UAVs world over shifted from launcher and parachute systems to conventional take-off and landing techniques," the scientist said.
The existing version of Nishant is launched from a mobile launcher and later recovered using parachute and landing bags. This results in high impact loads on the aircraft systems, necessitating extensive inspections, checks and maintenance activities before launching again.
The mission team had to deal with many challenges while rolling out Panchi and still have some critical points to clear before the first flight. "The handling of a remotely-controlled aircraft during its takeoff and landing procedures are extremely critical exercises. We have to ensure proper alignment of the aircraft to runway in addition to designing a control system with tighter control loops for quick corrections by the onboard system. Precise control of aircraft motion is required to assist the external pilot during various stages of the flight," explained the scientist. 
Nishant Status: ADE has already delivered four Nishants with one set of ground support systems have to the Indian Army, which is being operated in the western sector. Another eight Nishant UAVs along with two sets of ground support systems are expected to join the Army fold. Low repair cost, faster software maintenance and round-the-clock availability of technical support are some of the USPs being projected by the DRDO. The Army, on the other hand, wants the DRDO to ensure complete operational efficiency.
DRDO has spent around Rs 60 crore to complete the development of Nishant and also to establish capabilities for taking up future UAV systems. The DRDO is in talks with paramilitary agencies, who have evinced keen interest in the deployment of Nishant.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#TSR to chart HAL's new flight-path


Suvarna Raju is HAL’s Chairman-elect | I want to make HAL an aerospace technology leader

T Suvarna Raju
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: T Suvarna Raju, has been named as the next chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Currently, the Director (Design & Development) of the Company, Raju was named by the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) after conducting the selection interviews in New Delhi on Monday. Raju will succeed R K Tyagi, who will superannuate by the end of January 2015.
Raju will be the 17th chairman of HAL, subject to a series of departmental clearances. Sources told Express that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) will take charge now with the Cabinet Secretariat, Home Ministry and finally the Prime Minister's Office expected to give the go-ahead. “After we shortlist a name, it normally takes four months to complete all formalities. We don’t see any delay this time,” a PESB official said.
Raju joined HAL in 1980 as a Management Trainee after completing his Mechanical Engineering from Andhra University. He holds an M.Phil in Defence Strategic Studies from Madras University and also PG Diploma in Intellectual Property Rights from NLSIU. Hailing from Tanuku in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Raju will have a tenure of over three-and-a-half-years as HAL Chairman, from February 2015 to August 2018.
Currently Raju has under his command four major Divisions of HAL, including the Aircraft Research and Development Centre (ARDC), the Mission & Combat System R&D Centre (MSRDC) and the Engine Test Bed R&D Centre (ETBRDC). He also holds the additional charge as the Managing Director of the company’s Helicopter Complex. Programmes like Sitara – the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), Tejas – the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Rudra – the weaponised version of Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv and the Light Combat Helicopter currently come under his preview.
Raju has been selected by the PESB after interviewing four other candidates including S Subrahmanyam, Managing Director (MiG Compelx, HAL), V M Chamola, Director (HR, HAL), Umesh Chandra, Executive Director (BEML) and Air Marshal R K Dhir (MoD).
Speaking to Express on his arrival from Delhi past mid-night, Raju said that his focus will be to turn HAL into an aerospace technology leader. “Currently we are known as a manufacturing company and we need to quickly sink in with the changing times. Technology advancement is the key and I am confident of piloting the company towards achieving excellence in the field,” Raju said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ADE scientists to demonstrate ATOL role of Rustom-1 UAV

With ATOL feature, Rustom-1 to have enhanced endurance & payload-carrying capability.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Defence scientists at the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) are closing in on enabling India's Rustom-1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the automatic take-off and landing (ATOL) capability. The ATOL configuration, to be demonstrated by end of this year, will increase the endurance and payload carrying capacity of the UAV.
Insiders linked to the project told Express that ATOL feature will add more teeth to the Rustom-1 while undertaking prolonged missions. "We will be able to carry more fuel for missions which require the UAV to be airborne for longer durations. Instead of more fuel, different type of payloads can be integrated on the UAV, which will give it an additional operational advantage. At present, we are in the process of evaluating some of the sensors required for the ATOL implementation. Extensive real time simulation has been initiated on the UAV flight simulator to develop and fine-tune the guidance and control algorithms," an official said.
ADE took up the Rustom-1 project in 2006 with the primary objective of converting a proven manned aircraft configuration into a UAV. The first flight of Rustom-1 was in 2010 and since then the lab has conducted over 30 flights with around Rs 40 crore already spent on the project.
"So far our work on Rustom-1 has resulted in the availability of a baseline system which can be considered for operational roles by the users. This system can also be developed into an efficient FTB (Flying Test Bed) which can be used as a platform for development and demonstration of some of the emerging technologies in UAV systems," he said.
While enhancing the performance envelope of the UAV, the total weight (also called as AUW or all-up weight) goes up due to the increased weight of fuel or payload. This results in increase in take-off/landing distances and speeds. "Beyond a point it becomes difficult for the external pilot to confidently handle the UAV during the take-off and landing phases. Thus the capability for ATOL is essential," the official added.
The Indian Army has evinced keen interest in considering Rustom-1 for operational roles. However, in addition to ATOL capability, the Army wants ADE to demonstrate features like range of operation, colour video datalink and payload combinations. "We have so far demonstrated conventional take-off and landing of the aircraft by an external pilot, who coordinates the events with the internal pilot who controls the UAV during its mission phase. We have already demonstrated endurance for extended hours and at medium altitudes. We are confident of matching the performance demonstrated by some of the other users," the official said.
ADE has also integrated the surveillance payload of proven Nishant UAV on Rustom-1 to demonstrate its utility as a short-range surveillance platform. They are hopeful of optimising the performance by utilising the space available in the aircraft to increase the endurance further. The scientists are also exploring the possibility of using Rustom-1 version for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions as well.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Student Tech: UAV files out of college lab; gets rave reviews in US

(Above) Dawon, the custom-made UAV built by MSRIT students. (Below) The team with US naval escort James Kerry (4th from left) during the UAV contest held at the Patuxent River Naval Airbase, Maryland in US.

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service

Bangalore: Dawon, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named after mythological tiger of goddess Durga, designed by city-based M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT) students, has won rave reviews at an international event held in the United States recently. The seven-member team from MSRIT, Edhitha, competed with 50 universities from 20 countries during the event jointly organised by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the US Navy at the Patuxent River Naval Airbase, Maryland in US. 

In an interaction with Express on Monday, M Akash, a 7th semester Mechanical Engineering student of the college said that the competition was backed by aerospace giants. "It was an eye-opener for the Bangalore team as representatives from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were supporting the event. We secured 10th place in journal presentation, seventh in oral flight readiness review and 25th position in executing the mission. The jury appreciated the UAV's unique design and in-house fabrication," Akash said.

The competition demanded students to develop a UAV capable of autonomous GPS navigation, real time imagery system relaying information of strategic importance in intelligence and reconnaissance mission. In addition to the above requirement the UAV must also be equipped with a package drop mechanism for aerial drop task and Infrared imagery system for night vision. The Edhitha team was led by Vishnu B N.
"The UAV Dawon flew for 30 minutes and even undertook digital image processing mission. It also dropped an egg-shaped canister on an assigned target. The entire airframe, fabrication and electronics of the UAV costed us Rs 6 lakh," Akash said. 
Dawon with a wingspan of 3 meter, 2.5 meter length, 90-minute endurance and one liter fuel-carrying capacity is currently kept at the college lab. The students are also exploring the opportunities whether the UAV can be put to military or civil use. "We are looking at the regulations controlling the UAVs in India. Having exhibited the capabilities of the UAV, we are keen to see it put to good use," Akash said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prying plane undergoes flight trials at forward IAF bases | CABS selects BEL as ELSA | Project on track

A rare air-to-air photo of the prying plane undergoing flight trials. 
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to receive the first Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system by the end of this year. Two AEW&C systems, built on modified Embraer EMB-145I aircraft, are undergoing flight trials with one more expected to arrive from Brazil later this year. A senior scientist at the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) told Express that after handing over the first aircraft, parallel flight tests and fine-tuning of the mission systems on the second aircraft will continue, based on the IAF feed back. The official confirmed that in addition to the air bases in and around Bangalore, the prying plane has already had flight test campaigns in Jamnagar and Agra. 
"Being a complex system we need to approach the integration in a systematic manner. Safety is our top priority and we are proceeding cautiously at every step. During the integration process, the performance of all mission systems matched our expectations. We are now testing each of these mission systems in an independent mode, followed by operating them together in an integrated manner," the official said. So far both aircraft have clocked more than 200 sorties, logging over 350 flying hours.
The first public display of the AEW&C system, widely known as the prying plane, was during the IAF Day celebrations in 2012 and early this year, it was taken to Bahrain for an air show. As reported by Express earlier, the Defence Research and Development Organisation is exploring the potential of exporting the system for South American countries. 
The official said that Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been selected as the ELSA (Engineering and Life Support Agency) for the project. "Since the AEW&C is a highly complex system, its requirement too is in limited numbers. Hence establishing of a dedicated production facility is not viable. The support requirement for the aircraft will be provided by Embraer, while BEL will take care of the mission systems," the official said. He said BEL was selected as the ELSA after undergoing an elaborate process mandated for technology absorption.
With the prying plane programme, India has emerged as one of the few nations after the US, Israel and Sweden to have developed such complex systems. "In addition to owing AEW&C, India can today boast of having developed world class systems on active phased array radar. In the process CABS has also emerged as a premier agency capable of developing airborne surveillance systems," the official said. 
CABS has also established cutting edge technologies in areas such as airborne active array antenna, identification of friend or foe systems, mission computers, data handling and display systems, mechanical racks and tactical software to name a few. The IAF has a huge presence at the CABS aiding the prying plane project especially in complex areas of flight testing and evaluation of systems optimally.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
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Team CABS with the two AEW&C systems in the background. The team is lead by Dr S Christopher.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nirbhay launch likely by Sept; missile undergoes design changes



It's official! India is gearing up for the second launch of its subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay in the next three months. After the aborted maiden launch in March 2013, the first made-in-Bangalore missile is likely to be test-fired in September, post the monsoon season. 
"We were disappointed that we could not complete the mission, but proud of what we could achieve with the first copybook launch. We have made a few corrections in the design and a couple of prototypes are getting ready for the next launch. The next few prototypes will be used to confirm the design parameters and demonstrate the overall mission capabilities of the system. Any flight vehicle undergoes fine tuning of its design during the development flight trials," ADE director Srikumar told Express.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Scientists developing futuristic tech for swarm UAV missions

ADE Director P Srikumar
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The next generation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems will be equipped with high performance, specialised payloads to carry out 'dull, dirty and dangerous' missions. In addition to gathering intelligence over sustained periods of time (days to months), these UAVs will be providing situational awareness, acquisition and identification of targets, Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD) and will be operating in a network-centric environment.
In an interview to Express, Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) Director P Srikumar said issues relating to sharing of civilian air space will have to be addressed while developing new UAV systems. "The technical challenge will be to develop technologies required for co-operative flying among UAVs and design of swarm missions. (During swarm missions, a group of UAVs communicate to each other and undertake varied tasks). Many of the technologies required and missions like SEAD and DEAD are niche in nature. Some of the futuristic technologies are denied to India and we have to develop them from scratch. This is a challenge and scientists working on UAV systems are working on areas to bridge the gap," Srikumar said. 
He said in the present global scenario where proxy wars and asymmetric warfare take precedence over conventional full-fledged battles, it is only apt for nations to be fully prepared in handling these dangerous encounters. "Missions related to handling ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) are key factors and unmanned platforms play a major role in countering these skirmishes. ADE has drawn a road map addressing the requirements of various classes of UAVs and is now working towards meeting the developmental challenges keeping the user requirements in mind," Srikumar said.
The tactical UAV Nishant, developed by ADE, is already being used by Indian armed forces, while other unmanned platforms like Rustom-1 and Rustom-2 are undergoing various developmental trials. 
ADE also supports educational institutions to undertake cutting edge research in UAVs and micro air vehicles (MAVs). "At present there are around 300 engineering students doing their project work in the related areas at ADE. Under the National Programme on Micro Air Vehicle mission, several projects in the field of MAVs have been given to academic institutions. "We also give research projects directly to professors in leading academic institutes to develop core technologies required for our current and future applications," Srikumar said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Sunday, July 20, 2014

3rd time lucky for Kalam's 97-yr-old die-hard fan from Coimbatore

97-year-old C Visalakshi meets Dr Kalam at the Circuit House in Coimbatore on July 12.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: All her life, C Visalakshi was able to fulfil most of her whishes, except one. And at 97, when it seemed as though her long-cherished wish to meet India's Missile Man and former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, would set like the sun, hope dawned on July 12.
The wish of the die hard fan from North Coimbatore, who is Tamil Nadu's first lady Chief Educational Officer, came true when she sent an email to Dr Kalam's office on July 3 with the help of her great-granddaughter Architha Srinivasan. "It gives me great pride to know that in my lifetime, I was a citizen of a country who's President was as great a personality as you, especially since you reached great heights from humble beginnings," she wrote in the email.
She further went on to add her contributions in the field of education and her efforts to make education available to the poorest in Tamil Nadu. "I was privileged to have worked with some of the greatest minds including Kamaraj and Periyar. During your Presidency, I observed a period of revolution. You have taken the time to reach out to young minds and provide the spark that lit the fire that we see in the youth today. To me, it would be a great privilege if I could meet you during your visit to Coimbatore this month," Visalakshi wrote.
Dr Anuvalentina, granddaughter of Visalakshi, said that her grandmother was third time lucky. "In 2008, we took her to an event attended by Dr Kalam, but the security cordon prevented us from reaching anywhere near him. Then in 2011, he came to attend a convocation in Coimbatore but again we were not permitted to meet him. But she never gave up hope," said Dr Anuvalentina, a professor with A J K Institute of Management.
On July 12, Visalakshi was accompanied by Dr Anuvalentina to the Circuit House in Coimbatore and this time Dr Kalam's aides ensured that the security was thoroughly briefed. "But paati was tired and was fighting for her breath as she had a wheezing problem on the day. It was a great gesture from Dr Kalam to come out of his room and meet her near the lift. She couldn't walk any further even with the walker. She was struggling to breath when Dr Kalam shook hands with her," said Dr Anuvalentina.
Architha too is happy for having played the link between Visalakshi and Dr Kalam. "She was so delighted to have had the opportunity. Now, even I want to meet him once," said Architha, pursing her final year medical course at the University of Cambridge.
When this correspondent spoke to Visalakshi over phone, she was unable to engage in a long conversation. She just said: "I feel honoured to have met such a great man. I blessed him."
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NAL scientists on mission mode to make planes smarter, safer

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Scientists at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) are working on gen-next components that will make planes smarter and healthier. Through Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of composites, scientists are confident that the performance of the flying machines too will increase. The research is being carried out at the Advanced Composites Division (ACD) of NAL with the sole aim of carrying out SHM of planes while they are in flight. NAL is a premier wing of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Sharing some finer points of the close-guarded research with Express, Dr Ramesh Sundaram, Senior Principal Scientist & Deputy Head, ACD, said that any defects on the aircraft could be detected in future using on-board SHM systems. "The defects could be due to debris on the runway, hailstorm pieces impacting the aircraft, the most common incidents of tool-dropping during maintenance, impact of hard-landing on landing gear and even due to the impact of ground-handling equipment on the aircraft. The SHM systems will be able to give a real-time feed to the pilots," Dr Ramesh said.
Tested on UAV, Hansa: "The current systems being used in aircraft are safe, but our SHM system will help reduce time required for inspections. We have progressed well in the area and have demonstrated the technology on the two-seater Hansa aircraft. In collaboration with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), we have demonstrated the SHM system using fiber optic sensors on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Nishant," Dr Ramesh said. During the technology demonstration of the SHM systems on the boom of UAV, scientists were able to capture the strain pattern on the tail boom -- right from take-off to parachute-deployment, while landing. Using these strain parameters, scientists have developed an algorithm to estimate the loads on the structure. 
"Now, we are looking experiments at lab level to understand the extent of damage using the SHM system. We also want to predict the residual life of aircraft structures due to the damages caused over a period of time. Currently we are focusing on developing simulation models to validate the experimental results," the scientist said.
Lesser inspection time: NAL Director Shyam Chetty said that it will take some more time before India could claim its supremacy in developing SHM systems. "What it will eventually do is bring down the inspection time to a few hours. Operators will get huge maintenance advantage as overall health of the aircraft will be readily available. Health of the various onboard electronic systems of the avionics suite is already being checked continuously in flight by what is called C-BIT (Continuous built-in-test)," Shyam said.
On Tejas in future: According to Dr Kota Harinarayana, aerospace legend and mentor, it is essential to have a technology to map the health of the aircraft constantly. "If there is an incipient failure, these systems should be able to detect the same. We hope even the future variants of Tejas too will have SHM systems; that will help us to look at the health of aircraft in totality," Dr Kota said.
A paradigm shift: NAL has been undertaking projects with funding from the Aircraft Research and Development Board (AR&DB), a movement spearheaded by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Many academic institutions including IITs, Indian Institute of Science are working along with NAL in the area of SHM system research. "World over, similar studies have been undertaken by major aircraft companies on an experimental basis. The day is not too far when SHM-based design will become the mandate for aircraft manufacturing firms. This paradigm shift will probably turn around the current concept of plane-making. Scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) too have made some inroads on this front," Dr Ramesh added.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Embraer, DRDO explore export potential of prying plane | Detail note for govt's consideration ready

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
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Bangalore: Even as the flight-test and system integration trials of India's prying plane, the Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system gets underway ahead of its expected induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF) next year, a bold export initiative has taken wing. Sources confirm to Express that the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has approached the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab, for the joint development of AEW&C system for exporting it to South American countries.
The AEW&C system is being built on a modified Embraer EMB-145I aircraft with two planes currently undergoing flight trials in India with the third and final one expected to arrive from Brazil in December. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to induct the first eye-in-the-sky platform next year, making it a force multiplier during reconnaissance missions. Sources confirm that both Embraer and DRDO have already signed a non-disclosure agreement to initiate interactions for taking the idea of exporting the prying plane forward.
With an eye on export, DRDO had exhibited the plane during an air show in Bahrain early this year. "In Bahrain, a couple of Middle East countries had shown interest in having the AEW&C system from India. We can confirm that special interest have been shown by UAE, Oman and Russia. Embraer is keen that we join hands with them for the joint development of the system for South American countries," said an official. He said internationally, similar systems will cost between $100-$110 million and put the cost ratio between Embraer and DRDO to the order of 40:60.
He said the DRDO headquarters had prepared a detailed note, incorporating the export potential of the system. He couldn't confirm whether the prying plane's export plans figure in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda during his ongoing visit to Brazil for the BRCS Summit. 
Security concerns: When asked about the possible security concerns that could arise while exporting such a highly complex prying plane, the official said despite India being the highest importer of defence equipment, the country was never accused of a 'security threat' to those who sold the systems. "All measures including tailoring the system for import will be done as per the importers' requirements. This is exactly the manner in which all major defence companies operate. Hence we do not envisage any security issues," the official said.
To a related query, whether it is mandatory to take the IAF's nod before exploring the export potential of the plane, the official said the programme has been funded mainly by DRDO and the IPR is with DRDO. "However, as the IAF being the user now, the matter will be discussed with them as well," he said.
Game changer: Often accused of importing items for various projects, the DRDO sees the export potential as a game changer. "We have built the entire mission system on the aircraft of user's (IAF) choice. We do not produce such aircraft in India today. Only Sweden, Israel and US have developed such state-of-the-art AEW&C system. The benefits of the effort in terms of return on investment can be achieved only if deliver more systems to various agencies," the official said.
The export of the prying plane will help India emerge as a visible player for critical systems. "We have our successful space mission as an inspiring model. The export of AEW&C system will be a game changer for DRDO," the official said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Path Unexplored: Untold tales of BrahMos cruise missile captured in new book

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Outgoing BrahMos Aerospace CEO Dr A Sivathanu Pillai has captured some of the unknown tales of India's supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, in his latest book, The Path Unexplored. Claiming the Indo-Russian BrahMos joint venture (JV) as the most-successful defence cooperation in the world, the book says that the sharing of expertise between the two countries in various missile technologies has made the missile the most powerful one in the world, in its class. 
"The path that we have travelled was not at all smooth. Lot of blood and sweat have been shed to achieve the present-level of success. Our achievements have resulted into an integrated defence company in India, taking care of design, development, production, marketing and product support. Many of our methodologies were daring and never before attempted," says Pillai in the book. Pillai is being succeeded by senior missile scientist Sudhir K Mishra as the BrahMos CEO on August 1.
Sharing experiences of various flight trials, the book captures the story behind the out-of-the-box-thinking that resulted in the launch of BrahMos from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. "We decided to conduct a flight trial in the Andaman Islands, as it was not possible for us to locate land target in the mainland of India. Everyone said that it would not be possible to get the environmental clearance due to the presence of rare species of flora and fauna in most of the uninhabited islands and those occupied by the tribal natives. But, we convinced the authorities that the missile is so accurate and the target will be positioned in the large sandy area leaving a small portion of rock and few coconut trees. We assured them that even a single coconut tree will not be affected due to the launch," recalls Pillai in the book, which is split into 10 different sections. 
The Indian Navy's decision to fire BrahMos from INS Rajput to test various flight profiles and to validate the missile's targeting capability was a challenge to Team BrahMos. "Navy's decommissioned ship 'Ex INS Androth' was the target this time. The missile pierced the target and we sent a chopper to investigate the target's status. First the message was that the target was looking normal, post-impact. As the helicopter approached the vessel, the pilot spotted a "big hole in the target." This is called a Bull's Eye hit. The trial was a great success and the Navy celebrated a grand party at sea onboard INS Rajput," says the book. A formal presentation of the book is being held the BrahMos HQ in Delhi on July 14.
Published by Pentagon Press and priced at Rs 995, The Path Unexplored has a forward from India's missile man and former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. "BrahMos is a fine example of role model of courage and leadership. Different versions, continuous product improvement and integration of the user at every stage made the weapon system user-friendly. The missile is a live example of excellent leadership, system design, system engineering, system integration and system management. It has made a page in the history of the world," says Dr Kalam, who played a crucial role in the JV formation between India and Russia.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Defence FDI: Experts choose to wait 'n' watch

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The expected announcement by the government to hike the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit to 49 per cent from 26 per cent in defence sector has evoked a balanced response. Terming the move neither as a great boon for defence capability build up nor a calamity for indigenous design and production, Dr K G Narayanan, former Chief Advisor, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said that even higher levels of FDI can be infused in unavoidable 'Buy and Make option' cases, with advantage and no great harm being done to the Indian economy, technological capabilities and national security.
"But, the government should declare with sincerity and seriousness, that substantial self reliance will be achieved within a reasonably short period of 10 years as a national goal and also introduce effective implementation measures to achieve it. In the absence of such a proclaimed national commitment and consequent changes in attitudes of the armed forces, defence production and defence research departments, it would be naive to expect restrictions on FDI ceiling to come to the aid of domestic technology agencies, public or private," Dr Narayanan, said. He felt it is equally naive to expect high technology to flow into Indian industry simply because foreign firms can invest more and repatriate more profits.
"There is a great difference between local manufacture of weapons containing high technology and manufacture of weapons containing high technology created or assimilated locally. These vastly different options are frequently, perhaps even deliberately, confused and taken to be same while arguing in favour of higher limits for FDI," Dr Narayanan felt.
Ashok Kumar Baweja, Head of Quest Global Defence Engineering Services, welcomed the governments move and hoped that the provision to enhance the limit on a case to case basis too be in place. "To hike the FDI limit has been a long-pending demand as the previous 26 per cent was very less. Foreign companies were hesitant to invest and things would get cleared now. It's a very careful decision and once the policy is made it will be easy to make exceptions in a case to case basis. Let's wait and see what happens," said Baweja, who was the former chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
Saying that the raise in FDI limit would benefit the MSMEs, Col (Redt) H S Shankar, Chairman and Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, however wanted the FDI to come through the direct route and not via Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). "While the MSMEs are bound to gain from the move, the established big industries in India will be left with no choice but to compete with the global players now. With respect to investments in plants, machinery and test equipment the OEMs can be made to share 49 per cent of the cost, instead of earlier 26 per cent. This will help Indian industries," said Col Shankar, who was the former Director (R&D) of Bharat Electronic Ltd, said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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Desi G3OM receiver makes BrahMos smarter | India first nation to test it on a missile

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Serivce
Bangalore: India on Tuesday embarked upon a major mission in miniaturising missile systems by successfully testing a G3OM (GPS, GLONASS, GAGAN on a Module) receiver on the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Developed by Hyderabad-based Research Centre Imarat (RCI), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the G3OM receiver has been produced by a Bangalore-based private firm. 
Sources told Express that it is for the first time that a G3OM receiver has been used in any missile worldwide. "It is definitely for the first time an Indian missile is using such a complex system and to our knowledge no nations have so far tested it. This paves way for highly miniaturised missiles in future. The G3OM weighs around 17 grams and provides hit accuracy below 5 meters," an official said.
Through G3OM receiver, the missile can take target acquisition from American GPS, Russian GLONASS and India's GAGAN system at one go. Combined with inertial navigation system (INS), a G3OM receiver can provide very high accuracies even without a seeker. "During Tuesday's launch, the G3OM was used in a hybrid manner with an INS. These are next-generation technologies on missile front and we are sure that many more missile will now benefit from this. It is a major step in India's missile avionics," the official said.
Super BrahMos? With a number of new features being tested on the missile on Tuesday, including a supersonic steep dive capability against difficult/hidden land target, scientists are not ruling out the emergence of 'Super BrahMos.' While scientists term the new avatar as an advanced missile, many feel that the 'Super BrahMos' might have just taken birth. 
"Missiles world over are getting smarter and we are also working on systems that will either increase the range of the missile or the warhead. The idea is to hit the target faster and with precision. We have taken the big leap with miniaturised chips ready to call the shots in future," the official said.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A mobile-grab of today's BrahMos launch

video

Photos of today's 'Super BrahMos' launch

BrahMos hits hidden land targets

(Trimmed release)

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully flight-tested on 8th July 2014 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) Chandipur in Balasore, Odisha. During the launch at 1038 hrs, the missile flew through the designated 290 kms distance at Mach 2.8 and achieved high precision with steep dive once again.
BrahMos Aerospace confirmed that it was a text book launch achieving 100% results, executed with high precision from the Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) prepared by the BrahMos 3rd regiment of Indian Army team.
In a historical first, the advanced guidance system integrating multiple navigation satellites powered with new software algorithm, developed indigenously by Indian scientists and industries resulted in pinpoint accuracy of the missile system against hidden land targets.
This was the 44th launch of BrahMos which was carried out with high level of reliability. About 205 Indian industries have come in a big way by significantly contributing their knowhow and expertise in realising the BrahMos weapon system.
Indigenous airframe produced by L&T and Godrej, guidance system by HAL, OBC, MIU by Ananth Technologies Ltd., Electronics industries, software development and guidance scheme by DRDO/RCI have been proved in the flight increasing the content from Indian industries.
This development flight trial of BrahMos, making world record, has proved three key aspects for the success of the mission:
1. Achieving high level of accuracy with multiple navigation satellites integrated with advanced software, without homing device, thus enabling pinpoint accuracy and further enhancing the precision capability against hidden land targets including mountainous regions.
2. Accomplishing the supersonic steep dive capability against difficult land targets.
3. Realisation of airframe, both composite & metallic, built by the Indian industries which were tested and evaluated and altogether provided substantial increase of Indian produced content in the missile.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Transparency will contribute to nation-building: Kalam

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Photo: Jithendra M
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam has a new vision for India where a transparent system will propel the nation towards development.
In an interview with Express, Kalam said transparency will guarantee India a place among developed nations by 2020.
“I am not endorsing a particular school of thought or supporting the initiatives of any system. As a citizen of the country, I am keen to see transparency in all forms of governance. India has been excelling in various fields and we are making steady progress in many areas. In my view an open, transparent system will contribute immensely to nation-building,” said Kalam.
When asked his opinion of the new communication initiatives being launched by the Narendra Modi government, the Missile Man said, “Any new system needs some time to settle in. I have always communicated with the people and am a firm believer in their power. If our actions are linked to peace, prosperity and ethics, we will surely reach our goal of becoming a prosperous nation. It has to be the collective will of the nation.”
During his Presidential days, Kalam had opened up communication channels at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, bringing the highest office closer to the common man. His decision to take the e-route to spread his innovative ideas became an instant hit, making him popular as the People’s President.
“I am a strong believer in good communication and knowledge-enhancement. We must undertake purposeful, constructive and mission-oriented communication patterns for the benefit of the people. Everyone has the right to learn and everyone has the right to know,” he added.
Citing the example of a twitter update that went viral, Kalam said communication can help spread positivity among everybody.
“I was impressed by a two-year-old girl Manavi, who offered chips to everyone onboard a flight to Indore. It was a selfless act by a little girl who wanted to share her goodies with everyone. We need to learn from Manavi and start thinking about how we can contribute towards the welfare of others and the nation,” he said.
The former president said he was always on the lookout for new channels of communication that can bring a positive change to society.
“All our actions should finally lead to nation-development. Each one of us has a role to play in the script called Mission India. I am all for transparent systems that will make my country flourish,” he concluded.
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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