Thursday, September 10, 2015

IJT Sitara - Cheering News follows Disinformation Campaign?

HJT-36 Sitara at Aero India 2011

HAL is set to spin test the HJT-36 Sitara later this month, possibly paving the way for serial production of the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) for the IAF.

"Today, we are confident that that every problem has found a solution. The aircraft that is going to come out of all this is going to be really worth flying,” HAL Chairman & Managing Director T. Suvarna Raju told The Hindu.

“We expected to spin the aircraft about eight months ago and clear it for series production. We could not spin or stall the aircraft. It is a very crucial job that should be done very carefully, as there is a lot of risk for men and material," Raju added.

Spin clearance will mean HAL can start planning series production “and we are confident of it (success),” Raju said.

Series production of the Sitara would be a huge Make-in-India landmark and dramatically change HAL's image of a poorly performing state funded aerospace giant.

Rookie IAF pilots are trained to safely recover their aircraft from a stall or a spin, both low speed flight conditions under which the aircraft's response to control inputs is not instinctive. Stall and spin recovery training can only be imparted if the trainer aircraft's flight characteristics during stall and spin are easily recognizable by the trainee pilot, and the recovery from both the conditions is safe and sure.

Sitara's development had come to a halt because it would stall too early and its pre-stall flight characteristics were confusing and unsafe.

HAL engaged BAE as consultants to tweak the aircraft's design to make its stall characteristics acceptable. BAE reportedly recommended redesign of the Sitara's tail. HAL validated the BAE suggested redesign many times with mathematical modelling and wind tunnel tests before incorporating the recommended changes.

The redesign is expected to reduce the aircraft's stall speed by nearly 40-kph. Also, the stall will result in a sharp easily recognizable nose drop prompting the pilot to take recovery action.

The Sitara was also plagued by a sharp wingdrop short of stall. During DefExpo 2014 an HAL rep told me that HAL had identified the point on the wing where the boundary layer flow was  turning turbulent and breaking up, leading to the wing drop. HAL had planned to use boundary layer energizing strakes to remedy the problem.

Meanwhile, the aircraft's Saturn AL-55I, made specially for India by Russia, has been stall tested.

It's interesting to note that sections of the Indian media have repeatedly reported that the IAF is all set to dump the Sitara and purchase Textron's Scorpion trainer and counter insurgency aircraft.

The TOI in April 2015 carried a particularly alarming report saying that the Sitara's operational clearance maybe delayed by another four-to-five years, as the IJT would require major structural changes, including increase in airframe length as well as addition of another 305-kg to the already overweight plane, to resolve the stall-and-spin problem.

"The IJT has been declared unfit for spin, even by foreign consultants like BAE Systems, after spending around Rs 4,500 crore on it," a source reportedly told the TOI.

It now appears that the reports were highly speculative, and conceivably motivated.

Sections of the Indian media went overboard with the disinformation campaign after the IAF on April 4, 2014 released a Request for Information (RFI) for an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) that would be used primarily for Stage-2 training of its pilots with a secondary counter insurgency role.

The IAF was merely hedging its bet on the IJT with the RFI.

RM Manohar Parrikar told parliament on March 20, 2015 that the IJT has encountered some design problems. Project implementation is regularly reviewed by a Steering Committee headed by Secretary, Department of Defense Production to expedite the same. IAF is looking at other options including life extension of Kiran aircraft to meet Intermediate flying training requirements of pilots.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) Sitara HJT-36 - IDP Sentinel

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

IAF Jaguar Upgrade - The Basics

Jaguar with proposed upgrade engine Honeywell F-125IN at Aero India 2013
The Tribune reported on September 9, 2015 that certain issues "over offset clauses involving HAL" were holding up the contract with Honeywell for upgrade of Jaguar engines; these have now been resolved, paving the way for commercial and technical negotiations to start.

Need for Upgrade

The IAF currently operates around 110 (5 1/2 sqns) Jaguar strike fighters powered by Rolls-Royce Adour-811 turbofan engines. The aircraft, which first entered squadron service in the early 80s, is optimized for strike after low level penetration of contested airspace. At medium altitudes, the Jaguar's  maneuverability and acceleration are poor. As a result, the fighter is not suitable for stand-off close air support using Precision Guided Munition (PGM).

The IAF is making a doctrinal shift from specialized aircraft to multi-role aircraft, Based on fatigue analysis, the IAF estimates that Jaguars could remain operational till 2030. As a result, the IAF is keen to upgrade the Jaguar with more powerful engine, fourth-generation cockpit and mission avionics, and self protection suite so that it better fits IAF doctrinal thinking.

Upgraded Jaguars will feature all weather precision attack capability with enhanced weapon load.

Upgrade Features

The planned upgrade includes

  1. More powerful engines
  2. Higher capacity alternators
  3. Multi-mode radar
  4. Glass cockpit with DARIN-3 navigation and attack avionics suite HOTAS controls and improved HUD
  5. Auto Pilot
  6. Helmet mounted Display

An Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) is being co-developed by the DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and Cassidian (formerly EADS Defense Electronics). The suite includes DRDO developed Tarang radar warning receiver (RWR).

Engine Upgrade

The Honeywell F125IN has a max thrust of 43.8kN. In comparison, the existing Rolls-Royce Adour Mk811 engine has a thrust of 32.5kN.

The IAF is seeking a two phase contract with Honeywell. In Phase 1, Honeywell will modify two Jaguar aircraft to use its F-125IN engines.

During Phase 2, HAL will re-engine the remaining Jaguars using technology transferred by Honeywell.

The contract was estimated to be worth $700 million in 2011.

IDP Sentinel members can read more details at the link below.

Jaguar Upgrade - IDP Sentinel

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Phase-2 Floating Test Range Construction Underway

BMD Interceptor AAD-05 during 7th system test 
Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is gearing up for Phase-2 development of its Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. To facilitate testing of BMD Phase-2 interceptor missile, DRDO has ordered construction of a floating test range (FTR) - a 10,000 ton ship that will be used to launch target missiles from far out in the sea.

Under BMD Phase-1, which is currently underway, DRDO would develop and deploy a system for defense against missiles with less than 2,000 km range like Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles and China's solid-fuel Dongfeng-21 (NATO designation: CSS-5).

Under BMD Phase-2, system capability will be upgraded to defend against missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km that can additionally deploy decoys or maneuver.

Additional Test Range Requirements

India currently has two missile test ranges at Chandipur and Wheeler Island.

Test of BMD Phase-2 system would require two ranges placed well apart along the missile trajectory. DRDO is developing the two new missile ranges at Machilipatnam in Seema Andhra and Rutland Island in the Andamans.

Target missiles would be launched from specially constructed ships. Besides a launch pad for the target missile, the ship will be fitted with associated systems such as radar, mission control center, launch control center, communication network and numerous other equipment.

The FTR would enable DRDO scientists to conduct realistic BMD tests without the need to evacuate a large number of people. It will make testing more realistic by allowing DRDO to freely chose target missile trajectory.

Construction and operationalization of the floating range / ship would take at least three to four years.

A DRDO scientist told The Hindu, the FTR "will pave the way for conducting trials for different trajectories, varying altitudes and also for higher ranges. We can go up to 1,000-1,500 km without any problem. Currently, we have to conduct simulation tests for longer ranges."

Ocean Surveillance Ship

In December 2014 MoD sanctioned Rs 725 crore for the construction of Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS) at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL), Visakhapatnam as part of DRDO's BMD program

The ship, P-11184, will feature a helicopter deck and hangar, a long open deck with space for several tracking antennae located at the aft of the forward superstructure.

Dedicated to DRDO's BMD program, the ship will be operated by the Indian Navy.

Designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, the ship has a length of 175 m, a beam of 22 m, a depth of 6 m and and a displacement of over 10,000 tons. It will be powered by 2 x 9,000 kw engines, giving it a maximum speed of 21 knots.

The OSS project is classified and monitored directly by the Prime Minister’s Office. The ship’s keel was laid on June 30, 2014 and the shipyard has been given a timeline of December, 2015 to finish the project.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Russia Displays Innovative Asymmetric Counter Stealth Systems at MAKS-2015

KRET EW Systems on display at MAKS-2015

Russian EW systems displayed at MAKS 2015 suggest that Russia has adopted a low cost, asymmetric approach to counter the threat posed by the soon to be deployed F-35 fighters, which features low observability (LO)  and sensor fusion.

A low observable (LO) fighter can escape detection only if it keeps its radar switched off, or under emission control (EMCON). To penetrate contested airspace and attack targets, the LO fighter relies on an AWACS positioned in the rear, which streams the air and ground situation over a directional and encrypted data link. The LO fighter uses its sensor fusion capability to fuse the information obtained from the AWACS sensors with the information obtained through its own passive (ESM, EO) sensors to track and engage adversary targets.

An F-35 strike force under AWACS cover would be able to detect and engage non stealthy  Russian fighters -  MiG-35, Su-30, Su-35 - well before the Russian fighters detected the presence of the strike force. The F-35s would detect the Russian fighter radar emissions from as far away as 300-nm. Non emitting Russian fighters would be picked up by the F-35 strike force support AWACS from 150-nm.

Even if the Russian fighters were also supported with AWACS, the F-35s LO would delay detection till around 90-nm.

The challenge to Russia from US LO fighters is formidable, but it's noteworthy that LO is fundamentally an ECM technique. LO fighters deflect radar emissions away from the transmitter, instead of bouncing them back to the transmitter.

If LO is ECM then common wisdom hold that every ECM has a ECCM!

The Russians have chosen to negate US advantage, not by building analogs, but by reverting to fundamentals.

A stealthy F-35 strike force threatens ground targets so why oppose it from the air? Putting powerful jammers and passive locators on the ground in the proximity of high value targets that the adversary fears and wants to target would be a logical. Ground based systems have practically no size and weight constraints, as long as mobility is ensured.

What the Russians appear to be doing is:

  1. Fielding powerful ground based jammers to degrade AWACS sensors, data links, RF missile sensors.
  2. Fielding ground based passive emission locating systems that constrain enemy use of radar. 
  3. Developing UAVs featuring UHF, L, S radars to unmask LO fighter aircraft
  4. Fielding more sensitive Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on their fighters.

The following are some of the new weapon systems displayed at MAKS 2015 that are focused on mitigating the threat posed by the advent of F-35s in large number along Russian borders.

Krasukha Jammer at KRET pavilion at MAKS-2015

Krasukha EW System

The Krasukha is a mobile, ground-based broadband multi-functional jamming station and spoofing system developed by KRET. The system analyzes the type of signal and responds by jamming it with a powerful, smart interfering emission, preventing adversary radar sensors from detecting targets and guiding weapons to them.

There are two variants of the system: Krasukha-2 and Krasukha-4, the latter being a higher power longer range system.

Krasukha is effective against the entire spectrum of RF dependent weapon systems. It can jam radars (ground, low orbit satellite, AWACS, Fighter, UAV, Missile), data links and satellite links. Krasukha RF suppression makes PGM guidance impossible.

The system can vary jamming intensity to extremes and is capable of damaging electronics through brute force pumping of RF energy into enemy system. Krasukha can also be subtle; for example, it can generate false targets to spoof missile RF sensors.

Jamming range for AWACS is claimed to be 300-km for the Krasukha-2 system, and 400-km for the Krasukha-4 system.

Krasukha systems were developed to protect high value targets on the move, such as the Russian tactical missile Iskander (SS-26), while on the move.

LO UAV to Detect LO Fighters

Russia's UAC is reportedly developing a LO UAV designed to detect stealth aircraft using X-band and UHF radars. The project is an analog of China’s “Divine Eagle” project.

The Russian UAV would detect LO aircraft such as as Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 and Northrop Grumman B-2.

KRET is developing a deeply-integrated electronic warfare system that would create a protective electromagnetic sphere around the UAV to counter air-to-air missiles and cloak it from radars.


The Avtovaza-M is a Emitter Location System (ELS) that can passively detect and track adversary aircraft facilitating engagement by AD missiles. The system comprises five vehicles spread over tens of kilometer, interconnected over low-power, low-probability-of-intercept  communication link using antennas mounted on tall masts.

Avtobaza-M uses time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) processing to locate targets with a precision that is about 2% of detection range, and operates from 200 MHz to 18 GHz and has a range of up to 150-km.

In its basic configuration, Avtovaza-M includes four autonomous SOP (Stantsiya obnaruzheniya i pelengovaniya) detection and direction finding stations and one SOI (Stantsiya obrabotki informatsii) information processing station (ESM), mounted on Kamaz-63501 four-axle military trucks.

TDOA systems can locate targets with three stations, but the Avtovaza system uses up to five, to provide redundancy and resolve ambiguities.

The system can detect, analyze and track IFF, TACAN, pulse and continuous onboard radar emissions, and determine radar types for air and sea surface targets, and then disseminate all of this data up the air defense chain.

The whole system can be set up or made ready to redeploy in 45 minutes, with just 3 to 5 minutes to bring it into combat readiness.

The Avtobaz system is believed to have been used by Iran to bring down an American RQ-170.

The usefulness of an ELS system is often underrated because it cannot detect or track a non emitting aircraft - for example, an adversary fighter with its radar, IFF and JTIDS/Link-16 switched off. The point overlooked is that with  its radar or data link offline, the adversary fighter wouldn't be able to engage  targets!


The Moscow-1, the successor to the Avtobaza-M ELS, can detect targets at a distance of 400 km, as against Avtovaza's maximum range of 150 km. 

Moscow-1 system is operated by a crew of 4 and consists of three trucks including an ESM vehicle (IL265E) and an airborne radar jammer (IL2663). The station is able to provide 360-degree visibility and can be deployed in 45 minutes.

You can see more pictures of the Krasukha system at this AW&ST link.


If the above logic behind powerful ground based EW systems is sound, why has the US not developed such weapon systems. 

Bill Sweetman in his audio-interview (link below) attributes it to the expeditionary nature of US forces. US ground troops are loathe to carry around anything larger than a Humvee sized vehicle, says Sweetman.

A KRET official confirms as much in a more recent interview, excerpted below from a Google translation.

Apparently this is explained by the history of US involvement in military conflicts. They are known in their territory do not fight, and are mainly involved in any global or local military conflicts far from their borders. Therefore, the terrestrial EW they never paid as much attention as we do. Perhaps this is also dictated by the current military doctrine there. We have a different doctrine, is defensive in nature, so the means of electronic intelligence and management of land-based we have developed very well. We can say - as anywhere in the world. 

Bill Sweetman on how Russia is countering US Advantages
Russian EW Systems - IDP Sentinel members only link

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DRDO's Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) Program & LASTEC's Aditya Project

DRDO's CHESS (Center for High Energy Systems and Science), Hyderabad is developing Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems for use by the Indian Armed Forces (AFs).

Laser Science and Technology Center (LASTEC) is developing laser source technologies for Directed Energy Weapon (DEW), as also for dazzling and imaging applications. 

LASTEC Capability Development

LASTEC has developed core technologies including Gas Dynamic Laser (GDL) and Chemical Oxygen Iodine Lasers (COIL) and demonstrated 100 kW (multi mode) GDL and 20 kW (single mode) COIL sources.

LASTEC's Aditya Gas Dynamic High Power Laser based Directed Energy System

LASTEC's Aditya project was an experimental test bed to seed the critical DEW technologies. The Gas Dynamic High Power laser based Directed Energy System can be broadly divided into two major subsystems: 

  1. Laser Power Source
  2. Beam Delivery System 

The Laser beam used in a DEW is subject to attenuation (loss of intensity) due to atmospheric air and jitter due to the turbulence within the atmospheric air. The damage caused by the beam progressively reduces with target distance.

In order to cause the stipulated damages at 0.8 km and 2.5 km distance using a 0.7 m aperture telescope, laser power of the order of 100 kW is required . The beam delivery system has to simultaneously perform several roles. It acquires and tracks the distant static and moving target in real time and points and focuses the laser beam on the target. The adaptive optical system has to compensate for the jitter and wave front distortion of the laser beam from the source.

The technology related to laser source, beam delivery and issues related to system integration on mobile platforms were addressed during the execution of the Aditya project which will provide useful input to future laser weapon programs of DRDO

You can read more about the Aditya project here.

DEW for Use Against UAVs

One of the DEW weapon systems being developed would target UAV's.

Project Progress

In July 2015, CHESS invited tenders for 3 radio control (RC) aero models with minimum wingspan of 1600-mm, min. wing area of 800 sq in., and min fuselage length of 1200-mm. The aero-models should be able to fly at altitudes in excess of 400-m.

It's likely that the procurement is aimed at field testing the IIR sight CHESS has developed for its anti UAV weapon. Typically battlefield mini UAVs fly at around 1000-ft AGL in order to stay clear of small arm fire.

Earlier on March 2, 2015 CHESS invited tenders for Off-axis concave and convex parabolic mirrors.

The concave mirror is required to have a parent focal length of 2000mm and mirror diameter of 150mm, while the convex mirror is required to have a parent focal length of 200mm and a mirror diameter of 25mm.

In early July 2015, DRDO's IRDE (Instruments Research & Development Establishment), Dehradun invited tenders for supply of High Resolution thermal imager for CHESS platform.

The IRDE tender seeks a Thermal Imager based on Pelican-D 640x512 MWIR IDDCA with 14.5X zoom capability. The Imager is required to have recognition range capability of 5-km against a 1.5m x 3m  UAV target.

IDDCA (Interleaved Double Dynamical Clustering Analysis) is a sampling algorithm based on clustering.

It appears that the imager being sought by IRDE would be used to aim a DEW developed by CHESS for use against UAVs.

Indian Navy's Interest in DEW

An HT report dated July 20, 2015 quoted a senior navy officer as saying that the Navy plans to develop and deploy high-energy lasers and high-power microwave weapons on Navy ships.

"The navy’s policy and plans wing has identified directed-energy weapons as a key long-term development project. We are sharpening focus on it,” said another officer familiar with the plan.

IDP Sentinel members can read additional details on DRDO's DEW project at

Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) Systems (IDP Sentinel)