May 30, 2013

Antony hopes for final clearance for LCA Tejas by next year

Defence Minister A.K. Antony expressed the hope on Wednesday that LCA Tejas, the indigenously developed fighter aircraft, would get the final operational clearance of the Indian Air Force by the end of next year.
Speaking after giving away annual awards to scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here, he said all stakeholders, including the DRDO, the IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) must put their energy together to achieve this objective.
He said India remained the largest importer of defence equipment, but the share of indigenous content in procurement was low. “Our experience has been that foreign vendors are reluctant to part with critical technologies. There are delays in the supply of essential spares. There are exorbitant price increases. The Services too realise that we cannot be eternally dependent on foreign equipment and platforms.”
Referring to the expansion of the domestic defence industry, Mr. Antony said it had to be achieved through public and private sector initiatives. There were ample scope for joint ventures too. “All stakeholders in the defence sector — the DRDO, the Armed Forces and the industry — must work in tandem and develop trust and confidence in one another’s capabilities.”
Cautioning against time and cost overruns, he said Indian companies must compete with global players in developing state-of-the-art technologies of acceptable commercial parameters and must meet customer satisfaction.
Mr. Antony complimented the DRDO on its achievements in 2012: the first flight of Agni-V; two successful tests of the ballistic missile defence programme in February and November 2012; the first flight of the LCA (Navy); the establishment of a cyber-forensics laboratory; technology transfer for composite armour for helicopters; and investment casting of aeroengine components.
Asking the scientists not to become complacent, he said the DRDO must keep its focus trained on core competence and must not fritter away its energy and resources. “In today’s world of cut-throat competition, the choice is very clear — ‘perform or perish.’ From designing to final production, time lines must be strictly adhered to and satisfaction of the end user is the litmus test of achievement.”
Referring to the grim security scenario in India’s neighbourhood, Mr. Antony said there was civil strife and turmoil in the Middle East; terrorism and threats to cyber security; piracy; illegal seabed mining in the Indian Ocean; and space-based threats. “All these present complex challenges to our defence capabilities. These require both conventional and latest technological responses.”
The Minister was glad that a large number of major systems were under production, and the cumulative production value of all DRDO-developed systems had crossed Rs.1,55,000 crore. “DRDO must make relentless efforts to accelerate the pace of self-reliance.”
Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Pratap Singh; Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne; Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi; and DRDO Director-General V.K. Saraswat were among those who attended the function.
Mr. Antony gave away DRDO awards under 14 categories to several scientists, technologists and laboratories. 

The Hindu

May 29, 2013

Pilatus Aircraft to boost IAF pilot training programme

The rookie pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) would soon learn the fine art of flying, onboard the Swiss Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer Aircraft beginning July.
The PC-7 planes would be inducted into the IAF by Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh at the Air Force Academy at Dundigul in Hyderabad on May 31, an IAF officer said here on Tuesday.
“The first set of 40 new IAF recruits will begin their basic flying training on the Pilatus planes from July,” the officer said.
With the induction of Pilatus planes -- 75 of them were bought for Rs 2,800 crore in May last year -- the IAF’s pilot training programme is expected to get a boost. Already, 12 of the Pilatus planes have reached Dundigul, while another two are expected to join the fleet by July. By December this year, the number of planes in the fleet would grow to 30 under the accelerated delivery schedule, the officer said.
All 75 planes would be in the fleet by 2015.
Since the IAF grounded its 100-odd Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built HPT-32 Deepak planes in mid-2009 following a series of fatal air crashes, the pilot training programme had suffered as rookie pilots had to begin their basic training on speedier jet planes, particularly the ageing HJT-16 Kiran Mk-II aircraft.
Now the IAF is all set to opt for the additional 37 PC-7 planes, which could be bought from Pilatus under the follow-on clause in India’s May 2012 contract with the Swiss plane manufacturer.
“With the IAF rejecting an HAL proposal for developing a basic trainer aircraft in the form of HTT-40, India opting to enforce the follow-on order clause seemed imminent,” the IAF officer said.
The IAF has, with the induction of Pilatus planes, modified its pilot training programme to allow for stage-I training on the Swiss plane, the first of which landed in India in February this year and had its first public flying display in Pokhran later that month during the ‘Iron Fist’ air power display.
However, the issues related to training would be far from over in view of the delay in the HAL’s Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) ‘Sitara’ programme.
The IJTs were to replace the ageing Kiran planes that are used for the stage-II training.
The stage-III training, ahead of the pilots graduating to the supersonic jets such as MiG-21s, is carried out on the British-origin BAE System’s ‘Hawk’ Advanced Jet Trainers at Bidar air base in Karnataka.

The New Indian Express

May 27, 2013

AK Antony to inaugurate Su-30 squadron at Thanjavur air base

Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday will inaugurate an airbase here to house squadron of IAFs lethal Su-30 MKI combat aircraft, making it the first fighter squadron in south India that will help maintain vigil over the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will base a squadron of agile Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft in Thajavur, making it the first fighter squadron in southern India, with a view to keep strategic vigil over the Indian Ocean and cover up country's
southern flank up to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, IAF officials said here.
The IAF will keep deploying its regular fighter and transport aircraft detachments here since the runway and other facilities are in place here now. This would also be the first of fighter squadrons under the Southern Air Command of the IAF at any place in southern India.
The IAF has upgraded the two runways at the airbase, which has been existing for several decades and used extensively for relief operations during the tsunami and flood situations in Tamil Nadu in the recent past.
The inauguration of the base will see the landing and take off of the SU-30s but the full squadron of these aircraft including 16 to 18 jets will be completed by 2017-18 only.
The Sukhois were inducted into the IAF at Lohegaon airbase in 2002. Thereafter, they were deployed at Bareilly, followed by Tezpur, Chhabua, Jodhpur, Bhatinda and Halwara. Pune and Bareilly already have housed two Sukhoi squadrons each, while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron each. So far India has inducted over 170 of the 272 Sukhoi-30 MKIs contracted from Russia.


May 17, 2013

India rejects China's demand for notification of patrol time

India has rejected China’s proposal for having a bilateral arrangement to notify each other in advance before sending troops on patrol along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The proposal for setting up a bilateral institutional mechanism was woven into the draft text of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) that China recently gave to India. New Delhi and Beijing are currently negotiating the proposed agreement, although it is not clear whether it would be ready for signing before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s maiden visit to India commencing next Sunday.

Indian Army was against disclosing the patrol timings to the Chinese, which would rob off the crucial surprise element in border patrolling. “It’s our territory. We can patrol it whenever we want,” an army officer told Deccan Herald.

China proposed to set up a formal mechanism for more regular “friendly contacts” between the personnel guarding the LAC. The underlying objective is to institutionalise the practices the troops follow while patrolling the 4,057 km line of actual control.

New Delhi, however, was cagey about the proposed deal, because certain clauses of the draft text, if accepted, would require the local units of the army and paramilitary force of one country to inform their counterparts on the other side before sending troops on patrol. The proposed BDCA seeks to consolidate the arrangements New Delhi and Beijing agreed in 1993 and 1996 deals as well as the 2005 protocol for Confidence Building Measures between the armies of the two countries along the LAC.

Negotiation on the agreement has taken the centre stage in the wake of the face-to-face situation in Depsang Bulge along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
After both sides withdrew troops, New Delhi is “carefully considering” the draft text of the proposed agreement. Sources said India had not committed itself to signing the pact with China as a precondition for the withdrawal of Chinese troops.

New Delhi may insist on modifying the text of the draft agreement to accommodate concerns of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces guarding the LAC. Meanwhile, local army commanders from either side of the border met at the customary border personnel meeting at Nathu La (Sikkim) on Wednesday. A brigadier rank officer from the Indian Army and a Senior Colonel from the People's Liberation Army, headed the respective delegation.

This is the second BPM between the two sides after the first one at Chusul (Ladakh) on May 1.

A third BPM will be held in Bum La (Arunachal Pradesh) on May 30, which will be followed by two more BPM in September and October. The frequency and venue of these BPMs are pre-decided.

India insisted on early settlement of border dispute to fulfil its “strategic objective”, to advance the basic interests of both nations. Exchange of maps delineating the respective perception of the LAC could be one of the forward movement, though there is no clarification on what would be the approach to such exchange.

India and China exchanged maps of the central sector of the LAC more than 10 years ago, but the western and eastern sectors remain contentious.

Deccan herald

May 15, 2013

Russia Puts Finishing Touches on Indian Aircraft Carrier

The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has been put in a dry dock at Russia’s Sevmash shipyard for “cosmetic” repairs ahead of final sea trials and delivery to the Indian navy later this year, the company said.

“The work is underway to repaint the hull under the waterline,” said Sergey Novoselov, head of defense export projects at Sevmash. In addition, much of the interior finish has yet to be completed, the official said.

Special attention will be dedicated to the cabins for the commanding officers of the vessel, which will be refitted with better DEX-O-TEX fireproof flooring, new wall panels, more comfortable furniture and sophisticated audio- and video equipment.

The Vikramaditya is scheduled to begin sea trials in the White Sea in July. The warship will continue the trials in the Barents Sea in August-September to be delivered to India in early December.

The warship, previously known as the Admiral Gorshkov, is a Project 1143.4 or modified Kiev class aircraft carrier commissioned by the Soviet navy in 1987 and decommissioned in 1996 as it was too expensive to operate on a post-Soviet budget.

India and Russia signed the $947 million deal in 2004 for the purchase of the carrier, but the original 2008 delivery deadline has already been delayed twice, pushing up the cost of refurbishing the ship to $2.3 billion.

India has already started taking delivery of MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the Vikramaditya.


Intelligent hawk eyes to keep strict vigil over Indian Ocean Region

India's long-range maritime snooping and anti-submarine warfare capabilities will get a huge boost when the first of the eight contracted Poseidon-8I aircraft touches down at the Arakkonam naval air station in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Under the $2.1 billion deal inked with US aviation major Boeing in January 2009, the second and the third P-8I aircraft will reach the naval air station INS Rajali in August and November, with the other five being progressively delivered by 2015. India, as reported by TOI earlier, is going in for a repeat order of four more P-8I in a contract worth over $1 billion.

Armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, these sensor and radar-packed aircraft will be the country's "intelligent hawk eyes" over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that is increasingly getting militarized.

China has stepped up its submarine activity in the IOR as well as systematically forged extensive maritime linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, among others.

With a maximum speed of 907 kmph and an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles, "with four hours on station", the P-8Is will be able to detect "threats" — and neutralize them if required — far before they come anywhere near Indian shores.

Based on the modified 737-800 airframe, the P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon being built for the US Navy. "The P-8Is will be game-changers...Apart from long-range maritime reconnaissance, anti-ship and anti-submarine operations, they can also undertake anti-piracy and electronic intelligence missions," said a senior officer.
The P-8Is will work in conjunction with medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to establish an effective three-tier surveillance grid in IOR. They will replace the eight ageing and fuel-guzzling Tupolev-142Ms currently with the Navy.

India is gradually bolstering military force-levels on the eastern coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Island archipelago to counter China's strategic moves in IOR. While IAF has launched plans to base Sukhoi-30MKI fighters at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, the Eastern Naval Command has been strengthened with over 50 warships as well as new forward-operating bases.

The Navy also recently commissioned a new air station at Campbell Bay, INS Baaz, which overlooks the Malacca Strait as well as "dominates" the Six-Degree Channel. "The construction of additional bases and naval air stations in A&N Islands and Lakshadweep & Minicoy islands is necessary to extend our operational reach," said defence minister A K Antony, addressing the naval top brass on Tuesday.

Apart from taking care of its primary area of strategic interest stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait, India also has a vast 5,422-km coastline, 1,197 islands and 2.01 million sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone to guard against all threats. "The P-8Is will help in this," said an officer
Times of India    

AK Antony admits to limitations in deploying subs

With the navy's submarine force levels slated to reach their lowest ever by 2015, defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday acknowledged limitations in the country's ability to deploy its entire fleet.

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.
"There are some operational constraints regarding conventional submarines," Antony said, in his address to the navy's top commanders.
As reported first by HT on April 9, a confidential defence ministry report had warned that India had never before been poised in such a vulnerable situation and its undersea force levels were "at a highly precarious state."
In contrast to India's humble fleet, China operates close to 45 submarines, including two ballistic missile submarines. It also plans to construct 15 additional Yuan-class attack submarines, based on German diesel engine purchases.
The size of India's submarine fleet will roughly be the same as that of the Pakistani Navy in two years.
By 2015, 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.
Antony said, "Funds will never be a constraint for capital acquisition, but must be utilized judiciously."
The navy has asked the government to float a global tender immediately to acquire six next-generation subs worth Rs. 55,000 crore under a project called P-75I.
Shipbuilders DCNS of France, HDW of Germany, Rosoboronexport of Russia and Navantia of Spain are expected to make a beeline for that order.
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.
The first of these boats, however, will not be ready for induction before 2016-17, although originally it should have been commissioned into the navy last year.
India's underwater edge is getting blunted at a time when an increasing number of Chinese submarines are venturing into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), posing a danger to the country's security interests, the classified document said.
In a first, top officials from other naval commands joined in the discussions through videoconferencing.

Hindustan times

May 14, 2013

Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh for early decision on raising Strike Corps in Northeast

Against the backdrop of Chinese incursion, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh is understood to have pressed the government today for an early decision on a proposal to raise a Strike Corps in the northeast to meet any security threat in the eastern sector.

This issue is believed to have figured when the Army Chief briefed Defence Minister A K Antony on the prevailing security situation along the Line of Actual Control in wake of the recent incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh, sources said.

The top Army brass made a presentation on the present security situation along the LAC in the aftermath of the recent Chinese incursion and steps taken by the force to prevent and handle such incidents, they said.

The meeting was also attended by top security brass of the country including National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma.

The Army has been pushing for a new Strike Corps to be raised along the border with China for quite some time now but it has been hanging fire due to one reasons or the other.

Under the proposal, Army wants to raise formations including new armoured divisions and artillery brigades along with the China border and the IAF has also been asked to deploy its new assets in support of it.

In the meeting, the Army officials are understood to have told Antony about the changes that have taken place in the security situation after the Chinese incursion and its impact on the Indian Army's capabilities to monitor its activities there.

The Army had to withdraw from its positions in Chumar area after the incursion by the Chinese troops in Daulat Beg Oldi sector and the stand-off ended after the two sides agreed to move back to the pre-April 15 positions.

The Economic Times

China flexes muscle in Indian Ocean, Navy concerned

Increasing presence of the Chinese maritime forces in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and disciplinary issues in the force are expected to be discussed by the top Navy brass in their commanders' conference starting on Tuesday.

The Navy has been concerned over the increasing presence of Chinese navy's submarines and other warships in the IOR. In a recent report submitted to the defence ministry, the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters had informed the government quoting the data by American agencies that 22 encounters of Chinese submarines have taken place outside its territorial waters in the IOR.

China has also been successful in establishing its presence in ports around India including Chittagong in Bangladesh, Sittwe and Coco Island in Myanmar, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan, which gives it capability to stay close to Indian waters from all sides in a move known as " string of pearls".

In the conference to be inaugurated by defence minister AK Antony, the Navy will also discuss cases of indiscipline faced by the force.

In recent times, several Navy officers have faced allegations of wife swapping and stealing the affection of brother officer's wife.

One senior officer posted on-board prestigious INS Virat aircraft carrier was dismissed by the force for sending lewd messages to several women using multiple SIM cards and mobile phones.

The top brass of the force is also expected to discuss the delay in the induction of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is being retrofitted in Russia and has been delayed due to mishaps in its boiler. 

times of india

May 13, 2013

Fearing China, India pulls out of war games with US, Japan

Concerned at how it would be perceived by Beijing, India last month suddenly withdrew from the planning of a naval exercise with the US and Japanese navies off the US Pacific island of Guam.

Instead, India will stick to geopolitically less sensitive separate naval manoeuvres with the US and Japan.
US and Japanese naval officials visited India last month to discuss coordination for the trilateral exercise.
The Indian defence ministry first indicated a preference for holding the exercise off the coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Then it took the view that war games should be kept to the bilateral level for the time being in deference to Chinese sensibilities. The ministry then withdrew from the discussion altogether.
"Bizarrely, the US and Japan discussed a naval exercise on Indian soil that India was boycotting," said a US defence consultant.
Beijing claims multilateral naval exercises between India, the US and Japan are aimed at containing its influence and has publicly warned all the governments against joining such exercises.
Australia's withdrawal from the Quad after 2007 was a fallout of these protests.
The US and Japan had hoped to give the Malabar label to the Guam exercises, echoing the 2009 Malabar naval actions.
Tokyo saw this as paving the way to recreating the so-called "Quad" naval exercise of 2007 which saw five navies participate.
Australia last year indicated its interest in rejoining. Indian officials say that they are only interested in bilateral naval exercises and that Malabar should be confined to exercises with the US in the Indian Ocean.
This year's Malabar exercise, if held at all, will be a bare bones Indo-US affair in the Arabian Sea later in November. Officials say even this may not happen as both governments keep pushing the date back.
"The dates of Malabar are still to be finalised and depends on the commitments of the Fifth Fleet's engagement in the Gulf," said an Indian Navy official.
The Indian withdrawal from the trilateral exercise occurred before the Chinese border intrusion in eastern Ladakh.

Hindustan times

New Sukhoi base to cover south India

Even as the western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China are bolstered with additional Sukhoi-30MKI squadrons, India has also kick-started plans to base its most lethal "air dominance'' fighter in south India to keep a "strategic eye'' over Indian Ocean.

Defence minister A K Antony will inaugurate the new airbase at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu on May 27, which will eventually house a Sukhoi squadron (16 to 18 jets) after the requisite "tech-flight hangers, avionic bays, labs, fuel dumps and other infrastructure'' comes up over the next few years.

"Till then, IAF will keep sending regular fighter and transport aircraft detachments to Thanjavur since the runway and other facilities are in place there now. Long-range fighters (Sukhois have a cruising speed range of 3,200-km) operating from Thanjavur will be able to dominate the crucial Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as well as the Bay of Bengal,'' said a source.

India has so far inducted over 170 of the 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia in deals worth Rs 55,717 crore ($12.4 billion). Pune and Bareilly already have two Sukhoi squadrons each, while Tezpur, Chabua, Halwara and Jodhpur have a squadron each.

Another squadron is coming up at Sirsa, with Tezpur, Chabua, Jodhpur and Halwara slated to get their second squadrons thereafter. "Thanjavur will get the last Sukhoi squadron by 2018,'' he said.

The Sukhoi squadrons at Tezpur, Chabua and Bareilly are part of the larger "dissuasive deterrence'' being put in place against China. With eight operational airbases in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), China can rapidly deploy 21 fighter squadrons against India. China, incidentally, has even taken to conducting major exercises with its J-10, Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters in the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in recent times.

The Sukhoi squadrons in Halwara, Sirsa and Jodhpur are meant to counter any misadventure by Pakistan, which is rapidly bolstering its air combat capabilities with American F-16s as well as Chinese JF-17 'Thunder' and F-7 fighters.

IAF would like more fighter squadrons since it is down to just 34 at present, with ageing MiG jets being progressively retired. "Airpower plays the pivotal role in shaping modern battles," an officer said.

To achieve the aim of operating 44 to 45 squadrons over the coming decade, IAF is banking upon the early inking of the $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to acquire 126 French Rafale fighters.

The first 18 jets under the MMRCA project will come in "fly-away condition'' from 2017 onwards, with the rest 108 fighters being manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics. After being derailed for some months due to differences between HAL and French aviation major Dassault, the complex final negotiations in the MMRCA project are back on track now. 

Times of india

L&T in race for Rs 2,000 crore howitzer tender

An Indian private company is for the first time in direct competition with a foreign vendor to supply 100 self-propelled howitzers to the Indian Army in a deal expected to be worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

Indian L&T and Russian Rosobornexport are in a straight contest to supply the 100 self-propelled tracked howitzers to the Army and the trials of the two guns are slated to begin in June-July time-frame this year, defence ministry sources said.

The guns are being procured by the Army as part of its more than Rs 20,000-crore artillery modernisation programme, which has been stuck after the bofors gun deal scandal, they said. 

Not a single new artillery gun has been inducted ever since the infamous Bofors contract for 410 field howitzers became a political issue in 1986.

The gun being offered by the Indian firm is learnt to have been built and developed in collaboration with South Korean Samsung Techwin and is based on its "K9 Thunder" self- propelled howitzer.

Under the contract between the two firms, the Korean firm will provide key technologies to L&T for local production of the howitzer.

After the trial phase gets over by early next year following the winter evaluation of the guns, the Army will find out the lowest bidder and include the chosen guns in five regiments of its artillery units.

Under its artillery modernisation plan, the Army envisages induction of 2,814 guns of different types from both indigenous and foreign sources.

The force has plans of procuring more than 300 indigenous versions of the Bofors howitzers being produced by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and is also in the process of upgrading the 130 mm artillery guns to the 155mm 52 calibre standard.

It is also procuring around 145 ultra light howitzers to be deployed in mountainous borders with China and Pakistan from the US under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal expected to be finalised soon between the two countries. 

times of india

May 9, 2013

India sets ball rolling for Rs 13,000 crore Air Force deal

India has set the ball rolling for another mega defence deal by floating the global tender for over Rs 13,000-crore acquisition of 56 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet of the Indian Air Force.

The tender, or request for proposal (RFP), was issued to eight aviation majors, including Embraer, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, on Wednesday. In the first such move to get Indian private companies to enter the military aviation sector, the RFP specifies that while 16 aircraft will be bought off-the-shelf from the foreign vendor, the remaining 40 will be manufactured in India by a private Indian Production Agency (IPA).

The foreign aviation company will select the IPA based on qualification criteria for the IPA stipulated in the RFP. Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which dominates the Indian military aviation sector and is overburdened with fighter, helicopter and other projects, is being kept out of the project.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne had earlier held that IAF was keen to exploit the Indian private industry for the programme to replace ageing Avro aircraft.

On Thursday, a defence ministry official said, "The project ensures inflow of production technology to the IPA in phases wherein the value addition in the manufacture by the IPA will gradually increase from 30% to 60%." "The IPA will also obtain the transfer of technology for maintenance, which will allow it to provide life time product support and maintenance up to the depot level. The project is aimed to provide the Indian private sector a unique opportunity to enter and enhance their traction in the Aerospace sector," he added.

Times of india

May 8, 2013

Problem in Nirbhay cruise missile identified: Antony

Scientists have identified the problem in Nirbhay cruise missile, which led to its malfunction during the first test flight last month, and corrective design is being implemented, Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday said.

In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, he said, "Scientists have identified that Inertial Navigation System has malfunctioned and corrective design/modification are being implemented."

On whether the missile achieved only partial success, Antony said, "Yes. Except for covering the full range by flying in all way points, all the objectives set for the cruise missile functionality have been met fully." 

 Maintaining that the missile had a perfect launch with the navigation systems correctly touching the "first way point", he said, "Deviation was observed while going to second way point. When the deviation extended the safety limit, mission abort command was issued from the ground and the destruction mechanism inside the missile was activated."

In reply to a separate question, the Minister said DRDO has proposed to set up a missile testing centre and a launch pad at Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 1200 crore.

"The proposal is at a very initial stage. So far, only proposal for requirement for land has been initiated with the Government of Andhra Pradesh." 

PTI / ZeeNews

Advanced Agni-6 missile with multiple warheads likely by 2017

Ending worldwide speculation about the futuristic Agni-6 missile, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has briefed Business Standard about the direction of India's ballistic missile development programme after the Agni-5 enters service, probably in 2015.

DRDO chief Dr VK Saraswat, and missile programme chief Dr Avinash Chander, say the Agni-6 project has not been formally sanctioned. However, the missile's specifications and capabilities have been decided and development is proceeding apace. Once the ongoing Agni-5 programme concludes flight-testing, the defence ministry (MoD) will formally okay the Agni-6 programme and allocate funding.

Chander says the Agni-6 will carry a massive three-tonne warhead, thrice the weight of the one-tonne warhead that Agni missiles have carried so far. This will allow each Agni-6 missile to launch several nuclear warheads -Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Warheads (MIRVs) - with each warhead striking a different target. Each warhead - called Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MARV) - performs evasive maneuvers while hurtling down towards its target, confusing enemy air defence missiles that are trying to destroy them mid-air.

The DRDO is at an advanced stage of developing these warhead technologies. But the difficult challenge is building a booster rocket that can propel a three-tonne payload to targets 5000 kilometres away. This weighs almost as much as the satellite payload carried by the Indian Space Research Organisation's much larger and heavier Global Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

"Our ballistic missiles must be compact and road mobile, even the Agni-6 with its heavy payload. We will do this by building the first stage with composites, fitting the Agni-6 with India's first composite 40-tonne rocket motor. This is a technical challenge but we have good capability in lightweight composites," says Chander.

The road mobile Agni-6 would also have stringent limits on its length. "It must be carried on a standard size trailer that can move from one part of the country to another, turn on our roads, cross our bridges and climb our heights. As the payload weight increases, we will require more advanced technologies to keep the missile's length constant," explains Chander.

Coaxing higher performance from smaller rockets becomes especially important in submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which can be no longer than 13 metres so that they can fit into the cramped confines of a submarine. Even long-range SLBMs that can fly 14,000 kilometres, like the Chinese JL-2, are built no longer than 13 metres. The DRDO faces this challenge as it develops the K-4 SLBM for the country's Arihant-class nuclear-propelled ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

Eventually the Agni-6 will be no taller than the Agni-5, i.e. about 17 metres, says Chander. It will, however, be heavier and thicker - slightly over two metres - which will cater for the different shape of the MIRV payload.

"The timeframe for developing a new missile system is about five years and the DRDO has mostly achieved this in the Agni programme," says Chander. Calculating five years from April 2012, when the Agni-5 had its debut launch, the first test of the Agni-6 could happen in 2017.

The DRDO says the Agni-6 will have a longer range than the 5,000-kilometre Agni-5, but is not mentioning figures. "The MARVs and MIRVs will give us extended range. I will not be able to tell you how much because that is secret," Saraswat told Business Standard.

Ballistic calculations, however, suggest that at least some of the MIRV warheads on the Agni-6 would reach at least 6,000 kilometres. In a missile that travels 5,000 kilometres, the last MIRV warhead released flies an extra 1,000 kilometres.

Currently, the DRDO is readying for the second test next month of the Agni-5 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. This will be fired in the same configuration as its debut test a year ago, in order to establish the missile's reliability. A third test by end-2013 will see the missile fired from a canister.

"We will conduct at least five-six more Agni-5 tests before the missile enters operational service. After the repeat test this month or the next, we will conduct two test firings from a canister. Then the military units that will operate the Agni-5 will conduct two-three test firings as part of the induction process. Even after induction, the users conduct test firings as part of the Strategic Forces Command training plan," says Avinash Chander.

The Agni-5 is a three-stage, solid-fuel missile but its first stage consists of a metallic rocket motor, while the second and third stages have composite motors.

business standard

May 7, 2013

After Chinese pullout, India to increase Army presence along LAC

After the pullout by Chinese troops from Daulat beg Oldi area of Ladakh, infrastructure development programme along the line of actual control is expected to be stepped up besides beefing up of the presence of Army there.

Frenquency of patrolling along the LAC is also expected to be enhanced as per the new measures being contemplated by the government, sources said here on Monday.

The government is also planning to give final clearance to a Rs 84,000 crore Army proposal for raising the Mountain Strike Corps along the northeastern borders which will include deployment of IAF assets as per Army's plans, they said.

The force has been working on capability development in the north and northeastern sector of the country in wake of the major modernisation of military infrastructure by China.

Meanwhile, sources said there is a possibility of India re-adjusting its deployment plans in the Chumar area of Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian troops are in an advantageous positions and can look deep into the Chinese territory.

China has been demanding in the flag meetings that India should dismantle its infrastructure built there including some key forward bunkers, where Indian Army had moved in recent times. However, it is not clear as to what extent India agreed to its demands.

The Indian positions in Chumar, sources said, give India the capability to keep an eye on China's all-important Western Highway.

The Chinese have been carrying out incursions and transgressions into the Chumar area considering its location and the Indian positions there, they said.


Army to procure artillery howitzers, 3 Indian vendors selected

Army is planning to procure 100 self-propelled artillery howitzers and three Indian vendors, including two private companies, have been selected for trial of their equipment, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

In a written reply to the House, he also said the recent amendment to Defence Procurement Procedure-2011 aims at giving higher preference to indigenous capacity in the defence sector.

"A case for procurement of 100 tracked guns of 155mm/52 Calibre (self-propelled) is in progress wherein three Indian vendors, including two private sector companies, have been selected for trials of their equipment," Antony said.

In reply to a question on procurement of bullet proof jackets for soldiers, Antony said no such jackets were procured during the last three years.

"The Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of 1,86,138 bullet proof jackets has been issued on December 7, 2012," he said.
Antony also told the House that the entire fleet of Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) is being modernised on basis of the operational requirement of the Army.

"In the ICV fleet, armament and firepower capability are being upgraded with the latest generation Fire Control System, Twin Missile Launchers and Commander's Thermal Imaging Panoramic sights. These ICVs will also be equipped with the latest generation Anti Tank Guided Missiles and Automatic Grenade Launchers," he said.

Antony said the estimated cost of upgrading the fleet has been estimated to Rs 8,000 crore
On procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF, he said the proposal is at commercial discussion stage with France-based Dassault Aviation.

"Given the complexity of the proposal, no definite time frame can be fixed at this stage," Antony said, adding that RFP stipulates delivery of 18 flyway aircraft within three or four years of signing of the contract.

Rest of the 108 aircraft will be license manufactured in India.

On a query over plans to set up radar stations along the island territory close to Lakshadweep, Antony said, "Ten radar stations in various islands, including six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy, are planned to be set up as part of the Static Sensor Project."

The total cost of the project, including setting up of radar stations at 10 island sites and 36 mainland sites is Rs 601.75 crore. The radar stations are likely to be operational by the end of 2013, he said.

The Defence Minister also told the House that an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) is proposed to be supplied to the Government of Mauritius in 2014.

On delay in Scorpene project to deliver submarines to the Indian Navy, he said the proposal for further extension of the delivery date is under examination.

"The project is delayed due to several reasons which include initial teething troubles, delay in augmentation of infrastructure, procurement of yard procured material and absorption of new process and procedures of completely new technology," Antony said.

On whether DRDO has developed an unmanned helicopter, the Defence Minister replied in negative.

Antony also denied that Indian Coast Guard has entered into any deal to procure eight medium lift helicopters.

He also denied that the government proposes to purchase helicopter-borne early warning system to boost the defence aviation wing.

On checking the credentials of vendors registered with the ordnance factories, he said, "All ordnance factories have been directed to recheck credentials of vendors registered with the factories for weeding out fictitious firms."

Such check would include onetime check of the owners of the firms, their address and other details and most importantly their manufacturing capacity by site visits and inspections.

PTI/ Zeenews

May 6, 2013

AK Antony to commission MIG-29 K fighter planes into Navy

Union Defence Minister A K Antony will commission MIG-29 K fighter planes into the Indian Navy on May 11 in Goa.

The squadron, named INAS 303 Black Panthers, will be commissioned on May 11 by the Defence Minister at INS Hansa Naval base in the state, Indian Navy PRO said.

The aircrafts were inducted in the force on February 19,2010.The MIG-29K (K stands for 'Korabelny' meaning "Carrier Borne" in Russian) is a carrier borne fighter, which, once integrated with 'INS Vikramaditya', will bolster the Navy's punch with its multi-role capability, the PRO said.

The aircraft, armed with its arsenal of weapons, including advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, precious bombs and sophisticated systems to support weapon delivery, will not only be able to dominate the air in all-spectrum of conflict but simultaneously project power to meet the nation's military objectives.

This lethal fighter aircraft will enhance Indian Navy's capability to exercise air superiority in its area of influence, he said.

It will also decisively enhance the core of Navy's striking power. The last three years since the induction have seen the men and their machines attain full operational status and the squadron is now ready to undertake any mission assigned.

He said that the men and machine have successfully completed all tasks and trials assigned and established its role worthiness, and the MIG-29K squadron is now ready to be commissioned into front line unit of the Indian Navy squadron.


India-China face off in Ladakh ends; troops withdraw

 The 20-day-old standoff between the Chinese and Indian army in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector of Ladakh ended on Sunday when troops from both sides decided to withdraw to their respective pre-incursion positions.
The 20-day-old standoff between the Chinese and Indian army in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector of Ladakh ended on Sunday when troops from both sides decided to withdraw to their respective pre-incursion positions. However, it is not clear if the Chinese will return to their April 14 position.

Sources said the breakthrough came after hectic discussions and four flag meetings between the commanders of the two armies. It was decided that troops from both sides will pull back simultaneously following which the process was completed at 7.30pm on Sunday, sources said.

Indian and Chinese commanders at the local level shook hands before withdrawing, sources said.

Fifty troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had crossed 19 kilometres inside the Indian territory at DBO on the actual line of control (LAC) and set up a tented post on the intervening night of April 15 and 16. Subsequently, they put up four more tents and also deployed Molosser dogs.

“I have learnt that China has withdrawn its troops. They had to withdraw. This is our country’s success; Indian diplomacy has won,” said Rigzin Spalbar, chief executive councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh. The face off in Ladakh had cast a shadow over the visit of external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to China on May 9 to prepare ground for new Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang’s visit to India from May 20.

The Chinese provocation came nine months after the PLA forced the Jammu & Kashmir government to suspend work on the prestigious irrigation scheme at Kuyul-Thuksey area of Nyoma block in Leh district of Ladakh division. It was the third time since 2010 that a major development project was suspended or abandoned under Chinese pressure in Leh district of Ladakh division.


May 4, 2013

INS Arihant, India's N-powered submarine, to be operational soon

In a big step towards securing India's nuclear deterrence capabilities, the reactor on board the indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant is set to become operational within three weeks. The submarine, which is over 100 metres long, has been undergoing trials in Visakhapatnam for the last three years .  

Dr VK Saraswat, the chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO, shared these exclusive details with NDTV (Read: Transcript of full interview). He said that once the Indian-made enriched uranium nuclear reactor - which has been in development for two decades - becomes operational, INS Arihant will be ready for sea-trials and will subsequently be commissioned.

The induction of INS Arihant into the Indian Navy's fleet will complete the crucial link in India's nuclear triad - the ability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea.  So far, the US, Russia, France, China, and the UK have the capability to launch a submarine-based ballistic missile.Though this comes as good news for India's defence capabilities, there is some concern over the overall strength of India's submarine fleet. India has 14 conventional submarines that run on either battery or diesel and are aging and outdated. Each of them will have completed the standard life-span of 25 years by 2017.


Navy set to receive eye in sky from Boeing

With China demonstrating its blue water ambition, the Indian Navy is all set to acquire its first US-made long-range surveillance aircraft, which can be used to keep an eye on the Chinese movements.

The first of the aircraft, known as P8I Poseidon, is expected to land in India around May 15, said a navy official. The US-origin aircraft will be based in INS Rajali, a naval base on the Tamil Nadu coast.

With a range of 8600 km and an endurance of 10 hours, P8I Poseidon can fly non-stop up to Australia – much beyond India’s neighbouring maritime zones – and augment Navy’s surveillance capability by leaps and bounds.

India is buying eight P8I, manufactured by Boeing, at a cost of $2.1 billion. These aircraft will replace the Russian Tu-142, inducted 25 years ago. The Navy will receive the first three in 2013 and the remaining five will arrive by 2015. India is the first customer of P8I, outside the USA.

New Delhi is negotiating with Washington to buy four additional P8Is from Boeing for further expanding its maritime footprint.
Acquisition of 12 P8I will complete the first phase of the Navy’s requirement of 24 long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

“The Russian-origin surveillance aircraft IL-38, which were later fitted with Sea Dragon suite for improved performance, would continue to fly for at least one more decade,” said Rear Admiral D M Sudan, assistant chief of naval staff in charge of air operations at Navy headquarters.

The Navy has also received a new bunch of fighters – MiG 29K – to operate from the decks of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is scheduled to be inducted by December, 2013.

The first squadron of MiG 29K will be commissioned at Goa on May 11. The second squadron, for which aircraft have begun flying in from Russia, will be stationed in Visakhapatnam. Besides INS Vikramaditya, these Russian fighters will also fly from Indigenous Aircraft Carrier in 2018, as indigenous naval fighter – light combat aircraft (Navy) – is still a far cry.

“Carrier compatibility test for LCA (Navy) is expected by the end of 2013,” Sudan said on Friday. The test is intended to check if the indigenous fighter can fly from the decks of a carrier and land with the support of an arrester-hook.  “We currently have 214 aircraft (fixed and helicopters combined) in 19 squadrons, based in eight stations. We plan to double the numbers in a decade and add new naval air bases,” he said.

deccan herald

May 2, 2013

Chinese incursion 19km, but 750 sq km at stake for India

The "acne" -- as foreign minister Salman khurshid described it -- could well turn into a deep scar on India's face, with the Chinese reinforcing their position across the Line of Actual Control and raising the real prospect of India losing access to 750 sq km in strategically crucial northern Ladakh.

While China on Tuesday rebuffed India's plea to withdraw its troops, squatting 19km inside Indian territory at Raki Nala in the Depsang Bulge area, fresh imagery from Indian spy drones has shown that the People's Liberation Army has already started using trucks to replenish supplies for over 30 soldiers stationed there. The pictures, which also show that PLA is trying to convert the track there into a proper road, are transforming what the government had called a "localized problem'' into a first-rate diplomatic crisis.

The recognition has led to India starting to toughen its response, with Army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday briefing the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on the "counter-measures'' possible. While a military showdown is not imminent, India may escalate its protest from demarches into a reappraisal of bilateral ties just ahead of the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on May 20.

The audacious intrusion into the Depsang Bulge, a table-top plateau, threatens to cut off India's access to some 750 sq km area in northern Ladakh: an area roughly half the size of Delhi. The face-off site is just about 35km south of the strategic Karakoram Pass, which is at the tri-junction of China-Pakistan-India borders, and overlooks the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge to the west and the Indian observation post in the Chumar sector to the east.

Indian Army and ITBP patrols to Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) and the Karakoram Pass have to trek across the Saser and Depsang passes - both in excess of 16,000 feet -- on foot from Sasoma, which is over 80km north of Leh. So, loss of control over the Depsang Bulge would cut off access to the areas north of the passes.

Officers who have done stints there say the Depsang Bulge is the only staging area in the region from where Indian forces can group men and machines to launch any action. This is because the bulge is the only wide open land in the region which is full of high jagged ridges of the Karakoram range in the north and Ladakh range in the south.

Government sources admitted the developments over the past 48 hours, with the third flag meeting also failing to break the deadlock, have radically transformed the nature of the standoff, and the May 9 visit of foreign minister Salman Khurshid - who had initially described the incident as just an "acne'' that would not impede the upward trajectory in bilateral ties -- to Beijing could be in jeopardy.

Gen Singh, on his part, gave several options to the CCS, ranging from cutting off supply lines of the Chinese troops at Raki Nala to Indian troops conducting a similar maneuver in some other sector. But the government is sticking to the "no military escalation'' policy as of now, even as it works the diplomatic channels.

But China is insisting on the demolition of India's observation post at Chumar as a pre-condition for de-escalation. As ties threaten to nosedive, the observation post that can overlook troop movements on the Chinese side has emerged as the main bone of contention.

China, which is already miffed with India's re-activation of advanced landing grounds at Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma and building of other infrastructure along the LAC over the last four-five years, is uncomfortable with Indian being able to peep at the movement on the highway. The Chinese, in fact, have frequently tried to "immobilize'' the surveillance cameras positioned at the Chumar post by cutting wires.

Last year, Indian troops had intercepted two Chinese personnel on mules across the Chumar post. Though they were subsequently let off, with language being a barrier, China got hugely irritated about the incident. Holding that the two Chinese were from its revenue department, Beijing since then has been pressing hard for the Chumar post to be dismantled.

Tmes of india