March 31, 2017

India's acquisition of 100 K9 SPHs approved

India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the INR42 billion (USD646 million) procurement of 100 modified South Korean Hanwa Techwin K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52-calibre tracked self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) for the Indian Army on 29 March.
Officials said the contract for the K9 Vajra (Thunderbolt) SPHs to be built by Techwin's joint venture (JV) with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) at the latter's Telegaon plant near Pune, western India, was to be signed by 31 March: the close of financial year 2016-17.
The SPHs are being procured under the 'Buy Global' category of India's Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and will comprise 50% indigenous content. This will enable the JV to bypass the mandatory 30% offset investment of the overall contract value into India's defence, internal security, or civil aviation sectors.
Locally developed components will include 14 subsystems, such as the fire control and communication suites, in addition to India indigenously fabricating and machining the K9's hull and turret structure.
The K9 is powered by a German 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 water-cooled diesel engine and driven by a fully automatic US-origin Allison transmission. Operated by a five-man crew, the 47-tonne SPH is capable of firing assorted projectiles to ranges between 18 and 42 km.
The K9's hydro-suspension and high ground clearance ensure mobility across varied terrain.
Constructed of all-welded steel armour and capable of withstanding 14.5 mm armour-piercing shells and 152 mm rounds, the K9's design incorporates an automatic fire control and loading system, a modular azimuth position system, and a powered gun elevation and turret traverse system.
Industry officials said the K9 tender would be the biggest signed with India's private sector for a large military platform and includes the option for an additional 50 guns.
The SPHs' supplementary K10 munitions supply vehicle, built on the K9 platform, is not part of the tender, industry sources have said.


India, Russia make progress toward Ka-226T helicopter production

India and Russia have drawn the road map for the joint production of Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters in the South Asian country, kick-starting the $1 billion program.

"With the road map now in place, the production of Kamov 226T helicopters has formally taken off," said a top executive of the state enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was the production agency nominated by the two nations.

Gopal Sutar, the chief of media communications at HAL, said: "The helicopters are to be produced through a joint venture company as per the intergovernment agreement between the two countries in October 2016, and the road map for the acquisition is finalized."

The joint production of the helicopters in India now awaits formal approval by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will lead to the new production entity Indo-Russian Helicopters Private Limited.

Russian government-owned Rostec Corp. will own a 49.5 percent stake in the new entity, and India's HAL will own the remaining 50.5 percent. Thereafter, the Indian Ministry of Defence will issue a single-vendor tender to Indo-Russian Helicopters Private Limited, which will then submit its technical and commercial proposal within six months.

While some analysts say the price of the helicopter remains an concern, the top HAL executive said the issue will be sorted out in the technical and commercial proposal.

Bharat Kumar, a defense analyst and retired Indian Air Force air marshal, said the intergovernmental agreement would have already provided a time frame for the delivery of 40 helicopters by Russia and the supply of kits, subassemblies and so on. "I am more than sure that the agreement would also have indicated the price and other financial details, including share holdings in the joint venture," he added.

Under the $1 billion deal for 200 Kamov Ka-226Ts, India will buy 60 helicopters in fly-away condition from Russia while another 40 will be assembled in India and the remaining 100 fully built in India.

The manufacturing will take place at a new complex in Tumkur near HAL's Bangalore helicopter complex.

"Apart from production, the plan also includes setting up repair and maintenance facilities to provide faster support to the armed forces," the HAL executive said.

However, the overall composition of the Ka-226T helicopter in regard to components and systems remains a concern, according to Baldev Singh Pawar, a retired Indian Army lieutenant general and former director general of Army aviation.

Pawar said the engine and some "key systems and avionics have been sourced by the Russian company from the global market," adding that Russia continues to be under U.S. sanctions.

An Indian MoD official insisted "all the obstacles will be cleared," but did not provide details

India needs a light utility helicopter to replace its aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters produced under license from France.

"The Cheetah and Chetak continue to be reliable and heavily used helicopters despite their age. The imperative to procure a replacement has as much to do with the growing requirement for light helicopters as creeping obsolescence of the existing light helicopter fleet," offered Vijainder K Thakur, a defense analyst and retired Indian Air Force squadron leader.

Although the Ka-226T program is making progress, the MoD has not quashed its requests for information that it floated separately in 2014 for the joint development of light utility helicopters for the Indian Navy and Air Force; and in this India may keep its options open for the procurement of light utility helos from other sources.


Tejas FOC points on the verge of completion: ADA Chief

Cmde Cadaba Devnath Balaji (Retd), the Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), who is all set to hang up his boots on March 31 said that all pending test points towards achieving Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of Tejas were on the verge of completion.

Speaking to Mathrubhumi, Cmde Balaji (Retd) said the aircraft build standard to FOC configuration is available and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will proceed to build the next 20, after completing first Series Production platforms (20).

“The flight testing of Tejas with air-to-air-refuelling probe is in progress. The performance evaluation of radar has been encouraging. The air-to-ground weapon work has been largely completed. Accuracy improvements in terms of software update is currently on,” Cmde Balaji (Retd) said.

He said the firing of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile with radar is being planned shortly, while the gun firing is now fixed for the second quarter of 2017. He added that the aircraft envelope clearance for Squadron service has been progressively released, even for first set of 20 aircraft.

Giving an update on Tejas Mk2, Cmde Balaji (Retd) the aircraft will be configured for a higher thrust engine, AESA Radar, internal EW suite, OBOGS, larger internal fuel capacity, larger payload capability and better performance.

On LCA Navy Mk2, he said the concept design for an optimised deck-based aircraft, has been completed and detail design is in progress.

When asked about any regrets he had as he prepares to hand over the baton of ADA, Cmde Balaji (Retd) said: “While significant lead up activities towards arrested recovery has been done (NLCA), the actual arrested recovery is yet to take place. I would have liked to have seen it happen in my tenure, but got delayed due to a few failures of aggregates. Further, the apparent rejection by the Indian Navy is hurtful.”

He said while the Navy has operated carrier borne aircraft for decades, it is the first time to develop our own aircraft.

SBTF an asset to watch for the future

“From personal experience I can confidently say that operating a carrier borne aircraft gives one level of knowledge, but developing it from scratch is an entirely different ball game. LCA Navy Mk1 has provided a stepping stone for developing an optimised version specifically designed for Deck based operation in terms of LCA Navy Mk2. This will provide a design and capability that the Navy may be able to consider favourably for exploitation. In addition, this will provide the necessary skills and capabilities for the development of twin-engined, 5th generation deck-based aircraft,” he elaborated.

Cmde Balaji (Retd) said the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa will be an asset to watch for the future.

“This facility has been built keeping the requirements of a medium weight category aircraft to operate. Navy has been using this facility extensively for pilot training of MiG 29K, prior to operating on INS Vikramaditya,” he added.


K-9 Vajra Artillery Gun deal Worth Rs 4,200-cr approved by Govt

The government has approved the acquisition of specialised artillery guns that will move on tank-type tracks to accompany tanks and mechanised regiments to battle. The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the purchase of “tracked self-propelled” artillery guns, sources said today.

Indian company Larsen Toubro (L&T) will produce the gun in collaboration with a foreign partner. The project for 100 guns will cost around Rs 4,200 crore. Deliveries will be completed within three years. The gun, “K-9 Vajra-T”, is a 155-mm/52-calibre self-propelled howitzer.

It can hit targets at a distance of 45 km. Its specialty will be tank-type tracks to move as support firing with the armoured columns. The Ministry of Defence and the Army had completed the evaluation process of the L&T gun and other guns in September 2015 and bids were opened in December that year.

This will be the second major artillery gun programme approved in the past two years. In June last year, the MoD approved the letter of acceptance for US supplier, BAE Systems, for 145 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) of the 155 mm variety. The ULH was the first formal deal for the 155-mm gun since March 1986 when 400 pieces were purchased from Swedish company AB Bofors for Rs 1,500 crore.

The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, drawn up in 1999, talks of acquiring 2,800 guns by 2027. It talks about 155 mm guns of all kinds — 1580 towed guns, 814 truck-mounted guns, 100 tracked self-propelled guns,180 wheeled self-propelled guns and 145 ultralight howitzers.


UN denies India preventing observer group from presenting reports on Kashmir

The UN today denied that India was preventing the UN observer group, monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan, from presenting its reports on the ground situation.
It also rejected claims that the role of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was being constrained by India.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq was asked by a Pakistani reporter whether the reason, UNMOGIP does not present its reports, was because the Indian government does not allow them to, or role of UNMOGIP was being constrained by the Indian government.
"No, no. I am sure you are aware that different peacekeeping missions have different mandates and different reporting mandates. The earliest peacekeeping missions, which include UNMOGIP... come from a different era where they have completely different reporting requirements," Haq said.
According to the Security Council mandate given in resolution 307 of 1971, UNMOGIP observes and reports on ceasefire violations along and across the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as reports developments that could lead to ceasefire violations.
India has maintained that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the LoC. The observer group is headed by Major General Per Lodin of Sweden. It currently has 38 military observers and 73 civilian personnel.
The UN has concerns about the situation in Kashmir and continues to monitor the situation when pressed about Guterres not paying attention to the alleged human rights violation there and not talking to leaders from the two countries, Haq said.
"The basic point is we have concerns about the situation in Kashmir. We do monitor the situation, we have different levels of contacts with the governments of India and Pakistan.
If there is anything further to say, we will let you know but at this stage this is one of the situations around the world that we do monitor with concern," he said.
Haq said that just because the Secretary General is not visiting the region, it does not mean he is not paying attention to the issues.
"He (Secretary General) can pay attention without necessarily visiting. Even when he does not visit countries though, he is aware of the problems there and we have many levels of officials including country-level officials who are there to deal with the various problems that arise," Haq added.


March 30, 2017

India to supply lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar

India will supply indigenously developed lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar in a contract estimated to be worth USD37.9 million, according to Indian defence officials.
"The export of lightweight torpedoes will follow the earlier supply of sonars, acoustic domes and directing gear to Myanmar," Dr S Christopher, the head of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said in New Delhi on 24 March. He did not elaborate on his comments.
Industry sources told Jane's that Christopher was referring to the DRDO-designed advanced lightweight torpedo Shyena, which is reportedly based on the Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS)/Leonardo A244/S lightweight torpedo previously provided to the Indian Navy (IN).


India Said to Negotiate Multi-Million Dollar Russia Tank Upgrade

India has begun talks with Russia for a multi-million dollar deal to upgrade the army’s nearly 1,000 T-90 tanks, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Under the deal, Russian firms will transfer the tank technology to Indian partners in a bid to shake off the armed forces’ over-dependence on Russian supplies, they said.

It aims to ensure India’s fleet of battle tanks will fire more accurately, move faster and provide better comfort to the crew, they said. The upgrade program would be undertaken by both the Indian ordnance factories and private sector firms.

India has inked contracts for about 1,450 T-90s from Russia since 2001, of which 124 were bought directly from Russia and the rest are being license-built at an Indian ordnance factory. They are the Indian Army’s main battle tanks deployed along the borders with Pakistan in the Rajasthan desert, Punjab and on the Jammu and Kashmir plains.

"India’s focus should be on Russians building Indian technology partners for upgrading the T-90s, as the Indian Army operates the largest fleet of these tanks in the world," said K. J. Singh, a former Indian Army tank commander and independent analyst.

Russia is a major supplier of defense equipment to the India armed forces, with at least 60 percent of their arms inventory of Russian origin.

The talks for the T-90 upgrade program began earlier this year and gained pace at a two-day India-Russia industry conference hosted by the Indian Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on March 17 and 18, the people said. Over 100 Russian and 150 Indian industry representatives joined the conference, including officials from Uralvagonzavod OAO, the original equipment manufacturer of T-90 tanks.

The India Defence Ministry spokesman Nitin Wakankar said he had no comment on the talks. A spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter, couldn’t immediately comment on the report.

India and Russia also finalized agreements for the maintenance of the Air Force’s 270-jet Sukhoi combat fleet at the conference. The two deals, worth $315 million, were signed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. with United Aircraft Corp. and United Engine Corp. for the long-term supply of spares and technical assistance for five years for the Sukhoi combat planes.

The projects will operate under the umbrella of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ program that seeks to boost domestic manufacturing. Major Russian companies, such as United Aircraft, United Engine, United Shipbuilding Corp., Russian Helicopters and Uralvagonzavod made detailed presentations on cooperation with Indian companies at the conference.

At the event, Minister of Defence Arun Jaitley described Russia as "a key, long-standing and time-tested partner" in the defense sector, and said the support extended by Russia to Indian defense platforms was "critical" for the war-preparedness of the armed forces.

"Historically, Russians have extracted their price, and have kept us dependent on them, by selling licensed-production in the name of transfer of technology," Singh said. "But in the long run, it is in India’s best interests to seek autonomy in supply of spares for the Russian platforms."


No-First-Use nuclear policy for China, but not for Pakistan?

It is not the first time that India’s No First Use policy has become a topic of controversy. Ironically, March 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference pledged a new wave of tense debate on the preemptive nuclear strike, decapitation strike and counter strike in South Asia. Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, managed to grab the attention of the conference attendees by inkling that:

“there is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first”

He added that:

“India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries (launch vehicles for Pakistan’s tactical battlefield nuclear warheads) in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction.”

Comprehensive counterforce here is used as an informal phrase that describes counterattack on a nuclear arsenal.

It is impossible to completely disarm a nuclear weapons state. If a nuclear weapon state is on the other side, one has to face not only massive retaliation but a nuclear counter attack, in response. Well, analytically, it could be assessed, as a consequence to the ambitions of completely disarming Pakistan that India intends to build more nuclear weapons, with enhanced and more sophisticated technologies, ballistic missile defense, a shift away from recessed and de-mated deterrent postures, multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), and expansion of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

It would be pertinent to mention here a well-known fact that India is the largest arms importer, and is engaged in several nuclear deals worldwide for which US is the biggest helper. An evidence estimated that for the US it would be desirable if a friendly Asian power beat Communist China to the punch by detonating a nuclear device first, for which the very likely country was no other than India. So, the US assisted by helping India acquire nuclear explosive, for balancing communist China that is evident from the recently declassified Sept 1961, top secret memorandum from State Dept official George McGhee to Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Coming back to the point, there is another way of looking into Vipin’s above quoted comments; they is a direct indication of Indian inclination towards the doctrinal duplicity. Meaning, thereby, varying in case of Pakistan and China. On one hand, Indian nuclear strategists are on their verge of launching preemptive nuclear strike on Pakistan by flushing off its No-First-Use (NFU) policy and on the other hand they’re keeping the same doctrine for China. It is a clear double standard of its nuclear doctrinal policy of NFU. Ironically, the revolving continuing speculation on the transformation of NFU policy of Indian Nuclear doctrine is very much proved in the recent statement of Indian nuclear expert. The strategy might be to keep all options open by putting ambiguity in its nuclear doctrine. Diplomatically, Indian doctrine is only to show the international community that India has maintained a responsible use of its nuclear weapons by declaring a written doctrine, paradoxically which was never credible enough.

Operationally it is not possible to go for decapitation strike. Indian current nuclear developments such as submarine-launched ballistic missiles and an ambitious ballistic missile defense program, reflect its aggressive nuclear posture. But, no matter how much Indian political elite wants to signal aggressively, it is standing in the international community quite diplomatically at the same time. India actually aspires to alter regional and global order by its day-by-day hardline revelation. It was India’s ‘unrestrained behavior’, after which it became necessary for Pakistan to take a step forward towards a sea-based deterrent. India is extending the range of its missiles (Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles) right after the MTCR membership just within days – what will India do if its dream comes true of getting NSG membership? It would, for sure, lead the way for enhancing its uranium reserves for military usage or a thermonuclear weapons test.

Finally, the conventional wisdom of South Asia's strategic stability problem is challenged by the Indian expert’s delivered remarks. India may be demonstrating a ‘seismic shift’ in its nuclear strategy from 'no first use' to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’ against Pakistan. Islamabad must be prepared for New Delhi opting to nuclear first-use and ever more so with hardliners like Manohar Parrikar, Ajit Davol, Shivshankar Menon and Sushma Sawraj at the helm. Last but not the least, India still does not have the means to carry out a “splendid” pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear forces. It would be worth noting here that it requires Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets, which are not within India’s reach for decades.


Innocon wins Indian order for Micro Falcon UAV

Israeli company Innocon has been selected to supply its Micro Falcon unmanned air vehicle to an Indian law enforcement agency.

Innocon's chief executive Zvika Nave says the manufacturer has teamed with an Indian partner, complying with the terms of New Delhi's "Make in India" procurement policy.

Nave says the Micro Falcon has a flight endurance of more than 3h, and can be operated by one person. With a maximum take-off weight of 5kg (11b), the UAV carries a belly-mounted electro-optical/infrared payload. It is recovered by a parachute that returns the air vehicle to the ground on its back, to protect its sensor package.

Nave says the Micro Falcon is also equipped with a data link which enables a communication range of 16nm (30km). He adds that the UAV was also recently selected by an undisclosed European country, which will use the system for training purposes.


March 29, 2017

India Eyes Military Tech Transfer Deal With Israel For Anti-Tank Missiles, Drones

India is keen to sign multi-billion-dollar defence deals with Israel for anti-tank missiles, drones and other defence equipment, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit expected to be in mid-2017.

The stalled purchase of hundreds of anti-tank guided missile Spike is expected to get a fresh lease of life from the Cabinet Committee on Security under a $1-billion purchase plan in the next few days.

Last month India went ahead with purchase of Spike missile despite the single bid situation. India’s defense procurement policy does not allow such purchase where only one company is eligible for tender.

But the Indian government is keen to sign the contract with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as it has agreed to transfer technology for the missile under Make in India project whereas contract may be signed for building 1,500 systems and around 30,000 additional missiles in India.

In May 2016, India had finalized price negotiations for 275 launchers and 5,500 Spike missiles and kit form.

The Indian government is also considering a proposal to buy combat UAVs Heron TP made by Israel. India may approve the purchase if Israel agrees to transfer technology to India under the Make in India project.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had announced a new export-version of Heron TP on February 9, 2017.

Israel Aerospace Industries has changed the capacity of Heron TP for countries that are members of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The export version of Heron TP can carry a payload of 450 kg. India became the 35th MTCR member last June.


India to begin negotiations for Airbus C295 transports

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to begin contract negotiations for the purchase of 56 Airbus Defence and Space (DS) C295 medium transport aircraft (MTA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to replace the service's ageing fleet of Avro 748M transports.

Indian Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa was quoted by the Indo-Asian News Service on 24 March as saying that contract negotiations for the C 295s "are likely to commence shortly".

Industry officials estimate the MTA tender to be worth around INR119.29 (USD1.78 billion).

The MTA programme involves a joint venture (JV) between Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) that will import 16 C295s and build the remaining 40 locally.

In accordance with the 2013 MTA tender, 24 of these 40 aircraft are to be imported in kit form for local assembly and include a 30% indigenous content, the latter of which is set to double in the remaining 16 platforms.

User trials for the C295 were successfully completed in early 2016, and official sources told Jane's that they expect the Airbus-TASL deal to be inked during the 2017-18 financial year. Aircraft deliveries are expected to commence some 36 months later.

Industry sources told Jane's on condition of anonymity that the number of C295s purchased by India could increase to "well over 60" as the paramilitary Border Security Force and the Indian Coast Guard are also considering acquiring them.

The MoD's Defence Acquisition Council had approved the Airbus-TASL JV in May 2015, even though it had emerged as the sole contender after seven other original equipment manufacturers declined to respond to the MoD's bid.

The MoD also rejected demands by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to be appointed prime contractor for the C295 programme, as the IAF had expressed doubts over its efficiency and ability to complete projects within budget and on schedule.


March 28, 2017

Bharat Dynamics, L&T sign up for torpedo export


India is looking to export torpedoes developed by the Naval Science & Technology Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam.
To push this initiative, the Centre has facilitated a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), a defence public sector unit, and L&T. The objective is to export Torpedoes (LWT-XP) designed and developed by NSTL.
According to a press release, the MoU was signed by V Udaya Bhaskar, Chairman and Managing Director, BDL, and Jayanth Patil, Head of Defence, L&T.
They recently exchanged documents of the agreement in the presence of Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his deputy, Subhash Bhamre. Top executives of both companies and Defence Research and Development Organisation chief S Christopher were present.
Production plans

The Hyderabad-based BDL, which is the main producer of all indigenously developed missiles, will manufacture the torpedoes.
It has several production units in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
NSTL is a leading research lab under the DRDO, which is supporting the Navy. NSTL torpedoes are deployed in Indian Navy ships. 


India to Buy $1 Billion in Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles

The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has circumvented conventional policy to ink a deal with Israeli state-owned Rafael Defense Company for thousands of new missiles.
The Spike missile was developed in Israel for land-to-land missile strikes against enemy tanks. It is considered a "fire-and-forget" munition, however some versions of the Strike missile can be user guided via a "fire, observe, and update"model. 
The Ministry of Defense has officially "forwarded the deal to the Cabinet Committee of Security, which is likely to clear the same (deal)" in the week ending March 31, Defense News reported on Monday. "The deal could then be signed after next month," the MoD said.
Similar to previous deals, the Indian Army will secure 321 Spike launchers and 8,356 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) from Rafael for $1 billion total. Delivery could take up to 60 months, or five years, to send all the equipment, the MoD noted. In October, 2014, India spent $525 million on 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles along with 300 launchers, Haaretz reported. 
The javelin FGM-148 has a range of 4.75 km, while the Spike can reach targets 4 km, 8 km or 25 km into the distance.
Generally, the MoD prefers to procure new equipment and weaponry by soliciting bids from multiple contractors. "The single-vendor situation has arisen as the other option, American Javelin, was found to be too expensive," said Rahul Bhonsle, defense analyst and Indian armed forces veteran.
One key element of the deal involves the transfer of intellectual property from Israel to India. Particularly, a clause in the contract allows India to gain access to the steps and procedures used to make the missiles in the event that the MoD exercises its option to create another 1,500 launcher systems and 30,000 missiles in the future.
"For long," an Indian Army official told Defense News, the Indian Army and Air Force have "been held hostage" to older generation ATGMs from Europe. 
"These ATGMs are fully wire-guided ATGMS…Even Spike is not a fully fire-and-forget missile, as there is wire guidance in Spike," the military official noted.


March 25, 2017

Trump administration asked to push for F-16 sale to India

Two top Senators have urged the Trump administration to push for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to India to build its capability to counter security threats and balance China's growing military power in the Pacific.

Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texa in a joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, the Trump administration must make the fighter jet acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions with India.

India has launched an effort to expand its combat aircraft fleet and the competition has reportedly narrowed down to Lockheed's F-16 and Saab's Gripen.

Noting that the last F-16 for the US Air Force rolled off the production line in Fort Worth in 1999, the two Senators said India remains the only major F-16 prospect customer.

"A primary factor in India's decision will be compliance with Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, which will require establishing some level of local production capacity," Warner and Cornyn wrote.

"Given the strategic significance of India selecting a US aircraft as the mainstay for its future Air Force and the potential for a decision this year, we ask that the administration make the fighter acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions," they said.

Warner, who is a Democrat and Cornyn from the Republican Party are the co-chairs of the influential Senate India caucus, the only country specific caucus in the US Senate.

"We urge you to weigh in forcefully with the White House on the strategic significance of this deal, both to America's defence industrial base and to our growing security partnership with India," said the letter dated March 23.

Making a strong case for the sale of F-16s to India, the two Senators said this would represent a historic win for America that will deepen the US-India strategic defence relationship and cement cooperation between our two countries for decades to come.

"It would increase interoperability with a key partner and dominant power in South Asia, build India's capability to counter threat from the north, and balance China's growing military capability in the Pacific," they said.

India, they said, increasingly serves as an integral partner in the United States' security architecture in the volatile South Asia region, helping to protect our joint interests and deter common threats, and has emerged as a critical trading partner, they noted.

As such "it is in our national interest to work with India to progress democratic principles through regional security partnership and burden sharing," they said.

"To this end, we support the co-production of our legacy F-16 aircraft in India to help sustain the United States' current fleet of aircraft and aid a critical Indian security need with a proven American product," Cornyn and Warner wrote.

The competition for the fighter jets, they wrote, presents an opportunity to solidify and strengthen the significant gains made in the bilateral US-India defence relationship over the two previous administrations, they said.


Indian Air Force to acquire at least 60 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to begin contract negotiations for acquiring 56 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft as replacements for its ageing Avro HS-748 aircraft.

According to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, due attention is being paid to all assets of IAF, fighters and transporters included, and that “contract negotiations for 56 C-295 aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet are likely to commence shortly”.

Separately, official sources indicated that the Border Security Force (BSF) is also looking at four C-295s for movement of its troopers within the country. That takes the projected number to 60, but as the aircraft will be made in India by the Tata Group, their number should go up eventually, keeping in mind the regional connectivity plans of the Civil Aviation Ministry, particularly in India’s northern Himalayan cities.

Airbus officials have also said they are looking at a sizeable share of the Indian civil aviation market, pointing out that the C-295 is already operational in 19 countries.

The air chief’s statement is significant as it clearly indicates that the process of acquiring the C-295s is now on a firm track.

The aircraft is to be made in India by the Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) in partnership with Airbus, and as per their announcement in 2014, once a contract is awarded, Airbus Defence and Space will supply the first 16 aircraft in “fly-away” condition from its own final assembly line in Spain and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by TASL. The arrangement will include undertaking structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing, and management of the indigenous supply chain.

Asked how the IAF was overcoming many challenges in the transport domain, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that IAF will also induct another six Lockheed Martin C-130J Special Operations aircraft within the first half of 2017 while one more Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft is being acquired to take their number to 11. Ten C-17s are already operational with the IAF.

It may be recalled that IAF has already inducted the first lot of six C-130Js. One of them, however, had crashed and a case has now been made for its replacement.

About the AN-32 aircraft, which is the workhorse of the IAF and has been under upgrades, he said that their first lot is due for “phase out in 2023-24 and a suitable replacement will be considered at an appropriate time”.

The IAF had acquired more than 100 AN 32s beginning mid-1980s from the Soviet Union, and these are being upgraded by Ukraine, which is now an independent state after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

About the Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) that was proposed (in 2007) to be designed and built in collaboration with Russia, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that “the agreement with Russia for MTA could not mature as their proposal did not meet some of the Air Staff Qualitative requirements (ASRs)”.


March 23, 2017

Lockheed Martin to shift F-16 production line to South Carolina

The end of an era is coming as production of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon is being shifted from west Fort Worth to South Carolina.

Lockheed will begin moving the production line to its facility in Greenville, S.C., at the end of the year after delivering the last of the iconic jets being built for Iraq in September, said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth.

The F-16 has been a mainstay of Lockheed’s mile-long production line, but the Fort Worth plant needs the room as it ramps up production of the F-35 Lightning II, he said. Currently, 8,800 employees work on the F-35 and about 200 work on the F-16. It is expected that the F-16 employees will be allowed to transition to work on the F-35.

“As part of our effort to make room for the F-35 production here in Fort Worth, the F-16 production line must be relocated,” Ross said.

Over the life of the program, Lockheed has delivered more than 4,500 F-16s, including 3,600 built in Fort Worth. Since the company hasn’t booked any orders for new F-16s beyond the planes for Iraq, it would take about two years to start it back up in South Carolina once a new order is received, Ross said.

Moving production to South Carolina makes sense for several reasons, company officials said.

First and foremost, Lockheed Martin is ramping up activity on the F-35 in Fort Worth and expects to hire an additional 1,800 employees through 2020 as work on the stealth fighter hits full production. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and expects to build up to 160 a year by 2019.

“The space we use for the F-16 will be consumed by the F-35,” Ross said.

Secondly, the Greenville plant is where the new T-50A trainer will be built if it wins a competition to build the aircraft for the Air Force. The T-50A is considered an “offshoot” of the F-16 design, so the economics of having the two lines together makes sense, Ross said.

Lockheed continues to pitch building the F-16 in India. India wants to modernize its aging military fleet of about 650 planes and the Indian Ministry of Defence has set up a competition to build a new single-engine fighter in that country as part of a “Make in India” initiative.

But the Trump administration has made it clear it will scrutinize any deal that may shift jobs overseas and has said it plans to take a “fresh look” at the India deal. Lockheed argues that the Indian contract, while moving production overseas, would still be a boost to the domestic economy.

Lockheed still thinks the F-16 is the right aircraft for India and is providing information to the federal government about that deal, Ross said.

Lockheed is also seeking to make additional F-16 sales to U.S. allies.

“We have a lot of pursuits ongoing but no new orders yet,” Ross said.


Russian design bureau ready to integrate BrahMos missiles into frigates for Indian Navy

The St. Petersburg-based Severnoye Design Bureau is ready to integrate the BrahMos strike missile system into the armament set of Project 11356M frigates for the Indian Navy after they are ordered by India, Severnoye Deputy CEO and Chief Designer for Special Hardware Vyacheslav Senchurov told TASS on Wednesday.

"No problems will emerge with the integration of the BrahMos strike missile complex into the frigate. We have already integrated this system earlier into the other three Project 11356 frigates acquired by the Indian Navy," Senchurov said at the LIMA-2017 international maritime and aerospace show in Malaysia.

The Severnoye Design Bureau is the developer of Project 11356 warships for the Russian and Indian Navies while Project 11356M frigates are the follow-up of this series.

The first three out of six Project 11356 frigates operational in the Indian Navy are armed with the Russian-made Club-N strike system (the export version of the Kalibr cruise missile complex) while the other three vessels are outfitted with the Russian-Indian BrahMos multipurpose missile system that is capable of hitting both surface and ground-based targets.

Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy at Russia’s state hi-tech corporation Rostec Viktor Kladov said earlier that the planned contract for the delivery of Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy would be implemented under the "two plus two" formula:" two frigates were planned to be built in Russia and delivered to India and the other two would be constructed by the Indian ship-building industry at one of the national shipyards.


Russia to Sign Deal With India on Delivery of 48 Mi-17V-5 Helicopters in 2017

Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Russia's Rostec State Corporation Victor Kladov says Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 on deliveries to India of 48 Mi-17B-5 helicopters.
 Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 on deliveries to India of 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Russia's Rostec State Corporation Victor Kladov said Wednesday.
"I am sure that this year the deal on delivery of 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to India will be signed," Kladov told journalist at Langkawi exhibition.
Russia is also engaged in dialogue with countries of the Middle East and North Africa on delivery of Su-35 fighters, Kladov said.
"Countries from North Africa and the Middle East region can be the next to acquire Su-35 fighters, the negotiations with them are being conducted," Kladov told journalists, without specifying the countries.
Kladov also said that Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 for delivery and manufacturing in India of four project 11356 frigates.
"I am sure that this year the deal on the manufacturing of two frigates under the license in India and the delivery from Russia of two frigates of this project will be signed," Kladov told journalists.


Plan To Build Choppers For Indian Forces Remains Grounded As Russia Drags Its Feet

The first major hurdle to "Make in India" in defence manufacturing appears to be coming from an old friend, that is, Russia.

In October 2016, India and Russia agreed to jointly manufacture Kamov-226T multi-utility helicopters in India for the three services. The agreement was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Russian Federation Valdimir Putin. It was the first major defence venture under the Modi government's "Make in India" programme. But there has been no progress since.

The Kamov-226T is a twin-engine helicopter known for ruggedness and performance. Faced with the need to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, India planned to manufacture as many as 200 helicopters.

Top defence ministry sources told Huffington Post, India, that the two countries haven't yet decided on the exact price of the helicopters. The price being quoted by Russia is much beyond New Delhi's expectation.

More importantly, Russia isn't very comfortable sharing technology with the Indian private sector. The agreement specified that Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL)— the Indian defence public sector unit — would get Indian private sector entities as partners to manufacture various components for the Kamov-226T helicopter. Not happy with this involvement of the India private sector, Moscow has held back "critical clearances".

"Much of the Russian defence manufacturing is state owned. While India is trying to boost the nascent private defence manufacturing industry by making HAL the main integrator, Russian defence industry isn't very sure about involving sharing technology with the private sector," top defence ministry sources said.

Under this joint defence manufacturing venture, signed on the side-lines of the BRICS summit in Goa last year, India and Russia agreed for complete transfer of technology and joint production of Kamov-226T helicopters in India.
 The decision to make helicopters in India follows the Inter-Government Agreement on "Cooperation in the field of Helicopter Engineering" singed between the two countries during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia in December 2015. The two sides had agreed to set up a joint venture with the Russian government firm Rostec Corporation holding 49.5% stake and HAL holding 50.5% stake.

India–Russia ties are time-tested, and India considers Russia to be its most trusted strategic partner. However, the ties between the two countries had come under some strain: Kremlin perceived that New Delhi was increasingly depending on the West to source defence equipment.

The Modi government has been trying to re-energise bilateral relations. During the signing of October 2016 agreement, India had assured Russia that defence cooperation and manufacturing would be one the key pillars of Indio–Russia relations. Jointly producing helicopters for the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and the Army was expected to revitalise ties. Apart from helicopters, India had also decided to source warships among other defence platforms from Russia.

The three services and the Coast Guard put together need about 400 helicopters. While HAL is developing the light-utility helicopters, India decided to source 200 helicopters from Russia to replace the aging fleet of helicopters.


March 22, 2017

First contract for supplies of Brahmos missiles can be signed before end of 2017

The first export contract for the supplies of the BrahMos cruise missiles to a foreign customer can be signed before the end of this year, Alexander Maksichev, a spokesman for the Russian-Indian company Brahmos Aerospace, informed TASS at the 14th International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition LIMA 2017.

"I believe the first export contract for the delivery of the BrahMos missiles can be signed until the end of 2017," he said without specifying the potential customer. Maksichev emphasized that the consent of the Russian and Indian governments is required for exporting these missiles to third countries.

He did not specify though which modification could be exported - sea or land-based. According to Maksichev, it is planned to adapt the BrahMos-ER (extended range) missiles tested in March 2017 for naval applications.


March 21, 2017

Project to develop unmanned variant of Tejas planes in works

In what would break new ground, India has started work on developing an unmanned combat version of the home-grown light combat aircraft (LCA), with a task group being constituted to study how to convert the fighter for a futuristic role.

A team has already started work on the project to convert the LCA into a drone and India's premier aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is confident that the project can be carried out within a short time frame.

"We have started an internal study on making a unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) on the Tejas platform. Besides, we are confident on coming up with an unmanned version of Chetak helicopter as well," HAL Chief T Suvarna Raju told ET.

The Air Force has already placed orders for 123 LCA fighters and HAL is targeting a gap of 200 fighters that the Air Force will face in coming years. place a high risk on pilots in case of a ditching in enemy territory. India is also working on a project named AURA to make a futuristic combat drone that would be powered by a modified version of the Kaveri engine.

The drone, however, is several years away as the project is still at the design stage. While unmanned LCA would be no match for a futuristic stealth drone, officials pointed that out converting a flying platform into an autonomous unit could be faster and cheaper short term option.

The US, for example, uses unmanned F-16 fighters for aerial target practice.


March 20, 2017

Mazagon Docks, DCNS keen on making 3 more Scorpene-class subs

Mazagon Docks Ltd along with French shipbuilder DCNS, its technology partner for the Scorpene submarines, has approached the Indian Navy with a repeat order for three Scorpene-class submarines, despite the data leak scandal that had threatened to derail the project last August.

Like the first six Scorpenes, the three new submarines would also be manufactured at the Mumbai site, and would be equipped with a new anaerobic propulsion system (AIP) developed by the DRDO.

Six Scorpene submarines were ordered in 2005, and are being built at the state-owned Mazagaon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai, with technical assistance and transfer of technology as well as equipment from DCNS. INS Kalvari, the first Scorpene class stealth submarine built under Project 75, is currently undergoing extensive sea trials, while INS Khanderi, the second indigenous Scorpene-class submarine was recently launched at MDL.

The Scorpene submarine is one of the newer submarines of the Indian Navy, and has the capability of launching an anti-ship missile from below the surface of water which is expected to give the Navy a boost. Sensitive data related to the Scorpene was leaked in the Australian media last year. A committee was set up to look into the matter.

In early March, the Indian Navy conducted the maiden firing of an SM39 anti-ship missile from INS Kalvari. The missile successfully hit a surface target at extended ranges during the trial firing, and was hailed as a significant milestone, not only for the Kalvari submarine, but also in enhancing the Indian Navy’s sub-surface warfare capability.

Sources in the know pointed out that all six Scorpene being built in India are to be equipped with anti-ship missiles, which can help neutralise surface threats at extended ranges.

Sources pointed out that a repeat order for three new submarines would also help the Indian shipyard maintain the know-how and skills it has acquired through the manufacture of the first two Scorpene.

“At a seminar in November 2016, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikkar had expressed a need for 24 submarines to be built for the Navy, including the six P-75 Scorpene submarines currently on order.

“Given the extensive submarine building programme in other countries, the Minister was keen to strengthen the fleet. It makes emminent sense to continue to build on the first order,” said an official, requesting anonymity, adding that it was also an option under the P-75 programme.

Transfer of technology from DCNS also involves changing “the shells of the Scorpene by making them thicker with steel”, and the Indian counterparts have been educated on the same, as also integrating it with missiles and weapon systems.

Recently, the Indian Navy detailed a timeline for the induction of six Scorpene submarines, with the first two set to be commissioned end-2017.

 the hindubusinessline

Seven months on, India-US logistics pact suffering from bottlenecks

  • The pact will allow both to access to each other’s military bases for refuelling, repair and maintenance of warships and aircraft
  • The pact was inked on August 29, last year
  • One handicap is the absence of a unified command over Army, Navy and IAF in India
The much-ballyhooed logistics pact between India and the US, which will allow reciprocal access to each other's military bases for refuelling, repair and maintenance of warships and aircraft, is yet to enter into force despite being inked seven months ago.

Slow decision-making, bureaucratic bottlenecks and complex accounting procedures, much more from the Indian side than the US one, have held up the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) from becoming operational till now.

Sources, however, say the Indian defence ministry is "now close to finalising the intricate accounting procedures" under which the two militaries will provide each other with logistical support on "equal-value exchange and reimbursable basis".

It was much easier for the US, which has similar pacts with its allies and others as well as unified theatre commands to handle different parts of the globe, to work out the operational details and submit its "points of contact" list to India.

But India, with separate budgets and accounting procedures for the Army, Navy and IAF in the absence of unified commands, has found the going tough since the LEMOA was inked on August 29 last year. "The complex arrangement on how India would pay had to be worked out. But it should now be finalised and approved in a month or so," said a source.

The LEMOA, of course, represents yet another major milestone in the ever-tightening bilateral strategic clinch, which has seen the US bag arms deals worth $15 billion from India as well as the two militaries conduct a flurry of combat exercises over the last decade.
But the Modi government, wary of being accused of compromising India's traditional strategic autonomy, has taken pains to repeatedly stress LEMOA will not entail any basing rights or permanent stationing of US troops on Indian soil.

India is also in no tearing hurry to ink the other two "foundational agreements", in addition to LEMOA, which are being pushed by the US for over 15 years now. These are the Communications Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA), earlier called the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

"India is keen on further building interoperability between the two forces but it has to follow capacity-building. COMCASA and BECA will take time," said an official. Some military officers, on their part, assert one effective way of balancing the long-term threat from China, which has increasingly become assertive in the entire Asia-Pacific, is to militarily work closer with the US.

But critics contend the "foundational pacts" will only lead to a formal military alliance with the US in the years ahead, while adversely impacting the close strategic partnership with Russia as well as needlessly antagonising China. "A pact like COMCASA also has the potential to compromise our operational security by allowing the US military to snoop on our warships and aircraft," said another officer.

A) US largest arms supplier to India over last 5 years, with deals worth $15 billion since 2007
* Several joint military exercises held every year, from naval Malabar to counter-terror Vajra Prahar & Yudh Abhyas
* Inked Defence Technology & Trade Initiative (2012), 10-year Framework for India-US Defence Relationship (2015), Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific & Indian Ocean Region (2015), LEMOA (2016) etc

B) Foundational Agreements
1) Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
* Logistic support, refuelling & berthing facilities for each other's warships & aircraft on equal-value exchange basis
* Will not involve stationing of US troops on Indian soil. Nor will India extend support if US goes to war with "a friendly country"
* Useful for US forces re-balancing to Asia Pacific. Access to US bases like Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam and Subic Bay helpful for India

2) Communications Compatibility & Security Arrangement (COMCASA)
* Technology enabler to help transfer high-tech avionics, encrypted communication & electronic systems to India
* US says COMCASA will boost "interoperability" as well as ensure secrecy of its C4ISR systems
* But US will be able to track & snoop on Indian warships/aircraft equipped with such systems. Could compromise India's tactical operational security

3) Basic Exchange & Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA)
* US says BECA will allow it to share advanced satellite & topographical data for long-range navigation & missile-targeting
* But India has its own satellite imaging capabilities. BECA will involve US digital sensors to be positioned on Indian soil


Pvt firms to produce Tejas body, wings; HAL to play integrator

Three-pronged plan

  • Fuselage (body) and wing production work has been outsourced to three companies and these will come back with deliveries in two years
  • The second part of the "increase-production plan" is to use the existing facility of the hawk trainer jets; a pilot project has already started
  • The third part aims at turning Hindustan Aeronautics Limited into an integrator-a concept adopted by leading foreign manufacturers
In a path-breaking move, part-production of the Light Combat Aircraft, The Tejas, has been outsourced to Indian private companies, with an aim to speed up production to cover up the dwindling number of Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets.

The IAF is operating with 33 squadrons (16-18 planes each) as against the need for 42 squadrons mandated to effectively fight a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.

T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), said, “We are getting fuselage (body) made by private companies and the HAL, in future, will just be an integrator. We have outsourced fuselage and the wing production to three companies and these have to come back with deliveries in two years.”

This was part of a three-pronged plan to speed up Tejas production, Raju said.

There are 123 Tejas jets – in two variants — on order and HAL has an installed capacity of producing only eight planes every year. In the past, a private company made the hull (body) of the nuclear submarine INS Arihant.

Raju said, “The increased production rate will be visible from 2018 when we will be able to provide 16 planes per year under a Rs 1,300-crore expansion project (at the HAL facility in Bangalore).”

The HAL CMD said the second part of the “increase-production plan” is to use the existing facility of the hawk trainer jets and a pilot project has already started.

The third part involves outsourcing to private companies, thus turning HAL into an integrator – a concept adopted by leading foreign manufacturers. This will mean the Tejas fleet of 123 jets can be delivered earlier than planned.

The IAF is operating with 33 squadrons (16-18 planes each) as against the need for 42 squadrons mandated to effectively fight a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.


March 18, 2017

‘True’ BrahMos Unleashed Today, Next 900-km Weapon

The first benefit of India becoming a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was on display off India’s coast today when the country test-fired a BrahMos missile (photo) at extended range, well beyond the 290-km range it was so far shackled to by virtue of being outside the international treaty. Today, the BrahMos-ER was fired out to a range of 450 km, successfully hitting a target out at sea.
“It was a successful test, where we launched the BrahMos to a range in excess of 400 km. Shortly, existing BrahMos units will be converted to the ER capability, and future units will too,” BrahMos CEO Sudhir Kumar Mishra said an exclusive conversation with Livefist. Mishra’s team effected three changes to the BrahMos in less than a year in preparation for the ER test today: software changes to the fire control system and mission computer, and miniaturisation of some hardware elements in the propulsion system.
As reported earlier here on Livefist, a ‘final’ BrahMos version, sporting a range of over 900 km, will complete modifications and be ready for a first test by the end of 2019. This was make the BrahMos one of the most formidable stand-off weapon systems in the world, especially when seen in the context of its ship-based, air-launched and submarine-launched versions. Livefist can confirm that the range extension will be sported by all variants of the missile system.
According to a statement, the ER launch today from Kalam Island, Odisha, was witnessed by Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Director General Artillery, a Corps Commander and other senior officers from Indian Army. BrahMos Project Director VSN Murthy, and Programme Director Dashrath Ram along with other senior officers from DRDO and BrahMos were also present during the launch.


March 17, 2017

Oppn voices concern over shortage of defence equipment

Opposition today expressed concern over shortage of equipment, falling expenditure for defence modernisation and huge dependence on import by armed forces.
Participating in a debate on Demand for Grants for Defence in the Lok Sabha, Sugata Bose (Trinamool Congress) said it was unfortunate that a large proportion of the defence budget remains unutilised.
About Rs 13,000 crore was under capital expenditure was returned back in 2015-16, he added.
Lamenting the fact that Indian armed forces are heavily dependent on imports, Bose said, the Government did not give any incentive for defence related manufacturing.
Taking an apparent dig at Manohar Parrikar being shifted from Defence Ministry to Goa as Chief Minister, the Trinamool member quipped that this Government is having a great difficulty in giving a “full-time Raksha Mantri.”
“Someone found Goan delicacy more worthwhile than providing nutritious food to our jawans,” he added in a swipe at Parrikar.
Pinaki Misra (BJD) said, “This House has been bipartisan in the matter of defence but this will not prevent us from voicing our concerns.”


Eye on China, India to raise second division for mountain corps

The 15,000-strong division is expected be fully operational in two-three years, said sources, adding that the organisational structure and manpower were in place, and equipment and stores would follow.
WITH AN eye on the massive restructuring of the Chinese military, the Indian army is moving to raise a second infantry division for its mountain strike corps on the northern border, sources told The Indian Express.
The raising of the new, 72 Infantry Division will start at Pathankot within a few months, they said. “Preliminary action to set the ball rolling for the second division has already started. The army was told to complete the raising of the mountain strike corps by financial year 2017-18. It will be completed on schedule. Complete operationalisation will take some more time,” said a senior army official.
The 15,000-strong division is expected be fully operational in two-three years, said sources, adding that the organisational structure and manpower were in place, and equipment and stores would follow.
The other infantry division for the mountain strike corps — 59 Infantry Division — has been raised and will be fully operational this year.
The mountain strike corps, designated as 17 Corps, is meant for the northern border and is headquartered at Panagarh in Bengal. It was approved by the government in 2013 with a proposed strength of 80,000 soldiers at a cost of Rs 64,000 crore to be spent over a seven-year period. However, sources said, there has been a squeeze on release of funds since, raising questions about shortfall in ammunition and equipment for units already raised.
“The shortfall was mainly in ammunition, which has been made up by and large by invoking emergency financial provisions. As far as the artillery, air defence and aviation assets are concerned, we will get them as part of the modernisation plans,” said the official.
Sources said the army is “deeply concerned” about the recent changes in the command and control structure of China’s People Liberation Army, and is exploring ways to counter that threat. But military officials insisted that 17 Corps was not a “China Strike Corps”.
“We are moving fast from a threat-based to a capability-based army. The mountain strike corps is a part of that change and can be used in any mountainous region, which means all the northern borders. It would augment our posture along the borders, stretching from Arunachal Pradesh in the east to Ladakh in the northwest,” said the official.


India to fit six new C-130J s with terrain warning system

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to equip six new Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport aircraft equipped with the Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS), it was disclosed on 15 March.

A solicitation posted by the US Air Force (USAF) on the US Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) calls for the delivery of six C-130Js with the terrain elevation data for the TAWS. This TAWS subscription will run for 40 months starting 31 May 2017 through 31 August 2020, and will likely be renewed after.

As noted in the solicitation, the aircraft will be fielded by 87 Squadron based at Air Force Station (AFS) Arjan Singh (formerly Panagarh airbase) in the Burdwan district of West Bengal. 87 Squadron is not currently operational, and would be stood-up to receive these aircraft.

Responses to the solicitation should be submitted no later than 4:00PM EST 30 March.

The IAF currently fields four C-130Js, having ordered six in 2008. One aircraft was lost in an accident in March 2014 (a replacement was announced, but not approved), and in February of this year a second was severely damaged while taxiing at Thoise airfield in Ladakh. The current C-130J fleet is operated by 77 Squadron based at AFS Hindon, near the capital New Dehli.

These latest six aircraft that are being solicited were contracted in December 2013 for USD1.1 billion. As with the current fleet, these aircraft will be fitted with defensive aids, Indian-specific communication systems, and chin-mounted electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turrets.


Full Tech Transfer Could Derail Indo-Russian Fifth-Gen Fighter Program

The Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft under joint development and production by the two countries has taken a hit, with Russia showing reluctance to fully transfer the aircraft technology, particularly stealth capabilities, despite repeated reminders, according to a top Indian Air Force official.

After the preliminary agreement on the particulars of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) program in 2010, and with both sides having paid $295 million each, the final agreement that enables India to release more than $4 billion, is pending.

The Air Force has worked out its requirements for the FGFA, but the crucial "work sharing and technology sharing draft has yet to be finalized," the IAF official said.

Another retiree from the Air Force agreed. "Full technology transfer is not possible since the aviation industrial base in India is not at par with that in Russia," said Vijainder K Thakur, a defense analyst and former squadron leader.

An Indian Ministry of Defence official said the FGFA would be a joint project and that all technologies should be worked on together. The official would not provide further information.

Konstantin Makienko, the deputy director at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said: "The joint project means that the both sides develop the technologies together and become equal owners of them. Therefore it is not about the technology transfer but a joint use of them."

The Air Force is insisting that an agreement for joint development of the FGFA be reached at the earliest, lest the production of the aircraft be delayed. Any delay "would have serious cascading effect on production of the aircraft for India," Singh said.

For the most part, officials and analysts share a common view that a delay the final FGFA agreement is unlikely to shelve the entire program.

"It's unlikely that an in-principle agreement between Russian and Indian heads of government would be shelved. If India is unhappy with the extent of technology transfer, it would likely resort to a straightforward, albeit limited, buy, as happened in the case of the Rafale deal [with France]. Doors would be kept open for enhancing the scope of the deal at a later date," Thakur said.

The Air Force official pointed out that India has worked out operational needs for the FGFA, which the service says could differ from those of the Russians in some aspects. Russia has already moved ahead with its own research and development of the FGFA.

Russia is doing very well with its version of the FGFA, which is called the T-50. The first flight of the T-50 took place in 2010​.

In addition, Russia said it will fly the T-50 with the Product 30 engine, giving it Mach 1.5 super cruise, by 2020.

The Indian Air Force wants technology transfer for the FGFA from Russia because it is facing difficulties in the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft due to no availability of spares and technology transfer. India has contracted 272 Su-30MKI aircraft and is license producing the same at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities​.


March 16, 2017

Saab shifts Gripen M focus from Brazil to India

Saab is to continue development of the maritime variant of its Gripen E combat aircraft, with attention now being focused on a sale to India following Brazil's recent decision to axe its Sao Paulo aircraft carrier.
Speaking on 15 March during the company's annual Gripen seminar in Stockholm, Jerker Ahlqvist, head of the Gripen business unit, said that Saab will respond to an Indian Navy request for information (RFI) with the Gripen M (Maritime) that is it has been developing with UK and Brazilian engineers.
"There is an RFI from India for a carrier aircraft, and we are responding with the Gripen [M]. We see potential for the Gripen [M] and hopefully it will become a full development programme," Ahlqvist said.
The Gripen M (also known as the Sea Gripen) is still in its concept stage and is not yet a full development programme. "We are still in the phase of concept studies at the moment, and we are evaluating the market needs. We have used UK engineers with Harrier experience in the past, and now we have Brazilian engineers working on the project," Ahlqvist added.
First revealed by Saab in 2010, the Gripen M concept features a number of navalised enhancements to the baseline Gripen E fighter to make it suitable for carrier operations. These include a strengthened undercarriage, bigger brakes, and a beefed-up tail hook. The standard Gripen already has a large number of the attributes for carrier operations, such as a high precision landing capability, a high pitch and roll rate authority and precision glide slope control, a reinforced airframe, and enhanced anti-corrosion protection. Its undercarriage and airframe is already capable of a sink rate of 15 ft/s, although this would need to be increased to about 25 ft/s for carrier operations. "The Gripen is designed for narrow roads, and so would be perfect for carrier operations," Ahlqvist said.


'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge to India's sovereignty'

India has expressed strong opposition to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor+ (CPEC) project, which is the key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, even as it slammed Islamabad for not taking concrete steps to stop crossborder terrorism.

"The CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir challenges Indian sovereignty," said the Union defence ministry in its annual report submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.

In the past too, India has criticised the Chinese-funded CPEC, which links China's Muslim dominated Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port+ in Pakistan, because it passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, which New Delhi considers its own territory. During the G-20 summit at Hangzhou in September last year, PM Narendra Modi had expressed India's concerns over the CPEC in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, holding that the two countries needed to be "sensitive" to each other's strategic interests.

Taking note of China's significant restructuring of its People's Liberation Army to boost its offensive military capabilities, the defence ministry also reiterated India's support for freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeached commerce, based on international laws in the contentious South China Sea.

New Delhi has taken to criticising Beijing's strongarm tactics in the South China Sea+ , even as it slowly but steadily builds military ties with countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and others locked in territorial disputes with China in the region.

"India undertakes various activities, including cooperation in the oil and gas sector, with littoral states of South China Sea (Vietnam, for instance)...India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means....," said the MoD.
 Turning to Pakistan, the MoD said: "Although the (Pakistani) military has made efforts to improve the security situation in the country, it has avoided taking action against jihadi and terror outfits that target Pakistan's neighbours." "Support to such groups persists despite ongoing efforts by the international community, including India, to list the head of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammed, Masood Azhar, as an international terrorist," it added.

"Such outfits continued to be encouraged to infiltrate into India under the cover of massive cross-LoC and cross-border firing in J&K and other areas throughout the year. Pakistan-based terrorists attacked military bases in India, triggering an appropriate response by the Indian armed forces (the September 29 surgical strikes against terror launch pads in PoK)," it added.

As for the internal security situation in J&K, especially in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in July last year, the MoD said it is currently tense but under control. "Relentless counter-terrorist operations by the Army, along with other security forces, in the hinterland have thwarted the plans of Pakistan to give a fillip to the proxy war being waged against India," it said.


F-16s, Made in India

India is in the market for a new fighter plane—actually, about 200 new fighter planes. The country's fleet of MiG 21s is aging and increasingly prone to accidents, so it is seeking a replacement capable of air superiority and ground-attack missions. Initial reports suggested that the indigenously produced Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) might play this role. The Tejas, however, has been plagued with problems; a government investigation identified 53 design flaws, including underpowered engines, excess weight, poor maneuverability, lack of fuel capacity, underperforming radar, and maintenance shortcomings. Thus, despite a development process spanning more than 30 years, the Tejas remains unfit for combat duty. A Tejas Mark II will supposedly address many of the first edition’s shortcomings, but flight testing is not expected to commence until late 2018. 
Indian leaders are therefore looking to foreign manufacturers to produce a single-engine fighter in India, in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s so-called Make in India initiative. It appears that New Delhi will choose between Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen. The F-16 and the Gripen are highly capable and technically well matched, and both have their advocates in the Indian strategic community. The Falcon is particularly attractive, however, because of its ubiquity; it is one of the most widely used fighter aircraft in the world. By taking over production, India would be tapping into a large market for the plane and related products and services.
Lockheed Martin is offering to move its entire production line for the iconic fighter plane from Texas to India. That would be a second-best option for all involved. From a U.S. perspective, the optimal outcome would be to acquire India as an F-16 customer while continuing to produce the plane in Texas and keeping the associated jobs at home. From an Indian perspective, the best outcome would be the development of an indigenous fighter aircraft to avoid reliance on anyone else’s technology. Such independence has always been an important Indian strategic goal.
But neither side has any real alternative. For all of India’s recent economic and technical achievements, it lacks the ability to develop a world-class fighter on its own, as the LCA project painfully and repeatedly demonstrated. Insisting on an indigenous solution would result in endless delays and a sub-standard product, seriously compromising Indian security. Further, the Tejas is already built largely from imported parts, including U.S. engines. Thus, by buying a foreign aircraft, India is actually forgoing less autonomy than it initially might appear.
The United States, for its part, needs partnership with India to ensure that F-16 production continues. The United States acquired its first operational F-16s in 1979 and received its last plane in 2005. With no new F-16 orders scheduled beyond this year, the Texas assembly line could soon shut down. A deal with India would not keep the U.S. plant open, but it would at least ensure that the aircraft remains in production, generating employment and revenue from such sources as parts orders and licensing fees. These benefits would grow as India sells planes to new or returning third-party customers, which could include Bahrain, Colombia, and Indonesia, among others.
Perhaps most important, the Lockheed deal would give India and the United States an opportunity to work together on a significant, technically sophisticated defense project. That would build trust and bind the two countries closer as China’s rise creates uncertainty in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region. Indo-Swedish cooperation on the Gripen would undoubtedly be a good thing as well. It is not, however, as strategically valuable to India or the United States as a closer Indo-American partnership.
It is true that the F-16’s capabilities are well known to potential adversaries, particularly the Pakistanis, who have flown the aircraft since the 1980s. But this is a tradeoff inherent in getting one of the world’s most proven combat aircraft. More important, the Block-70 version of the F-16 that India would produce features upgrades in avionics and operational capabilities that far outstrip the older Pakistani planes. And India would likely be able to veto future F-16 sales to sensitive states such as Pakistan. Pakistani familiarity with the F-16, then, is not a reason to avoid it.
An agreement to produce F-16s in India might not be what either the United States or India would want in a perfect world. But in the real world, insistence on the ideal will lead to something worse than the compromises inherent in an F-16 agreement. In far too many cases, India’s quest for the ideal in defense acquisitions has resulted in sub-optimal outcomes. In India’s search for a new fighter plane, second best is best.