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Saurav Jha
Sunday , February 08, 2015

A look at the Indian Army's Main Battle Tank programs


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In August 2014, the Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) finally gave the go ahead for 118 Arjun Mk-2 MBTs for an order value of about Rs 6600 crores.This signalled a return to production for the Arjun MBT line at Heavy Vehicles factory (HVF), Avadi that had been lying idle since 2010-11 when the last Arjun Mk-Is rolled out. Nevertheless the piecemeal order is indicative of the fact that the Indian Army (IA) continues to insist upon the demonstration of a potent missile firing capability from the Arjun Mk-2's gun before it places an indent for a much larger order. And a much larger order, as has been known to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is absolutely needed to make it viable to indigenize various sub-systems in the Arjun Mk-2. Meanwhile, the IA continues to face issues with its pool of T-90S MBTs and is increasingly turning to the Defence Research & Development....


Saturday , January 31, 2015

Maiden canisterised launch of the Agni-V ICBM marks India's arrival as a missile power


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This morning's maiden canisterised launch of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developed Agni V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) marks the arrival of India as a missile power, no two ways about it. The missile struck its designated target area somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean within just 20 minutes from launch. With a range of 'easily more than 5500 km', one finds that India now has the ability to hold all of China's Eastern Seaboard cities at risk from Peninsular India. But again, there is more to this missile than its range capability. In technological terms this missile represents the coming of age for India of a very long range payload delivery capability that is both rather accurate as well as survivable. First up, Watch the video of this morning's launch courtesy DRDO. The Agni V has a contemporary....


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Terror boat incident brings India's post-Mumbai Coastal Security Network into focus


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The 'terror boat' incident off the coast of Gujarat shows that the seaborne option continues to find favour with Pakistan based terrorist networks post 26/11. Shaken out of its stupor by Mumbai 2008, the Government of India (GOI) has since been setting up a coastal surveillance network (CSN) consisting of both static radar and electro-optical sensors at various remote sites under the auspices of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). While the first phase of this project is now complete with all 46 sites operational, work on Phase-II is currently underway. Progress has also been made in integrating existing CSN sites with other tracking and sensor networks already operational along the Indian coastline. Beyond that however attention needs to be given to developing and deploying systems that can detect threats such as fiberglass semi- submersibles and go fast boats that have very low detectability signatures. Given worldwide trends and India's strengthening....


Sunday , December 28, 2014

Some trends in sonar technology


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With the advent of ever smarter and faster anti-ship missiles, many navies around the world have shifted their focus to the underwater dimension for credible offensive maritime capability. In the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy (IN) has therefore decided to focus heavily on staying at the cutting edge of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability especially in light of increasing sonar contacts with Chinese attack submarines both diesel-electric (SSK) and nuclear (SSN). The cutting edge element of successful ASW operations however comes from potent intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology relevant to submarine tracking and detection. Modern underwater detection systems obviously leverage digital technologies to both increase the efficacy of sensors by improving the signal to noise ratio (SNR) as well as to facilitate network-centric operations to using dispersed sensor nodes. The digitisation of sonar systems over the years has allowed them to stay in the game despite appreciable....


Saturday , December 27, 2014

A note on India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project


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The Chinese today are flying two fifth generation fighter prototypes, at least one of which will enter series production sometime in the next decade. It of course remains to be seen whether the Chinese J-20 design will ultimately be powered by a Chinese low bypass turbofan engine or not. India meanwhile is still haggling with Russia on work share and tech share issues before it inks the final development contract for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) that will be based on the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA baseline. Regardless, it has been clear for some time now that India will have to mount a serious fifth generation effort of its own in order to both free itself from dependency on any other country as well build its aerospace sector on the foundation created through the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program. For that purpose the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) that oversees the....


Saturday , December 20, 2014

The Radiance of Tejas: A bright prospect for 'Make in India'


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I must state at the outset, that the title of this post is a tribute to B.Harry, a true geek whose wantonly premature demise was a major loss to the analysis and archival of Indian military research and development (R&D). Needless to say, he is greatly missed by Indian military buffs, though his writings live on, such as this excellent two-part document (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/downloads/Tejas-Radiance.pdf) on the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) published in 2004. Ten years have passed since that paper came out, and today deliveries of combat standard units of the HAL Tejas Mk-I are beginning with the first 'series production' aircraft, SP-I taking to the air in late 2014. SP-I therefore marks the arrival of India's first indigenous combat capable fourth generation fighter that boasts the extensive use of carbon composites (more than 70 per cent of the airframe by weight) an indigenous quadruplex....


Sunday , December 14, 2014

Guest Post #11: Is Citizen Services an unattainable myth in India? by Sarajit Jha


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Whilst Lincoln's ideal state of government i.e by the people, of the people and for the people has remained elusive, one can argue, that in India there is now a concerted attempt towards better governance. Concurrently there is also a need to arrive at objective standards for assessment of progress in governance to reduce the unnecessary acrimony that such an evaluation typically sparks off. In my view, independent watch dogs, a healthy and diverse media, an unbiased judiciary, legislative and executive balance, a simple regulatory environment leading to fair and transparent processes that are widely communicated and universally administered, form the basis of any People's governance system. Public Private Partnership (PPPs) and continuous improvement project (CIPs) that make institutions more sustainable and reinforce the cultural bulwark can be markers of progress. And durable and efficient citizen services are the best outcome of the same. Projects like the Railway Reservation....


Saturday , December 06, 2014

A look at the Indian Navy's Project 75I tender to #MakeinIndia six diesel-electric submarines


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In late October 2014, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the long pending Project 75I, a proposal by the Indian Navy (IN) to acquire six diesel-electric submarines (SSK) presumably different in design from the present generation of Scorpenes currently under construction at Mazagon Dockyard Limited (MDL), Mumbai. The proposal is tentatively valued at Rs 50000-80000 crores and involves the manufacture of all six units domestically with foreign technology input. The decision comes nearly four years after the IN first released a request for information (RFI) for this line of submarines and is harmonized with the Modi government's 'Make in India' program in that all six units are to be built in India. This actually represents a departure from the IN's earlier plan which sought to import the first two units from a foreign yard and have four more units of the same design built at Indian yards under collaboration. ....


Sunday , November 16, 2014

Indian Army Air Defence futures


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The Indian Army's (IA) Air Defence (AD) corps has long been considered the most neglected of its specific arms. However with the induction of the Akash medium range surface to air missile (MRSAM) system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) the long awaited modernization of this arm has now kicked off. Alongside the Akash, Army AD is also inducting a new generation Russian very short range SAM (SR-SAM). These two inductions have meant that the IA now can wait for an indigenous offering in the quick reaction SAM (QRSAM) segment which has begun development in DRDL rather than procure that from overseas. The AD corps is however having to make do with interim upgrades of its obsolescent AD guns via domestic industry and is exploring the possibility of crafting a domestic replacement. Meanwhile domestic programs have also yielded sensor spinoffs that have found favour with the AD....


Thursday , November 13, 2014

Coolest Geeks in India post #1: An Interview with 'The Third Curve' author Mansoor Khan


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The growth that the world has seen since the beginning of the industrial age has been hydrocarbon based. Today some thinkers are increasingly worried that we are on the descent phase of the bell curve for such resources thereby representing the denouement of growth as Economics has come to understand it. In this interview we speak to Mansoor Khan who is deep into this area of enquiry and released a book last year called 'The Third Curve' which lays out this thought process for the reading public. Mansoor Khan is of course famous as a film maker having made such cult classics as 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' and 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar'. But first and foremost he is a geek who attended IIT, Cornell and MIT in succession in his youth and has been running a self-supporting organic farm called Wild Acres in Conoor, Tamil Nadu since 2003.....


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More about Saurav Jha

Saurav Jha studied economics (and debated politics) at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He writes and researches on global energy and security issues and is a regular contributor to publications such as World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written for Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. He is the Consulting Editor of Geopolitics magazine. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, was published in March 2010 to excellent reviews. He is presently working on The Heat and Dust Project, a quirky travelogue, based on an intense budget journey through India, co-authored with his wife Devapriya.

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