IAF ferrying oxygen containers and health staff
Responding to SOS calls for medical oxygen from various corners of the country, Indian Air Force (IAF) is ferrying empty oxygen tankers to filling stations. The transport fleet is supporting in fight against COVID-19 by airlifting medical personnel, critical equipment and medicines. IAF jets C-17, IL-76, C-130 J, AN-32 and AVROS have been deployed to eliminate supply obstacles in oxygen distribution. IAF is providing logistical help to ease distribution bottlenecks. Oxygen is a combustible gas and risky to be carried on flights. Its gaseous form is allowed to be carried while liquid oxygen is not. As per a law dealing with the transport of “dangerous goods” on air, both passenger and freight flights are allowed to carry oxygen cylinders but the permissible quantity won’t be able to help in health crisis situations. This law however does not apply to military aircraft. IAF is cutting travel time of empty containers to places where oxygen is available or produced. The empty containers supplied by IAF are filled with oxygen and sent to their final destinations by road. India didn’t have enough cryogenic tankers for round-the-clock transport of medical oxygen. Oxygen is prepared in liquid form after which it is converted to its gaseous form by distributors who supply to the hospitals. Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Bengaluru has sent oxygen containers to Delhi where the crisis is acute. Many COVID-19 patients have low oxygen levels in their blood even if they are asymptomatic. In second wave of the virus, more cases of breathlessness are being observed than the first one due to which oxygen requirement has spiked in the country. IAF has even transported doctors and nursing staff from Kochi, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam and Bengaluru to DRDO’s COVID-19 hospital in Delhi having 500 beds. A COVID testing set-up has been airlifted to Leh as well.
The Armed Forces Medical Sciences (AFMS) has planned to airlift 23 mobile oxygen-generating plants from Germany that are expected to arrive within a week. Each of these plants will be producing 40 litres of oxygen per minute. At this rate, one portable plant can provide oxygen to 20-25 patients round the clock. Meanwhile, 32 wagons of the Indian Army that carry big guns and tanks on rail routes are also transporting oxygen. Armed Forces are also facing a COVID crisis of their own. Although 99 % of the personnel have been vaccinated with the first dose and around 85% have received the second jab, army hospitals are flooded with the patients. To tackle with the crisis, the Army hospital in Delhi is being converted to a 1000 bed COVID hospital and will be activated in a week. The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has asked the forces to open their hospitals to civilians wherever possible. DRDO is focusing its energies to create “pop-up” COVID hospitals in major centres. The massive logistical muscle of the Armed Forces is getting mobilized for the biggest war of the country.
Defence Production at OFK hampered due to second wave
Second wave of COVID-19 virus has hampered the production activities at Ordnance Factory Khamaria. Many officers including General Manager, administrative officers and a large number of employees are either quarantined or undergoing treatment for COVID-19. The absence of staff has made it difficult to meet the annual production target for year 2021-22. OFK has been given annual production target of above Rs 1700 crore. The production work has stalled in almost all sections in the factory. Ordnance Factories are staring at the probability of corporatization of the factories and situations like these present renewed challenges for these to fulfil the targets on time.
India has resources to enforce good order at sea: Navy Chief
While addressing a seminar Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh said that India has the resources and domain expertise to map, monitor and enforce “good order” at sea. His statement comes in the backdrop of growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). He said that Indian Navy is committed to support the government’s efforts of realizing potential blue economy with all its might. Indian Navy aims to create an enabling ecosystem to support the blue economy. Indian Navy is supporting organizations like Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) a 23-member grouping in their efforts towards developing a common vision for balanced economic development in the Indian Ocean Rim. The blue economy holds out promise and hope as a new frontier of global growth amid the coronavirus pandemic that is wrecking economies. Ensuring safety, security and good order at sea is critical to enable commerce and trade to continue in a stable and sustainable manner. The Navy is focused on preventing inimical activities that have the potential of depriving nations of their rightful blue economic dividend. Indian Navy is increasing its presence in the IOR to keep vigil over Chinese movements as this region is critical for India’s strategic interests.
Army explores procurement of 350 light tanks
Indian Army is exploring the possibility of procuring 350 light tanks which could be transported by air to enhance its firepower in mountainous terrain. The Army has issued an initial Request for Information (RFI) for procurement of 350 new-generation light tanks less than 25-tonne in weight. The tanks will be acquired under the ethos of “Make in India” policy with requisite transfer of technology. The Army had deployed its heavier Russian-origin T-90s and T-72 Main Battle Tanks (weighing between 40-50 tonne each) in eastern Ladakh up to the Rezang la. Rezang La is in the Kailash Range to the south of Pangong Tso. The Army requires much more manoeuvrable and operationally flexible light tanks in harsh mountainous terrains. According to RFI the combat weight of the tank should not exceed 25-tonne and its physical dimensions should not affect its transportability through rail, road, air and water. The light tanks should be able to carry two-three member crew, should have thermal night fighting capabilities, weapons for anti-aircraft and ground roles including smart munitions with gun tube-launched anti-tank guided missiles.
New systems to be evaluated for energy efficiency: Army
The future force requirements and new systems are being evaluated during induction for their energy efficiency. Energy efficiency of field formations will help reduce the number of troops required to support the soldiers serving on the frontline. This can be achieved through use of renewable sources, replacement of its legacy transport fleet, advancement in its thermal and power military technologies and exploration of wireless transmission of energy at forward areas. Energy efficiency will essentially act as a force multiplier. It will have a critical impact on making the Army resource surplus by reducing long-term energy costs, enhancing the fiscal envelope in turn for further modernization and capacity enhancement. The Army needs to look at development and diffusion of modelling, simulation and various other analytical wargaming tools. This will help reduce dependence on energy heavy firing practices, mass movement, war manoeuvre and joint exercises with troops. These statements were given by Vice Army Chief Lt Gen CP Mohanty at a webinar organized by think tank CENJOWS.
Navy to lease 24 utility helicopters
The Indian Navy has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to foreign vendors and authorized leasing firms to lease 24 naval utility helicopters. The lease period will be for at least five years and will include entire maintenance support including performance-based logistics and the training of air and maintenance crew. The weight of the chopper should be 5 tonnes or below, it should be able to perform search and rescue at sea, medical evacuation from sea, low intensity maritime operations while operating from ships and ashore day and night and communication duties to and from ships at sea. Choppers should be twin engined, piloted by two pilots along with wheeled landing gear and blade fold capability. Further, they should have a tripod or stand for a 7.62 mm gun provided by the user. The Navy would lease 24 helicopters with the ground support equipment to operate from two bases- one each in the western and eastern seaboards. As per the RFI, the companies should also provide an approximate insurance cost including loss of the system in war and allied perils along with third party and direct claims. The last date to respond to the RFI is 18 June after which formal orders shall be placed.
IAF Chief visits M-88 engine facility
Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria paid a visit to the Safran Aircraft Engine Facility in Villaroche, France, where the M-88 engine used on the Rafale fighter jet is produced. He was shown the final assembly of the M-88 engine after being given a tour of the facility. Safran said that it is exploring the opportunities to assemble the M-88 engine and manufacture the components for the engine with HAL. These engines will be provided to the additional batch of the Rafale Aircraft for India and any other aircraft manufactured by India by HAL. Earlier, a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Safran Aircraft Engines to work together on bringing niche engine technology to India.
Nigerian Army Helicopter Pilots to be trained By HAL
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has signed a contract with the Nigerian Army under which it will be imparting basic helicopter flying training phase-I to six Nigerian Army Officers at Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), Bengaluru. This contract keeps up with the Indian government’s vision of promoting defence exports and will give a boost to bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries. RWA was established in 2000 for helicopter flying training of newly inducted civil pilot trainees by HAL. The pilots are provided basic flying training on Schweizer Helicopter, Chetak and Dhruv (ALH) helicopters.
India to develop LCA teamed with unmanned systems
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is developing air-teaming system that will equip the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) with various unmanned assets. This will give shape to manned-unmanned teaming concepts for the new Indian Aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy have backed the effort known as Combat Air Teaming System (CATS). Initial works on CATS began in 2018, preliminary design work is over and the Tejas twin-seat trainer is getting optimized as a part of this concept. The future variants of the Tejas Mk-1A will act as a ‘Mothership for Air Teaming Exploitation’ (MAX). For this purpose the new variants will be modified with additional command and control interfaces. The CATS warrior is a low-observable unmanned wingman controlled from CATS MAX. a full-sized CATS warrior displayed in Aero India show featured MBDA’s ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile, designated NGCCM (New Generation Close Combat Missile) in IAF service. CATS MAX can also launch swarming UAVs called CATS ALFA (Air Launched Flexible Assets) working as a swarm of weaponized drones as well as CATS Hunter multi-purpose weapons carriage system. A high-altitude, long-endurance UAV is also a part of CATS.