Friday, December 7, 2012

Indian Navy vessel begins global circumnavigation voyage

MUMBAI (PTI): Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy Thursday began his solo circumnavigation across the globe, setting sail on Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei. During his journey, the 33-year-old naval aviator will travel 21,600 nautical miles or 40,000 kilometres and remain at sea for about six months.
The vessel was fla ged off from the Gateway of India here by Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, for Sagar Parikrama-II, a solo circumnavigation of the globe."The circumnavigation of the globe will be unassisted, solo, non-stop and under sail," an Indian Navy official said.The 56-feet sail boat, handed over to the Indian Navy on February 12, 2009 is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, and is named after river Mhadei, the origin of river Mandovi.
Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy will sail Mhadei south of all the great capes -- Cape Leeuwing, Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope and cover a distance of 21,600 nautical miles, cross the equator twice and will finish the voyage at Mumbai. To reclaim India's glorious maritime history, Vice Admiral Manohar Awati, who retired as Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, had proposed that a solo circumnavigation of the globe under sail must be carried out. The Indian Navy had accepted the proposal and permission of the Ministry of Defence was obtained in 2006.
Exclusive: Tata to unveil India's first indigenous 155 mm Bofors-type howitzer

The Tata group is to unveil India's first indigenously developed 155 mm howitzer in New Delhi on Monday.The 155/52 mm howitzer is mounted on an eight-wheeled Tata truck for enhanced mobility. The gun was developed by its defence subsidiary Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division (SED) this year. The 'mounted gun system' can fire a six-round salvo on a target 40 km away in less than three minutes. The truck-mounted howitzer will be displayed at an army seminar at the Maneckshaw centre tomorrow. The rollout comes even as the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence have struggled to import howitzers over the past 25 years. 

The Army acquired its last howitzers over 25 years ago, 410 FH-77B howitzers from AB Bofors of Sweden in 1987. Since then, the army's howitzer arsenal has been critically depleted.Tata Power SED, the defence arm of the $ 100 billion Tata group, began work on its 'Mounted Gun Project' over two years ago. The prototype gun was rolled out of the Tata Power SED facility in Bangalore's electronic city this October. It will spearhead the group's bid for the Army's requirement for 814 mounted gun systems for Rs.8500 crore.
The Tata gun is India's first new howitzer since its purchase of Bofors guns. The subsequent bribery scandal torpedoed the acquisition of additional howitzers from Sweden.
The Bofors howitzers performed spectacularly in the Kargil conflict of 1999. The Indian Army wants to buy over 2200 such howitzers in five different categories but has been unable to do so because of other bribery scandals involving firms like Rheinmetall, Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Soltam and Denel.
Enemy' ballistic missile to be downed in space next month
The incoming missile fired earlier from an Indian Navy warship in the Bay of Bengal
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi Dec 02, 2012, 16:54 IST
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Next month, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) will attempt to shoot down an incoming “enemy” ballistic missile in outer space, well before it enters the earth’s atmosphere. The DRDO chief, Dr VK Saraswat, has told Business Standard that a  newly developed Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) interceptor missile will be launched from Wheeler’s Island, travelling 110-150 kilometres into space, where it will destroy an incoming missile fired earlier from an Indian Navy warship in the Bay of Bengal.
This comes on the heels of the DRDO’s successful Nov 23 test of its Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, which destroyed an incoming target missile at an altitude of 15 kilometres. Together, the AAD and the PDV missiles, along with their radars and control centres, will form a two-layered anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defence system that will protect strategic targets like Delhi by 2013-14. While the AAD missile performs endo-atmospheric (inside-the-atmosphere) interceptions of enemy ballistic missiles; the PDV will conduct exo-atmospheric (outside-the-atmosphere) interceptions.
Next month’s test will feature a brand new target: a two-stage version of the Dhanush missile, launched from a naval vessel that is 300-350 kilometres from the interceptor location at Wheeler’s Island off the coast of Odisha, and soaring to an altitude of over 150 kilometres. This target missile would mimic the trajectory and speed of an enemy ballistic missile fired from 1500 kilometres away, such as Pakistan’s Gauri and Shaheen missiles. So far target missiles, fired from Chandipur just 70 kilometres away, could only mimic enemy missiles fired from a range of 600 kilometres or less.
“Firing range limitations make developing targets as much a challenge for us as developing interceptors. We have developed a boosted, two-stage version of the ship-launched Dhanush missile --- which makes it into quite another system --- taking it to a greater altitude that will mimic the actual terminal conditions of a 1500-kilometre class enemy missile,” explains the DRDO chief.
The brand new PDV will intercept the incoming target at about 110-150 kilometres altitude, far higher than the 50 kilometre-high interceptions that the exo-atmospheric PAD (Prithvi Air Defence) interceptor has been doing so far. The PDV will carry a new Indian electro-optic seeker, which will work in tandem with the radio frequency seeker that the PAD has traditionally carried. An electro-optic seeker provides greater accuracy and reliability than a radio frequency seeker in homing the interceptor onto the target.The PDV will be a solid-fuel missile that will be powered by a sophisticated new “pulse motor”. This will provide surges of propulsion during the missile’s later stage, increasing its manoeuvrability when it is veryclose to the target. “Intercepting the target at longer ranges provides several advantages. Firstly, the target is travelling slower --- some 2 kilometres per second at 150 kilometres; compared to 2½ kilometres per second at 50 kilometres altitude. Secondly, the target missile can be engaged before it enters Indian airspace, so that the debris falls into enemy territory. Finally, a longer flight time gives the interceptor more time for navigation, and the seeker can see better. The PAD has been test-fired only twice, compared to the four test-firings of the AAD. DRDO insiders say that, with the PDV under development, there was no incentive to waste effort on the PAD. Now the PDV could well undergo a phase of intensive testing.
Alongside the actual launch of the PDV at an actual target missile, the test next month will also feature up to 6 simulated targets that will force the radars and command systems to respond. “We can launch six interceptors simultaneously --- some endo-atmospheric and some exo-atmospheric --- to handle such an attack,” says Saraswat.
The DRDO is meanwhile working on Phase Two of the anti-ballistic missile defence programme, which is capable of downing enemy inter-continental ballistic missiles fired from upto 5000 km away. The DRDO says the Phase Two shield would be deployed by 2016.

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