Tejas scaling new heights
Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas had its maiden flight on January 4, 2001, flown by Wing Commander Rajeev Kothiyal. Since then, it has completed 4985 test flights and will be making 5000 successful test flights in the coming days. As per the flight data recorded by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), 17 Tejas aircraft comprising technology demonstrators, prototypes, limited series production variants, and naval prototypes have been a part of the test flights since 2001. Tejas so far has a flawless flight record as none of the aircraft has met accidents ever since. The contract of Rs. 48,000 crores handed over to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture 73 Mark 1A versions and 10 Mark-1 trainer aircraft is the biggest contract for Indian companies for producing indigenous aircraft.
Indian Army gets 100th K-9 Vajra Artillery Gun
Army Chief General MM Naravane has received the 100th K-9 Vajra Artillery Gun manufactured by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in its Gujarat facility. The gun adds strength to the core of artillery in the Army to hit targets at more than 2.5 kilometers. The gun with its India-specific features emerged fully compliant to the Indian Army’s needs during the extended flight trials. According to L&T, the K-9 Vajra-T systems are being delivered with over 80% indigenous work packages and above 50% indigenization (by value) at the program level. 13,000 types of components per gun system have been locally produced, through a supply chain of about 1,000 industrial partners, mostly MSMEs, with 150 of them being from Gujarat. The company’s in-house team of weapon system experts trained and groomed a young team of engineers by specializing them in manufacturing, automation, and integration. The professionals were also trained at Hanhwa facilities in South Korea to develop the indigenous design for the product.
Team Surya Kiran to mark 1971 War victory
The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Surya Kiran aerobatic team will be carrying out flypast across the country to commemorate 50 years of the 1971 India Pakistan war. The flypast will be indifferent formations starting with Southern India this week. At the Aero India event, IAF’s two aerobatic teams, the Surya Kiran and the Sarang team, put up a combined display for the first time. Surya Kiran was raised in 1996 as a six aircraft aerobatic team, and it quickly graduated to a nine aircraft formation in 1998. It is stationed in Air Force Station Bidar, and only fighter aircraft pilots get posted in the squadron for a three-year term. The Surya Kiran aircraft are painted with orange and white colors and are among the few nine aircraft aerobatic teams in the world. The team’s aircraft Kiran MK II were rerouted for training purposes due to a shortage of trainer aircraft in 2011, due to which the team was briefly disbanded.
To deal with China, troop re-orientation in the North East
In order to tackle the Chinese challenge, India is bolstering its defenses in the North East. A multipronged plan is underway to improve border security like re-orientation of existing troops, raising of new armored units, and a renewed focus on increasing connectivity with Asian neighbors. As the internal security situation is improving in the North East, there is a plan to de-induct battalions of Assam Rifles from counter-insurgency roles and move them to forward locations, away from the hinterland. Earlier, Assam Rifles played a secondary role on the border; 20/46 infantry battalions were deployed on the India Myanmar border. Induction of these units near the border will increase troop density at vulnerable points, covering all major ingress points with a two-tier system – the Army in the front and the Assam rifles in a supporting role to cover the gaps. They will be provided a revised scale of weapons in the border guarding role, including mortars, grenade launchers, anti-tank guided missiles, and 105 mm field artillery guns.
Naku La and Doklam have become major flashpoint areas between the Chinese and Indian Army. Thus, there is a proposal to raise a new armored brigade with fresh Main Battle Tanks to improve defenses in Sikkim. One armored brigade is permanently deployed in Sikkim with its elements divided between North and East Sikkim to tackle increasing Chinese activity. With a new brigade coming up, armored units will be available in adequate numbers at the Gurudongmar lake to cover transgression points in the north.
Improved defenses in the North East will also boost regional connectivity projects between India and Southeast Asian countries. In response to the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, India is working on projects to connect Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Thailand with road and rail networks. There is a plan to raise 18 India Reserve Battalions for Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam and deployment of four additional CRPF units to check any future security threat in the North East. The recalibration efforts have been going on for two years under which the Army has already disengaged 14 infantry battalions and two-division headquarters from internal duties that were part of the counter-insurgency grid to fully focus on the border guarding role.
Helina and Dhruvastra ready for induction
The indigenously developed Anti-tank guided missiles’ Army and Air Force versions were successfully test-fired. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed missiles are ready for induction. Joint user trials of the Army version Helina and IAF version Dhruvastra missile systems were carried out from the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) program. Five missions were carried out to evaluate the capabilities of the missiles in minimum and maximum range. The missiles were fired in hover and max forward flight against realistic static and moving targets. The helicopter launched Nag is a 3rd generation Anti-tank guided missile and can engage targets in indirect hit mode and top attack mode. The system operates on fire and forget mode and has all-weather day and night capability.
It can defeat battle tanks with conventional as well as explosive reactive armor. The missile will equip the weaponized version of the ALH Dhruv, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built Combat Helicopter Rudra and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Helina has an extended strike range of about 8 km, guided by an Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker. The missile operates on lock-on-before launch mode.