09 February 2007

Friday's Roll-up of Air/Missile Items

A couple of interesting news notes picked up whilst culling international lists (one of the nicer aspects of YHS' current job):

First item -- problems continue apace for the sublaunched variant of the Topol-M, the Bulava ("Mace"). Prior to this latest test (failure) there had been a number of statements in what passes for the open press in Russia indicating anything less than a successful shot would see "management changes."

Russia Faces Problems With Bulava Missile

Russia’s new submarine-launched Bulava missile has failed in its last three test flights, raising questions about the weapon’s development, United Press International reported Friday (Global Security Newswire, 5 Feb 2007)

The Bulava is based on the Topol-M ICBM. It received sufficient funding and had three successful tests. The missile then failed three times in a row during testing, most recently on Dec. 24. “These three test failures, and only three successes, are worrisome. So the test program has been temporarily suspended,” according to analyst James Dunnigan. Russian Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told the Kommersant newspaper that 12 to 14 tests would be needed before the Bulava could be deployed.

“Given that Bulava blasts off two or three times a year, Russia’s armed forces will hardly get it sooner than two or three years,” according to Kommersant. “So, three failures of Bulava in a row may easily disrupt the country’s program of nuclear rearmament.”

Plans to deploy the missile on the submarine Yury Dolgoruky this year are unlikely to reach fruition, UPI reported. Two special commissions have been organized to investigate the December test failure. One will study the incident itself, while the other looks for the person who leaked news of the failure to the media, Kommersant reported.

The troubles with the Bulava exist in comparison to the reliability of the silo-based Topol-M. That might indicate that the problem lies in engineering the submarine launch tube for the missile, or that unforeseen problems arose while the missile was being adapted for submarine launches (Martin Sieff, United Press International/Spacewar.com, Feb. 2).

Next up -- India continues her path between the US and Russia; purchasing another 40 Su-30s while pursuing procurement of a new multi-role combat aircraft which has seen intense competiton between the US (F/A-18 E/F & F-16), Europe (Rafael & Grippen) and Russia (MiG-29:

India Air Force To Get 40 Sukhoi-30 Jets, Hercules Tankers, Choppers From Russia
CNN-IBN (Internet Version-WWW) in English 08 Feb 07 - New Delhi -- The Indian
Air Force [IAF] is all set to acquire more wings and ground force.

Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said on Thursday that the IAF will acquire 40 Sukhoi-30 jet aircraft, six Hercules tankers and a large number of helicopters. Tyagi said the all the procurements will be ordered from Russia and will be finalised by March 2007. The jets will be in addition to 130 Sukhois already ordered.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister A K Antony also announced that India will also buy 126 multi-role fighter jets worth over $5 billion.

"The procedure (for acquiring the jets) is almost in the final stages. I can assure you that a decision will be taken very quickly," Antony said after inaugurating the sixth Aero India show in Bangalore.

Companies vying to bag the lucrative contract are France's Dassault (Rafale), Russia's RAC-MiG (MiG-29M2), Sweden's Saab (JAS-39 Gripen) and Lockheed Martin (F-16) and Boeing (F-18) of the US, some of which participated in the flight displays also. On the development of a fifth generation jet for the IAF, Antony said India would jointly produce the aircraft with Russia's fighter plane manufacturer, Sukhoi. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and DRDO [Defense Research and Development Organization] would also be involved in the process, he added.

Antony also informed that a proposal for an aerospace command has been sent by the IAF but no decision has been taken on the issue. "It has to be a tri-service command. Discussions are going on but there are several issues. I cannot give a time limit," Antony said.

On the light combat aircraft (LCA) project, Antony said that it has not been put on the backburner. "The LCA is very much on track. Initially there were some problems, but it is on the right track now. There is no question of abandoning it," he informed. The next five years of the 11th Plan period would see India procuring defence equipment worth $8 to $10 billion. "For that, procedures are already taking shape," he said.

Earlier, inaugurating the air show, Antony said India was fully committed to maintaining peace and stability with its neighbours. "In the global context, we wish to achieve this objective through effective diplomacy backed by credible military deterrence."

The country has initiated several confidence-building measures with its neighbours including Pakistan and China.

"But we cannot remain complacent and there is a need for eternal vigil. We have to modernise our armed forces backed by a strong deterrent to prevent a war," Antony said.

And of course, how could the week not be complete but for the announcement by the Iranians of another wargame exercise, this time testing anti-ship and their newly acquired S-300 missiles

Iran To Conduct Missile War Games
Tehran Fars News Agency in English 0830 GMT 07 Feb 07

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran plans to stage missile war games during a two-day period beginning Wednesday. The war games will be carried out in southern waters of the country in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

The military exercises to be carried out by the air and naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are aimed at testing the IRGC's missile capability, an IRGC statement said. The maneuvers will include placement, launch and tracking operations.

The statement also mentioned that the maneuvers have been designed to retest the achievements gained during earlier war games of the country codenamed 'Great Prophet 1 and 2'. The war games to be staged by the IRGC air force has been named as 'Ra'd' (thunder) and the one by IRGC naval forces has been called as 'Sa'eqeh' (lightening), the statement concluded.

S-300 video:

ed: YHS has video of the cruise missile launch - may be the w/end before it can be added though...he's working it ;)