Indian Arms and Analysis: December 23 2019

Indian Arms and Analysis

Indian Pinaka MK-II just got meaner & tougher

Indian field artillery is rapidly making up for the lost time, after having to put up with obsolete equipment for decades. The Army has operated the Pinaka Missiles Multiple Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) for several years.

The Pinaka MK-1, with a range of 40 km, can fire a salvo of 12 HE Rockets in 44 seconds. One battery comprising six launchers can demolish targets within an area 1000m x 800m at a range of 40-45 km. In 1999, it delivered a powerful punch during the Kargil War.

On 20 December 2019, the Pinaka MBRL MK-2, with an extended range between 75 and 90 km, was successfully tested off the Odisha Coast in Chandipur. What makes the MK-2 deadly is its low Circular Error Probable or Equal Probable (CEP) which defines the landing precision of the warhead.

The second major feature is the missile carries an on-board GPS making it a guided missile. It enables the missile to be re-assigned with an alternate target mid-flight. The missile’s navigation gets assistance from the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

The next stage of development is the 120 km range Pinaka and DRDO along with its developers Tata Power SED, L&T, and the Ordnance Factory Board are working together to speed up the process.

QR-SAM with powerful ECCM tested

The indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) is a short-range (up to 30 km) all-weather missile was successfully tested last week for its Electronic Counter Counter Measure (ECCM).

First tested in 2017, the QR-SAM has since undergone several tests and designed to engage incoming low-altitude aircraft (fixed and rotary), drones and missiles.

The ECCM capability counters the electronic countermeasures launched by the incoming threat, thereby, increasing its potency.

Indigenous Uttam AESA Radar is shaping up well to compete with Israel’s EL/M-2052 AESA Radar

Israel’s EL/M-2052 AESA Flight Control Radar (FCR) is getting stiff competition from India’s LRDE-developed UTAAM AESA FCR for the Tejas MK-IA and the upcoming Medium Weight Fighter (MWF).

For now, HAL has reaffirmed the Tejas MK-IA will be powered by the Israeli EL-M-2052 AESA FCR but is testing out the new UTAAM AESA on the LCA LSP-2 test-bed aircraft.

There have been claims that the UTAAM FCR has outperformed the EL/M-2052 installed in the Jaguar Darin-III fighter. The Israelis have been quick to point out the EL-M-2052 configuration varies in weight (80-180 kg) and power supply (3-10 kva) depending on the size of the antenna on-board the fighter.

The Jaguar, an older aircraft, has limitations on antenna size, and so, the EL/M-2052 is underpowered. The Israeli manufacturers are confident of the superior performance of their AESA on the Tejas MK-1A and the MWF.

The first batch of the Tejas MK-1A will carry the EL/M-2052, but HAL is not ruling out the introduction of UTAAM at a later stage as it clears operational trials. On its part, LRDE is confident of the UTAAM AESA outperforming the EL/M-2052 and is pushing for early integration on the Tejas MK-1A

Indian Seekers drive successful testing of the BrahMos ALCM and Coastal Defence variants

India’s indigenous Seeker system got a boost when the IAF SU-30MKI fighter successfully launched the BrahMos Air Launched Supersonic Cruise Missile (ALCM) driven by an Indian Seeker. The missile hit the designated target ship-at-sea.

In another test, the BrahMos land variant for anti-ship Coastal Defence was test-fired. It too carried the indigenous Seeker.

The Indian Seeker was first tested on 22 March 2018 and has undergone several feature improvements for accuracy. The Extended Range (ER) variant has a range of 450 km, and DRDO is pushing for its range to extend to 800 km. The latest test once again confirms India’s strong R&D capability.

Philippines Defence Secretary has confirmed the country will sign the contract to procure two batteries of the Anti-Ship BrahMos Cruise Missiles in early 2020; a move assured to bring the two countries closer.

Tejas MK-1A climbs on the Value Proposition Index

HAL has announced it is dropping the price for the 83 Tejas MK-1A fighters to Rs 45,000 crore. It translates to Rs 542.16 crore per aircraft.

Though not in the same class, compare it with Rafale’s Rs 1,638.88 crore per fighter. India procured 36 Rafale fighters for Rs 59,000 crore.

Compare it with the Swedish single-engine multi-role Grippen E fighter from SAAB. In a recent interview, SAAB India Technologies head Ola Rignell said the firm was ready to offer the Grippen E along with 100 per cent tech transfer for half the cost paid by India for the Rafale. The offer for half the Rafale’s price translates to around Rs 819 crore per fighter.

The Tejas MK-1A, with its configuration of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon systems, AESA Radar, ECCM features, and low cost, makes it a desirable proposition in the global single-engine fighter market.

The new pricing pushes up the Tejas MK-1A on the Value Proposition Index. Several smaller countries are desperately looking for a low-cost single-engine fighter, and the Tejas fits in well.

The Tejas MK-1A is superior to the upcoming Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 BLOCK III fighter. Both are in contention to bag the Malaysian order, with the Malaysian fighter test pilots preferring the Tejas experience over the JF-17.

However, for geopolitical reasons, Malaysia is looking at other options. There are several friendly countries where the Tejas MK-1A will be pitched as a superior alternative to the F-16, and the next time will reveal how it fares in the global arms market.

Related Link:

Indian Arms and Analysis: December 20, 2019

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Indian Arms and Analysis - December 23, 2019
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Indian Arms and Analysis - December 23, 2019
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Read about the Indian Arms and Analysis as per December 23, 2019. Know about Indian Pinaka MK-II, QR-SAM, Indigenous Uttam AESA Radar, BrahMos ALCM and Tejas MK-1A.
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