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Gautam

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Speaking of UCAVs @#comcom

Eye on China: A $3 billion US drone acquisition heads for MoD approval

A case for the purchase of 30 MQ9-A Reaper drones will shortly be put up before the Defence Acquisition Council, headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh. Six drones will be delivered soon after contract signing

By Sandeep Unnithan
Delhi
September 23, 2020
1600853326465.png

A General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper drone.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is preparing to acquire 30 General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper drones from the United States, in a deal valued at approximately $3 billion (Rs 22,000 crore).
A recent series of meetings within the MoD have cleared the way for the procurement of an initial lot of 6 Reaper Medium Altitude Long Endurance drones. These six drones—two each for the army, navy and air force—are to be procured immediately from the US, indicating the urgency of the acquisition.

Sources tell INDIA TODAY that an ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AON) for 30 drones will be put before an upcoming meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh. The contract is being broken up into two parts—six MQ-9s worth approximately $600 million (Rs 4,400 crore) are to be purchased outright and delivered in the next few months. The remaining 24—eight drones for each service—will be acquired over the next three years under an ‘option clause’ in the contract. The deal has been in the pipeline for the past three years, first as the sale of 22 Sea Guardians (an unarmed maritime variant of the MQ-9) for the Indian Navy in 2017. This was then converted into a tri-services acquisition by the government in 2018 when the armed version of the MQ-9 was cleared for sale to India by the US.

An AON is formally the first step in hardware procurement by the MoD. It usually takes several years for AON cases to turn into contracts. The Reaper acquisition, it is understood, will be concluded in a far shorter timeframe. It is being processed as a fast-track, government-to-government deal with the United States and will be swiftly concluded by the MoD. The six drones are to be delivered immediately by the US, and could possibly be units already produced for the US armed forces or its allies. It is not clear if the initial batch of drones will be armed with Hellfire missiles and other air-to-ground munitions.

MoD meetings to decide the deal are being steered by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who, as permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, decides inter-service defence acquisitions. The MoD might even convene a special meeting of the DAC to sanction this deal. This is the last major contract signed between the governments of Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election this November.

The Indian Navy has been made the lead service for this significant acquisition. One naval officer calls the deal a ‘game changer’ because of the platform’s ability to mount continuous and persistent surveillance. The MQ9-A can carry electro-optical / infra-red multi-mode radar and multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, laser designators, electronic support measures and various weapons packages. It can form a deadly combination with two other US-supplied platforms—the P8-I Poseidon long range maritime patrol aircraft and the (under delivery) MH-60R multi-role helicopters— to track and hunt surface ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region.

“The MQ9-A is satellite-steered, can float above the target at 45,000 feet and stay on task for 35 hours, using radar and electronic support measures to locate the enemy—it could be anywhere, the Gulf of Aden or the Malacca Straits or in Eastern Ladakh,” a senior defence official says.

The United States has emerged as India’s largest supplier of defence hardware after Russia, selling India a total of $18 billion worth of military hardware since 2008. In February this year, the two countries concluded a $2.1 billion deal for India to buy 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy.

 

BordoEnes

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Yikes. Thats a lot of money being thrown around. I guess their own drone program didnt amount to anything? I remember vaguelly reading about the Rustom drone.
 

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Yikes. Thats a lot of money being thrown around. I guess their own drone program didnt amount to anything? I remember vaguelly reading about the Rustom drone.

I think they are in development.

@Nilgiri any idea of Indian drone programs that you can share?
 

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Yikes. Thats a lot of money being thrown around. I guess their own drone program didnt amount to anything? I remember vaguelly reading about the Rustom drone.
Its one of if not the best hunter-killer around.
If you can,why not.
I wouldnt be surprised if they make a deal for some F-35's in the near future.
 

Nilgiri

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I think they are in development.

@Nilgiri any idea of Indian drone programs that you can share?

Nothing weaponised yet at serious maturity (like reapers being acquired here).

There is RUSTOM program which is MALE for intelligence + recon etc...which is under progress right now but the latest flight test had it crash so that was a major setback and I havent followed many updates past that. Earlier indigenous programs were mostly prototype projects for concept research etc.

UCAV wise, stuff is in pretty early development - two programs TAPAS (long endurance weaponised) and GHATAK (stealth weaponised UCAV) I believe.

A Ghatak video summary can be found in stealth a/c thread:


@Gautam can probably fill you guys in on the best up to date info for all of these.
 

Gautam

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Yikes. Thats a lot of money being thrown around. I guess their own drone program didnt amount to anything? I remember vaguelly reading about the Rustom drone.
I think they are in development.

@Nilgiri any idea of Indian drone programs that you can share?
Here is the story so far :

We were making a big drone with 2 Russian NPO-Saturn 36MT turboprop engines :
1600861268506.png


But we didn't like the engines, so we thought lets make our own. And so we did :
EP68y_wU0AI-hOx.jpg

But it was a diesel engine, a turbocharged inline 4 diesel engine that also runs on ATF. It was pretty powerful too. Producing 180hp at 11,000 ft, there would be 2 of them. So 360hp at 11,000 ft. This combined with an wingspan of over 20 m gives it good range and endurance.

The targeted range of the drone was ~3000 kms, service ceiling of 50000 ft & endurance of 24–30 hours. Pretty good huh ? Just one tiny little problem.
1600861653949.png

The drone was designed from ground up with a turboprop engine and now we are putting in a turbocharged diesel. The airframe needed to be re-designed, a very long & tedious task. Many people began questioning the point of it. How big is the change ? Will it really effect anything ? Why can't we just fly the damn thing ?

DRDO decided to bite the bullet and go for a flight. Thinking what could go wrong ? Its not like it wont fly right ? And it flew YAY !!
1600861293493.png

So they continued doing flight tests, adding new layers of complexity with every flight. Soon the drone would start flying longer distances using SATCOMs and not line of sight comms. Then long range EO sensors came on, then came the synthetic aperture radars that will enable it to see through the clouds. There was no stopping it.

There was flights every week, then a few months of flying later this happened :
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At the end of the crash DRDO confirmed that the aerodynamic instabilities introduced with the change of engine, made it more susceptible to foul weather induced crashes. The crash happened in a coastal flight when a sudden strong gust of wind came from the sea. The drone spun out and fell flat on its belly.

They have now decided to re-design the airframe, this was in 2019. It will take a long time, a few years at least to see another flight. They are considering a pusher-propeller configuration, replacing the current pull-propeller. But it remains to be seen if the design changes will be that comprehensive. The next version of the drone will likely be armed. I mean they are making missiles for it already.
 
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Quality is always costly and still there is no match to US sensors and thanks to China now India will be sided with US in more visible way ... savng money is last thing in mind when you have your sovereignty at stake
Yikes. Thats a lot of money being thrown around. I guess their own drone program didnt amount to anything? I remember vaguelly reading about the Rustom drone.
 

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Reaper is a nice drone. I love it. But can they really buy the armed version? Possible while Trump is in the house but still questionable. US is quite protective with it's UCAV technology. That's why Turkey is a Drone Power now.
 

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Reaper is a nice drone. I love it. But can they really buy the armed version? Possible while Trump is in the house but still questionable. US is quite protective with it's UCAV technology. That's why Turkey is a Drone Power now.
In this case the US will probably not object,India is not a threat to US interests.
On the contrary,it is in US interests if India is armed in the best way possible.
 

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Reaper is a nice drone. I love it. But can they really buy the armed version? Possible while Trump is in the house but still questionable. US is quite protective with it's UCAV technology. That's why Turkey is a Drone Power now.

They have opened up because they know, if they dont sell china and turkey will fill the orders.
 

Turan09

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In this case the US will probably not object,India is not a threat to US interests.
On the contrary,it is in US interests if India is armed in the best way possible.
Normally it makes sense. But still US - Indian alliance is an unholy alliance, is is just because of their common enemy. It is not a deep-rooted partnership like Korean - US alliance. Therefore US especially congress might don't like to see Critical American Technology in the hands of India. India is too close to russia for this... F16 would fine, but not F35. ScanEagle would be fine but not the Reaper.
Is there any American ally who uses Armed Reapers except France?
 

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Normally it makes sense. But still US - Indian alliance is an unholy alliance, is is just because of their common enemy. It is not a deep-rooted partnership like Korean - US alliance. Therefore US especially congress might don't like to see Critical American Technology in the hands of India. India is too close to russia for this... F16 would fine, but not F35. ScanEagle would be fine but not the Reaper.
Is there any American ally who uses Armed Reapers except France?
UK,Australia ,Italy weaponized them later,Spain will weaponize them in the future,
 

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This is a huge relief, the single most worrying weapons I think of in the high mountain's are these exact kind of drones @Gautam
 

BordoEnes

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Normally it makes sense. But still US - Indian alliance is an unholy alliance, is is just because of their common enemy. It is not a deep-rooted partnership like Korean - US alliance. Therefore US especially congress might don't like to see Critical American Technology in the hands of India. India is too close to russia for this... F16 would fine, but not F35. ScanEagle would be fine but not the Reaper.
Is there any American ally who uses Armed Reapers except France?

To be fair i would not consider it an "unholy alliance" in any way. A common enemy does not make an alliance absurd or uncommon, with that logic the entirety of NATO is an unholy alliance. There always tends to be some common grounds where countries can stand on to have a long lasting alliance, and India and the US have certainly more in common then just simply a common enemy. They are both federal democratic capitalist secular countries.

If you think about it then the unholy alliance term can be better applied to Pakistan-Chinese partnership. They are countries with vastly different idealogical, societal, religious, politcal and economical systems, yet they are "allies" because of common enemy - India.
 

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Reaper is a nice drone. I love it. But can they really buy the armed version? Possible while Trump is in the house but still questionable. US is quite protective with it's UCAV technology. That's why Turkey is a Drone Power now.

This is walk in park for acquisition given all the modalities regarding this were worked out with much more significant platform that was the P-8 poseidon given the massive part it is now in Indian C4I (in fact India collaborated to insert particular locally developed systems to replace American ones so it was far more optimised fit for its use).

Indo - US cooperation has come a long long way since acquisition of american firefinder radars in the late 90s (breaking a long barren streak due to cold war politics and attitudes) and the nod given by US to Israel for proceeding of phalcon AWACS and green pine then too (though US vetoed arrow missile for it which drove India to develop its own BMD missile program far more locally along with its local version of green pine aka swordfish).

This goes well past any specific administration dispensation, it is growing quite immensely at deep institutional level for Pentagon and South Block.

The nature of this relationship is very specific to this one (and its inertia too given the major rising common threat to both), there is not really any other one to compare credibly (try as people might) given India's size, ambition and role for this century. Huge parts will be intelligence sharing based behind the scenes...those are far far more significant than acquiring end use technology to begin with.

In this case the US will probably not object,India is not a threat to US interests.
On the contrary,it is in US interests if India is armed in the best way possible.

Yup. There is far greater precedence already with such things as the P-8.

Sea Guardian acquisition was already cleared by US I believe, India just dawdled on fund issue...which is fine in the end given it just got merged with this acquisition for Reapers.


They have opened up because they know, if they dont sell china and turkey will fill the orders.

Nope. China will never sell anything and India will never buy anything of this nature from them....China is the reason why this acquisition right now is even happening in the scale and immediacy it is....why would we buy a screw from them?

Turkey we will have to see who the president of Turkey is after Erdogan, no weapons system is going to happen under Erdogan govt being there, but thats a longer OT subject to get into...it needs certain relationship and understanding to be established more long term.

US - India relationship is not based on US competing with China or Turkey military commerce with India, as for especially weapons-use basis, those are currently 0 and remain foreseeably so from India's own decision end.

There are countries around the world that are just complete shoo-in for US technology...China especially has ZERO chance to ever compete in those while CCP is in power...they are our clear enemy now and we simply will not stop our trajectory we have chosen and committed to....not till CCP is gone from this world or totally hemmed to power-freaking its local Han people only.

Normally it makes sense. But still US - Indian alliance is an unholy alliance, is is just because of their common enemy. It is not a deep-rooted partnership like Korean - US alliance. Therefore US especially congress might don't like to see Critical American Technology in the hands of India. India is too close to russia for this... F16 would fine, but not F35. ScanEagle would be fine but not the Reaper.
Is there any American ally who uses Armed Reapers except France?

Hey guess you just have to watch and scratch you head at end of it. ;)

Maybe you have not followed on the much larger significance of P-8, complete with harpoons.

Nor what India established with Israel (as middle man with US) quite long time back....in exchange for massive remote sensing cooperation and sensor technology at large (far far more important than drones)...to name just a few.

No it wasn't just israeli TECSAR launch done by India (if you know anything governing the level of ITAR governing satellites and what had to be worked out to get to that level of trust just for that too).

Many seem to undervalue C4I and focus on end asset acquisitions....the mailed fist means next to nothing without a proper arm to throw the punch with.

F-35 is simply something we are not interested in as we went for S-400 system (likely our last major acquisition from Russia) ...and US understands that (far more than it will with any other country). That is why India has gone for its own local stealth a/c program, we found the Russians all talk (esp costs) and no sustenance for Su-57 in the end too.

India is not a 100 million or 200 million population country in the end, and definitely not one at some matured/atrophied post-industrial economic threshold. You get in early with a good pragmatic relationship, you get rewarded mid and long term even more, its really that simple. Same goes the other way...as CCP will find out only too late it seems.

This is a huge relief, the single most worrying weapons I think of in the high mountain's are these exact kind of drones @Gautam

Yup, it worked out in the end delaying sea guardian drone, this is far more important now to get weaponised drones ASAP. There will be follow on orders most likely.
 

Gautam

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@Nilgiri @Paro @#comcom et al...

ADA Ghatak UCAV is a under-development stealth combat drone. "Ghatak" in Hindi means Lethal.

The design phase of the project has almost ended. A full scale metal version of the drone is being made for RCS measurements and optimisations. A smaller version would be made and flown powered by a Russian NPO Saturn 36MT engine to prove the control laws of the drone.
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Ghatak UCAV.png


The full scale version would be powered by a dry version of the GTRE GTX-35VS Kaveri engine. Dry version as in without the afterburner. The Kaveri produces 52KN of thrust at a power to weight ratio of 7.8:1. Enough for a combat drone :
Ale8aEC.jpg

REDNWH9.jpg

Note the nozzle section, as shown here are just an interim thing. These photos are from AeroIndia 2015 and the Ghatak project was in very early stages then. The UAV was aimed at being stealthy so its likely that it might end up with a more stealthier nozzle design.

The Kaveri project was handed over to the GTRE because they were the only organisation in the country with experience in turbines at that time. GTRE had developed the GTX37-14U afterburning turbojet engine. So the work for them appeared simple at the first glance. All they had to do was to cover up the turbojet with a turbine tube and attach a compressor fan at the front. This would create a bypass flow around the core, thus turning the engine to a turbofan. Simple right ? The problem arrived when the fan was attached and the turbine inlet temperature increased rapidly often melting internals. Our materials technology couldn't keep up with this. So a small bypass ratio of 0.16:1 adopted. At this small a bypass ratio, the Kaveri is more of a "leaky turbojet" than a true turbofan.

Extensive modifications were done to the GTX37-14U turbojet . Eventually the new turbojet was named "Kabini". The Kabini serves as the core of the Kaveri engine. Here is an old photo of the core :
Kaveri-Engine-044.jpg


Getting back to the UCAV. Since it is a stealth UCAV it has a compact serpentine intake duct to hide the engine from radar waves. This kind of an intake tube will create large distortions of air pressure at the fan of the engine. This increases the chances of compressor stalling.
Screenshot (94).png

The problem of distortions are to be countered in 2 ways. One is by introducing vortex generators into the serpentine intake duct to somewhat stabilise the air flow fluctuations & the other is by designing a new compressor fan which is more tolerant of inlet distortions. The new fan design was shown in AeroIndia 2019
1551767884548.png

Fabrication work of the fan has been completed. We are currently testing the engine performance when it is mated to the serpentine duct.

Fan components :
3D printed anti-icing assembly on the variable inlet guide vanes & front bearing of the drive shaft assembly for the Kaveri jet engine :
1601748971748.png

Z-4.jpg

Z-3.jpg

Look at those long chord blades. Beautiful.:love:

Our grasp of metallurgy/coatings etc have gotten a lot better since the 1980s. We did test a scramjet recently, the temp faced by that engine is much greater.

For the Kaveri GTRE has developed single crystal blades & vanes, Yttria-stabilised cubic zirconia thermal barrier coatings. These two combined should give us over 1800 K turbine inlet temperature capability, currently its at 1700 K. That would also allow us to increase bypass ratio & over-all pressure ratio which would further give us more power, better efficiency & better thrust to weigh ratio.

All of this is great but we need to be able to manufacture these things at least in quantity. Thankfully there has been some movement on that front. Recently GTRE has invited "reputed Indian Industries/Orgs" with minimum 2 years experience of aerospace-grade manufacturing for component manufacturing, module-level assembly, engine level integration & delivery to GTRE of 50kN class aero-engine.

  • The plan is to make 5 engines in first 3-4 years, to be made with GTRE as Lead System Integrator(LSI).
  • 15 more engines over the next 3-4 years with an industry partner taking over LSI role.
  • Sum total of only 20 engines over next 7-8 years.
  • A production run of 70-80 engines is envisaged thereafter over 10-12 years.
  • The first 5 engines planned to be realized at a 3-month interval with subsequent engines made at 2-month intervals.

HAL is an obvious player. Others like Bharat Forge, TATA Aerospace Systems Ltd., L&T Aerospace, Godrej & Boyce Aerospace are all likely to go for it. If they are planning a production run of 80 engines then we will probably order 40 of the Ghatak UCAVs, assuming each uses up 2 engines in its lifetime. Would've preferred a larger order, but with the budgetary constraints 40 is not bad.
 

Gautam

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Amca means Uncle in Turkish 😁😁

I cant wait for the Uncle Jet.
Apparently, there are word like this everywhere. I recently learned that TATA, one of our largest companies, means Dad in Polish. 🤣 🤣

@Nilgiri @Paro et al......

 

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Apparently, there are word like this everywhere. I recently learned that TATA, one of our largest companies, means Dad in Polish. 🤣 🤣

@Nilgiri @Paro et al......


Honestly that makes it so interesting.
 

Gautam

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They have now decided to re-design the airframe, this was in 2019. It will take a long time, a few years at least to see another flight.
I was wrong. It didn't take a few years. In fact it took slightly more than a year. Seems DRDO knew exactly what's wrong with the airframe. These are old photos/videos. Pics from today's test aren't out yet, so we don't know what changes have been made. I'll post them when they are released :

India’s Indigenously Developed Rustom-II Drone Flight-Tested; Achieves Eight Hours Of Flying At 16,000 Feet


by Swarajya Staff-Oct 10, 2020 11:20 AM
1602315770859.png

Indigenous medium altitude long endurance multirole drone Rustom-II (Shiv Aroor/Livefist)

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Friday (9 October) successfully flight-tested the indigenously developed Rustom-II medium altitude long endurance drone, reports Hindustan Times.

The prototype drone achieved 8 hours of flying at an altitude of over 16,000 feet at Karnataka's Chitradurga. The drone is expected to achieve 18 hours of continued flying at a height of 26,000 feet by the end of 2020 itself.

Videos from earlier flights :


Furthermore, the drone had an hour of fuel left after completing the test flight ceiling of eight hours.

The indigenously developed drone is capable of carrying varied combinations of payloads, including synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems. It also boasts of a satellite communication link to relay vital information on a real-time basis.

The DRDO is developing Rustom-II drone to match the specifications of the Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicle which is already being used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy. However, the drone will have to undergo several more tests and user trials to reach the stage of induction by the forces.

This development comes at a time when India is looking at buying around 30 armed drones from the US at a cost of nearly $3 billion. The Ministry of Defence, reports say, has approved the purchase of the first batch of 6 armed drones.


@Niligiri maybe you should re-name this thread for all Indian drone related stuff.
 

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