Saturday, January 8, 2011

MMRCA- Final Cut


The Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Competition, commonly known as the MRCA Tender, is an ongoing competition to supply the Indian Air Force with 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. The Defence Ministry has allocated 42,000 crore (US$9.11 billion) for the purchase of these aircraft.


Six aircraft were bid for the order - the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Mikoyan MiG-35 and the American F-16IN and F/A-18IN (a version of the Super Hornet). Up to now, Mikoyan and Dassault have been regular suppliers of aircraft for the Indian Air Force and in terms of transfers of technology, licensed production in India, personnel training, supply of spare parts, maintenance and upgrading.

IAF pilots and technicians are familiar with earlier aircraft from those two aircraft manufacturers, and would need minimal retraining. Infrastructural and logistical support for maintenance and spares would also be easier for these aircraft compared to the unfamiliar Gripen, Typhoon, F-16 and F/A-18.

Present Status

On december 18 2010 The Times Of India quoted the IAF chief as saying that the "evaluation of the fighters has been finished and the matter is now with the defence ministry". He also said that "hopefully the deal will be inked by July in 2011".

Who has stolen the cheese from under others nose???

Eurofighter Typhoon

The Typhoon certainly is the highest performing aircraft in the competition. This is a result of its high cost and it being quite new in development. It has not yet proven itself but it has had enough number built to have most of its designed capabilities.

But it is also far and away the most expensive. The Indians though have a mostly unwarranted reverence for their former colonizers, and often covet British equipment simply for being British.

The Indians need a medium weight fighter that can be bought in quantity. They already have the Su-30MKI variants that easily fulfill the role of a high performance air superiority fighter.

If the Typhoon is also added to the fleet they will have significant overlap, and have difficulty maintaining fighter coverage due to high costs of both fighters.

The four nations using diplomatic leverage for the sale is going to come back to bite them down the rode if those planes ever need to be used in combat. China only needs to coerce one of the partners to block future sales to India.


The Mig-35s are very tempting as they have a low price, good capabilities, and a proven partner. Not only that but interoperability and familarity with other Mig aircrafts, give the Indians superb standardization and versatility. It doesn`t have proven AESA Radar for which IAF is looking for, and also I believe that Indians are intently looking to diversify its supplier of arms, which means the Russians will be left out.

Dassault Rafale

The Rafale looks very good as the French will do just about anything for a big sale, and have impressive aeronautical technology. This makes the Rafale attractive for what it brings to the table as the Indians are insistent on technology transfer. Although like the other Europeans, are susceptible to coercion; as was proven by their turning their backs on Israel out of pressure.

The fighter itself is optimized for ground combat rather than air to air like the Typhoon. As the Indians already have a premier air to air fighter in the Flanker variant Su-30MKI, the Rafale would compliment the assets of the fleet rather well. And of course Naval variants could be bought to fly off of India's up and coming Carriers, adding an excellent capability and standardization.

Gripen NG

The Gripen is well positioned in this competition but the Indians do not seem to be looking for the things the Gripen does particularly well. It would an excellent choice but I am guessing the Indians want to buy prestige along with their new fighter.

The Gripen is the smallest of the fighters competing and has a number of advantages. It is cheap, needs only small runways, can use most western munitions, is easy to maintain, and is optimized for ground attack. This would allow India to buy a greater number and have more sorties, availability, and fighter coverage.

But the version the Swedes are offering to India is still being developed (it is not the current variant in the Swedish inventory). This introduces an element of risk to this option.

The Gripen NG's engine is also the same engine that was selected to power India's indigenous fighter; Tejas. This would add to standardization and further reduce costs.

The Swedish government is aggressive in selling the Gripen, and often seeks to undercut their competition. I see them as being unbeatable on price. The Swedes do not do as much trade with China or Pakistan, have proven they will sell to less than admirable governments, and are willing to transfer technology.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

The F-18 Super Hornet from the Americans has the same advantages as the Rafale and Mig-29 in that it is Carrier capable. Although the Indians did not specify this requirement, they are going to be using larger carriers soon and it would be prudent of them to buy this capability.

Aerodynamically and performance wise the F-18 lags behind most other modern fighters. But it makes up for this by being extremely versatile, reliable, and ubiquitous.

The US buys these in large batches and has done so for years, and it will require no development for the Indians. This makes the Super Hornet the most risk free of all the options.

Being the main fighter of the US Navy it can deploy a very capable and varied set of weapons, fuel tanks, and sensors. The Super Hornet out classes every other fighter by a wide margin in these categories, and only gives ground to the competition in raw performance.

Lockheed Martin F-16

The F-16 is the smallest fighter here except for the Gripen. It has been used all around the world and without a doubt has the most proven track record. It has made air to air victories more than once, and proved its self in war to many professionals all over the world.

As it is used all around the world the Indians will have more options than just the US for upgrades or maintenance, an important point as the Indians covet their independence.

The F-16 is less expensive than most and still has the air to air capabilities to be competitive. The F-16 has a solid reputation for being a smart and efficient choice for nations. This combination has made the F-16 popular the world over; which in turn further reduces its cost and increases versatility.

Like the F-18 it offers impressive versatility in munitions. But unlike the F-18, Rafale and Mig-29; it does not have carrier capabilities. And it also does not have the type of refueling that the Indians require, this is being developed though.

The US as a factor

The Indians see a buy from the Americans as a double edged sword. They want a powerful ally to help them with China (the Americans qualify), and to not bow to pressure from the Chinese (the Americans are strong enough to resist).

But they also want no restrictions on what they do or how they use the equipment they are buying, which the Americans are known to do. And technology transfer is a very important part of this competition, the US has traditionally been reluctant to share technology. It appears now that the Americans are relaxing some of their rules to accommodate them. Whether or not this will satisfy the Indians is unknown.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


मेरा भारत माहन
The Children in tricolor formation at the full dress rehearsal of the 64th Independence Day, at Red Fort, in Delhi on August 13, Photo Accredited By: Frontier India

Sunday, August 8, 2010

War within India- Point to be noted..

Recently Naxalites butchered 76 jawans of CRPF Company in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, but that was not the end...mostly our daily nationals are filled with similar type of incidents..The Red Corridor (Naxalism) is stretched from remote regions of Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh as well as in Bihar and the tribal-dominated areas in the borderlands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Orissa, but the most interesting fact is that "CHHATTISGARH" always remain their favorite theatre of showcase.

1st Point to be noted...
Why plan such an elaborate attack in Chhattisgarh when you could have done the same thing (with a lot more ease) in Orissa or Jharkhand? Or Why to field complicated pressure bombs mostly in Chhattisgarh?

1. Loosing Support (Naxals)- They are loosing their liabilities in Chhattisgarh, local tribal’s are standing firmly against them, "Salwa Judum" is an example for it.

2. Significant Loses (Naxals)- The forces had made significant gains against the Naxals in Chhattisgarh in various combing operations (of course sources may differ), but the ground reality is that they are loosing more force then security personnel.

3. Growing Confidence (Security Personnel)- Jungles of Dantewada are once impenetrable for the police but now deep and regular patrolling is done by commandos.

4. Local Development- Administration or Govt. in Chhattisgarh are now focused on local development- like opening schools, panchayats etc. a clear unsatisfactory move as seen by the Naxals, as it endangers their race.

5. Fight for Existence (Naxals)- As they want to send shattering message by making Chhattisgarh as an idol to other naxal hit states, rolling back will hit their social and moral success/ego in other states.

Over all, the answer to the above question lies in the fact that Chhattisgarh can be a success against the Maoists.

2nd Point to be noted...
Why a country like India (having 4th largest most trained, professional standing army in the world) is loosing appetite in tribal terrains, against some thousands of unprofessional men and women?

1. Naxals: They are unprofessional (think twice!!)- Their strategy entails building up of bases in rural and remote areas and transforming them first into guerrilla zones and then as "liberated zones", besides the area-wise seizure and encircling cities, more over they are armed with Ak-47, INSAS, IED's, traditional guns like .303s etc. and well trained in guerilla warfare.

2. Failure of Intelligence: Intelligence normally is based on four things — money, ideology, conscience or enmity (MICE). A person becomes a police informer because of any of these four reasons, it's difficult for security personnel’s to work on this 4 points, moreover use of sophisticated or modern hi-tech weapons are impossible in dense forests, recent failures of using UAV's are good examples.

3. Grievance in Local Tribes: The complaint in local tribes is that many big companies like POSCO, TATA STEEL, MITTAL STEEL etc. lining up for steel, are predominantly interested in securing mining leases that will give them long term control over vast areas of land with enormous quantities of underlying ore. Local tribal’s are against it and thus naxals are taking advantage of them and in return grievances of the poor and indigenous people are made use of by the Naxal leadership.

4. Great Wall of Silence: If we peep into the last decade, it is clearly visible that even when the Naxalites boycotted elections in naxal hit states, they allowed their supporters to vote for the ruling coalitions, making a substantial difference to their fortunes. There is an understanding between the Naxals and the ruling coalition, resulting in no action by the government against the Naxalites.

5. Lack of Specialized Units: Administration must field security personnel well trained in Jungle Warfare and they must be familiar with local languages and beliefs, Grey Hounds of Andhra Pradesh and Koya Commandos of Chhattisgarh are well suited examples, local force like Koya Commandos has been trained in the latest methods of warfare – they are the ones who have been breaking the back of the Naxals in Chhattisgarh. Compared to them, the CRPF was a lumbering force comprised of men drawn from disparate states, USA did the same in Vietnam War, sending thief to catch a thief, and they created special task force "Green Berets- masters of warfare".

There is more to be written....but I agreed with the proposal that.."Use of Army is not a good option", of course it's another matter if you do not really care how many non-combatants you annihilate in order to achieve the immediate objective, like what USA did in Iraq while toppling Saddam (slaughtering thousands of Iraqi's), but they (naxals) are our people, USA would not do the same as they did in Iraq if they confront their own people in any domestic revolt...consequences of using army to suppress civil war against LTTE in Srilanka is known to all of us...moreover killing of innocent non-combatants by army men will only help naxals to gain momentum in their movement.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mathematical Tragedy- Patriot ABM Systems

On 26th July, 2010, Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), successfully conducted fourth consecutive Interceptor Missile test in Endo-Atmospheric regime at 15 Km altitude off ITR, Chandipur, Orissa.

Surely it was a moment of celebration for Indian scientists and a step towards indigenous Indian ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile), but I was busy in collecting
facts and figures in Math after inspired by a famous Mathematical Quote:

" If people do not believe that mathematics is simple,it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is. "
-- John Louis von eumann

The same once appeared true for MIM- 104 Patriot Surface to Air Missile, Patriot's primary mission is to serve as US Army's ABM System, The proliferation of ballistic missiles have in recent years become a major international security concern. This is also due to the widespread -- but incorrect -- perception that even conventionally-armed ballistic missiles are tremendously destructive.

This perception that ballistic missiles are inherently weapons of great destructive capability may have played a key role in the politics of the Gulf War. Iraq fired more than 80 modified Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, causing 31 deaths, numerous injuries, and substantial property damage. However, with the exception of the Scud that hit a barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and killed 28 U.S. soldiers, the number of casualties caused by these Scuds was much lower than was generally anticipated. During the war, the Patriot missile system was credited with almost complete success in intercepting the Iraqi Scud missiles, and the low casualty rate (relative to the public's expectations) seemed to confirm Patriot's success. The belief on the part of the Israeli population that they were being successfully defended by Patriot was crucial in keeping Israel out of the war.

Since the end of war, the casualties caused by the Scuds have become part of the debate over the effectiveness of the Patriot missile defense system. Several analysts have cited the relatively low casualty rate as evidence of the success of Patriot, while others have argued that the same casualty data suggests that the Patriot may not have been very successful. more to read...

Well this article, as I already promised is not about Indian or US ABM capability but to shed light on- "To err is a Man (especially, when playing with Math)"....

" If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them. "
-- Phil Pastoret

So, the story starts on February 25, 1991, when an Iraqi Scud hit the barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers from the US Army's 14th Quartermaster Detachment, after initial enquiry it was found that patriot's interceptor missed the scud by 600 meters, but again as usual my reaction was..How it happened?

To understand the mystery, one requires little bit knowledge of "Roundoff Error" (in Math or Computing) leading to "minute mathematical error", but I will try my best to explain:

The accident was an inaccurate calculation of the time since boot (when the system was started/installed) due to computer arithmetic errors. Specifically, the time in tenths of second as measured by the system's internal clock was multiplied by 1/10 to produce the time in seconds, i.e. PESA (Passive electronically scanned radar) radar of Patriot is required to scan the space (sky) in every 1/10th of a second, generally computer's internal clock- Quartz Clock is made up of crystals (as their oscillations are constant) which can oscillate (pizzo-electric effect), based on the number of oscillations time is calculated for example...let us suppose 100 oscillations of Quartz clock = 1 sec of UTC (Universal Coordinated Time), then it's easy to calculate 1/10th of a second = 10 oscillations. This number of oscillations of internal clock in Patriot system is multiplied by 1/10 (stored in 24-bit fixed point register) to get 1/10th of a second, since it is mandatory for patriot to scan the space in each and every 1/10th of a second.

In Patriot system 24 bit fixed point register is used to store the number- 1/10 as represented in fraction, in decimal (base-10) it is represented as 0.1 but in binary (base-2) the number represents a non-terminating expression i.e. 0.0001100110011001100110011001100....and so on, but the problem is, the register which was used to store 1/10 in binary has 24 bits of space thus digits after 24 bit positions are chopped or rounded off.

In particular, the value 1/10, which has a non-terminating binary expansion, was chopped at 24 bits after the radix point. The small chopping error, when multiplied by the large number giving the time in tenths of a second, led to a significant error. Indeed, the Patriot battery had been up around 100 hours, and an easy calculation shows that the resulting time error due to the magnified chopping error was about 0.34 seconds.

The number 1/10 equals 1/24+1/25+1/28+1/29+1/212+1/213+.... In other words, the binary expansion of 1/10 is 0.0001100110011001100110011001100.... Now the 24 bit register in the Patriot stored instead 0.00011001100110011001100 introducing an error of 0.0000000000000000000000011001100... binary, or about 0.000000095 in decimal. Multiplying by the number of tenths of a second in 100 hours gives 0.000000095×100×60×60×10 = 0.34.

A Scud travels at about 1,676 meters per second, and so travels more than half a kilometer in this time (0.34 seconds). This was far enough that the incoming Scud was outside the "Range Gate (Where the scud will next appear after last radar scan)" that the Patriot tracked. Ironically, the fact that the bad time calculation had been improved in some parts of the code, but not all, contributed to the problem, since it meant that the inaccuracies did not cancel.

Note: I have not explained fixed-point representation, as it is not handy for me to include each and everything...but little bit about it explained in the following paragraph [excerpted from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report]

The range gate's prediction of where the Scud will next appear is a function of the Scud's known velocity and the time of the last radar detection. Velocity is a real number that can be expressed as a whole number and a decimal (e.g., 3750.2563...miles per hour). Time is kept continuously by the system's internal clock in tenths of seconds but is expressed as an integer or whole number (e.g., 32, 33, 34...). The longer the system has been running, the larger the number representing time. To predict where the Scud will next appear, both time and velocity must be expressed as real numbers. Because of the way the Patriot computer performs its calculations and the fact that its registers are only 24 bits long, the conversion of time from an integer to a real number cannot be any more precise than 24 bits. This conversion results in a loss of precision causing a less accurate time calculation. The effect of this inaccuracy on the range gate's calculation is directly proportional to the target's velocity and the length of the system has been running. Consequently, performing the conversion after the Patriot has been running continuously for extended periods causes the range gate to shift away from the center of the target, making it less likely that the target, in this case a Scud, will be successfully intercepted.

" Pure Mathematics is the world's best game. It's more absorbing than chess, more of a gamble than poker, and lasts longer than monopoly. It's free, it can be played anywhere- Archimedes did it in a bathtub.
-- Richard J. Trudeau, Dots and Lines.