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Friday, December 15, 2017

INS Kalvari S-21 SSK's On-Board Systems & Fitments

A unique feature of each of the Indian Navy’s six Scorpene SSKs is an on-board tactical situational awareness display console (above) of the kind normally found on SSNs, SSGNs and SSBNs. On this single console, the SSK’s Commanding Officer can view overlaid electronic navigation charts, the tactical situation picture, as well as a THALES-provided track table interface to the US Naval Research Laboratory-developed display and analysis tool set, called SIMDIS. The SIMDIS is a set of GOTS software tools in use to support 2-D and 3-D analysis and visualization of the undersea battlefield. SIMDIS allows an integrated real-time view of both time-space position information (TSPI) and telemetry data, and it also provides an intuitive view of complex system interactions before, during and after an event.
The sails of the Indian Navy's CM-2000 Scorpene SSKs (above) differ from those of the CM-2000 Scorpene SSKs of the Royal Malaysian Navy (below) in both looks and content, since the former play host to the VLF buoyant cable antenna suite.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dazzle-N-Destroy Air-Defence Options

New-generation mobile, high-energy solid-state laser-based directed-energy weapons (DEW) are fast emerging as cost-effective counter-rocket, counter-artillery, counter-PGM, counter-UAV and counter-mortar systems, since a laser destroys targets with pinpoint precision within seconds of acquisition, then acquires the next target and keeps firing. Such DEWs will thus augment existing kinetic strike weapons like surface-to-air missiles and offer significant reductions in cost per engagement. With only the cost of diesel fuel, a HEL-based DEW system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower. Target destruction is achieved by projecting a highly focused, high-power solid-state chemical laser beam, with enough energy to affect the target, and explode it in midair. This operational concept is thus for the very first time offering the first ‘reusable’ interception element. Existing interceptors use kinetic energy kill vehicles (such as blast-fragmentation warheads), which are not reusable.
A major advantage of HEL effectors is their outstanding flexibility with regard to escalation and de-escalation. Laser beams are eminently scaleable. When fired at optics, radio antennas, radars, ammunition or energy sources, for example, HEL effectors are able to neutralise entire weapons systems without destroying them. At ranges of 2km, mobile HEL effectors in the 50kW laser class clearly demonstrated their ability to locate, track and destroy optics such as riflescopes and remotely operated cameras. HEL effectors have also been used to quickly cut the power-supply cable of a radar mast and then the mast itself. Laser engagement of an ammo box followed by swift deflagration of its explosive content has also been accomplished. When integrated with a vehicle-mounted active phased-array radar for target acquisition/tracking, such HEL effectors can provide air-defence against UAVs of all types, as well as mortar rounds, PGMs and even manned combat aircraft.
The idea that combat aircraft can use solid-state laser-based DEW systems defensively, creating a sanitised sphere of safety around the aircraft, shooting down or critically damaging incoming guided-missiles and approaching aircraft with their laser turrets, is also fast becoming a reality. Fifth-/sixth-generation multi-role combat aircraft will also use such a system offensively, leveraging their stealth capabilities to sneak up on enemy aircraft and striking with speed-of-light accuracy. The introduction of nimble and compact lasers on the aerial battlefield will likely allow combat aircraft designs to cease putting a premium on manoeuvrability, as lasers are speed-of-light weapons. In other words, as long as the enemy can be detected and is within the laser’s range, they are at risk of being fried regardless of how hard they try to evade via hard turns and other high-g manoeuvres. 
Countermeasures will become more about evading initial detection, staying outside an opposing aircraft’s laser’s envelope, and confusing targetting sensors than out-manoeuvring the adversary. In other words, the dogfights of the future will look nothing like they do today. One issue pointed out by Northrop Grumman is that these lasers, along with future engines and avionics, will put out a huge amount of heat, making thermal control a huge concern for stealthy aircraft, IR search-n-track sensors--both air- and ground-based--are only becoming more sensitive and reliable as time goes on. As a result, future stealthy combat aircraft will have to keep their cool in order to remain undetected over the battlefield.
One way aerospace OEMs like Northrop Grumman are looking at dealing with this problem will be by using a large thermal accumulator to control the aircraft’s heat signature while using laser weaponry, although Northrop Grumman seems to be pursuing a different—albeit more shadowy—way of dealing with the problem. Venting the heat off-board only raises the aircraft’s visibility to heat-sealing sensors. Another option is to develop a thermal accumulator, which is a path the USAF is pursuing. An electrical accumulator stores the energy on-board in the same way as a hydraulic accumulator, releasing the latent energy as necessary to generate a surge of power. But Northrop Grumman’s sixth-generation multi-role combat aircraft concept, for instance, eschews the accumulator concept for thermal management because such a system imposes a limitation on the laser weapon’s magazine size or firing rate, forcing the pilot to exit combat until the accumulator is refilled with energy. Northrop Grumman is therefore pursuing a concept that does not rely on accumulators or off-board venting to manage the heat.
Fibre-lasers are typically around 25% efficient at converting DC current to light.  Thus a 50kW, two-minute blast would require over 6kW-hours of juice—or roughly 10 car batteries worth of power (car batteries have typically around 1.2kW-hour theoretical capacity and are 50% efficient in the real world).  However, fibre-lasers are bulky so may not be mountable on vehicles. Therefore, chemical solid-state lasers, are a more likely possibility, but are expensive on a per-shot basis. The biggest problem will likely be the cooling.  For instance, the US Navy’s existing seaborne 15kW HEL effectors already need heavy advanced cooling systems.  That will suck down yet more power, while increasing the system size and weight. The US Navy’s projected 30kW solid-state laser weapon system (LaWS) requires the laser to be able to have several different power settings: from a so-called dazzle effect to confuse sensors to a lethal ability that would be able to splash an UAV or an inbound anti-ship cruise missile, or to disable a small boat.
On land, the US Navy wants its HEL-based DEW to weigh less than 2,500 lb and achieve a minimum 25kW beam strength, capable of shooting down UAVs.  The long-term goal is to sustain a 50kW blast for two minutes with optronics capable of adjusting to environmental conditions like humidity and smoke/haze.  The beam is also expected to have a fast turn-around time--a 20-minute recharge to 80% of total capacity (power and thermal).
Boeing has developed a 10kW HEL-based DEW that weighs 650 lb and will be operated by a squad of eight to 12 soldiers. Able to be assembled in just 15 minutes, this DEW is capable of generating an energy beam to acquire, track, and identify a target—or even destroy it—at ranges of at least 22 miles. Within five years the energy density of this weapon’s batteries could be doubled and the other components should also be further reduced in size to get the weight down to 200 lb. Both Boeing and Raytheon, along with RAFAEL of Israel, are now developing 300kW HEL effectors could fit into 15-tonne trucks. Similarly, Germany’s Rheinmetall, through its 30kW Skyshield air-defence HEL effector, has demonstrated the ability to combine several laser beams on a single target, which develops sufficient power to destroy UAVs, PGMs and cruise missiles.
China’s Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp, a firm under the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), claimed on November 3, 2014 that it has developed a land-mobile HEL-based DEW that can shoot down small aircraft and UAVs out to a distance of 2km within seconds.  It is reportedly effective against aircraft flying at up to 50 metres per second up to a maximum altitude of 500 metres. The definitive Sentinel system can locate small aircraft within a 1.2-mile radius and shoot down small drones flying under 110mph and below 1,600 feet.
Another China-based company—GuoRong Technology—recently conducted technical trials of its truck-mounted DEW that can destroy airborne drones. The company claims that its DEW the laser successfully fired at least twice, including one on a plate of aluminum a few millimetres thick at a distance of 360 metres. In less than 10 seconds, the aluminum plate was pierced with a hole about 4 centimetres in diameter, and the drone, with its control unit destroyed, finally crashed to the ground.
India’s defence R & D Organisation (DRDO) too has been involved with the development of HEL-based DEW since 2008, with all R & D work being conducted at the High Energy Laser Integration Facility in the campus of the Hyderabad-based Centre for High Energy Systems and Sciences (CHESS). The CHESS is mandated by DRDO to be the nodal centre for the design and development of DEWs. Another DRDO-owned laboratory, the Laser Science and Technology Centre (LASTEC) is working on the development of laser source technologies for DEWs, and has so far developed core technologies, including gas dynamic high-power laser (GDL) and chemical oxygen iodine lasers (COIL), and has thus far demonstrated 100kW (multi-mode) GDL and 20kW (single-mode) COIL sources. LASTEC has also developed 1kW fibre-laser through collaboration.
Presently, R & D on 5kW and 9kW fibre-laser sources utilizing complex beam-combining technologies is underway. Power output from these sources will be combined in space for various tactical applications. LASTEC has also initiated work on the development of pulsed fibre-lasers for different military applications. To this end, the laboratory’s ADITYA project was an experimental testbed to seed the critical DEW technologies.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Missing The Woods For The Trees, Putting The Cart Before The Horse

Whenever hyper-speculative media hype originates from certain claims made by an over-zealous corporate house, the end-result always tantamount to putting the cart before the horse. And this is exactly what has happened in case of the Indian Army’s requirement of third-generation, manportable ATGMs.  Presently, the Indian Army is authorised by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to have a total of 81,206 ATGMs, with each infantry battalion deployed in the plains being armed with four medium-range (1.8km-range) and four long-range (4km-range) ATGM launchers (each with six missiles), and those in the mountains have one of each type along with six missiles for each launcher. 
In reality, however, the Indian Army’s total existing inventory of ATGMs now stands at only 44,000 that includes 10,000 second-generation MBDA-developed and Bharat Dynamics Ltd-built SACLOS wire-guided Milan-2 ATGMs and 4,600 launchers; 4,100 second-generation MBDL-supplied Milan-2T ATGMs; 15,000 second-generation 4km-range 9M113M Konkurs-M SACLOS wire-guided ATGMs licence-built by BDL, plus another 10,000 that are now being supplied off-the-shelf by Russia’s JSC Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod. Also on order are 443 DRDO-developed third-generation Nag fire-and-forget ATGMs along with 13 DRDO-developed NAMICA tracked ATGM launchers.
It was in 2003 that Indian Army HQ had formulated a General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) for acquiring the Milan-2T, armed with a tandem-warhead. The tandem warhead was to be licence-built by BDL. The GSQR of the in-service Milan-2 had provided for an essential range as 1,850 metres and a desirable range of 2,000 metres. The GSQR of 2003 for the Milan-2T had indicated the range as 2,000 metres. The RFP for procurement of 4,100 Milan-2Ts was issued to BDL in January 2007. The MoD’s Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) did not find the product offered by BDL compliant with the GSQR as the range of 2,000 metres offered had only 1,850 metres under wire-guidance phase, while the last 150 metres was left unguided (along with the first 75 metres after missile launch). The case for procurement was therefore closed in May 2007. Subsequently, BDL confirmed that the guidance-range of the Milan-2T would be 2,000 metres. The case was re-opened and trials of the Milan-2T were conducted in February 2008. Based on the firing trial results, Indian Army HQ did not recommend its introduction into service in view of difficulties in engaging moving targets during the last 150 metres. In addition, the requirement was not met in terms of flight-time and overall weight. Furthermore, third-generation ATGMs were already available in the global market by June 2006. Based on  representations from the staff union of BDL to the then Minister of State for Defence Production & Supplies (since non-placement of orders for Milan-2Ts would result in redeployment of BDL’s workforce and already procured materials common to Milan-2/-2T would have to be junked), it was decided to procure a minimum required quantity of Milan-2Ts in May 2008 by amending the GSQR in August 2008 for the Milan-2T with 1,850 metres range and with the waiver of in-country firing-trials, after considering the long lead-times required for procuring third-generation ATGMs, and the fact that the shelf-life of existing stocks of Milan-2 would expire by 2013. The revised RFP was issued to BDL in September 2008 as per the amended GSQR. The MoD concluded a procurement contract with BDL in December 2008 for the supply of 4,100 Milan-2T ATGMs at a cost of Rs.587.02 crore with a staggered delivery schedule to be completed within 36 months from the effective date of contract.
The Indian Army had zeroed in on the third-generation FGM-148 Javelin as far back as 2008 after it had conducted in-country summer user-evaluations of the RAFAEL of Israel-built Spike-ER ATGM. During these evaluations, seven out of the 10 missiles fired missed their targets because their on-board uncooled long-wave infra-red (LWIR) sensors failed to distinguish their targets from their surroundings (an identical problem had also beset the Nag ATGM’s uncooled LWIR sensors during user-evaluations). In contrast, the Javelin uses a cooled mid-wave IR (MWIR) sensor that can passively lock-on to targets at up to 50% farther range than an uncooled sensor, thus allowing the firing crew greater and safer standoff distance, and less likely to be exposed to counter-fire. As far as weight is concerned, the cooling equipment adds less than 2 lb per weapon. The uncooled sensor is not only less reliable, but its long-LWIR spectrum is only compatible with a dome made of softer materials that vulnerable to abrasion in harsh environments (e.g. deserts) and consequently require replacement more often. The cooled seeker’s MWIR spectrum allows a durable hardened dome, and it is better than LWIR in discerning threats in certain geographic locations or environmental conditions. An uncooled sensor thus brings increased repairs, decreased operational availability, and dangerous vulnerabilities, while a cooled IIR sensor saves lives, lessens fratricide, minimises collateral damage, lowers risk, and protects its firing platforms/crew.
When the then US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, arrived in India on September 16, 2013 for a two-day visit, he came equipped with a proposal aimed at dramatically boosting US-India military-industrial relations. The proposal called for 1) licence-production of the FGM-148 Javelin through 97% transfer of manufacturing technology, but withholding the target recognition algorithms of the MWIR seeker (meaning the seeker’s focal plane array sub-assembly would have to be imported off-the-shelf from Raytheon). 2) co-developing with the DRDO’s Research Centre Imaarat (RCI) and its associated Sensors Research Society (SRS) a fourth-generation version of the Javelin that will feature a dual-mode seeker, hyperbaric warhead, and a longer range of up to 4km. This very same offer, under the auspices of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), was repeated by the then US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, who reached India on August 8, 2014 for a three-day visit. In fact, by early 2015 private company VEM Technologies had already fabricated a full-scale prototype of the FGM-148 Javelin (see image below) that was displayed at the Aero India 2015 expo.
On February 19, 2015 the Kalyani Group issued a press-release that announced the formation of a joint-venture company with Israel’s RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems (see:, while the official website of Kalyani RAFAEL Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd (see: had this to say: KRAS is India’s first private sector Missile sub-systems manufacturing entity. Spread across an area of 24,000 square feet, the KRAS plant in Hardware Tech-Park (In the close vicinity of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport) in Hyderabad will enable production of SPIKE ATGM high-end technology systems within the country. It will be engaged in development of a wide range of advanced capabilities like Missile Technology, Command Control and Guidance, Electro-Optics, Remote Weapon Systems, Precision Guided Munitions and System Engineering for Missile Integration. The facility has been designed to meet the top security classification by adopting highest level of security clearance from Indian and Israel Governments. 
What was highly perplexing was that the KRAS JV was openly announcing its ability to produce Spike ATGMs when even the MoD had not inked any contract for procuring the Spike ATGMs. It is from this juncture that the ‘desi’ patrakaars’ went on an overdrive to peddle the story about the Spike ATGM’s procurement. Here are some examples of such rumour-mongering:

One news-report, published on September 1, 2016 ( even went to the extent of claiming that TATA Power SED had formed a Javelin Joint Venture (JJV) with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin for licence-producing the Javelin ATGMs!
In reality, the DRDO has since 2012 been co-developing a third-generation MPATGM along with VEM Technologies. The RCI has since then developed the all-composite rocket motor casing, MEMS-based redundant micro-navigation system (RMNS), as well as a new-generation IIR sensor that employs semiconductors using indium gallium nitride and aluminum gallium nitride alloys for the RCI-developed 1024-element staring focal plane arrays operating in the ultra-violet bandwidth that give better solar radiation rejection. User-evaluations of the definitive MPATGM are expected to commence next year, with bulk production commencing sometime in 2020. Both VEM Technologies and BDL will be contracted for mass-producing the MPATGM. As a fall-back measure, in the event of the RCI-developed MWIR sensor not maturing within the given deadline (primarily due to the challenges of developing the all-important target recognition algorithm), then the option of importing the Javelin’s LWIR sensor sub-assembly for integration with the MPATGM still remains open.
In addition to the MPATGM, the DRDO along with VEM Technologies is also developing a laser-guided 2.75-inch air-to-surface rocket (first shown at the Aero India 2017 expo) that will be launchable from the Rudra, LUH and LCH platforms.