IN and IAF’s crash programme to upgrade their all-weather maritime surveillance capab

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by lambu, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. lambu

    lambu Regular Member

    Jul 15, 2010
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    Faced with the prospect of combating the increasing incidents of piracy off the Lakshadweep group of islands in the southern Arabian Sea, both the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) have begun a crash programme to upgrade the all-weather maritime surveillance capabilities of their respective coastal maritime patrol aircraft and fast attack craft.

    The navy, early last February, reportedly inked a contract of undisclosed value with Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd (Elop) Ltd for procuring MicroCoMPASS (micro-compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) turret-mounted, multi-spectral optronic sensors, which would be fitted on board the 11 HAL-built Do-228-211s now in delivery to the navy, as well as on all 10 of the 600-tonne waterjet-driven fast attack craft (WJ-FAC) that were built for the navy by the ministry of defence-owned, Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE). Also to be equipped with the CoMPASS (compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) in future will be the Indian Coast Guard Service’s seven 270-tonne extra-fast patrol vessels (XFPV) and twenty 260-tonne fast patrol vessels (FPV), all of which were built by the MoD-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd; the 16 Do-228 maritime patrol aircraft that have already been ordered; and on the 12 Griffon 8000TD hovercraft that are now in delivery by GRSE.
    The MoD had awarded a GBP 34 million contract in late July last year to UK-based Griffon Hoverwork for the supply of these hovercraft for the ICG, the tender for which had been released in November 2009. At 21.3 metres in length and with a payload of eight tonnes, the 8000TD can reach speeds of 45 knots and is powered by two Iveco diesel engines. The ICG had earlier acquired six 8000TDs in 2001, two of which were built at Griffon Hoverwork, with the following four being assembled by GRSE. Presently, only the seven Super Dvora Mk2 fast patrol vessels (built by Israel Aerospace Industries’ RAMTA Division) of the navy are fitted with MicroCoMPASS systems.

    The ICG presently operates 28 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd-built Do-228-201 maritime patrol aircraft and will receive another 16, by 2013. The USD 20 million contract for equipping them with CoMPASS optronic turrets was inked last month. To be inked in future are two contracts — one pertaining to the acquisition of 30 HAL-built Dhruv ALH twin-engined helicopters (each equipped with BEL-built Supervision 2000 search radars), and up to six medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft (MRMR) worth Rs 11 billion, for which the Beriev Be-200 amphibian and Bombardier Aerospace’s Dash 8Q-400MPA have been shortlisted. The ICG had conducted flight trials of both these contenders last February. The Dash 8Q-400 is being proposed as a versatile platform equipped with the EL/I-3360 mission management suite sourced from Israel Aerospace Industries’ ELTA Systems Ltd subsidiary. The suite includes a chin-mounted MSOP FLIR turret and a belly-mounted EL/M-2022(V)3 search radar. Also due for acquisition by the ICH are a hundred 12.7mm machine guns, seventy 20mm machine guns, thirty-six 30mm machine guns, and thirty-six 40mm guns, all for integration on its existing and future vessels. Separately, the ICG has also floated tenders for six new 2,000-tonne offshore patrol vessels, 14 fast patrol vessels and 20 new interceptor craft.

    In another development, slowly but gradually, the decks are being cleared at long last for both the Indian Air Force (IAF) and IN to acquire their own fleets of amphibian aircraft, in response to the unique operational requirements of each armed service. While the IAF has projected a requirement for six amphibians capable of search-and-rescue (SAR) operations over the high seas (for locating and rescuing down combat aircraft aircrew) and rapid-response duties, the IN has opted for a large fleet comprising no less than 12 amphibians capable of undertaking tasks like SAR, maritime surveillance-cum-reconnaissance of island-based territories along India’s eastern and western seaboards, and supporting special operations directed against seaborne pirates and terrorists.

    While IAF HQ floated global requests for proposals (RFP) for its amphibian aircraft requirements in March 2010 (in which it indicated its preference for twin-engined turboprop aircraft), Navy HQ has yet to release its RFP. Incidentally, the IN did operate a modest fleet of amphibians in the Fifties, when it ordered 10 modified Shorts Sealand Mk1Ls in 1952 (these being the naval fleet air arm’s very first post-independence aircraft acquisitions) from the UK for its Fleet Requirement Unit (which on 17 January 1959 became Indian Naval Air Squadron 550) at INS Garuda, in Cochin. All 10 aircraft were delivered between January and October 1953, but were withdrawn from service 12 years later.


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