November 19, 2019

Russia Begins Serial Production Of S-400 Missiles For India

Russia has started the production of S-400 missile defence systems for India and the delivery of the much-anticipated missiles systems is expected to be completed by 2025. This was confirmed by CEO of Rostec Sergei Chemezov told Dubai Airshow 2019.

“The advance payment has been made. I don’t want to specify an exact figure, but there is an advance payment. We have launched production and the work is underway, and everything will be implemented as scheduled. The contract will be fulfilled by 2025,” Chemezov said.

“When it comes to S-400 deliveries, everything goes according to plan,” President Putin had stated on the sidelines of the recently concluded BRICS Summit. “Indian colleague (PM Narendra Modi) did not ask to speed up anything, as everything goes well,” Putin was quoted as saying.

The US has severely opposed the S-400 deal with Russia with the Trump administration threatening to force sanctions on the states that are acquiring weapons and military hardware from Russia.

Senior US officials have cautioned India that the S-400 deal could attract sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law that restrains defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea.

India acquiring the S-400 missile defence system from Russia is a “problem” for the US, Admiral Philip Davidson, who is Commander of Indo-Pacific Command, said in July. However, India has told the US that it does not intend to give up the deal for the purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence missile systems.

The S-400 is the most advanced long-range air defence missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.


French Admiral boasts of Rafale’s role in Navy

With France reportedly keen to now sell Rafale fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy, visiting French Naval Chief Admiral Christophe Prazuck on Monday said he was “extremely satisfied” with the performance of 42 Rafale aircraft in the French Navy that operate from French aircraft carriers.

The French Naval Chief was speaking at thinktank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in the Capital on “French Strategic Vision of the Indo-Pacific”. Asked about his meeting with Indian Naval Chief Admiral Karambir Singh earlier in the day, Admiral Prazuck said the discussions involved the “whole spectrum of naval capabilities”, including the issue of the menace of “terrorism”.

India is already acquiring 36 Rafale fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. On the issue of whether Rafale aircraft could be acquired from France for the Indian Navy, Indian naval sources said, “The Indian Navy’s fighter requirement is under examination”.

On the French strategy for the Indo-Pacific and France’s naval relationship with the “Quad” countries — the United States, India, Japan and Australia — Adm. Prazuck said France had close naval ties individually with all the Quad countries. The Quad, short for “Quadrilateral” refers to the four-nation informal grouping that stands for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. “France is not a member of the Quad but is working closely with each member of this group,” Adm. Prazuck said.

Even though France is situated in Europe, it is also regarded as an Indian Ocean country since a few island territories in the region are part of France.


November 18, 2019

IAF may acquire armed drones

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is going in for a change in its unmanned arsenal. Two types of armed drones with capability to carry missiles are being finalised. The IAF is looking at the armed version of a drone made by US company General Atomics and the armed version of the Israeli “heron”, which the IAF currently uses for surveillance.

Sources confirm that talks are on to acquire 10 “Heron TP” version of the heron family. The Ministry of Defence had okayed the proposal in May last year. “We are working to finalise the deal that is estimated to be $400 million,” sources said. This could be the first drone in the Indian arsenal to have a missile-strike ability hence can be used to hit at targets without sending a man on the mission on board a fighter jet. The armed forces had proposed buying armed drones in 2012.

At present, the IAF has a fleet of “Harop” drones from Israel, which are self-destructing “kamikaze” style drones which can crash into high-value enemy military targets. The Air Force already has an inventory of around 110 of these and in February another 54 were okayed.

The difference is that the missile carrying drone like “heron” can return to the base after firing its missiles, while the “harop” self-destructs onto a target after a command from ground.

The IAF is also keen on getting an armed version of the drones the Indian Navy is acquiring for long range reconnaissance.

There is clarity within the IAF that the armed drone will be an important aspect in any future conflict.The Indian Navy had first announced requirement for 22 Guardian drones in 2016 at an estimated cost of $2 billion. The Guardian is a variant of the Predator family of drones, which is optimised for maritime surveillance.

The IAF will get the “Predator-B” (designated MQ-9 Reaper by the US Air Force). It can carry up to 1.7 tonnes of external stores, including sensors, anti-tank missiles and guided bombs, weighing up to 230 kg each. The heavier payload gives it greater flexibility in striking a diverse number of targets on the ground.


India delaying signing helicopters deal: Russian Helicopters CEO

The head of Russian Helicopters said on Sunday that India was delaying the signing of a firm agreement for purchasing 140 helicopters despite providing all information.

Chief Executive Andrey Boginsky also said it would benefit India if the planned order for over 100 rotorcraft for the Indian Navy could be combined with the 140 India is looking to buy for the Army.

Russian Helicopters is owned by state-owned Russian conglomerate Rostec.

India and Russia signed a deal in 2015 under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Make in India’ programme for the supply of 140 KA 226T helicopters with Russia to deliver 40 and the remaining to be assembled and manufactured in India. The two countries also have held preliminary talks for the supply of over 100 of the KA 226-T helicopters for the Indian Navy, Boginsky said.

"We have done significant successful work and provided all information to India’s ministry of defence, unfortunately there is no efficient and quick way from the Indian side," he told Reuters at the Dubai Air Show.

"We can’t understand the reasons for the delay."

On the order for the Indian Navy, Boginsky said India would benefit from combining both orders to gain more value in enhancing its capabilities.

"The main winner will be India if both orders are joined," he said, adding Russian Helicopters was awaiting a formal request of an order from the Indian Navy.Civilian helicopters account for about 30-35% of Russian Helicopters' total sales while the remaining 65-70% are military choppers. The civilian-military sales ratio is expected to remain the same in the next three years but total sales volumes could increase as Russian Helicopters brings to the market its expanded range of choppers, said Boginsky.

The company is in talks with international customers including some in the Middle East for sale of its new Mi-38 helicopters, he said, declining to elaborate. The new VRT-500 helicopters, with the first flight scheduled for 2021, has seen strong interest from India and some Middle East countries, he said, adding a deal for the VRT-500 will be signed at the ongoing Dubai expo.

“There is strong interest from Indian companies to assemble (VRT 500) in India,” he said.

Russian Helicopters plans to sell 1000 of the VRT-500s by 2035, he said.


‘Absolutely no mercy’: Leaked files show China’s mass detention of Muslims in officials’ own words

  • Leaked documents reveal that President Xi laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches
  • Beijing has sought for decades to suppress Uighur resistance to Chinese rule in Xinjiang
  • Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of China’s ruling Communist Party
The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions in China’s far west.

Instead, they would be told that their relatives and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.

Authorities in the Xinjiang region were worried that the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.

Leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a guide for how to handle their questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?

“They’re in a training school set up by the government,” the prescribed answer began. If pressed, officials were to tell students that their relatives were not criminals — yet could not leave these “schools.”

The question-and-answer script also included a barely concealed threat: Students were to be told that their behavior could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which authorities have corralled as many as 1 million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown.

Key disclosures in the documents include:

— President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31.

— Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan heightened leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown.

— The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region.

— The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way.

— The leaked papers consist of 24 documents. They include nearly 200 pages of internal speeches by Xi and other leaders and more than 150 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. There are also references to plans to extend restrictions on Islam to other parts of China.

Although it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.

Chinese leadership wraps policymaking in secrecy, especially when it comes to Xinjiang, a resource-rich territory located on the sensitive frontier with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region’s population of 25 million. The largest of these groups are the Uighurs, who have long faced discrimination and restrictions on cultural and religious activities.

Beijing has sought for decades to suppress Uighur resistance to Chinese rule in Xinjiang. The current crackdown began after a surge of anti-government and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital, and a May 2014 attack on an outdoor market that killed 39 people just days before Xi convened a leadership conference in Beijing to set a new policy course for Xinjiang.

Since 2017, authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party.

The government sends Xinjiang’s brightest young Uighurs to universities across China, with the goal of training a new generation of Uighur civil servants and teachers loyal to the party.

The crackdown in Xinjiang has been so extensive that it affected even these elite students, the directive shows. And that made authorities nervous.

“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”

The document warned that there was a “serious possibility” students might sink into “turmoil” after learning what had happened to their relatives. It recommended that police officers in plainclothes and experienced local officials meet them as soon as they returned.The directive’s question-and-answer guide begins gently, with officials advised to tell students that they have “absolutely no need to worry” about relatives who have disappeared.

“Tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs,” officials were told to say.

“If you want to see them,” one answer concluded, “we can arrange for you to have a video meeting.”

Authorities anticipated, however, that this was unlikely to mollify students and provided replies to other questions: When will my relatives be released? If this is for training, why can’t they come home? Can they request a leave? How will I afford school if my parents are studying and there is no one to work on the farm?

The guide recommended increasingly firm replies telling the students that their relatives had been “infected” by the “virus” of Islamic radicalism and must be quarantined and cured.

Students should be grateful that authorities had taken their relatives away, the document said.

Authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores and to assess the behavior of students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities.

“Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.”
 If asked about the impact of the detentions on family finances, officials were advised to assure students that “the party and the government will do everything possible to ease your hardships.”

The line that stands out most in the script, however, may be the model answer for how to respond to students who ask of their detained relatives, “Did they commit a crime?”

The document instructed officials to acknowledge that they had not. “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts,” the script said. “Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.”

Secret speeches ::

The ideas driving the mass detentions can be traced back to Xi Jinping’s first and only visit to Xinjiang as China’s leader, a tour shadowed by violence.

In 2014, little more than a year after becoming president, he spent four days in the region, and on the last day of the trip, two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally.

Weeks earlier, militants with knives had gone on a rampage at another railway station, in southwest China, killing 31 people and injuring more than 140. And less than a month after Xi’s visit, assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39.

Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public.
The text of four of them, though, were among the leaked documents.

“The methods that our comrades have at hand are too primitive,” Xi said in one talk, after inspecting a counterterrorism police squad in Urumqi. “None of these weapons is any answer for their big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons.
“We must be as harsh as them,” he added, “and show absolutely no mercy.”

In several surprising passages, Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship, and he rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.

But Xi’s main point was unmistakable: He was leading the party in a sharp turn toward greater repression in Xinjiang.

Before Xi, the party had often described attacks in Xinjiang as the work of a few fanatics. But Xi argued that Islamic extremism had taken root across swaths of Uighur society.

Violence by Uighur militants has never threatened Communist control of the region. Although attacks grew deadlier after 2009, when nearly 200 people died in ethnic riots in Urumqi, they remained relatively small, scattered and unsophisticated.

Even so, Xi warned that the violence was spilling from Xinjiang into other parts of China and could taint the party’s image of strength.Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, responded to the 2009 riots in Urumqi with a clampdown, but he also stressed economic development as a cure for ethnic discontent. But Xi signaled a break with Hu’s approach.

“In recent years, Xinjiang has grown very quickly and the standard of living has consistently risen, but even so, ethnic separatism and terrorist violence have still been on the rise,” he said. “This goes to show that economic development does not automatically bring lasting order and security.”

Ensuring stability in Xinjiang would require a sweeping campaign of surveillance and intelligence gathering to root out resistance in Uighur society, Xi argued.

He said new technology must be part of the solution, foreshadowing the party’s deployment of facial recognition, genetic testing and big data in Xinjiang.

Within months, indoctrination sites began opening across Xinjiang — mostly small facilities at first, which held dozens or hundreds of Uighurs at a time for sessions intended to pressure them into disavowing devotion to Islam and professing gratitude for the party.

Then in August 2016, a hard-liner named Chen was transferred from Tibet to govern Xinjiang. New security controls and a drastic expansion of the indoctrination camps followed.

‘I broke the rules’ ::

In February 2017, Chen told thousands of police officers and troops in Urumqi to prepare for a “smashing, obliterating offensive.” In the following weeks, the documents indicate, leadership settled on plans to detain Uighurs in large numbers.

Chen issued a sweeping order: “Round up everyone who should be rounded up.” The vague phrase appears repeatedly in internal documents from 2017 and was being applied to humans in directives that ordered, with no mention of judicial procedures, the detention of anyone who displayed “symptoms” of religious radicalism or anti-government views.

Authorities laid out dozens of such signs, including common behavior among devout Uighurs such as wearing long beards, giving up smoking or drinking, studying Arabic and praying outside mosques.

The number of people swept into the camps remains a closely guarded secret. But one of the leaked documents offers a hint of the scale of the campaign: It instructed officials to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded facilities.

The orders were especially urgent and contentious in Yarkand County, a collection of rural towns and villages in southern Xinjiang where nearly all of the 900,000 residents are Uighur.

In the 2014 speeches, Xi had singled out southern Xinjiang as the front line in his fight against religious extremism. Uighurs make up close to 90% of the population in the south, compared to just under half in Xinjiang overall.

A few months later, more than 100 Uighur militants armed with axes and knives attacked a government office and police station in Yarkand, killing 37 people, according to government reports. In the battle, security forces shot dead 59 assailants.

An official named Wang Yongzhi was appointed to run Yarkand soon afterward. But among the most revealing documents in the leaked papers are two that describe Wang’s downfall — an 11-page report summarizing the party’s internal investigation into his actions and the text of a 15-page confession that he may have given under duress. Both were distributed inside the party as a warning to officials to fall in line behind the crackdown.

Wang set about beefing up security in Yarkand, but he also pushed economic development to address ethnic discontent. And he sought to soften the party’s religious policies, declaring that there was nothing wrong with having a Quran at home and encouraging party officials to read it to better understand Uighur traditions.
 When the mass detentions began, Wang did as he was told at first. He built two sprawling new detention facilities and herded 20,000 people into them.

But privately, Wang had misgivings, according to the confession that he later signed, which would have been carefully vetted by the party.

He was under intense pressure to prevent an outburst of violence in Yarkand and worried the crackdown would provoke a backlash.

Leadership had set goals to reduce poverty in Xinjiang. But with so many working-age residents being sent to the camps, Wang was afraid the targets would be out of reach.

Secret teams of investigators traveled across the region identifying those who were not doing enough. In 2017, the party opened more than 12,000 investigations into party members in Xinjiang for infractions in the “fight against separatism.”

Wang may have gone further than any other official. Quietly, he ordered the release of more than 7,000 camp inmates — an act of defiance for which he would be detained, stripped of power and prosecuted.

“Without approval and on my own initiative,” he added, “I broke the rules.”Wang quietly disappeared from public view after September 2017. About six months later, the party made an example of him.

Both the report and Wang’s confession were read aloud to officials across Xinjiang. But Wang’s greatest political sin was not revealed to the public. Instead, authorities hid it in the internal report.

“He refused,” it said, “to round up everyone who should be rounded up.”


US emerges as safe soil for Khalistan forces

A pro-Khalistan group that is funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is running a massive anti-India social media campaign while operating from the heart of the United States of America.

On 10 September, as part of the ISI’s renewed focus to internationalise “Kashmir-Khalistan”, a company—Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front (KKRF)—was registered in Washington. The address of the company is ‘910, 17th street, N.W suite, Washington and the directors of the said company are Ghazala Khan, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and Muhammad Yunus.

While not much is known about Ghazala Khan and Muhammad Yunus at this stage, Pannun was, and probably still is, associated with another US-based pro Khalistan group, “Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)”, which was in news for pushing “Sikh Referendum 2020’. The group has ignored any mention of the genocide of Sikhs in Punjab during 1946-48 and the steady fall in the number and influence of the Sikhs remaining in Pakistan. Their office-bearers are in frequent contact with Pakistani diplomats in New York, Chicago and Washington.

The Sunday Guardian has found that the KKRF is also running a massive social media campaign to instigate people in the name of “Greater Khalistan” for which it is operating a website, a Twitter profile, a Facebook page and an Instagram profile in the same name.

The said website was made operational in October, while the Facebook page became operational in July 2019.

Pannun, who was encouraged by the ISI to present himself as a “human-rights” lawyer to gain legitimacy in the western world, “runs” a law firm that claims to have two separate offices in California and New York. One of the registered office address of his law firm—75-20 Astoria Blvd Suite 170 Jackson Heights, New York—is also given on “yes2khalistanorg”, which, as then name suggests, is another prominent pro-Khalistan website that was registered in July 2010, but updated on 25 September 2019.

Pannun’s Twitter account was blocked in June 2019 after he was found to be using the said platform to instigate Sikh youths to take up arms for a separate Khalistan. Earlier, on 13 November 2015, the United States District Court of the Northern District of California had dismissed a case filed by Panun’s Sikhs for Justice’s (SFJ) against Facebook for allegedly blocking the group’s page from users in India.

With pro-Khalistan forces being allowed to run their anti-India campaign from US soil without any hindrance, questions are being raised in the Indian intelligence circles as to why the US government under President Donald Trump is ignoring such anti-India activities. “Why it is ignoring the glorification of terrorists and the incitement to violence in parts of India? Imagine such a secessionist anti-US agenda running from Indian soil—would the US government accept it?” a senior official in the Ministry of Home Affairs asked.


November 16, 2019

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurates Sisseri River Bridge in Arunachal Pradesh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the important Sisseri River bridge at Lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Informing about the event, Bharat Bhushan Babu, spokesperson, Ministry of Defence said, “The 200-metre long bridge between Jonai-Pasighat-Ranaghat-Roing road will provide connectivity between Dibang Valley and Siang to meet the long-pending demand of the people of Arunachal Pradesh as it would cut down the travel time from Pasighat to Roing by about five hours.”

Adding further Spokesperson told, the Sisseri River bridge provides connectivity to Tinsukia via Dhola-Sadia bridge. It was constructed by Project Brahmank of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). This bridge is also strategically important from a military viewpoint and will be a part of Trans Arunachal Highway.

Defence Minister said the bridge will play an important role in the overall development of the area.

To maintain and develop the difficult geographical terrain and strategically important area, BRO has four projects in Arunachal Pradesh namely Vartak, Arunank, Brahmank and Udayak.

It immensely contributes to the socio-economic development of the region.

Speaking on the occasion, the Defence Minister said, “Infrastructural upgradation is necessary for the security of the North-East and the entire country”.Rajnath Singh talked about the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) keeping in view security of the people residing in the border areas.

He said, “The Government has initiated numerous infrastructure projects in the state including the proposed Bhalukpong – Tenga - Tawang railway line, operationalisation of Pasighat airport, a nod to Hollongi airport and approval to construct Sela Pass tunnel.”

The Government is committed to establishing strong and efficient roadways, railways, airways, waterways and digital network in the region, added the Minister.

He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), keeping in mind the economic interests of the country, especially the North-East.

Talking about the benefits of the Government’s Act East Policy he said it would open new doors of rapid infrastructural development in the North-East, especially Arunachal Pradesh and would also act as a bridge between India and South-East Asian countries.

Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Director General Border Roads Lt General Harpal Singh and Arunachal East Member of Parliament Tapir Gao were also present on the occasion.


India for higher indigenous content in Ka-226 choppers

India wants higher indigenous content in the Kamov-226T light utility choppers which are to be jointly built in the country with Russia, two officials familiar with the move said on condition of anonymity. The Kamovs will serve as a replacement for the military’s ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

India has told the Russians to review the level of indigenisation to take the local content of the Ka-226Ts to be manufactured at Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to beyond the existing figure that stands at around 60%, the first official said.

The Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL), a joint venture between HAL and Russian Helicopters and Rosoborobexport, was incorporated in May 2017 for the production and supply of around 200 Kamov helicopters. Of these 60 are expected to come from Russia in flyaway condition and the remaining are to be built at HAL.

“We are waiting to hear from them as to how a higher level of indigenisation can be facilitated. That has caused some delay. The final number of helicopters could also be reworked based on the response from the Russian side,” said the second official. HAL owns 50.5% of the venture, Russian Helicopters, 42.5% and Rosoboronexport, 7%.

Experts said India should seek higher indigenisation in weapons and systems being jointly manufactured with original equipment manufacturers in the country in line with the Make in India initiative.“The Ka-226 has been awaited for long as the Chetak-Cheetah fleet has been overworked and is showing signs of age, witnessed by the large number of incidents that are happening. A high indigenous content should be insisted upon as part of our drive to get manufacturing in India,” said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.

HAL is also working on a light utility helicopter (LUH) of its own. The locally designed and developed LUH has completed rigourous trials in high altitude and hot weather and is inching towards getting operational clearance.

The LUH is expected to meet a combined army and air force requirement for 187 choppers. It is being developed as a replacement for the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are a lifeline for troops in high-altitude areas. The Chetaks and Cheetahs will be replaced by a mix of LUH and the Kamov-226T choppers. The three-tonne LUH is capable of flying at a speed of 220 kmph with a service ceiling of 6.5 km.


November 15, 2019

S-400 missile defence system delivery on track, India makes $850 million payment

The timeframe for the supply of S-400 missile defence systems by Russia to India remains on track with the latter having made the first payment of $850 million for the big-ticket defence deal worth more than $5 billion, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.

The payment, amounting to about 15% of the total deal, was made in September though a special mechanism worked out by the two sides to avert attracting sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of the US, the people cited above added.

The people declined to go into details of the mechanism, given the sensitivity of the issues involved.

Over the past few months, India and Russia focused on alternative payment mechanisms to overcome the impact of potential US sanctions, including trade through a rupee-rouble mechanism (in which payments are made in rupees and roubles) or payments in euros for military hardware.

“There had been some concerns about the delivery schedule for all the five systems being delayed to 2025. But with the payment having been made, the first system is expected to be delivered in 16 to 18 months,” said one of the people cited in the first instance.

India and Russia had signed a deal worth an estimated $5.4-billion for five S-400 systems during the annual summit of leaders of the two countries in October last year. Russian officials said then that the first system was expected to be delivered by 2020 and that all deliveries would be completed in a five-year period.

Washington has repeatedly pressured New Delhi not to go ahead with the S-400 deal or other purchases of military hardware from Russia, which continues to account for about 60% of India’s military hardware. US officials have also expressed concern the S-400 could capture electronic signatures of American-origin military equipment and aerial platforms used by India and compromise them.

However, following a meeting with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in October, external affairs minister S Jaishankar defended India’s “sovereign right” to buy weapons and said the country won’t be told by any state to not buy military hardware from Russia. Indian officials have also said the country meets the criteria for a waiver from US sanctions on the S-400 deal and that New Delhi can’t “wish away” its long-standing defence ties with Moscow.

The US has also pressured Turkey to scrap a deal for S-400 systems, with President Donald Trump saying after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that the acquisition of such sophisticated weapons “creates some very serious challenges for us”. The S-400 issue prompted the US to eject Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter programme.

In a recent letter to Erdogan, Trump warned he would have to impose sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of the S-400 systems.

When Roman Babushkin, the deputy chief of the Russian mission in New Delhi, was asked during an interaction on Tuesday if Trump’s threat could have implications for India, he replied: “Turkey is a clear demonstration that national interests are more important than satisfying the interests of some other countries. This is the case for India as well.”

In an apparent reference to efforts to overcome potential US sanctions, Babushkin added, “India needs the best air defence system and Russia will provide it. It depends on bilateral interests and we need to be safe from outside pressure. We are working with India on that.”


1962 conflict with China significantly damaged India's standing at world stage: S Jaishankar

India's position at world stage seemed assured but the 1962 conflict with China significantly damaged the country's standing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday. Delivering the fourth Ramnath Goenka memorial lecture, he also said the Simla agreement of 1972 resulted in a revanchist Pakistan continuing problems in Jammu and Kashmir.

In his address, Jaishankar touched upon a variety of issues while giving a run down of India's external engagement over the last few decades.

"If the world is different (today), we need to think, talk and engage accordingly. Falling back is unlikely to help," he said, adding "purposeful pursuit of national interest is shifting global dynamics."

Highlighting India's new approach in dealing with terrorism, he compared "lack of response" to the Mumbai terror attack to the way the country responded to the Uri and Pulwama strikes.

On India walking away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the external affairs minister said no agreement was better than having a bad agreement.

Giving a historical perspective to geopolitical issues, Jaishankar said, "For years India's position on the world state seemed assured, but the 1962 conflict with China significantly damaged India's standing." The Ramnath Goenka memorial lecture has been organised by the Indian Express Group.


This Is What China Has To Fear From India's BrahMos Missiles

While many of us remain mesmerized by the unfolding shambles in the Middle East, the world’s two most populous countries have gotten into a tiff over missiles. And I’m not referring to the ballistic kind for once.

“India deploying supersonic missiles on the border has exceeded its own needs for self-defense and poses a serious threat to China’s Tibet and Yunnan provinces,” complained the People’s Liberation Army Daily. “The deployment of BrahMos missile is bound to increase the competition and antagonism in the China–India relations and will have a negative impact on the stability of the region.”

“Our threat perceptions and security concerns are our own, and how we address these by deploying assets on our territory should be no one else's concern,” an Indian military source sniffed in response.

We’ll first look at the BrahMos’s capabilities and why they are considered a big deal, then plunge into why their deployment and export by is perceived as such a threat by China.

Indeed, the BrahMos cruise missile is stealthy, fast and extremely difficult to shoot down. It also has become a point of contention in a complicated web of overlapping alliances between India, China, Russia and potentially Vietnam.

Supersonic Carrier Killers ::

BrahMos began in the 1990s as a joint project between Russia and India to develop an Indian version of the P-800 Oniks cruise missile. The missile’s name is a portmanteau of the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in India and Russia, respectively.

Cruise missiles are designed to be fired at long ranges from their targets so as not to expose the launching platform to enemy retaliation. The quintessential cruise missile is the Tomahawk, developed in the United States. Fired by ships and aircraft, the 2,900-pound missile can cruise up to one thousand miles (depending on the model) at a speed of five hundred miles per hour—roughly the speed of a typical airliner—before slamming into its target.

During the Cold War, Russia developed a different style of cruise missile designed to take out American aircraft carriers. These flew over the speed of sound to better evade the carrier’s defenses—which include air-to-air missiles fired by fighters, surface-to-air missiles and Gatling-cannon Close-in weapon systems, or CIWS. They were also larger to increase the likelihood of achieving a kill in one hit.

Ramjets were used to maintain high speeds over long distances. A ramjet uses incoming air at high speeds to achieve compression instead of using a compressor, saving on fuel. However, a ramjet needs a boost from another source to help it achieve that airflow in the first place. In the case of the BrahMos, a rocket provides the initial acceleration before the ramjet takes over.

The BrahMos is actually slightly faster at Mach 2.8 than the P-800. It also weighs twice as much as a Tomahawk, at six thousand pounds.

The combination of twice the weight and four times greater speed as a Tomahawk result in vastly more kinetic energy when striking the target. Despite having a smaller warhead, the effects on impact are devastating.

Even more importantly, the BrahMos’s ability to maintain supersonic speeds while skimming at low altitude makes it very difficult to detect and intercept. To cap it off, the BrahMos performs an evasive “S-maneuver” shortly before impact, making it difficult to shoot down at close range.

A modern ship targeted by the BrahMos could respond with layered defenses to shoot down the missiles: ripple-fired medium- and short-range antiaircraft missiles and close-range CIWS. But an effective attack would involve firing multiple missiles in order to overwhelm these defensive countermeasures.

If the attack is launched within 120 kilometers of the target, it can skim at very low altitude the entire way to the target. While missiles can be detected earlier if benefiting from AWACs aircraft, a ship would likely detect a sea-skimming missile at range of only thirty kilometers, affording the vessel only a thirty second time window to respond. One intriguing analysis argues that a U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, with its layered air defenses, could not handle more twelve BrahMos missiles at once and that an entire carrier battle group would be saturated by more than sixty-four.

Of course, though India has some unpleasant memories of an encounter with a U.S. carrier group in the past, they probably have a different foe in mind.

In any case, the BrahMos has a major limitation…

The Missile Technology Control Regime ::

The BrahMos has a relatively short range—only 190 miles (290 kilometers)—under half the range of the Russian Oniks missile. This means that BrahMos launch platforms need to be relatively close to their targets—potentially within ranges they may be detected and fired back at.

This was purposefully done in order to conform to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a partnership of thirty-five countries which restricts the export of cruises missiles with ranges over three hundred kilometers. Russia is a member of the partnership—and just this June 28, India acceded into membership. And here we get into some interesting geopolitical strategy.

China is not a member of the regime, but would dearly appreciate the chance to deal in the market. India, on the other hand, would like to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group which regulates which nuclear technologies are permitted for trade. But China blocked its accession in June this year.

By adhering to the MTCR, India gained access to it—and now hopes to use that access as leverage versus China. Notionally, they could arrange a quid pro quo trading Indian NSG membership for Chinese admission to the MTCR. Whether it will work out that way remains to be seen.

Multiple Targets for Multiple Launchers ::

The BrahMos isn’t just an antishipping weapon—it also can hit ground-based targets, and is ideal for precision attacks against fixed installations such as radars, command centers, airbases and enemy missile batteries. It can also potentially carry a 660-pound nuclear warhead, though that doesn’t appear to be its primary intended use.

There are quite a few variants of the BrahMos missile designed to be used by the different platforms of the Indian military against either land or naval targets.

The Indian Navy’s BrahMos missiles mostly use eight-cell Vertical Launch System launchers. Six of its frigates and two destroyers have a single BrahMos launcher, while three of its destroyers have twin launchers. More BrahMos equipped ships are under construction.

The Navy has also successfully tested in 2013 a submarine-launched version which is expected to enter service in future vessels. Submarine-launched BrahMoses could potentially be launched fairly close to the target without being detected.

India has also developed the BrahMos-A, designed to be launched from its Su-30MKI strike fighters. Finding a ways to mount such a heavy missile on a fighter plane has taken years of work—in the end, the Su-30s had to be specially modified for the task. The first test flight was carried out in June this year. India has already requisitioned two hundred BrahMos-As, and plans to convert forty Su-30MKIs to carry them. This offers yet another flexible means to deliver the missiles close enough to their intended targets.

Finally, there are ground-launched Mobile Autonomous Launcher systems mounted on twelve-wheeler trucks. These are organized in regiments of five launchers with over 100 missiles. India is deploying a fourth missile regiment to Arunachal Pradesh, reportedly at cost of over 4,300 crore (over $640 million dollars.)

These are what have spooked the Chinese military, particularly since the new Block III missiles are designed to steep dive at seventy-degree angles to hit targets on the rear slopes of mountains. This has obvious application against the heavily militarized Himalayan border with China.

that India is pressing ahead with the development of even deadlier BrahMos variants. To begin with, some reports imply India tested in 2012 a version with a new satellite guidance system and a range of five hundred kilometers. Some argue that even the regular BrahMos may be capable of going further than its claimed 290-kilometer range.

India will also soon introduce the next-generation BrahMos-NG, which is smaller (only three thousand pounds,) faster (Mach 3.5,) and stealthier (smaller Radar-Cross Section.) It should be deployable from land, sea and air systems, including multiple missiles carried on fourth-generation fighters.

Additionally, India will soon be testing a scramjet-powered hypersonic BrahMos II missile capable of zipping along at Mach 7. Needless to say, these would be even harder to detect and shoot down and afford defending ships just seconds to react. The U.S. military has only just begun development a hypersonic missile of its own.

Russia, for its part, has appreciated the BrahMos’s commercial success, but seems to have only limited intention of fielding it: it may potentially deploy the system to Gorshkov-class frigates. It has more capable Zircon missiles (believed to be the model for the BrahMos II) in development and longer-range Oniks missiles already in service.

Showdown Over the Himalayas—and the South China Sea?

The BrahMos is a new game piece in India’s tense relationship with China. Chinese troops invaded India’s Himalayan border in a 1962 war that is still bitterly remembered in India. In the last decade, the Chinese border garrisons began to rapidly increase in size, leading to similar escalation on the Indian side. China’s close relationship with India’s historical enemy, Pakistan, and its development of military base in Gwadhar, Pakistan—seen as an attempt to encircle India—are another source of tension.

In the fall of 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in order to improve relations. However, a group of Chinese border troops appeared to have disregarded the civilian leadership and launched an embarrassing (though fortunately nonviolent) standoff that cast a shadow on any progress made.

The BrahMos cannot reach very far into Chinese. Although China is upset about the BrahMos missile’s presence on its border, it probably should be more worried that India is announcing it is close to a deal for selling the weapon to Vietnam.

Suffice to say, relations between China and Vietnam have a very long and complicated history, including a war in 1979. They recently have chilled over Chinese claims to the South China Sea. A particularly low point came with a Chinese oil expedition in 2014 that began drilling in Vietnamese-claimed waters, causing violent protests and a naval confrontation.

The Vietnamese Navy isn’t going to match China’s rapidly expanding flotilla any time soon. But small Vietnamese ships with BrahMos missiles could pose a major threat to China’s larger military vessel. Thus, if Vietnam does acquire the weapon, this would affect the balance of power in the Pacific.

Therefore, India may attempt to cultivate an alliance with Vietnam in order to counterbalance China.

Other countries interested in the BrahMos include Malaysia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, South Africa and Indonesia.

Reading the Cruise Missile Tea Leaves ::

The politics of the BrahMos system also highlights the limited potential of a Chinese-Russian alliance. Russia historically has strong ties with both India and Vietnam. It’s relationship with China has been more complicated (notice how that word keeps showing up?) After an energy agreement in 2014, there has been much speculation of a Chinese–Russian alliance based on shared authoritarian ideology and a desire to counterbalance the United States. However, the sale of the BrahMos missile to India and Vietnam illustrates that while Russia wishes to remain on good terms with all three countries, it is not yet committed to an alliance with China the expense of its economic interests or its own concerns with its powerful neighbor.

What can China do in response to the threat posed by the BrahMos missile?

Simple! It can de-escalate the conflict with India. India is a democracy with all the messy internal political deliberations that implies—it’s not about to launch a massive surprise invasion of the Himalayas. A well-managed de-escalation wouldn’t have to carry a huge political cost. The average Chinese citizen likely doesn’t have strong feelings on the precise boundaries of the McMahon line.

Disputes over lightly populated Himalayan mountains shouldn’t constitute a truly substantive conflict of interest between the two countries—but they have been allowed to flourish into full blown military competition. It is obvious the two Asian powers are wary of each other. But both would be better served by reciprocated d├ętente, allowing billions spent fortifying the border to be redirected to the economic needs of the two countries.


November 13, 2019

Indian Army’s M777 regiment to get 3 made-in-India guns

The Indian Army’s first regiment of ultra-light howitzers is expected to consist of 15 ready-built M777s supplied by the US, and three locally built guns that will represent the country’s Make in India push for military hardware, two officials familiar with the move said.

The howitzers will be delivered to the army by the year-end, enabling the force to raise the first of its planned seven M777 regiments early next year, said one of the officials cited above who asked not to be named.

India ordered 145 howitzers from the US for $750 million in November 2016. As part of the deal, M777 manufacturer BAE Systems will supply 25 ready-built howitzers and the remaining 120 guns are being built locally in collaboration with Mahindra Defence Systems Limited under the Modi government’s Make in India initiative.

Of the 18 howitzers with which the army is raising its first regiment, 15 are being supplied by BAE Systems and three by its Indian partner Mahindra Defence, said the second official, also on condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for Mahindra Defence declined to comment.

“The parallel induction of imported howitzers and the locally assembled ones serves the army’s interests. The rate of production will be higher and delivery faster under such an arrangement. Also, if there are any issues with the howitzers, the army can quickly reach out to the original equipment manufacturer and the Indian partner,” said Lieutenant General Subrata Saha (retd), who was the army’s deputy chief when the M777 deal was inked three years ago. The army is likely to get all the 145 howitzers by the end of 2021.

Saha also said that the M777s were an important part of the army’s field artillery rationalisation plan (FARP) as the guns were designed for flexible deployment in mountainous terrain.

The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers can be sling-loaded to Boeing CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters and swiftly deployed to high-altitude areas to provide accurate artillery fire support. India ordered 15 Chinook helicopters from the US for $1.18 billion in September 2015. Six of them have already been delivered.

The army is preparing to deploy its new M777s in eastern Arunachal Pradesh and the howitzers could prove to be a game-changer in the sector due to their tactical mobility, as reported by HT on October 7.

The howitzers have a range of 24-30 km.

The ~50,000-crore FARP lays down the road map for inducting new 155mm weaponry, including tracked self-propelled guns, truck-mounted gun systems, towed artillery pieces and wheeled self-propelled guns. The plan seeks to equip 169 artillery regiments with a mix of nearly 3,000 guns over the next eight to 10 years.

The M777s were the first artillery guns to be ordered after the Bofors scandal unfolded in the late 1980s. These howitzers have superior tactical mobility as they are made from titanium and aluminum alloys and weigh only 4,218 kg, which is half the weight of conventional artillery guns deployed in the northern and eastern sectors.

Apart from the M777s, some of the other Make in India projects include local production of AK-203 assault rifles and K9 VAJRA-T artillery guns.