August 30, 2013

Work Begins on 6th Missile Boat for Caspian Flotilla

(RIA Novosti) – Construction work has begun on a sixth attack missile boat for the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla, a shipyard representative told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
The Zelenodolsk shipyard, based in Russia’s Tatarstan Republic, is building the series of six missile boats under a 2010 contract with the Defense Ministry. All the boats are due to enter service with the Caspian fleet.
The first two missile corvettes – the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Uglich – were floated out on June 22 and August 22, respectively. Another three – the Veliky Ustyug, the Zelyony Dol and the Serpukhov – are under construction.
The sixth boat has been named the Vyshny Volochek, a shipyard official told RIA Novosti. He did not say when the ships would be completed or what the total construction costs would be.
The Project 21631 (Buyan-M) corvette has a displacement of 949 tons and maximum speed of 25 knots. It is armed with Kalibr (SS-N-27) anti-ship missiles, 100-mm and 30-mm guns, as well as Igla-1M air defense missiles.

India's first defence satellite GSAT-7 launched successfully

India's first exclusive defence satellite GSAT-7 was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on Friday, giving a major push to the country's maritime security.

Indian Navy would be the user of the multi-band home-built communication spacecraft, expected to be operational by September end.

The Rs 185-crore GSAT-7, the country's maiden dedicated spacecraft for defence applications, was launched during a 50-minute launch window which started at 2am, and it was telecast live by Doordarshan.

After a flight of almost 34 minutes, the satellite was injected into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) of 249 km perigee (nearest point to earth), 35,929 km apogee (farthest point to earth) and an inclination of 3.5 degree with respect to the equator.

During August 31-September 4, three orbit-raising operations will be performed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to place the satellite into geostationary orbit of 36,000 km above the equator.

By September 14, GSAT-7 is planned to be positioned in its orbital slot of 74 deg East longitude and subsequently the satellite's communication transponders will be switched on.

The frequency bands of GSAT-7 will help space-based marine communications. It has coverage over India landmass as well as surrounding seas.

"It's important from security and surveillance points of view", an ISRO official said.

According to a senior space scientist, so far the Navy had limitation from line of sight and ionospheric effects, among others, as far as space-based communications were concerned.

It was thought essential to have an integrated platform for the Navy's exclusive use.

Earlier, satellite communication in ships was through Inmarsat, a major provider of global mobile satellite communications services.

The state-of-the-art satellite carrying payloads operating in UHF, S, C and Ku bands, had a lift-off mass of 2625 kg and is based on ISRO's 2500 kg satellite bus with some new technological elements, including the antennae.

According to ISRO, GSAT-7 is an advanced communication satellite to provide wide range of service spectrum from low bit rate voice to high bit rate data communication. Its payload is designed to provide communication capabilities to users over a wide oceanic region including the Indian land-mass.

The launch cost for ISRO is around Rs 470 crore, including insurance.

ISRO cannot launch heavy satellites like GSAT-7 as its home-grown GSLV rocket, with indigenous cryogenic stage, is still at works and needs two successful flights before it is declared operational.

In addition to GSAT-7, the Ariane 5 orbited another spacecraft EUTELSAT 25B/Es'hail.

EUTELSAT 25B/Es'hail 1 - which rode in the top position of the Ariane 5 payload "stack" - separated first, some 27 minutes after liftoff.

At approximately 34 minutes into the flight, the lower passenger - GSAT-7 - was deployed, completing the mission.

Indian ambassador to France, Arun Singh and director of Bangalore-based ISRO Satellite Centre, S K Shivakumar, were among those who witnessed the launch.

Singh said the launch event is also a reflection of strategic partnership between India and France.

Shivakumar said GSAT-7 would be operational by next month-end.
- Times of India

India considers partnerships to end delays in aircraft project

India, seeking to build its first regional aircraft, is considering roping in local and foreign partners for the project, after spending more than two decades to build a smaller plane.
“A study under review by a government panel favours tie-ups with equipment makers rather than purchasing engines and parts from them,” Satish Chandra, head of aircraft programme at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a state-owned plane designer involved in the development, said in a telephone interview from Bangalore. He didn’t give a timeframe for the project.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month approved the plan for a 70- to 100-seat aircraft as economic growth and rising disposable incomes spur air travel demand. Boeing Co. expects India will require 1,450 planes in 20 years. The project will also help the nation catch up with China, Japan and Russia in building a regional aircraft and reduce dependence on Bombardier Inc. and Embraer SA, the two companies that dominate the market for such planes.
“You need to start somewhere and you need to build the expertise so that it has spinoffs to other sectors,” Chandra said. Projects like these may actually be the kickstart for you to integrate into the global economy.
India’s plan to build the regional aircraft comes after little success with an earlier attempt to build an indigenous 14-seat plane called Saras. NAL spent 23 years on the project and has yet to win local certification for the plane, one of which crashed during a test flight in 2009.
Plane crash
The plane crashed because of reasons including NAL’s failure to consult the aircraft’s propeller maker during tests, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the nation’s civilian aviation regulator that probed the accident.
Saras’s certification by the Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification under India’s defence ministry is expected this year, according to NAL website. Chandra declined to comment on the current status of Saras, which means crane in Sanskrit.
The nation’s bid to build a fighter jet has also suffered setbacks. State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is yet to start deliveries of the Light Combat Aircraft, which uses a General Electric Co. engine. The programme was approved in 1983.
“The complexity of commercial aircraft development is well beyond the capabilities of NAL and HAL,” said Ernie Arvai, chief executive officer of the Arvai Group, a Windham, New Hampshire-based aviation consultancy. The Saras project was a disaster. The failure of the light combat aircraft programme and others clearly indicate a lack of capability in integrating the various element of aircraft design into feasible and safe designs.
787, A380
Delays for new aircraft are common in the industry. Boeing and Airbus SAS, both with years of experience building large, complicated jets, have had to push back introductions.
The 787 Dreamliner, Boeing’s most advanced jet, entered commercial service at the end of 2011 after more than three years of delays. Airbus A380 superjumbo began commercial flights in 2007 after more than two years of delays and cost overruns.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd’s aircraft unit, which is making Japan’s first regional passenger jet, last week pushed back the delivery of its first plane by more than a year. Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China is said to delay the maiden test flight of the country’s first large passenger plane to 2015 from an earlier plan for next year.
Chandra said the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council will study the regional aircraft plan and a decision on number of its seats and the type of engine will be decided later. NMCC chairman V. Krishnamurthy didn’t respond to calls to his work phone and e-mailed questions.
Mahindra, Taneja
The government is considering to set up a special purpose vehicle to steer the development and production of the plane, according to a 9 July statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. The capabilities of NAL and HAL and other institutions in the country will be utilized, according to the statement.
Carriers in India will need 1,450 new planes worth $175 billion over the next 20 years, Boeing forecast in February. The International Air Transport Association has said India may be the world’s fastest-growing aviation market after Kazakhstan by 2016.
“There’s no point reinventing the wheel on technologies that may have already been developed elsewhere at a fraction of the cost,” said Amber Dubey, a Gurgaon, India-based partner at consultancy KPMG. “The critical requirement would be to provide adequate funding support, fix clear accountability and specific time, cost and quality targets.”
Private partners
NAL last year held talks with a unit of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd on partnering for the regional aircraft. Mumbai-based Mahindra, India’s biggest maker of sport-utility vehicles, bought two Australian aerospace companies in 2009.
Taneja, based in Tamil Nadu, makes light planes. It is India’s only private company to have locally developed a certified aircraft, according to its website.
Saab AB last year said it’ll pursue a risk-sharing partnership with a yet-to-be-selected company from India, as it considered a return to the regional-plane market. NAL’s Chandra said companies and countries have shown interest in the regional aircraft project without naming anyone.
“From the beginning, they will need private industry partners,” said Dhiraj Mathur, an executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s India unit. The aerospace industry is not an easy industry.

August 29, 2013

'India developing E-bomb to paralyze networks'

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing an E-bomb which will emit electromagnetic shock waves that destroy electronic circuits and communication networks of enemy forces, its chief and scientific advisor to the defence minister Avinash Chander said.

So next time there is a Kargil or a LoC violation, you may not hear gunshots or mortar shells, because the electromagnetic bomb will throw life out of gear.

"It will be a weapon that would explore the strong electromagnetic field generating a brief but intense or high power pulse of electromagnetic energy," Chander told TOI at the Missile Complex in Hyderabad. He said the spectrum of targets will be broad and in times to come, E-bombs would form the core of tactical warfare and electronic combat operations to damage the command, control and communications of enemy forces.

The director general of DRDO said that the electromagnetic shock wave from the bomb will destroy electronic circuits and communication network "while paralyzing them in terms of radars, communication networking, information gathering sensors, controls and other electronic equipment." Work is in full swing at the Research Centre Imarat, the Hyderabad-based laboratory of DRDO, to build the new bomb which will be ready for operational deployment within a few years.

Chander said the E-bomb would give an option to the military as the bomb can target the enemy's mobile targets, air defence systems, mobile or static radars, naval vessels with communication systems and even ill-shielded communication or electronic systems at a military base. The GPS-guided E-bombs would precede the conventional munitions for strategic air attacks and can cripple military units as weapons of electric destruction

by releasing high voltage pulses. Other DRDO officials said the E-bomb warheads can be delivered by combat aircraft equipped to deliver guided munitions and cruise missiles.

Chander also said DRDO was developing the next generation of smart bombs or guided bombs, which would have a longer range of upto 100 km (starting from 10s of kms)

and higher accuracy. "Smart bombs are basically precision guided munition equipped with electronic sensors, control system and adjustable flight fins for providing steering or gliding capacity to hit a designated target with much more accuracy," the DRDO chief said.
-Times of india

Russia to deliver six warplanes to India

Moscow: Russia is set to deliver six more jet fighters of 4++ generation this year to Indian Air Force as per a deal with New Delhi, the MIG aircraft corporation said Wednesday.

"India currently exploits 21 aircrafts. In line with a contract, we must deliver 29 planes by 2015. Last year, we've delivered four planes. This year, we've delivered one plane and six aircrafts remain to be delivered," MIG's director general Sergei Korotkov told reporters at the MAKS air show, Xinhua reported.

The six-day MAKS show kicked off in Zhukovsky city outside Moscow Tuesday.

MIG signed a $1.5 billion deal with India in 2010 to deliver 29 MIG-29K-KUB warplanes.

This is the second such contract between the Russian aircraft construction corporation and New Delhi. The first deal to supply India with 16 MIGs-29 was signed in 2004 and completed in 2011.

 During MAKS, the Russian corporation also signed two deals worth $55 million to build a centre in India to service MIG's avionics and hardware, the corporation's spokesperson Elena Fedorova said.

MIG's partner in those deals is Basant Aerospace Private Ltd, she added.

MIG commenced production of new unified family of multi-role fighters of the 4++ generation in 2005.

The double-seat MIG-29K-KUB is a multi-role fighter intended for air-defence missions of naval forces, air superiority gaining, sea and ground target destruction with high precision guided weapons day and night and in any weather condition.

IANS/ Zeenews

August 28, 2013

India's first defence satellite all set for launch

India's maritime security will get a fresh impetus as the stage is now set for the launch of an exclusive home-built satellite for the Navy by European space consortium Arianespace from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on Friday.

GSAT-7 is India's first dedicated spacecraft for defence applications.

"It has frequency bands that will help marine communications", an official of Bangalore-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation, which built the satellite, told PTI here.

"It has coverage over India landmass as well as surrounding seas. It's important from security and surveillance points of view", the official said on condition of anonymity.

A senior space scientist in the know said: "So far, Navy had limitation from line of sight and ionospheric effects etc. It was thought essential to have an integrated platform for their exclusive use. Earlier, satellite communication in ships was through Inmarsat (a major provider of global mobile satellite communications services). Now, India will have its own set up"

ISRO shies away from calling it an exclusive satellite for the Navy on record, but privately admits exactly that.

The Rs 185 crore state-of-the-art satellite carries payloads operating in UHF, S, C and Ku bands.

GSAT-7 has a lift-off mass of 2625 kg and is based on ISRO's 2500 kg satellite bus with some new technological elements, including the antennae. Its solar arrays generate 2900 W of electrical power.

A108 Ampere-Hour Lithium-Ion battery enables the satellite to function during the eclipse period. The propulsion subsystem has a 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and thrusters.

GSAT-7 is scheduled to be launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by Ariane-5 VA 215 during the 50-minute launch window starting from 2 am on Friday.

The launch cost for ISRO is around Rs 470 crore, including insurance. ISRO can't launch heavy satellites like GSAT-7 as its home-grown GSLV rocket, with indigenous cryogenic stage, is still at works and needs two successful flights before it's declared operational. 
-  Times of india

August 27, 2013

India all set to lease a second nuclear submarine from Russia

India is all set to acquire a second nuclear submarine on lease from Russia. The two sides have had preliminary discussions and a serious push is expected when Indian Defence Secretary RK Mathur meets his Russian counterparts during his visit to Moscow next week.
The idea had germinated in the Indian strategic establishment long before the Russian-built electric-powered submarine INS Sindhurakshak got sunk at its moorings in Mumbai naval dockyard on August 14.
Now with the Sindhurakshak practically gone forever and the Indian submarine fleet having been constricted to just 13 – of which only 7 or 8 can be operational at a given time – the Indian idea has acquired a greater steam.  The loss of INS Sindhurakshak seems to have catalysed the Indian defence establishment to come up with ideas that would ensure that India’s undersea warfare capabilities are actually bolstered, and not dented.
Indian Defence Secretary RK Mathur is all set to lead an Indian tri-service delegation to Moscow for the next round of High Level Monitoring Group on Defence. Mathur will be reaching Russia on September 1 for these crucial talks and the issue of taking on lease a second Russian nuclear submarine for the Indian defence forces will be very high on his agenda.
Sources say the Indian defence secretary will be negotiating with his Russian counterparts on many other agendas but his foremost talking point would inevitably veer around the subject of India acquiring the nuclear submarine on lease as it would provide New Delhi an immediate solution to deal with maritime threats in the neighbourhood.
The Russians are positively inclined to the idea of leasing a second nuclear submarine to India, according to sources. Actually, if this idea were to translate into reality, it would be the third nuclear submarine that the Russia would be leasing to India.
The first time it was then Soviet Union which had leased a nuclear submarine (named INS Chakra by the Indian Navy) way back in 1988. The lease at that time was only for three years and the Indians duly returned the vessel after the lease expired.
The second time India got on lease a nuclear submarine from Russia was a couple of years ago when India and Russia finalised the contract for it in 2011 and the Russian Nerpa class submarine was inducted into the Indian Navy last year as INS Chakra. The lease cost a billion dollars to India for a period of ten years.
The third lease, if it transpires (which it should given the political will from both the sides), should also be for a minimum of ten years. However, the lease values may be a bone of contention for the two sides. While the Indians are willing to shell out a billion dollars for taking on lease another nuclear submarine for a period of ten years, the Russians have jacked up the monetary value.
Moreover, the Russians have already conveyed to their Indian interlocutors that India cannot hope to get a nuclear submarine on lease from any other country. From India’s point of view, though the Russian logic seems to be well in place but then other countries like France and the UK may be persuaded to lease a nuclear submarine given India’s standing in the comity of nations currently.
The Indian strategic establishment seems quite upbeat on the idea of acquiring another nuclear submarine. The Indians have even named their probably acquisition as INS Chakra III.


Indian Navy's dubious safety record worrisome for national security

In November 2011, the Indian Navy was particularly incensed with what a US naval lieutenant had posted on a blog. The unnamed lieutenant, who spent four days on destroyer INS Delhi in the Arabian Sea as part of an exchange programme, called the Indian crew "generally clueless", with "almost zero seamanship skills". This was one in a long, harsh critique of what he saw on the frontline warship. The blog was removed days after it was posted.
Did the blog touch a raw nerve? Just 10 months earlier, the naval frigate INS Vindhyagiri collided with a merchant tanker in Mumbai harbour sank. It was the fourth time a warship was completely written off in 23 years. Since 1990, the Indian Navy has lost one warship in peacetime every five years. Since 2004, it has lost one naval combatant every two years. Few global navies have such a dubious record. Five days after the August 14 explosion destroyed INS Sindhurakshak, killing 18 crew members, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told Rajya Sabha that "preliminary probe indicated the blast was due to possible ignition of armament". Armed with torpedoes and missiles, the submarine was fully fuelled and ready to sail for patrol early next morning.
Former southern naval chief Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil (retired) cautions it is too early to conclude it sank due to negligence. Evidence points to a blast in an oxygen-powered torpedo, he says. "The Navy must do a forensic examination to pinpoint the cause," he says.
What is worrying is that with each warship loss, key maritime capabilities are being lost. The Sindhurakshak had returned from Russia four months ago, and after a two-and-a-half year refit, was the Navy's most potent conventional submarine. The frigate INS Vindhyagiri was the only warship that could control spy drones far out at sea.
Peacetime losses of warships are not uncommon. Since the World War II, the US Navy has lost 16 warships in accidents. Russia's nuclear submarine Kursk sank in August 2000 after a faulty torpedo exploded during a training exercise. But in case of the smaller Indian Navy-it only has 30 frontline warships and 14 submarines-they point to a far disturbing trend, of human rather than technical error. The Prahar and Vindhyagiri collided with lumbering merchant vessels. The INS Agray was cut into half in 2004 when a crew member tossed a misfired anti-submarine rocket overboard. The spate of accidents comes at a time when the fleet is expanding in both size and complexity. Last year, it acquired INS Chakra, its first nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia. It is set to induct its largest ship, the 44,000-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, from Russia this year. Former eastern naval commander Vice Admiral A.K. Singh (retired) slams the Government's apathy. "The Navy is operating vessels long past their service years of 25 and 30 years as the government doesn't sanction new ones in time," he says.
Ageing ships alone do not explain other accidents and collisions. Naval officials say there are a series of smaller mishaps that point to Standard Operating Procedures (sops) not being followed. The August 2009 collision of the missile corvette INS Kuthar with destroyer INS Ranvir in the Bay of Bengal was traced to a rudder failure, compounded by a flawed manoeuvre. In 2010, three crew men on destroyer INS Mumbai were instantly killed when an AK-630 Gatling gun went off as safety drills were not followed. The submarine INS Sindhughosh collided twice; once with a fishing boat in 2006 and once with a merchant vessel in 2007. "The Navy has put in place multiple, institutionalised methods and procedures towards enhancing safety," a naval spokesperson said, responding to a questionnaire. "Each type of unit has a Safety Class Authority that oversees safety aspects and guides safety related policy. On completion of major repairs, all units undergo a safety audit, prior joining respective formations."
"The problem is that we aren't empowering our young officers," admits a senior naval officer, echoing what the US navy blogger said. Experience levels have suffered as there is a mismatch between number of warships and officers. Each year, 60 captain-ranked officers vie for the command of 15-20 warships. "A decade ago, a captain got two 18-month long sea tenures, allowing him to build up experience; today he gets only one," says a naval officer.
"Adequate sea tenures are provided to all concerned," a naval spokesperson said.
In 2006, then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee pulled Navy brass up after a spate of accidents. Accidents have however continued despite 'safety stand down' procedures performed on all warships every quarter, and court-martials. The loss of the Sindhurakshak has now pushed them to unacceptable levels.

Times of  india

August 26, 2013

Our blue water submarine?

The loss of INS Sindhurakshak has brought focus on the pitiable state of our far too few submarines. We had six missile-capable subs. In terms of deployability, at any given time only 60 per cent are available, which means only four subs could have been deployed. Now one is gone. Now our operational availability is less than three. This is not counting the loss of trained men who went under in such a tragic manner. It takes two years for the crew of one submarine to get battle-ready. If there were six stations that our submarines would have operated from during war time, one is no longer there. This creates large gaps in our security. I am told that in another five years, 90 per cent of our submarines would have been decommissioned if you rate them in terms of normal life. But we will no doubt persist, as we do; another jugaad in the great Indian tradition of strategic planning.
A big silver lining will no doubt be glimpsed over the reactor of our “indigenously developed” nuclear submarine Arihant going critical. I am no expert on nuclear submarines, but people who are privately laugh at our nuclear submarine. That is because it is based on designs from the Sixties, which is half-a-century old. It is the same as the Chakra which we hired earlier. To leading questions, our nuclear gurus answer that “our nuclear submarine is completely made in India, designed, fabricated, executed by Indian scientists”. Yet the Prime Minister has publicly thanked the Russians profusely for what is euphemistically being called “consultancy” work. The real credit should go to the Russians for their excellent super-mentoring-cum-monitoring on a Russian submarine with a Made in India mark. The Russians apparently were so heavily embedded in our nuclear submarine programme that every step that was taken was made possible only because of their behind-the-scenes omnipresence telling us which screw went where, how to weld this, do that...
You may ask: why quibble if the submarine works? The quibble enters the picture because after three more nuclear submarines, clones of the one that just went critical, have been produced over the next several years, we will still not have the ability to build a newer generation submarine from scratch. We simply don’t have the expertise for design, its validation or choice of material for a next generation submarine. Nobody knows where all that will come from. Russians gave us Chakra on a platter. They have since moved on and are now in the Borei class of submarines, compared to which Chakra is a museum piece.
Our nuclear submarine can carry nuclear missiles that can travel 750 km. The radius of that kind of a range is pretty small. We can’t fire a missile at China from the Bay of Bengal in this case, can we? The submarine needs to get pretty close to the Chinese coast undetected in order to pose a credible deterrence. How would you rate the feasibility of that happening undetected? The Chinese second-generation sea-launched intercontinental ballistic, the JL2, can deliver its payload, according to Wikipedia, 14,000 km away.  Even if we discount that distance, it is evident the Chinese submarines need not traverse the Straits of Malacca in order to hit us anywhere they wish. They can hit us even as they sit pretty in the depths of the South China Sea. There is nothing we can do about that.


‘Chinese clearing forest cover to grab border land’

While the government insists that frequent Chinese incursions on the Sino-Indian border are "routine" and according to "established pattern", sources in the security establishment say there are reasons to worry as the "pattern" is fast changing. Apart from frequent patrol drills inside Indian territory, agencies have observed that Chinese troops are also clearing forest cover in Arunachal Pradesh and taking away timber and other forest produce.

Sources said this was a new development as earlier, Chinese troops merely engaged in muscle flexing through intrusions, patrols or short stays on the Indian side. "It has been observed in the recent past that in Arunachal Pradesh, several forest areas along the border have been cleared by Chinese troops. They have carried away timber and other forest produce. There is also evidence of make-shift timber cutting units in the area," said an officer from the security establishment.

Sources said this was a way of asserting ownership of the region by the Chinese. "It is basically a way of saying that the natural resources of the region is ours," the officer said. The August 13 incursion in Arunachal Pradeh's Chaglagam area by Chinese troops, when they came 20 km inside India's territory and stayed for three days, is also being cited as a notable change in the Chinese incursion pattern.

Sources said China so far has been focusing on the Tawang region in Arunachal Pradesh because of its proximity to Tibet, historic ties that give its claim some legitimacy and the existence of one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the region that China fears may be used by the Tibetan government in exile to help the Tibetan struggle against China.

"Most incursions by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh happen in and around the Tawang region. Chaglagam falls in what is called 'rest of Arunachal Pradesh' where Chinese troops have comparatively little activity. So, this incursion is worth looking at carefully," said another officer who has observed Chinese activity in the region.

Sources said these developments coincide with frenetic road building by China on the Sino-Indian border in the past one year and are significant. China already has a wide network of over 58,000 km of roads near the Indian border and is constantly building on it even as India struggles to catch up due to a late start, poor terrain and red tape. While Chinese troops can make it to the border within 48 hours, it takes Indian forces over a week to reach a border outpost in Arunachal as there are no roads.
- Times of india

August 23, 2013

Boeing delivers third C-17 to IAF

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received its third Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, a large, versatile military transport aircraft capable of carrying heavy, oversize loads long distances and landing on rough and unprepared surfaces.

The plane which departed for India on August 20 from Boeing's Long Beach, California, facility joins the first and second India C-17 airlifters, which arrived in June and July, respectively.

Boeing is on track to deliver two more C-17s to the IAF this year and five in 2014. Once India receives its full complement of ten aircraft, it will be the largest C-17 operator outside the US. In operation since 1991, the C-17 has been used in humanitarian and military missions around the world and recently surpassed 2.6 million flight hours.

It can carry a cargo of wheeled US Army vehicles in two side-by-side rows, including the US Army's main battle tank, the M-1. Three Bradley infantry-fighting vehicles comprise one load. It can drop a single 60,000-lb. payload, with sequential load drops of 110,000 lb.

The transporter can seat 54 on the sidewall and 48 in the centreline. It can even back up a two-percent slope, the company said.

Boeing has delivered 256 C-17s, including 222 to the US Air Force and a total of 34 to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace.
 Times of india

India, Russia Discuss Submarine-Building – Source

(RIA Novosti) – An Indian military delegation has arrived in St. Petersburg to discuss military-technical collaboration in submarine-building, a Russian defense industry source told RIA on Thursday, days after a Russian-made sub in India’s navy exploded.
“It is a routine meeting of a joint [Russian-Indian] working group that had been scheduled long before the explosion on the INS Sindhurakshak,” the source said on condition of anonymity. "The Indian delegation is headed by the Indian navy’s chief of materiel, Vice Admiral Nadella Niranjan Kumar."
The Sindhurakshak, one of 10 Russian-built Kilo-class submarines in service with the Indian navy, blew up and sank at its moorings in the port of Mumbai last week, killing 18 crewmembers.
The boat had been recently refitted in Russia and returned to service in January. Russia has offered to send a team of experts to assist India in the investigation of the accident.
According to the source, the agenda of the talks included the possibility of a second round of upgrading for India’s Kilo-class (Project 877 EKM) diesel-electric submarines, as well as Russian participation in the Indian tender for six new diesel-electric subs and other issues aimed at boosting the development of India’s submarine fleet.
The discussion of the recent accident with Sindhurakshak may also be on the agenda, the source added.
Meanwhile, several Indian media outlets have speculated that the Indian navy may lease additional Kilo-class subs from Russia to maintain combat readiness of its submarine fleet.

MiG-29s to be stationed aboard Vikramaditya and Vikrant

The Indian Navy’s Russian-made ship-based multirole MiG-29K/KUB jet fighters will be stationed aboard the Vikramaditya and Vikrant aircraft carriers.
India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the country’s parliament on Tuesday, that the aircraft, the first squadron of which has become operational, would be deployed aboard the aircraft carriers.
Sixteen MiG-29K/KUB fighter aircraft have already been supplied to India under the main contract with Russia. Under the optional second contract, four aircraft were delivered in 2012 and in 2013.
A MiG official said that MiG had no problems with the delivery of extra 29 ship-based MiG-29K/KUB fighter planes. The planes were test flying in Goa.    
Earlier, Alexander Fomin, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier would be handed over to the Indian Navy in November 2013.

“The ship is to be put in a dock in April, go on sea trials in June and July and be officially handed over some time in November,” he said.  On September 23, 2012, the Vikramaditya returned to the shipyard to fix the problems that were detected during previous sea trials.
During the three-month sea trials the ship demonstrated excellent seaworthiness, speed of 29.3 knots and manoeuvrability. MiG specialists praised the ski-jump. The ship sailed for more than 12,000 miles, with 517 flights performed from its deck by aircraft and helicopters.
Russia's Northern Fleet aviation was involved in the sea trials: aircraft and helicopters flew around and over the ship in order to check its radar, air defence, communication and control systems. During the first stage of the trials in the White Sea, the ship’s physical fields were measured, and the crew practiced fuelling and fresh water replenishing operations. The ship was initially scheduled to be commissioned on December 4, 2012. However its transfer to India was postponed until the end of 2013 after the problems during the sea trials.   
Under a package inter-governmental agreement signed in New Delhi in January 2004, the body of the Admiral Gorshkov was transferred to India for free subject to its upgrading at Sevmash and armament with Russian aircraft.
Russia will also train the Indian crew of about 1,500 and create an infrastructure for the ship in the Indian Ocean.
The overall cost of the contract was estimated at $1.5 billion, of which about $974 million were intended for the conversion of the ship into a full-scale aircraft carrier. All work was supposed to be completed in 2008. However the completion date has been postponed. Russia claimed that the volume of work had been underestimated and demanded an additional payment of $2.2 billion.
The Admiral Gorshkov was built in Nikolayev under the name of Baku and put to service in the Northern Fleet in 1987. It is 283 metres long, 51 metres wide, with water displacement of over 45,000 tonnes


August 22, 2013

Developing a more Indian defence

The new DRDO chief is optimistic on the progress of the LCA and missile programmes and keen on securing technology transfer and access to raw materials

Avinash Chander, chief architect of India’s Agni series of missiles, took over as Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on May 31, succeeding V.K. Saraswat.
Dr. Chander, who played a key role in the successful development of the 5,000-km-range Agni-V, joined the DRDO in 1972 after graduating as an electrical engineer from IIT Delhi.
In an interview to The Hindu, the new DRDO chief speaks about key projects like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the future of India’s missile programme, denial of high-end technology to India and the need for increased R&D efforts. Excerpts from the interview:
On the LCA project
The LCA is going well. We said the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) 2 will be completed by this year end. IOC 2 is progressing very well and in spite of bad weather a number of sorties have taken place. HAL team is working well along with the Air Force and a very well integrated operation is going on. We are very confident that IOC 2 will be completed on time. The Final Operational Clearance is slated for 2014-end. Meanwhile, production will start from this year onwards and we expect that the first aircraft will roll out in 2014. Right now, we have orders from the Indian Air Force for 40, in 20-plus-20 option. The naval version of LCA is also going on well, Prototype Version (PV) 1 and PV2 are getting integrated, and PV1 should be completed by this year end.
On the project’s cost overrun
The cost of LCA is a small fraction of what an F-15 costs. We have developed one of the lowest costing aircraft. We are confident that the LCA will be able to compete very well in performance as well as on cost basis with equivalent aircraft. It will be comparable to Gripen aircraft. The day we start thinking about LCA, you cannot start putting cost on it.
On the missile programme
Agni V is moving ahead. Agni IV and V both are going to be inducted in the next couple of years. We will be going for user trials of Agni IV which has a range of 4,000 km and Agni V which has a range of 5,000 km. Then we are going for Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM.) and its trials are going to take place in Israel very soon. Astra air-to-air missile programme is also going very well. Astra will be going for the Sukhoi SU-30 launch by this year end. Nag — we had very good tests for seekers also recently, we are confident that Nag will also be able to meet performance requirements of the users in the very severe environmental conditions of the Indian desert. We are also working on futuristic, new long-range surface-to-air missiles of 250 to 300 km range. We are working on multi-range missiles, also on short-range surface-to-air missile. The aim is to become globally competitive in terms of missile accuracy, lethality and range.
On tactical missiles like Prahar
Prahar will go for user trial shortly, this year. Prahar is a good [surface-to-surface] system with a range of 140 km. It will have an accuracy of two metres and that is a very vital addition. We are also enhancing the range of Pinaka rockets from the existing 40 km to 60 km for Pinaka mark II. Prahar will be the third layer to cover up to 140 km, which is a very potent layer.
Comparison with Chinese missiles
In terms of technology and performance, Indian missile systems are comparable with any other system in the world, including whatever our neighbours have — comparable and better also in some cases. Total variety and ranges of the systems are decided based on each country’s individual requirements, how they see the threat and their role in the global scenario. The extent of the arsenal may differ but what we have is comparable with the best.
On India’s quest for high-end technology
For high-end technology, nobody in the world will help you. We have to have our own initiative. This is one area where the country needs to give a lot more thrust. For example, the material gap — on metallic composites or carbon composites or polymeric materials, even sensors, rare earth materials — has been identified as the key area where we need to take up initiatives. Today we have become highly self-sufficient and capable in designing world-class systems whether it is radars, missiles, or sonars, but what we need to strengthen is the sub-system and the components, devices and the raw materials. For the Agni strategic system where we had no option to import, we have gone 85-per-cent indigenous. But similar things have to be done in other areas such as tactical missiles. We require tungsten and other materials which India does not produce. We have to take extra initiative in terms of investment and technology, infrastructure, knowledge generation.
On the role of private sector
Private sector is providing the infrastructure and in many cases they are joining hands with industries abroad but a lot more needs to be done in the private sector in the R&D department. If you see the industrial R&D in the U.S., it is almost 50 per cent of the total R&D expenditure, whereas in India it is very meagre part of it. And most of it is perhaps ceremonial.
On FDI in defence
Let good technology come in, there is no harm. We are not opening up just to get money.
On indigenisation and licensed production
In today’s globalised environment, we have to see what needs to be bought, what needs to be developed and what needs to have transfer of technology. You cannot afford to make everything yourself. It is neither viable nor cost effective in the long-term — and that is where the decision has to be taken.
For example, today in DRDO, if industry can make something, it’s a good thing. We don’t want to start developing [the same thing]. [We] can work on the next higher end products, the higher level of technology. The industry also has to see if something [it is developing] is commercially available at a cheaper price. Life-cycle costs are the critical part. It is not just one-time buying of one thing, the question is how are you going to support it and whether support will be available under all conditions.
For licensed production, if we are able to get good technology that is good. But if it ends with assembling and processes coming from abroad, then we have to see. Again, licensed production for MiGs helped in creating a large infrastructure base and today we are able to go for LCA and other things. To that extent, it has been very helpful. But if you look at the knowledge gained through licensed products, it is a matter of debate. I am not aware of any major system for which we have taken licensed production and then built on it and arrived at a better product. We keep building the same thing, we are not getting the knowledge to build a better system — that is why our licensed production methodologies have to be re-examined. China is doing intelligent reverse engineering and many countries have done that in the past. That is the way of moving forward. 

The Hindu

August 21, 2013

India Defense Ministry Signs Contract for T-90 Missiles

(RIA Novosti) – India’s Defense Ministry has signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited for delivery of T-90 tank missiles manufactured under Russian license to the Indian army, The Hindu daily newspaper reported Tuesday.
Under the contract, estimated at $470 million, the deliveries of the Invar missiles, to be put on T-90 tanks, are to be completed within the next five years.
Invar is a laser-guided antitank missile with a range of five kilometers (three miles) and capability of penetrating explosive reactive armor.
Bharat Dynamics has been manufacturing the missiles in collaboration with Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, the newspaper said.
According to media reports, India is planning to procure 25,000 Invar missiles for its T-90 tanks, including 10,000 to be bought directly from Russia and 15,000 to be manufactured domestically under Russian license.

In Pics: IAF lands C 130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday landed a C130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft at the world's highest airstrip - the Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh.

August 20, 2013

Navy has ordered weapon safety checks on submarines: A K Antony

In wake of the blasts on the INS Sindhurakshak, the Navy has ordered extensive checks on weapon-related safety systems on all its submarines, Defence Minister A K Antony told Lok Sabha.

Making a statement in Lok Sabha on the incident in Mumbai on Saturday, he said preliminary investigations have indicated that the blasts on the submarine were caused by "possible ignition" of armament.

Reading out the statement amid din over coal file issue, he said as the "explosion and resultant damage were near instantaneous, the 18 personnel could not evacuate. Although full details are yet to emerge, the rapidity and intensity of explosion and resultant damage sustained by the submarine indicate that the personnel would not have survived."

"After the accident, the Navy has ordered an audit of Standard operating Procedures (SOPs) on all operational submarines and extensive checks on the weapon-related safety systems," Antony said.

He said "preliminary investigations indicate that the explosion was due to the possible ignition of armament. The cause of ignition is, however, yet to be established. Forensic examination would throw more light into the possible cause of ignition."

He said this would be possible only after the "partially submerged" submarine is afloat and dewatered. "A Board of Inquiry with all relevant specialists has been constituted to investigate the likely causes of the accident at the earliest."

Antony said globally-renowned salvage agencies have been approached and they are undertaking survey for salvage operations.

"There is also an offer of help from Russia, where the refit and upgrade of the submarine had been undertaken," he said.

The Defence Minister said the submarine is presently resting on its bottom and "partially submerged" next to the jetty where the incident took place.

"Diving operations by the Navy are in progress round the clock to attempt search for the personnel, assess the damage and also attempt to arrest leakages and ensure dewatering," he said.

The divers from Navy have entered the submarine but their access has remained limited to only some parts of the submarine due to heavy damage and flooding of compartments with obstructions from debris and structural distortions, Antony said.

The Minister said breaches have been indicated in the "watertight integrity in the forward portion of the submarine hull" after inserting high pressure air as part of efforts to identify possible areas of water ingress.

"Efforts have been made to dewater the flooded compartments using high capacity pumps. However, there has been no discernible change in the water level inside the submarine, indicating likelihood of ingress of water through openings due to structural damage," Antony said.

On the support for families of the submarine's duty crew inside the submarine at the time of accident, he said, "I would like to assure that all support, assistance and counselling will be provided to families of all personnel. A family cell has been formed at the Western Naval Command."

"We convey our deepest condolences to the families of Navy personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty," the Minister said.


Indian Navy MK54 Lightweight Torpedo acoustic Nose Array order placed

Northrop Grumman Corporation has announced receipt of a US Navy contract for the production of acoustic nose arrays for the MK54 lightweight torpedo in support of Navy and foreign military sales requirements. The initial scope is for 428 nose arrays, which can expand to 3000 units. The Foreign countries mentioned in the contract include the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy.
The American Defence Security Cooperation Agency notification to the U.S Congress indicated sale of 35 Mk-54 torpedoes including spares and logistical support to India at a price of $ 86 million. The submarine hunting torpedoes will be deployed by the Indian Navy on its eight P-8I Neptune long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft being acquired from Boeing.
The MK54 can also be deployed from a surface ship, helicopter or fixed wing aircraft to track, classify and attack underwater targets.
The company has produced 550 MK50 lightweight torpedoes and 491 MK48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) heavyweight torpedoes in past. It is also a lead designer for the current MK48 ADCAP Mod 7 Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System upgrade in the early 2000s.


August 18, 2013

Navy may lease Kilo-class subs from Russia

India may explore the possibility of leasing a few kilo-class submarines from Russia, government sources said.
With the INS Sindhurakshak likely to be written off, the navy’s submarine arm will be left with just 13 conventional submarines — two of which are under repair.
And most of them have lived 75% of their operational life.
A navy official said scaling up the capabilities of the submarine fleet was a priority and “all available options” would be explored.
Leasing new submarines from Russia would ultimately be a politico-commercial decision, officials said.
“The navy should lease at least two conventional submarines from Russia as building or buying more may take a lot of time,” former navy chief admiral Arun Prakash said.
The navy’s underwater capabilities are currently at a highly precarious state.
It will be left with merely seven to eight submarines, including a nuclear attack submarine leased from Russia, INS Chakra, in the coming years, as it will phase out the older Russian kilo-class and German HDW Type 209 submarines.
Submarine-induction in the navy has been fraught with time and cost overruns.
Had the government adhered to the original capacity building plan cleared in 1999, the navy should have inducted 12 new conventional submarines by now and an equal number by 2030.
“The last of the submarines of the Sindhugosh-class was inducted in 1999-2000. This shows a big lacuna on part of the government in assessing the situation,” said Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar, one of the country’s leading defence and strategic experts.
Strategic experts claimed that the government was obsessed with designing landbased plans to counter India’s neighbours instead of focusing on the navy.
This despite the fact that the Indian Navy is required to undertake the task of not only protecting the 7,500km-long coastline, but also more than 1,200 islands, and 2.2 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“The Indian Navy is more like a Cinderella Service. It paid a heavy price, because of the inability of bureaucrats and politicians to arrive at the right strategic assessment,” said Bhaskar.


August 17, 2013

INS Sindhurakshak: Navy sticks to ‘accident’ story behind submarine disaster

                                                                                                   photo: ndtv
Preliminary assessments show "a plain and simple accident" in the "fully-loaded" weapons compartment of INS Sindhurakshak, which caused "sympathetic detonation" of some missile and torpedo warheads, probably led to the sinking of the Kilo-class submarine in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Though holding that the board of inquiry (BoI) headed by senior submariner Commodore Deepak Bhist will pinpoint the reason, top naval sources on Friday virtually ruled out hydrogen gas leakage, "a major material failure", or sabotage being responsible for the disaster.

This then leaves "mishandling of ammunition" as the most plausible reason for the massive explosions that even "ejected" a Klub-S cruise missile out of the vessel. Asked about this, the sources said even if "mishandling" was the case, it was "more of an accident" rather than "lack of training or expertise".

"Something could have slipped from someone's hand ... a device could have malfunctioned. We don't know yet since the mangled submarine is still underwater. But the 18 on board were highly-experienced, including three officers and three `underwater weapons specialist' petty officers (junior commissioned officers)," said a source.

INS Sindhurakshak, with a full complement of 18 missiles and torpedoes, was set to sail on "a long deployment patrol" early on Wednesday morning. The submarine's second-in-command or executive officer Lt-Commander Nikhilesh Pal, a bachelor, was on board for the final "prepare sub for sea" when something went drastically wrong.

"The torpedo air flask, which contains compressed pure oxygen, could have exploded due to something even if the exploder mechanism had not been inserted into it. Sympathetic detonation would have followed since the missiles and torpedoes are stacked together in the six tubes and the 12 racks behind them," said the source.

Rejecting hydrogen gas leakage as a "dim possibility", the sources said the 240 lead acid batteries, each weighing around 800kg, on the submarine were "brand new" after its over two-year $156 million refit in Russia.

" Old batteries emit more hydrogen. The maximum amount of hydrogen is emitted while batteries are being charged ... the process had been finished in INS Sindhurakshak over two days before the mishap. Moreover, Hydrogen levels are continuously monitored by duty-watch sailors," he said.

Similarly, the possibility of "a major material failure" is being discounted since the submarine had undergone extensive sea-trials, checks and certification processes after its refit. "INS Sindhurakshak had already finished 1,000 dived hours after the refit. If there was a defect, it would have been detected and rectified during the operations as well as the regular `turning of arms' drills during everything is powered on," he added.

Sabotage also looks "highly-unlikely" because it would require "a long chain of conspirators and insiders" who could get access to the submarine guarded round-the-clock while it was berthed in harbour. "Nothing, of course, can be completely ruled out till the forensic examination of the submarine and the exact sequence of events established during the BoI," he said.
Times of india

August 14, 2013

Explosion, fire on Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai; 18 personnel missing

An Indian Navy submarine caught fire after an explosion and sank here late last night, with the fate of 18 personnel, including three officers, on board uncertain. The explosion resulting in a major fire took place on board INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo class submarine of the Indian Navy, shortly after midnight.

"There are some people who are trapped on board, we are in the process of trying to rescue them, we suspect it to be in the range of 18," said navy spokesman PVS Satish.

"We will not give up until we get to them," Satish said.

Among the missing are three officers, according to Navy sources.

According reports, the submarine has been damaged extensively in the fire, which was brought under control with the help of 16 fire tenders at around 3am.

The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry into the dockyard fire.

Many sailors on board the submarine reportedly jumped off to safety. Some injured sailors were taken to naval hospital INHSAshvini in Colaba.

The cause of the explosion and blaze is still not known.

At least 16 fire tenders of Mumbai Fire Brigade and Mumbai Port Trust were rushed to assist the naval fire brigade to douse the conflagration, the smoke emanating from which could be seen in many parts of south Mumbai.

The blast was first heard ashore by deputy chief fire office PS Rahandale who was on leave and attending a private engagement near the Gateway of India promenade. He immediately alerted the fire brigade and other emergency services.

(With inputs from IANS, Reuters)/Times of india

August 13, 2013

India should contain Pakistan’s adventurism, China’s aggression

At a time when India aspires to become a superpower and a driving economic force of the 21st century, its directionless foreign policy is hurting its own interest. The inability of our politicians to make strong statements on the regular misdemeanours of Pakistan and China has given our hostile neighbours a chance to mock us at will.

The repeated Chinese incursions and ceasefire violations by Pakistan at the Line of Control (LoC) and other parts of the country are fallout of New Delhi’s weak foreign policy and the reluctance of our ruling class to put Beijing and Islamabad to task for their anti-India moves.

Let`s first look at Pakistan, which has been nurturing terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) on its soil to engage India in a proxy war after being repeatedly defeated in full-fledged wars. The ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the infiltration bids along the border have also been on the rise with the Indian Army recently claiming that there has been 80 percent increase in such instances in the recent past. And in spite of taking strong action against Islamabad`s hostile attitude towards India, the Congress-led ruling coalition has been busy placating its allies and trying to save its face in view of its criticism due a number of scams unearthed during its two tenures. At a time when the nation is seething with anger, the ‘chalta hai’ attitude of our politicians is further demoralising our armed forces.

There is an urgent need to review our existing strategy to deal with Pakistan’s adventurism. The situation calls for giving a tactical response to stop the incident like the recent LoC attack and the cowardly design of Pakistan’s notorious spy agency, the ISI, and the beheading of Indian soldier by Pakistani troops earlier this year. The two incidents are of great concern and warrant an immediate change in our foreign policy vis-a-vis Pakistan and China.

The contradictory statements of Defence Minister AK Antony on the killing of five Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army only reflects the insensitivity of our political leaders who appear to be less concerned about national security and people`s sentiments.

Antony had initially told the Parliament that "20 heavily-armed terrorists along with persons in Pakistan Army uniform" were responsible for the killings near the Line of Control. However, after huge uproar from the Opposition, the Defence Minister made a fresh statement saying that a specialist group of the Pakistan Army was involved in the attack and no attack on the Indian Army is possible without the help of the Pakistani Army, adding that the ties with Islamabad will also be reviewed. What apathy for the 1.2 billion plus people where the country’s Defence Minister is unknown of the facts?

Another ugly episode that transpired due to Antony’s statement was the tug of war between the Congress and BJP. The war of words between the two national parties over Antony’s goof up only showed that the political parties here spare no chance to attack its rivals, even if it concerns the country’s security and its integrity.

The biggest problem is that India`s foreign policy is not aimed at strengthening our strategic and national interests, but it is also influenced by the coalition politics, which many times comes in way of formulation of such policies that are required for safeguarding our long-term strategic goals.

In the wake of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressing sorrow over the Loc incident and urging his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to meet and discuss steps for strengthening the bilateral ties, New Delhi should welcome the move, but at the same time ensure that history doesn’t repeats itself and Indian diplomacy does not get outsmarted by the Pakistanis as it has always been. The Indian establishment needs to talk tough this time so that something concrete comes out of the Sharif-Singh meet and issues like cross-border terrorism, ceasefire violation are not put on the back burner.

‘Dragon’ – The biggest challenge

Ironically, when the world is seeing India as an emerging world power and a potent force to take on China, the politicians of this largest democracy are doing nothing to replace China’s “big brother” status in Asia. The political class lacks a clear vision and a roadmap to emerge as a great economic and military superpower. The words and deeds of our diplomats and politicians are often aimed at keeping the `Dragon` happy. They seem to be repeating the same mistake, which our late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did by trusting Beijing and what transpired is a known fact.

China is vastly expanding its military and economy with every passing day and this is an alarming situation for our political administrators, who need to carefully design our response to Beijing. New Delhi urgently needs to warm up to countries like Japan, Vietnam, and Philippines, which have long standing land disputes with Beijing. Getting Japan onboard for investment in various sectors in India will be a huge boost for the latter`s economy. Besides, India should expand its influence in Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South East Asian countries, and give these countries a sense of assurance that China is not the only `power centre` in Asia and together they can check the `Dragon` from rising.

India`s silence on China`s plans to create a dam along the Brahmaputra River, long standing border disputes and Beijing`s unfair trade practices have given the Chinese an upper hand, who consider India`s leadership as weak and indecisive. The continuous incursion of the PLA on the Indian side and New Delhi`s timid response to such aggression only exposes our vulnerability and weakness.

Our defence preparedness has recently taken a surge, but is still far behind China – thanks to our policies formulated by the learned politicians who still want to rely on other countries for importing arms and military hardware – for the reasons they best know.

India should engage with the United States more and take the Indo-US ties to a new high. New Delhi also needs to complement its "Look East policy" with America`s "re-balancing towards Asia". At this crucial juncture when `Uncle Sam` wants to maintain its hegemony in Asia, New Delhi should grab this opportunity and engage more with Washington, if it wants to take on China and Pakistan.


There is a lot of corruption in Indian military contracts

Edmonds Allen, a New York-based businessman, is behind a major investigation into corruption in Indian arms purchases. After working with alleged arms dealer Abhishek Verma, he shocked the Indian defence establishment last year when he sent a bundle of top secret documents to the ministry. The documents dealt with India's proposed military purchases and, according to Allen, all the plans were in the hands of arms dealers. So, were people within the ministry selling the country's procurement plans to global companies? Allen's revelations triggered an international investigation with a joint team of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioning him in New York and the FBI now joining the investigation. The money trail has taken the investigators to the US, the UK and Italy, where top executives of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, were arrested for allegedly paying bribes to swing India's VVIP chopper deal. Allen told THE WEEK that he would like to cooperate with the Indian agencies to expose corruption in defence deals. Excerpts:
What made you become a whistle-blower?
I was introduced to Abhishek Verma [currently in prison in Delhi] by my friends in 2000. He was introduced to me as an influential businessman from a prominent Indian political family. Verma told me he had $200 million stashed away in Europe and wanted someone to handle it. I told him to invest in the US because there you can access the money, unlike in tax havens that were coming under attack from various governments. I got suspicious about his business in 2011, when he directed me to forge documents to defraud an EU businessman, Didier Tytgadt. When I declined, he threatened me. I eventually decided to expose him.
It took you more than 10 years to figu-re out he was doing something illegal?
Yes, it may sound odd. But he is a very smart guy. He has misled so many people, including me.
Has any government agency from India been in touch with you?
I wrote to the office of the Prime Minister, the defence minister and India's investigating agencies. There was a long silence. But then, last year, a team of the CBI and the ED met me in New York. I provided them all the material related to Verma and his illegal dealings. They still approach me whenever they require any further details. The FBI is also investigating the case now.
What is the FBI's role?
The FBI is investigating illegal ties of any American individual or company with Verma and whether they have violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FBI officer at the US embassy in Delhi has also approached me.
Besides Rheinmetall, did any other company offer money to Indian officials to win defence deals?
Other than the AgustaWestland case [the Italian helicopter maker is accused of bribing Indian officials to win a VVIP chopper deal], there is also one involving Greece's Hellenic Defense Systems. There is a lot of corruption in military contracts in India. Verma would often ask me to wire money from New York for unknown reasons. In the Hawker Beechcraft deal, he brought me to India only after he had finalised the deal. It was June 2010 and I visited India for three days. I stayed at his farmhouse in Delhi. He introduced me to top executives of Hawker and we had a meeting at the Oberoi hotel. He then hosted a big party at his farmhouse in the evening where there were many Russian hookers. A number of Indian military officials were also present.

Who else was there?
I don't remember their names. There was an air vice marshal rank officer and there were others from the air force and the army, too. I don't know whether they were serving or retired but they were very comfortable with the setting. Verma's Romanian girlfriend [now wife] Anca Neacsu was also there. She is a smart woman. She used to visit offices of senior officials in India's defence and home ministries and shot secret videos as "proof" of her husband's high connections.
Was American defence firm SIG Sauer also associated with Verma?
Verma was keen to fix a deal for SIG Sauer. He knew about the company's interest in India. SIG Sauer is a big company that manufactures rifles, carbines and pistols. He created a joint venture with SIG Sauer and the firm paid him $50,000 to bribe some people in India to swing the procurement deal for sniper rifles in its favour. He was also trying to approach General Dynamics. But somehow that did not work. The problem is that India has become an attractive market for military companies. There is big money involved.
Besides you, who else was working for Verma in the US?
I don't think he had any employees here. He used to approach people directly through email and phone calls. He has a close friend in New Jersey called Paul Parmar. All I know is that he [Parmar] is from India and made it quite big here. He started as a property dealer and soon became one of the country's super rich. He is often in the news for purchasing big property. He recently bought a house worth $10 million. He is currently being investigated by the FBI.
How did you get hold of hundreds of secret documents related to India's military procurement?
I got them from Verma. He would often email me details and seek wire transfers for the consultancy services. I have provided the documents to the CBI and I was informed that these were secret and should not have been out in public. The documents dealt with sensitive procurement proposals.
Among the documents, were there references to the anti-tank missile?
Yes, there were documents related to India's military proposal to procure anti-tank gun missiles. Verma shared them with foreign defence firms. The documents had details about the shortage of anti-tank missiles in the Army, the precise nature of requirement and the quantity of missiles and launchers. I have shared the details with the CBI.
Does Congress leader Jagdish Tytler figure in the documents?
I think Tytler got trapped. He was keen to do business for his son. But Verma cheated him somehow.
But Tytler has denied his son's association with Verma.
That is not true. His son Siddartha Tytler was working with Verma. He was keen to establish a  telecom business with American companies and he was seeking Verma's help. They worked together with a Cyprus-based company, Corewip Limited, to establish a joint venture called GT Telecom. Tytler once spoke to me on the phone. I don't remember whether he spoke about this telecom venture.
Are you ready to depose in court?
I'm ready to depose before any court.
Will you come to India to join the investigation?
I cannot come to India because I fear for my safety and life. Verma is a dirty guy. I do not need to go to India as I have made myself available to Indian investigating agencies. That is why CBI was here last year.

The week

Indian Army free to hit back on Kashmir border: Antony

Indian armed forces can respond "appropriately" if and when the Pakistani military violates the ceasefire on the Jammu and Kashmir border, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Monday.
"The armed forces have the freedom to respond to the developing situation appropriately," Antony told reporters here.
Antony was here for the launch of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant.
Five Indian soldiers were killed when Pakistani troops sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir and ambushed an army patrol last week.
Defence officials said Pakistan troops violated the 2003 ceasefire thrice since Sunday, firing at Indian positions from across the border.
Pakistan Rangers fired at a Border Security Force (BSF) post at Kanachak in Jammu district, injuring a BSF trooper.

August 12, 2013

Pakistan violates ceasefire again; nightlong firing from across LoC in Poonch

 Escalating border tension, Pakistani troops on Monday violated the ceasefire for the fifth time in the last three days by targeting forward Indian posts along the LoC in Poonch district with mortar shells, rockets and small arms firing.

Indian troops, guarding the borderline, took positions and retaliated resulting in heavy exchanges.

"Pakistan troops opened heavy firing with small arms, mortar shells and rockets on Indian forward posts along LoC in Poonch and Durga Battalion areas around 0150 hours", defence spokesman S N Acharya said today.

"It was yet another ceasefire violation by Pakistan", the Spokesman said, adding the firing took place from 0150 hours till 0600 hours.

There was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the Pakistani firing, Acharya said.

Pakistani troops fired at 11 posts in Digwar, Mankote and Durga Battalion areas along the LoC in Poonch.

This is fifth ceasefire violation by Pakistan troops in the past three days.

Pakistani troops had fired at Durga Battalion area with small arms firing and mortars along LoC in Poonch around 2150 hours last night. The firing continued for three hours and Army troops from this side retaliated, he said.

Pakistan troops had also opened small arms firing at Indian posts in Balakote-Mendhar forward belt of Poonch district around 1130 hours yesterday, Army officials had said, adding that Indian troops fired back resulting in exchanges for four hours.

There was no loss of life or damage to property in the firing.

A BSF jawan was injured in Pakistani firing at a forward Posts along the Indo-Pakistan border at around 0830 hrs yesterday.

"There was sniper firing from Pakistani side along the international border (IB) on three posts including Alfa Machial Border Out Post (BOP) area in Kanachak belt of Jammu district" a senior BSF officer had said.

In the firing, BSF Jawan Pawan Kumar received bullet injuries in his chest and legs. The jawan has been paralysed as the bullet pierced his spinal cord, doctors at GMC hospital said, adding that he has been referred to the AIIMS in the national capital.

On Saturday last, Pakistani troops had targeted several Indian Posts by firing 7000 rounds of ammunition and mortar shells along LoC in Poonch district.

Earlier, Head Constable BSF Ram Niwas Meena of 200th Battalion was injured in snipper firing on Narainpur BoP area in Samba district along IB on August 5. Meena succumbed to his injuries yesterday

On August six, a group of 20 heavily armed men led by Pakistani troops had entered 450 metres into the Indian territory in the Poonch sector and ambushed a patrol killing five Indian soldiers.

There have been 57 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops this year from January one to August 5, which is 80 per cent more than the corresponding period last year.


China’s “All-Weather” Threat to India

A recent Toby Dalton op-ed discussed the role that China may have played (and may continue to play) in Pakistan’s nuclear program. Dalton argued that, apart from the specifics of the dispute, relations between Pakistan and China need to be understood in context of growing strategic tension between China and India.
This is nothing new.  China and Pakistan have seen each other as (semi-) reliable allies since the 1950s, when tensions between China and India grew over Tibet and other issues. With the increasing strategic complexity associated with growing Chinese and Indian military power, however, the relationship takes on multiple new dimensions. The Pakistan-China-India triangle (with, as Dalton notes, one antagonistic, one competitive, and one cooperative leg) is embedded within a larger set of triangular relationships, including Japan, Russia, and the United States.
Pakistan is, in an important sense, Beijing’s answer to every step India takes to expand its influence in the South China Sea. To the extent that India evinces a willingness to either support the aspirations of China’s smaller neighbors (such as Vietnam) or ally with China’s more serious antagonists (such as Japan and the United States), China can respond by increasing the size and sophistication of its arms shipments to Pakistan, as well as supporting Pakistan in various international fora.
And in the end, India has no good answer for China’s support of Pakistan; it cannot blockade Pakistan, cannot peel it away from Beijing, cannot plausibly change the regime, and cannot likely find an ally as willing and capable of irritating China as Pakistan is of India. As Anatol Lieven has argued, while the current Pakistani regime has great difficult exerting control over its own territory, it sits upon a network of social relations sufficiently robust as to not seriously fear being overthrown.
Of course, Pakistan could certainly reconsider whether it can do better than act as a Chinese bargaining chip in the Sino-Indian relationship. There are limits on the extent to which China can dial up or dial down Pakistan’s threat profile towards India; as Pakistan found in 1971, friendship with China can’t immunize it from Indian power. And although Pakistani relations with the United States are at a low point, stronger relations with Beijing seem hardly likely to improve the situation.
China may also eventually find itself constrained with respect to policy in Afghanistan.  The nature of the post-withdrawal peace in Afghanistan is of great interest to both India and Pakistan, and both seem willing to devote resources to their preferred players. While China has expressed interest in Afghan resources, what it most wants is stability, which may come into conflict with Pakistani preferences.
But as other strategic triangles have shown, the balance between the cooperative and competitive legs of strategic trianges can change on short notice. Ironically, US rapprochement with China in the early 1970s may have made both less capable of aiding Pakistan, as it embedded the Indo-Pakistan relationship within the larger Cold War struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. And as India continues to build “cooperative” legs with partners such as Russia, the United States, and Japan, the utility of the triangle may become steadily more tenuous for Beijing.


India to launch its 1st indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant today

India will launch its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant on Monday. It is the biggest warship to be built by India and will also mark India's entry into a select club of countries capable of designing and building a carrier of this size.
The launch will take place in Cochin making an entry into a select club of countries capable of designing and building a carrier of this size and capability. India is now only the fifth county worldwide to build a ship of this size besides the US, the UK, Russia and France.
Defence Minister AK Antony's wife Elizabeth will launch the 37,500 tonne carrier at Kochi shipyard close to four-and-a-half years after its keel was laid by the minister.

The launch will mark the end of the first phase of its construction and it will then be re-docked for outfitting and construction of superstructure. It is set to go for extensive trials in 2016 before being inducted into the Navy by 2018 end, as per its schedule.
Mig29K, Light Combat Aircraft and Kamov 31 could fly from the carrier. The launch would be the "crowning glory" of Indian Navy's indigenisation programme, said Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan, the Vice-Chief of Naval Staff.
Apart from domestic design and manufacturing work, it is the high grade warship steel made by the Steel Authority of India Limited which has been used for building the ship.
The indigenous component in the warship would be approximately anywhere between 80 and 90 per cent in floating department, up to 60 per cent in movement and not more than 30 per cent in fighting component of the carrier.
The ship, which will be a length of 260 meter and breadth of 60 meter, has been designed by Directorate of Naval Design and is being built at Cochin Shipyard Limited.
Its production work had commenced in November 2006.

Ibnlive /PTI

August 10, 2013

Nuclear reactor on INS Arihant goes critical; huge step forward for India's N-triad

Moving towards completing its nuclear triad, India on Friday night activated the atomic reactor on-board the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant paving way for its operational deployment by the Navy soon.

Top government sources told NDTV that all systems of the indigenously made nuclear reactor are "go" and the submarine will soon be launched to sea on the Eastern coast.

"We are gearing up for the sea trials of Arihant," the then Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat had told reporters in May.

Nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. After the nuclear reactor is activated, the agencies concerned can work towards readying the warship for operational deployments soon.

According to earlier reports, the DRDO has also readied a medium-range nuclear missile BO-5 for deployment on the Arihant and its last developmental trial was held on January 27 off the coast of Vishakhapatnam.

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.

The nuclear submarine will help India achieve the capability of going into high seas without the need to surface the vessel for long durations.

Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to come up on surface at regular intervals for charging the cells of the vessel.