November 30, 2017

After years of procrastination over selecting a new naval multi-role helicopter (MRH), the Indian Ministry of Defence may still make an interim purchase of up to 24 Sikorsky S-70B Seahawkss. This follows repeated appeals by the Indian Navy to hasten the program, given the state of its aging and depleted Sea King fleet and its ambitions to become a "Blue Water Navy." India recently issued a new request for information (RFI) for 123 MRHs to perform anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), electronic intelligence-gathering, and search and rescue (SAR). These helicopters would be procured and produced according to Delhi’s "Make in India" policy.
However, “The Navy wants these [24 S-70Bs] yesterday,” a senior official told AIN. The performance of the Seahawk has been accepted by the service, following trials. But previous and extended commercial negotiations with Sikorsky failed at agreeing on price, with the American company refusing to extend its bid and take account of the depreciation of the Indian currency against the U.S. dollar over the past nine years.
Now, the Indian government is considering procuring 16 S-70Bs plus eight options via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure.
With elections due in 2019, the Indian government is keen to preserve its "clean" image, and opting for an FMS would help achieve that. As a senior American government official testified to the U.S. Congress last June, “Demonstrating to the public that an acquisition is free of corruption is a significant selling point of the FMS system. Moreover, FMS provides a total-package approach, including sustainment, technical support, training, and software/hardware updates," said Tina Kaidanow, acting assistant secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
Designed to perform ASW and ASuW missions, the S-70B will be configured to meet the Indian Navy’s specific and unique operational needs, said Lockheed Martin. They will include a weapons management system that integrates an advanced sonar, 360-degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. “The S-70B aircraft also will enhance the Indian Navy’s capabilities to perform non-combat maritime roles, including search and rescue, utility and external cargo lift, surveillance and casualty evacuation,” Lockheed Martin added in a statement.


India looking to scale up military hardware exports

India has this year secured the biggest export order for military hardware worth Rs232 crore, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman S.C. Bajpai said at a press conference on Tuesday.

In September, the United Arab Emirates placed an order with the state-run arms and ammunition maker for the supply of 40,000 pieces of a component used in Bofors artillery guns.

This is the biggest export order by value, which came amid India’s push to scale up exports of military hardware, Bajpai said.

Though the OFB started to export ammunition in 1989, the value of orders ranged between Rs30 crore and Rs35 crore, said other officials at the OFB, who asked not to be identified.

The UAE and several other countries are showing interest in goods manufactured by the OFB, Bajpai said.

Officials from the UAE are currently in India for trial of another component used in heavy artillery guns. The trials have been satisfactory, according to the unnamed OFB officials cited above.

The order from the UAE is a “big leap” in the OFB’s history, and the ammunition manufacturer is trying to secure more orders from the West Asian nation, one of them said.

However, supplying to the Indian armed forces remains the top priority of the OFB, Bajpai clarified.


November 29, 2017

French Barracuda project’s utility to India

India can look to France for design and technologies to make low-enriched uranium cores for its nuclear submarines

On his recent visit to France, India’s chief of naval staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, was given a detailed presentation by his French hosts on the Barracuda-class, its latest nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the first of which is expected to be commissioned next year into the French navy. This assumes importance for a number of reasons. India plans to make six SSNs apart from nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), the first of which—INS Arihant—is operational and the next in class, INS Aridhaman, has been launched recently. India is also looking to make conventional diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) under project P75I after the current programme to make six French Scorpène submarines, being constructed at Mazagon Docks.
This is where the potential of exploring the Barracuda lies. The French are developing two versions of the Barracuda—nuclear-powered for its navy and diesel electric for Australia, after winning a $50 billion contract for 12 boats named Shortfin Barracuda. As India is looking to make both conventional and nuclear attack submarines, the design commonality offered by the Barracuda will help keep construction, operational, maintenance and training costs low.
The Barracuda is designed with pump-jet propulsion instead of the conventional propeller, which will make the submarine quieter than propeller-driven ones. The pump-jet-propelled submarines are also faster and easily manoeuvrable. The conventional version of the Barracuda will have a vertical launch system to launch cruise missiles, a requirement for India’s P75I.
What is, however, more interesting is that India has asked France if it will be willing to help with the nuclear reactor technology. The French appear to be inclined. There is no law prohibiting cooperation on naval nuclear reactors (NNRs) which allowed India to lease the Russian Akula class nuclear attack submarine which is currently in operation with the Indian Navy.
If India is indeed seriously looking at the French NNR, it will mark a move from the highly enriched uranium (HEU) core that powers the Arihant-class SSBN to the low-enriched uranium (LEU) core that powers the French nuclear submarines. India uses 40% HEU while France uses 5-7% LEU for its Rubis-class SSN, Triomphant-class SSBN and aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
The reactor on INS Arihant produces about 83MW of power to propel the over 6,000-tonne submarine. However, a more powerful reactor will be required for future SSBNs, which will be substantially larger than the Arihant. The French K-15 reactor produces 150MW that propels the 12,000-tonne Triomphant-class submarine with 16 vertical launch tubes to launch the M51 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, similar to what India plans in boats succeeding the Arihant. The reactor on the Barracuda will be based on K-15, with suitable power adjustments.
Incidentally, India is also considering the use of nuclear propulsion for its future aircraft carriers. However, it is unlikely that the next one to be constructed will have nuclear propulsion considering the lack of an adequately powered nuclear reactor that is sufficiently miniaturized. France uses two K-15 reactors on its aircraft carrier.
India’s consideration of a shift to LEU reactors may be influenced by disarmament negotiations. The Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) particularly aims to ban production of HEU, which is uranium with over 20% enrichment, to stop nuclear weapons proliferation. India is committed to negotiate the treaty which has been stalled for the moment by Pakistan’s veto. If the FMCT comes into effect, it will prohibit the production of HEU that is used in India’s NNR, affecting its strategic requirements.
While the treaty doesn’t appear to be coming into force anytime soon, India might be looking to make its nuclear submarines future-proof by adopting LEU reactors. The adoption of LEU will save India the cost of expanding its HEU production facilities and leave the current stockpile and production capacity for making nuclear weapons to ensure minimum credible deterrence till the FMCT comes into force. The US, which uses a HEU core, has been mulling a shift to LEU to further its non-proliferation goals although it has sufficient stockpile of HEU for its navy.
The use of LEU has its challenges, especially the larger size of the core. France has been successful in sufficiently miniaturizing the LEU core. While the 93% HEU cores of US and UK submarines don’t require refuelling, LEU cores need to be refuelled at least twice in their lifetime. France has developed a fuel mix that gives a reasonably long core life of 7-10 years before refuelling. In fact, INS Arihant will also need refuelling in a process that will require cutting open the submarine hull and welding it back after refuelling. The process will take two to three years, affecting the availability of a critical strategic asset. France, on the other hand, uses secure hatches above the reactor which allows refuelling to take place in a matter of weeks, leading to greater availability.
France is India’s strategic partner and is regarded as a reliable supplier of weapons. India can look to France to provide consultancy on both conventional and nuclear attack submarines derived from the Barracuda project and acquire design and technologies to make LEU cores for its nuclear submarines. A sufficiently well-powered LEU core can also propel India’s future aircraft carriers.


November 28, 2017

Spike anti-tank missile from Israel likely in India's armoury

The Army is currently using second generation Konkurs and Milan 2T ATGMs, which do not have night-fighting capabilities.    Seeking to bolster the anti-tank arsenal of its infantry troops, the Indian Army is moving ahead with a proposal to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel which will meet the urgent requirement of these missiles for the force.  "To meet the immediate requirements of the infantry battalions of the Army, a proposal is being moved for buying Spike missiles for the force, which will be taken up for discussion at very high level in the defence ministry in the coming weeks," a government source told Mail Today. 
The requirements of the Army are so huge that they will be met with the missile systems supplied by the Israelis along with the ones to be produced by DRDO in future as it is also developing the man-portable ATGMs, sources said.  The Army needs third-generation ATGMs, with a strike range of over 2.5 km and fire-and-forget capabilities, to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units, which will carry them on their Russian BMP combat vehicles. 
 Sources said this combination of buying from abroad and allowing Make in India at the same time will balance the need for taking care of national security requirements along with the need to promote the indigenous industry.
The defence ministry has been in talks with Israel and USA for a long time to get the third generation anti-tank missiles and had ultimately zeroed in on the Spike missiles under an old deal, which would have cost around Rs 3,000 crore.  This is not the first time the defence ministry has decided in favour of Make in India projects over foreign imports as recently, one project to buy two regiments of short-range surface-to-air missiles (SRSAM) worth Rs 18,000 crore was disallowed in favour of Akash surface-to-air defence missile systems.  In the earlier competition for ATGMs, India had also tried one American fire-and-forget ATGM, but that offer was not accepted due to unacceptable terms. Spike missile is a third generation, fire-and-forget, top attack ATGM with a range of 2.5 km, which can operate both during day and night against an incoming enemy tank regiment.  The Army is currently using second generation Konkurs and Milan 2T ATGMs, which do not have night-fighting capabilities. 
According to reports, the Army currently has a shortage of around 68,000 missiles, with no missiles held as War Wastage Reserves against a government stipulation to build up stocks to last for at least 10 days of intense fighting.  The DRDO has a long list of successes in the field of missile defence systems and has not only developed the strategic systems, but is also gaining expertise in air defence as well. It recently tested the quick reaction surface-to-air missile system for the armed forces within a few months of being tasked to do the development. Its small range missile NAG is also moving ahead towards acceptance by the armed forces.


Imports Iffy, Indian Army Scouts 60 All-Indian Surveillance Drones

Could this be the first true foot in the door for Indian-built military drones? The Indian Army has opened what will hopefully result in a proper contest — for 60 Indian developed and built short range surveillance drones kitted for military airborne surveillance. The prospective competition, Livefist learns, is likely the Army’s recognition that the last five years has thrown up a profusion of private sector Indian firms that have proven the ability to build drone platforms for military missions, and have proven to be substantially cheaper than comparable systems available internationally.
Companies all the way from Tata Advanced Systems and Mahindra Aerospace down to firms fresh out of engineering college incubation have pitched the Army with low-cost platforms that the Army could seriously consider, instead of clambering up the import flagpole again. A flagpole, it should be said, that has failed to supply the Army with anything substantial by way of airborne surveillance in over a decade.
The contest at hand is itself an old, failed effort dusted off and tweaked. And smartly to put the focus directly on Indian industry.

The Army is essentially looking for a fixed wing drone platform with 10 hour endurance and 200 km line of sight operations. In its request for information, published this month, the Army states that the drones are ‘intended to be used for aerial surveillance over a large area by day and night for a sustained period’. The Army also wants the full deal on payloads, not that it ever really holds back on the specs when scouting equipement: Electro Optical and Infra Red (IR) with Laser Designator Payload, Electronic Intelligence Payload, Communication Payload, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Payload, Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) Payload, Radio Relay, Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF), Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS).
What’s interesting is that the program is being seen as the first proper dipstick test by the Army after years of sampling unmanned systems developed to reasonable maturity by private Indian firms, both big and small. At Aero India earlier this year, there was a visible profusion of tactical drone platforms across the board, both from government-owned labs as well as Indian firms.
‘The Government of India invites responses to this request only from Indian Vendors. The vendors are to include their capability to indigenously design, develop and absorb the technology sought and provide life time support,’ says the RFI, calling for interested vendors to submit their initial pitches no later than December 28 this year. A request for proposal (RFP) that formally opens the procurement process is expected to be out in January 2018. It will be interesting to see if a merit-based contest will really square juggernaut corporations with unlimited access to foreign tech against smaller private firms with deep development initiatives.
The inflow of drone systems into the Army has been an embarrassing trickle compared to its huge and varied state requirement that stretches from hand-launched drones for the Special Forces to high performance long endurance unmanned systems. The Army currently operates Israeli-origin Searcher Mk.II and home-built Nishant drones, both with roughly comparable specifications. The Army is said to be uninterested in more Nishant drones, though the DRDO is currently proving the wheeled Panchi variant, presumably off feedback that the rail launcher rigmarole was too much for the Army to lug around.

The Army has tip-toed around the indigenous Rustom-I tactical drone platform, but has committed nothing so far to a substantial procurement. Why the military has so far failed to successfully yoke together private airframers with more specialised sensor payload makers from home or abroad remains a quandary, especially given that many of the these firms are guided or led by ex-military personnel.
India appears sorted for the moment on the high performance UAS front — it is in line to contract for U.S. built MQ-9B Sea Guardian maritime surveillance drones (with the possibility of armed versions to follow), has ordered more IAI Heron drones from Israel, is in flight with the indigenous Tapas (Rustom-II). It is in shorter range and unit level systems that it has suffered an inexplicable lack of procurement success.
Building 60 medium performance drones to meet the Army’s requirement is, quite literally, no big deal — especially if the scope of the program allows for foreign collaborations. The real challenge, as with a plenitude of failed or ongoing processes has shown, is seeing it to the finish line in the spirit of the contours set down by the Army. That could truly open important doors for local aerospace industry, if that’s the point at all.


Rafael continues Spike programme in India despite reported cancellation

The Indian government has yet to inform Rafael Advanced Defense Systems about its reported decision to cancel a USD1 billion contract to procure Spike anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) systems for the Indian Army, the Israeli company has confirmed to Jane’s .
A spokesperson for Rafael said on 27 November, “Rafael has not been officially informed of any change in the decision to purchase Spike missiles.” The spokesperson added that plans to support India’s procurement of the Spike through a joint venture (JV) established by Rafael and its Indian partner Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited (KSSL) would “continue as planned”.
Citing officials from India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Indian Army, Jane’s reported on 20 November that the MoD had terminated the Spike procurement in favour of a programme to develop ATGWs indigenously.


India’s Soviet-Origin Mi-17 Helicopters to Undergo Lethal Upgrade

Indian Air Force is shortly inducting more than 200 new helicopters. However, the decision to take the Mi-17 for a major upgrade suggests that the Soviet-era craft remains one of its most reliable helicopters for special operations including precision attacks.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to upgrade the Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters with modern navigation and communication systems. The retrofit will render the helicopters more lethal in terms of allowing a precision attack on targets without losing connectivity with the command office during special operations including cross-border surgical strikes.
 Highly placed sources told Sputnik that the Indian Air Force has reached out to the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for retrofitting 60 of its Soviet-origin Mi-17 medium-lift helicopter fleet with the tactical air navigation system (TACAN) and the VHF Omni-directional radio range (VOR) equipment and instrument landing system. This would be first for HAL to upgrade the Mi class helicopters.
"HAL has the capacity to do the work it is being offered by the Indian Air Force. It is yet to receive the work order formally but we ensure that the required retrofitting will be done efficiently at any given time-frame," a highly placed official of HAL told Sputnik on condition of anonymity.
According to the proposal, to start with, the retrofitting will be done on three helicopters in January 2018 and after a review, the remaining 57 Mi-17 helicopters will be handed over to HAL to complete the desired work in 24 months.With the help of TACAN, the pilot can fly directly to a particular location or use the bearing and distance from specific beacon to fix his geographical location. TACAN can transmit, receive and process time coded pulse pairs or single pulses. TACAN is fitted on aircrafts like Su-30, MiG-29UPG, MiG29K/KUB, and Jaguar/DARIN-III.
The M-17 copters are already undergoing a retrofit of smart displays; new cockpit, transponder, and missile launch detection systems.
 The Indian Air Force has been using Mi-17 in special operations since the last many years. The Soviet-origin helicopters can carry more than 36 heavily armed troops with an additional 4500 kg payload attached to an external sling. With an operational range of more than 1000 kilometers with two-auxiliary fuel tanks, it can strike deep down inside the enemy territory in the difficult Himalayan range.


Massive anti-Pakistan protests erupt in Pakistan occupied kashmir - Locals demand Freedom from Pak rule

A massive anti-Pakistan protest was held in the Tarar Khel area of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as locals, including women and children, raised slogans demanding an end of Pakistani occupation.

A march was carried out by the protestors shouting pro-independence slogans blaming the Pakistan Army and the police for atrocities on innocent civilians.

They blamed Islamabad for its discriminatory policies for the past 70 years.

The protest was held after a successful district convention of Sudhnotti at Tarar Khel led by former senior vice chairperson of United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) Naila Khaneen.

A large number of political activists, members of civil society and students participated in the convention.

The residents of the PoK have been facing numerous issues as they allege they are treated as second-class citizens under the Pakistani occupation.

In recent days, several incidents have been reported where the security forces kidnapped and tortured the political activists, especially the youth, who raised their voices against the Pakistani occupation and exploitation of their natural resources.

Earlier in the month, the UKPNP held a series of demonstrations and conventions against the kidnapping of political activists from the PoK.

People held banners that said: "Stop abductions and enforced disappearances in so-called Azad Kashmir," and carried out a rally in Rawalpindi.

They shouted slogans for freedom from Pakistan and also asked China to leave their occupied territory.

A convention was also held at the Rawalpindi Press Club, wherein the speakers raised several issues concerning the people of PoK.

People chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and demanded an end to forceful occupation of the PoK and Gilgit Baltistan.
They also called for an immediate withdrawal of Pakistani forces from their territory as per the United Nations Security Council resolution.

The Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, also known as 'Azad Kashmir', has a prime minister and a president, but is ruled from Islamabad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is the chairman and chief executive of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council who manages all affairs related to the PoK.

 Business Standard

Reliance Defence issues clarification about Rafale deal

In response to the editorial “Rafale deal: Govt has questions to answer” published in this newspaper on November 25, Reliance Defence has sought to suggest that it does possesses expertise in the area of producing for the defence forces. In a clarification, the company noted that in 2011, Reliance Naval and Engineering Ltd, based in Pipavav, Gujarat, was awarded a contract for five Indian Navy warships through a competitive process and that last year it had also won a contract for 14 Fast Patrol Vessels and Training Ships through competitive bidding.

It also said Reliance Infra, with 100 per cent stake in Reliance Defence, was a registered vendor with the Ordnance Factory Board and the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and that it recently won a contract for the fabrication of hull and turret for the Arjun tank, through competitive bidding against major Indian defence companies.

It did not, however, cite any contracts on combat aircraft manufacture. The editorial had stated that Reliance Defence’s “track record in the field was too new to inspire confidence”.

The company noted that in his personal capacity Mr Anil Ambani “had never made any statement”, and that a statement issued by the company “had NEVER mentioned that there was no need for the CCS to clear the Rafale deal”. Instead, Reliance Defence clarified that the government policy issued on June 24, 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the defence sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval. “Therefore, no approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of a joint venture company between Dassault Aviation of France and Reliance Defence Ltd for the execution of an offset obligation against the Rafale deal,” it said.

The Reliance Defence statement has sought to highlight the fact that foreign participation in the defence sector “has been in vogue since 2001” and there had been multiple changes since then and many joint ventures had been formed between Indian companies and their foreign partners.

The editorial did not suggest that foreign participation in the defence sector was a novelty in the Rafale case, and focused only on the rule introduced in June 2016. The editorial stated: “The question is: was the rule for Dassault to have a new Indian private sector partner introduced to specifically benefit Reliance Defence Ltd?” The company’s statement has called this question “absolutely baseless”.


Cancelling Spike order a Himalayan mistake

The defence ministry has cancelled a negotiated USD $500 million deal with Israel for the Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) and has tasked the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to indigenously develop a man-portable version of a similar system. The Spike missile is a third generation, fire and forget, top attack ATGM. This implies that once locked on, it tracks its target and strikes enemy armour from the top where it is the weakest. The army had planned to equip all infantry and mechanized infantry battalions, operating in plains and deserts, with it.

As per reports, the deal was to be inked soon and in anticipation the Israeli company, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, had even set up a missile sub-systems manufacturing unit near Hyderabad in partnership with the Kalyani group. Rumours are that the deal was cancelled to push indigenous development.

The DRDO claims that since it has developed the Nag missile system it could also produce this in the next three to four years. The fact is even if it delays development or fails, there would be no action taken, nor would the original deal be revived; hence the only losers would be the army and its operational preparedness. It would lose a capability which is essential for operations solely to fulfil a development attempt by the DRDO.

The Nag had undergone two test firings this year, the last being in October, which the DRDO claimed were successful. A DRDO statement released after the trials stated, “With these two successful flight trials and the flight test conducted earlier in June in the peak of summer, the complete functionality of the Nag ATGM along with launcher system NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier) has been established and marked the successful completion of development trials of the Nag Missile.”

The army on the other hand commented, “The developmental trials of the Nag ATGM carried out earlier this month have only proven partial success and many more user trials would be needed. The entire exercise of hot-and-cold region trials of the Nag missile will take more than a year to complete, after which the missile could be ready for production.” Thus, it appears that the army still has doubts on the functioning of the missile. It is essential that soldiers operating equipment in battle have complete faith on its functionality.

The army’s main objection to the missile remains its prohibitive cost and multiple technical shortcomings, including thermal sensors. Though the army’s overall demand is for 8,000 Nag missiles with an immediate requirement of 2,000, however it is only willing to place an initial order for 500 pieces.

The cancellation of the Spike deal has invited adverse comments from strategic experts. Operations in plains and desert sectors would involve mechanised formations. Thus anti-tank weapons will be an essential equipment with forces operating in the region. The cancellation of the deal puts Pakistan in an advantageous position. Pakistan employs a locally manufactured variant of the Chinese designed HJ-8 missile alongside US manufactured TOW missiles which can strike tanks and bunkers at a range of 3-4 kms, while missiles in service with India presently have a maximum range of two kms.

This decision by the MoD may have been prompted by two major factors, though no official announcement has been made. The first is hesitation on the part of the army to enhance orders for the Nag missile system in its present form, unless it clears trials planned in the future. Second has been a visualisation that by cancelling the contract, yet to be inked, the army would be compelled to accept future indigenous systems despite shortcomings, as against its desire to import battle hardened and tested equipment, as these options would be closed.

However, this decision by the defence minister is wrong. The reliability of the DRDO to produce a similar product within the desired time as also capability remains unconfirmed. Whether the Nag system itself would undergo the balance tests successfully and be suitable for introduction into service, only time would tell.

The army has a reputation of not accepting low quality equipment, as once inducted it would remain in service for decades, preventing any purchase of technically advanced systems. Further, as history has proved, dependence on DRDO has rarely paid off. Ideally, purchase with technology transfer would have been ideal as the DRDO could have a better base technology for further development of systems.

Giving the DRDO an opportunity with a time factor may imply giving undue support to home production. However warfare is not a game, since national prestige and lives are involved. The DRDO receives government funding and has immense laxity in research and development hence must be able to stand its ground on proven capabilities with comparable products from the world market. Only by facing open competition and securing contracts will it be able to enhance its development capabilities. Protectionism in any industry has led to its collapse, as has clearly been the case with DRDO, through the decades.

India has maintained reservations in every field and academic institutes of the government, except the army. To commence reservations even in defence manufacturing, by blocking imports, sets a wrong precedent which must be avoided. If maintaining a white elephant like the DRDO is beyond the government’s capabilities, then its assets should be sold to large business houses now venturing into the defence field.

While rumours are resurfacing that the government may consider limited procurement of the Spike ATGM, it will be a haphazard decision as the army will be saddled with multiple equipment for the same task. The defence minister needs to realise that she cannot push reservation into defence production. A wrong decision forced down the military’s throat can cause loss of lives; hence she needs to rethink before accepting advice from her non-military staff. The government must understand that it is responsible to ensure that the army always remains prepared for war and possesses requisite equipment.


India, Russia ink anti-terror pact, say there are no good or bad terrorists

India and Russia on Monday agreed to help each other in combating terrorism as the two strategic partners signed a key agreement, asserting that there are no good or bad terrorists and the menace should be fought jointly.

The agreement between the two countries for cooperation in tackling all forms of terrorism was signed by home minister Rajnath Singh and Russia's interior minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev here after they held wide-ranging talks.

The ministers underlined that cooperation in the field of security is an important aspect of this bilateral relationship further strengthen cooperation to combat terrorism, extremism and radicalism, a statement issued by the Indian embassy said.
They agreed that terrorism must be fought unitedly and there were no good or bad terrorists, it said.

"The new agreement between India's MHA and Russia's interior ministry will replace the October 1993 agreement between both the countries. This agreement will help in expanding and deepening cooperation on issues related to internal security," Singh tweeted after signing the pact.

The Indian embassy statement said the two leaders agreed to cooperate in combating new challenges, enhance exchange of information, cooperate in building a data base and in training of police and investigative agencies.

Indian and Russian representatives also signed the joint action plan for countering the threat posed by narcotics and the agreement will provide legal framework for bilateral cooperation in this field.

The pact was signed by Indian ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran and deputy minister for internal affairs of the Russian Federation Igor Zubov in presence of Singh and Kolokoltsev.

The agreement on internal security is an updated and more comprehensive agreement on cooperation on security between the MHA and the Russian ministry of interior.

This pact provides a comprehensive approach for help in security related issues, including information technology crimes, counterfeiting currency, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, trafficking in human beings, economic crimes, crimes related to intellectual property, cultural property amongst others, the statement said.

During the meeting, the ministers emphasised the strength of the relationship between India and Russia that has been consolidated in the past 70 years in all areas.

Before leaving for Russia, Singh said India and Russia share a special relationship which has withstood the test of time over the decades.

Rajnath Singh was scheduled to visit Russia on September 18, 2016, but he had cancelled it following a terror attack on that day at the Brigade headquarters in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 19 Army soldiers were killed.


November 27, 2017

IAF banks on LCA, new fighter to bolster fleet

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and the soon-to-be-procured single-engine fighter jet to arrest a dramatic fall in its squadron strength as the deal for 36 Rafale jets lands in the middle of political maelstrom. “The rate of decommissioning is way higher than the planned and even proposed inductions. Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is a good aircraft and 123 LCAs will be inducted in the force as planned. But the numbers are not coming fast enough and the requirement is much beyond that in other categories,” a Defence Ministry source said.
The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons and a projected requirement of 45 to face the anticipated threat of a two-front war. As on date the IAF has 33 squadrons and by the end of next month it will be down to 31 squadrons.
With the planned induction of 36 Rafales between 2019 and 2022, the remaining Sukhoi-30MKIs and some LCAs (Tejas) the strength will hover at 30 till 2027 and in the subsequent five-year term will fall to 27 squadrons. If there are no newer inductions it will slide further to 19 squadrons by 2042.
“IAF is upgrading most of the aircraft in its inventory. But from 2025 onwards most of those aircraft such as the Jaguars and the MiG-29s will start going out,” the source said.
In a month, the IAF is expected to issue the Request for Information (RFI) for over a 100 single-engine fighter aircraft under the Strategic Partnership model. Lockheed F-16 and Saab Gripen are in the race for the order and have already tied up with Tata and Adani, respectively, to build the jets locally with technology transfer.
The IAF has placed orders for 40 jets in two batches of which the first 20 are in the Initial Operational Configuration (IOC) while the remaining 20 are in the Final Operational Configuration (FOC).


November 25, 2017

Procedural delay hits purchase of 22 Guardian drones from the US

The delay in procurement of 22 Guardian drones from the US at an estimated cost of $2 billion has hit India’s naval forces. The unmanned aircraft system, manufactured by US’ General Atomics, is a maritime variant of the Predator B drone, and equipped with several radar systems, specifically useful for maritime searches.
The US had approved the foreign military sale (FMS) of the GA-ASI Guardian ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington at the end of June, sources confirmed.
The prospective sale would mark the first of its kind from the US to a country that is not a member of the NATO, said sources, adding that a response was awaited from India.
However, weaponisation of the drone for India has not been discussed, sources said. General Atomics did not respond to an e-mail on the drones.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is designed to be certified for a 40,000 hour service life. It recently set a company record for the longest endurance flight of any Predator-series aircraft, flying for 48.2 hours non-stop.
The remotely piloted aircraft is fitted with a total of nine hardpoints, and can carry weapons weighing up to 2,177 kg. It can carry precision guided munitions, laser guided bomb, and air-to-surface missiles. The Guardian is fitted with a Raytheon SeaVue multi-mode maritime radar.
The remotely piloted aircraft can carry out missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, maritime patrol, border surveillance and disaster relief. The maritime patrol variant is intended to conduct surveillance and patrol missions in the open sea.
A deal for the UAVs would also include training for Indian navy personnel in the US, said sources, adding that the Defence Ministry’s letter of request was sent in June 2016 to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages all FMS programmes.
Commenting on the delay, Amit Cowshish, a former financial advisor for acquisition in the Defence Ministry, said, “Going by past experience, there has not been any unusual delay in signing the deal. Even if there are no hiccups, the procedure could take another several months before the deal is finalised.”
Cowshish added that one could “expect some movement only during the next financial year, provided there are no other issues like weaponisation of the drone that need to be resolved.”
The drone offered to India is without weapons. Though it is capable of carrying the payload, sources added, India’s request for a weaponised version could further delay a potential purchase.


India’s Propellant Booster to Help BrahMos Achieve Unimaginable Speed

The solid propellant booster developed by Indian scientists would take BrahMos - the world’s first and only supersonic cruise missile closer to Mach 3 speed in cruise phase.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's state-owned Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) has developed a solid propellant booster which is soon going to be introduced for future launches of the world's deadliest supersonic cruise missile, the BrahMos. The two-stage missile system uses a solid propellant booster to achieve supersonic speed in the first stage while at the second stage the liquid ramjet takes the missile closer to Mach 3 speed in cruise phase.
"A solid proponent booster, which is an important component of the BrahMos, is in its final stages of development. The requisites, which have been conducted in the recent past, have shown positive results and a final test, called a mechanical vibration test, will be carried out next month. The propellant will thereafter be put to use in the missile," KPS Murthy, director of High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) of the DRDO said.
 Murthy was speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of the 11th International High Energy Materials Conference and Exhibits.
The booster trial results have been evaluated by Russian experts and the final test is expected to be conducted sometime in December.BrahMosThe BrahMos missile has been jointly developed by Russian and Indian scientists and is the world's first and only supersonic cruise missile. It is a precision strike weapon for the Indian armed forces and can be fitted in ships, mobile launchers, submarines and aircraft against land and sea targets.
HEMRL is responsible for the design and development of ignition systems for all classes of solid rocket propellants used in the tactical and strategic missile programs of DRDO such as the Pinaka Mk I & Mk-II, Akash, Nirbhay, AAD, Agni program.


November 24, 2017

India Struggles to Solve its Fighter Jet Procurement Puzzle

India, which intends to replace all of its Russian-made MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter jets by 2024, is stuck in a difficult situation, as Lockheed Martin has denied total transfer of technology, SAAB itself lacks complete technology and local firm HAL is incapable of delivering at the required pace.

 In a rude shock to India, which has been preparing to issue a global tender for single-engine fighter jets, America's Lockheed Martin, considered a front-runner for the deal, has announced that it will not guarantee total transfer of technology if it is awarded the $10 billion contract. This has added to the woes of India's defense ministry that is already in the eye of a storm for failing to convince Dassault Aviation of France to transfer the technology for the multirole Rafale fighter aircraft.
"It will never be full transfer of technology. It is not in the national interest or industry's interest. Certain technologies are not transferable to anyone in the world," Keith Webster, senior vice-president of Defense and Aerospace, a US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said in an interview with The Hindu Business Line on Tuesday.
 The American F-16 and Swedish Gripen are the main contenders in the prospective deal of 114 fighter aircrafts, in which India intends to purchase 10 in flyaway condition, and the rest will be manufactured in India at a facility set up by the winning firm.
"Only a handful of aviation players have the main technologies in terms of radar, engines, stealth, EW systems, etc. India is the largest market and it is also an emerging power. No one would want India to become independent on this count," Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired), a defense analyst told Sputnik.
Swedish SAAB has promised full technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter. However, Gripen is not India's first choice as SAAB itself imports most of the components from elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the fighter jets being locally developed in India still have a lot to be desired in terms of radar, engine and EW system. The Indian Air Force has thus far inducted five Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) on initial operational clearance. The Indian Air Force has ordered 20 additional aircraft after the final operational clearance.
However, the Indian Air Force is not much satisfied with the progress made in the development of the aircraft by the state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. This is being viewed as a major reason behind the Indian Air Force's delay in placing the order for 83 of HAL's superior Tejas MK-1 fighter aircraft.
"India must make all efforts for LCA to succeed. Take help of radar, engine and EW systems," Air Marshal Chopra added.Even if everything goes according to the promise made by HAL, it can deliver 16 Tejas Mark-1A per year and the induction of all 83 will be complete by 2028. However, the number and pace of delivery would not be enough, as the Indian Air Force has set a target to replace all 11 squadrons (18-20 fighter jets in a squadron) of its Russian-made MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft by 2024.
"To cater to delays and performance shortfall, India must buy single-engine aircraft and arm-twist at least all of the low-end systems it currently has," Air Marshall Chopra concluded.
But will this change the dwindling strength of the Indian Air Force? "Seems unlikely, as we [have] already [fallen] behind a decade due to indecision," a senior Indian Air Force official told Sputnik.
The concern is not illegitimate, as even in the best-case scenario if the government decides on the purchase of single fighter jets by 2020, a maximum of seven squadron single-engine fighters would be available to the Indian Air Force by 2032. Presently, the Indian Air Force has 33 squadrons against the parliamentary panel recommendation of 42 squadrons in order to be able to defend itself from Chinese and Pakistan troops simultaneously.


Saab's Offer for Gripen-E With 100% ToT Leaves India Unimpressed

As India prepares to issue $10 billion global tender for fighter jets, Sweden’s Saab has offered 100% ToT of the Gripen-E. However, experts note that 70% of the technology is borrowed and it is unlikely that the proprietors would allow Sweden to transfer those to India.
 A day after America's Lockheed Martin expressed its unwillingness to share its closely guarded technology for F-16 fighter jets with India, Swedish firm Saab has offered complete technology transfer if India awards it the $10 billion contract for the single-engine fighter aircraft — Gripen-E.

"Saab is committed to full technology transfer to India in connection with Indian procurement of the Gripen-E. We will build the world's most modern aerospace facility and ecosystem in India. We will abide by the terms of the Strategic Partnership that will be set by the government for the single-engine fighter aircraft program and will undertake complete transfer of technology to the chosen joint venture partner," Jan Widerstrom, Chairman, Saab India said in a statement.
However, beyond the rhetoric, there is a catch.
"Unfortunately, Saab doesn't own much of the critical technology that goes into the Gripen-E. Saab does not even own up to 30 percent of the aircraft's key technologies including the propulsion system and the ASEA radar. It would be a really big deal if Saab conciliates other original technology developers to transfer technology to India; which seems unlikely," Vijainder K Thakur, former squadron leader of Indian Air Force told Sputnik.
 Saab chose India's Adani Group, a new entrant in the field of defense aerospace, for collaboration this September with the aim of bagging India's single-engine fighter aircraft contract. In the beginning of this month, both partners hosted a supplier meeting in New Delhi creating an industrial ecosystem to develop and produce the Gripen in India.
"This was done in order to start shaping an ecosystem for the Gripen in India in preparation for the single-engine fighter selection process," Saab explained its reason behind organizing the summit.


November 23, 2017

Indian Navy Ready to Receive Multiple Maneuverable Warhead Tracking Vessel

The vessel’s X-band precision tracking radar can track the inbound flight trajectories of multiple maneuverable warheads apart from monitoring the trajectories of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
 The Indian Navy is expecting to receive its first missile-range instrumentation ship (MRIS), the country's most advanced and largest ocean surveillance vessel, in the first quarter of 2018. The rigorous trial of the 1000-ton ship named VC-11184 is currently underway on the eastern coast of the country. Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), a Vizag-based shipbuilder, is hopeful that it will be able to meet the delivery deadline of the twin 9,000 kW diesel engine ship.
"The ship is almost ready and once the trials get over, it will be officially handed to the Navy in 2018," an HSL official was quoted as saying by the Times of India.This 175-meter-long vessel, designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, has a specialized deck to house a 12-ton multirole helicopter. The MRIS can cruise at a speed of 21 knots with 300 crew members.
A second MRIS, smaller in size and meant to monitor the flight trajectories of subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles, is also under construction at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Ltd and is expected to enter into service in 2020.The Indian government had asked its two state-owned shipbuilders to manufacture a specially designed ship that can monitor the flight trajectory of Indian intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles during test launches. However, the final product is an upgraded version that can also track the inbound flight trajectories of multiple maneuverable warheads.


Time to 'rescind' Pakistan's major non-NATO ally status: US expert

A top American counter-terrorism expert has urged the Trump administration to "rescind" the major non-NATO ally status given to Pakistan after a court in Lahore ordered to free Mumbai terror attack mastermind and banned JuD chief Hafiz Saeed from detention.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, carrying a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January this year.

The Trump administration yesterday said that Saeed is a terrorist leader designated by both the United Nations and the United States, hours after a Pakistani court ordered his release from detention.

"Nine years after 26/11, its mastermind still eludes justice. It is time to rescind Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally," Bruce Riedel, a top US expert on security, South Asia and counter-terrorism told PTI.

"In a word, the release is an outrage. Before long we will read news reports of Hafiz Saeed leading more rallies with thousands of people," Alyssa Ayres, former State Department official who is currently with the Council on Foreign Relations, said after the Lahore High Court yesterday ordered the Pakistani government to free Saeed.

Saeed is a UN-sanctioned individual terrorist who leads a UN-sanctioned terrorist organisation, Ayres said, alleging that Pakistan does not see fit to follow through on its obligations to uphold UN Security Council (UNSC) terrorist designations.

"Pakistan cannot credibly claim to be fighting terrorism while failing its most basic security obligation to UNSC designations," Ayres said.

According to Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center, one should not be surprised by this announcement.

"Pakistani legal authorities have frequently hinted they have insufficient evidence to justify his continued detention, so it was just a matter of time before this militant, who happens to be a critical Pakistani state asset, walks free.

"This news will certainly rankle US officials, who often point out that the dozens of casualties in the Mumbai terror attack included several Americans," Kugelman said.

Saeed's release will reinforce Washington's longstanding belief that Pakistan embraces a selective policy toward terrorism that entails coddling militants that help serve Pakistani interests, he said.

"All this said, we should not overstate the impact this move will have on US-Pakistan relations," Kugelman said.

For the Trump administration, whose policy towards Pakistan revolves above all around protecting American lives, the terror group of greatest concern in Pakistan is the Haqqani Network, which the US blames for various attacks on American and Western targets in Afghanistan.

"The LeT is certainly important for Washington, but compared to the Haqqani network it is presently a relative sideshow in US policy considerations," Kugelman added.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US, attributed this to the mixed messaging coming from the Trump administration in the last few weeks.

US officials were trying to signal to Pakistan that if it takes action against the Haqqani terror network, that could be seen as a positive move and "may thwart" tougher actions against Islamabad, as promised by President Donald Trump in his new South Asia policy, he said.

"In the process they (the US) may have inadvertently made the Pakistani think that the US only wants action against the Haqqani network and not against groups like the LeT that are acting against India.

"My fear is that mixed signals will lead to a situation in which Pakistan fails to take decisive action against Afghan-oriented and India-oriented terrorist groups," he said.

The United States, a State Department official said, is aware of media reports regarding Pakistan's ordered release of Saeed from the house arrest. In May 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.

Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 (UN Security Council Resolution) in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The LeT and several of its front organisations, leaders, and operatives remain under both State Department and Treasury Department sanctions, the State Department has said.

"The United States reiterates its stance that LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens," a State Department Spokesperson said.


BrahMos Missile In Combo With Fighter Jet Is Huge Boost: 10 Facts On Why

BrahMos, the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile, has been successfully tested for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The success means the Air Force will now have the ability to strike hostile warships hundreds of kilometres off the coast in just minutes once ordered. The missile is expected to have a range close to 300 km. A compact version of the missile was gravity-dropped from a Sukhoi-30 fighter. On being released from the fuselage of the jet, the missile's engine fired up, propelling it towards its target in the Bay of Bengal.

Here are 10 facts about the launch of the missile:

1. The Indian Navy and Army already operate different variants of the missile, which can strike targets up to 500 km away. So far, the missile has been deployed on Navy warships and with Army units which operate the ground attack version of the supersonic weapon.

2. The Indian Air Force variant test-fired today has significant differences. Unlike the Navy and Army version which are significantly larger in size and weigh three tonnes, the IAF version tested weighs 2.5 tonnes and has been adapted specifically for the Su-30 MKI fighter.

3. Given the still considerable weight of the missile, the Su-30 can carry only missile one per mission.For the armed forces, the availability of this missile adds a new dimension to their firepower.

4. The software development of the aircraft was undertaken by IAF engineers while HAL carried out mechanical and electrical modifications on the aircraft. Aligning the navigation sensors of the missile was done by DRDO. According to the IAF, "The integration on the aircraft was very complex involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications on aircraft."

5. A BrahMos armed Su-30 can fly 1,500 km in the direction of a hostile target out at sea.

6. Using a special targeting mode in its radar, the Su-30 can lock onto an enemy warship and launch the BrahMos from long ranges, before it can be countered by surface-to-air missiles fired from the warship.

7. Post-launch, the Su-30 would fly away while the air-launched BrahMos uses its own seeker to home in on the target.

8. Given its speed of Mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound), the BrahMos is extremely difficult to presently intercept by surface to air missiles deployed on leading warships around the world.

9. In simple terms, the combination of the Su-30 and BrahMos means that the Indian Air Force can deliver a knock-out punch in minutes if ordered, far quicker than a warship which may need to sail in the direction of a target out at sea.

10. The BrahMos missile is a joint Indo-Russian venture named after the rivers Moscow and Brahmaputra.


Eyeing jet deal, Saab offers full tech transfer to India

Swedish defence giant Saab Group said today it would ensure "full" technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet to India if the company gets the contract to supply a fleet of the single engine combat aircraft to Indian Air Force.

The company also said it will build the world's most modern aerospace facility in India, besides creating a local supplier base of ancillary systems, if it wins the contract for which US defence major Lockheed Martin has emerged as a major contender.

"Saab is committed to full technology transfer to India in connection with Indian procurement of Gripen-E," Saab India Chairman Jan Widerstrom said.

Eyeing the multi-billion dollar contract, Lockheed Martin has offered to set up a production line in India for its F-16 Block 70 fighter jets.

In September, Saab and the Adani Group had announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment and said the joint venture would produce Gripen military jets in India if it wins the single-engine aircraft deal.

The Gripen-E, an advanced version of the Gripen C/D, is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft fitted with advanced avionics.

"We will build the world's most modern aerospace facility and ecosystem in India. We will abide by the terms of the Strategic Partnership that would be set by the government for the single engine fighter aircraft programme and will undertake complete transfer of technology to the chosen joint venture partner," Widerstrom said in a statement.

His comments came as government is all set to start the process for procuring the fleet of single-engine fighters.

The fighter jets will have to be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently launched strategic partnership model which seeks to bring in high-end defence technology to India.

The Saab said it will work with its Indian joint venture partners to ensure that transfer of technology takes place in a manner that it not only ensures transfer of technology but also complete capability.
It said the company sees a green field operation where it will train people in India and in Sweden to be able to design, develop, manufacture and maintain its operations in India.

"There will be a lot of training in Sweden and in India, and industry-academia-government cooperation. In that way we can reach an indigenous capability to maintain, to sustain, to further develop Gripen in India," said the Saab India chief.

He said, "We will not simply move an assembly line. We will build development capability. We will design, produce, support, innovate in India."


Pakistan involved in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, claims Shia Waqf Board chairman Wasim Rizvi

Syed Wasim Rizvi, chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board, on Wednesday claimed that there was a Pakistan hand behind the lingering Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: Shia Waqf Board's proposal - 'Temple in Ayodhya, mosque in Lucknow'

Speaking at a press conference here, Rizvi said Pakistan has been directly involved in the dispute from the start and this was one of the reasons that there has been no resolution to the issue till now.

“When Babri Masjid was demolished (on December 6, 1992), far bigger demonstrations were held in Pakistan than in India. Many temples were also attacked in Pakistan. This shows Pakistan's involvement in the issue,” the Shia Waqf Board chairman said.

“In 2005, terrorists had attacked the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya. This also shows Pakistan's involvement,” he added.
Earlier too, Rizvi had alleged that those creating hurdles in the settlement of the Ayodhya land dispute were working at the behest of Pakistan, which was trying to destabilise India by exploiting religious sentiments over the issue.

“This (Ayodhya) dispute is not getting addressed because Pakistan has the biggest hand in it. Those representing the Muslim community in the Supreme Court on the issue have direct links with Pakistan and want bloodshed to destabilise the country,” Rizvi had said.

Meeting people, holding talks: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Ayodhya dispute

The remarks came just two days after the Shia Central Waqf Board released a draft on the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, in which it argued that Ram Mandir be built at the disputed property while a mosque should come up in Lucknow.
The board has written to the Uttar Pradesh government for allotting land in Lucknow for the mosque.

The draft, which was released to the media by Rizvi and the priest of All India Akhara Council, Narendra Giri, has also been submitted to the Supreme Court.

Rizvi told reporters that it had been proposed in the draft that the name of the mosque should not be after an emperor, and it should be called Mosque of Peace or "Aman ki Masjid".

He said that the Board had written to the Uttar Pradesh government for granting land to Shia Muslims at a designated place for the mosque, which the board would construct through a committee by raising money at its level.

The Supreme Court would now decide on the draft, Rizvi said.

He added that Waqf would not stake any claim to the disputed Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid property and would not have any issue if Hindus built a temple there.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had suggested that an out-of-court settlement was the best recourse in the dispute.

The apex court will commence the final hearing of the long-standing matter from December 5, a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the medieval-era structure.

The Central Shia Waqf Board in August 2017 moved the Supreme Court challenging a 1946 trial court order ruling Babri Masjid to be a Sunni property. The Shia Board said that the fact was that it was actually a Shia noble in Babar’s court, Abdul Mir Baqi, who “created” the Babri Masjid with his own money and that the trial court failed to take that into account.

A report in The Hindu also says about the same Shia Waqf petition that: "The Board said there are “local affirmations that Babar came to Ayodhya in 1528 AD and halted there for a week and it was during his regime that the (Lord Ram) Janamsthan temple was destroyed and on its site a mosque was built using largely the materials of the old structure.”


November 22, 2017

India Successfully Test-Fires Supersonic Brahmos Missile From Su30MKI

The first ever air-launched Brahmos missile has hit a target at a distance of 280 kilometers in the Bay of Bengal. The missile was dropped from the Su-30 jet's fuselage, and the two-stage missile’s engine fired up and propelled it straightway towards the intended target.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — With the successful flight test of world's fastest supersonic cruise missile BrahMos from the Indian Air Force's (IAF)  Sukhoi-30MKI frontline fighter aircraft, India has given a major boost to its air attack capabilities. The Indian Ministry of Defense has said that the successful maiden test firing of the BrahMos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from a Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF's air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.
"A BrahMos ALCM weighing 2.5 tons is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India's Su-30 fighter aircraft, modified by HAL to carry weapons. Brahmos, a world-class weapon with a multi-platform, multi-mission role is now capable of being launched from Land, Sea, and Air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India," India's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
 BrahMos is a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya. Indian defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO and BrahMos for the outstanding accomplishment.
The IAF has signed a contract for the delivery of air-launched BrahMos cruise missiles from January 2018. So far three Su-30 MKI jets have been modified to accommodate the new cruise missile and in total it will modify at least 50 Su-30MKI aircraft to carry the nuclear-capable cruise missiles. The IAF plans to induct at least 200 BrahMos-compatible fighter jets in the coming years.

India tested the land version of the BrahMos missile in April this year, when it hit a target at a distance of approximately 450 kilometers (280 miles) in the Bay of Bengal. The Indian Navy too is equipping all its ships with the BrahMos missile system. Russia supplies 65% of the BrahMos' components, including its ramjet engine and radar seeker.


Indian-Israeli trade group warns nixing missile deal threatens relations

India’s reported plans to scrap a half-billion-dollar deal with Israel for anti-tank missiles will have negative repercussions not only on defense contracts between the two countries, but throughout the market, according to an Indian-Israeli commerce organization.

The large sale has been lauded by Israeli officials as a major milestone in trade and military relations with India, giving its reported cancellation extra significance, said David Keynan, vice chairman of the Federation of Indo-Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

“It is a very noteworthy deal. It will have an impact not only on defense trade, but on all trade,” Keynan told The Times of Israel Tuesday, speaking over the phone from Bangalor, India.

He noted that defense exports often act as a “catalyst” for further trade.

On Monday, Indian media outlets reported that the country’s defense ministry had decided to scrap a $500 million deal to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in favor of developing such missiles domestically.

The cancellation of the agreement has yet to be officially confirmed. A Rafael spokesperson said the company was continuing in its efforts as normal, until it is notified of a change.

The Spike deal was not just words on paper, but had already reached more advanced stages of implementation. Rafael had begun preparations for delivering the missile, opening a production facility in India in August with its local partner, the Indian industrial giant Kalyani Group.

The opening of the missile production facility this summer came weeks after a visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the first official visit to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister.

In a speech at its inauguration, Rafael CEO Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Har Even said the factory “is another expression of the strong cooperation between Israel and India in general and of Rafael as a strategic ally of India in particular.”

According to Keynan, whose organization facilitates trade between India and Israel, the reports that the massive deal will be called off sparked concern among businesspeople from both countries.

“I have already received dozens of calls about it,” he said.

Israelis expressed concern that the deal might indicate that agreements with Indian companies are not as solid as they seem. And Indians were worried that in the fallout, Israelis might indeed have those fears and be less interested in making deals in India.

Keynan, who has lived in India since 2003, noted that his commerce group is not government-affiliated and was not involved in the Spike agreement or any other defense deals.

While exports to India have increased over the years — New Delhi is currently Israel’s 10th-largest trade partner — they haven’t been doing so at the same rate as Israel’s exports in general, according to Keynan.

From 2015 to 2016 bilateral trade grew by 0.85 percent, according to the Indian Embassy in Israel.

“It’s slower than we’d like to see,” he said.

The exact value of Israeli exports to India is difficult to calculate as not all the figures are publicly available, notably defense exports, which make up a significant percentage of the total. However, Keynan estimated that in the past year Israel exported approximately $5 billion to India in goods and services, some $1.5 billion of that in defense trade.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel also ships approximately $1 billion worth of diamonds to India each year, along with approximately $1 billion in chemicals. The rest comes in the form of agriculture products, non-military technology, industrial products and other assorted goods and services.

According to the Indian Express news outlet, the cancellation of the Spike deal was done in order to protect the government’s Defense Research and Development Organization, which is working on creating its own anti-tank guided missile.

Indian military sources told the website that DRDO had already produced a few varieties of anti-tank guided missiles and that was “confident” it could produce one on par with the Israeli Spike.

The Indian army, which currently uses an inferior anti-tank missile that does not work well at night, reportedly expressed concerns that the decision to scrap the Spike deal would negatively affect its preparedness, and that there was “operational urgency” for the Israeli missile.

A spokesperson for Rafael noted the “Spike missile, which is in use in 26 countries, was chosen by India after a lengthy process, in which the system was inspected and successfully performed in a wide variety of scenarios.”

This year was a major one for defense cooperation between Israel and India. In May and April, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced two deals with New Delhi for missile defense systems, which were together worth over $2.5 billion.

Earlier this month, the Indian Air Force and special forces also took part in the Israeli Blue Flag air exercise, in what was seen as a sign of strengthening ties between New Delhi and Jerusalem. In June, a month before Modi’s visit, India helped sponsor the renowned Israeli Defense Expo in Tel Aviv.

And in May, three Indian Navy ships docked in Haifa for an official visit, marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two counties.


India extends deadline for naval UAV RFI

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has extended its deadline to 21 November for overseas vendors to respond to its global request for information (RFI) for 50 naval shipborne unmanned aerial systems (NSUASs) for the Indian Navy (IN).

First issued on 10 October the RFI states that the fixed-wing, catapult-launched NSUASs will be required to operate around the clock in low visibility conditions from ships and shore-based establishments to augment maritime domain awareness around an IN task force.

The systems' secondary roles will include reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition, and assistance in search-and-rescue missions as well as deployments in anti-piracy and anti-terrorist operations.


Rafale jets bought at 16% lower price than UPA deal

Rubbishing Congress' charges of wrongdoing in Rafale fighter jet deal, the government clarified that this is a fictitious assumption of a party which sat on the deal for almost a decade ignoring the important national security issues.

Top sources in the security establishment said that the cost of the government-to-government deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets was almost 16 per cent lesser than what the previous UPA government is projecting with better weapons and avionics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Paris in April 2015, announced that India would be buying 36 Rafale fighters from France in an inter-government deal. After five rounds of negotiations, the deal was finally signed by the two defence ministers in Delhi in September 2016 for 36 fighter jets for Rs 58,000 crore.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi terming this deal as a scam has been raising this issue and putting onus of asking questions on this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress' communications department head Randeep Surjewala had alleged that the government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale aircraft refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

He also alleged that the aircraft was being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government. Surjewala said the UPA government floated a tender on August 20, 2007 for purchase of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Air Force and, post negotiations, two of them — Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were shortlisted.

On December 12, 2012, Rafale was declared L1 vendor, the bidder whose quotation is the lowest, with base price of Rs 54,000 crore. "It was decided that of the 126 aircraft, 18 would come in fly away condition and the remaining 108 will be manufactured in India by HAL with transfer of technology," Surjewala said.

The government sources also said that the Indian Air Force will get the aircraft with far better long range missiles along with 75 per cent availability at all times as opposed to the present one,w hcih is only 50 per cent. There will also be a guarantee of getting spare parts for the fighter jets for 50 years. Time frame for supplying is also better. Sources added that since one squadron of Rafales as per the earlier tender had to be acquired in fly-away conditions, the govt decided that it would buy two squadrons to meet the bare minimum requirements of the force.

There are 16-18 planes in one squadron. The sources said that now with the Rafale coming in 2019, the Indian Air Force can buy more planes of global standards by doing proper due diligence. The deal made by the NDA government has also ensured that the French provide help for the programme for 10 years, the sources added.

Rahul Gandhi also asked why PM Modi bypassed experienced HAL and gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience. Reliance Defence said its subsidiary Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation formed a joint venture - Dassault Reliance Aerospace after a bilateral agreement between two private companies and "the Indian government has no role to play in this".

Reliance Defence claimed that the government policy of June 24, 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the defence sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval.

"No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid joint venture company under the automatic route," it said, brushing aside the Congress' charge that Prime Minister Modi promoted interests of a group.

Sources said that as of now there is a deficiency of fighter aircrafts and the gap needs to be filled. The government is not responsible for an offset contract between Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation as this is between private company and vendor.

Sources also justified the urgency to buy the fighter aircrafts as number of squadrons of IAF fighters had gone down to 33 instead of required 42. The Indian Air Force has repeatedly told the political establishment of requirement of at least 42 squadrons of fighter jets to protect its northern and western borders with China and Pakistan.

The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had flagged this issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently address the concerns of IAF commanders.

In another two years, IAF is going to lose another 14 squadrons of MiG 21s and MiG 27s. The IAF banks on British-made Jaguar and French-made Mirage 2000s, Su-30 MKI and MiG 29s. An upgrade of the Jaguar fighters being carried out by HAL has been delayed.


India’s most advanced missile-tracking warship to be handed to Navy in 2018

A naval vessel with a mystery name — VC 11184 — has been built at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) at a cost of ?725 crore under a classified project which began four years ago.

Like hush-hush construction of nuclear submarines, complete secrecy is being maintained by Navy and HSL on the missile-range instrumentation ship, which will be India's most advanced and largest ocean surveillance vessel that can track ballistic missiles.

Reliable sources in HSL and Navy told TOI the project is in trial phase and the warship will be handed over to Navy in a few months. The vessel would have a special team on board from the technical intelligence bureau (National Technical Research Organisation), which directly reports to National Security Advisor's office.

A highly-placed source in HSL said, "We bagged the prestigious project three years ago and began construction at our ship-building yard. The ship is almost ready and once the trials get over, it will be officially handed to the Navy in 2018. Secrecy has been maintained on the project which is being monitored by PMO ."

As per information from defence websites, the vessel, known only by its mysterious yard designation at Visakhapatnam, VC 11184, will be deployed for supporting India's strategic weapons programme.

After HSL bagged project in 2013, ship was to be delivered by August 2015, but it was stuck in logistical delays . The warship is 175m in length with a displacement of 10,000 tonnes.


‘Full transfer of tech in defence aviation is non-negotiable’

If India decides to buy F-16s, the first few planes need to be bought off the shelf, says Senior V-P of US-India partnership forum.

Keith Webster, Senior Vice-President (Defence and Aerospace), US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said while the Trump administration is excited about the $10-billion single-engine fighter jet deal, Lockheed Martin will not be going for full transfer of technology. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said if India decides to buy the F-16s, the first few planes will be bought off the shelf. Excerpts:

How concerned is the US with the single-engine fighter jet deal not taking off yet? There are even reports now that India may not place the order at all …

The US government has invested an incredible amount of time partnering with Lockheed Martin for F-16 and Boeing for F-18s. If one or both do not happen that will be a very big splash of cold water on our industries because of the amount of seriousness we gave into this matter and because of government time invested across multiple agencies. And this has happened across both the Obama and Trump administrations. There had been no review of decisions, no conflict between ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make in America’. We have reconciled all of that.

Do you think the real sticking point is transfer of technology (ToT)? Is it overlapping with the FDI and ‘Strategic Partnership’ policies?

Part of FDI is a challenge because OEMs need to protect their names, be it Lockheed Martin or SAAB or Rosoboronexport. You not only want to have an investment decision but more importantly you want to have a commanding say in tactics, techniques and procedures specific to manufacturing, especially aviation. This is a very serious matter to protect the certifications. For the aviation sector, the 51 per cent FDI is more about processes for manufacturing and protecting the OEM brand than it is control over technology. I think those issues are reconcilable. The big issue is resources, the money to do it. L1 is going to get you make in India. You will have to buy it off the assembly line in Texas.

So if India ever decides to buy F-16, the first ones will be bought off-the-shelf?

That is the requirement. Under the ‘Strategic Partnership’ model, 10-15 per cent can be procured from the OEM. So my understanding is, the way it will be structured is about 15-20 planes will be bought from the current production line and that will give you time to actually set up production in India and add capability to your forces.

But what about full ToT because under the SP policy OEMs cannot have 51 per cent share even if the FDI policy allows it?

It will never be full ToT. It is not in the national interest or industry’s interest. Certain technologies are not transferable to anyone in the world. Billions of dollars are spent over decades to make military-grade engines and what makes military-grade engines unique in the world is hot-sectioned technology and codings and those are crown-jewel technologies. No one is going to hand that over. So anyone who says they will is not being honest. They will not.

So how do you see a meeting ground in this with the Indian government because both Lockheed Martine and SAAB are competing for it?

I think there is a very rational understanding on what is reasonable and what is unreasonable and so the government has to decide which deal is the best deal. We are trying to meet the government’s expectation on ToT, not 100 per cent but ToT.

Coming to geopolitics, how do you see the Quadrilateral — India, US, Australia and Japan — shaping up and augmenting ties between New Delhi and Washington D.C.?

We have been talking under the radar, quietly about multilateral partnerships. So for this to go public is a very big step to me. To me it symbolises a couple of things. There is now also a real recognition that the China issue is not going to go away. Theoretically speaking, we have a more emboldened China today than it was a month ago. There has not been any demonstrative behaviour. So now we have a more open conversation about the desire to explore a possibility of a quadrilateral. We, in US, are excited about it. From the perspective of democracies, the potential of a quadrilateral is huge. But there is a willingness to have public conversation, which was not there some years ago. I think it is necessary.

But what is it that the Quadrilateral wants to achieve apart from sending signals to China obviously, which I believe the Malabar exercise has already been doing? What is the main objective of the Quadrilateral?

Initially it is about the optics, the messaging regardless of details behind it. Over time you could have a desire to see the four nations partnering in a non-operational way that is agreeable to enhance maritime domain awareness, which would be important to India considering the movements in the Indian Ocean.

On the US defence foundational pacts, is America upset that despite granting ‘Major Defence Partner’ status, India has not yet signed the CISMOA and BECA?

There is discussion going on now on how to proceed with the remaining enabling agreements, as there are now called, to move forward. This way it works for both governments. Both sides are trying to identify how to creatively approach these agreements, just like what we did in LEMOA and also how proceed in the talks under the ‘Make in India’ programme. So we are kind of bundling it.