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November 18, 2007

Rocket Launch Vehicle Cryogenic Stage Fully Qualified on Ground

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved self-reliance in the third stage of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) through the successful test of indigenously developed Cryogenic Stage, which was till now powered by Russian version. The test was conducted for flight duration of 720 seconds on November 15, 2007 at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The test is declared complete success.

With this test, the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has been fully qualified on the ground. ISRO spokesperson said “The next test will now be on a GSLV rocket and the mission is slated for lift-off in the middle of 2008.” The next GSLV mission is GSLV-D3.

The successful ground test of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage for the full flight duration has validated the design robustness and performance adequacy for its use in GSLV.

November 2, 2007

Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Agreement Signed Between India and Russia

Relationship between India and Russia reached another milestone with the Intergovernmental Agreement for ‘co-development’ of a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), a truly contemporary air-superiority aircraft that should be inducted around 2012-15 and serve the Indian Air Force through the next 30-40 years. The landmark agreement was signed during the seventh session of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) on Military-Technical Cooperation by Indian Defence Minister A K Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on 18th October 2007. It had taken six years of prolonged negotiations before the deal could be finalised in January this year.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the signing ceremony, Mr Antony said “We will further strengthen all-round defence cooperation and extend it to the future”. He continued saying “We have decided to expand our cooperation in R&D and have more co-development and co-production projects in aviation and other defence hardware.”

Mikhail Pogosyan, General Director of the Sukhoi aircraft company said, joint work on the project would be modeled along the lines of the BrahMos missile joint venture. He further said, “We will share the funding, engineering and intellectual property in a 50-50 proportion”.

The fifth-generation fighter deal was signed along with other important agreements such as transfer of technology to India to produce the RD-33 engines for India’s MiG-29 fleet (and the maritime version fighters to be delivered with the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier) and a protocol of intent for the joint development and production of a Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA).

Indian version of the combat aircraft will be different from the Russian because of the specific Indian requirements.

October 25, 2007

Indian Subsonic Cruise Missile Nirbhay is on Development

DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) scientists are currently working on a long-range, subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay. Nirbhay is a hindi word which means dauntless or fearless. Avinash Chander, the director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, in an seminar gave lot of information on the current developments and specifications of Nirbhay.

As of now, India had been very successful with six missile projects. They are, Agni, Prithvi, Brahmos, Akash, Trishul and Nag. Nirbhay is the seventh missile development project in India. Nirbhay comes under the same class as the American Tomahawk which gave a shock during the 1991 Gulf war and Nirbhay would have a range of 1000km which is 300km longer than Pakistan’s subsonic cruise missile Hatf-VII Babur. It’s approximately the distance between Delhi and Mumbai. Babur can cover ranges from 500km to 700km while the American Tomahawk right now can cover a range in excess of 1500km.

Avinash Chander said, “Every modern military needs to have missile options. The requirement for Nirbhay was projected by all three armed forces to fill a gap in our missile programme”. He further said, “We have Brahmos, which is a supersonic cruise missile and the need was felt for a subsonic cruise missile that will be capable of being launched from multiple platforms in land, air and sea”. The Indian military plans to mount Nirbhay on several upcoming platforms, including submarines.

Cruise missile is a missile that is guided to the target. Thus, Nirbhay will have a terrain identification system onboard that will continuously guide the missile through its course to the target by relaying information to its guidance and propulsion systems. Also, it follows a ground hugging, terrain hugging or nap-of-the-earth flight, which means that the missile is capable of flying near to the ground so that it can become completely undetected by ground based radar.

The design of the missile system is complete and right now the hardware development is going on. The missile is expected to weigh around 1000kg and to travel at 0.7 mach (approx. 850kmph). It would be capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads. The technology demonstration of the missile is expected to be in 2009.

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