May 31, 2014

India's New Defense Minister Is Expected to Fast-Track Procurements

India’s new National Democratic Alliance government has named Arun Jaitley to be its new defense minister and finance minister, a move that analysts and Defence Ministry officials believe means one thing: more money for weapons.
Jaitley was named temporary defense minister Tuesday and will run the Defence Ministry until the Cabinet is expanded and a new minister is appointed. The government is led by Narendra Modi, who took office Monday.
The outgoing government allocated US $34.65 billion for the 2014-15 financial year, an amount expected to climb by more than 15 percent when the new government presents its annual budget, expected in July, an MoD official said.
Rao Inderjit Singh is the new minister of state for defense, a junior position to Jaitley’s. Singh would likely take care of defense production, but no announcement has been made. Singh, who quit the outgoing United Progressive Alliance government just months before the elections to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was minister of state for defense production from 2004 to 2009.
Modi’s new government is likely to soon sign its first purchases from the US. Contracts worth more than $2.6 billion have been awaiting inking over the past year, a senior MoD official said.
The outgoing government had postponed the awarding of defense projects due to the unavailability of funds. Now, defense officials are expected to sign contracts for Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopters for $1.6 billion, Boeing Chinook helicopters for $833 million and BAE Systems light howitzer guns for $583 million.
Outgoing Defence Minister A.K. Antony not only put defense projects on the shelf, but even diverted $1.3 billion from the weapons and equipment budget to the salaries and pension budget for Indian troops.
In his first press conference after taking charge as defense minister, Jaitley said his defense job will be temporary.
“I will be looking after the Ministry of Defence also, but that’s only an additional charge till there’s an expansion in the Cabinet itself,” he said.
“Jaitley will remain defense minister until the next budget, expected to be laid in the Parliament in July this year,” defense analyst Nitin Mehta said. “The main aim of the new government is to allocate more funds to defense spending, which will be reflected in the new budget.”
Along with allocating funds for projects awaiting contract awards, the new defense minister will have to give additional funds for the $12 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, which is in the final stages of negotiations and likely to be awarded this year. French company Dassault’s Rafale has been given preferred bidder status.
“The new government should speed up finalization of several defense projects now because the US dollar has fallen sharply against the Indian rupee,” an Indian Air Force officer said.
Finding additional money to meet the weapons needs of the Indian defense forces is seen as one of several issues the new government must address. Speeding up weapons procurement, boosting the domestic defense sector and making structural changes in state-owned defense companies are cited by defense analysts as some of the urgent tasks to be tackled.
“The present defense procurement system is marred by time delay, lack of transparency and professionalism, giving rise to allegations of corruption followed by blacklisting of foreign companies for doing business in India,” said defense analyst Venkataraman Mahalingam, a retired Indian Army brigadier general. “We need to consider establishment of an independent transparent expert body for all defense procurements, which could have representatives from all stake holders as well as personnel with the desired skill sets. This will enable integration of combat experience with advanced engineering knowledge, the key to developing state-of-the-art technolo­gy in defense production.”
Defense analysts are unanimous in their view that India must cut its dependence on imports. However, with the domestic defense industry still in the nascent stage, it will need to forge ties with overseas defense companies.
“The issue of joint ventures needs a business rather than a bureaucratic approach,” Mahalingam said. “No country or businessmen would ever be willing to part with advanced technologies without the terms of business including the fidelity and stability of the collaborative arrangements being even­handed or if the foreign partner is deprived of some degree of control over the running of the industry.
“This would imply allowing increased stakes to the foreign investor, permitting easy repatriation of profits and adequate protection to intellectual property shared in such ventures,” he said.
With delays in procurement of weapons and equipment for more than a decade, along with the stalling of projects by the outgoing government, the new government should acquire weapons on a fast-track basis while taking steps to boost domestic defense production, said defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier general.
“Procurements that are lagging years behind, if not decades, have to be cleared through a fast-track approach by using dedicated project teams with time-bound accountability at whatever stage they may be at present,” Bhonsle said. “These include Army artillery guns, air defense guns and light helicopters; the Indian Navy’s submarine 75I project, air defense and anti-submarine systems; and [the] MMRCA program of the Indian Air Force.”

Defense news

In unusually strong language, US warns China against aggression as allies seek more cooperation

The United States warned China on Saturday to halt destabilizing actions in Asia, as Washington and its allies sought to boost defence cooperation in the face of what Japan called an "increasingly severe" security environment.

Using unusually strong language, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel told an Asia-Pacific security forum that the United States was committed to its geopolitical rebalance to the region and "will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged".

"In recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea," he said in the speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Hagel said the United States took no position on the merits of rival territorial claims in the region, but added: "We firmly oppose any nation's use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims."

Hagel later held a bilateral meeting with the deputy chief of staff of the Chinese army, Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong, who expressed surprise at his comments.

"You were very candid this morning, and to be frank, more than our expectations," Wang said at the start of the meeting. "Although I do think those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candour likewise we will also share our candour."

Chuck Hagel (L) meets with China's deputy chief of General Staff Lt Gen Wang Guanzhong at the 13th Asia Security Summit in Singapore. (AFP Photo)

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China would not initiate aggressive action in the South China Sea but would respond if others did, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in a meeting on Friday with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia.

Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo perceived an "increasingly severe regional security environment".

"It is unfortunate that there are security concerns in the East and South China Seas," he said. "Japan as well as all concerned parties must uphold the rule of law and never attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force."

China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Seas, and dismisses competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Japan has its own territorial row with China over islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have surged in recent weeks after China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, and the Philippines said Beijing could be building an airstrip on a disputed island.

Japan's defence ministry said Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 metres (170 feet) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets last week and within 30 metres of a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft.

On Friday, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Singapore forum that Tokyo would offer its "utmost support" to Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to protect their seas and airspace, as he pitched his plan for Japan to take on a bigger international security role.

In a pointed dig at China, he said Japan would provide coast guard patrol boats to the Philippines and Vietnam.


Wang, China's deputy chief of staff, criticsed Abe for the remarks, the semi-official China News Service said.

"When Mr Abe spoke just now, there was a veiled criticism targeted at China," Wang said in Singapore, the agency said. "These accusations are wrong and go against the standards of international relations."

He also snubbed an offer for talks with Japan made by defence minister Onodera.

"This will hinge on whether the Japanese side is willing to amend the erroneous policy towards China and improve relations between China and Japan," he said. "Japan should correct its mistakes as soon as possible to improve China-Japan ties."

The strong comments at the Shangri-La Dialogue come as Abe pursues a controversial push to ease restrictions of the post-war, pacifist constitution that has kept Japan's military from fighting overseas since World War Two.

"Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role than it has until now in making peace in Asia and the world something more certain," he said.

Despite memories of Japan's harsh wartime occupation of much of Southeast Asia, several countries in the region may view Abe's message favourably because of China's increasing assertiveness.

The United States, having to implement cuts to its vast military budget at a time of austerity, is keen to see allies play a greater role in security and Hagel gave an enthusiastic US endorsement to Abe's speech.

"We ... support Japan's new effort ... to reorient its Collective Self Defense posture toward actively helping build a peaceful and resilient regional order," Hagel said.

Hagel repeatedly stressed Obama's commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance and said the strong US military presence in the region would endure.

"To ensure that the rebalance is fully implemented, both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in US defense spending do not come at the expense of America's commitments in the Asia-Pacific," he said.

In spite of his strong criticisms of China, Hagel said the United States was increasing military-to-military engagement with Beijing to improve communication and build understanding.

"All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people throughout the Asia Pacific, and billions around the world."
- Times of india

May 30, 2014

Govt moves to hike defence FDI up to 100%

Within two days of taking charge, the Narendra Modi government has begun work on allowing up to 100% foreign investment in defence production, in a bid to send a strong signal to global investors as well as to try and move the production base of some equipment into the country.The commerce and industry ministry has circulated a Cabinet note seeking comments from other government agencies, sources familiar with the development told TOI.

The ministry is also readying other proposals to allow FDI in sectors such as railways, where the list of areas where investment will be allowed is being expanded, according to sources. Earlier, the government had planned to allow FDI in high-speed train systems, suburban corridors, high-speed tracks and freight lines connecting ports and mines. Similarly, there is a proposal to ease FDI norms in construction.

On Tuesday, Arun Jaitley had spoken of the government's intent to hike the FDI cap in the sector to 100% from 26% at present — a move that has been resisted by the defence ministry for years.

With Jaitley holding both the finance and defence portfolios, opposition may be muted this time. In any case, during his election campaign Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced his support for greater private participation in the defence sector.

The commerce & industry ministry has suggested a graded foreign investment ceiling. It has suggested a cap of 49% FDI for companies that do not transfer technology, while in ventures where the foreign partner is willing to transfer knowhow, the government intends to allow up to 74% FDI, and there will be no cap (100% FDI) for companies engaged in manufacturing state-of-the art equipment and machinery or those undertaking modernization projects.

The cap on foreign investment will include funds routed through FDI, portfolio flows (FII) and investment by non-resident Indians, said a source, who did not wish to be identified. To ensure security compliance, sources said, all proposals will be routed through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) which has representatives from the home ministry and other security agencies.
While the UPA government too had said that the FDI cap in defence would be raised there was no actual movement on the ground and the rules remained vague.

On May 23, TOI had reported that the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) in the commerce & industry ministry is ready with proposals to ease the FDI rules for defence, railways and e-commerce.

The government is keen to ease foreign investment rules to send a signal to global industry that it is truly open for business now.
- Times of india

May 29, 2014

Summer trials for Indian Bofors in June

The indigenous 155mm artillery guns, made on the lines of the Bofors howitzers procured by Indian Army in the 1980s, will go for the last round of firing trials next month. After successful winter trials in snowbound Sikkim during March, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is now preparing for the summer rounds of Operation Dhanush, as the project has been christened.

The tests will be held in June-end and shall continue till July in the Pokhran desert. If everything goes well, this will be the last time these guns will blaze to prove their mettle. However, other tests, which include an evaluation by the directorate general of quality assurance (DGQA) of the Army, will follow before the howitzers are finally inducted. The other tests will not involve test fires however, said a source.

A year ago, during the summers trials in August, the barrel of the gun being tested had exploded, pushing back the indigenization process. Had the accident not taken place, it would have been the last round of test firing. But the project was pushed back for a year. The winter trials followed, which were successful, said a source in the ministry of defence.

The guns are being developed at the Gun Carriage Factory at Jabalpur. There are plans to add two new howitzers in the coming couple of months. "There are plans to make close to 20 pieces in the coming months," said the source, who refused to divulge the number of guns developed so far.

The guns developed by GCF are of 155x45 calibre as against 155x39 of the original Bofors guns procured from Sweden. This means the Indian version has a longer barrel, ensuring a higher range. But, at the same time, the army itself is looking for 155x52 calibre guns from the open market and is also in the process of acquiring ultralight M777 howitzers from the US. The process of indigenization started over three years ago, after the Army's efforts to buy fresh lot of 155mm guns from the global market did not meet any success.

Times of india

Indian Government Will Need To Take A Call On Hiking FDI In Defense

India’s newly appointed Defense Minister Arun Jaitley has inherited the task of deciding whether or not to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) level in the defence sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

Jaitley, who is also the Finance Minister, would find it easier to address the FDI issue which is not merely a MoD matter but one which concerns the finance and industries ministries as well.

Several foreign companies who wish to partner with Indian companies have held their hand due to the cap on equity holding which would render them a minor player in the partnership. Several partnerships have collapsed due to the restrictions, most notable is the joint venture between Mahindra and Mahindra and BAE System.

The FDI issue is also bogging down the implementation of offsets in India as it is preventing foreign partners from bringing in sufficient capital to kick start their JVs with Indian entities.

Defense world

India Has No Money To Pay For C-130J Hercules Aircraft: Reports

India’s financial woes have been so severe that the Ministry of Defense did not have enough money to pay the "first full instalment" of the $1.01 billion deal to buy six additional C-130J Super Hercules aircraft last December, the Times of India reports.
And with several nearly-finalized deals queued for the new government, the MoD has requested a 25% hike in budget. Besides the long-pending $20 billion MMRCA deal, procurements of 22 Apache attack helicopters (around $1.4 billion), 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters (around $1 billion), and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers ($885 million) will be on defense minister Arun Jaitley’s plate.
According to the interim budget for 2014-15, the defense outlay was set at $37 billion with $22 billion set aside for revenue expenditure while $15 billion for new weapons, sensors and platforms.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make a decision on a wide range of issues, ranging from recommendations of the Naresh Chandra task force on higher defence reforms to the creation of three new tri-Service commands for space, cyber and special forces, according to the Times of India.
The action plan's underlying message, however, is that existing funds are proving grossly inadequate to ensure the country's war machinery is kept fighting fit, the report said. Leave alone the dwindling capital budget for new acquisitions, the defence establishment is "running quite short" of even revenue expenditure to "properly maintain" existing or new weapon systems with sufficient spares.
"The major chunk of the capital outlay is being eaten up by committed liabilities and instalments for earlier acquisitions. This backlog will continue for a few years. It has been made clear that either the budget should be hiked or the new acquisitions should be delayed," a source was quoted as saying by the newspaper. 

May 28, 2014

6 top priorities for the ministry of defence

Following are the top priorities for defence ministry in the new government:

1. Boost indigenous defence R&D and production. Revamp DRDO and its 50 labs, five defence PSUs, four shipyards and 39 ordnance factories. Encourage the private sector to enter arms manufacturing in a major way. India, embarrassingly, still imports 65% of its military hardware and software.

2. Streamline cumbersome arms procurement procedures to fast-track acquisitions and reduce corruption. Also re-examine the policies for offsets, transfer of technology and ban on agents. Projects for new submarines, howitzers, fighters, helicopters, night-fighting capabilities, air defence weapons and the like have been stuck for years due to politico-bureaucratic apathy.

3. Reform the country's higher defence management, with measures ranging from creating a chief of defence staff-like post to truly integrating Service HQs with the defence ministry and "cross-staffing" (posting military officers to MoD at the director/joint secretary-levels).
4. Ensure faster build-up of both the new mountain strike corps as well as military infrastructure like the long-identified 73 strategic roads and 14 railway lines, helipads and advance landing grounds, along the Line of Actual Control to counter China. Boost force-levels and infrastructure at Andaman and Nicobar Command, apart from creating three new tri-Service commands for space, cyber and special operations.

5. Complete India's nuclear weapons triad by faster induction of nuclear submarine INS Arihant and its follow-on sister ships with long-range missiles. Land and air legs already in place with Agni ballistic missiles and fighter-bombers.

6. Hike budgeted defence expenditure to at least 2.5% of GDP, instead of letting it wallow around just 1.7 to 1.9%, for adequate military modernization and requisite deterrence against both China and Pakistan. Cut the flab in the armed forces, improve the teeth-to-tail ratio.
-  Times of india

May 27, 2014

Why Jaitley as Defence Minister temporarily may be a good thing

The fact that Mr Arun Jaitley holds two heavyweight plus one integrated portfolio of course goes on to show the BJP strategists' importance in the party and the new dispensation but may equally go on to underline the talent deficit that the BJP may be facing.
Having said that, Jaitley with the additional charge of Defence in the short term may be a good thing. Many defence acquisitions are stuck owing to the finance ministry disapproval in UPA-II. A senior minister holding the portfolio could mean a push to acquisitions as well as the long standing focus of private companies entering the defence production sector in a more sustained manner.
The next few months are crucial and sensitive for the Army in particular as in a change of guard, General Suhag takes over the reigns as the Army Chief. Already the BJP had opposed the appointment by the UPA, taking the matter right up to the Election Commission. The new Modi government will have to make sure that the transition passes on smoothly. The Army has been at the receiving end of heavy politicking, conspiracy theories and a dispensation which has allowed civil-military affairs to get reduced to bureaucrats and their interference in military affairs.
AK Antony often referred to as Saint Antony has left the Ministry of Defence in a state of partial disarray, acquisitions stuck, companies blacklisted, depleting submarine fleets and a successor Chief who has already been the subject of much scrutiny and allegations. Add to that the immense discontent in the ex-serviceman community who feel cheated by the no-start that OROP has been. Mr Jaitley is going to be a busy man, but with Defence on his plate too, at least for the time being, ‎the MoD knows that they have a serious minister, his political capital and proximity to the PM could ensure that image of the Armed Forces take no more of a beating, than it already has.


May 26, 2014

Indian Navy hopeful Modi will move on delayed procurements

The Indian Navy (IN) is expectant that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which assumes office on 26 May, will approve the purchase of urgently needed equipment such as heavyweight torpedoes for its under-construction Scorpene submarines and advanced towed array sonars (ATAS) for its warships.

"The navy anticipates that prime minister-designate, Narendra Modi's, new administration will be more receptive to the many gaps in its equipment profile" a three-star IN officer told IHS Jane's .

Naval headquarters, he added, is readying its list of long-delayed procurements to present to the new defence minister.

Following 2010 trials the IN opted to acquire 98 Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes over Atlas Elektroniks Sea Hake for its six Scorpene submarines.

The first Scorpene boat, scheduled for commissioning in 2016, will be armed only with MBDA Exocet SM-39 anti-ship missiles following delays in signing the USD300 million deal amid complaints of wrongdoing in the selection process.

IN officials said subsequent Scorpenes, which will be commissioned at 12-14-month intervals by Mazagon Dockyard Limited in Mumbai, would also operate without heavyweight torpedoes unless the BJP government agreed to their immediate procurement.

The MoD's [Ministry of Defence's] administrative delay in acquiring heavyweight torpedoes should never have been allowed to happen, former IN Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta told IHS Jane's. Far too much time is taken by the MoD in booking equipment and placing orders, he added.

In January the MoD reversed the approval by its Defence Acquisition Council to acquire Black Shark torpedoes from WASS, which is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. This followed the 1 January termination of the EUR750 million (USD764 million) purchase of 12 AW101 helicopters from AgustaWestland, another Finmeccanica company, over corruption charges. The MoD remains undecided on whether to blacklist AgustaWestland or Finmeccanica or both over the 2010 AW101 deal.

IN officers said that proscribing Finmeccanica would seriously jeopardise the Black Shark deal and force a fresh tender. This in turn would delay arming the Scorpenes by several years.

Meanwhile, the purchase of six ATAS systems from Atlas Elektronik for EUR40-50 million for three Delhi-class destroyers and three Talwar-class frigates has been pending since trials in 2010. At the time, the IN had selected Atlas Active Towed Away Sonar (ACTAS) low-frequency sonar over rival models offered by Thales and L3 Communications.

The deal included Atlas transferring technology to the public sector Bharat Electronics Limited in Bangalore to build at least 10 additional ATAS systems to equip the Indian Navy's frontline warships. However, like the Black Shark deal, this programme was hampered by repeated complaints of wrongdoing in the selection process.

An MoD-appointed independent committee rejected the complaints earlier in 2014, but the ministry has since ignored repeated IN requests to sign the ATAS deal.

India's surface combatants are presently making do with locally designed towed passive and hull-mounted sonars that are unable to operate effectively in the warm and shallow waters of the Arabian Sea.

Defence news

India Turns to Domestic Sources for New Air Defense Guns

After failing since 2007 to buy replacements for its Swedish-made L-70 air defense guns through global tenders, the Indian Ministry of Defence has decided to procure the guns only from domestic sources, in the Buy and Make (Indian) category.After failing since 2007 to buy replacements for its Swedish-made L-70 air defense guns through global tenders, the Indian Ministry of Defence has decided to procure the guns only from domestic sources, in the Buy and Make (Indian) category.

Under that category, only domestic companies or their joint venture with overseas companies will be allowed to compete, provided 50 percent of the system’s components are indigenous.

While the move fits with a new policy designed to encourage domestic production, defense analysts and serving military officers are apprehensive about whether domestic sources will be able to meet the weapon requirements.

The Defence Ministry has sent a request for information (RFI) to domestic defense companies, including private sector Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro, Punj Lloyd, Bharat Forge, and state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Earth Movers, seeking information about their willingness and ability to compete for the tender, worth US $1.7 billion.

Global tenders for the guns attempted in 2007 and 2009 were canceled because of single-vendor situations: Rosoboronexport in 2009 and Rheinmetall in partnership with OFB in 2007.

Both tenders sought to procure 428 air defense guns, and required transfer of technology to OFB.

Several defense analysts fault the procurement process for the failed attempts to buy the air defense guns.

“The story is all too familiar even in this case; lack of foresight, poor planning, inadequate homework and no accountability in the MoD as well as the armed forces has led to the crisis in modernization of air defense in the Indian Army. There is limited appreciation of potential vendors who can qualify and their ability to subscribe to the tenders,” said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst.

Rajinder Bhatia, CEO of private sector major Bharat Forge, cites the blacklisting of overseas defense firms as the larger issue.

“It is not the problem with the acquisition system but due to the fact that the best technology for this gun is owned by Rheinmetall Air Defense and a very large number of countries are using that technology. Rheinmetall Air Defense is, however, banned from business in India. And hence the problem.”

The domestic defense companies will need to tie up with overseas defense firms to manufacture the guns because none of the domestic firms has experience in selling the weapons, an MoD official said.

An Indian Army official said he is not sure if the domestic companies will be able to forge tie ups with overseas firms.

“We are already behind scheduled in buying several priority purchase for the defense forces, and we need to buy from the overseas market immediately and later rely on the domestic sector,” the official added.

Amit Cowshish, retired MoD official and defense analyst, favors giving a push to the domestic industry.

“The Indian industry does not have the capability and experience to make all the systems that the armed forces need, but if that is the deciding factor we will have to continue to buy from foreign sources. If we want to promote Indian industry, such measures are unavoidable. The ball is now in the court of the Indian industry, which must rise to the challenge by getting into tie-ups with the foreign original equipment manufacturer, investing in research and development and creating capacities within the country

“When procured, the air defense guns will be employed for providing air defense to selected locations in plains, deserts and mountain terrain and should be capable of being towed by an in-service gun-towing vehicle.”

The Army requires guns of a caliber greater than 30mm, and capable of engaging air targets day and night using fire control radars as well as electro-optical fire control systems independently.

The Indian Army has about 1,200 L-70 guns bought in the 1960s from Sweden.

Defence news

May 24, 2014

New defence minister to watch Rafale jets in action

Within days of taking over, India’s new defence minister will get a first hand opportunity to see live action from French fighter jets Rafale, selected by the UPA-II government as the preferred platform for Indian Air Force’s 126 fighter jet deal.
More than two years ago, the government selected Rafale and started the price negotiation process. Initially valued at $10.4 billion (Rs 42,000 crore), the fighter deal may rise to as high as $20 billion at the time of the commercial contract.

The outgoing defence minister A K Antony, however, recently hinted at the government having a relook at the “life cycle cost” offered by the French company Dassault Aviation, which manufactures Rafale.

As the IAF awaits a decision on the 126 medium multirole combat aircraft, four Rafale jets of French Air Force will be in Jodhpur between June 2-13 to participate in Garuda exercise between the two air forces. There will also be a KC-135 tanker from the French side.

The IAF participation will involve four Su-30 MKI, four MiG-21 Bison and four MiG-27 upgrades, said an IAF officer. The last Garuda exercise happened at Istres in France in 2010.

While the Air Force is likely to invite the new defence minister to visit Jodhpur, the delay in procuring 126 fighter will figure in the presentation, which IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha is likely to give to the new Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

DHNS / Deccanherald

Boeing Delivers 4th P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft to India

Boeing [NYSE: BA] has delivered the fourth P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India on schedule, fulfilling the first half of a contract for eight aircraft.
The aircraft departed from Boeing Field in Seattle and arrived May 21 at Naval Air Station Rajali, where it joined three P-8Is currently undergoing operational evaluation.
“This marks an important milestone – the halfway point for P-8I deliveries to India,” said Dennis Swanson, BDS vice president in India. “The program’s success the past year is really a testament to the great work between Boeing, the Indian Navy and industry.”
Based on the company’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the U.S. Navy.
“The Indian Navy is putting the first three P-8Is through their paces operationally, and the P-8I delivered today will begin flight trials in the coming months,” said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager.
The P-8I incorporates not only India-unique design features, but also India-built subsystems that are tailored to the country’s maritime patrol requirements. In order to efficiently design and build the P-8I and the P-8A, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company’s Next-Generation 737 production system.
The P-8I features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. P-8I aircraft are built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.
Boeing offers India a broad spectrum of defense, space and security solutions that are relevant to India's current and future military and humanitarian needs. Boeing India’s corporate office is in New Delhi. For more information, visit www.boeing.co.in.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $33 billion business with 58,000 employees worldwide.


May 22, 2014

Rafale, Su-30MKI Face-off in Indian Exercise

The Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKIs and the French Rafale fighters will come together for a ten-day air exercise called the 'Garuda-5', aimed at training the pilots and crew of Indian and French fighters in air superiority operation in Rajasthan's Jodhpur airbase from June 3.

The French composition for the Garuda- 5 will include four Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft and one air-refueler aircraft with more than 100 personnel. During the exercises the French aircraft may face the IAF’s Su-30 MKI, MiG -27 and MiG -21 as both sides showcase air superiority, defense and attack on high-value targets dogfights or nearby.

Objective of the exercise include exposing IAF pilots to French fighter tactics and French pilots to Indian fighter tactics, to engage in air-to-air refueling, cross-servicing of a common type between ground crews and Understanding basic concepts of each countries fighter operations.

The performance of the Rafales at the exercise could create incentive to boost the long-delayed MMRCA program and also show how it stacks up against the IAF’s most potent asset, the Su-30MKI.
The Garuda-5 exercise is scheduled to be held 10 years after the Cope India 04 exercise between the US and India in 2004. During the Cope exercise, India’s Su-30MKs emerged victorious with IAF pilots winning more than 90 percent of the mock air engagements conducted against U.S. Air Force F-15C jets from 3rd Wing based at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

According to the Pentagon, several limitations reduced the chances of victory of the Eagle drivers against the Indian fighters. Including the lack of an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on their F-15s and that the air engagements typically involved six Eagles against up to eighteen IAF aircraft with no chance to simulate any beyond visual range (BVR) missile shot (due to the Indian request of not using the AMRAAM).

The 9:1 kill ratio achieved by Indians pilots against USAF fighters during the Cope India 04 can be attributed to their skills, according to USAF Colonel Greg Newbech quoted in various media, “What we’ve seen in the last two weeks is the IAF can stand toe-to-toe with the best air force in the world.
I pity the pilot who has to face the IAF and chances the day to underestimate him; because he won’t be going home”.

Despite the Cope victory, the IAF’s Su-30MKIs didn’t fare so well against the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fighters at the International Air Tattoo military air show in 2011. "Nothing that India has got is anything anywhere near this (the Typhoon). I would say that absolutely. This airplane is phenomenally different in both performance and technology in anything they (IAF) got right now," an RAF official was quoted as saying then.


May 21, 2014

Shinzo Abe and Modi: Will Japan be India's new best friend in Southeast Asian region

Many have already drawn parallels between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India's soon-to-be PM Narendra Modi. Now, here is yet another interesting fact - The Japanese premiere (@AbeShinzo) has lakhs of followers on Twitter but he follows only three people and Modi is one among them. The following list include Akie Abe, Abe's wife of 27 years, Naoki Inose, a Japanese journalist, historian, social critic and biographer of literary figures, and Narendra Modi. Abe was one of the first ones to congratulate Modi on his victory. Even though the Japanese premier wished him offline, Modi took to Twitter to thank him. In 2012, when Abe returned to power in Japan, Modi congratulated him with a telephone call.
According to Modi, he and Abe continued to be in touch during the former's tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister. "Personally, I have a wonderful experience of working with Japan as CM. I am sure we will take India-Japan ties to newer heights," Modi tweeted. In an article published in Japan Times, Indian researcher and journalist Brahma Chellanay described Modi as India's Shinzo Abe. "Just as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's return to power in late 2012, after six years of political instability, reflected Japan's determination to reinvent itself as a more competitive and confident country, Narendra Modi's election victory reflects Indians' desire for a dynamic, assertive leader to help revitalize their country's economy and security", Chellaney wrote. Many journalists and researchers find similarities between Modi's Gujarat model and Abe's Japan model. Abe is known for a set of economic policies, known as 'Abenomics' And there is yet another similarity - Just as Modi will be the first prime minister born after India gained independence in 1947, Abe is Japan's first prime minister born after World War II.
 Oneindia News

May 20, 2014

US hopes for Pacific cooperation with Indian navy under Modi

The United States hopes to be able to expand naval cooperation with India once a new government is in place in New Delhi, the chief of US naval operations said on Monday.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert said the United States would like to see this cooperation extend to India's participation in exercises in the Western Pacific region, where an increasingly powerful China is becoming more assertive.

"There's a strategic partnership and opportunity up there with India that is emerging," Greenert told a Washington thinktank. "My goal would be to get back to where we were in mid-2000s."

"We were doing very, very comprehensive events. We were doing carrier operations together, very, very complex, integrated ... and I think it would be great if we could get back to that level," he said.

"Then maybe India would be willing to come over to Western Pacific ... we will just have to see what the political ramifications are and where they are willing to go."

US officials say plans to expand naval cooperation with India ended up on a back burner during a long-running row between New Delhi and Washington over the treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York and in the run-up to India's election earlier in May.

Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a resounding victory in the election.

The scale of the win, which gave Modi India's strongest mandate in 30 years, will assure him greater control over the country's security agenda, and analysts say India may finally be able to deal with overseas rivals from a position of strength.

India's state-run energy company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), has a stake in a gas field in the South China Sea, a region where China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have competing claims.

India has sparred diplomatically with China in the past over this exploration block, and in late 2012, India's navy chief said India was prepared to deploy vessels to the South China Sea to protect its energy interests.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and there were confrontations between Chinese and Vietnamese ships this month after Beijing deployed an oil drilling rig in disputed waters 150 miles (240 km) off Vietnam's coast.

Vietnam has broadened its military relationships in recent years in response to China's assertiveness, including with India and the United States.

Last week, the US Seventh Fleet, which guards US interests in the Pacific, renewed a call for more ship visits to Vietnam.

Greenert said he was not familiar with the specifics of the negotiations on increased cooperation with Vietnam, but he added: "I would like to see it increase in a deliberate manner." 
- Times of india

Dassault hopes to sign Rafale India deal this year

(Reuters) : Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) Chief Executive Eric Trappier said he hoped to sign a deal to sell Rafale fighter jets to India by the end of the year following the election of pro-business candidate Narendra Modi as the country's new prime minister.
India's military had previously postponed a plan to buy 126 of the fighters, a deal estimated at $15 billion, until the 2014/15 financial year due to budget constraints.
"It's reassuring for us, because I think that will accelerate the process further," Trappier told journalists on the sidelines of the Ebace business aviation show.

May 19, 2014

India's New PM Touted as 'Israel's Best Friend' in South Asia

India's Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi has expressed his desire to "deepen and develop" ties with Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, and it appears that Netanyahu's words do not constitute diplomatic flourish but, if anything, understatements.
"On Friday, I spoke with the Prime Minister-elect of India. There, too, there is a clear expression of the desire to deepen and develop economic ties with the State of Israel," Netanyahu told his cabinet.
The International Business Times calls Modi “Israel's best friend in South Asia,” in the headline to a weekend story about the expected intensification of India-Israel ties. Modi, the right-wing, pro-Hindu nationalist and chief of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has long courted political and trade links with the state of Israel, reports IBT – and this policy, which BJP officials strongly endorse, “has turned into a financial bonanza for the western Indian province of Gujarat,” where he has served as chief minister for the past 13 years.
Gujarat is a highly industrialized region of northwest India, with a population of some 60 million.
Billions of dollars of Israeli investment poured into Gujarat
“Under Modi's leadership and encouragement,” IBT adds, “Israel has poured billions of dollars of investment into Gujarat. Officials from both Gujarat and Israel have visited each other over the past few years to deepen trade and economic links. Ongoing mutual endeavors include projects in industrial research and development, solar and thermal power, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, water recycling and water desalination plants.”
Israel announced in January that it had established a joint technology fund with India. After a memorandum of understanding regarding the planned fund was signed in December, Israel's Consul General in Mumbai, Jonathan Miller, told India TV that the fund will help both Israeli and Gujarat-based companies in developing and strengthening the industrial relationship.” 
Delegations from Israel and Gujarat are frequent visitors in each others' countries, and there has already been substantial economic cooperation between the two, Miller said.
Israel and Gujarat have discussed several areas of cooperation like agriculture, industrial research and development, solar & thermal power, pharmaceuticals, water recycling and water desalination plants. "Our focus is on increasing research ties with Gujarat,” Miller added. “Israel is keen to increase research and development (R&D) and cultural ties with Gujarat.”
'A bulwark against Islamic terrorism'
A 2013 report in Asia news publication The Diplomat postulated that if and when Modi ascends to the prime ministry, India's ties to Israel will “expand dramatically.”
“While it was a Congress [Party] government that established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992, it was under a BJP-led government from 1999 to 2004 that Indian ties with the Jewish State blossomed,” The Diplomat report noted. “This period [led] critics to believe that this was not just a security partnership but also a relationship with strong religious and ideological moorings.”
BJP has praised Israel repeatedly as a bulwark against Islamic terrorism. In 2003, when Ariel Sharon visited India, the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) movement stated: “The entire world acknowledges that Israel has effectively and ruthlessly countered terror in the Middle East. Since India and Israel are both fighting a war against terrorism, therefore, we should learn a lesson or two from them.” India’s and Israel’s shared role as victim of Islamic terrorism seems to be a uniting and pervasive theme in the countries relations. In addition, Israel has called for India to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
India has a long history of buying military equipment from Israel; in December, India purchased 15 drones from the Jewish state, in an effort to boost security along its borders with Pakistan and China.
In 2009, India bought the Phalcon tactical and surveillance system from Israel, as part of a 1.1 billion dollar deal signed between India, Russia and Israel in January 2004. Israel's military industry firm also announced plans at the time to establish five factories in India for the production of artillery shells.
A poll conducted in 2009 by Israel's Foreign Ministry found that the people of India are Israel's “best friends.” The poll surveyed 5,215 people from 13 countries described as “central” ones, and found that 58 percent of Indians support Israel. In second place, 56 percent of U.S. citizens expressed support for Israel, as did 52 percent of Russians, 50 percent of Mexicans, 48 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Italians.


May 15, 2014

India on the hunt for more AEW&C aircraft

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has invited global bids by mid-July for six aircraft to supplement its fleet of airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms.
The tender, dispatched on 11 March by DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) in Bangalore, requires the proposed platforms to be supplied with "structural modifications, power and endurance adaptations, and provisions to support its Airborne Warning and Control System [India] programme".
This would include design and certification to facilitate the installation of CABS' AEW&C antenna rotodome - 10 m in diameter - and supporting pylon onto the airframe.
The tender, which was sent to Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Dassault, Saab, and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, also calls for the provision of affixing additional avionics, external and internal mission systems, and other customer-furnished equipment. The selected platform will be required to remain operational for 30 years.
The tender follows the February 2013 approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to CABS for its add-on AEW&C programme. The CCS imposed a 2020-21 deadline for completion.
The AEW&C project aims to augment the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) nascent network-centric battle management platforms. It envisages a mix of up to 20 large and small AEW&C platforms to detect enemy aircraft and cruise missiles and to monitor India's 7,517 km long coastline.
The IAF has already inducted three Uzbek Il-76 A50 heavy transport aircraft upgraded by Russia with Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines and mounted with the Elta Phalcon 'aireye' radar that was integrated by Israel Aircraft Industries. Acquired in 2004 for USD2 billion, all three platforms entered IAF service by early 2011 and are based at Agra, 230 km southeast of New Delhi.
In November 2011 the IAF announced that it would additionally acquire two similar platforms with a 400-500 km operational range for around USD800 million, but there has been no progress on this acquisition.
Additionally, CABS is developing its own AEW&C system for around INR18 billion (USD300 million) that will be mounted on three Brazilian Embraer EMB-145I jets acquired in 2008 for USD210 million. The first of three EMB-145Is was handed over to CABS in Brazil in August 2012, but the AEW&C programme is delayed by several years following cost overruns and technical problems with developing the platforms' active electronically scanned array radar.
The system is designed to have 240-degree coverage, five-hour endurance, and a surveillance range of 250-375 km.


May 13, 2014

INS Vikramaditya awaits induction

Country's biggest warship, INS Vikramaditya, is still awaiting its formal induction into the Indian Navy after five months of its arrival into Indian waters.
According to top government officials, impressed with its maritime capabilities, the outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had expressed his desire to spend a day on board the 44,500-tonne aircraft carrier procured from Russia. Sing along with the defence minister AK Antony was scheduled to dedicate the warship to the nation in the last week of March in a mega ceremony. But, the declaration of general elections and subsequent implementation of model code of conduct had put brakes on the scheduled programme of the UPA-II government. The defence ministry led by AK Antony first wanted to take clearance from the Election Commission to organise the event. But later on decided to leave it to the next government.
The $2.3 billion INS Vikramaditya was handed over to Indian Navy on November 16, 2013 at Sevmash, a Russian port. The warship arrived in Karwar on January 7 after 40 days of voyage. Since then, the warship has been stationed in Karwar naval base in Karnataka, but without adequate air defence guns for any protection against aerial attacks. However, the naval sources claim that the aircraft carrier always moves in a carrier battle groups, escorted by warships with all air defence weaponry. Refit of air defence guns on the aircraft carrier will take place soon.
"Yes, the formal induction of INS Vikramaditya has been delayed. But, the aircraft carrier is now capable of its full deployment. Fighter aircraft such as MiG 29 have embarked and being flown by Indian naval pilots. So far, we have trained 10 MiG 29 naval pilots, who have been trained to operate from INS Vikramaditya,"said an officer.

INS Vikramaditya has an overall length of about 284 metres and a maximum beam of about 60 metres, stretching as much as three football fields put together. Standing about 20-storey tall from keel to the highest point, the sheer sight of this 44,500-tonne mega structure of steel is awe inspiring. The ship has a total of 22 decks. With over 1,600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya is literally a 'Floating City'.
The ship has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
INS Vikramaditya is a Kiev class aircraft carrier which was commissioned by Russian Navy in 1987 under the name Baku. It was later renamed as Admiral Gorshkov and last sailed in 1995 in Russia, before being offered to India.


Indian Air Force Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Fleet Clocks Record Performance

Stans, Switzerland. The Indian Air Force (IAF) PC-7 MkII fleet has notched up commendable milestones even as training on the PC-7 MkII proceeds apace at the IAF Training Academy at Dundigal. The PC-7 MkII fleet has achieved more than 12,000 flying hours and accumulated well over 24,000 landings, since the first delivery of the new Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) to the IAF in February last year.
This significant achievement demonstrates the outstanding performance of the new PC-7 MkII training platform and the excellent co-operation between the IAF and Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in maintaining and operating a highly reliable BTA, a company statement said May 9.
As of April, less than two years after contract signature, the IAF has taken delivery of 35 PC-7 MkII aircraft and the remaining 40 aircraft are being flown-in on a monthly basis under the accelerated delivery schedule.
Due to the excellent endurance, low maintenance and reliability of the PC-7 MkII aircraft, the IAF supported by Pilatus has been able to maintain a very high availability rate on the flight line since the introduction of the new platform. Thanks to this, the IAF is already planning to advance plans to enhance the number of student pilots by 150 percent from the next course as they are confident that the PC-7 MkII will continue to measure up to their requirements and expectations. Furthermore, the PC-7 MkII has enabled the IAF to increase the basic training syllabus in terms of flight hours by 220 per cent compared to the old syllabus and increase the solo content from only 1 to 14 sorties.n March this year another significant project milestone took place.
 The first PC-7 MkII Fixed Base Full Mission Simulator became operational at Dundigal with a second simulator and additional Ground-Based Training Systems due to be installed by the end of this year.
Pilatus remains firmly committed to serving the Indian Air Force with its renowned dedication to Swiss precision and quality, through delivering and supporting the most advanced Basic Flight Training turboprop trainer in the world, the Pilatus PC-7 MkII, the company said.

- Indiastrategic

May 12, 2014

Joint venture planned for manufacturing gas turbines


HAL, BHEL and DRDO to work on the project

Public sector behemoths Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are exploring a joint venture to design, develop, and manufacture gas turbines for many critical uses in the country.
Teams from these agencies are working on the details of such a venture, which can create a large, vital Indian capability for gas turbines.
They are also crafting a technology road map in this area, assessing infrastructure and expertise available in the country as well as identifying a suitable technology to acquire or develop for the country, persons close to the development told The Hindu.
Gas turbines are used across civil and military sectors, such as in large passenger aircraft, fighter aircraft and ships, besides industrial and power sectors.
At present, there is no comprehensive indigenous technology on gas turbines and much of it is imported.
Each of these agencies holds a part of that treasure map.
The DRDO and HAL confirmed the development. 

The hindu

India tests 3,000 km range n-missile in secret

India has secretly test fired its most potent submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which gives it the capability to nuclear-bombard a target on land 3,000 km away from an undersea firing platform. The successful maiden launch of the K-4 on 24 March marks one of the most significant advances in its nuclear weapons programme, say sources. This came ahead of the 16th anniversary of the 11 May 1998 Pokhran-II detonations, when India declared itself a nuclear weapons state.
"The K-4 is a worthy successor to the 750-km-range K-15 (also known as the B-05), India's first undersea missile, and extends India's strike range substantially," acknowledged sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is fostering India's weapons programme.
The missile was fired from an underwater pontoon off India's eastern seaboard at a simulated target in the Southern Indian Ocean. "The full range of this twin-stage missile was validated," sources confirmed to The Sunday Guardian.
The K-4 is a critical component of the missing third (or underwater) leg of India's nuclear triad of weapons, which can be launched from air, land and under the sea. The K series of missiles is named after the missile stalwart and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
"With the K-4, India's underwater deterrence becomes more meaningful. The present range (750 km with the earlier K-15, India's first undersea missile) is hardly deployable," infers veteran submariner and nuclear strategist Rear Admiral (Retd) Raja Menon, who sees the K-15 mainly as a stepping stone in the learning curve for the development of long-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The K-15 has been test-fired earlier at least 10 times. The enhanced range of the K-4 will give India better stand-off attack capability without having to get too close to the target, which involves big risks.
Underwater deterrence based on proven capability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from a submarine is critical to India's doctrine of No First Use. This is considered the most reliable, and survivable, second strike capability because nuclear weapons hidden under the sea are the most difficult for an adversary to target in a decapitating attack. Although the land-launched Agni-4 and Agni-5 give India's nuclear weapons a greater reach of up to 5,000 km and beyond, unique technological challenges had to be overcome in the development of the K-4, which makes Indian deterrence more credible.
But despite this impressive breakthrough, India's undersea missiles are not deployable weapons yet. These have to be first mated with the Arihant class of nuclear-powered submarines being developed by India. Arihant, the first of the three nuclear submarines (SSBN) being built at Vishakhapatnam, is being readied for sea trials soon. Its nuclear reactor turned critical last year.
The Arihant and the two follow-on submarines will reportedly be able to carry 12 K-15 or four K-4 missiles. These missiles will finally be proven in test-firings from the Arihant during weapons trials, which are to follow sea trials later this year. Former Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi had publicly indicated last year that the Arihant would be on operational deterrence patrol by the end of 2014, but further deadline slippages on this already-delayed programme appea inevitable.
The good news is that the weapons of underwater deterrence appear ready, even as the platform which will carry these through oceanic depths is crossing the final hurdles.

 sunday guardian

May 9, 2014

Navy on high alert

Based on an intelligence report of possible terror attack, the Eastern Naval Command has declared ‘State One’ level of alertness here on Thursday. As per the order, the Navy has beefed up its security level at all its vital installations and vital points, under its command. As part of it, the security levels have also been heightened at INS Dega.
INS Dega, which also forms part of the commercial airport, is also manned by the personnel from Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
According to a CISF official, the security of the instrument landing system (ILS), Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the runway is taken care of by the Indian Navy, and the commercial aspects such as terminal building and passenger security are addressed by the CISF.
Assistant Commandant of CISF A.K. Mitra told The Hindu that the CISF has been on red alert post the twin blasts on May 1 aboard the Bangalore-Guwahati Express, in Chennai . “The alert is continuing since then. All airports are put on high alert across the country, whenever there is a terrorist attack. And this has been a regular practice, people need not be alarmed,” he said. 

 The Hindu

May 8, 2014

Pipavav Defence plans facility for missiles, torpedoes

Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering plans to set up its main system integration facility for manufacturing missiles and torpedoes in Hyderabad.
The company, which was the first private firm in India to get a licence to build warships, has already firmed up strategic partnerships for missile and torpedo making under the Ministry of Defence’s Make-and-Buy programme.
Naresh Kumar, Senior Advisor, said the company is looking at tie-ups with local firms in and around Hyderabad working in the sub-system design and manufacture of missile and torpedo parts.
“The vendor qualification will be undertaken jointly by Pipavav Defence and our technology partner,” he said at a Vendor Development Programme for MSE suppliers organised by the CII here.
Promoted by Nikhil Gandhi and Bhavesh Gandhi, the firm has entered into a strategic partnership with Saab in key technology areas, including combat management systems and missiles. It is currently bidding for 43 ships command management systems.
The private defence shipyard is also tying up with German firm Atlas Elektronik, to provide heavyweight torpedoes to the Indian Navy.
Atlas has worked with the Indian Navy for the last two decades, providing SUT torpedoes for the Navy’s Shishumar class of submarines. The company sees significant opportunities in the proposal of the Defence Ministry’s to acquire multiple helicopter platforms under the ‘Buy-and-Make Indian’ category.
This project envisages the first initiative by the government to build helicopters in the private sector, which will enable private firms manufacture, assemble and integrate critical aviation components. “This will provide opportunities for local companies to enter global supply chain,” Naresh Kumar said. Pipavav, which has already invested over $1.2 billion in the Indian defence industry, has orders worth $985 million from the Indian Navy, besides $282 million and $742 million in the offshore and commercial segments.
Last year, it won its first overseas order to build two offshore patrol vessels for a West African client valued at ₹1,192 crore.

The Hindu

Indian Air Force demonstrates production-lot Akash missiles

Two Akash missiles drawn from a production lot ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) were test-fired against targets towed by Lakshya remotely piloted aircraft on 26 April.
One target was engaged as it was approaching the fire unit, while the other was heading away from it. Both were successfully engaged.
During the tests, the Akash system and the targets were operated by IAF personnel. According to Akash Project Director G Chandramouli, all the planned mission objectives were achieved.
The IAF was the launch customer for Akash, placing an order for hardware to equip eight squadrons. Two squadrons are already in IAF service, and the Indian Army has ordered enough systems to equip two regiments.


Army chief reviews mountain strike corps

With India keen to acquire "quick reaction force (QRF) capabilities" against China, Army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday reviewed the raising of the new mountain strike corps that will give the force a "concrete" counter-offensive option in the event of any attack by the People's Liberation Army.

On a visit to the Kolkata-based Eastern Command, Gen Singh was briefed by Lt-Gen M M S Rai and others on the progress of the XVII Mountain Strike Corps, which made a small beginning with the raising of 22 major and minor units under its ambit last December.

The entire XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, will however be fully raised with 90,274 troops at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore only by 2018-2019. With units spread across the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Div at Panagarh and 72 Div at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades and the like. "It will include 30 new infantry battalions and two Para-Special Forces battalions," said an officer.

Incidentally, Gen Singh will also be visiting Maldives from Thursday to assure the 1,190-island archipelago about India's continuing support in meeting its security needs. China has been trying to make deep inroads into Maldives as part of its expanding strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean region.

India has only belatedly taken to countering China's deadly build-up of trans-border military capabilities, backed by its expanding nuclear, space, electronic and cyber warfare abilities.

The development of the 3,500-km Agni-IV and 5,000-km Agni-V ballistic missiles, progressive deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons in the eastern theatre, and the XVII Corps are all meant to gradually transform the present "dissuasive posture" against China into "a meaningful deterrence" one.

Holding that the XVII Corps "is not only for war-waging, it's for war-prevention as well", Gen Singh has himself said the overall roadmap is to "raise and convert our combat power into certain amount of QRF capabilities". In effect, the Army wants to ensure it can launch an attack into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) if there is a Chinese foray across the border.

The Army has already raised two new infantry divisions (1,260 officers and 35,000 soldiers) at Likabali and Missamari (Assam) in 2009-2010 to reduce the adverse land combat ratio with China, which currently hovers around 1:3.

But the costs involved are quite high. Apart from the Rs 64,678 crore on the new corps, of which Rs 39,209 crore is for capital expenditure, the price tag for infrastructure development on the "northern borders" with China is pegged at another Rs 26,155 crore. 
- Times of india

May 5, 2014

First successful Astra test gives boost to air missile technology

India on Sunday finally tested its first indigenous air-to-air missile 'Astra' from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet, marking a significant turning point in the decade-long tortuous developmental saga of the complex beyond visual range (BVR) weapon.

The test-firing of the sleek BVR missile over the Arabian Sea off Goa is the first concrete step after several false starts and technical glitches like a defective aerodynamic configuration since the project was first sanctioned in March 2004 at an initial cost of Rs 955 crore.

Astra will now have to undergo a battery of full-scale trials covering the entire flight envelope, especially against "actual manoeuvring targets" mimicking enemy aircraft, before it can arm IAF fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs, MiG-29s and the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft.

DRDO, however, is now confident it will be able to meet the revised project completion date of December 2016. Astra is to initially have a 44-km range with "high single-shot kill probability", while its Mark-II version will be able to hit enemy aircraft over 100 km away.

"Astra's successful launch from the Sukhoi-30MKI is a major step in missile-aircraft integration. This will be followed by missile launch against an actual target shortly. Many more trials are planned and will be conducted to clear the launch envelope. Weapon integration with Tejas will also be done in the near future," said DRDO chief Avinash Chander.

India is also slated to begin testing the 290-km supersonic BrahMos cruise missile from the heavy-duty Sukhoi-30MKIs by the end of this year, as earlier reported by TOI. So, while Astra is designed to take care of enemy aircraft, BrahMos will give surgical land-strike capability against hostile targets.

The importance of having an indigenous air-to-air BVR missile cannot be over-stated with IAF jets currently armed with very expensive Russian, French and Israeli missiles. With "target lock-on" capabilities both before and after launch, "excellent" ECCM (electronic counter-counter measures), active radar terminal guidance, smokeless propulsion and "process improved effectiveness in multi-target scenarios", DRDO says the all-weather Astra will fit the bill for advanced air combat.

Only a few countries like the US, Russia, France and Israel have managed to develop BVR missiles till now. Equipped with rocket/ramjet propulsion, micro-computers, active radar guidance/inertial navigation systems, terminal radar frequency seekers and the like, such missiles have to destroy highly-agile supersonic fighters packed with "counter-measures'' at long ranges.

"All Astra systems except the RF seeker are made in the country. The seeker too will be produced in India under a transfer of technology programme. Once fully operational, Astra will be much cheaper than contemporary BVR missiles," said an official.
- Times of india

May 3, 2014

India May Expand Su-30MKI Order Beyond 272

Going by the pace at which the Indian Air Force (IAF) is expanding bases for the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, ordering more of these Russian-made aircraft looks a distinct possibility.Going by the pace at which the Indian Air Force (IAF) is expanding bases for the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, ordering more of these Russian-made aircraft looks a distinct possibility.

The expansion of the Su-30MKI fleet may happen irrespective of the progress in the MMRCA deal in which negotiations with the French manufacturer Dassault are on. India had in 2002 ordered 230 fighters and a further 42 had been ordered in 2012.

The Ministry of Defense has already announced plans to set up new bases to house the aircraft that are expected to be delivered up to 2018-19. The rapid expansion of bases housing the Sukhois while at the same time curtailing MiG-21 operations is a clear indication of the important role the Su-30MKI is playing for the IAF and the need for even more aircraft of this type in future.

Some 100 Sukhois will be spread out to bases such as Thanjavur in the deep south, Chabua in the northeast and Pune in western India, according to media reports.

"Thanjavur airbase is going to be another strategically important airbase of the Indian Air Force. By stationing our frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi at Thanjavur, IAF can protect vast area of interest", India’s defence minister, AK Antony said after inaugurating the airbase on March 27, 2013.

Aside of the air dominance function for which the Sukhois had been originally procured, they are being utilized for interception and for reconnaissance. Recently, a Su-30 MKI had been scrambled to intercept an unidentified flying object entering Indian airspace form the western border. Some 4-8 Su-30MKIs are being tasked with strategic reconnaissance along the India-Pakistan borders with EL/M-2060P SAR pods, various reports said.

The fitment of the BrahMos cruise missile to the Su-30MKI will add another dimension to this vastly capable fighter. Reports say that some 40 Sukhois will be modified to carry this lethal armament which can function as an air-launched precision strike missile.

The induction of the Su-30MKIs seems to have increased the confidence and capability of the IAF as can be noted from this statement of the former IAF Chief NAK Browne, “right now we have 34 combat squadrons and in spite of these draw downs of the MIG-21s, we are supplementing them with the Su-30 squadrons”. The former chief had told a television network on October 5, 2012, “What’s going to happen is that at least in the 12th plan which finishes in 2017 we will continue to maintain 34 squadrons. They go up a little bit, up and down but they will remain at 34 squadrons but with far greater capability than even what we have today.”

As of March 2013, the IAF had a fleet of 194 Su-30MKI aircraft but this number will grow to 272 after India placed another order in December 2012 for 42 aircraft about 10 months after declaring Dassault winner of the MMRCA competition.

The licence-manufacturing program of the Su-30MKI is expected to conclude in 2018-19. “We hope to form 14 squadrons of Su-30MKI fighters by 2018. By this time we will have 272 such planes in service”, an unnamed HAL official was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass on February 24, 2014.

With the Su-30MKI getting increasingly entrenched into the IAF’s combat capability, provisions will have to be made for maintaining SU-30MKI utilization levels. As the number of sorties increase, so also will the requirement for maintenance and overhaul for which aircraft will have to be withdrawn from service.

The Su-30 MKI planes have not been without their share of problems. Three crashes, in 2009, 2011 and 2013 have forced the IAF, Irkut and HAL to sit down and find solutions to the problems which came to fore after the accident investigations. The good news is that the past year has been relatively problem-free despite increased sorties.

- Defence news

May 2, 2014

Akash Missile failed to take off in yesterday's test

Close on the heels of success on April 26, India’s sophisticated surface-to-air missile Akash on Wednesday once again failed to take off during a user trial by the Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel from a defence base off the Odisha coast putting the credibility of the DRDO at a stake.Close on the heels of success on April 26, India’s sophisticated surface-to-air missile Akash on Wednesday once again failed to take off during a user trial by the Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel from a defence base off the Odisha coast putting the credibility of the DRDO at a stake.

Defence sources said after a failed attempt on Tuesday, the IAF personnel had planned at least four rounds of Akash missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea. While two missiles were to target the tow bodies suspended from the Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA), two others were planned to target the parabarrel within a span of one hour.

“As per the programme, the PTA was flown from the launching complex-II of the ITR. Subsequently, the missile was to be fired after nearly 15 minutes. But much to the embarrassment of the DRDO and other related laboratories which helped develop the Akash system, the missile did not take off,” said an official from the test range.

On Tuesday, during a similar planned trial, the PTA had failed to take off leading to the postponement of the missile test. Though the Akash team could not immediately figure out the exact cause of the failure of the missile to take off, defence experts said it was a perennial technical problem with the Akash missile system.

It was the missile’s second failure in the recent seven-test series by the IAF. On May 28 and 30, 2012, the missile had failed to take off from the launch pad at the ITR. The tests were to gauge the flight consistency and effectiveness of the missile.

The IAF personnel, who were to pack up after the test, are scheduled to carry out the same tests on Thursday. “The defence scientists are working to fix the problem and hopefully the missile will be ready for test. The DRDO is providing all logistic supports to the IAF for the user trials,” a defence scientist said.

Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile and can target upto 25 km. The 5.8 metre long sleek missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg.

The missile is crucial to India’s air defence programme as it will be used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircraft and air-to-surface missiles.

It can handle multiple targets with the help of a digitally coded command and guidance system. It is fuelled by solid propellants. The Akash missile system which is similar to the American Patriot air-to-surface missile system can track 64 targets simultaneously and fire 12 missiles at a time.

After the IAF trials, Indian army personnel are likely to conduct a series of tests of the weapon system from the same test range.

Defence sources added that the successful trial of the missile would pave the way for its induction in armed forces.

Defence news