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India to procure 97 Tejas jets, 156 Prachand choppers, totalling $26.74 billion deal

98% to be sourced from domestic industries in a major boost to ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence.
Procurement of Light Combat Helicopters & Light Combat Aircraft Mk 1A from HAL gets a nod.
Medium Range Anti-Ship Missiles for the surface platform of the Indian Navy accorded approval.
Acquisition of Towed Gun System cleared to replace Indian Field Gun

Proposals totaling Rs 2.23 lakh crore

The Defense Acquisition Council has greenlit capital acquisition proposals totaling Rs 2.23 lakh crore, aimed at bolstering the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces.

This move, with 98% of the funding set to be derived from domestic industries, signifies a significant stride toward promoting self-reliance in defense.
On Thursday (Nov 30), the Indian government sanctioned what is purported to be one of the largest defense contracts in the nation’s history.

The Defence Acquisition Council, led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, gave the green light to procure 97 Tejas light combat aircraft and 156 Prachand helicopters, a move aimed at significantly enhancing the overall combat capabilities of the armed forces. The approved deals amount to approximately Rs 2.23 trillion ($26.74 billion).

As reported by The Economic Times newspaper, the 97 Tejas aircraft alone are valued at around Rs 650 billion ($7 billion), marking this agreement as the most substantial fighter aircraft deal ever undertaken in the country.

This strategic decision underscores the government’s commitment to fortifying the nation’s defense capabilities while concurrently supporting the growth of indigenous defense manufacturing.

Key Points:

  1. DAC Approval: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh granted approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) totaling Rs 2.23 lakh crore on November 30, 2023.
  2. Domestic Sourcing: 98% of the approved AoN amount (Rs 2.20 lakh crore) will be sourced from domestic industries, aligning with the goal of achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in the Indian Defence Industry.
  3. Anti-tank Munitions: AoN granted for procurement of two types of Anti-tank Munitions (ADM Type – 2 and Type-3) capable of neutralizing Tanks, Armoured personnel carriers, and enemy personnel.
  4. Towed Gun System (TGS): AoN granted to replace the Indian Field Gun (IFG) with a state-of-the-art Towed Gun System (TGS) for the Indian Army’s Artillery forces.
  5. 155 mm Nubless Projectile: AoN granted for the procurement of 155 mm Nubless projectiles for use in Artillery guns, enhancing lethality and safety.
  6. Automatic Target Tracker (ATT) and Digital Basaltic Computer (DBC): AoN for procurement and integration of ATT and DBC for T-90 Tanks to maintain a combative edge over adversary platforms.
  7. Medium Range Anti-Ship Missiles (MRAShM): AoN granted for procurement of MRAShM for Indian Navy’s surface platforms as a primary offensive weapon.
  8. Aircraft Procurement: AoNs granted for Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk 1A for Indian Air Force and Indian Army, along with the upgradation of Su-30 MKI Aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  9. Indigenous Content Mandate: DAC approved a major amendment in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, mandating a minimum of 50% indigenous content in material, components, and software for all procurement cases.
  10. MSMEs and Start-ups Inclusion: To encourage indigenization, DAC decided to consider registered MSMEs and recognized start-ups for Request for Proposal (RFP) issuance without financial parameter stipulations for procurement cases with AoN cost up to Rs 300 crore. This limit can be relaxed up to Rs 500 crore on a case-to-case basis with DPB approval.

Aerospace

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to bolster its air defense capabilities with the acquisition and potential local production of the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet.

Talks are reportedly underway between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, the developer of the FC-31, signaling a significant leap forward for Pakistan’s military aviation prowess.

The FC-31, a mid-sized, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter, promises advanced air combat capabilities, including stealth technology that surpasses anything currently in the PAF‘s fleet. With plans to retire the JF-17 production line by 2030, the FC-31 could emerge as the new flagship aircraft, offering unmatched performance and versatility.

Experts speculate that Pakistan’s interest in the FC-31 could also signal broader implications for the international market. As China develops both land and carrier versions of the FC-31, analysts foresee it becoming a cost-effective alternative to pricier options like the F-35, potentially challenging the dominance of the US aerospace industry and reshaping global strategic rivalries.

Adding complexity to the deal is China’s push for the WS-13 engine, previously rejected for the JF-17 but now under consideration for both the FC-31 and future JF-17 variants. Engine standardization could streamline logistical and maintenance processes for the PAF, further enhancing the appeal of the FC-31.

While negotiations continue, the success of the FC-31 acquisition and local production hinges on several factors, including the outcome of the WS-13 engine discussions. Pakistan’s pursuit of the FC-31 comes amidst its eagerness to replace its aging fleet, with previous attempts to upgrade its F-16s by the United States due to geopolitical pressures.

Amidst these developments, Pakistan previous interest in the Turkish-made Kaan fifth-generation fighter underscores its eagerness to replace its aging fleet. Despite previous attempts to secure upgrades for its F-16s from the United States, Pakistan’s quest for advanced aerial capabilities has led it to explore alternative avenues, with the FC-31 emerging as a promising contender in its pursuit of air superiority.

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Aerospace

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

At the prestigious ILA aerospace trade show in Berlin, Airbus Defence and Space made waves by introducing its pioneering Wingman concept, marking a significant leap forward in military aviation technology.

Teaming up with Helsing, Europe’s leading defense AI and software company, Airbus showcased a framework cooperation agreement aimed at revolutionizing the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) in defense.

Airbus Wingman

The Wingman concept represents a paradigm shift in aerial warfare, introducing unmanned platforms equipped with advanced AI capabilities to augment the capabilities of manned combat aircraft. Pilots in command aircraft such as the Eurofighter command these autonomous drones, positioning them to undertake high-risk mission tasks that would traditionally pose a significant threat to manned-only aircraft.

Central to the Wingman concept is Manned-Unmanned Teaming, wherein manned aircraft serve as “command fighters,” retaining ultimate control over mission decisions while delegating tactical tasks to unmanned systems. This synergistic collaboration promises to enhance mission flexibility, increase combat mass, and minimize risk exposure for pilots, thereby bolstering overall operational effectiveness.

The capabilities of the Wingman extend across a diverse spectrum of mission profiles, ranging from reconnaissance and target jamming to precision strikes against both ground and aerial targets. Equipped with advanced sensors, connectivity solutions, and a diverse array of armaments, the Wingman stands poised to redefine the operational landscape of modern air forces.

While the Wingman model showcased at ILA Berlin represents the pinnacle of current technological innovation, it also serves as a catalyst for future design iterations. As with any pioneering concept, refinement and evolution are inevitable, with each generation of the Wingman poised to push the boundaries of aerial warfare even further.

MQ-28 Ghost Bat

Boeing introduced the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which made its maiden flight in February 2021. Developed by Boeing Australia, the MQ-28 leverages artificial intelligence to serve as a force multiplier for manned fighter jets.

The Ghost Bat is engineered to operate in tandem with existing military aircraft, enhancing and extending the capabilities of airborne missions. This cost-effective UCAV is designed to work as an intelligent teammate, complementing and amplifying the effectiveness of manned operations in various mission profiles.

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Aerospace

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber
Image:USAF

The United States Air Force (USAF) has unveiled the first photographs of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber in flight.

These images were captured during test flights conducted by the B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, marking a significant milestone in the development of this sixth-generation aircraft.

Currently undergoing flight tests in California, the B-21 Raider represents the next generation of stealth bombers. With an estimated cost of around $700 million per aircraft, the B-21 Raider is poised to become a crucial component of the USAF’s arsenal for conventional Long Range Strike missions.

According to Air Force briefings, the B-21 Raider will form part of a comprehensive family of systems, encompassing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities, electronic warfare, communication systems, and more. Notably, the bomber will be nuclear-capable and adaptable for both manned and unmanned operations.

It boasts the flexibility to deploy a wide array of stand-off and direct-attack munitions, ensuring versatility in various combat scenarios. One of the B-21’s distinguishing features is its extensive integration of digital technology, as highlighted in discussions held during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider is built to swiftly incorporate emerging technologies, ensuring its effectiveness against evolving threats over time. The B-21 Raider is slated to replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, bolstering US national security objectives and providing reassurance to allies and partners worldwide.

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