December 16, 2017

Navy to double aircraft fleet to 500 in next decade: Sunil Lanba

The aviation arm of the Indian Navy will double its aircraft fleet in the coming decade to nearly 500, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said here today.
"We have a naval air wing, which has 238 aircraft at the moment. It has a combination of fighters, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft, both- long range and short range. And we have a plan in place...in a decades time this Naval air wing will grow to close to 500 aircraft of different types," Lanba said at a press conference.
Lanba reviewed the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy here.
Replying to a query on the issue of Sabi Giri, an Indian Navy sailor, who was discharged from service for undergoing a sex change surgery, the naval chief said the force cannot take her into direct employment, but is willing to accept her if she comes through any agency as a contract staff.
Defending the termination of the sailors employment, Lanba said the Navy is a gender-neutral service but Giris actions violated the rules.
"Specifically to the issue of Giri, he was inducted as male in the Navy. And there is no provision in the Navy or in the rules and regulation where you can go and do what he has gone and done. Thats why he has been dismissed from the service for violating the rules and regulations.
"We told the court that we cannot do that (take her into employment). And we have told the court that if a private party is willing to employ her, come as a contract worker in the Navy (as an employee of the private party, not as Navys direct employee)," he explained.
"We are a gender-neutral service. We make no distinctions based on gender. We induct both men and women. They both have rigorous training and same rules and regulations are followed," he added.
The Navy chief said the defence wing is committed to the governments Make in India programme and currently as many as 34 ships and submarines are under construction in Indian shipyards.
Meanwhile, Air Force Academy said, in a statement, that 105 flight cadets passed out today as Flying Officers, including 15 women officers. The officers include two fighter pilots, it said.


Scorpene submarines lack torpedoes, navy initiates secret procurement

The defence ministry has issued a secret Request for Information (RFI) to global torpedo firms, for supplying over 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the Indian Navy’s Scorpene submarines, the first of which – INS Kalvari – was commissioned on Thursday.
Prospective vendors are unwilling to speak, since they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. However three sources in the defence ministry and industry have verified this development.
While the torpedo RFI was issued in August and replies received in November from at least three global “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs), a long wait lies ahead before the new torpedoes become available to arm the Kalvari and five more submarines that will follow it into service. The defence ministry’s Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 allows 114 weeks (two years and three months) for concluding a contract, in practice an over-ambitious target. After the contract, manufacture and delivery would take another 2-3 years.
Until then, the navy’s six Kalvari-class boats (as the navy refers to submarines) will share 64 obsolescent SUT torpedoes with four HDW Shishumar-class vessels. This is woefully inadequate if the submarine fleet has to fight a war.
Further, there are question marks over the efficacy of the SUT torpedo, even though German OEM, Atlas Elektronik, was contracted in July 2013 to upgrade 64 SUT torpedoes and extend their service life by 15 years.
Business Standard learns the navy’s new torpedo RFI went out to 5-6 torpedo OEMs, but will boil down to a contest between French OEM, Naval Group, which is offering its F-21 torpedo; and German firm, Atlas Elektronik, with its Seahake Mod 4. It is understood that Russian and Japanese OEMs and Swedish company, Saab, were also sent RFIs. However, the Japanese did not respond; the Russian torpedo does not meet the Indian Navy’s specifications; nor does Saab’s, which is driven by a combustion engine while the navy wants an electrically driven torpedo.
The heavyweight torpedo is a submarine’s weapon of choice for sinking warships and submarines, which it typically engages from 50-100 kilometres away. Fired from a torpedo tube, it is driven through the water by a motor powered by electric batteries. It is guided towards the target by signals conveyed through a wire that unspools behind it. Approaching the target, the torpedo switches to “active guidance” using on-board sonar. When it slams into the target, an explosive charge detonates, creating an underwater hole that often causes catastrophic flooding, sinking the target vessel.
Besides torpedoes, submarines also carry anti-ship missiles (ASMs) like the Kalvari’s SM39 Exocet missile. ASMs are fired through the same tubes as torpedoes, and they emerge from the water and fly, skimming the sea, towards their target. But ASMs can be intercepted, and they are less lethal since they strike above the waterline.
The navy’s torpedo deficit has arisen due to the blacklisting of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, after allegations emerged in 2012 of bribery in the sale of twelve AW-101 helicopters to India by a Finmeccanica subsidiary, AgustaWestland. The defence ministry, on August 26, 2014, banned all new contracts with Finmeccanica group companies, including WASS, which had been chosen to supply 98 Black Shark torpedoes to India for the Scorpene fleet.
Global torpedo manufacturers believe India could be their largest customer. Although the current procurement is for only 100-plus torpedoes, industry experts say the navy actually requires 400-600 torpedoes. These are needed to arm six Scorpenes currently being rolled out, six Project 75-I submarines that are on the anvil, and a planned fleet of up to ten nuclear submarines.
With the cost of a heavyweight torpedo hovering around $2-3 million apiece, that represents a business opportunity of $800 million to $1.8 billion – a mouth-watering prospect for torpedo makers.
If the cost of the torpedoes the navy is currently buying tops Rs 2,000 crore ($311 million), the OEM will incur a 30 per cent offset liability. This would involve ploughing back 30 per cent of the contract value into Indian defence production. Since each torpedo costs an estimated $2-3 million, a 100-plus-torpedo order would be on the offset threshold.
Industry sources say buying torpedoes piecemeal – initially for the Kalvari-class, then for Project 75-I, and separately for the nuclear boats – would disadvantage India. Instead, a single order that combines India’s torpedo requirements would result in cheaper prices through economies of scale; and also create a compelling industrial logic for transferring torpedo production to India.
 Ajai Shukla

December 15, 2017

GE, Tata Group join hands to make LEAP engine parts

US multinational giant GE and Tata Group have joined hands to manufacture CFM International LEAP engine components in India for the global supply chain, a development bound to have considerable significance for Telangana as the Tata arm associated with the project is headquartered in Hyderabad. GE Aviation and Tata Sons subsidiary, the Hyderabad-based Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL), will “join forces for manufacturing, assembling, integration and testing of aircraft components,” a communication on the “strategic partnership,” said on Thursday.
A new Centre of Excellence (CoE) will be set up to help develop a robust ecosystem for aircraft engine manufacturing and related capabilities in India.
“This is the big announcement I was excited about!! @GEIndia & @TataCompanies will be manufacturing LEAP engine components in Hyderabad,” Industries and IT Minister K.T.Rama Rao tweeted. On Wednesday, he had met GE Chairman and CEO John L Flannery and GE South Asia President & CEO Vishal Wanchoo in New Delhi.
Announcing that the agreement between GE and Tata was signed on November 29, the release said besides manufacturing, the engine components for the global supply chain, the two companies would jointly pursue military engine and aircraft system opportunities in the India market.
“Our collaboration in building innovative technologies will support the Make in India vision of the Indian government,” Mr. Flannery said. Describing Tata Group as a leader in the Indian defence and aerospace sector, he said: “We look forward to working together to meet the growing demand for LEAP engines.”
The LEAP engine is a product of CFM International, an equal joint venture of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, and known for their technological superiority, efficient fuel consumption and performance for powering single-aisle commercial jets.
A total of 26 customers currently operate more than 140 aircraft, powered by the engines, globally.


Old torpedoes' being used in new Navy's new Kalvari submarine

'Old torpedoes' being used in new Navy's new Kalvari submarine due to long delays in procurement of heavyweight ammunition from 'scam tainted' Italian manufacturers
  • India on Thursday inducted its first modern conventional submarine, INS Kalvari, into the Navy
  • Due to lack of new heavyweight torpedoes the Navy had to pull weapons from another line of submarines
  • Heavyweight torpedoes on Kalvari to be deployed on nuclear submarine fleet

After a delay of around five years, India inducted its first modern conventional submarine, INS Kalvari, into the Navy on Thursday, the first in almost two decades.

The submarine, which was earlier supposed to be inducted in the middle of this year, had to wait for six to seven months more for its commissioning as senior government functionaries insisted that the platform should be ready for operational deployment with its weapons at the time of being commissioned by the Prime Minister.

Due to this, the Navy borrowed the torpedoes of another class of submarines and fired them about three months ago to prove that the platform was ready for operational deployment, sources said.

The Navy has been facing long delays in the procurement of heavyweight torpedoes for the Scorpenes, which will be known as Kalvari class, due to the cancellation of a tender to procure the weapons from the scam-tainted Finmeccanica group of Italy which has now been named Leonardo.

Sources said that due to lack of new heavyweight torpedoes, the Navy had to pull out weapons from another line of submarines and integrate them with the state-of-the-art Kalvari.

'The integration of the torpedoes is still going on but the main weapon for Kalvari would only be the new heavyweight torpedo for which a multi-vendor competition is going to be initiated in the near future,' a source said.

The heavyweight torpedoes for Kalvari would also be deployed on the nuclear submarine fleet of the Navy, including the boats of the Arihant Class nuclear powered submarines.

Putting it into commission in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the efforts of the Navy for its role from disaster management to combating piracy.

'Be it terrorism via sea, piracy, drug smuggling or illegal fishing, India is playing an important role in combating them,' he said. 'I call it SAGAR — security and growth for all in the region.'

Addressing the gathering, Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: 'Peace in Indian Ocean, which is the lifeline of global trade is better off with INS Kalvari.'

Kalvari is the first of the six Scorpene-class submarines that will be handed over by shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) to the Navy. Designed by the French, these are being built by MDL in Mumbai as part of Project-75 of the Navy.

Kalvari would be followed by five more submarines at a gap of nine months each.


December 14, 2017

Learn from Japan's Mistakes, China's Defence Budget is Already Three Times Higher Than India

“Do you foresee India fighting a full-scale conventional war in the near future?” is a question often asked of me during informal interactions. My reply is generally in the negative, and the next question which inevitable follows is, “Then why is the Indian military always clamouring for a larger defence budget?”

Taken at face value, there is some justification in this argument. India’s defence budget is the fifth-largest in the world, and military expenditure certainly impacts on development programmes which are aimed at lifting India’s 224 million people out of poverty. Under these circumstances, it is also politically expedient to suppress defence spending.

However, we must also consider the larger question of India’s future trajectory in the world order. To be recognised as a major global player, India has to maximise its national power. A state’s national power is a combination of military, economic, technical, demographic and soft power. These are all important for a nation, but as John J. Mearsheimer, the author of the offensive realist theory, points out, “In international politics...a state’s effective power is ultimately a function of its military forces and how they compare with the military forces of rival states.”

I am not underplaying the importance of economic strength because without wealth, military power cannot be built. But wealth by itself does not bring global or even regional dominance. Japan is a clear example. Despite being the second largest economy in the world, it was never considered an international power because of its small military and the outsourcing of its security to the Americans. On the other hand, Soviet Union, with its military might, was one of the two superpowers. Even today, Russia with a GDP which is less than one-tenth of the United States, is posing a challenge to the latter in Europe and Syria. China’s economic rise was seen largely as peaceful until the time it started significantly upgrading its military capability.

Military power is meant not only for fighting wars but also for deterring them. President Roosevelt called the U.S. Navy as, “an infinitely more potent factor for peace than all the peace societies of every kind and sort.” A strong military enhances international credibility and strengthens a country’s position in bilateral and international negotiations. It enables a country’s leader to impose his will on the adversary.

China has been India’s main rival and for decades has sought to undermine India’s influence. In his book, The Grand Chessboard, published 20 years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, “Geography is...an important factor driving Chinese interests in making an alliance with Pakistan and establishing a military presence in Burma. In both cases, India is the geostrategic target. Close military cooperation with Pakistan increases India’s security dilemma and limits India’s ability to establish itself as a regional hegemon in South Asia and as a geopolitical rival to China.”

Even as China has followed a remarkably consistent geostrategic approach, India’s security focus has remained inward looking, perhaps due to the many insurgencies which the country has faced since its independence. Therefore, the political and bureaucratic elite have tended to see the employment of Indian military power either for tackling internal conflicts, which is being successfully done, or for direct war fighting, which is today considered unlikely. The military leadership, isolated from decision making, has been unable to present a coherent and convincing plan on future force structures and capability development.

As a result, years of financial neglect have chipped away at India’s military capability. The problems in the three services are too well known to warrant a repetition here. Despite this, the prevailing view in the country’s leadership appears to be that the military will have to live with the current budgetary levels. This will seriously impact national security in the long run. The Border Roads Organisation could be transformed into the most efficient unit in the country but strategic roads to the Chinese border will continue to face delays unless the annual allocation of funds for roads is significantly increased.

China’s defence budget is already three times the size of India’s and is set to grow to four times by 2020. Unless measures are taken by India, this gap will continue to increase and disparity between the military capabilities of the two countries will become too large to be bridged. This disparity will obviously impact on the future of India-China strategic balance.

To be fair, the government is not completely to blame. The three services also need to take a hard look at their current force structures, new technologies and the changing nature of warfare. There is too much focus on numbers — of squadrons, ships, tanks, divisions — rather than capability. This has pushed up revenue expenditures, particularly in the case of Army which in the last budget had only 17% of its total allocation for capital purchases.

Manpower has become the main focus. The redeployment of about 57,000 officers and other ranks, as recommended by the Shekatkar Committee, is touted as a big and “far-reaching” reform process being initiated in the Army for the first time after independence. There is little visible action in the fields of information warfare, cyber warfare, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, and robotics, all of which will have a major impact on future wars. The American military is estimated to be funding approximately 80 per cent of all AI research in the United States. We are still struggling with providing a rifle and bulletproof jackets for the infantry soldier.

Joseph Nye developed the concept of soft power being as important as hard power but even he acknowledges that “military power provides a degree of security that is to order as oxygen is to breathing: little noticed until it becomes scarce, at which point its absence dominates all else.” The nature of India’s civil-military relations has prevented regular consultation between the military and political leadership for crafting of a comprehensive national security strategy. They must now come together to seriously work on a plan to build a future military in line with India’s global aspirations.


INS Kalvari submarine commissioned but Indian Navy’s sub-sea power is below par

INS Kalvari was commissioned into Indian Navy’s fleet on Thursday after a delay of five years but the country needs to push harder to meet the target of building 24 submarines by the year 2030.

Almost 18 years after the country cleared an ambitious submarine-building programme to scale up its undersea warfare capabilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned India-built INS Kalvari into the navy in Mumbai on Thursday.
It is the first conventional submarine to join the naval fleet in 17 years.
INS Kalvari is the first of six the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, under licence from French firm Naval Group, previously called DCNS. The submarine should have been inducted into the navy more than five years ago but problems relating to transfer of technology led to missed deadlines in the ~23,562-crore programme called Project-75.
The navy hopes to induct the remaining five diesel-electric attack boats by 2020.
Military affairs experts said the commissioning of INS Kalvari would be a significant milestone in the navy’s submarine-building programme but the country needs to push harder to meet the target of building 24 submarines by 2030.
The government set this target in 1999 to sharpen the navy’s underwater prowess.
The navy commissioned INS Sindhushastra in July 2000, but the Kilo-class submarine imported from Russia wasn’t part of the 1999 plan. INS Kalvari is the second submarine to roll out of MDL after the yard built INS Shankul, a German HDW Type 209 boat commissioned in May 1994.
“Project-75 has finally come to fruition and that’s great news. But we have a long way to go in terms of establishing undersea dominance,” said Sudarshan Shrikhande, a retired rear admiral.
According to him, modern submarines have high combat effectiveness compared to boats built in the ’60s and ’70s. “The navy would need several dozens of these boats in the coming decades and we need to move very fast.”
The Scorpene submarines are expected to become the mainstay of the Indian fleet, replacing the ageing Russian Kilo-class and German HDW vessels that are almost three decades old.
India operates a fleet of 14 conventional submarines, including INS Kalvari, nuclear-powered attack boat INS Chakra leased from Russia and INS Arihant, the homegrown submarine that can launch nuclear ballistic missiles.
The commissioning of INS Arihant last year completed India’s nuclear triad or the ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea.
The second Arihant-class submarine, called INS Arighat, was reportedly launched in November and is likely to join the naval fleet in 2021. Navy officials are not authorised to speak about the secret programme to build nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
India plans to deploy four Arihant-class boats to reinforce India’s strategic deterrent force at sea. This endeavour does not come under the 1999 submarine-building plan.
India’s sub-sea power is way behind China’s. The neighbour’s underwater capability is far superior with more than 60 diesel-electric attack submarines and a mix of 10 nuclear attack submarines and nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
It will not be easy for India to match the Chinese underwater fleet in the near future, said retired Commodore C Uday Bhaskar, the director of Society for Policy Studies.
“We have to focus on using our underwater capabilities in a more innovative manner to meet the desired political objectives,” he said.
The navy has set the ball rolling for building another six advanced conventional submarines in the country under Project-75I as part of the overall scheme to deploy a robust underwater force.
Under the Rs 60,000-crore programme, the vessels will be built by an Indian yard in collaboration with a foreign defence contractor under the defence ministry’s strategic partnership model. It seeks to bring high-end military technology into the country for manufacturing cutting-edge military equipment.
But the project remains on the drawing board, despite the defence ministry granting “acceptance of necessity” for the submarines a decade ago.
“The submarine fleet is well below desired levels. And that’s because of poor policies at the highest levels of the government,” Bhaskar said.
The navy sent a request for information to half-a-dozen foreign manufacturers this July seeking details to build submarines in India. With acquisition of weapons governed by a detailed set of standards, inking a final contract could take several years.
“As far as Project-75I is concerned, little progress has been made in the past 10 years. That’s the sad tale of weapon acquisition in India,” said a retired navy chief, who did not wish to be identified.
Bigger than the Scorpene, the Project-75I submarines will be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to increase their submerged endurance to nearly three weeks. Conventional submarines have to surface almost every second day to operate their air-breathing diesel engines, running the risk of detection.
The Project-75I boats will also have land attack missile capability.
At his annual Navy Day press conference on December 1, navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba announced that India’s plan to build nuclear-powered attack submarines was taking shape. “The process has started,” he said, without disclosing details.
The government approved the plan to build six nuclear-powered submarines in 2015, tweaking the 30-year submarine-building programme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.
That plan laid the roadmap for inducting 12 conventional submarines by 2012 followed by an equal number before 2030.
“Our priority is to have a fleet of 18 new conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered boats,” a senior navy officer said.
While Project-75 and Project-75I are expected to churn out 12 diesel-electric boats, six more submarines are planned under the yet-to-be announced programme Project-76.
“The best practices of Project-75 and Project-75I will dictate the design of the newest boats under Project 76,” the officer said.


Taiwan Responds Quickly to Chinese ‘Island Encirclement’ Drill

Taiwan is confident of its defenses and responded quickly to Chinese air force “island encirclement” drills this week, the self-ruled island’s government said, denouncing the rise in China’s military deployments as irresponsible.
China considers self-ruled and democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a wayward province under Chinese control.
Tensions have risen in recent days after a senior Chinese diplomat threatened that China would invade Taiwan if any U.S. warships made port visits there.
On Monday, Chinese jets carried out “island encirclement patrols” around Taiwan, with state media showing pictures of bombers with cruise missiles slung under their wings.
US port visits
And on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorizes the possibility of mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.
Such visits would be the first since the United States ended formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 and established ties with Beijing.
Taiwan presidential spokesman Alex Huang, speaking to Taiwan media in comments reported late Wednesday, said the defense ministry had kept a close watch on the patrols and responded immediately and properly.
Taiwan “can ensure there are no concerns at all about national security, and people can rest assured,” Huang said.
Both sides of the narrow Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from its giant neighbor, have a responsibility to protect peace and stability, he added.
“Such a raised military posture that may impact upon and harm regional peace and stability and cross-strait ties does not give a feeling of responsibility, and the international community does not look favorably upon this,” Huang was quoted as saying.
Soured relations
Relations have soured considerably since Tsai Ing-wen, who leads Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, won presidential elections last year.
China suspects Tsai wants to declare the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security.
Taiwan is well equipped with mostly U.S. weapons but has been pressing for more advanced equipment to deal with what it sees as rising threat from China. The United States is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.


December 13, 2017

Government considering developing own civilian aircraft: Official

The government is considering manufacturing civilian aircraft and would like to move ahead with the plan "very fast", a civil aviation ministry official said today.

The country's domestic aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world and has registered high double digit growth for more than two years.

Many airlines are embarking on ambitious expansion plans and authorities are working on developing new airports to cater to the rising demand as well as boosting regional air connectivity.

"We are considering manufacturing our own civilian aircraft... definitely, the concept is there and we are looking for smaller aircraft like a 20-seater which can be used within the country and this also is supported by our policy of Make in India," said Shefali Juneja, Director at the Civil Aviation ministry.

Currently, aircraft are imported or taken on lease from overseas lessors.

"Developing our own civilian aircraft is something we are considering... and is something which we need to move forward very fast," she said.

She was speaking at the 'ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit' here.

In efforts to strengthen air connectivity between India and ASEAN nations, a civil aviation task force is being developed to encourage consultations between the countries.

Under the ASEAN-India cooperation framework, a joint working group is being set up and it would initially focus on safety and security aspects, besides air navigation services.

The first meeting of the joint working group is to be held in January 2018, Juneja said.

At present, there are no air services between India and four ASEAN countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines and Lao-PDR.

Listing out the challenges in the India-ASEAN aviation market, Juneja also said there is "only one-sided operation by ASEAN carriers in India-Myanmar, India-Indonesia, India- Vietnam markets".

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has 10 members, including include Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei.

The summit was jointly organised by industry body CII and ASEAN India Centre.


‘Contract for 36 Rafales include weapons suite superior to the earlier case … higher capability more apt for IAF’

As a fighter pilot with long experience, do you think Rafale fully meets India’s operational requirements?

I had the opportunity to fly the F-16 in the US, Gripen in Sweden and Eurofighter in the UK during official visits to these countries as chief of air staff. I also flew the Rafale in India during ‘Exercise Garuda’ with the French air force. These fighter aircraft are very impressive in their performance, equipped with state-of-the-art systems and weapons to execute operational tasks. It is difficult to choose one from the other and only experts can evaluate their capabilities against well-formulated specifications.

Rafale is a multi-role aircraft which can fully meet IAF’s operational requirements in the configuration that has been ordered. It is one of the best aircraft in the world in its class and was selected after a very competitive bidding process and due diligence. India has been able to obtain many add-ons that will substantially enhance combat capability of the aircraft and provide the IAF with technological and combat edge.

Government has claimed that the deal for 36 Rafales is superior in terms of weapons suite and other capabilities than the one negotiated earlier. Do you agree?

The contract for 36 Rafales includes weapons suite much superior to the earlier case and to many contemporary fighters. The weapons suite includes Meteor and variants of MICA (a weapons system) beyond visual range missiles. Considering national security requirements, higher capability of Rafale aircraft ordered now is more apt for IAF.

How do the Rafales for India compare with aircraft supplied to French air force or other air forces?

The Rafales for IAF will have several India specific enhancements, which are not present in Rafales operated by other countries. These capabilities pertain to enhancements in radar performance, advanced electronic warfare suite and ability to operate from high altitude airfields – unique to our terrain and climatic conditions.

There are allegations of violations of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)? Can you tell us about this intergovernmental agreement (IGA)?

DPP clearly allows procurements under IGA from friendly foreign countries and many procurements have been through IGA. Rules require cabinet approval before entering into agreement. The procurement process in MoD (ministry of defence) is well established and all the details are documented. I am aware that due approvals were taken in this case too and the IGA was signed only after approval of the CCS (cabinet committee on security).

It has been alleged that the agreement to procure 36 Rafales has caused loss to the exchequer.

The most important task of the price negotiation committee (PNC), which is a multi-disciplinary body of professionals with domain expertise, was to achieve a final price which had to be better than the previous Dassault Aviation proposal. A very detailed study was conducted and the PNC bargained hard. Cost comparisons are very complex and these have to be compared at the same datum. Most of the misconception on costs has resulted from comparing them with different base years, as also not having taken into consideration the significant differences in the deliverables. The current procurement costs in the IGA are better than the previous proposal. There were upfront cost reductions, and the IGA catered for better maintenance and weapons package.

Government has been accused of promoting the interests of an industrial group. How did Reliance ADAG come to be associated with the procurement?

The IGA was signed between two sovereign governments and no private individual, firm or entity was involved in the process from the Indian side.

Could another vendor have been brought in to ensure a competitive environment for price discovery and cost negotiation?

In the original MMRCA proposal, MoD had gone through a very competitive bidding and selection process. MoD used the available data on prices and other variables to conclude an agreement in the form of an IGA for the same aircraft. This was perhaps the best way to address the immediate critical shortages of IAF though it fell well short of our requirements.

Can you tell us how the deal marks an improvement, besides price, over what was being earlier negotiated?

First, all 36 aircraft will be delivered in flyaway condition, as against 18, in a shorter timeframe. Second, advanced training to both air crew and ground crew will be conducted over and above the original offer. Third, enhanced period of industrial support for maintenance of the fleet has been catered for. Fourth, the performance-based logistics covers two squadrons instead of one and the period could be extended to 12 years. Fifth, the contract caters for complete maintenance facilities at two independent locations, taking care of various theatres of operations.


India puts forward new plan to buy helicopters after ending talks with Lockheed

After suspending negotiations with Lockheed Martin in April over the price of 16 naval multirole helicopters, India’s Ministry of Defence has mooted a fresh plan for acquiring 24 helicopters for about $1.87 billion.

A high-priority global tender will now be floated instead to source the 24 helicopters off the shelf to meet a pressing need within the Indian Navy, according to an MoD official.

Negotiations with Lockheed were terminated following expiry of the price bid in March, and subsequently the tender was withdrawn in April, he said.

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky S-70B was selected over NHIndustries’ NH90 helicopter in 2011 in a global tender issued by the Indian Navy in 2009 for 16 naval utility helicopters at a cost of $1 billion.

The service asked the MoD in July to consider procuring the helicopters from the U.S. under the Foreign Military Sales program, a senior Indian Navy official said.

However, the request was turn down because Indian procurement procedures do not allow for single-supplier preference but instead prefer global competitions through which weapons or platforms are selected based on lowest price.

Commenting on delays in India’s defense procurements, a CEO of a foreign defense company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “MoD must adhere to a strict timeline in selecting the platform and awarding [defense] contracts, otherwise it will lead to huge cost escalation and even the cancellation of the program itself.”

India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance is now kick-starting all major defense programs under the Strategic Partners policy, which is expected to enhance indigenization by cutting imports and boosting exports, according to a second MoD official.

Under this program, 123 naval multirole helicopters costing about $7 billion in the 9- to 12.5-ton categories will be manufactured by a domestic private company with technology transfer from an overseas helicopter original equipment manufacturer.

The helicopters will be built by a private company at a facility in India. The company will be selected though a separate, robust competition requiring technology collaboration with a foreign OEM.

However, no private Indian company has ever built a helicopter platform, but rather only supplied subsystems.

In the next three to four months, an expression of interest will be issued to several private companies including Bharat Forge Limited, Reliance Defence, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Aerospace, and Tata Advanced Systems. The company will be selected on its financial and technical merits, production track record, and infrastructure capabilities.

Likewise, one OEM will be selected based on the technology transfer offer and option for building indigenous technology, building an industrial ecosystem and providing training support.

Both the OEM and the strategic partner will be selected separately by the MoD.

The ministry has already received an initial response to an August request for information from foreign OEMs such as Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Russian Helicopters, the second MoD official said. The final selection will take at least three to five years, and the helicopters will be rolled out in about 10 years.


Sweden offers to produce and export Gripen fighters from India

Reiterating Sweden's commitment to partner with India, Swedish Defence Secretary Jan Salestrand on Tuesday hinted that Sweden may offer to export its state-of-the-art Gripen fighter to the world from India.

In an exclusive interview with Times Now, Salestrand said that in case of a strategic cooperation with India on the Gripen fighter, Sweden "plans" to set up facilities and recruit personnel, who in turn can manufacture the aircraft from Indian soil. Salestrand's comments are significant on the backdrop of a push to Make in India by the present day government.

"They (SAAB- manufacturer of Gripen) plan to build a new plant here in India. They plan and recruit new personnel and set up a full facility. And I think that could be a good idea because it is easier then to get going. Probably, the first planes will be built in Sweden and quickly, the production could be done more or less in India," Salestrand told Times Now.

"We have some Gripen customers already, which we are happy. Brazil is one major customer that we will deliver 36 aircraft to within some years and hopefully, there would be another batch later on. So the more we will be in a very expensive and a technically advanced project like this, the better it will be for everyone. That remains to be seen. I can see that there is a great interest from a number of countries," he further said.

While the Indian government is likely to roll out a Request for Information (RFI) early next year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has expressed an interest in the fighter which was in the competition to India's multirole fighter.

Sweden, it is learnt, has already submitted documents to the Defence Ministry reiterating its commitment to the project, Salestrand said that Sweden looks at India as a strategic partner and that the number of planes to be supplied is "totally up to India".

"As I understand, it is a matter of more than 100 planes in the longer run. That remains to be seen," he said. "We see it as equal level (partnership) and we will try to share as much as we can," he added when asked about the Transfer of Technology.


December 12, 2017

Wrapped In Secrecy: New Report Reveals India’s Push For Building A Nuclear Submarine Fleet

India’s costliest defence project — a Rs 90,000 crore push to develop and construct a fleet of nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines monitored directly by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval — has been making progress away from media glare.
The effort has borne fruit in recent years in the form of INS Arihant – India’s first indigenously built SSBN – a submarine that is powered by a nuclear reactor and is equipped with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. The second Arihant class submarine, INS Arighat, was launched by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a low profile ceremony at the Ship Building Centre (SBC) drydock in Visakhapatnam on 19 November, a report by Sandeep Unnithan of India Today has revealed.

A high-profile launch of Arighat, a move that could have helped the government given elections in Gujarat, was rejected by the Prime Minister’s Office to maintain a high level of secrecy, the report has revealed. Arighat would undergo extensive sea trials for three years before being commissioned into the Indian Navy.
Two other SSBNs, which are still unnamed, will be launched by 2020 and 2022. The two boats will displace 1,000 tonnes more than the Arihant class and will be equipped with eight ballistic missiles or twice the Arihant's missile load. The design was tweeted a decade ago to make space for additional missiles after the then finance minister P Chidambaram questioned the utility of having just four nuclear-tipped missiles on a boat worth billions.
The nuclear reactor for these submarines has been developed by the Atomic Research Centre, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to arm the boats.
It doesn't end here. On 1 December, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba revealed that a Rs 60,000 crore project to build six indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) had been kicked-off by the Navy. SSNs are conventionally armed submarines powered by nuclear reactors. Unlike the SSBNs, these boats do not carry nuclear-tipped missiles. Design work for the submarines, displacing around 6,000 tonnes, is currently underway at the submarine design centre in Gurgaon.
The Navy is also working on a new series of 13,500-tonne ballistic missile submarines. The boats, built under this project, will be capable of carrying 12 nuclear-tipped missiles, compared to four carried by the Arihant-class submarines. Submarines developed under this project, the report says, will be on par with those fielded by the five permanent members of the United Nations. To be built at least a decade from now, the submarines will have 80 per cent. indigenous component.
India is, therefore, working on three different nuclear submarine projects at the same time. Although the effort behind the projects is indigenous with 60 per cent of the component for the Arihant-class being sourced from local manufacturers, the Navy has benefited from close design and technical cooperation with Russia. New Delhi is currently in talks with Moscow to lease another Akula-class submarine to replace the existing INS Chakra after its lease ends in 2022. INS Chakra, having suffered damage in an incident earlier this year, is currently non-operational.
Another important development comes in the form of Project Varsha. The project involves the construction of a nuclear submarine base for the Navy, reportedly at the cost of Rs 30,000 crore by 2022. The base will have concrete pens to securely house one of India’s costliest and most-advanced defence platforms.
Induction of these submarines, many of which are expected to be in active service by the end of the next decade, will strengthen India’s nuclear triad – the ability to launch a nuclear attack from land, air and sea. Although the naval variant of the triad is currently operational with INS Arihant in service, it is not as strong as that of China’s. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has at least four SSBNs in service.
The push for nuclear submarines also assumes greater importance as India has reportedly decided to hold back on its plan to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. A platform that is powered by nuclear reactors can remain operational for an extended period without breaks. Therefore, if India decides to have a conventional aircraft carrier, its reach would remain limited. Nuclear-powered submarines will be the only platforms that would provide the Indian Navy with the option to reach far-off waters.
Additionally, nuclear propulsion helps submarines move faster underwater, making them difficult to locate and track.
While the platforms are being designed and built, India has also been working on the armament. The DRDO has made progress on the K-series missiles, named after former president A P J Abdul Kalam. As part of the series, DRDO has developed K-15 (also called B-05) missile with a range of 750-km. While the K-15 has entered series production, the next missile in the series – K-4 – is in the trial phase.The fourth test of the K-4, which has a range of around 3,500 km, is expected sometime in December, the India Today report says. This will be followed by tests of K-5 missile, a 5,000 km SLBM. Work on the fourth missile in this series – K-6 – began at DRDO's Hyderabad-based Advanced Naval Systems in February. The missile is reported to have a range of 6,000 km.