October 31, 2016

New ‘Predator’ to boost Russian naval power

Shrouded in secrecy, the ‘Khishchnik’ torpedo is endowed with special features that are an improvement on those of the well-known ‘Shkval’ torpedo.
Russian military analysts reported in early October that a group of designers were working for the navy to complete work on a completely new high-speed torpedo. The widely-known Shkval (“Squall”) torpedo, which has long been a global leader, in terms of speed and the destructive force of its warhead, will be replaced by a new torpedo, called Khishchnik (“Predator”).
No specific information is available yet on what the new torpedo is like and what its technical characteristics are: The project is classified. It is only known that it is being developed by the Elektropribor design bureau, which specializes in aviation technology.
The connection is not accidental: what is being developed is not just a torpedo but what is in effect an underwater missile whose engine has a lot in common with its airborne equivalents. In terms of its main specifications, the ‘Khishchnik’ will overtake the ‘Shkval’, its famous predecessor.

Underwater record breaker

A project brief to develop a fundamentally new torpedo, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, was issued in the USSR in the 1970s. The ‘Shkval’ torpedo entered into service in 1977 and, despite its venerable age, remains the world’s record breaker among underwater projectiles.

An ordinary torpedo has a speed of no more than 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph), which allows a ship targeted by it to manoeuvre and avoid being hit. The ‘Shkval’, however, leaves the enemy practically no chance: Its speed is nearly three times the speed of a standard torpedo. This means that a targeted ship has just a third of the standard time for manoeuvre. In real naval combat that ensures a near inevitable hit.
The secret of the Shkval’s speed is in its special engine, which runs on solid fuel. While an ordinary torpedo gains speed with the help of spinning propellers, the Shkval uses super-cavitation. A special design in the engine makes it possible to achieve a unique physical effect, whereby a gas bubble forms around the moving torpedo. That allows the projectile to move virtually in a vacuum, minimizing drag.
The Shkval torpedo remains one of the most top-secret Russian military designs. Although it has been in operation for nearly 40 years, some of its technical characteristics continue to be classified. It is therefore not surprising that Shkval-related documents featured in an early 2000s spy scandal involving U.S. businessman Edmond Pope.
Most attempts to replicate this torpedo abroad have failed. It was only in 2005 that the German Navy received an underwater rocket with specifications close to those of the Shkval, although even that failed to beat the Russian equivalent in terms of speed.

Cold War legacy in the 21st century

Like many other military designs that originated in the Cold War, the Shkval has outlived the Soviet-U.S. global confrontation. It was originally created as a Soviet response to the development of U.S. naval air defence. Soviet aviation was no match for the powerful American navy and reactive torpedoes emerged as critical know-how aimed to overcome that deficiency.
The Shkval still remains popular as an effective anti-naval weapon. Russian designers developed a dedicated export version of the torpedo in 1992, which is somewhat inferior to the original in terms of its range and speed but is still superior to foreign equivalents.
Yet the Shkval has considerable potential for improvement. It has a relatively short firing range and the depth capability of its carrier is limited. This makes a Shkval-enabled submarine susceptible to active enemy defence. A torpedo travelling at a high speed generates noise that makes it easy to detect it. Finally, it does not have a homing guidance system. It is most likely that all these considerations have been taken into account in the development of the ‘Khishchnik,’ given that technology has achieved great leaps forward. Things that were technically impossible 40 years are quite achievable today. 


Northrop Grumman beat Boeing for B-21 on cost

Cost was the deciding factor in the US Air Force's (USAF's) decision to award Northrop Grumman a development contract for the B-21 Raider bomber aircraft, a USAF acquisition official confirmed on 26 October.
Both Northrop Grumman's and Boeing's bids for the work met technical requirements, Lieutenant General Arnold Bunch said during a conference sponsored by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). "If we weren't comfortable that technically it could be done then we would have done something different," the general said. "But we felt comfortable with the technical approach of both, that they could both do it; then it comes down to the cost."
He was referring to information in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) bomber protest decision report released on 25 October. According to the GAO document, Northrop Grumman's offering came in at a lower total weighted cost and total estimated cost.
"We set it up to make sure that they could meet the technical requirements, and if they could all meet the technical requirements, then we would look at the cost," Lt Gen Bunch explained.
Further, the air force budgeted to an independent cost estimate rather than to a contract value for the bomber programme, he said, because Congress directed the service to fund to an independent cost estimate and then to try to beat it.
Boeing, in its protest, alleged that Northrop Grumman could offer a lower bid because the latter used "unrealistically low labour rates" for inadequately skilled workers. However, the GAO wrote that it saw no evidence that the USAF had failed to account for technical risk, which use of such labour would imply.


Modi govt offers to buy 200 foreign combat aircrafts: 7 things you should know

In a bid to upgrade military hardware and arrest a fall in operational strength, the Narendra Modi government is offering to buy hundreds of fighter aircrafts from foreign manufacturers. But as long as the jets are made in India and with a local partner, according to air force officials. The air force says a deal for 200 single-engine planes produced in India – could eventually rise to 300 – as India fully phases out ageing Soviet-era aircrafts. The deal could be well worth anything between USD 13-15 billion, say experts, potentially making it one of India’s biggest military aircraft deals.

Here is what you need to know:

1. After a deal to buy high-end Rafale planes from France’s Dassault was scaled back to just 36 jets last month, the Indian Air Force is desperately trying to speed up other acquisitions and arrest a fall in operational strength, now a third less than required to face both China and Pakistan.
 2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration wants any further military planes to be built in India with an Indian partner to kickstart a domestic aircraft industry, and end an expensive addiction to imports. Lockheed Martin said it is interested in setting up a production line for its F-16 plane in India for not just the Indian military, but also for export.
3. India’s defence ministry has written to several companies asking if they would be willing to set up an assembly line for single-engine fighter planes in India and the amount of technology transfer that would happen, another government source said.
4. India’s military’s problems were compounded when it’s three-decade effort to build a single-engine fighter of its own which was meant to be the backbone of the air force. Only two of those Light Combat Aircraft, called Tejas, have been delivered to the air force which has ordered 140 of them.
5.  The deal assumes more strategic importance as in March this year the vice chief Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa told parliament’s defence committee that it didn’t have the operational strength to fight a two front war against China and Pakistan.
6. Lockheed Martin said it had responded to the defence ministry’s letter with an offer to transfer the entire production of its F-16 fighter to India. “Exclusive F-16 production in India would make India home to the world’s only F-16 production facility, a leading exporter of advanced fighter aircraft, and offer Indian industry the opportunity to become an integral part of the world’s largest fighter aircraft supply chain,” Abhay Paranjape, National Executive for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development in India said in an email.
7. India’s defence ministry has written to several companies asking if they would be willing to set up an assembly line for single-engine fighter planes in India and the amount of technology transfer that would happen, another government source said.


October 28, 2016

Asian Development Bank refuses to fund Pakistan dam that India says is in 'disputed area'

Pakistan has had no luck with the World Bank funding its 4500 megawatt Diamer-Bhasha dam, a project that India opposes, because it's located in a disputed area in Gilgit-Baltisan. And yesterday, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) too declined to fund the $14 billion dam over the Indus river, Pakistani media reported. 
Two years ago, the World Bank refused to come on board as a lender for Diamer-Bhasha, because Pakistan didn't want to seek a no-objection certificate from India for the project. The dam is planned in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, which India claims is a part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Yesterday, ADB said the project was too big to be funded solely by them.  Delhi has long protested moves to support the Diamer-Bhasha dam and other infrastructure ventures in or bordering Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. A little over a year ago, the US was making noises about supporting the project and India didn't shy away from showing it was peeved.  Now, especially after the brazen terror attack in Uri+ in Jammu and Kashmir, India can expect to get, and is getting, tacit and overt support from around the world in slamming Pakistan for cross-border terror.
 In this scenario, the Diamer-Bhasha dam may not go much further.  "The refusal from and reluctance of international financial institutions such as the ADB and World Bank to fund the project, allegedly at India's insistence, have somewhat constrained Pakistan's geo-economic designs in the region," wrote Priyanka Singh, associate fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, in January.  "We haven't decided [whether to fund] this project yet because it needs big money," ADB president Takehiko Nakao said yesterday in Islamabad.
Nakao said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was conducting a feasibility study on the dam. He added that while it was a very important project for Pakistan's energy and irrigation requirements - Bloomberg News said last year the dam could wipe out half of Pakistan's energy shortfall - it called for the formation of more partnerships that could provide funding for the project.  The ADB earlier advised Islamabad to restructure the Diamer-Bhasha dam project by separating its power generation, land acquisition and main dam structures and their modes of financing.
That's when Pakistan engaged USAID for a feasibility study. Islamabad is also seeking investment from US investors to develop Diamer-Bhasha as an independent power project.  Bloomberg News reported in April last year, that even China is skirting the Diamer-Bhasha project, despite its $51 billion pus in Pakistan through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), because it doesn't want to get involved in an Indo-Pak water war.
Priyanka Singh of the Institute for Defense Studies wrote that reports indicated that Pakistan had formally requested China to allocate funds out of its CPEC budget for Diamer-Bhasha project, and that China has neither confirmed nor denied such a request.   "It's a very big project, and the world isn't foolish enough to invest in it," said Nadeemul Haque, former deputy chairman Pakistan's Planning Commission and an International Monetary Fund economist, to Bloomberg last year. It appears not much has changed.


In exile in India, Pakistan couple dream of independent Sindh

Zulfiqar Siyal Shah, 39, in his small, dingy room in New Delhi, India, is hoping against hope that Pakistan's Sindh province will be free one day. Living in New Delhi, thousands of kilometers away from his home in Pakistan, life has come to a standstill for him. He has no friends or relatives to visit, no one to socialise with, life for him means waiting for another day to pass.
However, through internet, and other means of communication, he keeps himself updated about what's going on in his part of his own country. On being asked if he ever wants to go back to Pakistan, a prompt reply comes, "Not unless Sindh become free or there is political resolution". His wife, Fatima Siyal Shah, 50, has worked extensively on the issue of human rights abuses in the Sindh province.
In the isolation of an alien culture in India, Zulfiqar and Fatima mean the world to each other. When in despair they console each other and tell that one day their dream will come true and they will be able to go back to their own free country in their lifetime.
“I look at the moon at night and tell myself that people in my part of the world would also be looking at it. The moon becomes a source of consolation for me,” she tells WION.  She often walks towards the window located in the corner of her dingy room to have a glimpse of an open sky under which both India and Pakistan fall.
The couple is living in self-imposed exile in India since 2012. Zulfiqar came here on a medical visa in 2013 and has since decided to stay back. “When we came here, I thought it will be over in a couple of months, I didn't even bring enough items for our survival here," says Fatima. Pointing towards her husband, she says, “Sometimes I feel that I am suffering because of him, but who will understand the pain and suffering Zulfiqar is going through if not me.”
Zulfiqar is a human rights activist from Sindh in Pakistan, having worked in different newspapers and human rights organisations. After working for two Sindhi language newspapers, he joined the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum as programme manager.Explaining his organisation's achievement, he tells WION, “Our organisation led a movement against Pakistan Rangers who had occupied the fishing bodies from the fishing communities.” The movement ended with then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf apologising on behalf of the Rangers.
“This was the starting of my troubled times in Pakistan as I was since then kept under close watch on account of the fact that I was spearheading that movement," he claims.

But the real trouble for him began when he along with his colleagues acted against the "enforced disappearance" of people in Sindh and Balochistan by Pakistan Army. It was in 2007 that he joined SAPP (South Asia Partnership Pakistan) and reported about 1,400 disappearances from Sindh and Balochistan in that year alone. Later, he went on to form the Institute for Social Movements, Pakistan, with his wife and friends, but had to shut it down later because of threats he received from the government, he alleges.
Zulfiqar had to seek refuge in Nepal after receiving threats to his life for raising his voice for the rights of the Sindhi people and for demanding the secession of Sindh from Pakistan. In Kathmandu he secured refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  However, he asserts that he was chased by Pakistan's intelligence agency and alleges that he was poisoned by them in Nepal.
It was at Nepal's Himal hospital where it was diagnosed that there were elements of thorium present in his body which is generally used by the military.

Soon after he left for Pakistan, after getting initial treatment in Nepal. From there he applied for a medical visa for India for treatment at New Delhi's Moolchand Hospital.
However, things were not easy for him after reaching India.
The couple alleged that he was denied treatment at Moolchand hospital because of pressure from Pakistan agencies. He later went to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where doctors advised him to go Pakistan as written on his prescription. But it was at New Delhi's Apollo Hospital where Zulfiqar was eventually treated.
Zulfiqar said that initially he was being watched very closely in India by ISI officials. He could sense people following him even when he dined out with his wife, virtually forcing him to remain under house arrest. He wrote numerous letters to the Prime Minister of India, President of India and the National Human Rights Commission for their security in the country.
"We also filed a writ petition in India's Supreme Court and held a sit-in at Jantar Mantar for nine months. Later, on the intervention of Amnesty International India, the government of India gave us a long-term visa, which we get extended every year," Zulfiqar said.
Zulfiqar is well versed with the history of the region. However, his account of history might differ from the official history taught in Pakistan.  According to Shah, Sindh has the oldest freedom movement in Asia and like other South Asian regions, has a multilayered history with different interpretations. After the first Anglo-Sikh war in 1843, Sindh became a part of British India and remained a British protectorate until independence. Following which a majority of the Sindhis wanted to return to the pre-1843 status. Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz was formed in the early 1970s for demanding freedom from Pakistan. The movement is still alive, he says.
He reveals that there have been three marches so far where Sindhis have time and again raised the demand for freedom from Pakistan. In March 2014, five million Sindhi people marched in Karachi demanding freedom from Pakistan. But such movements have largely been ignored by the international media. Except for the Afghan media, no other media has tried to depict the plight of the people of Sindh and Balochistan, which has the largest military presence apart from Iraq and Afghanistan. "Does anyone know that Sindh had seceded from Pakistan for three days after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007?” he asks.
Stressing on the sovereignty of Sindh, he says that Sindhi language has been recognised by India's Parliament and also the US Parliament, indicating that Sindh is a separate sovereign nation.
Referring to the last letter written by former Pakistan prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to his daughter, Benazir Bhutto, he says that the leader had mentioned that Sindh would say 'Khuda Hafiz' to Pakistan before Balochistan.
When asked about Prime Minister Modi's reference to Balochistan in his Independence day speech, he says, “It will help Sindh too since Balochistan and Sindh are twins, and if one bleeds, the other bleeds as well. However, he asserts that Modi should also specifically talk about Sindh which would bring forth the plight of Sindhis to the world.
Asked if India's interference in the internal matters of Pakistan will affect the non-intervention policy of India, he had this to say, “Not at all, when Pakistan can talk about Kashmir, why can't India talk about Sindh and Balochistan which largely remain neglected by the world."
However, such strong political commitment does not come easy for the couple who in their struggle have lost everything and everyone. India is a not a home for them and they are living here as refugees.
Fatima tells WION, “I used to often break down, but Zulfiqar gave me strength. He consoled me and gave me the courage to fight all the odds in a bid to secure our rights. After all, big leaders across the world had to flee their countries and live in exile."
“I relate to the kind of work my husband does. Sindhis have suffered a lot in Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was our hero. When they hanged him, the entire Sindh mourned. We participated in the movement for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Sindhis were beaten up and assaulted then. My brother, who was just eight years old, was arrested and kept in confinement,” she adds. Unable to hide her emotions, she breaks down while talking about the death of her elder sister. "I could not attend the last rites,” she says.
On a lighter note, Fatima says that she has more work experience than Zulfiqar, but he is more famous as it is a male-dominated world.
The future seems bleak for her in Delhi. “I don't know what will happen to me if something happens to Zulfiqar. Where will I go, I have nobody here. But I left everything on God. Let him do justice for us," she says.
On being asked if they would be again going back to Pakistan, Zulfiqar responds, “Who would not want to go back to the land where he belongs, but not until till there is an international guarantee for my life, and two political reforms take place in Pakistan, which means ensuring equal rights and representation for all the ethnic communities living in the country."
“If the latter does not happen, Pakistan will crumble into small pieces,” he adds.
Responding to his sufferings here in India, he says, “It's better to suffer than to live an undignified life in Pakistan. For me, Sindh is above everything else."

India to buy engines to install in Russian-made frigates

Manohar Parikkar, India’s defence minister, has said India would independently acquire or build engines which it would install in the Russian made frigates, agreements to acquire which were signed earlier this month in Goa.
 India will independently acquire or build and install engines into the Russian-made Project 11356 frigates, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.
After the Russian-Indian annual Summit held in Goa on October 15, the two countries signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the frigates.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had noted that two of these vessels would be built in Russia, and two in India.
According to the Indian minister, negotiations on the purchase of the frigates by India had begun a long while earlier but, because of the crisis in relations with Russia, Ukraine had refused to supply gas-turbine power plants for the Russian ships.
“Now we will buy these engines ourselves and install them in the ships. The frigate will be provided with Indian equipment. This version (of the frigate) has stealth technologies, and we will participate in the design work,” the minister was quoted as saying by the NDTV news channel.
India already has six frigates of the Talwar type – the predecessors of Project 11356, designed for export. The Indian ships entered into service in 2003-2004 and in 2012-2013.
The standard patrol ship of the Burevestnik type is armed with Kalibr cruise missiles. However, as Minister Rogozin stated in Goa, the new frigates will be equipped with BrahMos cruise missiles, of joint Russian-Indian production.


Preparing for the Long Shot: Range of BrahMos Cruise Missile to be Doubled

Developments in the last fortnight indicate an unprecedented buildup of confidence between India and Russia as evident from the many deals and agreements that have been reached.  
 India and Russia have approved the proposal to double the range of the BrahMos, world’s first supersonic cruise missile at the 16th Russia-India intergovernmental commission on military cooperation meeting. Sources told Sputnik that during the annual summit in Goa, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached an agreement to develop different range of the BrahMos. One of the ranges agreed upon was to double it from current range of 186 miles which received final nod on October 26 during the Russia-India intergovernmental commission on military cooperation meeting co-chaired by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. “Russia is India's time tested and closest partner and it will continue to remain our primary defense partner,” Manohar Parrikar, Indian Defense Minister, said after the meeting on Wednesday.

The proposal to increase the range of BrahMos was under consideration for a long time and now it is formalized after India became a member of Missile Technology Control Regime this year. It is said that only minor changes will be enough to extend the range of BrahMos up to 372 miles.  Currently, BrahMos is capable of hitting targets beyond the radar horizon and can be launched from sea based and land based weapon systems.
Test fire of an air-launched version of Brahmos cruise missile expected to be held in February next year. The 2.5 metric ton Brahmos air-to-ground missile will be fired from an IAF (Indian Air Force) Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft that has undergone modifications to accommodate the new weapon. A successful preliminary trial has already been carried out, and two more dummy trials are in the pipeline before the actual test.

October 26, 2016

It may be a while before Govt’s plan to build fighter jets in India takes off

The government’s plan to manufacture single-engine fighters in the country is likely to face delays even though the Defence Ministry has notified request for information (RFI) from three firms to participate in the programme under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
US aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Sweden’s SAAB have approached the government as a response to the RFI with their “unsolicited proposals” that have apparently failed to “impress” the Defence Ministry, a senior official told BusinessLine.
This is because, even though these companies have enumerated their plans to manufacture these jets under the ‘Make in India’ programme, the Ministry is keen on plans to transform India into an export hub for these jets, the official said.
Once the RFI is issued, the government floats Request for Proposals (RFPs) to shortlist the competing firms, according to norms. However, the government is learnt to be taking one step at a time in selecting the firm that will finally be chosen to manufacture the fighter jets here.
“The RFP will take time to be issued. A lot of factors need to be ascertained here apart from Make in India, logistics and infrastructure. The issue here is that once the armed forces buy these, what thereafter? Hence, export is a big factor, and indigenisation will play a crucial part in it,” the official said.
Boeing has already offered to manufacture their F/A-18 Super Hornet here with full transfer of technology (ToT) to their Indian joint venture partners. Lockheed Martin has gone a step ahead and said it will develop a warplane F-16 Block 70 exclusively for the Indian market. The US government is also aggressively pushing for these two under the US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative.
On the other side, Swedish SAAB has said it will build an entire industrial ecosystem in India under ‘Make in India’ for the Gripen E. Talks on selling the Gripen E were held during the visit of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to India in February.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had earlier said that the proposals from these three firms had been received by the government but nothing had been decided. “An early decision on indigenous ‘Make in India’ fighter aircraft project will greatly enhance our operational capability in the near term,” he had said during the Air Force Day earlier this month.
The Defence Ministry plans to replace the ageing MiG-21s with these fighter jets. Last month, India had finalised a $8.7-billion deal to procure 36 French Rafale warplanes. 

hindu businessline

Indian Prime Minister Modi to Celebrate Diwali With Army at Pakistani Border

Narendra Modi will be at the Indo-Pakistan border on the occasion of festival of lights ‘Diwali’ to boost their morale. Diwali is India's most Important festival, equivalent to Christmas or Thanks Giving in the west, where everybody looks forward to celebrate the festival with their family. 
  The claimed surgical strike by the Indian army across the border to revenge a terror attack on an army camp in Uri has rekindled India's patriotic fervor and nationalism. So much so that it became a political tool for India's political parties who were quick to claim some credit for it.
While the Congress Party, which held power before the current Government, hinted at similar covert strikes, other political parties accused the current government of making gain from the surgical strike and asked for proof of the action. In fact after the chest thumping of many leaders of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Modi had to issue a message to his colleagues to not indulge in self-glorification.  Nevertheless, Modi will be celebrating this Diwali with the armed forces at the border just like the last two years. But this Diwali will be different as it will be celebrated against the backdrop of India’s surgical strike
across the border. Modi’s schedule has been kept secret for security reasons as the army is on operational readiness after the ‘surgical strike’.
According to sources, preparations are in full swing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where Modi will visit to celebrate the festival of lights with the armed forces.  Modi has also asked Indians to send Diwali greetings to the armed forces deployed at the border through the Narendra Modi app.


Ukraine Agrees to Provide India With Engines for Russian Built Krivak Frigate

India has convinced Ukraine to provide engines that can be fitted in the improved Krivak class frigates that India is to purchase from Russia. India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said that a consensus had been reached with Ukraine for power plants to be fitted in the Russian made frigates. “Discussions started long back. The only problem was because of the Ukraine-Russia conflict as the ship’s power plant is Ukrainian. Now, we will buy the power plant and fit it on the ship.” During the India-Russia annual summit held in Goa earlier this month, an inter-governmental agreement was signed wherein it was stipulated that India would buy four improved Krivak class stealth frigates from Russia.
 The basic structure of two frigates has already been completed in Russia, while the other two frigates will be constructed at Indian shipyards with associated technology transfer. “All Indian equipment will be fitted on the frigate. So, it is a stealth variety where we are involved in the design,” Parrikar said. It is expected that a brief discussion on the purchase of stealth frigates will be held during the Indo-Russian Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation meeting scheduled for October 26 in New Delhi. Krivak class frigates will be powered by M90FR gas turbines designed and built by Zorya-Mashproekt in Ukraine. Following the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine had stopped the supply of the engines.


October 25, 2016

Has India Finally Addressed Its Su-30MKI Woes?

Satellite imagery confirms that the Indian Air Force (IAF) continues to forward deploy advanced, frontline fighters to its southeast flank. Given India’s threat environment, it’s a positive sign that the South Asian giant may have made headway addressing issues spotlighted by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar last year regarding the aircraft’s Saturn AL-31FP engines. Earlier this year, Parrikar clarified that engine issues meant that the fighters broke down fairly regularly. Satellite imagery, acquired by DigitalGlobe and Planet Labs, indicates the presence of the SU-30MKI Flanker H multirole fighters at Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur airbase.
 The airbase, subordinate to India’s Southern Air Command (SAC), remains an important deployment location to project power from the southern peninsula. Thanjavur is the only airbase in India’s SAC where observers routinely see the frontline fighters deployed. India’s more immediate threats, however, emanate from the country’s northeastern and northwestern flanks. India’s military planners and policymakers have long considered the likelihood of a two front war, confronting the air forces of China and Pakistan, respectively. In response, India has beefed up its military muscle, becoming the world’s largest arms importer — a pro or con depending on perception — built-up existing airfields, and developed capacities enabling the IAF to deploy in the region’s immediate neighborhood for strike operations.
 By all accounts, the Indian air arm has transitioned from a supporting role for the country’s ground forces, which still receive the lion’s share of the defense budget (over 60 percent in 2015/16), to one that is responsible for expanded missions, including the strategic task of nuclear weapons delivery. To meet the IAF’s missions, the country began diversifying its defense acquisitions with Western technology while also promising a more robust defense offset policy, as previous iterations have not borne the types of knowledge transfer desired. But too much can’t be read into Western acquisitions. While India continues to press forward with its military modernization plans, the country’s efforts remain, and will be for the immediate future, centered on Russian equipment.
 The SU-30MKI multirole fighter purchase is one such example. When New Delhi began talks with Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau in the mid-1990s, initial orders were tied to local production requirements utilizing India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Russia, one of the few countries Indian officials trust to supply sensitive technology, was to further build India’s defense industrial base.
To what degree Russian tech has been transferred to HAL is left open to interpretation. However, since Russian deliveries began in 2002, the IAF’s inventory has swelled to over 210 fighters with orders expected to reach 272. Of those, more than 150 MKI knock-down kits have been assembled locally at HAL’s Nasik facility with varying degrees of indigenization. Nevertheless, with aircraft delivered at a rate of 15-20 per year, India expects to field its full complement of Flankers by 2020. Such orders make the Russian-built platform the single largest fighter in the IAF’s arsenal.
 Therefore, when the South Asian power very publicly admits that almost half the fleet is grounded, it should give observers pause. In March 2015, Defense Minister Parrikar told parliament that “engine failure-in-air and engine-related problems” were reducing the number of aircraft operationally available for duty. The statement confirmed rumors that had long persisted among India’s military watchers. Up to 69 engine-related failures were documented at the time. India’s public watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), stated that around 55-60 percent of the aircraft were available against the expected 75 percent. Although seemingly low, a year prior less than 50 percent were operational. Worse, a series of crashes since 2009 further spotlighted the Russian-supplied platform. Less than two months after Parrikar’s report, a sixth Flanker crashed near Tezpur, one of India’s frontline airbases in Assam. Notably, the pilots escaped unharmed, which was fortunate as India’s fighter-aircraft-to-pilot ratio still remains under target.
 The satellite imagery, some of which is available in Google Earth, shows a detachment of seven advanced Flankers parked on Thanjavur’s northwest apron. They arrived at the airbase in August and were previously spotted on space snapshots in January. The latest flight departed the airbase by mid-September, Planet Labs imagery shows. The Thanjavur airbase is subordinate to India’s SAC, a command whose operations stretch from Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Given the growing importance of projecting force beyond India’s borders, the airbase was included in the IAF’s 15-year modernization program and publicized in 2005. Previous commercial imagery monitored the refurbishment of the now dual-runway air station since work began in earnest in 2011.
Two years later, Thanjavur was inaugurated featuring a new parking apron, expanded turnarounds, taxiways, new radar and a lengthened runway to enable the take-off and landing of heavier aircraft. The latter is particularly notable, as India responds to natural disasters at home and develops a greater interest in providing regional humanitarian assistance. To date, construction activity continues at the airbase with additional support buildings almost complete.
The two triple-fence secure structures, typically erected near hardened munitions storage areas or aircraft dispersal areas, are likely associated with the airfield’s weapons handling activity. The structures stand at least 1000 meters apart and represent another sign that India is preparing to ready the airbase to support the advanced fighters. According to Indian press reporting, a Flanker squadron will be relocated permanently to the southeastern state by FY 2017-2018. While we wait to confirm the full deployment, an update on India’s progress solving engine issues with the frontline aircraft has not surfaced.
 If India is prepared to stand up another Flanker squadron away from its most vulnerable areas, it could speak to greater operational availability, especially given India’s pending aircraft retirements. Alternatively, it could also mean that India is prepared to invest additional funds to build a new Russian-backed logistics center, providing spare parts for when engine failures do occur. While the latter may not be the perfect option, with the amount of skin India has in the game, New Delhi may not have much choice.


Excalibur to hold the fort now

Faced with a huge delay in acquiring world-class rifles for its soldiers, the Army is now reluctantly planning to induct the indigenously developed Excalibur, an assault rifle it had initially rejected, though in limited numbers.  The fully automatic rifle, which fires 5.56mm ammunition built by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), is an upgraded version of the trouble-prone INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) inducted in the mid-1990s.  Army sources said that with the procurement delays in mind, the force is looking to induct the Excalibur to replace the INSAS till the time a new rifle joins the force.
 “The Army has shown interest in a modified form of Excalibur. The exact number and time frame has not yet been intimated by the Army,” the Public Relations Officer of the OFB told The Hindu in response to a query.  The Army has been trying to replace the INSAS and had launched an ambitious global tender for interchangeable barrels capable of firing both 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibre bullets.
After extensive trials, the tender was cancelled early this year as none of the contenders could meet the requirements.  The Army has now decided to go for 7.62mm calibre and fresh General Staff Quality Requirements (GSQR) have just been issued.  The Excalibur was comprehensively evaluated at Infantry School, Mhow, in November 2005 and recommended for induction in the Army in due course of time, the PRO said. But the Army later did not show interest in its induction, which has changed in light of the procurement delays.
 However before induction, the Army wants to carry out extensive user exploitation trails to validate the rifle.  Sources said that to save time and shorten the process, the Army intended to procure large volume of the guns to carry out simultaneous trials in various locations.  The Rifle Factory, Ishapore, had produced 15 prototypes for user and quality evaluation, and additional features sought by the user are to be incorporated. However, the OFB is yet to receive any communication for large volumes for exploitation trails, sources said.


October 22, 2016

Taiwan Extending the Range of its Hsiung Feng III Missiles to Reach China

Taiwan looks to double the range of its formidable Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) hypersonic anti-ship missile so this missile can destroy invasion forces of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that might invade Taiwan before 2020. The exact top speed of the HF-3 is unknown, but some experts believe to be in excess of Mach 10 (12,000 km/h). The HF-3 can carry a nuclear warhead. A speed this fast would make the HF-3 faster than India's BrahMos (touted as the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile) with a speed of Mach 3 (3,700 km/h) and China's 3M-80MBE anti-ship missile, also with a speed of Mach 3.
China's acquisition of Russia's SS-N-22 Sunburn naval anti-ship missiles (from which the 3M-80MBE is derived), was the major reason Taiwan developed the HF-3. The effectiveness of the HF-3, however, is limited by its short range of 150 kilometers, not enough to cover the 180 kilometer-wide Taiwan Strait separating Taiwan from mainland China. An invasion force from the PLA can traverse the strait in a few hours.
Taiwanese media reports the Republic of China Armed Forces is developing an HF-3 extended range (ER) version of the HF-3. Tests of this ER missile, which will likely have a range exceeding 300 km, are to be completed by late 2017. The new version should enter mass production by 2018. Its longer range means this ER missile can be deployed in the mountains around Taipei to cover the entire Taiwan Strait.
The extended range will also allow the HF-3, which can also be used to destroy land targets, to reach farther inland from the coast of mainland China to attack PLA missile, amphibious and air force units in Fujian threatening Taiwan.
Taiwan published a report in 2015 that said China plans to attack Taiwan before 2020, The new version might also retain the current HF-3's warhead, a 225 kg Self-Forging Fragment, which is a special kind of shaped charge designed to penetrate armor at standoff distances. HF-3 is in large scale volume production under project Chase Wind and is deployed on most missile boats of the Republic of China Navy, as well as mobile land platforms. The HF-3 also arms the ROC Navy's new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, which are fast, twin-hull and stealthy multi-mission warships. The navy has one operational Tuo Chiang with 11 more on order. This class is armed with a total of 16 anti-ship missiles: eight subsonic Hsiung Feng II and eight hypersonic Hsiung Feng III nuclear warhead- capable missiles.


October 21, 2016

Manohar Parrikar clears Rs 900 crore Army deal with Israel

Manohar Parrikar clears Rs 900 crore Army deal with Israel at the meeting of the Defence Ministry's apex procurement-related decision-making body Defence Acquisition Council in Delhi.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday cleared an Army deal worth Rs 900 crore with Israel for procuring combat radio sets but only after the force assured him that all the future buys for the equipment would be from Indian sources only.
The decision was taken by the minister at the meeting of the Defence Ministry's apex procurement-related decision-making body Defence Acquisition Council here.

"We have asked the Army to buy close to 4,900 sets of Tadiran combat net radios from the Israeli firm Elbit but with an assurance that they would buy the DRDO-developed sets in the future," senior Defence Ministry sources told MAIL TODAY here.
The radio sets are used by the Army for communication between soldiers operating in field areas and battle zones.
The Army had earlier procured the Tadiran communication sets from Israel when the DRDO had not developed its indigenous version in the country. Later, when the Army moved in for procuring 5,000 more of this equipment, the DRDO and Department of Defence Production offered their product for meeting its requirement.
The Army insisted on the Israeli product saying the Indian radio sets would not be able to be used with the existing inventory as their source code was not provided to India by Tel Aviv.

When the matter reached Parrikar, he insisted that the Army go for the 'under development' product and a roadmap should be fixed for inducting it in the force.
He also asked the Army to ensure that the Israeli firm give source codes of the Tadiran sets so that they can be used with Indian equipment also.
"Two days back, the Army gave a letter to the ministry stating that the Israeli firm has agreed to provide source codes of their equipment to India and it would take indigenous equipment in future. After that the deal was cleared by the DAC on Thursday," the sources revealed.
The Defence Ministry also gave its final nod to the long-pending acquisition of M777 howitzers as now it would be sent to the Finance Ministry for decision on the value of the deal before it reaches the Cabinet Committee on Security for final clearance.
The howitzers have been one of the most critical requirements of the Army which has failed to acquire even a single new artillery gun in the last three decades after the Bofors scandal. The guns would be deployed on the mountainous borders with both China and Pakistan. The meeting also reviewed the progress in various defence deals that have been listed as priority by the Narendra Modi government.


Manohar Parrikar clears purchase of 145 M777 howitzers worth Rs 4500 crore from US

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today cleared the proposals for acquiring 145 M777 155 mm ultra light howitzers from the US.
This is the first time that guns are being purchased for the Army since bofors in 1987. These are light howitzers which can be flown to the mountain areas and will be deployed along the mountainous lines bordering both Pakistan and China.
India will be buying the 155 mm M777 guns at a cost of about Rs 4500 crore. This is first major buy for the Mountain Strike Corps. Earlier gun-maker BAE systems had tied up with India's Mahindra for the deal.
The proposal had been in the pipeline for several years, despite being cleared more than thrice by the Defence Ministry under Parrikar as well as his UPA predecessor, AK Antony.
The Army has not procured a single howitzer ever since the Bofors guns were acquired from Switzerland in the 1980s.
The other important proposal that the DAC may consider is the acquisition of almost 5,000 combat net radio sets for tactical communication of Army troops.
The DAC is to consider if the radio sets should be procured under the Make in India scheme or to be bought from the Israeli firm Elbit, according to the Army proposal.
The Indian Air Force is also likely to put up its proposal to upgrade its unmanned aerial vehicles that would be enhanced to combat platforms under the top secret Project Cheetah.
IAF officials declined to comment on the top secret project, which is likely to cost Rs10,000 crore.


A Second Russian Nuclear Attack Submarine for India?

India may be slated to take delivery of a second Russian nuclear attack submarine in the early 2020s.

Earlier this week, Harsh Pant, one of our regular contributors here at The Diplomat, offered a helpful rundown of the current state of play between India and Russia, old Cold War-era partners that have seen a few recent bumps in their long-standing partnership. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Goa over the weekend, where India was hosting the leaders of the BRICS countries for their annual summit. On the sidelines, Delhi and Moscow concluded a range of important defense agreements. As Pant catalogued:
Russia and India signed a multi-billion dollar deal for S-400 Triumf long-range air defense missile systems, an agreement on building Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy, and setting up a Russian-Indian joint venture to produce Kamov Ka-226T helicopters – worth an estimated $10.5 billion.
In addition to the above, it appears that an important development apparently transpired behind the scenes and was not reported widely. Alexei Nikolski of Vedomosti reported on Tuesday that Russia has agreed to lease a second nuclear attack submarine (SSN) to India at a total cost of around $2 billion and that an agreement was signed in Goa. “According to a source in the Russian defense industry, the long discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa,” he writes.

Nikolski’s report notes that, as expected, the Russian Navy will only transfer the next SSN after repairing and modernizing it, potentially making significant hull modifications to meet Indian specifications. India currently has an inventory of two nuclear powered submarines. The first and oldest is its Russian-made Akula-II-class SSN, dubbed the INS Chakra, which was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 2012. The second is the indigenously designed and built ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN) the INS Arihant, which is also the third leg of India’s nuclear triad. Incidentally, the Arihant was commissioned in August. The current time frame for India taking delivery of another Akula-II submarine point to the second SSN being commissioned sometime in the early 2020s.
Going back to 2014, Moscow had already said that it was ready to consider additional nuclear-powered submarines for lease. While the signing of an agreement remains unconfirmed by official sources, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if it took place in Goa as the Vedomosti report suggests. With China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy progressively expanding its operations westward into the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy needs durable nuclear attack submarines, which are capable of operating for long periods of time without resurfacing.
Overall, India’s long-term submarine construction plan envisages additional SSBNs of the Arihant class and a new generation of indigenously built SSNs. The $2.9 billion Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project that led to the Arihant greatly expanded India’s know-how and comfort in constructing nuclear-powered submarines. However, while Delhi may have the technical expertise necessary, history suggests that bureaucratic delays and corruption could bog down its grand plans for an expansive subsurface fleet. In this sense, simply leasing a Russian SSN off-the-shelf with modifications makes sense as a hedge.
Finally, the conclusion of a deal for a second Akula-II between Delhi and Moscow serves to underline that the defense partnership between the two countries remains robust. Commentators in India and elsewhere have pointed to Delhi’s decision to sign on to a military logistics exchange agreement with the United States and Russia’s consequent decision to hold its first-ever military exercises with Pakistan as pointing to a fraying of the old defense partnership between India and Russia. For instance, Bharat Karnad, an Indian analyst, noted that Delhi would find that “valued Russian platforms like the Akula-II SSN … will be withdrawn” in the aftermath of the U.S.-India Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
Even if, as Pant observed, Russia’s bilateral relationship with China is causing it to rethink its support for India on the international stage more broadly, the defense relationship between the two countries remains robust.


India-Japan Amphibious Aircraft Deal Moves Forward

New Delhi and Tokyo reportedly have agreed on a price for 12 amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft.

This week, India and Japan have reportedly moved closer toward concluding the first-ever bilateral defense deal between the two countries, unnamed Indian military officials told Defense News. An official with India’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) claims that New Delhi and Tokyo have agreed on a price for 12 ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious search-and-rescue/maritime surveillance aircraft for service in the Indian Navy.
“Japan has offered a price concession of more than 10 percent per aircraft from $133 million per aircraft to around $113 million, and the $1.35 billion government to government deal for US-2 amphibious aircraft is now ready for finalization,” the official told Defense News on the condition of anonymity. Last week, Japanese defense contractor ShinMaywa Industries said that the Indian MOD has still not made an official request for the aircraft.
So far the Indian MOD has only indicated that it would like to purchase two US-2i aircraft in fly-away condition, whereas the remaining ten (sources say that the Indian Navy requirement is pegged at 12-18 aircraft) should be built in India under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. ShinMaywa, however, thinks that license-building ten US-2i is impracticable and too costly given the small number of aircraft.

Consequently, while settling on a price shows some progress, it is far from a done deal, as a spokesperson from Japan’s (MOD) told IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly in early October. “In order to move on to stages of discussion on specific conditions of co-operation [the Japan] Ministry of Defense hopes that the Indian side will establish its procurement policy as soon as possible.” Furthermore, “after India has determined its procurement policy we would like to flexibly respond to requests from India and make our co-operation concrete.”
As the The Diplomat summarized in 2015:
Negotiations for a US-2 sale to India began in Japan under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) governments of Naoto Kan and Yoshihiko Noda. The amphibious aircraft sale issue was swiftly picked up by Abe’s government, which has sought to expand Japan’s role as a defense exporter in Asia. In April 2014, the Abe administration formally altered Japan’s decades-old self-imposed ban on selling arms, which effectively blocked Japanese firms from participating in global defense commerce. (For more background on Japan’s export policies.)
In December 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to deepen defense ties between the two countries specifically naming the US-2i aircraft as a project for future cooperation. Despite that, in March 2016, a senior Japanese government official said that there is no plan for “selling or delivering” the US-2i maritime surveillance aircraft in the immediate future.
“Given its range of 4,500 kilometers (2,796 miles), the Indian Navy was tentatively planning to station the USi-2 aircraft off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, from where they would have been able to conduct surveillance patrols of the eastern Indian Ocean region,” I explained elsewhere.
The export of search-and-rescue aircraft would be Japan’s first defense deal in its post-war history.


October 20, 2016

Lockheed Martin first to respond to invitation to build single-engine fighter in India

On Monday, US defence giant Lockheed Martin became the first international vendor to respond to an Indian Air Force (IAF) letter, soliciting interest in building a single-engine, medium fighter aircraft in India, with full transfer of technology. “We sent our acceptance [to the IAF] earlier this week”, Lockheed Martin’s Randy Howard, who markets the F-16 worldwide, told Business Standard.Meanwhile, Swedish defence corporation, Saab, which was sent a similar invitation, is learnt to be finalising its acceptance. “We will definitely say ‘yes’; most likely by the end of this month”, says a Saab official. As Business Standard reported (October 8, “IAF kicks off contest to make single-engine fighters in India”) the IAFsent out letters last week to top global aerospace vendors, inviting them to build a single-engine fighter in India. Defence ministry sources confirm The Boeing Company has also been approached. UnlikeLockheed Martin and Saab, which are actively marketing single-engine fighters — the F-16 Block 70 and the Gripen E respectively — Boeing has no single-engine fighter to offer. Instead, it has been offering its twin-engine F/A-18 E/F. Nor does Eurofighter, the European consortium that builds the twin-engine Typhoon, whose member firms also reportedly received the IAF inquiry.
The contours of the “single-engine fighter” contest are therefore emerging — Lockheed Martinand Saab seem poised to be the only contenders. As this newspaper reported (August 16, “Gripen, F-16, compete in MMRCA re-run”), both companies had earlier submitted what IAFboss, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, described as “unsolicited offers” for building single-engine fighters in India. Now, with Lockheed Martin having responded positively to the IAF’s inquiry, Saab’s acceptance, when received, will formally kick off a multi-vendor acquisition process.
The F-16 is amongst the older fighters still in frontline service, but Lockheed Martin describes to Business Standard an attractive offer that would make India the F-16 global hub, galvanizing aerospace component fabrication in the country. The offer involves transferring the world’s only F-16 production line from Forth Worth, Texas, to India. Thereafter, every F-16 built, and a large share of the spare parts and sub-systems for every F-16 flying across the globe would come from India. “Our offer is not for just building a hundred F-16s in India; or even another hundred F-16s for the export market.
 The real value would come from the tens of thousands of spare parts, components, sub-systems and systems that would sustain the 3,200-plus F-16s still flying in the US, and in 24 other countries”, says Howard. Intriguingly, that could mean spares and expendables for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet would be sourced largely from India. Lockheed Martin points out that bringing the production line to India would be “a strategic opportunity”.
 In truth, India would have little control over the F-16 components it builds for the global F-16 fleet, including Pakistan’s. Governed by a “global F-16 sustainment programme”, the components would go into a chain of US-controlled warehouses across the globe, from where user air forces would draw their requirements. In discussions with Lockheed Martin officials, it is evident that they are concerned by the negativity in India caused by Pakistan’s long association with the F-16.
Yet the company is banking on an attractive business case to tamp down Indian reservations. For Lockheed Martin, shifting the F-16 line to India would be a double benefit. With the F-16 ending its prodigious production run (of 4,588 F-16s ordered over the years, just 15 remain to be delivered), Lockheed Martin now wants to build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Forth Worth. Yet, an F-16 line is essential, since the US Air Force (USAF) plans to operate its late-model F-16s (Block 40 and Block 50 versions) for another 30 years, till 2045.
Transferring the production line to India would assure Washington that its F-16s would be reliably sustained. Howard argues that F-16 production is not yet closed. Bahrain and other West Asian countries are negotiating purchases and there are potential buyers in former Soviet countries in NATO, Indonesia and Columbia. He holds out the possibility of building these orders in India. It remains unclear how much weightage cost would have in selecting a light fighter for the IAF.Lockheed Martin is confident of offering the cheapest fighter in its class, having more than amortised its production line while building over 4,500 fighters. “Transferring the line to India will make the F-16 even cheaper.
 And that will bring in even more export orders”, predicts Howard, optimistically. There is little clarity, however, on whether Washington or New Delhi would have the casting vote on foreign sales of F-16s built in India. It seems likely that both governments would have to concur on third-party, export sales. Lockheed Martin strongly rejects the notion that the F-16, first built in the 1970s, is obsolescent. Howard points to the Block 70’s battle-proven Northrop Grumman APG-83 airborne electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a key fighter combat system.
 That leverages technologies developed for the F-35’s fifth-generation AESA radar. “Nothing in the world compares with the experience in AESA radars that Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman bring to the table”, argues Howard. To be sure, the F-16 Block 70 is a versatile combat platform. It flies faster, climbs quicker and carries more armament than most fighters in its class.
The “conformal fuel tanks” in late-version F-16s allow long-range operations. With two additional 370-gallon drop tanks and predominantly air-to-air armament, the F-16 has a combat radius of 1,500 kilometres — comparable to the much bigger Rafale. With the heavier air-to-ground weaponry that the F-16 carries for strike missions, the radius of action is still an impressive 700 kilometres. Alongside an aggressive marketing pitch to the IAF, Lockheed Martin is also moving ahead strongly with developing vendors in India, and a supply chain that would feed into an Indian F-16 line. On November 7 and 8, a vendors’ conference is planned in Bengaluru. 

business standard

Navy urges industry to forge partnership for design, construction of underwater vehicles

Vice Admiral G S Pabby, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Indian Navy, said here today this is the right time for India to take a major step towards building submarines indigenously by forging a strategic partnership with the Indian industry.
He urged the leading industry houses to grab the opportunity to strengthen Indian's Navy and added that there is a plethora of design and development opportunities available to the private sector in manufacturing of Navy equipment for the future.
He mentioned that the six submarines on offer to the private sector for under P75(I) program was yet another opportunity by MoD to integrate the private sector in strategic defence production.
Vice Admiral Pabby was speaking at a function organized by FICCI where he announced the holding of the International Seminar on 'Current and Future Challenges in Design and Construction of Underwater Vehicles' on November 22, 2016 at Federation House.
The event will be organized by FICCI with active participation of the Indian Navy. Leading design houses are invited and are expected to participate in this niche seminar.
Vice Admiral Pabby said that though India entered the sphere of submarines late but it was able to quickly catch up with the complex technology. Today, Indian Navy is designing and developing many of its equipment indigenously. The Navy has also built need-based operational requirements but is now developing its capabilities and is setting up extensive infrastructure to develop submarines in India. He mentioned that the Indian Navy took a visionary step in 1986 to establish in-house submarine design capability and the proposed seminar coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Directorate of Naval Design (Submarine Design Group).
Rear Admiral CS Rao, NM, DGND (SDG), Indian Navy, presented the scope of seminar which aims to deliberate on unique challenges and complexities of submarine design and construction; with the aim to achieve national competence in submarine design and construction through industrial partnership.
He mentioned that the seminar will be divided in two technical sessions wherein session 1 will focus on self-reliance in design and construction of submarines while session 2 will deliberate on design challenges in platform integration of emerging submarine technologies. During the seminar, the officers of Indian Navy, will present perspectives on the above topics and deliberate on the future requirements to be met by the industry, academia and research and development agencies.
Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that the objective of the international seminar is to emphasize the design capabilities of Indian Navy and other design agencies and to hand hold Indian industry to make the best of the capabilities and how to focus on the future requirements.
He said FICCI is continuously focusing on futuristic technologies and added that in order to fulfil the national aspiration of establishment of strong defence industrial base in country, there is a need to do away with licensed production. India needs to encourage innovations in design to enhance its scientific capabilities which can later be transferred to industries for commercialisation of defence technologies.
The seminar brochure was jointly released by Vice Admiral Pabby, CWP&A, Indian Navy, Rear Admiral CS Rao, NM, DGND (SDG), Dr A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, Mr. Jayant D Patil, Chairman, FICCI Defence and Aerospace Committee, and Mr. Vivek Pandit, Senior Director, Defence and Aerospace, FICCI.


October 19, 2016

MTCR benefit: India, Russia to develop 600-km range cruise missiles that can cover entire Pakistan

India’s offensive capacity, especially against Pakistan, is set to take a huge step forward with New Delhi and Moscow deciding to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy. This range enables these missiles to strike anywhere within Pakistan. That Russia can work with India to produce these missiles is thanks to New Delhi joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June this year. MTCR guidelines prohibit its members from transfer, sale or joint production of missiles beyond 300-km range with countries outside the club. Brahmos’ current range is 300 km, which makes it difficult to hit targets deep inside Pakistan. India has ballistic missiles with longer range than the next generation Brahmos.
 But Brahmos’ ability to take down specific targets, even well-protected ones, makes it a potential game changer in any conflict with Pakistan. Ballistic missiles are powered for the initial half of their flight path and they use gravity to complete their trajectory. But cruise missiles are powered throughout. This makes a cruise missile like Brahmos similar to a pilot-less fighter jet that can be maneuvered in flight, programmed to attack targets from any angle and evade enemy missile defence systems. Brahmos can, for example, take down terror camps or hideouts even in mountain areas, where natural protection makes any other offensive action, bar crossing the border, ineffective.
The Indo-Russian agreement, signed during the bilateral summit at Goa, also includes development of missiles with smaller range that can be fired from submarines and aircraft. The deal was not made public at the summit — where other projects like sale of frigates and the S-400 air defence system purchase — were announced. Vladimir Putin told journalists from his country that the missile deal has also been signed. “We have also agreed to improve the Brahmos missile, which will be land, air and sea launched. We will also work to increase its range. And we will work together on a fifth-generation aircraft,” Putin said, without sharing details.
ET spoke with several senior Indian officials involved in negotiations. They confirmed that a pact to double the range of the Brahmos missile was finalised. These officials spoke on the condition they not be identified. They also said producing longer-range Brahmos will not be tough because no fundamental reworking is involved in increasing the range. India, post its MTCR membership, is also pursuing export options for its 300-km range Brahmos. Vietnam has expressed interest in the missile system.

Economic times

October 18, 2016

India could get delivery of the S-400 in 2020

After several big ticket defence deals, including purchase of five S-400 air defence shields, were signed at the 17th India-Russia summit, it appears an agreement on a joint India-Russia fifth generation fighter aircraft is near completion.

Russia could begin shipping the S-400 ‘Triumf’ anti- aircraft missile defence systems to India in 2020, Sergey Chemezov, head of the state corporation Rostec informed reporters attending the BRICS summit in Goa.
He was briefing reporters on Saturday, October 15, after the 17th India-Russia summit between President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw a slew of agreements being signed, including one on India’s purchase of five S-400 air defence systems.
“Today, an intergovernmental agreement was signed, under which the Russian side has undertaken to deliver the S-400s –one of the latest and most modern missile defence systems. We will now begin preparing the contracts, and hope that in the first half of 2017, we will complete and sign these, and then begin production. I think that deliveries will start some time in 2020,” he said.
Chemezov also stated that the contract to build the fifth generation Russian-Indian fighter jets could be signed before the end of the year.
“This is a fifth generation aircraft that will be created in collaboration with an Indian company. In some ways, it will be similar to the FGFA, but it will n vertheless be an independent, new, modern aircraft. We have almost resolved all the negotiating issues and are ready for signing, only the formalities remain. I hope that before the end of the year, the contract will be signed,” he said.


MiGs try to conquer India

India’s problem with its aging Air Force fleet is that it requires new fighter jets soon. The MiG-35 is best suited to meet India’s requirements and will be invited to participate in the tendering process in the near future.
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG will offer the Indian Defence Ministry its latest MiG-35, so that it can participate in a tender to supply medium fighter jets. New Delhi is planning to announce the tender and seek expressions of interest in the near future. Earlier, in 2015, India rejected the ‘MiG 35’, opting for the French Rafale. The Indian Air Force is now organizing the tender, and planning to replace its 200 MiG-21 and MiG-27 airplanes.
In addition to the RAC MiG, those invited to participate in the tendering process are the Swedish company SAAB – with the Gripen NG aircraft, and the American Lockheed Martin – with the “Indian” version of the F-16. A major requirement for tender participants – is maximum localization of production of the fighter aircraft in India.
“The United Aircraft Corporation and RAC MiG will participate in the upcoming IAF tender,” Izvestia learned from the UAC. “We just need to wait for the official technical specifications from the Indian government and the invitation. After that, we will prepare and send a package of documents with our proposals to New Delhi,” the UAC representative said.

New Delhi is currently formulating the technical specifications which, in the form of an RFP (Request for Proposals), will be sent to selected companies participating in the tender. This will be the formal launch of the new tender. According to information from sources in the military and diplomatic circles, Indian representatives, as early as this summer, turned to Russia with a request to describe the possible packaging arrangement of the MiG-35, which the United Aircraft Corporation will be ready to offer in the tender.
According to the source, Russia has sent India an expanded list of equipment and weapons, which included electronic warfare stations, suspended opto-electronic sighting containers, a wide range of aircraft weapons, including air-air and air-land missiles, as well as high-precision bombs.
All members of the future tender had met between 2000 and 2015, during a similar competition for the right to supply 126 fighter jets worth $10 billion. In the course of this long tender, the MiG-35 beat the F-16IN and the Gripen NG, but lost out to the French Rafale. However, due to the high prices, India could not buy one hundred, but only 36 fighters. India did not receive the Rafale production technologies and localization of production in Indian enterprises, as promised.
Andrey Frolov, an expert, told Izvestia that the announcement of a new tender could be interpreted as the public recognition by India that the modernization problem of a rapidly aging Air Force fleet has not been solved.
“Now we are seeing a split in the year 2000 tender,” said Frolov. “The Rafale has been purchased, but the first aircraft will be delivered no earlier than 2019. India's own fighter jet, the Tejas, is apparently not ready yet. And now, in a situation of mass write-offs of the MiG-21 and MiG-27 airplanes, something needs to be done urgently with the domestic fleet.”   
Frolov said the outcome of the new tender was difficult to predict. There are some difficulties with all the aircraft invited to participate in the tender. Sweden is prepared to share production technologies of the Gripen fighter, but there are not many Swedish parts in this aircraft. The main components are purchased from the United States and Europe with which they would have to negotiate for permission to localize production in a third country.
Another problem with the Gripen is that, for the production of a new fighter jet, the SAAB Company will be forced to remove parts from aircraft already with the Swedish Air Force. A scandal has recently erupted on this issue in Sweden – the essence of which was the question: does it make sense to “cannibalize” the existing fighter fleet for the production of new aircraft, or is it better to invest in the development and production of a more advanced fighter aircraft? The new aircraft from Saab is scheduled to appear in 2019 which, as in the case of the Rafale, does not solve the current problems of the Indian Air Force.
“With the American F-16 things are easier,” said Frolov. “Its production line in the USA is scheduled for closing in 2017, and Washington could, theoretically, transfer it to India.
In practice, however, Americans have never yet transferred technologies to manufacture their own weapons and military equipment to any other country. Especially since the onboard equipment of this latest version of the aircraft, the F-16 Blok 52/57, includes a radar with active electronically scanned array (AESA), which is considered as the key know-how in the design of modern fighters.
Ivan Konovalov, Head of the Centre for Strategic Trend Studies, believes the MiG-35 is the only aircraft with which the Indian military should not have any issues.
“The aircraft participated in the last tender and showed excellent results,” said Konovalov. “The MiG lost out to the French Rafale for political, rather than technical reasons. The formal reason for the choice in favour of the French aircraft was the fact that, under Indian legislation, the Indian military cannot buy weapons and military equipment from only one supplier. And at that time, Russia had already signed several major contracts to supply India with Su-30MKI fighters and naval MiG-29K/KUB planes.”


Indian Navy to Induct Seven Multirole Next Generation Corvettes From 2023

The Indian Navy begins its preparation to build seven ‘Next Generation Corvettes’ at Indian shipyards that would be capable of offensive surface to surface missile attacks, and anti-submarine warfare operations. According to specifications provided by the Indian Navy, the ship will have a range of not less than 4,000 nm, and will be capable of sailing at 27 knots.
 The India Navy requires all seven corvettes from 2023. The 120 meter long single hull corvettes, or small warships, will have low radar, acoustic, magnetic, visual and infra-red signatures. “The ship should carry a minimum of 8 surface-to-surface missiles and should be able to engage sea skimming missiles, flying 3-5 m above sea level, up to maximum speed of Mach 3. Active towed array sonar, two light weight torpedo launcher should be fitted to the corvettes,” reads the Navy’s document. The Indian Navy has specified that should be one multi-function surveillance and threat alert radar in the warships for early warning and target identification.
 There are presently more than 50 ships and submarines under construction in India. India has already built four anti-submarine warfare corvettes under Project-28, the first of which was handed over to the Indian Navy in 2014. This was built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd with 90 percent indigenization.


Pakistan Navy Submarine Force to Equal the Indian Navy’s in Numbers with Purchase of 8 Chinese Subs

Pakistan has finalized a deal to acquire eight Chinese-made S20 diesel-electric submarines for the Pakistan Navy, making this class of submarine the most numerous in the navy's Submarine Service Force (SSF) and giving the SSF numerical parity with its opposite number in India.
 Under the deal with China, four of the ultra-quiet subs will be made at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) while the remaining four will be built in China. Four of the subs will be delivered by 2023 with the remainder by 2028.  The eight S20s will be capable of firing anti-ship missiles (ASMs) while submerged, an advantage enjoyed by its three sister submarines in the Khalid-class and two in the Agosta-70 class. The addition of the eight S20s will bring to 13 the number of modern submarines in the SSF.  The Khalid class can fire French-made Exocet missiles while the Agosta 70A subs can unleash United States Harpoon missiles. The S20s will most likely fire Chinese-made ASMs.  The original Chinese version of the S20, the Type 041 Yuan-class, can fire YJ-8 ASMs. The export version of the YJ-8, the C-802, was used by Yemeni Houthi rebels to attack a U.S. Navy destroyer three times this month in the Red Sea. All the C-802s missed their target.
 The Type-041's torpedo armament includes Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes.  The Type-041 is the quietest submarine in the People's Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force. The Type-041 is also known as the Type-039A in the PLAN, which operates 28 of these subs.  The 13 submarines in the SSF should be enough to deny the Indian Navy unrestricted operations in the Arabian Sea.  In contrast, the Indian Navy operates 14 submarines: 1 Chakra (Akula II)-class; 9 Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo)-class and 4 Shishumar (German Type 209/1500)-class.  Pakistan will pay up to $5 billion for the eight S20s. The Pakistan Navy is upgrading its undersea warfare capabilities in the face of an equal upgrading being undertaken by India.


October 17, 2016

Defence Ministry finally initiates action for procurement of bullet proof helmets

Ministry of Defence has finally initiated action to issue Request for Procurement of Bullet Proof Jackets and Ballistic helmets for jawans in this financial year. The move comes after repeated letters written by Trinamool Congress MP Vivek Gupta.
 “The issue was raised in Parliament Session in 2015 and 2016 but it fell on deaf ears. Series of letters were sent to almost all departments to consider the crisis in the forces for jackets. It is practically risking the life of jawan who is fighting at the border for the country,” explains Vivek Gupta. The BJP government has been claiming the credit for surgical strikes and action against Pakistan but the irony is that the same government has delayed the procurement of the bullet proof jackets for the jawans for more than a year. The Request for Procurement ( RFP ) of 1,86,138 bullet proof jackets was retracted on 5th October 2015. The RFP was again issued on 4th April 2016 by the Ministry. “Almost 2 lakhs of bullet proof jackets were to be ordered last year, which didn’t happen. We tried to raise this issue at the Parliament and also gave letters to various Governmental offices but it did not work. Finally I submitted a petition in the Parliament and got a reply a few days back.
 It read that 50000 jackets have been ordered by March. And the order procedure for the remaining 1.5 lakhs of jackets has been started from April. I don’t understand why this unnecessary delay for such essential requirements,” said Gupta. The opposition parties have been time and again raising the issue of using of surgical strikes for political benefits in impending elections but the problem does not end with just ordering of procurement. “There is a delay on almost all fronts. Maybe the Central Government is busy in some other works and thus they are not paying any attention to this issue. Apart from bullet proof jackets there are other commodities like socks and helmets which are also critical matters and somehow are getting hidden in our list of priorities” states a perturbed Vivek Gupta.

October 15, 2016

S400 missile system will boost India’s military capabilities – experts

With only hours before the eighth annual BRICS Summit 2016 opens in Goa, India’s defense forces are anticipating the signing of a $5.85 billion deal for five new-generation Russian S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defense missile systems.
The S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft and VLO (Very Low Observable) craft.
Former Chief of Staff of the Indian Army General Shankar Roy Chowdhury (retd) told The BRICS Post that he is looking forward to the signing of the deal with Russia.
“It is supposed to be one of the best missile systems in the world,” Chowdhury, who is also a former Member of the Indian Parliament, said.
“It is also being imported by Syria as well, to counter the missile strike from Israel. [The signing] is something to look forward to at the BRICS summit,” he added.
Military analysts say that acquiring the S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defense missile systems will “drastically” boost India’s war potential, capacity and capability.
“And when the capacity and capability improves, the war endurance of the nation and the armed forces will also improve,” General DB Shekatkar (retd), a defense expert, said.
Multipurpose defense system
The S-400s popularity lies in the fact it can neutralise drones as well as ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400 kms up to an altitude of close to 32 kms.
The S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence missile systems is equipped with three different types of missiles and an acquisition radar capable of tracking up to 300 targets within the range of nearly 600 kms.
Triumf is a system made of eight launchers and a control station.
Explaining the reason for opting for a Russian weapons system, General Shekatkar said that India’s armed forces look for three criteria when considering arms procurement – reliability, ruggedness and redundancy.
“It is for this reason why we are striking this deal with Russia for the S-400,” he added.
“We have been buying weapons and technology from Russia from a long time, and Russia is our strategic partner. The past wars in 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war has proved that Russian equipment is reliable,” he said referring to the wars India fought with neighbour Pakistan.
Other analysts say India is in real need of the S-400’s capabilities and therefore the imminent purchase makes for a very good acquisition for the armed forces.
“India is signing some important deals with Russia on acquiring the S-400 and also the helicopters,” Nitin Gokhale, a senior defense analysts, said.
“There will also be a program on FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) and this is something to look forward to.”