Yudh Abhyas exercise commences
Soldiers from India and the US participate in a joint military exercise named ‘Yudh Abhyas’ from February 8 to February 20 at the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan. The US Army Pacific’s annual exercise involves approximately 250 US Army and an equal number of Indian Army soldiers. It enhances combined interoperability capabilities through training and cultural exchange. As a part of defense cooperation, the exercise fosters enduring partnerships in the Indo-Pacific Region through common defense objectives. Training starts with expert academic exchanges and professional development workshops that focus on training at corps level and below, combat against conventional, unconventional, and hybrid threats, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
The exercise saw Chinook helicopters in action. Chinook is an American twin-engine, tandem-rotor, heavy-lift helicopter and is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. India has signed a deal of 1.5 Billion USD with the US for 15 Chinook helicopters, of which the Indian Air Force has already inducted four in 2019. These will be used for deploying troops and machinery at high altitude regions.
HAL ready to benchmark IMRH for export
According to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the twin-engine rotorcraft Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), which it is developing for the Indian Military, can be benchmarked against best products in the global market – Airbus Helicopters H225M, Leonardo Helicopters AW101, Mi-17, NH Industries NH90, and Sikorsky S-92. IMRH will have a maximum take-off weight of 13 tonnes and carry up to 36 troops in a high-density configuration. As per HAL estimates, 314 helicopters are needed domestically across all three services as a replacement for Mi-17s. The rotorcraft has already passed the preliminary design review stage and, after receiving thumbs up from the Ministry of Defence, will be delivered up to 2028. IMRH will have 75% domestic content with a five-blade main rotor, four-blade bearingless tail rotor, composite fuselage, and glass cockpit.
However, its engines are being sourced from Western Manufacturer. HAL says that it will produce the entire transmission, including the main and the tail rotor gearboxes, plus the avionics and digital automatic flight controls. A pair of weapons wings will provide four hardpoints for up to 1600 kg of armaments, 500 kg on the inboard station and 300 kg on the outboard. The range is predicted to be 430 nautical miles or up to 800 km with a top speed of 161 kt (300 km per hour).
CATS developed by HAL
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has developed the Combat Air Teams System (CATS) with Rs. 400 crore funding. CATS will link a network of advanced autonomous drones to a fighter aircraft, and these drones will be used for air to air and air to ground combat without actually entering hostile airspace during a conflict. CATS is the brainchild of Group Captain (Retd.) Harsh Vardhan Thakur, an experimental test pilot for HAL. He cited three reasons behind the invention: India’s relatively limited military resources, the desire to create advanced future class combat equipment, and a tactical preference to use more unmanned assets to attack hostile areas.
Moreover, the central objective was to enhance teamwork, as in every service, teamwork is the key to success and survivability. The idea is not to replace our Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots but to augment them. The team consists of the mother-ship, for example, a two-seated Tejas plus several different types of drones. The CATS Warrior, a larger drone, can be used to engage aerial or ground targets. The second drone types, CATS Hunter, is carried in wing pods attached to the Tejas. It is a recoverable cruise missile with a 250 kg warhead. When its bomb payload is supplanted by fuel, it can stay airborne for a long time to carry out jamming, reconnaissance, and post-action filming of the strike zones. The third drone is much smaller, named CATS Alpha, which is armed with 5.5 kg warheads and can swarm targets.
DOHS to be manufactured by HAL
Public sector aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has entered into an agreement with Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Elop Ltd. for Israel for the supply of Digital Overhead Head-Up Display Systems (DOHS) for transport aircraft. It will be initially manufactured in the existing HAL’s Division at Korwa, with a dedicated facility proposed in proportion to the manufacturing volume. By mutual cooperation, HAL and Elbit Systems will be upgrading their technological base and acquiring high-end technology on DOHS, primarily used in transport aircraft worldwide. It comprises modern optics to provide sharp brightness, a larger field of view, and a larger head motion box. Earlier, the HAL’s Korwa division had entered into a licensed Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement with Elbit Systems for setting up D-level maintenance and manufacturing facilities of cathode ray tube-based head-up display systems in the year 2000 and 2003, respectively. More than 500 display units have been supplied for various platforms like Su-30 MkI, Jaguar, and MiG-27M.
Boeing’s deal with Indian firm Air Works
Boeing has entered into a deal with Indian MRO firm Air Works to support New Delhi’s fleet of P-81 Neptune maritime patrol aircraft and Indian Air Force (IAF’s) VIP transport fleet. The deal marks the first step under its ‘BIRDS – Boeing India Repair Development and Sustainment’ initiative for Boeing. BIRDS is envisaged as a network of Indian suppliers that can provide MRO support for Boeing Defence and Commercial Aircrafts. With this agreement, Boeing would cater to its defense customers locally by delivering faster turn around, exceptional operational capability, and mission readiness on Boeing aircraft. This is also a significant step in the company’s commitment to the government of India’s Aatmanirbhar vision of developing India as an MRO hub.
Indian Navy operates 9 P-81 Neptunes with an average age of 6.9 years and has three more waiting. The P-81 is based on the Boeing 737-800 ERX in the Indian Navy version of the P-8A Poseidon of the US Navy used for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. The IAF operates nine aircraft in VIP missions, of which 3 are Boeing BBJ 737-700s.