Saturday, 26 January 2013

New military systems brighten Republic Day parade




by Ajai Shukla
New Delhi, Business Standard, 26th Jan 13


This year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi, a traditional showcase for India’s defence arsenal, featured an unusually large number of brand new military systems. At the very start four brand new Mi-17V5 helicopters flew past carrying the national flag, and these were followed by several other systems that were making their debut before the public.

This is noteworthy, given the flak that the defence ministry (MoD) has taken for endemic delays in procuring equipment for modernising the ageing military. But now, after years of restructuring its procurement institutions and regulations, the MoD appears to be delivering much-needed weaponry to the three services.

The most eye-popping new system on display today was the Agni-5 ballistic missile, which can carry a thermo-nuclear warhead to a target 5000 kilometres away. The giant 17.5-metre long, 50-tonne, three-stage missile rolled down Rajpath (New Delhi’s presidential avenue) on a special launcher vehicle built by a private Indian company. The Agni-5, built by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) was successfully tested last April. After 2-3 more successful tests it will join the Strategic Forces Command.

The DRDO’s success in missile development was reflected in the awards won by three top DRDO scientists. Dr VK Saraswat, the DRDO chief and Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri, a key member of India’s missile development programmes for decades, was awarded the Padma Bhushan. So too was Dr Sivathanu Pillai, who oversees the Brahmos cruise missile programme, while Dr Avinash Chander, the DRDO’s chief controller of missile development, was awarded the Padma Shri.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was relieved to display, even though it was a scaled-down model, the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II basic trainer aircraft that was recently procured from Swiss manufacturer, Pilatus, for Rs 1,800 crore. With the IAF’s basic trainer fleet of HPT-32 Deepak aircraft grounded after the deaths of 19 pilots in 17 crashes, this basic trainer aircraft will fill a crucial gap.

Also showcased on the IAF tableau was the C-17 Globemaster III, the purchase of which signaled that New Delhi was willing to pay big money for world-class systems. The IAF is paying Rs 22,800 crore for ten C-17s, making it the largest operator of this transport aircraft outside the US. Boeing will deliver the first five C-17s this year, with the next five coming in 2014. India is expected to place a follow-on order for this aircraft, which it needs for quickly reinforcing threatened sectors along the remote, Himalayan, northern border. The C-17 can deliver 74 tonnes of stores to a one-kilometre-long unpaved runway 4,500 kilometres away.

Another expensive, new aircraft featured on the IAF tableau was the AW-101 AgustaWestland helicopter. The MoD has bought twelve of these helicopters for Rs 3,550 crore for VVIP transportation. Delivery has begun, even as the Italian company is investigated in its home country after allegations of bribes paid to facilitate this and other contracts.

Another new IAF display was the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, which the DRDO is developing. These indigenous airborne radars, which are mounted on Embraer executive jets, will greatly enhance the IAF’s ability to monitor Indian airspace and control the aerial battle. The AEW&C will operate at one-eighth the cost of the Phalcon Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) that the IAF currently uses.

Besides the IAF, the Indian Navy showcased the warships it is inducting. Most prominent amongst these was the nuclear-propelled attack submarine, INS Chakra, which was displayed on the navy’s tableau. The 12,000-tonne Chakra, which India has leased from Russia for ten years for about Rs 4,800 crore, joined the eastern naval fleet in April. With virtually unlimited operating endurance, the Chakra greatly strengthens the navy’s ability to choke off enemy shipping at Indian Ocean choke points like the Strait of Malacca.

Also displayed on the naval tableau, but not yet delivered, was the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov in the Russian Navy. This jinxed vessel was bought in 2004 for Rs 5,000 crore and was to be delivered in 2008. By last year, the price was up to Rs 12,500 crore. Close to delivery, the vessel’s engine boilers failed during its final sea trials last September, leading to a delay of about a year. Now the MoD says the Vikramaditya “will join the naval fleet by the end of this year.”

 Meanwhile, Russia has begun delivering to the navy the 19 MiG-29K/KUB fighters that will fly from the Vikramaditya. A follow-on order for 26 more Mig-29K/KUB has been placed on Russia.

Next year’s Republic Day parade could feature two more crucial aircraft. Firstly, the navy’s P8I Multi-Role Maritime Aircraft (MMA) that will enhance “maritime domain awareness” over India’s 2.54 million square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The second could be the Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft, the purchase of which is currently being negotiated with Dassault of France. It is expected that negotiations will be concluded by mid-2013. While the first Rafale, which Dassault would deliver in flyaway condition, can only be expected by 2015, the IAF tableau would certainly feature the Rafale if the contract is signed this year.

The army’s presence, as always, mainly took the form of marching infantry contingents, a colourful and impressive sight. Given the army’s relatively sluggish procurement machinery, it had little to display by way of new equipment. There are plans for upgrading the soldier’s personal equipment, weaponry and clothing, but for now the Indian Army remains predominantly a light infantry force that consists mainly of lightly equipped foot soldiers that can operate across thousands of miles of high-altitude mountain border.

18 comments:

parthvader said...

Wasn't Agni 5 supposed to have a canister? Never seen one till this date.

Mr. RA said...

Whatever the politics, but the parade was really impressive. I liked the Arjun-Mk1 and Agni-5 the most.

Anonymous said...

Hi ajai,
That is a nice article on the republic day display. Hopefully all the three services will have enough to show next year too.

Anonymous said...

IA is interested in... manufacturing new scams... like sukna... adarsh... tejinder scam... as IA's generals consider... its soldiers as... cannon fodder... and IA's generals... are arm chair... generals... they just jet set... in a safe theatre and... jet out at the slightest trouble... on executive jets...

praeep Dalvi said...

what about us and the Inf. No new tanks/ICVs. what about Ni fighting capabilities for us and the inf warrior. what about A/Tk msl replacement to current one. The list is huge. Just by raising Mtn corps are we satisfied with it, How about equipping them.

Anonymous said...

totally indigenous systems...goog to see except BMPs..

Sleeper said...

Aiaiji,

You said that Rafale would cost $25 billion for 126 fighters.

Now the french are pressing for 189 planes. If that happens, the total cost would become $37 billion.

In that case wont the deal be cancelled ? The govt doesnt have that many funds as far as I know.

RS said...

A feel good article....

Anonymous said...

Shuklaji

Which is the Army regiment in the FIRST Photo

Green Turbans DAMN it

Int64 said...

you forgot to mention Arjun. It might ot be new but it was a good feeling to see it on republic day parade. I hope it comes as an impressive tank and army inducts it in more numbers in coming days.

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Nitpicking....

The Embraers are just plain jets....use by executives will make them Executive Jets. Use by the Air Force will make them military platforms.

Viz said...

Ajaiji,
How can the Nirbhay use an engine from NPO Saturn ?

Doesnt this violate the MTCR treaty ?

Anonymous said...

Arey bhai, Saffron turbans would've raised the hackles of all and sundry, starting from the ruling elite to the media to the secular cabal.

Returned to Unit (RTU) said...

Anonymous @ 20:31

It is the Punjab Regiment. It is one of the oldest regiments and has taken part in various battles and wars winning numerous honors for the same. It is one of the most acclaimed regiments of the Indian Army. They instill fear in the hearts of the enemy where ever they go. One of the finest soldiers I have ever come across

Your comment suffixed with "damn" was not understood. It seems you do not like their green turbans. How does it make a difference? It is part of their uniform. You just manage to stay away from them!

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 20:31. It is a Punjab Regiment !

Anonymous said...

The infantry marching contingents were conspicuous for their garish uniforms, seem to get louder and loonier each passing year! Their marching was notable for emulating the Delhi Police drill style of yesteryears - Exaggerated arm swing to the front, twisted fists on the rear swing, giant goose-step on 'eyes right' accompanied by a collective drill-square Synchronisation yell of 'khali-ek'! It all adds up - if you want something screwed, give it to the infantry! Contrary to their own opinions, they are the rust that is corroding the Army edifice!

Returned to Unit (RTU) said...

Anonymous at 09:16
It is your opinion. The Oxford Dictionary defines “Opinion” as – “A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge”. I do not want to change your opinion but I being an infantry man would like to submit the following for your kind consideration. I will begin with a quote.

"The infantry doesn't change. We're the only arm of the military where the weapon is the man himself." Maj Gen C T Shortis.

What you saw on the Republic Day was the ceremonial dress. It may look garish to your eyes but for many it is so glamorous that it motivates them to join the army. At least it worked in my case. In battle the soldier wears a different dress. I can assure you it does not look garish to our enemy across the border. Very often they only hear the battle cry before all hell breaks loose.

Khali-ek translates to a phrase that means "One for all, all for one" in English. It is also the traditional motto of Switzerland. The phrase, in Latin is “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno”, in German it is “Einer für alle, alle für einen”, in French it is “un pour tous, tous pour un”, in Italian it is “Uno per tutti, tutti per uno” and in in Romansh it is “In per tuts, tuts per in”. It is often used to evoke a sense of duty and solidarity and national unity in the population of a country. I feel this should be the war cry for all Indians specially the youngsters who our country.

The Infantry Regiments are the oldest branch of combat arms. They are still the backbone of modern armies. Infantry units have more physically demanding training than other branches of armies, and place a greater emphasis on discipline, physical strength, fitness and spontaneous sustained aggression. The infantryman himself, with or without his personal weapon, is considered a weapon system. Instead of belittling our soldiers if you could imbibe their discipline and their dedication, instead of focusing on how high their goose step is if you could see how high their moral is, and instead of seeing them as rust that corrodes the army edifice if you could see them as the only organisation in the country which is truly secular I would be happy. If you chose to do neither I will still be happy with the knowledge that your opinion does not count

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