Thursday, December 18, 2014

TV Station Gets 1st Video Images Of India's Arihant SSBN

I've been watching this video on loop for an hour. Don't really care that the actual clip is only a few seconds long. This is awesome because it's the first public video of India's Arihant nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, scooped by local journalists for India's Zee News network. Here she is escorted out of the Vizag naval harbour area on Monday. (And yes, that's clearly a P17 class stealth frigate in the foreground).

More Grainy Goodness: Arihant Leaves Harbour

Here's another photograph of India's indigenously developed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Arihant leaving Visakhapatnam harbour on Monday. It isn't clear who took this photograph -- it arrived from multiple sources, (including on Whatsapp) but without credit. So if anyone knows where this is from, please let me know. Clearly taken from dockyard with two tugs guiding the submarine out, two Coast Guard vessels in the background and a naval ship (frigate?) in the foreground.

Monday, December 15, 2014

India's Arihant SSBN Sails Out!

Staff photographer with The Hindu newspaper scoops this great shot of Arihant, India's indigenously developed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine as it pushes out to sea today for long-awaited sea trials in the Bay of Bengal. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in Visakhapatnam for the cast-off ceremony. Love the fuzzy picture, the first photograph of the Arihant's entire surfaced silhouette!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Indian SSBN Arihant Sea Trials Begin This Week: Report

Fantastic news. India's first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, Arihant, will finally step out of its secure location in Visakhapatnam's harbour area (photo above from harbour acceptance trials) and head out to sea for trials, says this new report by friend and colleague Sandeep Unnithan. The case-off, the report says, could be as early as tomorrow. With all systems go for sea trials, the 6,000 ton vessel powered by an Indian pressure water reactor (PWR) finally enters the operative phase of its development, which, over the next year, will include submerged trials and weapons trials.

The cast-off comes not a moment too soon. As Unnithan's report states, India envisages a fleet of five SSBNs, including two more of the Arihant class that already under build in Vizakhapatnam. Wish we could have been there for the cast-off! Unnithan and I were among a group of journalists who witnessed the unveiling of the Arihant in July 2009 during its launch. Fantastic day with no photography allowed at the time.

The Arihant has taken its time in development. Hopefully, this is it. A senior Indian Navy officer tells me, "The harbour acceptance trials (HATs) took an extended period of time for various reasons. But we are confident heading into surfaced and shallow submerged trials, before we extend the envelope and test her at ceiling parameters. There is a lot of confidence in the test crew and spirits are high."

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Indian Army Killed 6 Pak Terrorists In High-Altitude J&K This Week; Here's What They Were Carrying

The Indian Army says it hasn't seen better equipped terrorist infiltrators in all it years of operations in Jammu & Kashmir. Between December 1-3, in an operation codenamed Jatti Gali for the forbidding forested nook at 14,000 feet in the Naugam sector of Baramulla, soldiers of a Garhwal Rifles unit took out six 'foreign' (the Army's euphemism for Pakistani) terrorists. The terrorists had Swiss-made snow clothing and boots (with crampons) and were carrying more weapons & equipment per man than ever encountered before. Among their kit was a huge quantity of grenades, batteries, ammunition for assault rifles, digital navigation consoles, wire-cutters, satellite phones, snow boots and a large quantity of high-energy food.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Specifically Why India's Rafale Deal Is Held Up

So, as I mentioned in my earlier post, sticking points in negotiations between Dassault Aviation and HAL remain the chief reason why a draft contract hasn't reached finality. There have been a few reports that point to general difficulties in negotiations between HAL and Dassault on liability for the 108 aircraft that the former will license build in Bangalore. What you probably haven't heard about are the specific stumbling blocks. There are basically three:

Final Political Push For #MMRCA Arrives Sunday, Five Key Developments

An exhausted French government is probably seeing it as fortuitous that new Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar's first foreign guest will be French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who arrives tomorrow in Delhi on a two-day visit. He meets Parrikar on Monday late in the morning. This will be Le Drian's third visit as his country's defence minister to India.

In January, the Indian MoD and Dassault Aviation will mark three years since the Rafale won the final downselect in 2012. A contract for 126 Rafale fighters remains in final negotiations, heaving and jerking across over 24 months. As the French minister arrives for what Paris hopes will be the last political push required to see the deal through, here's a quick round-up of six key developments that set out the state of play:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Most Detailed Official List Of Indian Navy Accidents In Last 3 Years

The Indian MoD just put out this list in Parliament, detailing 24 'naval vessel mishaps' since 1 January 2011:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Drone Down! Indian Heron UAV Crashes

Drone down. An IAI Heron unmanned aerial vehicle of the Indian Air Force crashed today near Bhuj in western India. Indications are that the crash followed engine trouble and subsequent loss of control. The Indian Navy has lost a few Searcher MK.IIs in the past, but I'm pretty sure this is the first crash of the larger Heron, the most advanced unmanned air system currently in Indian service. The IAF and Indian Navy operate about 45 Heron I/IIs between them, with the government clearing a 15 Heron buy 11 months ago.