DRDO handed over retractable landing gear systems for the TAPAS and SWiFT UAVs to Aeronautical Development Establishment
The ceremony took place at Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, a DRDO lab in Avadi, Chennai, in presence of G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of DRDO. 18 types of filters for Indian Navy Project-75 diesel electric attack submarine were also handed over by DRO.
DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment with production partners HAL and BEL is developing Rustom-2 (also called TAPAS-BH-201, Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201) for Indian Armed Forces, which are currently using Israeli Heron UAVs. Rustom-2 is Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV with 2 wing mounted NPO-Saturn 36MT turboprop engines delivering thrust of around 73.55 kW (~100 hp) each.
Rustom-2 is compared to American-made MQ-1 Predator Drone that can fly for 24 hours at stretch. It can autonomously go up to high altitudes and relay real time battlefield information. It can perform high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Electronic Intelligence Systems, Electro-Optical / Infrared sensors and Satellite Communications (SATCOM) link.
After few initial flights in November 2016, a Rustom UAV crash landed in September 2019 in experimental field trial. However, test flights have been resumed in October 2020.
Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT) is a scaled down technology demonstrator for DRDO Ghatak Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), also called as Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft. It is being developed by Defence Ministry’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and IIT Kanpur. Ghatak UCAV can rebase missiles, bombs and precision guided ammunitions. SWiFT’s prototype is expected to be flight tested by 2021 with NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine. Ghatak prototype is expected to conduct its maiden flight by 2024-25.
Aero India 2021 is all set to showcase Full scale cockpit and scaled models of the Tejas Mk2 in its final frozen design with brand new features and enhancements
HAL is providing Tejas Mk2 with an improved variant of GTSU-127 Jet fuel starter that itself was a derivative for Tejas Mk1 program. Earlier GTSU-127 was to be powered by F-414 engine when it was being designed for Tejas Mk2 (14 ton). But as power requirements changed and looking at further possibility of engine swap of higher thrust engine (110 kn), HAL brought in an improved variant. A retractible probe has been added to final design along with minor changes to the air intakes apart from a fixed in-flight refueling system that Tejas Mk2 showed earlier.
As Tejas Mk2 won’t have any TD or PV phase, the aircrafts coming in 2022 or early 2023 will be of Limited Serial Production standard with IOC-2 configurations. For ease of maintenance, Tejas Mk2 will have interchangeable parts from the beginning and mistakes that delayed deliveries of FOC Tejas Mk1 will be avoided.
HAL remains the lead integrator and manufacturer of Tejas Mk2 program. HAL aims to expand its Nashik Production Line from 5 aircrafts per annum to 12 if it is acquired by Indian Air Force. Nashik Production Line stands closed after Sukhoi-30 MKI production. Along with this, HAL’s Bangalore production line can provide 16 aircrafts per annum, facilitating HAL’s idea of providing 28 aircrafts per annum to cater to final Tejas Mk2 order of around 170 units. No private sector companies are showing interest in Tejas M2 production line and are confined to only supply line. Whereas AMCA will have private and public sector production line coming up in Coimbatore under Tamil Nadu Defence Corridor.
Indian Army is about to face a key capability gap with respect to artillery modernization with best case scenario showing delivery of modern howitzers only by 2026
The ongoing standoff with China has raised concerns in the Army. The purported gap is estimated to be filled with home developed Pinaka rocket system and K9 Vajra mobile artillery among others. There are concerns over the quality development of some much-needed artillery. For eg. Dhanush 155 gun suffered failure of recoil system during Directorate General of Quality Assurance trials in Balasore last year. Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) suffered an unexpected barrel burst last year during trials, injuring 4 soldiers. Reasons of glitch are being investigated into delaying their resumption of active service.
Sources tell that successful trials will be followed by formal Request for Proposals and if system is quick enough, contract negotiating stage will be in May 2022. Then Army will move to First of production model trials stage. This is considered as real test for production variant of guns and can take almost a year. So, delivery can start at the earliest by March 2023. Meanwhile induction of K9 Vajra in a few weeks is a huge capability booster.
Given the ghost of Bofors Scam, no major procurement was done in last few decades. But since last 6 years, ultra-modern equipments are being brought into service. To provide a credible deterrence to Chinese threat, mix and match approach to artillery modernization is needed. Indigenisation of technology is a great option, however the shortage army is about to face in short term needs to be addressed.
The PLA soldier who was apprehended by Indian Army handed over to China
The PLA soldier who was apprehended by Indian Army near Kailash Ranges in Eastern Ladakh on 8th January has been handed over to China on Monday on Chushul- Moldo meeting point.
The soldier, a young trooper was completely disoriented when caught by Indian troops. He seemed to have slid into Indian side after tripping due to disorientation. Sources ruled out the case of spying as soldier was in uniform.
He was provided medical aid, oxygen and even fed food when he got normal. Before handing over to Chinese authorities the soldier was again subjected to Medical examination. He was dealt with according to laid down procedure and was questioned about his transgression.
China had contacted India and called for soldier’s quick return.
In similar way in last October a PLA soldier was caught near Demchok area of Ladakh and was returned after completing formalities.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani flagged off the 91st K9 Vajra T-Gun from armoured system complex of L&T at Hazira
Under Make in India program, Ministry of Defence awarded its largest contract to Indian Private Company L&T through global competitive bidding. L&T is producing K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked, self-propelled Howitzer guns. The 91st gun was dispatched keeping track record of L&T’s before time delivery. The K-9 Vajra-T Howitzer program involves delivery of 100 systems with Associated Engineering Support Package (ESP), covering spares, documentation and training and Maintenance Transfer of Technology to Army base workshops to support Howitzer regiments throughout their operational life cycle. The company has established a greenfield manufacturing cum integration cum testing facility armoured systems complex (ASC) at Hazira, Surat.
According to JD Patil, Whole Time Director, L&T, the complex setup under the Gujarat’s State Aerospace and Defence Policy to produce armoured systems is ready to provide its skills, track records, experience and infrastructure for Indian Armed Forces’ armoured platform build up.
In keeping with the spirit of Atmanirbhar policy, K9 Vajra-T system development has 80% indigenous work package and above 50% indigenization by value at program level. There is local production of over 13,000 types of components per gun system through a supply chain of about 1000 industrial partners, mostly MSMEs with about 150 from Gujarat.
The company utilized basic K9 Thunder from South Korean Partner Hanwha Systems for prototype development and indigenously developed 14 critical systems including fire control system, fully compliant with Indian Army needs. Young team of engineers was groomed and trained by in-house experts of L&T & Hanwha facilities at South Korea, to provide specialization in manufacturing, automation and integration. Supply chain partners and L&T’s other 5 defence production units from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu that serve as a hub for around 1000 supply chain partners in a hub and spoke supply chain model.
ASC is spread over 40 acres of L&T’s 755 acres Hazira Manufacturing Complex. It has facilities for robot armoured hull and turret welding, CNC machining, system assembly and integration and test tracks to conduct mobility tests on mobility tests on armoured vehicles. L&T is an Indian Multinational Company and Operates in over 30 countries.