May 30, 2015

Germany - Wooing India for Subs and fighters

Lobbying for the Submarine acquisition programme under P-75I of Indian Navy has begun in a serious note with the visit of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to New Delhi and Mumbai from 26th to 28th May, 2015. The RFP under the P-75I programme for acquisition of six submarines was released in October last, after years of deliberations in the MOD. The German defence minister had extensive interaction with the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and later the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of defence and security cooperation. Her visit will be followed by the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in October during which the Chancellor is also expected to raise the issue of acquiring Submarines from Germany. India has already acquired four HDW submarines, two and half decades ago and is working perfectly according to navy sources. During the later eighties the Indian navy was provided the two Type-209 HDW submarines in running condition and two were assembled later in the Mazhgaon dockyard. There was option of assembling two more, but the German HDW also met the fate of the Swedish Bofors and cancelled the option of manufacturing two more in Indian shipyard. There were allegations of illicit transaction against the HDW and the then government in late eighties cancelled the execution of the rest of the deal. There were talks of seven percent kickbacks in Rs 420 crore deal for four HDW submarines and the company was blacklisted by Indian government. Later the German company got the reprieve from the Delhi High Court and is now once again free to join the race for six submarines under the P-75-I programme.
 The official release issued by the Ministry of Defence spokesman on the Indo German talks has given a scant idea of the conversations but sources said that the two sides discussed the Indian plan to domestically manufacture six advanced submarines with foreign collaboration in an Indian shipyard under the Make in India plan. The German defence minister Ms Ursula referred to the Make in India plan and offered to support this initiative in the field of submarines. She described the two countries as natural partners. Interestingly under the Make In India plan the Ms Ursula also proposed the manufacture of European Fighter in India in collaboration with any Indian partner. Since the mission MMRCA ( Multi Role Medium Combat Aircraft ) is only partially accomplished with only 36 of the 126 aircrafts ordered from France, Germany has offered India to transfer of technology and knowhow to make the Typhoons in India. Indian Air Forc e is in the dire need of acquiring around ten fighter squadrons and will have soon to make a choice.
Regarding Submarines, it will not be easy for Indian MOD to take decision in favor of the Germans as there are others also in fray including the Russian Amur, the Spanish Navantia, the French DCN and even the Japanese Soryu submarine manufacturer may also be asked to join the race.
 Sources said that Indian Shipyard Mazhgaon dock had gained good experience of assembling the German submarines, but this time the government is seriously considering the issue of utilizing the private sector shipyards. The Government to Government route adopted for acquiring the French Rafales may also be considered as the Indian navy submarine strength has gone down at precarious low level and needs urgent augmentation of the fleet. The diesel submarine strength has come down to 13 and one nuclear powered Submarine INS Chakra is on a ten year lease. Another Indian nuclear powered submarine is under sea trial and may join the Indian Navy by the end of the year.
According to sources the Germans have offered their most advanced, recently out of the design table, the Type- 216 submarines to India. The basic design of this submarine is based on Type-214, which is double hulled with two decks and includes a fuel cell, Permasyn motor and Lithium ion batteries. This submarine is also equipped with Air Independent Propulsion technology, which the Indian navy wants to have in all its future diesel submarines.
 The Submarine has a displacement of 4000 tonnes and has a range of 19,300 kms at 10 knots while its maximum speed is 20 knots. It has endurance of 80 days and has 6 x 21 torpedo tubes and can accommodate 18 torpedoes or anti-ship missiles. The sub has vertical launch system. Since this design is not yet proven, the Indian Navy may ask for Type – 214 submarines.
After hardselling the German military hardware in New Delhi during meeting with the top political brass in New Delhi the German defence minister flew in to Mumbai where she visited Western Naval Command Headquarters and met the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief Vice Admiral S.P.Singh Cheema and also visited the Indian Naval Ship Mumbai.
Trying to show the closeness between India and Germany on Security issues Mr Ursula had said, while addressing a meeting of Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, “ Prime Minister Modi made the case for international enterprises to set up shops in India and for closer collaboration with the German economy,. But our focus today is not only on economic collaboration _ today it is also in security policy.
Later commenting on German Defence Minister’s visit to India, the German Ambassador Michael Steiner said,” Her visit was a further boost for our strategic partnership at all levels. In October Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit India for the next round of intergovernmental consultations.” The Germans are expected one again to push the case for German Subs and fighters to be made in India in late October.


Why the Air Force Has to Wait Another 5 Years for Indigenously-Built Tejas Fighter

It has been 32 years in the making but it will be least another five years before the indigenously-built fighter jet Tejas (Mark -II) can be deployed in a combat role, a top Indian Air Force  official told NDTV.

This is bad news for India which was hoping to induct the Tejas in large numbers to make-up for its ageing fighter fleet. India will have to decommission about 14 Squadrons of MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters by 2022.

Top IAF officials told NDTV that Tejas (Mark -II) will be fitted with the GE - 414 engine instead of the existing GE- 404 engine to give the aircraft more thrust. "But that would require major changes in the airframe, the lengthy of aircraft will have to increased, air intake vents of the engine re-designed -and ballast - or weight - added to tail section of existing airframe  to stabilize the aircraft," the officer told NDTV.The aircraft will also be fitted with an  improved  radar to give it the capability to take on targets that are beyond visual range (BVR). The IAF wants Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radars. The current version of the aircraft cannot fire missiles at BVR targets.

The Tejas (Mark -I) - the current version which doesn't meet Indian Air Force's combat requirements - is unlikely to get its crucial Final Operational Clearance (FOC) this December, as planned. "There are still some issues that need to sorted and the FOC will be delayed," the officer said.

Recently India opted to buy 36 - about two squadrons - French-built Rafale fighters to plug the growing gaps in capability created by aging and retiring jets. "It is a pragmatic decision"  the Rafales will give the IAF some maneuvering room while the Tejas is further refined," the officer added.Despite pressure to induct fighters in large numbers, the IAF plans to induct about 40 Tejas (Mark-I) fighters in the next few years and use it mainly for training purposes. "As we see it, it is better to wait and get a good fighter then going for Mark-I in its current state of development" the officer added.


Indian Navy soon to get latest Sonar systems for anti-submarine warfare

India will get six low frequency Active Towed Array Sonar (ACTAS) systems, that will be fitted on the Kamorta-class submarines, later this year from Germany.
The system, which can detect enemy submarines, will give a fillip to India's anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
India had late last year signed a contract for the towed array sonar with German firm Atlas Elektronik.
Under the deal, the first six systems would come from Germany and the rest will be manufactured in India under cooperation with Bharat Electronics Limited.
"This system, which will arrive in the next few months, is a huge capability enhancement of our anti-submarine warfare. ACTAS is the backbone of anti-submarine warfare," defence sources said.
The towed array sonar provided by ATLAS permits observation of the sea space at ranges considerably above 60 kilometres, depending on the propagation conditions of the water.
This gives the sonar an operational range that by far exceeds that of radars and the weapons range of submarines.
The system is, therefore, not only ideal for hunting submarines but also for the wide-area reconnaissance of surface combatants.
"Indian ships currently use bow mounted sonar or hull mounted sonar which is less effective. ACTAS is the future," the sources said.
They added that the system is first being put on Kamorta-class anti-submarine corvettes. The project is destined to be rolled out to various classes of ships including Delhi, Talwar, Shivalik and Kolkata.
The sources said ATAS is especially vital in the Arabian Sea.
Warships detect submarines with sonar - a "ping" of sound emitted into the water that reflects from submarines, just as radar bounces back from aircraft.
In Arabian Sea's warm and shallow waters, the returning signal often gets lost, the sources said, adding that since ATAS is towed by a cable deep below the surface where submarines operate, detection is much higher.

PTI/ zeenews

Russia's Eyes Massive Nuclear Submarine Deal with India

Russia may help India build nuclear submarines and stealth warships, according to Indian media reports.
Last week India’s Economic Times reported that the Indian conglomerate Reliance Infrastructure—which owns stakes in numerous Indian defense companies—is seeking Russian assistance for programs to locally produce nuclear submarines and other stealth warships.
According to the report, top Reliance executives were in Moscow last week to meet with Russian defense officials about finding a partner for a joint venture between a Russian defense company and Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering, India’s largest defense shipyard, which Reliance has an 18 percent stake in. Specifically, Reliance is looking for a Russian partner with the “requisite technology expertise for manufacturing warships in India.”
As the Economic Times points out, the meetings come on the heels of India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approving a plan for an Indian company to locally manufacture six nuclear submarines and seven stealth warships. The initial investment outlay for the project was set at Rs 1 trillion ($15.67 billion.)
Although the Russian government refused to specifically confirm the report, it did sound receptive to such a possibility.
"The Russian side is open to negotiations with Indian partners on various projects, including cooperation and JV [joint ventures] to manufacture modern defense equipment," a Russian official at the embassy in Delhi told ET in response to a query.
For its part, a Reliance official told the Indian newspaper, “We are deeply committed to investments in the defence sector and the PM's Make In India program,” referring to Indian Prime Minister Modi.
Besides the Make in India program, the prospective joint venture would likely take advantage of the amendments Modi approved in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) laws last year. FDI is now allowed to make up 49 percent of defense sector projects, up from 26 percent before Modi approved the changes.
Russia would arguably be the most sensible foreign partner for India as the two countries have an extensive defense technology relationship that dates back to the Soviet Union days. This has most certainly included submarines. In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, the Soviet Union sold India eight Foxtrot-class submarines, which India operated as Vela-class submarines.
India also currently operates a number of Kilo-class submarines, which are designated as Sindhughosh-class submarines by the Indian Navy.
Near the end of the Cold War, India also briefly leased a nuclear-powered submarine from the Soviet Union. More recently, in 2011 India began operating an Akula II nuclear attack submarine under a ten-year lease from Russia. That lease was valued at $970 million.
Despite Modi’s Make in India program, as well as the plan to build six indigenous nuclear-powered submarines, there have been indications that India may lease a second nuclear-powered submarine from Russia. During a trip to Delhi in December of last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would gladly supply India with more nuclear-powered submarines.
“If India decides to have more contracts to lease nuclear submarines, we are ready to supply,” Putin said at the time.
Later, Indian news outlets reported that negotiations are underway for a second Akula II SSN, which would enter into service with the Indian Navy in 2018.
Besides the nuclear submarines, India is also looking for foreign partners to help it build at least six stealth diesel-electric submarines. Competition for that contract is stiff.
As The National Interest noted back in January, Japan has expressed interest in helping India build Air-Independent Propulsion-equipped submarines. Just this week, the German Defense Minister was in Delhi lobbying for a German company to get the contract.
Other countries reportedly in the mix for that contract include France, Sweden Spain and, of course, Russia.


May 29, 2015

India Says First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier to Operate by 2018

India expects to bring into service its first domestically made aircraft carrier by 2018 as it looks to counter China’s expanding military capabilities in the region.
The diesel-powered, 40,000-ton INS Vikrant will be ready within three years, Indian Navy Chief R.K. Dhowan told reporters in New Delhi today. It’s under construction at a shipyard in the southern port city of Kochi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved $45 billion of weapons purchases since taking power last May. He’s seeking to keep pace with China to prevent it from gaining a foothold in the Indian Ocean.
The aircraft carrier project is three years behind schedule after difficulties in procuring materials, including high-grade steel from Russia. When finished, it will be capable of supporting MiG-29K fighter jets, helicopters and long-range surface-to-air missile systems, according to a 2013 government statement when the carrier was named.
India’s navy currently has two aircraft carriers: the 56-year-old INS Viraat built by the British and a refurbished Russian vessel.


HAL and BAE Systems to develop 'Combat Hawk', improved trainer

The Indian Air Force (IAF), facing a severe shortage of fighter aircraft, will have the opportunity to boost its combat strength with an unusual asset - fitting guns and rockets on Hawk trainer aircraft, bought for training IAF pilots before they entered the cockpits of high performance fighters like the MiG-21.

On Tuesday, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and UK-headquartered BAE Systems (BAE), agreed to explore the development of a "Combat Hawk" which could even be exported to friendly foreign countries.

India already has the world's largest fleet of Hawk Mk132 advanced jet trainers (AJTs). The IAF and navy have 123 Hawks on order, of which 90 are already in service, training their pilots. While HAL builds the remaining 33 in Bengaluru under licence from BAE, the IAF is contracting for another 20 Hawks for its superlative aerobatics display team, which so far flew the Kiran Mark II.

The Hawk AJT already has advanced avionics, including digital cockpit displays that allow trainee pilots to practice navigation, the use of sensors like radar, and to fire weapons. Transforming this into a "Combat Hawk" involves fitting air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground guns, rockets and bombs. The Hawk Mk132 has seven wing stations for mounting weapons and reconnaissance equipment. These weapons need to be integrated with the avionics of the aircraft.

Such "light attack aircraft" are adept at several missions that high-performance fighters are ill suited to perform. Flying slower, their pilots get more time to identify targets, especially over jungle terrain, or when targets are camouflaged. In mountains, accuracy is extremely important because even narrowly missing a target on a sharp ridgeline means the bomb or rocket strikes harmlessly, hundreds of feet below. Light attack aircraft allow greater accuracy.

Besides accuracy, affordability is another big plus for light attack aircraft. Many countries cannot afford to buy or operate fighters. The Afghan Air Force will fly 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations against the Taliban. Meanwhile, the United States Special Operations Command is also buying a fleet of similar aircraft for its "light air support" programme.

The defence ministry has not yet announced a plan to acquire or operate light attack aircraft. India's military has been historically reluctant to use combat aircraft in COIN operations, given the potential for collateral damage.

Even so, HAL officials say a Combat Hawk could be offered to the military once it is developed. In advocating its programme to develop the indigenous Hindustan Turbo Trainer - 40 (HTT-40), HAL argued that it could be combatised, unlike the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II trainer, which would require permission from Switzerland.

Light attack aircraft, say HAL and BAE officials, would also find ready markets in smaller regional countries.

The HAL-BAE agreement also envisages upgrading the Hawk Mk132 to the capability level of Hawk Mk128 trainers on which Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots train. The IAF procured the Hawk Mk132 before the RAF upgraded to the Mk128. The latter has a cockpit display that more closely resembles the kind of fighters that trainees graduate to from the Hawk.

"If India wants to become an export hub for the Hawk, it would need to graduate to the latest standard, which is the Hawk Mk128. Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are inducting the Eurofighter Typhoon, are likely to demand Hawk trainers built to the latest RAF standards. India could position itself to address those markets", says Chris Broadman of BAE Systems.


May 28, 2015

Govt-to-govt deal on submarines

India has sounded out Germany for a direct government-to-government deal to buy six submarines, bypassing a competitive bidding process in what could be New Delhi's costliest military acquisitions programme.
The Indian Navy is now in the middle of finalising the specifications for and choosing a shipyard for its P75i programme to acquire six conventional submarines. The submarines must be capable of firing missiles to attack targets on land and must have air independent propulsion (AIP) that gives them more endurance to stay underwater.
The total cost of the project could top $11 billion (approximately Rs 66,000 crore).

The enquiry to the Germans was made at delegation-level talks last evening, a source in the defence ministry said today. The German defence minister, Ursula Von Der Leyen, is currently visiting India.
The Indian Navy currently operates a fleet of 13 conventional diesel-electric submarines after its INS Sindhurakshak sank in Mumbai in August 2013. Four of the submarines are of German-origin.
"We asked them what they would offer if we went for the submarines in a direct government-to-government deal," said the official.
German conglomerate, Thyssenkrupp, the original builders of the U-Boat of Hitler's navy in World War II, currently owns HDW from which the Indian Navy sourced its Type 209 Shishumar-class submarines (INS Shishumar, Shankush, Shalki and Shankul) between 1986 and 1994 before the deal was hit by allegations of bribery and suspended.
Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is now contracted to upgrade the four submarines. The upgradation involves equipping them with capability to fire Harpoon missiles.
The Project 75i programme is designed to assist the navy in beefing up its undersurface power after a three-year submarine-building project drafted in the 1990s went askew. The navy wanted 24 submarines by 2024; it now effectively has 13 with two or three constantly under refit.
Last year, the government decided to select an Indian shipyard for P75i for which a committee headed by the navy's chief of design, vice-admiral Ashok Subhedar, has been tasked.
A defence official said the Modi government was closer to a policy in which all purchases of "strategic equipment" would be made through government-to-government deals. He cited the example of the decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
An official statement from the ministry said the talks between Manohar Parrikar and the visiting German minister focused on "partnering of Germany in the Make-in-India initiative in the defence sector and supply of state-of-the-art equipmentechnology".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Germany last month. German chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to visit India later in the year. The German defence minister will be visiting the Western Naval Command in Mumbai tomorrow.


Tata to Tebma, everyone wants a piece of India’s defence business

Indian companies—big and small, known and unknown—want a piece of the defence equipment business and have applied for industrial licences from the ministry of commerce to locally manufacture military equipment, including airplanes and warships.
The list of companies, now up on the website of the ministry, makes for interesting reading.
For instance, among the applicants is telecom infrastructure company Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL), as famous for its outrageous bids for telecom licences in the late 1990s as for its run-ins with the stock market regulator. Both are now behind the company, which is seeking an industrial licence to make airplanes, weapons and ammunition.
The office of Mahendra Nahata, managing director of HFCL, did not respond to queries.
There are several other small companies in the race to manufacture defence equipment. Here’s a sample: Tebma Shipyards Ltd (seeking permission to build submarines), Chowgule and Co. Pvt. Ltd (warships), Neco Defence Systems Ltd (unmanned aerial systems), Maini Precision Products Pvt. Ltd (rocket launchers), Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd (aircraft and spacecraft parts), Ois AeroSpace Pvt. Ltd (aircraft sub-systems), Solar Industries India Ltd (helicopters), Titagarh Wagons Ltd (armoured vehicles), Modest Infrastructure Ltd (warships) and JSW Projects (unmanned aerial vehicles).
Besides these companies, there are bigger and better known entities eyeing a piece of the action as well, making the battle more intense. Companies such as Bharat Forge Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd, the Tata group, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, the Godrej Group and the Mahindra Group are fairly well entrenched in the business and are looking for more opportunities.
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group and the Adani Group’s Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd are the latest to enter the race.
The scramble is partly the result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on defence equipment as part of his Make in India campaign.
“We are reforming our defence procurement policies and procedures. There would be a clear preference for equipment manufactured in India… We are expanding the role of the private sector, even for major platforms,” he said in February.
India is the world’s largest importer of defence equipment, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It spends around $24 billion a year on defence equipment.
Kabir Bogra, associate partner at law firm Khaitan and Co., said many Indian companies see defence equipment as an opportunity to redefine themselves and develop new revenue streams.
“Further, Bharat Forge, Pipavav, Tata and a few others with historical linkages to the armed forces now have an opportunity to leverage their vast manufacturing bases and expertise. Foreign vendors looking to invest in India need partners who can provide the relevant scale of manufacturing and match the capital costs,” he said.
Bogra pointed out that Indian businesses can also provide the necessary guidance to offshore partners in navigating regulatory and legal hurdles.
“Therefore, an Airbus tying up with Tata is a mutually beneficial relationship. With respect to smaller companies engaged in precision engineering, it’s a significant opportunity for them to upgrade their skills and technical know-how and be able to become suppliers in the global supply chain and expand their markets,” Bogra said.
Opportunities in defence manufacturing are equally relevant for both big and small players, he said.
“From a sustainability perspective, we believe that a large percentage of the ventures will be successful since the small and mid-sized businesses cannot afford to waste this opportunity,” added Bogra, who specializes in defence contracts.
The scramble can also be explained in terms of the near-term opportunities on offer. On 17 February, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved plans to build six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth warships at a cost of about Rs.1 trillion.
There is more in store. India’s defence spending is expected to hit $620 billion between 2014 and 2022, with half of it going into capital expenditure, potentially turning a leading buyer of expensive arms into an arms supplier.
Driven by both domestic and external demand, the annual opportunity for Indian companies—both public and private sector—is expected to reach $41 billion by fiscal 2022 and $168 billion between fiscal years 2014 and 2022, according to a report by industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and financial services firm Centrum Capital Ltd.
In August last year, the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defence manufacturing was raised from 26% to a composite cap of 49% (FDI and foreign institutional investment).
Rahul Gangal, partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, said aerospace and defence were emerging as an attractive business segment for small and medium enterprises as they see significant indigenous supply gaps they can fill.
“They find comfort not only in India’s continued uptick in military spend but also in its strong and renewed focus on local manufacturing and sourcing—especially with the new government’s Make in India initiative. Companies are also getting attracted to this segment as defence manufacturing is justifiably considered the cutting edge of technology and usually benefits manufacturers with subsequent technology adaptations in civil businesses,” Gangal added.
Another reason for the rush is offsets—a policy that requires any foreign arms manufacturer securing an order worth more than Rs.300 crore from India to source components worth 30% of the value of the order from India.
The offsets opportunity is expected to be worth $15 billion in the next 10-15 years, assuming that several proposed purchases are completed on time, according to KPMG.

After French Rafale fighter jets, India eyes German submarines

(tribuneindia):Talks are on between India and Germany to either co-produce or have direct deal for the supply of six next-generation submarines. Sources told The Tribune that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar raised the matter during a meeting with his German counterpart Dr Ursula von der Leyen in New Delhi yesterday. India reportedly asked Germany what all it could offer if a direct deal was struck between the two countries on next-generation submarines. The move comes after India recently announced to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany, which owns the submarine arm HDW, is among the few international companies India is looking at for the “Project-75 India” tender that will have six submarines with the air independent propulsion (AIP) allowing for longer period of submergence underwater. The Indian Navy also wants greater stealth and land-attack capability. The Russians and the French DCNS also make such subs and so does Japan. New Delhi has expressed interest in all of them and is looking for the best deal. The US does not make such subs anymore.

 Parrikar meets German Defence Minister
  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has reportedly asked his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen what all the country could offer if a direct deal was struck between the two countries on next-generation submarines
  • ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany, which owns the submarine arm HDW, is among the few international companies India is looking at for the “Project-75 India” tender
  • The tender will have six submarines with the air independent propulsion allowing for longer period of submergence underwater.

May 27, 2015

HAL and BAE Systems sign MoU for Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer upgrade

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has signed an MoU with BAE Systems UK for the upgrade of Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainer, development of combat Hawk for Indian and export markets and maintenance solutions for supporting Jaguar and Hawk fleet. The Hawk Mk 132 is an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) with tandem dual seats meant to provide basic, advanced flying and weapons training.
Speaking on the occasion, T. Suvarna Raju, CMD of HAL expressed confidence on success of the proposed collaboration between HAL and BAE. "It is important that both the teams finalise the scope of Hawk Mk 132 upgrades and other work packages under the MoU agreement at the earliest", he said. MN Shrinath, General Manager (Aircraft) signed the MoU on behalf of HAL, while Steve Timms, Managing Director (Defence Information, Training and Services) signed on behalf of BAE. Chris Boardman, Managing Director (Military Air & Information) headed the BAE delegation.
The Hawk Mk 132 is an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) with tandem dual seats meant to provide basic, advanced flying and weapons training. The cockpit provides excellent field of view and the aircraft is equipped with Inertial Navigation/Global Positioning System, Head-Up Display and Hands-On Throttle and Stick controls.
The aircraft has the capabilities to be used as a ground attack aircraft or for air defence. The Hawk AJT has excellent flying characteristics with good stability, can be flown at night and can perform wide range of aerobatic manoeuvres. The aircraft can accommodate a wide variety of external stores. The aircraft has 7 hard points to carry external stores with a possible 12 types of combinations to carry the stores.
The aircraft is being produced at HAL under licence from BAeS, UK and the first aircraft was handed over to IAF in August 2008. Production program of 42 Hawks to IAF was concluded in 2011-12. Further, second contract was signed between IAF and HAL in July 2010 for supply of 40 Nos of Hawk AJT and associated equipment. HAL has so for produced 25 aircraft and would be producing all the 40 aircraft by 2016-17.
A contract was signed between Indian Navy and HAL in July 2010 for supply of 17 Nos of Hawk AJT and associated equipment. HAL has so far produced 11 aircraft and would be producing all the 17 aircraft by 2016-17. HAL has so far produced 78 Hawk aircraft.


HAL needs a makeover

Much has been said about what Narendra Modi has done and not done in his one year as Prime Minister. One aspect that has gone relatively unnoticed is the change in defence equipment procurement procedure that his government is putting in place.
Earlier this month, the Defence Acquisition Council, the highest decision-making body on buying military hardware, cleared a Rs.11,930 crore proposal to build military transport aircraft in India. This deal bypassed the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in favour of Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. The recent decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets directly from France was another snub to HAL.
HAL badly needs an infusion of technology and money. One way to do that could be by bringing in new partners for the public sector undertaking to rejuvenate the company in return for a stake in it. By doing so, the government will save itself opprobrium that may come its way if it were to sell a stake in the aircraft maker only to raise revenue.

May 26, 2015

Egypt reportedly signed a $2bn deal for 46 MiG-29 fighter aircraft

Egypt has agreed to buy 46 of Russia's MiG-29 fighter jets in a deal that may be worth up to $2 billion, the largest order for MiG aircraft since the fall of the Soviet Union, newspaper Vedomosti reported Monday May 25, citing two unidentified aviation industry sources.Cairo has historically purchased U.S.-made military hardware, but Washington suspended future sales after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Since then, Egypt has turned to a number of other suppliers, including Russia, for its military needs. Last year Egypt bought Russia's advanced S-300 anti-aircraft system for a sum not less than $500 million, one of Vedomosti's sources said. According to one of Vedomosti's two sources in the aviation industry, the deal for the 46 MiG-29 fighter jets will cost up to $2 billion.
The MiG-29 was first fielded in the 1970s to counter U.S. fighter jets such as the F-15 and F-16, and has been continuously upgraded by Russia's MiG aircraft company over the years.
The deal will be a boon to MiG, securing a production portfolio that would keep MiG-29s rolling off the assembly line until around 2020, Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told Vedomosti

United States to deploy B-1B bombers and Global Hawk UAVs in Australia

During testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, US Defence Department Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear announced that in addition to the movement of US Marine and Army units around the Western Pacific region, "we will be placing additional Air Force assets in Australia as well, including B-1 bombers and surveillance aircraft." The US plan comes as the Obama administration moves to boost US naval forces and air power in the South China Sea to assert the right of free passage and challenge China's efforts to buttress its maritime territorial claims through the construction of airfields and artificial islands.
The B-1 Lancer bomber, commonly called "Bone" (originally from "B-One") was first deployed by the US Air Force in the mid 1980s and is expected to continue as a strategic bomber until the mid 2030s.
US B-52 bombers have previously been temporarily deployed to Darwin, to take part in exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force, in 2012 and in late 2014, as a consequence of a joint Force Posture Initiative agreed by former prime minister Julia Gillard and US President Barack Obama in 2011.
About 1150 US Marines began arriving in Darwin this week for six months training during the Top End's dry season. The marines are the fourth rotation of US troops deployed to the Northern Territory since 2011. The plan is to gradually increase the number of US Marines rotating through Darwin to 2500 troops by 2017.
Disclosed ahead of any statement by the Australian government, the US plan to deploy B-1 bombers and high-altitude remotely piloted Global Hawk surveillance aircraft to Australia comes as part of the US military's broader "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region.

Assistant Defence Secretary Shear made it clear on Wednesday that the US intends to challenge China's claims to sovereignty over large parts of the South China Sea.
"We claim the right of innocent passage in such areas, and we exercise that right regularly, both in the South China Sea and globally," Mr Shear told the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Similar views were expressed by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, who also told the Senate committee "No matter how much sand you pile on a reef in the South China Sea, you can't manufacture sovereignty."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has voiced "serious concern" about the US officials's remarks.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference on Wednesday that China supported freedom of navigation in the South China Sea but "freedom of navigation does not give one country's military aircraft and ships free access to another country's territorial waters and airspace."
She said China would "resolutely safeguard its territorial sovereignty" and urged the US "not to take any risks or make any provocations."
The Australian Defence Department has not yet commented on the US announcement. 


The Russian Air Force takes delivery of additional batch of Su-34 frontline bombers

The Russia-based Sukhoi Company handed over the first batch of Su-34 frontline bombers to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation according to the 2015 State Defense Order. The aircraft took off from the V.P. Chkalov Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant's airfield and headed to their place of deployment, the aircraft maker announced on May 21.

Last year, the Sukhoi Company's branch -- the Novosibirsk aviation plant successfully completed the 2014 State Defence Order and delivered two combat aircraft above the initial yearly plan, it said.
The 4+ generation Su-34s are replacing the Su-24 frontline bombers which are presently in service with the Russian Air Force.

The Russian Defence Ministry has placed an order for over 100 Su-34s to be delivered to the Air Force by 2020.

The multi-role Su-34 fighter bomber is designed to attack land-based, sea- and airborne targets by day and night in all weather conditions.

The Su-34 strike fighter aircraft is armed with highly effective long-range air-to-surface and air-to-air guided weapons enabling multi-channel operational employment. It also features a smart anti-radar defence system, an armed cockpit and latest computers that provide extra capabilities for the pilot and navigator to perform aimed bombing and to manoeuver under enemy fire.

The Su-34 also features an air refueling system for mid-air refueling.


Defence ministry okays deals worth over $3bn to buy 15 Chinook, 22 Apache copters

The defence ministry has cleared two crucial deals worth more than $3.1 billion to equip the Indian Air Force with US-built attack and heavy-lift helicopters.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has sent the proposals to buy 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift copters — both platforms manufactured by US defence giant Boeing — to the finance ministry for clearance, a government official said on Monday.
The Apache proposal went to the finance ministry on April 23, while the one to buy Chinooks was sent last week. The proposals will later go to the cabinet committee on security, headed by PM Narendra Modi, for final clearance. The latest price extension granted by Boeing for the choppers is valid till June 30.
The deals are, however, not linked to US defence secretary Ashton Carter’s upcoming visit to India, beginning June 2.
The proposals have clauses to place follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and four extra Chinooks. Both platforms have seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Boeing had beaten off competition from Russia, which had offered its Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mi-26 heavy-lift copters to the IAF.
Armed with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles, the Apache attack choppers can track up to 128 targets in a minute and prioritise threats.
These missiles equip the helicopter gunships with heavy anti-armour capabilities. The army is moving a case to buy 39 Apache helicopters. The Chinook’s main roles include transporting troops, artillery and battlefield resupply.
Carter will be arriving in India four months after New Delhi and Washington renewed the 2005 India-US Defence Framework Agreement to deepen cooperation in several security-related areas. The agreement led to some major weapon sales to India, deepened military-to-military engagements, bolstered technical cooperation and strengthened the overall strategic partnership. India and the US will also be working on projects relating to co-development and co-production of military hardware and systems under the defence trade and technology initiative (DTTI).
India and US have identified four key “pathfinder projects” for joint development and production under the DTTI. These include next generation Raven mini-UAVs, roll-on and roll-off kits for C-130J Super Hercules planes and mobile electric hybrid power sources.
The US is currently the biggest supplier of weapons to the Indian military, having won deals worth over $10 billion during the last six years.


Indian Navy testing submarine equipped with Russian missile system

The Indian Navy has begun testing a modernised and refitted diesel – electric submarine, the Sindhukirti, which is equipped with the Russian-made Club-S missile strike system. This is the sixth ‘Kilo’ class submarine to be refitted and modernised in collaboration with Russia.

The Indian Navy has started testing a modernised and refitted diesel-electric submarine, the Sindhukirti, in the open seas, N.K. Mishra, head of the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), told reporters on Friday.
The modernization began in 2006, and took nine years to complete. During this time, the Ushus sonar system, manufactured in India, was installed on the submarine, along with more than 10 other systems of both domestic and foreign manufacture. 100 kms of cables and 30 kms of high-pressure air pipes were replaced during the refit.
“Modernization turned out to be a more complex process than the construction of a new submarine,” the newspaper The Hindu quoted Mishra as saying, on its website. “This was the largest project ever implemented in an Indian shipyard.”
A TASS news agency source close to the Indian Ministry of Defence refused to comment on the progress of the tests, but said in the course of modernization, the Sindhukirti also acquired the Russian-made Club-S missile strike system (export version of the Calibre-C missile system), with a range of up to 200 km.
The source added that the Russian Star Ship-Repair Centre “also participated in the refit and modernization of the submarine”, which took place in the city of Visakhapatnam. The company has modernized six submarines for the Indian Navy since 1997, at its own berths in Severodvinsk. These were the Sindhughosh, Sindhuvir, Sindhuratna, Sindhuvijay, and Sindhurakshak, before the Sindhukirti.
All these are Russian-built submarines of the 887 EKM project (NATO classification, “Kilo”), developed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (St. Petersburg). They are designed to fight enemy ships and submarines, and to defend naval bases, onshore and offshore communications, reconnaissance, and patrol activities.
These submarines have a displacement of 2,300 tons, their length is 72.6 m, submerged speed is 19 knots (about 35 km) per hour, diving depth around 300 meters, can carry a crew of 52 people, and has a cruising capacity of 45 days.

Tass/ rbth

Modi Skirts India’s Top Warplane Maker to Check China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to refresh an aging air force are skirting state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., India’s largest defense contractor, and signaling opportunities for the private sector.
The nation this month agreed a $1.9 billion deal for Airbus Group NV military planes to be built jointly in India by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. rather than Hindustan Aeronautics. Modi in April shelved plans for the state firm to make French Rafale jets under license, putting other local manufacturers on alert.
Modi’s goals of a stronger military and modern defense industry that makes greater use of private sector skills puts Hindustan Aeronautics at a crossroads. It dominated India’s aerospace market after independence from Britain, but project delays and crashes of jets the company assembled are hurting the air force as rival China pulls ahead with stealth fighters.
“India’s private companies may not have Hindustan Aeronautic’s aerospace experience,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president at defense consultancy Teal Group Corp. in Virginia. “But they’re much better managed and can do a better job delivering products.”
Talks between the government and Dassault Aviation SA over a 2007 tender for 126 Rafales, including 108 to be made by Hindustan Aeronautics, stalled partly because India sought quality guarantees from Dassault for the locally made jets.

Modi’s Decision

Modi then chose to buy 36 Rafales directly from the French government to get them faster, leaving open the possibility of a separate order for more and in effect killing the earlier $11 billion tender.
The separate purchase could involve a private company for local assembly, said Amit Cowshish, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.
“India is a huge market for defense products,” he said. “There’s room for more than just Hindustan Aeronautics. The Airbus-Tata decision is a good beginning.”
Modi’s vision is to develop a defense-industrial complex that can strengthen India’s sometimes poorly equipped armed forces, spur manufacturing and curb overseas acquisitions by one of the world’s biggest arms importers.
He’s approved about $45 billion of weapons purchases since taking power last May. The Defense Ministry has also cleared two deals worth more than $3.1 billion for U.S.-built Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, the Hindustan Times reported today.


Hindustan Aeronautics has assembled about 200 Russian Sukhoi SU-30MKI warplanes locally under license, six of which have crashed since 2009, most recently on May 19 with both pilots ejecting. The fleet was temporarily grounded after a Sukhoi ejected its pilots without warning in October.
The company’s project to develop an indigenous fighter, the Light Combat Aircraft, has yet to produce a fully operational jet decades after it was conceived, Teal Group said in April.
The Indian Air Force estimates at least 45 squadrons are needed to repel a joint attack from Pakistan and China, compared with a current active strength of about 25. China’s J-31 stealth fighter made its debut last year, a sign of the nation’s lead over India in warplane development.
An “overall system inefficiency” of all involved scuppered the Rafale tender, said M. Matheswaran, an adviser to Hindustan Aeronautics’ Chairman T. Suvarna Raju.
The 75-year-old company may yet benefit from a requirement that some of the money to be paid for the 36 Rafale jets must be recycled back to India -- a rule known as the “offset clause.”


If the jets cost about $7 billion, more than $3 billion may come into India’s defense sector via offsets, some of it to Hindustan Aeronautics, Matheswaran said. The company is busy assembling Sukhois and developing the Light Combat Aircraft as well as a so-called fifth generation fighter, he said.
Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics made pretax profit of 35.8 billion rupees ($563 million) on sales of 151 billion rupees in the 2014 financial year. The government wants to list it on India’s stock market.
Building a bigger role for private industry in defense requires much greater local knowhow and expertise. Modi has eased curbs on joint ventures between Indian and foreign defense companies to that end, but India has a long way to go.
For aircraft such as Rafale, India remains to some extent dependent on Hindustan Aeronautics for assembly, said Kabir Bogra, an associate partner at law firm Khaitan & Co. in New Delhi. To alleviate quality concerns, private businesses could be involved in the manufacture of certain components, he said.
Amid the flux, companies such as Chicago-based Boeing Co. are already looking for investment options in India. These trends show Hindustan Aeronautics must change or else “continue to be punished by the Indian government and military,” Aboulafia said.


May 25, 2015

Problem: China Still Wants Russia's Deadly Su-35 Fighter

China still wants the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jet despite launching a new fighter jet last week.
As noted last week, China conducted the first test flight of the J-11D on April 29. The plane is an upgraded version of the J-11B fighter jets, which themselves are copies of the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27. Perhaps most  notable of the J11-D’s upgrades is that it reportedly incorporates the J-16’s advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
As Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer have said of the AESA, “The AESA radar allows the J-16 to intercept enemy aircraft at longer ranges than either of its predecessors, and to attack multiple surface targets simultaneously. The AESA radar would also be datalinked to other Chinese platforms, including unmanned vehicles, to increase their situational awareness.”
As I mentioned in last week’s article, some analysts have been comparing the J-11D to Russia’s Su-35.
However, according to Want China Times, which cites an article in the Beijing-based Sina Military Network, China will still look to acquire Russia’s Su-35 even with the new J-11Ds.
“The Su-35 is necessary because it bridges the gap in the People's Liberation Army Air Force prior to the introduction of China's new fifth-generation fighter jets, the [Sina] report said, adding that without Su-35s China would need to figure out how it would go up against Japan's F-35s and India's Su-30MKI and T-50 aircraft,” Want China Times writes.
“Even if the manufacture of the J-11 can be increased to two a month, the numbers would still be insufficient, not to mention it remains unclear whether the J-11 is technically advanced to take on fifth-generation fighters,” the report added.
While based off of the Su-27, the Su-35 offers a number of significant improvements, leading many in Russia to term it a 4++ generation aircraft. Air Force Technology has said the Su-35 “has high manoeuvrability (+9g) with a high angle of attack, and is equipped with high-capability weapon systems that contribute to the new aircraft's exceptional dogfighting capability. The maximum level speed is 2,390km/h or Mach 2.25.”
Besides helping combat adversaries’ high-end aircraft, the Su-35’s high fuel capacity and long range would greatly enhance China’s ability to enforce its claims in the South China Sea. Specifically, Beijing has trouble maintaining a regular presence over the enormous waters, which are roughly 1.4 million square miles (2.25 million square kilometers).
As Peter Wood has written in The Diplomat:
Currently, land-based PLAAF fighters, can conduct limited patrols of the sea’s southern areas, but their fuel capacity severely restricts the time they can spend on patrol. Enforcing claims far from the mainland in times of crisis requires the type of range and speed that the Su-35 possesses. The Su-35 is likely meant to help enforce China’s territorial claims, further deter regional claimants, and provide additional layers of protection in the case of escalation.
Wood notes that the “key to this is fuel,” and the Su-35 offers a number of advantages over the Su-27 in this regard.
“One important improvement of the Su-35 over the Su-27/J-11B is the ability to carry external fuel tanks, be a major factor limiting the Su-27, which does not have aerial refueling capability. This is in addition to a 20 percent increase in fuel capacity over the Su-27 and air refueling capability. This later capability is another important part of China’s strategy of increasing loiter times and distances,” Wood wrote.
Indeed, the Want China Times report also notes that, “The Su-35 has an internal fuel capacity 11.5 tons compared to the J-11D's nine tons, meaning it would be more suited to surveillance missions in the South China Sea.”

Army to get 114 Dhanush guns in three years

The Army’s quest for new artillery is nearing completion with the indigenous gun upgraded by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) clearing trials. The Army has placed an indent for 114 guns in the first phase and these will be delivered in three years, informed sources said.
“After the Pokhran fiasco with one barrel-burst, Dhanush barrels were tested in Sikkim under cold conditions and in other temperatures — and came out with flying colours. The Army is fully satisfied,” officials told The Hindu.
A Dhanush prototype suffered a barrel burst during firing trials at Pokhran in August 2013 which delayed the process.
80% indigenous
The initial deal for 114 guns is expected to cost around Rs.1,600 crore. Pleased with the performance of the gun, the Army has given strong indications of an additional order for 481 guns, sources added.
The Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish 155-mm Bofors howitzers bought by India in the mid-1980s based on the original design. It is a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum effective range of 38 km in salvo mode compared to the 39-calibre, 27-km range of the original guns. It is 80 per cent indigenous, with the APU (auxiliary power unit), electronic dial sights and a few other small items being imported.
The Army is desperately short of new long-range artillery, having failed to induct any new gun after the Bofors scandal. Recently, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar approved a revised proposal from BAE Systems for 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers for mountainous areas under a government-to-government deal with the United States.
Additionally last November, the DAC cleared the process for purchase of 814 mounted gun systems through the ‘Buy and Make’ category to be built by an Indian private partner in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer.

The Hindu

May 23, 2015

Indian defence minister draws line at 36 Rafales

Key Points

  • India's defence minister has said Delhi will not buy more than the 36 Dassault Rafales to which it committed in April
  • The announcement confirms the end of the MMRCA tender and the government's commitment to the Tejas LCA programme
India will neither licence-build additional Dassault Rafale fighters nor acquire more than the 36 it recently agreed to buy in flyaway condition, the country's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on 21 May.
In multiple interviews to TV channels to mark the completion of the government's first year in office, Parrikar said the money India had saved by acquiring 90 fewer Rafales would be diverted to buying 200-odd indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
"By buying 36 Rafales instead of 126, I have saved the cost of 90 Rafales," Parrikar said, adding that this amount was around INR900 billion (USD15.51 billion). "We will use this money to buy Tejas LCA priced at around INR1.5 billion each," he added.
The LCA will replace 10 to 12 MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons to be retired from 2022 onwards, he said.
Parrikar declined to reveal the cost of the 36 Rafales, whose purchase Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris on 10 April and which are presently the subject of negotiations. He did, however, confirm that the contract includes a 50% offset obligation.
India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been in negotiations with Dassault since 2012 to acquire 126 Rafales in support of the Indian Air Force (IAF) requirement for medium multirole combat aircraft.
Of these, 18 were to have been bought off the shelf and 108 licence-built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in Bangalore.
Meanwhile, preliminary investigations indicate engine problems could have resulted in an IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI multirole fighter crashing in Assam state on 19 May, official sources said. The crash was the sixth such incident involving an IAF Su-30 since the aircraft entered Indian service in 1997.
A court of inquiry into the accident is under way. Both pilots ejected safely from the fighter, which was on a routine sortie from Tezpur's Salonibari base but developed "technical problems" shortly after taking off, sources said.
In March Parrikar told parliament that the Su-30 fleet was plagued by "engine failure in air and engine-related problems" and that the IAF had documented 35 problems with the Saturn Al-31Fp powerpack.
Russian officials, however, deny such problems and attribute all six of the IAF's Su-30 accidents to "human error": an assessment with which the IAF strongly disagrees.
The IAF has inducted around 200 of 272 Su-30s acquired for more than USD12 billion.


ISIS claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months

LONDON: ISIS has used the latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq to suggest the group is expanding so rapidly it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year.

The hyperbolic article, which the group attributes to the British hostage John Cantlie, claims ISIS has transcended its roots as "the most explosive Islamic 'group' in the modern world" to evolve into "the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen" in less than twelve months.

Photojournalist Cantlie is regularly used in the terror group's propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos, including a YouTube series called "Lend Me Your Ears". He has been held a hostage by ISIS for more than two years.
The piece, entitled "The Perfect Storm", describes militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, uniting across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.

The article claims this alignment of groups has happened at the sane time as ISIS militants have seized "tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems," from the US and Iran before turning to the subject of more extreme weapons the group is not in possession of — such as nuclear weapons.

"Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table," the article continues. "The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilayah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region."

It admits that such a scenario is "far-fetched" but warns: "It's the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it's infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.

"And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That's easy enough to make."

An attack launched by ISIS against America would ridicule "the attacks of the past".

"They'll [ISIS] be looking to do something big, something that would make any past operation look like a squirrel shoot, and the more groups that pledge allegiance the more possible it becomes to pull off something truly epic.

"Remember, all of this has happened in less than a year. How more dangerous will be the lines of communication and supply a year on from today?"

The capacity of ISIS to acquire such a device is certainly beyond the group at the moment.

But ISIS is indeed a well funded group having secured a number of oilfields in Syria and Iraq. The group also sells artefacts looted from historic areas seized during its insurgency, sometimes for six figure sums, as well as imposing taxes on civilians trapped in its self-declared caliphate and other methods of extortion.

The finances of the group have been estimated by some to be in the $2billion area, though it is impossible to verify how much money it actually has access to.

The threats come against a mixed backdrop of successes and losses in both countries; the group has been driven out of Tikrit in Iraq but has overrun Ramaldi and the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra.

A recent call to arms from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also appeared to suggest it may be overstretched in some areas, with his speech urging supporters from across the world to travel to its territories in the Middle East.

In September last year, the home secretary, Theresa May, warned that the militant group could become the world's first "truly terrorist state".

"We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us," she said.

Germany, France to Develop New Battle Tank to Catch Up With Russia’s Armata

Germany and France are now preparing to jointly develop a new main battle tank, the Leopard 3, to replace its ageing Leopard 2 military vehicle by around 2030, which would be able to compete with Russia's next-generation Armata tank, recently showcased at the Victory Day parade commemorating the end of World War Two in Moscow.
The German Defense Ministry has announced its plans for the "Leo 3" (as it's likely to be nicknamed in Germany) to replace its main battle tank, the Leopard 2.
The main reason for the modernization is believed to be the Leopard 2 service life, which is set to expire by 2030.
The German media, however, suggest that the real reason is the recently-presented analysis by Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) on Russia’s reinforced combat strength and its recently showcased T-14 Armata tanks, which were presented during the country's Victory Parade in Moscow on May 9.
A column of Armata tanks, equipped with 125mm cannons, rolled through Moscow's historic Red Square on May 9 as Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of foreign heads of state, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, watched on.
The BND analysis suggests that even though the combat vehicles unveiled at the parade are still somewhat pre-production models, when completed, it will be a tank with the highest levels of armaments.

According to Deutsche Welle, the manufacturer of the current Leopard 2, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, is scheduled to fuse with the French firm Nexter Systems over the course of this year.
This has prompted the German media to report that the new Franco-German firm, with more than 6,000 staff and a combined turnover of around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion), could be a strong candidate to win the contract to develop a new battle tank for the German Bundeswehr.
Just before the Victory Day Parade in Moscow, the US bimonthly magazine The National Interest reported on why America should really fear Russia's Armata T-14 tank.

The magazine suggested that Russia actually might be able to deliver in the field the tank of greater speed, maneuverability, firepower and survivability vis-à-vis anything being produced for Western armies.
The Armata is a Russian prototype of a heavy tracked vehicle platform that will be used in the construction of a next-generation main battle tank and a range of other combat vehicles.

The tank's main armaments include a 7.62mm remote-control machine gun and a 125mm smoothbore cannon. The tank is operated by a crew of three, which are housed in an armored capsule in the front.
The military vehicle is also equipped with active counter-mine defense and a suit of circular-view high resolution cameras. It can fire rounds while in motion and travels at a speed of up to 50 miles (80.47 km) per hour.