Naval Fighter Tejas completed first landing and take-off from INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier
January 11, 2020, is a historic day for naval aviation in India when the naval version of the light combat aircraft Tejas MK-1A piloted by Commodore Jaideep Malonkar made its first-ever landing and take-off from India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
With this landing, India joins a select group of countries with demonstrated capability of aircraft carrier landing and take-off. The aircraft is the naval variant of the Tejas MK-1A, which the Navy has rejected.
The DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is now in the process of designing a new Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the Indian Navy. It will be a heavier aircraft with greater thrust, higher fuel capacity and will carry more weapons. The first flight of the new TEDBF is expected by 2026 and will replace the MiG-29 naval fighters.
The Tejas MK-1A, which landed on IND Vikramaditya is a single-engine 13.5-tonne aircraft, powered by a GE-404 engine. The twin-engine TEDBF will be a 23-tonne fighter, powered by the GE-414 engine.
With the successful landing and take-off on INS Vikramaditya, expect the TEDBF program to accelerate.
INS Vikramaditya watches over China-Pak naval exercises in the Arabian Sea
China and Pakistan began Sea Guardians – a major nine-day naval exercise, for the first time in the north Arabian Sea involving submarines and conducting joint operational exercises for testing interoperability. The move has geostrategic implications for India.
India responded by deploying it’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea with the Deputy Naval Chief MS Pawar on-board, to closely monitor the exercises and deliver a strong message to both countries that India is watching and is prepared for any eventuality, now or in the future.
India is concerned with China’s growing naval presence and activity in the Arabian Sea. The China-funded Gwadar port in Pakistan is part of China’s strategy to extend military presence and influence in the region. It has an active naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and is in the process of cultivating other nations through its economic diplomacy.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is and will remain India’s sphere of influence.
Ordnance Factory Board is changing gears to pitch its Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle and Smart artillery ammunition
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is finally waking up from its complacent slumber and preparing to pitch its indigenous design Futuristic Armoured Combat Vehicle (FICV) to the Indian Army in competition with the private sector.
For the first time, staff from 41 Ordinance factories gathered to discuss plans of the OFB. The meeting comes in the wake of growing private sector participation in defence production, a turf closely held by the OFB. The defence forces have raised concerns regarding the quality and delivery schedules of the OFB and are increasingly rooting for increased private sector participation.
The OFB wants to compete with the private sector for the much-delayed FICV project for 2,000 vehicles. The Rs 60,000 Cr FICV project is languishing since the Army first mooted it in 2009.
The OFB announced plans for the supply of smart artillery ammunition for the Indian Army. The guided ammunition of 51 mm, 81 mm, 120 mm, 130 mm calibre help precision bombing of pre-designated targets with the capability of in-flight re-targeting. Based on the US-made Excalibur rounds, the smart bombs can change course in-flight using GPS and laser guidance.
Jaisalmer gets an Arjun Tank HUB
Lt General VN Sreenivas, GOC of the Jodhpur-based Konark Corps inaugurated the Arjun MBT HUB at the Jaisalmer Military Station on January 9 in the presence of Battle Axe Division GOC Maj General Rakesh Kapoor and other officials from DRDO and government.
Jaisalmer forms an important part of the armoured warfare logistics and has several Arjun Main Battle Tanks (MBT) deployed in the region. The Indian Army felt the absence of an efficient maintenance and spares HUB as it is required to remain in operational readiness at all times.
The Jaisalmer Military Station HUB addresses that need and will help in improving armoured and related equipment uptimes.
Rolls-Royce keen to offer latest tech engine for AMCA
Rolls-Royce expressed willingness to offer India its latest engine being developed for the 6th Generation fighter aircraft – Tempest, under development by the UK. It has offered India to join the Tempest development program. It is open to jointly work with India on developing the next generation engine which could also be used in India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
On January 10, Roll-Royce announced the company was developing the engine with a world-first technology, giving the engine higher thrust while reducing space within the stealth fighter aircraft frame.
Development on the engine, part of the Embedded Electrical Starter Generator (E2SG) program, began as a demonstrator program in 2014 and gathered pace after 2017. The electrical starter generator embedded in the core of the engine is a unique space-saving feature and helps generate added thrust to power the aircraft.
India has failed to develop the Kaveri engine despite much time, effort, and investment, and is looking to the GE-414 to power the AMCA. The government and DRDO are keen to develop an indigenous fighter engine and is looking to join hands with a foreign partner. The GE is reluctant to share its core engine technology but is willing to manufacture the engine in India. America’s Pratt & Whitney and French firm Safran are eager to share fighter engine technology with India and are in talks with the Indian government.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce’s new pitch with the E2SG engine will add to the options for the Indian government. How the negotiations move forward between the Indian government and the engine manufacturers, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, GE-414 remains on track to power the first batches of the AMCA.