India is developing the world’s fastest and longest range, 650 km supersonic torpedo
As per media reports, DRDO is in an advanced stage of developing a Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART). Based on hybrid technology, it uses a supersonic missile system to carry a heavy torpedo through low-altitude flight, across a distance of 600+ km, before releasing the heavy torpedo to travel another 30 to 50 km submerged, towards the hostile submarine.
What makes DRDO’s SMART so unique is no other country possesses a similar weapon of this speed, range, and potency. The technology in itself is not new with countries like the United States, Russia, and even China experimenting with hybrid technologies.
The closest they have achieved is a missile carrier of max 150 km with a torpedo range of under 50 km. The DRDO is confident of inducting the SMART system into the Navy as part of land-based anti-submarine defence or air-launched anti-submarine defence.
The induction of the SMART system will change the sea-control sea-denial dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond. With the Boeing P8I Poseidon Reconnaissance planes, the Indian Navy has robust submarine detection and tracking capability, but its offensive capability is limited to the Harpoon missiles it carries.
The SMART system will use the detection capability of the P-8I and use the range, speed, and potency of SMART target hostile submarines at far greater ranges, long before they pose a threat to our naval assets or the mainland.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence raises concerns on the shortage of funds for the Forces
The Parliament Standing Committee on Defence has raised the matter of shortage of funds impeding the modernisation of the defence forces.
In FY 2019-20, the Army had projected a requirement for Rs 44,690 Cr but allocated only Rs 29,511 Cr, a shortfall of 34 per cent. The Air Force projected a requirement for Rs 74,894 Cr but got Rs 39,347 crores, a shortage of 47.46 per cent. The Navy needed Rs 35,713 Cr but received Rs 22,227 Cr, falling short by 37.76 Cr.
Compounding the problem of shortage of funds is the burgeoning salary and pension allocations. The FY 2019-20 Budget estimate for Defence was Rs 4,31,011 Cr, of which Capital Outlay was Rs 1,03,394 Cr, and Pensions alone comprised Rs 1,12,080 Cr, higher than the capital outlay. Salaries were Rs 1,08,461 Cr. It’s one of the reasons why the defence forces need to transition into a lean, mean fighting machine.
However, major defence equipment purchases are languishing for years. The Army’s Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) development has not further. Its demand for more Apache Attack helicopters is yet to be sanctioned.
The Air Force is waiting for the government to move ahead with the procurement formalities of the MMTA aircraft and the air-to-air refuellers. The acquisition of the 110 MMRCA is way behind schedule.
The Navy seeks another aircraft carrier, additional minesweepers, and SSN and SSBN submarines to challenge China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region. All the projects are behind schedule for want of funds.
41 ‘Otters’ Squadron gets the much-awaited Dornier
On 31 December 2019, the Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria formally inducted the first of 14 Dornier aircraft manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) into the 41 ‘Otters’ Squadron. The second aircraft is expected in early 2020.
In 2015, IAF signed the Rs 1,090 Cr contract with HAL to procure 14 twin-engine Dorniers. The Dornier 228 aircraft is a German twin-turboprop STOL utility aircraft capable of carrying 19 passengers or light cargo. The HAL signed a contract with Dornier GmbH to manufacture it in India and has since manufactured 125 planes. The IAF uses these mainly for flight inspection purposes.
The Palam-based 41 ‘Otters’ Squadron has a chequered history. Raised in 1958 in Jodhpur, the Squadron flew 614 missions in support of troops during the 1965 war with Pakistan.
In 1984, the vintage ‘Otter’ aircrafts made way for the Dornier, and later the Avro making 41 Squadron the first to operate both light and medium transport aircraft.
The induction of the upgraded Dornier this year will boost IAF’s vigilance capabilities in the sky.