August 31, 2015

Mirage 2000 fighter jet to be upgraded with multi-function displays

The upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft will be installed with India-made multi-function displays under an Indo-French partnership, as part of a programme to enhance the operational life of multi-role fighters by around 20 years.
Samtel Thales Avionics Ltd (STAL), a joint venture between Samtel Avionics and French firm Thales, has successfully dispatched the first batch of multi-function displays for Mirage 2000 upgrade programme of the Indian Air Force from the newly-commissioned production facility in Greater Noida.
"Samtel Thales Avionics thus becomes the only Indo-French partnership in defence space in India to have a high-technology product in production for a major offset programme, and is the only company in India eligible for more Mirage 2000 MLU displays," an industry source here said.The potential of this project is valued at approximately Rs 100 crores, to be realised over the next 3 years.
The latest multi-functional displays are part of the programme to upgrade all of India's Mirage 2000H to Mirage 2000-5 MK2 variant with state-of-the-art avionics and latest weapon systems to enhance the operational life of multi-role fighters by around 20 years.
The sources said that the joint venture will also come into play if Thales bags contract for upgrade of Mirage 2000 from anywhere in the world.The entire project is expected to cost about Rs 10,000 crore.French Defence majors Dassault Aviation and Thales have already handed over two upgraded aircraft to India in March.The rest of the about 46 aircraft fleet will be upgraded in Bangalore under the responsibility of state-run HAL with the complete support and involvement of Dassault Aviation and Thales, the French firms, who are the original manufacturers.
The upgrade on the aircraft include a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, advanced navigational systems, advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar, fully integrated electronic warfare suite besides others.
It also includes a new firing system for Air-to-Air MICA missiles.
Earlier, Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO, Thales, who was in India recently had said that India is at the top ten key focus nations for his company.


MoD trying to make up for lost time

The Defence Ministry may be under fire right now for the delay in implementation of the much-expected One Rank One Pension scheme for military veterans but behind the scene, many quick decisions to acquire critical equipment for the three armed forces over the past year have been taken, making up for lost time in the second term of the UPA government.

Figures available with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) show that 30 major and small contracts worth more than Rs 55,000 crore have been signed or indents placed. The biggest beneficiary has been the Indian Navy with the government giving a go ahead for construction of seven frigates worth Rs 45,021 crores. By comparison, the next biggest sanction in terms of value for the Army to buy the Smerch Multi Rocket System worth Rs 2625.27 crores looks paltry but the acquisition itself is crucial to fill the gaps in Army's defences.

In addition, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)--the crucial body that takes final decision on what to buy for the military--has accorded what is called Acceptance of Necessity (AON) approval for 22 proposals worth Rs 56912 crore. More interestingly, only seven of these 22 proposals will be fulfilled through what is called the Buy (Global) category. On the other hand, an overwhelming 95 per cent proposals worth Rs 54,116 crores will be met under the Buy and Make (Indian) category, giving a big boost to the Make in India programme.
As Defence Minister Manohar Pariikar said in his address to the military on the eve of the Independence Day: "The government is well aware of the need to maintain all round vigil on the nation's borders, to prevent any misadventure from across the borders. Therefore, keeping our war machinery in readiness and to be able to mobilize troops to forward positions at short notice is imperative. At the same time, there is the need to constantly upgrade and modernize the weapon systems and equipment. We have taken a number of steps to equip our forces with the best of the arms currently available and are constantly striving to make most of them indigenously."

Acquisition of crucial weapons platforms apart, many significant projects have progressed further, filling some crucial gaps in India's defence preparedness. Building on the earlier successes, Agni series of missiles (one of the few projects that did extremely well under the country's longest serving Defence Minister AK Antony) are being tested by the users. The successful trial of India's first Intercontinental ballistic misile (ICBM), Agni-5 on 31st January will help India further fine tune its plan for a nuclear triad and so will the first successful test firing of the ship-launched ballistic missile Dhanush.

Enhancing infrastructure along the China frontier has also received renewed attention in the MoD. According to figures available now, 762 crucial roads in the border areas of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh have been included in the Border Roads Development Board programme allowing the Director General Border Roads to grant financial sanction without any further approval from the Ministry. Earlier, the DG, Border Roads had to take case by case sanction for each maintenance grant, delaying the projects considerably. Given that roads are a key element of India's defence preparedness against China, this step will help immensely.

However, it must be remembered that military modernisation is a never ending process and therefore Parrikar and his team must ensure that the pace set by them does not slacken even as prudent use of resources becomes a mantra for the MoD in coming years.


August 29, 2015

U.S., Boeing To Withhold Prices Hike For Apache, Chinook Till September-End

The U.S. government and Boeing are all set to maintain the prices of the Apache attack and the Chinook heavy lift helicopters offered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by another month till Sept.30, 2015 , "one last time." The present offer was to expire on Aug.31.
This move could pave the way for India to clear the two deals in September and be ready for inking the contracts, negotiations for which have been dragging for three years now, by the end of this year.
This will be the 12th extension of its price offers for the two choppers and the U.S. has indicated that this could be last time the deadline for price hike has been stretched. The deadline extension will be provided, as the Indian government has already indicated that the two contracts worth at least $2.5 billion were at the last stage of clearance, according to government and industry sources. The present prices for 22 Apache AH-64E Apache and 15 Chinook CH-47F were negotiated in September 2013.
"Of course, the U.S. government and Boeing will extend the existing price offers. But, this time, they will provide only a month-long extension of the deadline before they actually revise the price offers for both Apache and Chinook," the sources told Arming India today. Ahead of this development, U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Major General James McDonald of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command had separately written this month to the Indian Defense Ministry indicating that the existing price offers could not be held on for more time beyond Aug.31, the Hindustan Times had reported.
The American officials were replied to by Indian Air Force's Assistant Chief Air Vice Marshal Sandeep Singh, requesting 30 more days time, and stating that the entire acquisition process was on the verge of being finalized, the report said.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, it said, was pushing his ministry bureaucrats to take the purchase proposals for the two helicopters to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) next week.
A revision in the prices for the two helicopters, the report said quoting a South Block official, who gave the example of the BAE Systems' M777 Ultra Light Howitzers that got delayed by two years after a price revision in October 2013.
There was a buzz earlier in April and May that India could finalize the two contracts ahead of the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to India in June, when the deals could be signed. But the Indian decision-making process clearly took more time than expected.
The Apache, to be armed with the Hellfire missiles, was selected in a competitive tender over the Russian Mi-28 Havoc after extensive flight trials in high-hot extremes in 2012. The tender provides for an option to acquire an additional 11 of these attack helicopters. In addition, the Army Aviation Corps has initiated a program to acquire 39 Apaches.
The iconic attack helicopter is intended to be acquired for the IAF in a unique hybrid deal, wherein the platform, spares and logistical support will be provided under a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) and the weapons, sensors, engines, and training under Foreign Military Sales (FMS).
Like the Apache, the twin-rotor Chinook also worsted a Russian helicopter, the Mi-26 Halo heavy lift helicopter in trials, also conducted in 2012. The Chinooks are being acquired under the DCS route. The tender provides for an option to purchase another seven beyond the original contract for 15. The Chinooks are expected to provide the required lift to India’s Mountain Strike Corps, which is being raised for a combat role on the disputed boundary with China. These choppers will also be expected to carry artillery guns slung under the belly. While catering for a new role, the Chinooks will also replace the IAF’s ageing Soviet-origin Mi-26 fleet. 


Navy Wants 110 NUHs, IAF Needs 48 Mi-17s, 14 Akash Units - DAC Meet Ends Abruptly

India's Navy has moved a proposal before the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) for buying 110 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUHs) at a cost of over Rs.15,000 crore ($2.3 billion), while the Air Force wants to buy 48 Russian-origin Mi-17V5 medium lift cargo choppers for Rs.6,700 crore ($1.1 Billion) and 14 firing units of Akash surface-to-air missiles for seven more of its regiments.
Interestingly, the Navy proposal for the NUHs is said to be "better than Make-in-India". About 50 per cent of the procurement of these helicopters are to be executed through the indigenous route, with an Indian entity being the lead agency, with foreign collaboration, according to Defense Ministry officials.
In what turned out to be a damp squib for the armed forces and the industry, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar abruptly terminated the meeting that began at 4 p.m., stating that he had to leave immediately. But later reports suggested that he took a 7 p.m. flight back to Goa to visit home, raising many eye-brows.
The DAC did take up some of the items on its 25-point agenda for a decision and indeed some decisions were taken. But, official explained, till the time the meet reconvenes and all the items on the agenda are taken up and decided upon, the minutes of the meeting wouldn't be ready or made public.
Defense Ministry officials, though, said the DAC will reconvene on Sept.1, 2015 to complete the meet's agenda.
Here are the key items that were on DAC's agenda:
Navy's Seeks Approval For NUH Buy
The Navy plans to get the NUHs under the 'Buy and Make India' route, with some imports off-the-shelf, and the rest being built in India under a Technology Transfer. "How many would be done off-the-shelf is yet to be decided," Ministry officials said.
The DAC is to now give its nod for the Acceptance of Necessary (AoN) and the next step would be to issue the Request for Proposals (RFPs) to the Indian companies interested in the project, Defense Ministry sources said.
Given the kind of line up for aerospace manufacturing in the country, the industries interested in the project are Anil Ambani's Reliance defense vertical, Tata's aerospace venture, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Bharat Forge and Mahindra.
These firms have responded to the Request for Information (RFI) with proposals for joint ventures with foreign helicopter manufacturers such as for Airbus Helicopter's AS565 and AgustaWestland's AW-109. See Arming India's earlier report on AgustaWestland HERE.
Chetaks From HAL As Interim Arrangement
The Navy has also sought a green signal from the DAC for buying eight Chetak utility helicopters from HAL. These helicopters would be used for air operations from on-board warships and for shore-to-ship operations, officials said. These helicopters will only plug a gap in the air fleet of the Navy, but the ultimate solutions are the NUHs. The Navy had first issued a RFI for the NUHs in 2010 and followed it up with another recently under the Defense Procurement Procedure-2013 norms. The RFI was to find a twin-engined helicopter of modern air frame design and fully integrated advanced avionics, to replace Navy's existing fleet of Chetak helicopters, which were inducted 40 years ago.
The helicopters the Navy want should have twin-controls for both the pilots. These would be used to carry out search and rescue, casualty evacuation, observation and surveillance, and limited electronic intelligence gathering. The choppers should have the capability to carry out anti-submarine warfare attack with torpedoes and depth charges besides anti-terrorism and anti-piracy roles.
The twin-engine requirement is to ensure more survivability for the crew while flying over the maritime zone, considering the accidents that have occurred involving the naval utility choppers in the past. The helicopters should be capable of operating from small decks and larger decks (up to aircraft carrier) in adverse weather by day and night, apart from snow-covered surface, sleet, sand, water and slush.
Selection Panel's Report On Shipyards For P75I Submarines
The DAC was to open the report of a Ministry-appointed committee that assessed the capabilities of India's seven key shipyards to see which ones had the capability to build the Navy's second line of hi-tech conventional submarines,officials said.
The committee was named in October 2014 under then Defense Production Secretary G.Mohan Kumar, who has since been elevated as Defense Secretary.
After opening the report and reviewing the contents, the DAC would give its nod for issuing RFP to select shipyards that the committee felt had the necessary facilities, financial strength and capabilities to build the submarines, which are envisaged to have the modern Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system on board.
The DAC had in October 2014 decided to go ahead with Project 75I to build six submarines, estimated to be worth Rs.50,000 crore ($7.5 billion at present exchange rate). The shipyards that were considered for the project by the committee were the public sector Mazagon Docks, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Goa Shipyard, Hindustan Shipyard, and Cochin Shipyard, and the private yards, Pipavav and L&T.
The committee had been given six weeks to do its assessment and to prepare its report. The report was submitted to the ministry earlier this year with recommendations. India's much-depleted submarine fleet strength badly need to augment itself with more conventional submarines. That's a refrain we have heard for a decade now.
Air Force To Augment Cargo Chopper Fleet
The IAF will seek an AoN from the DAC for augmenting its 130-helicopter Mi-17V5 fleet for medium lift cargo capability. The Russian choppers have now become the work horse of the IAF's cargo helicopter fleet and the new additions will only reinforce this growing role for the platform.
This deal is likely to bring with it a 30 per cent offset, a clause in the Defense Procurement Procedure-2013 under which a winning foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer in an Indian arms acquisition program would have to plough-back at least 30 per cent of the contract amount in the Indian defense, aerospace and homeland security industry.
The Mi-17V5 choppers are the replacement for the aging Mi-8 choppers in the IAF fleet. Some of the new platforms are already diverted since last year to be used by the Air HQ communications squadron that flies the Indian President and Prime Minister. An earlier deal for 12 AgustaWestland's AW-101 VIP choppers had been terminated in January 2014, over a CBI probe into allegations of bribery.
Under the new Mi-17V5 deal, the Air Force is also likely to get maintenance facilities for the helicopters established in India.
Akash Missiles To Boost Air Defense Capability
The other Air Force proposal is to buy 14 firing units of the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to arm its seven air defense squadrons, according to Ministry officials. The DAC will considering approvals of Acceptance of Necessity for buying the Akash SAMs for Rs.4,500 crore ($680 million).
The BEL makes the Akash missiles as the lead integrator for the IAF, with contribution from another public sector Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and HAL and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), and private sector Tata SED and L&T, all infusing about 90 per cent domestic content.
Of the eight squadrons of DRDO-developed Akash on order, the IAF inducted its first squadron at an event at the Gwalior air force base in early July this year, in the presence of Parrikar and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha. (See Image)
SRE Radars For Air Force Air Bases
The other proposal from the Air Force is to buy Surveillance Radar Element (SRE) S-band radars suitable for terminal control applications for its new air bases, mostly in eastern part of the country.
The DAC is to give its nod for the AoN for these radars procurement at a cost of Rs.228 crore ($35 million). The tender for the radars will be issued soon, after the DAC approval.
These radars are to be positioned at air bases such as Panagarh in West Bengal, which will headquarter the Indian Army's China-specific Mountain Strike Corps. Panagarh will also be the second base for the Lockheed Marin C-130J special operations aircraft fleet. The other air bases to get the radars are Purnia in West Bengal, Bihta in Bihar and Avantipur in Jammu and Kashmir.
Army Looks At Tank Trawls and Short-Span Bridges
The proposals from the land forces of the country before the DAC for AoN approval are purchase of 102 quantities of 10-meter short-span bridges and 176 units trawls for T-72 and T-90 tanks. 


Israel and Russia are building aircraft for India

Israel and Russia have started creating two aircraft for Airborne Early Warning and Control for India. Work has already started in Taganrog, where they are installing Israeli radar on an IL-76.

The Military Gazette wrote that Israel and Russia have started creating two aircraft for Airborne Early Warning and Control for India. This is the joint project called Falcon – an airborne early warning radar system created by Elta, installed on the IL-76 aircraft manufactured by the Ilyushin Company.

Back in 2004, India signed a contract for the delivery of three of these aircraft, which were delivered in 2009-2011. Work on the creation of another two new aircraft is being carried out under an option provided for in this contract. As the publication noted, Israel purchased two IL-76 airframes from Uzbekistan. Russia, for its part, acquired two mostly completed IL-76 platforms from the Chkalov Aviation Production Association (now the Tashkent Mechanical Plant) in Tashkent. The aircraft frames were brought from Tashkent to the Beriev Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex in Taganrog, where they will be custom finished by the Israeli side, and where Israeli radar will be installed.

According to the web portal IzRus, in October 2012, the Commander-in-Chief of Indian Troops and President of India Pranab Mukherjee presented a postage stamp in honor of the 80th Anniversary of the Air Force of the country, on which the Falcon aircraft was depicted. As the Indian newspaper The Daily News reported back then, this system “multiplied the defensive power of the country”, and therefore it deserved to be immortalized on a postage stamp.


GSAT to bolster Army’s rapid strike capability


Real-time data transfer

  • GSAT-6 will provide a much clearer real-time battlefield picture to the Army authorities
  • It will allow a connection among all Army regiments for seamless real-time flow of two-way information, data, videos and even transmission of images captured through night-vision cameras
  • A mix of handheld devices and laptops will serve as nodal points
 GSAT-6, the military satellite launched today, will allow the Army to ramp up the speed and accuracy of its striking capabilities, besides providing a much clearer real-time battlefield picture. It will allow a connection among all Army regiments for seamless real-time flow of two-way information, data, videos and even transmission of images captured through night-vision cameras. In other words, it will connect the last of the soldiers with his commander. A mix of handheld devices and laptops will serve as nodal points. The footprint of the satellite is pan-India, sources say. Army’s accuracy in undertaking strikes will be enhanced due to seamless integration with attack helicopters and fighter jets of the Indian Air Force. There will be real-time data and video sharing among tanks on the ground, IAF aircraft in the sky and advancing infantrymen. Commanders on the field and Generals sitting in war-rooms will be seeing the same live pictures as the entire battlefield will be connected seamlessly. The data will be beamed across laptops using a mix of satellites and radio communication. All this will be done at a very high encryption level so as to prevent snooping. In August 2013, India launched GSAT-7 (or Rukmini), its first military satellite to keep an eye on the Indian Ocean and Malacca. Bengaluru: ISRO's GSLV (geosynchronous launch vehicle) fitted with an indigenous cryogenic engine today successfully put the two tonne-class GSAT-6 satellite (2,117 kg) in a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), 35,000 km above the sea level. Today's GSLV-D6 launch followed the successful launch in January last year of GSLV-D5 with a made-in-India cryogenic upper stage (CUS) engine that put the 1,860-kg GSAT-14 in the orbit. That was ISRO's first success with a locally made CUS after years of struggle to perfect the technology. Addressing colleagues at the ISRO spaceport in Sriharikota after the launch, ISRO chief Kiran Kumar said, "It has been proved that the successful launch of GSLV-D5 last year was not a fluke." (with inputs from Shubhadeep Choudhury)


August 28, 2015

US cautions Pakistan over brandishing of nuclear status

With Pakistan brandishing its nuclear status in the wake of cancellation of Indo-Pak talks, the US has cautioned that such statements would not help reduce tensions between the two countries.

"(US) secretary (of state, John) Kerry has said repeatedly that he wants the two nations to continue to work together, with constructive dialogue, to resolve their issues, and we understand that there are issues that are longstanding," state department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

"But that's what really needs to happen, is sitting down, dialogue, cooperation, talking through these things, and trying to work through some meaningful solutions," Kirby said in response to a question.

Asked about statements coming from Pakistan that it was a nuclear-armed country, Kirby said, "What we want to see are the tensions decrease, and speculation about the potential use of nuclear weapons certainly isn't doing anything to help decrease tensions, if in fact those comments were made."

After the cancellation of NSA-level talks earlier this month, Pakistan's national security adviser Sartaj Aziz had said that since taking over the government last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi considers India as a regional power, forgetting that Pakistan is a "nuclear power".

"Modi's India acts as if they are a regional superpower, but we are also a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves," Aziz had said. 

DAC meet: 5 major defence procurement deals likely to be cleared by Manohar Parrikar

A major defence procurement meeting is on at South Block today. Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar and top officials are expected to discuss a variety of projects, including policy issues on blacklisting and procurement.  Some of the major projects that may get a procurement go ahead today include:

 1. Naval Utility Helicopters: A firm proposal has been moved by the Navy to the ministry of defence that specifies that it requires 110 naval utility helicopters, out of which 94 are  to be made in India in colaboration with a foreign partner.  The valuation of the contract makes it the largest 'Make in India' chopper deal to date, exceeding the Army light utility chopper deal that was given to Russia's Kamov in May and will cost over Rs 5,000 crore. As reported, 11 Indian companies, including Mahindra, Tata, L&T and Reliance, have responded to an initial request for information that was issued by the Navy earlier this year. All offered helicopters to be made in India in partnership with a foreign firm.  Mahindra and Airbus have even announced discussions on the formation of a joint venture. The companies aim to form a joint venture company in the coming months for Make in India chopper contracts in what is speculated to be an exclusive contract for Airbus. 

2. Seven new Akash squadrons for the IAF : The defence ministry is set to clear a Rs 5,000 crore procurement of 'Made in India' Akash missile systems for the air force in a contract that will involve significant private sector participation, with companies like Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro likely to get major work portions. An air force plan to induct seven squadrons of the Akash anti-air missile systems has been cleared at several levels and is likely to get a final approval from the high-powered defence acquisition committee shortly, sources told ET some time back. Fourteen firing units of the missile will be bought for the seven squadrons      While state-run Bharat Electronics LtdBSE 1.66 % will be given the main contract under a 'repeat order' - the air force has already contracted for eight squadrons of the missile systems out of which two have been inducted - the major system providers include Electronics Corporation of India, Hindustan Aeronautics, Tata Power SED and L&T, defence ministry officials had told ET.  Induction of the system, which has an indigenous content of 96 per cent will also benefit a number of small and medium scale industries that have been participating in the programme. The Akash programme, which was approved for procurement first in 2010, is a major Make in India initiative with the air force cleared to progressively induct 45 firing units over the next few years.

 3. 6 new Pinaka regiments for the Army: The army is set to get an artillery boost with a proposal being moved to raise six new regiments of the indigenous Pinaka Multi-Launcher Rocket System (MLRS), a formidable system designed to annihilate enemy targets with a blanket of precisely guided rockets. Impressed by the capabilities of the MLRS — the system is capable of flattening a 3.9 sq km area at a range of 40 km in less than a minute — the defence ministry is also moving ahead to increase the capacity of the Ordnance Factory Board to produce the rockets in India. 

4. 48 new Mi 17 choppers for the air force: The Indian Air Force has moved a proposal to spend $1.1 billion (Rs 6,980 crore) to acquire more mediumlift choppers from Russia in a move that would go against the grain of the 'Make in India' concept but offer a vital addition to its transport fleet.  The hardy Mi 17 V5, it seems, will continue to rule the Indian skies as 48 of the choppers are likely to be procured under a repeat order. The new choppers, which will serve in terrains ranging from the desert to high-altitude locations along the China and Pakistan border, will be added to the IAF fleet of 139 Mi 17 V5s that form the backbone of the IAF transport operations.  Sources said the Air Force recently moved the plan that includes maintenance facilities for the choppers as well as an offset obligation of 30 per cent. The operationally proven choppers are much-needed replacements for the older Mi 8 transporters that have reached the end of their service life.  

5. Go ahead for P 75I submarine tenders that will cost Rs 1 lakh crores: The shipbuilding industry is set for mega business with the government deciding to procure diesel electric submarines will be the last order to go to foreign firms and that all future projects will be designed and made in India.  Leading international players, which have for long eyed India as one of the largest importer of submarines in the world, are currently in contention for the P75 I project to manufacture six new stealthy submarines in India.  A top Navy officer had told ET that the government has cleared the project on the condition that all future acquisitions of conventional submarines will be based on an indigenous design and produced at Indian shipyards. 


Help Russia during testing time of sanctions, Rostec appeals to Modi government

Russia banks on the Narendra Modi Government in India to support it during “these testing times” of Russia being put under sanctions by the US and European Union, like the way Russia supported India when the latter faced sanctions from the west, Sergev Chemezov, CEO of Russia’s biggest and government-owned defence company, Rostec, has said.

Calling Modi’s ‘Make in India’ program as a “correct decision” which Russia supports, Chemezov told ET that India was Russia’s number one partner followed by China. Russia is facing a testing time in face of US and EU sanctions due to annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

“We are trying to work with other partners – India and China. Regarding India, you have survived a number of years in sanctions – our corporations helped you always. I hope that in these years (when Russia faces sanctions), India will not isolate (us) and give us help,” Chemezov has told ET in Moscow.

Over 200 KA-226T helicopters are expected to be produced jointly by Russia and India — the first major defence project under Modi’s ‘Make In India’ programme though both countries are still to sign the final contract.

India’s Defence Acquisition Council approved the project in May. Victor Kladov, Head, International Cooperation, Rostec said they hoped to finalise its Indian partner for the project and complete the process to sign this deal with India “by the end of this year” as the negotiations were “in their final stage” and said “decisions were being made faster” in India since the new government has taken over. “PM Modi’s ‘Make In India’ scheme is the current worldwide trend and we are coming in line with it,” Kladov has told ET.

“When Indian PM Modi visited our stand in Bengaluru during the AeroIndia show earlier this year, we explained that we are ready to produce KA-226T choppers in India. He asked why so slow about the project – we replied saying we have been waiting for the defence ministry decision for 4 years – they declared tender, cancelled it, they declared new tender, again cancelled it and then readjusted their plans. So changing of policy by acquiring agency derailed and delayed in many ways. No at least we know the trend – Make in India. When PM Modi declares Make In India, it comes in line with the trend worldwide — this is the current trend worldwide, nobody is interested in just buying or selling,” Victor Kladov of Rostec has told ET.

Rostec CEO Sergev Chemezov said Russia has offered its comments to India that it was ready to work both with HAL and a company in the private sector for co-production of the KA-226 helicopters. “It is up to India to which company to choose. We are ready to work with both companies,” Chemezov said.

Kladov added that Russia knows India has plans to buy more MI-17 “and we are looking forward to negotiations” on it.

During the visit of Russian President Vladmir V. Putin to India last December, Modi had said Russia was and will remain India’s “primary defence supplier”. India has however been pursuing defence deals with other countries as well – including the recent decision to buy Rafale fighter aircraft from France – leading to a perception that India’s defence relations with Russia were getting diluted.


In 10 years, Pakistan will have largest N-stockpile after US and Russia: Report

In less than 10 years, Pakistan will have the third largest nuclear stockpile in the world, behind only the US and Russia, two prominent US think tanks said in a report.
According to the report, Pakistan is adding 20 warheads to its nuclear arsenal annually because of its fear of India which is also a nuclear power.
“In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices,” said The Washington Post on the report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center.While India has large stockpiles of plutonium, essential for high-yield weapons, the report says that most of it is being used to produce domestic nuclear energy. It says Pakistan could have 350 warheads in the next 5-10 years, leaving UK and France behind.
Unlike India, Pakistan hasn’t declared any no-first-use commitment and its leaders never shy away from reminding India that it is a nuclear power. Even after the recent cancellation of NSA level talks, Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz said nuclear power Pakistan knew how to defend itself.
“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report states.
Pakistan is estimated to already have 120 warheads as against India’s 100. According to the Post, Pakistani military officials were not available to comment on the report when it was made available to journalists in the US on Wednesday.
Pakistan recently built its fourth reactor at Khushab military facility, a plutonium producing unit. Many believe that Pakistan is manufacturing low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons which, according to Indian experts, are meant to be used along the border in case of any skirmish with the Indian Army.
Pakistan is developing non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons to check the asymmetry with India in conventional capabilities, noted nuclear expert Hans M Kristensen had said in a report in 2012.


Delhi’s interest in MiG-35 is growing

India is looking to acquire more medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) despite the government announcing the purchase of 36 French Rafale jets in April this year. The Russian MiG-35 is back on the radar of the Indian government’s interest.
Interest in India about the newest Russian fighter jet, the MiG-35, is growing, because the number of French Dassault Rafale fighter jets to be purchased has decreased, Sergey Korotkov, General Director of the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) told RIA Novosti during an interview.
“Given the limited purchase of Rafale fighter jets, and the urgent need to upgrade the fighter jet fleet, interest in the MiG-35 has been objectively increasing. This issue is currently being discussed in professional circles of India,” said Korotkov.
During a visit to France in April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that an agreement had been signed, between India and France, for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. Earlier, India had planned to buy 126 of these aircraft.
The tender to supply Rafale aircraft to India was won by the French in 2012, when their fighter jet was chosen over the Russian MiG-35, the European Eurofighter Typhoon, the Swedish SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, and the American F-16 and F/A-18E/F. However, the contract was never concluded. Some of the aircraft were to be delivered as a finished product, while the rest were to be made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India, using technologies from the Dassault Company. The reason differences arose during contract negotiations was the increased price for fighter jets demanded by the French, and the unwillingness of Dassault to give guarantees for aircraft that were supposed to be produced by HAL.
As Korotkov told RIA Novosti earlier this year, RAC MiG has “every opportunity to compete” and the corporation “retains hopes that a new tender competition will be announced”.
The MiG-35 is a new combat aviation system, whose avionics include integrated fifth-generation information and targeting systems. This is a multi-functional aircraft that can be equipped with high-precision weapons to attack any target, and it can also perform certain functions that were previously assigned to reconnaissance aircraft.


160 Kamov Choppers to be Built in India, 40 in Russia

India can manufacture 160 out of the 200 Kamov Ka-226T Light Utility Helicopters -- which will eventually replace the vintage Cheetah and Chetak choppers -- while the rest will be made in Russia, the CEO of a state-run business and manufacturing conglomerate here has said.
Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Russian state-run business and manufacturing conglomerate Rostec Corporation, said under the agreement reached between Russia and India on manufacturing 200 KA226T helicopters, New Delhi will be free to build and export the aircraft to other countries.
This is considered a major step forward towards realisation of the 'Make in India' campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which is being seen with keen interest here.
Chemezov said under the helicopter manufacturing project, the first 40 will be produced in Russia and the rest will be made in India with transfer of technology and licence for production.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is a "front-runner" for partnering with Russia for the manufacture of Kamov Ka-226T helicopters -- which will eventually replace the vintage Cheetah and Chetak choppers -- under the 'Make in India' initiative.
The Russian offer to build the Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) in India received clearance in May from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
"Talks are on to identify a partner and it is up to India to choose a partner," Chemezov told international media on the sidelines of Moscow Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS), 2015, an aero show and aviation exposition.
There were talks that apart from HAL, Anil Ambani group was also interested in partnering in the exercise.
Indian Ambassador to Russia P S Raghavan had recently told PTI that defence cooperation between the two countries continues to be vibrant despite India buying or proposing to buy military equipment from other countires including France from which it intends to procure Rafale fighter jets.
India is still dependent on Russia for nearly 60-70 per cent of its defence supplies.
Chemezov said work on building Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) was also on the right track.
The two countries had signed strategic partnership agreement during President Vladimir Putin's India visit in 2000.
Chemezov said talks were in progress for negotiating ship and submarine building and creating service centres to cater to the need for maintenance of equipment already supplied to India.
Chemezov also pitched for a visa-free regime among BRICS nations for seamless trade facilitation, a move that could boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative.
"There is a need for a visa-free regime among members of the BRICS nations. Customs hurdles also need to be eased. I hope our leaders decide on it soon to boost trade and Industry in our countries," Chemezov Viktor Kladov, the Head of International Cooperation of
Rosoboronexport, which oversees all import and export related to Russia, when asked, said,"The ease of doing business has indeed improved in India. Earlier there were too many delays. Decisions are being taken faster at the government level."
He recalled how Modi had fast-tracked the helicopter deal after visiting the Russian stall at the aeroshow in Bangalore recently.
Kladov, however, insisted that manufacturing has to be undertaken on a large scale to be mutually beneficial and cost effective for the two countires.
He said negotiations were on for joint designing of submarines for production in India.
Chemezov said though Rostec Corporation has become one of the ten largest in the world, sanctions were hurting the Russian economy.
He said Rostec ended 2014 with a surplus of 34 billion roubles despite sanctions imposed on the country by western powers.
"We are tackling sanctions step by step. You (India) have survived sanctions for many years (after Pokhran nuclear blast). I am sure, given our long-standing partnership, India
will help us face these sanctions which are wrong. Though the US is largely unaffected,the European Union has begun to feel the pinch in terms of orders for goods they now cannot sell us," he said.


India may seal $5 billion Rafale deal next week


The government hopes the DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) will clear the purchase of the jets before French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday.

A $5 billion deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France is on the agenda of a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council in South Block on Friday, August 28. The Rafale deal has been listed for discussion as a 'confidential project' in the meeting.
The government hopes the DAC will clear the purchase of the jets before French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives in New Delhi on Tuesday. Sources say the government is keen to sign the deal during the defence minister's visit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would buy 36 Rafale fighters off-the-shelf during his state visit to Paris this April. Talks with French manufacturer Dassault are currently deadlocked over price.

Dassault has refused to lower the cost of the aircraft or give offsets (reinvesting 50 per cent of the contract value into the Indian market). Sources told MAIL TODAY that the DAC will aim to take certain deviations to allow negotiations to move forward and enable the deal to be signed.
The MoD scrapped a decade-old project this month to acquire Multirole Medium Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). In 2012, the Rafale had ended up as finalist in the IAF's quest for 126 jets but the talks were deadlocked for three years over technical issues.


August 27, 2015

India seeks time extension on $3.1bn US copter deal

India’s move comes after a US warning on revision of costs after the 12th extension expires on August 31. The much-needed acquisition has been hanging since September 2013, with files shuttling between the defence and finance ministries.

India seeks to purchase 22 Apache helicopters with option of purchasing 11 more for about $2 billion; the Chinook deal is for 15 helicopters with the option of buying six more for $1.1 billion.
US Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Major General James McDonald of the US Army Security Assistance Command separately wrote to the defence ministry this month, making it clear  that it would not be possible to give yet another price extension beyond the stipulated date.
Last Friday, however, Air Vice Marshal Sandeep Singh, Assistant Chief of Air Staff wrote to General McDonald requesting 30 more days of time, and saying that the entire acquisition process was on the verge of being finalised. The US, and Boeing, the manufacturer of both helicopter types, were earlier told that the process would be completed by December 2014.
While the US response is still awaited, defence minister Manohar Parrikar is goading his bureaucracy to move the acquisition to Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) next week.
“In case the US decides to revise the price after August 31, 2015, then the entire acquisition will have to be renegotiated. The Army decision to acquire M 777 light howitzers and air force decision to acquire additional C-17 heavy lift aircraft, both from US,  went into limbo as the defence ministry could not take a final decision in time and the manufacturers were forced to revise the prices,” said a South Block official.
The IAF has three 1980s vintage Mi-26 heavy-lift copters and Mi-17 attack helicopters of similar vintage.
Despite the fact that India urgently requires Apache attack helicopters armed with Hellfire missiles as well as the twin-rotor Chinook for rapid troop deployment, the acquisition process has dragged on for six years. The bids for Apache and Chinook were submitted in 2009 and were opened by the previous UPA regime in 2012.
While Apache was the only one that met the specifications in the attack helicopter category, Chinook was selected as the lowest in terms of life cycle cost and initial price. The final contracts were negotiated in September 2013 and renegotiated again in November 2014 due to death of a defence ministry official in October 2013. The Defence Acquisition Council cleared the acquisition in August 2014.


Decks cleared for India’s role in Iranian port

The decks have been cleared for India to lease and develop the strategically important Iranian port of Chabahar. This will provide an alternative route for India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. The obstructions that the India-Iran agreement on the port had run into, after it was announced in May, got sorted last week during Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit, said Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“The Prime Minister has spoken to the Iran government…. and 8 to 10 days ago the Iranian Foreign Minister came and met me… we have solved the problem,” Mr. Gadkari said without divulging details. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, Chabahar port will be used to ship crude oil and urea, greatly reducing transportation costs for importing these two commodities. The port is to be developed via a special purpose vehicle, which will be owned by the two sides with an investment of around $85 million. A multi-purpose cargo and container terminal is to be developed at the port.
India’s presence in Chabahar will offset the Chinese presence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar. It also takes advantage of the centuries-old connection with Iran, especially at a time when Iran’s economic sanctions are expected to be lifted, thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West. Weeks ahead of signing the MoU, the Iranian government had leased the port for upgradation to a private company, Aria Badaner. This put a question mark on the Indo-Iranian deal and caused alarm in Indian quarters as the agreement with Aria Badaner had taken place in March, while the MoU was signed in May between Mr. Gadkari and Iran’s Minister for Transport and Urban Development Dr. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi.


US ready to deploy B-52 bombers to South Korea amid escalating crisis with North Korea


South Korea and U.S. are discussing the deployment of strategic U.S. assets to the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a briefing on Aug. 24.
Although the Defense Ministry spokesman did not say which U.S. assets are being considered for deployment in the region, sources cited by the South Korean Yohap New Agency suggested that the U.S. forces might include the B-52 Stratofortress bombers, and a nuclear-powered submarine currently stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
In the last few days, North Korea has deployed twice as many artillery pieces as usual along the border with South Korea while most of its 70 submarines have departed from their bases after the militaries of both Koreas exchanged fire in the most serious dispute in five years.
US B-52s and the stealthy B-2s have already conducted extended deterrence missions in a show of force against North Korea in the past and although they are unlikely to be stationed in South Korea they could either perform round-trip sorties from their homebases in the Continental U.S. or temporarily deploy at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, a base used by the Stratofortress to launch missions over the Korean Peninsula in the past and where U.S. Air Force bombers periodically rotate.Actually, three B-2 bombers and approximately 225 Airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, have already deployed to Guam on Aug. 7 to conduct familiarization training activities in the Pacific region and “maintain readiness”there; therefore, if needed, the strategic bombers required to deter Kim Yong-un are already in place.


Why India's Submarine Fleet is Deployed for Just 6 Out of 10 Days

Indian submarines, on an average, are available for just six out of 10 days for operational deployment. And of every 10 tasks allotted to the fleet, it has to drop at least one, a senior Naval officer told NDTV.

India needs at least 24 conventional submarines but only has 10 - which includes a nuclear submarine leased from Russia in 2002. The last conventional submarine was acquired in the late '90s. Each conventional boat in the fleet is around 20 years old.

In contrast, China has 60 -- 48 conventional and 12 nuclear submarines. Pakistan has five submarines and is acquiring 8 Shang class submarines from China.

The depletion of submarine fleet isn't the Navy's only cause of concern.

"We have major issues with spare parts that reduces availability of platforms," the officer told NDTV. India's efforts to reverse engineer spares have been successful, "but it is not perfect," the officer said.The aging fleet means that the stress to run the boat is more and leaves the crew with less and less time for critical tasks," the officers added.

Submarines are critical for "sea-denial" - refusing the enemy space to navigate and dominate the sea. Indian Navy's charter spreads over a vast mass of water stretching from Gulf of Aden in the West to the Straits of Malacca in the South.

In 1999, the government had approved a 30-year submarine building programme. The plan proposed building six submarines in India by 2012 and six more by 2030.

But although India signed up with French Weapons manufacturer DCNS to acquire six Scorpene Disel-Electric attack submarines in 2005, the process has been delayed by half a decade.

The first boat - INS Kalvari, being built in Mumbai's Mazagon Dock - will be out for sea trial this year and is expected to join the Navy in late 2016.

The plan to build six more submarines under the "Make in India" programme is yet to take off. South Block is yet to decide which shipyard should be given the contract.

A top official said, “It would be very beneficial for Maldives National Defence Forces to track ships and fishing boats and would provide added security in the Maldives Exclusive Zone.” - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/india-finishes-phase-one-of-maldives-radar-system/#sthash.oNsqC20f.dpuf

August 26, 2015

Russia to deliver Mi-17V-5 helicopters to India by the end of 2015

“As part of an earlier concluded contract 148 out of 151 Mi-17V-5 helicopters have been delivered to India during 2012-2015. We intend to deliver the remaining three by the end of the year. So, by the end of 2015 we intend to fulfill the contract”, announced the press service.
The Indians, according to RIA Novosti sources, are interested in purchasing new helicopters.
“We are ready to satisfy our client’s wishes”, commented the holding.
In 2008, Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V-5 helicopters and associated equipment, which was fulfilled in 2011-2013. In 2012–2013, another three additional contracts were signed for the delivery of the Mi-17V-5 for the needs of the Indian air force, police, and the presidential secretariat, which made provision for the delivery of 71 aircraft.
The Mi-17 is a medium, multi-functional helicopter and the export version is the Mi-8 modification. Its universality and high flying and technical characteristics have made these aircraft one of the most popular Russian produced helicopters in the world. The Mi-17V-5 has been modified in accordance with requirements from the Indian customer.
The Mi-17V-5 has successfully proved itself in the Indian environment.
India is one of the largest importers of Russian helicopters and other technical equipment. In total, India has more than 300 Mi-8s and Mi-17s in service.
In July, an announcement was made that India had offered to purchase another 48 Mi-17 helicopters from Russia to the sum of $1.1 billion.


Russia completes modernization of Indian Navy's Il-38 fleet

According to Ilyushin general designer and deputy general director, Russia has completed the upgrade of all of India's Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft to SD standard.

Russia has completed the upgrade of all of India's Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft to SD standard, Nikolay Talikov, Ilyushin general designer and deputy general director, said Wednesday.
"We have completed this work, all five of the Indian Navy's aircraft have been modernized to SD standard," Talikov said at the MAKS-2015 International Aviation and Space Salon.


Hindustan Shipyard may join hands with Hyundai to build fleet support ships

Hindustan Shipyard Ltd., the largest shipbuilding enterprise under Ministry of Defence, and world’s premier shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are likely to undertake joint construction of self-propelled fleet support ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy.
The joint collaboration with Hyundai is taking concrete shape after a visit to South Korea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. This was followed by a visit to South Korea by HSL Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral N.K. Mishra and the subsequent inspection of HSL by HHI Vice-President-Engine and Machinery and COO Jeong-Hwan Kim to Visakhapatnam.
HSL has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HHI early this year to introduce world’s best practices.
HSL is confident of getting order for construction of five FSS, each costing Rs.2,000 crore. FSS will have a speed of 16 knots, can travel 12,000 nautical miles and have a service of 30 years with capability to carry ballistic weapons.
“Our plan is to construct one FSS at Hyundai by sending a team from our yard to South Korea to enable them to gain expertise. Later with the guidance of Hyundai, we want to build four FSS here,” Rear Admiral Mishra told The Hindu refusing to elaborate further on the project.
To become strong blue water Navy, the Ministry of Defence wants to acquire FSS for evacuation of provisions, fuel, weapons and other things to various units while at sea. HSL, set up in 1941 during World War by visionary Walchand Hirachand under the name of Scindia Steam Navigation with a 80,000 DWT covered dry dock and three slipways with total 81,000 DWT, is facing cash crunch. It was shifted from Ministry of Shipping to Defence in 2010 without giving any high-value orders.
Sources said now the authorities had responded positively to place FSS order and the indent for construction of two strategic operations vehicles (mini submarines) at a cost of Rs.6,000 crore, two landing platform docks amounting to Rs.8,000 crore.
HSL’s plea for construction of six submarines under Project 75 (1) of Navy is also under consideration along with proposals submitted by other shipyards.


IAF moves Rs 4000-crore proposal to upgrade IL76/78 transport fleet

Seeking to give new life to its fleet of Russian transport aircraft, the air force has moved a Rs 4,000-crore proposal to upgrade its ageing IL 76/78 aircraft in a deal that could have a substantial spin off for the private defence manufacturing sector.
In a fresh proposal that has been moved earlier this month, the air force has sought the defence ministry’s approval for a comprehensive upgrade of its fleet of 17 IL 76 transport aircraft, as well as the seven IL 78 aerial refuelers that it is operating.
Sources said that the upgrade contract would have a Rs 1,200-crore offsets value, a substantial portion of which is likely to be pumped into the private manufacturing sector that is already tying up with various Russian entities.
Known as the ‘Gajraj’ in the air force, the IL 76 was first ordered in 1983 and has been India’s main heavy lift aircraft before the arrival of the Boeing C 17 aircraft in 2013. The upgrade, sources said, includes new engines for the aircraft that will substantially increase its service life by up to 15 more years.


Breakthrough likely in Rafale talks as France softens stand

India and France are likely to reach a breakthrough soon in negotiations on the Rafale deal, paving the way for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to induct 36 French-made warplanes. The deal could be worth Euro 8 billion.

A possible climbdown by the French side over a key sticking point in talks — an offset clause that requires France to invest 50% of the value of the contract in India — could help both sides clinch the deal, sources familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.
The sources said France had signalled a softening of its stand on the tricky issue following intervention at the highest levels of both governments.
During a visit to Paris in April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared India would directly buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France but negotiations have dragged on for nearly four months due to disagreements over price and India’s offset requirements.
India had hoped to clinch the deal by mid-July. But France is unlikely to make any concessions on price.
“There has to be some give and take. A breakthrough appears to be in sight as PM Modi and President Francois Hollande are tracking the deal now,” the sources said.
India is likely to be the third country to buy the Rafale after Egypt and Qatar. The twin-engine plane has seen combat in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.
The deal for the 36 planes led to the termination of a previous tender to buy 126 Rafale fighters from French firm Dassault Aviation. India picked Rafale jets over Eurofighter Typhoons in January 2012 after Dassault Aviation emerged as the lowest bidder for the tender.
India requires 45 fighter squadrons to counter a combined threat from China and Pakistan, but it has only 34 squadrons with about 18 planes each. Also, 14 of these squadrons are equipped with vintage MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter planes.


Lightning lacks shield against Flanker thunder

 A new report by the US-based National Security Network confirms the F-35 stealth fighter is no match for Russia’s Su-27 series aircraft or even the much older MiG-29.

America’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter may end up becoming cannon fodder for Russian Sukhois, suggests an August 2015 report by the US-based National Security Network (NSN).
In ‘Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35 Program’, the think tank’s policy analyst Bill French and researcher Daniel Edgren say the F-35 is likely to be “outmaneuvered” and “outgunned” by its “near peers” such as the Russian Su-27 series Flanker fighter jets.
The report backs what a number of independent aviation experts have been saying all along – the F-35 is a truly useless aircraft that will be a sitting duck if it comes up against a serious air force.
“The F-35’s performance characteristics compare unfavourably with already deployed foreign 4th Generation fighters such as the Russian designed MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker in service with air forces around the world,” the report says.
“These are the kinds of aircraft the F-35 would most likely face in air-to-air engagements against a high-end opponent. Compared with both the Su-27 and MiG-29, the F-35 is grossly inferior in terms of wing loading (except for the F-35C), transonic acceleration, and thrust-to-weight. All F-35 variants also have significantly lower maximum speeds, Mach 1.6 for the F-35 compared to Mach 2.2 for the Su-27 and Mach 2.3 for the MiG-29.”
Air-to-air simulations paint a grimmer picture. “In 2009, US Air Force and Lockheed Martin analysts indicated the F-35 could be expected to achieve only a 3-to-1 kill ratio against the decades-old MiG-29 and Su-27 despite its advantages in stealth and avionics.”
The results of other simulations have been far worse. “In one simulation subcontracted by the RAND Corporation, the F-35 incurred a loss exchange ratio of 2.4-to-1 against (Chinese air force) Su-35s. That is, more than two F-35s were lost for eachSu-35 shot down.
“While these simulations take into account a host of other factors and include assumptions about the context in which the engagements take place, they nevertheless underscore the need for scepticism regarding the F-35’s air-to-air capabilities.”
Dogfight disadvantage
The report agrees with the philosophy of Russian air combat where pilots prepare for close-up dogfights rather than rely entirely on beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles to achieve kills. “To succeed in air-to-air roles, the F-35 will very likely have to defeat enemy aircraft in within-visual-range (WVR) engagements, i.e. dogfighting,” the report says. However, the F-35 will be severely handicapped in close quarters with enemy aircraft. Dogfighting requires agility and maneuverability.”
But the F-35 lacks these characteristics and in testing has demonstrated maneuverability inferior to that of American 4thGeneration fighter aircraft – such as the F-16, F-15 and F-18 – it will replace. “The available data indicate the F-35 will be less maneuverable than advanced foreign fighters as well. While the F-35 was designed with a preference for BVR combat, in which maneuverability is supposedly less significant, history shows dogfighting is a persistent feature of air-to-air combat. Despite the F-35’s designers’ preference for long-range combat, avoiding dogfights may prove difficult.”
The Indian military summed it up beautifully after an air combat exercise with English air force pilots in Waddington in 2007: According to India’s Ministry of Defence, because there are plenty of counter and counter-counter measures available to make “modern missiles with claims of inescapable parameters redundant by using ‘chaff’ and other active/passive measures, a ‘gun kill’ is invariably a most certain kill”.
Western pilots who do not hone their close combat skills are in for a nasty surprise if they face a capable air force such as those of Russia, India or China.
Payload problems
The F-35 is a large aircraft but most of its internal space is taken up for fuel. This is a double whammy for the Lightning. First up, there’s precious little internal space for carrying bombs and missiles. Secondly, if the missiles are carried on external hard points, it nullifies whatever little claimed stealth it has.In addition to lacking maneuverability, the F-35 is hampered by limited space for storing weapons in its internal bays. A deficient weapons capacity has significant consequences for the aircraft’s ability to conduct missions against air and surface targets. In air-to-air engagements, the F-35 will be outgunned by foreign fighters that can carry greater numbers of missiles and cannon rounds.
“Nor can the aircraft carry enough long-range missiles to ensure it can fight effectively and reliably in BVR engagements. In engagements against surface targets, the F-35’s small internal payload means it will be able to destroy fewer targets per sortie if maintaining a stealthy configuration. This problem will be exacerbated by the F-35’s limited ability to generate sorties, i.e., fly missions, to repeatedly deliver its weapons to targets over the duration of a campaign.”
On the other hand, Russian Flankers have 10 external hard points to carry air-to-air missiles or other ordinance. Some like the Su-35 Super Flanker have 12 external hard points. This is a huge advantage for Flanker pilots because they can fire repeated salvos to achieve an air-to-air kill.
Compared with the armoury of short-, medium- and long-range missiles that Flankers are known to carry, the F-35 has been virtually disarmed. French and Edgren quote Major Richard Koch, chief of the US Air Force Air Combat Command advanced air dominance branch, “I wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of the F-35 going in with only two air-dominance weapons.” But the aircraft is still sizeably outgunned even when carrying the maximum four missiles.

Missiles that miss
According to French and Edgren, the American plan to use the F-35 as a long-range combat platform – using BVR missiles – is fatally flawed because US air-to-air missiles do not have a splendid record in war. “During the Cold War, radar-guided missiles achieved a 6.6 per cent probability of kill in BVR engagements. Of the conflicts featuring BVR engagements, the highest probability of kill was achieved by Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War, yielding a 20 per cent kill rate. In the post-Cold War era, the effectiveness of BVR missiles improved. Through 2008, the US achieved a 46 per cent probability of kill with the AIM-120AMRAAM (the mainstay of the US BVR missile inventory), though these results are based on a tiny sample size of 6 engagements.”
However, the report warns, the above gains in missile effectiveness should not be expected to apply to conflict against “near-peer competitors”, which presumably include Russia, China and India as well as countries flying advanced Russian warplanes. “According to analysis by RAND, the US AIM-120 record is weighted heavily by circumstances that favour the shooter: none of the kills was achieved against adversaries that themselves had similar BVR missiles; the downed pilots did not employ electronic countermeasures, in some cases were fleeing, non-maneuvering, or lacked radar; and one case (out of a total of six) was an instance of friendly fire. US aircraft also enjoyed quantitative parity or superiority in all cases.”
The above circumstances should not be expected to characterize BVR engagements between the US and an advanced adversary. "For example, the presence of electronic countermeasures alone would probably result in a drastically lower probability of kill as Russian and Chinese fighter aircraft presently employ electronic countermeasures that use digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jamming reported to significantly hinder radar-guided missile effectiveness.
“We, the US, haven’t been pursuing appropriate methods to counter electronic attack for years,” a senior US Air Force official with extensive experience on the F-22 (the US’s most expensive stealth fighter) told The Daily Beast. “So, while we are stealthy, we will have a hard time working our way through the electronic attack to target (aircraft such as Russian-built) Su-35s and our missiles will have a hard time killing them.”
DRFM jammers in Russian and Chinese aircraft are reported to “effectively memorise an incoming radar signal and repeat it back to the sender, seriously (hampering) the performance of friendly radars. Worse, these new jammers essentially blind the small radars found onboard air-to-air missiles like the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, which is the primary long-range weapon for all US and most allied fighter planes”.
The report concludes: “Despite plans for the F-35 to replace most of America’s fighter and attack aircraft, the platform is ill-suited to cost-effectively counter near-peer foreign militaries. The aircraft lacks the maneuverability, payload, likely ability to generate sorties, and range to effectively compete with near-peer competitors despite its lifetime costs of $1.4 trillion.
“The aircraft’s survivability depends largely upon stealth characteristics that are already at risk for obsolescence against adversaries who over the next 50 years will only continue to upgrade their radar and infrared detection systems....Given the critical failings of the F-35 programme and its exorbitant costs, the aircraft should be regarded as a bad bet. As such, proceeding with the full programme buy of nearly 2,500 units – or any large-scale buy that approaches that number – should be avoided.”
The think tank’s findings portend grave implications for American security. “By staying fully committed to the F-35 programme, the United States is investing unprecedented resources in the wrong aircraft, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons,” it says.
If the US still proceeds with full scale production, slated for 2019, the F-35 could turn out to be the biggest dud in military history, putting at risk American, and allied, lives in danger.

-  rbth

Pakistan weighing strategic options amid rising tension with US: WSJ

Report says Russia has agreed to sell military helicopters to Pakistan and is poised to build a $2b gas pipeline as Islamabad turns towards a former adversary, and away from US Islamabad is weighing its strategic options amid rising tension with Washington, which views Pakistan as an unreliable ally in combating militants in the region, including neighbouring Afghanistan American newspaper The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

It added Russia has agreed to sell military helicopters to Pakistan and is poised to build a $2 billion natural-gas pipeline in the South Asian country, its biggest investment there in decades, as Islamabad turns toward a former adversary and away from the US, its longtime ally.

The report said Pakistan said it would buy four Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters for an undisclosed price, after a spate of high-level visits between the two countries.
In the Russian city of Ufa last month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Russian President Vladimir Putin and declared that he wanted a “multidimensional relationship” encompassing defence, commerce and energy, the report added.

Report says that represents a major shift for both countries, in response to a changing geopolitical dynamic. Pakistan worked alongside the US to defeat Soviet forces that occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, while Russia built close ties with India, Pakistan’s estranged neighbor and rival.

The report said the US is increasingly embracing India as a counterweight to a rising China, which it views as a strategic competitor. That has encouraged erstwhile enemies Russia and Pakistan to mend fences.

Quoting the officials, the newspaper said the biggest marker of this new relationship is a proposed 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) pipeline, to be built by Russian state-owned industrial conglomerate Rostec. The two countries are expected to sign an agreement to move ahead within the next month. The pipeline would carry imported natural gas from the port city of Karachi to Lahore in the east, helping the country deal with crippling energy shortages. Rostec, run by a close friend of Putin’s, would finance, own and operate the pipeline for 25 years, the report added.

Despite Islamabad’s outreach to Russia, experts said it is likely to seek continued close ties to the US, which is Pakistan’s biggest supplier of military aid and equipment; since 2002, the US has provided Pakistan with $31 billion in civilian and military aid and reimbursements, according to the Congressional Research Service, the report added.

“Pakistan recently signed a nearly $1 billion deal to purchase 15 American AH-1Z Viper helicopters, as well as 1,000 Hellfire missiles and other equipment.”

WSJ said the Russian pipeline would represent Moscow’s first major project in Pakistan since the early 1970s, when the Soviet Union helped build a steel mill in Karachi during a brief warming of relations that followed the election of a left-leaning leader in Islamabad. The two countries are now discussing ways that Russia can upgrade the mill, the newspaper said quoting Pakistani officials.


August 25, 2015

Russia’s deal with China on Su-35 fighter jets at approval stage

 Russia’s contract for supplying China with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is at an approval stage, the first deputy director general of Russia’s arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said on Monday.
"We are holding talks with our Chinese partners on agreeing a draft contract for the supplies of fighter jets," Ivan Goncharenko told TASS ahead of the MAKS-2015 air show held near Moscow.
There is a growing interest for the Su-35 multirole fighters, including in Latin America and Southeast Asia, he said.
"Su-35, like the new MiG-29M/M2, allows Russia to hold leading positions steadily on the market of combat aircraft in the future," Goncharenko said.
Russia’s Rosoboronexport expects to sign the contact with China for the supplies of 24 Su-35 fighter jets by late 2015.

Astra Microwave gains on joint venture with Rafael

Shares of Astra Microwave Products have moved higher by 7% to Rs 119, bouncing back 17% from their intra-day lows on the BSE in an otherwise weak market, after the company announced the formation of a joint venture company (JVC) with M/s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., Israel, for joint production and supply of tactical radio communication systems, electronic war-fare systems and signal intelligence systems.

The JVC will operate from Hyderabad and is expected to start business development activities in the first half of 2016. About US $20 million is expected to be invested in the first two years in the JVC, Astra Microwave said in a filing.

To start with, Astra and M/s Rafael will own 51:49 in the JVC and will become 50:50 subject to regulatory approvals, the company added.


China to deploy 3 more radars in Tibet along India border

China will soon deploy three more unmanned radars in Tibet in addition to the one stationed there for the past eight years to strengthen air surveillance in the Himalayan region along the border with India.
China's first unattended radar station has stood for eight years on top of Ganbala Mountain. This year another three unattended radars are going to be installed in order to form a radar network with the previous ones, state-run People's Daily reported.
China completed construction of Ganbala radar station in 1965 which is the highest manned radar station in the world at a height of 5,374 metres above sea level. The percentage of oxygen in the air on Ganbala Mountain, located not far from Sikkim and Bhutan borders, is only 48 per cent of that at sea level. That is why the mountain is viewed as a "life forbidding zone".The report has not mentioned whether the manned radar station is replaced by the new unmanned ones. For over 40 years, this radar station has been used to secure surveillance and provide civilian air navigation services in Tibet, the report said.


August 24, 2015

BALUCHISTAN :: The people the World forgot

Open source data compiled by the New Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal in 2014, listed recovery of 153 bullet-riddled bodies in Balochistan as against 39 in the previous year. Most of these were recoveries from three mass graves in the Khuzdar district in southern Balochistan, where Baloch separatism is stronger. These recoveries confirmed the assessment that a sustained campaign by the state’s covert agencies to target Baloch nationalists had been launched, which meant disappearances accompanied by a ‘kill and dump’ policy.

Killings since 2004 have been through its favourite terror groups, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (aka Ahle Wal Sunnat Jamat) which primarily targeted the Shia Hazaras, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as Ahrar-e-Hind (pompously describes itself as the Liberators of India). The usual technique has been to introduce religious fanatics into the process so that religious overtones make elimination of secular nationalists that much easier. Mama Qadir, a veteran Baloch, had led a long march last year from Quetta to Islamabad to highlight the nearly 19,000 disappearances since 2001, but there was no government response and there was little coverage of this effort.

The latest onslaught by government forces has been in many parts of the Awaran district. This was launched by Pakistan military using helicopter gunships and aerial support beginning on Eid (July 18). The operation was accompanied by a media blackout and there were massive casualties and abductions. According to reports filtering out from the locked-out province, more than 100 civilians, including women and children, have died early in the attack with the casualties expected to mount as more succumb to their injuries. The Baloch also fear that the military operation in the area will not be terminated until all evidence of the killings has been removed.

The campaign of Baloch nationalists gets muddied in the profitable business of protection money earned by the Frontier Corps from the coal mines in the Harnai and Zarkoon districts. There are 250 coal mines in Balochistan producing an estimated 188 million tonnes of coal. On any given day, the mines produce 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes and the FC pockets about a million rupees a day. These are the profits of war for the FC. Then there are copper mines, gas fields with the Chinese and Fauji Foundation interests in all the development projects.

If Twitter were the yardstick of modern-day communication then on my timeline, the largest number of tweets in the last few weeks was from the Baloch. In one representative day, at least 80-100 tweets feature with a rising graph in the days preceding August 11, the day Baloch nationalists describe as their Independence Day. Their tweets speak of their tragedy, sorrow and forlorn hope; of missing sons, husbands and fathers, torture and staged encounters. Above all, they speak of a yearning desire for independence.

Others too would also have received similar tweets and Facebook posts, many of which are addressed to politicians, newspapers and TV .Yet for some unknown reason, the Baloch get no attention in India media or think tanks or other discussion groups.

Unfortunately, the Baloch have received little attention as the rest of the world is more involved with what is happening in West Asia and the rise of the ISIS. In the region itself, the US and the West are more concerned with pulling out of Afghanistan with some reputation of invincibility intact. Highlighting the plight of the Baloch would mean criticising Pakistan, on whom the West depends to extricate itself. It is much easier instead to assuage national conscience by talking of the Rohingyas because Myanmar enables the West the luxury to safely exhibit its human rights beliefs.

Current Western disinterest is in contrast to the time when in the mid-1940s, the British were agonising about ways to secure the interests of the Empire against Stalin after their departure from India. An unsigned British memorandum of May 19, 1948 mentioned that “The Indus Valley, western Punjab, and Baluchistan [the north west] are vital to any strategic plans for the defence of the important Muslim belt … the oil supplies of the Middle east.” Today, as the Chinese solidify their presence in Gilgit-Baltistan, bordering Xinjiang and Afghanistan, and control over Gwadar overlooking the entry to the Persian Gulf, the US seems to have ceded ground to the Chinese in this region.

Time will tell if the US is retreating or drawing the Chinese in to the quagmire. Neither is likely to give any solace to the Baloch.

The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation and a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing