IAF Chief to flag off Rafale Jets from French Airbase
Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauriya on his visit to France will flag off 6 Rafale fighter jets from the Merignac Bordeaux Airbase on April 21, 2021. The delivery of these fighter jets was scheduled on 28th April, but looking at the schedule of IAF Chief, the program has been preponed by a week. These fighter jets will form the 2nd Rafale Squadron and are expected to be stationed at the Hasimara base in West Bengal. RKS Bhadauriya will visit the country from 20th April to 23rd April. He will meet the French Air Force Chief Phillippe Lavigne and visit the French Rafale Squadron. He will also visit the newly developed Space Command Centre in Paris.
The arrival of these fighter jets will increase the number of fourth generation plus Rafale Jets from 14 to 20, 16 short of 36 contracted jets. This will fulfill the demand of 18 aircraft required to form a squadron in the Indian Air Force. The first squadron of Rafale, 117 Golden Arrows Squadron, is stationed in Ambala, and remaining 2 aircraft will form new squadron. This newly formed squadron will assist the Hercules C-130 J Airlift squadron, based in Panagarh, West Bengal. This will enhance IAF’s aerial capability in the region, and will provide more power to tackle any crisis situation in the North Eastern region of the country.
The Dassault Aviation will deliver a batch of 4 more Rafale Jets to India in May. It has also provided 7 aircrafts to train IAF officers in France. The remaining 5 aircraft are expected to reach India by the end of May.
Indian Navy Destroyer visits Sri Lanka
INS Ranvijay, the anti-submarine warfare capable guided missile destroyer of the Indian Navy paid a goodwill visit to Sri Lanka 0n 14th April 2021, for enhancing the bilateral security ties between the 2 nations. The visit will last for 3 days and the warship will attend the celebrations organised to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, called as ‘Avurudu’. INS Ranvijay is the fifth member of the Rajput class destroyer and is equipped with state of the art BrahMos supersonic missile.
From last few years, the navies of both the nations have indulged in the mutual cooperation and cultural exchanges. Both countries share close cooperation in maritime defence and security. This helps the navies of both countries in enhancing interoperability and train and capacity building strategies. The crew members of the warship and officials of Indian Navy onboard will pay homage to the Indian soldiers who took part in the Sri Lankan war of 1987 at the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) Memorial at Colombo.
IAF Chief discusses future strategies at the Commanders’ Conference
Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauriya addressed the IAF Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi and emphasized to increase the use of latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G in the operations of the force. These cutting edge technologies will be utilized in various domains like cyber and space and will provide the best updates on different types of procedures. The Conference has been organised to discuss the new ways to incorporate new techniques and enhance the operational capabilities of the IAF.
The IAF Chief stressed on adopting low cost and innovative solutions which will help in restructuring the organizational expenses. This will also improve the training effectiveness of the organisation. This 3-day conference was organised in Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi with a theme of ‘Reorienting for the Future’. The conditions along the Indo-China border and status of the areas in the Ladakh region were also discussed in the meeting. The officials briefed the IAF chief about the strategies and capabilities of the IAF to handle the crisis situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
If needed, Quad navies can come together
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said that if opportunity arises, the Quad navies have the essential capability to come together in a plug and play manner. This would provide seamless integration to tackle future challenges especially growing Chinese assertiveness. The Quad or Quadrilateral is the grouping of India, the US, Japan and Australia. At the Raisina Dialogue 2021, the Navy Chief said that the navies of Quad countries already enjoy a high degree of interoperability. The Malabar exercise started with the US in 1992 predates the Quad construct. India has been participating in bilateral naval exercises with Japan since 2012 and with the Australia for the past six years. He was joined by Admiral Phil Davidson, Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, the United States. He asserted that the US-India relationship is indispensable for the Indo-Pacific. Admiral Karambir Singh maintained that the Quad should fully realize the opportunities addressing common interests including cyber and space. He said that the Communist Party of China is exploiting the pandemic for military terms as it intends to undermine the established rule of law in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. In the Indo-Pacific region, freedom of navigation easily turns into contested waters. Thus, no country can recognize the expanse of Indo-Pacific and there is a need to come together for the countries. The Quad grouping is not targeted towards a particular nation. Thus there is no need to look at it with a colored frame. The grouping has already irked the nations like Russia and obviously, China. Both consider it as the US’s efforts of maintaining its hegemony and curb the possibilities of any contest to its superpower tag. Thus, Indian authorities have always maintained that it is not essentially a military grouping. It is just coming together of the nations that share similar views and are committed to a just and rules based global order to maintain global peace.
India’s Nuclear Attack submarine to get brand new systems
The Indian Navy has commenced work on the construction of six Nuclear Attack Class of submarines that would be ready for induction from 2032 onwards. The submarines are equipped with a revolutionary new age pumpjet propulsion system, a new nuclear powered 150MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) system and a 1500km ranged BrahMos-2 Submarine Launched Cruise Missile system (SLCM). The submarines will have a 6000 ton of submerged displacements with eight 533 mm torpedo tubes. SSN can attain a top speed of 35 knots and can carry a crew of 100 submariners however there is a scope for some improvement in design features. Pumpjet propulsion systems are more preferred than electric-diesel submarine as nuclear attack submarines can travel at higher speeds and have almost unlimited power from a nuclear reactor. In pumpjet propulsion system Naval Group of France is considered as the market leader as it has previously worked on French Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine and Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines that incorporate their trademark pump-jet propulsion system. France has offered its non-nuclear technology for India’s SSN program. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed an 83MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) for Arihant class of ballistic missile submarines. Same PWR has also been used as a nuclear powerplant for the S4 and S4* (Star) Class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) having 7000 tons of submerged displacement. For the new SSN class and S5 class SSBN, navy wants a new 190MW PWR to be developed.
IAF’s LCA order to boost domestic defence industry
According to the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the Rs 48000 crore order for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas by the Indian Air Force (IAF) will boost the domestic defence industry and promote self-reliance. He was addressing the biannual IAF Commander’s Conference (AFCC-21) at the Air Headquarters. The conference coincided with the birth anniversary of the Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh. He said that this contract would prove as a game changer in the indigenization efforts by the defence industry. He stressed on a point that national security and economic development are complementary aspects of national policy. The indigenization of defence industry would help development of MSMEs in this field. He advised Commanders to be ready with long term plans to tackle future challenges and appreciated the critical focus of IAF towards reorienting for the future. He also lauded the efforts of the IAF for providing assistance to other government agencies in fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He also referred to the paradigm shift in the international geopolitics from Trans-Atlantic to Trans-Pacific. The dimensions of conflict have also changed to include advanced technologies, asymmetric capabilities and info-dominance. To deal with the changing dynamics of wars, integration efforts are going on with the implementation of the joint logistics plan and enhanced synergy in areas of joint planning and operations. He assured the Air Force Commanders of the whole-hearted support from the Ministry of Defence to achieve the goal of being a potent Strategic Aerospace Force.
Indo-French defence ties to be boosted
French Foreign Minister Jean Yves le Drian was on a three day visit to India. After the pandemic-forced curbs on movement were eased the two nations began catching up to revive the momentum of growing bilateral ties over the past decade. The two nations are planning for a meeting between top leaders of both the countries, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. An agenda is being finalized for the proposed visit of Indian PM to Paris after the conclusion of the EU-India Summit on May 8 at Porto in Portugal. Both the leaders are likely to deliberate on topics ranging across various sectors namely, intensive defence cooperation, bilateral cooperation in technology, environment, urban development, climate change and long-pending negotiations over building of six EPR nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
It is expected that defence cooperation will take centre-stage in talks between the leaders. Last meeting between the two paved way for purchase of Rafale, Dassault’s multi-role medium-range combat aircraft by the Indian Air Force (IAF). France is pressing on India to buy more squadrons of Rafale to add to the IAF’s dwindling strength of the fighter jets. France is also offering its submarines to India. Indian Navy is about to phase out its submarines that have been in service since 17 and 32 years. Thus, more submarines would be required in Navy’s fleet to maintain its stature in the Eastern and Western coasts as also in the Indian Ocean region. To address this need, France is keen to sell more Scorpenes and other boats to Indian Navy. To fulfil the Navy’s need of advanced Naval Utility HHelicopters, Airbus Helicopters has offered its own Panthers (Airbus AS565 MBe) to the Navy.
LCA-Navy NP5 ready for first flight
NP5 Trainer, a production variant of the LCA-Navy Mk1 aircraft will take its first flight soon. It will join NP1 and NP2 to further progress at Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) that would act as a test bed for the development of the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF). The TEDBF program has been assigned to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). NP5 would carry out off-nominal landing trials to study and collect data on the stress points on the landing gears. In trials, the aircraft would mimic bad weather conditions that would affect its landings on the aircraft carrier in adverse sea conditions. Effects of such landings on the rear fuselage and landing gears would be studied and if required changes would be proposed so that the aircraft can last its operational lifespan. NP1’s over-engineered landing gears with additional weight were gradually modified with multiple redesigns and testing to reach an optimal level. TEDBF landing gears will have to sustain takeoffs and landings up to 26 tons. HAL will demonstrate its NP5 production variant to the US Navy for a carrier based trainer jet to replace its aging T-45 Goshawk Trainers. HAL has responded to the Request for Information (RFI) issued by the US Navy.