August 16, 2019

‘Jai Hind… help free Balochistan from Pakistan’: Baloch activists to India on Independence Day

Irrespective of being a province within the territory of Pakistan, people of Balochistan on Thursday expressed their solidarity with Indians on the occasion of the country’s 73rd Independence Day and said they need India’s support to free their land from the domination of Pakistan and its military establishment.

“I want to wish my Indian brothers and sisters a very happy Independence Day. The success they have made in the last 70 years makes Indians proud. Today, Indians are proud all around the world. We Balochs are thankful for their solidarity and help. We want them to raise their voice for a free Balochistan. We need their support. Thank you and Jai Hind,” said Baloch activist, Atta Baloch.

Balochistan, the most volatile province in the southwestern borders of Pakistan has been struggling since 1948 against Pakistani occupation. The Baloch people say that they got independence from the British on August 11, 1947.

The province, rich in natural gas fields, has also accused China of plundering their economic wealth especially after the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Another Baloch activist, Ashraf Sherjan, also after wishing India on this occasion urged the latter to “raise Balochistan officially in all forms, including the United Nations.”

“I wish a very happy Independence Day to all my Indian brothers and sisters. We appeal to India to raise Balochistan officially in all forms, including the United Nations. The people of Balochistan are suffering genocide at the hands of Pakistan and its military establishment,” Sherjan said.

“Balochistan is bleeding,” he added.

The activist further requested India to be “please be the voice of the voiceless” and concluded his remarks by calling out loud in Hindi, “Bharat mata ki jai.”

On August 14, Pakistan observed its Independence Day as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’, in a protest against India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 that accorded Jammu and Kashmir with special status and passing a bill, which bifurcated the region into two Union Territories.

However, the cash-strapped nation was left red-faced after #BalochistanSolidarityDay and #14AugustBlackDay started trending on Twitter with more than 100,000 tweets and 54,000 tweets, respectively.

At a time when Islamabad has been urging the UN Security Council to take action over Kashmiris in the wake of changing status of Jammu and Kashmir, it is worth mentioning that the human rights violations in Balochistan, the most volatile province in Pakistan, have already drawn concerns of the international community and other human rights watchdogs.


August 14, 2019

Rafale jets coming to India! IAF to receive first batch of French fighters in September

Indian Air Force (IAF) is getting ready to receive the first batch of four `Rafale’ fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation in France next month.

These state-of-the-art Rafale fighter planes are twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft, nuclear-capable and can engage in both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks. After receiving these combat aircraft equipped with Meteor missile, SCALP ground attack missiles with a range of up to 300 Kms will undergo extensive trials before being formally inducted in the service in 2020. These aircraft are also fitted with AESA radar, SPECTRA Electronic Warfare System and IRST System.

IAF pilots and ground crews are undergoing extensive training in France and will test these machines intensively for 1,500 hours for validating the specifications requested by India. These new machines will be based at Ambala Airbase in ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron which is closer to the Western border with Pakistan. The Ambala Airbase is also home to the Jaguars, which due to their rapid deployment capabilities is deployed to deal with incidents from Pakistan.

The other squadron of the Rafale fighters are expected to be based out of Hashimara, West Bengal and this will be in an effort to tackle any incidents coming from China, according to sources.

The pilots of the IAF have had an opportunity to fly these aircraft at the recently concluded Garuda joint Air Force exercise, where the French side had sent in Rafale and Mirage aircraft for the war games. Even during Ex-Varuna joint naval exercise, The French side had sent in Rafale aircraft which were in a combat drill with Indian Navy’s Russian MiG-29 K fighter machines.

These four aircraft are being delivered in September to the IAF as per the contract and the whole order of 36 fighter jets (two squadrons) will be concluded in the next two years. The contract for 36 fighter jets was inked in September 2016, with the French government and Dassault Aviation for around Euro 7.8 billion.


‘Be honest, Kashmir was never yours,’ Islamic scholar slams Pakistan

Kashmir was never a part of Pakistan, or will be a part of it, a controversial Islamic scholar has told Pakistan, asking it to face the situation with “honesty”.

“Kashmir was never part of Pakistan. Kashmir will never be part of Pakistan. Both Pakistan and Kashmir belong to India. Muslims converting from Hinduism to Islam... doesn’t change the fact that the entire region is Hindu Land. India is older than Islam let alone Pakistan. Be honest..,” Imam Mohamad Tawhidi said in a tweet.

Imam Mohamad Tawhidi

Kashmir was never part of Pakistan. Kashmir will never be part of Pakistan.
Both Pakistan and Kashmir belong to India. Muslims converting from Hinduism to Islam doesn’t change the fact that the entire region is Hindu Land. India is older than Islam let alone Pakistan. Be honest..

Tawhidi, whose Twitter handle “@imam of peace”, describes him as a “peace advocate”, a “reformist imam”, and “national bestselling author”, who rejects extremists, and both the far-left/far-right”, had even earlier said his position was consistent that Kashmir was “Hindu land” that never belonged to Pakistan, and he re-affirmed this during his last visit to India.


Target Indian forces in J&K, make it seem like Kashmiri protest: Pakistan to terrorists

Hassled by the calm in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of Article 370 being revoked, Pakistan is learnt to have instructed terrorists to target Indian forces in the union territory but make it seem like the locals are agitating.

Pakistan, known to shelter and support terrorist organisations to wage proxy wars against India, has been frustrated by the peace in Jammu and Kashmir as well as by the country's inability to conjure world opinion to its liking. While on the one hand, the country has reportedly mobilised more troops on the Line of Control, Indian intelligence agencies say Pakistan has also looked at pushing in terrorists to create violence in Jammu and Kashmir. According to one such report, these terrorists have been told to instigate protests and stone-pelting without directly taking part in these.

The terrorists have also been told to attack Indian security installations but in a way that would make it seem like the work of locals in Jammu and Kashmir.

Such under-hand tactics have long been part of Pakistan's nefarious ways in a bid to internationalise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. While India has strongly underlined that matters of Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter - a stand backed by the global community, New Delhi also maintains that any dispute related to Kashmir is bilateral in nature and needs no intervention from a third party. India has also maintained that peace talks cannot happen till Pakistan provides support and shelter to terrorists.

In Pakistan, there has been a sense of uneasy urgency to make India appear in the bad light after the decision to revoke Article 370. Imran Khan has openly said that a Pulwama-type attack could take place while some of the country's top politicians have taken to Twitter to try an instigate people. All of these words and actions have come to a nought as peace and calm has prevailed in Jammu and Kashmir.


August 13, 2019

UPA Freed 25 Jihadis as ‘Goodwill Gesture’ to Pakistan 18 months after 26/11

The UPA-2 Government led by PM Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had released 25 hardcore Pakistani terrorists lodged in various jails of Bharat to Pakistan in May, 2010 as a ‘goodwill gesture’ in an effort to ‘repair ties with Pakistan’. This shocking revelation was made in a recent news report –

“This was one “goodwill gesture” which spectacularly boomeranged on the UPA government. Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terrorist Shahid Latif, chief handler of the fidayeen squad that attacked the Pathankot airbase in January 2016, was released by India in 2010 as part of the Manmohan Singh government’s effort to repair ties with Pakistan.

High-level sources told TOI that 47-year-old Latif, who was in an Indian jail for 11 years for acts of terrorism, was among 25 militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and JeM who were freed on May 28, 2010, as part of the Centre’s outreach to the hostile neighbour. They were lodged in jails in Jammu, Srinagar, Agra, Varanasi, Naini (UP) and Tihar, and were deported to Pakistan through Wagah.

Interestingly, Latif’s release was sought by the same Jaish terrorists who had hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and managed to get their chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, freed along with two others in exchange for 154 passengers in December 1999. However, the then Vajpayee government had refused to release Latif and 31 others on Jaish’s “wish list”.

Latif acts as main handler of JeM terrorists in India.

In 1999, the NDA government freed Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar and Omar Sheikh, an alumnus of London School of Economics who courted further notoriety by kidnapping and killing American journalist Daniel Pearl.

The AI hijack plot was conceived and executed with the support of ISI. However, what the Pakistani spy agency and its terrorist proxies could not accomplish by taking innocent passengers hostage, they managed to achieve by guile — by persuading the Manmohan Singh government that the release of Pakistanis detained in Indian jails on terror charges would be received well with their constituents and help create a conducive atmosphere for rapprochement.”

Why And How Was This Kept Secret For So Long?

Congress President Sonia Gandhi routinely tom-toms the RTI (Right to Information) Act passed by UPA-1 as one of the key achievements of the Congress under her rule. So why did her party and Government not share this decision to release 25 hardcore terrorists with the citizens of Bharat?
What was the compelling need to show ‘goodwill’ to Pakistan just 18 months after the dastardly 26/11/08 Mumbai terror attack (where 164 people were killed and 308 wounded), an attack that was carried out by terror org LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) in collaboration with ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency)?
Did we at least manage to free some of the Bharatiyas languishing in Pakistani jails like Sarabjit Singh (who died in 2013 in a Lahore jail) in return?
If this was a unilateral act of magnanimity by Bharat, why did we not publicize the release to build some kind of moral & international pressure on Pakistan to stop using Islamic terror as a weapon against Bharat?

Questions are aplenty, but sadly none of the big-shots in our media will bother or dare to question the Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi or ex-PM Manmohan Singh on this vital issue. Instead, the so-called ‘best & brightest’ of our media does what it does best – protect the Congress by misleading the public and creating false equivalences –

This man, Shekhar Gupta, was editor in chief of one of the leading English newspapers Indian Express, at the time this surreptitious deal between UPA and Pakistan was struck. He was the one who ran a fake ‘coup’ story in Indian Express to malign then Army Chief VK Singh who had rubbed various Congress leaders the wrong way. This profile of Gupta titled ‘How profit and principle shaped the journalism of Shekhar Gupta’ reveals his close relationship with P Chidambaram (senior Congress leader and former Finance & Home Minister in UPA-1 & 2) –

So it is no surprise that Shekhar Gupta and his fellow travelers in national media like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Prannoy Roy, Sagarika Ghose, Karan Thapar, Shobhana Bharatiya etc. will try to suppress or deflect this damning revelation now – it beggars belief that this Lutyen’s Delhi cabal was unaware of this unconditional terrorist release back in 2010; most likely, they knew about it but kept mum so as not to displease their Congress paymasters or because they belong to the ‘Aman ki Asha’ with Pakistan peacenik camp.

What ISI couldn’t achieve through IC-814 hijack, UPA Gave on a platter ::

This is the most damning part of the whole story: The hijackers of IC-814 had demanded the NDA Government to release 35 terrorists in exchange of 154 hijacked passengers. The NDA negotiators brought the hijackers down to 3 terrorists (Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar and Omar Sheikh) who were finally released after an excruciating public drama played up in media wherein the families of the hijacked civilians pleaded directly with the Government. One of the terrorists which the NDA Government had refused to release was Shahid Latif, chief handler of JeM in Bharat – Latif was one of the 25 terrorists released as a ‘goodwill gesture’ by UPA-2 and he went on to handle the fidayeen squad that attacked the Pathankot airbase in January this year.

The skeletons are tumbling out of the Congress cupboard fast and thick now – while UPA was booted out of power due to mega-corruption and poor governance, the most serious damage they did was to our national security, both internal and external. The Ishrat Jehan saga, ‘saffron terror’ bogey, and now this unilateral release of 25 Pakistani jihadis – all episodes prove that Congress under its present leadership poses a clear threat to the nation; while one hopes that the wheels of justice will turn slowly and interminably to punish Sonia Gandhi and other senior Congress stalwarts, at least in the court of public opinion (i.e elections) the people of this country seem to have learnt this lesson as the recent assembly election results show.


Russia's Su-35 Fighter: Can It Kill American F-15s, F-22s and Even F-35s?

The Su-35 has twelve to fourteen weapons hardpoints, giving it an excellent loadout compared to the eight hardpoints on the F-15C and F-22, or the four internally stowed missiles on the F-35.

The Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E is the top Russian air-superiority fighter in service today, and represents the pinnacle of fourth-generation jet fighter design. It will remain so until Russia succeeds in bringing its fifth-generation PAK-FA stealth fighter into production.

Distinguished by its unrivaled maneuverability, most of the Su-35’s electronics and weapons capabilities have caught up with those of Western equivalents, like the F-15 Eagle. But while it may be a deadly adversary to F-15s, Eurofighters and Rafales, the big question mark remains how effectively it can contend with fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the F-22 and F-35.

The Su-35 is an evolution of the Su-27 Flanker, a late Cold War design intended to match the F-15 in concept: a heavy twin-engine multirole fighter combining excellent speed and weapons loadout with dogfighting agility.

An Su-27 stunned the audience of the Paris Air Show in 1989 when it demonstrated Pugachev’s Cobra, a maneuver in which the fighter rears its nose up to 120-degree vertical—but continues to soar forward along the plane’s original attitude.

Widely exported, the Flanker has yet to clash with Western fighters, but did see air-to-air combat in Ethiopian service during a border war with Eritrea, scoring four kills against MiG-29s for no loss. It has also been employed on ground attack missions.

The development history of the Su-35 is a bit complicated. An upgraded Flanker with canards (additional small wings on the forward fuselage) called the Su-35 first appeared way back in 1989, but is not the same plane as the current model; only fifteen were produced. Another upgraded Flanker, the two-seat Su-30, has been produced in significant quantities, and its variants exported to nearly a dozen countries.

The current model in question, without canards, is properly called the Su-35S and is the most advanced type of the Flanker family. It began development in 2003 under the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO), a subcontractor of Sukhoi. The first prototypes rolled out in 2007 and production began in 2009.

Airframe and Engines

The Flanker family of aircraft is supermaneuverable—meaning it is engineered to perform controlled maneuvers that are impossible through regular aerodynamic mechanisms. In the Su-35, this is in part achieved through use of thrust-vectoring engines: the nozzles of its Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans can independently point in different directions in flight to assist the aircraft in rolling and yawing. Only one operational Western fighter, the F-22 Raptor, has similar technology.

This also allows the Su-35 to achieve very high angles-of-attack—in other words, the plane can be moving in one direction while its nose is pointed in another. A high angle of attack allows an aircraft to more easily train its weapons on an evading target and execute tight maneuvers.

Such maneuvers may be useful for evading missiles or dogfighting at close ranges—though they leave any aircraft in a low-energy state.

The Flanker-E can achieve a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 at high altitude (equal to the F-22 and faster than the F-35 or F-16) and has excellent acceleration. However, contrary to initial reports, it appears it may not be able to supercruise—perform sustained supersonic flight without using afterburners—while loaded for combat. Its service ceiling is sixty thousand feet, on par with F-15s and F-22s, and ten thousand feet higher than Super Hornets, Rafales and F-35s.

The Su-35 has expanded fuel capacity, giving it a range of 2,200 miles on internal fuel, or 2,800 miles with two external fuel tanks. Both the lighter titanium airframe and the engines have significantly longer life expectancies than their predecessors, at six thousand and 4,500 flight hours, respectively. (For comparison, the F-22 and F-35 are rated at eight thousand hours).

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The Flanker airframe is not particularly stealthy. However, adjustments to the engine inlets and canopy, and the use of radar-absorbent material, supposedly halve the Su-35’s radar cross-section; one article claims it may be down to between one and three meters. This could reduce the range it can be detected and targeted, but the Su-35 is still not a “stealth fighter.”


The Su-35 has twelve to fourteen weapons hardpoints, giving it an excellent loadout compared to the eight hardpoints on the F-15C and F-22, or the four internally stowed missiles on the F-35.

At long range, the Su-35 can use K-77M radar-guided missiles (known by NATO as the AA-12 Adder), which are claimed to have range of over 120 miles.

For shorter-range engagements, the R-74 (NATO designation: AA-11 Archer) infrared-guided missile is capable of targeting “off boresight”—simply by looking through a helmet-mounted optical sight, the pilot can target an enemy plane up sixty degrees away from where his plane is pointed. The R-74 has a range of over twenty-five miles, and also uses thrust-vectoring technology.

The medium-range R-27 missile and the extra long-range R-37 (aka the AA-13 Arrow, for use against AWACs, EW and tanker aircraft) complete the Su-35’s air-to-air missile selection.

Additionally, the Su-35 is armed with a thirty-millimeter cannon with 150 rounds for strafing or dogfighting.

The Flanker-E can also carry up to seventeen thousand pounds of air-to-ground munitions. Historically, Russia has made only limited use of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) compared to Western air forces. However, the capability for large-scale use of such weapons is there, if doctrine and munition stocks accommodate it.

Sensors and Avionics

The Su-35’s most critical improvements over its predecessors may be in hardware. It is equipped with a powerful L175M Khibiny electronic countermeasure system intended to distort radar waves and misdirect hostile missiles. This could significantly degrade attempts to target and hit the Flanker-E.

The Su-35’s IRBIS-E passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar is hoped to provide better performance against stealth aircraft. It is claimed to able to track up to thirty airborne targets with a Radar-cross section of three meters up to 250 miles away—and targets with cross-sections as small 0.1 meters over fifty miles away. However, PESA radars are easier to detect and to jam than the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars now used by Western fighters. The IRBIS also has an air-to ground mode that can designate up to four surface targets at time for PGMs.

Supplementing the radar is an OLS-35 targeting system that includes an Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) system said to have a fifty-mile range—potentially a significant threat to stealth fighters.

More mundane but vital systems—such as pilot multi-function displays and fly-by-wire avionics—have also been significantly updated.

Operational Units and Future Customers

Currently, the Russian Air Force operates only forty-eight Su-35s. Another fifty were ordered in January 2016, and will be produced at a rate of ten per year. Four Su-35s were deployed to Syria this January after a Russian Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16. Prominently armed with air-to-air missiles, the Su-35s were intended to send a message that the Russians could pose an aerial threat if attacked.

China has ordered twenty-four Su-35s at a cost of $2 billion, but is thought unlikely to purchase more. Beijing’s interest is believed to lie mostly in copying the Su-35’s thrust-vector engines for use in its own designs. The Chinese PLAAF already operates the Shenyang J-11, a copy of the Su-27.

Attempts to market the Su-35 abroad, especially to India and Brazil, have mostly foundered. Recently, however, Indonesia has indicated it wishes to purchase eight this year, though the contract signing has been repeatedly delayed. Algeria is reportedly considering acquiring ten for $900 million. Egypt, Venezuela and Vietnam are also potential customers.

Cost estimates for the Su-35 have run between $40 million and $65 million; however, the exports contracts have been at prices above $80 million per unit.

Against the Fifth Generation

The Su-35 is at least equal—if not superior—to the very best Western fourth-generation fighters. The big question, is how well can it perform against a fifth-generation stealth plane such as the F-22 or F-35?

The maneuverability of the Su-35 makes it an unsurpassed dogfighter. However, future aerial clashes using the latest missiles (R-77s, Meteors, AIM-120s) could potentially take place over enormous ranges, while even short-range combat may involve all-aspect missiles like the AIM-9X and R-74 that don’t require pointing the aircraft at the target. Nonetheless, the Su-35’s speed (which contributes to a missile’s velocity) and large load-carrying abilities mean it can hold its own in beyond-visual-range combat. Meanwhile, the Flanker-E’s agility and electronic countermeasures may help it evade opposing missiles.

The more serious issue, though, is that we don’t know how effective stealth technology will be against a high-tech opponent. An F-35 stealth fighter that gets in a short-range duel with a Flanker-E will be in big trouble—but how good a chance does the faster, more-maneuverable Russian fighter have of detecting that F-35 and getting close to it in the first place?

As the U.S. Air Force would have it, stealth fighters will be able to unleash a hail of missiles up to one hundred miles away without the enemy having any way to return fire until they close to a (short) distance, where visual and IR scanning come into play. Proponents of the Russian fighter argue that it will be able to rely upon ground-based low-bandwidth radars, and on-board IRST sensors and PESA radar, to detect stealth planes. Keep in mind, however, that the former two technologies are imprecise and can’t be used to target weapons in most cases.

Both parties obviously have huge economic and political incentives to advance their claims. While it is worthwhile examining the technical merits of these schools of thought in detail, the question will likely only be resolved by testing under combat conditions. Furthermore, other factors such as supporting assets, mission profile, pilot training and numbers play a large a role in determining the outcomes of aerial engagements.

The Su-35 may be the best jet-age dogfighter ever made and a capable missile delivery platform—but whether that will suffice for an air-superiority fighter in the era of stealth technology remains to be seen.


August 12, 2019

India buying more Mig-29s; Is it a good move?

A lot has been said about IAF staring at a depleting fleet size problem as many aircrafts are set to retire in next few years. As per the information in the public domain, the IAF should ideally have a strength of 42 combat squadrons to be fully prepared for a two-front war. With barely 32 squadrons of fighter aircraft currently in inventory, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is staring at a massive problem.

Rafale deal has been struck and the first French fighter would be delivered in September and in the next few years, 35 more would come. But, that is not enough. The IAF will be phasing out nine squadrons of the MiG-21 and 2 MiG-27 over the next 5 years.

Tejas was supposed to have played a key role in IAF's scheme things. It was thought that India's requirement for single engine fighters could be met with LCA Tejas. But due to multiple problems encountered during Tejas's development and HAL's failure to meet the delivery deadlines, IAF was forced to look at other foreign aircrafts.

So to make up the failing number of fighters, from where will the remaining come from. Undoubtedly, IAF will have to start procurement process, whether it is Eurofighter Typhoon or the F-22, that is for the time tell. Here is what we know so far.

IAF will get the MiG-29 fighters upgraded to the latest standards by Russia, and get them at virtually throwaway prices, reportedly Rs 200 crore per piece. They will augment the 62 MiG-29 fighters that are in the IAF's fleet which are also being upgraded to give them an all-weather multi-role capability. In fact, there are reportedly 15 more such aircraft.

IAF is in advance talks with Russia for an urgent procurement of MiG 29 fighters that can be delivered at a relatively short notice. The plan to acquire 21 additional aircraft to make a new squadron of MiG 29 jets that were first purchased in the 1980s has been discussed in detail last month and is expected to cost the Indian exchequer less than Rs 6,000 crore. The MiG 29s, if procured, will cost significantly lesser than the Rafale fighter jets.

MiG has been the backbone of the IAF for decades now. Many expert have raised concerns that these Russian made planes are old and not fit for current era of fifth generation fighters. MiGs are also referred to as 'flying relics'. Given this, is it a good move to buy more of them.

Is it a good move to buy more MiGs?

India is going for MiG-29s which have been significantly upgraded. In fact when MiG-29 downed a Pakistani F-16 in March during a dogfight, many marvelled at it. But, Russia promptly issued a statement saying that new MiGs are comparable to modern F series of fighters made by the us.

This is what we know of new MiG 29s:

According to the defence ministry, the upgraded aircraft are now being used for routine operations in frontline squadrons and are equipped with the "state-of-the-art avionics, an array of smart air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and in-flight refuelling".

The upgrade with new weapons and avionics is aimed at turning the twin-engine MiG-29 from an air defence fighter into a far more lethal all-weather multi-role fighter into a far more lethal all-weather multi-role fighter. In 2018, the upgraded MiG-29 showcased its combat capabilities at Admapur Air Force Station. The strategically important Adampur Air Force Station, 100 km from Pakistan and 250 km from the border with China, is now home to the upgraded MiG-29s. The Air Force has three squadrons of MiG-29s, two of them at Adampur Air Force Station.

One squadron comprises 16-18 aircraft. The MiG-29's good operational record prompted India to sign a deal with Russia between 2005-2006 to upgrade all 62 jets for over $900 million.

The aircraft is effectively 33 years old and still remain an effective weapons platform to this day. Indian review of the MIG-29 does show that the jet structures is still sound and worthwhile the upgrades it needs to performance for another 10-15 years, said a report published in defenceupdates.in.

The fighter aircraft, which played a crucial role in India's victory in the 1999 Kargil war, now is capable of refueling mid-air, lauch multi-dimensional attacks and is now compatible with the latest missile, said Flight Lieutenant Karan Kohli told PTI. MiG-29 may continue to remain good for another 10-15 years.


BECA: India set to ink third foundational military pact with US

Decks have been cleared for India to sign the pending third foundational military pact with the United States. The pact is expected to give a boost to the country’s defence system and counter the Russia-China-Pakistan (RCP) axis.

According to sources, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial cooperation was discussed at the bilateral Defence Planning Group (DPG) dialogue in Washington recently. The Indian delegation was led by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, who had a meeting with US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, John Rood.

Sources said the DPG has been revived after a gap of four years. The decision to revive it was taken at the last 2+2 dialogue between India and the US last year and was attended by the defence and foreign ministers of both countries.

India has already signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). However, it is yet to sign the BECA for geospatial cooperation. A country needs to sign these three pacts to obtain cutting-edge weapons and communications systems from the United States.

BECA, sources said, will allow India to use US expertise on geospatial intelligence and to enhance military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise, ballistic missiles and drones.

“The US had shared the draft agreement of BECA with India. However, India had certain reservations in view of its national security. This was conveyed to the US establishment, which held it up for quite some time. However, the US has now agreed to modify the draft to address India’s concerns, paving the way for signing of BECA by the end of this year,” a source said.

The COMCASA allows the US to transfer communication equipment to India which facilitates secure transmission of data and real-time information between the armed forces of the two countries. The LEMOA, on the other hand, allows Indian and US defence forces to use each other’s facilities and establish procedures of easier access to supplies and services required by them.

Experts are of the view that signing BECA is crucial for India in order to neutralise the Russia-China-Pakistan axis for the larger interest of the country and also for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region. They feel that the RCP axis poses a big threat to regional peace.

COMCASA was signed last year and the two countries agreed on working together for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). The agreement, which was pending for almost 10 years, was aimed at opening the way for the sale of more sensitive US military equipment to India. It is to be noted that India was designated a “major defence partner” in 2016 by the US.

India and the United States have come close in recent years, seeking ways to counter-balance China’s spreading influence across Asia, especially in Pakistan, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. The US has emerged as India’s second largest arms supplier, closing deals worth $15 billion in the last 10 years.


August 10, 2019

Navy put on high alert amid 'heightened threat perception' after Centre revokes J&K's special status

  • The Indian Navy has activated its warships and shore-based bases for any conventional contingency
  • The Navy is keeping its "eyes and ears open" on both the western and eastern seaboards
  • The Army and IAF are already maintaining high operational readiness to cater to all eventualities
The Navy has gone on a high operational alert. It has activated its warships and shore-based bases for any conventional contingency as well as to prevent any terror attack emanating from the sea, like the 26/11 strikes that rocked Mumbai in November 2008.

The Navy is keeping its "eyes and ears open" on both the western and eastern seaboards. They are also alert along the country’s 7,517-km coastline in conjunction with the coast guard, amidst the "heightened threat perception" after the Modi government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and moved to split the state into two union territories, said defence officials on Thursday.

The Army and IAF are already maintaining high operational readiness to cater to all eventualities, with the former also further strengthening its counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism grids in Jammu and Kashmir. "Pakistan might step-up ceasefire violations or activate sleeper cells for big terror strikes in the run-up to August 15," said an official.

The Navy, apart from deploying warships, Dornier and P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, is also keeping a hawk-eye on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) through the Information Fusion Centre-IOR at Gurgaon. The centre takes feeds and inputs from multiple sources ranging from coastal radars to satellites and then fuses, correlates and analyses them to assess threats in the maritime domain.

India has taken several steps to bolster coastal security as well as better coordination between intelligence and security agencies since the hijacked fishing vessel Kuber slipped through the cracks to allow Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists to reach Mumbai. They unleashed mayhem that eventually killed over 160 and injured over 300 during the 26/11 attacks.

A big problem is that that the over two lakh smaller fishing vessels still cannot be effectively tracked because they do not have AIS (automatic identification system) transponders on board. "The trials for fitting the transponders on such vessels have been successful off the Tamil Nadu and Gujarat coasts. But the issue of who will pay for the transponders is yet to be worked out," said a source.

The Phase-II of the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) is also far from being completed. Under Phase-I of the CSN, 36 radar stations on the mainland, six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy and four in Andaman and Nicobar became operational at a cost of over Rs 600 crore after several delays.

The Phase-II, which will cost over Rs 800 crore, involves setting up 38 more radar stations with static radars and electro-optic sensors, four mobile surveillance stations and integration of VTMS (vessel traffic management systems) sites in the Gulfs of Kutch and Khambat.

Once all fishing vessels are fitted with proper identification systems, coupled with the digital registration of all boats by the 13 coastal states and UTs, the radar network will get the "brains" to identify them dynamically. But this is still quite some distance away.


India-US defence deals: Why CAATSA should be avoided

The first batch of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile (SAM) system from Russia was delivered to Turkey last month. As a result, the US cancelled the delivery of around 100 fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, ordered by Turkey, which also co-manufactures the plane. US officials claim the F-35 cannot coexist with the Russian system, which they believe will be an ‘intelligence collection platform’ to be used to learn about the F-35’s advanced and stealth capabilities. Turkey has been a Nato ally for 65 years. The US helped Turkey build the second-largest military among Nato members. Turkey was one of the very few countries permitted to locally manufacture F-16s, and 270 F-16s are in its inventory today. It further honed aircraft manufacturing by building F-16s for export to countries like Egypt, and upgrading those of Pakistan, Jordan and other customers.

Turkey was also involved in various other projects involving aircraft and helicopters like the Black Hawk, S-70, Eurocopter and Boeing 737 AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) before being one of nine manufacturing partners for the F-35. About 8% of every F-35 is manufactured in Turkey, which is also building its own Pratt & Whitney F135 engines to power the fighter.

Turkey also possesses the European regional F135 engine depot overhaul facility, servicing all European F135 engines, the most advanced fifth-generation engine and fighter available in the world today. Cooperation with the US and Nato alliances has helped Turkey build a robust aviation ecosystem. In anticipation of the F-35 deal being scrapped, it unveiled its own indigenous fifthgeneration fighter TF-X at the Paris Air show in June, which is scheduled to fly by 2025.

India, on the other hand, has been getting most of its military equipment from the former Soviet Union/Russia since the early 1960s. In 1990, when around 80% of the inventory was Russian, the dissolution of the Soviet Union made India realise the risk of being dependent on a single nation for military hardware.

Russia’s loss has been the US’ gain. US sale of defence equipment to India stands at $18 billion today. From 2008 to 2013, 76% of Indian defence imports were from Russia. From 2013 to 2018, this number dropped to 58%. In the meantime, imports from the US have increased significantly. The purchase of Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 24 multi-role helicopters (MRHs), 10 additional long-range maritime patrol P8Is (Poseidon Eight India), and other platforms from the US are on the cards.

Both Turkey and India are purchasing the Russia S-400 SAM systems, putting them in conflict with the US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa), which came into force in 2017. These third-country sanctions apply to any nation with ‘significant transactions’ with the Russian defence industry. US President Donald Trump signed it into legislation while expressing deep reservations, calling it ‘seriously flawed’. In 2018, at the request of then-US secretary of defence James Mattis, the US Congress enacted a waiver clause that can be used by the president. This waiver was generally viewed as a workaround to avoid making India suffer collateral damage from Caatsa sanctions. Following a meeting with Trump on the sideline of the G20 summit in Osaka in June, Turkey’s President Recep Erdog an claimed to have been assured by the US president that there will be no sanctions on Turkey for the purchase of S-400s. However, Trump is under bipartisan pressure from US lawmakers to move forward with sanctions. They feel that expelling Turkey from the F-35 programme is not strong enough of a tactic.

The decision of whether Turkey gets the axe or a Caatsa waiver is being closely watched by the world, especially India. On the one hand, there is Turkey, a Nato ally, which has built a large Nato military and an entire ecosystem of aircraft manufacturing thanks to the US, and was never dependent on any Russian equipment until buying the Triumf. On the other hand, there is India, which, over the past few years, has reduced its reliance on Russian defence equipment, demonstrating intent to wean off further. By stopping any purchase of oil from US sanctions-hit Iran, India has shown its intent to build on newfound US-India relations.

India’s parliamentarians should remind the US administration and members of the US Congress that the commitment to ameliorate US-India defence and security ties are genuine, even when the two countries disagree. The last 20 years of engagement between the US and India have dulled the pain of the 1998 post-Pokhran sanctions. But any repetition of sanctions that ignores the progress that has been made to date would be catastrophic to a strategically vital friendship.

India should be ready to accept that it is unlikely to see a F-35 in its arsenal, given the S-400 in its armoury. The US, in turn, should view this as ‘sufficient consequence’ and continue cooperating with India to create the Indo-Pacific that both nations need.


August 9, 2019

UTTAM AESA will be ready for induction on Tejas Mk 1A

Let’s begin with the big news of the year, the anti-satellite test (A-Sat), which the DRDO successfully carried out in March 2019. How would you sum it up?

It was a major technological achievement for the nation. Necessary technologies were already developed as a part of our missile development programmes and ballistic missile defence programmes; but it was required to be customised and integrated together to achieve the desired outcome. Though the building blocks were put in place some time back, the activities of the mission for demonstration of the technological capability were initiated only after the clearance by Prime Minister in late 2016.

Confidentiality was a major challenge for development of a programme of this magnitude, involving multiple laboratories and agencies, with technical complexities. It was also required to conduct the tests at the earliest. A lot of planning was involved from conceptualisation of the mission through development to interception demonstration within two years, ensuring that it is kept confidential. The short time taken by DRDO to migrate from concept to capability demonstration indicates the maturity of technologies, dedication, willingness and capability of DRDO fraternity to accept technological challenges for its time-bound realisation.

We were able to hit the satellite directly with the precision of a few centimetres. The altitude was deliberately kept low, about 250-300km, to avoid the long-term effects of the hit, like the scattering of the debris in the higher orbit. In terms of capability, we can reach beyond 1,000km. Since most of the satellites are in low earth orbit, this capability is adequate as of now. Of course, there are some satellites at medium altitude too, but once we have demonstrated this capability, we can always enhance it by increasing the propulsive power in the vehicle.

Are you working on enhancing that?

No, we are not planning to enhance it as all the technology requirements for the requisite capability have already been established. Having achieved the desired objectives, this programme has been successfully concluded.

It is also important to note that such tests cannot be done repeatedly.

The government established a task force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) last year as part of its initiative Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) that was launched during DefExpo 2018. Since then both Bharat Electronics Ltd and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd have announced their programmes pertaining to AI, robotics and swarm technologies. What is DRDO’s role in this? Is it a mere coordinator or is it guiding the research?

iDEX is a nice initiative by department of defence production (DDP). DRDO, being the only agency involved with design and development of defence systems, is pursuing a lot of research in this area. DRDO has been encouraging and providing technological and other support to academic institutions, like IITs and industries, both public and private sectors, through various platforms and will continue to support them.

Are you also looking at some kind of collaboration with friendly foreign nations who are doing advanced research in this area?

We have been working with several countries including the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Israel through joint working groups on technology. We have identified several futuristic technologies for joint research in areas like nano technologies, nano sensors, deep learning etc. However, we are still to have any specific collaboration or agreement.

We are conscious of the fact that technologies of the future need to be developed within the country to avoid perpetual dependence on other countries. DRDO has set up Young Scientist Labs for concerted research efforts in these advanced technology domains. In addition to continued efforts at our own labs, we are supporting start-ups in a big way. The role and importance of our academic institutes cannot be understated in providing ‘blue skies research’ for such crucial technologies.

Do you have a separate corpus for this?

The fund allocated to us is for all technology domains and as such we do not need to create a separate corpus for this.

Do you find enough interest among the services for AI-enabled weapons?

Yes, the services have been showing a lot of interest in AI-based weapon technologies. In fact, a number of systems are being developed based on their requirements.

Given that AI is such a vast field and the services would want everything, from basic technologies for command and control as well as advanced weapons. Where are you putting the focus?

We are concentrating on both — basic technologies as well as advanced applications. Control on technologies is crucial. Our labs are working on many products with AI-based technologies. We have also set-up a Young Scientist Lab in this critical technology domain. In addition, we are encouraging start-ups to come up with technologies, systems and products with AI. At the same time, we are working in tandem with academic institutions also on basic technologies.

Do you envisage some joint development projects with friendly countries in the future?

Yes, we may have joint development projects with friendly countries for technologies and systems of mutual interest. Joint working groups have been already established for this.

What kind of work are we doing in the field of hypersonic missiles?

We have recently conducted a hypersonic technology demonstrator test. It was a successful launch and we got a lot of data, which will be very useful for our future tests. We are currently working on hypersonic engines and hypersonic materials. We have undertaken projects for enhancing our capabilities in the areas of aerodynamics, aero-thermal effects, material sciences etc. for use in hypersonic missiles.

What timeline do you envisage for the development of the prototype of a hypersonic missile?

Developmental activities in this area are being undertaken by the different labs. I anticipate that a flight demonstration of hypersonic missile should be ready after five years.

What is the update on Nirbhay cruise missile? What percentage of the missile is indigenous?

Nirbhay is a very successful programme. We have successfully developed and flight-tested the long-range subsonic cruise missile. Six tests have been conducted to validate all the mission objectives and requirements as of today.

I would say close to 70 per cent of the missile is indigenous. We didn’t take any help from anyone in the design and development of this missile, except for buying certain off-the-shelf components from abroad. Imported engine was utilised in the initial tests; however indigenous engine has been developed in parallel, which would be used in the production version of the missile. Major technologies like actuators, Inertial Navigation Satellite System, etc. used in the missile system have been developed indigenously.

Can Nirbhay be inducted into service?

Yes, it can be. The developmental trials are completed for the present land-based configuration of the missile system and the capability has been established. We are discussing its operationalisation with the Services for other variants like sea-based and air-launched versions.

Are you looking at the possibility of making this missile intelligent?

Improvement in developed product or system capabilities is a continuous process for an R&D organisation and we are no exception.

What is the update on Prahaar ballistic missile?

Prahaar is a surface to surface missile. The mobile launch platform will carry multiple missiles, which can have different kind of warheads meant for different targets and can be fired in salvo mode in all directions covering the entire azimuth plane. Development trials of Prahaar have already been conducted.

While DRDO has a full range of unmanned aerial systems, there doesn’t seem to be any programme to develop unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV). What is the reason for this?

In the unarmed UAV category, we have the Rustom family. Rustom 1 is fully developed. Its trials have been concluded. Rustom 2, a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV, is in the advanced stage of development. As far as UCAV is concerned, we don’t have any sanctioned programme as on date; however, we have undertaken development of technologies required for realisation of UCAV.

The armed forces are inclined to procure more and more precision guided munitions. We already have Harpy and now we are going to procure Harop too. What is DRDO doing in the realm of smart, precision weapons?

The purchase of Harpy and Harop is based on the present requirements of the services. A lot of work is going on in DRDO, along with academia and industry in this area. Two premier laboratories of DRDO are working in the area of precision weapons.

What kind of work are you doing in anti-radiation systems and anti-airfield weapons?

Both the systems are quite distinct from one another. Anti-radiation systems are for a very specific purpose and the necessary intelligence to target radiating systems is built into the system. We have a number of on-going projects for the development of anti-radiation systems. Anti-airfield weapons system has already been developed and is undergoing trials; development trials are likely to be completed by the end of this year. We shall continue to work on this system to further refine the technologies involved. All of this is designed and developed entirely indigenously.

What is the status of the ballistic missile defence programme?

We have developed and demonstrated ballistic missile defence systems, both with exo-atmosphere and endo-atmosphere interceptors. With exo-interceptor, we have achieved the altitude range of up to 120-140km, through both real and simulated tests. We have adequate radars and sensors to meet the present requirements. The development of Phase-I of the programme, meant for up to intermediate range missiles, is complete.

But why is it not deployed yet?

Our mandate is to design, develop and demonstrate the capability of the systems. We support the lead system integrators or the production agencies for production of the quantity required. When, where and how to deploy a system is a government decision. We are ready to implement the decision as and when taken.

So, what have been accomplished in phase-I?

As I’ve already mentioned, both exo and endo interceptor capabilities have been successfully demonstrated. I would like to add here that India is one of the few countries in the world to successfully pursue the BMD programme. We have taken significant strides in this domain. We have also demonstrated kinetic kill and all the necessary technologies needed for this have been developed indigenously.

Since the airspace division is roughly about 100 km, if you are able to do your endo-atmosphere interception at a very high altitude (which according to reports was only 45 km), then you can perhaps kill hostile hypersonic missiles too which travel at this altitude?

The hypersonic BMD is a different technology domain. The way one develops the ballistic missile defence is different from what is needed for hypersonic missile defence. The hypersonic missile can be intercepted at different altitudes. A limited capability is being built in AD-1 interceptor to engage hypersonic glide vehicles.

Is it correct to say that for the endo-interception we are looking at an altitude of about 45 km?

We have the capability to engage a target at different altitudes.

Has work commenced on phase-2?

Yes, we have already started work on Phase-2 and it should be ready for demonstration in about two to three years’ time.

DRDO has been looking to collaborate with a technology partner for a jet engine and was in talks with Safran Aircraft Engine. What is the update on that? Will you continue to work on the Kaveri engine or develop a new one?

The Kaveri engine, as a technology, is developed. The power of the engine, within the present constraints, is not sufficient for the current requirements of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). We have a roadmap for aircraft development in the country, which also requires development of high-power engines suitable for these aircrafts. For this, we are looking for partners who can join hands with us in the development of high-power jet engine. I will not name any particular company right now because we are still at a discussion stage.

What is the update on the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system? Are you looking for some hand-holding in this programme?

We are developing the AIP system completely indigenously. We have the capability to do this on our own and we are confident that we will be able to do this successfully on our own. We don’t need any hand-holding for this.

When will you be ready to show it to the navy?

I am confident that we will be able to demonstrate it to the navy by the end of this year.

What is the update on your Next-Gen anti-tank missile system?

We have developed a number of variants of anti-tank missiles as per the requirements of the services. User trials of Nag ATGM have been successfully conducted and development trials of Helina, the airborne anti-tank missile, are under progress. We are currently working on MPATGM (man-portable anti-tank guided missile) programme. Five demonstration trials have already been completed and we would be able to offer it for user trials soon. We have now demonstrated the capability to indigenously develop best of its class ATGMs, which can be produced by Indian industry.

What is the progress on Tejas II?

Tejas II is progressing well. The design phase has been completed. As far as the engine is concerned, the user is satisfied with the present one used and so we will go with the same. For the Indian Navy, we are working on a separate programme as the requirements are different. The design phase for Mark II Navy is over and it will certainly meet all their requirements.

Will there be substantial difference between Tejas II and Naval Mark II?

These are different aircrafts based on the different requirements of the users.

In the early Nineties, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had mentioned that the DRDO was working on a milli metric wave (MMW) seeker for the Nag ATGM. Since the Nag programme is over now, are you still working on MMW seeker?

We have been working on the MMW-based seeker very seriously. Today, the seeker is developed and we are working on an anti-tank missile with MMW seeker. This is a separate programme, approved by the government. We have been working on it for the last couple of years. The prototype will be ready by the end of this year.

What is the project called?

Let us wait for the first demonstration trial.

As DRDO chief, what are your priorities, in the short and the medium term?

I have advised my lab directors to focus on three categories based on timelines. The first category is futuristic research. Being an R&D organisation, we need to work on futuristic research, which is applied research supported by basic research by the academia. This is essential for any country to progress. The second category is of current technologies, which we need to work upon for the next five years, for development of weapons, systems and platforms. The third category comprises on-going programmes.

Based on this, we have drawn a very explicit roadmap for all our laboratories. This lays down targets for the next two years, two to five years and five to 10 years respectively. All the laboratories are working to meet the targets within the given time frame.

Will nano technology be part of your AI system?

Nano technology is a natural evolution and would increasingly be a part of, what we refer to as, hardware for any system. AI-based systems also would not be an exception.

You have mentioned IIT-Delhi. Which other educational institutions are you working with?

We have centres of excellence at IIT-Chennai, IIT-Mumbai, Jadavpur University, Bharathiar University of Coimbatore and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In addition to these, we are working with 150 other academic institutions. Depending upon their core strength and our requirements, we fund developmental research in the areas of high energy materials, propulsion technology etc. in these institutes.

How many prototypes have you made based on the research done in the academia?

We have a very fruitful association with the academia for several decades now. A number of prototypes have been made based on the research that emanates from theses institutes.

One of the factors that have stymied the development of Indian defence industry is the inability to export. What steps have been taken to not only encourage, but promote exports?

The government has come out with several policies to promote exports. We are creating awareness of DRDO developed products and systems by showcasing them in international defence and aero shows. Keen interests have been shown by many countries for different systems. We will be supporting the industry with technologies to enhance their export competitiveness.

What is DRDO doing in the sphere of cyber warfare?

Space and cyber has become the fourth and fifth dimension of warfare. DRDO has been working in the domain of cyber defence closely with all stakeholders to ensure safety and security of our defence systems and equipment.

What is the update on AESA radar?

The AESA radar is integrated with the Light Combat Aircraft. The test and evaluation are going on at the moment. We are confident that AESA radar would be fully proven by the next year and would be ready for induction on Tejas Mk 1A.

Is there anything else that you would like to speak about?

On the technology front, we are very seriously working on AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft). The design efforts have started, product development has begun and we are regularly interacting with the Indian Air Force (IAF) on this.

We are now integrating with the Indian industry in a big way. We would be engaging the industry as the development-cum-production partner from the beginning of the project to ensure seamless transfer of technology and offer systems from first of production model for trials to cut down the development cycle time. Para 72 of DPP 2016 facilitates this. We want to strengthen our manufacturing base by enabling Indian industry through their involvement as partners and not limited to assembly line job.


Sukhoi 30 Fighter Jet Crashes Into Paddy Field In Assam, Pilots Eject Safely

A Sukhoi fighter jet of the Indian Air Force crashed in a paddy field near Tezpur in Assam on Thursday evening, a defence spokesperson said.

Both pilots of the aircraft ejected safely and have been rescued, defence spokesperson Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande said.

One of the pilots suffered injury in his leg, he said.

The Su-30 MKI fighter jet was on a routine training mission when it crashed in the paddy field in the Milanpur area and burst into flames at around 8:30 pm, Lt Col Pande told PTI.

The crash caused no damage to public property, he added.

Local people rushed the two pilots to the Army Base Hospital in Tezpur, he said.

Fire engines were rushed to the spot to bring the flames under control, the fire department said.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, official sources said in Delhi.