India’s space agency aims to create a consortium of companies to build and market a small rocket to launch low-weight satellites at lesser cost and within shorter durations, as it seeks to tap into burgeoning global demand for such services. Led by Antrix Corp — the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation — the consortium will include engineering major Larsen & Toubro, Godrej Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The combine will help ISRO build a small rocket capable of carrying 500 kilogram satellites into the lower earth orbit. “Antrix is working on a model to involve industry from the beginning. Our aim is that one or two rockets will be launched by ISRO, the industry should then make the rockets and launch satellites,” said Dr K Sivan, chairman of ISRO in an interview with ET. He said ISRO has approached these companies and that “they are all interested”.
“The price of a satellite launch on this small rocket is expected to be less than one-fifth of the current launch costs,” Dr Sivan added. The first development flight or launch of the rocket will be by 2019. By involving companies such as L&T, Godrej and HAL, in the initial stages the space agency expects to improve the manufacturing process and bring down the cost of the rocket. Typically, ISRO takes around 45 days to assemble its workhorse the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The smaller rocket, to be powered by a solid booster, is expected to be ready for launch in three days. It is being designed to place low-weight satellites in the low earth orbit of around 500 kilometres.
As many as 92% of India’s technology institutes want the Union government to play a bigger role to encourage research and innovation, and enhance industry-academia collaboration to boost innovation, according to a joint study by Nasscom. The study, which featured interviews with representatives of 75 prominent technology institutes across the country and industry representatives, found that the overwhelming view was that while the government played an active role in making technology products commercially viable it should offer more aids to students for pursuing research. The interviewees highlighted that the government should have well-implemented policies to remove disconnect between the industry and academia. Large technology services and startups in the country have sharpened their focus on developing technology products that solve everyday problems. Industry lobby Nasscom said in this year’s strategic review that in 2017 India had the third largest startup ecosystem with more than 5,000 startups, and that the startups with direct consumer connect attracted more funding. In 2016 and 2017, 39% institutions received more than Rs 5 crore in research funds. Nonetheless, the study named adequate funds and proper guidance as the two top needs for successful academic research. In two major technology institutes, funding dropped while the number of projects increased. IIT Kharagpur saw the number of sponsored projects increase 75 in 2016-17, but its funding dropped Rs 9 crore even as 27 more funding agencies came in. At NIT Tiruchirappalli, the number of projects went down by just one but funding fell Rs 11 crore. Nearly four in five representatives of institutes said that a greater industry-academia convergence would encourage entrepreneurship. The study said “78% of the universities agree that industry-academia convergence will lead to a better entrepreneurship ecosystem”.India has seen a growth in patents filed by an increasing number of institutions, as 70% institutes surveyed had filed one or more patents. While IIT Delhi has filed more than 600 patents till date, IIT Madras filed 126 patents in 2016-17 alone.
The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has successfully test fired the I-Derby beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile at test range off the coast of Goa on April 27, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement.The missile was fired “to expand the firing envelope as well as to demonstrate safe operation of the aircraft during missile plume ingestion into the aircraft engine under worst case scenarios,” the statement reads. According to the MoD, the successful test the missile is “one of the major objectives of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of LCA Tejas.”The I-Derby BVR missile has been test fired previously and constitutes the Tejas LCA’s main air-to-air weapon system. It is fired from missile rail launchers fitted underneath the LCA’s wings. The missile, manufactured by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is fitted with a fire-and-forget guidance system and has an estimated range of over 50 kilometers. It can reach an estimated top speed of Mach 4. The IAF has also expressed interest in equipping the LCA with an extended-range variant of the I-Derby capable of hitting targets at up to a 100 kilometers distance.During the recently concluded Gaganshakti-2018 air combat exercise — with 1,100 aircraft and 15,000 military personnel the IAFs largest aerial combat drill ever –Tejas LCA participating in the drill also flew armed with the Derby BVR missile, although no test firing occurred. The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft that has been under development since 1983 by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).In February, the Tejas LCA for the first time conducted a hot refueling trial another step toward FOC. HAL is also working on an improved variant, the Mark-IA featuring numerous upgrades including an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, a new electronic warfare sensor suite, and an externally refuelling capability. The Tejas LCA currently in service with the IAF are all initial operational configuration aircraft or in other words, they meet the service’s minimum operational requirements.The IAF has listed several technical deficiencies found on the Tejas LCA Mark-I variant in 2017, which purportedly will be addressed in later versions of the aircraft. “The Indian Air Force (IAF) issued a tender to HAL in December 2017 for the procurement of 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft including 73 single-engine Tejas LCA Mark-IA and 10 tandem two-seat LCA trainer aircraft,” I wrote in February. “The IAF plans to induct a total of 123 Tejas Mark-IA, next to 40 Mark-I Tejas LCAs.”FOC clearance for the Tejas LCA by the Indian Aeronautical Development Agency is expected in the coming months.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is currently doing a series of tests on its heaviest communication satellite Gsat-11 weighing over 5.7 tonne after recalling the same from the European spaceport to look for any “potential anomaly”.Talking to TOI, ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said, “We are currently doing tests on Gsat-11 at our Bengaluru’s ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC). All tests, including test on its electrical circuits, are going to be over by May 17.” He said, “If we find no anomaly, then we’ll proceed further and start discussions with officials of Arianespace for the next launch date. They have their own busy schedule and we have to start talks to fix a date for our satellite launch.” ISRO postponed the launch of Gsat-11 initially planned on May 25 from the European spaceport as it did not want to take chances with its heaviest satellite especially after the signal failure episode with Gsat-6A. Communication satellite Gsat-6A, which was successfully launched from Sriharikota on March 29, got out of control during the third orbit-raising manoeuvre in space when the signal with the satellite got abruptly snapped because of suspected power failure. The space agency since then has been trying to restore the communication link with Gsat-6A though it knows its exact location through the satellite-tracking system. High-throughput satellite Gsat-11, which carries 40 transponders in Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies, is capable of “providing high bandwidth connectivity” with up to 14 gigabit per second (GBPS) data transfer speed. The heavy-duty satellite is so massive that each solar panel is over four metres long, equivalent to the size of a room. The satellite will usher in high-speed internet connectivity, especially in rural India.The chairman said, “ISRO is simultaneously working on its next communication satellite Gsat-29. Its launch is due in June or July.” Gsat-29, which carries Ka x Ku multi-beam and optical communication payloads for the first time, will be launched by second developmental flight of ISRO’s ‘fat boy’ GSLV-MkIII. The satellite mission targets for village resource centres in rural areas to bridge the digital divide.
With the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter — the backbone of the air force fleet — nearing the end of its production run, its manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is taking up a case to build 40 more. If the defence ministry accepts HAL’s proposal, the inventory of the Russian fighter would be enhanced from the planned 272 to 312.With HAL offering to price the additional Su-30s at just Rs 4.25 billion, the fighter will be barely one-third the cost of the Rafale. According to a Business Standard analysis, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is paying Rs 11.25 billion per Rafale, excluding the price of weapons and logistics.HAL Chairman Mr T Suvarna Raju said: “We will offer a very competitive price. Since 2010, we have been delivering the Su-30 at Rs 4.25 billion. We can deliver another three squadrons at that same price.” So, the IAF will pay Rs 170 billion for 40 additional Su-30s.However, that would involve buying the fighters in ready-to-assemble kits from Russia and putting them together in Nashik. “HAL has already absorbed the technology for building and supporting the Su-30s. Now, the aim is to build those three new squadrons as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible,” said Raju.Rationalising the proposal for 40 additional Su-30s, Mr Raju said they were needed to carry the BrahMos air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).“We are required to modify 40-odd Su-30s to carry the BrahMos ALCM. Instead of upgrading older fighters, with a shorter residual lifespan, it would be better to build three more squadrons of Sukhois with the capability to carry BrahMos missiles,” said Mr Raju.The air-launched version of the BrahMos has been downsized to 8 metres and 2,560 kgs. Even so, mounting it on a Su-30 requires reinforcing the aircraft’s underbelly and installing a heavy-duty mounting station. After years of development, the BrahMos was successfully test-fired from a Su-30 in November.Ministry sources indicate a proposal to build more Su-30s would be considered positively, given the shortfall of IAF fighter squadrons. HAL is currently building the last 23 Su-30s of the 272 it was mandated to build. The IAF’s first 50 Su-30s were built in Russia.Even as HAL Nashik builds the last Su-30s on order, HAL and Sukhoi have negotiated the upgrade of the Sukhoi fleet. HAL officials said they wanted to be the lead agency, but Sukhoi has indicated it wanted a 50 per cent share in this lucrative contract to upgrade the fighter’s avionics, including radar, glass cockpit displays, electronic warfare systems, warning systems and jammers. “The IAF has already frozen its upgrade requirements. We are now waiting for the commercial proposal from Russia,” said Mr Raju.HAL estimates an avionics upgrade for the Su-30 would cost upwards of Rs 1 billion per aircraft, placing the cost of upgrading 312 fighters at Rs 312 billion. Officials said the upgrade would have two distinct parts. In Phase I, Sukhoi would take over some IAF Su-30s and use them as prototypes to install and certify new-generation avionics and weapons upgrades. HAL would install those upgrades in the entire fleet. Phase II, which would involve India-specific enhancements, would be designed and developed by HAL and also incorporated on to the fighter by HAL.
The Aeronautical Development Agency, which had conceived and designed the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, has set the ball rolling for building the next generation defence aircraft, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), by extending an invitation to private players in Coimbatore to build a technology demonstrator.The proposal is not only the first time an indigenous military aircraft programme is seeing the involvement of private players, but it is also the first time a defence plane development project is proposed to be executed outside Bangalore.The project — to be implemented in Sulur in Coimbatore district which may house the permanent base of the Tejas squadron — marks Tamil Nadu’s first major defence aircraft project. Fifth Generation Aircraft May Replace Tejas Talking about the fifth generation aircraft that may eventually replace Tejas, ADA programme director Mr Girish Deodhar said: “We’ve only invited an Expression of Interest and received application from a few industries. It’d be too early to reveal names or numbers as the project is in a preliminary phase and final clearance is awaited.” The agency, created for the design and development of Tejas, has become relevant with the AMCA project and defence sources said the involvement of private players is in line with the Centre’s ‘Make In India’ programme and it could help with the project’s timelines. “There’s a proposal to implement the project in Sulur and the decision is based on the fact that Bengaluru has no space for technology development. The HAL airport already has too much testing. We looked at Chitradurga but it was not feasible because there was a problem with the approach part of the field. Since Sulur has an airfield, it looks good,” Mr Deodhar said.According to ADA, private players will be required to manufacture, assemble and equip two fighter aircraft and for the first time the industry will be involved from the stage of developing a process plan, design and fabricate parts, manufacture both metallic and composite parts, prepare sub-assembly jigs, create sub-assemblies and transport them to the identified Flight Test Facility. Source: http://www.indiandefensenews.in/
The Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) organised a Technical Meet and Aerospace Luminary Lecture, which saw nearly 400 eminent scientists, engineers, industrialists and professionals from the sector here. Dr VK Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog, said: “Miniaturisation will be the key in all the futuristic vehicles. We need to pursue cutting-edge research in hypersonics, propulsion, stealth and many niche technological areas. We need to embed cyber security in aircrafts for communication, transmission and data storage.”Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Director General, Missiles and Strategic Systems and the Chairman of AeSI, Mr Ajit Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Mr Satya Gautam, Head Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Credit Ms Vidya and Mr Vinay Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of Invenzone, were present.
Moving a step towards consolidating the Quad, the Indian Air Force is set to send its Su-30MKI fighter jets to Australia for its maiden participation in the multilateral air Exercise Pitch Black 2018.At least four to five front-line combat aircraft and one C-17 transporter will fly to Australia in July for the three-week-long air exercise between July 27 and August 17.This will be India’s maiden participation in the biggest air combat training programme in the southern hemisphere involving several other air forces, sources told DH.In 2015, India and Australia had agreed on the IAF’s participation in the multilateral war game.Following a bilateral meeting between the then defence minister Mr Manohar Parrikar and his Australian counterpart Mr Kevin Andrews, the two sides gave a public statement on India’s presence at Pitch Black 2016.The IAF, however, couldn’t make it because of certain operational issues.In January this year, Australian Defence Industry Ministry Mr Christopher Pyne confirmed India’s participation at Pitch Black 2018 while giving a lecture at the National Defence College in Delhi.Taking place once in every two years since 2006, the drill began with Singapore, Thailand, the UK and the US and grew to include France and Malaysia in 2008.New Zealand participated for the first time in 2010, followed by Indonesia in 2012.The United Arab Emirates also took part in 2014, followed by Canada, Germany and Netherlands in 2016.The manoeuvres — practised largely in vast stretches of northern Australia — is to learn more about offensive counter air and defensive counter air combat in a simulated environment.India-Australia strategic relations are slowly on the rise. The two navies began their annual maritime exercise in 2015 and a second edition took place in 2017.New Delhi, however, didn’t permit Canberra to be part of the Malabar multilateral naval exercise involving the US and Japanese Navy.India’s decision earned a rare praise from China.India, Japan, Australia and the US are believed to have formed a Quad to tackle a rising China in the Indo-Pacific region.But only sketchy official details on the Quad are available from any of these nations.
Indian warships are now steaming towards the Western Pacific to take part in the top-notch Malabar naval exercise with the US and Japan off Guam, with the three countries keen to further bolster “interoperability” in the Indo-Pacific amidst China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region.India will be fielding its stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, missile corvette INS Kamorta and fleet tanker INS Shakti as well as P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft for the Malabar exercise from June 6 to 15. Interestingly, the three warships held India’s first naval exercise with Vietnam last week while being on operational deployment to South East Asia and North West Pacific.The US will be fielding its over 100,000-tonne USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered super-carrier with its full complement of F/A-18 fighters, early-warning and electronic warfare aircraft, and other frontline assets including a nuclear attack submarine and P-8A patrol aircraft for the Malabar exercise. Japan, in turn, will participate with one of its two 27,000-tonne helicopter carriers, a Soryu-class submarine and Kawasaki P-1 maritime aircraft.”The exercise’s focus will be on anti-submarine warfare, though other kinds of maneuvers ranging from surface warfare to VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) and maritime interdiction operations will also be held,” said a senior officer. With the three countries remaining suspicious about China’s growing military capabilities and increasing assertive behavior in the entire Asia Pacific region, especially in the contentious South China Sea, they have repeatedly stressed the need for all to respect freedom of navigation and right of passage in international waters as well as unimpeded commerce and access to resources.Though Australia has also been keen on joining the trilateral Malabar for some years, India does not want to needle a prickly China, which sees any multi-lateral naval grouping in the region as a security axis seeking to contain it. China, for instance, had lodged a strong protest against the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal in 2007 when it had been expanded to include Australia and Singapore as well.Navy chief Mr Admiral Sunil Lanba also ruled out imparting any “military dimension” to the emerging quadrilateral with US, Japan and Australia. “There are dependencies of other nations involved. Australia’s dependencies on China for economic benefits, the uncertainty of America when push comes to shove. We are not going down the route (military dimension). There are other avenues,” he said.At a time when China is making regular naval forays into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy has adopted several measures to ensure security in the region from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait, with warships spread across choke points on round-the-clock patrols for any operational eventuality. “No one is going to come and hold your hand,” said Mr Admiral Lanba.
Jaguar strike aircraft number JM 255, parked in a Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) hangar in Bengaluru, is superficially similar to the other 600-odd fighters in the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet. In fact, it is unique in IAF history as the first Indian fighter to be integrated with an AESA — or active electronically scanned array — radar.The upgrade is said to modernise and extend the life of the strike aircraft by more than a decade.HAL Chairman Mr T. SuvarnaRaju said an Indian fighter flying with an AESA radar is in itself a landmark.The AESA radar — imported from Israel — enables the fighter to track multiple targets; communicate in multiple frequencies through high bandwidth apart from offering high accuracy and resolution, an official said.A set of Jaguars procured in 1983 is being upgraded from level DARIN I to DARIN III. DARIN, or Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation, stands for features that add teeth to these planes during combat.Of the 50-odd planes assigned for upgrade, three variants are getting refurbished in terms of a new fire control radar, engine & flight instrument system, a GPS-based inertial navigation system, a digital video recording system, a smart multi-function display and a radio altimeter with a 20,000 feet range.HAL’s Mission & Combat System Research & Design Centre has carried out the upgrade of software, hardware, electrical and mechanical elements.The aircraft can get back to work for the IAF after the upgrades are tested and certified to be combat-worthy.