April 29, 2017

India Needs More Aircraft Carriers But Not At The Cost Of Key Strike Elements

First the good news: the Indian Navy may soon tap the government for funds to build a second aircraft carrier. This would either be a 65,000-tonne nuclear-powered flattop or a 100,000-tonne supercarrier. The Navy’s move is significant because India is currently down to one carrier even as China has publicised its plan to develop six such vessels.

Now the bad news: According to Vice Admiral D M Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, the new carrier could come at the expense of other projects and weapons as it is a “very big-ticket item”.

Before we analyse whether India needs more aircraft carriers, let’s take a look at the consequences of spending on carriers while ignoring other critical areas of defence.

In 1963, T N Kaul, India’s ambassador in Moscow, asked Russian defence minister Marshal Rodion Malinovsky what sort of defence preparedness India needed against the Chinese threat. The Indian Navy’s official history ‘Transition to Triumph’ records Malinovsky’s response.

He replied that what India needed was a strong, mobile Army, Navy and Air Force, well equipped with the latest weapons. Instead of a prestigious, overhauled, old British aircraft carrier (which he called the fifth leg of a dog and an easy target), India should go in for a submarine fleet to guard her long coastline.
Malinovsky wasn’t the first geopolitical expert who scratched his head in disbelief at a poor country acquiring a large and expensive carrier while neglecting its defence against hostile neighbours. Six years earlier, when Second World War hero Marshal Georgy Zhukov had visited India, he had disapproved of the Indian Navy’s decision to acquire an aircraft carrier, saying India was only doing it in order to make Britain happy.

Both Malinovsky and Zhukov had made pivotal contributions to Russia’s defence, especially in the Battle of Stalingrad, and as such were masters of warfare. However, on both occasions, Nehruvian India disregarded the advice of the battle-hardened commanders. The consequences of fielding an under-equipped military were visible in the next three wars.

In 1962, when the Chinese waltzed through the Himalayan frontier, the Indian Army was completely unprepared, lacking even winter clothing. INS Vikrant, which had been commissioned the previous year, played no role in the war.

Again, during the 1965 war, while the Indian Air Force flew Second World War Mysteres and Vampires against Pakistan’s latest United States-gifted F-86 Sabres, the Vikrant did not go out to sea at all.

In early 1971, when the political leadership decided to go to war, the Vikrant had been rusting in the harbour for over three years with cracked boilers. The flagship was pressed into service in a semi-fit condition because the Navy feared the Vikrant would be called a “white elephant and naval aviation would be written off”. Fleet Operations Officer G M Hiranandani told the naval brass, “Vikrant has to be seen as being operational, even if we do not fly the aircraft.”

Pakistan, on the other hand, had acknowledged its limitations and, instead of going for expensive surface vessels, decided submarines were a better option. The Pakistan Navy acquired its first sub in 1963 – four years before India did.

Because of the threat posed by Pakistan’s long-range submarine Ghazi, the Indian Navy had to hide the Vikrant in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It was only after the Ghazi was sunk that the carrier started operations in the Bay of Bengal.

The case for more carriers ::

There is no doubt that India, which is poised to be the world’s third-largest economy and great power, requires more carriers. In a 2009 report titled ‘China’s Maritime Rights and Navy’, Senior Captain Li Jie, an analyst at the Chinese navy’s strategic think tank Naval Research Institute, declared, “No great power that has become a strong power has achieved this without developing carriers.”

Carriers are an essential element of sea control. According to India’s maritime doctrine, “Sea control is the central concept around which the Indian Navy is structured, and aircraft carriers are decidedly the most substantial contributors to it. This is because they possess ordnance delivery capability of a very high order, often greater than the balance fleet units in the Task Force. This is by means of their substantial integral air power, which provides integral, ubiquitous and enhanced combat power, with extended reach and rapid response capability.”

At a bare minimum, India should have three carriers – one for each seaboard, with a third on standby. India was without a carrier task force for six months in 2016 as its lone flattop INS Vikramaditya was undergoing maintenance.

Having three carriers on call is an ideal situation but is possible only if funds allow. If the Navy is prepared to sacrifice other platforms to divert funds to the second carrier, where does it propose to get money for the support vessels?

For, an aircraft carrier doesn’t travel alone. It usually operates with, and is at the centre of, a composite task force, including multi-purpose destroyers, frigates, submarines and logistics ships. The carrier task force is a self-contained and balanced force, capable of undertaking the entire range of operational tasks.

We do not want a situation like that in 1971 when a limping Vikrant was sent into battle along with only four light frigates (one of which lacked sonar) and a lone submarine to provide anti-submarine protection. In his book No Way But Surrender, Vice Admiral N Krishnan writes, “Even assuming that no operational defects developed, it would still be necessary to withdraw ships from the area of operations for fuelling. The basic problem was that if reasonable anti submarine protection had to be provided to Vikrant and the escort ships had to be in close company for this purpose, then how were 18,000 square miles to be kept under surveillance?”

The Navy had deployed the entire complement of the Vikrant’s aircraft in offensive operations against East Pakistan, leaving none for the carrier’s defence. It was a calculated risk that paid off. Had Pakistan been in possession of another long-range submarine, the story may have been different.

Don’t cannibalise the Navy ::

While aircraft carriers are symbols of prestige, the bits and parts needed to win wars must not be neglected. Sadly, this has happened. For instance, India’s submarine strength currently stands at 15 vessels and is behind Pakistan’s fleet of 17. Even North Korea, which can barely feed its population, has a fleet of 70 subs, which is why the United States carriers keep a safe distance from the Korean peninsula.

Submarines are the true predators of the deep and will allow India to wreak havoc on its adversaries during a war. A fleet of 24 subs (the sanctioned strength), but ideally 50 undersea vessels, can target every task force in the Indian Ocean. During the 1999 Kargil War, it was a submarine, and not a carrier, that was poised to deliver the first blow had India decided to escalate the conflict. INS Sindhurakshak was deployed very close to Karachi and had its torpedoes trained on the harbour installations.

As well as subs, India needs to spend on other less glamorous but critical weapons platforms such as missile boats, frigates, stealth ships, minesweepers, land and ship attack missiles, torpedoes, shore-based radar, close-in warfare weapons, electronic warfare suites and maritime satellites.

Former chief of naval staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat writes in Betrayal of the Armed Forces that after the 1971 war complacency had set into the force. For instance, the Indian Navy, which had devastated Karachi harbour with its Russian Styx standoff missiles (outside the adversary’s range) and thereby taken the lead in ship-to-ship standoff missile warfare, yielded space to Pakistan in two critical areas. “(Pakistan) acquired the wherewithal to become capable of standoff air-to-surface missile warfare in which they took a 15-year lead and sub-surface to surface missile standoff missile capability in which they took a 20-year lead, all in a 25-year tenure span,” Admiral Bhagwat explains.

The Navy as a force multiplier ::

India cannot – and should not – match China carrier for carrier, but it should emulate the Chinese strategy of shipbuilding to boost the economy. Admiral Bhagwat points out that the Chinese military and political leadership had declared as a matter of state policy that shipbuilding would be the springboard for China’s industrial development. For India, this is especially advantageous because it is hemmed in to the north and the northeast, and the only strategic space the country has to manoeuvre is in the oceans.

swarajyamag / Rakesh Krishnan Simha

April 28, 2017

Moscow, New Delhi Discuss Making Russian Weapons in India

Jaitley did not reveal the type of weapon being discussed to make in India. "We have future plans to set up manufacturing units in India and these are subjects of discussion which came up in my bilateral meeting with the Defense Minister and I am sure with the level of engagement we have, this relationship will continue to grow," Jaitley said.

The $1-billion program of joint production of Kamov-226T has taken off this month with the final approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin to set up Indo-Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd. Russia's Rostec Corp will own 49.5 percent stake while India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will own the remaining 50.5 percent in the joint venture. Under the deal for 200 Kamov Ka-226Ts, 60 helicopters will be received in fly-away condition from Russia while another 40 will be assembled in India and the remaining 100 will be fully built in India.

"Russia has been a true and trusted friend of India, which is regarded so by the people of India and there has been a much greater cooperation at the level of defense. It is a cooperation which extends to joint military exercises, training cooperation and also with regard to the supply of equipment which India purchases from Russia," Jaitley said.

India and Russia identified a total number of 485 lines for Transfer of Technology (ToT) to support Sukhoi-30 MKI fleet. Towards this, 20 Indian vendors have been introduced to the Russian OEMs to find out the feasibility of ToT in the fields desired by Indian vendors.

In March this year, HAL signed an agreement with Russian OEMs for the long-term supply of spares and rendering technical assistance for five years which do not cover any technology transfer. The agreement will enable HAL to procure required spares based on the price catalogs directly from OEMs for the Sukhoi fleet and boost after-sales service by reducing lead time in the procurement of spares significantly.


April 27, 2017

Final trials of BrahMos in Pokhran soon

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, seems to be picking up speed for its final induction in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

As per the highly placed official sources at BrahMos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture, the air launched version of the formidable missile shall be test-fired against a live sea-based target in second half of the May followed with a final test-fire against a live land target in Pokhran firing range in Jaisalmer by May last week or June first week. After the successful completion of these significant trials, the missile shall finally be ready for induction into the IAF .

On April 21, Indian Navy successfully undertook the maiden firing of BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile from Indian Naval Ship Teg, a Guided Missile Frigate, on a target on land. Its Anti Ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy . Majority of the frontline ships of Indian Navy , like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, are capable of firing this missile. Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile while enhancing the prowess of Indian Navy , provides Indian Naval Ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea.

Drop trials of this `fire and forget' missile have been carried out successfully from Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft earlier while achieving mission parameters regarding the release mechanism of launcher in addition to clearance from the aircraft in a copybook manner as per the officials.

"Further the data with respect to live sea target attack from air launched version would first be analysed paving way for the desert test fires of air launched version from the fighter aircraft against live land target in Pokaran at the most by first half of June", said an official adding that the test fires shall be conducted for a range of 300 kms at a speed of 2.8 Mach (almost three times that of sound).The release mechanism . of the launcher in addition to the clearance from the aircraft after the fire have already been evaluated paving way for the test fire of 2.5-ton BrahMos air-to-ground missile from the Sukhoi-30 aircraft. Air version of BrahMos is 500 kgs lighter than its Army and Naval versions.

Earlier on March 11 this year, an enhanced version of the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile with an Extended Range (ER), much higher range than the current range of 290 km and a supersonic speed of 2.8 Mach was successfully test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) Chandipurat sea in Balasore, off the coast of Odisha. This triumph empowered the Indian Armed Forces to knock down enemy targets far beyond a range of 400km as per a statement from Dr. Sudhir Mishra, CEO& MD of BrahMos Aerospace.

BrahMos lends the competence to all three wings of armed forces with its impeccable capacity to be launched from air, land, sea and sub-sea against deep, well shielded and hidden sea and land targets while evading the enemy air defence systems due to its variable trajectory.


After Desi Bofors, Jabalpur set to produce BrahMos missiles

After Desi Bofors (Dhanush 155mm gun), Jabalpur is likely to get the manufacturing unit for producing BrahMos, the indigenous supersonic cruise missile which is one of the world's fastest conventional missile.

A team associated with the BrahMos project visited Jabalpur on April 25, and surveyed some areas for feasibility of the project. A total of around 70 to 100 hectares of land is required for the unit, sources said.

District collector Jabalpur, Mahesh Chandra Chaudhary confirmed about the visit of officials to survey land.

"A senior officer connected with the BrahMos project visited the city. They need 70 to 100 acre of land for setting up a BrahMos unit in Jabalpur. They also surveyed some land but the exact spot for the construction of the factory has not been finalised. The final word depends on the project team and whether they find the place suitable," Chaudhary told TOI.

Sources meanwhile told TOI that setting up of the missile production unit at Jabalpur is almost a certainty. Geographically Jabalpur is located at the centre of the country and is also relatively safe from security point of view, added sources. Land for the project will also be finalised by next month, said sources.

What has tilted the BrahMos project in Jabalpur's favour is the presence of related units, like ordnance factory, central ordnance depot, gun carriage factory, vehicle factory, grey iron foundry, sources said.

The missile project if established in the district will generate around 10,000 direct and indirect employment, said sources.
BrahMos is considered to the fastest supersonic missile that can follow and hit its target with precision. It is a joint venture between India and Moscow and hence derives the name Brah (Brahamaputra and Mos- Moscow)

Senior leaders of the state are also taking a keen interest and are trying to get the missile production unit established in Jabalpur, said sources.Dhanush 155mm gun long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush', was showcased for the first time at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. It is manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) at a cost of about Rs 14.50 crore a piece.


April 26, 2017

Govt contracts needed to jump-start defence manufacturing in India: Airbus

Pierre de Bausset, Airbus India’s President and Managing Director, said the government has to start placing large-scale contracts to boost manufacturing in the defence sector. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said Airbus has offered 5,000 crore as potential investments which will come in when it obtains defence programmes from the government. Excerpts:

What is the update on your collaboration with Mahindra for military helicopters manufacturing?

We want to put India on the world map for military helicopter manufacturing together with Mahindra Defence. To that effect, our partnership with Mahindra envisages creation of a private sector champion in India for manufacturing military helicopters. This includes the Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH), Reconnaissance & Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) and Naval Multi-Role Helicopter (NMRH). When released, the chapter on ‘Strategic Partnerships’ under the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP), may also influence the contours of our collaboration and offering to India.

How is your proposal to build a final assembly line for the Panther helicopter in India developing?

We are proposing to set up a final assembly line in India and make it the global hub for Panther helicopters. The production line will fulfil the Indian order as well as meet export demand. The proposal will materialise if we are awarded the Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) programme.

What is the latest on the C295W programme?

The evaluation of our proposal to build the C295W in India with Tata is advancing. The part of the field evaluation trials we were involved in is over.

Tell us about the growth of your defence business in India?

‘Make in India’ is at the heart of our business strategy and you will see that our engagement with India goes beyond just sales. There is a lot of engagement on the industrial level. On the defence side, in particular, we are offering the C295W as a replacement for the Avro aircraft. As I just said, the proposal is advancing as per the DPP. Together with Tata, the programme holds out the promise of creating a world-class private sector aircraft manufacturing capability in India within an ambitious time-frame, and nurturing a widened supplier base with an increasingly skilled workforce.

I have already touched upon the partnership with Mahindra Defence to produce military helicopters in India. To add to that, even before we have a contract from the government, we have started working with Mahindra on an industrial level. Last year, we awarded a contract to Mahindra Aerostructures to make airframe parts for the Panther. These parts will be produced at the Mahindra facility in Bengaluru. They will be shipped to the Airbus Helicopter production line in Marignane, France, where they will be integrated with the rest of the airframe assembly and will form a critical part of the Panthers sold worldwide.

What is the status of the Coast Guard competition for 14 twin-engine Heavy Helicopters and are you are offering a MRO for the EC725 as part of the offer?

The EC725, now marketed globally as the H225M, has been selected by the Indian Coast Guard, and we are in the final contract stage with the customer. Yes, as part of our offer, a MRO facility to structure the Performance Based Logistics support package for these helicopters is proposed in Goa. All 14 EC725 will be re-assembled and flight-tested there. It is going to be a green-field project. The facility will include intermediate and depot level maintenance.

What happened to the mid-air tanker deal?

The outstanding RFP for the acquisition was withdrawn by the Ministry of Defence last year. We have no new information.

Are you on track to achieving a target of over $2 billion worth of procurement in India till 2020 covering both civil as well as defence?

We crossed $500 million in annual procurement from India in 2015 and had given the guidance of exceeding $2 billion in cumulative procurement in the next five years up to 2020. I can say that we are well poised to beat our own expectations.

You said last year Airbus’ investments into India could exceed 5,000 crore. How much of that has fructified so far?

The figure refers to potential investments across all the defence ‘Make in India’ and industrialisation programmes we are pursuing along with our partners in India.

How much of it fructifies depends on the programmes we receive from the Indian government. As I mentioned in my earlier responses, a number of proposals are in the pipeline. But these are not the only investments.

How do you read the several policy announcements made by the government in boosting manufacturing in defence?

What has been done is to lay the groundwork.

What is needed now is for the government to award a few large scale contracts to jumpstart Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and manufacturing activity as part of ‘Make in India’ in the aerospace and defence sector.


Russia working on new medium-calibre ammo

Russia has confirmed that it is working on what it calls "special shrapnel" ammunition for use by 30 mm and 57 mm cannons, with the latter likely developed with a view to engaging unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The work is being carried out by Russia's NPO Pribor research and industrial association, which is affiliated with Rostec subsidiary TechMash (Russia's largest ammunition manufacturer), and is still in its early stages, with no projected initial operational capability (IOC) as yet.
The new Russian 57 mm ammunition will probably be along similar lines to the Rheinmetall Air Defence Oerlikon AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction) 35 mm ammunition, which is used by a number of air defence weapons. AHEAD 35 mm is programmed as it leaves the weapon and contains a number of small submunitions that are ejected at the correct time of flight in front of the target.
The Russian 57 mm round would be for a new mobile air defence weapon that is currently being developed as the Derivatsiya - PVO anti-aircraft artillery system, or ZAK-57. This is based on a modified BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle fitted with a brand new turret.
The Derivatsiya's 57 mm cannon is probably the same as that installed in the ASU-220M Baikal remote-controlled turret (RCT), which has been developed by the Burevestnik Central Research Institute, part of the UralVagonZavod group. The ASU-220M RCT is also armed with a 7.62 mm PKTM co-axial machine gun (MG) and the weapons are coupled to a computerised fire control system (FCS), with both crew members provided with stabilised day/night sights incorporating a laser rangefinder.
The AU-220M turret has already been shown installed on a modified BMP-3 IFV hull and has been marketed to a number of countries overseas, especially in the Middle East.
Russian sources have confirmed that in addition to firing conventional natures of 57 mm ammunition it was also fire a guided 57 mm round to enable targets to be engaged at ranges beyond the 57 mm weapon's direct-fire range, which is quoted as 12 km when fired horizontally and up to 8 km when fired vertically.


'We are Indians, not Chinese': Arunachal Pradesh students slams China for renaming six places

Rebuking China for naming six places of Arunachal Pradesh on its map, the students union of the state on Monday held a protest rally against the move while criticising the state government for remaining silent on the issue.

The Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) reached the streets of China with placards and banners in their hands, while shouting 'anti-China' slogans. They also burnt an effigy of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

To take revenge of the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal, China has renamed six places of the northeastern state as its own. Upset from the move, students Union said Arunachal Pradesh has never been a part of China.

"Arunachal Pradesh has never been a part of China and Arunachalees hold strongest patriotism for India.

"Arunachal is an integral part of India and if we go by history, people of the state had participated in the country's freedom movement. People here have never been under the Chinese rule," AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said.

He added that state government needs to address the matter seriously.

Naming the remote parts of Arunachal on the official map of China, Beijing had said Arunachal Pradesh is part of south Tibet with close Buddhist links with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the Mainland.

China had said that the names were changed to show to India the “sovereignty” of the region.


April 24, 2017

Israel offers strike-capable drones to India

Israel has offered to sell India its armed unmanned aerial vehicles Eitan or Heron TP in order to enhance its stand-off strike as well as long-range strategic strike capability. The offer is still on the table, with South Block interested in bringing the unmanned weapon through “Make in India” route.

With the security establishment convinced that long range stand-off weapons would take precedence over direct engagement in future conflicts, New Delhi has been interested in acquiring armed medium-high altitude, long-endurance UAVs with payload capability in the form of laser-guided bombs or air-to-ground missiles. In this context, Indian military has been looking towards the US and Israel for acquiring Predators or Heron TPs.

While the US is expected to allow sale of General Atomics-developed Guardian UAV as a first step towards either the Predator or Reaper Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) to India, Tel Aviv has already made a formal offer for the Heron TP to the defence ministry. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron TP can fly at a height of 35,000 feet, has a flight endurance of up to 52 hours and carries a weapon payload. India has Heron UAVs in service with the air force already, where they are being used for surveillance as well as in the target acquisition and reconnaissance role.

South Block sources said while New Delhi is interested in the Heron TP, it wants the vehicle to be manufactured in the country through a joint venture with IAI under “Make in India” with total transfer of technology. “The decision on acquisition will be taken before the PM visits Tel Aviv in July on his return from the G-20 meeting in Hamburg,” said an official.


$5.8 Billion Indian Missile Deal Hangs By Thread, Decider In A Week

Later this month in the famed Pokhran weapons testing ranges in India’s western desert sector, French, Swedish and Russian teams will arrive for one of the most crucial field trials in their collective careers. The teams have weathered a meandering trial process that has stretched over seven years. But the sheer value of the prize at hand — $5.8 billion worth of air defence weaponry — makes it impossible for the teams to even contemplate cutting their losses and walking away.
It is, by far, India’s largest single deal for anti-air missiles. If uncertainty has raised its head more than a few times since 2010 when it all began, the Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORADS) programme, which looks to gear the Indian Army with 800 manned twin launchers and 5,000 missiles, stands at a precarious position that has flummoxed all three contenders in the race.
Before the end of this month, trial teams from MBDA, Saab and KB Mashinostroyeniya will take the now-familiar flight to Rajasthan, and then onto the Pokhran ranges bearing their products: the Mistral, RBS 70NG and Igla-S. India currently operates an early version of the Igla in a single shoulder-mounted launcher configuration. The systems India is looking to purchase will be twin launchers.
Army sources familiar with the final test phase spoke to Livefist about what will happen in Pokhran this month, providing an intriguing picture of a deal that stands buffeted by a paradox: it is imperative that a deal is concluded, going by the tactical air defence gaps that the Army highlights regularly. On the other hand, several blips in the process have pushed it out into uncertain territory. Livefist has the state of play:
For starters, the only system that will engage in any firing during the re-confirmatory trials this month is Saab’s RBS 70NG. While the Russian team has been asked to demonstrate the crucial act of target acquisition — an obvious pre-requisite before firing efficacy can even be gauged, the French team will be on site as observers, though the MBDA team has other non-compliance issues to set straight during the final round.
More interestingly, Russia is ‘back in the game’, in the words of a senior official with the Weapons & Equipment Directorate of the Army. Those words are significant, given that Russia simply absented itself from a handful of earlier trial rounds, and has failed to meet requirements a few times. While this has seemingly thrust the contest onto an uneven playing field, no punitive or procedural action appears to have been taken against Russia’s KBP. In case you’re wondering why MBDA and Saab haven’t thought of lodging formal protests with the Indian MoD, our best guess is that contenders rarely want to rock the boat and risk a full programme abort — something that has happened several times before in Indian contracting.
Army sources say while all three systems have had performance or technical compliance niggles since field evaluations began in 2012, the Russian Igla-S had the most significant issues: firing was deemed not successful during field trials, target acquisition continuously failed, and, to top it all, the Igla-S didn’t have a state-of-the-art sight during trials. To the likely consternation of the Swedish and French teams, the overpowering sense is that Russia isn’t at any apparent disadvantage going into the final test round.
Sources tell Livefist that Russia’s move to field the 9K333 Verba system in place of the Igla-S two years ago was principally because of the latter’s performance issues. However, replacing a product mid-course under an unusually strict set of targets charted out in the RfP was simply not an option, and would have meant an instant reboot to the contest. Russia was told the Verba couldn’t come anywhere near the race, and the VSHORADS contest would only test the Igla-S.
Livefist reached out to the three companies to get them on the record about the upcoming trial round. While KBP declined comment, Saab and MBDA did.
A spokesperson for MBDA said in a statement over email, “We have to respect the process and do our best to further convince the Indian customer that MBDA’s VSHORAD is the best solution for India’s requirements, both in terms of its operational capability and in terms of the industrial offer we are making – namely the manufacture of the Mistral missile under license, this includes ToT. We also stress the advantages of the Mistral missile being the same missile that will be arming the Rudra and LCH (the Mistral ATAM systems already integrated on Rudra and currently being integrated on LCH). We have successfully carried out FETs set by the Indian customer in the 3 environmental domains stipulated – desert, sea and altitude. Our Mistral MANPADS passed these tests including technical lab trials on time and on schedule to the full satisfaction of the Indian customer.”
In what can only be interpreted as an indication of the playing field thus far, MBDA’s statement concludes, “Because further FETs are now being sought by the Indian customer in a move to carry out and conclude the fullest evaluation of the competing options, the DPP requires that all the competing vendors are given a further and equal chance to prove their products’ capabilities to meet the Indian requirement.”
A spokesperson for Saab India said, “Saab never comments on ongoing trials, and we will fully, as always, cooperate with customer requirements. Furthermore, we are confident that Saab’s solution of the RBS 70 NG and the HARD Radar is the perfect system for the Indian Armed Forces’ requirement of a VSHORAD system. Besides being the world’s most modern system in this category, it will provide much more versatility and flexibility to India, at the lowest life cycle cost. What is also well-known is that we are already transferring technology to Indian companies for this program, and will have the best Make in India offer.”
History has shown an abort only ever a step away in any Indian arms acquisition process. As Livefist reported last year, there has been talk of simply scrapping the VSHORADS contest and starting it afresh. That would, by all accounts, be disastrous: it would belie the urgency of plugging India’s air defence gaps, the costs sunk into evaluating systems both by the government as well as the contenders as part of the  expensive ‘No Cost No Commitment’ stipulation. And finally, given that delays have almost never resulted in a better deal or savings for the country, it would cement India’s already shaky reputation for being a whimsical buyer.
While procedural back and forth is only to be expected in India’s defence contracting process, a question that has swollen over the last two-three years is whether decision-making has been hamstrung once again by a system unwilling to follow laid down rules and conclude the exercise. Has the subjectivity that has bedeviled scores of earlier contracting efforts afflicted this one too? Or, come the end of April, could the Army have everything it needs to make a final recommendation on its most significant air defence deal? We’ll be keeping a close watch.


April 22, 2017

Indian Navy Test-Fires BrahMos Missile; Joins Global Elite Club

Indian Navy today successfully test-fired the Brahmos land attack supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal, joining an elite club of navies to have capability to strike on land targets from sea. The long-range missile was fired from guided missile frigate Teg on a target on land and it yielded desired results, a top navy official said.

The BrahMos Missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its anti-ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy.

"This successful maiden firing of BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile has significantly enhances the prowess of Indian Navy and has placed India into the club of select few nations," Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said.Navies of the US, Russia, Britain and China have similar strike capabilities.

Majority of the frontline ships of Indian Navy, like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, are capable of firing the land attack supersonic missile.

Land attack variant of BrahMos missile provides Indian naval ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland and far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea.

Indian Navy is upgrading its weapons system and platforms as part of a major modernisation programme.

Last month, it had successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile for the first time from an indigenously built Kalvari class submarine, enhancing its "sub-surface" warfare prowess.

The weapon was fired from the submarine, the first of India's six Scorpene-class submarines which are being built under the Project 75.
 All the six diesel-electric attack submarines will be equipped with the anti-ship missile, which has a proven record in combat.
These missiles will provide the vessels the ability to neutralise surface threats at extended ranges.


India, South Korea ink pacts on artillery guns


This is the second major deal India has made in guns after the one with U.S.

India and South Korea on Friday signed two agreements to build artillery guns for the Indian Army and for collaboration in shipbuilding. One of them is an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the governments while the other is a manufacturing agreement between two private companies.
The Inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for defence industry co-operation in shipbuilding was signed by Ashok Kumar Gupta, Secretary Defence Production from India and Chang Myoung-Jin, Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea.
India has already nominated Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam while South Korea will designate their shipyard soon. The MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both sides, Defence Ministry said in a statement.
“The MoU will come into effect from the date of signature by both sides and will be initially valid for a period of five years and would be automatically extended for further successive five year at a time,” the statement added.
Contract with L&T
The two sides will identify specific projects to work on and this cooperation is expected to enable HSL to upgrade and modernise its facilities.
Indian engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Hanwa Techwin of South Korea signed a contract on Friday to manufacture the K9 Vajra-T tracked, self-propelled artillery guns for the Indian Army.
“The first of the guns should be delivered within this financial year,” said Jayant Patil, head of defence and aerospace, L&T. Deliveries would be completed in 42 months.


April 21, 2017

41 ships to join fleet soon in Indian Navy

Forty-one ships of different variants, including an aircraft carrier, and submarines, including the nuclear ones and Scorpenes, are expected to the join the Indian Navy in the next couple of years.

This was disclosed by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, here on Thursday.

He was interacting with the media after giving away awards and medals at the Naval Investiture Ceremony at the Eastern Naval Command here.

According to Admiral Lanba, the vessels were being built at different shipyards, that include government-owned and private enterprises at various places in the country. “The Indian Navy is in fine fettle and is a potent blue water force. And the induction of these ships and subs will definitely enhance its strength further,” he said.

Referring to a question on the impact of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), he said that it was already notified by the Indian government that it passes through some sections of India and we have taken note of it.

INS Viraat ::

On whether INS Viraat would be given to Andhra Pradesh, Admiral Lanba said,

“The aircraft carrier has been decommissioned on March 6, and it is now primarily the decision of the Ministry of Defence. But the Andhra Pradesh government had approached the MoD on 50-50 sharing basis, which I understand has been rejected by the MoD. The option is still open and it all depends on further negotiations.”


India to construct two more Advanced Landing Grounds in Arunachal Pradesh

India moved to upgrade its defence infrastructure along the border with China, announcing the construction of two Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) at Tawang and Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, a day after Beijing gave its own names to six places in the northeastern state.

Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar held a high-level review meeting with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and discussed the ALGs to be constructed in Dirang and Tawang.

The meeting was also attended by Town Planning and Urban Development Minister, Nabam Rebia, including senior Army officials and senior state officials.

Khandu has promised to speed up clearance of pending issues to expedite construction of the airfields.

The Chief Minister also discussed issues related to land acquisition for defence purposes, the strategic 378 km Missamari-Tenga-Tawang railway line, the status of ALGs and other security related issues.

The Missamari-Tenga-Tawang railway line is expected to be completed by October 2020. Survey work for the project, estimated at Rs 50,000- Rs 70,000 crore, is expected to begin next year.

However, Defence Ministry officials urged the Arunachal government to speed up on location survey works so that the project could be completed earlier.

During the meeting, the Defence Secretary informed the Chief Minister that the Defence Ministry has given its seal of approval for civilian use of the six ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh to promote tourism in this frontier state.

Kumar said the Defence Ministry had approved civilian use of these airfields on March 30.

"The dual use of the ALGs would help Arunachal Pradesh in promoting tourism and other commercial activities and bring succour to the sick and needy who require urgent transportation," Kumar said.

The six ALGs - Tuting, Mechuka, Along, Passighat, Vijaynagar and Ziro - along the India-China border have been reconstructed, expanded and operationalised by the Defence Ministry and are under the direct control of the Indian Air Force.

On the issue of defence-related land compensation, the state government said that on the matter of dual compensation raised by the defence forces, a Group of Ministers has been set up whose report is awaited.

The Arunachal government officials informed that process is on for grant of permanent rights instead of leasehold rights to defence authorities, on condition that the defence authorities pay annual lease rent of Rs 10 per sq mt, which is as per the amended rules of the state's land settlement laws.

The move to construct two ALGs in Tawang and Dirang comes after China renamed six places in the state, which it considers as part of "southern Tibet". China had strongly protested the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang earlier this month.


Rolls-Royce opens defence service delivery centre in India

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc on Thursday opened a new defence service delivery centre (SDC) in Bengaluru, the first outside the US and UK, to provide localized engineering support and solutions and reduce turnaround time for the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

Rolls-Royce is looking to improve capability and provide faster front-line support for over 750 engines in a range of aircraft used by the defence as well as commercial aircraft such as the C-130J, Hawk advanced jet, Embraer and Jaguar, among others.

Shaun Agle, vice-president (customer services), India defence, said the new service delivery centre will be able to deliver real-time solutions through MRO (maintenance repair and overhaul), provide first and second line of support, have field service representatives, manage the health of the fleet, manage supply chains and collaborate with the armed forces.

India is the last remaining user of the Jaguar type of aircraft and is one of the largest users of the Hawk, the company said, while trying to highlight the need for a local presence.

The SDC will have at least 10 specialized engineers and service personnel to find localised solutions specific to India. The SDC is based on the model operated by the company at Marham in the UK and Kingsville in the US.

The company did not quantify the reduction in time or cost that would result from setting up the local SDC, which will do the work that would otherwise have been referred to Bristol, UK.

Last year, Indian customers raised 138 issues, according to the company, which were referred to Bristol.

Rolls Royce has over 1,600 engineers based in India who help provide solutions for the UK-based company’s global customers, Kishore Jayaraman, president, India and South Asia, said.


L&T may tie up with Korea’s Hanwha for self-propelled guns under Make in India

Larsen & Toubro Ltd may sign a pact with Korea’s Hanwha Techwin to supply self-propelled guns to the army under the government’s Make in India programme, an official familiar with the development told Moneycontrol.

Speaking at a February 13 press conference, L&T Group Executive Chairman AM Naik had said the company would “soon be getting a Rs. 4,600-crore order for guns”.

The pact between the two companies will be for the self-propelled gun programme of the Indian army for supplying K-9 Vajra-T’ 155-mm/52-calibre howitzers. According to reports last month, L&T has been selected for supplying 100 such guns.

L&T had jointly bid with Samsung Techwin for the gun order. But the MoU is expected to incorporate the Make in India objective. The Hanwha group had acquired Samsung’s stake in Samsung Techwin in November 2014. The guns, offered for supply by L&T and other bidders, went through field trials by the army with L&T coming out as the winner.

L&T has called for a press meet on Friday where an announcement of the memorandum of understanding between the two companies is likely to be announced. A company spokesperson refused to comment on the purpose of the press meet.

Hanwha makes robots, renewable fuel cells, aircraft engines, sophisticated security products for airports, ports and military establishments and weapon systems for aviation and terrestrial purposes.

This would be L&T’s second major defence pact for the Make in India programme in a little over two months. The company had on February 13 announced a 51:49 joint venture with Europe‘s MBDA Missile Systems with an eye on Rs. 10,000 revenues from the defence sector by 2021. The joint venture company – L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd – will design, develop, manufacture and supply missile and missile systems to the defence forces.

L&T has had technology relationships with both MBDA and Hanwha for many years.

The engineering giant’s defence business is part of its heavy engineering segment that clocked gross revenues of Rs. 3,323 crore in 2015-16.


April 20, 2017

Arun Jaitley meets top IAF commanders, promises to speed up modernisation

Defence minister Arun Jaitley met Indian Air Force top brass on Wednesday, as a three-day IAF Commanders’ Conference commenced in New Delhi, and promised expediting the force’s modernisation.

The minister was updated on the IAF’s operational status and the progress in infrastructure development by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, an official statement said.

The IAF chief highlighted the efforts made to enhance aircraft serviceability so as to maintain IAF operational preparedness.

Achievements made during the pan-IAF and international exercises with friendly foreign countries were also discussed by Dhanoa.

He also elaborated on the actions initiated to enhance operational effectiveness and IAF’s future road map.

Jaitley, meanwhile, deliberated on the challenges to the Indian defence forces due to rapidly changing geo-political situation in the world and uncertainties in the region.

He also commended the IAF for the success of various military exercises and operations towards humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, both within and outside the country.

Acknowledging IAF’s capability as the first responder, especially in the face of a natural calamity, Jaitley emphasised the government resolve to hasten the pace of approved modernisation programmes of the air force.

During the three-day conference, senior IAF leadership will deliberate on issues pertaining to enhancement of combat effectiveness and development of human resource and infrastructure.

To encourage indigenisation and enhance self-reliance in defence manufacturing, a day long interactive session has been planned with delegations from Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited and other defence public sector undertakings.

At the conference, the IAF chief will present trophies for excellence in various domains, including cyber, communication, sports and welfare activities.


Indian Navy Expected to Push for Second Aircraft Carrier Funding

The Navy is said to be willing to submit a re-prioritized procurement plan to the government to make funds available for the construction of India's second aircraft carrier. This could mean holding back on other big-ticket purchases in favor of the carrier.

"There is a lot of positivity, both from the government side as well as the Navy. I am sure within two-to-three months; we should be able to take it up, second aircraft carrier plan, with the ministry to get the funds. It is a very big-ticket item, it will have to be at the expense of things, we need to take these calls before we can go about doing it," Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Vice Admiral DM Deshpande said.

Finance / Defence Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley has already hinted that the Ministry will be ready within two to three months to release funds for the construction of India's next generation aircraft carrier. The proposed aircraft carrier could be one of the largest in the world.

Indian armed forces are managing procurement at low-level budgetary allocations against the projected demand for the services. “The budgetary allocations for capital acquisition have declined for the three services not only since 2015-16.

Similarly, against a projection of $21.96 billion for the capital budget in 2017-18, only $13 billion have been allocated from annual budget 2017-18 for various Services (Army, Navy, Joint staff, Air force, DGOF, R&D and DGQA). This decline in the allocation for the capital acquisition will definitely affect several procurement proposals and contracts which are to be finalized in 2017-18,” observed a parliamentary panel report on defense.

The procurement plan for capital modernization schemes may have to be reviewed and re-prioritized based on available funds, sources in the Defense Ministry said. Indian Navy has set a target to finalize the deal worth $9 billion deal including minesweepers vessels, Landing Platform Dock by end of this year while it has recently signed a deal worth $2 billion for Barak 8 missile from Israel.

The Navy will commission the country’s first indigenous 40,000-ton aircraft carrier Vikrant, currently being constructed at Kochi, by end-2018. The project has been delayed for many years and it revised the estimated cost to $2.9 billion. After decommissioning of aircraft carrier Virat, the Indian Navy is dependent on the recently acquired INS Vikramaditya (the former Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian Navy).


Army to induct more Pinaka systems

Adding fire power to its artillery, the Indian Army is looking to induct eight indigenously developed Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher systems. The Pinaka system is designed and developed by two private entities, the Tatas and Larsen and Toubro, in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Defence Acquisition Council cleared a RFP (Request for Proposal) last November for six additional regiments at a cost of ₹14,633 crore. The Indian Army currently operates two regiments of the Pinaka, combat proven and used in the Kargil conflict, that can fire up to 12 missiles in 44 seconds.

As designers of the systems, L&T, the Tatas and DRDO have planned upgrades to address obsolescence. Interacting with BusinessLine, Jayant D Patil, Senior Vice President and Head - Defence and Aerospace, L&T Heavy Engineering and L&T Shipbuilding, outlines how L&T has helped deliver technologically ‘current’ systems. Edited excerpts:

Could you give us some details about the current status and number of Pinaka regiments and how many have been inducted?

Pinaka system was developed by the DRDO during early 90’s with L&T and Tata Power as development partners for the launch systems. After years of trials and evaluation and subsequent harmonisation, this weapon system was cleared for induction in the Indian Army about one-and-a-half decades back.

Being an indigenously designed and developed system, the same was technologically brought to the state-of-the-art status and two regiments were produced for the Indian Army. Since two indigenous technological solutions were developed, the Ministry of Defence implemented the recommendations of an empowered committee to source the Launchers and Fire control systems (Command Posts) from L&T as well as Tata Power in equal proportion.

In November 2016, a contract for two more regiments was placed almost six years after conclusion of negotiations against a June 2010 RFP.

L&T has been consistently working on the design, development and upgrades of the Pinaka. How has the company helped bring in indigenisation?

L&T was entrusted the responsibility of realisation of two Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Systems (MBRLs) based on the concept and base specifications given by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE, a DRDO laboratory), but with low voltage battery backed system.

The Pinaka MBRL is designed by L&T as an artillery system that is built for operating in ‘silent mode’ and is based on all-electric low-voltage battery backed technology developed in-house. Pinaka Launchers and Command Posts have been serially produced by L&T with indigenous content in excess of 80 per cent, including the imported Inertial Navigation Sensor

Early this year, the DRDO tested a new version (Pinaka Mk-II) of the rockets, which can be guided to land on enemy targets. Can you give us some details on the extended range version of the rocket system, and L&T’s technical know-how which will boost the armoury?

The Pinaka Mk-II variant has been a joint development by the DRDO in collaboration with the user (Artillery User Directorate) to target a range of 60 km with enhanced terminal accuracy. This is to be achieved by incorporating aerodynamic correction features to modify flight trajectory with the inclusion of INS.

Having been the developer of the weapon launch system, L&T has been able to incorporate the necessary changes in the design to accommodate the extended range rocket pod assemblies.


April 19, 2017

Indian Navy readies Plan B for buying Submarines if Manohar Parrikar’s model fails

Faced with a critical shortage of underwater assets, the Navy is looking at alternate options to obtain more submarines at a fast pace in case plans to involve the private sector as strategic partners to manufacture vessels in India falters.

A top naval officer said that while the strategic partnership model - a pet project of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar which has been stuck for over 18 months - would be the best option to proceed with acquisition of more submarines, an alternate plan is also being formulated.

"We are looking at all options, including a government to government deal or an extension of the Scorpene class line (in Mumbai). The best option is the strategic partnership plan but we also need to have a plan B in place," Vice Admiral DM Deshpande,Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, said in response to a question by ET.

The Indian Navy is in urgent need for submarines, with its Russian origin Kilo class vessels reaching the end of serviceable life and the six Scorpenes on order grossly inadequate to meet expanded security tasks in the region.

The Mumbai-based MDL shipyard, which is constructing the Scorpene in partnership with French firm DCNS, has been pitching for an additional order, making the point that it has spare capacity and manpower available to quickly produce larger numbers.

Deshpande, who was speaking at a FICCI event to announce an international seminar on future requirements of the Indian Navy, said that another project to acquire much needed minesweepers has passed all hurdles.


Indian Navy to Sign $4.9Bln Deal With S Korean Firm for Minesweeping Vessels

In a major announcement, the Indian Navy has said that it will sign $4.9 billion deal with South Korean defense firm Kangnam Corporation for the procurement of 12 new mine countermeasure vehicles (MCMVs) this year.

"Issues between Goa Shipyard and the South Korean collaborator in the project have been sorted out and the deal should be sealed by the end of this year," Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, said in New Delhi.

Last year, the Indian government had agreed to build 12 new MCMVs with the collaboration of a South Korean company at a shipyard in India. Indian defense ministry has revealed to a parliamentary panel that all the six MCMVs currently operational in Indian Navy will be retired by 2018.

This will leave the world's fifth largest navy without minesweepers, which is essential to detect and destroy mines laid by enemy forces to choke harbors and spread mayhem. India had bought six MCMVs from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1970s.
The deal was supposed to be concluded with Indian shipbuilder Goa Shipyard last year but it got delayed due to technology transfer issue. India was expecting delivery of first MCMVs under the contract in 2021 but it may get further delayed, which means the Indian Navy will have to cope without any MCMVs for more than three years at least.

The Indian Navy needs at least 24 MCMVs to plug the shortfall. China, on the other hand, has more than 100 minesweepers and mine countermeasure vehicles.


April 17, 2017

Chant Anti-India Slogans Or... Terror Has A New Face In Kashmir

A week after the by-election for Srinagar, which saw a unprecedented violence and a record low turnout, videos have surfaced in which a worker of the ruling PDP and trader from South Kashmir are seen chanting anti-India slogans at gun-point. The party says the videos were recorded a fortnight ago -- ahead of the by-elections for which the separatists had issued a boycott call.

Party sources said a group of gunmen had barged into house of Wali Mohammad Bhat. In the video, which is now doing the rounds on social media, Mr Bhat is seen looking scared. An AK-47 rifle can be seen, held by a person off camera. Mr Bhat can be heard saying he does not associate with pro-India politics and chanting slogans prompted by men off-screen.

A second video has also surfaced in which a trade union leader, Bashir Ahmad Wani, was forced to say he would dissociate from all activities and chant anti-India slogans.

No police case has been filed and Mr Bhat was not available for comment. Senior leaders of the PDP said the worker has been keeping a low profile since the incident.

The election in the Srinagar constituency held last week, had seen a record low turnout and unprecedented violence - forcing the cancellation of the by-polls for Anantnag, which was to be held 3 days later. On April 9, only 7 percent voters had turned up at the booths. In more than 200 incidents of violence recorded through the day, 8 people had died and 100 securitymen were injured. In the repoll at 38 constituencies held later, only 2 per cent polling was recorded.

South Kashmir has become a bastion of the terrorists since the death of Burhan Wani last July. Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen man, was known for uploading photographs on Facebook that showed him posing with guns. Since his death, the protests that started erupted in his hometown Tral spread across Kashmir. While the protests have now ebbed, over the last few months, policemen, village heads and workers of the ruling PDP have been targetted in South Kashmir.


April 15, 2017

India plans to buy three more Scorpenes

India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May. India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines that the two sides would be discussing, a senior defence official told The Hindu .

“We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned,” the official said.

Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.

After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months. The second submarine Khanderi was launched in January.

Another official said that detailed discussions would be held at the India-France strategic dialogue expected around December. As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise.

The upgrades will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.


April 13, 2017

India pushes for stronger ties with Russia to support Su-30MKI fighters

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said stronger ties between Indian and Russian aerospace companies are required to boost support for the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) expanding fleets of Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft, which are produced locally under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Citing parliamentary comments by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, the MoD said on 11 April that it has identified a total of 485 components and parts on the Su-30MKI aircraft that could be produced by Indian private-sector companies following technology transfers from Russia.
"Towards this, 20 Indian vendors have been introduced to the Russian original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to find out the feasibility of transfers of technology in the fields desired by Indian vendors," said the MoD.
It added that it has requested Russia to consider permitting the OEMs to "establish joint ventures or other means of localisation with Indian private industry partners [to] manufacture [the Su-30MKI] spare parts through transfers of technology".
The MoD's moves to promote stronger industrial links to support the Su-30MKI were revealed one year after India's state-owned HAL signed an agreement with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and United Engine Corporation (UEC) to enhance after-sale support for the Su-30MKI aircraft.
The MoD said this agreement had emphasised HAL's procurement of spare parts for the aircraft. It added, "The agreement signed by HAL with Russian OEMs is for the long-term supply of spares and rendering technical assistance for five years [but] does not cover any technology transfers."
The MoD said that despite this, the HAL-Russian agreement would enable the Indian company to procure the required spares "based on the price catalogues directly from the OEMs … and boost after-sales service by reducing lead time in procurement of spares significantly".
In addition, Jane's reported in January that HAL is in talks with Russian industry representatives about a potential programme to produce more than 300 Su-30MKI line replaceable units (LRUs).


My Friend, Awaiting Your Historic Visit': Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu To PM Narendra Modi

Signalling the bonding between the two leaders due to meet in a few months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "friend" whose "historic visit" was being 'eagerly' awaited by the Israeli people.

On Tuesday, PM Modi had wished Mr Netanyahu on the occasion of Jewish festival of Passover to commemorate the flight of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

"Thank you, my friend, for your kind holiday greeting. The people of Israel eagerly await your historic visit," Mr Netanyahu tweeted, which was re-tweeted by the PMO.

PM Modi's visit would be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister would step on Israeli soil since 1992 when the two countries established full diplomatic relations. But PM Modi and Mr Netanyahu did meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2014. It was then, the first meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries in over a decade.

The government has not announced the dates for PM Modi's visit but the groundwork for the visit has been going on for months. Last month, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was also in Israel to fast-track finalisation of pacts to be signed during the prime ministerial visit.

On the cards are multiple defence deals for the Spike anti-tank missiles for the Indian army and Barak-8 air defence missiles for the navy valued at $ 1.5 billion, a Bloomberg report said. Last week, Israel Aerospace Industries announced a $ 2 billion mega missile pact that will give Indian forces an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles; the mega missile deal has been called Israel's biggest defence contract.

Israel is already the third-largest arms supplier to India over the last three years. But the new deals being finalised ahead of PM Modi's visit also indicate that New Delhi didn't have any qualms about closer relations with Israel.

PM Modi, who had travelled to Israel in 2006 when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, was widely expected to make the visit much earlier. Instead, President Pranab Mukherjee travelled to Israel in 2015 and addressed Israeli parliament too. It was during this visit that Mr Netanyahu had spoken about his earlier interactions with PM Modi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj followed it up with a visit in 2016.


UK ready for Tech Transfer to India to become 'world beaters' in Arms Exports

Britain today offered technology transfer to India for co-production of military platforms and weapon systems to jointly become "world beaters" in arms exports.

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also called for strengthening cooperation between the two countries to effectively deal with terrorism and extremism, calling them a major challenge facing the globe.

The British Defence Secretary is on a four-day visit to India aimed at enhancing security and defence ties.

During an interactive session at a leading think-tank on UK-India strategic ties, he referred to a spate of recent terror attacks including in London, St Petersburg and Egypt and said both India and the UK will have to work harder to deal with the menace.

"No country is immune from terrorism. India and the UK need to work hard to combat it," he said, particularly emphasising on boosting cyber security cooperation to protect youths from radicalism and extremism.

Fallon refused to respond to a question on death sentence given to Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court.

On Indo-UK defence production, he said with innovation and collaboration, Britain and India can prove to be "world beaters".

"We are looking at government-to-government framework for transfer of technology," he said, on technology transfer to India in defence manufacturing.

The British Defence Secretary also gave a run down of reform measures taken by his country in the defence sector and said a partnership with India will provide an unprecedented opportunity to match the British experience with Indian brainpower.

As per statistics collated by UK Trade and Investment, the country is the second biggest arms exporter in the world after the US. It said UK has sold more arms than Russia, China and France on average over the last 10 years.

Britain has been a leading supplier of military platforms to India as well.

Fallon will hold talks with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley tomorrow on enhancing security ties and deepening cooperation in combating terrorism and extremism.


April 11, 2017

Surgical striker: How the BrahMos is becoming India’s war winner

The rapidly evolving BrahMos is not only enhancing India’s capacity to inflict major damage early on in a conflict, but it could also play a subtle role in applying pressure on its rivals.
 There’s a reason why rocket scientist Sivathanu Pillai likes to describe the BrahMos cruise missile as the “Brahmastra for the Indian armed forces.” Although the supersonic BrahMos is not quite in the same league as the weapon of Lord Brahma, it is the most destructive cruise missile on Earth.
The Indo-Russian BrahMos Aerospace has not only created a new benchmark in cruise missile development, it has adopted the incremental or ‘ladder’ approach where more advanced – and innovative – versions of the missile are constantly being designed, tested, produced for all branches of the armed forces.
Currently, the navy and army field BrahMos in significant numbers. Pillai, who is the founder of BrahMos Aerospace, says when the air force also inducts the ‘A’ (air launched) version, the Brahmos will be a “war winner”. What he means is that when the three services acquire the ability to rain down these missiles to destroy the enemy’s assets first, it will be a force multiplier that will ensure a quick victory.
Although capable of travelling at a blistering Mach 3, the original BrahMos is a 3.6 ton behemoth. Even the air-launched BrahMos-A weighs 2.5 tons, which means it can be carried only by the largest Indian fighter – the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. However, newer iterations will be smaller, faster and have longer ranges. The missile is evolving not only with time but also in sync with the multiple needs of a military as large as India’s.

BrahMos Extended Range

BrahMos started off with a 290 km range as Russia was bound by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which was created by the West in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems that could carry a payload of 500 kg for a distance of 300 km.
With BrahMos Aerospace declaring that it would go ahead with developing a missile that would exceed the MTCR limit, and with the West realising the futility of stopping it, India was co-opted as a member.
MTCR or no MTCR, a 600 km range missile having the ability to hit hardened targets with pinpoint accuracy is a reality. India conducted the maiden test firing of the extended-range variant on March 11, 2017. This missile will allow Indian warships to strike enemy targets from greater standoff distances.
Flashback to October 2015 when Russian Navy missile boats anchored in the Caspian Sea blasted Islamic State positions 1500 km away. Similarly, BrahMos missiles fired from missile boats safe in the Gulf of Kutch or the Indian port of Porbandar can comfortably reach the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Hyderabad.

BrahMos II

Travelling at hypersonic speeds (Mach 7 or higher), the BrahMos II would deliver its warhead, assess the destruction, return to its launcher and get ready to go again. This bold new missile is inspired by Lord Vishnu’s Sudharshan Chakra – a spiked metallic wheel that destroys its target and returns to its owner. "It is our dream to make the best weapon,” says Pillai. “Our mythology has given us a lot of inputs. (There is) only one weapon (that) destroys the enemy and comes back, and that is Sudarshan Chakra.”
The missile is under development and is likely to be deployed in the early part of the 2020s.

BrahMos NG

This is BrahMos Lite. At just 1.4 tons, and with a proportionately lower range of around 120 km, the NG version will be light enough to be carried by the indigenously built Tejas aircraft. The missile is still on the drawing board and the company is talking to various users. According to Sudhir Kumar Mishra, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, “The idea is to mass produce the missile so that we can integrate it on a variety of platforms. It is a new business initiative and we see a huge market for it in India and abroad,” he said.
Although the Indian Air Force (IAF) may not relish the idea of arming the Sukhois with such a short range missile (which could bring the Su-30 within range of anti-aircraft defences), the NG version could suit deep penetration strike aircraft such as the Jaguar and MiG-27 providing air cover to an Indian armoured thrust. Alternatively, these missiles could be forward deployed, offering field commanders a weapon they can use to take out the enemy’s battlefield command and communication centres or armour concentrations.

Aviation Week suggests the re-sized missile will be capable of withstanding aircraft carrier deck landings. Carrier-based MiG-29s could carry up to three of these pocket rockets.

Salvo mode

When rockets are fired in salvo made it ensures that nothing is left to chance and the destruction is complete. In 2014, the BrahMos was successfully fired in salvo mode from the Russian-built frigate INS Trikand off India’s west coast. This means eight cruise missiles can be volley fired at an individual enemy element.
Possible use of salvo mode can be against a large target – such as a destroyer or aircraft carrier at seas. The cost factor plays a key role here. Firing eight BrahMos missiles would only make good economics if the intention is to take out a large task force, coastal radar battery or fuel tanker farm.


Despite having a large defence industrial base, India does not count among the top 20 arms exporters. With the BrahMos, New Delhi can finally make a mark on the weapons market. Considering that it is the only supersonic cruise missile in the world, there should be no dearth of buyers for it. However, customers need to be chosen with discretion to ensure that the missile does not end up in the wrong hands.
Foreign sales can also yield dividends that are more valuable than cash. Exports are a force multiplier because they tie the seller and buyer in a long-term geopolitical embrace. This may eventually translate into further military sales. When India acquired the MiG-21 from Russia in 1965, nearly 100 per cent of its advanced weapons were of British or western origin. A decade later over 80 per cent of its weapons was from Russia.
BrahMos can also be a useful bargaining tool against China. For instance, by supplying the missile to Vietnam, India can show Beijing that two can play the game. If China provides high-end weapons to Pakistan, then India can offer advanced BrahMos missiles to Vietnam. The missile could therefore play a useful role in keeping high-end weapons from being sold to Islamabad.

rbth(rakesh sinha)

Army seeks 18,000 additional security personnel for better protection of installations

  • The Army’s proposal calls for equipping each of the 370 new platoons (a full platoon has a junior commissioned officer and 55 other ranks).
  • Each platoon will be equipped with at least 2 light machine guns and a light 2.5-tonne vehicle as well as bullet-proof jackets.
  • The initial cost for raising the 370 platoons will be around Rs 1.3 crore.
The Army has asked the defence ministry to approve the raising of 370 new platoons (around 18,000 personnel) of the Defence Security Corps (DSC), with better training and weapons like AK-47 assault rifles and light-machine guns, to bolster security around key military establishments and camps around the country.

The move comes in wake of the report submitted by the tri-Service committee, chaired by former Army vice-chief Lt-General Philip Campose (retd), which had punched gaping holes in the security infrastructure of defence installations in the country after an extensive audit last year.

As was first reported by TOI, the government is yet to really begin implementing the wide-ranging recommendations of the Campose committee, submitted in May last year, despite a series of terror attacks on military bases like Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota, among others.

The defence ministry, on its part, says "broad guidelines" based on the Campose committee's recommendations have been issued to the Army, Navy and IAF headquarters. "The three Services have carried out security audits of their establishments, and steps have been initiated to address any weaknesses," it adds.

But much more clearly needs to be done. Constituted after the attack on the IAF's Pathankot base in January last year, the Campose committee's recommendations ranged from the urgent need to install modern "access-control, perimeter security-cum-intrusion detection systems" and better intelligence response mechanisms to providing new weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night-vision devices to personnel guarding the bases.

The committee had also called for a major revamp of the DSC, which at present consists of over 64,500 jawans re-employed after retirement from the armed forces, with new tasking and recruitment norms, younger age profile and special training, better weapons and equipment.

Agreeing with this, the Army's proposal calls for equipping each of the 370 new platoons (a full platoon has a junior commissioned officer and 55 other ranks) with at least two light machine guns and a light 2.5-tonne vehicle as well as bullet-proof jackets, bullet-proof headgear and night-vision devices, say MoD sources.

The Army also wants each DSC platoon to have at least four to five AK-47 assault rifles, which are rugged, foolproof and better counter-terror weapons, instead of being saddled with just the glitch-prone 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles.

"The initial cost for raising the 370 platoons will be around Rs 1.3 crore. There will, of course, be manpower, equipment and other recurring costs later," said a source.

As of now, the DSC, which was raised as a defence department constabulary in February 1947, is simply not trained and equipped to handle heavily-armed and motivated fidayeen (suicide) terrorists. Incidentally, five of the seven security personnel who bravely laid down their lives to thwart the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase were from the DSC.

Recent Terror Attacks on Military Camps:

- Jan 2, 2016: 7 military personnel killed at IAF Pathankot base
- Sept 18, 2016: 19 soldiers killed at Army Uri camp
- Nov 29, 2016: 7 soldiers killed at Army Nagrota camp
- Jan 8, 2017: 3 workers killed at GREF Akhnoor camp

What the Lt-Gen Philip Campose Committee Recommended:

1. Upgrade security infrastructure with tech-based access control, perimeter security-cum-intrusion detection systems
2. Arm troops & sentries guarding defence installations with better weapons, bullet-proof jackets, night-vision devices etc
3. Create system of QRT commando platoons in all military establishments
4. Create commando-trained Territorial Army companies to cover gaps in extra vulnerable installations


Ready to supply uranium to India as soon as possible: Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today said his country is ready to start export of uranium to India as soon as possible, two-and-a-half years after the two countries signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal.

Soon after holding wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Turnbull said cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector has been on an upswing and Australia would like to assist India in generation of nuclear power.

"We are working closely with India to meet our respective requirements for the provision of fuel for India's civil nuclear programme," he said, adding Australia was looking forward to supply of uranium to India as soon as possible.

On his part Modi said Australia is now ready to export uranium to India with the passage of a legislation in the Australian Parliament with bi-partisan support.

A joint statement issued after the talks said Modi and Turnbull reiterated their support for continued bilateral nuclear cooperation and that they anticipated commercial export of Australian uranium to India could begin soon.

Australia has about 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually.

India and Australia began talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after Australia lifted a long- standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India. The agreement was signed during a state visit to India by Australia's then prime minister Tony Abbott in September 2014.

India, which has nuclear energy contributing just 3 per cent of its electricity generation, will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

In the talks, Turnbull noted Australia's strong support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The Australian side also expressed its support for India's membership of the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, the two export control regimes.

Resolving to deepen maritime cooperation, the two prime ministers recognised that India and Australia share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication.

"Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)," said the joint statement.

The comments are seen as an reference to China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

"The two Prime Ministers highlighted their shared desire to ensure that Indian Ocean architecture keeps pace with regional issues and addresses emerging threats and challenges in the region," the statement said.

Modi and Turnbull agreed that the bilateral maritime exercise first held in the Bay of Bengal in 2015 will be repeated off Western Australia in the first half of 2018.

On defence ties, the statement said both countries remain strongly committed to the breadth of their defence ties and recalled the Special Forces Bilateral Exercise conducted in October 2016.

"They also welcomed a decision for the first bilateral Army-to-Army exercise to take place in 2018. They looked forward to the inaugural secretaries' defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the '2+2' format as a new mechanism to build on the deep strategic partnership."

Modi and Turnbull also emphasised on the need for an early peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process; and called for ending external support for terrorism.

On the issue of students, the Australian prime minister said he will ensure that they get outstanding opportunities.

The two leaders also decided to deepen efforts to "deter and disrupt" human trafficking, including to ensure the return of persons, subject to verification by Indian and Australian authorities.

Turnbull reiterated Australia's support for India's membership of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).

In the meeting, Modi also welcomed Australia's continuing support for India as a permanent member in a reformed United Nations Security Council.

Recognising India's strong economic trajectory, Turnbull informed Modi he would commission an India Economic Strategy to define a pathway for the Australian business community to collaborate with India on its reform agenda.

The statement also said India and Australia are keen to secure a timely conclusion of a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The Australian prime minister also congratulated Modi on his leadership in setting up of the International Solar Alliance and announced that Australia intends to join the alliance.

On India's skill development programme, Turnbull said Australia's industry-led vocational education and training system can play a key role training 400 million Indians by 2022.

On the sports sector, Turnbull invited "elite" Indian sports teams to train in Australia ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast.