March 31, 2014

Rafale deal: Antony refuses govt guarantee to France

With the UPA-II's tenure coming to an end, France had wanted India to sign a pact to provide government guarantee for completion of negotiation for 126 fighter aircraft with Dassault company but defence minister A K Antony has refused to do so.

France, whose company Dassault has been shortlisted for supplying the multi-role medium combat Rafale aircraft, had proposed the signing of the agreement apparently to ensure that negotiations for the multi-billion dollar deal do not get affected if a different party comes to power after the Lok Sabha elections.

"The French side wanted government guarantee to the negotiations," sources said.
Antony, however, refused to sign such an agreement, arguing that governmental guarantee cannot be provided as negotiations were still underway, they said.

The defence ministry is still negotiating the price and terms and conditions of the contract with the French firm Dassault Aviation, whose Rafale combat aircraft was selected as the lowest bidder two years ago for supplying 126 warplanes.

Antony had recently ordered that the process to arrive at the lowest bidder in the multi-vendor tender be reviewed after completion of the whole procedure involved in the procurement as questions had been raised over it.

The two sides are trying to tackle the issue of life cycle costs (LCC) relating to Rafale.

"There are complaints about the procedure of calculating the life cycle cost and that issue is not yet settled. Before bringing the deal to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval, we would like to get clear on that aspect," he had said.

As per the Indian defence procedure, the firms offering lowest prices and meeting the requirements of the respective services are given the contract and in this deal to procure 126 combat aircraft, LCC has been taken into view to determine the lowest bidder.

Senior BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has written to Antony raising a number of questions over the "conceptual shift" in the defence procurement policy and expressed fears that LCC concept may bring in corruption. 
- Times of india

March 29, 2014

Naval variant of LCA Tejas to undergo tests in Goa soon

The naval variant of light combat aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' will soon undergo carrier compatibility tests at the newly commissioned shore-based test facility at the Indian naval base INS Hansa in Goa, the LCA's programme director Kota Harinarayana told TOI on Friday.

"Before we go to the ship, we have to do something on the ground that is similar to the ship," Harinarayana said, while pointing out that the shore-based test facility is primarily a ramp - similar to the ones on aircraft carriers - which facilitates ski-jump take-off and arrested landing of a naval aircraft. "The aircraft will go to the test facility in a month's time," he added.

"Apart from enabling carrier compatibility, the new facility will aid certification of the LCA naval variant, which is critical to the LCA's future induction in the Indian Navy," he said.

The LCA (Navy) is India's first indigenous effort to build a carrier-borne naval fighter aircraft, a vital ingredient in the Navy's expansion plans. It is designed to operate from future indigenous aircraft carriers that the Indian Navy plans to acquire.

Harinarayana is regarded as the chief architect of the LCA programme, which was launched in 1980 as part of the plan to replace the Indian Air Force's (IAF) ageing fleet of MIG-21 aircraft. He spoke to TOI on the sidelines of a talk on 'Aircraft designing in India', jointly organised by the Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies and the Aeronautical Society of India. Former vice-chief of air staff Air Marshal (Retd) Bhushan Gokhale chaired the event.

In December 2013, the IAF gave its operational clearance to the LCA Air Force variant and also cleared the same for full-scale production at the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited facility in Bangalore, Harinarayana said. "We expect the aircraft to be rolled out for induction into the Air Force later this year and hopefully the IAF will raise an independent squadron for the LCA," he said.

He said, "The IAF has placed an initial order of 40 LCAs which are to be delivered over the next four to five years. We have their (IAF's) commitment for another 80 to 90 LCAs in future. The Air Force and Navy collectively require 200 LCAs."

Harinarayana added that the LCA had also evinced keen interest from foreign countries. "However, our immediate focus is on meeting the Air Force and Navy's requirement for the next three years. Supply to foreign countries remains a part-commercial, part-diplomatic matter, and may still take some time to come through. The priority for now is to enhance the production capacity and to continue working on the LCA Mk-II variant, which is expected to go operational in four to five years following flight and other tests."

He conceded that both LCA variants will work on the imported GE-404 engines as it will take some more years for the indigenously developed Kaveri engine to be ready for use in these aircraft. "We still have to fully achieve the reliability and performance of the Kaveri engine. We have tested for 50 hours' flying in a transport carrier, but we still have to improve," he said.

Apart from enabling carrier compatibility, the new shore-based test facility will aid certification of the LCA naval variant, which is critical to the LCA's future induction in the Indian Navy.
- Times of india

India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable Prithvi II missile

India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Prithvi II missile, with a range of 350 km, from a test range near Balasore as part of a user trial by the Army.

Integrated Test Range (ITR) Director M V K V Prasad said the missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads.

"It was a perfect launch and all mission objectives were met," he said, adding the missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from launch complex-3 at Chandipur at about 9.45 am.

"The missile trajectory was tracked by DRDO radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations located along the coast of Odisha," defence sources said.

"The downrange teams onboard the ship deployed near the designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal monitored the terminal events and splashdown," they said.

Defence sources said the training launch of Prithvi II, which was inducted into Strategic Force Command (SFC) in 2003, clearly indicate the country's operational readiness to meet any eventuality besides establishing the reliability of this deterrent component of India's strategic arsenal.

Prithvi-II is the first missile to be developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the country's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and is now a proven technology.

The missile is thrust by liquid propulsion twin engines and uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory.

The missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activities were carried out by the specially formed SFC as part of a regular training exercise.

It was monitored by DRDO scientists, the sources said. The last user trial of Prithvi-II was successfully conducted from the same base on January 7, 2014.


March 26, 2014

India test fires long range N-missile launched from under sea

In a significant step towards completing the nuclear triad available with a few nations, India has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched from an underwater platform with a range of over 2,000 kms.

The missile, which can be launched from submarines, was test-fired yesterday in the Bay of Bengal and all parameters were , Defence Ministry sources said.

This is the longest range missile in the underwater category to have been developed by India.

With this development, India has developed the capability of launching long-range nuclear-capable missile from surface, air and underwater.

Defence Minister AK Antony has congratulated the team of scientists involved in the tests.

Launch from a submarine and integration of the three types of capabilities will mean completion of the nuclear triad, which is available only with a few countries like the US, France, Russia and China.

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is being readied for deployment on various platforms including the around 6,000-tonne indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant which will soon be ready for sea trials, sources said.

The missile is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by DRDO for the Indian strategic forces' underwater platforms.

The DRDO has already developed the BO5 missile, which can strike targets at a range of around 700 km.

India has a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons and the development of an SLBM boosts its retaliatory strike capability, experts said.

Business standard

March 25, 2014

India, Russia to ink deal for anti-tank shells soon

The Government has cleared a proposal to procure 66,000 Mango anti-tank shells from Russia to equip its tanks including T-90 main battle tanks comprising armoured regiments which were facing shortage of this critical ammunition.
Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by the Prime Minister, gave the go-ahead to this proposal and the deal is likely to be signed in the next few days, officials said here on Monday. The deal also entails Russia transferring technology to the Indian ordnance factories which will manufacture this specialised ammunition within the country.
The Defence Ministry has also decided to have joint ventures with Russian manufactures to produce this category of ammunition in India like in the case of rockets for Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher systems, they said.
Critical shortage of tank ammunition was first highlighted by then Army Chief General V K Singh in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March two years back. The Army Chief had pointed out that only three to four days of this particular ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments.
The Army had also informed the Standing Committee on Defence about the shortage and how the situation had worsened by the recent blacklisting of its supplier Israeli Military Industry (IMI).
VK Singh had also listed shortage of ammunition for infantry units, poor capability to fight war during night as tanks and troops lacked sufficient numbers of night vision devices and lack of high-quality of weapons for Special Forces.
At present, the Army does not have ammunition to fight a conventional war for more than 20 days even though war wastage reserves or additional ammunition should be sufficient to fight for at least 40 to 45 days.
While the Army has initiated several steps to address critical shortage, the force is likely to fill this huge gap only by 2019 besides 50 per cent war wastage reserve and three years of training ammunition by 2015.  This will entail a budgetary support of Rs 19,250 crore.
The new Government will take a call on this aspect as the war wastage reserve will go up after the raising of the Mountain Strike Corps to counter China gathers momentum.  Its raising started in January and recruitment of more than 45,000 troops besides procurement of ammunition, artillery guns and helicopters will take seven years.


March 24, 2014

Advanced composite materials developed by DRDO to improve missile range

Though there's no denying that safety is paramount, last year's Central government's notification categorizing ammonium nitrate as explosives under the explosive ACT 1884, is causing a lot of inconvenience to manufacturers, users and importers. It has affected the availability of the chemical for fertilizer purposes too.

S Roy, a former government employee of Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers and other industries and now a freelance consultant in the field, spoke to the TOI elaborating on his views on the sidelines of a day-long national conference on 'Advances in explosives and propellants' organized by the chemical engineering department at Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT). Efforts to categorize ammonium nitrate as explosives were on for a long time but began to take form only from 2011 onwards and finally came into effect from March 20, 2013.

"Selling, manufacturing, storing, transporting, safety and importing all have been brought under the explosives act. There were ample deliberations between manufacturers' associations and government but did not result into anything concrete.

The process has also resulted in imports," Roy said.

Speaking on the solid rocket propellants for Indian missiles, Prashant Kumar Adak, a scientist at the High Energy Materials Research Lab of Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), Pune, said that DRDO had developed advance composite materials for missiles which can improve the missile's range as well as the pay load capacity. It has developed advanced version of explosive composites for application in war heads of rockets thus increasing the performance ability.

The conference was earlier inaugurated by TR Thomas, the chief controller of explosives (PESO) in city. Beginning with the history of explosives like gun powder, Thomas went on explain the present day hazards of explosives. Ajai Nigam, the former chief controller of explosives, deliberated on the advances in explosives and propellants from the good old days when explosives were used in very primitive form to the developments in the present times.

VNIT director NS Chaudhari spoke on the importance of role of chemical engineers in the field and prompted students to take research as a challenge. Department head and convener of the conference KL Wasewar, co-convener DZ Shende and organizing secretary MN Varma also spoke on the occasion.
- Times of india

Army running low on ammunition

(Times of india): The world's second-largest standing Army is fast running out of ammunition. Tanks and air defence units, artillery batteries and infantry soldiers are all facing the crunch. The Army is, obviously, tight-lipped on the ammunition shortage. But a simple calculation reveals that at present, it may not have enough ammunition reserves to sustain a full-fledged war for even 20 days.

The norm is that war wastage reserves (WWR) should be adequate for 40 days of intense fighting, with 21 days earmarked for ammunition with shorter shelf-life. But according to a recent statement by Army chief General Bikram Singh, if there is proper budgetary support for the new ammunition roadmap, the Army should have 50 per cent WWR and three years of training ammunition by 2015.

In other words, the Army is at not even 50 per cent WWR right now, which means it does not have adequate reserves to fight a war for even 20 days. It is expected to reach 100 per cent WWR only by 2019.
With the huge shortages adversely impacting both operational readiness and training, the 1.18-million strong Indian Army is desperate that the new government which takes charge in May actively supports its new ammunition roadmap of around Rs 19,250 crore, both in terms of fund allocations and timelines.

This becomes all the more crucial since the Army has kick-started the raising of the new XVII Mountain Strike Corps, which will come into full force with over 90,000 soldiers over the next seven years, to add some much-needed teeth to its deterrence posture against China. This alone will see the raising of 32 new infantry battalions, apart from armoured, artillery and air defence units.

The Army already has 13 corps, which includes the three "strike" ones headquartered at Mathura (I Corps), Ambala (II Corps) and Bhopal (XXI Corps). They add up to 382 infantry battalions, 281 artillery, 63 armoured, 44 mechanized and 56 air defence regiments, apart from other support arms like signals, engineers, ordnance and the like.

Plans didn't take off

On one hand, almost none of its critical modernization projects for new howitzers, helicopters, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) or air defence guns have materialized till now. On the other, operational hollowness or "critical" deficiencies in ammunition and fuses for existing weapon systems have built up over the last decade.

"There is a glaring mismatch between operational and training requirements vis-a-vis budget allocations, imports and the inadequate production capacity of our 39 ordnance factories," said a senior officer.
The Army holds ammunition, which is costly and also has shelf-life, at three levels. The "first line" of operational and training ammunition is held at the battalion level in the shape of "on weapon and unit reserves", while the "second line" is with higher formations like brigades and divisions.

Finally, there is the WWR, held in a dispersed manner.
With defence minister AK Antony sanctioning the roadmap, the next government will have to take it forward.

March 21, 2014

Dhanush heads for summer trials

Dhanush, a derivative of the Bofors gun, has cleared the winter trials in Sikkim and is headed for a final round of tests in the Rajasthan deserts this summer.
If it clears the last round of trials on accuracy, range and rate of fire, it could find its way into the Indian army by year-end.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) officials said a move was under way to transport the Dhanush to Rajasthan from Sikkim, where the winter trials ended yesterday.
“We have put together a special project team to look into different aspects of the product, including the cradle, barrel and the hydraulic and electrical systems. Once the last round of trials is complete, we will supply the guns to the forces by this year-end,” said M.C. Bansal, the chairperson of the Calcutta-headquartered OFB.
“We have an order to supply 114 such guns to the army.”
For nearly three decades, the army has not added a big gun to its armoury. The Bofors guns, bought in 1987, have kept the artillery going.
The Dhanush is being developed at the Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur. It has a 155mm barrel that is 6.975 metres long. The longer barrel ensures a longer range, an OFB official said.
Work on version 2 of the Dhanush was also under way, officials said. “The sub-systems for this product are being developed and once this gun fires successfully, work on the next-generation Dhanush would gather momentum.”
Other officials said work to develop better mine-protected vehicles was going on at the OFB’s research facility in Medak in Andhra Pradesh.
Sources said the new MPVs would be able to withstand stronger mine blasts and provide “an improvised seating system to take in greater shock and give better options for firing back at the enemy”.

Will Induct Brahmos Missile Once Ready: Air Chief Marshal

Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha today said the Air Force would induct the hypersonic missile Brahmos, being developed by the Indo-Russian Joint venture Brahmos, once it was ready.

To a question on the preparedness of inducting the missle into the force, Raha told reporters that the missile was in the developmental stage and once it is ready, IAF will induct into it.

Addition of this missile would definitely strengthen the Air Defence of India, he said.

On the search of missing Malaysian aircraft, he said that an IAF team in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was on the job.

The Chief of Air Staff was on a visit to the Air Force Administrative College here.

New india express

March 20, 2014

Antony freezes defence buys ahead of polls

It will take at least two months for the new government to take over at the Raisina Hill, but the defence ministry has already pulled down the shutter on major capital acquisitions, brushing aside suggestions by major defence contractors to commit on either the $20 billion Dassault Rafale fighter deal or the purchase of six more C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft from Boeing
South Block sources said defence minister AK Antony had left it to the next government to take a call on hardware acquisitions and was unwilling to give any future commitment to any country or defence contractor. Last month, Antony publicly stated that his ministry had no money left to buy the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) from Dassault, as it had exhausted 92% of its capital outlay.
It is understood that after Antony’s statement the French aircraft major sent feelers to the highest levels in the Indian government that it was willing to sign a contract for sale of Rafale without any financial commitment.
Rafale was the lowest bidder for the MMRCA contract in 2012 but the deal remains at a negotiating stage.
Similarly, the US defence major Boeing, after announcing that it was closing down the production of C-17 in 2015, used diplomatic-military channels to convey that it could hold on to six heavy-lift aircraft out of the 14 available for sale to India if New Delhi signed a letter of intent even without financial commitment. India already has 10 C-17 strategic lift aircraft, with the option of buying six more of the hugely versatile machine, which is at the heart of New Delhi’s military deterrence vis-à-vis Beijing.
“When the offer was conveyed to defence ministry, the minister let it be known that he was opposed to giving any commitment and wanted the new government to take the call on future acquisitions,” said a senior official.
Antony, for his part, has decided against contesting the Lok Sabha polls and plans to move to Kerala this month.

- Hindustan times

March 19, 2014

Indigenous artillery gun 'Dhanush' to be ready this year

After trials, India's indigenous artillery gun 'Dhanush' would be ready for use by the Army by the end of this year.
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman M C Bansal today said the winter trials of the 'desi' howitzers were successfully completed in Sikkim and after the summer trials to be held in the deserts of Rajasthan in the next few months, it would be ready for use.

"We will add another laurel to the country by producing them with indigenous technology," he said.

After the extensive trials, 'Dhanush' would be produced in bulk in the Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur and the Army has placed an initial order of 114 such guns.

An improved and indigenous version of the Swedish Bofors, 'Dhanush' is a 155mm and 45 calibre gun. While the original Bofors gun has a maximum effective range of 27 km, 'Dhanush' can fire a salvo up to 38 km in the plains.
With the Defence Ministry focusing on indigenous technology, OFB had also decided to increase production capacity for making 5000 rockets for the Pinaka multi-barrel weapons system.

"Our capacity expansion programme is underway," Bansal said, adding that production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for armoured vehicles to meet the requirements of the Army were being augmented.

The Kolkata-based OFB, which makes arms, ammunition and equipment for military and civilian used at 41 factories in the country, was on a massive modernisation and product upgrade programme investing Rs 11,000 crore in the 12th Plan period.

Stating that core competency of OFB was in ammunition, Bansal said making hardware as per the needs of the armed forces was being looked into.

An Ordnance Factory Project was underway at Nalanda for bi-modular charges while the Korwa project would manufacture carbines.

Officials said OFB would be taking up new products such as new generation assault rifles, CQB carbine, 155/52 artillery guns, 155/52 mounted gun system, Smerch rockets, grad rockets, successor to L-70 AD gun, very short-range air defence missile and latest generation ammunition for 84 mm rocket launcher through technology transfer.

Asked about exports, the OFB chairman said products worth Rs 50 crore were sold to buyers outside the country for visibility at the global level. 
- Times of india

March 18, 2014

Secret report on India-China war in 1962 made public

A section of the confidential Henderson Brooks report that critically reviewed India's defence preparedness and strategies during the 1962 war with China has been released online by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell.

While the report may not contain significantly new revelations about the poor state of India's forces during the war, it discusses "how the Army was ordered to challenge the Chinese military to a conflict it could only lose," according to Maxwell, a retired foreign correspondent who was based in Delhi at the time of the war.

The report was authored by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat, then commandant of the Indian Military Academy, soon after the war. It was commissioned by Lt General J N Chaudhuri who had just taken over as chief of Army staff in 1962.

It continues to be considered classified by the Indian government.

As late as April 2010, defence minister AK Antony told Parliament that the contents of the report are "not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value."

Maxwell, who wrote a controversial account of the reasons that led to India's defeat in his work, India's China War, says on his website that he has always had access to the report and had waited for it to be declassified. He says he has now decided to put a large part of the report in the public domain because of India's unwillingness to release it.

While the Nehru government's forward policy has been widely analyzed and criticized as being a contributor, Maxwell says on his website that the report holds India's first prime minister personally responsible for the war. "The reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed probably partisan, perhaps even familial," says Maxwell.

The report may provide cannon fodder for the BJP to attack Congress and beef up its campaign for a strong India under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Congress analysts are likely to dismiss the contents since it may not be revelatory, but harp on the progress India has made since then
- Times of india

March 17, 2014

India's arms imports almost three times of China, Pak: SIPRI report

India's continuing abject failure to build a robust defence industrial base (DIB) has come to into focus once again, with an international thinktank holding its arms imports are now almost three times as high as those of the second and third largest arms importers, China and Pakistan.

As per the latest data on international arms transfers released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111% between 2004-08 and 2009-13, and its share of the volume of international arms imports increased from 7% to 14%.

The major suppliers of arms to India in 2009-13 were Russia (accounting for 75% of imports) and the US (7%), which for the first time became the second largest arms supplier to India, said SIPRI. As earlier reported by TOI, the US has already bagged defence deals close to $10 billion over the last decade in the lucrative Indian defence market, with the latest being the $1.01 billion one for six additional C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft.

The other deals on the anvil are the ones for 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, four P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers, together worth another $4 billion or so.

SIPRI, on its part, said the USA's share of Pakistani imports in the same period was 27%. China was also a major supplier in the region, accounting for 54% of Pakistani arms imports and 82% of Bangladeshi imports.

"Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations," said Siemon Wezeman of SIPRI. In particular, China and the US appear to be using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region, he added.

The five largest suppliers of major weapons during the five-year period 2009-13 were the United States (29% of global arms exports), Russia (27%), Germany (7%), China (6%) and France (5%).

Despite India's emergence as the world's largest arms importer over the last decade, the modernisation of its armed forces continues to take place in a haphazard manner due to the lack of concrete strategic planning in tune with the country's long-term geopolitical objectives, as reported by TOI earlier.

The Indian armed forces are still grappling with critical shortages in fighter jets, submarines, helicopters, howitzers, night-fighting capabilities and the like. The IAF, for instance, is down to just 34 fighter squadrons when it requires at least 44 to be "comfortable" against the twin-challenge posed by Pakistan and China.

A K Antony, who has been India's longest-serving defence minister, may have often chanted the mantra of "indigenisation" during his seven-and-a-half year tenure, especially after defence scams erupted one after the other, but failed to deliver meaningful systemic reforms on the ground.

There was, for instance, no concrete revamping of the DRDO and its 50 establishments as well as the five defence PSUs, four shipyards and 39 ordnance factories to ensure they deliver weapon systems without huge cost and time overruns.

Similarly, MoD has continued with its flip-flops over promoting the entry of the private sector, pushing for JVs and technology transfers in a jumbled manner, even as foreign direct investment (FDI) is still restricted to only 26% in the defence production sector.

India has only managed to attract a measly $5 million as FDI in the last 14 years. It also junked innovative steps like nominating private sector companies as Raksha Udyog Ratnas to ensure they got a level playing field with the defence PSUs after first identifying 13 of them for that status.

The lack of a strong DIB, unlike China, means India still continues to import over 65% of its military hardware and software, which also makes it vulnerable to supply lines being choked in times of emergency.

China, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the fastest growing arms exporter around the globe after assiduously building a strong DIB. It's now hawking fighter jets, warships, missiles and smaller arms to countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bolivia and Zambia.
- Times of india

March 14, 2014

Dassault Aviation says profits slump, but closer to Rafale fighter jet deal with India

PARIS: France's Dassault Aviation reported today a profit slump for 2013, but said it was moving closer to sealing a major fighter jet contract with India. Net profit for the year fell 8.5 per cent to 459.45 million euros (USD 641 million), but total orders intake rose 25 per cent to 4.16 billion.Net profit for the year fell 8.5 per cent to 459.45 million euros (USD 641 million), but total orders intake rose 25 per cent to 4.16 billion.

During the year, it recorded 64 orders for its Falcon private jets, up from 58 in 2012.

Defence orders made up just 1.26 billion euros in 2013, up from 793 million euros in 2012.

However, the group is seeking to significantly boost its defence segment, as it is trying to seal a deal with India worth USD 12 billion.

The two parties began exclusive negotiations in January 2012 on the sale of 126 Rafale fighter jets, some 108 of which are to be built in India. Today, the group's chief executive Eric Trappier suggested that the company was coming closer to a deal.

"We have taken a step to a new level" with regards to finalising the contract, he said.

"We have effectively a contract with HAL" -- India's state-owned group HAL on manufacturing the Rafales in India, said Trappier.

Separately, European aerospace giant Airbus forecast on today that India would have massive demand for new airliners in the next two decades.

The group said the country's airlines along would require 1,290 new planes over the period, a potential market worth USD 190 billion. 
PARIS: France's Dassault Aviation reported today a profit slump for 2013, but said it was moving closer to sealing a major fighter jet contract with India.

Net profit for the year fell 8.5 per cent to 459.45 million euros (USD 641 million), but total orders intake rose 25 per cent to 4.16 billion.

PARIS: France's Dassault Aviation reported today a profit slump for 2013, but said it was moving closer to sealing a major fighter jet contract with India.

Net profit for the year fell 8.5 per cent to 459.45 million euros (USD 641 million), but total orders intake rose 25 per cent to 4.16 billion.

March 12, 2014

India, the Best Customer for America's Defense Industry

Once again, Indians are mourning after a tragedy aboard one of the navy’s submarines. After an accident on the INS Sindhuratna filled the vessel with smoke yesterday, two officers with severe burns died and seven other sailors suffering from smoke inhalation had to be flown to safety. Last year, an explosion aboard another Indian sub left 18 sailors dead. Shortly after Wednesday’s incident, Indian Navy Chief of Staff D.K. Joshi resigned, effective immediately.
Wednesday’s accident comes at a bad time for India’s embattled government. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress Party, facing a string of corruption scandals as well as a lackluster economy, will probably lose in the upcoming national elections due by May. The leader of the largest opposition party, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is a Hindu nationalist who argues that Singh hasn’t been tough enough, especially toward the country’s assertive neighbor to the north—China.
In his first major speech as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leader last September, he accused the Congress-led government of not doing enough to protect India’s borders. “Unless there is a capable government, patriotic government, there cannot be any guarantee of security,” Modi said. Over the weekend, Modi criticized what he called China’s “expansionary mindset.”

Sonia Gandhi and other Congress Party leaders had tried to inoculate the government from attacks from the right by dramatically increasing the amount of military equipment it purchases from overseas suppliers. Indeed, nobody imports more military hardware than the Indians. The nation tops the list of countries that buy weaponry overseas, ahead of No. 2 Saudi Arabia and No. 3 Turkey, according to a report published today by IHS Jane’s Aerospace & Defense Forecasting.
India, which imported around $3 billion worth of military gear in 2010, had an import tab of $5.9 billion last year, and IHS (IHS) forecasts the total will be about $6.7 billion this year and $8.16 billion in 2015. The increase in imports has been “spectacular,” IHS senior analyst Ben Moores said in a statement.
The biggest beneficiary of the free-spending Indians has been the U.S. India is now the largest defense market for America’s defense industry, and its appetite for U.S.-made military gear is likely to get even stronger, says Paul Burton, content director for defense industry and budget at IHS Defense in Singapore. U.S. military exports to India totaled $1.9 billion for 2013 and will increase to $2.3 billion in 2014 and $3.3 billion in 2015.

Business week

March 8, 2014

Singapore buys A330 air tankers, India in talks: Airbus

Airbus Defence and Space said on Friday that it will supply six A330 MRTT refuelling jets to Singapore's air force and that India was close to ordering another half dozen.

The deal brings the total number of converted Airbus jetliners sold as tankers to 34 worldwide after Australia, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates previously placed orders.

India was in the "final stages of contractual negotiations for six aircraft," the company, a subsidiary of Airbus Group NV, said in a statement.

Airbus Group Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders told reporters in Washington that the Singapore order underscored the appeal of the MRTT tanker, although he acknowledged that the orders were far smaller than the 179 planes ordered by the US Air Force from Boeing Co after a prolonged series of competitions. Singapore was also assessing the Boeing 767-based KC-46A tanker being built for the US Air Force.

Boeing said it was disappointed by the news, but remained committed to its longstanding relationship with Singapore.

Boeing said it would also continue to vy for tanker orders elsewhere, including South Korea, which is expected to launch a formal competition in coming months.

"We continue to see strong interest in the KC-46A from nations looking to modernize their aerial refueling capabilities," said Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling.

Singapore's decision to buy the six Airbus tankers to replace its fleet of four Boeing KC-135 tankers gives it a vehicle that can refuel both its F-15s and a possible purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35s. The Airbus purchase means Singapore could transport aircraft that can carry around 300 passengers. That would be useful for the Singapore Armed Forces, which conducts training in Australia and Taiwan.

Singapore-based maintenance and repair firm ST Aerospace, a unit of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, was expected to be selected to make the modifications on the A330 MRTT for the country.

Economic Times

March 4, 2014

A big step in India's Rafale jet deal with France

The Indian government and French aerospace major Dassault have sealed a work share agreement in what is being described as a big step forward, almost two years after negotiations began in the deal for 126 Rafale fighter jets to be bought by India.

The government's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL will do 70 per cent of the work on the 108 planes that will be manufactured in India. Dassault would do the rest of the work, sources said.

The first 18 of the fighters will be fully manufactured in France and will be brought to India in "fly-away" condition.

India has apparently rejected Dassault's reservations about having HAL as the major player.

The final contract, though, is still far from being signed. For one, India's Ministry of Defence has no money in the current financial year that ends this month, for initial payment.

Also, general elections are due by May and the final contract will only be signed by the next government, if it chooses to go ahead on the same terms and conditions.

Dassault Aviation had won the contract to supply 126 Medium, multi-role combat aircraft or MMRCA in 2012. The massive contract is pegged at anywhere between 12 to 15 billion dollars.

Sources said the deal is complex and requires both sides to be in sync on commercial factors, logistics and HAL's ability to assemble the Rafale.

For instance, the radar on the Rafale jet is to be manufactured by Bharat-Electronics Ltd (BEL) in Bangalore. The Radome (the protruding snub nose on the aircraft) would, however, be manufactured by HAL at its Hyderabad facility. Dassault wanted clarity on how the two units would coordinate their activities.

Now, HAL has apparently agreed to set up a new facility close to the one that BEL has in Bangalore.

The French and Indian governments are also working on an agreement for a sovereign guarantee that Dassault will supply, service and maintain the Rafales over the next 40 years.

This is an important provision in the Indian defence procurement procedure, designed to ensure that manufacturers don't renege on their commitment.


March 3, 2014

Another scam hits defence ministry, Antony orders CBI probe

The country's defence establishment has been hit by what seems to be another major scandal, forcing the government to order a CBI probe into allegations that global engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce committed irregularities and violated contractual provisions to bag contracts worth over Rs 10,000 crore from 2007 to 2011.

The CBI probe, which was confirmed by defence ministry officials on Sunday, comes soon after alleged Indian-origin arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, who has for long been under the scanner of CBI and Enforcement Directorate, and his son Bhanu were arrested in London last month.

Though the father and son were released almost immediately, and strongly denied any wrongdoing, the British Serious Fraud Office is probing allegations that they acted as intermediaries of Rolls-Royce for deals in China and Indonesia.

Sources said defence minister A K Antony ordered the CBI probe after allegations about Rolls-Royce hiring "advisors/consultants" — middlemen are banned under the Indian defence procurement system — surfaced in a letter sent to defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) recently.
"The letter was received by HAL, which initiated an inquiry into the entire issue after the board discussed the matter. The defence PSU's chief vigilance officer, Anurag Sahai, an Indian Revenue Service officer, on investigation found the allegations had some prima facie credence about violations of contractual provisions and obligations. The matter was then forwarded to MoD for further action," said a source.

On being contacted on Sunday, HAL officials said they "would not officially talk" on the issue since it was now being handled by the MoD and CBI. Rolls-Royce's India and South Asia president, Kishore Jayaraman, in turn, said, "Unfortunately, I have no comments for I have not seen anything yet, whatever this is."

Rolls-Royce has a major presence in India since 1932, supplying engines for fighters like British Jaguars, newly-acquired aircraft like Brazilian VVIP Embraer Legacy jets and American C-130J 'Super Hercules' as well as naval and Coast Guard fast-patrol vessels.

At present, Rolls-Royce is a key player in the ongoing induction of the Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs), manufactured by BAE Systems, by the IAF and Navy to train their rookie pilots in the intricacies of combat flying.

India has ordered 143 twin-seater Hawk AJTs, which are powered by Adour Mk.871 engines of Rolls-Royce, in an overall project cost worth well over Rs 25,000 crore. While the first 24 Hawks were supplied directly by BAE Systems, the rest are being licensed manufactured by HAL.

The fresh controversy has the potential to once again derail the modernization of the armed forces, like it has happened in the past.

Antony has blacklisted several global armament majors, like Singapore Technology Kinetics, Rheinmetall and Israel Military Industries (IMI), over the last few years.

The MoD is also moving towards blacklisting AgustaWestland, the UK-based subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, after cancelling the controversial Rs 3,546 crore contract for 12 VVIP helicopters on January 1.

Finmeccanica and its companies, incidentally, are involved in several ongoing defence projects in India, with one estimate holding the conglomerate is also in contention for Indian military contracts worth over $6 billion, ranging from helicopters and aircraft to missiles and guns.

The Hawk AJT story itself has been riddled with controversies from the beginning. India first ordered 66 Hawks in March 2004 after over two decades of losing hundreds of fighter jets and pilots in crashes, with IAF screaming for AJTs for "transitional training" between sub-sonic aircraft and the "highly-unforgiving" supersonic MiG-21s for rookie pilots.

Then, another 57 AJTs were ordered in July 2010, with the last 20 being contracted at a later stage for IAF's famous Surya Kiran aerobatics team that had been forced to stop its breathtaking manoevres due to a crippling shortage of training aircraft.

If all the Hawks had been ordered at one go, they would have proved much cheaper. It would have also saved many young lives if they had been inducted much earlier. Almost 40% of the around 1,100 crashes recorded by IAF since 1970 have been attributed to "human error (aircrew)", which is often a result of inadequate training.

"Technical defects", caused by ageing machines and shoddy maintenance, is the other equally big killer.
  -Times of india