Saturday, April 4, 2009
BRAHMOS - HOW DIRTY TRICKS WERE AVERTED?
The Brahmos, in its first trials for the Army, missed the target. The mission was aborted after the missile went off-target mid-course despite a successful launch on January 20, 2009 when the Indian Army Chief was a witness.
After the second trial there was silence from the Army. Then there was a third – and again silence from the Army.
In the meantime, DRDO stated that both the last two trials were a success and went so far to say that it can “intelligently” seek out a building from a cluster of building. For a cruise missile flying at supersonic speed, this kind of accuracy is a game changer in any war / conflict.
I was wondering, is it DRDO hyping its act, trying to cloak another failure. After all, Agni missiles fell way off target and Indian Navy stationed to see the “drop zone” could not see any missile “dropping” around them. DRDO claimed the missile was a huge success. I thought, is this happening again – but that statement – “can hit a building from a cluster of buildings” made me re-think that no one gives that kind of accuracy just to bluff.
However, it did not strike me that greed could be a factor.
Telegraph, KOLKATA carried an extensive article on Brahmos today, that is worth the read, in its entirety.
Excerpts from Telegraph: Text ©Copyright The Telegraph
After the failure of the first trials, in a space of just over two months, Pillai produced a missile — a supersonic cruise missile for the army — through two more rapid-fire tests that left the generals gasping for its uniqueness, for its speed and for Pillai’s sheer grit.
Pillai has made the BrahMos Land Attack Cruise Missile Mark II real despite opposition from the Indian Army that kept upping its demands and reducing the size of the targets in the tests.
The first target was the size of a factory, the second, also a factory the size of a large building and the third, a small building in a simulated urban cluster. The missile was tasked to hit the factory in the first two tests. In the third test, it was to discriminate, select and choose its target before destroying it.
The second test, on March 4, seen by deputy army chief Lt Gen M.S. Dadwal, Pillai said it was a success but the army said it was “evaluating and analysing” the results even three days after the test.
“The missile was in the target area all right,” Gen Kapoor said of the test. “But there has been one failure (on January 20) so we need confirmation and there are some technical issues.”
Then on March 29 — just last week — Pillai requested the army to send a team to witness another test. The director general of military operations, Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon, led a team.
This time, the army put up just a sheet as a target with reflectors on two sides to deflect the missile from its trajectory.
Pillai’s BrahMos hit bull’s eye. Without waiting for official word from the army this time, Pillai went public, proclaiming its success.
“In 15 minutes flat,” he put it simply in his chamber inside the headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in an interview to The Telegraph, “your enemy country can be destroyed and you do not even have to go nuclear.”
“In the Iraq war, the US launched 1,000 Tomahawks in half a day,” he recalled. “You have to think on that scale. And the BrahMos is supersonic. It cannot be intercepted. Even we cannot do anything to it, once we launch it. Fire and forget. You think of the missile in hundreds, thousands, like you think of many, many arrows being fired from a quiver,” he said.
THE DIRTY TRICKS:
Then why did the Indian Army open itself to suggestions that it was not keen on the project? Clear-cut answers won’t be available to such questions. But the army has been seeing demonstrations of missiles by Raytheon Corporation. A section of the army’s artillery officers has been impressed by it. (While Telegraph writes they were impressed - I wonder how they were made to be impressed - ah well, we all know, don't we?)
For an excellent overview over how deals are made - read this article by Prasun Sengupta: The New Untouchables.
A piece of history that DRDO’s scientists are familiar with was in danger of being repeated: was another indigenous, rather, a semi-indigenous military programme going to be sacrificed in the interest of imports? And to the benefit of middlemen who would earn fat commissions? All in the name of national security? And national interest?
The vice-chief of army staff, Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj, announced at a seminar: “The BrahMos Mark II is ready for induction. The missile’s accuracy, lethality and range have made it a deadly combination.”
The army is NOW ready to raise two regiments of the BrahMos Mark II.
Sir, Sivathanu Pillai, I salute you !
REPLY BY PRASUN SENGUPTA: (His comments are valued and hence I have brought them upfront in the main article).
"Someone definitely seems to be spreading disinformation about the Indian Army not being interested in the BrahMos. And THE TELEGRAPH too seems to have fallen victim to this disinformation campaign. The fact remains that the Indian Army had two years ago begun inducting the BrahMos Block 1 into service. Therefore, the issue of the Army rejecting the BrahMos in favour of 'imported' solutions does not arise AT ALL. Nor should THE TELEGRAPH compare the on-going field evaluations of Raytheon's Javelin ATGM with those of the BrahMos. Anyway, below are some examples of how incompetent these 'desi' reporters are: The publishers and reporters of FRONTLINE MAY BE professionals in all arenas of reportage except military matters, rest assured. For one, their latest report on the BrahMos' test-firings does not explain how and when exactly GPS updates are obtained and in what phase of the operation (prior to missile launch or after missile launch). Secondly, it does not specify which GPS system is utilised: Navstar or Glonass. For pinpoint strikes the BrahMos would have to have access to Py-code GPS updates every 2 seconds, and this is only available from Glonass and not from Navstar. Therefore, to even suggest that the BrahMos went off course due to unavailability of GPS navigational updates on the day the new US President was being sworn in is ludicrous, to say the least. Thirdly, the article does not even explain how exactly the target acquisition takes place PRIOR to missile launch. In fact, in ALL articles published in any India-based magazine thus far, NO ONE has explained how exactly target acquisition takes place and what exactly is the launch sequence. They haven't even printed any of the BrahMos posters that have been shown in numerous exhibitions both in India and abroad and which clearly explain the roles played by satellites with reference to BrahMos' target acquisition/engagement sequences. Fourthly, none of these so-called 'professional' journalists have even attempted to describe what kind of firing range is made available for the test-firings of the BrahMos' land attack variant, and under what kind of limitations all such test-firings have been conducted since 2003. Even worse, they haven't even published any photo or diagram of the BrahMos' SGH X-band SAR radar--whereas I had uploaded its photo last year itself and it was also published as far back as 2004 in FORCE. That's how professional the mainstream Indian newsmedia is!"
Another question put up by TELEGRAPH: Pillai is not being given a scope to prove the submarine launched version as Indian Navy is not being able to lease out even one for undertaking the test? What's the story here?
Reply by Prasun: "The TELEGRAPH insinuation is not true since the Navy really can't spare any existing SSK for the BrahMos test-firing phase. Because once a submarine is made available, it will take at least 18 months to modify it through the installation of vertical launch cells. In addition, the Indian Navy as far back as 2000 had been committed to the plan for installing the Novator-built Club-S supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and the subsonic 3M14E land-attack cruise missiles on board the upgraded Type 877EKM Kilo-class SSKs. There's nothing sinister in all this at all. Therefore, BrahMos Aerospace, like other potential missile vendors, is lobbying hard for having BrahMos pre-selected for the follow-on six SSKs that the Indian Navy wants to procure. And it is here that unwanted and ill-informed controversies are being fanned. To obtain clarity on this issue one has to find out what exactly will be the operational tasks of the follow-on six SSKs. Apart from waging submarine warfare, these six SSKs will also be required to undertake anti-ship missile strikes with cruise missiles that should be able to be launched from the SSK's torpedo tubes, AND NOT from vertical launch cells that, if installed, will unnecessarily increase the SSK's displacement with no clear operational advantages emerging. Another reason why vertical launch cells for the BrahMos are not preferred by the Indian Navy for the to-be-ordered six SSKs is because the RFI very clearly states that these SSKs will be required to be armed with vertically-launched missiles designed to destroy hovering ASW helicopters or low-flying MR/ASW aircraft (such a system is already under development between the DRDO and RAFAEL since 2004 and its first installation will be on the ATV). Therefore, the Navy has rightfully determined that the anti-ship/land-attack cruise missiles should be launched from the torpedo tubes, and not from vertical launch cells. Again, nothing sinister about all this at all. Regretably, the TELEGRAPH article does not go deep enough to understand the operational peculiarities of undersea warfare and instead, tries to oversimplify matters and as a consequence, dessiminate disinformation."