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DEFEXPO 2004 - Part 1
By B Harry
Feb 8, 2004, 16:00

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The ADE Nishant UAV has been operationalised by the Indian Army with series production scheduled to begin soon. The drone, with an endurance of 4 hrs in it's primary roles of battlefield surveillance and electro-optical recon, can carry a payload of 45 kg, with it's integrated sensor package (FLIR, laser ranger and 35 mm mini pan camera) and drive electronics contained in the Gimballed Payload Assembly (GPA), weighing 40 kg. The airframe is made of carbon/glass fiber reinforced structure which facilitates for low RCS and the drone is powered by an ALVIS AR-801 55 bhp engine driving a pusher propeller. The Vehicles R&D lab of DRDO offers two engines for generic UAV applications, namely the RE-2-21-P and RE-4-37-P powerplants. 

The 380 kg drone requires rail-launching from a hydro-pneumatic launcher. Launches at a velocity of 45 m/sec are carried out in 0.6 seconds with 100 kW power and subsequent launches can be carried out in intervals of 20 minutes. The Mobile Hydro-Pneumatic Launcher (MHPL) system mounted on a Tatra truck weighs 14,000 kg and boasts of a life cycle of 1000 launches before requiring overhaul. Other variants of the UAV in advanced stages of development include a version known as the Nishant Mk.1W(Wheeled) with a fixed tricycle undercarriage capable of autonomous take off and landing from short unprepared airstrips. This will also allow the parachute and landing bag recovery systems to be removed in order to make space for additional payloads. Further developments will include increased endurance and range and a more powerful engine.

Eventually, all versions are to get IRLS, COMINT and ELINT payloads as well as a laser designator. The Nishant was preceded by an experimental mini-UAV by the name "Kapothaka", which acted as the technology demonstrator for validating take-off and transmission capabilities. 

The only piloted aircraft at the show was this solitary HAL Dhruv (IA-1105) of the Indian Army. The very same Dhruv was also on display at Aero-India 2003, making it yet another example in the practice of restricting the display of aircraft all over the country, to specific examples. The Indian Army plans to acquire 120 Dhruvs and atleast 9 examples have already been delivered at the time of writing. Army Aviation training which was previously carried out at the School of Artillery, is now carried out in an independent Combat Air Training School at Deolali. 

While a cockpit of conventional dial pointer instruments may be sufficient for this version, HAL offer the helicopter with a standard glass cockpit as well (not to be confused with the Israeli package). The Weapon-System-Integrated (WSI) Dhruv will carry Nag ATGMs and a nose mounted gyro-stabilized sighting system incorporating a thermal imager and Laser Range-Finder(LRF). To deploy the Nag ATGM from the HAL Cheetah helicopter, a smaller gyro-stabilized sighting system with a high resolution CCD camera and a Nd-YG LRF would be employed.

The most significant of all recent developments surrounding the Arjun MBT was the test firing of the Israeli Laser-Homing-Attack (LAHAT) missile which qualified the tank as a platform for long range ATGMs. The missile is handled by the gunner as a standard round and with a maximum range of ~6 km, exceeds the capabilities of the Reflex system on the T-90S. 39 rounds the indigenous 20.8 kg 120 mm Fin stabilized Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) and HESH ammunition, are carried. The Indian Army expects to take delivery of all 124 Arjun units on order, by early 2006. The developers claim that the "Kanchan" composite Armour on the tank provides a degree of protection far higher than available on other contemporary tanks. From personal observation, the build does appear to be much stronger than that of the T-72 or T-90S. 

It took quite a while to modify the original Arjun to correlate with the Indian Army's stringent specifications but work on an improved follow-on version has already been initiated. The latter, upon completion, will be subject to further evaluation. The Arjun project has already given birth to several spin-offs namely the Tank Ex, Bhim 155 mm SP artillery vehicle and the Arjun BLT (Bridge-Layer-Tank). Thanks to modular construction, conversion from MBT configuration to SP Gun or BLT configuration is possible by quickly switching the turret on the chasis.

Something that should be immediately apparent to the crew are the spacious fighting and driving compartments, in contrast to the T-72 Ajeya's cramped interior, although it must be noted that a crew of four is carried. The ergonomics are designed from the anthropometrical data of Indian troops. With a super charged 1500 HP engine, the tank has a high power to weight ratio at a combat weight of 58.5 tons and a low ground pressure of 0.84 kgf/cm², speed of 70 km/h on road.

Although Arjun's gunnery simulator is designed to be simplistic and compact in order to facilitate for easy transportation in a container, the software is extremely advanced. It features weapons ballistics simulation, Day/Night Thermal imaging simulation as well as a vibration unit to simulate firing and battlefield disturbances. The container consists of two compartments, one housing the gunner and another containing an instructor console with a larger screen to monitor, control, evaluate, debrief and rank the gunner.

DRDO's Armored-Vehicle-Paramilitary (AVP) is still in the concept stage.

The Nag-Missile-Carrier (NAMICA) is essentially a modification to the Russian BMP-2 IFV. A total of 12 ATGMs are carried, with four of them kept in ready state, inside the launcher. The Peleng joint stock company of Russia, now offer a Rubezh-M sighting system upgrade featuring a PNK2-42 combined gunner's sight and night-time target acquisition range of 5000 m plus a night-time IFF range of 3500 m, for all BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs in worldwide service.

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