July 2, 2020

Global support grows for India amid tense standoff with China

  • Mike Pompeo said the move will boost integrity and national security of India
  • Highlighting the India-China  border  issue, he  called  the  region  the epicentre  of  rising  strategic competition
As a tense India-China military standoff along their border is set to complete two months later this week, voices of support seem to be growing in favour of New Delhi.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Wednesday backed India’s move to ban 59 Chinese mobile apps on national security grounds, saying that New Delhi’s steps were to safeguard its security.
Only last week, he had announced a “rebalance" of US troops to Asia, citing China’s aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and East China Sea besides the moves against India along the border. Japanese ships joined those of the Indian navy over the weekend for an exercise. Also on Wednesday, Australia announced $270 billion in military spending over the next decade, mainly to meet challenges in its immediate neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region.
That these countries are members of the “Quadrilateral"—that comprises India, the US, Australia and Japan—comes as no surprise. The group held its first meeting in November 2017 at the level of officials and also had its first meeting at the level of ministers last year.

Given China’s stance against India—the clash in Ladakh on 15 June with casualties that were the first in 45 years, China’s disregard for pacts signed with India to ensure border stability is maintained—analysts have been calling for India to completely overhaul its ties with Beijing. And this includes giving a military dimension to the “Quad."
The US relocating troops to Asia “is an important signal that the US will not sit and watch as China attempts to throw its weight around on the Sino-India border as well as in the South China Sea," said Gautam Bambawale, former Indian ambassador to China, Pakistan and Bhutan. “Even earlier, the US had moved three of its carrier battle groups to this part of the world as a clear indication of its resolve to tackle Chinese aggressiveness in Asia," he said in a recent opinion piece in The Economic Times, pointing to news reports that said that three US aircraft carrier strike groups were patrolling in the Indo-Pacific region in a signal to China of US resilience following novel coronavirus cases striking some of the US Navy’s operations.
“This is the time to admit Australia into our Malabar naval exercises. This is the appropriate time to strengthen the Quad and provide it a military angle. Now is the time to enhance our intelligence sharing with all these nations. By changing its force structure and posture, the US is signalling India that she supports us entirely," he added.
Unveiling the Australian government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the 2024 Structure Plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison seemed to strike a similar note stating that Indo-Pacific was the “epicentre" of rising “strategic competition", highlighting the border dispute between India and China as an example of increasing tensions over territorial claims in the region.
Morrison warned “the risk of miscalculation and even conflict is heightening" in the region.


Covid delays production of Dhanush guns

Covid outbreak has hit the supply of Dhanush 155x45mm artillery guns, the Indian version of Bofors, to the army. The weapon systems are being made at the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), Jabalpur, in MP.

The first batch of six guns was issued from the GCF in April 2019. This year the factory was supposed to supply another six to eight guns. However, no dispatch could happen as the Covid lockdown hampered operations at the factory.

It is learnt four guns are ready for issue after trials, but could not be delivered to the army due to logistics hurdles. Another batch has been built, but the trials could not happen on account of lockdown.

The total supply of the Dhanush guns would still be short of equipping one full artillery regiment this year. Sources said after building the entire gun, each piece has to be proven fit for use after trials. The ranges are in other states and access to the area was not possible due to the lockdown. The ranges are located in two different corners of the country, they said.

After the factory reopened in June, the production process remains slow as workers have to follow Covid prevention standard operating procedure (SOP), a source said.

This coupled with procedural hurdles is expected to delay completion of entire project by one year. After the project was initiated in 2010 , Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) got a bulk production clearance to make the guns in 2019.

The army has placed an indent for 114 Dhanush guns. The order is supposed to be completed in four years but it may now take five, said sources.

It is expected the current year’s batch may be delivered in a couple of months with delivery of the guns that have already been proven to happen before that. GCF will have to scale up its production to 50 guns a year from 2021 to meet targets. At present, the factory is operating at its optimum capacity. Much of the new machines have been procured and the process continues.

Though based on Swedish Bofors, Dhanush is an advanced weapon system with higher range and accuracy. It took a series of trials for the army to finally place an order for 114. The guns have fired 5,000 rounds during trials to get the final clearance. This was a record on its own.

The ordnance factories are also upgunning the existing 130 mm guns with the army to 155mm. This will help increasing their range. Named Sharang, the factory is supposed to deliver 300 guns. This project is also expected to be delayed by a year, said sources.


Israeli smart bombs, French stealth cruise missiles to boost IAF strike prowess

As the standoff with China at the Ladakh border continues, the Indian government is making emergency purchases of weapon systems for the three armed services.

On Tuesday, news agency ANI reported that the Indian Air Force was planning to acquire "more Spice-2000 bombs" from Israel for the purposes of destroying bunkers and buildings.

The SPICE-2000 made headlines last February when it was revealed that Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters had used these weapons to bomb the terror camp in Balakot.

In the strictest sense, the SPICE-2000 is not a bomb in itself. The SPICE-2000 is from a family of munitions. SPICE, which stands for Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective, is a guidance and manoeuvring kit manufactured by Israel's Rafael.

The SPICE kit adds a sophisticated guidance system—consisting of inertial navigation, satellite guidance and electro-optical sensors for pinpoint accuracy—and control fins to a conventional unguided bomb. The SPICE turns a conventional 'gravity' bomb into a sophisticated, long-range guided weapon.

The SPICE-1000 kit, which is available for 500kg bombs, has a glide range of nearly 100km, while the SPICE-2000 (meant for 1,000kg bombs) has a glide range of around 60km. While laser-guided bombs are less expensive than the SPICE and are as accurate, cloud cover and adverse weather tend to degrade their performance; furthermore, laser-guided bombs typically have a range of around 15km.

Their long range makes the SPICE family of smart bombs suited for hitting targets in protected air space. China operates a variety of potent air defence systems, including the Russian S-300 and the newer S-400 as well as indigenous platforms.

Soon after the Balakot attack last year, PTI reported that the Indian Air Force was "in the process of equipping the Su-30MKI with Israeli SPICE-2000 bombs, to make the fighter jets more potent". The Su-30MKI is numerically and technologically the most important fighter in Indian Air Force service, with around 250 aircraft in operation. With a maximum takeoff weight of over 35 tonnes, twice that of the Mirage-2000, a single Su-30MKI could carry at least three SPICE-2000 bombs, giving it massive operational flexibility.

Scalp power

More SPICE munitions are not the only weapons that will strengthen the Indian Air Force's ground-attack capability. Earlier this week, The Print had reported that France had shipped to India Meteor air-to-air missiles and Scalp cruise missiles, both of which will arm the Rafale fighter jets destined for the Indian Air Force.

The Scalp is an air-launched cruise missile manufactured by European defence consortium MBDA. The Scalp, which is designed in France, weighs around 1,300kg. According to MBDA, the Scalp has a stated range of 250km, though media reports claim the weapon can go twice that distance.

Like the SPICE-2000, the Scalp uses a range of guidance options—GPS, inertial navigation, infra-red seeker and terrain reference. The Scalp also has a design that emphasises 'low observability' (stealth) by reducing exposure of its air intakes and flies at very low level to avoid radar detection. The Scalp has been advertised as being capable of destroying "high-value" fixed targets such as air defence command-and-control centres and bunkers.

The Scalp missile and its British derivative, the Storm Shadow, have been used in multiple conflicts in the past two decades, including the invasion of Iraq and air strikes over Libya and Syria. In addition to the air forces of France and the UK, the Scalp missile and Storm Shadow have been exported to Greece, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others.

The Rafale can carry two Scalp missiles, along with three large fuel tanks, in a long-range attack configuration. Along with the air-launched Brahmos missile, the Scalp will be the first 'deep strike' missile of the Indian Air Force. However, in its current configuration, the Brahmos is too heavy and a single Su-30 MKI can only carry one missile.

The addition of more SPICE munitions and arrival of the Scalp cruise missiles is crucial for the Indian Air Force, given the relentless growth of China's fighter fleet and also its development of air-launched cruise missiles. China's fleet of H-6 bombers are being equipped with missiles like the CJ-20, which is estimated to have a range of over 1,000km.


Defence Ministry approves procurement of 21 MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi fighter jets

Defence Ministry also approves upgradation of 59 existing MiG-29s

Ministry also approves capital acquisitions of various platforms and equipment worth ₹38,900 crore

The Defence Ministry on Thursday gave its approval for the Indian Air Force to speedily procure 21 MiG-29 fighter jets besides 12 Sukhoi MK1 from Russia – a key development that comes in the middle of a almost two-month long military standoff with China.

The Defence Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council also gave its nod for the upgradation of existing 59 MiG-29 aircrafts, a statement from the ministry said.

The nod for the two came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian president Vladmir Putin on Thursday. Putin reiterated his commitment to “further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries in all spheres," an Indian foreign ministry statement said.

“While the MIG 29 procurement and upgradation from Russia is estimated to cost ₹7,418 crors, the Su-30 MKI will be procured from (HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at an estimated cost of ₹10,730 crore," the statement added.
India’s greenlight for the 33 aircraft comes a week after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited Moscow for talks with senior government figures there. Singh had then told reporters that he had been assured that Russia would expedite the delivery of weapon systems and spares required by the Indian armed forces in the wake of the military faceoff with China. The visit had also taken place amid some news reports that China had been putting pressure on Russia not to supply spares and equipment to India.

Defence Ministry also cleared the acquisition of 248 Astra Beyond Visual Range air to air missiles for the Indian Air Force and the Navy. Design and development of a new 1,000 kilometre strike range Land Attack Cruise Missile by DRDo has also been cleared, said officials.

Defence Acquisition Council also cleared proposals worth ₹38,900 crore of which acquisitions worth ₹31,130Cr would be from Indian industry. The projects cleared include ammunition for Pinaka rocket launchers, BMP combat vehicle upgrades and software defined radios for Army, the officials further said.


July 1, 2020

India planning to buy more Spice-2000 bombs

Seeking to further strengthen its capability to hit ground targets, India is planning to acquire a lethal and more capable version of the Spice-2000 bombs.

The bombs, which were used effectively to destroy the Pakistani terrorist camp in Balakot town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last year, are planned to be acquired by the Air Force as part of the emergency financial powers granted to the services in the middle of a row with China.

"The Indian Air Force already has the Spice-2000 bombs. It is now planning to acquire more stand-off weapons like the Spice-2000 bombs under the emergency procurement powers granted to the services," government sources told ANI.

The Spice-2000 bombs can hit targets upto 70 kms and the new variant inducted in the force can also destroy bunkers and hardened shelters, they said.

The version used in the Balakot airstrikes could penetrate into hardened shelters and buildings and cause destruction inside.
Under the emergency powers, the Narendra Modi government has granted financial power to the defence forces under which they can buy any weapon system under Rs 500 crore.

This emergency power was given close on the heels of recent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives.

The armed forces were granted similar financial power after the Uri terror attack and the Balakot airstrike against Pakistan.
As part of the process, the Army is planning to place orders for the Excalibur precision-guided missiles from the US under Foreign Military sales procedure while the Navy is also looking to buy equipment under the procedure this time.


PLA puts up signage, China map on bank of Pangong lake to claim it as Chinese land

After physically occupying an almost 8-km stretch of what India considers its territory on the north bank of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has now created a massive signage in the area to claim it as Chinese land.

Located between Finger-4 and Finger-5, the 80-metre-long signage is in the shape of inscriptions and is designed to be visible from the air and capable of being picked up by satellites. It consists of the Mandarin symbol meaning China with a map of the country. It seeks to deride India’s claim that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) runs north to south at Finger-8.

“It clearly shows the PLA has no intention of leaving the area any time soon. We, too, have counter-mobilised with additional Army and ITBP troops in the area since May for any eventuality. We want restoration of status quo ante, with the PLA pulling back to its original position,” an official said here.

PLA soldiers have built dozens of fortifications, prefabricated huts, bunkers and pill-boxes after occupying the ‘Finger-4 to 8’ (mountainous spurs separated by a distance of 8 km) area on the north bank of Pangong Tso in a massive consolidation since early-May. They have also taken control of the nearby heights and ridgeline to dominate the area, as was earlier reported by TOI.

Indian soldiers, with an ITBP post located between Finger-3 and 4, have for long been patrolling west to east till Finger-8.

The PLA, which has also strengthened its positions on the south bank of the lake, wants Indian soldiers to retreat to the Finger-2 area. Ever since the clash between the rival troops in the area on May 5-6, Chinese soldiers have effectively blocked all Indian patrols from the Finger-4 to 8 area.


Pakistani troop movement in Ladakh, sources say China in talks with Pak terror groups

Sources say Pakistan has started moving troops along the Gilgit-Baltistan area and the Chinese army is holding talks with terror organisation Al Badr to incite violence in Jammu and Kashmir.


Sources said Pakistani troop movement has been seen in northern Ladakh

Sources have also said Chinese army is holding talks with terror groups

Pakistan has moved 20,000 additional troops in Ladakh, said sources

At a time when the Indian and Chinese militaries continue to engage in talks to defuse the tension in Ladakh region, sources say Pakistan has started moving troops along the Gilgit-Baltistan area and the Chinese army is holding talks with terror organisation Al Badr to incite violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to sources, Pakistan has moved almost 20,000 additional troops in the northern Ladakh region to match Chinese deployments.

Sources have indicated that Pakistan is looking at an opportunity to open a two-front attack on India. Meanwhile, there were a series of meetings between the Indian Army and intelligence officials to discuss the looming threat.

Sources have said Pakistan’s ISI, egged on by the Chinese, has further increased the sending of battle-hardened terrorists or even planning BAT operations in India.

Sources have also said that the groups are also discussing "internal sabotage" with the nearly 100 Pakistani terrorists inside Kashmir.

While security forces have had recent successes in killing over 120 terrorists in Kashmir, most of them are locals with only a handful foreign terrorists.

Sources have also indicated that Pakistan may try to do internal sabotage in India by attacking the security forces in J&K.

Indian and Chinese militaries on Tuesday held an over 10-hour Corps Commander-level dialogue with a focus on finalising modalities for the disengagement of troops from various standoff points in eastern Ladakh, and explored ways to ease tension in the region.

The Indian delegation conveyed concerns over China's "new claim lines" in the region and demanded restoration of status quo ante as well as immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and a number of other areas.


June 30, 2020

The Case of Indian Acquisition of Mig-29s: Why Buy a 40-Year Old Aircraft?

By Lt Gen VK Saxena (Retd)

It was reported in the media in Apr 2019 that the Indian Air force (IAF) was in talks with Russia to purchase 21 MiG-29 combat jets which were actually built in late 1980s for the then Soviet Air Force but were never assembled and flown and hence are lying unused.

This article analyses the above deal and brings out the compulsions of the IAF to in go in for an aircraft built 40 years ago, and lying mothballed till now. It also flags some critical imperatives which need to be addressed as a matter of operational expediency sooner than later.


MiG-29 Fulcrum designed by the Mikoyan Design Bureau, Russia is a twin-engine air superiority fighter which was initially optimised for air-to-air combat role. It was inducted in the Soviet Air Force in 1982 and in the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the period 1986-1991. MiG-29 is still a formidable and a lethal war machine which acts as a second line of defence for the IAF after its Su-30 MKI.

The aircraft has twin RD33 turbofan engines capable of delivering enough thrust to make it a Mach 2+ aircraft at altitude. Its ferry range extends to 2,100 km with a service ceiling of 18,000 meters. The aircraft is optimised both for short range air-to-air-combat, as well as, for Beyond Visual Range (BVR) engagements. For the first role, it has R-60 infrared (IR) homing missile with a range of 8 km, for the latter, it has two Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs); R-27 Vympl in two range versions of 40 and 80 km and a shorter range R-73 AAM effective up to 30 km.

The aircraft is equipped with IR Search and Track (IRST) Sensors to detect track and engage targets emitting IR radiations. It has a three axes autopilot and enjoys high manoeuvrability even though it does not have ‘Fly-by-Wire’ controls like all contemporary fighters of today.

MiG-29 can execute 9g manoeuvres similar to F-16s and all modern fighters. The aircraft is being operated by 30 nations across the world.

In 2007, the MiG-29 fleet of the IAF was put through a comprehensive upgrade by Russia at a cost of $865 Million. Besides new avionics kits, the upgrade involves the replacement of its outdated N019 Topaz air-intercept radar with a new Zhuk -AME Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with a range of 160km.

Besides this, the upgraded version (called MiG-29 UPG) has enhanced BVR capabilities, an air-to–air refuelling capability for higher endurance, higher fuel capacity extending the ferry range of the aircraft by 40 per cent from 2,100 to 3,000 km, a new generation weapon control system with a capability to launch Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs), capability to launch subsonic anti-ship missiles, a higher capability RD 33 turbofan engine, improved cockpit ergonomics featuring an enhanced Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) design. HOTAS refers to a capability in which a pilot can fly the aircraft without having to remove their hands from the controls.

This combined with the Head up Displays (HUDs) enables the pilot to focus on flying the aircraft, manipulating its sensors and engaging the targets rather than looking for controls in the cockpit. HUD is a transparent display that presents data to a pilot which he can see right in front of him without having to look down at flying instruments.


In February 2019, a team of senior IAF officers under an Air Marshal which went to Russia to examine the aircraft reported that the airframes were ready and could be delivered in a period of 18 months. The team also reported that they found the aircraft in excellent condition.

Russia has promised to upgrade the above aircraft to UPG standard. Also the price-tag of each upgraded aircraft is reported to be between 285-300 Crore ($40-42 million).


Currently, the IAF is facing serious challenges as to its depleting combat squadrons’ strength. The decision (read rationale) to go in for the MIG-29 at this point in time needs to be seen in the light of the above challenges. The authorised strength of the IAF is 42 squadrons, a figure it has never touched. The highest it has gone is up to 39.5 squadrons in early 1990s. There was a time when the fighter aircraft ratio between India and Pakistan was almost 3:1. This edge is currently down to 1.4:1. Assuming that the IAF reaches its authorised strength, the said ratio should settle down to about 2:1.

Even the current strength of 31 Squadrons of the IAF needs to be analysed on several fronts in order to correctly assess the challenges hidden behind this number.

The basic issue is that out of the 31 it is only about half the squadrons which are very potent, while the others half are riddled with multiple problems. The potent front-line combat strength is represented by 11 squadrons of Su-30 MK1 (242 aircraft), three squadrons (69 aircrafts) of MiG-29 and three squadrons (49 aircrafts) of Mirage 2000.

Su-30 MKI is indeed a front line air superiority fighter. 40 of these aircraft are getting upgraded by Russia. Such an upgrade will include new AESA radars, onboard computers, electronic warfare (EW) systems and the ability to carry the BrahMos -A supersonic cruise missile.

Mirage 2000 is also a front-line multirole fighter. India signed a $2.1 billion contract with Thales and Dassault Aviation in July 2011 for the upgrade of 51 Mirage 2000 to Mirage 2000 -5 Mk 2 standards. This includes incorporation of night vision capable glass cockpit, upgraded navigation and IFF systems, advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar, fully integrated EW suit besides several other features.

Apart from the above 17 squadrons, the balance 14 comprising of Jaguars (six squadrons, 139 aircraft), MiG-27s (reduced to 2 squadrons, 40 aircraft) and MiG-21s mostly Bison version (six squadrons, 121 aircraft) have issues related to vintage and challenges being faced in the upgrade.

Talking of MiG-21s, the retirement date for the upgraded MiG-21 Bison was earlier projected as 2014-17. This got changed to 2019 and now stands at 2021-22.

The Jaguar fleet which started induction in 1979-80 is also approaching its retirement. It was reported that the ongoing upgrade incorporating the new nav-attack system called Display Attack Ranging Intertial Navigation or DARIN III is also facing severe delays. The serviceability of the 118 jaguar fleet is a concern due to obsolescence, non-availability of spares and the assembly line of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) having been shut down.

As regards MiG-27s, though the aircraft started induction in the eighties (last HAL license-produced inducted in 1997), it had fundamental flaws with its R-29 B 300 turbojet engines besides 70’s era avionics With a history of multiple crashes, the last of MiG-27 ML was retired on December 29, 2017, leaving only two upgraded MiG-27 UPG in active inventory which are also due for retirement in a few years from now.

This explains the desperate need for the IAF to make up for the platform losses through fresh inductions.

Unfortunately, on the fresh procurement front, the situation is far from desired. 36 years after the approval of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project in 1983, the induction of Tejas is badly delayed. A huge order for 324 aircraft (Tejas Mk 1 -40, Tejas Mk 1A – 83 and Tejas Mk 2 – 201) is many years into the future. As per HAL’s assertion 123 Tejas will be provided by 2024-25.

The requirement of Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) in the much debated MMRCA deal was projected as 126.

However, on firm order are only 36 Rafael Jets which are planned to be inducted in a two year span staring 2019. The Defence Minister has stated that the first jet will arrive in September 2019.

Be that as it may, it leaves a huge void of 90 aircraft in this class.

Talking of voids, it was reported in July 2018 that Ministry of Defence has issued a Request For information (RFI) for 110 fighter aircraft of which 15 per cent aircraft were to be in a flyaway state while the balance 85 per cent were to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency with indigenous content of not less than 45 per cent.

While six vendors have responded to the RFI, the selection process is likely to get traction only after the new Govt is in place though multiple rounds of meetings have taken plane with foreign vendors. That this induction is at least 4-5 years into the future is a fair estimate.


Out of the twin-track approach of upgrade of existing platforms and procurement of new, only the former has progressed. There is an urgent need to revive the latter, if the IAF is not to sink any further than the already projected 26-27 squadrons in 8-10 years from now.

Tejas is badly delayed. HAL claim of 123 by 2024 is unlikely. A huge order of 324 aircraft is in the pipeline. Mk 2 must be realised by HAL, Mk 1A expedited.

Selection process for 110 fighter jets must pick up speed now as the new Govt settles down.

Recurring delays in DARIN III upgrade for Jaguar must get addressed.

Taking everything into account, it makes ample sense to acquire additional MiG-29s from Russia, even if they are more than three decades old and IAF needs to pursue the case expeditiously.

This was published by our partner India Strategic in July 2019.


June 29, 2020

First batch of six Rafale jets likely to arrive in July 27 , will be placed in Ambala

India is likely to receive by July 27 the first batch of six Rafale fighter jets which are expected to significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force, people familiar with the development said.

The IAF has been on a high alert for the last two weeks in view of escalation in tension with China following clashes between troops of the two countries in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The two armies are locked in a bitter standoff in the region for seven weeks.

On June 2, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a telephonic conversation with his French counterpart Florence Parly during which she conveyed that the Rafale jets will be delivered to India as scheduled notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic in France.

Military officials, on the condition of anonymity, said the arrival of the Rafale jets will significantly enhance the IAF's overall combat capability and will send a clear message to India's "adversaries".

When asked about the matter, the IAF did not comment.

The first squadron of the aircraft will be stationed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets

Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden

Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others

The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.

The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop infrastructure like shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the two bases

Out of the 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.

The Congress had raised questions on the deal, including on rates of the aircraft, and alleged corruption, but the government had rejected the charges.

Economic times

India moves air defence missile systems into Ladakh

Amid heightened Chinese fighter aircraft and helicopter activities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian armed forces have deployed their advanced very quick-reaction surface-to-air missile defence systems in the Eastern


"As part of the ongoing build-up in the sector, the air defence systems of both Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been deployed in the sector to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People's Liberation Army choppers there," government sources told ANI.
In the last couple of weeks, the Chinese forces have brought in heavy air superiority aircraft like the Sukhoi-30 and its strategic bombers to the rear locations which have been detected flying near the Indian territory maintaining the 10 km plus distance from the boundary.Sources said that India is also very shortly getting a highly capable air defence system from a friendly country which can be deployed and the entire area can be taken care of to prevent any enemy flying there.
suitable for deployment in the high mountainous terrain.

The fighter aircrafts of the Indian Air Force have also been very active in the Eastern Ladakh area as they are coming into the troubled theatre fully loaded after taking off from the nearby air bases in the plains.

The surveillance gaps have also been plugged and no enemy aircraft would be able to go undetected from the eyes of defence forces.

Soon after the Chinese started transgressing into Indian territory in May first week, the Indian Air Force had sent its Su-30MKIs to Eastern Ladakh after they were found close to entering the Indian air space there. The Chinese choppers have been coming frequently up to their claim lines in the Ladakh sector including a construction site close to the Galwan valley there.


June 26, 2020

Russia to deliver defence equipment in two to three months.

During Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh`s Russia visit earlier this week, India had requested for defence supplies, mostly daily requirements for the armed forces.
New Delhi: Russia will deliver defence equipment in two to three months on India's request and is waiting for an official list to be handed over from New Delhi. During Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's Russia visit earlier this week, India had requested for defence supplies, mostly daily requirements for the armed forces.

Russia was positive on the request and assured of early delivery. The Russian government sources said, "We will soon get the exact list and we will try our best to deliver at earliest, most probably within 2-3 months."
While the request is for daily requirement defence equipment, the sources said that there was no urgent request from India for the delivery of S-400 Triumf missile system or Sukhoi Su-30MKIs. The Russian side has already "sped up" the delivery "as much as possible" but for that kind of a "sophisticated system, we are making it as early as we can, because India's Ministry of Defence long back requested us to speed up," the source explained. 
During the visit, Singh had met the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov. After the meeting, Singh had said, "All our proposals have received a positive response from the Russian side. I am fully satisfied with my discussions." The Russian side also assured that the ongoing contracts "will be maintained and not just maintained, in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time", he added.

The Defence Minister was on a three-day visit to Moscow from June 22 at the invitation of the Russian Defence Minister to attend the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade. The parade saw the participation of 75 members of the Indian contingent.


Deal for 114 fighters critical for IAF to retain edge against China’

Despite the Indian Army announcing that it had agreed with China to begin mutually 'disengaging' from contentious areas across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, tension remains high following the clash on June 15.

Reports and satellite imagery have raised concerns that China is increasing its troop concentrations in the region. The Indian Air Force began deploying fighter aircraft and helicopters to forward air bases in the region a week ago. But discourse on a potential conflict with China has mostly been dominated by a focus on ground forces. The potential use of air power on the border with China has been a subject of debate ever since the Jawaharlal Nehru government decided against deploying Indian Air Force fighter and attack aircraft against the invading Chinese forces in 1962.

The Observer Research Foundation, a premier think tank, on Friday published a paper authored by retired air vice marshal Arjun Subramaniam, who is presently a strategic affairs commentator. In the paper titled, Air Power in Joint Operations: A Game Changer in a Limited Conflict with China, Subramaniam argues there is a realisation in the Indian policy making establishment "that air power could emerge as a key element in future India–China conflicts". As the basis for this, Subramaniam cited the Narendra Modi government's move to fast-track purchase of 33 fighter aircraft—21 MiG-29 jets and 12 Su-30MKI fighters—from Russia. The purchase of these jets had been in the pipeline for several months.

Subramaniam declared, "A greater debate is required on the optimal ways of leveraging Indian air power on/across the LAC, should situations escalate beyond face-offs". Subramaniam's paper also refers to the findings of a study of Harvard Kennedy School that had claimed that India had military advantages against China in a potential conflict. Subramaniam disputes some of the findings of the Harvard study on the Indian Air Force having more 'fourth-generation' fighters in the region than China.

"The Harvard paper engages in a bit of ‘India overreach’ by suggesting that the IAF’s current inventory of fourth-generation fighters (Mirage-2000s, MiG-29 UPG and SU-30 MKI) are more than a match for the PLAAF SU-30s, J-10s and J-11s. This might be qualitatively true, but quantitatively, the Harvard paper’s estimation is not corroborated by those of other studies," Subramaniam writes in the Observer Research Foundation paper. He also dispute the "The Harvard report’s suggestion that the PLAAF would allocate and train barely 15 percent of its fourth- and fifth-generation fighters for operations in an India scenario".

Citing another study, Subramaniam estimates the Chinese Air Force's "current inventory of fourth-generation platforms could have crossed 850, or about 40 squadrons. One can project that this figure will go up to approximately 50 squadrons of fourth-generation fighters by 2025". Referring to the Chinese Air Force's induction of the J-20 stealth fighter, Subramaniam argues the Indian Air Force will lose the "qualitative "advantage of the SU-30 MKI and the limited number of Rafales" in this decade.

Subramaniam also acknowledges China's inventory of H-6 strategic bombers, which can fire cruise missiles at ranges of 500km or more. The Indian Air Force does not have a comparable aircraft or weapons.

Subramaniam was cautious about the capabilities of the indigenously built HAL Tejas fighter. The Indian Air Force is expected to buy 83 Tejas MK1A fighters. Subramaniam notes the LCA will offer modest capabilities. He notes, "It is too early to assess whether the LCA MK-1A will be able to penetrate the air-defence network on the Tibetan Plateau. For now, it must be assumed that they will primarily be used in favourable conditions—to hold the line on the western sector, and provide local air defence and limited offensive support around the LAC."

Subramaniam terms as critical the Indian Air Force's plan to buy 114 multirole fighters, at an estimated cost of $15 billion. He writes, "The acquisition of the 114 MRFA aircraft with high-end fourth-generation capability could be critical for the IAF to maintain its combat edge over the PLAAF, since neither the LCA MK-1A nor the proposed MK-2 are likely to supplement the SU-30 MKIs and the Rafale as its vanguard". Last month, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat caused a flutter when he hinted the proposed deal to buy 114 fighter jets could be shelved in favour of buying more Tejas jets.

Subramaniam paints a worrying picture for the Indian Air Force by 2030, in terms of numbers. He notes, "Even in the best-case situation of the timely induction of all LCA MK-IA aircraft, emergency purchase of the SU-30s and MiG-29s, the two Rafale squadrons, and up to six multirole fighter Aircraft (MRFA) squadrons (should the pending 114 aircraft contract go through), the IAF will at best have 32–34 fighter squadrons by 2030." This is in comparison to China's PLAAF, which he estimates will have around 50 squadrons of “strong fourth-generation fighters" and 10 squadrons of modest fifth-generation J-20-class aircraft.

Subramaniam notes the Indian Air Force could still retain a numerical advantage in operations in the Tibet region thanks to its network of 10-12 airbases. He writes, "However, a combination of the dense air defence cover, superior EW and space-based intelligence, and the availability of large numbers of the J-20 fifth-generation aircraft will pare the current qualitative advantage of the IAF, unless there is the speedy induction of the 114 MRFA aircraft

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