Saturday, January 31, 2015

Agni-V First Canister Launch Details

Agni-V First Canister Launch on January 31, 2015

The third test of the missile, its first canister launch, on January 31, 2015 was successful.

The missile was launched from a road mobile launcher after its canister was erected to a vertical position.

On launch, gas generators in the canister pushed up and out the 17-m long missile weighing over 50-ton. As the missile cleared the canister, at a height of about 20-m its first stage ignited and the missile climbed and accelerated along its pre-programmed ballistic trajectory towards its target. After the firs stage burnt out, the missile continued to climb and accelerate using its all composite second stage, and later, its all composite, shaped third stage.

At the end of its powered flight, the missile continued to climb into space bleeding speed. It reached an altitude of more than 600 km before arching back towards Earth under gravitational pull. As it lost altitude, it accelerated and rapidly gained speed. On re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, air friction raised Reentry Vehicle (RV) surface temperature to beyond 4000 degree Celsius. Protected by its indigenously designed and developed carbon-carbon composite heat shield, the missile's dummy warhead remained cool at less than 50 degree Celsius.

Guided by the on-board computer, ring laser gyro based inertial navigation system, state-of-the-art micro inertial navigation system (MINS) and fully digital control system the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives.

Agni-5 First Canister Launch on January 31, 2015

Announcing the success of the test launch, Dr VG Sekaran, Mission Director, Prog. Dir. Agni and DG Missiles and Strategic Systems said, "All mission objectives have been achieved, down range ships have confirmed final splashdown, the mission is a great success and it is a momentous occasion."

Ships located in midrange and at the target point tracked the Vehicle and witnessed the final event.  All the radars and electro-optical systems along the path monitored all the parameters of the Missile and displayed in real time.

The DRDO had earlier successfully carried out a “Missile Ejection Test” (MET) using a dummy missile weighing 50 tons.

The MET validated critical newly developed technologies such as launcher-canister interface and effective sealing between the missile and gas generator. The missile exited at the correct velocity and the inter-locking instruments, electronics and sensors worked perfectly. As the missile cleared the canister, the sensors accurately signaled first stage ignition to the missile computer.

Friday, January 30, 2015

GTRE Setting Up Facility to Test Low Speed (Axial Fan) and High Speed Compressors of Turbofan Engines

GTRE developed Kaveri engine on display at Aero India 2011
GTRE is setting up a facility in Bengaluru to test Low Speed (Axial Fan) and high speed compressors of turbofan engines under development at the establishment.

GTRE needs a captive power plant for the test facility that can supply 20MW to a shaft power drive system to drive the Fan or Compressor under test, allowing spin ups to 20,000 rpm with speed control of ±1 rpm.

The gas turbine based power plant should be able to supply 26 MW (Bangalore ambient) to an electric motor operating with a VFD which in turn will provide shaft power for testing developmental gas turbine compressors.

A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) is a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the electric motor.

GTRE on January  30, 2015 released a RFI with specifications of the Gas Turbine Electric Power Generation plant.

Last date for submission of sealed Proposals is March 20, 2015 1400 Hrs.

The RFI modifies an earlier RFI released on November 19, 2014 seeking vendor assistance in setting up the test facility.

It maybe noted that GTRE is developing a turbofan to power India's UCAV, currently under development. The project is extremely important because the MTCR regime wouldn't allow India to source an aero-engine for the UCAV from abroad.

IDP Sentinel members can track defense R&D related RFIs at the link below.

Recent Important DRDO RFIs/RFPs (IDP Sentinel)

Monday, January 26, 2015

India, US to Explore Joint Development of Aircraft Carrier, Jet Engine Technology

New Delhi (January 25, 2015) The US and India today announced the following landmark military agreements on the opening day of President Barack Obama's three day visit to India to attend the Republic Day parade on January 26, 2015 as the Chief Guest.

1. India-U.S. Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Agreement to facilitate cooperation in defense research and development for 15 years. (The agreement was signed on January 22, 2015)

2. Renewal of their 10-year Framework on Defense Co-operation signed in 2005. The DTTI, which was announced in 2012 has been included in the renewed Framework which will guide and expand the bilateral defense and strategic partnership over the next ten years.

According to a statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, "This renewed framework will support stronger military-to-military engagement, including deeper maritime cooperation and increased opportunities in technology and trade,"

Under the 2015 Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, India and the US agreed that the navies of both sides would continue discussions to identify specific areas for expanding maritime cooperation. They also reiterated their commitment to upgrading their bilateral naval exercise MALABAR.

3. A new military education partnership that will "help shape the next generation of military leaders in both our nations, fostering relationships that will draw our defense establishments closer together for years to come."

4. Under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the RDT&E agreement signed on January 22, 2015, the two countries agreed in principle to

  1. Pursue co-production and co-development of four pathfinder projects.
  2. Form a working group to explore aircraft carrier technology sharing and design.
  3. Explore possible cooperation on development of jet engine technology.
(Since its announcement in 2012 the DTTI had so far not led to any specific agreement)

4. To this end, they agreed that the navies of both sides would continue discussions to identify specific areas for expanding maritime cooperation. They also reiterated their commitment to upgrading their bilateral naval exercise MALABAR

According to the TOI, the four pathfinder projects are
  1. RQ-11B Raven Mini Battlefield Surveillance Drones
  2. Roll-on, roll-off modules that allow C-130s to be used for surveillance, and as VIP transports or hospitals.
  3.  Mobile electric hybrid power sources
  4. Uniform Integrated Protection Ensemble increment-2 (Chemical, biological warfare protection gear for soldiers). 
The first two of the (pathfinder) projects are with American companies, and the next two with the US government. 

Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources

According to the Asian Age, India wants US help in developing non-grid-tied smart power system with output ranging from 300W to 800kW, patterned on the systems used by the US Army effectively in Afghanistan.

Such systems are essential for powering mobile radars, communication nodes, sensors, rechargeable batteries, etc. in remote high altitude areas such as the terrain along the LAC and LoC

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (Emals)

ET reported on January 22, 2015 that Frank Kendall, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, who arrived in India ahead of Obama, would discuss with his Indian counterparts the possibility of joint production of defense items including EMALS. 

Officials told ET that EMALS might be one of the defense system on which a joint production agreement could be hammered out. 

The Navy has earlier indicated it prefers the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (Emals) on its new aircraft carriers.

M777 155mm/39-caliber Howitzers

There has been no mention of the BAE Systems offer to transfer its entire M777 155mm/39-caliber howitzer assembly line from the US to India and readiness for higher degree of indigenisation on the weapon system than earlier. Included in the deal is transfer of the M777 Assembly Integration & Test (AIT) capabilities into India.

It may be recalled that in July, 2014, Raksha Mantri Arun Jaitley had told the parliament that the 145 ultra-light howitzers deal had hit a dead end.

"The case has not progressed due to cost issues and because the vendor has not been able to come up with a proposal fully-compliant to the offset requirements," Jaitley said. 

The non mention of the the M777 deal is likely because it doesn't involve any co-development.

U.S.-India Joint Statement साँझा प्रयास - सबका विकास” – “Shared Effort; Progress for All” | The White House News Release: Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on New Defense Cooperation with India

Friday, January 23, 2015

LRDE AESA for LCA Mk-2 Development Update

LCA Mk-2 model at Aero India 2011

LRDE has invited Expression of Interest from Indian / Foreign industry to develop a Wideband Radome for fighter class of  aircrafts (sic).

The scope of work includes the design, development and production of the wide band radome.

LRDE will accept responses only from genuine interested companies who are capable of taking up this type of development work on priority basis and have sufficient domain knowledge in the development of the items.

It maybe noted that LRDE is developing an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for Tejas LCA Mk-2 under Project Uttam.

The radar, which is 40-kg heavier than the ELTA EL/M 2032 MMR hybrid radar fitted on LCA Mk-1, is reported to have a range of 100-km for fighter sized aerial targets.

In December 2014 it was reported that the hardware for the AESA radar had been realized and the radar is undergoing rooftop tests.

IDP Sentinel members can track LRDE AESA radar for LCA Mk-2 development at the link below

AESA Radar - IDP Sentinel

Friday, January 16, 2015

'Make in India' Revives M777 155mm / 39 Caliber Towed Howitzer Deal

M777 at DefExpo 2012

Janes reported on January 14, 2015 that BAE Systems has offered to transfer its entire M777 155mm/39-caliber howitzer assembly line from the US to India.

"Encouraged by Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi's 'Make in India' call, we have developed and submitted a strengthened proposal on the M777 case [to India's Ministry of Defense]. This includes a higher degree of indigenisation on the weapon system," BAE Systems said in a statement

"We have included in our offer the transfer of the [M777] Assembly Integration & Test (AIT) capabilities into India," the statement added.

Interestingly, the DRDO has lately been upset by the Indian Army's failure to place orders for the Arjun Catapult system which the DRDO developed in quick time against a specific Army request by mounting the towed 130 mm Russian field gun on an Arjun Mk-1 MBT chassis.

The Army understandably prefers the 4,218 kg, helicopter transportable, titanium built, US howitzer with good range and accurate ammunition over the nearly 45-t Arjun Catapult behemoth that could never equip the Army's mountain divisions.

It may be recalled that in July, 2014, Raksha Mantri Arun Jaitley had told the parliament that the 145 ultra-light howitzers deal had hit a dead end.

"The case has not progressed due to cost issues and because the vendor has not been able to come up with a proposal fully-compliant to the offset requirements," Jaitley said. [via PIB]

IDP Sentinel Members can read additional details about the proposed M777 procurement at the link below.

BAE Systems M777 155mm / 39 Caliber Towed Howitzer for Indian Army (IDP Sentinel)

Monday, January 12, 2015

LCA Mk-2 : A Long Wait for the IAF and the IN

Tejas Mk-2 model at Aero India 2011. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur

LCA Mk2 is being developed for use by the IAF and the IN.

The decision to develop a Mk-2 version of the LCA was taken in September 2008, when it became clear that the Kaveri engine would not be ready in time for LCA IOC, and the aircraft would have to be inducted into service with the lower thrust GE-F404 engine and consequent performance shortfalls.

LCA Tejas Mk-2 would be the aircraft that the IAF had sought with the LCA project and the IAF would have to make do with the under performing LCA Mk-1. Completely out of options, the IAF agreed to induct two squadrons of LCA Mk-1, an aircraft that it didn't want, in the hope that the money paid would fund development of the LCA Mk-2.

Six years since the decision to develop LCA Mk-2, even the design of the aircraft hasn't been finalized. Ironically, the reason for the tardy progress of the LCA Mk-2 project is that ADA has been focused almost exclusively on pushing LCA Mk-1 through its IOC and FOC!

LCA Mk-1 has overshadowed LCA Mk-2. Will it continue to do so? Is the IAF once again going to be short changed by DRDO and HAL laid back work culture?

Hope is not lost, but the promise of LCA Mk-2 has a deju vu tinge reminiscent of sales pitch that we have been suckered into.

With the current rate of progress, even if we let our optimism run amok and completely ignore ADA/HAL past record, operational induction of LCA Mk-2 into the IAF is at least ten years away.

How good is that? Ten years from now, the PLAAF would be inducting J-20 stealth fighter bombers, and the PAF J-31 stealth fighters. What advantage would a small sized but easily tracked fighter with limited range give to the IAF then?

Maybe I am over-reacting. I admit to having written a blog post over ten years back suggesting that ADA treat the LCA project as a technology demonstrator, the way it was conceived, and focus on developing a more capable fighter. The post was panned by the folks at, often with liberal use of expletives.

Since I do have dubious credentials, in the rest of the blog post I will just present what is officially known about the LCA Mk-2 project. Hopefully, that will leave readers in the same cheerful frame of mind that they were in when they start reading the post.

Project Progress

According to DRDO Chief Avinash Chander, preliminary design of LCA Mk-2 had been completed and ADA is now validating the design.

Last year, ADA was known to be scouting for a consultant to help with design validation. I am not sure what became of that, but a DRDO official told IDP Sentinel that ADA was ready to proceed independently failing a satisfactory consultancy arrangement.

ADA-HAL are designing LCA Mk-2 using DFMA (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly) methodology, which ensures that aircraft components are designed to ensure easy manufacture, without adversely impacting the ease with which they can be fitted on the aircraft. The first time use of DFMA methodology in designing an aircraft would ensure better quality and quick ramp up of serial production after IOC.


LCA Mk-2 will be powered by the GE-F414-INS6 engine, a variant of the GE-F414 engine developed for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The 22,000 lb thrust class modular engine features a 35 percent increase in thrust over the GE-404 engine.

Advanced engine features include a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) for better operational characteristics and advanced materials and cooling techniques for improved performance and extend component life.

ADA is procuring 99 GE-F414-INS6 engines to power the Tejas Mk-2 and LCA Navy, for which a contract has been finalized and approved.

Under the contract, GE would ship 18 engines with the remaining being manufactured in India by HAL  under transfer of technology [agreements]. The 18 engines will come by 2014-15.

India will have the option of ordering another 100 engines in the future.

Airframe Modifications

Minor modifications are being made to the LCA Mk1 airframe to accommodate the slightly larger E-F414-INS6 engine. The fuselage is being being extended by 500mm.

The dimensions of Mk2 would be as follows

Span  :  8.20m
Length: 13.70m
Height:  4.52m

It is reported that redesign of the airframe to fit the F414 engine would eliminate the need for the dead weight lead plates fitted on the Mk-1 in order to ensure stability of the aircraft.


Besides a more powerful engine, Tejas Mk-2 will feature other improvements. Here is the complete list of planned upgrades:

  1. Structural Weight Reduction
  2. Aerodynamic Improvements
  3. Upgrade of Flight Control Computer
  4. Electronic Warfare Suite
  5. Avionics Upgrade
  6. In flight refueling retractable probe
  7. On board oxygen generation system
  8. Increased fuel capacity.

Features Overview

  1. Supersonic at all altitudes
  2. 15km service altitude
  3. Tailless compound delta wing
  4. Composite structure
  5. Improved performance
  6. Improved maintainability
  7. Improved Survivability
  8. Digital Fly by wire
  9. Fuel dump system
  10. Multi mode radar


It is proposed to have two 6x8 smart MFDs on LH, RH and one 5x5 MFD in center console in Tejas Mk2.

LCA Navy Mk-2 model at Aero India 2011. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur

LCA Navy

LCA Navy will be based on the LCA Mk-2 aircraft.

Initial development of the LCA Navy, using Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa,  is being done using prototypes (NP1, NP2, NP5) developed from LCA Mk-1. Carrier trials would be done using prototypes developed from LCA Mk-2. Only LCA Navy Mk-2 aircraft will embark on a carrier.

Initially, ADA planned to develop one twin seater trainer (NP1) and one fighter (NP2) along with  Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa.

IDP Sentinel members can track LCA Mk-2 developments on the page at

LCA Mk-2 (IDP Sentinel)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tejas LCA EW Suite Explained

Tejas LCA at Aero India 2013

Tejas LCA is to be equipped with an EW suite developed by DRDO's  Defense Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) in collaboration with Israel.

The EW suite contains radar illumination, laser illumination and missile-lock warnings, a radar jammer and a flare dispenser.

The suite is capable of dealing with multiple simultaneous threats from air or ground.

Radar Warning and Jammer Suite (RWJS)

The EW suite centerpiece is an integrated Radar Warning and Jammer Suite (RWJS) that can detect when the aircraft is being illuminated by enemy radar, determine the type of radar (ground based or airborne) and its operating mode (track-while-scan, lock-on); alert the pilot and facilitate neutralization of any radar guided surface-to-air or air-to-air missile threat through Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) based signal jamming.

Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) is an electronic method for digitally capturing and coherently re-transmitting RF signal such that the transmitting radar cannot distinguish it from other returns that it receives and processes as targets.

The re-transmitted signal can be tweaked to create false range targets both behind (reactive jamming) and ahead of (predictive jamming) the target intended for protection. Slight variations in frequency can be made to create Doppler (velocity) errors in the victim receiver as well. DRFM can also be used to create distorted phase-fronts at the victim receive antenna which is essential for countering monopulse radar angular measurement techniques. [via Wikipedia]

The DARE RWJS provides 360-deg coverage.

Previous generation fighters, like IAF Jaguars, are equipped with just a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), which could only alert the pilot to hostile radio frequency emissions, but not jam them.

If the DARE EW Suite clears its currently underway (January 2015) trials, Tejas would become the first Indian fighter aircraft to be fitted with a Radar Warner and Jammer equipment.

The DARE RWJS is similar to ELT/568(V)2 developed by Italy's Elettronica S.p.A. and EL/L-8247/8 developed by Israel's ELTA.

Typically a RWJS can be integrated with any airborne platform’s avionics, including Chaff and Flares Dispenser, Missile Warning System, Laser Warning System, Towed RF Decoy and Multi-Function Display. It is flight-line re-programmable. Using PC-based equipment and user-friendly human-machine interface, threats and jamming EW techniques may be easily updated.

RWJS Functioning

Typically RWJS functions as follows:

  1. The RF signals received via the receiving Antennas are amplified by Front-End Amplifiers and fed to the advanced Channelized Receiver in the Central Unit.
  2. The Receiver measures all the RF signals parameters such as PRF, PRI, PW, direction etc., building pulse descriptors that are fed to the Central Processor.
  3. The Central Processor extracts the threats according to priority and level of lethality and provides the situation awareness to the pilot via the Multi-Function display.
  4. Upon detection of a lethal threat, the Central Processor activates the Jammer, selecting the appropriate EW technique for each threat. The jammer is capable of responding simultaneously to several threats by implementing Power Management techniques.

EW Suite Development Progress

The suite was test flown for the first time on Tejas PV1 on January 10, 2015 at HAL airport in Bengaluru. According to a DRDO press release "the equipment was noted to be detecting Radar signals operating in and around the flight path."

Over the coming few months, ADA and DARE will be scheduling further sorties to evaluate the system in various signal scenarios.

An EW system developed by DARE for MiG-29 UPG reportedly was rejected by the IAF due to performance shortfalls.

The suite was earlier tested on the ground using simulation. Airborne testing on PV-1 was initially expected to start in November 2013 or early December 2013.

In October 2013, Deccan Herald reported that DRDO has fitted the EW suite on LCA PV-1.

PV-1 had been on the ground since 2001-02, having flown 242 test flights till then. According to MoD's annual report for 2013-14, Ground Acceptance Test (GAT) has been completed.

IDP Sentinel members can remain updated on the Tejas project by visiting the link below.

Tejas LCA (IDP Sentinel)