Sunday, February 07, 2016

FIRST LOOK: LCA Tejas Fires Derby BVR Missile

Here's the little video clip of LCA Tejas Limited Series 7 (LSP-7) firing a Rafael Defense Systems DERBY BVR air to air missile off the coast of Jamnagar, Gujarat. The missile was fired in ballistic unguided mode, though it's clear that a full-ops guided test is in the offing -- likely in the next two months.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Finally, BrahMos-A Flanker Test In March

After years in development and modifications, the Indian Air Force and BrahMos Corp. are finally ready to conduct their first dummy test-firing of a BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missile from a modified Su-30 MKI. Livefist can confirm that BrahMos plans the dummy test-firing in March, and aims to conduct the first live missile test-firing from the same aircraft in the June-July period.

The belly pylon & launcher are currently underdoing final qualification tests. BrahMos Corp. CEO Sudhir Mishra has revealed to a journal that the launcher will then be put through final shock tests before being cleared for the dummy firing in March.

If things go well, it's going to be a lively March. The Tejas will also be test-firing its first Derby BVRAAM that month.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Team LCA Tejas At Bahrain's Sakhir Base

These images just in of Team Tejas at the Sakhir Air Base for the Bahrain Air Show that kicks off in a couple of days. Both jets have been flying plenty in prep for the show. We hear local the team has also been inundated with requests from journalists and enthusiasts for a closer look at the aircraft. More soon, and here's wishing the team a great debut show abroad!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

India's Tejas Debuts Abroad, Right Next To Pak JF-17s

This is cool. Two Indian LCA Tejas light fighters landed at the Sakhir Air base in Bahrain earlier today for what is the indigenous fighter type's first foray abroad (the jets flew Bengaluru-Jamnagar-Muscat-Sakhir). What's cooler: the LCA's share flightline space right next two Pakistan Air Force JF-17s, a type long seen as a rival to the Tejas at many levels. Comparisons span development, technology, capability, politics, how 'indigenous' each aircraft really is, and what each will really bring to hostile airspace.

The comparisons span from the obvious (the JF-17 is rolling rapidly off a production lines in Pakistan, while the Tejas, well, isn't just yet), to the speculative (the JF-17 has sparked foreign interest, while the Tejas hasn't). The Indian Air Force hasn't been the Tejas's best friend, but still believes it's a far better plane than the almost entirely Chinese JF-17. Interestingly, Pakistan's current Prime Minister, back in 2010, actually acknowledged that the Tejas was a superior aircraft.

You know the story. Either way, the Bahrain foray allows the delectable opportunity to revisit the Tejas-JF-17 tangle. Expect more this week.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Next Tejas Milestone: Derby BVR Missile Firing By March

As the laboured final stretch of India's LCA Tejas trudges on, there's a final milestone on the, well, horizon. A Tejas fighter with a fully integrated multi-mode radar and new quartz radome is all set to fire its first BVR missile off the coast of Goa -- Livefist can confirm it will be a Rafael Systems Derby (mock-ups pictured above last year). As reported earlier by Livefist, the Derby has been signed on as a stopgap in the event that the indigenous Astra doesn't enter the field of play in time. More details on this upcoming test soon.

The real wait, of course, is for the Tejas to begin carriage and firing tests of the in-development Astra, which has already been fired a few times from an IAF Su-30MKI.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

All Clear: India To Sign Deal For 36 Rafales This Month

The all-clear is here, and there's no way to tell it but straight. Livefist can confirm that India and France are all set to sign a government-to-government deal this month for the supply of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. A crucial final meeting on Monday, Jan 18 of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will provide final approval, paving the way for contract signature. France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a man plenty familiar with India as a result of the meandering Rafale process, arrives in Delhi when the DAC meets, spurring reports that an agreement has already been reached -- with formalities pending.

Livefist can also confirm that unresolved issues pertaining to offsets and pricing have been ironed out. Expect details later this week.

All 36 jets will be supplied in flyaway form from Dassault's facility near the Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport. The deal will be signed on January 25 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi & French President François Hollande who will be in Delhi later this month as chief guest at India's Republic Day Parade.

Reliance Announces Shipyard For Nuke Subs & Carriers

The new defence wing of one of India's largest private sector firms has unveiled plans to build a sprawling shipyard on India's east coast to build nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Reliance Defence Ltd (part of the Reliance Anil Ambani Group) has entered into an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to build a facility that will be co-located with the Indian Navy's strategic base and BARC's nuclear facility at Rambilli, approximately 70 km south of Visakhapatnam, where the Indian Navy's Eastern Command Headquarters is also located.

A statement from the firm today said, "This facility will support the Indian Navy’s strategic projects and focus on building strategic submarines and aircraft carriers."

As part of the memorandum signed between Reliance and the Andhra Pradesh government, the latter will make 1,500 acres of land available for this facility in close proximity of strategic establishments of the Indian Navy and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

"Reliance will make an initial investment outlay of Rs 5,000 crore in this project. This will represent the single-largest investment at one location anywhere in Andhra Pradesh. This investment is expected to generate more than 10,000 new jobs and also lead to the creation of a multi-teier array of defence ancillaries, bringing in further investment of between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 crore and thousands of additional skilled jobs," said the Reliance statement.

The new facility has been in the works for a while now, and part of the overall consolidation of India's shipyard infrastructure. Following Reliance's acquisition of the Pipavav shipyard on India's western coast, it was only a matter of time before the firm committed to greenfield shipbuilding capacity in the east. 

The huge shipbuilding requirement stretched between a handful of state-owned shipbuilders wasn't going to cut it. The Reliance statement says it pretty plainly: "It is estimated that the Indian Navy will spend over Rs 3 lac crore over the next 15 years - or nearly Rs 20,000 crore per year - on acquisitions and fleet modernisation of submarines and aircraft carriers, over the next 15 years, creating a huge pipeline of opportunity for the proposed world class naval facility."

The Reliance-Pipavav shipyard and the new facility now pit Reliance in the same arena as another private sector behemoth L&T that has dominated strategic warship building work so far. Interesting times.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BREAKING: LR-SAM Successfully Tested From INS Kolkata

Livefist can confirm that the first test of the Indo-Israeli Long Range SAM (LR-SAM) was successfully conducted earlier this evening in the Arabian Sea between Mumbai and Goa. The second test will be conducted tomorrow morning between 8.30am till 11am. The LR-SAM was testfired last month from an Israel Navy corvette. Photos and videos of today's & tomorrow's tests shortly.