Monday, February 28, 2011

MMRCA Hopeful MiG-35 Skips Aero India 

Defense News


MMRCA Hopeful MiG-35 Skips Aero India 


BANGALORE, India — Russian officials offered a variety of reasons for the MiG-35’s absence from the Aero India air show held here Feb. 9-13. 

The MiG-35 is one of six foreign competitors for the hotly contested $10 billion-plus Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender for 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force.

One official from Russia’s state­controlled United Aircraft Corp. (UAC), which makes the MiG-35, said cost prohibited an appearance. Another said the fighter would have distracted attention from UAC’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 medium­haul airliner.

Yet another said the company wavered too long on whether to send the fighter this year, although it was at the biennial show in 2009.

“The absence of the MiG-35 certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed,” said Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London. “Whether this is indicative of Russian industry lessening its effort to push the Fulcrum in recognition that it may not be a front-runner for the MMRCA has yet to become clear.”

The MiG-35 can win the competition despite its absence, UAC’s new director-general, Mikhail Pogosyan, told reporters here Feb. 9. The MiG-35 demonstrated its capabilities during technical evaluations conducted after the 2008 request for proposals were submitted, Pogosyan said, and its presence at the air show was unnecessary.

Pogosyan took the job Jan. 31, replacing Alexei Fyodorov, who was reportedly fired for failing to implement new innovation programs.

Barrie said, “Fyodorov was close to Delhi and was a key player in the Su-30MKI program.” A U.S. defense industry source quipped, “Indian pilots are tired of bailing out of their Russian fighters.” Pogosyan rejected suggestions that Russian fighters are no longer competitive against newer European and U.S.-built fighters, and he cited Russia’s long history of selling fighters and other aircraft to India.

India and Russia are developing a fifth-generation fighter in a program valued around $5 billion, as well as a multirole transport aircraft, with plans to build 100 for $600 million. India also is buying 50 Russian Su-30MKIs for $100 million apiece.

The Indian Air Force has 142 Su-30MKI and 69 MiG-29 fighters. Plans are afoot to upgrade both the MiG-29 and Su-30, which India acquired directly from Russia, and a $950 million contract has been awarded to Russia to modernize the Air Force’s entire MiG-29 fleet.

The Air Force continues to operate about 200 MiG-21s, though they are due for retirement in the next five to seven years. The Su-30MKI fighters are under licensed production by Hindustan Aeronautics, Pogosyan said. India also produced the Russian-designed RD-33 engine for the MiG-29 fighters, and Indian companies provide components for the Su-30.

These are indicators of how the relationship has evolved from buyer-seller to a “strategic partnership,” he said. Barrie said the strategic partnership between India and Russia is “exemplified by the fifth-generation fighter tie-up,” but India will also build relationships with European, Israeli and U.S. partners “as a means of avoiding reliance on any one state.”

The variety of competitors for the MMRCA is evidence of India’s interest in dealing with more countries. In addition to the MiG-35, competitors for the MMRCA include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper and Saab Gripen.

“This will make the environment more competitive for Russia, but it does not fundamentally threaten the relationship,” Barrie said.

Ukraine Pushing Sales in India

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Ukraine Pushing Sales in India


BANGALORE, India - A Ukrainian defense industry official said Russian arms deals with India are offering opportunities for the former Soviet satellite state. The comments were made at the 2011 Aero India air show being held in Bangalore, India, from Feb. 9-13.

A government-run State Foreign Trade Enterprise (SpetsTechnoExport) source said, "We supply a wide range of services and equipment," including upgrades to existing Indian military aircraft supplied by Russia.

SpetsTechnoExport also promoting the new Antonov An-178 transport aircraft to the Indian military.

"At present, there is only one prototype," he said. "We are awaiting a decision from India, and then we can begin production."

Based on the An-158 regional jet, the An-178 has a ramp cargo door and larger fuselage. It has a range of 3,200 kilometers with a load capacity of 10 tons. The official said India could procure up to 100 An-178 transports.

SpetsTechnoExport is also providing overhaul, life extensions, modernization and spare-parts support for India's An-32, MiG-21 and MiG-29 aircraft, he said. In many ways, Ukrainian companies are riding Russian coattails from bigger sales, such as India's recent procurement of the Russian MiG-29K, and there are high hopes India will select the MiG-35 in the current fighter competition.

SpetsTechnoExport is promoting a variety of new systems and services at Aero India, including the "Adros" KT-01AVE Infrared Counter-Measure Station, engine exhaust shields, flare dispenser systems and unmanned aerial vehicle technologies.

One Ukrainian company that has been showing steady growth in India is Motor Sich JSC, an aircraft engine manufacturer with production facilities in India. In 2009, a $400 million contract was signed with the Indian Defense Ministry to upgrade the AI-20 engines in the ageing Antonov An-32 transport aircraft, along with new navigational and radio equipment. The need for upgrades was illustrated just prior to the signing of the contract, when an Indian Air Force An-32 crashed near China, killing everyone on board in 2009.

Motor Sich facilities in Chandigarh, India, have been streamlined for the overhaul of AI-20, TV3-117 and AV-9V engines. The company hopes to expand engine sales and cooperation with the Indian military on future indigenous programs that include fixed wing, helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicle development.

American Systems Promotes F-18 SAMT at Aero India

Defense News


American Systems Promotes F-18 SAMT at Aero India


BANGALORE, India - Virginia-based American Systems, a government information technology solutions provider, demonstrated the "physics-based simulation" F/A-18 Hornet Simulated Aircraft Maintenance Technology Trainer (SAMT) at the 2011 Aero India air show being held in Bangalore, India, which runs Feb. 9-13.

"The simulation is easily adapted to a wide range of training needs, and allows students to work in a realistic, immersive environment that allows the instructor to challenge students with 'real-life' scenarios and hazards without the inherent dangers of traditional training, or the tremendous costs of using real aircraft," said Bhim Uppal, international marketing director, American Systems.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet is one of six contenders for the Indian Air Force's Medium Multi-Mission Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) bid.

American Systems it working closely with its Indian partner MEL Systems and Services (MELSS) to promote SAMT in India. Both companies signed a collaboration agreement that offers Indian customers virtual maintenance trainers and Web-based computer training modules for avionics, hydraulic, engine, fuel, flight controls and electrical areas.

The F/A-18 SAMT, developed for the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), is a highly intuitive, physics/math-based simulator that uses photo-realistic imagery to digitally replicate every inch of the Hornet jet fighter, Uppal said.

The graphical, touch screen, immersive, 3-D environment lets trainees to interact naturally with a virtual F/A-18, directly affecting the system models while performing maintenance tasks and rehearsing mission scenarios. The underlying Simulated Maintenance Technology (SMT) can be used to simulate any vehicle or system, including ships, trucks and helicopters.

"The F/A-18 SAMT provides a safe, realistic virtual environment for maintenance crews to hone their skills and rehearse tasks at a fast pace, ultimately ensuring airmen, sailors and soldiers have the tools necessary for the timely and effective execution of mission-critical operations," said William Hoover, president and CEO, American Systems.

American Systems also announced the company has been named one of the Top Simulation and Training Companies by Military Training Technology magazine. The award recognizes the top 100 international companies whose work has significantly impacted military training.

India's Boeing P-8I Moving Forward

Defense News


India's Boeing P-8I Moving Forward


BANGALORE, India - Boeing announced a number of milestones in India's P-8I program during the 2011 Aero India air show being held in Bangalore, India, from Feb. 9-13.

In 2010 Boeing completed the final design for the P-8I and began fabrication in December, said Leland Wright, Boeing's P-8I program manager. The first flight of the new aircraft is scheduled for the end of this year.

The aircraft is designed specifically for the Indian Navy for long-range maritime patrol and reconnaissance, he said. The aircraft is "designed specifically to integrate indigenous India equipment."

It is a military derivative of the Boeing 737-800 and a variant of the U.S. Navy's P-8A Poseidon. India is the first international customer for the P-8 and Leland expects other countries to express an interest in the platform in the future.

Boeing projects the market for maritime patrol aircraft to be around 100 P-8s.

The contract with the Indian Navy is for eight aircraft, including an option for four additional platforms. Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in 2013, he said.

Leland did confirm that the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) system was not part of the deal, but Boeing has a license to export the cruise missile system to India should it opt for it in the future. Instead, the P-8I will carry four Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Boeing is still identifying offset partners in India. So far Boeing has arranged offset supply agreements with Bharat Electronics, TATA Advanced Materials, Dynamatic Technologies Limited, Avantel and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Four additional offset contracts are being defined and the P-8I offset contract performance is on schedule, Leland said.

Goodrich Showcases Real-Time Technology at Aero India

Defense News


Goodrich Showcases Real-Time Technology at Aero India


BANGALORE, India - U.S.-based Goodrich Corporation showcased mission-critical defense technology that brings real-time information to air crews along and field proven safety systems at the 2011 Aero India air show being held in Bangalore, India, which began Feb. 9.

Mission-critical guidance, navigation and stabilization products on display includes the updated Terrain Profile Matching (TERPROM) software, designed to increase flight safety and tactical awareness for both fixed-wing and helicopter platforms, along with Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) based inertial sensors and advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data collection and dissemination systems.

Goodrich also displayed its F-16 Advanced Concept Ejection Seats II (ACES II) advanced concept ejection seat. Credited with saving more than 600 lives to date, the ACES II are the only ejection seats in the world with active pitch stabilization providing consistent performance capability at airspeeds of zero to 600 knots and altitudes up to 60,000 feet.

Complementing the ACES II will be the Common Crash Resistant Troop Seat, designed for installation on multiple helicopter platforms.

Goodrich has a strong in-country presence in India. The company has a campus in Bangalore that manufactures evacuation slides for Airbus, Boeing and Embraer platforms, as well as seating and cargo systems, interior and exterior lighting along with motors, actuation systems and electronic controllers. The company employs over 1,200 local employees in assembly, quality control, and at a maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) center. In addition, the India design center employs over 450 engineers across multiple engineering disciplines.

MiG-29K for China Dismissed at Aero India

Defense News


MiG-29K for China Dismissed at Aero India


BANGALORE - A Russian defense industry official dismissed the idea that the MiG-29K carrier-based fighter jet would ever be offered to Beijing to outfit its future aircraft carrier, the former Soviet-built Varyag under refurbishment in China.

The comments came during the 2011 Aero India air show here, taking place Feb. 9-13. The MiG-29K entered service with the Indian Navy in early 2010 and will be deployed on the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, now under construction.

"This is not an option for China's aircraft carrier program," the Russian defense industry official said, citing unresolved differences with China over intellectual property in the Su-27/J-11B fighter scandal.

In 2009, Russian officials accused China of stealing the blueprints for the Su-27 to produce an indigenous variant, the J-11B. There also have been allegations that the design for China's new L-15 advanced trainer jet was copied directly from Russia's Yak-130.

"The Chinese are going with an indigenous option for their carrier aircraft, most likely a modified variant of the Su-33," the industry official said.

There are unconfirmed reports that China acquired a prototype of the Su-33 from Ukraine.

The Chinese have become extremely sophisticated in their indigenous defense industrial capabilities, the official said. "Ten years ago, you couldn't take them seriously, but they have since become very competent."

Tensions between China and India along their shared northern border also could be contributing to Russia's reluctance to sell the MiG-29K to China. Aero India officials turned down requests from Chinese journalists wanting to attend the show this year, indicating the troubled state of Sino-Indian relations.

Various U.S. sources attending Aero India suggested that China's surprise unveiling of the stealthy J-20 fighter in December could bring about calls within India to buy Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, Indian-Russian cooperation on the development of a fifth-generation fighter suggests otherwise.

Boeing Unveils New Hornet Options at Aero India

Defense News


Boeing Unveils New Hornet Options at Aero India


BANGALORE, India - Boeing provided a preview of new options available for international customers under the Super Hornet International Roadmap program at the 2011 Aero India defense and aerospace show at Yelahanka Air Station here on Feb. 8.

The program allows international customers to tailor the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter to meet their requirements, said Mark Gammon, Boeing's program manager for the Super Hornet International Roadmap. At present, the Roadmap is for the international market, but the U.S. Navy is looking closely at the program.

In the past two years, Boeing has been investing in the Roadmap in areas that improve situational awareness, stealth, range and precision strike capabilities.

Improvements include the Next Generation Cockpit outfitted with a new 11-by-19 inch large area display with integrated intuitive graphics and increased situational awareness.

"Basically, it's one big iPad, which provides the pilot with a large increase in display surface area," Boeing test pilot Ricardo Traven said.

Other unique features include improvements in the Hornet's stealth and range a stealthy conformal fuel tank and a conformal enclosed weapons pod, for example. The weapons pod can carry a combination of AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground bombs, with each Super Hornet capable of carrying three pods. The conformal fuel tank also reduces drag.

Range and speed are also increased with the GE-414 Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE).

"When you reduce the drag with the stealthy weapons pod and with an engine with 20 percent more thrust, you greatly increase range," Traven said.

Configuration flexibility improvements include an internal Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) system and a new missile and laser warning system.

Many of the new features - including AESA radar, EPE and the missile warning system - were included in India's 2008 request for proposals for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). New Delhi plans to buy 126 MMRCAs.

Not included in Boeing's MMRCA bid were conformal pods, IRST and the Next Generation Cockpit, due largely to requirement limitations at the time of the submission of proposals, but the systems could be included at a future date, a Boeing representative said.

The unveiling of the Super Hornet International Roadmap at Aero India is part of Boeing's effort to win a wide range of Indian military aircraft competitions, estimated to be worth up to $30 billion in the next ten years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shangri-La Confirms Keynote Speaker

Defense News


Shangri-La Confirms Keynote Speaker


TAIPEI - The U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has confirmed that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, will be the keynote speaker at the 10th IISS Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, to be held in Singapore from June 3-5.

"Since its inception in 2002, the Shangri-La Dialogue has evolved as a key element of the Asia-Pacific's regional security architecture, where national security establishments from some 27 countries have met to exchange views on regional challenges," said John Chipman, IISS director-general and chief executive.

The agenda as outlined for the 10th Shangri-La Dialogue will include six plenary sessions covering emerging security challenges for the Asia-Pacific, new military doctrines and capabilities in Asia, Asia's new distribution of power and its implications, China's international security interests, and building strategic confidence and avoiding worst-case outcomes.

The dialogue will also include five special sessions on defense budgets, Afghanistan, regional territorial disputes, nuclear developments in the Asia-Pacific, and armed forces and transnational security challenges.

"As in previous years, at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue there will be ample opportunity for private bilateral and multilateral meetings," Chipman said.

There has been no confirmation on who else will attend the 10th Shangri-La, but past top-tier leaders have included U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Robert Willard.

Others have included top-tier defense and foreign officials from every Asia-Pacific nation. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak gave the 2010 keynote address.

The Summit has also seen an increase in defense industry sponsorship and attendance. The 2010 summit was sponsored in part by BAE Systems, Boeing, EADS, Keppel, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi, Raytheon, Singapore Technologies Engineering and MacArthur Foundation.

The mix of foreign leaders and top-tier defense industry officials has made the Shangri-La Dialogue one of the premier defense security summits in the world.

Defense News has covered the event since the seventh Shangri-La in 2008 and will continue to provide coverage at the 2011 summit.

China Developing Counterstealth Weapons

Defense News


China Developing Counterstealth Weapons


TAIPEI — Did China use stolen Western technology to build its stealthy J-20 combat jet? Maybe — but perhaps a more pressing topic is whether such knowledge is being used to develop weapons to shoot down U.S. warplanes.

China’s top air-to-air missile research institute has invested considerable effort in designing such missiles.

New imagery available on Google Earth indicates China built a full-scale mock-up of the now-retired F-117 stealth fighter at the Luoyang Optoelectro Technology Development Center (LOEC) in Henan province. (View the mock F-117 at 34 degrees 39 minutes and 44.24 seconds north latitude and 112 degrees 25 min­utes and 45.19 seconds east longitude.)

A former U.S. defense attaché based in Beijing said the appearance of the mock-up is not surprising, noting that China has also built mock-ups of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II for study.

Beijing officials are denying last week’s widespread media reports that pieces of a U.S. Air Force F-117 stealth fighter downed in Serbia in 1999 ended up in Chinese hands.

There is a lot of “anecdotal evidence” that China got access to the downed F-117, said Larry Wortzel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

China is also denying allegations that a former Northrop Grumman engineer, Noshir Gowadia, sold classified data on the B-2 stealth bomber’s engine signature suppression system used to protect the aircraft from heat-seeking missiles. Gowadia was found guilty of five related charges and sentenced to 32 years in prison Jan. 24 in a U.S. federal court.

There have also been questions raised over the role Dongfan Chung, a former Boeing stress analyst, could have played in China’s understanding of stealth technology. Chung was convicted in a U.S. federal court in July 2009 of six counts of spying for China.

Air Defense Academy Patch

Also known as the 612 Institute, LOEC is famous for its air-to-air missiles and precision-guided bomb systems, including the LS-6 Thunder Stone precision-guided glide bomb, the TY-90 surface and air-to­air missile system, and the PL-5, PL-9 and PL-12 (SD-10) air-to-air missiles. The PL-5 and PL-9 have been exported to Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Pakistan reportedly has ordered the PL-12.

Data on the company is scarce. According to an LOEC brochure distributed at the 2006 Zhuhai Air Show, the company “owns three integrated optical, mechanical and electronic product assembly plants, one optoelectronic device research institute, thirteen workshops, and employs 1,978 employees including 528 engineers and technicians.”

Imagery of the mock F-117 at LOEC comes on the heels of news that China has developed its first stealth fighter, the J-20. Photos of the new fighter were released in December, followed by a test flight earlier this month.

A Taiwan defense official said China is developing a new air-to-air missile, the PL-21, designed specifically for stealth aircraft. Powered by a ramjet and solid rocket propulsion system, the PL-21 will have a range of 100 kilometers.

China has also been procuring air defense systems from Russia and Ukraine to offset gaps in indigenous efforts. These include the Russian-made road-mobile S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missile system and the Ukrainian-made Kolchuga passive-sensor radar system, said Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Chinese procurements of the S-300 family of air defense missile systems began in the early 1990s, a Taiwan defense official said. With the PMU2 variant, China can cover northwestern Taiwan from bases in Fujian province, he said.

Sino-U.S. Military Ties Face Land Mines

Defense News


Sino-U.S. Military Ties Face Land Mines


TAIPEI — The pomp and pageantry of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the White House last week carried hopes of restored military dialogue with China, but land mines exist that could cripple closer relations.

The most prominent is U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Taiwan has roughly $13 billion worth of equipment in the pipeline and outstanding requests for 66 F-16C/D fighter jets and eight diesel-electric submarines. But China has called the release of new F-16s a “red line” that cannot be crossed.

There also is the pending release of price and availability data for a retrofit package for Taiwan’s older F-16A/B fighters. The release is expected within the next few weeks, with congressional notifications later in the year. China will clearly do everything it can to block the release.

Cozier relations between China and the U.S. has raised fears in Taiwan’s defense establishment that Washington will abandon the island democracy in favor of better ties with China. Local defense officials are concerned the U.S. will adhere to agreed-upon reductions in arms sales to Taiwan under the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué.

Dean Cheng, a China defense expert at the Heritage Foundation, said the action would be “calamitous and ill-considered.” Cheng cites guarantees of U.S. support outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act that override the 1982 communiqué.

Taiwan conducted a series of military exercises during Hu’s visit to the U.S., including a missile test that flopped. On Jan. 18, the military allowed journalists to enter the Jiupeng Missile Testing Range for the first time since 2002. The test included virtually every air defense missile in Taiwan’s arsenal.

However, if the missile test was intended to send China and the U.S. a message about Taiwan’s commitment to a strong defense, then it backfired. Six of the 19 missiles fired during the exercise failed to find their targets.

Adding insult to injury, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who attended the test, expressed disappointment in the military and then took the time to have his photograph taken with each member of the missile exercise team.

Ma’s comment, along with the missile malfunctions, hurt military morale and boosted Chinese confidence it could win a war with Taiwan, said a Taiwan military official. Ma’s comments could have waited until after the final report on the test was issued, he said.

Ma has been under criticism for pushing too quickly to build relations with China. Many in Taiwan fear improved cross-Strait ties will box Taiwan into agreements that will allow for de facto unification.

Taiwan and the U.S. also have to deal with an increasingly powerful Chinese military. In December, China revealed the existence of the J-20 stealth fighter. Chinese media reports are calling it a fifth-generation fighter, but Taiwan defense officials last week said the J-20 is most likely a 4.5 at best. China does not have the engines, avionics and composite materials to build a fifth-generation fighter yet, said a Taiwan Air Force official.

Another concern for the U.S. and other regional powers is China’s first aircraft carrier, which is being prepared for sea tests. Taiwan officials said the former Soviet carrier Varyag could be outfitted as a helicopter platform until China secures a carrier-based fighter for it. Reports out of China indicate Shenyang Aircraft is putting the finishing touches on the J-15 Flying Shark, based on Russia’s Su-33.

Another land mine in Sino-U.S. military ties is China’s development of the Dong Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile. Unconfirmed re­ports out of China indicate a test is being scheduled using The 11,000-ton Yuan Wang 4 space event support ship as a target.

Dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer” by Chi­nese officials, the DF-21D is part of China’s anti-access strategy to hobble the U.S. Navy’s ability to respond to a Taiwan crisis.

Ultimately, these developments in China have one primary mission: retaking Taiwan. The downside of losing Taiwan to China would be the placement of Chinese military bases on the island. The most feared would be a Chinese submarine base at Suao, a deep­water port on Taiwan’s east coast, and a fight­er base at Hualian, its most secure under­ground jet shelter. Both would allow China to project power farther into the Pacific.

China has been desperate to break beyond the first island chain that restricts its strategic access to the Pacific. Toshi Yoshiharo and James Holmes, U.S. Naval Way College spe­cialists on China, call the first island chain China’s “Great Wall at Sea.” Consolidating Tai­wan into China’s strategic framework would not only challenge U.S. naval dominance of the Pacific, but also place Japan and South Korea in awkward positions, since both rely on oil and natural gas shipments through the Taiwan Strait from the Middle East.