Highly mobile combat missions that require fast action
Single seat helicopters were never common and two-seat helicopter gunships first appeared in the late 1960s (the AH-1). In the 1990s, Russia began introducing two-seat helicopter gunships equipped with electronic flight controls (fly-by-wire) and found that this could be supplied in such a way that the cost difference was not enormous and combat performance was not compromised. This also allows quickly getting new pilots, up to speed, on how to handle this much more capable and complex gunship. Fly-by-wire technology replaces mechanical linkages for flight controls, with electronic commands sent over wire. It is more reliable, and saves weight. This was not just for training but so both crew members can be pilots and fly the aircraft. This would come in handy if the designated pilot is wounded. One crew position will still have the weapons controls and the two pilots could switch roles as pilot and weapons officer.
The Indian Air Force has announced the purchase of 7.62 x 51 mm caliber heavy machine guns along with associated spare parts, that would be mounted on to these helicopters for military operations. The guns should have an effective range of 1,000 meters or should be able to aim day or night with appropriate magnification in both environments. The document indicates that the helicopters would be deployed at the western border. Interestingly, the Indian Air Force is not seeking to purchase the machine guns under the transfer of technology arrangement. However, vendors are to indicate their capability to execute the project and provide product support including technical support for maintenance of the equipment during its service life including warranty. The service life of the facility should be at least 10 years.
Evidently, DRDO was invited by HAL to weaponize after the platform was developed which led to re-designing and delays.
They grew professionally in a culture that stressed the fact they were scouts who executed their mission in an aerial platform specifically adapted for their mission. This mindset and culture truly set them apart from their attack-helicopter brothers. There was a clear difference in cultures and training between air-cavalry-troop aero scouts and "gun pilots" from attack-helicopter companies. The division of labor allowed each to focus on what they did best.
Aero scout aircrews operated in a "head out of the hatch" manner with maximum peripheral vision – something UAS operators have not replicated with their "soda-straw" view of the battlefield. Linked to ground-control stations, Shadow, Gray Eagle and other similar UAS operators lack the ability to coordinate on the spot or achieve the feel for the situation as aero scout aircrews could.
Mil Mi-24 Crocodile (NATO reporting name: "Hind" refers to a female deer) large helicopter gunship and attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers. Soviet pilots called them the "flying tank". The Mi-24D ("Hind D") was a purer gunship than the earlier variants. It entered production in 1973.
The 1980s Indian versions were nicknamed Mi-24 "Akbar". The IAF operated two squadrons of Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack gunship helicopters (No.104 Firebirds and No.125 Gladiators) , which the Apache AH-64E will replace.
The Mi-24D has a redesigned forward fuselage, with two separate cockpits for the pilot and gunner. It is armed with a single 12.7-mm four-barrel Yak-B machine-gun under the nose. It can carry four 57-mm rocket pods, four SACLOS 9M17 Phalanga anti-tank missiles (a significant enhancement compared to the MCLOS system found on the Mi-24A), plus bombs and other weapons. It had set speed records, touching over 350kmph, found the lethal Stinger missiles impossible to evade. Dozens were Soviet Mi-35 shot down between 1986 and 1988.
The Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987–90) in Sri Lanka used Mi-24 when an Indian Air Force detachment was deployed there in support of the Indian and Sri Lankan armed forces in their fight against various Tamil militant groups such as the LTTE. It is believed that Indian losses were considerably reduced by the heavy fire support provided by their Mi-24 gunships. The Indians lost no Mi-24s in the operation.
Mi-24V gunship helicopter was exported as the Mi-35 ("Hind E"). Indian versions were nicknamed "Akbar". It was armed with the more advanced 9M114 Shturm (AT-6 Spiral). Eight of those missile are mounted on four outer wing pylons. It was the most widely produced version with more than 1,500 made. The Mi-35 is the main Indian attack helicopter in service.
The newest Hind version, Mi-24VM export version, the Mi-35M went into serial production in 2005 and is distinguished by its improved construction. It is equipped with the latest Klimov-produced powerful VK-2500 turboshaft engines, fibreglass main rotor blades, main rotor head with elastomeric joints, a new swashplate and X-type tail rotor. The Mi-35M’s fuselage boasts shortened stub wings and fixed landing gear.
The Mi-35M boasts enhanced flight capabilities, and can be operated at high temperatures and in mountainous terrain. The Mi-35M’s design ensures low noise levels, greater combat resilience, and reduces the workload on maintenance staff.
India has long realised the need to field a fleet of attack helicopters. For more than 20 years the Indian Air Force (IAF) has relied solely on Russian-built Mi-25 and Mi-35 Hind helicopters. The first Mi-25 Hinds arrived in 1984, and the upgraded Mi-35 in 1990. A number of refurbished Mi-35 helicopters were also reportedly received from Kyrgyzstan in 1995. The Mi-25/35s are operated by No.104 “Firebirds” Squadron and No.125 “Gladiators” Squadron.
Certainly these elderly craft from the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant are showing their age, and the conflict in Kargil in 1999 revealed their shortcomings in terms of high-altitude performance. Weighing in at 8,500kg empty and possessing a compartment that can accommodate eight troops or four stretchers, the Mi-35 is large and cumbersome. A ceiling of 4,500m, as well as this lack of manoeuvrability, is a severe disadvantage in India’s unique topography. Hemmed in to the north by the Himalaya Mountains soaring in places more than 8,000m above sea level, and spanning desert plains in the west that reach a scorching 50ºC, such diverse geography places impositions on helicopter performance. The extremes of summer and winter exacerbate the amount of lift a helicopter can achieve.
To improve the effectiveness of its Mi-25/35 fleet and to give a better all-weather capability, India selected the Mission 24 upgrade package from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in 1998, featuring a nose-mounted sensor turret including a forward-looking infrared (FLIR), CCD TV, laser rangefinder, designator and auto-tracker. This cost-competitive contract for 25 upgrade kits was worth USD20 million. Tamam, a division of IAI, integrated the Helicopter Multi-mission Optronic Stabilised Payload (HMOSP), which is mounted in a nose-mounted turret ball. The HMOSP’s forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR) incorporates a monochrome/colour CCD TV camera, as well as laser rangefinder, designator and auto-tracker. The HMOSP integrated the 9K114 Shturm-V antitank guided missile (ATGM) guidance system, completely replacing the original Raduga-F daytime optical tracking system. No changes were made to the airframe, engines, transmission or flight control system, but this Mission 24 upgrade was a quantum leap forward in giving Indian pilots the ability to operate at night and in poor weather.
IAI’s upgrade depends upon a MIL-STD-1553B data bus and new mission computer. The cockpit was made night vision goggle (NVG) compatible using IAI equipment. Self-defence equipment was upgraded with IAI chaff/flare dispenser units, plus Elta radar/laser warning systems. Such upgraded Mi-35 helicopters with the Mission 24 package were displayed publicly for the first time in 2003.
After modernising its attack helicopter fleet a decade ago, India needs to improve its capability again in this area. The need is especially urgent in light of enduring border tensions with its twin nemesis, Pakistan and China. India has come up with a twin-track solution to the problem of modernising its attack helicopter inventory by pursuing both high-end and low-end attack helicopters.
The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Rudra (gunship) ALH provides similar solutions, for overlapping missions, from two different platform.
Z-19 attack helicopter is an updated version of the Harbin Z-9W, with a similar mechanical layout to the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin series as the Z-9 series are licence-built versions of the Dauphin. It has been optimised for warfare at higher altitudes. Z-19E is a stealth version. All versions have their tandem-seated cockpit armored and are equipped with the 23mm cannon. The Z-19 cannot carry passengers.
U.S. authorities said China had been trying to develop a specialized modern military attack helicopter since the 1980s. But since the Chinese government's 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, the U.S. government has prohibited the export to China of U.S. defense equipment and technology.
Beginning in the 1990s, a U.S. official said, China began an effort to develop a military attack helicopter but under the guise of a civilian helicopter program.
The Canadian subsidiary, the Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation, violated the Arms Export Control Act by providing the Chinese with 10 engines to power Z-10 helicopters in 2001 and 2002, according to an announcement by the United States attorney’s office for the District of Connecticut. Technology for the engines, the authorities said, had originally been created for United States military helicopters.
“Due in part to the efforts of these companies, China was able to develop its first modern military attack helicopter with restricted U.S. defense technology,” said Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for National Security. Western experts said the Z-10 is developing into one of the world's most modern and capable combat helicopters. Full production of the Z-10 powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines would give Chinese military forces unprecedented levels of "aerial artillery" to support any amphibious invasion and subsequent operations against Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, according to Richard Fisher, an expert on China's military application of so-called dual-use technologies.
In April, a California man was sentenced to 46 months in prison for exporting thermal-imaging cameras to China.
Fein said the company “took what it described internally as a calculated risk, because it wanted to become the exclusive supplier for a civil helicopter market in China with projected revenues of up to 2 billion dollars.” Ultimately, the Chinese government chose not to award the company contracts for civilian helicopters.
ps: A major US defence contractor, United Technologies, told a US court that it may have violated an embargo on export of controlled technology to China. The company agreed to the pay a USD 75 million fine in connection with the export violation.
China on Thursday confirmed it had developed its first modern military attack helicopter Z-10, but denied reports that the chopper was a replica of stolen United States Black Hawk technology.
According to its plans, the Army wants to raise attack chopper squadrons as part of its strike corps and then at every corps level. While the procurement for 22 choppers was mooted by the IAF, the army has put in a strong case for inducting the machines as they are meant for close operations. The Army had pushed for the 11 helicopters to be procured quickly, but the Govt. has cleared only 6 at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore. The Army has now moved a proposal to purchase 39 Apaches for its aviation wing. The Army has also ordered 60 Rudra from HAL, while the IAF has ordered 16.
This sort of problem between the army and air force is not unique to India and is actually quite common. It all started back in the 1920s, a decade after aircraft became a major military asset. For example, at the start of World War I (1914-18), the British Royal Navy had more aircraft than the Royal Flying Corps (which belonged to the army). But at the end of World War I, it was decided to put all aircraft under the control of the new Royal Air Force (the former Royal Flying Corps). The navy was not happy with this and just before World War II broke out, the admirals got back control of their aircraft, at least the ones that operated from ships (especially aircraft carriers). The British army expanded its Army Air Corps during World War II, to gain control over artillery spotter aircraft, gliders (for parachute divisions), and a few other transports for supporting commando operations. After World War II the Army Air Corps mainly controlled the growing fleet of transport and attack helicopters. British Royal Air Force generals still demand control of everything that flies, believing that this is more efficient. Thus the Indian Air force, like its British counterpart tended to keep trying to control everything that flew.
For the IAF, which has zealously guarded its turf, especially the two attack helicopter squadrons it has so far operated, this decision will come as a blow. Almost every major army in the world operates its own combat support aviation fleet. At the very least the army needs to control its helicopters and some small transports. In Russia the army always controlled ground attack aircraft, as well as some fighters. In the United States the Marine Corps controlled its own fighters, light bombers, and helicopters.
Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne flippantly wondered whether the Navy would comply if the coast guard wanted its own submarines. On Monday, speaking at the 80th IAF Day celebrations in Hindon, outside Delhi, Browne pooh-poohed the idea of the Army having a dedicated combat support helicopter fleet, dismissively stating that IAF could not allow “little air forces doing things of their own” and would prefer to continue the 1986 Joint Army and Air Implementation Instruction (Army to fly only small helicopters like cheetah-chetak).
It may also be recalled that India signed the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUM) and Enhanced End User Monitoring Agreement (EEUM) to import these missiles. Both these agreements are largely aimed at securing the missiles in safe storage and use by IAF or Indian Armed Forces only. DSCA issued another notification to Congress 21 December for 21 more Harpoon Block II missiles, that are to be carried by the eight Boeing P8-I maritime reconnaissance aircraft that the Indian Navy is buying. An order for four more these highly sophisticated aircraft is under process. The maximum value is mentioned at $ 200 million, but should be less in actual deal. Notably, DSCA includes several options while submitting requests to Congress, so that a customer does not have to apply again and again for different items.
Currently, powered by two T700-GE-701C engines, the upgraded AH-64D Apache features an advanced sensor suite, a glass cockpit, AN / APG-78 Longbow millimetre-wave fire control radar (FCR) target acquisition systems and a radar frequency interferometer (RFI). Moreover, the helicopter is armed with a 30mm chain gun, 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.
The 10-ton AH-64 can operate at night and has a top speed of 260 kms per hour. Sorties average 90 minutes but can be extended to 3 hours or more by replacing weapons with fuel tanks. The helicopter is in the same weight class as the Z-10 and is also two times heavier than the LCH when carrying the same payload in weapons, fuel and crew. Apache is a brute-force machine, matching the LCH up to the Himalayas for payload, but losing out in agility.
U.S. Army has announced a two-year contract, part of the Army's Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) program, that will support the design of an advanced 3,000 shaft horsepower turbine engine - Advanced Turbine Engine Company's (ATEC) HPW3000. The HPW3000 features an efficient dual-spool architecture and utilizes many of the latest gas turbine engine technologies. The Army specifications require that the new engine be 50% more powerful, 25 percent more fuel efficient, and provide 20% longer engine life over the current engine, while also meeting stringent performance goals in high altitude and hot conditions at 6,000 feet and 95°F. When factoring in savings from decreased fuel consumption and lowered operating and support costs, the HPW3000 is expected to offer potential annual savings of $1 billion, compared with the current engine in the Black Hawk and Apache fleets.
The first $1.4bn contract covers delivery of 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters. The Apache deal is hybrid, with one contract to be signed with Boeing for helicopters, and another with the US Government for 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles and 12 AN/APG-78 fire-control radars. The Apaches will replace Russian Mi-25/35 helicopters. The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been sparring over who should operate the Apaches.
Singapore joined the Apache club when it signed up for 20 AH-64D Longbow craft in 1999-2001. Indeed there are approximately 1,200 Apaches in service worldwide, with South Korea and Taiwan both seeking to add them to their fleets. Since 2006, Japan has been license-producing the Apache AH-64DJP via Fuji Heavy Industries, but the initial order for 50 craft was downsized because of funding shortfalls. Japan also flies the AH-1 Cobra, as do the Asian nations of Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Australia is part of the attack helicopter fraternity, too, and it will eventually field 22 Eurocopter Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARH).
Apache is one of the two combat helicopters that have competed last year for IAF’s global tender for 22 combat helicopters to replace and update its inventory of old, Soviet Vintage Mi 35 (basically Mi 24) helicopters. The other helicopter in competition is the Russian Mi 28.
Able to provide direct fire support to ground troops and to engage enemy armoured vehicles, attack helicopters are rightly considered indispensable in modern warfare. The 1990s could be seen as the attack helicopter’s coming of age as witnessed by the success of the Apache in Operation Desert Storm. All major military powers operate this potent asset in some form or other. The US Army, for instance, possesses approximately 740 AH-64 Apache helicopters built by Boeing, while the US Marine Corps (USMC) flies nearly 170 AH-1W Super Cobras manufactured by Bell.
The process of acquiring a replacement for the Mi-35 Hind has been tortuous. At the end of May 2008, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 22 twin-engine attack helicopters. Contenders were to be in the 2,500+kg class, and needed to be capable of high-altitude operations. This deal, including associated weaponry, was initially flagged at an estimated USD550 million. Original competitors comprised a mix of Russian, European and American manufacturers including: AgustaWestland AW129 Mangusta, Bell AH-1Z Viper, Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow, Eurocopter Tiger, Kamov Ka-50 and Mil Mi-28 Havoc. However, as often occurs with Indian military procurements, the tender was abruptly cancelled in March 2009. The alleged reason was that India wanted to purchase directly from the manufacturer, but the USA only allows government-to-government sales of such sensitive military equipment. Thus to the dissatisfaction of the MoD, Boeing and Bell did not enter their respective contenders.
The RFP for 22 attack helicopters was reissued in May 2009, although this time Eurocopter did not enter its Tiger HAD. According to Rainer Farid, Eurocopter’s South Asia Regional Sales Director, the reason was that the finalised Tiger version would not have been ready in time, and the Indian MoD refused to grant a time extension. However, there was a widely held supposition that American craft were preferred, and this may have influenced Eurocopter’s decision. Mil entered its Mi-28N Night Hunter, and AgustaWestland a customised A129. Boeing lodged its entry in October 2009, the same time as it officially proffered the CH-47F Chinook for a separate IAF requirement for 15 heavy-lift helicopters. Reflecting the urgency and complexity of the attack helicopter requirement, India is not demanding offsets in relation to this procurement.
The competition has since been narrowed to just two competitors – the American Apache and Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter. The IAF commenced trials of the Apache in July 2010, after delivery from the USA by C-17 aircraft. Testing took place at Jaisalmer (in Rajasthan in the heart of the Thar Desert), followed by high-altitude trials at Leh (in mountainous Jammu and Kashmir) in August. Associated maintenance and weapon trials occurred in the USA. The Apache proposal is offered jointly by Boeing and the US Army, and it constitutes a direct commercial sale. If declared the winner, Boeing will manufacture Indian craft at its facility in Mesa, Arizona. Dean Millsap, a spokesman for of Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, believes the clinching argument in favour of the Apache will be its AN/APG-78 millimetre-wave Longbow Fire Control Radar (FCR). Mounted atop the main rotor, the FCR offers maximum detection capability, plus the ability to share information with friendly assets. The latest Apache standard is the Block III, with the first US Army unit to be deployed by November 2012. Local reports stated Indian test pilots were impressed with the Apache’s firepower, as well as its situational awareness.
On 22 December 2010, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of Apaches to India. Notification of the potential USD1.4 billion deal for 22 AH-64D Apache Block III craft in no way confirms the sale, but US governmental approval is a necessary step if Boeing’s proposal is to proceed. Early notification will also speed up the process should the Indian MoD opt for the Apache. DSCA has sought congressional approval to clear: A possible sale of 50 T700-GE-701D engines, 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars, 12 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometers, 812 AGM-114L-3 HELLFIRE LONGBOW missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 HELLFIRE II missiles, 245 STINGER Block I-92H missiles, and 23 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors, rockets, training and dummy missiles, 30mm ammunition, transponders, simulators, global positioning system/inertial navigation systems, communication equipment, spare and repair parts; tools and test equipment, support equipment, repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support to be provided in conjunction with a proposed direct commercial sale of 22 AH-64D Block III APACHE Helicopters.
- The Air to Air Stinger is a modification of the shoulder-fired Stinger that the US supplied to Afghans to attack Soviet helicopters in the 1980s.
- It may be noted that IAF concluded a deal for 24 Boeing anti-ship Harpoon AGM-84L Block II missiles for about $ 170 million recently. To be delivered in about two years, these missiles are to be carried by IAF’s Jaguar maritime squadrons, which have enhanced vigil over the high seas after the Pakistani terrorists’ 26/11 attack on Mumbai in 2008.
“Our high-performing, reliable sensor system for the Apache helicopter will give Indian Army aviators the ability to acquire, engage and destroy adversary threats from extended ranges,” said Mike Taylor, director of international and sustainment programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. The US Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $107.8 million foreign military sale contract to provide Modernised Target Acquisition Designation Sight Night Vision Sensor systems to the Indian Army. Fielded in 2005, M-TADS/PNVS provides Apache pilots with long-range, precision engagement and pilotage capabilities for safe flight during day, night and adverse weather missions. The forward-looking infrared sensors’ enhanced image resolution enable Apache aircrews to accurately identify targets and provide situational awareness to ground troops outside of detection ranges.
In Afghanistan, where the AH-64s fly at high altitudes, where the thin air means less lift, the Longbow system was often removed. Losing 3% of your weight made a difference in performance. In Iraq, the high heat, and abundant dust, makes the Longbow electronics more prone to breakdown.
The combination of Longbow, Arrowhead, and Internet capabilities greatly increased the capabilities of the AH-64. The Longbow allowed the AH-64 to go after armored vehicles at night and in bad weather. Longbow was doubly lethal because it was designed to avoid giving away its position when using its radar. AH-64s also had electronic countermeasures. TADS/PNVS "Arrowhead" was a major shift from the previous Longbow fire control system developed in the 1990s.
Arrowhead got a boost after the Iraq invasion in 2003, which was followed by a growing amount of urban fighting. This created the need for an AH-64 that could hover at 800 meters (2,500 feet) altitude (safe from most small arms fire) and use its high resolution sensors to see who was doing what for out to 8 kilometers away. Arrowhead made night and bad weather deadly for enemy troops thinking they could sneak through urban areas unobserved. Longbow could not spot these guys, but Arrowhead could and did. It uses the latest night vision devices (light enhancement and thermal, or heat, based) and fire control electronics to enable AH-64 crews to operate more safely, and effectively, at lower altitudes and in any weather. This is particularly critical in urban areas. Arrowhead cost an extra $6.8 million per helicopter.
South Korea had plenty of evidence that North Korean troops trained to use tactics that Arrowhead proved it could handle. The latest AH-64E exercise using Hellfire missiles made it clear that South Korea was now ready to handle North Korean gunboats and high speed hovercraft North Korea had stationed on the west coast for landing commandos. What makes the AH-64 so effective is that it is combat proven, reliable and carries sixteen Hellfire missiles. Each one can be used to destroy individual vehicles (including tanks) or ships (especially the small, fast ones North Korea depends on). Moreover the Arrowhead system had proved itself during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In September 2007, Turkey placed an order for 51 (plus 41 options) A129 helicopters for the attack and tactical reconnaissance (ATAK) programme. Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI) is the prime contractor and is responsible for final assembly of the helicopter, which will be designated T129. AgustaWestland and Aselsan are the main subcontractors.
T129 multi-role attack helicopter is modified variant of the upgraded version of Agusta A129 Mangusta. The T129 is the result of the integration of Turkish developed high-tech avionics and weapon systems onto the combat proven AgustaWestland A129 airframe, with upgraded engines, transmission and rotor blades. It will use the more powerful Honeywell & Rolls-Royce developed LHTEC T800 (CTS800-4) engine. It also shares it weakness of maximum take off load (but it carries more payload) and optimal radar based weapon system (only a highly sensitive channelised ESM receiver with a high gain antenna and low noise receivers can reliably detect such a signal, under optimal antenna pointing conditions).
The T129B is armed with a 20mm gatling style gun on a nose turret and can carry a payload of 8 to 12 Roketsan-developed UMTAS anti-tank missiles (Turkish indigenous development similar to Hellfire II) CIRIT, and 2 AIM-92 Stinger air-air missile pods. It will be able to carry combinations of 70 mm rocket pods, Stinger air-air missile pods and gun pods on its stub wing pylons.
Apache Longbow, and provides clearly unprecedented lethality in comparison with helicopters using only thermal imaging sights and laser guided missiles. Turkey's MMW radar developed by Meteksan is based on Israeli ELTA's surveillance and targeting radar with SAR and ISAR capability, has been added on the top of the rotor.
During the Kargil Conflict in 1999 when an Indian Mi-17 was shot down by a shoulder fired air defence missile. The Mi-17 was not built to fly at a height of 16000 ft but it was still continuously used by India to attack Pakistani positions in Kargil. After the war ended the need arised to have a dedicated attack helicopter with a capability to fly at high altitudes.
The LCH is a 5.5 tonne multi-role combat chopper and is a derivative of the ‘Dhruv’ advanced light helicopter ALH already in service with the Armed Forces. The LCH is designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will be able to operate at high altitudes in the range of 6000-7000 metres. It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can operate at heights of 12,000 feet. Presently, four technology demonstrators are under flight testing. The IAF has out forward a requirement for 65 LCH and the Army for 114 of these attack helicopters.
The LCH is powered by two HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turbo-shaft engine and equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems like the 20 millimeter French Giat-Nexter gun. The features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection and low visibility features which makes the helicopter lethal, agile and survivable. The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the helmet pointed sight and electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera / FLIR / laser range finder(LRF) / laser designator (LD). The LCH is fitted with self protection suite consisting of radar/laser missile warning systems and countermeasures dispensing system.
Apparently, a third prototype in on the anvil and it may well be the final LCH in terms of dimension, design and configuration. As for the second prototype, the LCH TD-2, it has been weaponized with more sub-systems and over 20 test flights have been conducted to check various flight parameters.
The second and third prototype was flown to a height of 10000-12000 feet altitude with an all-up weight (AUW) of 4,900 kgs load of armament. The parameters included general handling, slow speed handling, basic automatic flight control system (AFCS) checks and 60 degree bank turns. LCH has completed performance flight trials which involved not only development testing at Bangalore but also trials at extreme environment conditions such as sea level at Chennai, cold weather at Leh, hot weather at Jodhpur and hot and high altitude tests at Leh.
LCH TD-3 helicopter has been integrated with Electo-Optical (EO) System, Solid State Digital Video Recording System (SSDVR) and 70mm Rocket system in conjunction with an updated Glass Cockpit software.
· US Army Aeronautical Design Standard-33E (ADS-33E)
· Flaw-Tolerant Rotor System: FAR/JAR 29.571, AM 29-28
· Crashworthy Fuel System: FAR/JAR 29.952, AM 29-35
· Flaw-Tolerant Drive Train with Over Torque Certification: FAR/JAR 29.952, AM 29-28
· Turbine Burst Protection: FAR/JAR 29.901, AM 29-36
· Composite Spar Main & Tail Rotor Blades with Lightning Strike Protection: FAR/JAR 1309(h), AM 29-40
· Engine Compartment Fire Protection: FAR/JAR 29.1193
· Redundant Hydraulics & Flaw Tolerant Flight Controls: FAR/JAR 29.571, AM 29-28
· Aircraft-Wide Bird Strike Protection: FAR/JAR 29.631, AM 29-40
· Crashworthiness Standard: NATO’s MIL-STD-1290
· Crashworthy Seats Conforming to MIL-STD-1472B
· Cockpit Instrumentation Lighting Conforming to MIL-STD-85762A
· Avionics Databus: MIL-STD-1553B or ARINC-429
· Autopilot Accuracy: MIL-F-9490D
· Embedded MIL-STD-188-141B ALE Link Protection
· Embedded MIL-STD-188-110B data modem
Internally as Project 941, the design was not based on any Soviet-era attack helicopter project and was strictly designed for China's unique requirements, Mikheev says. However, Kamov's chief design engineer says it is based on a Russian design commissioned by the Chinese. "They gave us the desired weight, we discussed preliminary performance parameters, then we signed a contract and we fulfilled the contract," he says.
China supplied a basic set of requirements, including the specification of General Electric’s T700 engine (as used in the Black Hawk) and a 23mm cannon. After Kamov completed the design, the Russian design bureau verified the design via testing. Presentation slides revealed graphics and wind-tunnel models of the project, showing it to be similar to today’s Z-10. Kamov then delivered the design to China and the Project 941 concept was accepted by that country's government for further development, he says. Kamov did not participate in any further developmental work on the WZ-10, he insists.
Thereafter, to the country's credit, Mikheev says, the Chinese handled the rest of the developmental work. It has been designed with extensive technical assistance from Eurocopter France in May 1997 and AgustaWestland in March 1999. It looks familiar because it’s based on the Eurocopter Dauphin light cargo chopper, South African Rooviak and Italian Agusta A129 Mangusta. Some reports suggested that at least prototype transmissions were supplied from Italy. It is also known that the South African company Denel was involved in the Z-10 development, apparently assisting with stability issues around 2000. Persistent talk suggests that China tried to buy a complete Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter.
China sought to develop its attack helicopter under the guise of a civilian medium helicopter program in order to secure Western assistance. Whether this was ultimately a cover under which the dynamics for an attack helicopter could be developed or was a genuine program is unclear.
A major US defense contractor, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp., a Canadian subsidiary of the Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies, told a US court that it may have violated an embargo on export of controlled technology to China. The company agreed to the pay a USD 75 million fine in connection with the export violation. China denied reports that the chopper was a replica of stolen United States Black Hawk technology.
The WZ-10 is equipped with FLIR thus allowing an operations in all weather. The navigation system consists of radio-altimeter, doppler radar and GPS. The fire control system is similar to the French Starry Night digital integration design. Reports indicate that the WZ-10 has an optics system that relays sensor information to the pilots helmets; essentially a system similar to the US Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS).
The WZ-10 has a non-traditional [for China] design that uses composite and radar absorbent materials. The WZ-10 is equipped with radar warning systems and with systems that will alert the crew that it has been targeted with laser range finders. The helicopter is also equipped with passive countermeasures and in an effort to reduce fratricide is equipped with IFF. The WZ-10 has modified engine exhausts to reduce IR signature of the helicopter. The cabin's bulletproof glass may resist 7.62 millimeter ammunition and composite armor under the cabin resists 12.7 millimeters machine gun fires. The cabin is equipped to maximize fire protection and the WZ-10 is also outfitted with ejection seats similar to the Ka-50.
It is believed that that the Z10 attack helicopter is in the same class as the AH-2 Rooivalk and the A-129 Mangusta, however it is not as capable as the AH-64 Apache. The design features a reduced signature fuselage, such as was incorporated in the abandoned American RAH-66 Commanche. But the WZ-10 must represent something of a disappointment for the Chinese. Although weighing about the same as the AH-64 Apache, it carries only half the armament, comparable to the much smaller AH-1 Cobra. Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) is desperately trying to bring to fruition China’s WZ-10 attack helicopter programme, although it is experiencing difficulties with its engines. For the moment China is relying on light attack versions such as the Z-9WA based on the license-built Eurocopter AS365N Dauphin. The Z-10 has also been powered by the Russian Klimov VK2500 and Ukrainian Motor Sich TV3-117.
ps: The Eurocopter Tiger (company designation EC 665) is an attack helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter. In Germany it is known as the Tiger; in France and Spain it is called the Tigre.
In late 2015, Denel was actively pushing the idea of not only re-opening Rooivalk development (in terms of upgrading South Africa’s 12 serving units), but to eventually produce a Rooivalk Mk2. While retaining the airframe, powerplant and other dynamic components, the Rooivalk Mk2 will incorporate the on-board electronics systems of today (and presumably the future). It will also make use of modern munitions such as the Mokopa laser-guided anti-tank missile and A-Darter air-to-air missile. Like its predecessor, the Rooivalk Mk2’s prospects will hinge on overseas adoption.
Airbus Helicopters, which acquired the Puma-line from Eurocopter, would need to approve of Denel’s work.
Anti-armour & anti-tank VSHORAD Missiles
The beginning of India’s foray in missiles started with the Special Weapons Development Team (SWDT) at the Defence Science Organisation, Delhi, in 1958-59. One project study was towards the development of a first generation anti-tank missile (ATM).
The Indian armed forces have been running a tri-service tender competition for VSHORAD systems since 2010 for 5185 missiles and 800 launchers. It was worth 27,000 crores, when it was first conceived in 2010. It is included in the Indian armed forces list of high priority acquisition programs.
Fire and forget - once the operator gets the target in the CLU crosshairs and fires the missile, the computer and seeker in the missile warhead memorizes the target and homes in on it.
It is a family of laser guided missiles used against fixed and moving targets by both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft including UAVs. The AGM-114L is a variant designed specifically for use on the AH-64 Apache/Apache Longbow helicopters. The L variant has an effective range of 0.5 to 8 km.
The latest Hellfire model is the AGM-114R multi–purpose Hellfire II missile, (aka the Hellfire Romeo). The AGM-114R consolidates the capabilities of all previous Hellfire missile variants. It is equipped with semi–active laser (SAL) seekers into a single missile capable of defeating a broad range of targets.
New design features on the HELLFIRE II Romeo include a three-axis inertial measurement unit, which enables properly equipped launch platforms to engage targets to the side and behind them without having to maneuver the aircraft into position. The missile can be launched from high or low altitudes due to its enhanced guidance system and improved navigation capabilities, optimizing the missile impact angle for enhanced lethality.
The HELLFIRE II Romeo integrates with all HELLFIRE II-compatible platforms, and can be launched autonomously or with remote designation.
Hydra-70 is a family of unguided rockets with the addition of low-cost precision WGU-59/B mid-body guidance and control section that adds distributed-aperture, semi-active laser seeker; which would expand the number of precision weapons carried by helicopters, aircraft, and even non-urban warfare UAVs.
These are versatile and relatively inexpensive rockets but they’re not very accurate. They can be fired from a variety of aircraft, from attack helicopters to jet fighters to light helicopters.
Meanwhile, private development efforts from Lockheed Martin, Thales TDA, and a raft of international partnerships involving major defense firms and partners in Korea, the UAE, Canada/Norway, and Israel are introducing new competitors into the precision-guided rocket space. Magellan’s 70mm CRV-7 rockets and Thales’ 68mm SNEB system; Russian 57mm S-5 family, extending through the 80mm S-8 family, and continuing up to the 266mm S-25.
The product sit between full anti-armor missiles like Hellfire, TOW, and Brimstone, and an emerging class of ultra-small precision attack weapons like Northrop Grumman’s Viper Strike, Raytheon’s Griffin, etc.
India will purchase 245 U.S.-made Stinger FIM-92H Block 1 ATAS (Air To Air Stinger) missiles from Raytheon along with launchers and support for its fleet of attack helicopters. The missile is equipped with a 3 kg high-explosive (HE) blast fragmentation warhead and is fueled by a dual thrust solid fuel rocket motor. The Stinger has a maximum range of eight kilometers and can reach a top speed of Mach 2.2. The per unit cost is around $38,000.
The procurement is a part of the $3.1 billion deal with the U.S. that includes 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles and 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles, radars and electronic warfare suites.
A Bangalore-based Indian company has been co-opted by MBDA to design and develop a twin launcher, a derivative of the quad launcher fitted on the German Tiger helicopter, for the launch of the missile from ALH Rudra.
''The twin-launcher has been developed by the Indian company and its production will be done there.''
Simultaneously, MBDA has come out with an eight-missile configuration for the under-development indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
Pars 3 LR is also in contention to weaponise the 22 attack helicopters being acquired by the Indian Air Force to replace its ageing fleet of Mi-25. MBDA has proposed Pars 3 LR for the Russian MIL Mi-28 helicopter which competes in the IAF evaluation along with the 'Hellfire' anti-armour missile-equipped Apache AH-64 D manufactured by Boeing.
MBDA is a multinational company, only specific programs such as the Meteor air-to-air missile and the Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missile are currently developed cooperatively across national boundaries.
Helina is the helicopter version of anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Nag, being developed indigenously for Rudra – the Advanced Light Helicopter's Weapon System Integration version (ALH-WSI)
India has taken some baby steps with IIR and MMW seekers for the Nag/Helina program but there is a long way to go. Since we seem to have matured reasonably with propulsion, fuselage design & maneuverability of missiles (with AAD, Akash and Astra programs). DRDO had asked Rafael of Israel to provide the Seeker Heads and followed it up with a formal contract with the Israeli company. The Nag had earlier been developed with the Seeker Head from Thales who, however did not agree to transfer the technology. The Nag ATGM production will lead to replacement of the existing Russian Konkours and Euro missile Milan missiles.
The 84mm Carl Gustaf was first used by the Swedish Army in 1948. Its simple design and powerful warhead established its sterling reputation in at least 20 militaries, including the Indian Army.
A single round for the Carl Gustaf can weigh nearly 10 pounds. The shell leaves the gun's barrel at more than 500 miles per hour. There is a five-year, $30 million effort by the US Office of Naval Research to help the military figure out how much blast exposure is too much.
US Army has finally approved the Saab M3 Carl Gustav (known as the M3E1 in the United States) 84mm recoilless MAAWS (Multirole Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System) for general issue to the light infantry platoon as a standard issue tactical support weapon, following completion of a Conditional Materiel Release (CMR) authorisation by the army in late 2015. The M3 is now officially an organic weapon system within each army combat platoon, and will initially be fielded within selected Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), which will now train, maintain, and sustain the M3 as part of the IBCT organisational structure. Going forward, all brigade combat teams will receive 27 Carl Gustaf launchers, about one per platoon.
The M3E1’s new titanium shell reduces the system’s weight by 6 pounds and length by 2.5 inches, swaddling the bazooka in an adjustable new carrying harness and shoulder padding. The 22 lb M3 is easier than the 50 lb FGM-148 Javelin with its launcher with missile and reusable command launch unit, is faster than waiting on mortars, and is cheaper than the Javelin and artillery shells for engaging targets in hard cover.
Indian Army also uses C-90 disposable LAWs with 90mm High-Explosive tandem, that were procured way back in the year 2000
The first customer was the US Army; they had been looking for a replacement for the deficient M-72 LAW since it had proven less than satisfactory against North Vietnamese PT-76s and Viet Cong fortifications during the Vietnam War. The FGR-17 Viper proved to be a short-lived, equally unsatisfactory replacement, and in 1982, the US Army began a hurried replacement program for the M-72 and FGR-17. The AT-4 came along at the right time, beating out five other weapons in 1983. The US Army, however, made a number of tweaks to the AT-4 (which they designated the M-136). Bofors decided to make most of the US Army’s changes the standard for production AT-4s; the only difference between the AT-4 and the M-136 is the folding foregrip.
The US Army also gave the AT-4 its name; it is a play on the words “eighty-four,” referring to the weapon’s caliber; Bofors chose to make “AT-4” the weapon’s company designation and US troops generally refer to the weapon as the AT-4 instead of M-136. The AT-4 has since become the standard LAW of 18 countries worldwide including India.
With "behind the armor effect" this means that after penetration of even heavy armor plating it is lethal to the armored vehicle crew and that the vehicles ammunition storage and fuel will most likely be ignited.
The missile weighs 22.3 kg (with disposable launch tube and battery/seeker coolant unit) and is fired from a 6.4 kg CLU (command launch unit). The CLU contains a 4x day sight and a 9x heat sensing night sight. The missile has a tandem (two warheads, to blast through reactive armor) that can hit a target straight on or from the top. This latter capability enables the Javelin to use its 8.2 kg (18 pound) warhead to destroy any existing tank (including the U.S. M1). Maximum range is 2,500 meters. The U.S. Javelin and the Israeli Spike had lock-on-before launch systems but the range was only 2.5 km.
Best of all, the seeker on the missile is "fire and forget." Javelin is a fire and forget missile with a lock-on capability before launch and an automatic self-guidance system. That is, once the operator gets the target in the CLU crosshairs and fires the missile, the computer and seeker in the missile warhead memorizes the target and homes in on it. The infantry love this because it allows them to take cover once the missile is fired. It can also adopt a direct attack mode, but has a top-attack flight profile against armoured vehicles, and can also fire at helicopters in the direct-attack mode. The shorter the range, the more difficult it would be for the missile to attack a moving target.
"The Javelin uses a cooled mid-wave IR (MWIR) sensor that can passively lock-on to targets at up to 50% farther range than an uncooled sensor, thus allowing the firing crew greater and safer standoff distance, and less likely to be exposed to counter-fire. As far as weight is concerned, the cooling equipment adds less than 2 lb per weapon. The uncooled sensor is not only less reliable, but its long-LWIR spectrum is only compatible with a dome made of softer materials that vulnerable to abrasion in harsh environments (e.g. deserts) and consequently require replacement more often. The cooled seeker’s MWIR spectrum allows a durable hardened dome, and it is better than LWIR in discerning threats in certain geographic locations or environmental conditions. An uncooled sensor thus brings increased repairs, decreased operational availability, and dangerous vulnerabilities, while a cooled IIR sensor saves lives, lessens fratricide, minimises collateral damage, lowers risk, and protects its firing platforms/crew."
India is looking to acquire the third-generation anti-tank guided missiles for modernising its more than 350 Infantry units and provide them the capability to destroy enemy armoured regiments. But the proposal to acquire Javelin anti-tank guided missiles from the US has hit a roadblock over transfer of critical technology and reluctance of the American government to participate in the field trials. The development has taken place at a time when the US has been assuring India about supplying critical technologies for its various programmes. The proposed licence-production of the FGM-148 Javelin through 97% transfer of manufacturing technology, but withholding the target recognition algorithms of the MWIR seeker (meaning the seeker’s focal plane array sub-assembly would have to be imported off-the-shelf from Raytheon). In fact, by early 2015 private company VEM Technologies had already fabricated a full-scale prototype of the FGM-148 Javelin.
The United States is continuing to make things difficult for the Israeli defence industries operating in the Indian market. After numerous delays, the US has agreed to approve the sale of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon’s Javelin antitank missiles to India. If this deal is carried out in full scope, it will undoubtedly hurt Rafael’s chances of selling its Spike antitank missiles to India. All parties are waiting to see what level of technology the US is willing to provide in the framework of this deal.
It may be noted that DRDO was in discussion with Israel for providing the Seeker Heads for Nag, which was earlier done by the French company Thales, which, however, refused to transfer technology. Ed Miyashiro of Raytheon has said about the transfer of technology, "Raytheon is committed to ToT, within the guidelines laid down by the US government. What we share, will, in large part, be determined by what sort of arrangements the US and Indian government work out." The 22 kg fire and forget Javelin has rounds and a command launch unit as its components, and is man-portable over short distances. The command launch unit has passive target acquisition and fire control, with integrated day and thermal sight. The ATGM has a range of 2,500 metres.
After Javelin displayed its prowess in India before the Army for the first time in 2009, the Indian Army convinced the Ministry of Defence to acquire the system under the FMS route. The other reason for the FMS was the reluctance of the US Raytheon company, the makers of Javelin, to enter into open bidding, which they see as time-consuming.
Javelin solves both of those problems at once, offering a heavy fire-and-forget missile that will reliably destroy any enemy armoured vehicle, and many fortifications as well. While armoured threats are less pressing these days, the need to destroy fortified outposts and rooms in buildings remains.
Another Javelin feature is "soft launch", where the missile is popped out of the launch tube by a small explosive charge, small enough to allow the Javelin to be fired from inside a building. Once the missile is about eight meters out, the main rocket motor ignites. The minimum range is, however, 75 meters.
The Spike and Javelin were found to have comparable warhead effectiveness and both could be fired with excellent results in "fire and forget" mode. The Javelin had a smaller firing signature. On the other hand, the Spike could be upgraded with a fibre-optic spool allowing much longer range and a man in the loop option. The man in the loop option allows a target to be switched prior to impact and the ability to engage a target out of sight behind terrain screening. The Spike was found to have better training and simulation equipment as part of the package offered. The Spike also came with a lightweight but sturdy tripod. This allowed an operator to continue to observe a moving target for an extended period of time before engaging. This is much more difficult to do with Javelin. In addition, the thermal sights and tripod from Spike could be used without a missile pod being attached, allowing a highly sensitive thermal imaging sight for observation purposes. The British MoD is now paying a fortune to try and equip Javelin with a tripod, improved training software and hardware and investigating the possibility of incorporating a fibre-optic spool for Javelin.
U.S. Army engineers maintain a working knowledge of how to quickly take down trees (usually using explosives) to in a crisscross pattern on the road. Used in conjunction with ATGMs like Javelin, the abatis-type obstacles can quickly and cheaply delay the advance of mechanized forces through forested areas.
China's PF98A 120mm recoilless rocket launcher is 10kgs in weight. It has two types of electronic sights. The heavier sight has night vision (out to 500 meters), a laser rangefinder and automates the aiming process of aiming and firing on a target. The PF98A uses two types of projectiles; an armor piercing (up to 800mm) one that is accurate out to 800 meters and a dual-purpose HE (high-explosive) one with a range of 2,000 meters and a warhead containing 120 steel balls and incendiary material that makes it effective against lightly armored vehicles.
MBDA Mistral systems has failed in India the EMI EMC (Electromagnetic Interference Electromagnetic Compatibility) test, which involves the placement of the system in a chamber to measure the amount of radiation emitted by the system and is also subjected to radiation to measure its compatibility with emissions from simulated surrounding systems. This is especially important in restricted environments such as warships, where many radiation-emitting systems are in close proximity to each other and cannot be allowed to interfere or affect the performance of a proximate system in any way. Interestingly, a defense ministry CNC (Contract Negotiation Committee) is currently negotiating separate orders for helicopter-mounted Mistral systems.
Indian Army has gone in for an urgent order of 4,100 French-origin 2nd-gen Milan-2T anti-tank guided missiles as a stop gap measure. MILAN has a limited anti-helicopter capability against hovering, low-level head-on and slowly crossing targets. A maximum height of 380 m is reached at 1,800 m range. To take the system off a vehicle for ground post use takes only about 20 seconds. Indian Army HQ did not recommend its introduction into service in view of difficulties in engaging moving targets during the last 150 metres. In addition, the requirement was not met in terms of flight-time and overall weight.
Milan-2 has a range of 1,850 metres, whereas Milan-2T has a range of 2,000 metres. The Indian MoD’s Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) did not find the product offered by BDL compliant with the GSQR as the range of 2,000 metres offered had only 1,850 metres under wire-guidance phase, while the last 150 metres was left unguided (along with the first 75 metres after missile launch). The Indian MoD concluded a procurement contract with BDL in December 2008 for the supply of 4,100 Milan-2T ATGMs at a cost of Rs.587.02 crore, since non-placement of orders for Milan-2Ts would result in redeployment of BDL’s workforce and already procured materials common to Milan-2/-2T would have to be junked), it was decided to procure a minimum required quantity of Milan-2Ts in 2008 by amending the GSQR for the Milan-2T with 1,850 metres range and with a waiver and the fact that the shelf-life of existing stocks of Milan-2 would expire by 2013. BDL had supplied missiles that had a range of 1,850 metres under guidance phase while the last 150 metres were left unguided. This 2.8 km range guided anti-tank Milan-2 Euromissile system is a second-gen missile with single warhead built under licence by BDL, has limited capability to defeat modern tanks, but it added that there was an upgraded version Milan-2T with tandem warheads that was more effective. The version of the anti-tank guided missile called Amogha-1. Indian Army has bought 10,000 BDL-built SACLOS wire-guided Milan-2 ATGMs and 4,600 launchers; aprat from the urgent imported 4,100 MBDL-supplied Milan-2T ATGMs.
The M-136/AT-4 Spigot anti-tank wire-guided missile system is similar to the French-made MILAN system, though smaller in size. Milan ER is planned to be co-developed by France and India and should provide enhanced capabilities as well as a longer range.
MILAN is a European anti-tank guided missile. Design of the MILAN started in 1962. It was ready for trials in 1971, and was accepted for service in 1972. It is a wire guided SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line-Of-Sight) missile, which means the sight of the launch unit has to be aimed at the target to guide the missile. The MILAN can be equipped with a MIRA thermal sight, to give it night-firing ability.
MILAN 3 round is equipped with the tandem warhead and a lamp flashing unit to aid in guidance. The tracking system relies on a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) taking two pictures of the landscape on a sequential basis. The first is timed before the missile lamp flashes and the second at the instant of the lamp flash. The lamp flash synchronisation is undertaken before the weapon is fired. The two `pictures' are memorised and processed in a microcomputer which subtracts one image from the other. Only the missile lamp flash remains in the memory as all other IR sources are suppressed, thus guidance commands can be created from the missile movements and not any decoys, for example. The modular nature of MILAN also allows for a further version of the MILAN 3, known as the MILAN 3K. This is fitted with the jamming-resistant flash lamp system but not with the tandem warhead.
The operational range of the missile is from 75 to 4,000 m using Semi-Automatic Command to Line Of Sight (SACLOS) waterproofed wire guidance. The 9K113 Konkurs/Spandrel missiles are supplied in sealed containers placed directly on the launcher in the same manner as Fagot and MILAN. After launch, initial propulsion is from a booster unit, which falls away to leave the main sustainer motor providing propulsion to the target. The Konkurs 9P135M1 launcher can be provided with a thermal imager for night or poor-visibility conditions. When fitted, the thermal imager, which weighs 13 kg, allows engagements at ranges up to 2,500 m. A 9S451M2 launcher with a night sight featuring an anti-dazzle system has been developed.On target, the 9K113 Konkurs missile 135 mm diameter 9N131 HEAT warhead (weight 2.7 kg) can penetrate 750 to 800 mm of armour set at 90° and against armour set at 60°, the figure is 400 mm. A revised version of the Konkurs is known as the 9K113M Konkurs-M. It has a tandem warhead with an extending nose probe to defeat Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) before the main warhead functions, to penetrate 750 to 800 mm of main armour. One thermal-imaging sight available for this missile is the 1PN86-1 Mulat, weighing 11 kg.
Iran has already demonstrated the capability to locally produce ‘Dehlaviyeh’ anti-tank missiles, reverse engineering the wire-guided American TOW-2 missile and the Russian 9M113 Konkurs (both were exported to the Hezbollah in Lebanon and used against the Israelis in 2006). This Kornet copy represents the first use of laser beam-riding Semi-Active Command-Line Of Sight (SACLOS) technology. The beam-riding concept employs a low-power laser beam transmitted by the launcher, to communicates with the missile, replacing the need of wireless or wires for guidance. The missile’s sensor ‘looks backwards’ to lock on the beam center, thus unaffected by countermeasures employed by the target. As a seekerless missile, the Kornet is considered a low-cost round.
This is a second generation, semiautomatic, antitank, tube launched, optically tracked, wire guided and aero-dynamically controlled missile. It is designed to destroy moving and stationary armored targets with Explosives Reactive Armours at a range of 75 to 4000 meters. The missile can penetrate steel armour up to 800 mm thick. Konkurs M is also designated 9M113, NATO code name AT-5 Spandrel.
4km-range wire-guided Konkurs-M anti-tank missile which is locally produced in India. India has been criticized for buying 10,000 Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) from Russia despite of the licensed missiles facility at the local Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). Russia failed to transfer the technology to India, which kept BDL from absorbing the information on time and led to production delays, according to Defense news. However, a Russian diplomat here said all promised technologies for the advanced Konkus-M missile have been transferred to BDL. However, the CAG report said BDL was slow in enhancing the production base for the Konkurs-M missiles. Indian Army has no no requirement for its replacement. Indian Army has bought 5,000 Konkurs-M ATGMs licence-built by BDL, plus another 10,000 that are now being supplied off-the-shelf by Russia’s JSC Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod.
“The Hyderabad-based defense public sector unit BDL planned to increase its production capacity from 3,000 to 4,500 missiles per year by 2012, and up to 6,000 missiles by 2013.
The missile can fly over water and at heights above 3,000 meters. Minimum range is 75 meters, and maximum engagement range is 4,000 meters (daytime) and 2,500 meters (night). It is carried on small platforms or APCs and can be rapidly dismounted for man portable land based operation. Can be launched either from BMP-II or from ground launcher. Tandem Warhead Simple in operation and immune to Electronic Counter measures High hit and kill probability Portable and Para droppable. Hermetically sealed ensuring long storage life.
The combat-proven Kornet-E is a Russian laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile weighs 8.2 kg and the launcher 19 kg. The missile's warhead can penetrate enough modern tank armor to render the side armor of the Israeli Merkava or U.S. M1 tanks vulnerable. The system was introduced in 1994.
Russian tried to reverse-engineer but found the US Dragon ATGM's performance as lacking as US troops did, and came up with their own missile instead. The actual AT-7 is a tube-launched missile mounted on a lightweight tripod launcher. It is small and light and can even be used against slow-moving helicopters or aircraft. It is normally issued with the 1PN86V/Mulat-115 thermal imaging sight.
A laser-guided ATGM fired from the gun barrel of a tank or IFV using a 100mm or 115mm gun and equipped with certain special equipment. There are seven versions of the AT-10/12 Stabber, consisting four basic versions and three improved versions. The basic versions are the 9M117 Bastion (fired by a specially-equipped version of the T-55 tank known as the T-55 AM2), the 9M117 Kastet (fired by versions of the MT-12 field gun equipped with a laser guidance module), the 9M117 Basnya (fired by BMP-3 IFV’s), and the 9M116 Sheksna (fired by a specially-modified T-62 tank known as the T-62M). There are three types of AT-11 Sniper missiles: the 9M119 Svir, fired by the T-72B, T-72S, and 2A45M antitank gun; and the 9M119 Reflecks and 9M119M Reflecks-M, fired by the T-80B, T-80U, T-84, T-90, and T-94 tanks. The AT-13 can use an add-on thermal sight, and the missile has a larger warhead with a choice of two warheads.
The AT-13 9M131 Metis-M ( improved version of the AT-7 Saxhorn) can be fired from a confined space, though a minimum distance of 2 meters is recommended between the rear of the missile and any wall that may be present.
Known as the 9M127 Vikhr to the Russians, the Scallion was introduced shortly after the AT-9 Spiral-2, and is a greatly-improved version of that missile and the AT-6 Spiral. It is a fast, powerful missile that is used not only from the latest Russian attack helicopters, but also from aircraft such as the SU-25 and SU-39 Frogfoot, and the various versions of the Flanker. Several versions of the Scallion are available for the Twilight War, including a few experimental models that are rather rare. The Scallion has the speed and maneuverability to take down helicopters and slow-flying aircraft; the 9M227F is particularly useful for this, as it can be used as a conventional heat-seeking air-to-air missile in addition to being able to attack ground targets. Speed of the 9M127 series is 2000 meters per phase, while the speed of the 9M227 series is 2175 meters per phase. The MiG-35, MiG-37, and Su-40 are also able to use the AT-16.
The Bharat Dynamics Ltd 3rd gen Prospina (earlier known as Nag Mark-II) Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) production will lead to replacement of the existing Euro-missile Milan missiles. The 14.5kg MPATGM along with Detachable Command Launch Unit (CLU) will weight around 20kgs in carrying mode.
The indigenous NAG ATGM, with a 4 km range, was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), along with the Israeli Spike were being considered as a replacement for the second generation Russian ATGMs, and the French Milan anti-tank missiles, but Nag is still under trials and is nowhere near induction. The cost of the Nag ATGM is about half a million dollars, almost double the price of the Israeli Spike or American Javelin missile. The thermal sensors of the Nag missile are procured from Rafael of Israel and Thales of France, which is one reason for the missile’s high cost.
The Army has projected an immediate requirement of 2,000 Nag ATGMs in the short term and 8,000 in the long term. However, the service will place an order for only 443 Nag ATGMs after one year, and the production order will be made in phases. They will also move ahead with the proposal to buy 13 Nag Missile Carriers (NAMICAs), jointly manufactured by the Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and Larsen & Toubro. The army said that the missiles will be deployed in the Northern part of the Indo-Pak border, where temperatures are much milder when compared with Rajasthan.
Nag Mark-II missile is a modified version of the 4-km range with 'top & front attack' and ‘fire-and-forget capabilities’; and is being equipped with a ‘lock on before launch' system. The ‘top attack’ enables the missile to nullify the explosive-reactive armour of modern battle tanks. There is no competitor globally for this range, with this capability at present. The U.S. Javelin and the Israeli Spike, which are in the similar class, had lock-on-before launch systems but the range was only 2.5 km. In lock-on-before-launch mode, the missile keeps acquiring the image of the target every 30 milliseconds right from the launch till the impact on target. The missile would be fired to destroy both moving and stationary targets during the trials. The shorter the range, the more difficult it would be for the missile to attack a moving target.
A cooled MWIIR sensor can passively lock-on to targets at up to 50% farther range than an un-cooled sensor, thus allowing the firing crew greater and safer standoff distance, and less likely to be exposed to counter-fire. A cooled long-wave infra-red (LWIR) sensor decreases repairs and increases operational availability, lowers risk and protects its firing platforms/crew.
The Nag prototypes had earlier been developed with the seeker head from Thales who, however did not agree to transfer the technology. The 4km-range Nag uses a RCI-developed un-cooled long-wave infra-red (LWIR) sensor containing an IR-CCD supplied by French manufacturer of infrared detectors, ULIS/Sofradir, but the uncooled LWIR sensor proved to be accurate only up to 2.5km in extremely hot conditions. The Army was clearly told to make sure that the seeker locked on and followed the target before the missile was fired. But, in both the instances, the missiles were fired before the seeker locked on the target. However, this falls short of the requisition of 4,500 yards, which was set up by the army. The main problem facing the missile is that it is unable to differentiate between the target and the surface clutter in extreme heat. The DRDO officials said that the Focal Plane Array (FPA) detector, which is used in the Nag, is currently unable to work in extreme temperatures. This is a major blow to the Indian Army, as most of the Indo-Pakistan border runs through the Thar Desert, where very high temperatures are not that unusual. The sources said that more than 50 trials had so far been conducted, and the Army carried out 20 of them. The missile failed only on 4 or 5 occasions. To rectify this problem, in second Phase, DRDO has now modified this LWIR sensor by integrating imported IR-CCD processor chips supplied by France’s ULIS/SOFRADIR. Since then, this modified sensor has successfully engaged all 8 of its targets—both fixed and moving. The Army also raised reservations against the weight of the missile since Nag weighed around 40 kgs that made reloading difficult. The DRDO has been working to meet the demands from the Army; reducing the weight of the missile in its next versions – Nag Mark-II.
India seem to have matured reasonably with propulsion, fuselage design & maneuverability of missiles but India has taken some baby steps with ingenious (IIR and MMW) seekers for the Nag/Helina program but there is a long way to go. The highly advanced Imaging Infrared Radar (IRR) seeker technology is possessed by very few nations. DRDO had asked Rafael of Israel to provide Seeker Heads and followed it up with a formal contract with the Israeli company. HAL sources told the system and other armaments integrators for Rudra, are part of a Ministry of Defence-appointed team, which is currently evaluating MBDA's PARS 3 missile and Rafael's Spike.
The OFB Medak-built NAMICA-2 will have L & T’s missile carrier version of Nag missile is a 'lock-on before launch' system, where the target is identified and designated before the missile is launched. Each NAMICA-2—destined for equipping the Recce & Support Battalions of the Indian Army’s Mechanised Infantry formations (especially when undertaking river-crossing operations)—can carry 12 Nag ATGMs, with six of them in ready-to-fire mode out to a distance of 4km. The ATGM has a flight speed of 230 metres per second, is armed with a 8kg tandem shaped-charge warhead, has a rocket motor using nitramine-based smokeless extruded double base sustainer propellant, has a single-shot hit probability of 0.77 and a CEP of 0.9 metres, and has a 10-year maintenance-free shelf-life.
Germans and Dutch have reviewed during combat tests that the Spike’s targeting software and the quality of its optics are far below the standard claimed by its manufacturer, which is why it would easily lose track of their targets. The biggest difference between the “MR” [medium range] and “LR” [long range] is that the MR version is not controlled by its operator when launched, while the LR allows for in-flight correction by its operator by way of a data-link wire. As it turned out, in daylight Desert conditions, where the natural environment’s temperature is close to the Spike’s target’s temperature, Spike is unable to keep track or to re-acquire its target in-flight, no matter how you fire it. Spike could not locate the original target that it was supposed to hit.
It encountered multiple identical heat sources/dummy targets in its top-down attack trajectory and during testing it rarely re-acquired its original target. In Afghanistan, the Dutch where allowed to use the control unit with its heat sensitive clip-on optic for a short while and for night-time observation only, no more. There are rumors in the German Army that officials never check if the weapon is good or not. They just check the rubber-stamp and make their purchase as quickly as possible. Same happened to the Dutch, where Thales and ERCAS act as sub-contractors for Rafael and likely influenced objectivity during testing and subsequent purchase of the Spike for the Dutch Armed Forces.
13.7 kg Spike-MR is known as Gill ATGM has a medium range of 2,500m and the multipurpose Spike-LR II (Observe and Update) has a long range of 4,000m. A standard Spike can be upgraded to Spike LR II by a unit armourer and the appropriate add-on module. The original Spike LR weighed 13 kg but the Spike LR II uses a lighter 12.7 kg missile. The British called the Spike as the "Exactor".
8 kg Spike-SR ATGM has been selected for India SF (Para) units to replace the C-90 LAWs that were procured way back in the year 2000. The Indian government was speculated to sign the contract with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as it has agreed to transfer technology for the missile under Make in India project although India's defense procurement policy does not allow such purchase where only one company is eligible for tender. However, RAFAEL OEM has asked for an yearly escalation of 4% on all the supplies, including raw material to be sold to BDL. Moreover, 7 out of the 10 Spike-ER ATGM fired missed their targets during the trails.
Both the MoD & IA HQ had raised several objections in 2015 regarding Spike ATGM. What was highly perplexing was that India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited and Kalyani Strategic Systems, which signed a joint venture with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems in February 2015, was openly announcing its ability to produce Spike ATGM, supplying components and sub-assemblies from a newly erected facility in Hyderabad, when even the MoD had not inked any contract for procuring the Spike ATGMs.
In 2009, the MoD accepted the requirement of buying 321 ATGM launchers and 8,356 missiles, with 30% offsets and a transfer of technology clause. Only Rafael of Israel responded, and Spike missiles underwent trials in 2011-12. The trials highlighted a problem with one of the two homing devices in the launcher which led to constitution of a study group. After the prices were finalised in June 2016, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar constituted an experts committee to review the evaluation report and explore the possibility of an indigenous missile system. There was divergence in the views of the DRDO representatives and Army representatives in the experts committee over the case. In May 2016, India had finalized price negotiations anti-tank guided missile systems for the Indian Army for 275 launchers and 5,500 Spike missiles and kit form. The deal is estimated USD1 billion for 275 launchers and 5,500 Spike missiles in completed and kit form along with an undisclosed number of simulators. However, the matter was eventually resolved when MoD decided to cancel the $500 million deal for Spike ATGM with Israel. The decision to cancel the deal was based on the consideration that importing a foreign ATGM at this stage would adversely impact the programme for indigenous development of the weapon system by DRDO.
The Indian Army desperately needs third generation ATGMs, with a strike range of over 2.5km and fire and forget capabilities, to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units. The Indian order is for 321 launchers, 8,356 missiles, and 15 training simulators, and peripheral equipment. The DAC on Saturday cleared an initial off-the-shelf purchase of 321 Israeli Spike launchers and 8,356 missiles for Rs 3,200 crore. This is to be followed by transfer of technology to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale indigenous manufacture since the Indian Army wants to equip all its 356-382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units with these tank-killers. The Army, with an authorised holding of 81,206 ATGMs, is currently facing a shortage of around 44,000 missiles.
Spike family includes Spike-SR (800m), Spike-MR (2500m), Spike-LR (3500m), Spike LR II (4000m) and Spike-ER (8000m). Spike LR & Spike LR II and Spike-ER are also vehicle mountable and Spike-ER can also be fitted into Attack helicopter. Spike missile coupled with CCD and IIR seeker provides higher sensitivity and improved thermal background characters allowing it to be operated in all weather conditions. Spike-LR & Spike LR II variant along with ER variant can be fired in fire and forget mode. The original Spike LR entered service in 2004. 34 kg Spike-ER variant comes with bigger warhead which makes it an ideal system to be used from light combat vehicles or attack helicopters.
The 12.7 kg Spike LR II has new warhead and guidance options. One of the unique new capabilities, the first in an ATGM, is countermeasures for ADS (Active Defense Systems) that are becoming more common in large part because they provide protection against ATGMs. Spike LR II has one new warhead with a dual shaped charge (HEAT) system with 30% greater penetration than the one it replaces.
The Indian Army initially planned to purchase American FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but may instead purchase Israeli ‘Spike’ ATGMs because of a US hesitance to provide “transfer of technology” license (ToT) to India which would enable the country to produce its own anti-tank weapons after the initial purchase.
The missile has a soft launch capability – the motor firing after the missile has left the launcher- which allows for the missile to be fired from confined spaces, which is a necessity in urban warfare. Currently, it is replacing ageing second generation anti-tank missiles like the MILAN and M47 Dragon in the armies of the user nations.
The Spike missile system is currently in production and in service with the Israeli, Dutch, Chilean, Colombian, Finnish, German, Polish, Italian, Peruvian, Spanish and Singaporean armed forces.
The Indian Army was keen to buy the Spike anti-tank missile, a lethal tank-killer manufactured by Israel's Rafael company, to replace the older Milan and Konkurs missiles. But, in the Defence Acquisition Council meeting held on April 2, Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced the freezing of the Spike missiles contract and ordered a technology scan—a procedure meant to ascertain whether it was possible to get a similar system from anywhere else. The deal is now under scanner for more than one reason. Months before the documents related to the Spike missile reached Antony, someone from the defence ministry had, allegedly, leaked a bundle of classified documents related to the anti-tank missile programme to global arms dealers.
During the desert trials in 2008, the Spike allegedly failed as seven out of 10 missiles had missed their targets, according to an Army officer who was familiar with the trials. “The trial team also raised questions about the missile's infrared seeker,” said the officer. Yet, the Spike was selected on a single-vendor basis, without any competition. Now, a technology scan is under way to find out whether similar missiles are available.
The leaked documents contained precise details of the trial report, the exact quantity of launchers and missiles and an update on the procurement process. A stunned defence ministry is now trying to verify whether procurement procedures were manipulated to favour Rafael. Edmonds Allen, New York-based businessmen and whistle-blower, told the THE WEEK that top secret documents related to the procurement of the ATGMs were leaked. “I do not know who provided those documents to [Abhishek] Verma [currently in jail for selling classified Indian military documents]. He shared the documents with foreign defence firms,” said Allen. “I have shared the details with the CBI.”
“The military is directed to prepare themselves for a two-front war with Pakistan and China,” said Lt-Gen. (retd) Prakash Katoch, a special forces veteran. “Yet, they are short of something as basic as anti-tank missiles.” He said China already had third-generation missiles like the Green Arrow and the Red Arrow, while Pakistan was in possession of second-generation missiles like the Baktar-Shikan. The Pakistani army has approximately 2,400 tanks and India has 3,250, while China with 7,450 has more tanks than any other country in the world.
It was during the Kargil War that Indian commanders realised the operational utility of the advanced anti-tank missiles as the Pakistani army had dug itself in high-altitude bunkers. Initially, the Army was keen to buy the American Javelin ATGMs, jointly produced by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. But, the deal fell through after the US did not permit technology transfer for indigenous production by Bharat Dynamics Limited. With the Spike deal under scanner, the Americans are again pitching for the Javelin and they now appear to be willing to share the technology as well.
The very heavy Nag is among a select few fire-and-forget missiles like the Spike and the Javelin; once it is fired, its seeker automatically guides the missile to even a fast-moving tank. “You cannot expect the Army to wait for decades for something as crucial as an anti-tank missile,” said a commander. The DRDO admitted that the Nag had faced problems while hitting targets at a four-km range because of high temperatures in the deserts of Rajasthan. Here, the temperatures of the target as well as the surroundings often become the same and the missiles could not differentiate between the target and the surroundings. “We have resolved the temperature anomaly and we are confident that the Army will be impressed by the performance of the missile,” said Gupta.
Spike-ER, formerly known as NTD Dandy, with an enhanced range of 8,000m is under development.
China's HJ-8 (red arrow-8) Pakistan produces this missile system under licence as the Baktar-Shikan) and Iran's Toophan are nearly identical to U.S. TOW 2 in size, weight, range and, according to the users, performance. Both TOW and HJ-8 use SACLOS (semi-automatic command line-of-sight) guidance. They can defeat explosive reactive armour (ERA).
This system works by having the operator hold the target in the MGS sights and the missile will be guided to the target via wires that connect the missile to the launcher. The big problem is that the operator is often under fire and that sometimes makes it difficult to maintain aim. The next generations of anti-tank missiles were wireless and “fire-and-forget” which allows the operator to duck as soon as the target is identified by the MGS and the missile fired.
The designs of 9K11 Malyutka/AT-3 Sagger were based on the western ATGMs of the 1950s, such as the French Entac and the Swiss Cobra. It was the first man-portable anti-tank guided missile of the Soviet Union and is probably the most widely produced ATGM of all time—with Soviet production peaking at 25,000 missiles a year during the 1960s and 1970s.
The AT-3 Sagger is suitable for integration into helicopter such as Mi-2, Mi-8 and Mi-24. It can be integrated onto armored vehicles such as BRDM, BMD and BMP. 9M14 was also available as a man-transportable anti-tank weapons system.
The two most serious defects of the original weapon system were its minimum range of between 500 m and 800 m (targets that are closer cannot be effectively engaged) and the amount of time it takes the slow moving missile to reach maximum range—around 30 seconds—giving the intended target time to take appropriate action, either by retreating behind an obstacle/dune, laying down a smoke-screen, or by returning fire on the operator. The missile is also very difficult to guide and requires considerable operator skill and practice, since the operator must keep both the target and missile in his sights for the entire duration of the flight.
Later versions of the missile addressed these problems by implementing the much easier to use SACLOS guidance system, as well as upgrading the propulsion system to increase the average flight speed. Latest updates sport tandem warheads and/or probes in order to counter act ERA as well as thermal imaging systems.
Many comparisons have been made between the AT-4 and the Milan with regards to form factor and method of guidance. Though the AT-4’s tripod/sight unit are less bulky, they are heavier than that of the Milan; the AT-4 also lacks the toughness of the Milan’s electronics and is quite easy to put out of commission by a stray bump or being dropped in the wrong way. Most AT-4’s are sold with a clip-on night vision system; this is IR in the case of export systems, but usually thermal vision for Russian systems. A handicap of both of these night vision systems is that neither has the range of the 9M111-2 or 9M111M missiles that can be fired from it (2000 meters of range for the NOD, 2500 meters of range for the missiles mentioned). A later thermal imaging unit increases the observation range of the viewer to 3600 meters.
Over 200,000 systems have been built and the simplicity of its design and overall effectiveness has triggered its unlicensed reverse engineering in numerous countries: by China as the Red Arrow 73 and Improved Red Arrow 73C with Semi-Automatic Command-to-Line of Sight (SACLOS) guidance, Iran (Raad and the new improved Raad version with probe), North Korea and Taiwan (as the Kuen Wu-1 with a more rounded warhead section).
China's HJ-8 & Iran's Toophan ATGM, are upgraded clones of the U.S. TOW-2 (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided) missile, used by Hezbollah. The TOW-2B (or BGM-71F) weighs 22.7 kg and has a 6.2 kg warhead that can defeat ERA at targets up to 4,000 meters away.
The are sealed tubes placed on in 25 kg MGS (Missile Guidance Set) that contains the gunner sight, with night vision, and operator guidance electronics. Both TOW and HJ-8 use SACLOS (semi-automatic command line-of-sight) guidance and are not “fire-and-forget” .
Light Utility (non-combat role)
Eurocopter-built AS.350C3 Fennec winning the competitive bid for supplying new-generation single-engined light observation-cum-utility helicopters for the Army and the IAF? Well, the news is that this result was already known seven years ago, when HAL and Franco-German Eurocopter SA had inked a Global Industrial Cooperation Partnership Agreement in February 2005 to jointly produce Ecureuil and Fennec helicopters for the world market.
Yet, Eurocopter’s rival, Bell Helicopters Textron, prudently decided to give the MoD the benefit of the doubt and took part in the in-country flight evaluations of its Bell 407 ‘Shen’ variant throughout 2006. But it got the shock of its life when in May 2007 the MoD invited Eurocopter for final contractual negotiations. And this happened even after the Fennec convincingly failed to perform as advertised during the ‘cold soak’ tests in January 2007 at the IAF’s Leh air base during which both competing helicopters’ engines had to be switched off overnight and re-started at high-altitude the following day.
Apparently, the Bell 407 had no problem activating its engine with the help of the internally-mounted battery-operated starter-generator. But the AS.550B3 Fennec could not follow suit and it had to remain grounded for 48 hours, awaiting the arrival of an external ground power unit (GPU) from Greater NOIDA. Consequently, fed up with the charade of flight-tests, Bell Helicopters decided for good measure not to take part in the subsequent round of competitive flight trials.
Reportedly, Bell Helicopters now believes that HAL and Eurocopter are now hand-in-league to divide the MoD’s now inflated order for LOH/LUH helicopters (for all three armed services)—have the cake and eat it as well. Nothing else can explain how HAL could have stated in 2009 that it will require a ridiculous time-frame of six years to develop a single-engined 3-tonne variant of the twin-engined 5.5-tonne Dhruv ALH!
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) began development of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) in 1984 to replace the elderly Chetak. Entering service in 2002, it serves in the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Indian Army, IN and IAF. One important aspect of the Dhruv is its high-altitude performance, with Turbomeca helping develop the 1,400shp Shakti engine. First announced in 2006, India decided to base the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on the Dhruv in order to utilise validated technology, and so benefit from reduced development cost and time. The twin-engine LCH is designed for anti-armour and anti-infantry missions. Dhruv helicopter was designed with assistance from MBB of Germany. With a ceiling of up to 6,000m, it is also ideal for the armed scout role in mountainous regions. The IAF has already ordered 65 LCHs, while the army has ordered 114. The LCH was supposed to be inducted in December 2010, but a 2012-13 timeframe is now more realistic. The Indian Army has experienced at least 18 Dhruv helicopters crashes since 2002.
The features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crash-worthy landing gear, crash-worthy and self sealing fuel tanks, armor protection, nuclear and low visibility features.
With the passing of time, India’s need of capable attack helicopters becomes more pronounced. However, India has not put all its eggs in one basket, for it has pursued a parallel programme for a light armed helicopter. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) began development of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) in 1984 to replace the elderly Chetak. Entering service in 2002, it serves in the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Indian Army, IN and IAF. One important aspect of the Dhruv is its high-altitude performance, with Turbomeca helping develop the 1,400shp Shakti engine. First announced in 2006, India decided to base the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on the Dhruv in order to utilise validated technology, and so benefit from reduced development cost and time. The twin-engine LCH is designed for anti-armour and anti-infantry missions. With a ceiling of up to 6,000m, it is also ideal for the armed scout role in mountainous regions. The IAF has already ordered 65 LCHs, while the army has ordered 114. The LCH was supposed to be inducted in December 2010, but a 2012-13 timeframe is now more realistic.
The twin-engine Dhruv ALH, which is a 5-tonne class helicopter, was initially sold by HAL to the military for about Rs 40 crore ($6 million); but the current order is likely to be priced at Rs 65-70 crore ($10 million).
The tandem-seat LCH performed its maiden flight in Bangalore on 29 March 2010. The flight of the first technology demonstrator (TD-1) was twelve months behind schedule, but by mid-December 2010, TD-1 had logged 50 hours of flight. Carrying the same armament package as the Dhruv Weapon System Integrated (WSI) variant, it features a chin-mounted Nexter 20mm M621 cannon mounted in a THL 20 turret. The helicopter’s stub wings carry four twin ATGM launchers, four 70mm rocket pods, and a pair of twin air-to-air missile launchers. The ATGM concerned is the Helina with 7km range, an improved version of the Nag anti-tank missile being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). According to Mati Hindrekus, MBDA Marketing Communications Manager, Mistral 2 missiles and ATAM system are being delivered for the LCH programme. A second LCH prototype has been weaponised, and this is expected to make an appearance at Aero India 2011. To speed up its introduction, HAL is constructing another two prototypes. The LCH from HAL employs helmet-mounted targeting systems and a data-link enabling network-centric operations. Its defensive suite includes a radar and laser warning receiver.
Boeing and Mil are both awaiting the announcement of a winner in India’s protracted attack helicopter competition. At the same time, India is showing signs of maturity in its aerospace sector by undertaking the LCH project. Although it has met with delays, the future of the LCH seems assured. With its eventual local-international combination, India should end up with a modern and capable attack helicopter fleet.
Then the army discovered that, although the purchase contract stipulated that the Dhruv be able to operate at high altitudes (5,000 meters/16,000 feet), its engine (as the navy noted) was underpowered and could not handle high altitudes. So the army has to keep its older helicopters in service until the Dhruvs were upgraded.
HAL has modified the second LUH PT-2 tail boom on the feedback of its first prototype test flight.
HAL described the LUH as a light, single-engine helicopter that is powered by the Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine. In addition to two pilots, the helicopter can fly six passengers at sea level, with load capacity reducing with altitude. HAL says the LUH’s engine, which delivers 750 KiloWatts of power, permits flight operations as high as 6,500 metres (21,325 feet). That would allow it to fly to India’s highest posts in the Siachen Glacier sector.
HAL says the LUH has an “all-up weight” of 3,150 kilogrammes, which places it in the 3-tonne class. Its operating range of 350 kilometres allows it to carry out various roles, including reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and high-altitude rescue operations.
According to HAL’s internal manufacturing targets, the Tumakuru plant will ship about 30 LUHs annually, starting in 2019-20. In Phase II, which will take another 3-4 years, production will be ramped up to 60 helicopters per year.
“We have a program to use supercomputer calculations to cut down the time of experiments. Bionic design optimizes our solutions, cuts down the weight, increases the reliability and durability of details”
It will be used in mountainous border areas by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA). The BRO requires the services of about 120 such helicopters for providing both SAR and CASEVAC facilities for various local and foreign civil/heavy engineering companies that have either been or will be contracted for building all-weather roads and highways all along the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
It is used in more than 30 countries around the world. The Ka-226T boasts Kamov’s signature coaxial system of rotor blades made from composite materials. Its coaxial main rotor system makes it the only highly effective helicopter in its class thanks to the its inherent advantages, which allow for great accuracy in the execution of difficult maneuvers and ensure high stability while hovering. It scraps the tail rotor as unnecessary and therefore increases safety, and also makes the helicopter more compact in comparison with analogues that possess a tail rotor. The new form of tail and main rotor blades makes it possible to significantly reduce the noise level. In addition, the rotor blades are foldable, which also saves space, adds to maintenance, and gives the vehicle a shipborne option. The Ka-32A11BC has proven its merits as a search & rescue helicopter in Kazakhstan, Spain and Switzerland. The Ka-3211BC meets the American FAR-29 and Australian standards and in 2009 received an airworthiness certificate from European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In 2011 the Ka-32A11BC was certified in India and Brazil.
Russian Helicopters JSC, a subsidiary of Oboronprom State Corp, and India’s Elcom Systems, part of the Sun Group Investment conglomerate, had signed an agreement on February 5, 2013 to create a Greenfield industrial facilities, in India for building Russia-developed helicopters, starting with the Ka-226T light twin. In the next following months this agreement will be operationalised and the Ka-226Ts built under licence by Elcom Systems will not only be procured by state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd, but will also be sold to customers in Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. Additionally, the joint venture will create repair and maintenance facilities within five years and major overhaul facilities in India within seven years after the delivery of the first batch of helicopters.
Under the $1 billion deal for 200 of Kamov-226T helicopters, India will buy 60 helicopters in fly-away condition from Russia while the next 40 helicopters would be shipped as kits from Russia to be assembled in India. Only after that 100 more will be produced in India. All 200 will be delivered within 9 years of the signature of the contract. The Russians will be responsible for helicopter production localisation, except the components that will be imported from an OEM. Localisation will be done in four stages. The customers of the Ka-226T helicopters, including India, China, Iran, Mexico, Egypt and others, are expected to join the newly established 24/7 technical support and customer service program TeMPo, launched in October and currently working with the owners of the Ansat and Ka-32 choppers.
The durable and compact Ka-226T is ready for missions in adverse weather conditions, densely built-up urban areas, mountainous terrain and does not require hangar storage. So the helicopter’s controllability, combined with its outstanding maximum rate of climb (11m/s), service ceiling (6,500 meters), the skill of operating in temperatures ranging from —50°C to 50°C. Its modular construction principle means that the basic “flying chassis” vehicle is adjusted for specific needs by adding special components, which make it a strong player in the following fields:
- personnel and cargo transportation by means of an internal or external sling;
- rescue and search operations;
- medical aid and evacuation;
- police and patrol missions;
The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Rudra (gunship) ALH provides similar solutions, for overlapping missions, from two different platform.
Rudra (fierce form of Lord Shiva) is the Mk-IV weapon systems integrated (WSI) version of HAL’s star chopper Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and is expected to get the Phase-1 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) this May. IAF Rudra wide-band Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) is supplied by SaabTech.
Rudra is powered by the Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft engine, the Rudra has a maximum all-up weight of 5.8 tons and is built specifically for high-altitude performance. As per user choice, it comes with Belgian 70 mm rockets and Nexter THL-20 chin mounted gun housing a 20 mm M621 cannon. However, in its current configuration both do not have suitable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which is the main weapon of any combat helicopters around the world.
Technologies developed for the Rudra also feed directly into HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) program, which involves a narrowed Dhruv fuselage with tandem seats.
As per the initial orders, close to 70 Rudras are to be supplied to Indian armed forces. “It has comfortably-exceeded the payload and performance requirements at 6 km height. It has integrated sensors, weapons and electronic warfare suite using an upgraded version of the glass cockpit used in the Mk-III. The cockpit avionics is a state-of-the-art technology when it comes to helicopters. The sensors include stabilised day and night cameras, Infra-Red imaging, as well as laser ranging and designation,” sources said.
Indian Army's high altitude operations have taken in hit as the Indian air force has grounded its 40 Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv Mk III helicopters following a fatal crash on 25 July, in which seven of its personnel were killed. Ascend records the recent loss as the ninth crash to involve the domestically-developed Dhruv, including five fatal incidents. The losses have the Indian armed forces, plus export operators Ecuador and Nepal.
The weapons onboard Rudra cover all role aspects including air-to-air and air-to-ground from the stabilised and turreted high-velocity M621 20 mm cannon to long-range 70 mm rockets (8 km) and air-to-air missiles (Mistral-II). The EW suite consists of MAWS (missile approach warning system) laser and radar warning systems and automated with sensors covering all envisaged threats. It has automatic dispensation of countermeasures like chaff and fare dispensing systems.
HAL claims that Rudra is the only attack helicopter in the world which can operate in the higher reaches of the Himalayas with a decent armament load. “The MI-35 is restricted to well below 6000 feet and the newly-acquired Apache will be restricted to below 12,000 feet. This puts the onerous task of defending the Himalayas on Rudra. It is not strictly an attack helicopter in the present day context and perhaps be compared to a proof-of-concept US-Israeli Black Hawk (completed in 2009) and to the recent IAR-330 SOCAT armed upgrade version of Eurocopter’s Puma helicopter,” says HAL sources.
Both Black Hawk and Puma are in the 9 tonne AUW (all-up weight) Class, and have far lesser high-altitude performance compared to Rudra. The Mk-III version of Dhruv holds the record of landing on a helipad at 20,000 feet in Siachen (world’s highest helipad) carrying a load in excess of 600 kg, during peak summers.
Moshe Keret, President and CEO of IAI said that, "The Dhruv helicopter marks an important step forward in relations between Israel Aircraft Industries and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. This project significantly expands cooperation between ourtwo companies that has been developing over the years."
Mr. Ashok K. Baweja, Chairman of HAL said that, "The helicopter is already in serial production. It's unique capabilities are well received by the Indian Armed Forces and the Indian Defense Ministry will order 200 helicopters. HAL looks forward to promoting the Dhruv ("polestar") in new markets together with IAI."
The IAI / HAL helicopter will feature IAI's integrated avionics package that was specifically designed for helicopters. It includes a comprehensive warfare suite, day and night observation capability, targeting system and a flexible armaments carrying system.
HAL’s rotor-craft division chief, P. Soundara Rajan, said, “Developing and building the Rudra involved four major groups of systems and weapons, involving eight countries: Israel, France, Belgium, South Africa, Germany, Italy, U.S. and India. Nearly 23 km of cables had to be laid and hundreds of hours of flight and ground tests were carried out.”
The Rudra deploys a Nexter THL-20 20mm chin-mounted turret gun, 48 70mm rockets in twin pods, anti-tank guided missiles and four MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles.
Targeting systems on the platform include an electro-optical day/night pod (with FLIR and CCD TV), a helmet pointing system and a fixed sight. Warning and countermeasure systems include a fully indigenous radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver, missile approach warning receiver and flare and chaff dispensing systems. Survivability features include duplex redundant systems, infrared suppressors and armour panels.
An officer with HAL’s Rudra development and test team says, “We also aimed to integrate the sensors and weapons in such a manner as to keep the pilot workload to a minimum. The glass cockpit and the computers behind it filter a whole lot of information and presents to the pilot only what is required at that time. The electronic warfare suite senses the environment around, and presents exactly where the hostiles and friendlies are. Further, the helmet-mounted display provides all the information directly in front of the pilot’s eyes. So he doesn't have to look down. He can continue to look out, fly, acquire target, aim and fire.”
With exports of the base Dhruv helicopter to countries including Ecuador, Turkey, Peru and Nepal, and with potential sales to Bolivia and Venezuela, HAL looks forward to making the Rudra available to foreign customers quickly as well. HAL already has begun to formulate an export file on the Rudra for circulation in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.
The low availability this caused eroded customer confidence. The availability was mere 50% in 2014 has been increased to 70%. That “fleet availability” figure is set to improve with the "performance based logistics" contract relates to 32 Dhruv choppers being bought for Rs 8,000 crore for the navy and the Coast Guard. It will also extend to an impending contract for 41 more Dhruvs for the army. This is the first time an Indian manufacturer is guaranteeing the performance of a weapons platform. India has similar contracts in place for foreign aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III and the Rafale fighter.
By 2017 HAL will complete delivery of an earlier contract for 159 Dhruvs, of which 83 are utility versions and 76 are an armed version called the Rudra. The Indian Army currently 23 Rudras across three operational squadrons, with plans to raise four more squadrons. The Indian Army has experienced at least 18 Dhruv helicopters crashes since 2002.
India continues to stall on a decision to award a contract for 124 launchers and 1,362 missiles to either MBDA or Rafael Defence for the PARS L3 or Spike ER respectively. The indigenous HELINA ATGM is still at least two years away.
The Cheetal is fitted with a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system for engine control and an Electronic Backup Control Box (EBCB) system which automatically takes over engine control in the event of FADEC failure.
It incorporates features of modern cockpit instruments like electrically driven artificial horizon, directional gyro, Flight monitoring system, Cockpit Voice Recorder and Master Flasher Warning System.
It is is a multi-role chopper and is best suited for the missions such as personnel transport, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and aerial survey, logistic air support, rescue operations and under slung loads (cargo).
The HAL Cheetal (Lama) is a 5-seat light utility helicopter for observation, liaison and SAR duties. The Cheetal is a re-engined Cheetah, also using the TM 333-2M2 to replace the Artouste IIIB. The Cheetak helicopters are to be replaced, largely by Dhruv Advanced Light Heli-copter (ALH).
With the ability to lift underslung loads up to 1135kg the Lama proved ideal for many demanding tasks. The Lama holds the absolute all class-altitude record (12440m) for aerial work and transport around the mountain summits of the Himalayas and Andean Cordillera.
The SE 3130 -- later designated "SE 313B" -- had a general configuration clearly reminiscent of the Bell 47 and the Hiller 360, being a light helicopter of conventional main-tail rotor configuration with a bubble-type cockpit, a framed tailboom, and skid landing gear. The rotor blades could be manually folded for storage and transport.
When production of the Alouette II ended, after more than 1,300 airframes had been completed, Sud (which later became part of Aerospatiale) concentrated on building the Lama. This married the airframe of the Alouette II with the Alouette Ill's engine and rotors. In the late 1960s, the firm would rethink the Alouette design to come up with the modernized "Gazelle" light helicopter, which would also prove a major success. The Lama continues to be produced in India, where the type is ideal for air force operations in the Himalayas.
With the fuselage of the Alouette II and the dynamics of the Alouette III, the SA315B Lama, manufactured in India under license by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL]. The Cheetals come with a longer range than their predecessors and will have a range of 640 km in comparison with the 540 km of the vintage choppers.
They will also have a better load-carrying capability in the high altitude areas as they can carry 90 kg while the Cheetal (Lama) can carry only 50 kg along with the pilots. An important component of carrier operations is a helicopter which can be used for various purposes such as search-and-rescue operations when a plane-guard ship is not available, reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, and antiship operations using torpedoes and short-range missiles.
Already in 1971 arrangements were completed for licence production of the SA 315B by HAL at Bangalore in India. Similar to the Alouette series, the SA 315B Lama can be fitted out for various commercial roles, such as a light passenger transport or for agricultural tasks, while the military variants include conversions for liaison, observation, photography, air/sea rescue (hoist capacity 160kg), transport (maximum external load 1135kg), ambulance (two stretchers and one medical attendant), and other tasks. Another important factor is its universal landing gear consisting of skids with removable wheels for ground handling, provision for floats for normal operations from water and emergency flotation gear, inflatable in the air.
Its a bit larger and more refined than the Cheetah, with a fully faired fuselage structure. Primarily in service in the training and light transport roles. The HAL Chetak is scheduled to be replaced by HAL's Advanced Light Helicopter. An option remains to re-engine the HAL Chetak with the Turbomeca TM 333-2B engine.The first test flight of the upgraded Chetak, dubbed "Chetan", was carried out in February 2005. The "Chetan" is the upgraded Chetak helicopter. Its re-engineered with a high-power engine for Chetan is the same as used in its Advanced Light Helicopter, Dhruv (TM 333 2B2), replacing the Artouste 3B engine. The Chetans will sport glass cockpits.