November 13, 2018

CEOs don't lie: Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier rubbishes Rahul Gandhi's charge on Rafale deal

Dassault chief executive officer Eric Trappier rubbished allegations made by Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi that Dassault was covering up for possible cronyism in the Rafale deal, saying he does not need to lie.

"I don't lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true," Trappier told ANI backing the move. Gandhi had alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani which was used to procure land in Nagpur. “It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying.If an inquiry starts on this Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed,” added Gandhi.

"I don't have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don't lie," Trappier hit back in the interview. The Dassault CEO also said that his company is supplying fighters to Indian Air Force and Indian government and not working for any party.

When questioned on why Dassault picked Reliance as its offset partner despite having little experience in making fighter jets, Trappier said that they have put money in a joint venture and not Reliance. "We are not putting money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV."

Trappier clarified further about the investments being made by Dassault, adding that Reliance would match the amount since the shareholding pattern is 49% Dassault and 51% Reliance as per prescribed Government norms.

“We are supposed to put in this company together about Rs 800 crore as 50:50. For the time being, to start work in the hangar and to pay workers and employees, we have already put Rs 40 crore. But it will be increased to Rs 800 crore, which implies Rs 400 crore by Dassault in the coming five years,” said Trappier.

He added Dassault has seven years to perform offset. “During first three years, we are not obliged to say with who we are working. We have already settled work and agreement with 30 companies, which represents 40% of total offset obligation as per contract. Reliance is 10% out of the 40, while rest 30% is a direct agreement between these companies and Dassault,” Trappier said.

On the pricing issue, the CEO said that the present aircrafts are cheaper by 9 %. “Price of 36 was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. 36 is the double of 18, so as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was government to government, there was some negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9%. The price of Rafale in flyaway condition is less expensive in the 36 contract than the 126 contract,” he said.


Kashmiri Pandits Wants a Separate Homeland Away from Torture, Abuses and Threats?

Why are Kashmiri Pandits demanding separate homeland despite being warmly welcomed by fellow Kashmiri Muslims? Separate homeland or staying away from Kashmir seems to be only options for Kashmir Pandits, according to T.N Bhan, who recounts his torturous journey in Kashmir during the Pakistani and Tribal Raids. Opinion Article represents the views of the author.

I was 18 years old young boy living in Srinagar when Pakistani Army along with Kabali’s (Pathan Raiders) from North West Frontier Province, launched a series of surprise attacks across Jammu and Kashmir on October 24, 1947.

The Pakistani invaders quickly overwhelmed the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh. Most of the Muslim units of J&K Army comprising of Mirpuri deserted and joined the invaders after killing their Hindu and Sikh Officers.

Muzaffarabad fell within a few hours of the attack and the invaders proceeded towards Baramulla, Sopore and Srinagar. At the Uri bridge, Brigadier Rajinder Singh lost his life putting up a valiant fight. He held the invaders for two days which gave time to the Maharajah to flee the valley and the Indian Army to intervene.

The Pakistani invaders entered Baramulla on October 26, 1947, and proceeded to indulge in rape, murder, loot and arson, especially targeting Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandit community.

By the morning of October 27th, some raiders had reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Hari Singh’s exit had totally broken the morale of the government and security establishment. Police stations were empty, anything could happen at any time.

Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference organized a voluntary force of young men known as “Salamati Fauj” in the city with specific direction to maintain communal harmony at all costs. This worked, Halka Committees became the police station.

I remember I also joined this force to patrol the streets to ensure nobody disturbed the communal harmony. Most of the Hindu leadership had left the valley for Jammu. As the Kashmiri Pandits trickled in from the countryside we began to hear the tales of atrocities, plunder, rape and murder of innocent Hindus and Sikhs by the Pakistani invaders.

Although Kashmir’s Pandits were leaderless as even our RSS leaders such as Bal Raj Madhok had left the city we the grassroots RSS workers began to organise ourselves to defend and protect the Pandit honour.

We decided to go out of Srinagar to visit other cities and villages and see for ourselves the condition of our Kashmiri Pandits brothers and sisters so that help could be arranged for the needy. I was accompanied by other Swyamsewaks (workers) such as Maharaj Krishan Mirza, Amar Nath Ganju, Manohar Nath Bhagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul, Bhaskar Nath Ganjoo, Durga Nath Dhar, Trilokinath Dhar, Prithvinath Dhar, Naranjan Kaul, Brijnath Moza and others. These volunteers hailed from Sehyar, Rehbaba Sahib and Rishipeer.

We began our journey on 30th October 1947. Starting on foot in the early morning we first touched Shalteing about four miles down the road from Chhatabal Custom Post. Here we went inside the enclosed Chinar Grove and found two dead bodies of the Kabali-invaders who had been strafed by the Indian Air Force aircraft.

Onward we reached Pooshbugg a village near Pattan where the raiders had executed 14 Kashmiri Pandits as they were performing fire veneration “Hawan”. The fire was still smouldering. Luckily all fourteen had already been cremated by the Pandits of the neighbouring villages who had escaped the onslaught of these savages. All Pandit houses were looted. We tried to enter the town of Pattan but we were not allowed to enter. We could only guess the gruesome condition of Pandits in the town.

After Pattan, we continued our journey to Sangarhama-detour to Sopore. There is a thick willow grove on the right side of the main road. A Muslim boy told us that we should go and see what had happened there. Visiting the Grove was most horrendous and traumatizing experience as we saw pieces of Indian currency notes and human skeletons scattered in the area.

The boy told us that Sikh adults had killed their women and children here to ensure they did not fall in the hands of these heartless and treacherous Paksitani’s. Dazed we turned and left toward Sopore. We had walked about 200 yards we found a Kacha road to the left leading us to a Seer (Hindu Shrine). There we found a Mullah was teaching Quran to two Pandit women who were dressed in a Burka. As the Mullah saw us he took to his heels as we began chanting “Har Har Mahadev”, the women retracted and threw their Burkas. The shrine in Seer was reduced to a heap of rubble and two Muslim men were pulling out the nails from the burnt wooden planks.

The worse was still to come. We saw a couple of KP’s men and women coming towards us all in tears and crying. They told us that the local Muslims had invited two Pakistani Kabailies from Baramulla and all our brethren had been asked to assemble in the ground near a mosque where a calf was slaughtered in their presence.

Pieces of raw beef were forced down their throat and abuses were heaped. Their houses were looted, even the doors and window frames were pulled out. We spent the night with them, the bedding was the hay of rice.

Of course, we recited the bhajans (Hindu prayers) the whole night. On the dawn of next day, we began our journey towards Sopore. In this town, not much damage was done. The leader of Kashmir pandits was Jat Kak Zutshi father of Jeevan Zutshi of California. Mr Zutshi had worked with Muslim elders in the city to protect the KP’s. Unfortunately, Jat Kak had become a target of the raiders and he hid under the hay in the house of a Muslim friend on the condition that he converts to Islam. Jat Kak Zutshi’s family was my neighbour in Jamalatoo in Srinagar.The next day we proceeded to Bomai Village which is a couple of miles from Sopore on way to Handwara. Here the first assassination of a Batta had taken place a few days before the Pakistani invasion. The Martyr was Pandit Sarwanand Kaul an honest and diligent Intelligence Officer in the State Government. He was kidnapped and butchered a couple of kilometres from his house. We comforted the family. We had lunch with them and assured them that the whole of the Indian nation was with them.

On reaching Handwara we witnessed six earthen mounds which belonged to one Kashmir Pandits family. It was a case of mass suicide committed by the family. Then we witnessed the same thing as we had seen earlier in Seer. Houses had been looted, KP residents were helter-skelter seeking shelter to save their lives. We stayed in Handwara for the night sleeping on the bran.

In the morning we started to dig the bodies but the Commander of the area prevented us and said that the Army would do it. It was a very tense night for us as firing from both sides was still going on. Taking the kuchha route to Baramulla via Langet we continued our journey.

At Langet we found two dead bodies who were cremated by us. Langet had special significance for me as it is close to Trihagram where my maternal uncle Mr Zindalal Raina of Rainawari residing near Hari Singh High School was assassinated in 1931 when Sheikh Abdullah as a Muslim Communalist had aroused the Hindu-Muslim strife in the valley.

We reached Baramulla in the evening and came across a young Kashmiri Pandit who was a lecturer of English in the Govt. College there. He offered us to stay overnight which we did. His house was also looted as mentioned earlier. He told us how his beautiful wife and other young KP ladies had been locked in a house and gang-raped by the Muslim invaders.

Next day he showed us the house from which these women had jumped to death from the fourth story. During the talk, he told us that one respectable couple in the town was dragged through the streets. We saw every KP house was looted and even the doors and windows were removed.

Streets were deserted Pandit houses were like skeletons and the inhabitants had either gone into hiding or were killed. Many had committed suicide by jumping into the Jhelum river. Crossing the bridge to the other side where market and Govt. offices were housed, we were shown a spot in the middle of the bridge from where young Hindu-Pandit, Sikh and Khatri ladies plunged to their death by drowning into the river.

Those who did not have a chance to kill themselves were herded into Tehsil compound and gang-raped. All Hindu shops were looted in totality. We finally went to the Christian School and found that even the Nuns were not spared. Many had been raped before being murdered.

Out of respect, we went to the spot where Maqbool Sherwani was hanged for misdirecting the invaders. At that point, the Army Commander advised us to return to Srinagar as Baramulla was still not safe for Hindus and Sikhs. It was clear that 30,000 Hindus men and women ( Pandit, Sikh and Khatri) had either lost their lives or were taken as sex slaves by the Pakistani invaders.

Returning to Srinagar was a traumatic experience as if living hell was waiting for us. All of us were arrested and imprisoned in the Halqa Committee, denied food and beaten mercilessly for several days.

By the skin of our teeth, we managed our freedom with the condition that we would be under surveillance and roll called twice a day. It was clear to us that one way or the other these National Conference Halqa Committee Goons were going to get rid of us. We tried our best to find a way to get out of Srinagar. My quest to find someone who could get us out led me to Mr Kashi Nath Fotedar who was an important Officer in the Indian Army in Badami Bagh.

He was of immense help to many elder Kashmir’s Pandits and children who he sent out in Army trucks. Another great Pandit was J. N. Dhar of IAF from Vicharnagh who was the only Kashmiri speaking Pilot at that time whom Nehru had deputed him to Srinagar. He too rendered great service to the community by flying out beleaguered KP’s in Airforce planes.

My escape from Srinagar was possible only on April 6, 1948. I along with Manohar Bagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul and Amar Nath Ganjoo walked all the way to Pathankot on foot for 22 days. I finally settled at Saharanpur UP where I lived for 54 years.


Steady military modernisation

From September 2019, India would start to receive the much-awaited Dassault Rafale combat aircrafts and the delivery and testing of the entire fleet of 36 fighter jets is expected to be completed by April 2022. India would also start receiving Apache AH-64E multi-role combat helicopters and CH-47 tactical transport helicopters, contract for which was finalised in 2015, as well as M-777 howitzers, which was signed under a contract in 2016. The Indian Army will also receive most of the 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets, which were contracted for in 2018. From 2020, India would start getting delivery of S-400 air defence systems whose deal was signed last October. It is also expected that by next year, India would have in place a clear roadmap and contract in place for arming the infantry soldiers of the Indian Army with a battle-proven assault rifle to replace the obsolete INSAS.

What Modi inherited: Lack of modernisation of the armed forces for nearly a decade and challenges of grappling with obsolescence of existing equipment in the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, were two major predicaments that the Narendra Modi Government had to confront in 2014. Rapid pace of military modernisation by both China and Pakistan exacerbated the situation further. There were only two choices in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — either continue to play politics of delay on big ticket defence acquisitions or take a decisive approach to modernise the forces while brushing aside all inhibitions and delaying tactics of the vested interests. The Prime Minister chose the latter. He preferred to go for fast-paced military modernisation.

First steps: In June 2014, the keel was laid for India’s first missile tracking ship at Hindustan Shipyard after it was ordered by Modi Government as part of developing a robust nuclear shield. In less than four years since then, the 15,000 tonne ocean surveillance ship is almost ready and is undergoing trials before final commissioning. In 2015, the Modi dispensation gave approval for the construction of seven stealth frigates under Project 17A and six nuclear powered attack submarines. While Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited would be making four of the frigates, Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers would make the remaining three. The nuclear powered attack submarines would be built at the Ship Building Centre in Vizag.

Big ticket acquisitions: In September 2015, the Narendra Modi Government signed deals with Boeing for acquisition of 22 Apache AH-64 attack helicopters and 15 Chinook CH-47 tactical transport helicopters under a three billion dollar deal. Order for six more Apache AH-64 helicopters were given in 2018. The year 2015 also saw the Government giving nod to acquisition of 10 Heron TP armed drones from Israel for $400 million.

In September 2016, India and France inked deal for acquisition of 36 Dassault Rafale combat jets. The 59,000 crore deal, apart from a 50 per cent clause for offsets and local sourcing of components, also included a wide array of cutting edge weapon systems, including Scalp cruise missiles with 500-km range and Meteor radar guided beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile with over 100 km of range. This apart, reports also indicate that the Rafales made for India would probably be capable of carrying nuclear warheads as well as BrahMos. With one squadron each for the eastern and western battle theatres, the Rafale fleet is expected to significantly boost the combat capabilities of Indian Air Forces. A follow-on order for four additional P8I Poseidon maritime reconnaissance planes for Indian Navy was also signed in 2016.

The Rafale deal was followed by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) clearing the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) in November 2016 for acquisition of 83 Light Combat Aircraft or Tejas in the MK1A configuration, which would be equipped with AESA radars, self-protection jammers and air-to-air refuelling capabilities. A year later, IAF issued the Request for Proposal to HAL and reports indicate that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has submitted quotation for the same, which is under review by the Ministry of Defence. Incidentally, HAL is yet to get the final operational clearance (FOC) for LCA and conclude the delivery of the first 40 Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA), whose orders were placed in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Modernising artillery: In the realm of artillery acquisition, the first major step by the Modi Government in restarting the modernisation of artillery regiments of the Indian Army was through selection of L&T-Hanwha Techwin combine in 2015 for making 100 self propelled K9 Vajra howitzers. The contract worth around Rs 5,000 crore was signed in 2017. Further, a critical deal with the US was signed in 2016 for acquisition of 145 M777 ultra lightweight howitzers for Rs 5,000 crore, a deal which was pending for years during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) era. In 2016, approval was also given for raising two more regiments of Pinaka rockets for Rs 3,300 crore and the fourth regiment of BrahMos for Rs 4,300 crore with more advanced versions of the cruise missile, proficient in trajectory manoeuvrability and with deep diving capabilities, to be deployed in northeast. Bulletproof jackets for infantry: If there was one product whose deficiency tormented the infantry soldier of the Indian Army for decades now, it has to be the availability of new generation bulletproof jackets. Like many other defence files, dust kept on piling on this one too for years. During the 11th five year plan (2007-12) Indian Army was supposed to receive 1,86,168 jackets but nothing much happened. Eventually, it was in 2016 that permission for a one-time ‘interim emergency acquisition’ by taking the ‘revenue route’ was granted by the Modi-led Government to the Indian Army for procuring 50,000 bulleproof vests for Rs 140 crore from Tata Advanced Materials.

Later in April 2018, another contract worth Rs 639 crore was signed by the Ministry of Defence with SMPP Pvt Ltd for procurement of an additional 1,86,138 bulletproof jackets. In 2017, a contract worth Rs 180 crore was also given to Kanpur-based MKU for procurement of 1.6 lakh bulletproof helmets, an equipment as critical for the foot soldier, in the battle front, as bulletproof vest and assault rifle.

Modernising air defence: On the air defence front, in April 2017, India signed a two billion dollar deal with Israel Aerospace Industry and another Israeli company, Rafael, for supplying Medium Range Surface to Air Missiles (MR-SAM) to the Indian Army. Additionally, a $630 million contract in 2017 and a $777 million contract in 2018 were signed with Israel Aerospace Industries for Barak-8 Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) to arm India’s frontline warships. This was followed by the mammoth $5.43 billion deal with Russia in 2018 for S-400 Triumf air defence systems, capable of shooting down almost all kinds of incoming missiles, fighters and drones.The deal for 6,000 missiles and associated equipments, including jam resistant phased array radars, was inked in spite of threats of sanctions by US. This was followed in quick succession with a $950 million deal with Russia for two frigates of Project 11,356 class for Indian Navy.

In between, exclusive deals worth almost Rs 20,000 crore were also signed by the IAF and the Indian Army for ammunitions, spares and engines to have enough reserve for 10 days of intense fighting in case of any eventuality. Many additional deals are in pipeline including 200 Ka-226 and 48 Mi-17V5 helicopters, acquisition of 464 T-90 tanks and local production of AK series rifles. Some are expected to be signed soon. Further, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic efforts resulting in India being inducted into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) club and being granted Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA-1) status by the US also helps the country to enhance the range and quantum of warheads in imported missiles and get access to critical and cutting-edge defence technologies hitherto restricted for India.

Efforts over the last four years by the Modi Government to modernise India’s armed forces in spite of financial constraints and a huge backlog deserve appreciation.


First Nuclear Deterrence Patrol Marks Major Step for Indian Submarine Force

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced earlier this month that the Indian Navy had completed its first sea-based nuclear deterrent patrol it was more of a statement of intent than a demonstration of a new capability.

The Indian Navy’s new ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant was the boomer that completed the month-long deterrent patrol. Whilst this is not insignificant – it is the first country outside of the five members of the U.N. Security Council to develop this capability – it also shows how far away India is to achieve its goal of joining the other great powers in establishing a credible sea-based deterrent.

Only the U.S., U.K., France and Russia can sustain continuous-at-sea deterrent patrols, which a provides continuous launch capability of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by maintaining at least one SSBN on station at any one time that could fire a nuclear missile. A continuous patrol requires a minimum of four SSBNs.

The patrol as a statement will have more effect in diplomatic circles than in military ones. India wants to join the club of countries that can support a sea-based deterrent and eventually achieve a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent. It also means India will have the ability to launch all three air, land and sea-based types of nuclear weapons and a more robust second strike capability.

“The Indians have long desired a nuclear triad that’ll allow it to deter erstwhile adversaries namely Pakistan and China,” Collin Koh Swee Lean, from the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore told USNI News. “The quest for sea-based nuclear deterrent is based on at least the theory that a submarine-launched strategic offensive missile constitutes a highly secure capability by virtue of the characteristics of a nuclear-powered submarine, compared to air and land-based systems which could be taken out.”
Arihant’s design is based on Russia’s Akula-class submarine and it was commissioned in 2016. Displacing 6,000 tons, the boat was built under India’s Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme that was confirmed in 1998 although it took other forms before this. The IN has operated the 8,000-ton nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) INS Chakra (former K-152 Nerpa), which it has leased from Russia for 10 years starting in 2012 following extensive sea trials. This has informed the operation of Arihant.

Since its commissioning, Arihant has mainly been used as a training platform and technology demonstrator. The submarine is capable of firing up to four K-4 intermediate range SLBMs that can reach over 2,000 miles or 12 short-range K-15 Sagarika missiles that can hit targets at a range of almost 500 miles. However, India has a policy of keeping its warheads separate from its missiles, so it is unclear if Arihant’s deterrent patrol used armed SLBMs.

By comparison the United States operates 14 Ohio-class SSBNs that represent the US Navy’s sea-based deterrent. Displacing 18,750 tons each boat can hold 24 D-5 Trident II intercontinental SLBMs (which can reach more than 7,500 miles) and normally conducts a deterrent patrol lasting 70 to 90 days. First-of-class USS Ohio (SSGN-726) entered service in 1981 and the class will start to retire from 2029 to be gradually replaced by 12 new Columbia-class (SSBN-826) boomers. The Columbias are expected to be of a similar size, although with 16 launch tubes to carry the D-5.

The U.K. Royal Navy operates four Vanguard-class submarines that also fire the D-5 with tubes for 16 missiles. HMS Vanguard entered service in 1994 and the class is expected to leave service from the 2030s to be replaced by four new Dreadnought-class SSBNs. Due to the fewer number of boats conducting patrols, it is likely that the Vanguards will undertake longer patrols than their American counterparts, USNI News understands.

Russia’s sea-deterrent has transitioned from its 48,000-ton Typhoon-class SLBMs – it has one left in service – to the new Borei-class with three in-service and a further two due to be commissioned next year. The new boats have 16 tubes that can fire the new Bulava sub-launched ballistic missile that was accepted into service earlier this year and has a range exceeding 5,600 miles.

France operates a fleet of four new Triomphant-class SSBNs that replaced the older Redoubtable-class in 2008. The new class has 16 missile tubes that can fire the new M51 sub-launched ballistic missile that entered service in 2010 and is a more advanced missile reaching almost 7,000 miles compared to the previous intermediate range M45.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) four Type 094 Jin-class SSBNs. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has assessed that four boats have been in operation since 2015 and with its missile load of 12 JL-2 intercontinental ballistic missiles that have a range of about 5,000 miles it represents China’s sea-based deterrent capability. The Pentagon believes that as many as eight could be in-service by 2020 and it has been reported that a new JL-3 missile is being developed to replace the JL-2.
 “Recall that India’s quest for nuclear weapons is heavily influenced by China’s acquisition of this capability since the 1960s… it’s with China in mind that the nuclear triad becomes especially more pertinent to have given in the first place, Beijing has been ahead in the development of a myriad of strategic, sub-strategic and tactical offensive missile systems for some time,” Collin said.

For India, it has yet to reach the stage comparable to the introduction of the Jin-class but how fast it can follow China in developing a credible sea-based deterrent capability depends on the progress of the ATV programme.

A second SSBN to follow Arihant was reported in Indian media to have completed sea trials. Named Arighat, the boat is due to be delivered next year and is expected to be larger than Arihant with a complement of eight K-4 missiles instead of four. Another two boats after Arighat are planned to be commissioned by 2023. Following from these first four Arihant-class boats another batch of even larger SSBNs is expected.

But it is not just the ability to put boats in the water and to fire missiles from them. The submarines need to be very quiet, totally undetected and able to sustain operations for long durations. Without long-range intercontinental SLBMs it means the SSBNs will have to get closer to their target area and therefore increase the chance of detection and neutralization.

“In terms of overall performance where the platform itself is concerned, its quieting ability especially is still an unknown. And so is definitely the issue of reliability, which is then dependent on not only design attributes but also the Indian Navy’s ability to properly maintain and sustain this force,” Collin said.

SSBNs also require long-range operational support involving submarine tenders, maritime patrol craft as well as an efficient shoreside maintenance, repair and overhaul regime with the technical capacity to manage an SSBN’s complex systems.

“Certainly a complete technological ecosystem that goes beyond just the boat itself or the missile for that matter [is needed] – it’ll include achieving complete self-sufficiency for the pressurized water reactor propulsion (PWR), in the area of quieting, combat systems, etc. In particular, to have a complete technical ecosystem for this, a strong indigenous nuclear industry base is necessary, which not only includes the ability to develop safe, functioning PWR technologies, but also the know-how for the life cycle of nuclear propulsion, which involves safe disposal, refuelling, etc,” Collin said.

“Insights and experiences gleaned from the ATV, and of course the lease of the Akula SSN from Russia, would benefit India’s overall effort to indigenize its submarine capabilities and technological base. Some of the critical systems, such as combat management, sonar and quieting, that are trialed and validated in these programmes would spin off onto domestic submarine programmes, including conventional boats,” Collin added.

India’s experience with submarines goes back decades with its diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs). India’s existing SSK fleet consists of the four Shishumar-class (Type 209/1500) submarines, the first two of which were built by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Kiel, Germany and the second pair by Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai under a technology transfer agreement in the early 1980s. Its remaining fleet is made up of the nine Sindhughosh-class submarines that were built by Russia’s Sevmash in the 1980s and 1990s and have recently undergone a refit.

Due to the increasing age of its fleet, the Indian Navy has embarked on a plan to renew its fleet by building 24 boats in country and increase the size of the SSK fleet by one-third. The P-75 programme for six new SSKs was the first step to re-developing the production capabilities at MDL that is had lost following the completion of its Shishuma-class.

The new P-75 Kalvari-class submarines are being built to the Scorpene design from French shipyard Naval Group with the first boat, INS Kalvari, commissioned in November 2017. There have been delays in the programme as a result of having to re-learn skills at MDL but the second boat is due to be commissioned later this year following sea trials and the remaining four slated to follow on an annual drumbeat from 2019 to 2023 if no further delays occur.

A second class of six boats is expected under the next P-75I programme that will follow the Kalvari-class. The Indian government has an ambition to establish a second line of production and to operate a different class of boat, however, this would entail some expense and it may choose to continue using the facilities at MDL. Whether it wants to continue partnership with Naval Group or return to TKMS or another submarine manufacturer is also yet to be decided.

“It might have been tempting to imagine that, buoyed by the long-awaited success in taking off P75 programme, its high time to go it alone. But this could be premature optimism, since local yards such as MDL would still have to work with foreign partners to get a model that suits the Indian Navy’s ambitions. I’ll foresee a [P75I] scenario where the design is based on an existing foreign model, but modified and developed to be customized for Indian requirements. Certainly the existing, if nascent, infrastructure and capacity in MDL would help matters. At least the Indians won’t have to start from scratch,” Collin said.


India is 'right-sizing' its military as part of a plan to make defence spending more efficient

Four strategic studies are being carried out by the government to pinpoint ways to optimise the size of the military forces.
- As part of the restructuring of the army, overlapping divisions will be cut down while a host of new positions will be created.
- In August last year, the government approved the reform programme - which involves the redeployment of 57,000 officers, merger of garrisons and the shutdown of redundant military support units and farms.
- Personnel costs are a significant drain on the army’s operating budget, accounting for 63% of costs while the modernisation of equipment accounts for only 14%.

At the end of last month, the Indian government continued work on one of the largest reform programmes of its defence forces in its history as a independent country.

In fact, four separate assessments - which were given by a greenlight by the Army Commanders’ Conference in the second week of October - are being carried out by the government to pinpoint ways to “right-size” its military, with reforms being implemented gradually over the next couple of years.

The individual studies will each focus on separate issues — reducing the size and organisational structure of the Army Headquarters and optimising the number of junior commissioned officers and other ranks of officers.

As part of the restructuring of the army, overlapping divisions will be cut down while a host of new positions will be created, according to a Hindu report citing sources. These include a new Deputy Chief of Army Staff, in addition to two existing deputy chiefs that handle planning and intelligence systems, and a new Director for Strategic Communications, which will report the third Deputy Chief.

The goal is to increase the army’s teeth-to-tail ratio, which refers to the amount of combat-ready soldiers that can be supported by one military support officer.

The government approved the reform exercise in August last year. At the time, it was reported that 57,000 junior officers would be redeployed to functions where their skill sets were better suited. In addition to this, the reform exercise involves the merger of military units and the closure of redundant logistics units like signal operators as well as the military farm service and postal departments.

Military farms, which were established during colonial times, are tasked with supplying milk to military units across the country. Once all 39 military farms are shut, the land will be given back to the defence ministry, which will then re-allocate them to military units.

The reform exercise is part of a larger plan to optimise defence spending by redirecting it from personnel expenses to equipment procurement. This has been evident in the slew of big-ticket military deals closed this year so far.

In May this year, it was reported that India had broken into the ranks of the world’s top five countries by military expenditure, overtaking France. The country’s defence costs rose by nearly 6% to $63.9 billion in 2017 owing to higher salaries and pensions for army personnel and weapon imports.

Personnel costs are a significant drain on the army’s operating budget, accounting for 63% of costs while the modernisation of equipment accounts for only 14%. This is why the reorganisation and “right-sizing” of the military forces has become an urgent priority.

Separately, in recognition of the high cost of importing weapons, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also encouraged the domestic production of military equipment under the “Make in India” programme. However, the foreign investment in the defence industry has been meagre in recent years.


November 12, 2018

Centre Submits Rafale Pricing Details In Sealed Cover To Supreme Court

Though the government said pricing was classified, those details were reportedly also submitted separately in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court. The case will be heard next on Wednesday.
Confronting relentless opposition attacks over the Rafale deal, the government today shared details of how it decided to buy 36 fighter jets from France's Dassault at Rs. 59,000 crore, in a document submitted to the Supreme Court and petitioners who have asked for an investigation into the deal.
Though the government said pricing was classified, those details were reportedly also submitted separately in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court. The case will be heard next on Wednesday.
The government made public a redacted version of the document it has shared with the petitioners, which includes details on the choice of India offset partners by Dassault.
On November 2, the court had ordered the government to place its decision-making process in the public domain amid questions raised by opposition parties on how Rafale manufacturer Dassault chose companies in Anil Ambani's Reliance Group to partner with in India.
In exchange for landing the contract for the 36 off-the-shelf fighter jets, Dassault has to invest half the value of the deal - about 30,000 crores - in Indian firms. Reliance was chosen as one of those "offset" partners. The opposition has alleged that Reliance was chosen in a process that lacked transparency. Dassault has said it was under no pressure to select Reliance as its partner for a huge joint venture in Nagpur that will manufacture parts for fighter planes. The offset arrangement does not involve the 36 jets that are part of the current deal.
The government also said it had no role in the selection of the Indian offset partner.
The document said the process for defence procurement laid down in 2013 - when the Congress-led UPA was in power - was followed.
After the Indian Negotiation Team submitted its report on fully-loaded Rafale jets on August 4, 2016, it was vetted by the finance and law ministries within 20 days and the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the deal on August 24, said the government.
The document titled "Details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order" states that 11 steps followed in Rafale procurement were consistent with the defence ministry manual for weapons purchases.
Also, the agreement with France safeguarded government interests if there were contractual problems.
The Rafale deal was announced in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande.
In election season, a political row over the jet deal escalated sharply after Francois Hollande said in an interview that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani's company for the offset clause.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly accused the government of negotiating a not-so-favourable contract just to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have denied the charge.
The Congress also accuses the government of deliberately scrapping a deal the previous UPA government had negotiated with Dassault, for 126 Rafale jets under which 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The government's document today said the UPA deal ''could not conclude mainly due to unresolved issued related to 108 aircraft to be manufactured in India. These issues pertained to lack of common understanding between HAL and Dassault Aviation.''
The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa says can be a "game-changer" and booster for India's defence.
Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan are among the petitioners.


Russia's Sale of the S-400 to India: Part of a Bigger Defense Partnership?

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Russian president Vladimir Putin have signed a $5.43 billion deal for the delivery of five Russian S-400 surface to air-weapons systems, part of a larger package also involving the sale of four Russian Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, lease of one Akula class nuclear submarine, and a joint Indo-Russian venture in Ka-226T helicopter production.
The deal, announced on October 6, will make India the second state after China to purchase Russia’s S-400 system.
 Russia’s flagship anti-air missile defense system, the S-400 is a fourth-generation improvement over its predecessor, the S-300, that boasts an effective operational range of up to 400 kilometers can engage with targets moving at up to 17 km/hour. The S-400 poses an attractive alternative to the PAC-3 variant of the American Patriot Missile Defense System, being cheaper than its U.S. competitor and exceeding it in raw performance metrics.
The S-400 is due to be outfitted over the coming months with Russia’s latest 380 kilometers range 40H6E missiles, though it appears unlikely that these expensive, cutting-edge missiles will be shipped to India when they haven’t yet been widely distributed among the Russian armed forces.
New Delhi’s choice of weapons supplier has aroused Washington’s ire in the current climate of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia. In the months leading up to the deal, the U.S. government has warned India that the purchase of the S-400 system would constitute a potential violation of CAATSA —or Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act—designed to divert military resources from Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
CAATSA contains a waiver clause explicitly designed not to alienate countries such as India. But for Washington to essentially greenlight a deal of this size risks establishing a harmful precedent for future CAATSA enforcement, especially as it relates to Turkey’s stated intent to install S-400 systems over the following year. The Trump administration has yet to announce whether or not it plans to extend a waiver to India.
India’s decision appears to be guided by a set of economic as well as strategic concerns. On the former, India’s long-standing employment of formerly Soviet, and now Russian military equipment makes the S-400 easier and cheaper to integrate with the infrastructure of the Indian armed forces. In fact, Indian imports account for as much as 35 percent of global Russian arms sales. Geopolitically, New Delhi seeks to deter the looming specter of a two-front war against Pakistan and China. Seen by some as a potent surface-to-air counter even against fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35, Beijing will be forced to account for the newfound operational threat of the S-400 in their ongoing border skirmishes with India.
This is also a chance for India to reassert their Cold War tradition of neutrality, signalling that it has no interest in acting as Washington’s proxy in the economic containment of Russia.
This will be the first major Russian arms deal since the Soviet collapse to be conducted in Russia’s currency of rubles, a signal that the Kremlin seeks not only to challenge Washington as a leading weapons supplier, but to undermine the primacy of the dollar in strategically vital regions. At the same time, India would be remiss not to see the diplomatic opportunities stemming from the Trump administration’s increasingly confrontational stance toward China and the ongoing deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations. India’s purchase of S-400 systems is the latest entry in Prime Minister Modi’s geopolitical tightrope act between the maintenance of India’s historical Russian ties and seizing on opportunities to balance with Washington against Indian adversaries.


November 9, 2018

First Rafale aircraft made for India takes flight

As the political controversy over the Rafale fighter jet deal continues in India, manufacturing of the aircraft customised as per specifications of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is making progress.

The first aircraft built by Dassault Aviation for the IAF, a two-seater variant, made its maiden flight on October 30 in France and is designated RB 008, according to official sources.

“RB stands for Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria as he had a major role in the contract negotiations,” an official source said.

Air Marshal Bhadauria was the Deputy Chief of the IAF during the contract negotiations for 36 Rafale jets and is presently the Air Officer Commanding-In-Chief of the IAF’s Training Command. In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition.

The surprise announcement for the 36 aircraft was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to Paris in April 2015, citing “critical operational necessity” of the IAF. RB 008 will be the 36th aircraft to be delivered to the IAF in 2022, 67 months after the contract is signed, the source added.

As per terms of the IGA, deliveries will begin 36 months after the signing of the contract and be completed in 67 months.


November 7, 2018

INS Arihant: A warship which can dive to 300 metres, remain under water for months

INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear-propelled submarine that completed its first deterrence patrol, is capable of firing ballistic missiles and can stay under water for months.

The Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarine (SSBN) Arihant is a 6,000-tonne submarine with a length of 110 metres and a breadth of 11 metres. The underwater warship is capable of carrying 12 K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missiles having a range of over 700 km.

It can dive to 300 metres and is powered with a 83 MW nuclear power reactor.

SSBNs are usually bigger in size and are powered by a nuclear reactor, as a result they can remain submerged for months without having to surface. This allows them to travel farther and with greater stealth.

They are supposed to be the best guarantee for a second-strike capability in a possible nuclear exchange scenario.

India follows the policy of not using nuclear weapons first.

INS Arihant was launched on July 26, 2009, the anniversary of Kargil War Vijay Diwas, by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Four years later, in August 2013, the submarine's atomic reactor was activated. Since then, it has undergone extensive sea trials. It was quietly inducted in the Indian Navy in 2016.

It is another fine example of a joint mission of the scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the country's nuclear establishment.

There are plans to induct Aridhaman, the second SSBN.


November 5, 2018

‘Every year, we will deliver one submarine to the Navy’

Commodore Rakesh Anand, CMD, Mazagon Dock and Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) explains the reasons behind the ₹3,000-crore cost overrun and a delay of six years in delivering six submarines to the Indian Navy. Edited excerpts:

Mazagon Dock has rich history. Can you throw some light on how it came into existence?

Mazagon Dock Ltd was setup in 1774 basically to service and repair the East India Company’s ships, so we are almost 250-year-old company, the oldest shipbuilding yard in the country. We were incorporated in 1934 and taken over by the Government of India in 1960. Modern shipbuilding for the Naval War ships started actually through MDL in the country after the navy decided to have its own design department in 1955 to secure the 7,500 km of sea frontiers.

There are three defence public sector undertaking (DPSU) shipyards. Where do you stand?

Besides, MDL, we have Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) and Hindustan Shipyard, that was taken under the wings of the Defence Ministry almost 10 years back. In Cochin, Shipping Ministry have their own shipyard, which traditionally builds merchant ships. MDL has since 1960 built practically the entire range of warships other than landing platform dock (LPD) and landing ship tank (LST) which were smaller versions and given to GRSE.

What’s your USP among the three DPSUs?

GRSE is focused by virtue of its infrastructure available on its LST, LPDs and corvettes. We have built an entire range of platforms which one can think of from naval vessels to offshore platforms at Bombay High for ONGC. Our USP today is building state-of-the-art destroyers and conventional submarines. Destroyers are most highly concentrated level of equipment for both propulsion systems and for the weapons systems.

How many warships have you delivered to the Indian Navy so far?

We have delivered 795 platforms since 1960 and a large number of them have been exported. We have built passenger ships to cargo ships. The last ships which were exported were the multi-support vessels to Bahamas and Mexico in 2014. We have also exported conventional submarines. There are 26 front line warships that have been delivered to the Indian Navy.

When was the last submarine delivered to the Indian Navy?

We are the only ship building yard in the country to have built conventional submarines. The last SSK submarine was delivered in 1994 and currently, we are building six Scorpene class submarines. The first of the Scorpene class submarines has been delivered to the Indian Navy last year.

This month, we will be delivering the second submarine Khanderi and the third submarine, next year by September-October. So, every year, one submarine is going to be delivered to the Indian Navy with the last one being delivered in 2022.

Any of the submarines made by Mazagon Dock have ever been used in wars?

No, our last war was in 1971 and unfortunately we missed that operation. At the time of Kargil, I was also on a ship and we were all deployed at appropriate places in the readiness that in case something happens we would be ready. The issue is we have not seen any war after the 1971. We were not building indigenous platforms at that time. The first major platform that we started building was Leander Class which we delivered in 1972 after the 1971 war to Indian Navy.

During 1971 Ghazi Attack, which submarine was used if it was not an indigenous built ship?

During the Ghazi Attack in 1971 we had some submarines. In 1968, we had this Foxtrot class Russian submarines. Our Kalvari class submarines was decommissioned 1968, but the name still carries on today. So during that time we didn’t had indigenous warships.

How many submarines used by Indian navy are indigenous and what would be the ratio by 2022?

We have three indigenous submarines out of the total 13 and the rest of them are imported. There are eight Russian EKM submarines and four SSK submarines and one Kalvari. By 2022, we will have 18 submarines, of which eight will be indigenous.

The order for six submarines was awarded in 2005 and yet, you delivered just one so far. Why the huge delay?

This contract came in 2005 and we were supposed to deliver the first submarine in 2012. But, there were certain issues in this contract related to the materials. The cost went up and additional sanctions had to be taken.

The contact said that the material procurement was the responsibility of MDL. The material was to be supplied by our collaborator and there were a number of equipments which were to be procured by MDL from a number of small suppliers from whole of Europe and these small time suppliers were not willing to participate, leading to huge delays. They were all nominated by all our collaborator. We decided to bundle up all and ask our collaborator to supply all this.

Even after the orders were placed, there were delays in supply. So, this material issue was the prime problem causing the delay.

The six submarines were awarded to you on nomination basis or bids were called?

It was a nomination. Because as I said we are the only shipyard, which has built submarines in the past and there is a consensus that we want to become self-reliant in submarine construction by 2030 so it is part of that on which MDL got this order.

What’s the cost escalation due to delay?

The cost, which was originally envisaged was ₹16,000 crore, went up to ₹19,000 crore and we had to take additional sanctions and the delays happened because of the procurement of material which has caused the total impact on the delivery of these submarines. So, each submarine is costing between ₹3,000-₹3,500 crore.

The government is planning to award another six submarines. Will you participate in the bids?

Yes, we are waiting for that now. The follow on the P75 India is awaited now so we are all hoping for the RFP that should be coming in. Let’s see, we are eagerly waiting for this order.

The last order you got was on nomination basis. How competitive you will be this time given there will be competition from private payers as well?

We don’t want to take names but we have been in this industry for more than 60 years so a new company cannot start from scratch and be better than us. There are private shipbuilders as well no doubt in that, our work speaks for our self. We need to see that this shipyards can do that overnight and can reach where we reach in less than the years we took.

How the competitive bids are going to help you compared to bagging projects on a nomination basis?

All the government policies today are totally focused towards Make in India. The existing project was the first project in 2005, such mandates probably did not exist that are existing now. You know about the offset clause, we didn’t had the offset clause at that time and consequently there was no benefit. But next time I am very sure that the government will ensure that we get much more out of the next series of submarines and not like how it was

What is your order book?

Our order book at the moment will be roughly ₹53,000 crore to be executed by 2025.

November 3, 2018

HAL plans 3rd LCA line to keep workforce engaged

  • HAL has now decided to open a third manufacturing LCA Tejas at its Nashik facility
  • The operation of the third line, however, depends on HAL getting the orders for 83 Tejas cleared by the Defence Acquisition Committee
  • At present HAL has orders for 40 Tejas—16 in IOC configuration and the remaining in FOC configuration
Conceding that its employees trained to work on fixed wing aircraft will see a reduction in work once it delivers the remaining Su-30 MKI planes Su-30 planes, HAL has now decided to open a third manufacturing line of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas at its Nashik facility, which so far has only made the Su-30. The last Su-30 will be delivered by March 2020.

TOI had reported earlier that with the Hawk and Jaguar projects already completed and just 23 of the Su-30s pending delivery, thousands of HAL workers will have little or no work until new orders come. HAL CMD R Madhavan, on Friday said: “While the repair and overhauling work at Nashik will still be there, it is true that a section of those workers will have no work. So we’ve decided to start a third LCA line at Nashik.”

The operation of the third line, however, depends on HAL getting the orders for 83 Tejas cleared by the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC), which is currently stuck with the Cost Committee set up by the Centre, which feels that the cost quoted by HAL is too high.

“We’ve submitted all clarifications to the committee. You cannot compare the cost of the IOC (initial operational clearance) configuration, which had nothing to the FOC (final operational clearance) configuration which has a lot of new equipment added. The cost has gone up because of that. Now, if you want the moon, you will have to pay for it,” Madhavan said.

He did not, however, give out details of what HAL had quoted for each Tejas. HAL is already spending Rs 1,300 crore to augment LCA production and make 16 aircraft annually, and the third line will be part of this. “With that we hope to achieve an annual production rate of 20 planes a year,” he said.

At present HAL has orders for 40 Tejas—16 in IOC configuration and the remaining in FOC configuration—and orders for the 83 is important for the PSU to keep its production going. Madhavan said that on the rotary wing side, the PSU has enough orders to keep its workforce engaged, as reported by TOI earlier.

“We are also hopeful of bagging order for the light combat helicopter (LCH) and the light utility helicopter (LUH) in the future besides the Kamov helicopters which will be a joint venture with Russia,” he said.

IAF pays due partly ::

Madhavan also confirmed that the PSU has more than Rs 7,000 crore dues owed by the armed forces—more than 70% of which must come from cash-strapped Indian Air Force (IAF)—and that this payment would make its cash position better.

“Just a few days ago the IAF paid Rs 2,000-odd crore which has helped our cash position, and we will be in a better position once the remaining is paid too...the army and navy owe us a negligible amount,” he said.

Order Books ::

While conceding that the company could do with more orders than its book reflects, Madhavan said: “We generally like to have an order book that would take care of sales for about five to seven years, but the Rs 62,000 crore or Rs 64,0000 crore we have now is enough only for three-and-a-half years. That said, we are hopeful that the LCA and LCH orders come through soon,” he said.


Indian Army to Get First Batch of K-9 Howitzers Next Week

The Indian Army plans to replace all its field artillery guns with a variety of 155mm/52 caliber guns at a cost of over $6 billion by 2025 in order to equip artillery regiments that have barely seen new types of howitzers since the Bofors controversy three decades ago.

India's Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman will hand over the first batch of K-9 VAJRA-T tracked, self-propelled artillery guns on November 9 to the Indian Army. The handing over ceremony will be organized at Devlali Field Firing Ranges, under the aegis of the School of Artillery Devlali, Nashik. Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat who has been fast-tracking the force's modernization program will accompany Sitharaman to the event.

Last year in April, Indian private sector giant L&T formally entered into a $710-million partnership with South Korea's Hanwha Techwin for India's second big gun deal after the BAE Systems-Mahindra partnership to build M777 ultra-light guns.

The K-9 Vajra-T is a 155mm /52 caliber tracked Howitzer gun and a variant of the highly successful K9 Thunder modified for Indian conditions. The gun has 50 percent domestically-made content that includes the fire control system, hull, turret, electronics, NBC systems, autoloaders, air conditioning, and direct fire systems. However, the critical parts of the gun — the barrel and breach — were imported from South Korea.

The 47-ton K9 Vajra-T is powered by a German 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 diesel engine which can fire up to 40 kilometers. The Indian Army had intended to own a howitzer with a high ground clearance that could be used across various types of terrain.

The Indian government has also ordered 114 Dhanush guns for induction into the army at a cost of $2 billion. Apart from that India is also set to induct 145 M777 155MM/45-caliber ultra-light howitzers from America's BAE Systems for approximately $750 million.

This would be the first set of new Howitzers to be handed over to the Indian Army in three decades as New Delhi had shelved all plans to contract for field guns after the Bofors scandal in the late 80's. The scandal revolved around bigwigs in the Indian government led by the Congress Party and officials from the Swedish government having received kickbacks from Swedish arms manufacturers AB Bofors in exchange for a contract to supply 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army.