The indigenously-developed Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) was successfully tested by the Defence Research Development Organization in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool on. The test was the third stage of successful testing of the MPATGM, a low-weight fire-and-forget missile. A Defence Ministry official said all objectives of the test mission conducted were met by the missile. The missile was launched from a man portable tripod launcher and the target was mimicking a functional tank in the Kurnool ranges. The missile hit the target in top attack mode and destroyed it with precision. The third-generation missile is incorporated with state-of-the-art infrared imaging seeker along with advanced avionics. The missile weighs around 14 kg and can be used by infantry battalions against armored vehicles. It has a maximum range of around 2.5 kms and will replace Soviet-era anti-tank missiles that are being used by the Army. Earlier, India had cancelled a mega order of Israeli anti-tank missile, Spike, in favor of the MPATGM. A multi-million dollar deal with an Israeli firm for the Spike missile had been abandoned after the DRDO promised to deliver its indigenously developed guided missile by 2021. The DRDO successfully developed the anti-tank guided missile without any technological assistance from foreign firms
As air connectivity between Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities in the country has become a central focus, the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is banking on these places to be its market. The government-run aerospace laboratory is looking to mass-produce Saras Mk-II, a 19-seater multi-role light transport aircraft, by 2025. Low-cost airlines are expected to be major attractions. The reason? The lower factor, which means a reduced number of seats that is supposed to make running the airlines a profitable business. While commercial aircrafts that are catering to air commuters are larger in size, with several seats left vacant and causing huge operational costs, NAL director Dr Jitendra J Jadhav told TNIE that the 19-seater, which private players are yet to bring to the country, will work out to be more profitable as the seats will be completely occupied. “At present, NAL is expecting a demand of 145 aircrafts. While the Indian Air Force has committed to 15 and are expected to demand 45 more,” he said. The airlines are expected to connect smaller cities in a major way. “While there are 400 airstrips across the country, just 100 of them are operational,” said Dr Jadhav, pinning hopes on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the government’s Udan Yojana to put some life into the other 300. Dr Jadhav also said the present model, that will be produced by IIT Kanpur, will be cost and fuel-efficient. “The aircraft will have a digital control system for the engine, lesser aerodynamic drag, lightweight materials, and a state of the art avionics system, which will also reduce the maintenance and operational costs,” he said. Dr Jadhav confident of Saras’ efficiency While NAL’s Saras project was started in the 90’s and has faced several hurdles along the way, Dr Jitendra J Jadhav was confident of its efficiency and time-bound production.
Defence minister Mr Rajnath Singh flew in the LCA’s trainer as a familiarization sortie from the HAL airport in Bengaluru’s eastern suburb. Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers acquainted the Defence Minister with the air prowess of the home-grown fighter Looking sharp in a flying suit, Mr Rajnath Singh, 68, became the first defence minister to fly in the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in Bengaluru. Tejas is a four-and-half generation light combat aircraft developed by state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The minister flew in the LCA’s trainer as a familiarization sortie from the HAL airport in the city’s eastern suburb. Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers acquainted the Defence Minister with the air prowess of the home-grown fighter, its avionics, controls and radar in the glass cockpit and the weapons it carries for strike power. He was flown by a senior IAF pilot. “It was very smooth and comfortable. I was enjoying. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world,” Singh said after the flight in Goa, LCA Tejas carried out an “arrested landing”, a key performance parameter demonstrating its ability to land on board an aircraft carrier, making it a major milestone in development of the naval variant of the fighter jet. The next step would be to land on an aircraft carrier. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. With final operational clearance (FoC), the IAF has inducted 16 weaponised LCAs into its combat fleet since June 2018 after its pilots validated its earlier version with initial operational clearance (IoC) by the military aviation regulator Cemilac here in December 2013. The naval version of LCA Tejas is also being developed. Earlier former defence minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman flew in a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter of the IAF on January 17, 2008 from Jodhpur air base in Rajasthan. She was also the first woman Raksha Mantri to fly in a fighter as a “co-pilot”. Former Presidents Mrs Pratibha Patil and Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam also flew in Su-30 on November 25, 2009 and June 8, 2006 from Pune in western Maharashtra when in office as Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Mrs Patil was the first woman President and Dr Kalam the first President to fly in a military fighter.
HAL designed and developed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) successfully demonstrated high altitude capability in hot and high weather conditions in the Himalayas. The trials were carried out by the test pilots from HAL, IAF and the Army from August 24 to September 2, 2019. The LUH has complied with all the requirements of the users and with the completion of hot and high altitude testing, it is close to operational clearance certification, says Mr R Madhavan, CMD, HAL. All planned tests were successfully demonstrated. A comprehensive test plan was executed at Leh (3300m) in temperatures upto International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) +32 degree C which included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities. The LUH then lifted off from Leh and demonstrated its hot and high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at 5000m followed by another forward helipad (5500m at ISA +27degree C). While these extreme weather conditions imposed flight restrictions on all other civil and military aircraft, LUH flights were unhindered as it is designed for such operations. The helicopter embarked on a 3000km flight from Bengaluru to Leh over a period of three days traversing many civil and military airfields. During the course of ferrying and trials at high altitude, the chopper revealed high reliability without any service support. The composite trials team included designers, flight test crew of HAL, the Indian Air Force and Indian Army. Representatives of CEMILAC and ORDAQA witnessed the trials for military and civil certification requirements respectively. The flights were completed by an HAL flight test team led by Wg Cdr (Retd) Unni Pillai, CTP(RW) and accompanied by Wg Cdr (Retd) Anil Bhambani, Gp Capt (Retd) Pupinder Singh, Gp Capt V Panwar, Wg Cdr A Jena, a representative from the Air Force Gp Capt R Dubey and Lt Col R Grewal from the Indian Army. The LUH completed hot weather trials at Nagpur in 2018, cold weather trials at Leh in 2019, sea level trials at Chennai in 2018 and at Puducherry in 2019.
The first Space Technology Cell Confluence 2019 was held at IIT Madras, Chennai, during 16th and 17th September 2019. The objective was to share information about the research underway in various institutions, the salient findings, and to understand the utilisation of output by ISRO. Space Technology Cells established by ISRO has been active for over three decades in IIT Madras as well as IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, to carry out focused research in space-related technologies. More recently, Space Technology Cells were also started in IIT Guwahati and IIT Roorkee. Speaking about this programme, Dr. S. Ramakrishnan, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Distinguished Professor, ISRO, and Former Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananathapuram, highlighted the emerging ISRO missions and the vast opportunities available in Research and Development requirements, where academia can play a major role. Delivering the Presidential Address, Prof BhaskarRamamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said that the ISRO – Space Technology Cell at IIT Madras has carried out several projects, since 1985 to various centres of ISRO. He highlighted the importance of collaborative research and suggested mechanisms for the faculty to spend 3-4 weeks in ISRO centres to interact with the scientists and understand their need to make joint proposals. During the two-day event, presentations were made by the conveners of various STCs and the success stories were shared. The relevance and absorption of technologies at ISRO were also presented by the RESPOND coordinators of various centres. A panel of experts discussed the ‘Role of Academia in Indian Space Programme – A New Approach’ and suggested ways to move forward. Dr. P.V. Venkatakrishnan, Director, Capacity Building Programme Office, ISRO, summarised the proceedings in the events and the key takeaways of the confluence. Dr. M A Paul, Associate Director, RESPOND and AI, ISRO, proposed the vote of thanks
DRDO and ADA today successfully executed the first-ever arrested landing of Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) at a shore-based facility, INS Hansa in Goa, inching closer to the goal of operating from an aircraft carrier. The LCA (Navy) is the naval version of indigenously developed Tejas fighter aircraft being developed for the Indian Air Force. An official statement said that the successful execution of arrested landing will pave the way for this indigenous platform to undertake Aircraft Carrier landing demonstration onboard the Indian Naval Aircraft Carrier, Vikramaditya. Indian Navy needs several fighter jets for its future aircraft carriers including named INS Vikrant, which is under advanced stages of construction. On April 20 this year, the then Navy Chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba had said IAC-1 or INS Vikrant will be delivered to Indian Navy by 2021. The Navy hopes to have a third aircraft carrier in the near future to counter China’s growing might in the Indian Ocean region. After several years of flight testing and four campaigns of dedicated testing at Shore Based Test facility Goa, today the LCA (Navy) Flight Test Team led by Cmde J A Maolankar (Chief Test Pilot), Capt Shivnath Dahiya (LSO) and Cdr J D Raturi (Test Director) successfully executed a “textbook” arrested landing. “This arrested landing heralds the arrival of true indigenous capability and displays the professional prowess of our scientific community Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) embedded with design plus build capability of HAL(ARDC), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and CSIR Labs involved in executing this landmark event,” the statement added. The statement also lauded the support of the Indian Navy through the Navy Project office and Ministry of Defence.
The Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) handed over the second airborne warning plane, Netra, to the Indian Air Force. The indigenously-built aircraft was handed over to Western Air Command chief, Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, at the Bathinda Air Base in Punjab. The Netra, an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft, had played a stellar role during the Balakot air strikes that had been carried out by the IAF in February this year. It provided surveillance and radar coverage to the five Mirage jets that bombed terror launch pads in Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. Designed and developed by scientists of the DRDO, with assistance from the Bengaluru-based Centre for Airborne Systems, the Netra is fitted with indigenously developed electronics and hardware. It is useful for surveillance, tracking, identification and classification of airborne and sea surface targets and is useful in detecting incoming ballistic missile threats.
The Indian Navy has got its biggest dry dock. Located inside the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, the new dry dock can accommodate aircraft carriers including the huge erstwhile Soviet-origin INS Vikramaditya and the indigenous Vikrant that is being built in Kochi. Construction major Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has built the dry dock for the Indian Navy. It has taken a little less than a decade’s time for the construction to complete, that was full of challenges. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will inaugurate the state-of-the-art dry dock along the Arabian Sea, official sources said. This is probably the only dry dock in the country that is surrounded by the sea from three sides. The pumps used are so powerful that each one of them can fill a tank of 10,000 cubic meter in 3 seconds. There are eight such pumps installed and can remove water from the dock in approx two-and-a-half hours. The need for a big dry dock in Mumbai that houses the Western Naval Command, the sword arm of the Indian Navy, has been felt for quite some time. The Bombay Dockyard, established in 1732, was the finest shipbuilding Yard in the country in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ships constructed at Bombay Dockyard in its heyday were said to be “immensely superior to anything built anywhere else in the world”. From building smaller ships, the Yard increasingly developed the capability to build ships of larger displacement and improved fighting capabilities. The Yard’s facilities were progressively augmented over the next 125 years. Bombay Dry Dock was constructed during the period 1750-1765 and Duncan Dry Dock was constructed during the period 1807-1810. In addition, a breakwater and three slipways were added in the period 1830 to 1846. The Inner Breakwater equipped with cranes and services for water and electric supply points were subsequently constructed in 1906. Transition to the Naval Dockyard Post Independence, the Naval Dockyard was expanded from 39 acre to 123 acre with the construction of two cruiser graving docks. The shore end of the cruiser graving dock was elongated to accommodate the aircraft carriers. Concurrent with the growth of dry docking and berthing facilities, a comprehensive plan was prepared by the National Industrial Development Corporation (NIDC), which recommended modernisation in three phases to meet immediate, intermediate and future requirements. In 1975, a project team called “Modernisation of Naval Dockyard, Bombay” was formed. In 1978, the project team was merged with the “Director General Naval Dockyard Expansion Scheme” and this new organisation was re-designated as “Director General Naval Projects (Bombay)”. This led to a spurt of new workshop buildings in the Dockyard which aided in creating new facilities for the expanding Indian Navy.
1) The concrete used for constructing the dry dock is 3 times the quantity used Bandra Worli Sea Link.
2) The steel used can be utilised to construct two Eiffel Towers
3) The water in the dry dock can fill 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.
4) The dock can be divided into two parts dry and wet and can accommodate two ships simultaneously.
CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories that is developing a 19-seater indigenous light transport aircraft ‘Saras Mk2′ has plans for a 70-seater aircraft, Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said. “Today itself they have started talking to me to get the permissions from and meetings with civil aviation ministry for their future plan of the 70-seater. That is also very heartening to know,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. “Seventy-seater has always been in the long-term vision and since they have mentioned about this today we will have to bring the civil aviation ministry on board. We have to take the approval of the Prime Minister’s office. Also, we will have to take scientists also on board, so as a science and technology minister I will facilitate them to move in the right direction,” he said. The Minister was speaking to reporters after laying the foundation for NAL’s system check facility, aircraft integration facility, and the inauguration of smart aerospace composite manufacturing facility here. NAL director Dr Jitendra J Jadhav said since NAL has a fair amount of experience, it would start the design of 70-seater. He said, “First, we will have to get in-principle approval from Ministry of Science and Technology, and Civil Aviation, also from Ministry of Finance, then we can finish design phase one-and-a-half year from that, which will be the preliminary design phase. Then we will submit it to the government, once the government sanctions, we will develop.”
CSIR-NAL is currently engaged in the design, development and certification of Saras Mk2, a twin-engine turboprop 19-seater transport aircraft for connecting small cities. Dr Harsh Vardhan said everything was ready for the 19- seater, and the government has given all its support in terms of clearance and fund requirement to NAL. Expressing happiness that NAL was ready with a better advanced model and specification for the 19-seater, he said, “This 19-seater will be a boon for the people of the country, specially for improving and strengthening the regional travel or connectivity. Now we are in a stage that in the next few years, this 19-seater will be available for improving and strengthening the regional connectivity,” he added. NAL officials said they have completed basic testing for pre-production standard. Dr Jadhav said the first production of the 19-seater aircraft is likely by around 2025. “Four years for certification and after that one-and-a-half year for production,” he said. The officer said they were looking at civilian market of about 100 aircraft, adding that the Indian Air Force has committed to induct 15 such aircraft initially, and they may need another 45. He said the IAF version of Saras would be produced by HAL, and for civilian version also HAL may continue as production partner, but if demand is high, joint ventures may be worked out with private companies. The cost of the aircraft is likely to be at about Rs 45 crore and it was low compared to foreign aircraft may cost over Rs 70 crore. Regarding the two-seater Hansa-Next Generation aircraft, the production would start by 2022-23. “Basic will be around Rs 1 crore, deluxe will cost about Rs 1.25 crore. For Hansa, flying clubs from across the country are potential customers, he said, adding that there may be requirement of over 200 aircraft as flying clubs are increasing. NAL had last year inked a pact with Delhi-based Mesco Aerospace Ltd for the design, development, production and marketing of the Hansa-Next Generation aircraft.
In its endeavour to develop cutting-edge technologies that are on par with elsewhere in the world, Indian space agency, ISRO, is developing methane-powered rocket engines. Methane, which can be synthesised with water and carbon dioxide in space, is often described as the space fuel of the future.
A senior official of ISRO told that the space agency is developing two ‘LOx methane’ engines (liquid oxygen oxidiser and methane fuel) engines. One of the two projects is trying to convert the existing cryogenic engine, which uses liquid hydrogen for fuel, into a LOx methane engine. The other is a smaller engine of 3 tonnes thrust, which will feature an electric motor. These are being developed at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Trivandrum. The space agency’s officials are not willing to give further details, these being R&D projects and therefore could not come to fruition. Asked if ISRO’s efforts towards methane means its intention to shift away from the existing hydrazine-based fuels, the official said that he was “not making any such predictions.” ISRO currently prefers to use a fuel called Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine, along with Nitrogen tetroxide for oxidiser, in its liquid fuel (Vikas) engines, which are used in the lower stages of its rockets, PSLV and GSLV. This fuel, like all hydrazine-based fuels, is said to be highly toxic and cancer-causing. Globally, governments are keen on banning hydrazine. Besides, methane beats hydrazine on every other count, too. Apart from being non-toxic, it has a higher specific impulse (which means one kg of the gas can life one kg of mass for a longer time), it is easy to store, does not leave a residue upon burning, less bulky, and, importantly, can be synthesised up in space. Reactive to oxygen For example, Mars has both water on its land and water in its atmosphere — fuel for a return journey from Mars can be produced right there with these. But on the flipside, methane-fired engines need an igniter to start the fire. Hydrazine fuels are hypergolic, which means they start burning on their own upon coming in contact with oxygen. The move towards LOx methane is global, but only the Chinese are said to have developed a working engine — the 80-tonne (thrust) TQ-12 engine. Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, is looking to make its Raptor rocket methane-fuelled. Mumbai-based start-up Manastu Space is developing a propulsion system that will use Hydrogen peroxide as fuel. The engine will be operation-ready in a couple of years, the company’s Chief Technical Officer, Ashtesh Kumar, told. Currently, Manastu’s engines are meant for steering satellites in orbit, but Kumar said that they can be scaled up to power launch vehicles. According to the company, the space industry started with Hydrogen peroxide, but moved to a ‘better’ hydrazine. But Manastu has developed a chemical additive, which it is trying to patent — the additive will enable Hydrogen peroxide to elbow hydrazine out of the competition. Meanwhile, a few other rocket fuels have emerged on the horizon — Ammonium di Nitramide in Europe and Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate in the US. The better fuels will make putting satellites in space or space research less expensive. The fun has just begun.