September 30, 2013

49 drones to keep an eye on China and Pakistan borders

Stepping up surveillance along the tense border of China and Pakistan, the Indian Army is equipping its troops with hand-held drones. It has floated a request for proposal for acquiring 49 mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) last month, which the army feels will be a “game changer,” like they have been for the allied forces in AfPak.
The imminent threat posed by India’s two inimical neighbours China and Pakistan has in recent years forced a rethink on India’s defense preparedness. The cabinet committee on security recently cleared an army proposal to create 72,000-strong Mountain Strike Corp, which will be deployed in the eastern sector facing China. The armed forces, it appears, also wants to send a clear signal to both the neighbours. Recently the Indian Air Force in a show of strength landed its C130J Super Hercules at the DBO in Ladakh — the world’s highest airstrip.
The army top brass feels the hand-held drones, which will be unarmed and used mainly for surveillance purposes will give it a “strategic edge” and “reduce costs” in manning high altitude and difficult terrains. To begin with, the UAVs will be employed in Leh and Ladakh sector (Northern Command) to keep an eye on Chinese activities and check terrorist infiltration from across PoK.
In April, the Indian Army was in for major embarrassment when there was Chinese incursion two days after PLA troops had set up makeshift posts. Since the perception of the Line of Actual Control differs widely on both sides of the Sino-Indian border, Indian and Chinese troops have often found themselves in the awkward situation of being face-to-face with each other while patrolling. “Also considering the sheer length of our borders, a patrolling party may not return to a particular point for days together,” said a senior army officer.
That situation will now change as the brand new UAVs will be able to provide real time data of any movement in a radius of at least 10 kilometers. “The mini drones will be fitted with high resolution cameras, including infra-red, for night surveillance. They weigh less than 10 kilograms and can be transported on the shoulders. They will also be equipped with recording devices and sensors for detecting movement,” a senior army officer told dna.  The army has asked for UAVs, which should be able to work with at least one of the commonly used digital map formats. And interestingly, these UAVs should be able to work with Google Maps downloaded from the Internet.
The drones will be propelled by electric motor and will thus be “literally noise-free” once they attain a height of 500 metres above ground level. “That will also help them avoid detection,” an officer said. The ceiling for these hi-tech machines will be “1,000 metres above ground level,” with a cruise speed of over 70kmph. “The system should be sturdy and robust, which should be capable of withstanding day-to-day handling and usage by soldiers under combat conditions,” the army’s proposal claims.
So far, the Indian experience with drones/UAVs has been limited to the much bigger machines that are handled by the Indian Air Force - which is operating about 100 Searcher-II and 60 Heron UAVs - both from Israeli stables. India is also in the process of developing indigenous UAVs like Nishant and Rustom.


September 27, 2013

6 aircraft, 37 helicopters and more on PM's $ 5 billion shopping list in US

India is set to buy American defence equipment worth five billion US dollars and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who left for the United States today, is carrying a long shopping list.

Among the hardware that India is looking to purchase are six additional C-130 J Hercules Medium Lift Aircraft, 22 Apache Attack Helicopters, 15 Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopters and about 140 M-777 ultra-light towed Howitzers. Contracts for all of these are expected to be signed before the current financial year is over.

The US-made Apache Attack helicopters will replace India's ageing fleet of Russian-made M-35 helicopters and will cost India about $1.4 billion.

Although the US lost the $15 billion tender for the supply of Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft or MMRC to France in 2011, it has in the last decade sold weapons systems worth $8 billion to India and is poised to edge out Russia and Israel as New Delhi's biggest defence equipment suppliers.

The US has recently proposed co-producing aircraft like the C-130 J Hercules and the number of joint military exercises that India has carried out with the US in the last 10 years too now exceeds those with traditional defence partners like Russia, UK and France.

It was perhaps this apparent closeness that provoked Victor Komaradin, who headed a Russian delegation at Aero-India 2013, to observe that "although Russia has virtually created Indian Defence industries in the 1960's and 70's, little attention is being given to the Russian contribution in building India's defence capabilities."

The big purchase order also underscores the fact that despite claiming to be a regional power, India still imports about 70 per cent of all its weapons and equipment.

According to a March 2013 report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - an independent research body that specialises in conflict and arms sales - New Delhi replaced Beijing as the world's top arms importer accounting for 12 per cent of global arms transfers between 2008 and 2012. China accounted for about six per cent.


September 26, 2013

Russia offers one-year guarantee for aircraft-carrier

INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), the $2.33 billion Russia-built aircraft carrier which will be delivered to Indian Navy on November 15 after a delay of nearly five years, will only have a one-year guarantee.
Victor M. Komardin, Deputy Director-General of Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-owned arms exporter, told media persons here that during the guarantee period, a team of Russian engineers would be stationed in India to take care of “every single screw of the ship.”
Komardin said the warship which would be handed over at the Sevmash shipyard near Moscow, will arrive in Mumbai in February.
Asked about retrofitting the ship with LR-SAM (long-range surface to air missiles) being built jointly by India and Israel, he said Vikramaditya was already an Indian Navy’s asset and that the Navy was free to do whatever it wanted to. But it would have to conform to the Russian design parameters.

Arms supplies

Komardin said for Russia defence co-operation and arms supplies are a part of its politics of friendship. “For us, politics comes first, then comes economics,” he stressed. Though regimes had changed in Russia, politics had not. Indo-Russian exports and imports had been going up every year all along. Russia’s engagement with Indian industry was much stronger and wider than other countries,” he claimed.
He said India and Russia were “genetically friendly” and that the Russian side wanted to carry on the current defence co-operation. He noted that though Russia had traditionally been India’s largest supplier of defence requirements, India was now increasingly sourcing its needs outside of Russia.
He said Russia appreciated India’s efforts to indigenise defence production. 

 Hindu Business Line

September 25, 2013

Navy likely to buy Japanese amphibious aircraft US-2

Japanese firm ShinMaywa Industries is eyeing the Indian Navy for the sale of its amphibious search and rescue aircraft, US-2.
At the NAMEXPO-2013 here, Kanji Ishimaru, who heads ShinMaywa’s aircraft division, told ‘Express’ that they were awaiting the RFP (Request For Proposal) from the Indian Navy.
Ishimaru said they have been working out various options, including possible joint ventures, subcontracting and formulating consortium, to deal with the mandatory 30 per cent offset.
“Matters related to pricing, repair, maintenance and overhaul can be worked out only after the RFP is issued. Being an amphibious aircraft which can be used for search and rescue, disaster management and relief operations, the ShinMaywa US-2 will be a force multiplier for the Indian Navy,” he said. The aircraft, with its amphibious nature, can give access to isolated islands without a runway, pointed out Yasuo Kawanishi, general manager, business development, aircraft division, ShinMaywa.
Access to much further places than helicopters, high speed and ultra-low speed flight by the boundary layer control system are some key features. Realising its potential during his recent visit to Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a decision along with his Japanese counterpart “on setting up a joint working group to explore modality for cooperation on the US-2 amphibian aircraft”.
It was in 2011 that the RFI (Request For Information) was sought, said Ishimaru. “There are a lot of things to be worked out. Once the RFP is issued, we will get only three months to sort out matters, including the final pricing, how many aircraft would be required and so on.
Currently, ShinMaywa delivers US-2 to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) at $100 million. However pricing for the Indian version could be finalised based on the final requirements only,” Ishimaru said.
Dealing with the 30 per cent mandatory offset would be another major issue to be worked out.
Though RFI has been issued for nine US-2 aircraft, the numbers would be finalised at the time of RFP only.   Apart from the Indian Navy, the Air Force and Coast Guard have also expressed interest in US-2, he added.

Vikramaditya “significant capability-enhancer” for Indian Navy- Commodore Berry

In this exclusive interview, Commodore Suraj Berry, who will take charge of the INS Vikramaditya, talks about the refurbishment of the aircraft carrier and its recent trials, Indo-Russian naval cooperation and his career in the Indian Navy. 

Commodore Berry, can you tell us something about the interaction between the Russian and Indian Naval crews during the trials of the INS Vikramaditya”?
The interaction and professional understanding between the Russian and Indian Navy has been very good and has stood the test of time over decades. A sizable percentage of Indian Naval personnel have been in Russia for various projects in the past and fostered strong bonds of friendship and mutual respect. The bilateral exercise, ‘Indra’ conducted annually between the two navies reflects the good and warm relations and is a testimony of our commitment to each other.
The 12th Crew under the command of Captain Ist Rank Igor Vaisilivich Raybko and the Indian commissioning crew have fostered close bonding during the course of trials. Whilst both the crew may not be proficient in the languages, the understanding is perfect and both crews joined hands in all evolutions onboard and have imbibed a good sense of mutual understanding.
The joint planning/ coordination group of the crew along with the Brigade Staff are responsible for the successful conduct of trials. Similarly, the joint working group on training has done a marvellous job in creating a unique concurrent trials and training programme onboard. Onboard we undertake evolutions for trials, working side by side on the main propulsion plant, power generation/ distribution systems, radio electronic aids, handling movement of aircraft on deck, anchoring/ mooring to the buoy, tasks with boats.
Our cooperation also extends to mutual participation in sports and cultural activities onboard. Both crews jointly celebrated the Russian Navy Day and Independence Day of India with flags of both countries flying side by side on the mast in 2012 and in 2013. This truly epitomized the jointness, mutual feeling of respect and understanding between the two crews. We are thankful for the professionalism of the Russian Navy and the support that they have rendered to us during each phase of the trials.
How do you assess the work carried out by “Sevmash” during repair and re-equipment of the ship?
Project 11430 is an extremely unique and possibly the only one of its kind in the world, wherein a Heavy Aircraft Carrying Cruiser has been converted into a STOBAR aircraft carrier. The magnitude, quantum and quality of work undertaken by Sevmash is simply an engineering marvel and exhibits world class technological prowess of the shipyard. Despite numerous challenges during the R&R, Sevmash along with all its subcontractors and NDB have created a truly reliable, robust and highly capable combat worthy platform.

The fact that during sea trials part I in 2012, the ship sailed continuously for 100+ days after a 17-year long gap without any major breakdowns or incidents, is indicative of the high quality of work undertaken by Sevmash. The failure of brick work in the boilers was an unfortunate setback last year. During sea trials part II in 2013, the performance of these boilers has been excellent and as per the design parameters. This truly reflects the capability of Sevmash Shipyard. Thorough, comprehensive and painstaking work undertaken by the professional work force, both ladies and men, of the shipyard to make this ship a reality, is highly praiseworthy.
What difficulties had to be encountered during the ship modernisation? How were they overcome?
The scope and scale of repairs and modernisation work for this project has been enormous and would be difficult to comprehend. The initial envisaged work included modification of flight deck to include a ski-jump, arresting and restraining gear; modification of numerous systems and installation of new generation equipment /systems/ sensors. In addition, upgradation/ replacement of a number of other equipment and complete re-cabling.
As work commenced, the scope increased significantly beyond that initially envisaged, necessitating re-negotiations that consequently led to time and cost revision. The phase between Jan–Nov 2007 was indeed challenging for both the countries. Each country not only displayed their commitment to the time-tested friendly relations, but also the willingness to resolve the situation through deliberations in the best interest acceptable to both nations. The positive approach of the Indian Side was the mainstay for continued belief in the project by both sides. Thereafter, the work once again commenced in full earnest and there was no looking back.
During sea trials part I in 2012, ship’s boilers experienced defects that required repairs. Despite the problems, the ship completed a large part of her flight trials successfully and returned to the Shipyard. This has been the only setback in the trials phase. Post repairs the ship has now been at sea for more nearly 50 days and progressing trials satisfactorily. All in all the ship is as good as new, the hull is in excellent condition and would serve the Indian Navy well for many decades.
Is it difficult to master the ship, taking over control over her from the seamen of Russian Navy Crew? What difficulties were encountered on this way?
Each time the Indian Navy acquired an aircraft carrier, it was a big induction, it is no different this time except the fact that this ship is the largest one to be acquired by the Indian Navy thus far. Displacing nearly 45,000 tonnes, the ship is indeed big.

The advanced equipment and state of the art systems present peculiarities of handling and mastering. The Indian Navy selected well-qualified personnel with adequate experience at sea and these personnel were put through an intense, well crafted and excellent training programme by the Russian Navy. The methodology of training has suitably enabled all the Indian crew to imbibe the intricacies of operating and maintaining the ship.
The experience of participating in the sea trials and practical training onboard has provided the crew excellent opportunity to learn by observing the Russian specialists. Having been afforded the opportunity to steer the ship, anchor and manoeuvre her, I must say that the ship has excellent handling characteristics and steers much like a frigate belying its size. The power and manoeuvrability provide great flexibility in its operation.
Backed with experience of operating aircraft carriers and other helicopter carrying platforms, the Indian crew has been able to seamlessly gain hands on experience on the equipment fitted onboard. The close association and mutual understanding with Russian crew has paved the way for a smooth transition for the Indian crew during trials and training, overcoming challenges and progressing towards independent operation of the ship.
What place do you think Vikramaditya will take in the line of the Indian Navy ships after it is accepted into the scope of the Navy?
In keeping with the vision and maritime doctrine of the Navy, the ship will be part of the Western Fleet to fulfil its envisaged role in the order of battle of the Indian Navy. The good endurance, high speeds of operation, excellent sea keeping and tested combat capability would enable the ship to herald a capability based transformation at sea.

The ship would be central to the carrier task force exercising core capabilities and operational tasks in keeping with the aims of the Indian Navy. This platform would facilitate operational training for the present and future generations of our naval aviators, including the fighter pilots, to enable them for combat missions from similar or larger decks. We would be able to effectively discharge all envisaged roles to ensure secure, stable and peaceful seas and preserving our national interests in the maritime domain. The challenges and responsibilities of the Indian Navy have always been significant and our government accords special attention to induction of maritime capability that would ensure unhindered economic development and national progress. In this aspect this ship along with its integral fighters and helicopters as part of the Indian Fleet would definitely be a significant capability-enhancer.
Commodore Berry, can you tell us something about yourself? Onboard what ships did you serve before Vikramaditya? Is the aircraft carrier an important milestone in your naval career? What feelings do you have when standing at bridge controlling such a mighty ship?
Hailing from a services family, I joined the Indian Naval Academy and was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1987. During the last 26 years, the Indian Navy has provided me opportunity to serve both at sea and ashore and I have been immensely fortunate to serve at sea for a large part of my service career.
Being a Gunnery and Missile warfare specialist, my sea duty tenures have been onboard different ships, I have had the honour and privilege of being the commissioning crew of INS Delhi – a Project 15 destroyer and commanding INS Nirbhik - a Project 1241 missile vessel, Karmuk – a Project 16 guided missile corvette and Talwar - Project 1135.6 frigate.
Whilst ashore, tenures of duty positioned me at Headquarters Western Naval Command, Operations Officer of Rubez-E - the Mobile Missile Coastal Battery, Defence Adviser at Sri Lanka and Maldives, Directorate of Staff Requirements at the Naval Headquarters and Naval Assistant to the Chief of the Naval Staff. I attended the Naval Staff Course at the US Naval War College, Rhode Island.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been entrusted the command of this magnificent ship. While standing on the bridge and flight deck, I am conscious of this immense responsibility, trust and honour that has been bestowed upon me by the Indian Navy and my nation. The task of commissioning the ship and ensuring readiness of the crew for conduct of safe and efficient operational tasking along with flying is a challenge.
Effective planning, thorough professional training, creation of efficient operating procedures, high safety standards, institution of sound management and good administration principles along with the time honoured traditions, customs and discipline would effectively pave the way for the success of my team. The large number of officers and personnel of my crew are some of the finest professionals of our Navy and I am indeed very fortunate to be part of this team and their shipmate.
Can you compare the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier with the INS Viraat? In what fields are there significant differences between them?
Viraat in its previous avatar as Hermes was commissioned in the Royal Navy in 1959 and later transferred to the Indian Navy in 1987. Viraat, has flown the flag of the Indian Navy with distinction for the past 26 years and has been central to the concept of carrier operations in the Indian Navy. The contribution of Viraat to our navy is unparalleled. The displacement and overall dimensions of Vikramaditya are much more than Viraat. The larger size translates into enhanced capability due to the increased number of aircraft that can operate from onboard. Moreover, the two carriers belong to different categories, Viraat is a STOVL (Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing) carrier whilst Vikramaditya a STOBAR (Short Takeoff but Arrested Recovery). The two ships have been built around different ‘concepts’ and it would be inappropriate to compare the two, especially since both the ships have served their countries of origin with distinction in their previous forms. Viraat has established a legacy in the Indian Navy and I am sure Vikramaditya will be no different.

It is known that India is building her own development aircraft carriers (IAC, Project 71). How can the experience of construction, acceptance, setting into operation and initial operation of INS Vikramaditya affect the progress of the Indian aircraft carrier program?
The Indian Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the form of a Warship Overseeing Team at Severodvinsk since the inception of Project 11430. A large number of IN personnel have been since associated with the project. Having been associated with the various facets of refitting, reequipping, modernisation, trials and acceptance, the Indian Navy has accumulated considerable experience which is also providing valuable inputs for our development of the IAC Project. The cooperation received from our Russian friends at Sevmash, NDB, various OEMs has been significant and has added to our expertise in building such a complex ship. The conclusion of trials and operationalisation of Vikramaditya will be an enriching experience for the Indian Navy which will stand us well for our indigenous programme in the years to come.
What are the main tasks facing you as the Commanding Officer of the ship for the nearest, mid-term and farther perspective?
Since early 2012, numerous activities are being progressed concurrently and now with just days left for commissioning the focus is well defined. The crew had planned and organised the tasks over the entire period into various phases. The phase we are presently in is the Trials and Onboard Practical Training Phase. The two immediate and immensely important tasks for the Indian crew are, firstly to successfully complete the ship/flight trials and secondly progress Onboard Practical Training to suitably enable the ship’s crew to seamlessly takeover all the systems and control of the ship to operate and maintain the independently.
The next is the Pre-Commissioning and Commissioning Phase whilst the preparations for the maiden passage would progress concurrently. Plans for these activities are already in progress. The mid and long term phase is the Aircraft Operationalisation and Integration Phase. In this phase the various aircraft and helicopters that are envisaged to operate from onboard would be integrated with the ship in India. This would also include the Deck Landing Qualification of MiG pilots. The last phase is the Induction into the Fleet. This is the culmination of years of work and the vision of our navy
wherein the actual combat exploitation of the ship would be realized. As you can see, the immediate period and the future have very interesting and challenging times in store. I am sure that with the highly motivated and professional crew, and support of my naval headquarters and home command, the ship would meet all its assigned tasks and goals.


September 24, 2013

Anti-tank Nag missile 'Helina's' trial conducted

The second land-to-land preliminarily trial of 'fire and forget' third generation anti-tank Nag missile's upgraded land version — 'Helina' — was carried out on Sunday at the Pokhran field firing range. The target was fired in the presence of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and army officials. The missile hit the target successfully.

Defence sources said, "For hitting the target, a launching pad was made in Pokhran field firing range. Helina's target was set 7km from the launching pad. The target was fired from launching pad and was hit successfully."

Before this, air-to-ground preliminarily trials of anti-tank Nag missile's air version of 'Helina' were conducted on October 21, 2011, which were unsuccessful.

"The range of the land version will be extended by development of a mast-mounted missile launcher that is hydraulically raised to a height of 5 metres to enable the missile to acquire its targets up to a distance of 7-8km. An air-launched, 10-km range variant will be launched from tactical interdiction aircraft like the upgraded Jaguar IS. It has a nose-mounted mill metric-wave active radar seeker," sources said.

Defence sources said, "The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) will also start working on the 'man portable' Nag soon. It would weigh less than 14kg. It is being developed as per user requirements and will see upgraded propulsion to enable 'Helina' to strike enemy armour at a distance of 7-8km."

Nag is a third generation 'fire-and-forget' anti-tank missile developed in India. It is one of the five missile systems developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). Nag has been developed at a cost of Rs 300 crore. Its land version is presently undergoing trials in Chandan field firing range in Pokhran.

Nag is also configured to be used on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). This version is known as Helina (HELIcopter launched NAg). Eight missiles are carried in two quadruple launchers. Launchers mounted on either side are linked to a nose-mounted stabilized thermal sight and a laser range-finder package.

'Helina' with a range of 7-8km, will be launched from twin-tube stub wing-mounted launchers on board the armed HAL Dhruv and HAL Light Combat Helicopter produced by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The first ground launches of the missiles were conducted in October 2011 during which the missile was launched onto the target. While the missile was in flight, a second target was chosen for the missile to hit, which was successfully destroyed. This demonstrated the capability of the missile to lock onto and hit another target while in flight. A two-way RF command-video data link has been released which is intended to be fired from HAL ALH.

"Nag missile has a top attack capability. The 'Helina' version will use a 'lock-on after launch' system extending its range to 7km. In this scenario, the missile is launched in the general direction of the target. As it approaches the target, images of the area ahead are sent back to the operator who will be able to identify enemy tanks. The command to lock onto a tank is then passed onto the seeker through an uplink mid-flight. After that, the missile homes in onto the target and destroys it," sources said. 
  - Times of india

US, India may go for joint production of military gear

India and the US will explore ways to expand defence ties "beyond a buyer-seller relationship to a joint partnership in design, development and production" when the top leaders of the two countries meet this week in Washington DC.

India and the US will explore ways to expand defence ties "beyond a buyer-seller relationship to a joint partnership in design, development and production" when the top leaders of the two countries meet this week in Washington DC.
Future defence projects between the two countries are expected to include both co-development and co-production.
The Obama administration, ahead of Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit, has offered India collaboration in its Javelin Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM) project, apart from proposing to give access to latest defence technologies which Washington has made available only to its closest allies, reported by FE earlier.
The only defence procurement proposal likely to be signed with the US during the September 27 meeting is the Indian order for six additional C-130J military aircraft costing around $ 1.5 billion.
Though the MoD was silent on the military technologies that the US offered at the meeting, the US had reportedly listed the offers, such as the Javelin ATGM, in a letter to the defence ministry
According to MEA officials, “India is interested in intensifying cooperation between its home ministry and the US Department of Homeland Security to "enhance capacity building, in policing of large cities, partnerships in security technologies, combating counterfeit currency and in securing ports, airports and land border terminals”.
"Jargons such as 'transformation', 'next step in strategic partnership', 'from buyer-seller to joint development relationship' frequently used by our experts notwithstanding, the India-US defence relations have witnessed one-sided development, heavily favouring the US in the last few years. More specifically, within the larger defence relations, it is the defence industrial partnership, which has created much discomfort for both countries, “ observed Deba Mohanty, chairman & chief knowledge officer, Indicia Research & Advisory (IRA).
“Despite all tall claims, it is a fact that all of India's military acquisitions from the US have been under FMS route, effectively ruling out any meaningful sharing of technology or knowledge to India.”
As US deputy defence secretary Ashton Carter recently said: "They (India) don't want to just buy our stuff. They want to build our stuff with us and they want to develop new things with us, and they want to do research with us."
“Even industry-to-industry partnership between the two countries have actually been held hostage to respective domestic exports and industrial laws as well as international regimes. When the impression is that we are engaged much deeply than ever with the Americans, the existing ground reality is that defence industrial relationship has still been a 'buyer-seller' one and unless rules of engagement are drastically remodeled to bring in mutual benefits, a joint-production and joint- development defence industrial model is likely to remain a dream. This suits the Americans for obvious reasons" pointed out Mohanty.
The two sides want to streamline their administrative processes and make bilateral defence trade more responsive and effective.
The C-130J from the Lockheed Martin stable will be bought as part of a government-to-government agreement between India and the US signed in February 2008 for R5,500 crore.


September 23, 2013

Indian Navy receives first Hawk Jet Trainer

The Indian Navy has received the first of 17 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers, becoming the third naval operator of the Hawk along with the US Navy and the Royal Navy.
The 17 Hawk aircraft ordered by the Indian Navy form part of a contract for 57 aircraft signed in 2010 of which 40 are for the Indian Air Force.
Among its 18 customers worldwide, India is the largest operator of the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer with 123 aircraft ordered to date, of which over 70 have been delivered to the Indian Air Force. Hawk trainers already in service with the Indian Air Force are performing well.
Adding to the Indian Navy’s fleet of aircraft, the Hawk provides the ideal platform for pilots to transition smoothly to the Navy’s frontline aircraft. Hawk effectively integrates air and ground based elements offering the most efficient and cost-effective method of training pilots. 


September 20, 2013

Saab receives orders on self-protection system for the Indian Advanced Light Helicopter

 Defence and security company Saab (STO:SAABB) has received two orders from Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL), India, for serial production of an integrated electronic warfare self-protection system for installation on the Indian Army's and Air force's Advanced Light Helicopter. The orders have a total value of approximately SEK 216 million (USD 33 million).
Saab's Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) protects crew and aircraft and enhances the survivability in sophisticated, diverse and dense threat environments. The system provides a timely warning against different types of threats including radar, laser and missile approach warning; and automatically deploys the appropriate countermeasures.
"Saab has an unbeaten capability in the field of electronic warfare and self-protection. The IDAS system is one of our flagship products sold to customers around the world," says Micael Johansson, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab's business area Electronic Defence Systems.
These orders follow initial serial production orders received in 2008 and further established Saab as a local partner to the Indian Industry and provider of high tech products and systems to the Indian Armed Forces.
"With these orders we continue to build on our very successful partnership with HAL. The fact that HAL and the Armed Forces have continued to show faith in the IDAS system is a testimony of the effectiveness and reliability of the solution," says Lars-Olof Lindgren, Head of Market Area Saab India.
Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2014. Development and production of the IDAS system will take place at Saab in Centurion, South Africa (Saab Grintek Defence).
The system has a long and successful history with proven capability on many airborne platforms such as the Saab 2000, Agusta-Westland A109, Super Lynx 300, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Denel Rooivalk and Oryx, Eurocopter Cougar, Puma & Super Puma, NH Industries NH90, C-130 and L100 Hercules, Sukhoi Su-30MKM. Deliveries are ongoing for the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Advanced Light Helicopter.
Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions ranging from military defence to civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents and constantly develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers' changing needs

 The wall street journal

September 19, 2013

US offers help for next generation aircraft carrier

The United States has offered to develop the next generation aircraft carrier technology with India, visiting deputy secretary of defence Ashton Carter said Wednesday.
The technology on offer, Electro Magnetic Aircraft Launch System, will be a quantum leap for the Indian Navy that currently relies on the Russian ski-launch technology.
Both Indian carriers, INS Vikramaditya, coming in November, and INS Vikrant, being built in Kochi, can ski-launch only light fighter aircraft. But EMALS would make it possible to launch heavy aircraft, including early warning systems, refuellers and transporters, from future ships. India has yet to freeze the design of the second indigenous carrier it plans to build after Vikrant.
Carter said the US is keen to develop and co-produce defence equipment with India on the lines of Brahmos, a missile developed jointly by India and Russia and which is on offer for export to a third country. One such technology that can be shared under the Defence Technology Initiative is EMALS, Carter said. "The US is developing and fielding that system and is offering the technology to India which has an aircraft carrier and is considering making more," he said.
Also on offer for joint development is the next generation anti-tank guided missile, Carter said.
The Javelin system has been on offer to India for years but it never managed to make the cut due to restrictions imposed by US law on transfer of technology, a critical factor guiding most of India's new defence acquisitions. But Carter said work has been done to amend bureaucratic processes and new version of this system can be jointly developed.
He emphasised that the US wishes to replicate, in part, the Russian model of cooperation with India. "That is exactly the same kind of thing where two industry teams are involved in the whole product life cycle; where the product is both co-produced and developed."
He dismissed concerns that such collaboration can be hampered due to India's refusal to sign the so called frameworks agreements.


US promises to supply high-end military tech, demolish all barriers

The US now wants to do a Russia on India. Eager to displace Russia as India's largest defence supplier, the US is promising to treat India on par with its closest allies like the UK and Australia in terms of providing cutting-edge military technology.

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Washington and New York next week, visiting US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter held a series of meetings with national security advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon, foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and defence secretary R K Mathur to push for several co-production and co-development military projects as a cornerstone to the bilateral strategic partnership.

From offering joint manufacturing facilities for the next-generation of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles to C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft, Carter said the US was looking to partner with India across "the entire spectrum" of defence capabilities with "no boundaries" being set.

"This is the new way for India and US. We do not have the history that Russia does. We are trying to replicate it," he said, referring to Indo-Russian joint ventures like the one manufacturing BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

The hard-sell comes in the backdrop of India poised to spend well over $100 billion on acquiring arms over the next decade. Having already inked Indian defence contracts worth over $8 billion in recent years, the US is now also set to bag another four deals worth almost $5 billion in the current fiscal.

But none of the four deals for six more C-130J aircraft, 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers will actually be inked when the PM meets President Barack Obama on September 27.

The Indian defence establishment is yet to fully shed its lingering suspicions about the US being a reliable long-term, high-end defence supplier, given its propensity to impose sanctions and stringent export control laws.

But Carter said all such "misconceptions" were history now. The US is "working around" foundational military pacts like CISMOA (communication interoperability and security memorandum agreement), which India is reluctant to ink, and demolishing all bureaucratic hurdles through the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative. While Carter heads it for the US, Menon is his interlocutor from India. "People have to be creative on both sides to do what has not been done before," he said.

Times of india

September 18, 2013

None can intercept Agni-V: Chander

Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Agni-V, which was successfully test-fired for its full range of 5,000 km on Sunday, would be a “stop-and-launch” road mobile system that could be fired within minutes once endowed with a canister-thrust capability.
Talking to The Hindu during the recent mission at Wheeler Island, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Director General, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Avinash Chander said that nobody would be able to intercept the “state-of-the-art” missile once launched. It would be difficult to spot, track and prevent. “That is the strength,” he added
Describing the three-stage, solid fuelled Agni-V as a totally “fire-and-forget system”, he said the canister-based missile when delivered to the user would be fully charged and provides high operational flexibility. “It will be a highly mobile system and makes it invulnerable,” the DRDO chief said. One of the important features of Agni-V was that it could use satellite-based navigation systems, including GPS, Glonass and India’s Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS). “It can’t be jammed easily since it is from deep inside,” he added.
He said that Agni V was an ICBM and would provide strategic depth. “In that sense, it becomes a true deterrent.”
Mr. Chander said India became totally self-sufficient in long range missile systems with the second successive test-firing of Agni-V. He said that two consecutive tests of this class of weapons were generally considered sufficient to certify the design and further tests would be generally needed for user training. After a canister-based launch in the coming months and few more trials, it would be inducted by 2015. Although the capability existed to extend the range, there was no need as the 5,000-km plus Agni V was adequate to meet the present threat perception.
Replying to a question, he said, “There is no plan to carry MIRVs on Agni V.” It was a separate technology and would be taken up on another vehicle. It was still in technology development stage, he added.

The Hindu

Indian Navy close to floating $8 bn tenders for 6 submarines

Russian companies can forge tie-ups with Indian PSUs and private companies for construction of four submarines in India and sources say New Delhi is likely to encourage this.
The Indian Navy is just one step away from issuing a global tender worth almost eight billion dollars for six conventional stealth submarines. Russia is among the four countries which are in a vantage position in bagging the upcoming contracts, the other countries being France, Sweden and Germany, though not necessarily in that order.
Indian Navy’s Vice Chief, Vice Admiral R K Dhowan, said at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, September 16 that the navy’s proposal for having six hi-tech submarines will be soon placed before India’s apex decision-making body on defence and strategic matters the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
Vice Admiral Dhowan informed that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, had given its approval for the proposal to be taken up before the CCS and the global tender will be issued after the CCS nod comes. The navy vice chief said the tender would be worth Rs 50,000 crore, which is about $7.92 billion at today’s exchange rates.

Sources said the CCS may meet “very soon”, perhaps before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads the CCS, leaves for his week-long trip to the United States on September 25.
Details of the Indian Navy’s Proposal
The Indian Navy plans a unique 2+2+2 format for adding the proposed six submarines to its fleet. Sources said the prevailing thought in the Indian Navy is to go for outright purchase of two submarines from abroad and order two submarines each for Indian public sector and private sector companies.
Russia is the world’s leading submarines exporter having exported 168 submarines to well over a dozen countries in past fifty years and thus a top contender for the upcoming Indian order.
Moreover, sources said Russia was well qualified to have stakes in the entire 2+2+2 format. Russian companies can forge tie-ups with Indian PSUs and private companies for construction of four submarines in India and New Delhi is likely to encourage that.
Vice Admiral Dhowan put this point in perspective with a pithy remark: “Navy is poised for growth... over the next decade, we plan to induct at least four to five major combatants (warships and frigates) every year. This provides an ideal opportunity for Indian shipyards and industry to enter into collaborative arrangements or joint ventures.”' Dhowan elaborated that 46 warships and submarines are currently under construction in Indian shipyards.
India has of late started laying stress on indigenization but considering that neither the public sector nor the private sector companies are technically competent to build hi-tech submarines on their own, New Delhi has been giving a free hand to these companies to enter into collaboration with foreign companies. Russian companies must be well aware of this and should be on the job.
Two more reasons to cheer for Russia
Then there are two more reasons to cheer for the Russian companies to scour the Indian naval market which Vice Admiral Dhowan briefly referred to but stopped short of giving details.
One, he said in the wake of virtual destruction of INS Sindhurakshak submarine in devastating explosions on August 14, the Indian Navy was actively considering a refit and repair of its existing fleet of conventional submarines.
The Indian Navy currently has 13 operational submarines, nine of which are of Russian origin. Since these Kilo-class submarines were first inducted into the Indian Navy well over a quarter century ago and most of them have already served their effective life of 20 years, their refit and repair is long overdue.

It is a low hanging fruit for Russia as India would naturally go to Russia directly for an upgrade of these boats.
The mid-life retrofitting of these submarines would extend their life by at least ten to twelve years and would enhance their firepower too. Like Sindhurakshak, India would like the remaining Kilo-class submarines also to be fitted with modern missiles, navigational aids and sonar systems.
But this would be an expensive affair, considering that the Sindhurakshak upgrade had cost India $600 million, almost the cost of a new submarine.
India has already discussed the issue with the Russians but the matter can be clinched only after technical experts are through with tedious and complex negotiations.
Another cause for cheer for Russian companies is that the Indian Navy would be looking to foreign markets for upgrading its naval systems. Vice Admiral Dhowan mentioned two formidable roadblocks before India’s indigenization and self-reliance goals in the defence sector: the lack of Indian indigenous capability to manufacture weapons and sensors.
This is another clue for the Russian companies to tap the Indian defence market.


September 17, 2013

India can develop 10,000km range missile: DRDO

ndia can develop a nuclear-capable missile with a strike range of 10,000-km, rivalling China's DF-31A missile that can hit targets 11,200-km away, but does not see the operational need for it given "the existing threat perceptions".

All gung-ho a day after the second test of the 5,000-km Agni-V, the country's first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), DRDO chief Avinash Chander on Monday asserted it would take just about "two-and-a-half years'' to develop a 10,000-km missile if required.

"Range is the least problematic area. We have the full capability to go to any range...it's just a question of additional propellant and larger motors. But, as of now, we don't see the need for a higher range,'' he said.

Agni-V brings the whole of China -- including its northernmost city of Habin - and Asia as well as parts of Europe, Africa and Australia within its strike envelope.

"I don't see why we should be diffident about our capabilities. Agni-V is definitely an ICBM,'' said Chander. Largely the preserve of the Big-5 countries, the US, Russia, China, France and UK, an ICBM usually signifies a missile over 5,500 km.

Agni-V will now be tested early next year in a "canister-launch version'' to give armed forces the requisite operational flexibility in swiftly transporting and firing it from atop a launcher truck. "It will reduce the reaction time drastically...just a few minutes from 'stop-to-launch'. Agni-V will be inducted within two years after three-four more tests. All future strategic missiles will be canisterised,'' said Chander.

Though the armed forces have Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) and Agni-III (3,000-km), and are on course to induct Agni-IV (3,500-km) and Agni-V by 2015-2016, the lack of a long-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) remains a big gap in their nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Chander, himself a missile scientist, did say the 750-km K-15 SLBM would be tested from India's first nuclear submarine INS Arihant, which will soon head for sea trials'' after its miniature atomic reactor went critical'' last month, towards end-2013 or early-2014.

"K-15 is fully ready for integration with the submarine,'' he said. Though there is a 3,500-km K-4 missile in the works, the K-15 dwarfs in comparison to the over 5,000-km SLBMs wielded by the Big-5 nations. Quizzed about this, the DRDO chief said, "It's too early to talk of an SLBM which is also an ICBM.''

But DRDO is actively working on manoeuvering warheads or intelligent re-entry vehicles'' to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems as well as MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) for the Agni series of missiles.

Agni-V may be a "single warhead missile'' but Agni-VI and its successors will have MIRV payloads - a single missile carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets - as well as longer ranges.
-   Times of india

US offers to co-develop new Javelin missile with India

US Deputy Secretary of Defense, , who arrives in India on a two-day visit on Monday, has masterminded a proposal that could dramatically boost US-India defence relations. The US department of defense () has written to India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), proposing the two countries collaborate in jointly developing a next-generation version of the .

India has been offered a specific share of the development programme and requested to respond by a specific date. If India chooses not to participate, the Pentagon would go ahead with the programme on its own.

Last year, Carter had proposed US companies join hands with Indian partners in setting up manufacturing facilities for five major systems in India. These include the MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopter, built by and ; a delivery system for scatterable mines; and the M-45 127-mm . Later, the US proposed co-producing the Javelin missile, built by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

New Delhi has not yet responded to the proposal. Now, Carter has raised the ante with his proposal for co-developing the next-generation Javelin.

India has a successful co-development project with Russia for the BrahMos cruise missile, and with Israel for the long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) and medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM). But with the US, India has only bought equipment over the counter. American equipment has not even been manufactured in India with technology transfer, far less co-developed.

Speaking anonymously, US officials confirmed the co-development proposal would be on Carter’s discussion agenda during his meetings in New Delhi on Tuesday. Carter would meet a host of Indian officials, including National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

Senior MoD sources told Business Standard the US co-development proposal for the next-generation Javelin had been received and was being evaluated.

A senior source confirmed the US offer. “DRDO welcomes co-development of advanced weapon systems, provided there is real technological collaboration involved. India needs to fill its technology gaps and co-development should ensure both partners build upon their mutual strengths,” he said.

Carter’s proposal is part of a 15-month-old American push to intensify its defence relationship with India. Earlier, in response to New Delhi’s interest in the Javelin, the US state department had said fulfilling India’s requirement would “alter the regional military balance”. Worse, Washington refused to transfer key technologies New Delhi insisted upon as a part of the deal.

That approach changed dramatically since June 2012, when then US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta nominated Carter to break down the bureaucratic barriers in Washington that impeded the US-India defence relationship, which Washington had determined was pivotal to America’s future in Asia. A formal mechanism called the DTI — tellingly, the US called it the initiative, while India referred to it as defence technology initiative — was set up. Carter co-chairs the initiative, along with Shivshankar Menon.

A close watcher of the Pentagon says Carter has pushed the US bureaucracy hard to change its approach towards India. Earlier, US officials regarded India as just another non-NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) country, one with which America did not even have a formal alliance and which was unwilling to sign cooperative agreements with the US. “Before Carter got to work, releasing technology to India required a comprehensive justification to be made out. By April 2013, Pentagon officials needed to justify why a particular technology could not be released to India,” said the Pentagon watcher.

Now, the Javelin is a focus area for Carter. At one stage, MoD was close to buying a rival missile, the Israeli Spike, for its $1-1.5-billion tender for 8,400 missiles and 321 launcher units for the army’s 350-plus infantry units. But the MoD, wary of a single-vendor buy, ordered a “technology scan” to ascertain whether there was no missile in the market other than the Spike.

The FGM-148 Javelin, jointly built by US companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, is the world’s premier man-portable, anti-tank missile. It gives infantrymen, highly vulnerable to enemy tanks on the battlefield, a weapon with which to destroy heavy armoured vehicles from a distance of 2.5 km.

But the Israeli Spike, while not nearly as capable, is likely to be a good deal cheaper. If the MoD chooses price over capability, the Spike is likely to emerge the winner. “But if the MoD agrees to Washington’s co-development proposal, the Javelin would become the clear frontrunner for the $1-1.5-billion Indian contract. That is now a realistic prospect,” says a member of the US defence industry.

Business Standard

September 15, 2013

Agni-V missile successfully test launched from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast

India on Sunday conducted a second test flight of its indigenously developed nuclear- capable 'Agni-V' long-range ballistic missile, which has a strike range of more than 5000 km, from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.

The three stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 8:50am, defence sources said.

The surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne, witnessed an 'auto launch' and detail results of the trial will be known after thorough analyses of all data retrieved from different radars and network systems, they said.

"The sleek missile, within a few seconds of its blast-off from the Island launch pad, roared majestically into a clear sunny sky leaving behind a trail of thin orange and white column of smoke and within seconds it pierced into sky," said an eye-witness to the launch.

Today's launch, conducted in the presence of defence scientists and experts, was the second developmental trial of the long range missile while the first test was conducted on 19 April, 2012 which was a total success.

The indigenously developed missile Agni-V is capable of striking a range of more than 5000 km. It is about 17 meter long and 2 metres wide with launch weight of around 50 tonnes.

Unlike other missiles of indigenously built Agni series, the latest one 'AGNI-V' is the most advanced version having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.

Many new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the first Agni-V trial. The redundant navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reach the target point within few meters of accuracy.

The high speed onboard computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the missile flawlessly, said a defence official.

In the Agni series, India at present has Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2500 km to more than 3500 range.

After some more trials, Agni-V will be inducted into the services, the sources said. 
- Times of india

September 14, 2013

Russian Missiles for India’s Rafales?

Russia’s Tactical Missile Corporation is negotiating with Dassault Aviation for the possible use of its missiles on the Rafale combat jets that have been selected by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The corporation, whose Russian acronym is TRV, told journalists attending last week’s Maks airshow in Moscow that the Indian air force has large stocks of Russian air-launched weapons, which drives its interest in adapting them to the French warplane. Although the Rafale was named as the winner of India’s MMRCA competition in January 2012, a firm contract has still not been signed.
Dassault did not respond to AIN’s request for comment.
In the RFP for the MMRCA, India stipulated that the first 18 aircraft be delivered with a full complement of integrated weapons. The Rafales would presumably therefore be delivered with MBDA missiles such as the Mica AAM, Scalp ASM and Exocet AshM. But the RFP also required vendors to “integrate additional weapons of the IAF’s choice, as required.”
It seems likely that the IAF and TRV are looking at future upgrades to the Rafale. But the matter could be one more complication that is preventing a conclusion of the Indian Rafale deal. The other complications have included the allocation of responsibility and liability between Dassault and Team Rafale partners such as MBDA, Thales and Sagem and Indian industrial partner companies, including the role to be played by government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd; and the precise terms of the production licenses to be granted to India. Dassault CEO Eric Trappier described the negotiations as “an uphill task” last June, but nevertheless predicted a successful conclusion by the end of this year.
There are several previous instances of Russian weapons being adapted to French warplanes. For example, Mirage F1EQ fighters of the Iraqi air force carried Kh-29L and other air-ground smart munitions, and South African Air Force Mirage F1s carried R-73E short range air-to-air missiles.


India to buy 6 more C-130J 'Super Hercules' aircraft from US for over Rs 4,000 crore

The Defence Ministry on Friday gave its nod for purchase of six more C-130J 'Super Hercules' aircraft from the US in a deal worth over Rs 4,000 crore.
The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony cleared the deal and it will now go to Cabinet Committee on Security for the final approval, sources said.
The DAC also cleared a proposal for placing an order for 235 T-90 tanks worth Rs 6,000 crore with the Ordnance Factory Board. These battle tanks would be manufactured under the Transfer-of-Technology agreement India has signed with Russia.
The Indian Air Force already has six C-130J planes, which it had acquired at a cost of around 1.06 billion USD and are deployed at its Hindon airbase.
The new lot of six planes will be located at Panagarh in West Bengal, which would be headquarters of the proposed Mountain Strike Corps of the army along the China border.
The CCS had cleared the army's proposal for raising the Corps, which is expected to cost Rs 62,000 crore, in its meeting on July 17. Like the first lot, the purchase of six more aircraft will be through the foreign military sales route between India and the US governments.
The aircraft is capable of airdropping commandos and material in darkness due to its night-vision imaging. It can prove very handy in wartime due to its ability for special air operations and transport of material and supplies.
During peacetime, it can be used in mountainous terrain in hostile circumstances. The four-engine plane with Rolls Royce engines has the technology and configuration to perform low-level precision flying.
It was recently used in rescue operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand. 


September 13, 2013

Army to raise armoured corps in WB

Following frequent incursions by China violating the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army is planning to set up an armoured corps base in north Bengal.
Following intelligence reports and Chinese activity along the LAC, the Indian Army has marked parts of north Bengal and north-east region of the country, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its own territory, as a ‘sensitive zone’.
A senior army official recently met West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee after she came down to Siliguri from the hills of Darjeeling and asked for 200 acres of land next to the Binaguri army cantonment in north Bengal.
He held a closed door meeting with Banerjee and apprised her of the situation and speed up handing over the land to establish an armoured corps division in the area. He stressed the need saying that China was actively increasing its influence in bordering Bhutan and Nepal, according to military intelligence reports.
China, he said, was carrying out many charitable activities and imparting free education through some voluntary organisations next to the LAC, and using them to carry out espionage activities in the region. China is also spending huge sums of money in setting up Buddhist monasteries in the region, he informed Banerjee.
The army plans not only to increase its personnel but also have an armoured crops division with tanks and large number of armoured vehicles.
The Indian Army currently has 63 armoured corps regiments and taking into account China’s military plans has also raised the Ladakh Scouts. In view of the recent developments it might raise another armoured corps regiment armed with MBT Arjun tanks and armoured vehicles to be deployed in north Bengal.
Though Banerjee, it was learnt, gave a patient hearing to the senior army official, she kept silent about acquiring land as her government was opposed to take away land from farmers.
However, a defence ministry official here remarked: “Not acquiring land from farmers for industry might be the chief minister’s policy for vote bank politics but this is a case of national security. The country’s security can never be compromised because of populism.
“We need the land as soon as possible to expand our base as we have been receiving disturbing reports about Chinese activities across the border in this region not only from military intelligence but also from other agencies of the central government,” he said.


US set to bag $5bn defence deals

Having already bagged Indian defence contracts worth over $8 billion in recent years after muscling out Russia, Israel and France, the US is now headed towards clinching another four major deals worth almost $5 billion.

Defence ministry sources on Thursday said the deals for six more C-130J " Super Hercules" aircraft ($1.2 billion), 22 Apache attack helicopters ($1.4 billion), 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers ($885 million) and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters (around $1 billion) "are in the final stages" now.

India will convey this to US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter when he arrives here next week. Carter, who will hold talks with defence minister A K Antony, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and defence secretary R K Mathur, is the Obama administration's "point man" for expanding defence trade with India as a cornerstone of the bilateral strategic ties.

"The deals should be inked within this financial year (2013-2014) despite budgetary constraints. The C-130J deal, for instance, is likely to go to the Cabinet Committee on Security in October-November," said a source.

The aircraft and howitzer deals will be direct government-to-government contracts under the US foreign military sales (FMS) programme, which does not involve competition through global tenders.

The attack and heavy-lift helicopter deals, however, were won by aviation major Boeing after its AH-64D Apache Longbow and twin-rotor Chinook helicopters outclassed Russian Mi-28 Havoc and Mi-26 choppers in field trials and commercial evaluation.

But there are "some loose ends" in the deals that need to be tied up first. The defence ministry, for instance, has told Boeing that it should drop its insistence on "limited liability clauses" being included in the agreements.

Similarly, the M-777 contract has been hanging fire since January 2010 due to field evaluation reports being "leaked" and certain other irregularities involving a top Indian Army officer. "There is an inquiry in progress but it should not be a major hurdle," said another source.

Cost escalation is another big factor. Due to the long delay, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency last month hiked the cost of the M-777 deal from the earlier $ 647 million to $885 million for the 155mm/39-calibre howitzers.

Incidentally, the four deals are also in tune with the government's recent approval to the Rs 90,000 crore plan to raise a new mountain strike corps along with two "independent" infantry brigades and two "independent" armoured brigades (totalling over 80,000 soldiers) over the next seven years to plug operational gaps against China.

While the first six C-130J aircraft acquired by IAF are based at the Hindon airbase, the six new "Super Hercules" will be housed at Panagarh in West Bengal. Panagarh will serve as the headquarters for the new Army mountain corps.

Similarly, the air-mobile M-777 howitzers, with an almost 30-km range, can be swiftly deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh by helicopters and aircraft to counter China.
Times of India

September 12, 2013

India's nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V to be test-fired on Sunday

India's most capable weapon, the Agni-V nuclear-capable ballistic missile, is all set to be tested from the Bay of Bengal on September 15. The 5,500-km range missile, capable of striking targets anywhere in China when operational, is being tested for the second time after its debut launch in April last year.

Top sources said, "Scientists on the programme have spent most of the last 16 months studying the telemetry and performance data of the first test and fine-tuning all systems, including the navigation system and on board systems."

The indigenous systems that will be further tested and monitored closely in Sunday's test include all-composite rocket motor, fifth generation distributed on-board computer architecture, ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system (RINS), the completely new redundant micro navigation system and the crucial re-entry shield, built to withstand temperatures in excess of 4,000 degrees celsius. A more capable cannisterised version of the Agni-V is likely to be tested in December this year.

In July, DRDO chief Dr Avinash Chander, formerly director on the Agni programme, told Headlines Today, "We'll induct the Agni IV and V inducted in the next two years. It's the first time we will be inducting strategic missiles with such long ranges together. Agni III, IV and V are going to be the thrust areas. They give us the reach which we need, and are our highest priority now. Within two years we have to make sure that it happens."

While the Agni-V's second test was expected in the September-October period, it comes shortly after a season of provocations along the India-China border, and is likely to be interpreted as a show of strength.


September 9, 2013

Anti-missile shield for frontline Navy warships fast erodin

The anti-missile defensive shield protecting 14 frontline warships, including aircraft carrier INS Viraat, is fast eroding but the government is dragging its feet on taking a decision one way or the other due to an ongoing CBI probe into the original deal.

The Navy has been pressing panic buttons for quite some time about its fast depleting stock of missiles to arm the Israeli Barak-I anti-missile defence (AMD) system - which intercept hostile incoming sea-skimming missiles at a 9km range - fitted on INS Viraat as well as guided-missile destroyers and stealth frigates.

Sources said that Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi has even written to defence minister AK Antony for an early decision on the acquisition of an additional 262 Barak-I missiles, at a cost of over $150 million, since it was a "critical operational requirement".

But the defence ministry had expressed helplessness due to the pending CBI investigation into the infamous Barak kickbacks case registered in October 2006. The law ministry and the attorney general, however, have now left it on the MoD to decide on the fresh procurement case. "The ball is firmly in the MoD's court now," said a source.

The law ministry had earlier held the case should not be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval till the CBI probe was completed. But the CBI has failed to make much headway "due to pending letters rogatory (letters of request)" in Israel and UK. "With Navy pressing for a fresh legal opinion, it was held the MoD get an external evaluation or audit done. Now, even that caveat has been removed," said the source.

But in the backdrop of the VVIP helicopter and other scams ahead of the 2014 general elections, the MoD seems reluctant to take a decision even though it "understands" the urgency for the Barak-I missiles.

It was after Pakistan acquired sea-skimming Exocet and Harpoon missiles, coupled with the failure of the indigenous Trishul AMD system, that the then NDA government had inked the initial Rs 1,160 crore deal for nine Barak-I AMD systems, along with 200 missiles worth Rs 350 crore, with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael in October 2000.

Subsequently, under the UPA-1 regime in October 2006, the CBI registered the FIR in the Barak kickbacks case to name former defence minister George Fernandes, his party associates Jaya Jaitly and R K Jain, alleged arms dealer Suresh Nanda and former Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar among the accused.

The irony is that the UPA government has refrained from blacklisting IAI and Rafael, despite banning other firms like Israeli Military Industries, Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Rheinmetall Air Defence (Zurich) and Corporation Defence of Russia in other corruption cases, on the ground that it would be counter-productive.

IAI and DRDO, for instance, are collaborating in two major but delayed projects to develop a long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) system for Rs 2,606 crore to arm Indian warships and a medium-range SAM system for IAF at a cost of Rs 10,076 crore.
Times of india

September 7, 2013

Tactical gap- Prithvi

Indian Army yet to find a role for surface-to-surface missile, Prithvi
It stands 8.5 m tall. Its 1,000-kg warhead packs a formidable punch. And it can hit targets at a distance of 150 km with uncanny accuracy. It is the Indian Army's latest gizmo. And yet, like truculent children, the generals are unhappy with Prithvi, the home-made, single-stage, liquid-fuelled battlefield support surface-to-surface missile (SSM), developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
While the Jalandhar-based 60 Heavy Artillery regiment is gearing up to induct the new weapon system and master the launch sequence, the fact is the army had not even asked for Prithvi. Indeed, the top brass is still debating the deployment and operational role of the Scud-like missile.
"They have given us a glove that doesn't fit our hand," says a former general who inducted the nuclear-capable SSM into the army. DRDO, however, touts the missile- designated the SS-150 with a variable 40 km-150 km range and costing Rs.1.50 crore-as an ideal weapon to "take out" large enemy troop concentrations, devastate air bases, hit ammunition dumps, and headquarters well behind the border, DRDO officials claim that with a choice of three types of warheads-a monolith high-explosive, pre-fragmented and sub-munition cluster-Prithvi is versatile enough to strike all these. And, with a lighter warhead, of about 500 kg, its range can increase to 250 km. This version, designated SS-250, was test-fired on August 18.
In fact, during the Iran-Iraq war, even when they were not tipped with mustard gas, Scuds-a primitive version of Prithvi-were regarded as weapons of terror, especially by the civilians trapped in cities. Such missiles have also shown their effectiveness in military encounters, particularly in the Afghan imbroglio.
While India may not target Pakistani cities, Prithvi, even with a conventional warhead, could become a terror weapon. With a great element of surprise, and hardly any counter to it, the independent SSM battery could be used with devastating effect during war. It could augment artillery as well as air strikes. Or it could be used independently to disrupt the enemy war machine.
In fact, according to defence analysts, many of Pakistan's strategic military targets are vulnerable to the Prithvi SS-150. These include the crucial Kamra and Chaklala air bases, the Lahore airfield, the command head quarters at Bahawalpur and the Suk-kur Barrage. In addition, the radar station at Badin can be rendered inoperative, giving Indian forces a dramatic edge in any future conflict (see map). But despite nine test launches-with just one failure-the successful deployment of Prithvi by next year appears to be a remote possibility. It has yet to undergo user trials.
However, even if it were deployed as scheduled, the army would not be able to use it effectively. Mainly because the means of getting real-time information about targets 100 to 150 km behind enemy territory are still limited. For instance, the country has no exclusive military satellites which can be used to spy on troop movements, nor a remotely-piloted vehicle (RPY), which could fly behind enemy lines and relay television pictures of troops build up. Only the air force, with its six MiG 2 5 Rs.and few other' spotter' aircraft, is capable of conducting deep aerial reconnaissance missions. Hence, optimally to employ the Prithvi battery, there would have to be a targeting collaboration between the army and the air force.
The army is also uncomfortable with the liquid propulsion of Prithvi. Unlike a solid-propellant engine which is ready to fire and can be stored indefinitely, liquid propellant has to be filled up close to the time of the launch. The army is also wary of handling the highly toxic liquid propellant so close to the border during wartime. Many officers have wondered why DRDO did not go in for a solid-propellant engine. "We were looking for a thrust vector control and are using liquid engines, at least until our solid thrust vector control is ready," says former DRDO chief, Dr V.S. Arunachalam. In fact, according to DRDO officials, a solid fuel version of Prithvi is also on the anvil.
Moreover, after the controversial exit of the high-profile Dr V.S. Arunachalam and the elevation of Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as DRDO head, the army is worried that the missile programme could retard, leaving the service with an under-developed weapon. And with the US extending the Missile Technology Control Regime to cover Prithvi in June this year, Bharat Dynamics Limited, which is slated to manufacture the SSM, may fail to churn out the required numbers due to the restrictions on some critical components.
Experts estimate that to make Prithvi viable, the army should maintain a stockpile of at least 300 missiles, to cater for war wastage reserves and to sustain at least a 15-day operation. Prithvi also pinches the army's already squeezed budget. According to one estimate, the cost of raising the specialised equipment to support one battery-including the quartet of Tatra 8x8 tractor, erector, launcher (TEL) vehicles, the liquid propellant refill vehicles, the high pressure vehicle, the missile reload vehicles and an assortment of computer-based command and control systems-alone would cost Rs.10 crore. The missiles would cost another Rs.400 crore.
But even at that cost, it is cheaper and, perhaps, more effective than a squadron of modern deep-penetration bombers. Says Major Shankar Bhaduri of the Indian Defence Review: "The cost is not important. As a piece of technology, you have to give it full marks. It is now the army's job to fit it in its arsenal and have a clear concept of how to use this weapon system." And that is one challenge that the men in uniform are still to rise up to.

India Today

September 4, 2013

China moved N-missiles and launchers via Karakoram highway to Pak in 2005: Indian intelligence reports

A few days after China conducted atomic blasts in Tibet in March 2005 to divert the Yarlung Tsangpo, or the Brahmaputra, Indian spy planes and satellites spotted the transport of nuclear missiles and suspected fissile material over the Karakoram highway connecting China with Pakistan.
The Times of India had earlier reported China’s ambitious plan to divert the course of the Brahmaputra from south to north in Tibet’s Moutou and Great Bend regions in March 2005. But what made the transfer of nuclear missiles – possibly to locations within Pakistan – significant from the Indian perspective was the movement of road-mobile, short-range ballistic missiles, Dongfeng 11, also known as M-11 missiles via the Karakoram highway in 1995.
Highly classified Indian intelligence reports suggest that in March 2005, an important contingent of the People’s Liberation Army, carrying 11 transporter erector launcher (TEL) laden with short-range nuclear missiles was photographed by spy planes of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) moving through the Karakoram Pass. The Indian security establishment estimated the PLA troops, led by a brigadier rank officer, numbering about 550.
Typically, Chinese TELs are 16-wheeled behemoths that have integrated prime movers that can carry, elevate to firing position and launch or multiple missles. These vehicles are employed to fire surface-to-air as well as surface-to-surface missiles. The Chinese TELs are compatible for firing the Dongfeng 11 and some of the missile’s more improved and lethal versions that have been deployed in different parts of China and shared with Pakistan.
Besides Pakistan, China was recently suspected to have provided North Korea with at least six TELs which was part of Beijing’s covert arms proliferation efforts and therefore stood in breach of United Nations Security Council resolution 1874.
The movement of the TELs, believed to have been designed and built by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, which is the PLA’s main mobile-missile producer, on the Karakoram highway took place just before the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Islamabad in April 2005 when the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. At that time, China had also agreed to establish a facility to produce land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) for the Pakistanis.
Indian intelligence, according to National Security Council reports, also learnt that the LACMs were tested in September 2005 and were suspected to have been transported from China which helped the Pakistanis build a ballistic missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi for the Shaheen-1, a variant of the Dongfeng 9 Chinese missiles.
Although the Indian security establishment is well aware of China’s missile proliferation efforts in the region, including providing assistance to Pakistan in strengthening its nuclear missile programme, the atomic blasts to divert the Brahmaputra in Tibet and the transport of nuclear warheads via the Karakoram highway reflect a failure of New Delhi’s diplomacy in containing the threat from its largest neighbour.

- Times of India