GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft Makes Maiden Flight In China.


  • China’s first large amphibious aircraft AG600 on 24th December, 2017 completed its maiden flight in south China’s Guangdong Province.
  • At 9:39 a.m., the aircraft AG600, code named “Kunlong” left Jinwan airport in the city of Zhuhai. The flight lasted about one hour.
  • The maiden flight makes China among the few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft, said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG600.
  • State-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is roughly the size of a Boeing Co 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.


Highlights Of The Development–

  • The 39.6-meter aircraft is powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines, according to its developer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
  • With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a top cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour, the AG600 has a range of 12 hours.
  • It can use conventional airports and also land and take-off from the sea.
  • Designed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 will be mainly used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring.
  • It can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds for fire fighting and transport up to 370 tonnes of water on a single tank of fuel.
  • Its name “Kunlong” stands for a high expectation in Chinese culture with the “Kun” meaning an enormous legendary fish and “Long” a dragon.
  • The AG600 is the third member of China’s “large aircraft family” following the large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919, which made maiden flights in 2013 and 2017. The Y-20 entered into service with China’s airforce in July 2016.
  • China is in the midst of a massive military modernisation programme, ranging from testing anti-satellite missiles to building stealth fighters and the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, to add to an existing one bought from Ukraine.



GS Paper II- Governance.

Govt Mint Launches First Home-Grown High Purity Gold Reference Standard.


  • India’s first home-grown high purity gold reference standard – the Bharatiya Nirdeshak Dravya (BND-4201) – was launched on 23rd December, 2017 at the India Government Mint, Mumbai.
  • BND-4201, which is the reference material for gold of ‘9999’ fineness (gold that is 99.99 per cent pure), will be beneficial to the consumers and public at large to ensure purity of gold, said IGM, Mumbai, in a statement.
  • IGM said once the BND’s of other purity gold are made available in the market, jewellers will move towards more instrumental methods rather than the conventional fire assay methods for testing, which are not only time consuming but also not environment friendly as poisonous gases are released.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Gold reference standard is indispensable in gold and jewellery hall marking. This will also be useful for Collection and Purity Testing Centres to certify the purity of gold deposits under the gold monetisation scheme.
  • The high purity gold reference standard has been developed through a collaboration between IGM, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre — National Centre for Compositional Characterisation of Materials (Hyderabad), and Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (New Delhi).
  • The measurement of the high purity BND-4201 is traceable to SI units (International System of Units).Therefore, the possibilities of exporting to other economies are very high.
  • R Haripanth, General Manager, IGM-Mumbai, said alongwith CSIR-NPL, IGM will soon take up the production of other morphologies of the gold BND’s as well as other precious materials. IGM, Mumbai, is a unit of the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd.

Sources- The Hindu Business Line.

GS Paper III- Security.

DRDO’s Home-grown Quick Reaction Missile QRSAM Successfully Test Fired Off Odisha Coast.


  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired a Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) from a defence base off Odisha coast on 22nd December, 2017.
  • The homegrown canister-based high-speed weapon system, which can deceive enemy radars making it difficult to be detected, is capable of destroying aerial targets, tanks, bunkers and short range missiles.
  • The short-range weapon system was fired from a canister mounted on a rotatable truck-based launch platform at the Launching Complex-I (LC-I) of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea at about 2.30 pm.


Highlights Of The Development-

  • Defence sources said the trial was conducted to check various parameters in its subsystems and performance of advanced software. It was third test of the newly developed missile, which is yet to get a formal name, and all three have been successful this year.
  • All subsystems incorporated in the missile have performed well. Though no target was set for the missile, it covered the entire range as coordinated. The mission was successful and it proved complete indigenisation of surface-to-air systems.
  • It is a highly mobile air defence system which can destroy multiple targets at a distance of 25 km in less than one minute. Considered to be a unique system in its class, the missile is expected to supplement medium range surface-to-air missile Akash.
  • Since QRSAM is a much better system in terms of performance and lethality, India is more keen on developing high maneuverable and multi-role missiles, which will have 100 per cent kill probability.
  • It is an all-weather and all-terrain missile having electronic counter measures against all known aircraft jammers.
  • The state-of-the-art missile that uses high-energy solid propellant will have to go through a couple of more development flight trials before going into user phase tests.

Sources- The New Indian Express.