Navy to lease only new helicopters for warships
Indian Navy is all set to lease new utility helicopters for warships from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The Navy wants to replace its 1960s era Chetak fleet with new naval utility helicopters to enhance its capability. The lease period will be of two years to meet the immediate requirement for choppers. The choppers will perform various tasks such as search and rescue, casualty evacuation, low intensity maritime operations and torpedo drops. Navy will now come out with a detailed request for information (RFI) for the OEMs only and not the Indian operators whose helicopters are flying in civilian space.
HANSA-NG rolled out
A Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab, National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) has rolled out HANSA-NG, the new generation HANSA two-seater aircraft. Over 30 flying clubs have given Letter of Intent (LoI) for the aircraft, thus reflecting the quality and demand of the aircraft. HANSA saw the first flight in 1993 and got certification in 2000. Till 2007 NAL developed 12 HANSA aircraft which were delivered to flying clubs across India through Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). HANSA-NG is an upgraded version of the HANSA aircraft that got Centre’s approval in 2018. NAL remodified HANSA-3 aircraft with glass cockpit and got certification from DGCA. Mesco Aerospace Limited was NAL’s production partner for this aircraft which comes at lower cost with superior performance as compared to contemporary aircraft of similar class.
HANSA-NG has a glass cockpit and a bubble canopy design. It is equipped with IFR-compliant avionics with smart multi-functional displays. The range and endurance of the aircraft was increased highly efficient digitally controlled Rotax 912 ISC engine. The manufacturing of the aircraft started in September 2020 and it has been rolled out in just six months. Next step is flight testing of the aircraft that will begin later this year.
3+3: India’s Nuclear Attack Submarine Program
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is likely to clear a mega indigenous project to build three nuclear-powered attack submarines which will be followed by the approval for another three. This is a part of the long term plan to counter China’s expanding naval footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond. China already has 350 warships, 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines making it the world’s largest Navy. The project is for construction of six nuclear-powered attack submarines (called SSNs), each weighing over 6000 tonne at the ship-building center (SBC) at Vizag. As the funding will be spread over several years it won’t be a major problem. India’s second nuclear-powered submarine armed with nuclear ballistic missiles (called SSBN), INS Arighat will be commissioned this year. The first, INS Arihant became fully operational with a successful deterrence patrol in 2018. With this, India’s nuclear triad was completed including land-based Agni missiles and fighter jets Mirage-2000s capable of delivering nuclear bombs. The SSN does not have a strategic role but is a hunter-killer of enemy warships and submarines and is equipped with long-range cruise missiles to hit land targets. Currently, India operates only one SSN- INS Chakra, the Akula class submarine taken on lease from Russia. In 2019 a deal was signed with Russia for more advanced version of the SSN to replace INS Chakra. Building indigenous SSNs will provide a cheaper option and also boost the local economy. Nuclear missiles can operate for long distances at high speeds remaining submerged for months without having to surface every few days to get oxygen.
Joint Logistics Node operationalized in Mumbai
The future wars would require concerted efforts of the three branches of the armed forces. For this it is essential to provide them with sound logistics support during all stages of war. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat dedicated to the services, 3rd Joint Logistics Node (JLN) in Mumbai through video conferencing. The JLN will provide integrated logistics cover to the armed forces for their rations, fuel, arms ammunition, civil hired transport, general stores, spares, aviation clothing and engineering support to synergize their operational efforts. CDS said that forces need to accept each other’s limitations and learn from each other’s strengths and best practices to improve their functioning. The integration of logistics would help in saving of manpower, economic utilization of resources and promote financial savings. He complimented the Tri-Yodhas who worked hard to make this node operational. The armed forces are moving towards projecting ‘Whole of the Nation’ efforts against the adversaries. He urged the services to work towards cost cutting and modernization of resources. The establishment of JLNs was actively pursued by the Joint Operations Division (JOD) under the Headquarters of Integrated Defence Staff (Hq IDS). The other two JLNs were operationalized in Guwahati and Port Blair on January 01 2021.
India’s counter to China with BIMSTEC meet and Navy drill
To counter China, India will be a part of the 5 nation Naval drill in Bay of Bengal that would include Quad members (India, Australia, Japan and the US) and France. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will hold a virtual meeting with his BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) counterparts. BIMSTEC includes seven littoral and landlocked countries dependent on Bay of Bengal such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This is a step for increasing India’s engagements in the Indo-Pacific region. The five nations exercise comes just months after the Malabar Naval exercise 2020 in the Indian Ocean. France has a considerable presence in the Indian Ocean region and is the most prominent partner of India in geo-political affairs. Djibouti on the Horn of Africa also has presence of the French Army. Although it is not a member of Quad but has extended its cooperation by holding the ‘La Perouse’ naval drill along with Quad members. India is also adding momentum to its engagement with the BIMSTEC to strengthen its position in the Bay of Bengal region. India has been focusing more on BIMSTEC to boost neighbourhood ties as similar efforts within SAARC have been blocked by Islamabad. The engagements in the neighbourhood and with Global powers provides India leverage in its policy against the Belt and Road Initiative of China.