Monday, July 5, 2010

Programme Update: The Indo-French Maitri SR-SAM

Top sources reveal that the Indo-French joint tri-services Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM), christened Maitri, is likely to receive formal sanction shortly by the Indian government, with both sides finalising workshare agreements on the programme, initially entered into over three years ago. Described variously as the defunct Trishul point defence missile programme imbued with fresh life, joint work has already begun on the missile, that should see a first test-firing by late 2012. While MBDA and DRDL have awaited formal project sanction, the two agencies have been exchanging data on the Mica and Trishul for the last two years, and are ready to begun building the missile. The vertical launch weapon will have a range of 15-km and will be propelled by a smokeless solid rocket motor.

BAE hails Mantis UAV success, nears Taranis roll-out

BY: Flight International

BAE Systems’ Mantis unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator has been shipped back to the UK, after completing a successful first flight-test campaign in Australia.
Returned to BAE’s Warton site in Lancashire in mid-June, the Mantis is in rebuild ahead of undergoing further ground-based system development work at the site. However, the company has yet to decide whether its current demonstrator will be flown again.
“Mantis was about demonstrating an end-to-end capability,” says Dave Kershaw, business development and strategy director for Autonomous Systems & Future Capability, part of BAE’s Military Air Systems unit. “The test flights went to show that it could go to the endurance planned.”
The twin turboprop-powered aircraft made an undisclosed number of flights from the Woomera test range in South Australia, including five described as “mission-representative”. Kershaw says these included tasks such as automatically tracking a ground area for targets, and cross-cueing the aircraft’s two on-board payloads: an L-3 Wescam MX-20 electro-optical/infrared camera and BAE’s imagery collection and exploitation system.
One night flight was also made, and BAE also assessed the time needed to prepare the UAV to take off again after completing a sortie. This demonstrated a 30min performance. The 19.8m (65ft) wingspan Mantis made its first flight from Woomera in November 2009.
BAE says a production version of Mantis would be able to fly at altitudes up to 50,000ft and deliver an endurance of over 36h. The design is a potential candidate for the UK Ministry of Defence’s Scavenger requirement, which seeks a persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capability to enter use from around 2015 to 2018.
The MoD is expected to downselect its preferred option for Scavenger in 2012, with possible alternatives including the X-UAS development of EADS Defence & Security’s Talarion UAV, which is already being offered to France, Germany, Spain and Turkey. However, the UK is also looking at whether its requirements could be met under a potential collaboration with the French defence ministry, Kershaw says.
Meanwhile, BAE will roll out its Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator (artist’s impression pictured below) during an event to be staged at its Warton facility on 12 July.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

AIT software for precise UAV landing


The ARMY Institute of Technology (AIT) has developed a software programme which, it claims, increases the precision in landing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by doing away with the need for even a human remote operator.
The institute has developed a MATLAB software programme that not only increases the precision of landing of the UAVs to 97 per cent but even makes it happen automatically without these vehicles being guided by a hand-held remote. The AIT is in touch with the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to get the programme tested on the UAVs. The software has been developed by a team of scientists from the AIT’s electronics and telecommunication department, including Prof J B Jawale, Prof P V Bhat, and independent consultant Mahesh Khadtare.
“The software we have developed increases the precision of the landing of the UAV to 97 per cent and does not need a human operator. This means that the scope of error in landing is only 3 per cent and this will greatly circumvent difficulties in the present landing system of UAV,” said Mahesh Khadtare, the lead scientist of the project. nstead of human operator, the landing of the UAV will be controlled by its inbuilt microprocessor. “The landing of the UAV will be controlled by the microprocessor that will recognise the already stored images of the landing space and accordingly guide the UAV for landing. The webcam of the UAV will take the pictures of landing space for the microprocessor to recognise them,” said Khadtare.
AIT scientists said the software programme which they have developed will not only make the landing of UAVs precise, but also their development more cost effective. “This will be an economical system,” said Prof Bhat.
“There will be no additional increase in the equipment to be fitted to the UAV. The payload will not change. The only thing that needs to be done is to convert the MATLAB software into an equivalent assembling programme for the UAV,” said Khadtare.
He said the present system which is in vogue transmits the images captured by the UAV to its base station where the operator analyses the images and guides the UAV for landing.

Indian ballistic missile defense system to be test fired in August


The indigenously developed ballistic missile defence system will be test fired in August this year, a top defence official said on Thursday.
“Now the (ballistic missile defence system) test is going to be conducted in the month of August during which we will try to intercept a missile at altitudes of 15-20 kilometres,” DRDO chief V K Saraswat told reporters here.
The ballistic missile defence system is being developed by the premier Defence Research and Development Organisation to thwart an enemy missile attack.
Referring to the failed test of the system on March 15, he said, “The anti-missile system is a two-tiered system where you first launch the target missile and then you launch the hit missile. Since the target was not launched as planned, the anti ballistic missile system did not trigger.”
Saraswat said that the DRDO was taking precautions to prevent any failure in the August test.
“Whenever there is a deviation, we will always take precautions. This is part of our development process,” he said.
India plans to deploy the first phase of the missile shield by 2012 after completing a series of trials and evaluating its target range.
Two different missiles have been developed as part of the system for endo-atmospheric and exo-atmospheric interception of an incoming ballistic missiles.
Replying to a query on the Indo-Israeli joint venture to develop a medium range surface-to-air missile, the DRDO chief said, “More than 70 per cent of the content in the missile being developed with Israel would be indigenous.”
Noting that the programme was going ahead smoothly, Saraswat said that agencies such as the BDL, the BEL and the DRDO have been designated for the project.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

India's AEW&C Programme Gets Ready For Platform Flight Tests

Have just received a detailed briefing on the test phase of India's AEW&C programme. In a few months, the first of three modified EMB-145 platforms will begin a routine of flight tests for basic performance and handling. This preliminary testing will be carried out in Brazil by Embraer and a team from the Indian Air Force's Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in association with Brazil's Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil and India's CEMILAC.

The first flight test aircraft, which is set to make its first flight later this year, will be integrated with a Dorsal Unit (DoU) containing dummy electronics, ECS, IFR, auxiliary power units, internal fuel tanks, SATCOMs and antennae. India's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) -- the laboratory spearheading the programme -- has already supplied Embraer with a dorsal unit (with dummy electronics) and a Ku-band SATCOM dome, while the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), CABS and the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) have shipped in antennae for ESM, CSM and U/VHF.

While the EMB-145 with the configuration above will undergo flight tests in Brazil, the configuration for ferry to India in August 2011 will be the aircraft with only the dorsal pylon (minus the unit), ECS, IFR, APUs and internal fuel tanks.

Once the first aircraft reaches India, it will undergo a rigorous flight testing schedule by CABS, ASTE and CEMILAC in association with Embraer. After a few flights in India, the aircraft will be integrated with a dorsal unit with real electronics and other mission system equipment, including operator workstations (five), avionics racks, rest crew seating, seats and cabling.

On June 23, EADS Defence & Security announced that it had been awarded a contract to supply consultancy services to CABS for developing the AEW&C's system architecture with particular regard to certification and mission equipment optimisation.

HAL's Chopper School Lifts Off

The Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), the joint venture owned equally by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and CAE, today announced that its Bell 412 full-mission simulator has been certified to Level D, the highest qualification for flight simulators, by India's Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Photos Courtesy HAL

EuroHawk Makes First Flight

The Euro Hawk® unmanned reconnaissance aircraft takes off for its maiden flight June 29, 2010 from Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif., manufacturing facility.

Photo Courtesy EADS

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Race for `mother of all deals’ for 126 fighters gets hotter

The race for the “mother of all defence deals”, the $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF, is getting hotter.
Defence ministry sources said the technical evaluation report of the gruelling field trials, during which the six foreign fighters in contention were tested by IAF pilots both in India and abroad under different weather conditions, was “virtually ready” now.
“IAF is likely to submit the exhaustive report by next week. Subsequently, a shortlist of the fighters which have done well in the field evaluation test and the staff evaluation will be made,” said a source.
The commercial bids submitted by the six aviation majors — American F/A-18 `Super Hornet’ (Boeing) and F-16 `Falcon’ (Lockheed Martin), Swedish Gripen (Saab), French Rafale (Dassault), Russian MiG-35 (United Aircraft Corporation) and Eurofighter Typhoon (consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies) — will be opened, examined and compared only after that.
This will be the first time that “life-cycle costs” will be taken into account rather than just pitching for the lowest bidder. The “direct acquisition cost”, the cost of operating the fighters over a 40-year period, with 6,000 hours of flying, and the cost of the ToT will all be taken into account to arrive at a “verifiable cost model” for the commercial evaluation.
Complex negotiations on the 50% offsets specified in the contract, under which the selected foreign vendor will be required to plough half of the contract forex value back into India, will also have to be conducted.
IAF is keeping its fingers crossed that the actual contract, under which 18 jets will be bought off-the-shelf and the rest will be manufactured in India under transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, is inked within a year.
IAF obviously wants to get the fighters as soon as possible, grappling as it is with a sharp fall in the number of its fighter squadrons (each has 12 to 18 jets), which is down to just 32 from even the “sanctioned” strength of 39.5.

British Harrier and Jaguar become work of Art

BY: Fiona Hanson/PA / © Guardian News and Media Limited
An RAF Jaguar that saw service during Desert Storm is displayed belly up on the floor of the gallery
Sea Harrier