Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Building a Case for the F-35 by Trashing the Su-57?

Twitter image posted by @BuddyPixy

A recent report in the ToI titled 'Fifth Generation Fighter deal. Can India cancel it?' suggests that the IAF has serious reservations about going ahead with the FGFA deal.

The report quotes unnamed serving IAF officers as saying that the RCS of the Su-57, on which the FGFA would be based, does not have an RCS comparable with the F-35, the Su-57 engine is not modular, and the cost of operating Russian aircraft is exorbitant.

(Note: Serving IAF officers are not authorized to speak to the press, which justifies the anonymity of the sources quoted by the report. However, anonymity also raises the possibility of fabrication.)

All the three points raised by the anonymous IAF sources are dubious.

RCS Comparison

The RCS comparison in the report is simplistic. RCS varies with the aspect of the aircraft (front, side, rear) and the frequency of the RF energy used by adversary radar. According to open source, western figures Su-57 RCS varies from 1.0 sqm to 0.5 sqm while the RCS for the F-35 is very impressively in the range of 0.0001 sqm to 0.0015 sqm! (The report wrongly quotes the F-35 RCS as being 0.2m.)

What the report does not mention is that the Su-57 features  2 L-band radars in the leading edge root extension (LEX) of its wings.

L-Band radars are more effective against Low Observable (LO) targets than X-Band radars typically fitted on fighters including the F-35. However, because of their longer wavelengths. L-Band radars feature reduced resolution. The combination of L-Band and X-Band, supported by good algorithms to fuse the target returns, can significantly reduce the effectiveness of LO shaping. In other words, the Su-57 could conceivably detect an F-35 as easily as an F-35 can detect a Su-57, their vastly differing RCS notwithstanding.

In clear weather, the effectiveness of the X and L band radar combine would be further increased by the fusing of Su-57 IRST readouts. (Russian IRSTs are known to be very capable.)

Survivability in Contested Airspace

Another important factor to keep in mind is that LO shaping is a means not a goal. The goal is survivability in contested airspace. Air Forces want a fighter that can operate in heavily defended adversary airspace without being easily shot down.

Contested airspace survivability comes from a combination of LO, Electronic Warfare (EW), and Self Protection Suit.

LO shaping makes it difficult for airborne and ground radars to continuously 'see' the adversary, EW spoofs (generates false returns) and blinds airborne and ground radars making it difficult for them to guide surface-to-air missiles, and a Self Protection Suit blinds or confuses the IR or RF seekers fitted on air-to-air and surface-to-air missile

Russian EW capabilities are good. The Su-57 will extensively use them to spoof adversary radar.

Boeing F/A-18E/F

As part of the service life extension program for the F/A-18E/F, Boeing is introducing modifications that will make the aircraft more stealthy. 

Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18 program manager Dan Gillian says the aim of the F/A-18E/F modifications is to make the aircraft "stealthy enough in a balanced survivable way to be effective." 

“The F-35 is a stealthier airplane, but we have a balanced approach to survivability, including electronic warfare and self-protection."

Like the proposed F/A-18E/F, the Su-57 takes a more balanced approach to survivability.

FGFA Engine

The Su-57 currently features the AL-41F1 engine, The production variant of the aircraft would be fitted with the Product 30 engine which is 30% lighter, features improved thrust (19,000 kgf vs. 15,000 kgf), has better fuel efficiency and fewer moving parts resulting in improved reliability and 30% lower life-cycle cost.

The extent of modularity of the Product 30 engine is not known. However, like LO, modularity is a means not a goal. The engine has less moving parts and is hence more reliable. 

The Product 30 engine is still on the test bench. Any comments on the extent of its modularity would be highly speculative.

Operating Costs

Russia chose to make the Su-57 less stealthy than its western analogs because it wanted to reduce operating costs! Any suggestion that operating costs of the Su-57 would be higher than those of the F-35 would not just stretch the truth, but also the imagination!


What I have stated above was part of my response to a request for comments on the ToI report from an online publication. The publication quoted just my comments on the FGFA engine (after introducing a grammatical error.) The comment was picked up by other news outlets including The Drive. Indeed, The Drive Warzone goes on to build a case for the IAF to drop the FGFA and opt for the F-35 instead! Which makes me wonder? Was that the original intent of the ToI article? 

I believe that having appointed an expert committee led by  Air Marshal S Varthaman (Retd.) the government should accept its recommendations.

I also believe that neither Russia nor the US is going to part with its frontline stealth technology and any F-35 purchase is going to come with more strings than the babus in MoD or the Air Marshals in Vayu Bhavan could count in the days preceding their retirement.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dhruv Flight Safety Record

One IAF and one IA Dhruvs have been involved in accidents since March 18, 2016.

  1. One IA ALH crashed in eastern Ladakh on September 5, 2017, afternoon shortly after take-off. According to ToI sources, the pilots reported "loss of the right rudder (which controls the tail rotor)" soon after getting airborne.
  2. One IAF ALH based at Tezpur went missing on July 4, 2017, while carrying out an HADR mission near Itanagar.
According to the ToI, the IA alone has recorded at least 20 Dhruve accidents since 2002.

As on March 18, 2016, since 2002, 14 military and 2 civil Dhruv helicopters have been involved in accidents, out of which 11 occurred in India and 5 abroad. Out of 16 accidents, 12 occurred due to human error & environmental factors and the remaining 4 occurred due to technical reasons. [via PIB]

The entire fleet has been grounded a few times due to technical snags in the past, which included being found unsuitable for multi-role requirements due to excess weight and limited engine power.

According to MoD (July 2015), since the induction of the helicopter in AFs in the year 2001, 08 (Eight) major accidents have taken place, all of which, have been investigated by a Court of Inquiry as per extant instructions. Necessary modifications/upgradations have been carried out, on the basis of past experience, to cater to Defense Forces’ requirements. [via PIB]

The following is an incomplete listing of Dhruv crashes.
  1. One IAF ALH crashed near Sitapur of Lucknow area at about 1657 hrs on July 25, 2014. The Helicopter was airborne from Bareilly at 1553 hrs and was on a mission to Allahabad. The Pilot gave a 'mayday' call and soon after that, there was a loss of contact on radar and on the radio. A total of seven air warriors including two pilots were on board. There were no survivors.
  2. In February 2014, an ALH Dhruv chopper exported to Ecuador crashed in Ecuador killing three people on board.
  3. A Dhruv crash-landed in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district on February 28, 2010 while rehearsing for ‘Vayu Shakti’ air power exercise. The helicopter was part of the Sarang helicopter display team of the IAF; the team was rehearsing for a display on the opening day of the exercise. The two pilots escaped unhurt after making an emergency landing.
  4. A Dhruv crashed during a military parade in Ecuador in October 2009 injuring its two Ecuadorian pilots. The Dhruv was one of the five helicopters sold to Ecuador in March 2009. The accident took place at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport during formation flying along with two other helicopters. The crew, who were trained in India, managed to get out of the crashed helicopter on their own and were taken to a hospital.
  5. A Dhruv ALH of the Sarang display team crashed at Air Force Station Yelahanka in February 2007 killing one of its pilots and badly injuring the other.
  6. In November 2005, an ALH being ferried to Jharkhand crashed near Hyderabad after the tail rotor sheared off. Following the crash, the Indian Armed Forces grounded the Dhruv fleet; the crash was eventually attributed to the use of date expired resin in the composite tail rotor.
  7. In November 2004 an ALH delivered to the Royal Nepal Army experienced a hard landing damaging its undercarriage and landing gear. 

Ecuadorian Air Force Crashes

In October 2016 it was reported that the Ecuadorian Air Force has moved to sell the three remaining Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv utility helicopters out of the seven it purchased between 2009 and 2012. T

Ecuador's Defence Minister Ricardo Patino announced the decision on October 20, 2016, IHS Jane's Defense Weekly reported.

Four out of the 7 Dhruvs delivered to the Ecuadorian Air Force were involved in crashes. Two of the crashes (enumerated above) resulted in the helicopter being written off. Of the four crashes, 2 were attributed to pilot error and 2 to mechanical failure. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

IAF Heron TP-XP: A Strategic Platform, Not Just an Armed Drone

Heron TP-XP at Aero India 2017

IAI (Israel Aircraft Industries) introduced the Heron TP-XP, a special export variant of Heron TP, at Aero India 2017 in Bengaluru, India. (The 'special' probably refers to a customized IAF variant.)

The Indian MSM's  (Main Stream Media's) stress on the Heron TP-XP's attack capability is rather misleading. The acquisition has a strategic dimension that is much more important.

The IAI website states that "Heron TP-XP, the latest derivative of the Heron family, is an advanced long range, long endurance (MALE) UAS, designed to perform a variety of strategic missions with a high level of reliability."

An IAI press release before Aero India 2017 stated that the "Heron TP-XP constitutes a multitasking, multi-payload strategic air superiority aircraft, integrating the most advanced of IAI technologies." 

Notice that the word strategic features in both statements describing the Heron TP-XP.  The word armed features in neither.

The reason isn't difficult to understand. With its 30-hrs plus endurance, 45000-ft operational ceiling, and all weather, day and night surveillance capability the Heron TP-XP is a veritable satellite that can be stationed above a battlefield. 

EO (Electro Optical) / IR (Infra-red) sensors under its fuselage provide real-time vision of the battlefield under all lighting conditions. A LRF (Laser Range Finder) facilitates precise distance measurement to provide real time targeting information using a satellite communication link. 

A LD (Laser Designator) allows a target to be illuminated for stand-off strike by a fighter aircraft using laser guided bombs.

For surveillance, the TP-XP can be fitted with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) or a MPR (Maritime Patrol Radar).

ELINT / ESM payloads facilitate electronic snooping and spoofing. 

If you don't find the above roles strategic enough, here comes the clincher. The Heron TP is capable of missile defense and may just be the platform to put some sense into tactical nuke brandishing adversary generals! A Heron TP would be able to detect a Nasr TEL (Transporter, Erector, Launcher) much before it comes within striking range of an advancing armor column, allowing the TEL to be targeted using  coordinates beamed by the UAV 

There would be other significant pay-offs from the Heron TP acquisition. The UAV features ATOL (Automatic Taxi-Takeoff and Landing) systems and triple redundancy for maximal safety and reliability, features that DRDO is desperately trying to incorporate in its Rustom-2 MALE UAV.

It's clear that the purchase of 10 Heron TP-XP MALE UAVs from Israel's IAI would be a landmark acquisition, but hardly for the reason that the MSM is highlighting.

The deal is reportedly worth $400 million, which would put the cost of each UAV at $40 million.

It would be possible to lightly arm the Heron TP-XP to strike terrorist targets, but that wouldn't be optimal utilization of a strategic platform valued at $40 million.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Should ADA Push LCA Navy Mk.2 Against IN Wishes, or Focus on the AMCA?

LCA Navy Mk.1 at Aero India 2017

On December 2, 2017, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba told the press that the Indian Navy is scouting for another carrier operations compatible fighter besides the MiG-29, since LCA Navy lacks the payload required to be effective when operating from a carrier.

“The present LCA Navy does not meet the carrier capability which is required by the Navy. We will continue to support the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in their efforts to develop a carrier-based fighter aircraft. At the same time we will seek aircraft elsewhere which can operate on the aircraft carrier,” said Admiral Lanba.

On January 24, 2017 the Indian Navy went ahead and released a RFI for procurement of approximately 57 Multi role carrier borne fighters (MRCBF) for aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy (IN).

However, speaking to the press in February 2017, ADA Director Commodore C D Balaji (Retd.) said that the Navy Chief's December remark that the LCA Navy lacked adequate payload was restricted to LCA Navy Mark I.

"...We knew (it) was a heavier platform upfront and it was basically a technology demonstrator and that is how it is intended," he said.

Recalling the development testing underway since 2016, Balaji said "....we will convert this project into a product and that will happen once we do an arrested recovery (by mid of this year), the moment we do that we will carry the learning into Mark II which has already been designed."

Clearly, the IN and ADA are not on the same page on the future of LCA Navy. The Navy wants to support LCA Navy as a technology development project, but ADA wants to see LCA Navy Mk.2 operationally embarked on IN aircraft carriers.

ADA is reported to have vigorously lobbied with RM Manohar Parrikar to keep the LCA Navy Mk.2 project alive. ADA's desire is well intentioned and widely supported by defense enthusiasts who believe that in order to become a great power India must equip its forces with home made weapon systems.

However ADA's attempt to arm twist the IN through the RM to eventually accept LCA Navy Mk.2 for embarkation makes little sense because despite a more powerful engine (LCA Mk.2's F414 has 10% greater thrust than the Mk.1's F404 engine) and optimized design, LCA Navy Mk.2 will fall woefully short of IN requirements specified in its MRCBF RFI.

Scale model of LCA Navy Mk.2 armed with 4 air-to-air missiles at Aero India 2015

LCA Navy Mk.2 Limitations

ADA's aggressive plugging of LCA Navy Mk.2 suggests that the Mk.2 is as capable as the MRCBF that the navy is seeking. This is far from the truth. The extra thrust of the F414 engine would make the LCA Navy Mk.2 more maneuverable but will not significantly increase its weapon load, which the IN considers inadequate. The extra thrust would come at the cost of higher fuel consumption, particularly close to max power setting, negating some of the benefits accruing from the 700 liter extra fuel that the Mk.2 would carry.

LCA Navy Mk.2 will be a more capable air defense (AD) fighter than the Mk.1 but will continue to lack credibility as a strike aircraft. It's range and weapon load carrying capacity would be limited even when operating from 3000m runways, let alone when conducting STOBAR operations from a 200m carrier deck.

It's worth noting that the ADA itself plugs LCA Navy Mk.2 as an AD fighter that would provide cover to a carrier group against fighter and cruise missile threats, not as a strike fighter. Scale models of LCA Navy Mk.2 displayed at Aero India 2015 and Aero India 2017 were shown carrying just four air to air missiles (two on each wing) with a center-line drop tank.

Ironically, the IN RFI defines operationally clean configuration (OCC) for the MRCBF to imply that it's carrying four Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles and two All Aspect Air-to-Air Missiles (A4M). A total of six missiles, two more than the LCA Navy Mk.2 would carry!

Scale model of LCA Navy Mk.2 at Aero India 2017

Understanding IN Requirement

Carrier groups are primarily strike groups, capable of delivering sustained fire power while operating at considerable distance from home shores. Typically, an aircraft carrier embarks only one fighter type to minimize logistics and maintenance overheads. The primary role of the embarked fighter is strike, so it must features good weapon load and range. Since strike missions often require escort fighters and escort jammers, embarked fighters must also be capable of undertaking these roles.

An embarked multi-role fighter allows mission planners to change the force mix - strike, escorts, jammer - based on how heavily adversary airspace is contested. The single embarked aircraft type is reconfigured for its assigned task.

The US F/A-18E/F, the French Rafale-M, and the Chinese J-11 are examples reconfigurable, multi-role carrier borne fighters with good weapon load and range.

The IN wants a MRCBF - Multi Role Carrier Borne Fighter, and the LCA Navy Mk.2's credentials as a multi-role fighter are weak.

It would not be a good idea to embark LCA Navy Mk.2 aircraft on INS Vikramaditya or INS Vikrant alongside MiG-29Ks, as ADA seems to suggest in its brochures and presentations. Having two fighter types on board, would dramatically push up maintenance and logistics infrastructure requirements. More importantly, it would constraint mission planners, deprive them of the flexibility in selecting force mix. Mission force mix would become dependent on embarked force mix! For example, when operating in uncontested airspace LCA Navy Mk.2s would have little to do.

The USN does not embark two fighter types on its super carriers capable of hosting 60 fighters. IN carriers are much smaller and embark around 20 fighters. Operating constraints will become severe. With 60% serviceability and even split of embarked types - INS Vikramaditya would be able to field just 6 MiG-29Ks and 6 LCA Navy Mk.2s at a time, hardly a credible strike force!

Other RFI Shortfalls

Besides limited range and weapon load, LCA Navy Mk.2 would fall short on many other requirements specified in the Navy RFI.

Radar and EW Suite

The RFI specifies a radar capable of engaging airborne and surface target, preferably in a interleaved mode. The aircraft should be equipped with a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) capable cuing an on-board Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ), Counter measures dispensing suite (CMDS), Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and towed decoy for handling threats?

Interchangeability / Modularity

The Navy RFI also stipulates high degree of interchangeability / modularity - all major airframes components / parts / panels, sub-assemblies, including the canopy should be fully interchangeable between aircraft. Hot and cold engine sections should swapable. It should be possible to change the engine of an aircraft on the carrier itself.

These requirements are easily understood considering that an aircraft carrier could be operating hundreds of miles from home shores. Interchangeability allows recourse to cannibalization to keep more aircraft airworthy. To achieve interchangeability, ADA as the design agency and HAL as the production agency would need to achieve better design and production standards.


Clearly, when drafting the RFI the IN was visualizing Chinese carriers and nuclear submarines in the Indian Oceans, perhaps adversary beachheads on several Andaman and Nicobar group islands. The Navy was probably thinking Super Hornet and Rafale-M, both twin engined medium fighters. Competing against the Super Hornet, the LCA Navy Mk.2 with just one of the two engines fitted on the US Navy fighter would be clearly out of league.

LCA Navy equipped IN carriers aren't going to be enough to deter PLAN forays into the Indian Ocean, so should the IN still procure them to help India achieve self sufficiency in arms production?

Rather than pushing the LCA Navy Mk.2 as the right MRCBF for the IN, ADA would better serve the nation's interest by focusing on AMCA development. ADA certainly doesn't have the infrastructure and talent to pursue both projects simultaneously.

But ADA should continue to pursue LCA Navy as a technology demonstrator, something the Navy wants it to do. After ADA masters arrested landing, as it plans to do later this year, the agency should pursue auto-landing on deck and other relevant technologies, so that when the AMCA project gets a green light, ADA has all that it needs to develop the AMCA Naval variant.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

HAL Mk-1A AESA Radar RFQ Details

Tejas LCA Mk-1 at Aero India 2015

On December 14, 2016 HAL (ARDC) released a Request For Quotation (RFQ) for Supply of AESA Radar for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Mk1A) Program. 

The RFQ was limited to the following vendors

  1. Elta Systems, israel 
  2. Saab, Sweden 
  3. Raytheon, USA 
  4. Thales, France 
  5. Rosoboronexport, Russia 

 ARDC wants an  AESA Radar that can be integrated with other onboard avionics of the LCA, its EW suite comprising Digital RWR and podded jammer, combined interrogator & transponder (CIT), short range air to air missiles and BVR missiles. 

 The AESA must be supplied with a compatible Radome.

The selected vendor is to 

  1. Supply a contemporary AESA Radar along with technical support for integration, ground/flight testing and certification. 
  2. Supply 3 aircraft sets of Radar for Trial Modification and certification phase and subsequently against anticipated orders for 80 aircraft sets for series production. 
  3. Enter into a ToT for Repair/overhaul/servicing of AESA Radar and connected items by HAL at its facilities under a Transfer of Technology (TOT) agreement aat the appropriate stage. 
  4. Provide supplies and services needed for product support to HAL’s customers. 

The supply contract would be implemented in phases as follows
  1. Trial Modification & Certification Phase 
  2. Series Production Phase: 

Trial Modification & Certification Phase 

HAL will release purchase order for 3 aircraft sets of Radar system.  SOF testing should be completed on the three aircraft sets before delivery.  

HAL will arrange for two aircraft to be used for trial modification, Integration, flight testing and certification. 

Series Production Phase

 It is estimated that a total of 80 AESA Radar system sets would be required. Series production is expected to commence from year 2019. The production of Radar systems is planned to be executed in a phased manner as follows. 

Phase-0: Direct purchase of 24 Radar system sets in fully formed condition. 
Phase-1: Manufacture of 08 Radar system sets by HAL based on Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kits to be supplied by the vendor. 
Phase-2: Manufacture of 48 Radar system sets by HAL based on transfer of technology to HAL by the vendor. 

During series production programme, Purchase orders are planned to be placed for annual requirement depending upon the number of aircraft to be produced in each year based on customer orders.  Issue of this RFQ does not create any obligation whatsoever on HAL to place orders for series production.  

Platform Integration

 Vendor shall be responsible for integration of the AESA radar with LCA Mk1A platform and avionics systems.

Vendor shall be responsible for Design and Development of a compatible Radome conforming to the established outer mold line (OML) specifications for the LCA Mk1A and tailored to optimize operational performance of the AESA radar. 

Vendor shall be responsible for integration of the AESA Radar with EW suite consisting of Digital RWR and podded Jammer on LCA Mk1A platform as per LCA Mk1A requirements, in coordination with the Vendor of EW Suite to ensure interoperability of Radar, EW suite and other avionics system.   
Vendor shall be responsible for integration of AESA radar with Indian IFF interrogator/ Transponder (CIT) as per LCA Mk1A requirements. 

Vendor shall be responsible for integration of AESA radar with third party BVR missile as per LCA Mk1A requirements. 


 HAL shall have exclusive worldwide sale and product support rights for the LCA MK1A aircraft or its variants fitted with the Radar system being developed specifically for LCA Mk1A programme through the present RFQ. HAL shall also have the right to use the Radar system or its adapted versions on any other airborne platform designed or produced by HAL for use by Indian defence customers.  

IPR held by the vendor or his suppliers shall not in any way restrict or hamper by way of quantity or otherwise manufacturing of the Radar system by HAL under TOT-MFG or Repair & Overhaul by HAL under ToT-ROH. 

The vendor shall not sell the Radar system being developed through this RFQ to any other customers or transfer the IPR of the system to any third party without prior written consent by HAL. 

This clause shall continue to be in force for an indefinite period even after fulfillment of all activities and obligations covered under this RFQ. 

LCA Mk-1A EW Suite Details

Tejas LCA Mk-1 at Aero India 2015

On December 15, 2016 HAL's Aircraft Research & Design Centre (ARDC) invited Request For Quotation (RFQ) for Supply of EW Suite for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Mk1A) Program.

The EW Suite would comprise of a digital RWR and podded jammer.

The following vendors were invited to quote.

  1. Elbit systems, Israel 
  2. Elta systems, Israel 
  3. Saab, Sweden 
  4. Thales, France 
  5. Elettronica s.p.a, Italy 
  6. Raytheon, USA
  7. Indra systems, Spain 

Notably, no Russian company has been invited to bid for the project.

ARDC wants an EW Suite that can be integrated with other onboard avionics of LCA, including its AESA Radar and CMDS. 

The RFQ is aimed at selecting a vendor for the supply of contemporary EW Suite  including technical support for integration, ground/flight testing and certification. 

HAL wants the selected vendor to supply 3 EW Suite for Trial Modification and certification phase and subsequently against anticipated orders for 80 aircraft sets for series production. 


The selected vendor would need to enter into a ToT agreement at the appropriate time to enable HAL to undertake repair/and overhaul (ROH) / servicing of EW Suite and connected items at its facilities. 

The selected vendor would need to enter into a ToT agreement to facilitate HAL to undertake phased manufacture of EW Suite systems at the appropriate stage. 

Vendors would need to provide supplies and services needed for product support to HAL’s customers. 

Order Quantity

Currently, there is an anticipated requirement for 80 EW Suite sets. Series production of LCA Mk-1A is expected to commence from year 2019. The production of EW Suite is planned to be executed in a phased manner as follows. 

Phase-0: Direct purchase of 24 EW Suite sets in fully formed condition. 
Phase-1: Manufacture of 08 EW Suite sets by HAL based on Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kits to be supplied by the vendor.  
Phase-2: Manufacture of 48 EW Suite sets by HAL based on transfer of technology to HAL by the vendor. 


HAL shall have exclusive worldwide sale and product support rights for the LCA Mk-1A aircraft or its variants fitted with the EW Suite being developed specifically for LCA Mk-1A program through the present RFQ. HAL shall also have the right to use the EW Suite or its adapted versions on any other airborne platform designed or produced by HAL for use by Indian defense customers.  

IPR held by the vendor or his suppliers shall not in any way restrict or hamper by way of quantity or otherwise manufacturing of the EW Suite by HAL under ToT-MFG or Repair & Overhaul by HAL under ToT-ROH. 

The vendor shall not sell the EW Suite being developed through this RFQ to any other customers or transfer the IPR of the system to any third party without prior written consent by HAL. 

This clause shall continue to be in force for an indefinite period even after fulfillment of all activities and obligations covered under this RFQ. 

Vendors are required to submit price quotations before February 15, 2017 and the final selection will be made before April 2017.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Uri Attacks: India doesn't have a military option! Really?

INS Chakra

Reputed military analysts have asserted that India needs to impose a military cost on Pakistan for its cross border attacks such as in Pathankot and Uri.

In a just published article titled Lessons from the Uri Attack Lt Gen Philip Campose, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, suggests:

"Militarily, the cost of terror attacks for Pakistan should be raised to unacceptable levels by exploiting Indian military strengths to target Pakistan’s weak points. Concurrently, own vulnerabilities should be secured."

The option has been repeatedly put on the table, only to be rejected as being unviable by our political leadership. Most of the arguments against this option are specious. Here are my thoughts on one of them

Some defense analysts point out that India will not be able to leverage it military quantitative and qualitative advantage over Pakistan in a short conflagration limited to the LoC because our forces are evenly matched. As a result, Indian military options are severely limited.

The conclusion is flawed because the supporting logic is presumptive and ignores vital facets of the asymmetry that exists in war
fighting potential. For example, India has military assets unmatched by Pakistan. A nuclear submarine that can wreak havoc in the Arabian sea against the Pakistan Navy. IAF Su-30MKI fighters can dominate vast stretches of the Arabian Ocean along the Pakistani coast. Our Brahmos equipped warships, in coordination with INS Chakra and IAF BVR equipped Su-30MKI and AWACS, would put Pakistani warships at grave risk.

The logic for confining an Indian military response to the LoC is dubious in military terms, as the extent of the military asymmetry varies sharply along the Indo-Pak border and the Arabian sea. The asymmetric is very pronounced in the Arabian sea, quite pronounced along the IB, and marginal along the LoC. Why on earth would we want to confine our military response to the LoC?

Any military action must have a clear and easily achievable aim. In order to ensure success, we should respond in sectors with high asymmetry.

Targeting Pakistani warships or Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft over the Arabian sea under the fig-leaf pretext that they were maneuvering in a hostile fashion is a low hanging fruit. The adversary just does not have the assets to take on the India Navy. He would be forced to either respond over land or run to the UN and International Court of Justice. A military response on land would put Pakistan on step one of the nuclear escalatory ladder, a long climb away from the nuclear threshold, allowing India to punish it some more.

There are other possibilities. The Indian Army has the capability to seize Pakistan territory along the International Border in a cold start sharp military action with the aim of humiliating Pakistan. Those who may question the legality of such an action need to be told that our  military response needs to be effective, not legal, just as Pakistan's provocation at Pathankot and Uri were effective, but not legal.