November 29, 2014

40% defence equipment imported

While acknowledging that at least 40 per cent of defence equipment was coming from abroad, the government said in Lok Sabha Friday that it was making efforts to boost the indigenous manufacturing capacity and bring down dependence on foreign supplies.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was responding to questions from members including P K Biju (CPI-M), Jayshreeben Patel (BJP), Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Congress) and Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress), maintained that it would not be economically viable to manufacture some items.
Regarding export, he said one had to identify the items and the countries which could be targeted for exports before embarking on any such drive. Besides, the country had to put in place the requisite infrastructure for starting an export of equipment.
The Defence Minister informed the House that the total defence procurement was Rs 93,216.93 crore in 2013-14, of which foreign procurement stood at Rs 38,202.66 crore, making for about 40 per cent.
In 2012-13, indigenous sources accounted for nearly 64 per cent of the total defence procurement. At that time, procurement worth Rs 52,719.38 crore was from indigenous sources while foreign procurement was to the tune of Rs 30,370.80 crore.


Russia expresses interest in aircraft production in India

Russia has expressed interest in production of civil and light transport aircraft in India with their technology, Parliament was informed on Friday.

The Indian government has welcomed the Russian interest and is committed to enhancing bilateral investment and trade cooperation, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

"The Russian side expressed their interest in production of civil aircraft, light transport aircraft and helicopter in India with Russian technology," she said.

The eighth session of the Indian-Russia Forum on trade and investment was held here on November 5.

Replying to a separate question on coffee industry, she said that stem borer pest is amongst major constraints affecting cultivation of Arabica variety of coffee.

"The combined effects of higher temperatures, reduction of shade for increasing the yield of pepper grown as intercrop and lack of timely control measures by the growers have led to increase in the incidence of the pest," she said.

About 3,200 hectares of productive area in Karnatka are reported to have been affected by stem borer due to long dry spell from November 2013 to May 2014 and resultant high temperatures.

She added that several steps have been initiated to address the problem of pest in coffee cultivation.

"The government has approved a two year action plan (2014-15 and 2015-16) for combating the stem borer in affected areas," the minister said.


November 28, 2014

Russia signs contract to sell S-400 air defense missiles to China

Russia signed a contract to provide S-400 surface-to-air missiles worth US$3 billion to China after years of negotiations, a senior official from the Russian defense industries told Vedomosti, a Russian-language newspaper based in Moscow on Nov. 26.

The spokesperson of Almaz-Antei, the designer of S-400 missile, however, refused to give any comment about the sale. Back in 2011, the Russian government claimed that China will not be able to purchase S-400 missiles before 2016. The Moscow-based Kommersant then reported in the spring of 2014 that president Vladimir Putin approved the deal.

Sergei Ivanov, the chief of staff presidential administration of Russia pointed out that in July of 2014 China would likely become the first overseas buyer of the S-400 missile system. Currently, the People's Liberation Army of China still relies primarily on the S-300 series to defend Chinese air space. Four years ago, China purchased enough S-300 PMU-2 air defense missiles to equip 15 air defense battalions from Russia.

Even though China's air defense capability has gradually advanced over the last 15 years, Vedomosti said that the PLA Navy still needs assistance from Russia to defend critical cities in the southern parts of the nation and disputed islands. The Sina Military Network based in Beijing said that China is very interested in purchasing the longer range version of the S-400 called 9M96. It will help the PLA to gain the technology needed to design more advanced air defense missiles domestically. 

India Denies Reports of French Rafale Jets Deal Cancellation


A high-ranking source in Indian Defense Ministry said that India is not planning to cancel the deal on purchasing French Rafale jets.
  India is not planning to cancel the deal on purchasing French Rafale jets despite earlier media reports that it would do so if France refuses to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, a high-ranking source in Indian Defense Ministry told Sputnik Thursday.
"So far the Rafale deal with France is on, there is no problem in it," the source said.
He also added that India has "ambitious plans" to replace the country's Soviet-made MIG jets with French analogues.
The statement comes after French President Francois Hollande postponed the delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia over the situation in Ukraine on November 25.
Under the $1.6 billion deal signed by the two sides in June 2011, the handover of the first ship, the Vladivostok, was scheduled for November 14.
According to earlier media reports, India warned in September it would cancel the $20-$22 billion contract signed with French Dassault Aviation company on the supply of 126 Rafale fighter jets if Paris refuses to fulfil its obligations under the Mistral contract.


November 27, 2014

Indian Radar Buys Prompt Thales Joint Venture

Indian defense ground radar requirements have driven the creation of a new Franco-Indian joint venture between Thales and Bharat Electronics (BEL), after a two-year delay. BEL-Thales Systems will enable the French company to meet Indian offset and technology transfer commitments associated with an Indian Air Force (IAF) order for 19 radars.
Thales holds 26 percent of the new company, and state-owned Bharat Electronics the other 74 percent. It has been created to design, develop, market, supply and support ground-based civilian and military radars. While Thales’s main strengths are in systems engineering, integration and testing, BEL has manufactured radars for the military. Thales will supply six of the 19 Ground Smarter (GS100) low level transportable radars (LLTR) that the IAF has ordered from France, with the other 13 to be assembled in BEL's facility near Delhi in Ghaziabad. Based on the Thales SR3D, the GS100 is a mobile, modular, multifunctional radar dedicated to tracking complex target maneuvers at low altitude. It offers operational performance out to 180 km.
Meanwhile, an indigenous 4D LLTR named Ashwini, using active arrays, is being developed by the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) radar design laboratory. The IAF has indicated an order for 18 and a total requirement for 67 of these. It is not clear if BEL-Thales Systems will manufacture Ashwini.
In the near future, meanwhile, the IAF is likely to issue an RFP for another mobile air defense radar requirement, for which the Franco-Indian partnership will offer the ControlMaster 60 radar. In fact, this could be the first product to be rolled out of the company's facility, AIN has learned. It is optimized for mobile air defense operation with a search-on-the-move capability and for engagement of conventional and asymmetric threats in harsh environments, clutter and intense jamming conditions and simultaneous multiple engagements.
The Indian army also has a large requirement for ground radar. It has sought bids for 66 Air Defence Fire Control Radars (ADFCRs) to begin the process of replacing as many as 450 older radars in its inventory. Airbus D&S last year reported that it was one of three bidders, offering a land-based version of its naval TRD-3D radar in cooperation with Indian partner Larsen and Toubro.
Thales is a major partner in Team Rafale, which is still trying to conclude the $20 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract with the Indian Air Force. Despite the arrival of the new Indian government and the overhaul and clarification of offset and technology transfer rules, leading to the BEL-Thales joint venture, no progress has been reported in the MMRCA negotiations, which have dragged on for nearly three years.


BSF plans laser walls to stop infiltration from Pakistan

: Laser walls may soon be used to stop infiltration from Pakistan. This is one solution BSF is exploring to implement more effective border checks.

The laser wall will ensure that anyone approaching the border or breaking the beam in an unfenced zone sets off an alarm.

Other than laser walls in unfenced areas, the force is considering anti-tunnel ground sensors and thermal sensors in the fenced stretches. Such technologies, sources said, are already in use in countries such as Israel.

"We're constantly modernizing our weaponry and upgrading defences according to the new challenges facing us. We have looked at some of these technologies and have found them suitable," BSF director general DK Pathak said.
Sources in the force said laser beams would form a wall in places such as the riverine parts of Jammu where fencing isn't possible. The system will be connected to an alarm which would go off at any breach. At present about 15% of the Indo-Pak border and about 35% of the Indo-Bangla frontier is unfenced.

Given that terrorists often use tunnels to sneak in, BSF is acquiring seismic sensors which would be planted underground along the border.

These would record vibrations resulting from tunnelling and alert the control room. This is largely being installed on the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Punjab, which see maximum tunnelling attempts by infiltrators.
BSF is also setting up a "smart fencing system" where thermal sensors would be installed on fences which would alert control rooms of any living being approaching the fence. "This would work as an advance alert system where one would have time to reach the area where infiltrators might be attempting cut a fence and enter. Or a smuggler may be trying to pass on a contraband packet," said a BSF officer.

The force is acquiring unmanned aerial vehicles and other surveillance equipment to bolster its border defence. The move comes even though BSF maintains that there is no infiltration from Pakistan on the borders it guards. "In the past three years we have found no evidence of infiltration on international border with Pakistan," Pathak said.

However, there have been several terror attacks in border areas of Jammu, such as Hiranagar in Kathua, where militants have been suspected to have entered crossing the international border guarded by BSF. However, no agency has as yet found any evidence.
- timesofindia

French defence minister to visit India amid deadlock in project for 126 Rafale fighters

With the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for 126 Rafale fighters stuck in the final stages, French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be holding talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar next week in a bid to resolve the imbroglio.

As was first reported by TOI, 90% of the draft contract for the complex MMRCA project has been finalized, under which the first 18 jets are to be delivered to IAF within 36-48 months of the deal being inked. The rest 108, in turn, will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) with transfer of technology over the next seven years thereafter.

But the major bone of contention is French aviation major Dassault's continuing reluctance to accept responsibility for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned.

This has stalled the finalization of the project for several months now. Drian, on his part, is slated to hold delegation-level talks with Parrikar on December 1 during his two-day visit to India. "The MMRCA will obviously figure in the talks," said an official.

It was in January 2012 that India had selected Dassault's Rafale fighter over its five other rivals for the MMRCA project after an extensive technical and commercial evaluation. But the final negotiations have proceeded at a glacial pace since then, rekindling the hope of Eurofighter Typhoon, which is backed by the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.

British defence secretary Michael Fallon, in fact, recently told TOI that the Eurofighter was fully ready to step in to fulfil India's requirements if negotiations for the Rafale failed.

But, as reported earlier, there can be "no comebacks" in the ongoing MMRCA project as per the Indian defence procurement policy and CVC guidelines. India can either ink the deal for the Rafales or scrap the entire MMRCA selection process undertaken since August 2007.

With IAF down to 34 fighter squadrons, when at least 44 are required, IAF has identified the MMRCA project as its "topmost priority" for the Modi government. The indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, which is yet to receive its final operational clearance despite being in the making for 30 years, simply cannot fulfill the MMRCA's role.

A MMRCA, for instance, will have three times the range and weapon-load carrying capacity as compared to the Tejas, which will be critical to take on China if required. India is also pushing Russia, ahead of President Vladimir Putin's visit here early next month, to come back with a plan to substantially reduce the delivery timeframe for the stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) if it wants to stitch-up the futuristic project by next year. 

GSL given central nod to build 8 MCMVs: CMD

The Union government has given the go-ahead to Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) for the construction of all eight mine countermeasure vessels, or MCMVs, for the Indian Navy, with the option of additional vessels, chairman and managing director of GSL Shekhar Mital said on Wednesday during the launch of the first of a series of six offshore patrol vessels, or OPVs, designed by GSL.

Nearly two weeks ago, Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar, during his visit to GSL, had said that the decision on acquiring eight minesweepers for the Indian Navy would be taken soon. Parrikar had dropped hints that the central government was thinking of giving orders to GSL and would like the PSU to go into technical collaboration.

On Wednesday, Mital said GSL has undertaken massive infrastructure upgradation to construct the MCMVs for which it has been nominated by the Union ministry of defence. The shipyard is near-ready to start the constructions, he added.

The Indian Navy is keen on acquiring minesweepers to replace their aging fleet of 12 Pondicherry and Karwar class minesweepers, which are expected to be phased out by 2020.

The minesweepers are usually deployed with local naval defence and search-and-rescue missions.

The Navy requires at least 24 mine countermeasure vessels to clear mines laid by enemy warships and aircraft to blockade harbours during war.

Earlier, the OPV was launched by Rachna Thapliyal, wife of vice-admiral Anurang G Thapliyal, director general, Indian Coast Guard.

Mital said the construction of six OPVs for the Coast Guard is in full swing and the first vessel will be ready for delivery as per schedule by October 2015. All six vessels will be delivered by November 2017, he added.

The powering requirement for these vessels is about 10% less compared to other such vessels, even while the OPVs breadth and displacement have been increased to improve habitability, operability and survivability of the ship, Mital explained.

Recalling the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Thapliyal said the six OPVs being built by GSL were envisaged in the 11th Coast Guard development plan, 2007-2012, later rolled over to the 12th Coast Guard development plan covering the period 2012-17.

"These new inductions are to augment the OPV force level which is our all-weather workhorse, and so is essential for our oceanic geography comprising two open seas on both coasts," Thapliyal said.

He further said, "I am assured that all six OPVs being built here will join the Indian Coast Guard fleet soon and will operate together to provide the much needed fillip to our surveillance and operational capabilities."

He said the Indian Coast Guard is looking forward to inducting five more such vessels from GSL in the future. These would be in addition to the current six OPVs.

An offshore patrol vessel is powered by twin diesel engines and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. It carries four boats for boarding-party operations.

One 30mm gun and two 12.7mm guns with associated fire control system, form the main weaponry package.

Questions loom as India deepens its defense ties with Israel

As India draws closer and buys more military hardware from Israel, questions are raised about what that will mean to traditional key defense suppliers, the US and Russia, as well as New Delhi’s relations with Palestine.
Global powers including France, the UK, Japan, the US and Israel have been keenly courting India – the world’s largest arms importer – in their quest to bag some lucrative deals as New Delhi begins an ambitious defense upgrade plan with an estimated budget of $100 billion.
But it is Israel that seems to be stealing most of the show, with two mega-deals already closed with New Delhi. The first is 262 Barak-I air defense missiles for the Indian Navy. The second for 8,356 Israeli Spike anti-tank guided missiles and 321 launchers is more significant as it was on a faceoff with America’s Javelin missile.
In August then-US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited India to pitch for the US missiles.
The two arms deals with Israel are worth $662 million which is more than all Israeli exports to India in the last three years.
As India - which accounted for nearly 10 percent of the $63 billion international defense market in 2013 – is seemingly drawn closer to Israel for defense acquisition, several questions arise:
- What happens to India’s defense ties with the US which has clearly shown interest in entering the Indian arms market?
- What about Russia – India’s large weapons supplier?
 What about India’s relations with Palestine?
According to analysts, Israeli missile systems, surveillance, and ordnance systems have technically addressed one immediate Indian requirement - border fortification and monitoring of terrorist activities.

Current deals are expected to brace India’s combat capability in its on-going struggle to contain rising violence on the border with Pakistan, or incidents such as the recent standoff with Chinese troops following a border incursion, ironically coinciding with President Xi’s India visit, and also strengthen its maritime patrol capacity.
India has also been invited to cooperate with Israel’s cybersecurity project which has the surveillance capabilities over terrorist networks and their movement.

Israel over US?

However, technical details apart, there are other reasons why India went ahead with Israel over an American offering.
Many trace it back to the legacy of the Indo-US relationship. As Michael Kugelman, Senior Program Associate for South and Southeast Asia Woodrow Wilson International Center, says, “India likes to focus on the countries with which it has a long and sustained defense relationship - and these mainly consist of Russia, France, and Israel. Given the volatile relationship it has historically had with the US--including a very troubled period during the Cold War - the United States does not necessarily meet the criteria of a long and sustained defense relationship. Only in the last 20 years or so have defense ties with Washington truly taken off.”
Also, the Israeli proposals were closely aligning with Indian PM Narendra Modi’s newly launched “Make in India” initiative which aims at spurring domestic manufacturing. Joint production and development of defense equipment and technology transfer are an important part of this campaign – a demand that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have readily accepted.
Reportedly, both countries are already collaborating on building an integrated anti-missile system to be assimilated into the indigenously developed Prithvi air defense system.
Contrary to that, while US arms exports to India are at a whopping $25.2bn in 2013, India’s main concern as of today is the transfer of technical know-how from foreign countries so next generation equipment that could be built indigenously – something New Delhi feels the US still falls short on.
Would that it mean Israel would outdo the US as India’s defense partner?
Not necessarily”, says Kugelman. “Like its relationship with the US, India's ties have deepened with Israel only in recent years. Defense plays a key role in both the relationships. As the US-India relationship continues to deepen-and I think this should happen in the coming months, with the US downsizing its military role in Afghanistan- defense will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the bilateral relationship.

India diversifying – a message for Moscow?

New Delhi is keen on creating a diplomatic balance in all its international dealings. Defense being one of the most important portfolios, the Modi government will certainly avoid overdependence on one partner. This could be a message for long time supplier Russia that India is expanding its options.
While Russia remains a steady source for acquiring T90 tanks, Su-30 MKI fighters, New Delhi has been looking at supplanting its arsenal of Russian-made MiG 21 and MiG 29 fighter jets which have suffered a series of crashes.
New Delhi has also expressed its displeasure on Russia’s longish delivery timeframe for the fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft (FGFA).
So the need for diversification of sources of arms acquisition, feel analysts, has led India closer to Israel, but it will certainly not stop there.
While the newly appointed Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar is given the task of procuring 126 multi-role fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation worth $15 billion, India is also looking at buying Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft that can be used in search and rescue operations.
However Kugelman feels political rhetoric suggest Russia will remain a very significant and certainly top-defense partner of India. “A few months back Narendra Modi said that Indian children will always say that India's best friend is Russia, because Russia has "been with India" during times of crisis.”
He adds that one trajectory which could determine Russia-India defense ties is whether India decides to deepen its energy relations with Russia. There is an opportunity now, given that Russia has found its traditional importers in Western Europe more reluctant in light of Russia's stance on Ukraine. If India pushes forward with Russia on this front, then defense ties could really intensify as well.

Palestine question

The burgeoning Indo-Israel relationship also brings up another question – what about Palestine? After all, India was the only non-Arab country to have recognized Palestine in 1988. New Delhi, with a history of being a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, also refused diplomatic ties with Israel until 1992.
Even recently it backed the United Nations Human Rights Council call for an investigation into Israel’s Gaza strike.
The Modi government, which is riding the success of being elected to power on promises of pragmatic policy reforms, is breaking many traditions. While the earlier governments have chosen to keep Indo- Israel ties under wraps out of fear of upsetting the Middle East and its own vast Muslim population, Modi seems to be sending out a clear rhetoric that being with Israel doesn’t mean it has abandoned Palestine.
So while he signs the Fortaleza Declaration calling on Israel and Palestine to resume negotiations leading to a two-state solution with a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state existing side by side in peace with Israel, marking a shift in India’s usual overture, Modi also met Netanyahu in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September this year.
National security was a very important part of Modi’s election campaign. And as of today Israel strategically fits into India’s needs – a factor which Modi can certainly not sacrifice for any other consideration.
As Kugelman points out, “New Delhi will want to maintain good relations with both Israel and the Palestinians. And to this point, it has somehow pulled off this balancing act extraordinarily well.
Six months on, pragmatism is seen to be an integral part of the Modi government’s international diplomacy. From inviting President Barack Obama as a chief guest at India’s republic day celebrations lined up in January, seen by some as a tacit departure from New Delhi’s non-alignment stance, to publically espousing ties with Israel – the new government does not seem to shy away from breaking-free from India’s ideological past if the situation demands.


Taneja Aerospace signs contract to upgrade MiG-29s

Pune-based Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited (TAAL) has bagged the contract for life cycle upgradation of MiG-29 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). TAAL competed with much bigger players like Tatas, L&T and Punj Lloyd among total eight bidders to get this deal worth over Rs 12 crore.

The deal signed on Wednesday is being dubbed as the first of its kind, because so far only smaller jobs like manufacture of spares or other allied services were outsourced by the IAF. Never before has a private company been involved in retrofitting of an entire aircraft. Till now, this was the sole domain of defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

TOI had reported in December last year that seven private players had evinced interest in the aircraft upgrade contract. They had responded to the request for information (RFI) floated by IAF for upgrade of MiG-29s and AN-32. The latter is a transport aircraft while the MiG-29 is known to be among the best air defence planes with the IAF.

As compared to other bidders, TAAL is not a known name. Currently it has a turnover of Rs 50 crore, but it also has the credit of being maybe the first Indian company to have entirely built an aircraft. In the 1990s, it had made a hobby aircraft meant to be sold to flying clubs. However, the project did not take off. TAAL is currently a Tier-1 supplier to HAL with its aviation unit located at Hossur near Mysore.

The project is aimed at increasing the life cycle of MiG-29s for a period of another 40 years. IAF will be providing TAAL the spares and components to fitted in the aircraft. The job will be executed at the base repair depot (BRD) at Nashik. The BRDs come under IAF's maintenance command headquartered at Nagpur.

Talking to TOI after the contract was signed, TAAL CEO NC Agrawal said IAF will provide training for the first two aircraft, after which it aims to finish four MiG-29s every three months. IAF has close to 50 MiG-29s in all. The work will be jointly done by IAF and TAAL. Agrawal said, considering the size of the job, the company plans to hire experienced manpower from IAF and HAL.

"The size of the contract may not be much, but TAAL finds that it will help the company go a long way. Even for us, it will be treading a new path with all its risks. However, it will provide an experience in an altogether new field," said Agrawal. He hoped that it will eventually lead to a private player being involved in making of a military aircraft.

A similar move is expected for the AN-32s, with the private vendor expected to be finalized within the next week, said a source in IAF.



MiG-29 upgrade is first such job handed over to private player instead of to HAL

Taneja Airspace would work at Nashik base repair depot (BRD) of IAF

It will be given spares and components to be fitted in MiG-29s by the IAF

IAF will also train people while working on first two planes

IAF plans to upgrade some 50 planes in its fleet


DRDO builds indigenous autopilot for Avro aircraft

Nagpur: After a supplier left the Indian Air Force (IAF) unable to service autopilot systems in its Avro aircraft, new autopilot systems for the planes have been developed by units under the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The Avro, a transport plane, is one of the ageing aircraft in the IAF fleet. The British-made planes are also used to ferry senior officials of the IAF. The autopilot systems enable the plane to fly a specific course from one point to another without human interference. However, of late, there was a problem with the autopilot systems in the plane, due to which the pilots had to revert to manual mode.

In a similar problem that the IAF is facing with other aircraft too, it has not been able to secure equipment from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Now, the latest FOG autopilot systems have been developed with the help of Research Centre Imarat (RCI), an unit under DRDO. The gear has been developed on the same lines as that fitted in one of the missile systems, said a senior IAF official involved in the process.

The systems will now be sent for user trials, which will be undertaken by the Aircraft and Systems Tests Establishment (ASTE), also under DRDO. The indigenization has brought down the cost of the systems to a few lakhs, said a source.
- timesofindia

IAF in a fix over VVIP copters

The Indian Air Force is in a bind over its “lalbattis-in-the-sky” that are now “mothballed on the ground”.
It has asked an equally vexed defence ministry to make up its mind on what it should do with three super-luxury AW101 VVIP helicopters that were meant to fly the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries but have been dismantled and stowed in protective casing in a hangar at the Palam air base.
The helicopters are occupying valuable space in the airbase. The IAF decided to mothball them since former defence minister A.K. Antony decided on January 1 this year to terminate the Rs 3,600-crore contract with AgustaWestland for 12 of the helicopters.
The cancellation of the contract meant that there would be no supply of spares for the helicopters that were delivered and that the nine pending helicopters would not land in India at all. But now, the chief executive of Finmeccanica, that is the holding company of AgustaWestland, Mauro Moretti, has urged India to continue with the contract since its officials were acquitted of corruption charges in an Italian court.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are continuing with separate probes into the contract that was signed in 2010.
In the meanwhile, the IAF’s headquarters’ communication squadron — as the VVIP squadron is officially known — is contending with Mi8 helicopters that are nearly at the end of their total technical life.
The VVIP helicopter deal had run into controversy since the UPA government gave the financial approval for the machines while overruling an IAF operational need for mid-air refuellers.
After the contract was executed and three of the 12 helicopters were delivered, Italian prosecutors opened an investigation into allegations that Finmeccanica officials had bribed Indian officials to swing the deal. Even the former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal (now retired) S.P. Tyagi, was a suspect.
The A.K. Antony dispensation toyed with banning Finmeccanica from bidding in all Indian defence contracts. India encashed bank guarantees and recovered a substantial portion of the amount it had paid upfront.
AgustaWestland has in the interim sold two of the AW101 helicopters that were meant for the IAF to the Nigerian Air Force. The super-luxury aircraft claims to have the largest cabin space in its class of helicopters and are equipped with sophisticated self-protection suites. A website, thebillionaireshop.com, prices each aircraft at Euro 16,200,000 (above Rs 125 crore).
The Indian contract included the price for spares and training of the aircrew both in the UK, where the AgustaWestland plant is located, and in India.
The crew have now been sent back to their original units since the mothballing. An officer and seven junior commissioned officers have been entrusted with the task of maintaining the three helicopters that have been dismantled after spares ran out after close to 200 hours of training sorties.
Finmeccanica has deep and wide interests in Indian defence contracts. It is in fact so deeply entrenched in the Indian armed forces — supplying air-to-air missiles for the air force, guns and torpedoes for the navy’s ships and submarines — that despite Antony’s style of functioning, the defence establishment baulked at the idea of blacklisting its group companies.
Antony’s decision is now Manohar Parrikar’s burden. Should the IAF even be asked to sell the helicopters, it would be difficult to find a buyer within the country given the machines’ price tags.


November 26, 2014

Boeing Considers India Partners as Modi Offers ‘Welcome Change’

Boeing Co. (BA), the world’s largest planemaker, is considering investing in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi eases rules for foreign investment in the defense sector and expedites arms contracts.

The Chicago-based aerospace company is in the process of identifying partners “for a strategic and meaningful relationship,” Dennis D. Swanson, the New Delhi-based vice president at Boeing Defense Space & Security, said in an interview in New Delhi on Nov. 24. Modi’s decision in July to allow overseas investors to buy as much as 49 percent of Indian defense companies is a “welcome change” that Boeing wants to study further, he said.

“That has made a difference because it provides an opportunity to not only invest in India, but also to explore the export market out of here,” Swanson said. “We want to have more than a purchase-order based relationship. In the 2015 time frame, you’ll see Boeing in strategic partnerships in India.”Boeing is among companies stepping up engagement with India as the U.S. surpassed Russia as the top supplier of defense equipment to the South Asian country in the three years to March. Boeing, which is close to winning a $2.5 billion deal to supply 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force, is counting on more as Modi modernizes the nation’s defenses to deter neighboring China and Pakistan.

Cracked Barrel ::
Modi, who became prime minister in May, raised the foreign direct investment limit in defense to 49 percent from an earlier cap of 26 percent as he vowed to bolster the defense industry and reduce reliance on foreign weapons. Modi is also seeking to rely less on state-run companies that have failed to help replace obsolete weapons.

Last year, the barrel of a locally made piece of artillery produced off 1980s blueprints cracked when it was test fired, while efforts by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. starting in 1983 to design and build a light combat aircraft haven’t yet shown results.

“It gives companies more latitude to work beyond the 26 percent,” Swanson said. “I know others feel the need to cross over the 50 percent barrier. My feeling is that it makes a difference even at 49 percent.”

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the largest U.S. government contractor, said in July that though Modi’s move to raise the limit was positive, the Indian government needs to do more to attract big-ticket products involving intellectual property.

Top Importer ::
India surpassed China in 2010 to become the world’s largest arms importer and relies on purchases from abroad for 70 percent of its weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Besides using software from Indian companies including Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS), Wipro Ltd. and Infosys Ltd., Boeing has sourced components such as exit doors for the 757 aircraft, uplock boxes and flaperons for the 777, gunbay doors and wire harnesses for the F/A-18 and transponders for the Poseidon P-8i from Hindustan Aeronautics and Bharat Electronics.

The aircraft maker wants to enhance those partnerships for a wider variety of work under Modi’s “Make-in-India” program, Swanson said.

Boeing is ready to supply 22 Harpoon anti-submarine missiles to India in a deal worth $200 million, while there’s also an option for 11 more Apaches and seven more Chinooks in a later follow-on order, he said.


Indian Army gets first BEL-upgraded air defence system

The Army on Tuesday received the first of the upgraded Schilka air defence weapon systems from Bharat Electronics Ltd.
Schilka is a self-propelled Soviet-origin system dating back to the 1970s. The crucial upgrade is said to be long overdue for the Army's Air Defence.
"Bulk production clearance has been obtained [after trials] and the first upgraded system was handed over today," a BEL statement said.
The Bangalore-headquartered public sector defence electronics major is modernising 48 of the 90 Schilka systems in the first phase. It got the contract in 2011.
Earlier in the day, Lt Gen V.K. Saxena, Director-General, Army Air Defence, received the first item from BEL Chairman and Managing Director S.K.Sharma after a demonstration at BEL's Bengaluru unit.
The Schilka Upgrade, according to BEL, is an all-weather, day/night, tracked system. Its four automatic 23mm-calibre guns provide low-level air defence.
BEL refurbished it at its Bangalore unit with an air-conditioning for crew comfort and included a digital search-cum-track radar that can track multiple targets. The system also gets new main and auxiliary engines, integrated fire detection and suppression system, an NBC filter (against nuclear, biological and chemical elements) and a modern communication system. 


MDL To Leverage Modern Infra For P17A Warship Line

In order to bring substantive improvements to its next line of stealth frigates, the P17A line for seven ships as a follow-on to the Shivalik-class, India's premier builder of large warships and submarines Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) will be appointing a Know-How Provider (KHP) for 'Technology Upgradation & Capacity Enhancement (TUCE)' to impart requisite knowledge and skill to leverage utilisation of the modernised infrastructure at the shipyard.
The KHP will function on the P17A line in order to bring an all round business process transformation in warship building. A top MDL official said, "Building follow-on ships in a series with more number of vessels, will essentially provide high take-off levels in terms of design maturity and availability of material and will definitely result in reduced build period." MDL's infrastructure upgrade allows it to handle grand blocks and execute integrated construction. "The modernised infrastructure is being gainfully leveraged for current build programmes of P15B ships (destroyers) and the Scorpene-class submarines," said the official, adding, "Despite our inherent strengths, the Indian shipyards need to go a long way to graduate commercially and technically to the level of shipyards in developed nations. The best practices in the industry abroad are to be imbibed and ruthlessly implemented for ensuring long-term dividends


GRSE Readies For P17A Build Programme

Alongside other DPSU shipyards undergoing internal upgrades to take on more complex shipbuilding work, Kolkata's Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) is in the process of transforming its infrastructure to adopt Integrated Construction Technology for the construction of the last lot of Landing Ship (Utility) for the Indian Navy, but more importantly for the construction of P17A stealth frigates, the most complex warships the yard would ever have attempted.
The concept of Integrated Construction technology is being adopted in order to improve quality and reduction in build period for future warships, starting with the P17A. With the takeover of the Rajbagan Shipyard, GRSE is in area terms the largest defence shipyard in the country, and the only DPSU shipyard established with two independent production lines for big ships as well as small ships. The P17A stealth frigate programme will be a flagship effort for the yard.
 To meet the demand of P17A ships, steel throughput will be increased considerably, for which new sub-contractors for fabrication and erection of hull blocks are being developed to meet demand. GRSE is also attempting to upgrade the use of technology for in-house fabrication and erection of blocks to ramp up increase productivity. GRSE is considering a proposal of to set up a new hull block fabrication facility with suitable EOT cranes and other infrastructure facilities for fabricating at least four blocks (each weighing up to 65 tons) at a time.

  SP's Special Correspondent

November 25, 2014

Advanced Towed Array Sonar contract provides major boost to navy

                              Atlas Elektronik Advanced Towed Array Sonar

On November 12, without announcement or fanfare, the ministry of defence (MoD) signed a small contract with enormous implications for itself and the Indian Navy. This formalized the purchase of six advanced towed array sonar (ATAS) systems from Atlas Elektronik, the German naval systems giant, for just under Euro 40 million (Rs 306 crore).
These ATAS systems will equip three Talwar-class frigates (INS Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) and three Delhi-class destroyers (INS Delhi, Mumbai and Mysore), allowing them to detect enemy submarines in the Arabian Sea, where the warm, shallow waters confound conventional hull-mounted sonars.
Without ATAS, all the warships the navy has built and bought since the 1990s --- each costing a few thousand crore and crewed by a couple of hundred sailors --- would be sitting ducks in war. Enemy submarines, lurking unseen 50-80 kilometres away, could leisurely torpedo Indian warships.
So vulnerable has been India’s fleet that, when INS Vikramaditya, the navy’s new aircraft carrier, was sailing home from Russia, it was escorted through the Arabian Sea by several Indian warships. There was no certainty that Pakistan’s Agosta 90B submarines could be detected by sonar systems other than ATAS.
All that protects India’s 25 latest frontline warships from enemy submarines is a relatively ineffective Passive Towed Array Sonar (PTAS), and an indigenous hull-mounted sonar called HUMSA.
So important is the ATAS contract that the MoD abandoned even the pretence of indigenisation. Atlas Elektronik will build all six ATAS systems in Germany, and has been exempted from offsets.
ATAS is especially vital in the Arabian Sea. Warships detect underwater objects (like submarines) with sonar --- a “ping” of sound emitted into the water that reflects from submarines, just as radar bounces back from aircraft. In our warm, shallow waters, the returning signal often gets lost. Since the water is warm on the surface and cools rapidly as one goes deeper, the sharp “temperature gradient” refracts sonar waves, bending them away from the warship’s sensors. Unable to receive the returning signal, the warship cannot detect the submarine .
ATAS overcomes the “temperature gradient”, since it is towed by a cable that extends deep below the surface, into the cooler layers where submarines lurk. With the sensors themselves in the colder water layers, there is no “temperature differential”. Even the faintest return signal from a submarine is detected.
The navy will fit ATAS externally onto the rear of its warships, which have been built for this reason with an empty compartment at the rear.
With this contract, Atlas Elektronik has taken pole position for supplying the navy a range of high-end sonars. Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), which is required to build ten ATAS with foreign partnership, has been encouraged by the navy to tie up with Atlas so that sonar equipment is standardised across warships.
BEL is learnt to be in discussions with Atlas for building ten ATAS for three Shivalik-class frigates (INS Shivalik, Satpura and Sahyadri), three Kolkata-class destroyers (Kolkata, Kochi and Chennai), and four Kamorta-class anti-submarine corvettes (INS Kamorta, Kadmatt, Kiltan and Kavaratti).
That leaves 20 warships that will remain in naval service for some years. These include: three aircraft carriers (INS Vikramaditya, Vikrant and Vishal); three Brahmaputra class frigates (INS Brahmaputra, Betwa and Beas); three Talwar-class follow-on frigates (INS Teg, Tarkash and Trikand); four Project 15-B destroyers (unnamed, under construction); and seven Project 17-A frigates (unnamed, contract being negotiated).
Given its first-mover advantage, the infrastructure and partnerships it will build and its already demonstrated price advantage, Atlas hopes to supply sonar systems for these and for other smaller surface warships and submarines. In April, the MoD tendered for 16 Anti Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASWC), which need sophisticated sonar with electronically controlled beams.
Atlas Elektronik sources say they are eager to establish a joint venture company with either BEL or an Indian private sector company to build sonars in India. That would grant majority ownership of 51 per cent to the Indian entity.
ATAS import has been blocked since the mid-1990s because the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) was developing an indigenous ATAS called Nagan. In 2012, the Nagan project was officially shut down and work began on another system called ALTAS. With this making slow progress, the DRDO finally okayed import.
In November 2012, two years ago, Atlas was declared the lowest bidder. That was followed by a string of complaints to the MoD against Atlas, apparently motivated, since the MoD found no wrongdoing. Even so, with the ministry painstakingly investigating every complaint, each caused a 3-4 month delay. Earlier this year, with the elections impending, the United Progressive Alliance decided to leave the signing to the next government.
Atlas Elektronik is owned 51 per cent by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH (KMW) and 49 per cent by Airbus Defence & Space.

- Ajai shukla

Navy gets 6th maritime patrol plane, likely to order four more

The Indian Navy is likely to order four more P-81 long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft from American firm Boeing which delivered the sixth plane today as part of an eight-aircraft contract worth over Rs 12,000 crore.

The sixth aircraft landed at INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu at about 4 PM today.

The eight-aircraft deal was signed in 2009 and as per the agreement, three each were to be delivered in 2013 and 2014 and two in 2015.

"The delivery schedule has been on time," a navy source said, adding that the force might go in for the option clause in the contract under which it can order four more.

The P-8I, based on the Boeing next-generation 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that the US Navy uses.

India was Boeing's first international customer for this aircraft.

The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensors and display technologies.

It is equipped with foreign and indigenous sensors for maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine operations and electronic intelligence missions.

It is integrated with latest sensors and anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons. 
- timesofindia

Goa Shipyard to launch new generation Offshore Patrol Vessel

Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL), Goa-based Defence shipyard will launch the largest new generation Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) designed in-house and built by it for the Indian Coast Guard(ICG) on Wednesday in south Goa.
Rachna Thapliyal will launch the vessel in company of Vice Admiral Anurag G. Thapliyal, Director General, ICG. Chairman and Managing Director of GSL Shekhar Mital and many other senior dignitaries from
government, Navy and Coast Guard.
This state-of-the-art OPV is the first of six being built by GSL for Indian Coast Guard. The OPV will help meet the increasing requirement of the ICG for undertaking policing and patrolling of the vast Indian Exclusive Economic Zone.
The vessel is also capable of other Coast Guard functions like search and rescue operations, pollution control and external fire-fighting.
This vessel will also be deployed for ocean surveillance and for monitoring sea lanes of communication. The ship is capable of supporting embarkation and operation of the indigenously-designed Advanced Light Helicopter.
“The ongoing construction of OPVs for Coast Guard is in full swing. Despite delay in receipt of several critical equipment like shafting, DG Sets, ‘A’ Bracket etc., we are working hard to ensure that the vessel is made ready for delivery as per schedule by October 15. This will further reinforce our unwavering commitment for timely delivery of ships,” said CMD Mital ahead of the launch of the vessel on Monday.
The OPV is powered by twin diesel engines and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. The vessel carries four boats for boarding party operations. One 30 mm gun and two 12.7 mm guns with associated fire control system, form the main weaponry package.
The contract for the construction of six OPVs for the ICG was signed on May 9, 2012. 


INS Vikramaditya completes a year with the Indian Navy

It’s been over a year since the INS Vikramaditya was handed over to the Indian Navy. 
Recently, specialists from Rosoboronexport and Russian equipment suppliers inspected the flagship Indian aircraft carrier as a part of the warranty agreement.
According to Sergey Marichev, Deputy Director General of the defense shipyard Sevmash, where the carrier has been substantially re-born, the Indian Navy has been using the ship intensively for the entire year. It spent more than 220 days at sea. “And that's more than the aircraft carrier spent in the Northern Seas on factory tests in two years,” the Severodvinsk shipyard said in a press noteSince the official transfer of Vikramaditya, several Indian leaders have the visited the ship, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the presence of distinguished guests, and in a conventional setting, the MiG-26 K/KUBs have carried out 240 takeoffs and landings. As a result, the Indian pilots under the supervision of the MiG Corp completed the entire training program, including the preparation for independent night flights.
During the whole time, the aircraft carrier had aboard a guarantee group of Sevmash specialists, who provided technical advice when needed and responded promptly to one or the other difficulty related to operating systems and mechanisms. The one-year warranty service expired on November 16th. But even before the expiration, the Indian side expressed the desire to extend the business relationship with the Russian shipyard and to agree on the service support for the aircraft carrier for its entire life cycle, which is at least 20 years.Russian shipbuilders and representatives of the Indian Defence Ministry are meeting in New Delhi this week to discuss the details of the carrier's after-sales service. And in late November, Vikramaditya will be put to sea again in order to continue flying aircraft in low visibility conditions.
At sea, the Indian sailors and the airmen of the carrier-based aircraft will be accompanied by a Russian friend.
Before the ship was sent to its current post of service, on one of its decks the craftsmen of Sevmash constructed a museum cabin, with exhibits that describe the design, the construction and the military service of the ship as part of the Soviet Navy, followed by the transformation of the cruiser into a modern aircraft carrier.
In the centre of the memorial exhibition, next to the St. Andrew's flag and the banner of the Russian Navy, there is a recognizable bust of Admiral Gorshkov. “In India, he is remembered and respected,” said Commodore Suraj Berry.  “That's why we gladly accepted such a gift to the crew and we will look after it.”


Indian Navy gets 6th maritime patrol plane, likely to order four more

The Indian Navy is likely to order four more P-81 long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft from American firm Boeing which delivered the sixth plane today as part of an eight-aircraft contract worth over Rs 12,000 crore.

The sixth aircraft landed at INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu at about 4 PM today.

The eight-aircraft deal was signed in 2009 and as per the agreement, three each were to be delivered in 2013 and 2014 and two in 2015.

"The delivery schedule has been on time," a navy source said, adding that the force might go in for the option clause in the contract under which it can order four more.
The P-8I, based on the Boeing next-generation 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that the US Navy uses.

India was Boeing's first international customer for this aircraft.

The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensors and display technologies.

It is equipped with foreign and indigenous sensors for maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine operations and electronic intelligence missions.

It is integrated with latest sensors and anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons. 
- defencenews

November 24, 2014

Wanted to study last-minute issues: Def min on deferred IAF

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said he has deferred a decision on a joint bid by Tata Sons and Airbus to replace IAF's Avro transport aircraft fleet as also the procurement of 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft because he wanted more information on these deals.

He also said that though no decision has been taken on the next course of action as regards the scrapped minesweeper deal with a South Korean firm, the "general thinking" is that the eight vessels would be built at the Goa Shipyard.

"It was because I wanted to study the issues, some of which cropped up at the last minute," Parrikar told reporters when asked why the decision on the aircraft deals had been deferred.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event here, the minister, however, did not elaborate as to what the issues were.

He said the project could be again taken up when the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) next meets. Parrikar has already made it clear that instead of meeting just once a month, the DAC could meet whenever needed, even with a smaller agenda.

Parrikar had yesterday cleared a proposal for acquiring 814 artillery guns for Rs 15,750 crore even as he deferred the decision on the aircraft deals.

Indian Army has not acquired artillery guns in the past three decades after the Bofors scam surfaced in 1986.

Sources said at least six tenders had been issued for the artillery guns which, however, were cancelled due to a number of reasons, including blacklisting and single-vendor scenario.

Asked about the scrapping of the multi-crore minesweeper vessel deal, Parrikar said the general thinking is that the Goa Shipyard can make all the eight and, if needed, can collaborate with a foreign firm, including the South Korean firm.

The deal was stuck for long because of allegations of involvement of middlemen and the new government had sought an opinion from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in the matter.

The Attorney General in his opinion last month had said that tender conditions have been violated.

India's defence procurement procedure does not allow the role of agents in deals


Pakistan to have 200 nuclear weapons by 2020:US think tank

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world and by 2020 it could have enough fissile material to produce more than 200 nuclear devices, a top American think tank has said.

"Though many states are downsizing their stockpiles, Asia is witnessing a buildup. Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear programme in the world. By 2020, it could have a stockpile of fissile material that, if weaponized, could produce as many as 200 nuclear devices," council on foreign relations has said.
The report 'Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age', authored by George Mason University's Gregory Koblentz, has identified South Asia as the region "most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, crossborder terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals."

Pakistan, the report said, has deployed or is developing 11 delivery systems for its nuclear warheads, including aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

"Pakistan has not formally declared the conditions under which it would use nuclear weapons but has indicated that it seeks primarily to deter India from threatening its territorial integrity or the ability of its military to defend its territory," the report said.
CFR said while Pakistan is focused predominantly on the threat posed by India, it is reportedly also concerned by the potential for the US to launch a military operation to seize or disarm Pakistani nuclear weapons.

"This concern is based in part on reported contingency planning by the US military to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists," CFR said.

CFR said India is estimated to possess enough fissile material for between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons and is expanding its fissile material production capacity.

China, it said, is estimated to have 250 nuclear weapons for delivery by a mix of medium, intermediate, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles and bombers.

"Though nuclear arsenals are shrinking in the rest of the world, Asia is witnessing a nuclear buildup. Unlike the remaining P5 countries, China is increasing and diversifying its nuclear arsenal," the report said. 

Zero tolerance to error in defence: Defence Minister

 Promising a "lot of things", Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today outlined a multi-pronged approach of a non-offensive but strong India while making it clear that there will be "zero tolerance to error" in defence-related issues.

"One thing I will promise. I have being given a task. I will see that my task of strengthening India, the position where where people should not dare see eye to eye with India... we don't intend to be offensive," Parrikar said addressing Navy personnel at the inauguration of the Information Management and Analysis centre (IMAC) of Navy here.

He said India has not ruled any other country which he said was "probably unique to India and probably to some extent to China".

"Even in Ramayana, when Lord Rama went to Lanka he did not rule it. He gave it to Vibhishan to rule it. This nation does not have the history of ruling other countries," he said, adding, the country cannot be weak.

Parrikar said the biggest defence is to be strong. "I promise the task given to me, I will fulfill...You can expect lot of things," he said.

Asked what was the specific task given to him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Parrikar said, "defence is one field which requires a lot of secrecy," but added that the outcome of the task is to assure that the defence sector gets its due and becomes a cohesive strong force making India self- sufficient.

"Energy security and your own security cannot be dependent on others. You can't depend on some foreign countries for all your procurements," he said.

Parrikar noted that defence equipments are purchased for a period of 20-30 years.

"You can't suddenly find yourself trapped in a condition that the party which has supplied you the material faces some blockade or some sanctions for supply to conflict zone," he said.

Parrikar praised the IMAC and said he appreciates the "quick and fast delivery" of system because he thinks it should ensure "99.99 per cent" against incidents like the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks by earlier detection.

He underlined that there should be "zero tolerance to error".

Parrikar said those nations which had good navies ruled the world.

"Today probably that is the reason why our neighbours are trying to get their navy everywhere in the Indian ocean and other areas," he said.

In the recent past, Chinese submarines have docked in Sri Lanka, raising eyebrows in India.

He said IMAC will ensure that Navy has a huge data available to them.

"What is important is a mindset. How do you catch up with the needle in the hay," he asked as he mentioned that the boat that carried the terrorist to Mumbai in 2008 was an Indian one which had been hijacked.

"Alert mind, alertness to isolate the problem is very important... We should try and strive towards zero error. Zero error is very important," he said.

Parrikar said he often ask people why they drop a glass from their hands and they reply saying it happens one in a year or two.

He then asks whether a child has fallen from your hand. the answer is always no. That is because there we have zero tolerance to error.

"And I would consider in this project, a zero tolerance to error is the most important factor," he said.

Asked what he meant by zero error, he said whatever gaps are left should be filled.

"You can't get everything perfect on day one itself. It will take may be six months and one year...," he said and mentioned to the Navy the gaps in their radar system especially between Mangalore and Goa and Goa and Ratnagiri.


November 22, 2014

In Detail: Manohar Parrikar clears proposal to acquire 814 artillery guns for Rs 15,750 crore for Indian Army

In a fresh bid to break the Bofors jinx, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday cleared proposal to acquire 814 artillery guns for Rs 15,750 crore while deferring decision on joint bid by Tata Sons and Airbus to replace IAF's Avro transport fleet and also procurement of 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft.
The artillery guns would be procured as per the "Buy and Make" procedure introduced last year under which 100 such guns would be bought off the shelf while 714 would be made in India. The Indian Army has not acquired artillery guns in the past three decades after the Bofors scam surfaced in 1986.
Sources said at least six tenders have been issued so far but were cancelled due to a number of reasons including blacklisting and single vendor scenario. The plans to acquire such guns were first mooted under Army's Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP) formulated in 1999.
The decisions were taken after Parrikar chaired his maiden meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) here this morning. Defence Ministry sources said the DAC has cleared the long pending proposal to acquire 814 mounted guns of 155mm/52 calibre.
Sources said a fresh Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued for the procurement which will be open to public as well as private companies. The Indian private companies that are likely to make a bid for this project include L&T, TATA and Bharat Forge.
"The Indian company, when selected, will be the lead partner now. They can either show their ability to make the product completely here or tie-up with a foreign firm and build the guns here," a source said.
Talking about the multi-crore joint bid by Tata Sons and European firm Airbus to manufacture 56 transport aircraft to replace the Avro fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF), sources said the DAC has sought additional information. A similar decision was also taken on the proposal to acquire an additional 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF at an estimated cost of about Rs 8,200 crore.
The DAC also approved the revised payment schedule of Rs 7,160 crore for the IAF's Integrated Air Command and Control System which aims to integrate all ground and air censors.
The IAF currently has five sector headquarters (nodes) of communication and the plan is to have five four more besides 10 sub-nodes and up-gradation of the entire system.
Parrikar, who comes with an IIT background and has himself being an entrepreneur, stressed that the procurement policy should be fast and transparent.
According to the Ministry sources, Parrikar said that the DAC could be held for more than a month and with lesser agenda. As of now, the Ministry is aiming to hold DAC at least once a month.
During the discussion on Saturday, the issue of "Make In India" initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also came up. Sources said there would be more discussion on the matter and the effort is to make the entire process more attractive to foreign investors.
The DAC, set up in 2001 as part of the post-Kargil reforms in defence sector, approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and has to grant its approval to all major deals through all their important phases.
It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security.


Naval intelligence network launch tomorrow

India is looking to tie-up with as many as 24 countries for exchange of merchant shipping data, even as its naval intelligence network to track ships in real time has now finally become a reality six years after the 26/11 terror strikes.
The outreach to the 24 countries, spread from Africa's east coast to well beyond the Malacca Strait, is being led by national security adviser Ajit Doval. Though this will take time to fructify, the Modi government is now all set to give the final nod to the national maritime domain awareness (NMDA) project to bolster multi-agency coordination and augment ongoing efforts to strengthen maritime and coastal security.The overall endeavour is to enable the country to keep track of both conventional and unconventional threats in its primary area of geopolitical interest across the Indian Ocean Region and "neutralize" them if required.
A major step towards this will be the inauguration of the central hub of National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) network, which can track 30,000-40,000 ships on a daily basis, by defence minister Manohar Parrikar at Gurgaon on Sunday.

Taking feeds and inputs from multiple sources ranging from coastal radars to satellites, the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon will fuse, correlate and analyse them to assess threats at sea.

"It's very easy to guard land borders through fencing, electronic devices and pickets. But at sea, there is no such luxury. The NC3I network will alert us to unusual or suspicious movements and activities at sea," said assistant chief of naval staff (communications, space & network-centric operations) Rear Admiral KK Pandey on Friday.

"The bigger plan is to go for the NMDA project, which is now awaiting clearance from the Cabinet committee on security. The NC3I will be the heart or backbone of the NMDA project," he added.

While Navy and Coast Guard are behind the NC3I network, the NMDA project will bring all stakeholders — the several Union ministries dealing with maritime affairs as well as coastal states and Union Territories — on the same grid.It will then be much easier to intercept a fishing boat like Kuber, which was used by Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists to reach Mumbai and unleash havoc during the 26/11 strikes. The carnage exposed the lack of "critical connectivity" between intelligence agencies and security agencies.

As per the blueprint, "state monitoring centres" in coastal states/UTs will act as nodes for the NMDA project, while a shipping hub and fisheries monitoring centre will also be established. The four existing joint operations centres at Mumbai, Kochi, Vizag and Port Blair, set up in the aftermath of 26/11, will also be upgraded


Decks cleared for Indian Truck-mounted 155mm Gun competition

The Indian MoD's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the first chaired by new defence minister Manohar Parrikar, today cleared the Indian Army's proposal to tender for 814 mounted gun systems (MGS), a deal that could be worth $2 billion. Known contenders are Tata SED with its 155mm Tata-truck mounted gun system and the L&T-Ashok Leyland-Nexter 155mm CEASAR gun mounted on an Indian-built Super Stallion 6x6 chassis. .


November 20, 2014

Israel offers modified IRON DOME missile defence system to India

A senior Israeli defence ministry official who is currently in New Delhi has informed the Ministry of Defence that Israel is ready to tweak it sophisticated, all-weather mobile air defence system, the Iron Dome to meet India's security needs.

The hi-tech Iron Dome system is designed to intercept and destroy short range rockets and artillery shells fired at its borders. However the India's requirements are different and it would not require the Iron Dome to stop rockets and artillery shells at the border. Israel has a sizeable population that borders with Palestine from where rockets are fired and that is not the case with India.

Indian cities are located further inland and not close to Pakistani borders. The Israeli official said that Israel would modify the Iron Dome system to protect Indian cities from any kind of aerial threat. Israel is ready to work with India to increase the interception range of the Iron Dome Missile, make it capable to detect and intercept LACM's (Land Attack Cruise Missile) which can be fired from Pakistan in the event of a war and also intercept heavier long range rockets from Multi-Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL). The Iron Dome system has successfully destroyed an incoming Grad rocket fired from a launcher from Gaza a few years ago.
 If Israel's Iron Dome would be capable of intercepting rockets and missiles that are in possession with Pakistan then it would definitely get the attention and impress the Military decision makers in New Delhi.

Israel a few years ago had offered the Iron Dome Missile Defence System to the Indian Armed Forces but the Indian Air Force had turned down the offer saying that the system does not cater to India's threat environment and it requires major modifications to meet Indian needs. There are rumours that the MoD wants to place the Iron Dome batteries around strategic assets to protect them from aerial threats but no official statement has been made.

The DRDO too has been working on a Short Range Interceptor which will be capable of detecting and destroying incoming enemy cruise missiles, conventional artillery and short rage battlefield ballistic missiles which Pakistan has been pursuing to counter India's dreaded Cold Start Doctrine.

DRDO's interceptor will be able to provide a shield against incoming Pakistani missiles to advancing conventionally superior Indian forces that will cut Pakistan into half in less than a week. There are inside reports that the DRDO's interceptor is planned for testing in early 2016. It is planned for induction and mass scale production for the armed forces by 2018.


Akash missile test fired for third time

For the third time in a span of five days, India successfully test-fired the indigenously developed surface-to-air missile Akash missile system from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha on Wednesday.
“Like the trials of the surface-to-air missile conducted on February 22 and 24, Wednesday’s test fire of Akash was successful,” a defence official said.
These were part of a series of tests being conducted in various engagement modes from the first of Production Model system produced to equip two regiments of the Army, Directorate of Public interface, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) director Ravi Kumar Gupta said.
Earlier tests flights, destroying a target in receding floating mode, as well as the one destroying an approaching target, fully met the mission objectives, a senior defence scientist said.
Akash is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence system missile capable of engaging aerial threats up to a distance of approximately 25 km.
The multi-target, multi-directional, all-weather air-defence system consisting of surveillance and tracking radars is designed to enable integration with other air defence command and control networks through secured communication links.
Developed by DRDO, Akash is being produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as the nodal production agency with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and a large number of other industries.
The total production value of Akash air defence systems cleared for induction by Indian Army and Indian Air Force is more than Rs 23,000 crore.
G. Chandramouli, Project Director, Akash supervised the overall trial operations in the presence of senior army officials and officials from BDL and BEL.


November 19, 2014

Scorpene subs to have system to stay longer under water

An indegenously-developed propulsion system that will allow Scorpene submarines to stay underwater for longer period is in final stages of development and trials could be held from March next year.

The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, developed by DRDO, is to be fitted on the last two Scorpene submarines being built in India.

A conventional submarine (diesel-electric) has to resurface every 3-4 days for oxygen but those fitted with the latest generation of AIP can stay under water for as much as three-four weeks.

"It is an important and critical project for our country's submarine project and the trials are set to be held from March onwards next year," a senior DRDO official said here.

Six state-of-the-art Scorpene submarines are being built under the "Project 75" programme in collaboration with French defence major DCNS.

While the first Scorpene is likely to be inducted in 2016, the AIP will be fitted on the last two which would be ready some years later.

For the trials, a land-based compartment will be set, in which the tests will be carried out. The work on this projects was started in 2010, sources said.

The conventional submarine has to come to periscope depth and raise its snorkel, which makes it vulnerable to detection by the enemy.

AIP drastically improves stealth because it enables a submarine to generate electricity for services and battery charging and propulsion while being completely submerged.

Explaining the process of AIP, an official said the system, based on a fuel cell, converts methanol-like substances to produce hydrogen, which in turn produces electricity. While diesel engines need oxygen to function, these cells are air independent.

The DRDO has also tied up with both public and private firms for this project.

DRDO sources said the AIP is completely indigenous and the French company will be helping them to integrate the system to the Scorpene.

While giving a go-ahead for the indigenous production of another six submarines last month, the government has made it clear that all of them will have AIP technology.


India Removes IMI From Blacklist

India has quietly lifted a ban on Israeli Military Industries (IMI), paving the way for negotiating new defense projects with the Israeli company, a Defence Ministry source said.

The MoD has not publicly announced the lifting of the ban, imposed in 2009, but communicated its decision to IMI in September, the source said.

No Indian MoD official would confirm the lifting of the ban, nor would any diplomat of the Israeli Embassy comment. IMI officials in Israel declined to comment on the report.

The former Indian United Progressive Alliance government imposed the ban after alleged corruption charges, but India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), could not prove the charges against IMI, the source added.

IMI was accused of bribing officials from the government-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to win a deal for producing 155mm ammunition at OFB’s Nalanda factory.

With the ban removed, the MoD intends to explore new defense projects with the Israeli company, the MoD source said. These could include partnership in the design and development of the proposed homemade future main battle tank and setting up a facility to jointly manufacture a variety of ammunition, especially for 155mm guns, the MoD source said.

IMI had been a frontrunner in the tank design project.

Amid charges of alleged corruption, MoD canceled the $350 million tender IMI had won to manufacture a bi-modular charge system for 155mm guns to be built by the OFB.

However, the blacklisting of IMI led to a shortage of ammunition for the 155mm guns. Retired Gen. V.K. Singh, former Indian Army chief and now minister of state for external affairs in the Narendra Modi government, informed former Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a letter of “critical shortages” of a variety of ammunition.

The OFB is not able to meet all the Army’s ammunition requirements, and India is dependent on Russia to supply many kinds of ammunition.

In addition to IMI, in 2009 India blacklisted Singapore Technologies, Rheinmetall Air Defense and Corporation Defence of Russia on charges of corruption.

In August, the Modi government lifted a ban on Denel after India’s CBI failed to prove charges of corruption against the South African company, nine years after the ban was imposed in 2005. Denel was accused of paying kickbacks to secure a deal with the Indian Army in 2002 to supply 1,000 anti-material rifles and ammunition.

The blacklisting of Denel stalled several Army projects, including the purchase of 155mm/52-caliber artillery guns as Denel was the front runner in the program, which was canceled immediately after the blacklisting in 2005.