Friday, November 27, 2015

VIDEO: DRDO-Israel LRSAM/Barak8 Fired From Israeli Corvette

Slick video released by the Israel Defence Forces earlier today. And here's the official Indian MoD statement on the test:

For the first time, Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM), jointly designed and developed by IAI, Israel and DRDO, has been successfully flight tested from an Israeli Naval Platform. The missile successfully engaged and destroyed the incoming air target. All the subsystems of the missile performed as predicted and achieved the desired goal of hitting the incoming target. DRDO has designed and developed Dual Pulse Propulsion System and other safe arm mechanisms for Solid Propulsion system for the first time. This test from Israel Naval Platform achieved the major milestone in proving the missile system with complete participation of the Ship Borne Tracking Equipment etc. The missile configuration is same for both LRSAM/MRSAM. Further Operational Flight Trials (O.F.T) will be conducted shortly from Indian Naval Platform before induction into the service. LRSAM will be inducted into Indian Naval Ships (P-15A). The LRSAM programme consists of Missiles, MFSTAR (Radar), Weapon Control System, Vertical Launcher unit and Two- way data link.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

BREAKING: Arihant Fires Unarmed Missile, Ejection Test Successful

On November 25, India's indigenous ballistic missile submarine platform Arihant conducted its first weapon deployment test by firing what is believed to be an unarmed K-15/B-05 missile. The ejection test is likely to have taken place in the Bay Of Bengal on Wednesday morning. The Arihant is currently on a classified schedule of sea trials, and is reported to have also notched up successful points in depth trials. More details shortly.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ukraine Completes India's An-32 Upgrade, Shoots Down 'Unreliability' Charge

Ukraine's Ukroboronpromom today announced that it had delivered the eighth and last batch of 5 repaired & upgraded An-32RE aircraft to the Indian Air Force, completing the $400 million deal. Fears that India's fleet was missing -- or worse -- emerged last year at the peak of the Ukraininan conflict, heightened by the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014. The Ukrainian military-industrial complex had taken a heavy battering at the time, so it was only expected that they would use program completion to backhand those reports. Here's the operative part from the official Ukrainian press release today:
And with that, the souped up tactical 'work-horse' transports are back in Indian hands. More details on the new birds soon. And, as always, additional photos & content on Livefist's Facebook page.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2nd Nishant Drone Crash In 15 Days

An Indian-built Nishant unmanned surveillance drone has crashed in Western India, the second crash involving the platform in just over two weeks. As it turns out, the bird that went down today was the last of four units contracted by the Indian Army in 2011 -- the only operator at present. According to reports this week, the programme is as good as dead now, with the Army also officially deciding not to purchase any more Nishant drones. The DRDO has attempted to push the rail-ramp launched drone to other services and the paramilitary, but with no success so far. Last year, it began testing a wheeled version of the Nishant, designated Panchi near Bengaluru.

Like several other programmes involving the DRDO, the Nishant programme has been jinxed by a spiral of capability obsolescence, mutual stubbornness between the DRDO and customer services and a simple lack of coherent technology. This has been amplified by drones built by incubation companies at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), funded and brought to maturity by private firms, which either match or outclass the technologies that platforms like the Nishant boast of. The DRDO claims to work closely with the IITs on programmes, and does have collaborative projects in drone technology -- though most of these are highly undermatched against the simplest off-the-shelf drones available in recreational stores.

The Nishant was a low-cost project, or at least intended to be one. The Army pulling out from it leaves the project at starting point with a big write-off bill in the bargain.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

1st In-Service Crash Of Indian Nishant Drone

A Nishant UAV of the Indian Army crashed today at the Chandan Village in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer District -- the first service accident involving the indigenous surveillance platform. A test UAV platform crashed in around the same area a few years ago. A technical snag forced Army operators to attempt an emergency parachute assisted landing, but as these photographs show, things didn't work out, the Nishant sustained severe damage.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

History! IAF Formally Opens Fighter Combat Flying To Women Pilots

In the trundling, unmoving traditions of armed forces, it isn't often that dramatic changes take place. Days after the Indian Air Force signalled that it would be opening its so far out-of-bounds fighter flying space to women pilots, the Ministry of Defence today has made it official:
Women pilots in the IAF currently only fly helicopters and transports. With the decision to induct women into the fighter (combat) stream of the IAF, a long-standing demand is visibly met. In its statement, the MoD says the decision has been taken "in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations".

Interestingly, the statement specifies that India's first women fighter pilots will be selected from the batch currently undergoing flying training at the IAF academy. In effect, India gets its first fully trained and qualified women fighter pilots in June 2017 for full-scale operational deployment.

The fact that a selection is being made in the current batch clearly indicates that arrangements have been in the works for a while now, with the IAF and MoD working together to roll-out the decision ahead of today's formal announcement.

India's current flight training regimen begins with basic propeller training on Pilatus PC-7 Mk.IIs, then moves onto the HAL Kiran Mk.II intermediate trainer (the fleet will be retired next year) and finally advanced flight training on Hawk 132 jets (the current batch will begin lead-in fighter training in June next year, with formal squadron inductions a year later).

Monday, October 19, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: The View From Super-Carrier Roosevelt

Among those who got a chance to visit 'Rough Rider' USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN71) in the Bay of Bengal over the weekend for Exercise Malabar 2015 was MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar, a man who, as you've seen here before, is more than handy with a camera. He's made available a fabulous set of photographs he took from on board the super carrier, exclusive to Livefist.