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Saurav Jha
Tuesday , April 07, 2015

MH-370 and the evolving Indian SAR paradigm


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The case of missing flight MH-370 has turned out to be one of the greatest mysteries of the new millennium and now even as the official Australian underwater search draws to a close it is worthwhile to remember that several militaries in the Indo-Pacific mounted very large scale search and rescue (SAR) operations for MH-370 last year. Garnering a lot of attention during the course of that multilateral SAR effort was the widespread use of maritime surveillance planes deployed on long duration patrols in a bid to locate suspected wreckage over vast stretches of open sea. Indeed, this tragic occurrence seemed to have given navies in the region an opportunity to test readiness levels and operational concepts revolving around contemporary maritime aviation platforms. The Indian Navy (IN) was naturally a part of the initial international hunt for MH-370 showcasing some of its recent acquisitions such as....


Tuesday , March 24, 2015

Transport aircraft futures for the Indian Air force


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Ever since the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued its 2009 directive to prepare the military for a two front war, there has been a heightened sense of urgency in acquiring transport platforms that can move men and materiel over considerable distances at short notice. Prior to this, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami had also brought to light the need to bring in longer ranged airborne platforms that can sustain humanitarian support across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Accordingly, the Indian Air force (IAF) is recapitalizing its entire transport fleet with a view to becoming more potent in out of area operations besides being able to support the Indian Army's (IA's) ever growing logistical requirements. While in the short term, quick buys of American platforms through the foreign military sales (FMS) route such as Boeing's C-17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Martin's C-130Js have been effected, it is clear that....


Monday , March 09, 2015

Simulating the market: An interview with Ashok Atluri, Managing Director, Zen Technologies


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Geek at Large as always is committed to covering Indian companies that have made a mark in the defence sector through a focus on indigenous design and development. Today we talk to Ashok Atluri, Managing Director, Zen Technologies, a company that is today a force to reckon with in India's military simulation market having supplied to the military and police a range of ground forces simulators including involved solutions such as driving and gunnery simulators for both the T-72 and T-90, anti tank guided missile simulators and artillery forward control simulators. Overall, Zen has till date supplied just under 500 simulators to to mostly domestic customers. 1. Tell us how Zen Technologies came to be. How did it start and how did it grow? What are its key products? Zen, since 1993, has been in the business of providing simulator solutions. We always wanted to create world-class products....


Monday , March 02, 2015

Coolest Geeks in India #2: An interview with Captain S Ramaprasad (rtd), VSM, Indian Navy and Managing Director of Kaptron


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To be dominant in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India must stay at the cutting edge of anti-submarine warfare capability which naturally continues to depend on the efficacy of underwater detection technology. Today we talk to Captain Ramaprasad, a front-ranking technologist in this domain who cut his teeth in the Indian Navy's Weapons, Electronic, Electrical Systems Engineering' (WEESE) Group at New Delhi and actually went on to develop the combat management system used in the INS Arihant today, an effort for which he received the Vishisht Seva Medal. Captain Ramaprasad's standout work from the past also includes inputs for DRDO's USHUS sonar which is being used in Indian submarines today. An M.Tech from IIT Kanpur, Captain Ramaprasad has declined numerous offers from foreign majors such as Lockheed Martin Librascope over the years to keep working on sonar technology in India. Through his company Kaptron, he continues to make critical contributions....


Sunday , March 01, 2015

The growth of the Indian Army's helicopter inventory


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The Army Aviation Corps (AAC) of the Indian Army (IA) is just shy of being three decades old. In that period, it has probably become the busiest corps in the IA having to serve in a variety of terrain supporting a whole gamut of operations. AAC is particularly crucial to maintaining India's dominance in the Siachen Glacier and supporting small unit operations in mountainous terrain. Given that brief, the AAC is always looking to increase the number of helicopters with high altitude capability in its inventory whether it be for reconnaissance and surveillance(RS) roles utility roles, heli-borne insertion or attack. These varied requirements have served as a peg for the evolution of indigenous helicopter capability in India that is both capable of high altitude operations as well as a mix of roles and will form the bulk of AAC's inventory in the future alongside domestically produced Russian....


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....


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More about Saurav Jha

Saurav Jha is an author and commentator on energy and security affairs who writes regularly for numerous publications including The Telegraph, World Politics Review, The Diplomat, Le Monde Diplomatique and Nuclear Engineering International. He has degrees in economics from Presidency College, Calcutta and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power (HarperCollins India) was released to critical acclaim in 2010. His next work on sustainability issues due for release in late 2015 and tentatively titled The Nexus (Hachette India) explains how the nexus between energy, food and water pushes urbanizing economies towards stagflation. He has also co-authored The Heat and Dust Project (HarperCollins India) with wife Devapriya Roy, chronicling a 16000 km long backpacking trip through India on an extremely tight budget.
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