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SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Former Indian Air Force Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had once said that IAF is looking to procure 12 squadrons of the Light Combat Aircraft Mk.2, Each squadron comprises 18-20 fighter jets that could have roughly translated to 216-240 units of LCA-AF Mk2 that was initially planned. His Successor Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria in his first address to the press had said that the IAF has plans to induct 170 (9.44 -8.5) of these (LCA-AF Mk2).

Current Indian Air Force chief VR Chaudhari addressing his first press conference after assuming office said he is looking to induct 14 Squadrons of MRFA+Mk2 Since the requirement of MRFA is for 114 units that translates to a little over 5.7-6.3 squadrons that leave only 8 squadrons for Mk2 (144-160) jets that again is on the lower side.

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SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.

Air Chief Chaudhari recently made an alarming statement that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will not be able to achieve 42 squadron strength in the next 10-15 years, instead, IAF will work to achieve to get to 35 squadrons in this time frame with new inductions. While Air Chief backed both LCA-AF Mk2 and AMCA Program he also in his candid admission said that these projects won’t mature by 2030 and even if they do remain on a schedule they won’t be able to meet squadron requirements when they start entering into service.

LCA-AF Mk2 along with AMCA will start entering service only in 2030 onwards and AMCA Mk2 which IAF desires in large numbers will enter production only in 2035 onwards thus ensuring that plans to achieve 42 squadron strength to deal with possible two-front war won’t be realized thus seriously affecting the combat capabilities of the air force for a long time to come.

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SOURCE: JOYDEEP GHOSH / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Royal Air Force (RAF) UK is set to retire its entire fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 tactical transport aircrafts by 2023. Numbering at 14 these tactical lift aircrafts represent an attractive proposition for any second-hand buyers especially India. These14 C-130Js being withdrawn from service more than a decade earlier than previously planned. RAF operated dozens of older C130K / H variants from 1967 till 2011. Reportedly these 14 C-130Jsaircraft have at least 15 -20 years of service life left in them including air frame, avionics and other parts. RAF also operates 8 C17 Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft.

UK which is withdrawing these C130 aircraft in favor of 22 A400 and 10 ‘core’ Airbus DS A330transport aircraft that it is buying from France, had an initial total fleet of 25of these J variants ever since these newer generation aircraft were inducted in RAF. RAF has been steadily selling off the older aircraft (C130H) to other countries including Bahrain and Bangladesh that have way smaller fuselage than these 14 C130Js.

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SOURCE: ANITA DESAI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat recently said that India is “looking at creating a rocket force” as part of efforts to step up on enhancing its military capabilities. Rocket force might become 4th service of the Indian military services alongside the three conventional ones of the Army, Air force, and Navy. Rocket force might be in charge of managing and operating both land-based conventional and nuclear missiles. 

India started inducting ballistic missiles in the early ’80s and since then gradually it had added ballistic missiles that can now hit targets as far as 5000km but most of these missiles remain under the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) that is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile thus in a way ensuring it is limited to their usage for the nuclear deterrence rather for precision conventional strikes in fear of being misjudged as a nuclear attack. 

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SOURCE:  DEEPAK HILORI/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

At China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition the biggest airshow in Asia, the Chinese showcased J-16D an electronic warfare jet that was built on the unlicensed copy of the Russian Su-27K platform that has now been equipped with signal jammers to cripple enemies anti-air defense system and help other attacking jets to target radars, missile systems, and wireless communications systems.

J-16D after Boeing EA-18G Growler will be the second active advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform that is capable of disrupting, deceiving, or denying a broad range of military electronic systems including radars and communications. J-16D seems to be fitted with additional avionics, enhanced radio frequency receivers, an improved communications suite, and ALQ radio-frequency jamming pods which enable it to jam enemy systems.

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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria who was part of the LCA-Tejas Test team was the biggest backer of the locally developed fighter jet and in his term is when IAF went ahead and placed orders for the 83 upgraded Tejas Mk1A Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari has taken over the big seat in the IAF at a crucial junction when the country is more focused in the development and procurement of the new jets that to large extended will come from within the country itself.

Bhadauria has laid out a plan to procure 350+ jets in the next 15-20 years that will be of Indian origin and it becomes crucial for his successor chiefs to stick to the plan especially for the next two chiefs who will see two new fighter jets program that will take off in next 4-5 years and it will require utmost support from the Top heads in the IAF so this program remains on track.

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SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.

Lt Gen TK Chawla, Director General Artillery while talking to media recently listed out the technical deficiency of the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) that was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and two private companies Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED that could not only derail Army’s plan to acquire 3,000-3,600 howitzers by 2025-27 but also ensures the program remains in the development loophole for another few years to come without getting any production orders from the Army.

Chawla said that the ATAGS failed to meet certain firing and non-firing parameters and issues related to the weight of these guns also needs to be addressed. ATAGS had gone through summer trials this year and it was speculated that post this trials, Army will place orders for 800 Limited Series guns of the ATAGS that will eventually lead to much bigger orders that will accommodate all the necessary changes and improvements in the production batches but it seems Army is again dragging its foot from issuing clearance to the gun that was fired for the first time in a fully integrated model in 2016.

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SOURCE: ANITA DESAI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

A year ago I had in my report for idrw.org had argued and claimed that China’s best and baddest aerial weapon PL-15 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by the 607 Institute is not the deadliest AAM out there and nor it had the mythical range of 400km for the fighter jet size targets that and as often claimed by China watchers.

At the biennial Airshow China in the southern city of Zhuhai, China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition technical specification of the PL-15 AAM has come as a shocker to the PLAAF fanboys as PLAAF itself has claimed its range to be just 145km even though I had predicted it could be around 200km for high-value targets such as airborne early-warning aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft based purely on the technical details of the missile system.

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SOURCE: JOYDEEP GHOSH / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

France and Australia were about to sign a US$ 65 billion (AU$ 90 billion) deal to build 12 conventional AIP powered version of Barracuda SSN called ‘Shortfin’ Barracuda. The deal that was in the making for last 6-7 years, was so important for France and believed it had the RAN/Royal Australian Navy deal in the pocket that it reportedly let many smaller but significantly numerous contracts. Aussie PM who was reportedly directly in touch with French president on the deal and supported the deal.

But suddenly either in late 2019 or early 2020 he started to have second thoughts on the deal, and asked high powered team comprising of RAN experts and men from several ministries, and financial; experts to look for alternatives. They after much deliberations concluded there was no point in going for a conventional AIP powered submarine that operate only few hundred miles off coast line, when the need was to patrol and guard vast stretches of deep ocean perhaps thousands of miles away from coastline.

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SOURCE: SRINIVAS GOWDA/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

The US Air Force’s (USAF) Rapid Dragon program last month conducted its first system-level flight tests to assess the operational utility of the palletised munition deployment system. Rapid Dragon program is an experimentation campaign led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) office under which it plans to demonstrate that cargo holds of C-17A Globemaster III airlifter and an EC-130J Super J can be converted into cruise missiles silos that can para drop AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range cruise missile.

Program plans to arm airlifters and convert them into weapons trucks so that it can offer standoff weapons capability that is far cheaper than fielding additional bombers. for India that operates both of the airlifter fleets and has no conventional bomber aircraft, it might come as a boon to enhance its ground strike capabilities without going bonkers on its budget. IAF in past has used its An-12 and An-32 airlifter as bombers in limited roles but it was usually limited to free-fall gravity bombs.

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SOURCE: MAHESH SHETTI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

After Australia canceled the purchase of 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A conventional diesel submarines with France, Sulking France already has dropped hints of extending their cooperation with India on its nuclear attack submarine program, and India should take this as an opportunity and engage with France in cooperation in the development of next-generation pumpjet propulsion technology, which is often considered as the Holy grail in the propulsion technology for the nuclear attack submarine programs.

Pumpjet propulsions are a better option for high speeds and are not so efficient at low speeds than a sophisticated propeller seen in all submarines, but for nuclear attack submarines that often rely on speed and stealth in going behind the enemy lines for their missions, Pumpjet propulsions have come has boon in significantly reducing the level of radiated noise and avoid cavitation.

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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Recent Australia and French spate over walk out of Australia on the 12 submarine deal exposed the dubious business practices of French military contractors that often goes under the carpet to maintain National level secrecy of such deals and the interest of the countries. India too has been on the receiving end of such practices of the French defense contractors who often have arm-twisted India and have given a raw deal on several military contracts.

Australia and French trouble started brewing almost immediately after Canberra chose the French bid ahead of alternate designs from Germany and Japan in April 2016, Despite that, Australia later that year signed its largest-ever defense deal with DCNS for 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A conventional diesel submarines. 50 billion Australian dollars (€31 billion) was the initial cost of the deal but later deal went up to 90 billion Australian dollars (€56 billion) after the government factored in the cost of maintenance and later Delays also plagued the submarine project with the first ship projected to come out only in 2035 and last one in 2050, not what Australia had signed for in the first place and not what French had agreed to.

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SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.

Australia just announced that it is looking at the latest British Astute-class variant or the U.S. Virginia-class vessel that will become on the basics of the which it plans to build a nuclear-powered boat instead of the conventional submarine Australia was designed in conjunction with Naval Group and Lockheed Martin. US local regulations prevent complete Transfer of Technology (ToT) when it comes to Nuclear technology but such rare exemptions might be made for the next Australian Nuclear Attack submarine program, leaving many wondering in India why the biggest military rival of the Chinese and a member of Quad in the region is not considered for same tech collaboration.

India on its own is working on the development of six nuclear attack submarines and is looking at its old friend Russia for experience and tech collaboration in the development of six nuclear submarines. India has working its way from development of nuclear ballistic missile submarine to the nuclear attack submarine next, but as one nuclear analyst suggested that it’s like moving from manufacturing of a sedan to a racing car, tech jump is big even if the technology more or less remains the same but nuclear attack submarine demands an improved performance that not only requires much finer advancement of submarines technology which might take decades to master for India.

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SOURCE: RAJESH AHUJA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

South Korea recently unveiled the development of a supersonic cruise missile to improve its maritime defense capabilities. Photo, provided by the defense ministry, shows South Korea’s new supersonic cruise missile that has a stark resemblance back home to India’s BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

A screengrab shows that the missile is powered by a solid propellant boost motor with a liquid-fueled ramjet sustainer motor while Koreans have remained mum on the spec sheet of the missile but it is said that the new missile will make it very difficult for enemy warships to respond, leading to the missile’s higher survivability and destructive power.

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SOURCE: RAJESH AHUJA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

India will become the 31st country that has placed orders for C-295 medium tactical transport aircraft but unlike other countries, India will also be getting rights to license assemble this aircraft that will be done the first time by a Private defense contract in the country. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) has been selected as its local partner by Airbus, thus making only the second C-295 plant outside Seville, Spain. India has placed orders for 56 aircraft for the air force to replace its aging Avro aircraft but the potential orders as per defense analysts in the next two decades could reach a three-figure mark if the aircraft is also selected as An-32 replacement that for long has been the backbone of IAF’s Medium haul transporter fleet.

Indian Coast Guard already has requested six C-295 aircraft and the Navy is already looking to use C-295 as a platform to mount Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA) suite that DRDO is developing for the Navy. Tata Advanced Systems Limited plant will also be used as a Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) facility for all the regional operators in South Asia., that could mean the facility will remain operational long after it has delivered all the aircraft contracted by the Indian military.

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