Apache deployed in Sikkim
Indian Air Force’s (IAF) most advanced fighter helicopter Apache, has been deployed in Sikkim. The Apache helicopter was flown during the visit of Air Marshal Amit Dev, Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Air Command, at their forward base in the North Sikkim district, a few kilometers away from the Line of Actual Control (LAC). He also interacted with the Apache aircrew, deployed in the Eastern Sector for the first time. India had procured 22 Apache helicopters from the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing and 15 Chinooks in September 2015.
Apache helicopters have been modified according to the needs of the IAF. India is one of the 17 nations to have Apache and has its most advanced variant, the AH-64E Apache. It is a twin turboshaft attack helicopter with a tail wheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It has a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems also.
Army to raise 3 new battalions
As a part of its reorganization plan, the Indian Army will be raising three additional battalions of about 3,000 troops. The move was sanctioned way back in 2013 when the 17 Mountain Corps’ raising was granted, but the final nod was received only a few weeks ago. Only one division of 17 Corps, 59 division based in Panagarh, West Bengal, was raised while the other was shelved due to financial constraints. The three battalions will be raised as a part of the Sikh, Kumaon, and J&K Rifles regiments. India will have to keep additional troops ready to face any contingency in the future.
Currently, there are over 400 infantry battalions in the Army, and a restructuring plan is underway. The aim is to enhance additional manpower. The Army is planning to keep two strike corps for the mountains facing China and repurposing the Mathura-based 1 Corps. To hold ground and to carry out offensive actions in the mountains, additional infantry is always required. An increase in battalions will also help maintain a balance between the soldiers’ peace and field profile. A battalion is raised in approximately six months with manpower contributed by other regiment and new recruits’ battalions. For training, the battalion moves for a peace station profile and then moves to field areas for their operational deployment.
India’s participation in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21
Indian Naval Ship Pralaya will participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition) at Abu Dhabi, UAE, from 20-25 February 2021. INS Pralaya is the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels and is in service since 18 December 2002. The ship is 56 meters long, displacing about 560 tonnes, and can speed more than 35 knots, fitted with an array of weapons including 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close-range guns, chaff launchers, and long-range surface to air missiles. Built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited, the ship bears testimony to India’s shipbuilding capability. INS Pralaya will show India’s indigenous shipbuilding industry’s strengths at the NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21, one of the leading international naval and defense exhibitions. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India in January 2017 as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. During the visit, the bilateral relations between India and UAE were upgraded to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.’ In order to enhance interactions between the two navies, the inaugural edition of the Indian Navy – UAE Navy bilateral exercise GULF STAR-1 was conducted in March 2018, the next edition of which is likely to be held in 2021. Indian Navy ships have also been making regular port calls at UAE for promoting maritime co-operation; for example, INS Mysore, an indigenously built guided-missile destroyer, deployed in the region, making a port call at Abu Dhabi from February 19-22, 2021. This will help to make defense co-operation strong between the two nations.
ICGS C-453 commissioned to service
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) commissioned the 105 tonnes, indigenously built Interceptor Boat C-453 for the East Region fleet for patrolling the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It is the 17th vessel of the series of 18 being built by Larsen and Toubro Limited (L&T). ICGS C-453, the 27.8-meter long interceptor boat, has a maximum speed of 45 knots and can perform tasks like surveillance, interdiction, close coast patrol, search and rescue, helping boats in distress, etc. The quick reaction ability, modern equipment, advanced navigation, and communication systems help the ship to respond swiftly to any maritime situation at short notice. The ship will be commanded by Assistant Commandant Animesh Sharma and will be based in Chennai. With the induction of C-453, ICG’s strength becomes 157 ships and boats and 62 aircraft. On 1 February, the ICG stepped into its 45th year of service. From 7 surface platforms in 1978, the force has grown to become the 4th largest Coast Guard globally and will have 200 surface platforms and 80 aircraft by 2025.
Solar heated tents created by Sonam Wangchuk
Sonam Wangchuk, a well-known education reformer and the founder of Students’ Educational and The Cultural Movement of Ladakh, came up with an effective solution for military personnel who survive the heat and cold weather at the extremely tough terrains near the borders. He has developed a solar-heated tent, where ten soldiers can be accommodated at a time. These portable tents can be used in cold climates like that of Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. These tents will reduce the consumption of kerosene, which is required for normalizing the temperature, which will reduce the pollution in hilly regions. It weighs less than 30 kg and can maintain the normal temperature inside when the surrounding temperature falls below 0℃.
Earlier, he developed the Ice Stupa technique to create artificial glaciers. He is mostly known for his simple and cost-effective solutions for complex problems. He’s always thought that the army personnel should be given better equipment and infrastructure to survive in the harsh conditions.
War games in Thar
As a part of the Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ being conducted in the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan, the two armies carried out counter-terror war games in the Thar desert. Indian Army’s T-90 Bhishma tank was seen in action striking targets with precision alongside a US Navy brigade. The US Army, with their Stryker Armoured Vehicles, paid up with the Indian Infantry troops of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles to conduct a mock terror operation, flushing out terrorists from their hideout in a made-up village. The operation named ‘Zorawar’ depicts the Anti-Terror scenario in semi-urban and urban settings. The drill was named so in honor of legendary Dogra Military Commander General Zorawar Singh, popularly known as the ‘Conqueror of Ladakh.’ The two armies carried out familiarisation and handling of weapons, battlefield trauma management, casualty evacuation, and counter IED drills. The US Army’s Ghost Brigade located in Joint Base Lewis McChord near Seattle was part of the exercise. The brigade has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a part of the operations in Mosul, North Iraq, the hub of terror group ISIS.
It was named Ghost Brigade back in 2003 in Iraq as it was able to carry out operations silently and strike the enemy before they even knew what hit them. Their element of surprise is almost ghost-like, with the motto being ‘Arrive in Silence.’ The exercise also saw the US manufactured Apache attack helicopters and the Chinook heavy-lift choppers in action. The Indian Special forces personnel were airdropped from Mi-17 helicopter with Apache hovering around, giving cover to the transport choppers. The Indian Army’s Rudra combat helicopters launched a final assault from the air. Terrorism is the biggest challenge of our times, and the exercise is meant to showcase enhanced cooperation and collaboration between the armies of the two biggest democracies against this threat.
Australian liaison officer posted at IFC
Australia has posted a liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Gurgaon-based Information Fusion Centre (IFC). The Indian Navy established the Information fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in 2018 to keep track of the shipping traffic and other critical developments in the IOR under a collaborative framework with like-minded countries. The defense and security ties between India and Australia got strengthened last June when both the countries elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership. This posting is seen as an important milestone in both the countries’ defense collaboration. A landmark deal, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, was signed between the two countries that provided the militaries of both the countries reciprocal access to each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, facilitating scaling up of overall defense cooperation. Moreover, the Australian Navy also took part in the Malabar Naval Exercise hosted by India in November 2020, along with the US and Japan’s navies.
Upgradation of PTAE-7 Turbojet Engine
PTAE-7 Turbojet Engine rated at 3.7 kN of thrust is coming in a new avatar, ready to be used as a power plant for the upcoming CATS Warrior Unmanned Combat Drone Twin Engine configurations. It was developed in the late 90s by the Engine Division Bangalore of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for DRDO’s Lakshya-1, a reusable target system Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Upgraded PTAE-7 Turbojet Engine is getting new turbine blades, improved digital electronic fuel control system, hardened compressor sections, and a full authority digital engine control system (FADEC) to provide optimized performance and control. The engine will also be made more maintenance-friendly and will have a higher Total Technical Life (TTL) and greater Time Before Overhauls (TBO). No afterburner section will be added to the engine, due to which 3.7 kN of thrust per engine will remain the same even after these upgrades. 700 kg Lakshya-1 was powered by a single PTAE-7 Turbojet Engine, and a 1.3 tonnes CATS Warrior will have adequate power in the Twin Engine configuration of the same engine. CATS Warrior will cruise at subsonic speeds with a maximum speed of 0.9 Mach. The engine will also power CATS Hunter Air-Launched Recoverable Cruise Missile that will team with the CATS Max (Tejas Trainer Mothership and CATS Warrior minus the FADEC System).
IMRH development will follow the technology at hand
With Western Countries developing next-generation helicopters with advanced design and propulsion technology, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has maintained that in Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) development, it will stick with a conventional helicopter design. The IMRHs will be replacing the aging fleet of Soviet/Russian era Mi-8/17 Medium Weight Helicopters. The IMRH will be an evolution in the Indian-designed Multi-Role Medium Class Helicopter for the HAL. Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre of the HAL has developed indigenous products like Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Dhruv), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The company has proposed to develop a 13 tonne IMRH for the first time in the country.
Utility helicopters being developed in the US will fly at twice the speed and range of a conventional helicopter, offer advanced agility and maneuverability, and increased survivability chances in high threat air defense environments. HAL said that the IMRH would incorporate such path-breaking technologies later in advanced stages of development. The company is talking with two Foreign OEMs for the supply of new engines that the company plans to locally license and manufacture for the IMRH. The customization of the selected engine will be such to suit Indian requirements.