DTN News: Two Northrop Grumman Laser Systems Help Airborne Laser Testbed Turn Science Fiction Into Fact
*Source: DTN News / Northrop Grumman
(NSI News Source Info) REDONDO BEACH, Calif., - February 13, 2010: The Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) transitioned from science fiction to directed energy fact Feb. 11 when it put a lethal amount of 'light on target' to destroy a boosting ballistic missile with help from a megawatt-class laser developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).
While ballistic missiles like the one ALTB destroyed move at speeds of about 4,000 miles per hour, they are no match for a super-heated, high-energy laser beam racing towards it at 670 million mph. The basketball-sized beam was focused on the foreign military asset, as the missile is called officially, for only a few seconds before a stress fracture developed, causing the target to catastrophically split into multiple pieces.
"This experiment shows the incredible potential for directed energy as a premier element in early or ascent phase missile defense," said Steve Hixson, vice president of Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "The demonstration leaves no doubt whatsoever about ALTB's unprecedented mobility, precision and lethality," he added. Hixson is a former ALTB program manager for the company.
Northrop Grumman executives said the high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser the company provides – the most powerful laser ever developed for an airborne environment – performed reliably once again with other critical capabilities onboard the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's ALTB. This includes the low-power, solid-state Beacon Illuminator Laser for atmospheric compensation, a targeting laser Northrop Grumman also supplies for the ALTB system.
"The continued dependable and consistent performance of both laser systems is the result of our dedicated team and its unwavering commitment to develop game-changing technology for our military forces," said Guy Renard, Northrop Grumman's ALTB program manager. "The impressive progress made by the government and industry team during the last three-and-a-half years could not have culminated any more dramatically than this successful experiment."
The experiment, a proof-of-concept demonstration, was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform.
Northrop Grumman is under contract to The Boeing Company, ALTB's prime contractor, for the two laser systems. The ALTB is a modified Boeing 747-400F whose back half holds the high-energy laser. The front section of the aircraft contains the beam control/fire control system, developed by Lockheed Martin, and the battle management system, provided by Boeing.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
DTN News: Northrop Grumman Highlights Industry Leading Security Capabilities For India At DefExpo 2010*Source: DTN News / Northrop Grumman
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - February 13, 2010: Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) will be participating at DefExpo 2010 where it will highlight its range of industry-leading capabilities in airborne early warning and control systems for maritime reconnaissance, fire control radars, unmanned aircraft systems, coastal surveillance and marine navigation, and ships.
The land and naval systems show DefExpo will be held at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 15-18 Feb., 2010. It is organised by the Defence Exhibition Organisation, Ministry of Defence. Northrop Grumman will be exhibiting in Hall 14.
"India is an important market for Northrop Grumman and with core competencies and proven capabilities in unmanned systems and airborne early warning and control we are ready to meet the country's current and evolving homeland security priorities," said John Brooks, president Northrop Grumman International Inc. and vice-president of business development for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "Our focus is to link together and network all of these systems to create solutions that respond to India's requirements for a coordinated national defence structure. We look forward to showing how our products and capabilities can help India achieve its defence modernization objectives."
Among the exhibits on display will be Northrop Grumman's world leading capabilities in airborne early warning and control. Featured will be the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) radar.
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye programme has enhanced the E-2 mission system by providing a new more powerful radar and avionics system to create an advanced AEW&C capability. An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye crew work-station and flyable cockpit simulator will be included among the exhibits to demonstrate the benefits of the E-2D for military and civil applications. India is among the very first countries for which the Advanced Hawkeye capability has been released.
The MESA surveillance radar is an advanced airborne surveillance sensor and provides peninsular protection enabling sophisticated air-to-air and maritime coverage and integrated friend-or-foe identification. A computer demonstration of MESA capabilities and scale model of the array will be available for viewing.
Also on display will be a model of Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-80 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the F-16IN Super Viper multi-role fighter aircraft.
Northrop Grumman's airborne surveillance capability will also be highlighted with a model of Fire Scout, the Vertical Unmanned Aircraft System (VUAS) multi-role UAV on display. Fire Scout has recently deployed initially with the U.S. Navy.
The company's latest generation of navigation and ship control technology will be highlighted. The Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine VisionMaster FT provides a highly integrated, fully networked suite of marine radar and electronic charting systems designed to form the backbone of the modern ship's integrated bridge. In addition to the standard suite, Northrop Grumman will feature its integrated platform management solution as part of the VisionMaster FT defence offering.
Other programmes available for viewing will be models of directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM); the LITENING advanced airborne targeting and navigation pod; the mine warfare mission system Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS); and the Joint Multi-mission Expeditionary Craft (JMEC) that demonstrates the company's scalable network-centric warfare C4I system for high-speed boats capable of operating in locations from high-seas to the most challenging inland waterways.
Northrop Grumman's capabilities in maritime security for military and civil applications will be featured with the Harbour and Coastal Security (HCS) system being highlighted. HCS integrates off-the-shelf computers, communications, and sensors with sensor processing and Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) databases to provide a flexible, standards-based command and control system supporting layered, multi-agency, maritime security and safety operations. HCS can easily be adapted and scaled for shore based, off shore, or shipboard use.
Also available for viewing will be the Dismounted Computer System (DCS), a multi-processor computer system capable of operating two different Operating Systems simultaneously designed for installation in military vehicles and the Soldier Link System, a lightweight wearable communications system for ground forces.
The company will also be promoting its LPD San Antonio-class Amphibious Warfare and Transport ship and the International Patrol Frigate, a versatile warship based on the multi-mission National Security Cutter currently operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
DTN News: Raytheon Awarded $38 Million U.S. Air Force Delivery Order To Modify Weapons Training Equipment
*Source: DTN News / Raytheon
(NSI News Source Info) INDIANAPOLIS, - February 13, 2010: Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has received a $37.9 million delivery order from the U.S. Air Force to modify weapons data link equipment used in pilot training for F-15 fighter aircraft.
This is the second delivery order under a 2007 indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded to Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC (RTSC) for the Air Force Training Frequency Relocation (TFR) program. TFR is the Air Force's initiative to modify GBU-15/AGM-130 weapons data link equipment to comply with federal reallocation of radio frequencies from governmental to commercial use. The first delivery order, issued concurrently with the 2007 IDIQ contract award, was valued at $31.8 million and covered nonrecurring engineering work on the program.
"We have extensive experience working on data link equipment, from designing, engineering and manufacturing new systems, to repairing and upgrading existing data links," said Wayne Iurillo, RTSC vice president of Customized Engineering and Depot Support. "This contract draws on the depth of our experience, the breadth of our expertise, and the strength of our commitment to providing the very best products, systems and services to our customers."
Raytheon Company, with 2009 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 88 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 75,000
DTN News: Oshkosh Defense Awarded $5 Million FHTV Delivery Order*Source: DTN News / Oshkosh Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) OSHKOSH, Wis. - February 13, 2010: Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK), has been awarded a delivery order valued at more than $5 million from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) to produce more than 15 next-generation Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT). The order was issued under the Army’s Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV) III contract.
The variants included in the order are M985A4 guided missile transporters (GMT), as well as M977A4 electrical power plant (EPP) and large repair parts transporter (LRPT) cargo trucks. Production is expected to begin in July 2010 and be completed in September 2010. The GMT variant is designed to deliver and load four guided missiles to the launcher using an integrated crane. The EPP cargo truck includes a chassis-mounted electrical power plant, and the LRPT cargo truck is used to store or transport heavy repair parts.
The Oshkosh® HEMTT’s 13-ton payload and off-road capabilities make this vehicle the backbone of the U.S. Army’s logistics fleet. HEMTT A4 improvements include: a more powerful drivetrain; improved suspension; a fully air-conditioned and armor-ready cab; and other structural changes to make in-the-field installation of add-on armor quicker and easier. The HEMTT A4 is built with maximum common parts across its variants.
Oshkosh has produced more than 70,000 military-class vehicles at its facilities, including more than 30,000 FHTVs. Oshkosh has the available capacity, highly skilled workforce and proven manufacturing capability to deliver this FHTV order and other vehicle orders for all Army and Defense programs, including the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), as well as any surges in production.
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles, delivering a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing, and its vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. For more information, visit www.oshkoshdefense.com.
About Oshkosh Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh®, JLG®, Pierce®, McNeilus®, Medtec®, Jerr-Dan®, Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline™, SMIT™, CON-E-CO®, London® and IMT®. Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to www.oshkoshcorporation.com.
DTN News: India In Pictures Of The Day ~ Pakistan Elements In Indian Kashmir
*Source: DTN News By Roger Smith
(NSI News Source Info) SRINAGAR, India- February 13, 2010: Islamic militant groups have been fighting since 1989 for the region's independence or its merger with Muslim Pakistan. The Pakistan had for a long period fostered militants in different banners to fight their proxy war in Indian Kashmir and supported Taliban reinforcements in Afghanistan to maintain hold on the regions.Paramilitary soldiers and policemen watch from a distance as fellow soldiers exchange stones with Kashmiris during a protest against the Indian government in Srinagar, India, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.Kashmiris throw stones at paramilitary soldiers during a protest against the Indian government in Srinagar, India, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.A paramilitary soldier aims his catapult at Kashmiris protesting against the Indian government in Srinagar, India, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 12, 2010 ~ 15 Killed As Twin Bombs Target Police In Bannu*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (Daily Times)
(NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan - February 12, 2010: A double bombing targeted policemen in Bannu on Thursday, killing 15 and wounding 24 others, in the third attack against security personnel in the country’s northwest in 24 hours. Pakistani officials look at victims of a suicide bombing in Bannu, Pakistan Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. Two suicide bombers struck outside a police complex in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing 15 people and underscoring the relentless security threat despite army operations and U.S. missile strikes against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Two explosions, at least one of which was caused by a suicide bomber, went off in quick succession outside a police training centre in Bannu just as a patrol headed by local District Police Officer Iqbal Marwat was returning, said officials.
“Iqbal Marwat is seriously injured. We are trying to arrange a helicopter to evacuate him to Peshawar ... there are 15 dead,” a doctor told AFP over the telephone from the local hospital. Eight policemen, a child and six civilians had been killed, the doctor told AFP, having adjusted an earlier toll of 12 policemen. He said another 24 people, including two children, were brought in wounded, and four of them were in critical condition.
There were scenes of panic in the hospital as medics struggled to cope with the numbers of victims, said the doctor. An AFP photographer said a curfew was imposed in Bannu after the attacks. “There were two blasts. The first one was near the gate. The second was a suicide attack. We have confirmed reports it was a suicide attack,” said Sardar Abbas, the city’s senior administrator, and put the death toll at 13.
However, the APP news agency, citing sources, described both attacks as suicide bombings. The agency’s sources said the bombers detonated explosives strapped to their bodies as they were being searched by police at the checkpost ahead of the main gate of the police lines.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, which were carried out outside a gate to the police complex, but suspicion is likely to fall on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have condemned the attacks. Zardari said such “cowardly acts” would not deter the government’s resolve to root out terrorism.
Gilani ordered the authorities to provide the best medical facilities to those injured. On Wednesday, a suicide bomber targeted a police patrol and killed 18 people in Khyber Agency.
A group of militants attacked soldiers leading a rescue team to the site of a crashed military Cobra helicopter in the same district, killing a senior army commander and wounding two other officers. agencies
DTN News: India's Defexpo 2010 To Attract 650 Companies*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - February 12, 2010: The United States, represented by 25 companies, will be the biggest exhibitor at Defexpo 2010, the biannual exhibition of Land and Naval systems to be held here Feb. 15-18.The Pinaka project has been a significant success for the DRDO and its development partners in developing and delivering a state of the art, high value project to the Indian Army's demanding specifications. Whilst DRDO was responsible for the overall design and development, its partners played a significant role in developing important subsystems and components. They include TATA Power Co. Ltd. Strategic Electronic Division (Tata Power SED)and Larsen & Toubro Ltd. to state owned Ordnance Factory Board, for the rockets as well as other private and public firms.
The first Pinaka regiment was raised on February 2000. Each regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinakas each, plus reserves. On March 29, 2006, the Indian Army awarded Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro's Heavy Engineering Division a contract worth Rs 200 crore (US $45 million), to produce 40 Pinaka MBRLs each. Tata Power SED declared that it would be delivering the first units within six months. The Indian Army has placed an indent for Pinaka Weapon System worth Rs 1300 crores.
Israel, which has emerged as a leading supplier of weaponry and equipment to the Indian defense forces since 1999, will occupy the largest exhibit space at 1,248 square meters.
Defexpo 2010 is the 6th Land and Naval Defence Systems exhibition organized by the Indian Defence Ministry, and will cover nearly twice the exhibit space - 30,100 square meters - compared with the 17,200 square meters in the 2008 show.
About 650 defense companies from 35 countries will display weapons and equipment, hoping to make sales to an Indian military expected to spend about $100 billion during the next 15 years.
"India is aiming at better partnerships between foreign defense original equipment manufacturers and domestic state-owned and private companies to increase the manufacturing and system integration of both land and naval systems during Defexpo 2010," said Raj Kumar Singh, India's permanent defense production secretary.
Singh claimed that the four-day event will be the largest defense exposition in Asia and will showcase India's emergence as an attractive investment destination for the defense sector and promote industry alliances and joint ventures.
India imports nearly 70 percent of its weapons and equipment. Forty percent of its annual budget of about $30 billion goes for new procurement, while the larger share goes toward paying salaries and pensions of the 1.2 million defense force.
Indian defense planners are drafting a plan to prepare the military for conflict with Pakistan and China that could increase defense spending by 20 percent, said a senior Indian Defence Ministry official.
Planned Army equipment purchases include 155mm guns on a fast-track basis, air defense systems and a variety of helicopters, the senior Indian Defence Ministry official said.
The Air Force is likely to finalize the $10 billion purchase of 126 fighter jets under the medium-range multirole combat aircraft program.
The Navy will put into orbit a dedicated military satellite in 2010, and enter the global market for the purchase of six more submarines worth $5 billion.
India's most ambitious homegrown aircraft program, the Light Combat Aircraft, awaits a final decision on which engine will power it. The choice is between General Electric's GE 414 and Eurojet's EJ 2000.
DTN News: Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed Team Destroys Boosting Ballistic Missile *Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., - February 12, 2010: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency on Feb. 11 successfully demonstrated the speed, precision and breakthrough potential of directed-energy weapons when the Airborne Laser Testbed (ALTB) engaged and destroyed a boosting ballistic missile. This experiment marks the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and the first time that any system has accomplished it in the missile's boost phase of flight. ALTB has the highest-energy laser ever fired from an aircraft, and is the most powerful mobile laser device in the world.
"The Airborne Laser Testbed team has made history with this experiment," said Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "Through its hard work and technical ingenuity, the government-industry team has produced a breakthrough with incredible potential. We look forward to conducting additional research and development to explore what this unique directed-energy system can do."
During the experiment, the aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-400F, took off from Edwards Air Force Base and focused its high-energy laser at the missile target during its boost phase as the aircraft flew over the Western Sea Range off the coast of California.
"We've been saying for some time that the Airborne Laser Testbed would be a pathfinder for directed energy and would expand options for policymakers and warfighters," said Michael Rinn, Boeing vice president and ALTB program director. "With this successful experiment, the Airborne Laser Testbed has blazed a path for a new generation of high-energy, ultra-precision weaponry. ALTB technology and future directed-energy platforms will transform how the United States defends itself and its friends and allies. Having the capability to precisely project force, in a measured way, at the speed of light, will save lives."
MDA officially recognized directed energy's warfare-changing potential last March, when it awarded its Technology Pioneer Award to three Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed engineers and three of their government and industry teammates for advancing key ALTB technologies.
Boeing is the prime contractor for the Airborne Laser Testbed, which is designed to provide unprecedented speed-of-light capability to intercept all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight.
Northrop Grumman designed and built ALTB's high-energy laser, and Lockheed Martin developed the beam control/fire control system. Boeing provided the aircraft, the battle management system and overall systems integration and testing.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: A Perspective On Asia ~ Regional Air Power *Source: Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses By Ramesh Phadke
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 12, 2010: According to media reports India has recently embarked on the most ambitious air power modernisation programme in its entire history. The proposals include the 126 MMRCA for US $10 billion, ten C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft worth $2.4 billion, eight Boeing P8I LRMP (for the Navy) worth $2.1 billion, six Lockheed Martin C-130J for $962 million, six second-hand Sea King helicopters (for the Navy) and a whole host of other equipment including many helicopters for the Indian Army. There are also reports of the Indian Air Force buying some 12 used Mirage-2000 fighters from Qatar.
The last time the IAF did so was in the 1979-89 period during which almost all of its current assets were purchased. Beginning with the BAE Jaguar in 1979, the IAF acquired in quick time the MiG-23 (BN&MF) strike and air defence aircraft, the MiG-25 the Mach 3 high altitude strategic reconnaissance aircraft, An-32 medium lift transports, Il-76 heavy lift aircraft, additional Mi-17 helicopters, Mi-25/35 attack helicopters, Mi-26 super heavy helicopters, Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters, MiG-29 air superiority fighters and the MiG-27 strike aircraft, completing a comprehensive overhaul of its fleet. (In response to the IAF Jaguar Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft (DPSA), Pakistan soon got some 40 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the United States.) The IAF also slowly phased out the Fairchild Packet C-119, the Dakota DC-3, Caribou, Otter, Toofani, Mystere 4A, Gnat, Ajeet and the Hunter and later the Canberra light bomber aircraft as well.
In 1996 it also acquired the Sukhoi 30MKI (Flanker), the modern air superiority fighter which could roughly be compared to the US F-15. Current estimates are that besides the 50 odd Su-30 aircraft with the IAF, some 140 more have been ordered from Russia and another 140 are to be manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under licence. There is, however, some confusion about these figures.
The HAL is also slated to participate with Russia in the development of the fifth generation fighter to the extent of 25 per cent. The fighter made its first flight recently and it is believed that since most development is more or less complete India would again end up manufacturing it under some sort of ‘licence’ arrangement.
By the turn of the century its flagship fighter programme bore fruit when the LCA, later named Tejas, flew in February 2001. In the last nine years it has completed most of the flight test work and is due to get its IOC or Initial Operational Clearance by the end of 2010 and begin entering IAF squadrons by 2012.
The HAL-made Dhruv light helicopter also started series production around the same time and has recently been exported to Chile.
The IAF’s current strength is around 600 of which the MiG21 fleet of FL, M, MF and Bis types comprise 293 aircraft. But can we really say whether all is well with its war fighting capability? The combat strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has dwindled from 39 to nearly 30 squadrons. There are reports of poor serviceability in many of the fleets, the MiG-27 and 29 upgrade programmes are taking their own time, only a dozen or less of the much vaunted AJT BAE Hawks have been inducted and in the year or so since they began training operations it is rumoured that spares package of the entire fleet of 66 trainers has been used up.
Following a fatal accident of the HPT-32 basic trainer in July 2009 in which two experienced instructors were killed, the IAF grounded the entire fleet of the HPT-32 and switched to ‘all jet training’ on Kiran Mk-1 and II trainers. A debate goes on if this is indeed a better way to train its pilots ‘ab initio’ or should it do so with new aircraft. In the meantime a Request For Proposal (RFP) for some 75 basic trainers has been issued by the government but given our experience of defence procurement it will take anything from three to five years to actually get these trainers. The IJT or the Intermediate Jet Trainer programme is also lagging behind and the HTT-34 project to produce a turboprop basic trainer roughly in the same class as the Toucano was shelved in the early 1980s. Since the Kirans are already over 30 years old it is feared that the IAF’s training schedule and its operational preparedness would be adversely affected simply because there would be fewer pilots to fly the new aircraft that would be inducted by then.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has recently received an additional 18 F-16 of the Block 52 series taking its total to 64, seven JF 17 (also known as FC-1) Thunder fighters from China and has ordered some 36 J-10 fighters and hopes to get even the Super 10 when it is ready. The Super-10 incidentally is an upgraded version of the J-10 with a TVC engine locally made in China. The PAF is also eying the Chinese L-15 supersonic trainer. Pakistan has also ordered eight Erieye AEW&C from Sweden and is to get some S-70 Super Cobra helicopters from the United States to improve its capacity for anti-terror operations. Its current strength is reportedly 383 combat capable aircraft including 41 obsolete Chinese A-5, 129 F-7 PG/MG (improved Chinese version of the MiG-21), nearly 113 vintage Mirage III/V, some 64-plus F-16 fighters and seven FC-1/JF-17 of which some 150 are on order. PAF officials are aiming to finally acquire a whopping 200 FC-1 and 150 J-10s from China in the next decade.
The Chinese Air Force officially known as the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) currently possesses some 1653 combat capable aircraft (and in addition the PLA Navy has another 290) of which some 30 per cent are current generation including 84 J-10, 116 J-11(Su-27), 97 Su-30MKK, 156 JH/FB-7, 516 J-8, and 540 J-7. It is noteworthy that since its unveiling in 2003-04, the PLAAF has already inducted 84 J-10 fighters of the roughly F-16 class, which means that China has the capacity build 40 to 50 fighters per year.
Not only has China built the first ever Airbus outside Europe but has rolled out a Cessna-162 basic trainer and is planning to produce some 1500 of these aircraft. According to Aviation Week & Space Technology (AWST) Annual Review Resource Book 2009, ‘Aircraft Forecasting’ Report, China would rank among the major producers of modern fighters in the current decade with the capacity to produce 45 to 48 fighters of the J-10 and J-11 class. This means that the PLAAF would field some 1500 to 2000 modern fighters by 2020.
In addition to some 1500 Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), China has recently modified some of its land-based Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM) to carry conventional warheads for use as Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. These missiles are capable of hitting moving targets like aircraft carriers on the high seas. China has already fielded its own version of the AWACS, intercepted a missile in an exoatmospheric engagement (January 2010) and destroyed a satellite (January 2007). In addition it recently launched the third of its geo-synchronous Compass-3 satellites in its effort to complete its own satellite navigation system (like the American GPS) comprising 30 medium orbit satellites and three geosynchronous ones.
In light of the above, India has little choice but to complete its procurement as quickly as possible if the IAF is to be ready to face a conventional conflict. Although India has shown the utmost restraint in its response to terror attacks from across the border, it must always maintain the capacity of launching a punitive strike against Pakistan if and when necessary. It is this capacity that will eventually help deter a terrorist strike or a conventional war.
India has, however, shown extreme reluctance to use force; perhaps for good reasons. But the result is that employment of air power is seen as the very last option. Although things have reportedly improved, many Indian thinkers consider use of air power as escalatory, think it is ineffective in the high mountains and shun it for fear of collateral damage. Given the US experience in Afghanistan, especially the Kunduz incident of last year in which some 100 innocent civilians were killed, air power has taken much flak. In spite of all the developments in precision fire power there is still no way of identifying insurgents or terrorists operating in small groups. So fast jet combat air power is perhaps not always effective against insurgents but no one can write its epitaph. Even after a drone has identified a terrorist hideout a fighter aircraft may be required to finish the task as happened in a recent engagement in the AFPAK region.
China’s increasing emphasis on anti-ship, cruise and conventional ballistic missiles, both land and sea based, raises new questions of a robust response. The PLAAF may well use these in large numbers in the initial stage of a conflict achieving surprise, selective damage, and economy of effort in a lethal air defence environment. Whatever India decides, it cannot but rely on air, or more correctly, aerospace power.