January 30, 2013

Certified and ready, Indian Army to receive 1st weaponised Dhruv

In a significant milestone for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the first Dhruv (Weapon Systems Integrated)—Dhruv-WSI or Rudra as it has been christened—will be certified and ready for handing over to its primary customer, the Indian Army, during Aero India 2013. The platform is all set to be officially certified by certification agencies this week. While a modified version of the Dhruv airframe—tandem seats—goes into the Light Combat Helicopter that is currently in flight trials, the Army was of the opinion that an armed Dhruv without major modifications to the primary airframe would also be a potent platform, and be available to the customer naturally much sooner. The Rudra is a result of that. According to HAL, a Rudra can carry 48 70mm rockets. "Different warheads such as high explosive, darts, flechettes or cargo warheads provide adequate flexibility to address any type of target. 

These rockets can be safely delivered at stand-off ranges of more than 8 km. The turret mounted 20 mm cannons can be cued to the electro optical pod or the pilot's helmet. This provides Rudra immediate and accurate firepower against ground and aerial targets. Pilot only has to look at the target and fire. With an advanced ballistic computer, the guns are very accurate even at extreme angles. Fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles with 7-km range make Rudra an ideal platform for ground support roles. Rudra can carry four air to air missiles. 

These are infra red guided fire and forget missiles with off axis boresight capability. Pilot can engage the target using the helmet mounted sight or with the electro optical pod, while manoeuvering." The HAL brochure on the Rudra also adds, "State of the art sensors complement this tremendous firepower. Gyrostabilised electro optical sensors work on both visual and IR spectrum. Any type of target will be picked up and tracked at large distances, whether by day or by night. These targets can be handed over to the guided missiles or attacked with rockets and gun.

The laser designator can designate the target for any compatible weapon. A comprehensive self protection suite would empower the pilot with essential situational awareness of the elctromagnetic and laser environment. Any missile launched on the helicopter would be picked up by the self protection suite and effective countermeasures dispensed automatically. This makes Rudra practically unassailable." The delivery comes at a time when there remain unresolved issues between the IAF and Army in the use of armed helicopters.


January 29, 2013

India Reverses Gear, Puts Arjun Tank Back in Production

India’s indigenous Arjun tank project began in 1974, and originally aimed to replace the Russian T-54 and T-72 tanks which made up the bulk of that country’s armored firepower. As has often been the case in India, its DRDO government weapons development agency sought an entirely made in India solution, even though this would require major advances on a number of fronts for Indian industry. As has often been the case in India, the result was a long and checkered history filled with development delays, performance issues, mid-project specifications changes by India’s military, and the eventual purchase of both foreign substitutions within the project (now 58% of the tank’s cost) and foreign competitors from outside it (the T-90S).
The 58.5 tonne Arjun tank wasn’t fielded with the Indian Army until May 2009. In contrast, Pakistan’s much more time-limited, scope-limited, and budget conscious approach in developing and successfully fielding its T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tank is often cited by Arjun’s detractors.
The Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of India’s future force, despite that tank’sperformance issues in hot weather. That won’t change, but after beating the T-90 in a number of trials, the Arjun now has a clear future in India…

Arjun Cap, and T-90S Trade

The Arjun is an indigenous project, but not wholly so. Imported items such as the engine/ power pack, gunner’s main sight, and other components account for 58% of each tank’s cost. This is not uncommon around the world. Israel’s Merkava tank family also relies on a foreign-built engine, for instance, as does France’s Leclerc.
It is uncommon among Indian policy-makers, but the reality is that a series of project failures gave them little choice. The Arjun has been plagued with a mix of problems over its 36-year development history, including its fire control system, suspension issues, and poor mobility due to excessive weight. It has also grown from a 40-tonne tank with a 105mm gun, to a 62-67 tonne tank with a 120mm gun. Predictably, project costs spiraled up from Rs 15.5 crore in 1974 to Rs 306 crore (INR 3.06 trillion). The army was not pleased. In an unusual stance, they accepted the tank only after a third-party audit by an international tank manufacturer, and orders were strictly limited.
The Indian army didn’t even stand up its 1st Arjun armored regiment until May 2009, 35 years after the program began. To underscore the point, even that milestone followed a development that seemed to end the platform’s future. In July 2008, India had announced that production of the Arjun would be capped at the already-committed total of 124 vehicles. Instead, development would begin on a new next-generation tank, designed to survive and serve until 2040 or so.
That appeared to close the book on a failed project, but opinion in India was sharply split. Many observers cited this as the final failure. Other were noting the problems with the T-90s, and the Army’s refusal to conduct side-by-side tests, alongside recent test successes that began earning the Arun some military fans. In May 2010 desert trials alongside the T-90S, the Arjun did surprisingly well.
In response, the government and the Army changed course somewhat. Arjun production would double to 248. That’s an improvement, but DRDO insists that a 500 vehicle order is needed to give them the volume needed to iron out all production difficulties, and provide a platform for future development.
The Army’s plan still calls for 1,657 T-90S “Bhishma” tanks at about 12 crore (INR 120 million, about $2.78 million) each if prices remain stable. About 1,000 of those are slated to be built in India by Avadi Heavy Industries, the same firm that builds the Arjuns. They will be joined by just 248 Arjuns at about 16.8 crore (INR 168 million, about $3.92 million) each, as well as 692 older T-72 tanks upgraded to the T-72M1 “Ajeya” standard. This overall plan changes the force structure proposed in 2006, from 3,780 tanks (1,302 T-90s and 2,480 T-72s) to 2,597 higher-end tanks.

Contracts & Key Events

2012 – 2013

Aug 10/12: What’s in Mk2? An article for FORCE Magazine clarifies some of the Arkun Mk.2?s differences from the first version, with cooperation from India’s Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE).
Improvements include the ability to fire the Israeli LAHAT missile from its 120mm rifled gun barrel, Explosive Reactive Armor for added defense, a mine plough attachment, and a shock-absorbing suspended driver’s seat. Mechanical changes include a suspension upgraded to 70 tonne capacity, increased horn length (19 mm) on the German-built tracks to counter track-shedding, and slightly bigger wheels. Despite an overall weight increase from 62 tonnes to 67 tonnes, the original engine is being kept, but the gear reduction ratio has increased from 4.4 to 5.3. That will lower top speed, but reportedly keeps acceleration as good or better. Fuel efficiency is reportedly the same as the Mk.1.
The Indian Army also wants a wider range of ammunition types, which have been an issue with the Arjun. Unfortunately, DRDO’s history here isn’t reassuring. The article also mentions that the Mk.2 contract will involve just 116 tanks, bringing the entire ordered Arjun fleet to 240. The first Arjun Mk-2 tank is scheduled to enter operational service in 2016. With HVF Avadi looking at a production rate of 30 tanks a year, all 116 tanks will be delivered by 2020. Livefist.

2009 – 2010

Cap removed, Arjun Mk.2 production approved; Work on Future MBT begins.
Aug 10/10: Beyond Arjun. DRDO describes its Future Main Battle Tank program to India’s Business Standard, who says:
“While costs are still being evaluated, the projections are mind-boggling. The development cost alone could be Rs 5,000 crore. Then, the replacement cost of the Indian Army’s 4,000 tanks – at a conservative Rs 25 crore per FMBT – adds to Rs 1,00,000 [sic] crore.”
That’s about $1.085 billion for development, with a potential total of $21.7 billion for the program, assuming no major cost inflation or overruns. DRDO’s chief and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, V K Saraswat says that unlike the FICV armored infantry carrier, DRDO will develop the FMBT just as it did Arjun. He projects about 7-8 years from the time the project is formally sanctioned, though DRDO has been very wrong before.
The Preliminary Specifications Qualitative Requirement (PSQR) calls for a light 50-tonne tank, Explosive Reactive Armor plates, full networking and situational awareness even with hatches closed, and the ability to protect crews from radiation on a nuclear-contaminated battlefield. Note that France’s AMX-56 LeClerc tank, which already meets many of these requirements, is around 55 tonnes. DRDO is likely to find that weight is a serious risk and cost issue, as it did with Arjun.
Aug 9/10: Mk2. In a written Parliamentary reply to Shri BP Tarai and Shri Prabodh Panda, Defence Minister Shri AK Antony confirms that the Indian Army is placing an order for “124 Arjun Tanks Mark – II in addition to the equal number of Mark – I ordered earlier.” The difference between the 2 versions is not yet clear, and neither is the price. Indian MoD.
May 17/10: Arjun Mk2 OKed. India decides that it will remove the production cap, and double production of the Arjun Mk I tank. So far, 75 of the 124 ordered Arjuns have been delivered, and the remaining 49 were to be delivered by mid-2010. Now, the production line will be extended:
“The Army has decided to place fresh order for an additional home-built 124 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun… [after] the success of the indigenous MBT Arjun in the recent gruelling desert trials. The project for the design and development of the MBT Arjun was approved by the Government in 1974… After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets – both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy.”
Even so, the mainstay of India’s future tank fleet with remain the Russian T-90S. The government’s DRDO agency still wants a minimum of 500 Arjuns ordered, to stabilize production lines until it can develop a Mark-II version. Indian government PIB release | India’s Business Standard | Deccan Chronicle | domain-b |Hindustan Times | Times of India.
Arjun Mk.2 approved, production cap removed
May 13/10: Arjun-II. The Indian government gives its approval to restructure the DRDO. Among the continued programs, however, is development of an MBT ArjunMk-II tank. Indian government release | Defense News.
March 25/10: Arjun aces trials. The Hindu Business Standard: “Arjun tank outruns, outguns Russian T-90.” Excerpts:
“The importance of this comparative trial can be gauged from a list of those who attended… “The senior officers who attended the trials were taken aback by the Arjun’s strong performance”, an army officer who was present through the trials frankly stated… The army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), which has bitterly opposed buying more Arjuns, will now find it difficult to sustain that opposition… The current order of 124 Arjuns is equipping the army’s 140 Armoured Brigade in Jaisalmer. With that order almost completed, the Arjun production line at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi, near Chennai, needs more orders urgently. The Rs 50 crore facility can churn out 50 Arjuns annually… The Arjun’s sterling performance in the desert raises another far-reaching question: should the Arjun — with its proven mobility, firepower and armour protection — be restricted to a defensive role or should it equip the army’s strike corps… Each strike corps has 8-9 tank regiments. If the army recommends the Arjun for a strike role, that would mean an additional order of about 500 Arjuns.”
Note also the comparative chart, showing the Arjun compared to many international tanks.
Jan 16/10: Competitive trials. IANS reports that the Arjun main battle tank will get its long-requested trials beside the Russian built T-90S tanks, in desert trials at the at Mahajan Range in Rajasthan on March 1st.
“Our aim is not to determine a winner in these trials, but to test the core strength of the tanks,” a senior official of the Indian Army said, wishing anonymity.”
Despite that assurance, it’s generally acknowledged that poor performance in these tests would have consequences for the Arjun platform.

2008 – 2009

Arjun production capped at 124; Arjun indicted.
June 4/09: Exports? An article in The Hindu Business Line by a former member of the state-run Factory Ordnance Board, states that the Arjun may be attracting some export interest:
“Miffed at the continued reluctance of the Army and armed with the credentials certified by independent audit, the DRDO is challenging the former to conduct comparative trials of T-90 and Arjun. The Army stalled such an exercise by first wanting at least 45 tanks in the regiment and then postponing the trials to October. The Army is also inserting tactical elements in the test directives… However, happily for HVF and the DRDO, it appears that a serious RFP (Request For Proposal) has been received from a Latin American country.”
May 25/09: Induction. The Indian Army inducts its first Arjun Main Battle Tank armored regiment, adding 16 delivered tanks to bring the 43rd Armored Regiment up to its strength of 45. Lieutenant General D Bhardwaj, Director General Mechanized Forces (DGMF), accepts the new tanks during the induction ceremony. StratPost.
Arjun Mk.1 inducted
July 22/08: Industrial. ANI reports from India’s Technology Seminar on ‘Future Infantry Combat Vehicle and Future Main Battle Tank,’ and the winds all appear to be blowing toward greater private sector involvement.
Current Defence Minister A K Antony noted that the new defense purchase policy envisages a greater role for the private sector in supplying much needed equipment to the country’s armed forces, and added that the focus of the new rules and procedures in the defense procurement procedures 2008 (DPP 2008) is on ensuring speedier procurements. Also:
“…Chief of the Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, pointed out that while technology was critical for any nation’s defence system, “what was also needed was the need to check any time and procedural delays.” He said that while it was important to stress on indigenisation and collaborative approach, “we should not compromise on our operational capabilities.”
…Lt. Gen. Dalip Bhardwaj, Director-General Mechanised Forces, said that the time was right for greater private sector involvement in supplying defence equipment. “However, the industry must keep in mind the defence sector’s end needs and not just the technology.” According to him what the industry needs to do is to develop products that have a longer shelf life.”
July 21/08: Beyond Arjun. India and Russia may be gearing up to develop the T-90?s successor as a joint project. Rediff quotes Nikolai Malykh, director general of Russia’s biggest tank producer Uralvagonzavod:
“We put forward this idea (of developing the tank) at the turn of the 21st century. The Indian side has now come up with a similar proposal… We will take the first step when our experts go to India to attend a conference on the future tank and prospects for the tank-building industry.”
Moscow Defence Brief magazine claims that the new tank may have a new main gun of up to 152 mm caliber, higher speed, a smoother ride, improved networking, and an armor-protected crew compartment sealed from an unmanned turret equipped with an automatic loader. A new hunter-killer fire control system would include target acquisition in optical, thermal, infrared and radar spectrum that will be accessible both to the gunner and tank commander.
This is interesting on 2 levels. One item worth noting is their use of the BrahMos program as a model. If adopted, the successor program to the Arun tank is likely to have far less DRDO involvement and control. The second item is the feature set itself, which reflects Russian thinking. It’s worth reminding oneself, however, no deal has been signed as of yet. Initial wish lists for features are just that, until a working model is fielded. Rediff report.
July 7/08: Capped. India decides to cap production of the Arjun tank at 124. (Toi)

- defenseindustrydaily

Navy plans to issue bid for over 120 multirole choppers

In could be the world's biggest tender for helicopters, the Indian Navy is planning to issue a bid for procuring more than 120 multirole choppers expected to be worth around Rs 35,000 crore.
The navy had recently issued a global request for information in this regard and has plans of acquiring more than 120 Naval Multirole Helicopters (NMRH), navy sources said here.
The navy had recently asked global helicopter vendors to provide details about their choppers in this category and is planning to issue a global request for proposal in this regard in near future, they said.
The navy is planning to procure these new NMRH for carrying out anti-submarine warfare, special forces' operations and anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
The companies expected to take part in the tender include all major chopper manufacturers like European Eurocopter and Agusta Westland and American Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin.
"We are planning to offer our EC725 helicopter once the Indian Navy issues a tender for these NMRH," Eurocopter's Vice President for South Asia region Rainner Farid said here.
The Indian Navy is already holding a competition for procuring 16 multirole helicopters in which European NH-90 and American Sikorsky S-70 Bravo are in the race.
The navy at present relies on its fleet of Sea King helicopters which were inducted in two different phases in the 80s.
The navy would require these multirole choppers in view of its expanding fleet size and expansion in its area of responsibility with the government stating that country's strategic interest ranges from the Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Straits.

The Indian Express

January 28, 2013

5 things you need to know about K-15, India’s underwater ballistic missile

Representative image. Reuters
Moving a step closer to completing its nuclear triad, India today successfully test fired its K-15 ballistic missile from an underwater platform in Bay of Bengal. Nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea.
Here are a few things you should know about K-15:
*The medium range ballistic missile has a strike range of around 1500 kilometres.
* It is a submarine-launched ballistic missile capable of being launched from some submarines. Modern variants usually deliver multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles each of which carries a nuclear warhead and allows a single launched missile to strike several targets.
*K-15 is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the Indian strategic forces’ underwater platforms.
*This missile will help India to achieve the capability of launching nuclear warheads from underwater facilities.
*US, France, Russia and China are the only other countries that have this type of missile capability.


Russia Hands Over Refitted Indian Sub

(RIA Novosti) - An Indian Navy diesel-electric submarine was handed back to the service in an official ceremony following a major refit at Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard on Saturday.
The contract for the refit and modernization of the INS Sindhurakshak (S63), a Project 877 EKM (NATO Kilo-class) submarine was signed in June 2010.
Part of the refit involved installation of equipment for Klub-S (3M54E1 anti-ship and 3M14E land attack) cruise missiles and over ten Indian and foreign-made systems including the Ushus hydro-acoustic (sonar) system and CSS-MK-2 radio communications system. In addition, the boat's cooling system was modified, a "Porpoise" radio-locater fitted and other work carried out "increasing the boat's military capacity and safety."
The boat is due to set sail for Mumbai on January 29 via the northern sea route, accompanied by Russian ice-breakers. It will be the first time an Indian submarine has undertaken a handover in ice conditions.
The Sindhurakshak was laid down in one of Russia's oldest shipyards, the Admiralty Wherf yard in St Petersburg in 1995. She was launched in 1997 and delivered in December that year.
The boat displaces 2300 tons, carries 52 crew, has a top speed of 19 knots and diving depth of 300 meters. Zvezdochka, which specialises in repair and refit of nuclear-powered boats, has already refitted four of India's diesel-electric fleet, Sindhuvir (S58), Sinduratna (S59), Sindhugosh (S55) and Sindhudvhaj (S56).

January 24, 2013

Final trials for INS Vikramaditya, Rs. 12,500-crore ship, in June

INS Vikramditya - India's second aircraft carrier- is back on its feet. Three of the ship's eight boilers that had malfunctioned during trials in last year have been "opened up and set right," a senior Navy official told NDTV.

Originally built as the Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Union, the $2.3 billion (about Rs. 12,500 crore) aircraft carrier is being refurbished by Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter for India, its biggest customer.

The induction of the 45,000-tonne aircraft carrier that can carry about 30-odd aircraft was delayed by almost a year, leading to a severe reprimand by Defence Minister AK Antony in October.
 Sources told NDTV that the problems in the ship's boilers had surfaced had when the aircraft was pushed to perform at speeds over 26-27 knots per hour. The INS Vikramaditya can do a maximum of about 28 Knots per hour. The Sevmash shipyard in Russia which is refurbishing and refitting the aircraft carrier hasn't officially informed India about the possible reason for the malfunction of the boilers.

In sea trials last year, the ship sailed for 10o hours and its flight deck - the most critical part of an aircraft carrier - is operational, senior officials told NDTV. 

The MiG-29KUB two-seat naval fighter jet will be positioned on the Vikramaditya .  It will be equipped with Russian-made KH-35 air to air missiles.

But because the seas in Northern Russia are frozen, the INS Vikramaditya can sail out of the port only in June this year for "delivery acceptance trials" - the penultimate stage before a ship is commissioned.

On acceptance of the ship from the builder, it will be formally commissioned with the Indian tri- colour being hoisted on top of ship after which start its journey to towards India.

The Navy intends to commission the ship in Russia and sail it back to India by October- November 2013. It is expected to join active service by December.

Interestingly, the Indian Navy will showcase the aircraft carrier on January 26 at Republic Day parade in New Delhi. The Navy tableau will include a scaled-down model of the INS Vikramaditya.


Boeing delivers first C-17 to Indian Air Force for flight tests

The first of 10 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to enter a US Air Force flight test programme at Edwards Base in Palmdale, California.

Boeing delivered India's first C-17 today at its facility in Long Beach, California, and is on track to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF this year and five in 2014, the company said in a media release.

"The C-17 met the stipulated airlift requirements of the Indian Air Force when it flew field evaluation trials in India during June 2010," said Air Commodore Sanjay Nimesh, Air Attache at the Embassy of India.
 "It was exciting to see the C-17 fly again, this time with Indian Air Force markings, as the airlifter completed its first-flight milestone on January 11. We look forward to the day that the first IAF C-17 flies over India."

"The C-17's ability to operate in extremely hot and cold climates; transport large payloads across vast ranges; and land on short, austere runways makes it ideal for India's airlift needs," said Nan Bouchard, Boeing vice president and C-17 programme manager.

"We value our continued partnership with India and the US government and will provide dedicated support as India's first C-17 enters flight testing."

India signed an agreement with the US government on June 15, 2011 to acquire 10 C-17 airlifters, making India the largest C-17 customer outside the US.

Boeing will support the IAF C-17 fleet through the Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Programme (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics contract, the company said.

The GISP "virtual fleet" arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers access to an extensive support network for worldwide parts availability and economies of scale, it said.


Post-deliveries Textron looks forward to Aero India

As reported by SP's earlier, the Indian Air Force recently began taking delivery of Textron Defense CBU-105 sensor fuzed munitions for its Jaguar jets. The company has announced its participation in Aero India 2013, taking place from February 6-10 at Air Force Station Yelahanka.
To mark Textron's first big military sale to India with customers and partners, Textron Systems’ new president and chief executive officer, Ellen Lord, will be present at the show. Lord, who was named CEO in October 2012, previously served as senior vice president and general manager of Textron Defense Systems. “Aero India 2013 is a wonderful opportunity to discuss emerging requirements, and engage with potential customers on how Textron Systems’ products and solutions can best meet them,” she said. “Textron Systems has established strong relationships with the Indian government, armed forces and security agencies, as well as industry partners, and we are vested in growing that presence even more. Key industry meetings like Aero India 2013 and our ongoing activities as part of the larger Textron enterprise, including Textron India Private Limited, are critical to achieving that goal.”

 By SP's Special Correspondent

France wants Indian to exercise Rafale options immediately

During a two-day official visit to Paris earlier this month, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was apprised of the French Government's keenness that India exercise options for 63 additional Dassault Aviation Rafale fighters alongside the primary under-negotiation contract for 126 jets under the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition.
The 63 additional jets are mandatorily available to the MoD as part of a 50 per cent options clause attached to the main agreement under negotiation. If the MoD decides to exercise options, the additional jets will be contracted under a separate contract agreement, and not clubbed with the main agreement for 126 jets. It is understood that the issue came up in discussions with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as well as with French President François Hollande. After his meeting with the French Foreign Minister, Salman Khurshid is quoted to have said, "We know good French wine takes time to mature and so do good contracts", when asked about when a deal was expected to be signed. Contract negotiations are currently ongoing. Recently, following queries raised by Dassault Aviation, it was clarified in no uncertain terms by the MoD that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would be the lead integrator of 108 Rafales in Bengaluru.

 By SP's Special Correspondent

January 21, 2013

INS Saryu commissioned for maritime surveillance

The Indian Navy commissioned its largest offshore patrol vessel INS Saryu for maritime surveillance around Andaman and Nicobar islands on Monday.

Built at Goa Shipyard Limited, the 105-meter vessel is the first of the four new class naval off shore patrol vessels (NOPVs) that would be commissioned by the Indian Navy over next one-and-half year.

"The ship will help the navy to discharge its duty on the eastern coast. It will patrol the exclusive economic zone around the islands as it has a capacity to be off shore for a month on its own," said Air Marshal PK Roy, commander in chief of Andaman and Nicobar Command of Indian Navy.

Air Marshal Roy commissioned the ship in Vasco town near here on Monday in presence of senior naval officials.

"This is an important step towards security of our maritime assets based near Andaman and Nicobar Islands," he said, adding that the security of few of the islands which are uninhabited is crucial.

"There are 500 islands of which many are not inhabited," he said, adding that the area around Andaman and Nicobar Islands is strategic from naval point of view.

Indian Navy officials said INS Saryu will also be important to provide secured environment for oil installations off Andaman and Nicobar coast.

"The vessel can also be deployed for escorting high value ships and fleet support operations," a senior official added.

"The ship is the Indian Navy's largest off shore patrol vessel, the first in its class," said Rear Admiral (Retd) Vineet Bakhshi, Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Limited.

The second ship in this class would be delivered by May this year and the rest two ships within an interval of six months each thereafter, he added. 

Times of India

India, Australia to start nuclear energy cooperation talks in March

India will begin talks for a civil nuclear energy cooperation with uranium-rich Australia in March this year.

"We shall be commencing negotiations on a civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement in March 2013," external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said here on Monday after talks with visiting Australian foreign minister Bob Carr.

The first round of negotiations conducted by the foreign ministries of both countries will be held in Delhi.

The agreement would enable the export of uranium from Australia to India, Carr said.

"A sense of urgency and purpose will be there. We will move swiftly," Khurshid said pointing out that India already had similar agreements with a number of countries which could be used as a model.

During the parleys, it was decided that defence minister A K Antony would visit Australia sometime in March for further discussions on cooperation in defence and security sectors. This would be the first ever visit by an Indian defence minister to Australia.

Australia had agreed to start negotiations on a civil nuclear deal with India during the October visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to New Delhi.

In December 2011, Gillard's Labour Party had overturned its long-standing ban on exporting uranium to India.

Time of India

India, US finalise Rs 3000 crore deal for jet engines

India and the US have finalised a Rs 3000-crore deal for supplying 99 jet engines to be used in the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' being developed by the DRDO. Around two years ago, India had selected the American company General Electric over its rival European Eurojet 2000 for the LCA Mark II programme expected to be ready around 2014-15.
"The deal worth Rs 3,000 crore has been finalised with the US for procuring 99 engines for the LCA Tejas MkII," DRDO officials said. As per the contract, the order could be for 99 engines initially but India will have the option of ordering another 100 engines in the future.
The engine on offer for the LCA Mark II is GE F-414 engine, which are more powerful that the GE F-404 engines fitted in the first batch of LCAs that the Indian Air Force would receive in near future.
The need for changing the existing engines in the LCAs was felt after the IAF found out that the GE-404 engines were not providing enough power to the aircraft and more powerful engines were needed for the purpose.
The DRDO is developing the LCA Mk II to meet the Air Force requirements and it will have latest technological equipment including the Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar and would be able to carry more payload than the LCA Mk I. Recently, the trials of the LCA Mk I were carried out in Pokharan desert firing range where laser-guided bombs and other weapon systems were tried.
As per the current plans, the IAF will induct two squadrons of the LCA Mk I which would be followed by delivery of LCA Mk II aircraft.

 IBN Live

IAF Chief to visit Israel, upgradation of UAVs high on agenda

New Delhi: Upgrade of the country's fleet of UAVs and the status of a joint venture air defence system are expected to be high on agenda of IAF Chief Air Chief marshal NAK Browne who is on a four-day visit to Israel to further strengthen defence ties between the two countries.During the visit, he is scheduled to call on Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Lt Gen Benjamin Gantz, Chief of the General Staff of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Tel Aviv, to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues on the ongoing defence cooperation between India and Israel, the IAF said in a release.

At present, the two main projects between India and Israel are the upgrade of all its UAVs with the three Services and the Medium Range-Surface to Air Missile system being co-developed by the DRDO and Israeli firms, officials said. 

The Air Chief would also visit the Israeli Air Force Flight School at Hatzerim air base and other operational bases. To oversee the progress of various projects being carried forward as joint ventures between the two countries, he would meet and interact with IAF officers and DRDO officials, the release said.

The Air Chief would visit 'Yad Vashem', Israel's Memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust established in 1953 and Memorial of Indian Soldiers in Jerusalem, Indian War Cemetery, in commemoration of sacrifice of Indian fallen soldiers who helped liberate Haifa in 1918, in World War-I.

The Indian Army commemorates September 23 as Haifa Day to pay its respects to the two brave Indian Cavalry Regiments that helped liberate the city in 1918 following a dashing cavalry action by the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.

The visit of Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne to Israel, as the Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, comes after 12 years of his posting as the Defence Attache at Tel Aviv for three years. He was responsible for establishing the Indian Defence Wing in Tel Aviv in April 1997. 

PTI / ZEE news

January 18, 2013

Border shelters to store ammunition for war time soon

India has launched a major plan to construct underground shelters for storing missiles, rockets and ammunition close to the borders with Pakistan and China. Apart from providing better logistics on the front in the event of a war, these underground dumps will also ensure critical war-fighting ordnance is better protected from enemy attacks as well as the weather.

Sources said Army chief General Bikram Singh is keen that at least 2,000-2,500 metric tonnes of ammunition that is "expensive and operationally important'' should be stored in such underground shelters in the operational areas of the Northern and Eastern Army Commands.

With Beijing being considered the "real long-term threat'' despite the current tensions with Islamabad along the Line of Control, two pilot projects have been taken up for construction of "underground and tunnelled'' storage of ammunition in Leh and Sikkim along the "northern borders'' with China.

Initially, Army, DRDO and other experts had selected five sites in the north-east and two in J&K for the underground shelters. The choice was narrowed down to a site each in Leh and Sikkim with the help of "geo-technical reports'', which looked at 40-50 parameters, for the pilot projects.

"Once the first two projects take off, similar ones will be undertaken along the western border with Pakistan. The underground shelters will make it difficult for the enemy to detect and destroy our ammunition dumps. Both China and the US store most of their ammunition in tunnels, caves and other underground shelters,'' said a source.

At present, only around 4.5 lakh of the 8 lakh tonnes of ammunition authorized for the Army has proper storage facilities in the shape of modern and fire-resistant ammunition storage sheds or storehouses.

The rest is stored mostly in the open, exposed to the weather. This often leads to explosions, fires and "mishandling of ammunition incidents'' causing regular deaths as well as destruction of ammunition. A devastating blaze at the Khundru ammunition depot in J&K in August 2007, for instance, had killed over 20 people and destroyed several thousand tonnes of ammunition.

India also plans to construct as many as 18 tunnels in states like J&K, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, along the borders with Pakistan and China, for faster troop mobility. These tunnels will also be able to store crucial war-fighting assets like missiles as well as provide NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) protection without the threat of detection by enemy satellites and spy drones, as was earlier reported by TOI.

Times of India

BEL In Talks With Dassault Suppliers For MMRCA Electronics Manufacture

In anticipation of the Dassault-India MMRCA contract for the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets, India's Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been interacting with major electronics systems suppliers for the manufacture of important electronics sub-systems of the Rafale aircraft in India.

      In an interview with Defenseworld.net, BEL's Chairman and Managing Director Anil Kumar said that his company was in talks with Dassault Aviation and its Tier 1 suppliers like ECE, Inter Technique & Thales over the execution of the Rafale contract.

      "BEL is interested in Airborne Radar, Electronic Warfare Systems (EW) and Avionics. We know that these are very specific areas for which BEL is perhaps the best qualified company in India. We have been visited by these companies and their major partners," he said.

      Of the 126 fighters, more than three fourths will be license-manufactured in India where BEL's role as the leading defence electronics systems manufacturer in India will come into play. Significantly, it is likely to manufacture the airborne electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, advanced EW systems and avionics under ToT.

      Even before the MMRCA contract is signed between the Indian MoD and Dassault, the French company has set up an Indian subsidiary, Dassault Aircraft Services India Private Limited (DASIPL) as a 100% owned subsidiary and separately partnered with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to work on the Rafale deal.

      Thales supplies the all important AESA radar for the Rafale fighter. In 2012, BEL and Thales announced the launch of a joint venture dedicated to the design, development, marketing, supply and support of defence and civilian radars for Indian and Global markets.

      Intertechnique and ECE, part of the Zodiac Aerospace Group, manufactures aircraft oxygen and life support systems, branded EROS and electrical power distribution systems respectively. Intertechnique's lineup includes flight-deck controls, and aircraft fuel circulation and management systems.

      While ECE's activities also include cockpit equipment and cockpit controls and external lighting system and clients for both companies include Airbus, Boeing, and Dassault.

      "We have already started preparing four of our Strategic Business Units (SBUs) to handle this business and are creating the required facilities, training manpower and obtaining AS 9100 certification," Mr. Anil Kumar said.

      The Indian MoD and Dassault opened commercial talks in March 2012 for the purchase of the Rafale fighter and are still engaged in negotiations with no indications of when the contract will be inked.


January 17, 2013

India mulls huge increase in Rafale order, may buy up to 189 fighter jets

India could buy up to 189 of the Rafale fighter jets currently being used by France to bomb Islamist militants in Mali, sources close to negotiations on the multi-billion dollar deal have told AFP.

The possibility of an additional 63 jets being added to an expected order for 126 was raised during a visit by India's foreign minister Salman Khurshid to Paris last week, they said.

"There is an option for procurement of an additional 63 aircrafts subsequently for which a separate contract would need to be signed," a source said.

"Presently the contract under negotiation is for 126 aircraft but we are talking about the follow-up."

India's contemplation of a much bigger than anticipated extension of its airpower will inevitably cause concern in neighbouring Pakistan given the permanently simmering tensions between the two countries.

The Indian press has estimated the value of the deal for 126 Rafales at $12 billion (nine billion euros).

A 50 per cent increase in the number of planes ordered would take it to around $18 billion, in a huge boost for the struggling French defence industry, although much of the economic benefit will be shared with India.

New Delhi selected France's Dassault Aviation as its preferred candidate to equip the Indian Air Force with new fighter jets in January 2012.

Under the deal on the table, the first 18 Rafales will be built in France but the next 108 will be assembled in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in Bangalore.

"The first aircraft will be delivered three years after signature of the contract," the source added.

An industry expert said the time lag reflected India's request for two-seater jets rather than the one-seater model that Dassault currently produces.

India has insisted that the deal involves significant technology transfer and that Indian suppliers secure work equivalent to around half of the value of the contract.

"The negociations for off-sets are progressing well," the source added.

The conclusion of the deal has been repeatedly delayed, with India having initially set a target of the end of last year, which slipped to March 31, 2013, the end of the current fiscal year.

French defence sources said last week that was unlikely to be met but voiced confidence it would finally be done, a stance echoed by Khurshid on his visit to Paris.

"We know good French wine takes time to mature and so do good contracts," Khurshid said after a meeting with French foreign minister Laurent Fabius.

"The contract details are being worked out. A decision has already been taken, just wait a little for the cork to pop and you'll have some good wine to taste."

Dassault and the French government are hoping that India's decision will have a positive influence on other potential buyers of the Rafale, who include Brazil, which is in the market for 36 planes, Canada, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Rafale was used in a combat situation for the first time during the French-led Nato campaign which deposed Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 and they have been active in Mali since the weekend.

Time of India

P8-Is: Indian Navy's eye in the sky

The Boeing P8-I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft (LRMRA) which the Indian Navy got lat month is the most sophisticated weapon system in its inventory yet.

The aircraft, which is now being used for training by Indian naval personnel in coordination with the US Navy in the US, has the latest radars, electronic warfare systems, and weapons to kill hostile submarines, several of which lurk underwater in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal around the Indian coast.

Built on the body of a civilian Boeing 737-800 jetliner with the wings of a 737-900, the P8-I is actually an attack aircraft, capable of discriminating between friendly and hostile vessels far away and then hit them with desired priority and lethality.

Its key capability though is to detect and delete hostile submarines, as also small boats in shallow waters which pose the most serious threat to Indian naval assets.

India has purchased eight P8-Is from the US Navy under the US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and the government has cleared four more for which there was an option. Another 12 P8-Is, or similar aircraft, should be acquired later.

The $2.1 billion-plus deal for aircraft covers onboard offensive and defensive systems and training. Weapons like the Boeing Harpoon Block II missiles, sonobuoys, Raytheon’s Mk 54 torpedoes, some freefall weapons cost additional.

The P8-I is a derivative of the US Navy’s P8-A multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) developed at the cost of billions of dollars. The first P8-A was delivered to it in March 2012, and so far, it has received five of the 117 ordered aircraft.

The Indian Navy is the first foreign customer and not much apart in time.

Understandably though, the P8-Is would not have the same range and features as the P8-As, but then the Indian requirements are met appropriately. In any case, there cannot be 100 per cent commonality as neither would the US share its latest technologies nor is India looking for interoperability with US assets.

Mission computers form the heart of the P8-I, integrating various sensors, radars and weapons on board, directing their power, reach and the required urgency in neutralizing hostile targets.

There are five to seven consoles for the operators, who can command the system to initiate and execute real-time action and attack.

Although the P8-I is not an AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) aircraft, it can operate as one in a limited way, and coordinate with the Indian Navy or Indian Air Force (IAF) combat jets to shower hell on an enemy.

The Indian P8-Is will be integrated with the Indian Navy and IAF assets, including fighters, AWACS and ground stations, thanks to net-centricity. Both the Navy and IAF fly Mig 29s for instance, and in the recent years, all the three services are approaching war-fighting with an emphasis on jointness.

The three services periodically hold joint exercises, and one such is due between the Indian Navy and IAF around March. Once the P8-I start arriving from mid-2013 onwards, there would be more exercises.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure to operate the P8-Is is being built at INS Rajali at Arakkonam Naval Air Station in Tamil Nadu, from where the aircraft can easily fly towards the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea. All the 12 aircraft will be based there.

Notably, unlike the earlier aircraft used for maritime reconnaissance and attack role, the four-engined Il-38 and Tu 142 which the Indian Navy has, or the Orion P3C which the US Navy has been flying so far, the P8-I is a jet with jet speed. Its two CFM 56 engines have, however, been tweaked to allow it to fly slow, and low above water.

The acquisition of the P8-I has brought to the Indian Navy some of the most sophisticated radar and other systems, particularly Raytheon’s AN/APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar with a range of 200-400 km. This forward-looking Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with 240 degree coverage is built on the technology of the famed AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar that the (IAF) wants on all its combat aircraft, beginning with the Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) being negotiated now.

To ensure 360 degree scanning however, the Indian Navy has got an aft radar from US Telephonics for rear coverage.

The US Navy aircraft do not need aft radars as there are several US surveillance assets, including aircraft and satellites, in the sky at any time. The P-8A however is primarily meant to function in alignment with the unmanned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) aircraft (designated MQ-4C Triton), which is still under development by Northrop Grumman.

The P8-I has some systems supplied by Indian companies to make its communications secure and compatible with Indian naval and air assets.

They include Data Link II (communication system) from Bharat Electronics, IFF (Identify Friend or Foe system) transponder from HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd), speech secrecy system from ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Ltd) and mobile SATCOM (satellite communication system) from Avantel. All the P8-Is, as well as other navy aircraft now have net-centric capabilities and interoperability with IAF aircraft and ground stations.

India received the first P8-I when Cmde Alok Bhatnagar, naval attache at the Indian embassy in Washington and other Indian Navy officers received it on-site in Seattle in accordance with the contract awarded in 2009.

Indian naval pilots, systems operators and technicians, some of whom have been stationed there to monitor the progress of the project and some others, will now conduct test and training flights with US Navy assistance before this aircraft is brought home.

India will receive two more fully-equipped P-8Is within 2013, and all the eight by 2015.

A Boeing statement said that the manufacturing programme is progressing on schedule, and that Boeing is already assembling the fourth and fifth P-8Is.

IANS / Deccan Herald

January 15, 2013

Fight Pakistan fire with fire, Army chief orders commanders on LoC

India on Monday demonstrated its renewed resolve to fight fire with fire along the volatile Line of Control, directing all its battalion commanders on the fiercely-contested boundary to retaliate with all their might if the Pakistani Army provokes them by violating the ceasefire or pushing militants into J&K.

"I expect all my commanders on the LoC to be aggressive and offensive in face of provocation and fire...No passivity is expected from them. Their response has to be measured and for effect," said a tough-talking General Bikram Singh, a day ahead of Army Day celebrations.

The fact that the Army chief issued an unequivocal warning to Pakistan to cease and desist from misadventures along the border is a confirmation there is going to be no immediate de-escalation of tension, especially as a defiant Pakistan refused to own up to the beheading of an Indian soldier and mutilation of another's body by its elite SSG commandos on January 8.

Speaking around the same time that Pakistan brushed aside India's charges at the brigadier-level flag meeting at the Chakkan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch district, Gen Singh accused Islamabad of resorting to "outright lies".

 Pakistani Army's cross-border raid on January 8 was a "premeditated and pre-planned" operation that would have needed at least 10 days of preparation and reconnaissance, he said. The Indian jawan's beheading was a "gruesome, most unpardonable act" that went against the "basic ethics" of soldering and tenets of the Geneva Convention, he added.

Although Gen Singh emphasized the current tension would not escalate into a conflagration, holding that several stages have to be crossed before the two countries go to a full-scale war, he did admit the first stage of the spiral had been reached.

The blunt acknowledgment coincided with hardening of the anti-Pakistan mood which would test those in the government who want tension to be defused for the sake of the peace process. The toughening of the popular sentiment found reflection in Congress's endorsement of Shiv Sena's opposition to the participation of Pakistani players in the India Hockey League as well as BJP's bellicose exhortation that Indian troops decapitate 10 Pakistani soldiers for each Indian one.

Gen Singh said the Indian Army was quite clear that it "reserved the right to retaliate at a time and place of its choosing", confirming what TOI had reported on January 10.

India has reasons to be furious. This is not the first time Indian soldiers have been beheaded by the Pakistani Army-jihadi combine, with their heads being taken back as "trophies" across the LoC, admitted Gen Singh.

Infamous Pakistani terrorist and al-Qaida member Ilyas Kashmiri was part of the raid on an Indian post in the Nowshera sector in 2000, for instance, during which one Indian soldier of the 17 Maratha Light Infantry was beheaded and six others killed.

More recently, two jawans were decapitated during the turnover between the 19 Rajput and 20 Kumaon Regiments in the Keran sector in July, 2011. "We have to put pressure on Pakistan, nationally and internationally, to make its Army accountable," said Gen Singh.

"Though the beheading has angered us at the strategic level, it was a tactical operation and we will respond at the tactical level now...We do not plan to up the ante. We will uphold the ceasefire as long as the adversary respects it but will retaliate if provoked," he added.

The Army chief admitted the January 8 cross-border raid had exposed "some tactical lapses" on the Indian side but said this was not the time for an inquiry to be conducted since it would affect the morale of the forces. For now, even as corrective measures are underway, "we won't remain passive when attacked", he said.

On the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge imbroglio, the Army has told the government it should not let go of the "strategic gains" achieved after shedding a lot of blood - over 850 Indian soldiers have died in the glacial heights since 1984 - till the "trust deficit" with Pakistan is bridged.

Pakistan has to first agree to the sequential pre-requisites of authentication, delineation and demarcation of the relative troop positions before any talk of demilitarization. "The area is strategically important for us and we should continue to hold the heights," said Gen Singh.

Times of India

January 12, 2013

China sends fighters to counter Japanese aircraft

Beijing: China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea after the country's Y-8 aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters, a defence ministry official said Friday.

The ministry of national defence denounced the Japanese military aircraft disrupting the routine patrol of Chinese administrative aircraft, Xinhua reported.

The official said China's Y-8 aircraft was patrolling the southwest airspace of the East China Sea oil platform Thursday.

The two J-10 fighters were sent to monitor the Japanese fighter jets tailing the Y-8 as well as another Japanese reconnaissance plane waS spotted in the same airspace, the official said.

The official said Japanese military aircraft have been increasingly active in closely scouting Chinese aircraft.

He said the activity zone of Japanese military aircraft has also expanded recently, and this was the root cause of security disputes between the two countries concerning territorial waters and airspace. 

The Chinese military will be on high alert and will resolutely protect its air defence force, the official said.

IANS/ Zeenews

At LoC, we’re like goalkeepers in penalty shootouts, say jawans

Rage, shame and betrayal make for a combustible mix and in Rajouri, just 10 km from LoC, the Indian Army is oscillating between the three. Of these three, rage is the most visible on the faces of soldiers ambling through the crowded streets of this border town. The desecration of their comrades' body has cut deep.

This insult is something that every man in uniform takes as a personal blow. The Army is working overtime to calm down troops thirsting for revenge. "We shall strike but at a time and place of our choosing. Now is not the time," said an angry Capt Martand Singh.

Major Rajdeep Chauhan vented his frustration: "There's constant pressure of being a goalkeeper in a penalty shoot-out. They keep coming at us, sometimes as regulars in Kargil and at others as fidayeen. But our job seems to be to sit tight and follow the rules."

However, cowardly as the mutilations were, the Army is also internally feeling humiliated by how easily the Pakistani forces could come in, kill their men, and exit without loss. In military terms, it's a slap in the face. This shame is perhaps the reason why for days now the Army has been suggesting how this attack was carried out by some specially trained forces of the Pakistani army.

As journalists made a beeline for this dusty town, few among the officers in command missed the fact that it was a defeat and not a victory that got the Army attention from the country. Even as the Army licked its wounded pride, something happened on Thursday that only increased their fury. Two articles appeared in national journals, which appeared to pin the blame for the entire chain of events on the Army itself.

The articles by two Delhi-based journalists known for their access to intelligence agencies seemed to suggest that it was the Indian Army that had precipitated the Pakistani attack because of its disregard for rules that govern the LoC ceasefire.

What has particularly shocked the men in olive is the naming of a junior commander in Uri. Brig GS Rawat has been painted as a "latter day out-of-control Dirty Harry". One of the stories says he is an officer known to be aggressive. It has reference to his past record. "What does that mean? That brigade commander on the LoC should be docile? To name a brigade commander is bizarre; it makes it seem as if he is fighting his private war," said Major AS Tomar, who just finished tenure on the LoC.

Many like Maj Tomar see a subtle government hand in this, designed almost to absolve the government in Delhi or Srinagar of any responsibility for the latest setback to their Pakistan policy. This narrative nudges towards the Uri incident as a latter day mini Kargil that justifiably provoked a Pakistani retaliation.

As you look up from the main bazaar in Rajouri, to the east loom the Pir Panjal range. For many Army men their entire deployments are based on this single task of ensuring that no militant is able to cross them to enter the Valley. And here is what many do not realize.

The Army men deployed here have two tactically different tasks. One is to man the LoC to hold the Indian territory, and the other to detect and kill small groups of militants who infiltrate. So each unit deployed has two very different modes and threats to tackle.

While the debate in Delhi and Islamabad is over ceasefire violations, which generally means firing by small arms, both countries are silent on whether Lashkar terrorists crossing over from POK into India constitutes ceasefire violation. "A raid on a Pakistani post by an Indian Army team is aggression befitting retaliation in kind. But an encounter in which Lashkar terrorists, all Pakistan nationals, kill two Indian soldiers isn't a ceasefire violation?" asked an outraged Capt Rajan Singh.

(Names of officers changed to protect their identities)

Times of India

Airbus preparing to start contract negotiations with Indian Air Force

European consortium Airbus on Friday said it would provide "unquestionably" the most advanced tanker transport aircraft to India and was preparing to start contract negotiations for the supply of six mid-air refuellers to IAF.

"We are fully committed to the next stage of negotiations and ultimately to provide the Indian Air Force with what is unquestionably the next advanced tanker transport aircraft flying and certified to date," Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena Raso said.

Airbus Military's A-330MRTT has emerged as the lowest bidder in the IAF contract worth over Rs 8,000 crore for procuring these tanker aircraft. So far, the Indian Air Force has only been equipped with Russian-origin IL-78 mid-air refuellers.

"This has been a long and tough competition and we are honoured to have been selected," Raso noted while interacting with visiting Indian journalists at the Airbus Military facility close to Madrid.

Separately, Airbus Military derivatives' head Antonio Caramazana said: "We are ready to start contract negotiations... preparing to start negotiations as soon as possible and our aim is to conclude them, and the sooner it is the better."

Refusing to divulge the price involved in the deal, he mentioned that Airbus has offered the price in a combination of euros and dollars.

Economic Times

January 11, 2013

Indian troops on alert at border with Pakistan

Tension on Friday prevailed along the India-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir where Army was on alert after repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops.

"The borderline with Pakistan is tense. But the situation is under control (along Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir)", an Army official said today.
The level of tension has increased after Pakistani troops violated ceasefire continuously and also closed the gates for cross-LoC trade yesterday.
The Army is maintaining utmost vigilance along the borderline with Pakistan, he said, adding troops have been asked to remain alert round-the-clock.
"There was no ceasefire violations along Indo-Pak border this morning," defence spokesman Col R K Palta said.
However, Pakistan troops had violated ceasefire and fired mortars shells and small arms on Indian posts along LoC in Krishnagati sector of Poonch district from 5pm to 9.30pm yesterday, the spokesman said.
Indian troops guarding the borderline effectively retaliated resulting in exchanges, he said, adding that there was no casualty or injury to any one in the firing on the Indian side.
Pakistani troops had fired at nine posts -- Chatri, Atma, Helmet, Prakash, Chatyal, Khera-I, Khera-II, Roshni and Gunhill posts in the sector from its posts Kanal, Barmoch, Jungle-1, Jungle-2, Dhamas, Prench, New post, Daruchiymia, Teer, LP-1, LP-2 and LP-3.
Yesterday's ceasefire was the third ceasefire violation by Pakistan troops along Poonch sector after they intruded into Indian territory and killed two jawans.

Times of India

India working on details as Rafale deal inches closer

India is ironing out contract details on a purchase of French Rafale fighter jets that has been under negotiation over the past year, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said during a visit to Paris on Thursday, suggesting that a deal could be close.
India chose Dassault Aviation's (AVMD.PA) Rafale for a possible 126-plane order in January 2012 ahead of the competing Eurofighter Typhoon (EAD.PA) (SIFI.MI) (BAES.L) and started exclusive talks, lifting hopes in France of a sale that would restore the lustre of its aviation industry.
Khurshid - on his first visit to France where he will meet President Francois Hollande on Friday - said progress was being made on the deal, worth around $15 billion, but did not say when it could be signed nor what it would entail.
"We know a good French wine takes time to mature and so do good contracts," he told reporters. "Contract details are being worked out. A decision has already been taken."
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also said the talks "were advancing well."
Asked about the status of the deal, a Dassault spokesman said the company remained positive.
"Relations between India and Dassault are solid and long-standing, we're confident," the spokesman said.
In December, Dassault Chief Executive Charles Edelstenne said he was "relatively optimistic" the deal would soon wrap up despite tough negotiations.
Hollande will visit the United Arab Emirates next week, and is also courting Brazil, as Paris strives to ink a first sale of Rafales, billed as some of the most effective fighter jets in the world but also among the most expensive.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy took personal charge of trying to market Rafales abroad in 2007 after the embarrassing failure of a bid to sell $2 billion of the jets to Morocco.
India already owns more than 50 French Mirage jets as it seeks to upgrade its largely Soviet-era air force and navy.

- Reuters

January 10, 2013

India pieces together details of Pakistan's grim attack on jawans

India has severely reprimanded Pakistan for Tuesday's killing of two soldiers in Kashmir. One of them was beheaded. India summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner Salman Bashir and lodged a strong protest today. 

Islamabad has retaliated by denouncing India's allegations as unfounded; a statement warned against the dangers of spreading "negative propaganda".

Both sides also emphasised on record that it is essential to prevent the crisis from escalating.

Sources said India has told Pakistan that repeat of the attack will lead to serious consequences which Pakistan "will have to bear". New Delhi has also told Islamabad that the mutilation of the bodies of soldiers is against the established rules of engagement of any professional army.
Prepared for Pakistan's denial, India has pieced together the grim details of the audacious attack on Indian territory.

According to details reaching New Delhi, a seven-member patrol of the Indian army was moving near Mendhar, about 220 km north of Jammu, in thick fog at 11 am in an "area domination exercise". The patrol was ahead of the fence along the Line Of Control (LoC) but within demarcated Indian territory. Lance Naik Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh were leading the patrol.

"They (the patrol) faced fire almost immediately," sources told NDTV. The firing continued for about an half hour. The mutilated bodies of the soldiers were recovered nearly an hour later by the Indian Army.

India believes that Pakistan's 29 Baloch Regiment led the attack and that troops from the elite Special Services Group (SSG) killed the Indian soldiers.

Pakistan too has accused Indian troops of crossing the Line of Control on Sunday (January 6) and raiding one of its army posts. It says a Pakistani soldier was killed in the firing. India has denied the accusations.

Pakistan alleges Indian troops crossed the LoC into the Haji Pir Pass sector - that stands across India's Rampur sector - killing one Pakistani soldier. Haji Pir pass was returned to Pakistan after 1965 India- Pakistan war.

India maintains that it had not crossed the LoC but had retaliated after being fired upon by Pakistani soldiers without any provocation.

Besides this latest incident, what is worrying New Delhi is the steady increase in the instances of  violation of the November 2003 Cease Fire Agreement along the disputed Line of Control (LoC) and the well-demarcated and accepted International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir.

The number of recorded ceasefire violations in 2012 stood at 117 as against 60 the year before and only 57 in 2010. Top Indian Army officials say that in December 2012 alone there has been as many as 10 cases of ceasefire violations along the LoC and four infiltration attempts by terrorists.

India is not viewing the rising violations of the Cease Fire Agreement with Pakistan in isolation. New Delhi feels it is influenced by America's Af-Pak policy and the impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, a senior official said.

With its western flank secured after the withdrawal of the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), India believes, Pakistan will have more resources to spare and that these will be used against India. "Pakistan will also assert itself against India and J&K would be the focal point", the official added.


January 9, 2013

India test-fires manoeuvrable version of BrahMos

India on Wednesday successfully test-fired a highly manoeuvrable version of the 290-km range supersonic cruise missile BrahMos from a naval warship off the coast of Vishakhapatnam in Bay of Bengal.
“At 9.30 am, the missile blasted off in a pre-designated war scenario taking a ‘double— manoeuvre in S-form’ hitting the designated target ship just one meter above water line. The sheer velocity and power of hit made the missile rip through the ship’s hull,” BrahMos Aerospace CEO A. Sivathanu Pillai said here.
This is the 34th launch of BrahMos after the successful October launch from INS Teg in the Arabian Sea.
The BrahMos missile system was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2005 when it began arming the Rajput-class guided missile destroyers and inducted subsequently in many warships.
BrahMos is capable of acquiring data not only from the American GPS but also from Russian GLONASS satellite systems also, which ensures double redundancy.
In the last stage, the seeker takes over and the target is located with accuracy of few meters which ensures no chances of survival for the target.
“This has been proved once again today and with bulls eye accuracy,” officials said.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony congratulated the warship commander and Indian Navy and BrahMos team for the demonstration of capabilities, they said.

The Hindu / PTI

January 8, 2013

India’s defence outlay cut: Is it a setback for Modernisation?

New Delhi. The reported cut of INR 10,000 crore (approx US$ 1.8 billion) in the defence acquisition budget by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has triggered the fear of a major slowdown in the ongoing acquisition programmes, including that of the much-talked-about Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). This cut is being viewed with disappointment against the backdrop of a statement made by the Defence Minister AK Antony just a few months back that he would seek a hike in the defence budget because of the new challenges to the defence and security of the country. At a time when the three Services are desperately trying to modernize themselves and the Army, in particular, is grappling with its operational voids, such reactions to the reported reduction in the allocation are understandable.
The question, however, is whether this cut would actually cause a setback to the modernization programme.
It is true that the allocation made for defence for the current fiscal was less than the requirement projected by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). But this was neither unprecedented nor unexpected. Allocation of resources is a zero-sum game.
To put it simply, the government can distribute among various ministries and departments only what it expects to generate by way of direct and indirect taxes and other non-tax revenue. If the demand for budgetary support exceeds the anticipated receipts, which is generally the case, the Ministry of Finance has no option but to fix the budgetary allocations for various ministries and departments in a manner that its sum total does not exceed the total receipts.
Consequently, the allocations are normally less than the projected requirements. It is because of this that the allocation for defence, and for many other ministries and departments for that matter, fall short of the projected requirements.
Any notion that allocation for defence is accorded low priority vis-à-vis other sectors is misplaced.
The gap between the projection by the MOD and the final budgetary allocation for the current year was approximately INR 35,000 crore (approx $ 6.3 billion).
It is difficult to imagine from which other sector(s) could the MOF pinch this amount to meet in full the requirement projected by the MOD. Additional resources can indeed be generated through taxation, but this is always a difficult choice.
The other option is to curtail the expenditure. This is what the government tried to do when it imposed a cut on non-plan revenue expenditure, excluding the salaries, in the very first quarter of the current financial year.
And significantly, that cut did not also apply to the capital budget.
However, with the receipts falling behind the target and the economy passing through a sluggish phase, MOF was evidently left with no option but to take stringent steps to contain the fiscal deficit. The reported reduction in MOD’s capital budget has to be seen in this context.
Does the reduction in budgetary allocation at this stage slow down the process of acquiring crucial weapons and systems?
Defence budget comprises the revenue (salary etc.) and the capital segments, with the latter being notionally divided into capital (equipment and weapons) acquisition and other-than-capital-acquisition segments.
The capital acquisition budget, which is a notional category within the overall capital outlay for the defence Services, accounts for 83 per cent of the total capital budget for the current year.
In absolute terms, the capital acquisition and other-than-capital acquisition budget for the current year was INR 66,032.24 crore (approx $ 12 billion) and INR 13,546.39 crore (approx $ 2.46 billion) respectively.
As of now, the cumulative expenditure figures for the third quarter are not available but the expenditure incurred till the end of November 2012 was 49.90 per cent of the total capital budget of 79,578.63 crore ($ 14.46 billion).
Under the capital acquisition and other-than-capital acquisition segments, the expenditure was 50.55 per cent and 46.76 per cent respectively.
Going by the average expenditure till the month of November 2012, the MOD would probably have been able to utilize only about 75 per cent of the total allocation by the end of the financial year, that is, by March 2013.
That would have left a balance of about INR 20,000 (approx $ 3.6 billion) unutilized.
Therefore, a realistic assessment was indeed required to be made by both the ministries. That the allocation has been reduced by INR 10,000 crore (approx $ 1.8 billion) and not INR 20,000 crore (approx US$ 3.6 billion) is a clear indication that such an assessment was indeed carried out.
It has to be taken into account that the expenditure in the last quarter of a financial year does not follow the average of the first three quarters. This is a notable thumb rule.
While it is up to the MOD to decide the proportion in which the reduction would be borne by the capital acquisition and other-than-capital acquisition budgets, it is also a fact that a sizeable proportion of the cut would have to be borne by the capital acquisition budget.
This brings us back to the question whether the recently mentioned cut would adversely impact the ongoing acquisition programmes that are so crucial for modernization of the armed forces.
To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the linkage between the availability of funds and the progress of the acquisition process and programmes. In a general sense, the expenditure from the capital acquisition budget is incurred on liquidating the committed liabilities related to the on-going contracts and the payments that become due after signing of the fresh contracts during the year.
The cash outgo in respect of the latter category of cases is restricted to payment of advance (generally 15 per cent of the contract value).
There is no doubt that the cash outgo on these accounts would have been taken into account by the MOF while fixing the revised ceiling after consultation with the MOD.
It is possible however that there indeed was a difference in the assessment of the two ministries. But there is also no question that a part of the cut would be restored if the assessment of the MOD goes awry and the need arises for funds over and above the reduced ceiling to liquidate the committed liabilities or make contractual payments against the new contracts. There are precedents to that effect.
Notably, the question of availability of funds in a particular year does not come in the way of initiating a proposal, steering it through various committees, obtaining the approval for the proposal, releasing a Request for Proposal (RfP), processing the responses, holding commercial negotiations and firming up the proposal for sanction by the competent financial authority, which happens to be the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for proposals exceeding INR 1,000 crore (approx $ 181 million).
After a proposal has been approved it takes some time for finalizing the contract and the first payment may not become due immediately on signing of the contract.
Two examples are relevant:
There is no break on the acquisition process of six midair refueling aircraft in which European Aeronautics Defence and Space (EADS) company has emerged as the lowest bidder on the basis of life-cycle costing. The process is not being withheld by the MOD in the wake of the cut on budget. It takes several months to complete commercial negotiations anyway.
Then there is the MMRCA programme. In this, despite steady discussions, commercial negotiations are yet to be completed. Once this is done, CCS approval would be needed and that would take some time.
There is, accordingly, no requirement of funds for these or other ongoing programmes which are at various stages of processing during the current fiscal year (April 2012- March 2013).
(Conversion Rate US$ 1 = INR 55 as of Jan 2013)
The author dealt with India’s defence acquisition programmse till his recent retirement as Financial Advisor (Acquisition), Additional Secretary and Member Defence Procurement Board in the Ministry of Defence.

India Strategic