Defence ministry approves projects worth Rs 82,000 crF

The defence ministry cleared projects worth Rs 82,000 crore, including the purchase of 83 advanced and more potent versions of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar gave its go-head to the IAF’s initial plan to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore, ministry sources said. The Acceptance of Necessity (AON) approval for the Tejas fighter jets would be in addition to the 40 Tejas already ordered by the IAF, of which the first 20 jets would be in the initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration and another 20 aircraft in the final operational clearance (FOC) configuration. The LCA Tejas is yet to receive its FOC certification. In July, the IAF formed its first Tejas LCA squadron to accept the fighter jets manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The first two aircraft in the 45 Squadron are of the IOC configuration, granted in December 2013. In the FOC configuration, the aircraft would incorporate Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles and better stand-off weapons and air-to-air refueling capability. The LCA Mark-1A, on the other hand, would have new generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground capability, missile warning system, an integrated advanced electronic warfare suite, and advanced versions of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and maintainability improvements. The council has also approved the purchase of 15 Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured by HAL for the army and the air force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore. Out of these 15 gunships, 10 would be for the IAF and the rest for the army. The council also gave its stamp of approval on an order to acquire 464 Russian origin T90 tanks from the Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 13,448 crore, besides procurement of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore.


Aviation enhancements, better biosensors could result from new sensor technology

 Piezoelectric sensors measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain or force and are used in a vast array of devices important to everyday life. However, these sensors often can be limited by the “white noise” they detect that can give engineers and health care workers false readings. Now, a University of Missouri College of Engineering research team has developed methods to enhance piezoelectric sensing capabilities. Enhanced sensors could be used to improve aviation, detect structural damage in buildings and bridges, and boost the capabilities of health monitors. Mr. Guoliang Huang, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering, and his team’s new platform improves sensors by amplifying the signal, allowing the same amount of sensors to read more data. Their new device also cuts costs by allowing fewer sensors to cover larger structures and longer distances. “In the past, methods to produce signal intensification only have included electrical amplification,” Mr. Huang said. “Our technique uses a combination of mechanical and electrical amplification, overcoming the limitations of using just electrical amplification.” The new sensing platform can be “tuned” using an electric signal, which when connected to circuit boards with sensors can pick up weaker signals that previously could not be detected. “The amplified wave cuts through the surrounding noise,” Mr. Huang said. “It’s the first such device that illustrates how to use adaptive metamaterials to improve elastic wave sensing capabilities. This can be very useful to developing high-sensitivity sensing technology.” “Enhanced flexural wave sensing by adaptive gradient-index metamaterials,” was published in Scientific Reports a journal of Nature. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AF 9550-15-1-0061). Mr. Byung-Lip (Les) Lee served as the program manager. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.


ISRO in global competition to cut cost of satellite launch

When space faring nations are focused on innovative cost-effective launches, ISRO with its commercial arm, Antrix Corporation is set on its challenge of developing low-cost reliable space launch vehicles. Now, with increasing global competition, India needs to focus on cost effectivespace launches by re-engineering the production models of space vehicles and design manufacturing to drive down the cost of space launches, Antrix chairman and managing director (CMD) Mr. S Rakesh said. “At the global level, lot of developments are happening in terms of small satellite launches and some low cost space launch vehicles are coming up. In about three to five years, globally it is aimed at reducing the space launch costs further. Many countries, including US, Ukraine, Russia, China and New Zealand are developing it. We are seeing threats from different quarters of the world and India should gear up to meet the challenges of global competition,” Antrix CMD Mr. S Rakesh told TOI. Further he said, “I am cautioning our community that, PSLV has an edge, as it is a sought-after launch vehicle in the global market and should keep it that way. All other launch vehicles should be made cost-effective”. He was speaking on the side lines of the tenth National symposium and exhibition on Aerospace and Defence related Mechanisms seminar (ARMS 2016) that began here. He also inaugurated the aerospace expo here that will be wound up. According to ISRO sources the cost of SAARC satellite launch in March 2017 is estimated at Rs 236 crore and PSLV launch pegged at Rs 90 to Rs 100 crore, the European space agency’s Ariane-5 rocket launch incurs Rs 721 crore and the US space manufacturer Space X’s Falcon-9 incurs around Rs 500 crore. Yet, they are set to reduce the costs further by recovering and reusing the boosters. “US space venture such as Space X are into recovery and re-use of boosters after the launch and it reduces the cost by 40 per cent. India has developed the technology demonstrator of Reusable Launch Vehicle and is yet to attain the stage of recovery of the launch vehicle after it lands, so that it can be re-used to reduce the cost of launches. We are trying to keep pace with the world and it’s a major challenge,” VSSC former director Mr. S Ramakrishnan told TOI. Lowering the costs further calls for high-end innovative space technology, he said. While, inaugurating ARMS through video conference, ISRO chairman Mr. AS Kiran Kumar emphasized that young engineers should concentrate more on the modelling and analysis of the complex systems for better prediction of flight performance. He said the seminar is attended by more than 300 technocrats, engineers, scientists and industry specialists Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director Mr. K Sivan in his presidential address stressed that cost-effective, autonomous and Reliable space systems are the need of the hour and asked the scientific community to strive towards this aim. He also spoke of the vital role that the mechanisms play for the future missions like the Human in Space program and other interplanetary missions that are in the pipeline. Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre director Mr. S Somnath spoke of the important role that various Deployable and Hold down mechanisms need to play in the advanced satellite systems and in various docking, rendezvous activities that are going to the part and parcel of future space missions. He also released the souvenir. Indian National Society for Aerospace and Defence Related Mechanisms (INSARM) National Council president AM Datar released the seminar proceedings.



India has taken its first step into the domain of indigenously developed active drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) for the defence forces. On November 16, the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) successfully carried out the maiden flight of its indigenously developed UAV TAPAS-BH (Rustom-II)– a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV. The flight was carried out at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), the new aero-testing facility of DRDO in Chitradurga, about 250 km from Bengaluru. But not only is an armed version of the UAV years from realization, even the present UAV needs to be technologically competent, besides being successfully validated by users, which are India’s three armed forces. TAPAS-BH is a multi-mission UAV that is intended to carry different combinations of payloads, including electronic intelligence and communication intelligence. The first pertains to gathering intelligence inputs using on board sensors, for example, to ascertain the capabilities of a target, such as the location of an enemy radar; while the second relays reports via text or online interactions using the on board systems. This UAV, with a potential endurance of 24 hours in an autonomous mode (remotely controlled from a ground-based master control room), is aimed at serving the three armed forces in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, DRDO chairman and secretary, defence (research & development), Dr S Christopher, said, describing the first flight as “major step”. However, although this machine is supposed to be “unmanned”, the maiden flight of TAPAS-BH “piloted both externally (remote-controlled) and internally (with a pilot on board at the flight controls),” director of the TAPAS-BH programme under the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), APVS Prasad, said. “It’s only the first flight, and it was more manned than unmanned. Intense efforts will have to go in over the next one year to achieve complete automation of this UAV before we can actually put it for user trials,” he said. For now, the UAV will undergo further trials for validating the design and technological parameters before going for user validation trials – which means a lot of critical feedback would be invited from the three armed forces, which will be the final users of TAPAS-BH UAV. In the coming year, nine more TAPAS-BH unmanned aircraft are planned to be produced, each one to be an improvement over the previous aircraft. “We have to make 10 aircraft for test-flying before going into certification. We will require one year of continuous efforts before we can go knocking on the doors of the users (the armed forces),” Mr. Christopher said. Prasad said TAPAS stands for “Tactical Airborne Platform for Advanced Surveillance, while the BH stands for “Beyond Horizon”. So, to achieve the level of automation and technologies needed for this UAV to be active with the forces, these will have to be validated to be able to remotely operate the TAPAS-BH when it flies beyond the horizon. In the Rs 1,500 crore programme, TAPAS-BH is the first prototype to undergo certification and qualification for its first flight.


To achieve capabilities like the US’s Predator drone with weapon-firing capabilities, ADA has still a long way to go. It is working on the concept of an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), whose project name was recently changed from AURA (Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft) to ‘Ghatak’. ADA describes Ghatak as a self-defending, high-speed reconnaissance UAV with weapon-firing capabilities, and is being designed and developed by ADA along with the Defence Electronics Application Laboratory. DRDO director general (Aero), Dr. CP Ramanarayanan said Ghatak will be powered by a variant of the Kaveri engine, the project cost of which is Rs 231 crore.



The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is optimistic about using its beleaguered indigenously-developed Kaveri engine to power the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas in just 18 months to two years. But it is looking for some degree of “handholding” by one or more global aircraft engine manufacturers, and is in talks with the French multinational Snecma to achieve that. DRDO director-general (Aero) Cr. CP Ramanarayanan said the engine clocked in 3,000 hours of flying, and will undergo crucial tests mid-2017. “The Kaveri engine is a complex technology…we want some amount of handholding from global engine houses,” he said. Over the next few months, the engine will be subjected to rigorous safety tests, the programme costs of which would see a rise by Rs 600 crore. The programme has already cost Rs 2,100 crore since it commenced in 1986. The Kaveri programme had failed to meet technical requirements. The defence experts felt the engine could provide the LCA just 65 Newtons of thrust against the US’s GE F404’s 84 Newtons. The engine was also 150 kg heavier than required. That apart, the engine had suffered a major technical problem during high-altitude tests in Russia, after which hopes for its revival vanished. The DRDO’s confidence on Kaveri powering LCA in two years could raise many eyebrows. LCA Tejas has just received a major boost of recording its largest order in the category of Indigenous Design Development and Marketing (IDDM) over procurement of 83 LCA-Tejas Mark-1 aircraft for the Indian Air Force, worth Rs 50,025 crore cleared by the DAC. Will a doubtful engine ruin it?


TAPAS only for surveillance, may be morphed for combat duty: DRDO chief

Director General of DRDO Mr. S Christopher said that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Rustom-II – developed at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore – would be used only for non-combat purposes (surveillance).  Rustom -II – renamed as TAPAS-BH-201 (Tactical Advanced Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201) – had its maiden flight recently and was tested for landing, take-off and other operations.  Addressing a press conference at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here, he said, “TAPAS is developed only for surveillance purpose. Discussions are on to develop nine prototypes. All these will be tested and only then, the process of certification begins. Simultaneously, it is discussed that the UAV will be modified for combat purposes.”   “The armed forces are planning to increase their strength of UAVs and drones. We have to step up our work in making Rustom–II more effective, to serve in the forces. Another year of work is required on Rustom–II, before we approach the forces to examine it,” he said. Another official said other countries were developing drones and UAVs using advanced technology and Rustom-II needs to be developed on a par with them, else it will become outdated. The officials said that for the first time in the category of Indigenous Design Development and Manufacturing (IDDM), 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas AF Mk-1 will be procured by the forces at a total cost of Rs 50.025 crore, taking the total order of LCA to 123.  This was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) recently. The first 20 LCAs will operate in accordance with the initial operational configuration (IOC) and the second batch consisting of 20 LCAs will get its field operation clearance (FOC) some time next year, after a few changes are made to the aircraft.  The Beyond Visual Range (BVR) derby missile will be tested again during December 2016 and January 2017.  It will also be tested for air-to-air refuelling and Internal Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and external Self Protection Jammer (SPJ) Pod, to enhance survivability. “The performance of the aircraft will be constantly tested and we will extract the best out of it,” said another official. When asked about the Kaveri engine programme, Dr. C P Ramanarayana, Director General (Aero), said, “The project was estimated to cost Rs 2,100 crore and will require another Rs 600 crore to carry it forward. Discussions will be held to rope in a private establishment to work on Kaveri engine, which will be fitted to the LCA. The Railways is considering the use of the engine to generate power.”


India’s Rustom-II combat-capable drone successfully completes maiden test flight

Rustom-II, India’s indigenously developed long-endurance combat-capable drone, successfully completed its maiden-flight, giving a boost to India’s development programme for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The DRDO successfully carried out the maiden-flight of TAPAS 201 (RUSTOM–II), a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV. It has an endurance of 24 hours and can conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the country’s armed forces. The UAV can also be used as an unmanned armed combat vehicle on the lines of the US’s Predator drone. The test flight took place from Aeronautical Test Range(ATR), Chitradurga, 250 km from Bangalore, which is a newly developed flight test range for the testing of UAVs and manned aircraft. The flight accomplished the main objectives of proving the flying platform, such as take-off, bank, level flight and landing among others, a statement by the Defence Ministry said. TAPAS 201 has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), the Bangalore-based lab of DRDO with HAL-BEL as the production partners. The UAV weighing two tonnes was put into air by a dedicated team of young scientists of DRDO. It was piloted (external and internal) by the pilots from the armed forces. It is also the first R&D prototype UAV which has undergone certification and qualification for the first flight from the Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA). TAPAS 201, a multi-mission UAV is being developed to carry out Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles for the three armed forces with an endurance of 24 hours. It is capable to carry different combinations of payloads like Medium Range Electro Optic (MREO), Long Range Electro Optic (LREO), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and Situational Awareness Payloads (SAP) to perform missions during day and night. Many critical systems such as airframe, landing gear, flight control and avionics sub-systems are being developed in India with the collaboration of private industries. Rustom-II will undergo further trials for validating the
design parameters, before going for User Validation Trials.


ISRO gears up for GSLV Mk-III launch in December; know about the indigenous cryogenic engine

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up for the countdown for the much-awaited launch of GSLV Mark-III launch in December end. ISRO chairman Mr. AS Kiran Kumar said on that “ISRO’s next mission is the launch of GSLV-Mk III by Dec end and its integration is getting complete,” the Times of India reported. The GSLV-Mk III launch is significant as it will be powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine. The rockets will be carrying heavy 3.2-tonne GSAT-19E communication satellite. It employed advanced spacecraft technologies, including bus subsystem experiments in Electrical propulsion System, indigenous Li-ion battery, indigenous Bus bars for power distribution, etc., ISRO said on its website. The lift-off will happen from Mr. Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Mr. Kiran Kumar revealed that they have a packed calendar. He said ISRO will launch PSLV-XL in January, and had previously confirmed that SAARC satellite would be launched in March 2017, after being postponed from December. He also declined to comment on the possibility of launching 82 satellites in one launch on PSLV-XL. PSLV rockets are dubbed as ISRO’s workhorse.

Mr. K Sivan, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) confirmed that ISRO has completed the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission landing rover tests and it has been set for 2017 launch. Chandrayaan-2 will feature orbiter, lander and rover.

Here is what we know about the indigenous cryogenic engine

1. GSLV projects are designed to carry heavy satellites into Geosynchronous orbit.

2. Initially, India used Russian cryogenic rockets to fuel GSLV project

3. GSLV Mk-III’s development started early-2000s.

4. The GSLV Mk. III launch vehicle is 43.4m tall.

5. It consists of a large Core Stage and uses liquid propellants with two Solid Rocket Boosters.

6. Above the core is a larger version of Cryogenic Upper Stage, powered by the most powerful cryogenic engine ISRO has built.


Bangalore’s Dynamatic adds a feather to Airbus 330 wings

Dynamatic Technologies, a Rs 1,600-crore Bangalore-based precision equipment manufacturer, has been selected by the European aircraft maker Airbus to be the sole supplier of critical wing parts for the A330 series of aircraft. The deal elevates Dynamatic to being a tier-I supplier to the 60-billion-euro Airbus Group, making it the first aerospace player from India’s private sector to achieve such global recognition. The deal signifies the growing interest of Airbus in sourcing critical aircraft components from India — which last year was valued at $300 million. In 2007, Airbus sourced products from India, valued at around $13 million. Dynamatic, which has a dedicated Airbus manufacturing facility in Peenya, one of the largest industrial clusters in Asia, will supply flap track beams for the A330. Flaps on wings control the speed, direction and balance of the aircraft. They move along guide rails known as flap track beams. The wings of an A330 have eight flap track beams. Dynamatic will ship around 80 of them per month. Both Airbus India and Dynamatic didn’t reveal the cost of each flap track beam. As of last month, Airbus had a total of 1,313 firm orders for its A330 series from 97 airline customers. “Our cooperation and partnership with Dynamatic has grown from strength to strength,” said Mr. Srinivasan Dwarakanath, Airbus India CEO. Since 2009, Dynamatic has been the sole supplier of flap track beams for the smaller Airbus 320 series of aircraft. Dynamatic supplies this to an Airbus partner company, Spirit Aerostructures; so in this contract, Dynamatic is a tier-II supplier. “Dynamatic has produced over 10,000 flap track beams for the A320,” said Mr.  Dwarakanath. “Once they started making the flap track beams for the A320, we started to say that the aircraft was partly made in India,” he said. The same will now apply to the A330.  Dynamatic, which has operations also in the UK, supplies precision aerospace components to Boeing and Bell Helicopters too. “This order from Airbus is a significant milestone and validates our ability to deliver high-quality work in aeronautic manufacturing,” said Mr. Udayant Malhoutra, CEO of Dynamatic. He said the company’s aerospace business is at present around Rs 215 crore and would cross the Rs 500- crore mark in three years. A major portion of the company’s business is focused on the automotive, hydraulic and security applications sectors. Thanks to the contribution of HAL and others to the building of an aeronautics manufacturing eco-system in Karnataka, the state is now emerging as a maker of critical components for the global aviation market.


Drones may help set up 5G wireless networks

Remote-controlled drones can be used to create an accurate 3D model of an urban area and design wireless networks, scientists say, an advance that may help set up 5G mobile connections in a cost effective manner. The development of mobile devices has set increasingly high requirements for wireless networks and the emission of radio frequencies. Researchers from Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology in Finland, recently tested their research work how aerial photographs taken using a so-called drone could be used in designing radio links. By using both the aerial photographs taken by the drone and a photogrammetry software, they were able to create highly detailed 3D models of urban environments. These models can be used in designing radio links Photogrammetry is a technique where 3D objects can be formed from two or more photographs. “The measurements and simulations we performed in urban environments show that highly accurate 3D models can be beneficial for network planning at millimetre-wave frequencies,” said Mr. Vasilii Semkin, from Aalto University. The researchers compared the simple modelling technique that is currently popular to their photogrammetry-based modelling technique. “With the technique used by us, the resulting 3D model of the environment is much more detailed, and the technique also makes it possible to carry out the design process in a more cost-efficient way,” said Mr. Semkin. “It is then easier for designers to decide which objects in the environment to be taken into account, and where the base stations should be placed to get the optimum coverage” said Mr. Semkin. In the future, it will be possible to utilise the technique in designing 5G wireless connections, among other things. The study appears in the journal IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. — PTI