September 30, 2014

India's navy: Strong on aircraft carriers, short of submarines

Over the last six weeks, the Indian Navy commissioned three frontline warships, boosting its fleet to 140 vessels. Another 41 warships are being built in the country, including the 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. All these will join a "blue water" navy that will radiate influence across the Indian Ocean.

This navy's strike power will centre on at least two carrier battle groups (CBGs), self-sufficient flotillas built around a floating air base - the aircraft carrier. Each carrier will be escorted by multi-role corvettes, frigates and destroyers, which together handle threats from all three dimensions - underwater, surface and air. With its arsenal of weapons and sensors, the CBG dominates a huge chunk of ocean, establishing "sea control" wherever it moves.

Sea control is central to the outlook of the Indian Navy, which draws inspiration from Alfred Thayer Mahan, the 19th century US strategist. Mahan argued that a navy's primary task is to locate and destroy the enemy fleet, thereby dominating the sea and controlling commercial shipping. Essential for this is the powerful surface fleet that India is building.Naval guru Julian Corbett presented an alternative philosophy, placing naval warfare in a larger political-economic-strategic context. More defence-minded than Mahan, Corbett emphasised the importance of sea lines of communications (SLOCs), essential for the movement of warships and merchant fleets. Corbett's outlook shapes the "sea denial" strategy of weaker navies like Pakistan. Their smaller fleets - inadequate for sea control - instead deny the enemy unfettered use of the sea by using platforms like submarines to interdict SLOCs, ambush his shipping and laying mines at straits, narrows and outside his harbours, or by using missile boats for swarm attacks on large warships.

Given its Mahanian outlook and superior surface fleet, the Indian Navy would, in any future war with Pakistan, seek sea control over the northern Arabian Sea by sending one, or even two, CBGs to destroy or degrade Pakistan's surface fleet. With that done, the attack would shift to coastal installations and to supporting the land battle through amphibious landings.

"Indian sea control would complicate Pakistan's defence dilemma. In addition to defending 2,900-odd kilometres of land border, Pakistan would then have to defend an additional 1,046 kilometres of coastal boundary," points out Vice Admiral (Retired) Pradeep Chauhan, a highly regarded naval strategist who has commanded the aircraft carrier, INS Viraat.Yet, sea control must go hand-in-hand with sea denial. While CBGs seek battle with Pakistan's navy, Indian submarines would cut oil supplies and war material from Pakistan's West Asian allies; and bottle up shipping in Karachi, Gwadar and the new naval base at Ormara. For this, Indian submarines would lurk outside this ports, while also deploying in the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz.

This combination of sea control and sea denial would also play out in a war with China. Sea control would be quickly imposed over China's SLOCs through the Indian Ocean, since our CBGs would enjoy proximity to bases; and to shore-based air support from the "unsinkable aircraft carrier" that is the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Even as China's oil supplies and trade are strangled, Indian submarines would block the People's Liberation Army (Navy) from the Indian Ocean, at the straits of Malacca, Sunda, Lombok and Ombai Wetar. With 77 major surface warships, 60 submarines, 55 amphibious ships, and 85 missile boats, it is vital to hold the PLA(N) at bay.

Here lies India's Achilles' heel. With just 14 submarines in its fleet, the navy's sea denial capacity is less convincing than its ability for sea control - which stems from a far-sighted decision in the 1950s to include aircraft carriers in the fleet. (Part II of this article tomorrow will deal with sea denial).Sea control against Pakistan
In establishing sea control across the northern Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy would fight a tricky battle in coastal waters against the Pakistan Navy. The latter, outnumbered and outgunned, knows it would get quickly wiped out on the open seas. It is likely, therefore, to withdraw close to the Pakistan coast where the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would provide it air cover.

To close in with this fleet, India's CBGs must have the air defence capability to beat off the PAF. Key to this would be the MiG-29K fighter, flying from aircraft carriers; and air defence systems like the Barak, and the much-awaited new Long Range Surface to Air Missile. The LR-SAM, which the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is developing with Israel, will be deployed on warships by end-2015. These missiles would also protect the CBG against anti-ship missiles - like the Harpoon and Exocet - fired from Pakistani submarines, warships and aircraft.

"The Israeli Barak missile, which was bought in 2001, for the first time provided the Indian Navy with genuine air defence capability. The LR-SAM will make air defence even more reliable," asserts Chauhan.Until the LR-SAM is operational, Indian warships remain critically vulnerable to air and missile attack, but the navy believes it will be worth the wait. "This (delay) is the price that you pay when you go in for high-tech, state-of-the-art systems", says Vice Admiral Satish Soni, who heads Eastern Naval Command.

The LR-SAM will also defend Indian warships against a feared ocean predator - long-range maritime patrol (LRMP) aircraft like Pakistan's P3C Orion, which will fly 12-hour missions from Karachi to scour the seas, locate Indian warships, and launch anti-ship missiles from 50 kilometres away.

The LR-SAM's 70-kilometre range lets it engage the LRMP aircraft even before it launches its anti-ship missile. If the aircraft manages to launch a missile, the LR-SAM is designed to shoot it down before it strikes a warship. For the LRMP aircraft, an attack on a CBG would be suicidal. Its presence betrayed by the launch of a missile, MiG-29Ks fighters scrambled from an aircraft carrier would quickly overtake it and shoot it down.

After coming within range of Pakistan's surface fleet, Indian warships would launch an air-sea attack - striking Pakistani warships with anti-ship missiles like the Brahmos, from ranges of up to 300 kilometres; and with fighter aircraft launched from the aircraft carrier.Detracting from India's convincing naval superiority in the Indian Ocean region is only its vulnerability to enemy submarines. This stems not just from a depleted submarines force, but also neglect of the capability to detect and destroy enemy submarines.

This is the first of a two-part series on naval strategy. Part II: In submarine operations, the Indian Navy's Achilles' heel

business standard

Make in India : Honeywell, Tata Partner To Produce TALIN Systems

Coinciding with the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US Sept. 25-30, Honeywell International has inked a partnership agreement with India’s Tata Power to license-produce the tactical advanced land inertial navigator (TALIN) system.

“TALIN represents the latest in global positioning system (GPS)-free navigation and positioning technology, designed to improve asset safety and ultimately mission success,” said Arijit Ghosh, Honeywell president for aerospace in India, according to a statement released Sunday.

An executive of Tata Power said TALIN would be sold to the Indian Army for use in artillery systems and also sourced to the Honeywell supply chain worldwide.

TALIN systems are ideal for environments where GPS signals are not available, the Tata executive said, so they would find a ready market with the Indian Army.

Tata Power will license the design and hardware to assemble, test and build the production kits for the navigation system in India.

The Indian government wants to boost the domestic defense industry and the Tata-Honeywell partnership will help Indian industry get advanced technology, the Tata Power executive said.

Ghosh said, “By partnering with Tata Power SED on the production of TALIN we are aligning with the government’s aim of increasing locally manufactured technologies for India’s defense industry and giving the Indian armed forces an easy-to-justify option for navigation on the 21st century battlefield.”
- defencenews

China’s Growing Military Pressure Against India

For years, there has been concern about the “string of pearls,” China’s range of investments in port facilities in nations along the Indian Ocean littoral. Gwadar, Pakistan; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; the Maldives; and Seychelles have all seen a growth in such Chinese investments over the past decade.
Although much of this has been portrayed as an effort at encircling, even isolating India, the reality is that these are largely commercial investments and infrastructure development programs. To become military bases, these investments would require a far larger, more overt military presence, including access treaties with the host countries, hardening of the facilities to withstand possible attack and most likely the presence of units of the People’s Liberation Army.
The “string of pearls” does not present a direct threat to Indian security, but it does reflect China’s growing interest in the Indian Ocean region. That interest is now gaining a greater military dimension. Part of this is reflected by China’s growing assertiveness on India’s land border with China in recent years.
In 2013, PLA forces repeatedly entered Indian-controlled areas. In April 2013, a platoon of about 40 Chinese troops drove and marched some 19 kilometers into the Depsang area of northern Ladakh, India, pitched tents, and stayed there for nearly two weeks. In June 2013, another Chinese contingent entered the Chumar region of eastern Ladakh, India, destroying surveillance cameras in the area, while an Indian patrol intercepted yet another Chinese platoon the next month. In December 2013, Chinese forces arrested Indian porters in the Chumar region, who were apparently helping to resupply Indian outposts there.
The Chumar region, one of the few areas where the Indian infrastructure is comparable to the Chinese, and where Indian forces can see into China, is once again a source of tension. In September 2014, Chinese forces, this time in battalion strength (approximately 1,000 troops), entered the region on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to China, pitching tents as though for a protracted stay.
 The Chinese incursion cast a pall over the visit, overshadowing some 12 trade agreements promoting some $20 billion in trade.
Another illustration of Chinese interest that hits much closer to the string of pearls theory is China’s growing military presence in the Indian Ocean itself. Just as tensions were rising on India’s land border with China, a Chinese submarine docked in Sri Lanka.This was the first time a Chinese submarine had officially docked in an Indian Ocean port. It follows one of the first Chinese nuclear-powered submarine patrols in the Indian Ocean, which took place earlier this year. These patrols would seem to herald a significant expansion in the operating areas of the PLA navy. Most striking, however, was the report that the Chinese submarine visit to Sri Lanka included a submarine tender as well. These vessels are designed to support submarines by providing them with fuel, extra food, repair parts and, if necessary, additional weapons. Deploying a submarine tender allows boats to extend their patrols significantly. If the PRC were to deploy a submarine tender on a longer term basis to the Indian Ocean, this would constitute a major step towards converting the “string of pearls” to a more military end.So while China may not be exactly encircling India, Beijing is physically and psychologically pressuring New Delhi.


September 29, 2014

India suspicious as Chinese submarine docks in Sri Lanka

The docking of a Chinese submarine in Colombo on a long-range deployment patrol earlier this month is yet another indicator of the ever-increasing forays of the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The PLA-N is fast transforming from a "green-water" force used to operating close to its own shores into a potent "blue-water" force, one with "long legs". Though the Indian Navy has been tracking the increased activity of Chinese warships in the IOR, including submarines quietly on the prowl in the Bay of Bengal, this is a rare instance of a PLA-N submarine openly berthing in the region that India considers its "own strategic backyard".

The diesel-electric Type 039 "Song-class" was at the Colombo International Container Terminal, which has been funded by China, from September 7 to 14. This was just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jingping's visit to Sri Lanka, which along with Maldives has shown enthusiasm for China's new Maritime Silk Route plan in the IOR.

The Chinese government, on its part, said the submarine had only made a replenishment stopover in Sri Lanka on way to the Gulf of Aden for escort and anti-piracy operations, as was the "common practice" for navies around the world.

But China is also testing the new Modi government's resolve both on the land boundaries, which clearly came through during the 16-day troop faceoff at Chumar in eastern Ladakh coinciding with Xi's visit here, as well as in the IOR, as earlier reported by TOI.

China's forging of extensive maritime links with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, is primarily related to its need to protect its sea lanes for critical energy needs. But it's equally true that it's slowly but steadily amounting to a "strategic encirclement" of India. Acknowledging that the presence of Chinese warships is on the increase in the IOR, Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan this week said, "We continuously monitor them, see what are their deployments, and what challenges they can pose for us...IOR is our area of operations...Our warships, submarines and aircraft are always ready to face any challenge."

That may well be true but insiders fear India's already stark military asymmetry with China only seems to be expanding all the time. India, for instance, has just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, only half of them operational at any given time, and a single nuclear-powered submarine, without any strategic missiles, on lease from Russia.

China, in sharp contrast, has 51 conventional and five nuclear submarines. It is also going to soon induct another five advanced JIN-class nuclear submarines equipped with the new 7,400-km JL-2 missiles.

The lack of strategic planning in India, however, ensures that even though force-levels at the Eastern Naval Command at Vizag have shown some upgrade, the crucially-located Andaman and Nicobar Command continues to suffer from neglect. Strengthening of India's last military outpost at the 572-island archipelago would be an effective counter to China's strategic moves in the IOR.


Army likely to replace the Indo Tibetan Border Police along LAC with China: Sources

In a significant move aimed at countering the increasing threat and incidents of incursion by China's People's Liberation Army, the Centre is contemplating replacing the ITBP by the Army, particularly in the Ladakh sector.
Maximum number of incidents of incursion have been reported here. The Army's role in handling the recent crisis at Chumar has been appreciated as it took a tough stand on the issue of not letting the PLA troops to intimidate its soldiers.
The Army had even successfully managed to set up an observation hut at a strategic location in the Chumar region. Government sources said it was the Army's prompt and immediate action that put a complete check on PLA's plans for any further advancement into the Indian territory.
Thus, there is now a growing view in the government that the Army and not the ITBP should be made the "first line of defence'' along the India-China border.
The issue was discussed between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the officials of the Defence and Home Ministry


DRDO ready to deliver AEW&C to Air Force

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is ready to deliver the Brazilian Embraer aircraft-based, indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) to the Indian Air Force as soon as it is ready to receive it. At the moment, the IAF is training its personnel who can operate the systems of the aircraft, at Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS). The process should be over by February of next year.

Dr K Tamilmani, the director general of aeronautical systems and Dr S Christopher, programme director (AEW&C) and director, CABS said on Thursday that the laboratory has developed an indigenous Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that has been fitted on the aircraft and is actually functioning for almost a year. The air-to-air function of the radar has been tested and certified, while air-to-sea functions are being tested.

Christopher stated that the ‘technical readiness level’ of the AEW&C is of the order of eight on a scale of ten. In a crowded environment, the aircraft system can ‘correlate, identify, classify and threat response of 500 airborne targets can be tracked, out of which 16 enemy targets can be simultaneously designated.’

There are five work-stations where operators can sit and work, with one being solely for dedicated for ‘communication support measure.’ The aircraft can loiter for five hours independently and with refueling, another four hours can be added to the sortie. It will need some friendly fighter aircraft support, with satellite communication link directly to Vayu Bhavan, IAF headquarters.

The Embraer system has data links, voice communication facility, 32 fighter aircrafts can remain connected while in air, and the ‘air support picture’ created by the operators. It can reach altitudes of 25,000 to 30,000 with a range of 300 kms. Significantly, the AESA radar will have ‘look down’ ability. The radar has 1,257 amplifiers.

 - millenniumpost

September 26, 2014

US offers big arms contract, tech to India

On the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, the Pentagon has offered to jointly develop or manufacture 34 state-of-the-art weapon systems and technologies with India including the Javelin anti-tank missile and the Scorpion mutation bomb.
The deal for the Javelin, an infra-red guided missile with a range of nearly 5km that has been used in Afghanistan and Iraq, will include full transfer of technology. It features software that allows the missile to seek, track and destroy tanks. Earlier, India had been considering the purchase of Javelins worth $4billion.
According to the South Block officials, Bharat Dynamics Limited will be involved in the co-production of the Javelin and will also co-develop the next generation of the missile. The offer to build and develop the missile jointly was first made by President Barack Obama to Modi in a letter in July.
The Americans have also offered co-production of Textron-manufactured micro-observers or unattended ground sensors for deployment on the border, and co-development of the Scorpion, a bomb that has in-built sensors that allow command centres to accurately target enemy convoys.
Another weapon that has been offered for co-production is the 120mm canon gun made by ATK.
It is also understood that after a long delay, India is all set to acquire 24 Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 16 Chinook heavy lift helicopters under the foreign military sales route that involves government-to-government sale.
Indian and US diplomatic sources said that the Pentagon offers came during the September 22-25 meeting in Washington between a four-member Indian team led by defence production secretary G Mohan Kumar and US under secretary for acquisition and technologies Frank Kendall.
Modi will renew the 10-year-old bilateral defence framework for five more years during his visit and defence minister Arun Jaitley is expected to meet his US counterpart Chuck Hagel on October 8 after the IMF-World Bank meetings on the previous two days. The meeting between Jaitley and Hagel is expected to be attended by Gen Martin Dempsey, Chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee and commerce secretary Penny Priztker.


Ladakh stand-off: India, China agree to withdraw troops by September 30

India and China have resolved the stand-off at the Ladakh border and withdrawal of troops will begin on Friday and be completed by September 30, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said, describing the resolution of the issue as a "big accomplishment."

"I am happy to tell you that both nations have sat down and resolved the (border stand-off) issue. Timelines have been decided," Swaraj told Indian reporters here after her meeting with the IBSA foreign ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session.

Swaraj met with Chinese foreign affairs minister Wang Yi on Thursday at the United Nations and said that she discussed the border stand-off issue with him.

Swaraj said during Chinese President Xi Jingping's visit to New Delhi this month, somewhere a "shadow" of the border incident was cast on the visit even though the visit in itself was "very historical" and very good outcomes came from it.
The two armies were engaged in a stand-off at Chumar region in Ladakh, coinciding with the first visit of the Chinese President.

Tension in the area erupted last Sunday when some Chinese workers, who were constructing a road on their side, crossed into the Indian side and also claimed that they had orders to build a road up to Tible, 5-km deep inside Indian territory.

Swaraj said the withdrawal of the troops will begin on Friday and will be completed by September 30, adding that the troops of both the nations will return to their positions as they were on September 1, 2014.
"The bad phase will end and by September 30th, the withdrawal of troops will be completed. I talked about this with the Chinese Foreign Minister. I beleive this is a big accomplishment," she said.

Swaraj said she also discussed with China the issue of UN Security Council reform and the need to complete the reform process, including expanding its permanent membership by 2015, which will be the 70th anniversary of the world organisation.

She described her meeting with her Chinese counterpart as "very successful."
- timesofindia

PM Modi's US Visit: India eyes $1 billion Sikorsky helicopter deal, other US arms

India is expected to choose Sikorsky Aircraft's S-70B Sea Hawk helicopters at a 16-aircraft tender worth over $1 billion, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The decision could come during a high-profile visit to the United States by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that starts on Friday.

The Sikorsky deal would be one of several large US arms purchases by India that are nearing completion, including over $2.5 billion in orders for Boeing Co's AH-64D Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp , declined comment on the potential helicopter order. Those deals could in turn lay the groundwork for a much larger order of 123 helicopters for the Indian Navy, said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Boeing continues to negotiate with India on the Apache and Chinook helicopters and hopes to have signed contracts by the end of the year, said spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson.

US weapons makers, keen to offset declining US and European military spending, are watching closely to see whether Modi delivers on his promises to expand India's strategic relationship with the United States.

India was the top foreign buyer of US arms last year, according to defense research firm IHS Janes, and the two governments are now negotiating a series of specific defense collaboration projects that would involve more co-production. Boeing is due to deliver a sixth P-8I plane to India later this year, and two more next year. India may also exercise options for four additional P-8 aircraft next year, Boeing officials said.

The US unit of Britain's BAE Systems is also ready for talks with India about the possible sale of up to 145 of its M777 towed 155mm howitzer artillery pieces, a deal valued at up to $885 million.

Rahul Madhavan, senior manager for aerospace and defense at the US -India Business Council lobby group, said the Modi government appeared to be embracing the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), which aims to increase collaboration on 17 specific defense projects.

"The Indian administration is taking this DTTI initiative forward and it is no longer perceived as just being a US centered type of affair, or a one-way street," he said. "The win-win situation is now more apparent for both sides."

US industry executives are excited about possible opportunities in India but caution that such deals often take longer to negotiate than expected.

Boeing already has a huge presence in India due to its sales of P-8 maritime surveillance planes and C-17 transport planes. Modi is slated to meet with Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney during his US visit.


Modi govt clears long-pending case for Israeli Barak missiles for warships

India will finally be able to strengthen the eroding defensive shield around its 14 frontline warships, with the Modi government clearing the long-delayed "critical" acquisition of 262 missiles to arm the Israeli Barak-I anti-missile defence (AMD) systems fitted on board them.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening gave the final nod to the Rs 880 crore acquisition of Barak-I missiles, which has been hanging fire for the last six years despite successive Navy chiefs sounding the red alert over this "critical operational deficiency", said sources.

The Barak AMD systems, installed on aircraft carrier INS Viraat, guided-missile destroyers like INS Mysore and Shivalik-class stealth frigates, are designed to intercept and destroy incoming enemy missiles at a range of 9-km. India had ordered the first Barak-I system for INS Viraat in the late 1990s to counter Pakistan's acquisition of sea-skimming Exocet and Harpoon missiles.

DRDO's failure to develop the indigenous Trishul AMD system paved the way for further orders after the 1999 Kargil conflict, with a Rs 1,160 crore Barak contract being inked in October 2000 by the then Vajpayee-led NDA-1 government to arm the 14 warships.

But after the UPA regime came to power, the CBI in 2006 named former defence minister George Fernandes, his party associates Jaya Jaitly and R K Jain, alleged arms dealer Suresh Nanda and former Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar, apart from armament firms Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael, in the infamous Barak kickbacks case.

This effectively derailed the Navy's case for fresh procurement of missiles to replenish its depleting stocks, even though the UPA regime did not blacklist IAI and Rafael on the ground that it would prove "counter-productive".

Though the CBI late last year closed its case due to lack of evidence, the UPA-2 regime had refrained from taking the fresh procurement case to the CCS for the final nod. The Navy, in fact, had even curtailed its practice firings of the Barak missiles due to their paucity in recent years.Incidentally, the next-generation AMD systems with 70-km interception range are being built in a joint DRDO-IAI project, though the name 'Barak' has been dropped due to the stigma attached with it. The long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) system to arm warships is worth Rs 2,606 crore, while a medium-range SAM system for IAF is pegged at Rs 10,076 crore.

Hit by huge delays, both the systems will be ready only by December 2015 now. Consequently, India's new aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and latest indigenous destroyer INS Kolkata are currently operating without these missile defence systems.- timesofindia

September 25, 2014

India sits tight on PLA request for flag meet

India appears to be sitting tight on a request made by the People’s Liberation Army for a flag meeting, amidst the continuing border standoff in the Ladakh sector.
The PLA had on Tuesday sought a flag meeting with the Indian Army, in what was being viewed in some circles as China softening its position along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The request is still under consideration and a meeting could take place this week. Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to India, Le Yucheng, met officials from the ministry of external affairs on Wednesday.
However, sources said the meeting was not related to the border standoff. The two countries are working through diplomatic channels to find a resolution to the stalemate.
Previous flag meetings have failed to end the crisis.
The Indian position is that the status quo of September 10 be restored unconditionally. The situation along the LAC continued to remain tense on Wednesday, with the standoff in Chumar area entering its 14th day.
More than 1,000 Indian and Chinese soldiers are involved in the faceoff, with both armies refusing to back off from the positions held by them.


India-US discuss joint military hardware production

Ahead of Prime Minister NarendraModi's US visit, a high-level defence ministry team is there to discuss the opportunities of jointly developing and manufacturing military hardware.

A defence ministry team led by secretary (defence production) G Mohan Kumar and including director general (acquisition) Asharam Sihag is in Washington and discussing joint ventures with their American counterparts, ministry sources told PTI here.

The secretary (defence production) is also the Indian representative for the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) proposed by the US under which it has offered co-production of the third-generation anti-tank Javelin missiles and other systems, they said.

Defence cooperation is expected to be one of the major focus areas during the Prime Minister's US visit where India is expected to finalise the deals for procuring American attack and heavylift helicopters for around Rs 15,000 crore.
In the last decade, India has emerged as one of the major buyers of American military equipment and has supplied equipment worth over Rs 60,000 crore in these years.

The equipment supplied by the US includes the C-17 strategic lift transport aircraft, C-130J Super Hercules special operations planes, P-8I anti-submarine warfare planes and the AN-TPQ weapon locating radars.

The US has also offered to support India in establishing an indigenous weapon manufacturing sector in line with Modi's goal of achieving self-reliance in this sector.

The Prime Minister will leave for the US tomorrow.

September 24, 2014

Army’s Eastern Command wary of Chinese incursions in Arunachal

With the standoff with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) continuing in the Chumar sector of northeast Ladakh, the Indian Army's Eastern Command has gone into a state of readiness to check any incursion from across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Arunachal Pradesh.

"It has been our experience that the Chinese start trouble in Ladakh and then turn their attention to Arunachal Pradesh. In April 2013, the PLA ventured into Indian territory in the Depsang area of Ladakh, pitched tents and stayed there for nearly 20 days. This was followed up by an incursion in the Chaglagam area of Arunachal Pradesh in August by the PLA. Chinese troops reportedly crossed over the LAC and occupied territory 20 km inside the Anjaw district for nearly four days. We are keeping our fingers crossed," a senior officer said.

There are long stretches along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh where round the clock vigil is not possible. In the past, Indian Army troops on patrol have found evidence of PLA presence inside Indian territory. PLA soldiers make no efforts to remove evidence of their intrusions as China doesn't recognize Arunachal Pradesh and considers the state as its own territory.
"In the past, they have left behind banners 'informing' Indian troops that they are in Chinese territory. The 'fishtail' area - called so because of the unique shape of the LAC there - is particularly vulnerable. Indian patrols often come across temporary PLA camps where Chinese soldiers relaxed. The soldiers left behind half-empty beer cans, cigarette packets and butts in a casual manner to justify their presence in the area," the officer added.

In several parts of Arunachal Pradesh, particularly in inhospitable and mountainous terrain, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) mans outposts closer to the LAC than the Army. In 2013, it was the ITBP which sent information of the Chaglagam incursion to the Army. The Army then sent out patrols to verify the claim. Senior officers in the Eastern Command admit that India lacks infrastructure on its side of the LAC as compared to China.

"While the process of raising a mountain strike corps has begun, we still lack infrastructure in the form of border roads and railway tracks. Our troops have to be moved by air to advanced landing grounds and then trudge several miles to the advanced posts. They are kept supplied by mule trains. Fortunately, the government has now taken a decision to strengthen the border road network and done away with certain formalities that were a hindrance," another officer said. 
  - Times of india

Rafale deal may be signed by Dec

Indian government’s contract negotiation committee (CNC) for the medium, multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA), Rafale, has been given the draft contract document by the French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault. A top level Indian Air Force (IAF) source, while confirming this, said that they expect that the deal could be signed by December this year.
 Long in negotiations, the contract is in the final stages of price fixing, the official said. According to him, the CNC will arrive at two prices at the end of talks. One will be ‘direct’ price, which will be actual cost of whole 126 aircraft the IAF plans to get – 18 in flyaway condition directly from Dassault, and 108 produced under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The other is Life Cycle Costing (LCC), which will cover the whole life of the aircraft in service with the IAF. This would include maintenance cost, overhauling costs among others.

The IAF sources complained about efforts by some Indians to sow doubts and make the IAF leadership ‘weak-kneed’ by publicising wrong information in sections of the media ‘at the behest of a foreign competitor’.

The other key element of the deal is the licence manufacture deal between Dassault and the HAL. There were large number of issues that were technology related. A senior HAL source stated: ‘Now those issues have been boiled down to two or three. They would also be taken care of soon.’

One gets a sense from all these conversations, that the IAF has got a signal from the political leadership of the government that it is now on more than ‘a wing and a prayer’. In other words, the force has got a green signal from the government to go ahead with the deal.

The senior official said that since the LCC has been in negotiation for the MMRCA, the same formula has been applied to 19 other vendors, including the Russians, and none of them had complained about the sanctity of the LCC. ‘Any of them could have taken us to court, if we were in the wrong.’

The first air assets that have been delivered under the LCC formula have been the Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA), the Pilatus PC 7.
They are already flying in large numbers. ‘We were sure that we were in the right track when ministry of finance cleared our pricing, and it was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security,’ the official said.
- millenniumpost

India creates history as ISRO's first Mars orbiter Mangalyaan successfully enters red planet's orbit

(ibnlive): It was a truly historic moment for India as the country's first Mars Orbiter Mission, popularly known as Mangalyaan was successfully placed in the red planet's orbit on Wednesday morning.
September 24, 2014 will go down as a red-letter day in the annals of space exploration as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved which no space agency in world including the USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) managed to do in their first attempt.
Even as crores of Indians were just waking up, hundreds of ISRO scientists were busy manoeuvering the Mangalyaan towards the Martian orbit. With this stupendous achievement, ISRO has become only the fourth space agency which has successfully launched a Mars mission.
After carrying out the procedure, ISRO said, "All engines are going strong. Burning of fuel happening."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were at ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore to witness the crucial Mars Orbiter Insertion.
Mangalyaan is primarily a technological mission and it has been configured to carry out observation of physical features of Mars and carry out limited study of the Martian atmosphere.
ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan personally led the team of 14 top space scientists in this mission and worked on it for 15 months. More than 200 space scientists were in the control room monitoring even the minutest details of the Mars Mission's final phase.
ISRO will keep the Mars Spacecraft in the sight of Earth to control it. The ISRO is doing a very complex manoeuvering and the other three nations and space agencies - USA, European Space Agency and Russia have failed in their first attempt.
Mars Spacecraft will send pictures back to the ISRO headquarters in Bangalore. ISRO is hoping to get the first pictures by Wednesday evening. Mars spacecraft can be as close as just 80 kms from the planet.
Mars Mission has been completely flawless since its launch on November 5, 2013.
The Mars Orbiter insertion exercise began at 4:17 AM. The spacecraft switched over to the medium gain antenna at 6:56 AM.
The nail-biting moment was at 7:17 AM when the burn of the liquid apogee motor started and reduce the spacecraft's speed relative to Mars from 22.3 to 4.2 kilometers per second. It has to awaken as it was in sleeping mode for 300 days. The ISRO received confirmation only at 7:30 AM.
The engine stopped burning at 7:41 AM and communication with the spacecraft was be re-established at 7:47 AM.
Twenty-one minutes prior to the start of the manoeuvre, the spacecraft rotated forward to point its engine.
The engine fired again for about 24 minutes, imparting a deceleration force of 1098.7 metres per second to enable the spacecraft to slip into an orbit with a nearest distance of 423 km to the red planet and a farthest distance of 80,000 km. The manoeuvre consumed 249.5 kg of the 280 kg fuel on board the spacecraft.
On Monday, it successfully test fired its main liquid engine which was in sleep mode for 10 months. The engine was test fired for precisely four seconds.
ISRO has also uploaded commands to help the spacecraft automatically enter the orbit.
The ISRO also has an advantage as it learnt from the previous missions of USA, ESA and Russia. There have been 11 attempts so far by all space agencies in the World. The success rate is just 40 per cent.
The Rs 450 crore mission is one of the cheapest one and costs even less than Hollywood sci-fi film 'Gravity'.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, India's first interplanetary mission, was launched by India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013.
The spacecraft entered the orbit of Mars exactly 48 hours after NASA's 16th successful Mars mission with its Maven spacecraft on Monday.

‘Growing Indo-Japan ties irk China’

Chinese president Xi Jinping's rhetoric about "regional war" shortly after his return from India could be a sign of his frustration over his apparent failure in persuading Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go slow on his relations with Japan, say western diplomats.

He had asked People's Liberation Army (PLA) commanders to "sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology" on Sunday amid standoff with India along the de facto border between the two countries in Ladakh.

"Japan's move towards militarization and Modi's arrival as a strongman happened at the same time. Friendship between him and Japan's (prime minister Shinzo) Abe is the worst thing that can happen to China," a Beijing-based western diplomat said. "Xi is ready to put military pressure on India to keep it away from Japan.''

He said China is getting desperate to prove its supremacy in the region. "Look at the near collision between a Chinese fighter and a US warplane last month," he said.

"China is hugely worried about developing Japan-India relations. This can strengthen Japan's hands and seriously harm China's influence in the world."

Another diplomat echoed him saying China would "both woo, threaten or do whatever it feels necessary to keep India from joining hands with Japan''. He said China is determined to "be a regional bully'' and India-Japan combine could destroy this.

Beijing has a long history of rivalry with Tokyo and considers it a serious threat to its rise.

Some experts have suggested Xi has used similar language in his past interactions with PLA officers and the latest statement should be seen in this light.
But others believe Xi consciously cited "regional war" while speaking to PLA commanders as it coincided with the stand-off with Indian forces.

China has territorial disputes with many countries including Japan and India. China is worried Japan could join hands with its rivals to form a joint front.

Sources said Xi spoke about the "regional war" to win over the commanders as he is trying to reinforce his authority over the military. 

INS Vishal might be nuclear-powered aircraft carrier : Naval Design Bureau

The Navy said it was working on the design of the second indigenous aircraft carrier which may be propelled by a nuclear-powered engine.

The design is at a conceptual stage, director general of Naval Design Bureau Rear Admiral Atul Saxena said when asked if the force was considering using nuclear-powered engine for it.The Navy is already constructing the 40,000 tonne first indigenous aircraft carrier at the Cochin Shipyard Limited and has plans of building one more such vessel which is expected to be more than 60,000 tonnes in weight.

He said the force will take some time before freezing the design of the aircraft carrier as several options are being considered for various aspects such as aircraft take-off and landing facilities.

India has plans of having a fleet of three aircraft carriers. One each would be deployed on the eastern and western sea-boards and the third would be used as a reserve.

Talking to reporters ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Naval Design Bureau, Saxena said, the Navy has developed immense capabilities in terms of ship designing and is focusing on cutting down the ship building time as part of its focus area.

He said in the times of changing face of warfare, the Navy design team is also looking at designing multi-role warships which can be used for diversified operations such as conventional warfare, disaster relief or anti-piracy operations.

Saxena said the force has increased the stealth feature on the ships designed by it and built indigenously by government shipyards in the last few years.


Need to indigenise weapons, sensors: Indian Navy

(IANS) Indigenisation remains a major focus, and weapons and sensors made in India would give a major boost to the process of designing and building ships, a top Indian Navy officer said here Tuesday.
Director General Naval Design Rear Admiral A.K. Saxena Tuesday briefed journalists ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations of the naval warship design department.
He said the process of designing and building a ship gets delayed as the technologies of weapons and sensors to be mounted get upgraded.
"The technology of weapons and sensors get upgraded every four to five years. In countries where weapons and sensors are build simultaneously, the design can be changed as per requirement," Saxena said.
"I hope soon we develop weapons and sensors of our own. In that case, changes can be made in designing of the ship as per requirement," he said.
Indigenisation of production in the defence sector has been in focus in India, which still remains one of the biggest importers of defence equipment and arms.
India meets nearly 80 percent of its defence needs with foreign imports.
India is the world's ninth biggest military spender, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's (SIPRI) report of world military expenditure spending for 2014.

September 23, 2014

China says regional war reports in India a wild guess

Modi with Xi Jinping
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad on September 17, 2014. 

China on Tuesday rubbished reports suggesting that a recent address by President Xi Jinping to military officers in Beijing calling for "combat readiness" was linked to India. It said the Indian media reports were "a wild guess" and contradicted the consensus reached by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President to resolve issues peacefully.
China's military, has, at the same time, stuck to the line that its troops had not violated any agreements between India and China and were on "China's side" of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). With differing perceptions of the LAC in the areas in question, the PLA move has been seen as a bid by China to reinforce its control in territory where both sides have in the past been patrolling.Neither side has, however, taken the step to pitch tents since the stand-off in Depsang, in eastern Ladakh, in April 2013. That face-off took as long as three weeks to be defused.China on Tuesday reiterated that it believed this stand-off too could be resolved peacefully using the mechanisms in place, such as flag meetings and a consultation and coordination mechanism on boundary affairs that was set up three years ago.
Officials also rejected Indian media reports linking President Xi Jinping's address to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Chiefs of Staff, during what sources said was an earlier scheduled meeting planned prior to his trip to India, to the on-going stand-off in Chumar in Ladakh.Xi had called on PLA forces to "improve their combat readiness" and "sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology". This was not Xi's first such call: shortly after taking over, Xi urged troops in Guangzhou in December 2012 using the same language.
The reference to "winning regional wars" in the "age of information technology" has become the PLA's standard doctrine since the early 1990s, finding regular mention in defence meetings and white papers, according to military analysts, and is not country-specific.
"This is a routine statement that every Central Military Commission chairman makes when he meets a PLA delegation," said Srikanth Kondapalli, an expert on the Chinese military and Professor in Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
"The context is the shift in PLA's focus, from the Gulf War in 1991 onwards, marking that their effort to wage a global war is over and the focus now is regional wars. Winning regional wars in information age conditions has found routine mention in meetings since then, and is not related to India or the Chumar incident," he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said reports linking Xi's meeting to the Indian border were "a wild guess".
"I believe this may be a wild guess," Hua said. "President Xi just concluded a very successful visit to India and was warmly welcomed by the Indian government."
She said Modi and Xi had "reached a consensus" that although there may be some problems at the border they would "solve disputes through friendly coordination". "We will never allow the border area to influence Sino-Indian relations," she said.
At Sunday and Monday's meeting, the PLA's armed forces were also told to follow the Party line and "the instructions of Xi".
Xi is shortly expected to announce the promotions of two generals, Liu Yuan and Zhang Youxia, who are both close to him, in a bid to assert his control of the military and to signal that he was very much in command, despite some recent rumblings in the PLA amid a widespread corruption crackdown launched recently by Xi.

GRSE launches Landing Craft Utility for Indian Navy

The second of the Indian Navy's eight Landing Craft-Utility ships for amphibious operations, being built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., was launched here Monday and is expected to be commissioned by the year end, a defence release said.

"The launching marks completion of main hull of the ship, which will now be fitted out with essential equipment and systems before sea-trials and commissioning, which is expected by the year end," said the statement.

The LCU Mark-IV ships have been developed in-house by GRSE as per the navy's requirements, and are designed for "multipurpose amphibious operations" jointly carried by the navy and army for ensuring maritime security of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, it said.

The keel of the LCU - Yard 2093 - was laid on April 2013.

As per maritime traditions, the ship was launched by Sharmistha Chatterjee, wife of Andaman and Nicobar Command chief, Vice Admiral P.K. Chatterjee, who was the chief guest on the occasion, the release said.

GRSE chairman and managing director Rear Admiral A.K. Verma (retd), and officials from the defence ministry and state administration were also present.

GRSE had signed the contract for design and building of eight LCU ships from Indian Navy on September 2011.

The ships, 63 metres long, 11 metres wide and displacing around 830 tons, are designed to transport tanks and troops to the islands. With a maximum speed of 15 knots and an endurance of more than 1,500 nautical miles, they can accommodate 216 personnel including 160 troops, the statement said.

They have two 30mm CRN-91 mounted guns to provide artillery fire support during landing operations.


Amidst LAC standoff, Chinese President tells Army to be ready for a regional war

A day after the China's People's Liberation Army added seven new tents within the Indian territory, Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked the Chinese army to be ready for a regional war. He has also ordered the Army to ensure a smooth chain of command and implement all decisions from the central leadership.
Addressing the People's Liberation Army, Xi said, "The headquarters of PLA forces must have absolute loyalty and firm faith in the Communist Party of China, guarantee a smooth chain of command and make sure all decisions from the central leadership are fully implemented. The headquarters of all PLA forces should improve their combat readiness and sharpen their ability to win a regional war in the age of information technology."
It is not yet clear why the emphasis was made on absolute loyalty and to follow the orders to ensure smooth chain of command. Xi's directives come in the midst of a standoff between the PLA and Indian troops in Chumar area in Ladakh region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
On Saturday, over 50 Chinese soldiers had entered Chumar, days after 100 troops were reported to have crossed into Indian territory.
During his talks with Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Modi had raised the border dispute and urged China to move towards defining the Line of Actual Control.


As China pushes, Indian troops make tactical retreat at one spot

(defencenews): China is getting increasingly aggressive on the border even as Indian troops hold forth with equal force. The continuing high-altitude military faceoff at Chumar in eastern Ladakh, with around 1,000 Chinese soldiers ranged against an equal number of Indian troops in sub-zero temperatures for the last 12 days, has led Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag to cancel his proposed visit to Bhutan.

The Army chief decided to stay put after Indian forces had to make a tactical retreat at one of the eight places of standoff in Chumar three days ago in the face of heavy Chinese troop presence. The government has now decided to send in more troops as the standoff persists.

Gen Suhag's three-day visit — his first foreign trip after becoming Army chief — was called off at the last minute after the People's Liberation Army troops showed no signs of withdrawing from their forward positions in the Chumar sector on Monday despite diplomatic intervention. Indian and PLA troops continue to "hold" their "tactical positions" against each other at heights around 14,500 feet.

Home ministry sources said Chinese troops have been "quite aggressive" in the past few days and three days back even forced Indian troops to make a tactical retreat about two kilometres deep inside Indian territory at one of the eight points in Chumar where the standoff continues.

A senior government official said, "Our troops too are standing forth with equal force. The retreat was made tactically as Chinese strength on that point was far greater. More reinforcements were sent later and now we are holding position."

Sources said the standoff continued as China was not ready to relent on its road-building exercise near the border and India was unwilling to bring down some structures it has built near the LAC. "It's a question of who blinks first. Chinese want us to dismantle some structures that we have built to sustain our forces in Chumar. We are not ready for that," the official said.While the "strategic message" being sent through the "tactical faceoff" is still not very clear, it's felt that China is playing a double-game. "There is a clear disconnect between what President Xi Jinping told PM Narendra Modi at their summit here last week and the attitude of PLA commanders on the ground. It's simply not possible that the PLA would flout the orders of Xi, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, to withdraw," said the source.

Xi tells PLA to get ready for LIMITED REGIONAL WAR ::

Interestingly, the Chinese government in Beijing on Sunday directed its top military brass to ensure "all PLA forces follow the instructions of President Xi Jinping" and remove "inefficiencies" in the chain of military command. Meanwhile, Xi is also learnt to have asked his troops to be ready for a "regional war".

Gen Suhag, along with his director-general of military operations Lt-Gen P R Kumar, has been briefing the PMO and others in the government on the Chumar standoff on a regular basis.

The rival troops, depending on the harsh terrain in the disputed stretch, are separated by distances ranging from 700 metres to 1.5 km at eight "tactical" locations. "We are adequately prepared and deployed for the long haul if it comes to that. The PLA will find it tough to either increase the strength of its troops in the region or sustain them beyond a point through airdropping of supplies by helicopters," said a source.

Though the assessment is that the PLA troops will eventually withdraw after "saving face", the Army is keeping its 15 battalions (800 soldiers each) as well as "reserve units" in eastern Ladakh on "high alert" to cater for any contingency, as reported by TOI.

Sources said China seems to be testing the Modi government's resolve both on the land boundaries as well as the Indian Ocean Region with its Maritime Silk Route construct. During the 21-day Depsang faceoff at the DBO sector in April-May last year, just before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit here, India had got conflicting signals from the PLA commanders on the ground and the political leadership in Beijing.Similar messaging is happening in the ongoing Chumar faceoff, which coincided with President Xi Jinping's visit here. "It's very difficult to believe that local PLA commanders would act like this without the top Chinese leadership's nod. We have asked China to adhere to the 2005 protocol on CBMs on the LAC," said the source.

It had taken intensive diplomatic intervention to finally defuse the DBO faceoff last year after India dismantled "a tin shed" at Chumar and the PLA troops simultaneously withdrew from the Depsang Valley.Similarly, this time the Chinese troops are also asking Indian troops to demolish a recently-built hut at Tible in the Chumar sector, as reported by TOI earlier.

September 22, 2014

India’s Artillery Procurement Saga

Napoleon once said, “God fights on the side with the best artillery.” There is little doubt that the Indian Army’s artillery is in urgent need of modernization. That much was clear after the Kargil War, where artillery played a decisive factor. But delays in procurement are hindering the process. Take 155 mm towed howitzers, a key element of India’s artillery. India hasn’t purchased a new system since the Bofors in 1980s. Senior Indian army officials have also raised concerns over shortages of modern artillery systems, which they believe would be a crucial drawback in any future conflict. Even though the Bofors proved its utility in the Kargil War, the Army has been notably lackadaisical when it comes to acquiring these types of guns, with tenders cancelled in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

So in 2012, with then Indian Army Chief, General V.K Singh warning of gaps existing in India’s military preparedness, the Ministry of Defence cleared a $647 million deal to acquire 145 M777 155-mm 38-caliber howitzers under Washington’s Foreign Military Sales program, after the Army conducted a “series of rigorous trials” of the gun.

In October 2013, however, it was reported that British multinational BAE Systems would be closing the U.S. factory that manufactures the gun, due the “absence of any order or commitment from New Delhi.” If New Delhi wants the guns, it will have to pay to reopen the line, raising the price to as much as $885 million. A recent strengthening of the U.S. dollar makes the deal even more expensive. Washington points out that if India had been able to move more quickly, it could have had the guns at the lower price.

This battle-tested M777 has been called the world’s “largest sniper rifle” due to its range and accuracy, which enables it to “hit windows from 25 miles away.” With a digital fire control system, the M777 has the ability to fire five rounds per minute.This gun was used by the U.S. military during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2002. The M777 guns possessed both tactical and strategic mobility that enhanced their survivability and enabled them to be used for both point and area defense. The low thermal and radar signature and low silhouette further enhance survivability, reducing reaction time for the enemy. Because they are easily concealed compared to the Bofors, the M777 could be useful in warfare in both desert and mountain terrains.

Although the M777 is light artillery, its firepower matches that of heavier towed howitzers. Its light weight is achieved by the use of titanium and aluminum alloy. That makes the M777 an ideal weapon for mountain warfare, since it can be readily moved by helicopter and transport aircraft like the Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules or IL-76. With that feature, the M777 was meant to be part of the Indian Army’s new Mountain Strike Corps, for use in high altitude regions like Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. The failure of the deal could well undermine the military capabilities of this corps. Mountain warfare is complicated by the non-linear terrain, which calls for light, maneuverable and accurate artillery. Yet the Army still lacks such a system.

Since the infamous Bofors scandal of the mid 1980s, the Indian Army has been unable to procure any 155 mm howitzers. Controversies surrounding Denel and Singapore Technology Kinetics have also prevented India from considering these companies as potential suppliers. In the meantime, the role of artillery in challenging terrain grows more important. As Brig. (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal points out, “of all the combat arms of the Indian Army, artillery will be the battle winning factor on future battlefields.” Regular contributor to The Diplomat, Nitin Gokhale has argued that the Army needs more than 1,500 towed artillery guns.

Despite the Army recognizing the importance of the M777 system, the defense establishment is of a different mind, believing that India could acquire less costly alternatives. In June 2014, the Ordinance Factory Board (OFB)-made Dhanush, considered to be the desi version of the Bofors, was reported to have entered production phase. This 45-caliber gun is claimed to be “20-25% better” than the Bofors, and will apparently feature an electronic sighting and laying system that would indeed represent a major enhancement. It can also apparently hit targets up to 38 km distant on plains. Moreover, the Dhanush would be far cheaper than the Bofors.It is reported that the OFB has received orders for 114 howitzers. Meanwhile, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is partnering with the private sector in developing modern 155 mm howitzers of 52 caliber under the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Project. Private companies like Tata Group and Bharat Forge are also working on systems. Clearly, the failure to strike the M777 deal has opened the door for Indian private firms.