Friday, February 7, 2014

Indian Navy planning to equip warships with European sonar systems

Seeking to strengthen its anti- submarine warfare capabilities, Navy is planning to equip its indigenous Delhi Class and Russian-origin Talwar class warships with sonar systems developed by European firm Atlas Elektronik.
Navy officials said the firm is the lowest bidder and the Defence Ministry has to take a final decision on the inking of the deal.Atlas Elektronik has won the competition for the ATAS, which will equip the Delhi and Talwar class ships initially and subsequently be manufactured in India under cooperation with Bharat Electronics Limited," Atlas Elektronik's India head Khalil Rahman said here today.
He said the first six systems will be manufactured at the company's facilities and the follow-on batches would be manufactured in Indian under the Transfer of Technology (ToT) arrangement with Indian public sector unit.
Rahman said an ATAS is necessary for detection of submarines and torpedoes and in today's underwater warfare environment the determining advantage is to detect a submarine beyond the weapon range (of the submarine), thereby denying offensive capability.
"The Indian Navy's ATAS project is therefore a key element of the strategy to secure Indian waters. The project is destined to be rolled out to various classes of ships including Delhi, Talwar, Kamorta, Shivalik and Kolkata," he said.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Locator beacons for Air Force ejection seats failing at 'unacceptable' rate

For three days, the family of Capt. Lucas Gruenther waited while rescuers searched for the F-16 pilot in the Adriatic Sea.
Gruenther, the chief of flight safety for the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, had ejected from his F-16 in poor weather off the Italian coast. And while an Italian and American fleet combed the Adriatic, Gruenther’s family gathered together and hoped for good news.
“It was terrible weather, terrible visibility,” Gruenther’s mother, Romel Mathias, said of the January 2013 search. “They didn’t have a rescue plan for him.”
Like all other Air Force planes equipped with ejection seats or parachute packs, Gruenther’s contained what was supposed to be a lifeline — the AN/URT-44 locator beacon to help search and rescue crews find a downed pilot.
But for Gruenther and nine other pilots outfitted with the beacon since it went into service in 2011, the locator failed. Searchers recovered his body three days after he ejected. An investigation found he died during the ejection.
“It cost our family three days of hell, basically, not finding him,” Mathias said. “I just can’t understand why, when they knew that so many of [the beacons] were not in correct working order, that they would let those guys fly with those.”
The Air Force spent $30 million for 17,000 of the beacons in 2009, with deliveries finalized in 2010. Two years after the first beacons were installed, crash investigators began noticing that they had not worked in multiple crashes. In fact, the beacons failed 10 times in 22 ejections, according to a review of crash reports since the beacons were installed. Two of the failures were caused by external issues, such as problems with how the beacon was packed or the impact of the ejection, the Air Force said. When tested on the shelves, the URT-44 has a 24 percent failure rate, according to Air Force documents.
Now, the Air Force faces spending $69 million to start over with all new beacons.
“I just can’t believe that with all of the technology now, with all of the avalanche finders you can go find for 300 bucks, that they would let those guys fly with those,” Mathias said.

Aircrew 'guardian angel'

The Air Force announced its plans to purchase the AN/URT-44 beacon from prime contractor Signal Engineering Inc. in 2008. The previous beacon, the AN/URT-33, was in the entire fleet, but it was not compatible with changesto frequencies used by the Air Force’s search and rescue satellite system.
Signal Engineering “met all required performance parameters” following “the successful completion of rigorous field trials and environmental testing,” the San Diego-based company announced in a 2009 news release.
“The state of the art AN/URT-44, the guardian angel of the aircrew, has become the personnel locator beacon of choice for the United States Air Force,” states a training video produced by Signal Engineering, sent to the Air Force and publicly viewable on YouTube.
The company’s president, John Thompson, said he believes the problems were identified during testing, and has told the Air Force his company can fix them. However, the Air Force largely cut off contact with the company once service officials decided to replace the beacon, he said.
“We’ve done the best we can. We can do as much as we are allowed to mitigate the circumstance, but we don’t have access to the information,” he told Air Force Times in a Jan. 30 interview.
By August 2010, the service finished installing the new beacon in all aircraft with ejection seats, except the F-35, and in parachute packs for aircrew in planes such C-17s and C-130s, said Col. Aaron Clark, the deputy director of the global programs power directorate, agile combat support, at the Pentagon, who oversees beacon procurement.
The first real test for the beacon came April 1, 2011. The pilot of an A-10C assigned to the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, was forced to eject during a training flight. According to an Air Force review of the mishap, the beacon failed.
“The [pilot’s] personal locator beacon’s power was extremely low during transmission,” the investigation report for the crash states. “The [wingman] was only able to hear the [beacon] when within two nautical miles of the crash and no Air Traffic Control agency was able to hear the beacon.”
The pilot crashed near a village, and locals found the wreckage and helped the pilot before search and rescue crews arrived.
Over 2½ years, the AN/URT-44 beacon failed nine more times.
The Air Force expects to replace the entire inventory by 2015, Clark said. Contractors placed their bids in January, and the Air Force is reviewing its options and planning more rigorous tests for the beacons.
“We still fly with it, it’s the beacon we have today,” Clark said. “. . . If there are promising beacons, which we expect there are, we will do testing to have confidence that we aren’t going to buy into a similar problem that we already have.”

Turning point

Ukraine Delivers Main Battle Tanks to Thailand

Ukraine has delivered the first five main battle tanks to Thailand of a 2011 order worth over $200 million, a state-run arms exporter said Wednesday.
The shipment is part of an order of 49 Oplot-M tanks to be put in service with the Royal Thai Armed Forces in the near future.
The Ukrainian tanks arrived at the port of Sattahip on Tuesday and will undergo additional acceptance trials, Ukrspetsexport said in a statement.
The Oplot is armed with a 125-mm smoothbore gun, a 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun.
The main gun can fire a laser-guided missile against battle tanks, armored vehicles and hovering helicopters within a range of five kilometers (3.1 miles).
The tank’s protection system integrates both passive armor and explosive reactive armor.
Ukraine has recently become an active competitor on global arms markets thanks to a reputation for reliable weaponry, relatively low prices and extended post-sale and repair warranties.
According to data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Ukraine exported major conventional arms worth $1.3 billion in 2012, making it the fourth largest arms exporter in the world that year.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Russian Air Force Receives Israeli Designed UAV

Russian Air Force has received six ‘Outpost’ (Searcher-II) UAV
’s. The platoon will be based in RAF’s air base in Kamchatka and will perform tactical reconnaissance sorties in the region.The ‘Outpost’ UAV has been produced by UZGA at its Nizhny Tagil factory, under license from Israeli IAI.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Iran to Unveil New Generation of Home-Made Fighter Jet

A senior Iranian air force commander announced that the country is producing new generation of its home-made Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) fighter jet, adding that the new aircraft will be unveiled in coming months.
Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Air Force Brigadier General Alireza Barkhor told the Tasnim News Agency on Sunday that the construction phase of the new aircraft has already been completed.
The commander said the new generation of Saeqeh is a twin-seat fighter jet, adding that the aircraft will be officially unveiled in the next Iranian year (will start on March 21).
“God willing, efforts are underway to have the operational flight of first twin-seat Saeqeh fighter jet on Farvardin 29 (April 18, 2014, also National Army Day),” Barkhor stated.
The twin-seat aircraft means that the fighter jet will have more power, mobility, navigation equipment, fire power, pay load and operational range.
In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and systems.
Azarakhsh (lightning) is Iran's first domestically-manufactured combat jet.
Saeqeh (Thunderbolt) fighter jet is a follow-up aircraft, derived from Azarakhsh. Iran unveiled its first squadron of Saeqeh fighter-bombers in an air show in 2010.
On February 2, Iran unveiled its latest fighter aircraft, the Qaher-313 (Conqueror-313). The single-seat stealth fighter jet can take off and land on short runways.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Turkey says open to alternatives to Chinese missile defense system

Turkey's Foreign Minister said on Sunday Ankara had not yet decided which missile defense system it would buy and it was open to bids from other companies besides the current Chinese favorite if these guaranteed joint production.
NATO member Turkey's decision last September to choose a $3.4 billion offer from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) irked Ankara's Western allies as the Chinese company is under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
U.S. and NATO officials also voiced concerns that a Chinese product would not be compatible with other NATO systems.
"Turkey did not decide yet which system should be bought.. for us three criteria are important - joint production, the time of delivery and price," Ahmet Davutoglu told a panel at the Munich Security Conference.
The deal would mark a breakthrough for China in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons. But Davutoglu said Turkey was still negotiating and he had held a meeting with a U.S. company a day earlier.
"The Chinese company was the first because they offered us joint production. Joint production was important for us," he said.

N.Korea 'Preparing for Another Missile Test'

North Korea could be preparing for another missile or space rocket test as two 45,000-gallon fuel tanks and a pump facility have turned up in satellite pictures of a missile launch site in Tongchang-ri. They had not been seen since November last year.

38 North, a website run by Johns Hopkins University, published an article by Nick Hansen on Jan. 29 saying that North Korea seems to be modifying the facility so that it can launch 43-m long-distance missiles.Another story is apparently being added to the nine-story gantry tower, enabling the North to launch a missile 25 percent longer than the one it tested in Dec. 2012, Hansen said.

Hagel Hopes Deal By End October On US Forces In Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday he hoped an accord on the future US military presence in Afghanistan would be in place by November, despite President Hamid Karzai's refusal to be rushed.
"I hope we'll have that agreement by the end of October, because we just can't move without it," Hagel told US soldiers participating in a live-fire exercise in South Korea.
The United States plans to pull out the bulk of its 57,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and has tentative plans to retain a smaller force of around 10,000 forces after that.
But a new security agreement is needed to allow for the post-2014 presence, including provisions allowing the United States access to various bases.
"We're working with President Karzai and his government to get that bilateral security agreement completed and signed," Hagel said.
"Once we do that, we can and will go forward. That's critically important," he added.
But Karzai has insisted Afghanistan would not be rushed over the negotiations and has even hinted that an agreement might not be finalised before presidential elections in April next year.


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