March 28, 2013

India Unlikely to Fine Russia for Delay in Warship Delivery

India is unlikely to bill Russia for the delay in the delivery of the refitted aircraft carrier Vikramaditya caused by engine problems last year, said Viktor Komardin, Deputy General Director of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

The Vikramaditya, which is already years behind its original 2008 delivery date, was supposed to have been handed over on December 4, 2012, but sea trials in September revealed that the ship's boilers were not fully functional.

“In theory, India has the right to do so [to impose a fine]. But we believe that we will find a mutually beneficial solution to this problem in a friendly atmosphere. Actually, we already have, but for now, we’re saying that we will,” Komardin said at LIMA-2013 (Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition) in Malaysia.

The contract for aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (former Russian Project 11434 aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov) was signed by Russia and India in 2004. Then the contract cost $1.5 bln. India received the carrier for free but paid that money only for the ship's repair and modernization, as well as air wing consisting of fighters MiG-29K/KUB and helicopters Ka-28/31. The parties revised contractual terms in 2009, and the contract cost increased up to $2.3 bln.


March 27, 2013

North Korea to cut all channels with South Korea as 'war may break out any time'

Reclusive North Korea is to cut the last channel of communications with the South because war could break out at "any moment", it said on Wednesday, days of after warning the United States and South Korea of nuclear attack.

The move is the latest in a series of bellicose threats from North Korea in response to new UN sanctions imposed after its third nuclear test in February and to "hostile" military drills under way joining the United States and South Korea.

The North has already stopped responding to calls on the hotline to the US military that supervises the heavily armed demilitarized zone (DMZ) and the Red Cross line that has been used by the governments of both sides.

"Under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a military spokesman as saying.

"There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the US and between the north and the south."

Despite the shrill rhetoric, few believe North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will risk starting a full-out war.

North and South Korea are still technically at war anyway after their 1950-53 civil conflict ended with an armistice, not a treaty, which the North says it has since torn to pieces.

The "dialogue channel" is used on a daily basis to process South Koreans who work in the Kaesong industrial project where 123 South Korean firms employ more than 50,000 North Koreans to make household goods.

About 120 South Koreans are stationed at Kaesong at any one time on average.

It is the last remaining joint project in operation between the two Koreas after South Korea cut off most aid and trade in response to Pyongyang's shooting of a South Korean tourist and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel blamed on the North.

Kaesong is one of North Korea's few hard currency earners, producing $2 billion a year in trade with the South, and Pyongyang is unlikely to close it except as a last resort.

The North's military spokesman representing its "supreme command" did not mention Kaesong, which has suffered temporary shutdowns before.

The South's government said it would take steps to ensure the safety of the workers at Kaesong. It did not elaborate.

Times of India

Third anti-submarine warfare corvette launched in Kolkata

In a major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant, the third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Aimed at enhancing the Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities, the warship, in a first of its kind, will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system.
Being built by one of India’s leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island — Kiltan — in the Lakshwadweep archipelago of India. It was launched by Chitra Joshi, wife of the Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi. Admiral Joshi and Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE Rear Admiral (retd.) A.K. Verma were present.
With nearly 90% indigenisation content, the building of the corvette was a major initiative, Navy officials said.
The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by this year-end. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year.
The remaining ships, according to GRSE, will be delivered by 2016. The fourth ASW corvette will be launched in 2014 and built, fitted and tested and delivered to the Navy in little over 20 months, the officials said.
Technological landmark
While lauding the efforts of GRSE in detail designing of the ship, Admiral Joshi singled out its technological landmark, as being the first ship in the country built with a composite superstructure of carbon fibre composite material, which will be successfully integrated with the main hull. Besides reducing the top weight, it would provide improved stealth features and reduce life cycle maintenance costs.
The hull form would be highly efficient with excellent sea-keeping and manoeuvrability characteristics having an overall length of 109 metres. The ship can cut through the sea at a very high speed of 25 knots. The advanced stealth features would make it less susceptible to detection and help in effective deployment of soft kill measures.
The Navy Chief said global economic slowdown had opened up opportunities for India’s defence ship-building yards. Economic recession had led to shutdown of many companies and the surplus capacities were being shifted to emerging economies like India.
Admiral Joshi said the ultimate test would be the country’s ability to export its products.
Out of 42 orders given by the Navy, 40 were being built indigenously by public or private sector enterprises. “Today, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have huge requirement of ships and the same are required to be produced without any time and cost overrun. Timely delivery of quality ships is the need of the hour. Modern shipbuilding technology and tools must be adopted to achieve this objective,” Admiral Joshi said.

The Hindu

March 26, 2013

North Korea Targets US Mainland

(RIA Novosti) – North Korea said on Tuesday it had ordered its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units to target US military bases on Guam, Hawaii and mainland America, Reuters reported.
The North's KCNA news agency said “supreme command” had ordered the units to assume "combat duty posture No. 1."
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said, however, that it had seen no signs of an imminent attack.
The order is the latest in a series of fiery statements from isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea since joint military drills by the United States and South Korea began on March 11. The North threatened the United States with “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” earlier this month.
North Korea is not believed to have the capability to hit the continental United States with an atomic weapon.
But the US military's bases in the Pacific area are in range of its medium-range missiles, Reuters reported.
Analysts believe a direct North Korean attack is extremely unlikely, especially during the drills, which conclude on April 30. But the rival Koreas have had several bloody naval skirmishes in disputed Yellow Sea waters and there's some concern among analysts about a provocation after the drills, Associated Press reported.
Tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula in the aftermath of North Korea's third nuclear test on February 12. The test sparked harsh international condemnation and led to new UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

India readies hi-tech naval base to keep eye on China

Slowly but steadily, India's new futuristic naval base is beginning to take concrete shape on the eastern seaboard. The strategic base, with an eye firmly on China, will eventually even have underground pens or bunkers to protect nuclear submarines both from spy satellites and enemy air attacks.

Sources said a flurry of discussions and meetings have been held in the PMO and defence ministry over the last couple of months to firm up "expansion plans'' for a base located near Rambilli called "Project Varsha" on the Andhra coast — just about 50 km from the Eastern Naval Command headquarters at Visakhapatnam — over the coming decade.

Though it's still very early days for Project Varsha, some bill it as an answer to China's massive underground nuclear submarine base at Yalong on the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, which houses its new Shang-class SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) and the Jin-class SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear missiles).

Although land acquisitions and incremental development work on the base under the secretive project kicked off a few years ago, it is set to take off in a major way with the construction of tunnels, jetties, depots, workshops and accommodation. "Further land acquisitions for the sprawling base to be spread over 20 sq km are now underway, with long-term budget allocations also being planned,'' said a source.

The endeavour dovetails into the overall policy to bolster force-levels on the eastern seaboard, with new warships, aircraft and spy drones as well as forward-operating (FOBs) and operational turnaround (OTR) bases, to counter China's expanding footprint in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Naval assets to protect India's long coastline and keep watch over the crucial trade corridors in the Indian Ocean are essential to Indian interests. The strategic value of force projection beyond the Andaman islands is seen in terms of deterrence as well given the aggressive military Chinese expansion.  India's own SSBN programme is also poised to turn the corner soon with sea trials of the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant slated to begin off Visakhapatnam. INS Arihant and its three "follow-on'' SSBNs, which will complete India's elusive nuclear weapon triad since they will be armed with the `K' series of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, as well as other frontline warships will be housed at the new base.

The Navy plans to operate at least three SSBNs and six SSNs in the long run for effective nuclear deterrence. Moreover, after inducting the 8,140-tonne INS Chakra submarine on a 10-year lease from Russia last year, India is now negotiating the lease of another such nuclear-powered Akula-II class submarine, as was earlier reported by TOI.

Project Varsha's ambitious scale in the years ahead will rival the expansive "Project Seabird'' under which the Karwar naval base has come up in coastal Karnataka to give India both strategic depth and operational flexibility on the western seaboard against Pakistan. While Karwar will decongest the over-crowded Mumbai port, the new base will do the same for Vizag on the east.

Karwar can currently base 11 major warships and 10 yard-craft after completion of its Phase-I at a cost of Rs 2,629 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had last year approved Rs 13,000 crore for its expansion under Phase-IIA to ensure it can berth 32 major warships and submarines by 2018-19.

Karwar will be the home base for aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov being refitted in Russia for $2.33 billion, as well as the six French Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks for Rs 23,562 crore. 

Tiimes of India

March 25, 2013

Govt clears Rs 1,500 crore proposal for Pinaka rockets

To enhance the Army's firepower, the government has approved a Rs 1,500 crore proposal for production of more than 2,000 rockets for the Pinaka multi- barrel weapons system. 
 The Army requires more than 2,000 of these rockets to equip its 10-12 regiments comprising the Pinaka launchers.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has given a nod to the proposal moved by the Defence Ministry for upgrading the capabilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for producing these rockets, sources told PTI here.

As per the proposal, OFB, under the Department of Defence Production, will upgrade facilities at nine of its factories engaged in the production of Pinaka rockets, they said.

With a focus on indigenisation to avoid scams in acquisition of foreign military hardware, the Defence Ministry has also decided to pump in Rs 15,000 crore to augment domestic military production.

The major plans of OFB include augmentation of production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for armoured vehicles and setting up of 155mm howitzer production plants.

The Ministry's Department of Defence Production has decided to hike the allocation from Rs 583 crore during the 11th Plan period to Rs 15,000 crore for modernisation of the production capabilities of OFB during the current Plan.

After the recent VVIP chopper scam, Defence Minister A K Antony had stated that indigenous defence production was the only answer to avoid such scandals. The Ministry would change policies in that regard, he had said.

OFB list includes upgrading of 130mm M46 field artillery guns to 155mm 45 calibre standard, development of 155mm 52 calibre mounted howitzers and integration of the 105mm field guns on BMP combat vehicles.

PTI / ZeeNews

Big Tenders in India for mini and micro unmanned air systems aerial systems: At least two Israeli companies will participate

 India plans to purchase a record number of mini and micro unmanned air systems (UAS) for its airforce and the army’s northern command. The two first competitions are aimed at selecting 100 micro UAS systems for the Indian airforce and for the selection of 20 mini UAS systems for thearmy\s northern command

But this is only the beginning. Israeli sources say that in the coming 3 years the Indian defence establishment , will issues 5 additional tenders for the purchase of a total of
600 mini UAS systems aimed to be operated by the Indian infantry , artillery, airforce and federal police units.
These contracts are valued at 1.25 billion U.S $ and production will have to be only in India
At least two Israeli companies will participate in the planned competitions .Elbit systems will compete with its SkyLark series UAS , while BlueBird will offer its SpyLite

 By i-HLS

March 23, 2013

Decrease in import content of defence acquisitions: DRDO

The DRDO today said its sustained efforts have helped in reducing the content of imports in defence acquisitions from 70 per cent to 45 per cent.

"DRDO's sustained efforts, supported by various stakeholders have brought down the import content of defence acquisitions from 70 per cent to around 45 per cent," the premier defence research agency said in a press release.

The claim by the DRDO comes at a time when the Defence Ministry is working with a renewed vigour to increase indigenisation to avoid scams in military procurement from foreign sources

 The DRDO said during the conference of its directors tomorrow to be inaugurated by Defence Minister A K Antony, it will hold round-table discussions on the need to enhance the participation of private sector, with a view to accelerate indigenisation. The conference will cover topics related to long term requirements of our armed forces and a technology development plan, meeting these requirements in the broader perspective of emerging technologies.

"The associated manufacturing technologies required to translate technological developments into quality products will also be the subject of discussion," the release said.

Round-table discussions would also be held to look at the future threat scenarios and the technologies required to meet the associated challenges, it said.

PTI/ Zeenews

March 21, 2013

India tests underwater BrahMos missile, but has no submarine to fire it

The utter lack of long-term strategic planning in the Indian defence establishment was once again evident on Wednesday when the country for the first time tested the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from underwater.

The submarine-launched version of the missile was "successfully" tested from an underwater pontoon off Visakhapatnam around 2.10pm. BrahMos chief A Sivathanu Pillai promptly declared, "The missile is fully ready for fitment in the 'Project-75 India' submarines of the Indian Navy in vertical launch configuration, which will make the platform (submarine) one of the most powerful weapon platform in the world."

Defence minister A K Antony also chipped in soon after by saying, "It's a wonderful achievement and proud moment for India." DRDO chief V K Saraswat said it was "a significant step towards boosting India's military strength". Other defence scientists proclaimed this was "first time any supersonic cruise missile has been launched vertically from a submerged platform".

Amid all these gushing accolades, they however forgot to mention one critical fact: the Project-75 India submarines are nothing but a mere pipedream at present. With even the initial global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for them yet to be floated, the Navy will not get the first such submarine anytime before 2023.

"What's the use of having bullets but no gun to fire them from? Even if the defence ministry gets cracking immediately on the long-delayed P-75I, it will take three to four years to select the foreign submarine-manufacturer for technological collaboration. Thereafter, it will take another seven to eight years for the first submarine to roll out," said a senior official.

The BrahMos missile cannot be fitted on the Navy's existing fleet of 10 ageing Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines, half of them in any case are fully operational at any given time. Nor can it be deployed on the six French Scorpene submarines being constructed in the Rs 23,562-crore Project-75 underway at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai, under which the vessels will now be delivered in the 2015-2020 timeframe three years behind schedule.

Project-75 India, in turn, has failed to take off after going around in circles for several years now. The Cabinet committee on security will have to clear the RFP before it is issued because two of the submarines have to imported from the foreign vendor finally selected. Three will subsequently be built at MDL, and the last at Hindustan Shipyard at Visakhapatnam, after transfer of technology.

All this of course does not detract from the utility of the air-breathing BrahMos, which flies at the speed of Mach 2.8, as a "precision strike weapon". It has been inducted by some artillery regiments in the Army as well as a few naval warships.

The Army is moving ahead to induct three versions of the multi-role BrahMos, having already placed orders worth Rs 9,484 crore, over the next two-three years. Navy and IAF, in turn, have ordered BrahMos missiles worth Rs 3,568 crore and Rs 1,295 crore, respectively, as of now. 

 Times of India

March 20, 2013

India test-fires submarine-launched version of BrahMos missile

India today successfully carried out the maiden test firing of the over 290km-range submarine-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal — becoming the first country in the world to have this capability.

The submarine-launched version of BrahMos was successfully test-fired from an underwater pontoon near here, BrahMos CEO A Sivathanu Pillai told PTI.

This is the first test-firing of an underwater supersonic cruise missile anywhere in the world and the missile travelled its complete range of over 290km, he said.

He said the performance of the missile during the test launch was "perfect".

Ship and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and the Navy.

The maiden test of the submarine-launched version of BrahMos comes over a week after the indigenously built long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target in its first test.

"BrahMos missile is fully ready for fitment in submarines in vertical launch configuration which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world," Pillai said.

Defence minister A K Antony congratulated DRDO scientists and Russian specialists along with officers of the Indian Navy associated with the project for successful test launch of missile from an underwater platform.

Times of India

March 18, 2013

Russia Goes Ahead with 5G Submarine Project

(RIA Novosti) - Work is in progress on the newest fifth-generation nuclear-powered and diesel submarines at Russia's Rubin Central Design Bureau, Rubin head Igor Vilnit said on Monday.
The Russian Navy currently relies on third-generation submarines with fourth-generation subs of the Yury Dolgoruky (Project 955 Borey) and St. Petersburg (Project 677 Lada) class just beginning to be adopted for service.
In addition to Rubin, Defense Ministry research centers and the Navy Institute, as well as Rubin’s partners and contractors, are currently working to develop a basic design of the fifth-generation submarine.
The new submarine will have a service life of about 50 years, he said.
The fifth generation will be distinguished by its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.
The Defense Ministry previously said Russia is planning to develop its fifth-generation submarine by 2020 under a 2011-2020 arms procurement program, to be armed with both ballistic and cruise missiles.

March 16, 2013

Russia to Deliver First 10 Fighter Engines to India by April

(RIA Novosti) - Russia’s Ufa-based engine maker will deliver the first 10 of 920 AL-31FP engines for the Su-30MKI Flanker-H to India before the end of March, the manufacturer said on Friday.
The contract with India, the largest one with a foreign client in post-Soviet history, was signed last October, and engine deliveries are to be completed by 2022.
Under a 2000 general contract for licensed manufacturing of 140 Su-30MKI air superiority fighters and AL-31FP engines, India had an option of buying an additional number of aircraft engines.
In 2007, the Indian Air Force ordered an additional 40 MKIs. As of January 2013, the IAF had 157 Su-30MKIs in service and it plans to have a fleet of 272.
The Ufa engine manufacturing association is Russia’s largest aircraft engine producer. It produces aircraft engines for Su and MiG family fighters and spare parts, as well as engines for automobiles, gas pumps and turbines, and provides maintenance and support services.

Russian frigate built for India undergoes sea trials

The Trikand, the last in a series of three frigates that Russia is building for India, has completed contractor sea trials and is preparing for state sea trials, an official said.

The frigate is being built at the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad exclave, said Sergei Mikhailov, a spokesman for the shipyard.

He said the trials of the Trikand frigate in the Baltic Sea began Feb 5 and were completed March 14.

"Within this period, the vessel carried out five voyages in the Baltic Sea, each lasting several days," Mikhailov said.

The Trikand is currently at the Baltiisk port, preparing for state sea trials. It is scheduled to join the Indian Navy in the summer of 2013.

Russia and India signed a $1.6 billion contract on the construction of three modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for India in 2006.

The first frigate, INS Teg, joined the Indian Navy April 27, 2012, and the second, The Tarkash, arrived in Mumbai Dec 30, 2012.

The frigates are each armed with eight BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

They are also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defence gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers and an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter.

IANS / Zeenews

March 15, 2013

India, Russia in talks over another nuclear submarine

After the Nerpa or INS Chakra, the partly-completed Project 971 vessel would be the Indian Navy’s second nuclear submarine from Russia.
India is in talks with Russia to finance the completion of a nuclear submarine for the Indian Navy, a senior Russian military official told RIA Novosti on Tuesday. After the Nerpa, which is being leased by India, the partly-completed Project 971 (Class Schuka-B) vessel would be the Indian Navy’s second nuclear submarine.
In 2012, Russia leased out the Nerpa (now called the INS Chakra) to India for a 10-year period for $930 million. Thanks to India's financial support, the submarine was completed at the Amur shipyard and then leased to the national navy.
“India has expressed interest in completing the next vessel. The robust hull of the second sub is ready and waiting on the stocks of the Amur plant. It is being well looked after,” said the military spokesman. At the same time, he stressed that the completion of the second nuclear submarine requires an inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia. “The issue is being worked out. As in the first case, it might be leased out, not sold,” said the source for RIA Novosti.
India has yet to comment on the matter publicly.
The Nerpa belongs to the third generation of submarines. It was berthed at the Amur shipyard in Komsomolsk-na-Amure in 1991. However, in the mid 1990s, funding was frozen and the vessel could only be completed with India's assistance.
The submarine has a displacement of 8140/12770 metric tonnes, a top speed of 30 knots, a maximum depth of 600 metres, an endurance of 100 days, a crew of 73 people, and is armed with four 533-mm torpedo launchers.
With the lease of the Nerpa, India became the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world, after the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China.
India’s domestically-designed INS Arihant nuclear submarine is expected to be ready for operational deployment this year after final sea trials

Russia & India Report

March 14, 2013

BEL to develop aerostat radar for armed forces

State-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) will develop an advanced aerostat and communication system to meet the surveillance and reconnaissance needs of the Indian armed forces, an official said Wednesday.
Floated as a set of balloons in the shape of an inflated aircraft, the helium-filled aerostats are used for providing radar platform to ground forces. When tethered into a strategic position at a pre-determined height above ground, they double as communication relay systems for the forces.

The Bangalore-based defence behemoth has recently entered into a technology partnership with the US-based electronics major TCOM for jointly designing and developing the aerostat systems.

"The partnership with TCOM will augment the surveillance capabilities of our defence services, security services and law-enforcement agencies with costs-effective aerostat surveillance and communication systems," BEL director S.K. Sharma said in a statement here.

As a world leader in lighter-than-air technologies, TCOM designs and manufactures a range of aerostat systems for multiple applications, with laminate fabric material for long endurance and surveillance operations.

The agreement makes BEL the prime bidder to address the aerostat-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements of the Indian armed services and security agencies.

"The partnership reinforces our commitment to the Indian defence industry and allows us to provide cost-effective ISR solutions to the Indian military," TCOM chairman and managing director John Saverino said in the statement.


March 12, 2013

'Nirbhay' sub-sonic cruise missile destroyed in flight by India

India's first indigenously developed sub-sonic cruise missile 'Nirbhay' today failed to hit the target in its maiden test-firing as it had to be terminated mid-way after deviating from the flight course.
However, the DRDO said the missile "successfully" met the basic mission objectives and performed some of the manouveres satisfactorily before being terminated mid way.
"Nirbhay was successfully launched today at 11.50 am from launch complex, Chandipur, Odisha, meeting the basic mission objectives successfully.
"After travelling approximately mid-way, deviations were observed from its intended course. Further, flight was terminated to ensure coastal safety," DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said in a release.
The surface-to-surface sub-sonic cruise missile has the capability of being launched from land, sea and air, they said, adding Nirbhay has good loitering capability, good control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth features.
Nirbhay was developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory based in Bangalore in understood to have a strike-range of around 1,500 km.
India has the technology of super-sonic missile like BrahMos which is jointly developed by India and Russia.
BrahMos has a strike range of 290 km.

The Indian Express

Russian Navy to Receive 24 Subs, 54 Warships by 2020

(RIA Novosti) – The Russian Navy will receive 24 submarines and 54 warships of various classes by 2020, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
“As a result of the implementation of the state rearmament program to 2020, the navy should receive eight nuclear-powered strategic submarines, 16 multirole submarines and 54 warships of various classes,” Shoigu said at a Defense Ministry meeting .
The eight strategic missile boats include three Borey and five Borey-A class vessels (SSBN) armed with Bulava ballistic missiles.
The 16 multi-purpose submarines include eight Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) and improved Kilo and Lada class diesel-electric (SSK) boats.
In addition to submarines, the navy will receive Admiral Gorshkov class frigates and Steregushchy class corvettes, Buyan class corvettes and Ivan Gren Class large landing ships.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last year that the procurement of new warships and submarines for the Navy would be a priority over the next decade. The Russian government has allocated five trillion rubles ($166 bln) or a quarter of the entire armament procurement budget until 2020 for this purpose.

India to get strategic airlift muscle with induction of C-17s from June

From this June onwards, India will finally begin to add some real strategic airlift muscle. IAF's capability to swiftly transport combat troops and war-fighting equipment to distant battle-fronts will be hugely bolstered with the induction of the gigantic C-17 Globemaster-III aircraft.

Under the largest defence deal inked with the US till now, the 10 C-17 aircraft contracted for $4.1 billion in mid-2011 will begin to touchdown in India in June. All 10 will be place at the Hindon airbase, on the outskirts of New Delhi, by June 2015. ``IAF pilots and technicians are being trained in batches in the US to operate the aircraft, even as the infrastructure comes up in Hindon,'' said an official.

Defence minister A K Antony on Monday also told Lok Sabha that the C-17s were ``capable of conveying combat units and their equipment'', with a load of 70-tonne, to a distance of 4,200-km ``in a single hop''. With a 40-tonne load, the range can be extended to 9,000-km.

"This coupled with a short turnaround time and modern avionics allows the C-17s to be deployed rapidly to any place within our areas of interest. The procurement of C-17 aircraft will enhance the strategic airlift capability of IAF," added Antony.

The use of ``our areas of interest'' is significant since, as per the defence establishment, India's ``primary areas of geo-strategic interest'' stretches from Persian Gulf right across to Malacca Strait. India is likely to go in for another six C-17s after the first 10 as a follow-on contract, much like it is now ordering another six C-130J ``Super Hercules'' tactical airlift aircraft after inducting the first six from US in a $1.2 billion contract.

While the first six C-130Js in the 77 `Veiled Vipers' Squadron are based at Hindon, like the C-17s will be, the next six will be located at Panagarh in West Bengal to take care of the eastern sector with China. The new mountain strike corps to be raised by the Army, at cost of Rs 81,000-crore over the 12th (2012-2017) and 13th Plans (2017-2022), is also to have its headquarters in Panagarh.

Both the rugged C-17s and C-130Js can land even at small forward airbases on semi-prepared runways, which will be crucial for India to counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, which includes an extensive rail and road network as well as five fully-operational new airbases in Tibet.

The four-engine C-17s, for instance, are capable of transporting tanks and troops after taking off from a mere 7,000-feet airstrip. At present, IAF has just a dozen Russian-origin IL-76 `Gajraj' aircraft, with its medium-lift fleet comprising 103 Russian AN-32 aircraft and the six C-130Js. The C-17s and the C-130Js will come into play with India progressively upgrading ``advanced landing grounds'' along the border with China, especially in eastern Ladakh. 

Times of India

India Says Light Utility Helo Buy Going Forward

India says it will go ahead with its program to buy 197 Light Utility Helicopters for its defense forces, contrary to speculation that the AgustaWestland bribery scandal had forced the government to put the much-awaited deal on hold.
“The proposal for acquisition of 197 Light Utility Helicopters is due for consideration of the Defense Acquisition Council [DAC]. The procurement procedure has been conducted in accordance with the Defense Procurement Procedure,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony says.
The Eurocopter AS 350 Fennec and Russian Kamov 226 Sergei are the finalists for the 197 aircraft buy. The helos will go to the Indian army and air force.
The DAC, chaired by Antony, will meet soon to finalize the deal to purchase the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters, which are estimated to cost about $1.5 billion, a defense ministry official says. The DAC deferred a decision on the LUH last month, without providing specifics.
The DAC announced the deferment just hours after the Indian government ordered a federal probe into alleged corruption in the sale of 12 AW101 VVIP helicopters to the Indian air force by AgustaWestland, the helicopter company owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica.
Though the government didn’t link the Finmeccanica controversy to the procurement delay, a senior defense ministry official said that since there was a vestige of suspicion in the whole project, the government had decided to re-examine the proposal. Complaints were recently received about alleged deviations in tender norms during user trials of the participating companies in 2010.
However, Antony said March 6 that “no formal inquiry has been instituted in the case of procurement of the 197 Light Utility Helicopters.”
AgustaWestland was also in contention for the deal, but was eliminated in the early stages on technical grounds.
Both Eurocopter and Russian Helicopters have been awaiting a final decision. The European company recently asked the defense ministry about the tender’s progress.
 n 2007, the defense ministry canceled a previous deal with Eurocopter for light utility helos following allegations that bidders had failed to follow competition guidelines. A new request for proposals was issued in 2008, and flight tests of the two competing helos were completed in December 2010.
The Indian army and IAF need the light helicopters to replace their aging fleet of vintage Cheetah and Chetak aircraft, which are critical for providing supplies to troops deployed to Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield, and other high-altitude areas.
Eurocopter has offered to establish a production facility in India if the company wins the contract.
“If we win the contract it makes sense to set up a production facility here [in India], as these helos will be flown for the next 20 to 40 years and it’s important for the country to maintain them,” Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said during the recent Aero India show.

Avaition week

March 9, 2013

White House: ‘Fully Capable’ to Defend Against North Korea Nuclear Threat

 The United States vowed to aggressively defend itself and its allies after North Korea furiously threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US in the face of sanctions handed down by the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Thursday.
“I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney to reporters on Thursday, adding that Pyongyang “will achieve nothing by threats or provocations which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to achieve peace and stability.”
The threat – in which North Korea referred to the sanctions as part of a “war of aggression” led by the United States – came from a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry immediately before the Security Council voted on the sanctions.
In a statement carried by North Korea’s official news agency, the spokesman said, “Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."
Such inflammatory rhetoric is not uncommon from North Korea, but Thursday’s comments were among the most specific threats of a nuclear strike by any country. A nuclear attack on the United States would be nothing short of suicidal, said the new chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"I do not think the regime in Pyongyang wants to commit suicide, but that, as they must surely know, would be the result of any attack on the United States," said Sen. Bob Menendez on Thursday as the UN vote was underway.
“There should be no doubt about our determination, willingness, and capability to neutralize and counter any threat that North Korea may present,” he said.
While most US experts do not believe North Korea has the technological capacity to carry out a nuclear attack on Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States has no choice but the take such comments seriously.
“You have to take a government at its word when it makes these kinds of threats,” she said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“This kind of rhetoric is not surprising, it’s not new, and unfortunately this regime has regularly missed its opportunity to improve its relations with the outside world,” she added.
The UN sanctions were handed down unanimously by the Security Council in response to a third nuclear test by North Korea on February 12, a move that violated UN resolutions.
The sanctions will increase scrutiny of suspicious North Korean sea and air cargo shipments, make it tougher for North Korea to acquire materials for its weapons program, and clamp down on financial freedoms and luxury goods such as high-priced cars and yachts.
“These sanctions will bite and bite hard,” said Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN.
Russia, which currently holds the UN Security Council’s presidency, issued a statement Thursday expressing hope that Pyongyang would take the new sanctions seriously and halt further nuclear and ballistic missile development.
“We expect that all sides involved in the regional affairs would not take any action that could aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in northeastern Asia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
North Korean leaders are also upset with joint military training drills underway between the United States and South Korea, which they have suggested are tantamount to an “open declaration of war.”
"The US is massively deploying armed forces for aggression… under the smokescreen of 'annual drills'," said the North’s Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday.
Both the United States and South Korea have characterized the training drills as defensive in nature.

 ( RIA Novosti)/By Maria Young

March 8, 2013

Indian interest in V-22 Osprey intensifies

The Indian armed forces appear ready to consider the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey as a possible future platform. What began as a preliminary interest in the world's only operational tilt-rotor aircraft, has blossomed into a specific set of missions that the Indian services have flagged as possible future Osprey roles in India. While it has been known for a while that the Indian Navy has shown preliminary interest in the Osprey as a potential carrier-borne AEW&C platform (and therefore for carrier on-board delivery), it is now known that the Indian Air Force has asked for briefings on the aircraft for the combat search & rescue (CSAR) and special forces roles.
The Indian forces have also flagged specific queries about the V-22's ability to fly to the country's island territories in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The platform's unfuelled range has elicited sharp interest. After acquiring the C-130J for the special operations role, the IAF is now extremely keen on considering the hugely flexible tilt-rotor role as it expands its special forces capability in tandem with the Army.
IAF sources informed SP's, "After a shaky start, the V-22 is now a proven platform with the US Marine Corps and it has demonstrated its capabilities well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have requested preliminary information based on certain scenarios which we have arrived at, which could possible be addressed by a tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22." A team from Bell and Boeing held unofficial briefings with Indian armed forces officials at the recently Aero India 2013 show in Bengaluru.
 The US Marine Corps uses the V-22 for combat assault, amphibious assault and sustained land operations, while the US Air Force CV-22 is for for long-range special operations and contingency operations. The Indian Air Force would be interested in all of these missions for a possible special operations role in the future, as also for humanitarian relief.


As losses mount, Russia to revamp rotorcraft strategy in India

Once a dominant force in the Indian military helicopter space, Russia is a dwindling force now. With a series of crucial defeats in prestigious rotorcraft competitions in India, SP's has learnt that Russian Helicopters JSC, the umbrella company that markets Russian-built helicopters, has decided to revamp its strategy and will shortly be brainstorming to roll out new plans as far as the Indian market is concerned. Over the last decade, Russia has managed to shore up orders for Mi-17-V5s: a $1.3-billion order for 80 in 2008—36 of which have been delivered so far—a recent order for 12 more Mi-17-V5s (three in VVIP configuration and 9 for the Indian Coast Guard) and is expecting a follow-on order for 59 more such helicopters shortly from the IAF. The IAF operates roughly 150-160 Mi-17s and Mi-8s. Next year, the IAF will retire its entire fleet of Mi-8 helicopters, which have reached the end of their technical life.
On the other hand, Russia has lost a slew of deals. In October last year, the Russian Mi-28NE Night Hunter and Mi-26T2 lost crucial IAF attack helicopter and heavy-lift helicopter competitions to Boeing's AH-64D Apache Block III and CH-47F Chinook respectively. The country's Ka-226T Sergei, currently in a pitched battle against the Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fennec for the 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition, could be disappointed given that the procurement is reportedly in a state of indefinite drift, with a decision unlikely anytime soon.
RusHeliCo's new strategy will include expanding into the civil sector in a big way. Part of this includes pitching its platforms to offshore operators in the energy sector, a market currently dominated by Russia's competitors including AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Sikorsky. “We are involved in negotiations with them. Our helicopters operate very well in harsh climates serving energy operators in our home country,” Russian Helicopters HCS Chief Dmitry Petrov said at the Aero India show in February.
The focus of this initiative will be the upgraded civil medium Mi-171A2, the latest version of the Mi-8/17 series. "The Mi-171A2 combines the best performance of its legendary predecessors with leading-edge technologies. Almost 200 Mi-8/17s operate in India, and demand for these helicopters remains strong. Russian Helicopters recently signed another contract for Mi-17V-5 helicopters with the Indian Air Force; the contract is expected to be fulfilled in 2013," says the company. Signs of commitment towards the new strategy are already showing.
 When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in December 2012, Russian Helicopters, and Elcom Systems Private Limited, part of the Indian investment conglomerate SUN Group, entered into an agreement to set up a modern manufacturing facility in India to produce Kamov and Mi-brand helicopters. "The joint venture will have the capacity to produce key helicopter units and carry out final assembly of the machines as well as engage in ground and flight testing. It is expected that the enterprise will start with production of components for the multi-role Ka-226T helicopter. The enterprise will serve as an industrial base for hi-tech Russian rotorcraft products in India," the company has stated. “India is a traditional partner of Russian Helicopters in terms of helicopter deliveries. The creation of a joint Russian-Indian enterprise marks a new stage and also a logical continuation of our joint efforts in light of the growing demand for Russian helicopter models,” said Dmitry Petrov, CEO of Russian Helicopters.
Apart from the civil strategy, Russian Helicopters plans to remain on the sidelines of the current Indian competitions, in case New Delhi decides otherwise


The dragon gets a bear hug

Russia and China are revitalising defence ties at a time when relations of both with the U.S. have run into rough waters
Russia is resuming the supply of advanced weapon platforms to China in a move that may have implications for India.
At the end of last year, Russia concluded a framework agreement with China for the sale of four Amur-1650 diesel submarines. In January it signed another intergovernmental agreement for the supply of Russia’s latest Su-35 long-range fighter planes.
If the deals go through, it will be for the first time in a decade that Russia has delivered offensive weapons to China.
It will also mark the first time that Russia has supplied China with more powerful weapon platforms compared with Russian-built systems India has in its arsenals. In the past, the opposite was the rule.
For example, the Su-30MKK jet fighters Russia sold to China were no match for the Su-30MKIs supplied to India at about the same time. The Chinese planes had an inferior radar and without the thrust vectoring engines the Indian version had.
This time the situation looks reversed. The Amur-1650 submarine is far more silent and powerful than the Kilo-class submarines the Indian Navy has in its inventory. India’s Su-30MKI will be no match for China’s Su-35 which is powered by a higher thrust engine and boasts a more sophisticated radar, avionics and weapons, according to a leading Russian military expert, Konstantin Makienko.
China’s acquisition of the Su-35 will also question the wisdom of India’s plan to buy the French Rafale, the expert said.
“The sale of Su-35s to China will shoot down the value of the Rafale for India,” Mr. Makienko, who is deputy head of Russia’s top defence think tank, Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told The Hindu.
“The Rafale will stand no chance against China’s Su-35,” the expert explained. “The Su-35’s Irbis radar has more than twice the detection range of the Rafale’s Thales RBE2, and will lock onto its target well before the Russian plane becomes visible for a retaliatory strike. The 117S engines of the Su-35 are also far more powerful than the Rafale’s Snecma M88.”
The Russian Air Force is just beginning to take delivery of the new aircraft and China may become the first country to import it. The relatively small number of Su-35s China plans to buy, 24, should not deceive anyone, Mr. Makienko said. China followed the same buying pattern for the Su-27, initially ordering 24 planes and ending up with more than 200 Su-27s and its licence-built version, the J-11.
The supply to China of more advanced weapon platforms than those available to India appears to contradict some basic geopolitical realities. India remains Russia’s most trusted partner whose defence requirements have never been refused. By contrast, Russia has always been apprehensive of the Chinese dragon and suspicious of its intentions towards resource-rich and population-poor Siberia.

Calls for restraint

There is consensus in the Russian strategic community that Moscow should exercise maximum restraint in providing China with advanced military technologies. Experts were shocked to find out that Chinese engineers had mastered the production of clones of most weapon systems cash-strapped Russia supplied to China in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Russian arms sales to China plummeted in recent years as China switched to domestic production, while Moscow became more cautious in offering Beijing cutting-edge technologies. Not only did China illegally copy Russian weapon systems, but it also began to export those undercutting Russian sales of higher-priced original platforms.
Some experts even called for a complete halt to arms sales to China, arguing that demographic pressures and a growing need of resources may one day push China to turn Russian weapons against Russia.
“We should stop selling them the rope to hang us with,” warned Alexander Khramchikhin of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis.
However, the risks of selling advanced weapons to China took a back seat in Moscow’s calculations after Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term a year ago. Last year, Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, signed contracts with China worth $2.1-billion, the company’s head Anatoly Isaikin said recently. The renewal of sophisticated weapon supplies to China should be seen in the context of geopolitical games in the China-U.S.-Russia triangle.
“The balance of power between America and China will to a large extend depend on whether and on which side Russia will play,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, foreign policy analyst.
Russia and China are revitalising defence ties at a time when their relations with the U.S. have run into rough waters. Moscow is deeply disappointed with Mr. Obama’s policy of “reset,” which is seen in Moscow as a U.S. instrument of winning unilateral concessions from Russia, while Beijing views Mr. Obama’s strategic redeployment in the Asia-Pacific region as aimed at containing China.

Profit motives

Russian defence sales to China are also driven by profit motives as arms manufacturers seek to compensate for the recent loss of several lucrative contracts in India, where they face growing competition from the U.S., Europe and Israel. Also, Moscow seems to be less concerned today about the so-called “reverse engineering” of Russian weapons in China as the ability of the Chinese industry to copy critical technologies appears to have been overrated.
“China’s programme of developing the J-11B family of aircraft based on the Su-27 platform has run into problems,” said Vasily Kashin, expert on China. “China’s aircraft engines, which are essentially modified version of Russian engines, are way too inferior to the originals and China continues to depend on the supply of Russian engines.”
In the past three-four years, China has bought over 1,000 aircraft engines from Russia and is expected to place more orders in coming years.
“When and if China succeeds in copying Russia’s new weapon platforms the Russian industry will hopefully move ahead with new technologies,” Mr. Kashin said.
India can also easily offset the advantage that new Russian arms supplies may give China, experts said.
“To retain its edge in military aviation, India needs to speed up the development of a 5th-generation fighter plane with Russia and go for in-depth upgrade of its fleet of Su-30MKI fighters,” Mr. Makienko said.

Trade differences

However, the resumption of massive Russian arms supplies to China could still be a cause for concern in India. Closer defence ties between Moscow and Beijing are an offshoot of strong dynamics of their overall relations. China is Russia’s top commercial partner, with bilateral trade expected to touch $90 billion this year and soar to $200 billion by 2020. Mr. Putin has described China’s rise as “a chance to catch the Chinese wind in the sails of our economy.”
This contrasts with sluggish trade between India and Russia, which stood at $11 billion last year; even the target of $20 billion the two governments set for 2015 falls short on ambition. India risks being eclipsed by China on the Russian radar screens. As Russia’s top business daily Kommersant noted recently, even today, Russian officials from top to bottom tend to look at India with “drowsy apathy,” while Mr. Putin’s visit to India last year was long on “meaningless protocol” and short on time and substance.

The Hindu

March 7, 2013

Desi Bofors to plug gap in Army’s long-range firepower

The desi version of the original Swedish 155mm Bofors howitzers, which proved its worth by wreaking havoc against Pakistani intruders during the 1999 Kargil conflict, is now all set to plug huge operational gaps in the long-range, high-volume firepower of the Army.

The defence ministry has placed an order worth over Rs 1,260-crore for acquisition of 114 of the artillery field guns developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has used the designs obtained under the transfer of technology (ToT) provisions in the infamous Rs 1,437-crore Bofors contract of 1986 to develop the new guns.

The order is in tune with defence minister A K Antony's latest directive, issued in the aftermath of the bribery controversy in the VVIP helicopters' contract, for a greater thrust on indigenization to avoid scams.

It will also serve to "exorcise" the almost three-decade-old Bofors ghost - which in later years got reinforced by scandals around other global artillery manufacturers like South African Denel, Israeli Soltam and Singapore Technology Kinetics (STK) - to ensure the Army failed to induct even a single 155mm howitzer since the mid-1980s.

Under the original Bofors contract, India had obtained ToT to indigenously manufacture the howitzers after inducting 410 guns but the ensuing scandal, which had led to the fall of the Rajiv Gandhi government, had put paid to all such plans.

"Now, the OFB has worked on the original drawings and electronically upgraded the guns to 45-calibre from the original 39-calibre. The new howitzers have a 38-km range compared to the 30-km of the Bofors gun," said an official.

OFB has developed two prototypes of the 155mm\45-calibre guns, one with 68% indigenous parts and the other with 46%, that have been "satisfactorily tested in validation firings" in Pokran and Balasore over the last five months.

The "letter of intent" for the 114 howitzers was placed on the OFB "a couple of days ago" to ensure it can begin bulk production after the "user-trials" in June.

The Army has projected an initial requirement for 414 of these guns, each of which will cost over Rs 11 crore, as part of its long-delayed artillery modernization programme.

Interestingly, the other artillery project on the verge of being inked — the $647 million contract for acquisition of 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) from the US - also has a strong Bofors angle.

Though the ULH deal will be a direct government-to-government deal, which is said to preclude kickbacks, the 155mm\39-calibre M-777s are manufactured by BAE Systems, which now owns the original Bofors firm.

"It should be signed by April-May. An Indian `maintainability evaluation team' visited the US from February 8 to 25 to examine the howitzers," said the official. The air-mobile howitzers, capable of being swiftly deployed in forward areas by helicopters and aircraft, are primarily meant for the high-altitude areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh to counter China.

The other 155mm\52-calibre artillery projects, in the overall Rs 30,000 crore artillery modernization plan, include the purchase of 100 self-propelled tracked guns from a foreign vendor and the development of 814 mounted gun systems through a joint venture with the private sector.

But the biggest one is the over Rs 12,000-crore project to buy 400 towed artillery guns, followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,180 such guns after transfer of technology from the foreign vendor. This project has been derailed at least a couple of times in the past, the last time after STK was blacklisted due to the corruption scandal against former OFB chairman Sudipto Ghosh. 

Times of India

March 6, 2013

India without aircraft carrier as China takes huge strides

India may fancy itself as a regional superpower but does not have an aircraft carrier prowling on the high seas. Its solitary carrier, the 54-year-old INS Viraat, is out of action for several months once again for a major refit to ensure it can soldier on for another three to four years.

Despite the Indian Ocean having emerged as the new strategic theatre between India and China, the Indian politico-military establishment's lack of long-term planning and timely decision-making has all but dashed the Navy's long-standing ambition to deploy two potent carrier battle groups (CBGs).

China, in contrast, is taking huge strides in the arena. After last year's commissioning of its first carrier, the 65,000-tonne Liaoning, Beijing is furiously engaged in building more to further expand its "blue-water operations''.

If China sees aircraft carriers as "symbols of a great nation'', the US has realized their role in projecting power around the globe for long. As part of its pivot towards Asia-Pacific, at least six of the 11 American CBGs will be deployed in the region. Incidentally, each US carrier is over 94,000 tonne and capable of handling 80-90 fighters.

But the Indian Navy is continuing to flog an old warhorse because of huge delays in other carrier projects. One, Russia will deliver INS Vikramaditya, or the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov refurbished for $2.33 billion, only by December at the earliest, a good two decades after India first showed interest in it.

Two, Navy will not get its hands on the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) being built at Cochin Shipyard anytime before 2018. The follow-on 65,000-tonne IAC-II still remains a mere pipedream.

Sources say the 28,000-tonne INS Viraat, the second-hand HMS Hermes inducted by India in May 1987, is currently undergoing "a normal refit'' that takes at least eight to nine months. In the first phase at the Kochi dockyard, the 13-storey high warship is undergoing "hull and other underwater work''. Next in Mumbai, the ship will get its boilers, propulsions and other technical parts overhauled.

"The plan was to operate INS Viraat, whose keel was laid in 1944, for only 10 years after 1987. But fund crunches, protracted negotiation and consequent refit of Gorshkov and huge delays in launching the IAC project has meant INS Viraat has to be kept running,'' said a source.

INS Viraat has undergone a series of refits, with the last major life-extension one being in 2008-2009. With age, it has also lost most of its teeth. The Navy now has only 11 Sea Harrier jump-jets available to operate from its deck, with no replacement of the fighters possible.

The irony is that while INS Viraat has just a few fighters left, India is progressively inducting 45 MiG-29K fighters, ordered from Russia for over $2 billion, meant for INS Vikramaditya though the carrier itself is still awaited. In effect, India will have two effective CBGs only when INS Vikramaditya and IAC can operate together some time after 2018. 

Times of India

March 5, 2013

Defence procurement policy to be changed, says A K Antony

In the wake of Finmeccanica unit's AgustaWestland scam in India, the UPA government today announced it would change its defence procurement policy, which will be unveiled in a few months, says minister A K Antony.
"Within a few months we are going to change the defence procurement procedure again," Antony told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
The defence procurement policy was revised as recently as 2011.
The Minister was replying to questions on the allegations of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore in the Rs 3,600 crore deal to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland.
His statement assumes significance as the government has come under sharp attack over the chopper scam, with allegations that former Air Chief S P Tyagi was a beneficiary in the kickbacks.
Antony said the government has to import defence equipment because the Services require the most modern equipment to meet their operational necessity.
"Because of the operational necessity of the Services, on the request that they need the most modern equipment to meet the operational necessity, government moves to import any high value equipment from foreign sources," Antony said.
Dubbing indigenisation as the "ultimate solution to the scourge of corruption", Antony said the government would give "more priority to indigenisation so that Indian public sector and private sector can play a major role in producing state-of-the-art equipment for the Indian forces."
Referring to the CBI investigation in the VVIP chopper deal, Antony said it would be early to opine on the extent to which this case was likely to affect other defence deals in the pipeline.
Antony said India had also taken up with Britain the issue of alleged involvement of a British consultant in the deal and the fact that the contract had been signed with M/s AgustaWestland, UK.
"The UK side informed the Ministry of External Affairs that they had not launched any investigation and were awaiting the results of the Italian investigation in order to ascertain whether any further action needs to be taken," he said.
The minister said AgustaWestland, UK has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on their part in the contract for the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters.
Antony said the procurement of the choppers was completed in accordance with the established procurement procedure in a transparent manner with all stages being followed meticulously.
"Three helicopters, delivered by the vendor, have so far been accepted after completion of Joint Receipt Inspection," he said.
Antony said the Ministry of Defence had taken prompt action to seek factual information from authorities concerned after reports of alleged kickbacks in the deal appeared in a section of the media.
"However, since no concrete information to substantiate the allegations was forthcoming, no formal inquiry was then ordered," he said.
Antony said after the reports of the arrest of Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi, who was earlier the Chief Executive Officer of AgustaWestland, appeared the Defence Ministry ordered a CBI inquiry into the matter.
"The CBI, after a visit of its team to Italy and on further examination of the documents available, has registered a Preliminary Enquiry on February 25, 2013 in this matter against 11 persons including five Indians and four firms which include two Indian firms," he said.

The Indian Express

High cost of Mirage-2000 upgrade raises eyebrows

Should India have simply gone in for new fighters rather than upgrading its 51 Mirage-2000s at an exorbitant cost? This question came to the fore once again on Monday with defence minister AK Antony telling Parliament that the upgrade cost for each jet was Rs 167 crore.

This when the last lot of the French-origin Mirage-2000s - their induction began in the mid-1980s - contracted by India in 2000 cost just Rs 133 crore apiece. However, Antony, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, said, "Applying an escalation of 3.5% per annum as per the pricing policy review committee, to the contracted cost of the year 2000, it works out to be Rs 195 crore at 2011 levels. Thus, the upgrade has been undertaken at 85% of the aircraft's escalated cost."

However, the Rs 167-crore figure does not give the full picture. The overall upgrade programme of the Mirage-2000s is pegged at Rs 17,547 crore, with the first two fighters being upgraded in France and the rest (49) by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) under transfer of technology (ToT). If this figure is taken into account, then each Mirage upgrade will cost Rs 344 crore.

India has inked two separate contracts in the upgrade programme, which kicked off last year with the help of French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer) and Thales (weapons systems integrator).

In July 2011, the upgrade programme was finalized at Rs 10,947 crore, which included both the French and HAL work-shares. Then, early last year, the second contract worth around Rs 6,600 crore for 490 advanced fire-and-forget MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems to arm the fighters was finalized with French armament major MBDA. The overall upgrade package may even cross the Rs 20,000 crore-mark over the decade it will take to complete it, as earlier reported by TOI.

However, both MoD and IAF - down to just 34 fighter squadrons when over 44 are required to deter both Pakistan and China - maintain the upgrade will ensure the multi-role Mirages become "virtually new fighters" that will "remain current and potent" for over two decades more.

"Mirages have performed superbly since induction. IAF is going in for new acquisitions, which take a long time in our circumstances, as well as upgrades to retain its combat readiness," said an official.

Holding major upgrade decisions are "suitably negotiated" in a competitive environment, Antony admitted, "However, this (Mirage) upgrade programme also includes fitment of advanced multi-mode target radar, reconfigured glass cockpit and advance avionics, state-of-the-art electronic warfare system and capability to launch advanced missiles."

Even as it progressively inducts 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted for Rs 55,717 crore, IAF is also undertaking upgrade of its 63 MiG-29s at a cost of $964 million deal inked with Russia in March, 2008.

The force is also heavily banking upon the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to acquire 126 French Rafale fighters from Dassault, the final commercial negotiations for which are now in progress. 

Times of India

China hikes defence budget to $115.7 billion

China on Tuesday hiked its defence budget by 10.7 per cent to USD 115.7 billion well above this year's Indian defence spending of USD 37.4 billion.

The hike in the defence spending was announced as the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) opened its annual session, which this year also marks the once-in-a-decade power transfer.

As per the budgetary papers placed at the NPC, a sum of 720.168 billion Yuan was allocated for defence, which at the current exchange rate amounted to USD 115.7 billion.

The newly elected leader Xi Jinping and his fellow leaders would formally take over power from old guard headed by President Hu Jintao in the course of next ten days.

The budget proposals were announced by the outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao who presented a lengthy work report on the decade old achievements of his government.

The focus was mainly on the defence budget as China had officially allocated USD 106.4 billion last year making it one of the top defence spenders in the world.

The 10 per cent hike this year comes when China is rapidly modernising its armed forces in the back drop of deepening stand off with Japan over the disputed islands as well as differences with several South Asian Countries over the South China Sea.

China has already launched its first aircraft carrier last year as well as several versions of new jet fighters including a stealth fighter bracing to deal with big US military push into Asia pacific

Times of india

March 4, 2013

Govt is aware of China's military modernization: Antony

The government is aware of China's military modernization and infrastructure development along the Sino-India border and it regularly reviews the threats to national security, defence minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

Development of infrastructure and operational capabilities to achieve desired defence preparedness to safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of India are an ongoing activity, he said in a written reply.

The government "is aware of China's military modernisation and infrastructure development along the India-China border. Government reviews the threat perceptions which impact national security regularly and initiates required measures," he said.

On whether cases of intrusions by Chinese Army in Arunachal Pradesh have come to light, he said such incidents are taken up through established mechanisms.

"Along the border with China there are sectors where both countries have differing perceptions of the border. Both sides patrol upto their respective perceptions of the border or Line of Actual Control (LAC)," he said.

Incidents of transgressions are taken up with the Chinese side through established mechanisms of Hot Lines, Flag Meetings, Border Personnel Meetings and normal diplomatic channels, he said.

To a separate question on the visit of a military delegation to China recently, Antony said, "The purpose of these visits is to promote mutual trust and confidence between both countries.

On rail-road link upto border areas, Antony said, the government has identified strategically important border roads and railway lines for development for improving the operational capabilities of the forces in phased manner.

About his tour of Myanmar in January this year, the minister said, "During the visit, discussions were held with the Myanmar side on issues relating to border management cooperation, armed forces interaction and other defence and security matters of mutual interest." 

Times of India

March 1, 2013

Pinaka rockets successfully test-fired for second day

Indigenously developed 'Pinaka' rockets were successfully test-fired, on the second consecutive day on Friday, from a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) by an armament establishment from a base in Odisha.

"Three rounds of Pinaka rockets were successfully tested today from the base at Chandipur, about 15 km from here, while three rounds had been fired yesterday," defence sources said.

On January 30 and 31, this year, seven rounds of 'Pinaka' rockets were tested from the same base.

'Pinaka', which has undergone several tough tests since 1995, has already been inducted into the armed forces.

The trial was conducted by personnel from Armament Research and Development Establishment ( ARDE), Pune unit at Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) firing point-2 at Chandipur, the sources said.

"The MBRL, capable of acting as a force-multiplier, has been developed to supplement artillery guns," a defence official said.

'Pinaka' is an area weapon system with a range of 40 km. The quick reaction time and high rate of fire of the system gives an edge to the army during a low-intensity conflict situation, he said.

The unguided rocket system is meant to neutralise large areas with rapid salvos. 'Pinaka' system can fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds, the sources said, adding that the battery of six launchers can neutralise at a time a target area of 3.9 sq km.

The system's capability to incorporate several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy solid structures and bunkers.

Times of India

India to modernise military with hike in defence spending

With a major defence scandal still burning hot, the Indian government has announced plans to spend 1.79 percent of the country's GDP on military spending in the coming year.

Though increased, the budget falls short of previous increments and the government is hoping it will be enough to rationalise and streamline its defence procurements.

As part of a modernisation programme, India has increased its defence spending to US$37 billion, a modest hike of five percent over the 2012-13 budget and an increase of 14 percent in real terms.

New contracts will be signed but a significant part of the budget will be used to procure new defence equipment from deals already signed in previous years.

The minister earmarked US$16 billion as "capital expenditure" - meaning spending on hardware.

Among the major defence contracts in the pipeline is the order for 126 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said: "I propose to increase the allocation for defence to Rs 203,672 crore. This will include 86,741 crore for capital expenditure. The Minister of Defence has been most understanding, and I assure him and the House that constraints will not come in the way of providing any additional requirement for the security of the nation."

And with India currently negotiating a series of huge defence contracts, analysts feel that even with the slight increase to US$37 billion, the budget is still not sufficient.

Defence expert Bharat Verma said: "First, the Indian defence budget is becoming a big joke in this country because it cannot meet the requirement of the modernisation of the Indian armed forces. There has been no modernisation in the last three decades and it has fallen now to the lowest since 1996."

Despite being criticised for a string of scandals involving defence contracts in the past, the Indian government has taken a bold step of increasing the military spending in the next fiscal year.

It is expected that the subdued increase of 5.3 percent compared to last year's double-digit hike will oblige the Defence Ministry to rationalise its defence procurements with greater rigour in future.

- CNA/ch