April 30, 2013

Strike by even a midget nuke will invite massive response, India warns Pak

India will retaliate massively even if Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons against it. With Pakistan developing "tactical" nuclear warheads, that is, miniaturizing its weapons to be carried on short-range missiles, India will protect its security interests by retaliating to a "smaller" tactical attack in exactly the same manner as it would respond to a "big" strategic attack.

Articulating Indian nuclear policy in this regard for the first time, Shyam Saran, convener of the National Security Advisory Board, said, "India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if it is attacked with such weapons, it would engage in nuclear retaliation which will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage on its adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, is irrelevant from the Indian perspective." This is significant, because Saran was placing on record India's official nuclear posture with the full concurrence of the highest levels of nuclear policymakers in New Delhi.

Giving a speech on India's nuclear deterrent recently, Saran placed India's nuclear posture in perspective in the context of recent developments, notably the "jihadist edge" that Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability have acquired.

Saran argued that as a result of its tactical weapons, Pakistan believes it has brought down the threshold of nuclear use. "Pakistani motivation is to dissuade India from contemplating conventional punitive retaliation to sub-conventional but highly destructive and disruptive cross-border terrorist strikes such as the horrific 26/11 attack on Mumbai. What Pakistan is signalling to India and to the world is that India should not contemplate retaliation even if there is another Mumbai because Pakistan has lowered the threshold of nuclear use to the theatre level. This is nothing short of nuclear blackmail, no different from the irresponsible behaviour one witnesses in North Korea," he said.

One of the main reasons for Pakistan miniaturizing its nukes is actually to keep its weapons from being confiscated or neutralized by the US, a fear that has grown in the Pakistani establishment in the wake of the operation against Osama bin Laden. "Pakistan has, nevertheless, projected its nuclear deterrent as solely targeted at India and its strategic doctrine mimics the binary nuclear equation between the US and the Soviet Union which prevailed during the Cold War," Saran said.

However, warning Pakistan, he added, "A limited nuclear war is a contradiction in terms. Any nuclear exchange, once initiated, would swiftly and inexorably escalate to the strategic level. Pakistan would be prudent not to assume otherwise as it sometimes appears to do, most recently by developing and perhaps deploying theatre nuclear weapons."

There have been significant shifts in Pakistan's nuclear posture recently. First is the movement from uranium to a newer generation of plutonium weapons, which has enabled Pakistan to increase the number of weapons, outstripping India in weapons and fissile material production. Although they are still to be verified, Pakistan has claimed it has miniaturized nuclear weapons to be used on cruise missiles and other short-range missiles. The newer generation of Pakistan's weapons are also solid-fuelled rather than liquid, making them easier to transport and launch.

Times of India

April 29, 2013

INS Sindhurakshak arrives in India

The kilo class submarine, which was retrofitted in the Zvyozdochka shipyard, in Severodvinsk arrived in the Mumbai port on Monday.
The INS Sindhurakshak, a diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy that underwent interim overhaul and modernisation at the Russian Severodvinsk-based Zvezdochka shipyard, arrived at the Mumbai port today, a senior Russian naval official said. “The submarine reached Mumbai this morning,” Rear Admiral Aleksandr Litenkov told RIR.
The modernised submarine arrived in Mumbai through the Northern Sea Route and stopped in ports, such as Cartagena, Spain, and Alexandria, Egypt.
The kilo class submarine was retrofitted in the Zvyozdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk, north-west Russia. In the course of refit it was armed with modern Club-S cruise missiles, Porpoise radar and its cooling system was modernised. “It was a very wise decision on the part of the Indian Navy to completely modernise and retrofit the submarine in the Zvyozdochka shipyard,” Litenkov told RIR, adding that the shipyard would be ready to assist India in modernising its naval fleet.
The contract for intermediate overhaul and modernisation of the large diesel-electric submarine (project Type 877EKM Kilo) was signed between the Zvyozdochka ship repair centre and the Indian Ministry of Defence in June 2010. The submarine arrived in Severodvinsk and was accepted for repairs in August of that year.

The INS Sindhurakshak is the fifth Indian submarine to be repaired and modernised at Zvyozdochka. The first vessel, INS Sindhuvir, was handed over to the Indian Navy after repairs and modernisation in 1999.
A typical kilo-class submarine has a displacement of 2,300 tonnes, length of 72.6 metres, a submerged speed of 19 knots (about 35 kilometres an hour), a test depth of 300 metres, a crew of 52 and endurance of 45 days. These submarines are armed with six 533 mm torpedo tubes.
The modernisation arms the submarines with additional state-of-the-art Russian Club S anti-ship missiles (designed by the Novator bureau) with a range of about 200 kilometres. Supplementary Indian-made equipment includes a USHUS hydro-acoustic unit and CCS-MK communications system.
INS Sindhurakshak was built in 1997 by the Admiralteiskie verfi shipyard in St Petersburg for the Indian Navy.
Zvyozdochka has become a leading partner of the Indian Navy in maintaining the combat readiness of the kilo class submarines, experts in Moscow and Delhi say. Zvyozdochka provides its services not only at its Severodvinsk shipyard, but also at the home station of the Indian submarines. The shipyard has two covered ship-houses with seven building berths designed for repairing and building vessels weighing up to 18,000 tonnes. United Shipbuilding Corporation controls 100 percent minus one share in the shipyard through its subsidiary OAO Northern Centre for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair.


April 26, 2013

INS Vikramaditya poised to meet latest deadline

The INS Vikramaditya has undergone a complex operation at Russia’s Sevmash shipyard ahead of the final stage of trials and delivery to the Indian Navy later this year.
With 10 weeks still left until July 3, 2013, when the final sea trials are due to begin, tug boats carefully manoeuvred the giant ship to a drainable pool. There the Vikramaditya will once again be put on a frame. Once the water has been drained, engineers will inspect the hull of the ship and all its outboard parts and components.
According to the head of the commissioning team, Igor Leonov, all the procedures in the dry dock - which are compulsory for a ship after repairs - will take two months. So far, the project remains strictly on the latest schedule.The April 25 deadline for putting the ship in the dock has been met, Leonov said.
Ekaterina Pilikina, spokeswoman for the Sevmash shipyard, gave the media details of the elaborate operation. The main complication was that there were only a few centimetres to spare between the hull of the enormous ship and the sluice gate. To make matters worse, the team worked in strong winds and had only an hour at the peak of the high tide to complete their task.
The operation was observed by senior Sevmash executives; the head of the White Sea naval base, Vladimir Vorobyev; the captain of the Indian crew of the Vikramaditya, Suraj Berry and the head of the Indian observation team, Kudaravalli Srinivas. Both Indian representatives were impressed with what they saw.

Srinivas said this was the second time he saw such an operation. The first was back in 2008, when the ship was being taken out of the drainable pool after repairs. “Now Sevmash specialists have once again demonstrated their professionalism,” the Indian representative said. “They have coped very well with their task.”
The chief executive of the shipyard, Mikhail Budnichenko, expressed confidence that all the remaining work in the dock “will be done well and on schedule.” Sergey Novoselov, head of defence export projects at Sevmash, explained the nature of that work: “In accordance with the contract, we must inspect the state of the hull, the propeller-rudder system, and the sea valves. We will also restore the paintwork below the waterline, if necessary.”
 Novoselov added that most of the problems identified during the sea trials have already been fixed. The ongoing refurbishment of the main boilers involves specialists of the companies which designed and manufactured them. The refurbishment is scheduled for completion in May. All the interim results of the project are inspected by the Indian customer and by the Russian MoD.
Before the Vikramaditya can take to the sea once again, the Sevmash quality assurance specialists will be asked to present their findings on 435 separate items covering almost the entire ship, including tens of thousands of individual parts and components. In addition, much of the interior finish has yet to be completed.
 “There are more than 2,500 compartments in the ship,” Novoselov says. “That includes combat stations, bays, cabins, engine and boiler rooms, power plant compartments, and a 120 metre-long hangar, which is about the same length as a football pitch. We must paint all these compartments, install the hardware, properly insulate all the piping and frame elements, and present the whole thing for the customer's inspection. In addition to the engineers setting up the main equipment, we also have painters, joiners, fitters, insulation technicians and other specialists working on the Vikramaditya.”

In the autumn of 2012, the Vikramaditya was forced to return to Sevmash, where it had previously been repaired and refitted, to replace the fire-resistant insulation of the boilers, which began to deteriorate during trials in the Barents Sea. This and several other problems with the hardware had forced Russia to postpone the delivery of the Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy, which was previously scheduled for 2012.
The new delivery deadline is November 2013. Eight boilers must be refurbished before the end of May if that deadline is to be met. The ship is scheduled to take to the sea once again on July 3, so there will be a month left to test all the boilers of the main power plant, including operation at the maximum load. The next stage of the trials, which involves the planes and helicopters based on the Vikramaditya, is scheduled for August 3.
In mid-October the ship will return to Sevmash, where specialists will spend another month preparing it for the voyage to India.

Trials schedule: Every day counts
Sergey Novoselov, Head of defence export projects at Sevmash

“On July 2013 the aircraft carrier will begin sea trials in the White Sea; we will spend a month testing all the boilers of the main power plant under various loads. The next stage of the trials will commence on August 3 in the Barents Sea, and end on September 30. It will involve the planes and helicopters based on the carrier; the aim is to test the operation of the entire carrier-aircraft complex. One of the critical parts of the trials is aircraft landings on the deck of the Vikramaditya during night-time. These flights will begin in late August or early September, once the midnight sun period north of the Polar Circle is over.
 Then the ship is scheduled to return to Sevmash in early October to begin preparations for the voyage to India. November 15 is the deadline for the aircraft to be delivered to the customer and (for the ship to) set sail for its new home in India. Incidentally, we are planning a shorter route for that journey, via the Suez Canal rather than around Africa. In accordance with the terms of the contract, Sevmash engineers will perform repairs and maintenance during the initial 12-month warranty period, and then provide their services for another 20 years once the warranty has expired."


April 25, 2013

Two new Army units for deployment near China border

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of China strengthening its capability to airlift soldiers, India is planning to raise around 1,500 more airborne troops for deployment in the northeast along the China border.

Under the 12th Defence Plan, India is planning to raise two new battalions of the airborne troops with around 1,500 personnel under the elite Parachute Regiment of the Army, Defence Ministry sources said here.

The new raisings would be apparently used to check any move by any adversary to airdrop their troops within Indian territory and capture that area, they said.

The new units would also be used for the conventional roles in counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in that area and would also be capable of being dropped behind enemy lines in case of any future war, they said.
Recently, the Army raised the 11 Para (SF) that is being deployed under the Tezpur-based 4 Corps and 3 Corps in Dimapur which are two of the Army's main formations looking after the border with China in the northeast.

The Parachute Regiment has 10 units under it of which eight are Special Forces units while the rest are Para Commando units with capability of launching airborne operations.

Seven among them have already been trained and classified as Special Forces, which are supposed to carry out counter- insurgency operations during peacetime and sabotage enemy installations beyond enemy lines during wars.

 They are deployed in different sectors of the country and have also been given the responsibility to handle 26/11 type attacks near their area of deployment.

China in the recent past has significantly enhanced its capability to launch airborne operations and according to some reports, can air lift more than 3,500 soldiers for operational deployment in one go.

PTI / zeenews

April 24, 2013

IAF to get 9 new planes

A top decision-making body of the Defence Ministry has cleared an Indian Air Force (IAF) proposal to buy nine aircraft for Rs 1,100 crore to boost its signal intelligence gathering capabilities.
Officials said the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday, approved the proposal for procuring the nine planes that are likely replacements for the now phased-out Canberra fleet.
“The IAF will now  issue a Request for Proposals for buying these planes,” officials said.

 By New Indian Express

Russia ready to negotiate with India on MiG-35 fighters

Russia is keen that India buys its MiG-35 fighter aircraft, a top Russian official said.
The Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) has proposed to India to consider the possibility of concluding a contract on the supply of the MiG-35 multipurpose fighter jet, RAC MiG Director General Sergei Korotkov told Itar-Tass in an interview.
"Despite the fact that we lost the tender for the supply of 126 multipurpose fighters to the Indian Air Force, the RAC MiG fulfilled all the requirements set the tender committee," Korotkov said. "The aircraft has demonstrated good results, sometimes even exceeding expectations."

According to him, the corporation hopes that "India will consider the possibility of concluding a contract on the supply of the MiG-35 fighters."

"And we will have the opportunity to implement it," he said. "Within this bundle of knowledge that India received during this tender, I would like the MiG-35 issue to be continued against the background of our common history and 50 years of partnership."

According to preliminary information, the winner of the tender for the supply of fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force was the French Dassault Rafale. However, neither party has announced the official timeframe of the contract conclusion.

"This year the next batch of four aircraft will be delivered," said the head of the MiG Aircraft Corporation.

He also took part in the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Soviet MiG-21 fighters' deliveries to the Indian Air Force.

The agreement on the supply of the MiG-21 planes to India was signed in 1962, and the deliveries began a year later. In 1967, the Indian company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over to the Indian Air Force the first MiG-21 fighter that was built here under the USSR license.

IANS/ Zeenews

Chinese incursion: India likely to send Army contingent to Daulat Beg Oldi sector

With Chinese forces intruding nearly 10km inside Indian territory in Ladakh, India is likely to send an Army contingent to the area to be on guard even though it wants to avoid a confrontation.

Indian Army had earlier sent a team of Ladakh Scouts — an infantry regiment specialising in mountain warfare — to the Daulat Beg Oldi sector, manned by the troops of Indo—Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) — soon after it was discovered that the Chinese troops had set up a camp there.

Additional troops may be deployed in the area if the situation does not de-escalate and Chinese troops do not go back to their old position, sources said here on Tuesday.

A platoon—strength contingent of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) had come 10km inside the Indian territory in Burthe in DBO sector, located at an altitude of about 17,000 feet, on the night of April 15 and established a tented post there.

A Chinese Army Platoon usually consists of around 50 troops.

India and China on Tuesday conducted second round of flag-meeting in the area since the incursion was reported and India asked the Chinese side to revert to the status quo position. The first meeting was held on April 18.

On earlier occasions, the Indian and Chinese troops had transgressed into each other's territory due to differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Defence Ministry had earlier also maintained that the LAC is not properly demarcated in some areas.

ITBP troops have also established a camp approximately 300m opposite the Chinese location and is monitoring the development.

DBO, located in northernmost Ladakh, is an historic camp site and located on an ancient trade route connecting Ladakh to Yarkand in Xinjiang, China.

times of india

April 23, 2013

Three Nuclear Subs to Join Russian Navy by Year end

(RIA Novosti) - The Russian Navy will take delivery of two Project 955 Borey-class ballistic-missile submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, and one Yasen-class attack submarine, the Severodvinsk, by the end of the year, a Defense Ministry official said on Tuesday.
Everything is going according to plan and there will be "no delays," said Andrei Vernigora, director of the ministry’s state defense contracts department, refuting reports the Alexander Nevsky would only be put into service only in 2014.
Alexander Nevsky is due to be commissioned with the Navy in September, he added. The boat has been undergoing trials at the Sevmash shipyard since 2012. A Bulava ballistic missile will be test-launched from the submarine in the summer, a Navy official told RIA Novosti in late March.
Alexander Nevsky is the second Borey-class submarine. The first, the Yury Dolgoruky, entered service with the Northern Fleet in January, and the third, the Vladimir Monomakh, was floated out last December and will start trials in the White Sea in June, United Shipbuilding Corporation President Andrei Dyachkov said earlier this month.
The Sevmash shipyard will start construction this year of two more Borey-class Project 955A submarines - the Alexander Suvorov and the Mikhail Kutuzov.

Borey class submarines are to become the mainstay of the Navy's strategic nuclear deterrent, replacing the ageing Project 941 (NATO Typhoon class) and Project 667 class (Delta-3 and Delta-4) boats.
A total of eight Borey-class submarines are to be built for the Russian Navy by 2020.
Sevmash said in August it hoped to hand the Severodvinsk attack submarine over to the Russian Navy by the end of 2012.
The Severodvinsk carried out a series of cruise-missile test-firings in November earlier including the test-launch of a supersonic cruise missile at a land target. Laid down in 1993, Severodvinsk is one of eight Yasen-class boats being built for the Russian Navy.
The multirole attack submarine has a submerged displacement of 13,800 tons, length of 119 meters, speed of 31 knots, and can dive to 600 meters. It has a crew of 90 including 32 officers.
It is armed with 3M55 Oniks (SS-N-26) and 3M54 (SS-N-27) Kalibr cruise missiles, torpedoes, and mines.

China concerned over India’s naval prowess, says expert

China, concerned over India’s policy on Indian Ocean, wants to establish posts in countries like Sri Lanka and Seychelles, said Dr. Lora Saalman, an American expert on arms control.
Dr. Saalman is an associate at the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment and is based at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, Beijing. Her research focuses on Chinese arms control policies, and Sino-Indian and Sino-Russian strategic relations.
In an interaction with media persons here on Monday, she said some of the experts in China felt India was either on par with China or even surpassed it on naval power. Referring to strengthening of Indian Navy in recent years, she said the Chinese felt India might use its policy to control the Indian Ocean. “It is the first and foremost on their mind.”
Observing that the posts could be used as refuelling points by the Chinese, Dr. Saalman however added that not all engagement was negative as military could also be used to shore up economic interests in the region.
Dr. Saalman said China was also increasingly focusing on India and looking at where India was heading in the wake of the latter’s defence modernisation programme.
The Chinese viewed the India-U.S. partnership as a strategy to counter China in the region, she said, adding India could become part of the United States alliance consisting Japan and Taiwan. China was also looking with interest at the shift in export controls and the easing of restrictions on technology imports by India and was interested in engaging the U.S. in technology trade as they do not have anything comparable to India, Dr. Saalman said.

the hindu

600 border violations by China along LAC since 2010

China's "deeper" troop incursions into Ladakh have set the alarm bells clanging in the Indian security establishment, even as defence minister A K Antony on Monday asserted that all necessary steps would be taken "to protect the country's interests" in the continuing face-off between rival soldiers in the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector.

India has recorded well over 600 "transgressions" - the government's euphemism for cross-border intrusions - all along the unresolved 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the People's Liberation Army over the last three years.

While the sheer number of the incidents itself is disquieting, the Indian establishment is more worried about the "brazen military assertiveness" being shown by the PLA in all the three sectors of the LAC -- western (Ladakh), middle ( Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern ( Sikkim, Arunachal) - in recent times.

"Ladakh in particular — in DBO and Nyoma sectors as well as Trig Heights and Pangong Tso lake — is being targeted. Though Chinese troops usually go back after marking their presence, they are increasingly coming deeper and deeper into our territory with the aim to stake claim to disputed areas," said an official.

This comes in the backdrop of a PLA platoon setting up a temporary camp, with soldiers pitching tents to coolly settle down, around 10 km inside Indian territory in Burthe area of the DBO sector last week, as was then reported by TOI.

India also moved forward a platoon of Ladakh Scouts to station them just about 500 metres from the Chinese tented position, which is at an altitude of 16,800 feet. "Our soldiers are conducting 'banner drills' (waving banners and placards at the Chinese troops to show it is Indian territory) through the day," said another officer.

"We held a brigadier-level flag meeting with the Chinese troops on April 18 to resolve the issue but nothing much came off it. We have asked for another flag meeting," he added.

India is also working the hotlines of the new bilateral boundary coordination mechanism, which became operational last year after the 15th round of border between national security advisor Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo, to resolve the stand-off.

"We are in touch and flag meetings are going on. There is more information to come. We will factor all that and then take a final view," external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said.

But the fact remains that India has become extremely wary of China's cartographic aggression, coupled with the Beijing-Islamabad nexus, in the region. Pointing this out, Antony had warned at the recent Army commanders' conference that this hardening Chinese stand on the boundary issue was "not likely" to change even with the new leadership led by Xi Jingping taking guard in Beijing.

"Therefore, there is a need to constantly develop our capability to achieve minimum credible deterrence, even while we seek a peaceful resolution of the issue," he said. 

times of india

New aircraft deal crucial for IAF: Browne

The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief NAK Browne on Monday indicated that the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal, pertaining to acquisition of 126 aircraft at a cost of around Rs 45,000 crore, was crucial in the wake of the fact that the Mig-21 aircraft were being phased out. The phasing out of all the four variants of these aircraft will be over by 2019-20.
Browne was visiting the headquarters of the Central Air Command (CAC), Bamrauli, here for the two-day annual conference of the CAC commanders, which began today. Addressing the press, Browne said: "To replace the phased out aircraft, it must be understood that we will need new aircraft by 2019-20. If the MMRCA deal is signed this year, we will be having adequate number of aircraft by the time the old ones are all phased out."
Out of the four Mig-21 variants, the first, Type-77, would be phased out by 2014. The other three variants (Type-96, Type-75 and Bison) would be phased out between 2016 and 2019, Browne said. There were a total of 874 such aircraft and the last one rolled out in 1987, he added.
Maintaining that there was adequate support from the ministry and the government on the issue, Browne said, "Everybody agrees this is the right approach. This will have to be done," he said. The Air Force Chief further added that the IAF would become fully modernised and networked Air Force by 2022.
In the past couple of months, the MMRCA negotiations had hit roadblock with the French company Dassault, which will be providing the aircraft, seeking some changes in the terms of engagement.
Browne informed that, as part of the long-term integrated perspective plan envisaged in 2005-06, a total of 318 contracts worth over Rs 1,51,000 crore have been finalised. "That plan is now unfolding and we are getting deliveries," he said.

The indian express

April 22, 2013

Tejas grounds Medium Combat Aircraft project

Troubles in India’s ambitious Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project has inflicted gaping wounds where it would hurt the Indian Air Force (IAF) the most—the future plans for an Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has “put on hold” the AMCA project that is being spearheaded by Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
The reason for the sudden decision to send the AMCA project—which began in right earnest in 2006 as the Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) development in 2006—to cold storage is to help ADA to focus all its energies to first work on completing the much-delayed LCA project. “The AMCA has been put on hold for the moment. This decision was taken recently to let the ADA focus on the LCA project,” top Defence Ministry sources told The Sunday Standard. The AMCA project, for which the IAF provided the final Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) in April 2010, may be taken up at a later date, sources said. But that will still be far away in the future.
India will buy Rafale planes from the French Dassault Aviation as part of its 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA); in the tender there is a provision to buy another 63 as a follow-on order. That apart, India is working on the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) in collaboration with Russia. With the final agreement on the design and development of the FGFA three months away, India will get at least 140 FGFAs for induction by 2027. Considering that most of the capabilities of AMCA will be covered by the MMRCA and FGFA planes, the revival of the AMCA will be a well thought-out one, sources said.
The AMCA’s envisaged features include stealth, multi-role operations, adequate precision strike capabilities, including critical first-day missions such as Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD).
The much-touted Tejas has taken 30 years already, at an escalated project cost of Rs 5,489 crore. Since the LCA project was sanctioned in 1983 at a cost of Rs 560 crore, the time overrun has resulted in a 10-fold increase in the project cost. The plane is yet to get even its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) so that the IAF could take the plane for a spin. But sources pointed out that the LCA still lacks certain critical capabilities, including a reliable radar, and is deficient in at least 100 technical parameters. “The plane cannot fly on its own. It needs a lifeline in the form of support and monitoring of its systems from the ground by technicians,” they said.
The LCA, in fact, gave creditable flying displays during the AeroIndia show in Yelahanka in Bangalore in February this year, and followed it up with weapons firing to hit both ground and aerial targets during the Iron Fist fire power display by the IAF in the Rajasthan’s Pokhran ranges, again in February this year. “The common man thinks the plane is doing fine, its engine sounds great and the manoeuvres are perfect. But those flying and weapons firing displays are done with ground monitoring and support. The plane is still not ready to flying on its own,” sources stressed. Their guess is the LCA may not meet its schedule of obtaining the IOC before July this year and it could take till December this year or early next year before it is ready. To give an example of LCA’s troubles, the sources noted that LCA was grounded for three months between September and December 2012 following problems with its landing gear. “Normally, a combat plane is ready for its next sortie following a 30-minute attention from ground service personnel soon after it has returned from a mission. In the case of LCA, after a single sortie of about an hour or so, it needs three days of servicing before it can go for its next sortie,” they said.
At present, the IAF has placed an order for 40 LCAs Mk1 to raise two squadrons by 2016-17 with HAL which is the nodal agency for production of Tejas. But these will be delivered with the American General Electric F404 engines which provide only 80 Kilo Newton power.
Later, 80 more LCAs of its Mk2 version will be ordered for raising four more squadrons. The LCA Mk2 will be powered by the GE F414 engines that provide a 90 Kilo Newton thrust.

 The Sunday Standard

April 19, 2013

India’s Russian-Built Frigate Completes Sea Trials

The last in a series of three frigates that Russia is building for India at the Yantar shipyard in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has completed sea trials, a shipyard spokesman said.

The Trikand frigate carried out workup trials on March 14 and was cleared for final state trials on April 4, which started on April 8, spokesman Sergei Mikhailov said.

Earlier on Wednesday the frigate effectively engaged a target flying at 50 meters above the sea level with its surface-to-air missile system, he added.

The frigate’s Indian crew are to complete their onboard training practice within the next several days and after that it will return to the shipyard for a final inspection.

The frigate is due to be handed over to the Indian Navy this June, Mikhailov said


'US to expand military ties with India, no decision on F-35'

 US is looking forward to expand its military ties with India including the potential sale of F-35 stealth fighter aircraft, although no decision have been made so far, a top State Department official said.
"We have made tremendous progress in the defence trade relationship. Now we're at USD 8 billion, we think there's going to be billion dollars more in the next couple of years," said Andrew Shapiro, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.

When asked about a potential sale of the fifth generation F-35 stealth fighter aircrafts to India, he said there might also be down the road some potential for it, but certainly no decision has been made regarding that.

It was earlier speculated that the US might offer the famed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to India, following India's rejection of the F/A-18 and F-16 fighters in the multi-million dollar MMRCA deal.

"So we are on track," Shapiro told reporters in response to a question at the Washington Foreign Press Center.

He added that the Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter is heading up a defence trade initiative with India, which the US believes is making some good progress and will, hopefully, lead to even a greater pace of additional defence trade with India.

Last year, Shapiro had led the US delegation for the first ever political-military dialogue with India in six years.

"It was significant because we were able to help our Indian counterparts work through the challenges of inter agency cooperation on national security issues," said Shapiro.
"Indian officials' have remarked that this dialogue is especially helpful in helping coordinate between the various inter-agency partners in India," he added.

Responding to question on news reports that India might reopen its multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal, he said the American companies would have to consider if they want to participate in it.

"I wouldn't say we were kicked out (of the fighter jet deal). I would say there was a selection process where they made a determination to down select to the two and eventually to select the Rafale," he said.

"I have been reading in the Indian press various rumors about that transaction. We have no official communication from the Indian government and obviously if there was a reopening, US companies would have to consider whether they want to participate," Shapiro added.

 deccanherald / PTI

April 15, 2013

India to spend $3 billion for 3 more Talwar-class frigates

Russia is going to get a fresh order of building three more Talwar-class stealth frigates for India later this year which is likely to be worth $3 billion. The frigates have substantially enhanced Indian Navy’s firepower in the region mainly because of their stealth capabilities.
Knowledgeable sources told RIR that the Indians have already orally conveyed their in-principle decision to Russia to construct three more Talwar-class frigates. A formal contract is likely to be signed after Russia delivers to India the third and final Talwar-class stealth frigate INS Trikand, being built at the Yantar shipyard in Russia. The delivery is expected in June 2013.
The game-changer aspect of the Talwar class frigates is its stealth technology and a special hull design. These features enable the Talwar class frigates to be extremely useful in a wide range of missions like finding and eliminating enemy submarines and large surface ships. The Talwar-class frigates are the first Indian Navy warships to have stealth features.
What the Fresh Deal May Entail
Sources in the Indian defence establishment said the mood is quite upbeat about the successful Talwar-class frigates experiment and once the current cycle gets completed after the delivery of INS Trikand, the Indian Navy will take a call on issuing a formal order to Russia.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The new set of frigates will be more technologically advanced and each of the next three Talwar-class frigates will be equipped with BrahMos missiles. The existing Talwar-class boats and the upcoming INS Trikand are not BrahMos-equipped because they were designed before the BrahMos naval variant could be developed.
Therefore the greatest USP of the upcoming order for three more Talwar-class frigates would be that for the first time these frigates will be fitted with BrahMos. “This is the single most important reason why the Russians don’t really have to worry whether they are going to get this order or not,” a source said on condition of anonymity.
Likely irritants
It is a question of when, not if, Russia would be getting the fresh order for the Talwar-class frigates. The Indians would pitch for inclusion of a financial penalties clause for Russian failure to meet delivery deadlines. The Indians are unhappy that the Russians invariably fail to meet the delivery deadlines and eventually jack up the prices too.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The same problem has been witnessed in the Talwar-class frigates episode. Though the boats are doing well, the delivery deadline was pushed back by one year or so for all the vessels. Even INS Trikand was scheduled to be delivered to India by April 2012.
Russia will have to streamline its procedures and remove recurring problems of delays and price hikes. In December 2010, Russian shipbuilding plant Yantar had asked Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, for an additional $100 million to complete construction of the three frigates for the Indian Navy. However, in this case it was an internal problem relating to VAT refund and the Russians this time did not jack up the already negotiated price.
Staggered Payment
Another good thing from the Russian point of view is that it would be a government-to-government dealing wherein floating of global tender will not be required.
Stung by the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopters scandal, the Indian Ministry of Defence is likely to stipulate a stringent and transparent payment schedule. In the case of Agusta Westland deal, the MoD was flustered when it realized that only India stood to lose if it were to scrap the chopper deal because the Italian company had been paid more than fifty percent of the total amount though just about 33 percent of the work had been done.
Therefore, the contract for the new deal would focus on staggered payments after a mutually agreeable advance payment is made.
India had awarded a $1.6 billion contract to the Yantar shipyard in 2006 to build three modified Talwar class for the Indian Navy. The final trials of INS Trikand have already started in the Baltic Sea. Yantar shipyard spokesman Sergei Mikhailov has been quoted in a recent RIA Novosti report as saying that INS Trikand was cleared for final state trials on April 4, 2013 which should be completed by this month end.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The Indian Navy got a major fillip to its firepower with the arrival of its latest acquisition INS Tarkash at Mumbai on December 27, 2012. Built by the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, INS Tarkash was second of three project 1135.6 (follow-on Talwar class) ships ordered by Indian Navy, the first being INS Teg which joined the fleet in June 2012.
What Makes Talwar Class Frigates Formidable
These ships, a modification of Krivak III class Russian frigates, are designed to carry and operate one heavy duty early warning helicopter which can provide over-the-horizon targeting. The Talwar-class frigates can also have the indigenously built Dhruv light combat helicopter.


Scorpene submarine project to miss target again as Spanish consultants quit

The Scorpene submarine project underway in Mumbai has suffered fresh troubles, with a new assessment showing another 18 months of delay even as its Spanish consultants have left the venture.

According to sources, Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) has informed the Navy that the project would be delayed by another 18 months from the 2015 deadline announced by defence minister AK Antony in Parliament last year.

Going by the latest MDL projections, the first Scorpene submarine would be ready for induction only by 2016-end. When the contract was signed, the first submarine was to be ready in 2012. However, the delay could be worse, according to other developments over the last few days.

Consultants from Navantia, the Spanish shipbuilding company, left the project in the last few days. The technical assistance pact for Navantia and DCNS, the French partner in the consortium, expired on March 31, sources said. With MDL failing to get the defence ministry's approval in time, about 10 Spanish consultants working on the submarine project left India. This could further add to the delay, sources said.

Adding to the troubles over the massive submarine project, with a budget of over Rs 23,000 crore, is the fact that the DCNS leadership is expected to meet with MDL top brass this week in Mumbai and present their own demand for additional technical assistance fee.

The developments come at a time when India's submarine fleet is expected to dwindle to just seven or so in two years time. Presently, India operates 10 ageing Russian Kilo class and four German HDW submarines. Indian Navy also has a Russian nuclear submarine INS Chakra on lease.

The Scorpene project, among the biggest defence deals signed by India till now, was concluded in October 2005. Over the years, the project has run into several delays. Originally, the first submarine was to be delivered in 2012. However, because of the complications and two-year delay in concluding contracts related to material to be procured by MDL, the project got delayed by three years.

Delivery by end-2016

Hulls for all six submarines, made of steel supplied by French division of ArcelorMittal, are ready in Mumbai, and the outfitting of equipment and systems is underway. With the Spanish consultants quitting, work on the part of the hull that they were responsible for could be delayed.

According to the new estimates, the first submarine will be ready for commissioning by end of 2016. And then, a new submarine could be ready for induction every 9-12 months.

According to the present projections, the last two submarines would have air independent propulsion systems (AIP) that would help the submarine stay underway water for one to three extra weeks. Without AIP, a Scorpene submarine can stay underwater continuously for five to six days. DRDO is presently developing an indigenous AIP, with assistance from DCNS. Initial assessments about the indigenous AIP system is said to be very good though with only about two weeks of endurance. 

Tiimes of india

April 14, 2013

First Scorpene submarine to be delivered in 2014, France says

ABOARD FNS MONTCALM (MORMUGAO, GOA): After hitting rough waters for several years with bribery allegations, the first of the six Scorpene submarines, ordered by the Indian Navy as part of technology transfer from France, is to be delivered in 2014, French ambassador Francois Richier said on Saturday. The rest five submarines are to be delivered every year.

"The first submarine would be ready by 2014, heralding an important and strategic tie-up between both the nations on the defence front", said Richier told mediapersons on board French naval destroyer FNS Montcalm, anchored at Goa's Mormugao harbour for a naval exercise. 'Project-75' is under way at Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) in cooperation with French company DCNS.

"It is a full transfer of technology, something we don't do with everybody. Defence component of India-French relations is very important to us," said Richier.

The Scorpene deal has been under a cloud of controversy with the government conducting an inquiry into financial irregularities committed by a former director in-charge of the whopping Rs 23,562-crore project, which has been dogged by huge time and cost overruns. Defence minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha last month that a complaint was received alleging financial irregularities against the then director in-charge of the Scorpene submarine project in a defence shipyard (MDL) and the complaint is under inquiry.

The French envoy met Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar to discuss areas of cooperation between France and Goa, including higher education and urban development. 

Times of india

April 13, 2013

India inks nuclear commerce pact with Canada

Around 40 years after India used plutonium from a Canadian heavy water reactor to carry out its first nuclear test in defiance of world opinion, Ottawa is set to resume nuclear commerce with New Delhi.

Earlier this week, India and Canada vaulted the final hurdle in dismantling sanctions imposed after the Pokhran I test by signing an Appropriate Arrangement Agreement (AAA) that will allow Canada to ship uranium to India.

The agreement was signed between the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and India's Department of Atomic Energy. Canada is home to the second most significant uranium mining industry in the world after Kazakhstan.

France and Russia have supplied some quantities of uranium, but Canada did not after the nuclear embargo imposed by the developed world on India. An agreement with Australia has been inked, but a safeguards framework is still being negotiated.

Nuclear cooperation with Canada has high symbolic significance for India as it marks a change, as PM Manmohan Singh himself earlier put it, in international realities. Ottawa had stopped all such cooperation after India used plutonium from the Canadian reactor to built its first atomic bomb.

Signed in 2010

India and Canada had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2010 that allowed them to initiate negotiations for supply of uranium, or the AAA. Canada's insistence on having a stringent monitoring mechanism for use of its uranium by India led to a stalemate in the talks.

Canada, however, seems to have relented when PM Stephen Harper declared during his highly successful visit to India last November that both countries have concluded negotiations. The AAA still needed to be signed, though. Government sources here said Canada will use nuclear watchdog IAEA's safeguards already in place to ensure its uranium is not used for advancing India's nuclear weapon programme.

India had maintained all along during the negotiations that its safeguards agreement with IAEA - signed in February 2009 — was enough to take care of Canada's concerns over non-proliferation and how New Delhi was going to use its uranium meant only for civilian facilities.

The US, which yanked India out of nuclear isolation, was the driving force behind the safeguards agreement - approved by the IAEA in August 2008 - that paved the way for a special waiver from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowing New Delhi to indulge in nuclear commerce despite not having signed NPT.

The Indian government believes Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier for India's ambitious nuclear power programme that envisages 30,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030. India's current nuclear power production stands at a paltry 5,000MW. According to experts just producing 200 MW of nuclear power can require over 30 tonnes of uranium.

Sourcing uranium

* To meet uranium shortfall India has signed civil nuclear cooperation deals with some of the most important uranium producing countries like Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia, Namibia and Mongolia.

* France and Russia are already supplying uranium to India, but with Australia it is having to negotiate a uranium safeguards agreement.

* India wants to increase nuclear power to over 20,000MW by 2020. This is four times the current production and involves an annual increase in uranium demand by 1,500 tonnes.

* India currently produces 450 metric tonnes of uranium and its reserves are modest: 61,000 tonnes of recoverable metal. 

Times of india

April 12, 2013

Government hopeful of $15 billion Rafale fighter jet deal going through

Earlier this month, in a rather unusual move, the Indian Air Force (IAF) strongly refuted a report that it was working on a Plan B should its negotiations fail to buy 126 combat jets from Dassault Aviation.

"The CNC (Contract negotiations committee) process for acquisition of 126 MMRCA (Medium, multi-role combat aircraft) is underway and there is no thought process for any procurement  as a 'back up' as reported," the Air Force said.

The statement was unusual for two reasons. Usually, it's the Defence Ministry that handles clarifications and responses to reports about acquisition of equipment and technology. Also, this is the first time that a press note has been officially issued about plans for procurement.The deal for the fighter jet is estimated to be worth 15 billion dollars. But even when Dassault Aviation won the hotly-contested bidding war with rival manufacturers for exclusive negotiations with India, neither the government nor the Air Force announced the news. It was left to the company to declare itself the winner in January 2012.

The press statement issued earlier this month, sources say, was triggered by concerns in the Defence Ministry and the Air Force that rumours were being spread by those with 'vested' interests or rival manufacturers to prevent the deal with Dassault Aviation from being signed.

Under the initial terms of the proposed deal, Dassault was expected to provide 18 Rafale fighter jets in "fly-away" condition, and then let the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited  or HAL manufacture the rest in India.

However, Dassault now wants two separate contracts to be signed - one for the ready-made ones, and another for the rest to be built by HAL, but India opposes that proposal.

Dassault reportedly has concerns about whether HAL has the capacity and capability to assemble the aircraft and therefore wants to rope in other private Indian firms to manufacture the jets. 

Sources involved in the negotiations say that the deal is a complex one which requires careful understanding on both sides of commercial factors, logistics, and the ability of HAL's staff and equipment to assemble the Rafale.

An official shared this example. The radar on the Rafale jet is to be manufactured by Bharat-Electronics Ltd (BEL) at its facility in Bangalore. The Radome (the protruding snub nose on the aircraft) is, however, manufactured by HAL at its Hyderabad facility. Dassault wants clarity on how the two units will coordinate their activities.

Sources expect the kinks to be ironed out within the next six months. French and Indian government officials are simultaneously working on an Inter-Government Agreement that will oblige Dassault to continue to supply, service and maintain Rafale jets to India over the next 40 years. India wants this feature to ensure manufacturers don't renege on their commitment.


Israel set to bag another mega Indian defence deal

Israel seems all set to bag yet another mega defence deal to equip all the 356 infantry battalions of the Indian Army with third-generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). While Russia is far ahead in the lead, Israel is trying to stave off a strong challenge from the US to remain the second largest arms supplier to India.
The Rs 15,000-crore project will involve an initial direct acquisition of the man-portable "tank killers", with a strike range of 2.5-km, followed by transfer of technology (ToT) to defence PSU, Bharat Dynamics, for large-scale indigenous manufacture.
The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), led by A K Antony, took up the procurement of the fire-and-forget Israeli "Spike" ATGMs for clearance on April 2. But the case was kept "pending" after being referred for "a technology scan" since it was "a single vendor situation" without any competition, said sources.
The DAC can approve acquisition of a state-of-the-art weapon system, aimed to gain a qualitative edge over adversaries, in a single-vendor situation only after "a technology scan" is conducted by HQ IDS (integrated defence staff) in consultation with DRDO. "The scan basically certifies it's not possible to get the weapon system from anywhere else. The DAC will consider the case after the scan," said a source.

The 1.13-million Army is pushing the "critical" project since it has a huge shortfall of 44,000 ATGMs of different types, half its authorised inventory at present. Moreover, both Pakistan and China — the latter with third-generation ATGMs — have zoomed ahead in this capability of stemming enemy armoured attacks.
The "buy global" project for the shoulder-fired ATGMs had begun — after DRDO failed to deliver an indigenous system — with the Israeli Spike being pitted against the American FGM-148 Javelin missiles. But the US could not assure India of providing full ToT to allow indigenous production. Consequently, only the Spike ATGMs underwent extensive field trials conducted by the Army.
The force is keen to begin inducting the new ATGMs soon to ensure each infantry battalion deployed in the plains has eight ATGM launchers (each with 12 missiles), and those in the mountains have at least two, by the end of the 12th Plan (2017). "Even mechanised infantry battalions will get them later," said the source.
At present, the Army is making do with second-generation Milan (2-km range) and Konkurs (4-km) ATGMs, produced by BDL under licence from French and Russian companies, which are wire-guided and do not have fire-and-forget capabilities.
A part of the deficiency will be met by the induction of the long-delayed indigenous third-generation Nag ATGMs, which are vehicle and helicopter-mounted, with a 4-km strike range. The Army has already placed an initial order for 443 Nag missiles and 13 Namicas (Nag missile tracked carriers).

Times of India

Russian Air Force Approves New Bomber Design – Commander

(RIA Novosti) – The Russian Air Force has approved the conceptual design and specification of its future PAK-DA strategic bomber, paving the way for development of components for the aircraft, Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Thursday.
“The development of the aircraft is going as planned. The outline of its design and characteristics has been approved and all relevant documents have been signed allowing the industry to start the development of systems for this plane,” Bondarev said at a meeting with Russian lawmakers.
The PAK-DA (meaning future long-range aircraft) project has been in the works for several years but was given the formal go-ahead by the Russian leadership last year. It is due to replace Russia’s aging fleet of 63 Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear and 13 Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers in the next decade.
According to recent reports in the Russian media, citing defense ministry sources, the Tupolev design bureau has won the PAK-DA development tender with its concept for a subsonic aircraft with a “flying wing” shape which provides superior “stealth capabilities.”
The Defense Ministry insisted that the PAK-DA should be equipped with advanced electronic warfare systems and armed with new nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles in addition to a veriety of high-precision conventional weapons.
The new bomber is expected to go in production by 2020 and will be built at a new aircraft assembly line at Russia's Kazan plant (KAPO), according to defense ministry officials. The same plant previously built the Tu-95MS and Tu-160.

In a first, pvt Indian firms can bid to make artillery guns

Crossing an important milestone at the last meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the Ministry of Defence has, for the first time, decided to allow Indian private entities to participate in a bid for making artillery guns.
It is learnt that while approving the Army's proposal for upgunning of 300 more 130 mm M-46 field guns to a 155 mm gun system, the DAC on April 2 also decided that the request for proposal (RFP) would also go to interested private players. The Ordnance Factory Board, which used to automatically get these orders, will now be one of the contestants.
This is the first time that South Block has decided to let the Indian private sector make an offensive weapon platform. While companies have been keen, the opportunity has never come. However, private entities such as the Tatas and L&T have been involved in making important ancillary equipment such as launchers for the Pinaka missile.
The upgunning of 130 mm guns was originally awarded to Israeli firm Soltam which completed the first lot of 180 guns but it was then blacklisted. It was no longer possible to proceed with the original plan of upgunning all 480 guns of 130 mm.
Some transfer of technology did take place but it has all remained mothballed with the gun carriage factory in Jabalpur, sources said. In 2010, the Army did float a request for information for the remaining 300 guns but the process ran into delays.
For an Army facing shortage of artillery guns, this move is also being seen as a test case for opening the doors to the Indian private sector to manufacture lethal weapon systems given the problems India faces as a major global arms importer.
Besides, the DAC meeting, headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, also gave its stamp of approval to a new process of acquisition by which buying globally would be the last option. A new gradation has now been set under which the first priority would be to 'buy Indian', the next would be 'buy and make Indian' that would allow private entities room for collaboration, after which would come options of 'buy and make global' and then 'buy global'.

The Indian Express

Threat from sea: submarine force to be weakest by 2015

Defence planners in India are a jittery lot, confronting the specter of an unprecedented dip in the undersea attack capabilities of the navy.  While China is scaling up its underwater capabilities, the Indian Navy's submarine force levels will be the lowest in its history by 2015, a confidential defence ministry report has revealed.
The navy will be left with merely six to seven submarines, including India's first and only nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant, as it begins phasing out the Russian Kilo class and German HDW Type 209 submarines next year.
The report warned India had "never before been poised in such a vulnerable situation" and the undersea force levels were "at a highly precarious state".
The navy currently operates 14 submarines, including a nuclear-powered attack submarine leased from Russia. However, the "viable strength" of its submarine arm is much less, factoring in the operational availability of the boats.
In contrast, China operates close to 45 submarines, including two ballistic missile submarines. "China may plan to construct 15 additional Yuan-class attack submarines, based on German diesel engine purchases," the report said. It said the Yuan-class boats could be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to recharge their batteries without having to surface for more than three weeks, a capability currently unavailable with the Indian Navy.
The size of India's submarine fleet will roughly be the same as that of the Pakistani Navy in two years. "As this critical (undersea) capability is eroded, there is an inverse increase in both capability and strength of the Chinese and Pakistani navies," the report stated.
Six Scorpene submarines are currently being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd in Mumbai with technology from French firm DCNS under a Rs. 23,562-crore project codenamed P-75.
But the first of these boats will not be ready before 2016-17, though it should have been commissioned into the navy last year. The report said the delay had "set off a capability gap that will widen" in the coming years.

Hindustan Times

Defence Ministry asks Army to avoid single-vendor tender for missiles

Stung by scams in import of military hardware, the Defence Ministry has asked the Army to avoid a single-vendor tender for procuring anti-tank guided missiles from Israel and look for other sources also who can offer the weapon system.

During the last meeting of Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, the Army had proposed to buy the Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel but it was deferred as the Ministry wanted the Army to find out if other vendors were providing the system and they could also be issued the tender, sources said here.

The Ministry, which is looking to enhance transparency in weapon procurement through the import route, is now not inclined much towards the single-vendor tenders and wants a fair competition between arms suppliers for any acquisition, they said.

The tri-services Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters has been asked to do a 'Technology Scan' for finding out if there are other sources who can offer their products for the project.

The procurement of the ATGMs was expected to cost over Rs 5,000 crore for procuring ATGMs for more than 350 Infantry battalions of the Indian Army.

The Army has been looking at procuring these systems to do away with the shortfall of such weaponry in its inventory.

The shortage of anti-tank weapons was also mentioned in the letter written by former Army Chief Gen V K Singh in his top secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India was also interested in evaluating the American Javelin missile system for the purpose but the complex defence sales procedures of the US over the conduct of trials and Transfer of Technology did not allow the Army to test it out.

Under the project, India wants the vendors to transfer the technology of their systems to the Bharat Dynamics Limited for their mass production in India

The Economic Times

April 9, 2013

Antony warns Army against threats from China, Pakistan

India's deep unease over China's growing military might and assertiveness as well as intransigence about the boundary dispute resonated at a military brass conclave on Monday, with defence minister AK Antony also underlining the threat posed by the expansive nexus forged between Beijing and Islamabad.

China's approach to India on the long-standing boundary dispute and other issues, even after the recent leadership change in Beijing, "is not likely to change" in the foreseeable future. Consequently, the Indian armed forces need to "constantly develop" their capabilities to achieve "minimum credible deterrence" against China, said Antony.

The minister, addressing the closed-door Army commanders' conference, did point out the government was trying to resolve issues with China in a "peaceful" manner, and also cited the new bilateral boundary management mechanism as "a positive development".

But Antony also stressed it was crucial to modernize the armed forces to counter China's "military assertiveness", including its massive development of military infrastructure along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) as well as in other neighbouring countries, like the Gilgit-Baltistan areas of Pakistan, said MoD sources.

India has belatedly taken some steps to strategically counter China but much more needs to be done at a rapid clip. While IAF is now progressively basing Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in the north-east and the Navy is bolstering force-levels on the eastern seaboard, the Army's Rs 81,000-crore plan to raise a new mountain strike corps with associated structures is yet to take off.

Holding that the recent Chinese takeover of Pakistan's strategically-located Gwadar port near the Iranian border has further strengthened the economic and security linkages between the two countries, Antony promised all government support to the armed forces for "the necessary measures" needed to tackle "any emerging threats".

Pakistan, he said, poses "a unique threat" due to its rapidly growing nuclear arsenal, military modernization with the help of China and the US, and its continuing support to a large number of terrorist groups undertaking "proxy war" in Jammu and Kashmir.

While India "welcomes" the forthcoming elections in Pakistan — to be held on May 11 — it is unlikely its "anti-India stance" and its "obsession" with J&K will ever abate. With the terror infrastructure in both Pakistan and PoK still very much intact, India will need to maintain its policy of deterrence against its western neighbour.

Moreover, with Afghanistan headed for instability after the US withdrawal next year, Pakistan's continuing support to the Taliban and inroads into the country is a source of worry. India needs to be prepared to deal with "any spillover effect" as well, added Antony. 
Times of India

April 8, 2013

Army trucks: Ashok Leyland-L&T consortium emerges lowest bidder for Rs 100-cr contract

Aconsortium of Indian firms has emerged the lowest bidder in the first in a series of Indian Army tenders to procure specialised vehicles, in what could be the beginning of the end of a decades-old monopoly of the imported Tatra trucks as the army's all-terrain vehicles and the mobility platform for weapons systems such as missiles and rocket launchers. According to people familiar with the development, a consortium of Ashok Leyland and L&T emerged the lowest bidder two weeks ago when commercial bids for procurement of 100 multibarrel rocket launchers (meant to upgrade the BM21 rocket launchers) were opened. The value of the contract is about Rs 100 crore, according to industry sources.
The contract involves refurbishing the existing rocket launchers and mounting them on new vehicles. The weapons-related work will be done by L&T and the vehicle is a new Ashok Leyland platform. The Leyland-L&T combine left behind a team of Tata Group companies (Tata Motors and Tata Power SED) and a team of Tatra, Bharat Earth Movers and Bharat Electronics. The last two are public-sector defence companies.
Tatra, a Czech vehicle manufacturer, has supplied powerful all-terrain vehicles for India's armed forces for decades, to the exclusion of Indian manufacturers.
Its long monopoly is now the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation after former army chief General VK Singh alleged he was offered a bribe to clear the procurement of Tatra trucks. These vehicles are assembled by public sector BEML. CBI is also investigating the role of former BEML MD VRS Natarajan in the Tatra case. Tatra is majority-owned by London-based Indian businessman Ravi Rishi.
"We are finally biting the bullet on indigenisation. We have the capacity and capability to develop vehicles for weapons platforms. This is absolutely a welcome step and it will help cut down our dependence on imported vehicles such as Tatra and Urals," said Brigadier (retd) Arun Sahgal, director at the Forum for Strategic Initiative, a Delhibased think tank. The contract for rocket launchers is among four tenders for specialised trucks the army had called for in 2009. Field trials are over and commercial bids will be opened in the coming months.
The others are for 1,239 units of 6-wheel-drive high-mobility vehicles, 255 units of 8-wheel-drive highmobility vehicles and 100 units of so-called field artillery tractors.
Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors and Tatra are competing in all categories. Ashok Leyland, which has supplied more than 65,000 four-wheel-drive Stallion trucks for the Indian Army, says it has developed a worldclass platform for the army's specialised needs. "Our trucks have more than 90% local content. The Neptune is an 8-litre, 6-cylinder, thirdgeneration common rail diesel engine that can deliver 360-400 bhp.
It is compliant with most European norms," said Ashok Leyland Vice-Chairman V Sumantran. His company has developed 6x6 and 8x8 variants of a truck called the Super Stallion that is competing in the army tenders. A spokesperson for Tata Motors declined comment. "Tatra is most suited for Indian conditions. Our competitors just meet the requirement," Tatra CEO Ronald Adams said in an emailed statement.

The potential victory of Indian truck makers in the army tenders comes at a time the government has been emphasising the need for indigenisation in the wake of allegations of bribery in the purchase of Agusta Westland helicopters. India imports more than 70% of its defence equipment needs and has been the world's largest weapons importer for three consecutive years. A defence ministry spokesperson declined comment on the competition.
"Trucks are not a high-tech weapons system and we have every capability to build them. It is welcome that finally the defence ministry has woken up to the fact that we don't need to import even the trucks on which the weapons are mounted," said Deba Mohanty, a Delhibased strategic analyst. The new trucks will also come as a relief to Indian Army drivers, who operate in conditions ranging from the deserts of Rajasthan to the high altitude of Leh.
Many variants feature air-conditioned cabins and automatic transmission. The all-terrain trucks in the competition are equipped with a technology called continuous tyre inflation system, which allows the driver to change tyre pressure to suit terrain

The Economic Times

Army gets forest land for infra projects on China border

 Worried by the “urgency” attached to building key infrastructure on India’s border with China, an environment ministry panel has agreed to divert more than 200 hectares of forest land in Arunachal Pradesh for establishment of Indian Army’s infantry battalion, artillery regiment and its headquarters, a surveillance and target acquisition unit, a helipad besides constructing vital roads for speedy mobilisation.

The move comes a year after the army moved the proposal to beef up its infrastructure in the area.

Army Headquarters has been desperate to set up a Mountain Strike Corps in the area and also move a tank brigade there. They are also keen to have a separate, all-weather road to ensure better access to the border.

The decision gains significance as China has reportedly constructed an all-weather road for facilitating easy movement of its troops to the border. The forest advisory committee of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in its decision, while recommending the diversion of the forest area, said that they have taken note of “the sense of urgency for these projects expressed at various levels of the central government.”

The panel has recommended giving away around 203 hectare of forest land to Indian Army for “infrastructure development”. Of this, around 43 hectares area located at village Bana in Seppa of East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is for establishment of an infantry battalion, one artillery brigade headquarters, signal company, one artillery brigade and workshop, a medium regiment, a light regiment, a SATA (surveillance and target acquisition) along with logistic installations of a helipad, a classification and a grenade range.

Another 160 hectare area that has been recommended by the forest advisory committee is in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh for construction of Tadadege-Henker road by Border Roads Task Force. The proposal for this link was included in the Border Road Development Board programme in 1984.

Tadadege road is a vital line of communication for local inhabitants as well as troops deployed in forward areas in the Tadadege sector. The road passes through hilly mountainous terrain with thick forest growth and the area is “unclassed state forest.”

Sources told dna that the, “the ministry of environment and forests has approved the panel’s recommendation regarding Indian Army’s infrastructure in village Bana. The proposals for the roads are also expected to be approved soon.”

One of the main reasons behind MoEF’s panel in giving a go-ahead so expeditiously is that the said area “does not form part of any protected area”.

“No rare or endangered species of flora and fauna have been reported to be found in the area. It was noted that the army infrastructure is in strategic area therefore it is site specific,” the committee observed.


April 6, 2013

Russian Frigate Built for India Starts Final Trials in Baltic Sea

(RIA Novosti) - The last in a series of three frigates that Russia is building for India at the Yantar shipyard in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad has started final trials, a shipyard spokesman said on Friday.
The Trikand frigate carried out workup trials on March 14 and was cleared for final state trials on April 4, spokesman Sergei Mikhailov said, adding the trials will last through the end of April.
The frigate is due to be handed over to the Indian Navy this June, Mikhailov said.
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 on April 27, 2012, and the second, The Tarkash, arrived at the port of Mumbai in India on December 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-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers and an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopter.

April 5, 2013

Defence Ministry, Dassault to hold talks on aircraft deal

Amid fears of delay in the 126 combat aircraft deal, Defence Ministry and French Dassault Rafale will hold talks today to iron out differences between them over the responsibilities to be given to the state-run HAL in the contract estimated to be worth $ 15 billion.

Soon after the Rafale fighter jet was shortlisted by the IAF in 2012, its maker Dassault Aviation has been raising questions about the capabilities and the role of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the contract for 126 Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA).

The two sides are scheduled to meet today as part of contract negotiations where they will discuss all the problems and issues faced in the deal, sources told PTI here.

Some of the issues between the two sides include Dassault's demand for two separate contracts to be signed for the deal which includes one for the 18 aircraft to be built by the firm in France and the other for the 108 aircraft which are be integrated in India by the HAL.

The Defence Ministry is not in agreement with this demand for two separate contracts and has also conveyed this to the French firm, they said.

The Defence Ministry had earlier also rejected Dassault's demand for making it the lead integrator for the 108 aircraft to be produced in India as the RFP for the tender has specifically given that responsibility to the HAL.

Recently, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier had stated that HAL would be its main partner in the contract and there was no confusion on the issue.

Dassault has also signed an MoU with the Reliance IndustriesBSE 1.77 % Limited and wants to give a bigger role to it in the production phase in India is areas such as supply chain and project management.

Rafale had edged out five other aircraft including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35 and European Euro fighter to bag the contract.


April 4, 2013

Ready to induct MiG squadron in may, India awaits carrier

With the first squadron of carrier-based fly-by-wire MiG-29 K fighters to be formally inducted into the navy next month, India is now keeping its fingers crossed on Russia delivering the 45,000-tonne INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier by 2013 end, after a delay of over five years.

The Admiral Gorshkov warship will be put on trial on Barents Sea between May and July and commissioned by Sevmash shipyard on White Sea in November 2013.
Government sources said the 2012 “boiler furnace brickwork” problem, encountered in seven of the eight boilers, had been rectified and the Naval Headquarters believes that the ship — modification and refitting of which would cost around $2.3 billion — will be on India’s western seaboard by November-December this year.
With India’s sole aircraft carrier — the 54-year-old INS Viraat — undergoing an overhaul and scheduled to join active duty by mid-2013, there is urgency in the acquisition of Vikramaditya as the Chinese PLA Navy will put its aircraft carrier Liaoning on high sea trial this year.
Acquired as junk named Varyag from Ukraine, Liaoning— refurbished at the Dalian shipyard — is expected to acquire combat capability within two years.
As a first step towards formally acquiring Vikramaditya, 16 aircraft of Russian MiG-29 K fighters will be commissioned into the Indian Navy in Goa on May 11.
While this squadron of multi-role fighters will be christened 303 squadron, the navy will acquire another 29 aircraft for its second squadron.
The new aircraft carrier will be based at Karwar in Karnataka under the Western Naval Command and will give India the much needed long legs in the Indian Ocean region.
“The delivery of INS Vikramaditya figured in summit meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Delhi on December 24, 2012. We hope that high sea aviation and speed trials of INS Vikramaditya would be smooth,” said a defence ministry official.


Yantar Shipyard Started Indian Crew for INS Trikand Training

Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad started practical training of Indian crew for INS Trikand of the project 11356 which is under construction for Indian Navy.

As Yantar shipyard press secretary Sergey Mikhaylov reported to Interfax, "the personnel of Indian Navy having arrived to Kaliningrad after coastal study in St. Petersburg. Representatives of the shipyard started their practical training with the equipment of INS Trikand".

According to Sergey Mikhaylov, Instructors fr om the delivery team of the shipyard and sailors of Baltic Fleet will train Indian sailors.

Íå also said that currently the frigate is in Baltiysk wh ere the audit of readiness for the beginning of the governmental trials is being conducted. The factory trials (took place in sea ranges of the Baltic Fleet) were finished successfully.

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 on April 27, 2012, and the second, The Tarkash, arrived at the port of Mumbai in India on December 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-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers and an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopter.


N. Korea 'Approves Nuclear Strike' on US - Report

 The North Korean army said Wednesday that it had received approval to launch a “merciless” attack on the United States, including possible nuclear strikes.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said in a statement Wednesday that it was formally informing the United States that American threats would be “smashed … by cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strikes,” AFP cited Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency as saying.
The announcement out of North Korea came hours after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered missile defense systems deployed to the western Pacific island of Guam, a US territory, and said the reclusive regime’s recent behavior presents a “real and clear danger.”
“The merciless operation of (our) revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” AFP cited the North Korean statement as saying.
The army statement added that war could erupt on the Korean peninsula “today or tomorrow,” AFP reported.
The Pentagon said earlier Wednesday that it will deploy a ballistic missile defense system known as a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) to Guam in the coming weeks “as a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat.”
“The United States continues to urge the North Korean leadership to cease provocative threats and choose the path of peace by complying with its international obligations,” the Pentagon statement said. “The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and stands ready to defend US territory, our allies, and our national interests.”
Speaking Wednesday at the National Defense University in Washington, Hagel said the North Koreans had “ratcheted up (their) bellicose, dangerous rhetoric–and some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan,” Fox News reported.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that Washington is continuing “to monitor the situation” on the Korean peninsula.
“The provocative actions and bellicose rhetoric that we see from North Korea is obviously of concern, and we take—are taking the necessary precautionary measures,” Carney told reporters, adding that Pyongyang’s behavior “represents a familiar pattern.”
The statement Wednesday by the North Korean army follows a pledge by Pyongyang on Tuesday to restart facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, including a uranium enrichment plant and a reactor.
North Korea has threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the US mainland and US military bases in the region.Some of the threats came as US and South Korean forces carried out annual joint military drills, including near the maritime border between the two Koreas. The United States responded by deploying F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to the region

RIA Novosti