January 31, 2014

State-of-the-art test facility for carrier-borne aircraft goes operational in Goa

State-of-the-art shore-based test facility for carrier-borne aircraft, built at naval air station Goa, Dabolim, has been commissioned.

Speaking on the occasion of commissioning of second wire of the arresting gear, RAdm (Retd.) Vineet Bakhshi VSM CMD GSL said "Training of naval pilots on MiG 29K has already commenced. The facility will ensure timely induction of Naval LCA (NLCA) into naval service and conserve ship-based test flying effort".

The facility is described as one of its kind in the South Asia and the third in the world. This installation replicates a shore-based facility of the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, a press release said here. Spearheaded by the Aeronautical Development Agency, the complete structural work and system integration of SBTF was carried out by Goa Shipyard Ltd.

This will provide India with a capability for the test development of an aircraft before they are cleared for use on-board aircraft carriers. It will also provide the Indian Navy with a facility to hone the skills of its pilots before they are deployed on board.

Significantly, the SBTF is equipped with restraining gear system with ski-jump for take-off, arresting gear system for landing, optical landing system, TV landing control system, light signaling system and other associated auxiliary units, identical to those fitted on board the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, the statement said. 
 Times of india

January 30, 2014

Tatas look for bigger pie in defence sector

Armed with the capability to produce drones, wheel-armoured amphibious vehicles and other sophisticated equipment, diversified Tata group is gearing up for a bigger play in the defence segment.

The group that garnered a revenue of Rs 1,700 crore in FY'13 is aiming for about 40 per cent growth in the ongoing fiscal to touch about Rs 2,300-2,400 crore.

"We believe, as a group, we are ready to enter into any defence sector that the government opens up," Mukund Rajan, Member - Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons told reporters here.

Out of the over 100 operating companies that the group has, 14 entities, including , Tata Advanced Systems and (Strategic Engineering Division), are currently suppliers for various Indian defence requirements.

"The order book size is in the excess of Rs 8,000 crore and these are to be fulfilled in the next one to four years," Rajan added.

Highlighting the advancement that the group has achieved in various areas of defence sector, he said some of the group companies have become exclusive suppliers to global original defence equipment makers apart from playing strategic roles in India's missile programmes.

Tata Advanced Systems has been selected as supplier for mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) by Northern Command of .

It is addressing RFPs (request for proposal) for Indian , including infantry RFP opportunity, Tata Advanced Systems Director Sukaran Singh said.

"We would need to have a separate unit, possibly expansion at our existing facility in Bangalore, to produce the UAV," he said.

The group's other major firm Tata Motors, which has been supplying vehicles to Indian defence sector for nearly 60 years, is also looking for a major leap in the segment.

"Our aim is to operate in the entire range, from back up logistics vehicle segment to the battle front with frontline armoured vehicles," Tata Motors Vice-President (Defence & Government Business) Vernon Noronha said.

He said the company is working on a DRDO funded project for wheel-armoured amphibious platform, which will be ready in about two years.

This is a modular vehicle with interchangeable snap-in modules, powered by a 600 horse power engine coupled to automatic transmission, he added.

Noronha said the company is also ready with a light armoured multi-role vehicle, which is used mostly in recce missions.

When asked if the Land Rover's platform could be brought for use in Indian defence sector, Noronha replied in the negative saying the specifications do not match and the company is not considering it as of now.

Business standard

January 29, 2014

Poor Israeli parts delay Arjun Mk-II

After the recent heartburn with Israeli counterparts in the Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR SAM) and Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) joint ventures which has resulted in delay of delivery in both these cases, Defence Research and Development Organisation, the premier defence research establishment in the country, is finding another of its major project, the Main Battle Tank Arjun Mk-II, hanging in the balance. DRDO is attributing the delay to the unsatisfactory functioning of some Israeli components, the major amongst these being the Laser Homing Attack (LAHAT) Missile.

According to official sources, almost 55 to 60% of the components and major part of the technology in Arjun Mk-II MBT are imported starting from the design to engine and the engine transmission system, gun barrel, computer-controlled integrated fire control system, the tracks, the suspension, and the Muzzle Reference System etc.

The German engine of Arjun Mk-I has again been integrated in Mk-II despite claims of an indigenous engine, as per the sources. When contacted, officials attributed this adjustment to the small order and that a separate plant for manufacturing engines cannot come up for such a restricted order. Sources revealed that Arjun Mk-II has a long way to go before being accepted by the Indian Army.

DRDO had recently launched its Arjun Mk-II for user trials in Rajasthan after integrating the same with almost 75-80 improved features including 16 major technologies as sought by the Indian Army which has already inducted 124 of the Arjun Mk-I tanks. DRDO has been developing Arjun MBT with help of its various labs led by Chennai-based Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (CBRED) while Hyderabad-based Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory of DRDO has developed the armour for Mk II version of Arjun. The development trials have been on for the past more than two years.

Apart from accuracy, smoke emanating from the Israeli LAHAT missile has been an issue of concern with both the developers as well as the users of Arjun Mk-II. "Israeli counterparts have been conveyed the issues and asked to rectify the problems at the earliest," was all Avinash Chander, secretary, defence research and development and director general, DRDO, could say.

Arjun Mk-II, the futuristic main battle tank, has been touted as one of the most potent combat tanks for the Army with unmatched automatic target detection and destruction while offering maximum protection to the crew in addition to impressive speed and maneuverability.
- Times of india

January 28, 2014

India close to buying Japan-made military aircraft in $1.65 billion deal

 (Reuters) - India is set to become the first country since World War Two to buy a military aircraft from Japan, helping Prime Minister Shinzo Abe end a ban on weapons exports that has kept his country's defence contractors out of foreign markets.
The two countries are in broad agreement on a deal for the ShinMaywa Industries (7224.T) amphibious aircraft, which could amount to as much as $1.65 billion, Indian officials said on Tuesday.
However, several details need to be worked out and negotiations will resume in March on joint production of the plane in India and other issues.
New Delhi is likely to buy at least 15 of the planes, which are priced at about $110 million each, the Officials said.
"Its a strategic imperative for both sides, and it has been cleared at the highest levels of the two governments," said an Indian military source.
For the moment, a stripped-down civilian version of the US-2i search and rescue plane is being offered to India, to get around Japan's self-imposed ban on arms exports. A friend or foe identification system will be removed from the aircraft, another defence official said.
The two countries are discussing assembling the aircraft in India, giving India access to Japanese military technology, Indian Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh has said.
The plane has a range of over 4,500 km (2,800 miles), which will give it reach far into Southeast Asia from the base where the aircraft are likely to be located, in the Andaman and Nicobar island chain that is near the western tip of Indonesia.
The two governments have set up a joint working group that will meet in March to consider plans to either set up a plant in India to assemble it under licence by an Indian state manufacturer.
The plan is to deliver two aircraft and then assemble the rest of the planes with an Indian partner, the military source said.
The deal lays the ground for a broader Japanese thrust into India, the world's biggest arms market dominated for long by Russia but also now buying hardware from Israel and the United States.
"There is a whole amount of defence-related cooperation, between India and Japan," said Gautam Bambawalle, an Indian foreign ministry official responsible for North Asia.
"We want Japanese technology, we want Japanese capital investment into India."
India's navy is also interested in Japanese patrol vessels and electronic warfare equipment as Tokyo moves further along in easing its ban on military exports, the Indian officials said.
Abe discussed the aircraft deal with Singh during a trip to New Delhi last weekend as ties rapidly warm between the two nations at a time when both are embroiled in territorial disputes with China.
"Our Joint Working Group on US-2 amphibian aircraft has met to explore the modalities of cooperation on its use and co-production in India. More broadly, we are working towards increasing our cooperation in the area of advanced technologies," Singh said.
Abe is seeking a more assertive military and national security posture for Japan, whose post-war constitution, written by U.S.-led occupation forces, renounces war and a standing army.
Abe's government vows to review Japan's ban on weapons exports, a move that could reinvigorate struggling defence contractors like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.
Mitsubishi Heavy is in advanced talks to supply parts for the F-35 stealth fighter to Britain's BAE Systems, in what would be the first involvement of a Japanese manufacturer in a global weapons programme, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
India is a top market for defence hardware, buying some $12.7 billion in arms during 2007-2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), everything from basic military goods to an aircraft carrier.
New Delhi been trying to build up a domestic manufacturing industry and has leaned on foreign suppliers to consider transfer of technology or joint production as a condition for placing orders.

January 27, 2014

Desi Bofors howitzer to be tested again, Army keeps fingers crossed

The desi Bofors howitzer is ready to boom once again. Its barrel has burst during firing trials last August, in a deadly blow to the indigenisation dream. This time, the Army is keeping its fingers crossed for the fresh trials slated for February-March.

Worried that their long-pending plans to induct advanced artillery guns from abroad are yet to materialise, the military brass is getting desperate for the indigenous howitzers being developed to pass muster and plug huge operational gaps in long range, high volume firepower. The Army has not inducted a single modern 155mm gun for the last three decades since the infamous Bofors scandal, which led to Rajiv Gandhi government's downfall. Conversely, both China and Pakistan are fast inducting 155mm/52-calibre artillery guns.

But in India, recurring scandals around global artillery manufacturers like South African Denel, Israeli Soltam and Singapore Technology Kinetic's (STK) has kept the Army's over Rs 30,000 crore artillery modernisation plans firmly derailed.

Consequently, the indigenous route is being pursued on three fronts.

The first is the joint venture with the private sector for 814 mounted gun systems. Another is DRDO's development of a 155mm/52-calibre advanced towed artillery gun system, sanctioned in September 2012 for Rs 248 crore. But both these projects are still far away from completion.

There is more hope on the third front, with Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) developing the electronically upgraded desi version of the original Swedish155mm Bofors howitzer. The long-forgotten designs obtained under transfer of technology (ToT) provisions in the infamous Rs 1,437-crore Bofors contract in 1986 for 410 howitzers have been used to develop the new guns.

"After the barrel burst in trials at Pokhran ranges in August last year, the faults were rectified. The fourth and the fifth prototypes have undergone `internal firing tests' in Balasore over the last couple of months. Now, the guns are being readied for the trials,'' said a source.

The Army wants 414 such guns. They have been upgraded to 45-calibre from the original 39-calibre to give the new howitzer a 38-km range compared to the 30-km of the original Bofors gun. The OFB has already been given an over Rs 1,260 crore order to make 114 howitzers.

As for imports, there is the $855 million deal with the US for 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers, which are to be deployed with the new mountain strike corps being raised by the Army. But this direct government-to-government deal remains stuck in the final stages despite several years of negotiations.

The different 155mm/52-calibre gun projects, like the one for 100 self-propelled tracked guns from a foreign vendor, are similarly running excruciatingly slow. The mega project for buying 400 towed artillery guns, followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,180 such guns after transfer of technology from the foreign vendor, for instance, has been scrapped three times over the last decade due to scandals. 
-  Times of india

100% price escalation on Rafale fighter aircraft to Rs 1.75 lakh crore likely to dent IAF's strike capability

India’s biggest deal of procuring 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for $18 billion (Rs90,000 crore) has hit rough weather. Two years after French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation bagged the deal for its Rafale fighter jets on account of being the lowest bidder, its cost has now shot up by 100 per cent.

In January 2012, when Rafale was declared the winner, its price was quoted between $60-65 million (Rs373-Rs400 crore). A top defence ministry official said the price of a fighter jet made by Dassault could now cost $120 million (Rs746 crore). The second bidder, Eurofighter, had quoted $80-85 million (Rs497-Rs528 crore).

The price hike would mean that the deal would cost India nothing less than $28-30 billion (Rs1.75 lakh crore-Rs1.86 lakh crore),” said an Indian Air Force (IAF) official, who is privy to discussions of the cost negotiation committee.

The defence ministry headed by AK Antony has developed cold feet after the cost doubled compared to the original estimate. With the general elections just months away, Antony is unsure about the fate of the deal, a defence ministry official said. “As the negotiations continue, the cost is spiralling out of hand. It is a major worry,” he said.

An IAF official said that in 2007, when the tender was floated, the cost of the programme was $12 billion (Rs42,000 crore). When the lowest bidder was declared in January 2012, the cost of the deal shot up to $18 billion (Rs90,000 crore).

Eighteen of the 126 planes will be purchased directly from Dassault, while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will manufacture the other 108 under a licence, at an upcoming facility in Bangalore.

The IAF, which is fighting its depleting combat strength, was banking on Rafale as this was going to be the force’s leading fighter plane for the next four decades. “With chances of the MMRCA deal getting inked appearing dim, there seems to be no

solution to the immediate problem of shrinking squadron numbers as existing aircraft are forced into retirement,” said another IAF official.

The air force is seeking to replace its ageing MiG-21s with a modern fighter and MMRCA fits between India’s high-end Sukhoi-30MKIs and its low-end Tejas LCA lightweight fighter. The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 45 fighter jet squadrons. However, it only has 30 squadrons operational as old aircraft have been retired.


January 24, 2014

Army's upgrade plans thwarted as military is forced to make cut-backs

The fund crunch is likely to hit the Army's modernisation plans as the finance ministry has refused Rs 7,870 crore sought by the defence ministry to meet rising fuel expenses and salaries.
The decision has come as a double blow to the armed forces as several key purchases will remain pending and spill over to the next financial year.
Also, the government will soon move into a 'lame duck' mode because of the general elections that are due in May.
The defence ministry has been asked to use the money meant for acquisitions to top up the expenditure budget of over one lakh crore rupees.
The armed forces were allocated Rs 86,740.71 crore for capital expenditure to buy new equipment to build defence capacity.
However, sources said more than 80 per cent of the capital budget has been spent.
With the IAF and the Navy exhausting their spending on new equipment, the Army will be hit hard by a cut-down in capital budget.
Officials said that despite a cut in capital expenses, the Army's ammunition requirement is not compromised.
Adequate funds have been provided to make sure that the Army remains fighting fit. The IAF, which has already spent its entire capital budget for the fifth year running, had sought more money to finalise some small deals.
The overall defence budget this year was more than Rs 2 lakh crore. The finance ministry shot down the proposal for more money in the face of the economic downturn.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his last meeting with top commanders of the armed forces, advised prudence in spending.
The Army was given Rs 13,327.04 crore, the IAF got Rs 37,048.06 crore and the Navy was allocated Rs 23,478 crore.
The big-ticket purchases like the acquisition of 126 French Rafale combat jets for the IAF, construction of a new line of six submarines for the Navy, and the purchase of artillery guns for the Army have been hit by the delay in funds.
The officials, however, said the budget cut will not have an impact on operational preparedness

Daily Mail

January 22, 2014

Army to get 155 mm 'dhanush' gun, advanced radar equipment soon

The Indian Army will soon be adding the 155 mm gun 'Dhanush' to its range of guns which have been proving their prowess and deadly firepower in various battlefields.
The Indian army, which already has the 155 mm Bofors gun, will induct Dhanush, which would add even more might to the regiment of artillery, said army officials at the Exercise Mahasangram, which was conducted in the firing ranges of the School of Artillery at Deolali on Tuesday.
Army officials said that while the Bofors has a rate of fire of three rounds per 14 seconds, the indigenous Dhanush could fire eight rounds per minute. Dhanush, which in the trial stage, would soon be inducted, said the army officers.
Apart from that, Swathi, an upgraded weapon locating radar (WLR) and Kshitiz, equipment for obeservation, would also be inducted in the plethora of the new generation surveillance and target acquisition equipment, the army officers added.
Both Swathi and Kshitiz are indigenously made. While the former is an upgraded version of the US-made WPL ANTPQ-37, the latter will be an upgraded version of the Israel-made long-range reconnaissance and observation system (LORROS).
The gunners of the Indian artillery displayed their skills at Exercise Mahasangram, conducted by the officers undergoing the prestigious long gunnery staff course, through a tactical situation requiring appreciation of the operations and preparation of an artillery fire plan in support of the operation.
The entire range of guns - from the indigenous 120 mm mortars, 105 mm Indian field gun, 105 mm light field gun, 130 mm medium fun to the state of the art 155 mm FH 77B Bofors, 122 mm multi-barrel rocket launcher grad BM 21 and the 300 mm Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher - demonstrated their destructive power during the exercise.
Asn array of new generation surveillance and target acquisition equipment like the unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance sensors and weapon locating radars were also put on display.
Officials said that besides being the eyes of the commanders, these devises, when used in conjunction with guns, were capable of augmenting the effect of fire power, thereby acting as force multipliers.
The Cheetah and Chetak helicopters flown by the army aviators demonstrated flying skills of pilots, as they flew just a few feet above the ground, merging with trees and shrubs, concealing their movement, in what is called the nap of Earth, flying to engage enemy tanks and other targets. They also airlifted a 120-mm mortar for delivering firepower resources in inaccessible areas, as part of the exercise.
The event was witnessed by visiting officers of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the Military Institute of Technology, Pune. A foreign defence delegation from Nepal also observed the event. Lt General A K Misra, AVSM, Commandant, School of Artillery, who was present at the event, interacted with various participants and delegations.
A large number of school children and NCC cadets from nearby schools were invited for the event to give them a glimpse of the might of the Indian Army and the artillery.

Times of india

January 21, 2014

Russia can't deliver on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft: IAF

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has done a stunning about-turn, sharply criticising the showpiece Indo-Russian project to co-develop a futuristic Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). Even as New Delhi and Moscow finalise a $6 billion deal to co-develop an FGFA with capabilities tailor-made for India, the IAF has alleged the Russians would be unable to meet their promises about its performance.

So vital is the FGFA considered for the IAF's future that Defence Minister A K Antony has publicly rejected any prospect of buying the American fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, declaring the FGFA would suffice. In 2007, New Delhi and Moscow highlighted the fighter's criticality by signing an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) placing the project above MoD procurement rules. Moreover, Indian scientists say the expertise gained from the FGFA will provide crucial momentum for developing an all-Indian fifth generation fighter, designated the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Yet, with so much riding on the FGFA, the IAF has taken aback the MoD with its complaint that it would not be good enough. On December 24, in a meeting in New Delhi chaired by Gokul Chandra Pati, the secretary of defence production, top IAF officials argued the FGFA has "shortfalls… in terms of performance and other technical features."

Business Standard has reviewed the minutes of that meeting. The IAF's three top objections to the FGFA were: (a) The Russians are reluctant to share critical design information with India; (b) The fighter's current AL-41F1 engines are inadequate, being mere upgrades of the Sukhoi-30MKI's AL-31 engines; and (c) It is too expensive. With India paying $6 billion to co-develop the FGFA, "a large percentage of IAF's capital budget will be locked up."

On January 15, the IAF renewed the attack in New Delhi, at a MoD meeting to review progress on the FGFA. The IAF's deputy chief of air staff (DCAS), its top procurement official, declared the FGFA's engine was unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered, India's work share too low, and that the fighter's price would be exorbitant by the time it enters service.

Top MoD sources suspect the IAF is undermining the FGFA to free up finances for buying 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for an estimated $18 billion, an acquisition that has run into financial headwinds because of budgetary constraints. In October 2012, then IAF boss, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, announced the IAF would buy only 144 FGFAs instead of the 214 that were originally planned. Having cut the numbers, the IAF is now questioning the very benefit of co-developing the FGFA with Russia.

Fifth-generation fighters are qualitatively superior to current "Generation 4.5" fighters like the Sukhoi-30MKI. They are designed for stealth, which makes these near-invisible to radar; they "supercruise", that is, fly at supersonic speed without lighting engine afterburners (which some current fighters like the Rafale also do); and they have futuristic avionics and missiles.

The MoD and HAL have countered the IAF's objections to the FGFA. Russian officials have clarified that the current prototype's engine, the AL-41F1, is a temporary solution to let the flight-test programme continue. A new engine being developed in Russia will eventually power both the FGFA and PAK-FA.

Officials also say the FGFA programme involves co-developing radar far superior to the one on current prototypes. The Russian Air Force wants conventional radar for its version of the FGFA, which looks only towards the front. The IAF wants two additional radars that look side-wards, allowing the pilot vision all around. Now the Russians are evaluating a similar requirement.

Asked for comments, the IAF has not responded. The MoD and HAL, who were requested for comments via email, have also remained silent.

While the MoD, HAL and the IAF continue discussions, Russia has gone ahead with developing a fifth-generation fighter. The Sukhoi Design Bureau has designed and done 300 test-flights of the T-50, the stealth fighter Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plan to refine into the FGFA in about eight years. The Russian Air Force, which has less ambitious specifications than the IAF, plans to induct into service its own version of the T-50, the PAK-FA (Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii, or 'Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation') by 2017-18.

After the IGA of October 2007, a General Contract was signed in December 2008 between HAL and Rosoboronexport, Russia's defence exports agency. This laid out general principles of cooperation, such as work share, cost sharing and sale of the FGFA to third countries. In December 2010, a Preliminary Design Contract was signed, which led to the FGFA's basic configuration and selection of its systems and equipment. With that completed in June 2013, the crucial R&D contract is now being negotiated. This will encompass the actual design and development of the FGFA.

Business Standard

January 20, 2014

India successfully test-fires Agni-IV missile

India on Monday successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable strategic missile Agni-IV, with a strike range of about 4,000 km, from a test range off the Odisha coast.
"The test firing was a total success. The missile travelled its full range," M V K V Prasad, the director of Integrated Test Range, said.
It was test launched from the launch complex-4 of the ITR at Wheeler Island, at about 10:52 AM, defence sources said.
A high performance on-board computer with distributed avionics architecture, a high speed reliable communication bus and a fully digital control system were used to control and guide the missile to the target, the sources said.
"It is equipped with modern and compact avionics to provide high level of reliability," a DRDO official said.
"The state-of-the-art Ring Laser Gyros based high accuracy INS (INS) and Micro Navigation System (MINGS) complementing each other in redundant mode have been incorporated into the missile system in guidance mode," the sources said.
The sophisticated missile is lighter in weight and has two stages of solid propulsion. The payload, with a re-entry heat shield can withstand temperature of more than 3000 degree Celsius, a defence scientist said.
The missile is undergoing developmental trials by the DRDO.
This is the third development trial of Agni-IV missile by the DRDO.
Radars and electro-optical systems along the coast of Odisha have been positioned for tracking and monitoring all the parameters of the missile.
Two Indian naval ships were anchored near the target area to witness the final event.
The last trial of the missile was carried out successfully on September 19, 2012 from the same base.

Times of india

Navy's Guns Sink with Tender

The Navy’s plans to procure weapons for future warships are at risk of running aground. The force urgently needs 127mm guns, but its tender for 13 guns estimated at  Rs 1,500 crore finds itself in rough waters. To start with, there were only two vendors for the guns globally. Now, while one has walked out of the tender, the other is facing uncertainty due to its parent company’s woes.
Sources said this could delay two key shipbuilding projects—the seven follow-on Shivalik-class frigates and six Delhi-class destroyers—that are in various stages of construction in domestic shipyards.
While the UK’s BAE Systems has refused to bid, Italian Oto Melara, whose parent company Finmeccanica is facing corruption probes back home, is keen on participating in the tender.
Finmeccanica is also the parent firm of helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, which is facing an Indian probe over allegations of bribes in a Rs 3,727-crore deal for supplying AW-101 VVIP transport choppers to the Indian Air Force.
This has presented the Navy with a fait accompli. Its tender is now on deathbed.
The BAE’s nonparticipation leaves only one vendor in the fray and that is a strict no-no under the present Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). The DPP stipulates that there has to be a competition (at least two competing firms) before the contract is awarded to the lowest bidder.
The Navy is facing this situation also because the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has not been able to design and develop a 127mm/5-inch gun indigenously.
“It is a pitiable state of affairs. We have not been able to develop an indigenous gun. Now, the search for a foreign gun too is virtually dead. In a single vendor situation, the tender is a nonstarter,” a Naval officer said.
While a representative of Oto Melara in India confirmed their participation in the tender, a BAE representative too confirmed their decision not to participate.
The Defence Ministry had issued the tender (Request for Proposals or RFP in defence parlance) to the two firms on November 12, 2013, and the companies were given time till March 2014 to respond.
Under the programme, India would buy two guns directly from the winner of the tender, while 11 more guns would be manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) through transfer of technology from the global Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that wins the contract.
But within a fortnight, BAE Systems wrote back saying the company does not intend submitting a proposal. “After conducting a detailed assessment of the RFP, the company has concluded that key aspects present the bidder with a disproportionate level of risk,” BAE Systems said in a response.
By “disproportionate risk” BAE Systems meant that the Defence Ministry was placing the onus of performance of BHEL in executing the contract with quality guns and timely deliveries on the foreign OEM, which would have no control over the functioning of the PSU. Non-performance by the PSU would entail penalties being imposed on the OEM.
“This risk would involve costs and we are sure the Indian government understands this,” a BAE Systems representative said. BAE Systems noted that it has vast experience in producing the Mk45 127mm/5-inch 62-calibre Mod4 gun and in establishing in-country manufacturing programmes. It claimed the gun matched the Indian Navy’s needs. The gun, it said, is in service with the naval fleets of Australia, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Republic of China (Taiwan), Thailand and Turkey.
The Oto Melara representative, in response to queries, said the company would reply to the Defence Ministry’s RFP by March 2014.

The Sunday standard

Armed sub scare

An Indian Navy submarine loaded with missiles and torpedoes has run aground five months after a disastrous accident on board a berthed one.
The latest mishap occurred during low tide on Friday evening as the kilo-class vessel — the first of the 10 Sindhughosh-class submarines owned by the navy — hit the ground while returning to the naval dockyard after a patrol.
By the early hours of Saturday, all personnel aboard had been rescued. By afternoon, the submarine had been tugged back onshore.
“As many as 70 men were on board and the submarine was fully armed at the time of the incident. The incident occurred around 6pm on Friday and as soon as we got to know about it, a chill ran down our spine — memories of the horrific August 14 (2013) accident returned,” said a naval officer in Mumbai. In the accident in August, 18 sailors had died.
The submarine that ran aground was under the command of Capt. Subhash Chandra. “Initial reports say that there was misjudgement about the time of the tide and depth of water in the harbour,” said a naval source.
A naval spokesperson in Mumbai denied that any such incident took place.
But top naval officials confirmed to The Telegraph that the submarine, due to enter the naval dockyard around 4pm on Friday afternoon, got delayed and ran aground while trying to enter the harbour in low tide.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation listed the timing for peak high tide on January 17 at 1254 hours to the height of 3.80 metres after which the tide began falling and it was at its lowest of 0.74m at 1847 hours.
“There has been some damage to the submarine’s sonar system and hull but the damage is superficial. The submarine is in operational condition,” said the naval source.
The same submarine was involved in an accident with a merchant vessel in January 2008 during a fleet-level war game off Mumbai.
“That accident had happened because of a malfunction in the sonar system while the submarine was at periscope level. It had damaged the boat’s conning tower,” said the source.
India had a fleet of 10 Sindhughosh-type submarines — it now has nine after the accident in August.
INS Sindhurakshak — another submarine of the Sindhughosh class — was destroyed after a implosion when ordnance was being loaded on August 14. Fitted with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities, these submarines were the first ones to be commissioned into the Indian Navy.
All Sindhughosh-class submarines were built under a contract between Rosvooruzhenie and the Indian defence ministry. The submarines of this class are able to operate solo for 45 days with a crew of 53.
The total complement of personnel is 68-70, including seven officers. The submarine is 73 metres long with a beam of 10 metres.

The Telegraph

January 17, 2014

Amid blacklisting process, Agusta firm gets torpedo deal

Within weeks of the defence ministry cancelling the Rs3,600 crore deal with AgustaWestland to procure 12 VVIP choppers, it has quietly gone ahead and cleared another multi-million dollar deal with Finmeccanica, Agusta’s parent company, for the procurement of 98 torpedoes for the navy.
So, was this deal done because all the processes for the torpedo deal  were declared as ‘clean’ by various committees? Or was it done despite the fact that Augusta Westland could soon find itself blacklisted? Once blacklisted all companies in the group including the parent company, in this case Finmeccanica, also face the axe.
Significantly, this deal has been struck at a time when the process of blacklisting Finmeccanica has begun. A top defence ministry source told dna that about a fortnight ago, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Antony cleared the proposal to procure Black Shark torpedoes for $300 million for the navy. “Now, it will go to the cabinet committee on security for the final nod,” said a senior ministry officer.
Black Shark torpedoes are multi-purpose weapons designed to launch from both submarines and surface vessels. They are manufactured by a Finmeccanica company called WASS (Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei).
According to sources, the Indian navy will arm its Scorpene and conventional submarines with Black Shark torpedoes which have a range of 30 miles and can be launched from submarines and warships. Of the 98 torpedoes that India has sought, 20 would be procured from the original equipment manufacturer and the rest would be manufactured by Bharat Dynamics under licence in India. Transfer of technology under the contract will allow maintenance and overhaul of the torpedoes.
Some MPs questioned the procurement process and levelled allegations. Antony set up a Special Technical Oversight Committee to look into the complaints. The committee in its May 2013 report said the procurement process was carried out in a transparent manner.


January 15, 2014

Dassault seeks to end Rafale log jam with IAF

In a bid to end the deadlock in the negotiation for the sale of 126 Rafale combat jets to the Indian Air Force, French aircraft-maker Dassault Aviation bosses have come to the country to seal what is often termed as "mother of all defence deals". A team of officials of Dassault, Thales and Snecma - the three original equipment manufacturers of Rafale - is Bangalore talking to Indian aviation company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited - the lead partner in producing the aircraft in India - to resolve the issue of workshare agreement, sources said .

Workshare issue

India had picked Rafale for exclusive negotiations in January 2012. But the deadlock over the workshare between Dassault and its Indian Production Agencies (IPAs) and the lead partner had become a bone of contention delaying Read the whole acquisition process.

The IAF had earlier this month asked the French officials to resolve the differences with HAL to move forward as it sought to end the sense of uncertainty that has gripped the contract.

"The difficult part of the negotiations over the transfer of technology and the mandatory spin offs have already been finalised but there is uncertainty about who will provide what," a source said.

As is known, 18 aircraft would be purchased in fly away condition from France while the rest would be made in India. Dassault has identified 17 IPAs who will provide the components for the aircraft along with HAL.

The logjam in the Rafale deal has lead to a delay in the purchase of new fighters which are crucial for IAF to check the depleting combat jet squadron strength. There is a sense of urgency because even if move forward, the contract might be finalised only by the end of this year when a new government would be in place HAL chairman R.K. Tyagi is expected to go on a follow up visit to France later this month to meet officials at the highest level. That apart, the IAF will also have to wait for some more time to add to its fleet - Apache attack helicopters, Chinook heavy lift helicopters and new Airbus refuellers as India looks to cap the purchases for the financial year by buying new missiles to make its Jaguar combat jets more potent.

With multi-role combat jet deal still in a limbo, the IAF has exhausted its budget to buy new aircraft and equipment for fifth year in the running but it will not be able to conclude three other contracts - purchase of 22 Apache helicopters, 15 Chinook helicopters and six A330 refuelling tankers - which are in advanced stages of negotiations with the vendors.

The IAF had hoped to clinch these purchases within till this financial year. The price negotiation have been concluded for the purchase of 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters as only final signatures by the acquisition team members were needed to seal an estimated `7000 crore contract.

The process of price negotiations resumes this month after a set back suffered in the form of sudden demise of joint secretary in charge of air acquisitions A.K. Bal in October 2013. The final price for Chinook helicopters was finalised in September 2013 itself, but it is expected to move forward this month.

After the conclusion of price negotiations which is expected to be wrapped up by Januaryend, the agreements would go to cabinet committee on security for final clearance. The whole process can take more than three months as it has undergone stringent scrutiny from department of finance. This would mean that they might be ready for CCS approval by the end of this financial year despite being in advanced stages.

The last major deal for this financial year would be the purchase of 384 MBDA advanced short range air to air missiles. The contract, which is part of upgraded Jaguar's weaponisation programme, is worth 2000 crore.

Will Rafale F3R Upgrade Impact Indian MMRCA Procurement?

As the development and integration of a new-standard Rafale fighter, the F3R gets underway by Dassault, its impact on the Indian MMRCA procurement could be significant.As the development and integration of a new-standard Rafale fighter, the F3R gets underway by Dassault, its impact on the Indian MMRCA procurement could be significant.

With the current official information on the Indian deal being that ‘negotiations are underway’, it might just be possible that the Indian side might look at the F3R configuration seriously before freezing the aircraft configuration.

The $20 billion deal with Dassault has been delayed more than 22 months now for various reasons including not reaching an agreement over the aircraft’s lead integrator and offsets.

The new F3R standard Rafale will include a new-generation laser targeting pod and major software changes. The upgrades will complement the enhanced Thales RBE2 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar which will allow the aircraft to deploy the MBDA Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), along with improvements to the aircraft’s Thales SPECTRA self-defence system and Mode-5/Mode-S-compatible Identification Friend or Foe interrogator/transponder.

The logic driving the Rafale program builds on ongoing developments to adapt the aircraft to changing requirements by developing successive “standards” needed to cope with the evolving environment foreseen from about 2018, including improvements to the weapon and navigation systems, data links, radar RBE2 and the SPECTRA electronic warfare system, according to excerpts of a Dassault statement.

The upgrade will allow the aircraft can carry out different types of missions, such as ground attack and air defense and will be carry out the full range of missions that can be assigned to a combat aircraft: air superiority and air defense; attack of land and naval targets; close air support of ground troops; reconnaissance, and nuclear strike .

Media reports say that under the terms of the MMRCA, the Rafale will come with two Scalp cruise missiles. New Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar will be fitted with next-generation sensors, the new-generation missile launch detector (DDM NG) and the new front sector optronics "Identification and Telemetry.”

India has yet to take a call on the final list of missiles that will go on the Rafale.

It stands to reason that the higher level version will be brought over the lower level version to bridge the gap between the initial procurement request and the final configuration.


January 11, 2014

Another Trial of Agni IV Next Week

After a successful user trial of Prithvi-II ballistic missile culminating its on-going strategic training exercise by Strategic Forces Command (SFC), the DRDO is readying to carry out the third developmental trial of nuclear capable Agni-IV missile from a defence base off the Odisha coast next week.
Earlier, it was planned to be test-fired in December. Defence sources said the test would be conducted from the Wheeler Island either on January 18 or 19. This test is significant as its success would pave the way for its user associate tests from next year in a bid to induct the missile in the Armed Forces.
The indigenously built 4,000-km range surface-to-surface intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), first of its kind in the world in terms of technology, has many unique features and can also defend anti-ballistic defence systems.
Preparation is on in full swing at the test facility from where the missile would be launched. “The missile components are being integrated and the range is being readied for the test. As both first and second trials of the missile in 2011 and 2012 were flawless, this time we too hope to get a copybook success,” said a defence official.  The Agni-IV weighs less compared to its sibling Agni-III which has a strike range of around 3,000 km. While Agni-III weighs about 46 tonnes, Agni-IV is only 17 tonne.
The two missiles have separate identities and will complement each other when required during the time of crisis. Though it is said that the Agni-IV is a modified version of the Agni-II Prime strategic missile whose first test ended in failure, DRDO during the maiden test of Agni-IV claimed that there was no missile as Agni-II Prime and it was basically Agni-IV.
However, this missile can carry warhead upto one tonne with re-entry heat shield. The two-stage solid propelled missile is 20 metre tall. While Agni-III is launched from rail mobile launcher, Agni-IV can be fired from both rail and road mobile launchers, which gives it more flexibility and wide range of operational success. A scientist said Agni-IV would bridge the gap between Agni-III and Agni-V. It is designed to increase the kill efficiency along with a higher range of performance. The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that include indigenously developed ring laser gyro and composite rocket motor.
Compared to the Pershing missile of the US in terms of technology, the Agni-IV has many cutting-edge technologies which can meet global standards. The DRDO is planning to induct the missile by end of next year.


January 10, 2014

A different model for DRDO

Setting up a Defence R&D Commission will make little difference by way of increasing self-reliance in defence systems and equipment, but it will increase the autonomy of functioning of the DRDO laboratories

There is hardly any lecture or discussion on the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Defence Ministry more broadly in which a call is not given for the setting up of a Defence R&D Commission “on the pattern of” the Atomic Energy Commission and the Space Commission. The rationale for such a proposal is that it would enable the DRDO to have steeply increased autonomy and more administrative and financial powers and, thereby, to be more effective.

However, those who so argue are rarely aware of the detailed organisational structure and managerial practices of the two existing commissions. This article is intended to bring out those structures and practices.
First and foremost, the Cabinet Minister for those commissions is no less than the Prime Minister himself. So, the chairmen of those commissions have direct access to the very head of government. There is not even a Minister of State in between. Where such a Minister of State has been brought into the picture, his only role is to lighten the burden of the Prime Minister in answering parliamentary questions and other matters related to Parliament. The commission chairmen meet the Prime Minister whenever they want to and also submit files directly to him/her. This gives both chairmen unrivalled power.
Second, the commissions are small and compact and the membership is at a very high level e.g. both the principal secretary to the Prime Minister and the cabinet secretary are invariably members of the commissions. As for scientists, not only is the chairman an eminent atomic/space scientist or engineer, but he is also the secretary of the executive arm of the commission concerned viz. the departments of atomic energy or space. The members (R&D) of the commissions are usually the directors of the largest or principal R&D centre of the atomic energy and space programmes respectively viz. the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). To give the commissions the semblance of not being entirely “in-house affairs,” one eminent scientist from outside the atomic and space programmes is also made a member. But most often the scientist concerned has little detailed knowledge of the atomic or space programmes. So, the commissions are, in fact, wholly in-house structures de-facto.
Continuity till realisation
Third, and very importantly, exactly what projects the departments or R&D centres concerned should take up and how the entire atomic and space programmes should be structured in terms of goals, modalities, sequences, costs and time frames of realisation are defined by the chairman and the member (R&D) as an internal process. In other words, the programme goals are chosen and then attempted to be achieved by the same people. We thus have a situation of a “self-fulfilling prophesy.” There is no one to ask, for example, why there should be a Chandrayaan programme related to the Moon, or, the Mars mission and/or whether we, as a nation, should not set ourselves a different set of goals. This may be contrasted with the situation of the DRDO which has users external to it viz. the defence services and it is those services who define and set programme and project goals.
Success and failure
Fourth, as the goals of the atomic energy and space programmes are set totally internally, there is none to hold the commissions and departments concerned accountable for failures or project delays or escalations in project costs of a very large magnitude, e.g. the prototype fast breeder reactors in the case of atomic energy and the GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) in the case of space. In contrast, in the case of the DRDO, the defence service concerned and the Secretary (Finance) in the Defence Ministry call in such circumstances not only for project reviews but, on occasions, for project termination and the going in for the import of the weapon system concerned, quite apart from massive pillorying of the DRDO.
Fifth, in atomic energy and space whether one should go in for import or pursue further R&D on a badly delayed project is a decision taken by an entity that is both designer and developer and user rolled into one. For example, if Chandrayaan succeeds or fails, there are no external consequences or implications. However, in the case of defence systems under design and development by the DRDO in one of its laboratories, the consequences of success or failure have a direct bearing on national security and the credibility of the DRDO in the eyes of the Defence Minister and all other elements of the Defence Ministry.
Finally, and partly related, is the fact that the DRDO is doing its design and development under the overhang of constant lobbying by foreign suppliers, that the defence system concerned is either too complex and difficult for the DRDO to release or that the DRDO will need much more time to develop it, whereas they can supply the system to the defence service concerned practically off the shelf! Such a situation just does not arise in the case of atomic energy or space.
To sum up: setting up a defence R&D commission will make little difference by way of increasing self-reliance in defence systems and equipment, or changing for the better the relations between the DRDO and the defence services because of the fundamental dynamics of that relationship. What it can achieve, however, is to increase the administrative and financial powers of the DG, DRDO and the autonomy of functioning of the DRDO laboratories. Though a more modest achievement, it may still make it worthwhile to have a commission for the DRDO.

The Hindu

January 9, 2014

Army kicks off raising new mountain strike corps against China

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday was briefed on the operational readiness along the line of actual control (LAC) with China, in the backdrop of the Army kicking off the raising of a new mountain strike corps to get "some offensive punch" against the much larger People's Liberation Army.

The classified briefing held in the military operations directorate, with defence minister AK Antony, Army chief General Bikram Singh and others in attendance, came exactly a week after the new XVII Mountain Strike Corps was raised at its temporary headquarters at Ranchi.

The new corps, to be headed by Lt General Raymond Joseph Noronha on promotion, will be raised over the next seven years with around 90,000 soldiers. The corps, to be eventually headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal, will cost Rs 64,700 crore, out of which around Rs 39,000 crore has being earmarked for capital expenditure, said sources.

While the Cabinet committee on security approved the new corps last July, the Army also wants the long-pending infrastructure and "capability development plan" along the "northern borders" with China to be speeded up. The price tag for this, in turn, is pegged at Rs 26,155 crore.

While the PM, in his last meeting with top military brass, said India must strive to develop "comprehensive national power" to tackle the challenges posed by the shift in the global strategic focus towards Asia-Pacific, he had also warned the defence budget might have to be trimmed due to the economic slowdown.

The Army, on its part, says the raising of two new infantry divisions (1,260 officers and 35,000 soldiers) at Lekhapani and Missamari (Assam) in 2009-2010 added muscle to the "dissuasive posture" against China. The XVII Corps, in turn, will ramp it up to the "deterrence" level. In other words, it will get some "rapid reaction force" capability to launch a counter-offensive into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the event of any Chinese attack.

Apart from "integral units" and two Para-Special Forces battalions, the new corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (initially being raised at Panagarh and Pathankot), two independent infantry brigades and two armoured brigades spread across Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

The 1.13-million strong Army already has three "strike" corps — Mathura (I Corps), Ambala ( II Corps) and Bhopal (XXI Corps) — among its 13 such formations but they are largely geared towards the land borders with Pakistan.

India only belatedly realized the "greater challenge" posed by China, which has at least five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in TAR. This allows China to move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1 there, as earlier reported by TOI.
- Times of india

January 8, 2014

'Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft by 2018'

The product design work of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft has been started by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the vehicle is expected to be ready in 2018, Dr Tamilmani, Director General (Aeronautical Systems) DRDO, Bangalore has said.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the three-day international meet on ‘Product Life Cycle, Modelling, Simulation and Synthesis (PLMSS) at VIT university on Monday,’ he said the aircraft would be equipped with twin engines with super cruise power and for the first time it would be using the stealth technology to ‘hide’ from radar surveillance.
The work on the design of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) that began nearly 20 years back had culminated in developing vehicles using indigenous technology and the first batch of 40 such aircraft would be ready for defence utilization by the year 2017. The Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) would manufacture four vehicles this year, eight by next year and sixteen each in the following two years, Tamilmani added. With the advent of communication and automation technology, system engineering and other tools, the message to the world community is: ‘India can build new-state-of-art aerospace technology products and is ready for competition.’ Tamilmani said each of the LCA would be built at an estimated cost of `200 crore and these aircraft would be subjected to around 14,000 failure simulation conditions, to test the efficacy of the technology before they were deployed for the army. The ground work on designing the aircraft was started in the year 1993 and the prototype would be ready in the next five years. “We had to build the technology all by ourselves from scratch as no agency was willing to share the technology. Even though we have taken a little more time to develop the technology, we have now laid a strong foundation in this field,” he noted.
 While 30 to 40 per cent of the product development time was consumed for developing design and testing, 50 to 60 per cent of the time had to be spent on quality certification, which was very stringent. Around seven lakh plus test points have to be checked in the aircraft for the certification, Tamilmani added further.
“We are slowly making policy changes in the production of civil aircraft also. The government has allowed to manufacture 70 to 100-seater aircraft in the next five years,” he said. The private sector would be involved in a big way, to work with the National Aerospace Laboratories and the HAL. Many  countries were presently using the platform of aeronautics to propel new technologies, using the concepts of PLMSS, without the support of which it would be difficult to design combat and civilian aircraft, Tamilmani pointed out.

Indian Express

Self-Reliant India Eyes New Terrains in Parachute Tech


India has become self-reliant in designing and manufacturing brake parachutes used in various fighter jets of the Indian Air Force, claimed scientists at the Agra-based Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE).
In addition, heavy drop parachutes for transport aircraft, recovery chutes for unmanned platforms and ejection seat chutes have also gone the desi way, thanks to the efforts of the ADRDE, a DRDO lab.
Speaking to Express, ADRDE Director Dr S C Sati said over 10 lakh parachutes were delivered to the IAF in the last 10 years by Indian industries via the transfer of technology route. “Today, brake parachutes used in Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Tejas, Hawk, MiG 29 and MiG 27 are all made in India. We have recently designed a 30 sq m area cluster of five parachutes for heavy drop systems in P-16. Almost all the IAF assets are now using Indian parachutes, thereby reducing the important content. It has been a silent march towards total self-reliance,” Sati said.
Computational fluid dynamics analysis, parafoil analysis and wind-tunnel tests are done before the realisation of a chute. “It is a very critical, yet less-talked about feature of all fighter jets. The parachutes will have to also open outside the wake penetration area of an aircraft,” Sati said. Normally a parachute is released 1-1.5 seconds after the pilot gives the command. In Tejas, it is the spring-activated mechanism that comes to play, while in Su-30 MKI, it is a cartridge firing system that goes live, soon after the aircraft lands. The Tejas chute weighs around 5 kg and it is 15 kg for Sukhoi. “The landing speed of the aircraft matters and the chutes are designed accordingly. A Sukhoi lands at 320 km/hour, while Tejas lands around 270 km/hour. The type of parachutes vary according to the aircraft,” he said.
Ejection seat parachutes designed by the ADRDE are being used in Jaguars, Kirans, MiGs and Sea Harriers, while the recovery systems are part of unmanned missions undertaken by Lakshya and Nishant. Currently, the scientists are developing crew capsule recovery parachutes for the country’s space programmes. “The design validation process with appropriate ground test are progressing at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory in Chandigarh. It is a new area for us as the crew module has to be stable while landing. We have to ensure that the initial shock should not be very heavy and the speed reduction should be slow and limited to the human capability. The idea is to stabilise the crew module,” Sati said.
For Navy, the ADRDE is developing chutes that drop torpedoes from IL-38, an operation that demands flawlessness. “The release mechanism dictates that the entry of a torpedo into water should be at an appropriate angle.

Indian Express

January 7, 2014

INS Vikramaditya enters home ground

The ship has transited non-stop for over 8000 nm without entering any port enroute.

- Indianexpress

Indian government to launch internet spy system 'Netra' soon

Beware! Use of words like 'attack', 'bomb', 'blast' or 'kill' in tweets, status updates, emails or blogs may bring you under surveillance of security agencies as the government will soon launch 'Netra', an internet spy system capable of detecting malafide messages.
The Home Ministry is giving finishing touches to 'Netra', which will be deployed by all security agencies to capture any dubious voice traffic passing through software like Skype or Google Talk, besides write-ups in tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, internet calls, blogs and forums.
The 'Netra' internet spy system has been developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), a lab under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
"The specifications of the 'Netra' system can be taken as frozen following tests by the Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat, and can be considered for providing multiple user access to security agencies," a Home Ministry note on Netra says.
An inter-ministerial group, comprising officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, Home Ministry, DRDO, CAIR, Intelligence Bureau, C-DoT and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) recently have discussed the deployment strategy of 'Netra'.
The group also chalked-out a strategy on how to deal with computer security incidents, track system vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices across the country.
"When Netra is operationalised, security agencies will get a big handle on monitoring activities of dubious people and organisations which use internet to carry out their nefarious designs," a government official said.
The inter-ministerial group favoured allocation of 300 GB of storage space to a maximum of three security agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat, for intercepted internet traffic and an extra 100 GB would be assigned to the remaining law enforcement agencies.


January 4, 2014

Army's Northern Command to buy over 980 mine prodders for J&K

Indian Army's Northern Command has issued a global tender for procuring over 980 mine prodders, used for detection of IEDs and other explosive substances buried under ground, for its units in Jammu and Kashmir.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) Northern Command recently issued Request for Proposal (RFP) tender for procurement of 984 mine prodders for its units operating in Northern Command theatre in J&K.

The bids are invited from Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of Defence Procurement Manual 2009 or Permanent Registered Authorised Distributors of OEM, a senior officer of the Electric and Mechnical Engineers (EMA) Branch at Northern Command Headquarters said.

Mine prodders are used for detection of IEDs, mines and other explosive substances buried under ground and also used by road opening parties and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) teams deployed in counter insurgency (operations) areas in Jammu and Kashmir.

- Business standard

January 3, 2014

Indian army's big step in plugging gap along China border

On New Year's Day 2014, India's 1st Mountain Strike Corps has been launched, designed for mountain warfare along the border with China.

A Corps is the largest fighting formation in the Indian Army with troops usually numbering 40,000 to 60,000 directly coming under its command.

India has 13 full-fledged Corps out of which three--1, 2 and 21-- are designated as Strike Corps for an offensive against Pakistan. The new Corps allows India to plug the gap in its preparedness along the China border both in the Northern and Eastern Sectors

The eventual strength of the Corps is meant to be 80,000 troops. The Corps is currently headquartered in Ranchi in Jharkhand, but is expected to move to Panagarh in West Bengal.  The move will happen after the infrastructure needed in Bengal is developed -that includes training area, ammunition dumps, barracks and location for various units including infantry, artillery, army aviation, signals, ordnance, and supply formations.

The latest Corps of the army has a budget of 64,000 crores over seven years.  The new mountain Corps will require light artillery which can be easily airlifted to the highest mountains. Given India's painfully-slow process of weapons acquisition, empowering the Mountain Strike Corps quickly will be a big challenge

At least six C-130J aircraft of the Indian Air Force will be attached to the Corps at Panagarh. The C-130J is a versatile medium-lift transport aircraft which can transport at a time up to 200 fully-equipped soldiers from the Parachute or Special Forces regiments.


January 2, 2014

Antony promises to review decision on platform docks

Defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday said he would explore the possibilities for giving the order for landing platform docks (LPDs), which the Navy is planning to acquire, to Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).

He was speaking after commissioning the fast patrol vessel Abheek built by CSL for the Indian Coast Guard here on Tuesday.

The Navy had decided to acquire four LPDs and the bids were sent to private shipyards Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering and ABG Shipyard.

The decision of the Navy to exclude CSL, which had recently completed the first phase construction of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, from the tender bids for the LPD had invited criticism from various corners.

However, Antony clarified that the decision to exclude CSL from the tender bids was taken based on the report of an expert committee appointed by the Centre.

The committee which had submitted its report about 17 months ago, had said that since CSL was busy with the work of the indigenous aircraft carrier, it should not be given the LPD order to avoid affecting the delivery schedules of both ships. The report also mentioned that the foreign firm which was selected by CSL as partner had no expertise in the construction of LPDs, Antony said.

"Nobody (from Kerala) objected to the committee report back then. It is only now that many are waking up from their 'Kumbhkarna seva' (deep slumber). The process of selecting bidders for LPD has already advanced significantly by now. Still, I will strive to include CSL in the bidder's list considering that it is a prominent public sector shipbuilding unit in the country with excellent track record," the minister said.

Antony said that Indian shipyards, both in the private and public sector, would together deliver five ships each year for a period of five years.

He said that the crisis affecting the global maritime industry has impacted the shipyards in India. "Even defence shipyards like the Hindustan Shipyard Limited and Goa Shipyard are starving for orders, and finding it difficult to pay salaries. The story of CSL will be similar soon."

"The only shipbuilding orders that are coming now are from the defence ministry. Naturally there is stiff competition to secure them," he said.

Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal, director general of Coast Guard, said Abheek was the 23rd ship commissioned by the Coast Guard this year. The Coast Guard has more than 90 vessels and over 60 aircraft.
- Times of india