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The Game Changers

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by CONNAN, Dec 6, 2010.

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  1. CONNAN

    CONNAN Major ELITE MEMBER

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    Like the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, especially after 26/11 has an important peacetime role which requires, to say the least, capability for round the clock surveillance over a huge Oceanic space of 73.6 million kilometres. In addition, the navy, after the launch of the S-2 vessel (indigenous nuclear powered submarine) has the additional deterrence role, which given India’s declared no-first-use nuclear weapons policy is critical, as the undersea vector is more survivable than aircraft and ballistic missile vectors. Given the PLA Navy’s SSN and SSBN capabilities, and now with reports coming in that the Pakistan Navy is acquiring Chinese 5,500ton type 091 Hans class nuclear powered attack submarine, the Indian Navy’s deterrent, at its present level, does not amount to much. Since the government and the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma are silent on the progress of the S-2 and the follow-on vessels, one is compelled to pick up rumours which suggest that technological, materials and management challenges have hamstrung desired results.Given this situation, one would have hoped that like his two predecessors, the CNS, through the dedicated media, would periodically inform the nation on how taxpayers’ money was being spent to build conventional naval capabilities.

    The annual traditional media interaction before the Navy Day on December 4 is woefully inadequate. As the top operational commander in the full knowledge of existing capabilities, he is best placed to explain challenges facing his service for peacetime and possible wartime roles. Considering that India’s land borders are disputed, and it can only seek a strategic role beyond its geographical confines in the Indian Ocean Region, for which major friendly powers including the US have sought maritime cooperation with us, the CNS’ silence is counter-productive as speculations abound. It could be argued that talking to the media may create unnecessary controversy. But is it not a risk that a navy chief, in the larger interest of his service, should be prepared to take? Except for the CNS, no naval officer has the wholesome knowledge or authority to speak on the service. So the update that FORCE is giving here has been collated from various (informed) sources and a visit to the biggest naval station, INS Hansa in Goa.

    The Revolution in Military Affairs for the navy, which refers to speed in the tempo of operations, implies three technological competencies: battle-space awareness (Maritime Domain Awareness) to include Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); advanced Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Interoperability (C4I); and precision force use (precision guided munitions). In war, the navy will be required to both fight battles at sea as well as contribute to land battles. With the arrival of MiG-29K multi-role carrier aircraft at INS Hansa, the choices for the navy to contribute to land battles have increased. Once the whole MiG-29K complement is in place atop the 44,570 ton INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov), and on the 37,500ton Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (new INS Vikrant) expected to join service by 2015, the navy will be in a position to complement the Indian Air Force, especially in a two-front hostilities situation. The MiG-29K, built specifically for the Indian Navy, is unlike the MiG-29 air superiority aircraft with the Indian Air Force. It is two-and-half times heavier, with full automation, digital fly-by-wire, common Mil Bus to integrate non-Russian weapons of western origin, four weapon stations under each wing, and can do air-to-air and buddy refuelling. “Mig-29K has the capability to be pitched back into the battle,†is how an admiral put it, implying its multi-role capability to switch between air-to-air, air-to-sea, and air-to-land missions. This clearly gives three earlier unavailable operational advantages to navy planners. One, the MiG-29K can undertake deep penetration strikes on land while ensuring that the carrier stays beyond the radius of the enemy’s shore-based strikes. Two, the MiG-29K weapon load carrying capacity equals that of Su-30MKI. And three, it has excellent endurance being able to spend two-and-half times more on task than any other aircraft (Sea Harrier) with the Indian Navy. Given these benefits, the MiG-29K unit at INS Hansa is the envy of the station.

    FORCE - A Complete News Magazine on National Security - Defence Magazine
     
  2. CONNAN

    CONNAN Major ELITE MEMBER

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    Commanding Officer, Intensive Flying, Trial and Testing Unit (MiG-29K), Cdr A.D. Theophilus
    ‘By the middle of next year, we expect all the 16 MiG-29K to be here’


    What are the capabilities of MiG-29K that you will be exploiting here?
    We needed an aircraft that could perform air to air, air to sea (anti-ship) and to some extent, air-to-ground roles. MiG-29K has been designed to perform all these three roles and has given us the capability to perform in all the three dimensions. Moreover, as it is a bigger aircraft with the state of the art equipment, it gives us greater accuracy.

    What were the navy’s requirements given to the Russians for the development of this aircraft?
    We wanted a completely multi-role fighter that could operate from the aircraft carrier. It had to be big enough to travel far and small enough to fit on the carrier. Though it is bigger than MiG-29B that the IAF operates, it has folding wings, which gives it a snug fit on the carrier. They were giving us analog fly-by-wire, but we asked for digital-fly-by wire with a lot of automation. In this respect, they have lived up to what we asked for.

    Will you be able to put western origin weapon system on this aircraft?
    The trend in fighters worldwide is to make a common bus which is the supply of the aircraft, since everything is electronically triggered. Hence, if the supply is not common you cannot integrate various weapon systems that are onboard. For this reason, all over NATO you have a common Mil Bus that runs on the aircraft. The Russians have also created a similar Mil Bus on the aircraft this time. As far as western weapons systems are concerned, it is only a matter of integrating them if we need to.

    What is the weapon load that MiG-29K can carry?
    It has four stations on each wing. So, it depends on us, as to how many weapons we want to carry. If we want to carry extra fuel, we carry less weapons, depending upon the role.

    How many fighters have you got already and how many more are expected in what time frame?
    India has contracted for MiG-29K in two phases. The first contract was for 16 aircraft followed by another for 29. The delivery of the first phase has started and we have got six aircraft here. By the middle of next year, we expect all the 16 aircraft to be here.

    What is the role of your unit?
    This is an Intensive Flying, Trial and Testing Unit (IFTTU) whose job is to prove the aircraft, both fly-worthiness and role-worthiness. Once that is done, this unit will get commissioned as INAS 303. We are hoping that this should happen in the first quarter of the next year.

    What infrastructure will eventually come up for this aircraft?
    Three hangars are coming up, one of which is ready now. Then a simulator complex is getting ready apart from the administrative building. We are also building various store houses for spares, armaments and so on.

    Where did the pilot training happen?
    The Navy had initially sent pilots to Russia for training. Subsequently, more pilots are being trained in India. Their ground training is already over and now the flight training is going to commence soon.

    How will MiG-29Ks change the station as well as the naval aviation operations?
    MiG-29Ks are going to change the way we operate aircraft at sea. Their induction is going to definitively enhance our capabilities. Besides substantially stretching our air defence umbrella from what we currently have, we will get viable shore-strike capability with the MiG-29Ks. In addition to beyond visual range missiles, anti-ship missiles and precision guided munitions, the fighter also has buddy tanking capabilities. All this will extend the range of our operations and also give many tactical options, in addition to giving the fleet commander a very viable and potent weapon platform.

    What is the induction schedule for the MiG-29Ks?

    The first contract is for 16 aircraft. Six have already come, of which we have accepted four and we expect others to follow shortly. I understand that we have signed a subsequent contract for 29 additional MiG-29Ks. This should cater for, I believe, two squadrons and adequate reserves.

    How effective can the LCA Navy be for carrier-based roles given that it is only an eight ton platform? What endurance can it have and what loads can it carry?
    I wish we could straightaway develop a Rafale. But seriously, we have to look at the Indian Navy and its commitment towards indigenisation. I agree that we have made a modest start, but it has been a huge learning experience. LCA Navy will remain a modest platform with an uprated engine which will give us adequate capability at sea. It may not be what we want but it is our own aircraft. We are committed to being a builder’s navy. While it is easy to buy from abroad, sometimes it is extremely difficult to support those platforms. Our past experiences tell us that it is worth committing resources to develop our own assets.

    Is there a possibility of the navy looking for another fighter, even after MiG-29K?

    We are looking at what further capabilities we can acquire in a given time frame. And I believe that the decision on the next generation fighter will have to be taken well in time because it is synchronised with our ship-building plans. It is very difficult to build a ship when you don’t know which fighter will go on it. I think the next generation fighter will be for the follow-on to IAC II.

    FORCE - A Complete News Magazine on National Security - Defence Magazine
     
  3. RoYaN

    RoYaN Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    now we know what the Navy wan't from the LCA-N
     
  4. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Going by Cdr. Theophilius's description of IN's requirements from the MiG-29, the aircraft seems like some MRCA.
     
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