Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Video report | Meet Sarangs, IAF’s synchrony masters of the skies

What the team always looks forward to, are those 15 minutes of thrilling aerial ballet, where the human spirit challenges the limits of the machine and the end product is an exhilarating exhibition of precision, symmetry, synchronization, and dare-devilry. Each time those 15 minutes come to an end, the team asks for more and waits until the next time we get an opportunity to Tango and enthrall the audience. This spirit is the very elixir of the team.
Read the full report, here: https://bit.ly/2A01409

Saturday, October 6, 2018

G Santha Teacher Memorial Award: Jugal truly deserves it, says Dr Kota

Bengaluru, Oct 6: Jugal Purohit (34), a Senior Broadcast Journalist with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) India, has been selected for the 3rd G Santha Teacher Memorial Journalism Award 2018. The award has been instituted by Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF), a writers’ movement spearheading silent missions for unsung heroes.
The award will be presented on October 30, 2018 in Bengaluru, during the 3rd Guru Kalam Memorial Lecture being organised by IIF in association with Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF), Rameswaram. 
The award carries a specially crafted crystal memento, a certificate of appreciation and Rs 10,000 in cash. The awardee will be onboard IIF’s national missions as a special invitee for the next one year.
Rekha Satheesh, a Senior Chief Sub-Editor with The New Indian Express, Kochi, was the first recipient of the award in 2016, while Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a Chief Sub-Editor with the Bengaluru edition of Rajasthan Patrika, won the honour in 2017.
The award has been instituted in the memory of late G Shantha, an English teacher hailing from Thalavadi in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. Born in 1942, she first taught English in colleges (Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu and Devasom Board College, Thalayolaparambu, Kerala) before moving to Mahatma High School for Girls, Chennithala, Kerala. She passed away at the age of 65 in 2007, following a heart attack. In addition to her contributions as a teacher, she worked selflessly to promote the English language among rural children. She also wrote short stories and poetry.
Deserving candidate: Dr Kota Harinarayana
This year, the jury selected Jugal Purohit from a list of five journalists across India shortlisted from various streams. Trustees, Mentors of IIF, a representative of AKIF and a relative of late G Santha teacher constituted this year’s jury.
“Interesting selection process, as we kept a tab on the professional activities of all nominees in a year. Even after the awardee is chosen finally, we ensure that he/she is not intimated until we get the final feedback from the Editor(s) the journalist has worked with. Delighted that we have a truly deserving candidate this year as well in Jugal Purohit,” says Dr Kota Harinarayana, top aerospace scientist and Mentor of IIF.
IIF began the process of shortlisting the nominees in January this year. Once the final list of candidates was drawn up, a confidential report from their Editors was sought to measure some of their performance parameters. 
“Jugal’s reporting over the years has been in-depth in nature. We found him absolutely passionate in his approach, with a great eye for detail while diving into the depths of reporting,” says Sindhu A, National Coordinator, IIF.
Objective, diligent, meticulous
Jugal started his career with Mid-Day in 2005 and later worked in Yuva, Times Now and India Today, before joining BBC India in January 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media (Journalism) from Mumbai University and an MA in Defence & Strategic Studies from the University of Pune. 
Winner of Red Ink Awards, Jugal has made a mark for himself over the years, covering topics ranging from military affairs to atomic energy to insurgency and politics, to mention a few. He volunteered to cover cyclones Vardah (2016), Hudhud (2014), Phailin (2013); floods of Uttarakhand in 2013, Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, Gujarat in 2015 and the Nepal earthquake in 2015.
Despite being detected by cancer last year, Jugal stuck to his guns and inner strength to overcome that difficult phase in his life. 
He stands out as a hardworking, diligent journalist, who always provided better information and greater insight in his stories than others covering the same topics.
“Jugal is as a stickler for facts and objectivity. He is the first to put up his hand to take up tough assignments. He tells his story in a manner that people can easily relate to. Unlike many others he never advertised his situation. Never looked for sympathy. He took it on the chin, faced it head-on, kept the faith and came out better,” says an editor with India Today. 
His peers say Jugal has always shown great leadership skills whenever needed and has always risen to the occasion.
“Overall, he is a very driven, hardworking journalist who holds the journalistic values of honesty, impartiality and quality dear,” says an Editor with BBC India.
Jugal’s father, late Rajnikant Purohit, was an advocate dealing with income tax cases in Mumbai, while his mother Alka Purohit, retired from Reserve Bank of India. He is married to Sapna Nair Purohit, who is a journalist. 
Reacting to the news of winning the award, Jugal said he was ‘humbled by this recognition’. 
“There still are many journalists who strive hard to ensure their readers/viewers benefit from reporting which is objective and in-depth. Few, however, get the recognition they deserve. I am confident that this IIF endeavour will go a long way in encouraging many more,” said Jugal.
He said he will continue being a storyteller but will be one who is “more innovative, creative and effective”. 
(Jugal Purohit can be reached at: purohit.jugal@gmail.com | Twitter: @jugalrp. More on Inspired Indian Foundation here: www.inspiredindianfoudnation.org or www.billionbeats.in.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Guardians | ALH gives teeth to Navy's airborne ops

From a flying machine with many issues, the naval variant of ALH has now
matured by miles. The enormous potential 
of the platform has been harnessed
after the fitment of new equipment was carried out. From the initial role of a
helicopter training just pilots, the ALH has definitely progressed
undertaking multi-role ops in the last 5 years. -- Indian Navy

Thursday, July 12, 2018

HAL readies Tejas SP-10 for first flight

By Anantha Krishnan M

Bengaluru, July 12: The 10th series production fighter (SP-10) from Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas production line is ready. It has completed the full performance engine ground run.
Weather-permitting, the low and high speed taxi trials are lined up next leading to its first flight soon.
The SP-10 will be likely to be piloted by Air Cmde K A Muthanna (Retd) or Gp Capt K K Venugopal (Retd), both Test Pilots with the National Flight Testing Centre here.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), under immense pressure from various quarters to scale up the production rate, needs to deliver 16 aircraft to IAF this financial year.
Read full story, here: bit.do/Tejas-SP10

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

IAF may be given Tejas controls to overcome project delays

Photo: @fotoyogi
By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, July 10: The Indian Air Force (IAF) may get the controls of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Aeronautical Development (Agency).
The decision likely to be made official by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sooner or later is aimed at ending the blame game over the project delays, often being played out by the stake-holders of this flagship ‘Make in India’ project.
Military sources confirm to Onmanorama that the idea of IAF man being given the command and control of Tejas programme has been floating around for some time now.
Read full report here: http://bit.do/Tejas-Controls

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Tarmak007 Talking with Dr Kota Harinarayana

Hello folks!

Welcome to #Tarmak007Talking -- a news series aiming to get you an up-close with all heroes from India's inspiring aerospace and defence sector. This is the first edition of #Tarmak007Talking and we begin with Dr Kota Harinarayana, the man widely revered as the father of India's modern fighter jet programme.
In the days ahead, we shall bring you more heroes, including unsung as well, who have toiled hard to make India a vibrant aerospace and defence power. If your organisation or CEO or a team wants to be featured in #Tarmak007Talking, do write to anantha.ak@gmail.com or ak@billionbeats.in. This interview series will be a collaborative effort and currently, it is being supported by Inspired Indian Foundation®. (www.inspiredindianfoudation.org)
The production team consists of award-winning video editors, a young research group and a professional camera crew among others. Sit back and enjoy #Tarmak007Talking!
Jai Hind!
Anantha Krishnan M

Saturday, June 23, 2018

IAF, HAL end impasse over Tejas trainers

By Anantha Krishnan M
BANGALORE:  The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) seem to have arrived on a consensus to end the stalemate over Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas trainers.
Onmanorama can confirm now that IAF will have to probably wait till 2021 to get the Tejas trainer of their ‘liking.’ It means there won’t be any trainers from the first block of 20 Series Production (SP) line for now, which will be in tune with the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standards.
As per the original agreement, four trainers were part of the IOC block and another four from the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) production line. This production plan seems to have now being tweaked with IAF wanting all trainers fitted with the air-to-air refueling (AAR) probe. IAF also says that there cannot be two types (IOC/FOC) of Tejas trainers in its fleet.HAL on its part put up a brave fight in the last one year trying to convince IAF bosses that any change at this stage would further derail their production plans. Two and fro letters flew between HAL and IAF HQ on this contentious issue. HAL even feared a production halt, if IAF stuck to its guns.All that seems to have buried now with IAF probably getting what they wanted, may be not on time, but with delays. So if you are a diehard devotee of Tejas programme, here are some updates on trainers.
  • IAF will receive 16 fighters in the IOC format and another 16 in the FOC format. All these will be LCA MKI.
  • In the next version of 83 aircraft which are to be built as per the LCA MK1A standards, there will be 10 trainers.
  • All the 18 trainers (4+4+10) will be of LCA MK1 standards and not MK1A.
  • The first SP-Trainer will be a prototype fitted with AAR probe. Based on its successful completion of trials and acceptance by IAF, another seven will be produced in the first block of 40.
Read full report, here: http://bit.do/Writetake-Tejas

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#Tarmak007Talking | I would've loved to have flown in Tejas: Dr Kota

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bangalore: Nothing much has changed in the life of Dr Kota Harinarayana, who recently turned 75. Despite age catching up at supersonic speeds, he stays fit. He travels a lot, mentoring hundreds of aeronautical scientists. His wife says Dr Kota is wedded to plane dreams.
Revered globally as the man who shaped India’s modern fighter jet mission, Dr Kota today is a satisfied man, with his pet bird – the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) – finally joining Squadron duty.
In a freewheeling interview to this writer, the man who passionately guided the Tejas project through one of the most turbulent phases said he is still dreaming and looking forward to making India a mighty power in the field of aviation and defence.
[Read the full report here | https://bit.ly/2JW5ebH]
Watch the video below

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Chikmagalur’s daredevil Meghana Shanbough is IAF’s new poster girl

By Anantha Krishnan M
The News Minute
Flying Officer Meghana Shanbough MR is the new poster girl of Indian Air Force (IAF). As she graduates from the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Dundigal on Saturday at the impressive Combined Graduation Parade, Meghana has become the sixth female fighter pilot to join the ranks of IAF, and the first from south India.
Being different was normal for Meghana, and it was while she was studying in Class 4 that she told her father that she wants fly out of the comforts of home. She was a student of Maharishi Vidya Mandir Public School, Chikmagalur then.
“I told my dad that I wanted to study in a boarding school. My mother was initially hesitant, but my dad did not chip away my wings and was very supportive,” says the 23-year-old daredevil pilot who hails from Marle village in Karnataka’s Chikmagalur district.
Backed by her parents, Meghana’s bold journey began after she joined Little Rock Indian School in Udupi, where she studied from Class 5 to 12 as a boarding student.
Her experiments with life continued even after she joined Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE), Mysuru. Accustomed to doing things differently in life, Meghana formed the Sahas-SJCE Adventure Club, which she says transformed her.

Read the full report, here: https://bit.ly/2Mwq0R6

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tessy Thomas appointed DRDO’s DG Aero; to head Tejas, Nirbhay, Rustom missions

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, May 29: Top missile scientist Dr Tessy Thomas has been appointed as the Director General, Aeronautical Systems (DG-Aero) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 
The appointment is on expected lines as Dr Tessy was selected as the top choice for the post a month back, to replace the current incumbent C P Ramanarayanan, who is set to retire on May 31. She will take charge on June 1.
Currently she is the Director of Advanced Systems Laboratories (ASL), Hyderabad. 
Dr Tessy, already celebrated as the first woman DRDO woman scientist to head any missile project, will be DRDO’s third DG (Aero) following the restructuring a couple of years back.
She also becomes DRDO’s third woman DG (technical stream), with J Manjula being the first, currently heading the Electronics and Communication Systems cluster.
Full report: bit.ly/2kxX4LW 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Soon on YouTube: #Tarmak007Talking

An interview series with a difference.
More on the known and unknown!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

At DefExpo, Russia to hard sell ‘co-design-ToT-AIP offer’ for P75I subs

The Russian Amur-1650 diesel-electric submarine. (For representation purpose only.)
By Team Tarmak007

Chennai, April 10: Russia is likely to pitch hard its offer to India to jointly design and develop six diesel-electric submarines embedded with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, at a desi shipyard under the Make in India template.
Sources confirm that Russia is willing to offer a transfer of technology (ToT) for all these six submarines under Project 75I (P75I) for which India had issued a RFI in August 2017. Russian Rosoboronexport (ROE/ Rubin Design Bureau-Amur Shipyard, Russia & Italy) is among the four contenders taking part in the upcoming tender process. Others in the fray are Germany, Sweden and France.
On offer from the Russians are: a joint design construction proposal with ATVP HQ (DRDO), joint prototype-building and subsequent ToT for serial production to a selected Indian shipyard.
To bank on long bonding: To build their case, at the DefExpo, the Russians are to bank upon the long-standing relationship it has with India in the field of submarines. Indian companies are already making submarine parts for Russia, including high-strength steel take goes into the hull.
With India too putting its R&D might to develop a desi AIP for its future submarine programmes, the Russian side wants to have a common vision on many technical aspects, including the diesel fuel reforming process.
For BrahMos secure Ops: The Russians feel that designing a submarine together with India would help the BrahMos missile integration immensely.
“There are apprehensions about BrahMos being integrated on to submarines of non-Russian origin. A lot of details need to be shared with the submarine maker about the missile ahead and during integration. It is like virtually sharing your secret formulae to an open domain,” says an official in the know-how of the Russia’s ‘add-on offer’ to co-design-develop submarines under P75I.
Cost to come down: Russia feels that co-design of the submarines would turn out to be a less expensive affair than production under license.
With China and Japan have gone some distance in mastering the art of AIP, India cannot afford to be behind if the submarines under P75I and subsequent P76 are to be equipped with gen-next technologies that would keep them submerged longer with extended operational range. 
Russians say that the plan on P75I joint design is the best bet compared to joint construction. They feel in addition to India getting the much-wanted AIP technology, the work would require less initial investment, less preparatory time and can be launched quicker. 
Advantage to shipyards: The joint design gives the Indian shipyards more time to upgrade their capabilities to the next level, thereby making them to adapt to the technology needs at a faster pace. Joint-design will also give India more flexibility and discretion, in addition to having the confidence of launching the weapon systems from a familiar board.
“India will become an equal partner to the project sharing a full-fledged right of intellectual property and entitled to all the scientific and technological results of design and prototype construction. That would mean a huge leap forward even in terms of Make in India,” says a source.
(With inputs from Aishwarya & Govind under Tarmak007 Internship Programme.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

More power to ASC with 306 young blood joining the ranks

By Aiswarya C T [TIP]

Bangalore, April 8, 2018: The ASC Centre and College, Bangalore, held a Passing out Parade (PoP) recently. A total of 306 recruit trainees from No 1 Army Service Corps Training Centre joined the ranks of the Indian Army.
The PoP was an emotion-charged event with the proud trainees, who had sweated it out to achieve their dreams, to become strong and fearless soldiers.
The impressive and solemn PoP and the Attestation Parade held as per the military traditions saw the recruits being administered the oath of allegiance and devotion of duty by the regimental Religious Teachers of all faiths. 
Major General N S Rajpurohit, Deputy Commandant and Chief Instructor, ASC Centre and College reviewed the parade. The parade was commanded by Major S K Baitha.
Full report on Tarmak007 on FB: https://bit.ly/2HaSyzX

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan inspires soldiers guarding Bumla Pass

By Anantha Krishnan M
TNIE Online
Bumla Pass (Arunachal Pradesh), 06 Feb 2018: “I was in school when Major Sandeep Sir was martyred in Mumbai. I was working in my father’s paper shop. I helped him with collecting old newspapers and later selling them in bulk. I read every bit of news on Major Sandeep Sir. It changed my life. I decided to work hard. My aim was to join the Indian Army,” says a Sepoy, posted at Bumla Pass.
The Sepoy (not naming him) along with other soldiers and officers are part of the 7 Bihar Regiment, now posted at this Sino-India border post, on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“Today, I am proud to be in the Indian Army and happy guarding the border. Major Sandeep Sir is my hero. And he will always be,” he adds.
A poster depicting the heroics of martyred NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who belonged to the 7 Bihar Regiment, welcomes visitors at the entrance of Bumla Pass, which is situated at an altitude of 15,200 feet (4,600 metres) above sea level. 
The soldiers manning this sensitive post take pride in being part of the regiment that Major Sandeep once served in.
“He inspires all of us. He is our hero and his brave deeds motivate us all the time,” says a young officer posted here.
Full report here: http://bit.ly/2C0aDtx

Saturday, January 27, 2018

'Intelligent’ Tejas does the ‘talking’; pilots & engineers are not complaining

By Anantha Krishnan M
TNIE Online Exclusive
Bengaluru, 27 Jan 2018: Close to one-and-a-half-years after the first Light Combat Aircraft Tejas joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet officially, the No 45 Sqn Flying Daggers that flies the desi bird is now ready for bigger operational challenges.
Raised in Bengaluru on July 1, 2016, the Flying Daggers are a now formidable combat air unit with a bunch of young pilots who sleeps, eats and breathes Tejas.
During an interaction granted to this Correspondent, it was evident that the boys are confident of the machine that they operate, its abilities and the possibilities it offers in future. In fact, they call Tejas an ‘intelligent talking plane’.
The Flying Daggers are now under the operational control of Southern Air Command (SAC), headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram through the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) located at Bengaluru.

An upclose with Flying Daggers | Tejas Talking

Presenting to you #TejasTalking, one of the most comprehensive films on Indian Air Force's Tejas pilots. In this 55-minute film, specially made on the occasion of Republic Day 2018, we get you an up-close with the team members of No 45 Sqn, Flying Daggers, who operate the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas.
#TejasTalking is a part of #ProjectHamaraHeroes from the hangars of Inspired Indian Foundation®, launched in January 2018. Under this pilot mission, IIF aims to capture inspiring stories from the Indian armed forces and the scientific fraternity.
 It is an independently-funded mission, with no commercial angle.

You can WhatsApp your feedback to +91 78997 78888. Jai Hind!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

NAL bailed out BrahMos ALCM when Russians asked for the Moon

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Dec 28: India rightly celebrated ‘BrahMostav’ of a different kind when the frontline striker Sukhoi Su-30MKI fired a modified BrahMos supersonic cruise missile for the first time recently.
The feat of a Su-30 MKI, piloted by Wg Cdr Prashant Nair taking off from Kalaikunda Air Force Station on November 22, 2017, carrying the 2.5-tonne Brahmos missile and returning to the base after piercing the target in less than an hour, has already found a place in the history books.
But there’s a missing link to this piece of inspiring military history.
One name that missed out the pressers and headlines prominently was National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a leading laboratory under Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), based out of Bengaluru.
It was NAL who bailed out the BrahMos Aerospace during 2013-14 period, when the greedy Russians were asking for the moon to conduct a series of wind-tunnel tests ahead of the actual integration of the BrahMos Air Launch Cruise Missile (ALCM) on to Su-30MKI.
Military sources now confirm to Mathrubhumi that the Russians demanded ‘exorbitant charges’ to carry out these tests, a first-time experience even for them, since India was the first country to integrate a supersonic cruise missile on to fighter jet.
The Russians are said to have quoted over Rs 1300 crore with no commitment on transfer of technology. The Indian team, consisting of members from BrahMos, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Indian Air Force (IAF), then turned to NAL for help.
NAL, with their extensive knowledge of carrying out wind-tunnel experiments for various national military and space missions, accepted the challenge and delivered the test results at 120th the cost of what the Russians had sought for.

How NAL executed the challenging task

For NAL, it was a first-time-experience to undertake drop test of stores from a Su-30MKI aircraft model. At their 1.5m low-speed wind tunnel, using Froude Scaling principles, the scientists carried out tests at low speeds of (M<0.3).
A Su-30 MKI model, the largest aircraft model, was designed, fabricated and commissioned at a record time at NAL’s National Trisonic Aerodynamic Facilities (NTAF). [A trisonic wind tunnel is capable of testing flight vehicles at subsonic, transonic and supersonic speed ranges].
The study provided the ideal conditions for the stores release at actual flight Mach numbers including the deflection setting angles for the fore and aft fins.
The software developed allowed tracking of the time-resolved displacement, velocity, acceleration and Euler angles. The composite image of the missile was recorded at four different instances along the trajectory.
NAL used appropriately scaled models of Su-30MKI and BrahMos missile for testing in low speed and high speed wind tunnels. Aerodynamic loads on the isolated missile loads were measured in the 2-ft wind tunnel and the same model was attached to the aircraft model.
Later, the aerodynamic loads on the complete configuration was determined in the 4-ft wind tunnel simulating flight Mach number range of 0.55 to 1.2 conditions at various angles of attack and sideslip to ascertain installation effects, store load in carriage position and in aircraft interference flow-field.

Store separation critical for airborne missions

Those associated with the ALCM mission from the early days say that the store separation of the weapon is the critical milestone for any airborne weapon program.
Highly specialized and complex tests such as ‘Dynamically Similar Tests’ or ‘Drop tests’ were conducted for the first time in India at the Experimental Aerodynamics Division of NAL.
In ‘Drop tests’ the missile model is dropped in the wind tunnel simulating aircraft speed, altitude and other parameters and separation trajectories are analysed. These tests were crucial for getting clearance for the BrahMos separation trials.
The wind tunnel tests were conducted in phases in 4-ft and 2 ft trisonic wind tunnels of NTAF. For the store separation tests, grid studies were carried out in 4-ft trisonic wind tunnel in NTAF to see the effect of BrahMos on the Su-30MKI aircraft model in carriage position. 
The team also undertook air-intake studies to study whether the presence of the missile affects the performance of the air-intakes of the Su-30MKI. NAL was also involved in the crucial task of envelope expansion of the aircraft with the launcher, developed by BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd.
When cross-checked, the complete test results even surprised the Russians who acknowledged that NAL findings were better and more accurate than what they had derived at.
NAL’s wind tunnel results matched very well with the results of the actual flight data. The capabilities developed are now being applied to other airborne weapon integration programmes.
The path-breaking tests fetched NAL the Best Laboratory Award in 2014 from BrahMos, presented by former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. Interestingly, India has named the hypersonic version of BrahMos after Dr Kalam. @Mathrubhumi

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Upgraded Saras PT1N all set for maiden flight in Jan

By Anantha Krishnan M
Bengaluru, Dec 26: National Aeronautics Laboratories (NAL), a frontline wing under Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) here, is ready to put the upgraded prototype of Saras on its maiden flight.
The Saras PT1N (New), a 14-seater passenger plane, is expected to have its first flight after completing one more high speed taxi trial (HSTT).
Military sources confirm to Mathrubhumi that the first flight will be about 20-25 minutes.
Two Test Pilots and one Flight Test Engineer, who are empanelled to the PT1N project from Indian Air Force’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), will be onboard the maiden mission.
The first flight could be any time during the first/second week of January 2018.
What separates the PT1N now from the maiden flight are a SRB (Safety Review Board) and one final HSTT.
A young team of around 40 scientists and engineers, with an average age of 40 years, have been toiling hard for the last nine months to ensure Saras does what it is meant to be doing -- flying.
The project had virtually hit a dead end after the March 2009 crash of PT-2 martyring three ASTE crew onboard. The subsequent crash probe, lack of confidence among users, want of funds and political will further dented the project.
The aircraft was grounded for close to three years (2013-2016) barring namesake EGRs to keep the power-plant in good shape.
The resurgence of Saras project as PT1N has now given hope for India’s foray into making 14/19-seater passenger turboprops, with China, Russia, Poland, Indonesia and United States have already gone some distance.
In the new avatar as PT1N, it boasts of many upgraded features, following a gap analysis undertaken last year.

A close look at what PT1N looks like

* The control forces have been significantly reduced.
* The nacelle design (for engine mount) has been made optimal.
* Environmental control systems, cabin pressurization systems have been modified.
* Automatic avionics stall warning system included.
* Linear flap track and trim taps on elevator modified. 
* Rudder area enhanced for better controllability. 
* Flight test instrumentation modified.
* Electrical systems modified to reduce voltage losses.
* Air data system has been provided with the nose boom for redundancy.
Apart from above modification on the aircraft, the following additional safety measures have also been ensured by the team.
* Complete borosopic inspection of the aircraft to eliminate any doubts about corrosion. 
* Computer-based failure analysis of engine, elevator jamming and ailerons power adequacy. 
* Simulator upgraded to the high-fidelity.

The NAL-ASTE combine’s primary objective with PT-1N is to evaluate all systems, including design and performance parameters. The inputs collected from PT1N’s initial flights (expected to be around 20-30 in the next six months), will be then used to freeze the design, paving way for the production version.

India’s 19-seater dream will be Saras Mk-2

PT-IN flight data will inspire NAL to prepare the DPR (detail project report) for India’s much-awaited 19-seater passenger plane – Saras Mk2.
The Saras Mk2 will have additional five more seats and a toilet as compared to the PT1N. It will also have gen-next avionics and glass cockpit, autopilot and other features any modern passenger turboprop could boast off.
The Saras Mk2 with reduced weight (around 700 kg compared to PT1N) will have an AUW (all up-weight) of roughly around 7.4 to 7.5 ton and will likely to run on MRF tyres.
Sources confirm that NAL plans to have both military and passenger version for the 19-seater. They hope to encash on the CEMILAC-DGCA’s certification model used in ALH, to save time.
As of now, two production variants are planned while the third one will be a fatigue test specimen (FTS) – all estimated to costing around Rs 700 crore.
In the last one year, NAL put some of its best workforce behind the Saras project with many slogging it out day and night.
Insiders say only less than Rs 5 core has been spent in the last one year for Saras PT-IN, thanks to lean management philosophy, optimum usage of resources and constant monitoring.
With CSIR backing the project after some hiccups, Saras is sure to be India’s star in 2018 with IAF offering all support to the desi mission once again. CSIR DG Dr Girish Sahni’s push for the Saras PT1N/19-seater, and the Udan mantra of Govt of India also have come as a blessing for team NAL.
Subject to the Cabinet Committee on Security approval, the detail design of the first limited series production (LSP) variant of Saras-Mk-2 should begin in 2019 followed by certification and demonstration flights by 2021. In short, in three years NAL will have its handful with Saras once again back on the radar. @Mathrubhumi 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Her father's daughter: An inspiring story from INA Ezhimala

After the Passing out Parade, father and daughter together.

By Cmde Srikant Kesnur

A few days ago, the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, in southern India, celebrated one more course passing out parade with the usual pomp, precision and show. There were several stirring stories as young boys and girls, officer cadets, were commissioned as officers and began their naval journey. 
Amidst those stirring stories was a heart-warming tale of a family, and for the purpose of this piece, a father and daughter. It is not an extraordinary tale, not a trailblazing or news-making one, yet it is, to use that phrase again, heart-warming and life-affirming. 
The father first. Master Chief Petty Officer First Class (MCPO 1) Umesh Chandra Dhaundiyal is the senior most Sailor in my unit and the in-charge of maintenance, administration and host of other matters.
He has risen to this position by the dint of his hard work, perseverance and dedicated service of more than 30 years in the Navy, mostly at sea. In fact, the last ship he served on as the Master Chief Boatswains Mate (MCBM) - the key sailor of the ship - bagged the most spirited ship trophy, a tribute to him, as much to his Captain. In my unit of very few sailors, he slogs with the josh and enthusiasm of a newcomer while using all the wisdom of his years. In short, a gem of a person and a professional. 
The Dhaundiyals are like any conventional middle-class Indian family. Thrifty, resourceful, hardworking, a tad conservative and traditional. They believe in making the best of their surroundings. It is perhaps because of the father's background. Growing up in a small village in Pauri Garhwal, 120 km from Dehra Dun, he lost both his parents while in high school and came up the hard way. It is quite likely that the mother grew up similarly. Thus, honest middle-class values and virtues became their leitmotif. 
The selfie together after the POP.
The daughter now. Kamini Dhaundiyal did her schooling at Navy Children Schools in Mumbai & Vizag. A topper in school she bagged trophies for "Best Girl" and overall excellence in her matriculation. She graduated in electrical & electronic engineering with 94% marks from GITAM University, Visakhapatnam in 2016. She landed a job in campus selection for the prestigious IT major Accenture, where she worked for 7 months. 
However, not quite enthused with her corporate career and motivated by a strong urge to join the Navy, she took the plunge and appeared for the first ever Services Selection Board (SSB) conducted for women entry to INA and was among the 5 out of 167 selected. She was selected for Naval Armament cadre. She was in a dilemma; she preferred logistics to handling ordnance.
About a month later, she appeared for her second SSB at a different centre and was selected again. This speaks volumes about her confidence because most would be happy to clear the selection once. She did it at two different centres. As her father says matter-of-factly "she worked very hard at her job while also preparing for SSB". At the Naval Academy, she was awarded the prize for best performance in seamanship and she stood third overall in order of academics merit. From all accounts, she is a good sportsperson too. 
Posing in front of the Mess, a day before the POP.
The story goes a little further. His son Abhishek Dhaundiyal, younger to Kamini, too has joined Naval Academy in Jan 17 training to become an Executive officer. He also studied in NCS Vizag. He also excelled in academics as well as in sports. He also was awarded the same Trophy for best academics overall in 2014. He is very good in football and table tennis, where he represented NCS Vizag in south zone state level junior table tennis championship. He too went through two SSBs, one for NDA and other for Naval Academy and having cleared both, opted for the latter. He will be commissioned as an officer three years down the line. 
So in short, when the Dhaundiyals landed in the Naval Academy a fortnight ago, they were a family in which the father had reached the highest sailors’ rank and the daughter was being commissioned as an officer in the navy and the son awaiting his turn in the line three years hence. I am sure Master Sahab (as we refer to our Senior sailors) would have been a very proud man when his daughter pipped her stripes and entered the rarefied world of Navy officers. 
For me, this little story offers several fascinating nuggets. This is not one of a kind, but it is uncommon. For one, it is a story of aspiration and ambition. It is also about realising it in the best possible way, which is through hard work, grit, determination, and perseverance - qualities that we see often in our sailors. But it is also much more than that. 
It is about social mobility in a time of social transition and how navy enables that access. It is about the success of Navy schools which in a span of just about two decades are amongst the best you can get. And these schools are the handiwork, almost entirely, of the naval community. It is about the Mothers who are often not given due credit, including here. The mothers/wives in the navy have an onerous 'unpaid' task. They look after home and hearth with men away sailing or on duty more than half the time. Mostly from the hinterland, many of our sailors' wives begin life in a big city having to adjust and adapt at several levels. They do so magnificently. As mothers, they are often silent but always solid, stoic, supportive of their husbands' and (later) children’s' career endeavours. It is not the perfect world that the libertarians may want, but it is of slow and steady progress to modernity and cosmopolitanism. 
Siblings in Service.
It is about daughters expressing themselves. And fathers, overcoming entrenched patriarchies of tradition, encouraging them to do so. It is about chipping away at the glass ceilings; it is about creative disruption in small doses in the country's social fabric, a vindication of the beti padhao campaign. And it is indeed about the fine naval ecosystem that makes this generational transformation possible. As Master Sahab says gratefully "My wife and I are very happy that we can be in touch with the Navy long after my retirement". 
But, above all, this is a story of a father and a daughter. Do see this accompanying photo. It conveys so much emotion. Happiness, pride, resolve, expectation, excitement. From now on when Master Chief Dhaundiyal salutes his daughter Sub Lieutenant Kamini it will be with heart-swelling pride. And when she returns his salute, it will be with the same pride and gratitude. On the eve of the Navy Day and in a week when we honour our Armed Forces veterans, the Dhaundiyal duo are the perfect poster people of a nation and navy that tells several good stories. May we have more like them.

(The author -- Cmde Srikant Kesnur – is a serving Indian Navy officer with more than 31 years experience in operations, leadership, diplomacy, training and administration. He has commanded two front line warships and been in other important assignments. He has many academic accomplishments and has been the lead writer and Chief Editor of eight books for the Indian Navy. He has also written numerous other articles for professional journals and periodicals.

Tejas platforms till SP-12 to enter equipping stage soon

By Anantha Krishnan M

Bengaluru, Dec 17: Amidst the ongoing ‘controversy and confusion’ over whether the Indian Air Force (IAF) is keen to go ahead with the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme beyond the first and second blocks of 20 each, the sixth series production variant from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) took to the skies for the first time sans any fanfare, recently.
The maiden flight of SP-7, the sixth out of the total 20 to be delivered in the Initial Operational Clearance (ICO) standards, took place on December 12 at the HAL airport here, with zero snags being reported by the pilot after completing the Profile-1 of the flight envelope.
Tejas SP-7 was piloted by Gp Capt K K Venugopal (Retd). With this, the IAF No 45 Squadron (Flying Daggers) would soon have half-a-dozon of Tejas platforms to operate with. Currently being raised in Bengaluru, the No 45 Squadron will eventually move to Air Force Station Sulur, near Coimbatore.
IAF is ramping up its infrastructure at AFS Sulur with modern hangars being reading to accommodate Tejas 16 fighters and four trainers, part of the first block of delivery from HAL.
SP-5 from Kiran hangar will join the party soon: The fifth Tejas series production platform SP-5, being built at the second production line established at the Aircraft Division by HAL, too will have its maiden flight soon. HAL converted the erstwhile Kiran hangar to set up this additional production line, which boasts of producing three aircraft per year, when fully operational. 
V Sridharan, who retired as the Executive Director of LCA Division recently, says that Tejas platforms up to SP-10 are currently under equipping in Final Assembly Hangar.
“Very soon they will be followed by SP-11 and SP-12. Kudos to the entire Team of Tejas involved in the manufacturing activities for their untiring efforts in making this possible despite adverse criticism in the last three years, both in terms of quality and quantity,” says Sridharan.
Frequent modifications a concern: Interestingly, he says that the even after delivering six series production platforms by HAL, the Standard of Preparation (Build to Print Documents) have not been frozen, despite the IOC nod in December 2013.
“The introduction of more than 270 modifications after accordance of IOC, in the name of concurrent engineering is a potential source of introducing uncertainties during the production phase. This can affect time-lines on a regular basis. These changes even warrant design and manufacturing of new parts which results in delays. All these changes are introduced towards envisaged performance and system improvements as per the requirements of IAF,” says Sridharan, who has been credited with establishing the new LCA Division. 
He says the LCA Division developed ICY (interchangeability) tools for all 147 panels and for 830 pipelines out of 934 pipelines within the build of first seven SP Tejas aircraft itself.
“This is a huge shift compared to any other projects in HAL, that too at such short span of time after the release of RSD (Release of Service Documents). Even now, only concept of replaceable pipes is existing in other projects. LCA has gone far ahead in the area of ICY compliance through the dedicated efforts of its tooling department,” claims Sridharan.
Outsourced all major structural modules: He says HAL, in an effort to further augment the production capacity, has outsourced all the major structural modules to private partners, including sub-assemblies, role equipment, pipelines, sheet metal part electrical looms and panels.
“This would enhance the production rate to 16 per year from the year 2019 onwards apart from developing an eco-system for manufacturing of a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft in India. This is likely to materialize by mid-2018 and thereafter, HAL would further be able to ramp up the production rate to 20 aircraft-plus every year,” adds Sridharan.
On the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) front, sources at Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) say that the programme will complete all tasks mandated within 2018.
“There are only few more crucial test points to be achieved. Then there could be additional requirements. Hopefully, the FOC should be in place in the third quarter of 2018,” says a top scientist.
Currently, Tejas LSP-8 is optimising flight profiles with the in-flight refueling probe (IFR). The air-to-air refueling trials will begin early 2018. Four Tejas variants recently undertook night attack missions for the first time, as per the FOC schedule. @Mathrubhumi

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Inspiring Villages | Kuttappai, C/o Kanjippadam: He missed out being in IAF, but fell in love with the oar…

By Anantha Krishnan M

“I was born on December 30, 1945 at Chambakkulam. I have passed SSLC (10th grade) and my dream was to join the Indian Air Force (IAF),” says Kuttappai a.k.a Antony Koorippurackal Joseph. 
He sits placidly in his kothumbu vallam (a small, narrow boat), in one corner of which is piled a heap of fish — the day’s catch. 
Chambakkulam is a village in Kerala’s Kuttanadu region, known for its beautiful backwaters, lush greenery and paddy fields. And Kuttappai is something of a household name in the area. He seems to know everyone, and everyone seems to know him. 
Not surprising perhaps, since he rows up and down the Pookaitha river (a tributary of the Pampa meandering here), selling fish from morning to evening every day.
Buttonholed when he is returning from the early morning fish auction in the nearby by Alappuzha market, Kuttappai is initially wary, and not very enthusiastic about a media interview.
But a little cajoling is all it takes to make him loquacious. He drops his air of reserve and decides he’s comfortable being interviewed. “Not that I was worried… I anyway keep talking about myself and my dreams to tourists who visit Kanjippadam (another Kuttanadu village). I like meeting people and chatting with them. Even the small waves of this Pookaitha river and the cool breeze across Kanjippadam probably know bits and pieces of my story,” says Kuttappai lyrically. “But when I realized that you are a journalist, I wasn’t sure what to speak,” he says, suddenly bashful again.
Kuttappai alternates between impassive silence and eloquence. 
He is mildly curious but mostly impassive when told that he is being interviewed for this new series — Inspiring Villages — capturing stories of people, places in the hinterland and their passion.
His boat is anchored at the private jetty belonging to the Green Palace Resort in Kanjippadam, the help of whose staff Mathrubhumi had to take to cajole the 72-year-old fisherman to talk freely about himself.
Kuttappai, born to farmer parents and youngest of seven siblings, wasn’t initially comfortable when he realised that he was speaking to an aerospace journalist. And with good reason too: it was as if his past was catching up with him…

A lie cost him his dream job in IAF: Memories come flooding back. In 1966, at the age of 21, Kuttappai, along with four friends boarded a train to (the then) Bangalore to attend an IAF recruitment drive. At the selection centre, he cleared all the medical and physical tests.
“Just before the interview, our agent Mohammed Ali told us that when the officer asks us about our age we must say 19 and not 21. We were not aware of the rules and we trusted Ali,” recalls Kuttappai, his voice cracking. 
The officer, a Punjabi, grew suspicious after he lied about his age. “I think Ali had tampered with even our attested marks-sheets… The officer informed the police, but we somehow managed to escape from there. But the story didn’t end there. Back home, we received several letters from the government and finally, we were barred from attending any government interviews for five years,” says Kuttappai. The feeling of betrayal still hurts. 
He says he lives with great regret even now for having lost the opportunity to serve in the IAF. His parents were terribly upset too, he recalls.

“When I see my friends, when I meet people working in the IAF, I have a deep sense of regret for not making it… But, I am happy I did not lose my focus. I took to fishing, and I am happy that in the last 40 years of being a fisherman there hasn’t been a dull day. God has been kind to me,” he adds.
His four daughters are all educated and married, and working in the Gulf.

A visit to INS Vikrant triggered his passion: Kuttappai says he was a volleyball player and represented his school in many tournaments.
During a trip to the Southern Naval Command in Kochi, their team was taken onboard INS Vikrant (now decommissioned). It was there that he saw a plane for the first time and was absolutely fascinated by it. The fascination has remained undiminished till today.
“With a 32-33 inches chest and being about 5.6 feet tall, I was among the fit boys in Kanjippadam. I saw a plane for first time in my life on INS Vikrant. We were taken around the ship by the officers. I think I fell in love with the plane instantly. The wings, the propeller… everything attracted me,” he says. His bleary eyes shine at that memory. It was then that he had decided that he wanted to join the IAF.
Even today, he is enthralled as he watches flights taking off and landing at Nedumbasserry Airport near Kochi whenever he goes there to see off or receive his daughters.

His love for English is infectious: Kuttappai discloses a little bashfully, that he loves speaking English. He has been fascinated by the language right from childhood.
“At the back of a fish truck, I once noticed a painted English sentence: ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice.’ I wasn’t sure about the meaning and so I asked the lorry owner. He wasn’t sure either. Then I asked the driver, and he didn’t know either. I kept asking around. My search for the meaning finally ended with a man in our locality, who people said was suffering from some mental imbalance. But he cleared my doubt. From then on I learnt as many English words as I could,” says Kuttappai, who rows up and down the Pookaitha river selling fish from morning to evening.
Most of his customers are clueless about English. Indeed, they have no need to learn the language, he concedes. 
“When I speak English, people laugh at me,” he admits ruefully. And then gets defensive: “To catch, to sell, to buy or to cook fish you don’t need to know English. But what’s wrong in learning it?”
His wife Annamma Anthony (54), also loves English, he claims. However, she hasn’t done much to learn the language, he confides, a little disappointed.

A very popular fisherman in Kanjippadam: Apparently Kuttappai is as popular as Kerala’s yesteryear football hero I M Vijayan, in every household of Kanjippadam.
“I have heard about this fisherman and he even met me once. I understand he is a very hard working soul,” says Fr Peter Mathirappilly, the Vicar of Holy Cross Church in Vaisyambhagom, a village near Kanjippadam.
Gigi Thomas, Managing Director of Green Palace Resort, who regularly buys fish from Kuttappai, has a soft corner for him, having known him from childhood. 
“He is a man with integrity. He is not greedy, and does his job with great passion. Kuttappai has carried me around when I was a kid and even given me boat rides during my school days,” says Gigi, who is also a former Kerala hockey player.
But the best compliment comes from Sabu Thomas, who is a manager with the same resort.
“Kuttappai is the soul of Kuttanadu. We can’t match his energy levels, despite his advancing age. His presence brings warmth. He is probably the guardian of Kanjippadam,” says Sabu, who interacts with Kuttappai on a daily basis.

Youngsters are talented, but look for shortcuts…: So, finally, when asked for his views on the current generation and their ability to take on challenges, Kuttappai’s face falls. Most of them lack depth, he says.
“Youngsters these days don’t have the patience to understand things. They seek shortcuts for everything in life. Unless you have patience, unless you have the knowledge, it is difficult to achieve any results. But who listens?”
But Kuttappai also sees a bright spot: “But today’s youngsters have many talents. May God bless them all,” he adds.
Incidentally, Kuttappai’s nephew Saji Thomas is a recipient of the Arjuna Award in rowing.
When he is gifted a miniature model of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Kuttappai looks at it keenly for a while before putting it into his pocket with a grin. 
As he rows away, there is a look of satisfaction on his face. After all, he is now the owner of a Tejas!

(Inspiring Villages is a series that seeks to capture stories of ordinary people, places and passion.  @writetake )

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