December 30, 2017

India Stocks Up on Attack Choppers After Claims of Military Unpreparedness

The world’s second largest military measured by manpower is planning to acquire more than a dozen light combat helicopters, as India’s defense sector responds to concerns about its readiness for battle.
The addition of 15 combat helicopters may alleviate India's lackluster defense capabilities relative to its neighbors.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited "received a request for proposals for 15 limited-series light combat helicopters (LCHs)," the company said in a December 22 announcement, adding that "this comes close on the heels of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited receiving RFPs for [the] supply of 83 light combat aircraft just days ago."
The choppers will go into service with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Each multirole combat helicopter is made in India and runs about 30 percent cheaper than the latest US AH-64 Apache variant.
The LCHs are equipped with a 20 millimeter French Giat-Nexter gun, four anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles. The aircraft can be deployed against hostile tanks, armored personnel carriers, slow-moving planes and some surface and sub-surface naval vessels, according to military analysts.
"In the present geopolitical situation, India is located sensitively," Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said September 1. "We have had multiple threats in the past. Therefore, preparedness is something India can never compromise on," he continued, noting, "no country can win battles by being dependent on other countries and being a buyer [versus supplier] of defense equipment."
The Indian Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) raised doubts about India's ability to effectively counter potential threats from Pakistan and China in a July report. The CAG said that India's air force, army and navy suffered major ammunition shortages and were not adequately prepared for a prolonged multi-front military conflict. The Indian military at the time had only enough ammunition for 10 days of armed conflict, the auditor found.
According to a July report in The Diplomat, Beijing has three times as many nuclear warheads than India, five times as many submarines and tanks and at least twice as many naval vessels and military aircraft. China's People's Liberation Army has nearly 1 million more troops in its ranks, to boot.


Shooting Star: India’s New Missile Interceptor a ‘Grand Success’ in Latest Test

India has successfully test-fired their indigenously developed Advanced Air Defense (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile, meant to destroy incoming low-altitude ballistic missiles. The missile’s success is the latest in India’s long-standing mission to build an effective missile defense system.
On Thursday, the AAD shot a Prithvi short-range ballistic missile out of the sky, reportedly demonstrating its capability to change its trajectory in mid-air.
"It was a direct hit and grand success," anonymous defense sources told the Hindustan Times. "Today's test was conducted to validate various parameters of the interceptor in flight mode and it was all success."
The missile is 24.6 feet long and is equipped with a state-of-the-art navigation system. It is a single-stage, solid fuel, rocket-propelled guided missile that can track its target independently.
"The mission was brilliant as the interceptor missile achieved a direct hit, paving the way for its early deployment in the armed forces," a defense official said in a statement, adding that all of the internal systems "performed excellently."
This was the third successful supersonic interceptor test conducted by India in 2017. The previous tests took place in February and March — but the AAD itself has not been tested since May 2016.

The new series of tests are part of New Delhi's attempts to build a multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. India has been working since 1999 to develop a two-tiered defense system to shoot down ballistic missiles aimed at their country.
The first tier is meant to intercept exo-atmospheric ballistic missiles about 30 to 90 miles above the Earth's surface; the AAD comprises the second tier of low-flying ballistic missiles. India's BMD system is not meant to be able to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, both because that's an infamously difficult task and because India's main security challenges come from its immediate neighbors China and Pakistan, both of which are also nuclear powers.
The summer of 1999 saw one of the bloodiest conflicts between India and their rival Pakistan: the Kargil War. The conflict, a clash over the disputed Kargil district in Jammu & Kashmir, led to thousands of deaths. India retained control of Kargil, but relations with Pakistan hit new lows. Border skirmishes between the two nations have been a regular occurrence since the Kargil War, often with lethal consequences.
 Around the same time, Pakistan and China began to modernize their own ballistic missile arsenals. In 2007, India announced plans to develop an equivalent to the US' failed "Star Wars" program of the 1980s to block nuclear missile launches from neighboring Pakistan.
Relations with China have also soured as the nations, both rising economic and military powers, have butted heads for dominance in the region. Relations hit a nadir in the summer of 2017 as Chinese and Indian troops faced off for 10 weeks in the Doklam Plateau.
Only four countries in the world have developed proven BMD systems: China, Israel, Russia and the US.


Construction of P17A class stealth frigates begins

Vice Admiral D M Deshpande, CWP&A, laid the keel of the first ship (yard-12651) of P17A class stealth frigates yesterday in the presence of Cmde Rakesh Anand, chairman & managing director, MDL; Sanjiv Sharma, director (finance); and senior officials of MDL and Indian Navy.
Construction of P17A ships differs in the very concept of frontline warship building by way of adoption of modern technology of ‘Integrated Construction (IC) methodology’, where the blocks are pre-outfitted with pipes, etc, to reduce the build period of warships.
P17A warships are follow-on warships of the Shivalik class stealth frigates. Seven frigates in this series will be constructed, of which four will be constructed in MDL and three in GRSE with MDL as the lead yard.
The P17A class frigates will have enhanced stealth features. These ships are being built using indigenously developed steel and fitted with state-of-the-art weapon and sensor systems along with advanced Integrated Platform Management System.


Pictures show it’s time to question China’s alibi on Brahmaputra pollution

China had blamed the Brahmaputra pollution on earthquake last month. However, latest satellite images suggest that this explanation might be humbug.

China has claimed that the water of the Brahmaputra has turned dark because of an earthquake in the Tibet region last month. But that may not hold water going by latest satellite images.

An analysis of the images suggests that the construction of dams on the river could be the real culprit. The images show that the width of the river has reduced considerably in Tibet, an indication of dam construction activities on the Chinese side.

The earthquake cited by Beijing occurred in Nyingchi district of Tibet in mid-November. The turbidity, even if caused by these earthquakes, would not have lasted more than a week or a maximum of a fortnight, considering about seven days of time for water flow from an earthquake zone to the Indian areas of Tuting (Arunachal) and further south.

India needs to pursue China diplomatically to share data or to permit its Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) scientists to visit the area and study this unprecedented phenomenon.

Dark waters

The waters in earthquake-hit rivers become brown and not black as explained by the Chinese side.

The colour of the Brahmaputra is becoming darker as it is flowing south. The colour was analysed at three different locations on the same day — 6 December.

The satellite images of 1 November 2014 and 6 December 2017 clearly show that width of the river has reduced 10-12 m when compared to older images at two locations.

The construction of dams on Brahmaputra in Tibet, especially the one before the Tsangmo Dam, is the only possible explanation for this phenomenon.

Rumours about natural dams

There were some rumours doing the rounds that three natural dams have formed over the Brahmaputra in Nyingchi district over a distance of 12 km. These natural dams have formed reservoirs of varying lengths, across an area of 6 km, according to two Indian researchers’ preliminary analysis.

The report was obviously picked up by the Chinese government-controlled media for their own convenience. The same information was later used by the Indian media as well.

There many inconsistencies in the preliminary analysis.

Size of dams: The size quoted is 0.76 sq km + 0.1 sq km + 0.85 sq km = 1.71 sq km. The width of the river measured on Google Earth at Dam sites #1 and #2 is an average 40 m and at Dam site #3 is 110 m.

Considering these, the reservoir should be at least 17-18 km in length at dam site #1 & #2 and 8 km at dam site #3. The report, however, cites only 6 km, which is incorrect.

Dammed water

The amount of water at these three locations is supposedly 1 billion cubic metres. The figure, however, cannot be substantiated by any available facts.

Considering the width of the river (probably wrongly assessed by the researchers) as 100 m, and the length of reservoirs as 6 km, a collection of 1 billion cubic metres would require a depth of 1666.6 metre, which is not possible.

Wrong dates

The report claims that blue water was sighted in satellite images of 10 December 2017 and turbidity was noticed the first time on 20 December.

In reality, the turbidity had been noticed in the river since the first week of December, a simple Google search could have revealed that.

The satellite images of 6 December clearly show the black waters in Brahmaputra.


Army's new bullet proof jackets clear trials, set to be finalised

Four Indian soldiers, including Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, could have warded off splinter injuries, had they been wearing a fully protected bullet proof jacket while patrolling in the Chingus area of Rajauri, on the Line of Control. All four martyred, during an attack by the Border Action Team of Pakistan army on December 23.

Similary, Colonel M.M. Rai, Commanding Officer of the 42 Rasthriya Rifles, died fighting two militants in a hideout in Tral area of Pulwama district in the Kashmir Valley. Bullet hit him on his neck, an unprotected area of the bullet proof jacket that he was wearing during the operation.

But, now the Army's long wait for nearly a decade will come to an end as the new modular Bullet Proof Jacket (BPJ) clears trials, which is designed to ensure maximum body coverage of the soldier and similar to the ones being used globally. According to sources, the existing BPJs used by the army in operation can only secure a smaller body area, which is far below the standards used internationally.

Indian army's programme to acquire 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets, to bridge the gap in its requirement of 3.53 lakh jackets, has been pending since 2009 is reaching its conclusive stage and is expected to be finalised by next month.

According to infantry directorate official, all three Indian players, who were in the fray have met requirements of the Indian Army and have cleared the evaluation trials. "Trials have been completed and the report has been accepted. Now, the commercial negotiations will start to select the vendor. We expect the selection process to get over by the end of next month, so that the production and then delivery of the BPJs can start quickly," said a defence source. But, it may take another few months before it reaches the soldiers.

Indian Army has approved Rs 900 crore for the purchase of 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets. Each jacket costs between Rs 50,000-60,000, will be ultra light and easier to wear during combat situations, that will also provide protection to the neck, chest, and groins. "New modular BPJs can withstand 7.62mm bullet at a distance upto 10 meters," said an officer.

Last week, a parliamentary panel has come down heavily on the ministry of defence for not providing basic infantry weapons including the life-saving BPJs to the armed forces.

Standing Committee on defence, headed by Major General B.C. Khanduri (Retd), in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha last week noted that there was a serious deficiency of Bullet Proof Jackets. Even after the approval of Defence Acquisition Council was obtained on October 19, 2009 for purchase of the desired BPJs, the necessary purchases could not be made due to various reasons, the committee observed. The parliamentary panel also said that it regret that even after the approval in 2009, our soldiers continue to suffer due to the ‘insufficiency’ of BPJs.

Based on the present position regarding BPJs and the progress made in its procurement, the Committee was intimated that, 'based on the emerging threats', the requirement of BPJs is increasing. However, as on date, the total authorisation of BPJs in Army is to the tune of 3,53,765 pieces.

While analysing the information submitted by the ministry on comparison of BPJs currently available with Indian soldiers and other developed countries, the Committee noted the aspect of lesser body coverage area existing in Indian BPJs as compared to the BPJs of other developed nations. "The Committee hope that the new BPJs are designed and made keeping in mind the aspect of ensuring maximum body coverage," parliamentary panel stated.

In 2015, Army had to cancel its Request for Proposal (RFP) due to rejection of all samples in the trials, citing lack of technology and manufacturing expertise as main reasons for cancellation.Eventually, a year later, Army initiated a fresh process by RFP in April 2016.

The Committee observed that when the trial is rejected, all the expenditure incurred from sanction of procurement to trial stage goes in vain. "Therefore, there is a need to conduct extensive research before tendering for the BPJs. At the same time, the decision should be more specific and timely so that delays in procurement do not occur," the Committee observed.

Last year, with the increase in terrorists initiated incidents in the Kashmir valley, Army had to make an emergency procurement of 50,000 jackets to meet the urgent requirement of the forces. Ministry officials confirmed that the deliver of these 50,000 BPJs have been completed.


December 28, 2017

India successfully test-fires supersonic interceptor missile

  • This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out this year.
  • It was a part of efforts to have a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.
  • The earlier two tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11, 2017.
 India on Thursday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying any incoming ballistic missile in low altitude, from a test range in Odisha.
This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out this year in which an incoming ballistic missile target was successfully intercepted, within 30 km altitude of the earth's atmosphere by an interceptor.

"It was a direct hit and grand success," Defence sources said after the test launch.

The earlier two tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11, 2017, as part of efforts to have a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.

"Today's test was conducted to validate various parameters of the interceptor in flight mode and it was all success," the sources said. After getting signals by tracking radars, the interceptor AAD missile, positioned at Abdul Kalam Island — previously known as Wheeler Island — in the Bay of Bengal, roared through its trajectory to destroy the hostile target missile in mid-air in an endo-atmospheric altitude, defence sources said.
 The interceptor is a 7.5-meter long single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator, the sources said.

The state-of-the-art interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars. 

India-Nepal relations back on track in 2017

India-Nepal relations were back on track in 2017 with the high-level bilateral exchanges but their future ties would depend mainly on the approach adopted by the pro-China Left alliance which came to power in the recently concluded parliamentary polls.

The Himalayan nation, sandwiched between India and China, saw enhanced military ties with them in 2017, with Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat and Chinese Defence Minister Gen Chang Wanquan visiting Nepal to strengthen security cooperation.

In April, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari made her first abroad trip to New Delhi after assuming office in 2015, highlighting the significance of the ties with India.

During the visit, Bhandari met President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and discussed all aspects of bilateral ties.

Her visit was "fruitful in enhancing the relations and goodwill between the two countries", after a period of unease in bilateral ties following the violent agitation in 2015 by Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, who blocked Indo-Nepal border demanding more representation in Parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.

Prior to the Nepalese president's visit to India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was here to attend the Nepal Investment Summit during which he reiterated India's commitment to support its landlocked neighbour in infrastructure needs.

India had pledged Rs 44 million to its neighbour for construction of the building of technical institutions.

In June, Nepal witnessed change of guard when 70-year-old Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba was elected as the prime minister of Nepal for the record fourth term, after Prachanda handed over the reign to the veteran leader under a power sharing deal.

In the later part of the year, Deuba, who is considered close to India, made a state visit to New Delhi after becoming the premier. He met top leaders including Prime Minister Modi.

Deuba discussed about completing the detailed project report of Pancheshwer Multipurpose Project with Indian officials. He also sought from India more economic development assistance and investments in Nepal.

He termed his visit as successful in laying foundation for further strengthening Nepal-India ties.

Ahead of Deuba's visit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was here in July to attend the meeting of BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). She held talks with Nepalese leaders on the sidelines of the meet and both sides expressed their commitment to deepen the friendly bilateral relations.

Also, India's then railway minister Suresh Prabhu visited Nepal to discuss issues related to connecting the country with Delhi and Kolkata through rail network. The rail connectivity is important for the landlocked nation as its major exports or imports takes place through Indian ports.

The year saw Nepal's growing inclination towards China after the country became part of its ambitious "One Belt One Region" (OBOR) initiative, which is viewed by India with suspicion.

Nepal's then prime minister Prachanda, who is also the head of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre, visited China to take part in the Boao Conference in March. He also met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders.

Another example of growing China-Nepal relations was the first 10-day joint military drill 'Sagarmatha Friendship-2017' in which Chinese People's Liberation Army squad took part in the counter-terrorism and disaster response.

In May, along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Nepal officially became part of Beijing's ambitious OBOR initiative, which aims to invest in infrastructural projects to revive the famous Silk Road trade routes.

Nepal's Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and Chinese Envoy to Nepal Yu Hong inked a Memorandum of Understanding on the framework agreement on the OBOR.

The growing Chinese interest in Nepal was also evident with the establishment of Hongshi Shivam Cement Company, set up with USD 360 million Chinese investment in South-West Nepal, with initial daily production capacity of 6,000 tonnes.

It was the year of elections in Nepal.

After 20 years, Nepalese voted in three phased elections to the local bodies, which was followed by elections for provincial assemblies and the lower house of Parliament.

In parliament elections held recently, a Left alliance of the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre won 116 out of 165 seats under the first-past-the-post system and is likely to form a Left government under former prime minister K P Sharma Oli, who is considered close to China.

"We seek cooperation and help from both India and China for our development, but we will not tolerate any interference in our affairs, from either side," said CPN-UML politburo member Bhim Rawal, who has been elected to the Parliament.

The elections are said to be a step forward in cementing the democracy and providing political stability to Nepal, which has seen 10 prime ministers in as many years.

Prime Minister Modi congratulated Oli, Deuba and Prachanda on the successful conduct of elections.

Also this year, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae, who had completed his three and a half year term in Nepal, handed over the charge to Manjeev Singh Puri.


Indian oil cos to drop anchor in Israeli waters as Iran deal hangs fire

A consortium of Indian state-run oil and gas hunters led by ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) appears set to drop anchor in Israeli waters for the first time amid New Delhi's growing closeness with Tel Aviv and a widening chasm with Iran over its recalcitrance in awarding the Farzad-B gas field discovered by the same Indian grouping.

Israel's energy ministry gave its preliminary nod on December 11to the bid for one block submitted by the Indian consortium of OVL, IndianOil, Oil India Ltd and Bharat Petroleum subsidiary Bharat Petro Resources Ltd. Energean of Greece was the other bidder to have secured approval for five blocks.

ONGC Videsh MD N K Verma confirmed the development, saying the consortium will go through certain processes before deciding on drilling for oil or gas in the block. This was the first auction of exploration licences, consisting of 24 blocks, in four years since Israel blocked foreign companies from exploration in its eastern Mediterranean waters.

The permission to the Indian consortium comes ahead of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's three-day visit to India from January 14 and indicates the willingness of both governments to expand the horizon of bilateral ties from security and defence to energy security.

So far, oil and gas has not been part of the bilateral discourse, which has been largely dominated by defence equipment and water management. The only relationship the two countries had in the oil sector was Reliance Industries Ltd, India's largest private oil company, leasing Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company's petroproducts storage capacity.

The process to include oil in areas of bilateral cooperation began ahead of PM Narendra Modi's July visit to Israel. Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz called oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in June to invite Indian participation in that country's exploration business, dominated by Delek Group and Isramco Negev. The two connected again earlier this month as the Indian bid was being cleared.

Israel, with major gas reserves, has emerged as a greener pasture for the Indian grouping as Iran plays truant on Farzad-B. But New Delhi's decision to allow state-run companies to bid in Israeli block auctions also packs a strong message to Iran — Israel's arch rival — as it comes in the face of global players keeping off for fear of reprisal from their Arab benefactors.

India's relations with Iran have cooled off recently over Tehran's failure to award Farzad-B to the OVL-led consortium in spite of commitments made by top leaders on both sides to see the deal through quickly. Feeling slighted, India, which had stood by Iran during western sanctions, has retaliated by reducing by a third Iranian crude imports. Tehran responded by scrapping benefits it gave to Indian refiners on crude purchase and approaching Russian companies for Farzad-B.

"India stood with Iran during its difficult days and will continue to do so in the future also. But, at the same time, we also expect our economic interests to be protected," Pradhan had said in June soon after TOI reported Iran signing preliminary deal with Russian companies for the gas field.


US kicks off procedure to release drones to IAF

The US government has commenced its internal process to release armed Avenger (formerly Predator C) drones to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The acquisition of these machines is strategically important for New Delhi given the region’s geopolitics. Over the last decade, Israeli drones have been procured in significant quantities by all three armed forces.

Sources have told FE: “The much-awaited two-by-two dialogue involving the foreign and defence ministers of both countries (India and US) will consider this topic of armed Avenger drones when they meet in the first quarter of 2018. The meeting, originally planned for January, has apparently been pushed to April.”

As reported by FE earlier, during the US secretary of defence James Mattis’s visit earlier this year, the Indian Army had expressed interest in buying the Avenger UAV from the US-based General Atomics. It was also decided that the request would be added along with that of the IAF. In October, during the annual press meet, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa confirmed that they would be keen to consider if US releases that technology.

Renowned global aerospace expert Dr Vivek Lall who was in charge at Boeing Company a decade ago to bring the then latest technology of P8I for the Indian Navy has been a key figure to continue to cement defence relations with these drone platforms sales which are not offered to any other non NATO countries.

Sources also told FE ‘the US administration and India have larger joint Make in India defence pursuits on the anvil beyond the drone sales as a next step.”

When US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had met in New Delhi in October, it was decided that the new 2-by-2 ministerial dialogue as announced by the US President Donald Trump will take place early next year.

The IAF requires a huge number of drones especially for contested airspace in the years to come. The projection of drone requirements is in the hundreds by all three services and is only limited by prioritisation of defence budget allocations.

The US Air Force and Indian Navy have apparently made significant progress in government to government discussions on the sale of 22 Guardian unmanned aircraft system (UAS) high altitude long-endurance (HALE) aircraft that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump in June.

It is expected that this deal will be inked in 2018. And the numbers are expected to go up as India is pursuing its Blue Economy and the Navy will be protecting the trade lanes as well as conducting anti piracy operations.

Acknowledging India’s positive contributions to regional security and stability, including in matters beyond the maritime space, both India and US are having further consultations in maritime domain awareness (MDA) area


Govt says fighter shortfall to worsen during NDA's term

Answering questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the government admitted it will not have added even one squadron to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in its five-year term in power.

In an answer tabled in Parliament, the defence ministry stated: “IAF will have 32 Fighter Squadrons and 39 Helicopter Units by 2020.” This means the IAF will have 2-3 fewer squadrons in 2020 than the 34-35 squadrons it fielded in 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the general election and formed the government. Its 2014 election manifesto had specifically expressed concern about the “loss of squadrons of combat aircraft by the air force” during the United Progressive Alliance term in office, noting that “these are indications of surrendering of India's interest.” The manifesto stated: “This calls for a review and overhauling of the current system.”

The defence ministry was answering a parliamentary question from Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP from Himachal who is the son of Prem Kumar Dhumal, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate who had to step back after he failed to win his seat.

The government’s response indicated that squadron numbers were declining because of the government’s inability to replace the retiring fleet of MiG-21s. “Three squadrons of MiG-21 aircraft will be phased out by 2020,” stated the government.

Another answer revealed that the situation would only get worse by 2025. Answering a question from Biju Janata Dal MP Arka Keshari Deo, the defence ministry stated: “10 squadrons of Indian Air Force (IAF) equipped with MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft are scheduled to retire by 2024 on completion of their Total Technical Life.”

On October 5, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, had stated that, by 2032 — the end of the 15th Defence Plan — the IAF would reach its authorised strength (of 42 squadrons). Towards that, the current government has concluded the procurement of only two squadrons of Rafale fighters, and progressed procurement of six squadrons of indigenous Tejas Mark 1 and Mark 1A (two and four squadrons, respectively).

Over the past 15 years, the steady induction of 11 squadrons of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters had partially compensated for retiring MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25 and MiG-27 fighters. But the inflow of Su-30MKIs will end in 2019, when Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is due to deliver the last two squadrons to the IAF.

Besides two Su-30MKI and six Tejas squadrons, two squadrons of Rafales are due for delivery between 2019 and 2022. However, these would be offset by the retirement of two older Jaguar fighter squadrons in the early 2020s.

With 12 squadrons retiring (10 MiG and two Jaguar), and just 10 squadrons joining the fleet (two Su-30MKI, two Rafale and six Tejas), even maintaining the IAF fleet at 32 squadrons – ten less than authorised – would require additional procurements.
In the past, the IAF has twice bought additional Su-30MKIs, and continues regarding that as a convenient option that has the additional advantage of pleasing Moscow and HAL. Alternatively, the government has the option of placing the proposed Indo-Russian “fifth generation fighter aircraft” (FGFA) on the fast track.

Another option that the IAF backs is to order two more squadrons of Rafale fighters. However, with the IAF’s budget already stressed from the two Rafale squadrons already contracted, another two squadrons would require the government to significantly scale up defence allocations.

The more cost-effective alternative with currency within the defence ministry is to progress the procurement of 5-10 squadrons of “single-engine fighters”, for which a “request for information” has already been sent out to global vendors. The favoured contenders are Saab of Sweden, which proposes to build the Gripen E in India; and US major, Lockheed Martin, which wants to transfer its production line to India for building the F-16 Block 70.

As part of this procurement, there are proposals to assist HAL in scaling up Tejas Mark 1A and Mark 2 production, in accordance with “Make in India” objectives.


Russia expects to ink S-400 missile deal with India soon

Russia expects to sign a deal with India soon on the delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems, Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday.

"We hope that the S-400 deal will be signed with India soon," Rogozin said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV Channel.

The Indian news agency PTI reported in mid-December citing Russia’s Rostec Corporation Director for International Cooperation Viktor Kladov that Russia and India were agreeing the technical details of the contract for the delivery of S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems and were "at a very advanced stage" of negotiations.

The sides are also discussing the price, personnel training, technology transfer and the number of air defense missile systems India will purchase.

Russia’s S-400 Triumf is the latest long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground objectives.
The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.

Russian Aerospace Force Deputy Commander-in-Chief Viktor Gumyonny said in April that missiles capable of destroying targets in outer space had started arriving for the S-400 systems.


'Splitting Pak into 4 parts is the only permanent solution,' says Subramanian Swamy

  • The Rajya Sabha Parliamentarian tweeted saying India needs to take revenge for Pakistan humiliating Jadhav's wife and his mother
  • Swamy compared their treatment by Pakistan to what the character of Draupadi faced in the epic war drama, The Mahabharata
  • The BJP MP said all these suggestions are his own opinion which "often becomes party's opinion also"
To avenge the intimidation and humiliation of Kulbhushan Jadhav's kin by Islamabad, India "should wage war against Pakistan to tear it apart into four pieces", said BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.

He added that splitting Pakistan is the only "permanent solution" and remedy in dealing with the "envious and vengeful" country. "Serious homework" for the war should begin "right now", Swamy said, according to PTI.

The Rajya Sabha Parliamentarian also tweeted saying India needs to take revenge for Pakistan humiliating Jadhav's wife and his mother by forcing them to remove their mangalsutra, bindi and bangles.

Swamy's comments came after the external affairs minister (MEA) yesterday revealed details of the Christmas day meeting of Jadhav - who's on death row in Pakistan for alleged espionage - with his wife and his mother. The ministry detailed the hours of humiliation faced by Avanti Jadhav and Chetankul Jadhav, the mother and wife, respectively, of Jadhav.

Swamy compared their treatment by Pakistan to what the character of Draupadi faced in the epic war drama, The Mahabharata.

"Whatever treatment was given to the mother and wife of Kulbhushan (Jadhav) is akin to Draupadi's vastraharan that resulted in Mahabharata," said Swamy, according to PTI news agency.

"It's very unfortunate and we are hurt...and now the time has come when we should wage war against Pakistan to tear it apart into four pieces," he told reporters late yesterday.

The Rajya Sabha MP said all these suggestions are his own opinion which "often becomes the party's opinion also".

He also said the MEA must immediately stop issuing visas to Pakistanis coming to India for medical treatment. He was referring to the fact that India, despite strained ties with Pakistan, makes an exception when it comes to granting visas to Pakistanis for medical purposes.


After UN vote, India readies red carpet for Netanyahu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to spend four days with Benjamin Netanyahu in January, weeks after India's recent Jerusalem vote in the UN prompting a diplomatic protest by the Israeli government which "expressed its comments and sentiments" through diplomatic channels.

Netanyahu's visit, the first by an Israeli PM after the 2003 trip by Ariel Sharon, is expected to mark a new high in bilateral relations, with the Israeli PM having a packed schedule for four days beginning January 16. While the formal part of the visit will be in the national capital where he will also deliver a keynote address at the Raisina Dialogue, Netanyahu will take a break from his official engagements to see the Taj Mahal in Agra with his wife. Modi will then accompany him to Ahmedabad, where, as chief minister, he had intensified ties with Israel.

Netanyahu will meet India's business leaders in Mumbai and spend some emotionally charged moments with young Moshe, who will be returning to the Chabad House where his parents were killed during the 26/11terror attack in 2008.

Modi had met Moshe during his visit to Israel in July, and had promised him a lifelong visa for India. Netanyahu then asked the teenager to accompany him when he comes to India. Netanyahu had been by Modi's side during his three days in Israel, and Modi is expected to return the gesture. Like Modi, Netanyahu will make this a stand-alone visit. Netanyahu's visit will be followed a few weeks later by Modi undertaking a visit to Palestine, his first.

While agriculture and water dominated Modi's visit to Israel, innovation is likely to be the highlight for the Netanyahu visit. The Israeli PM will be accompanied by over 75 companies in different sectors, hoping to make a match of it with their Indian counterparts. Israel is now home to over 500 start-ups in the auto sector, something that is of interest here. In addition, the joint statement is expected to have a progress report of the things achieved after the last summit.

Bollywood is expected to play a big part. For the first time, a group of Bollywood producers, including wellknown director Imtiaz Ali, had toured Israel to scout for co-production opportunities. Netanyahu is likely to meet some stars and directors during his stay in Mumbai.

Netanyahu has been focusing on Asia, Africa and Latin America as new areas for Israel's foreign policy, with 2017 seeing three Asian visits and, for the first time, a Latin American sojourn.

The Jerusalem vote in the UN last week saw Mexico, Colombia and Argentina abstain among the 35 countries abstaining, indicating that Israel was no longer the international pariah it used to be. India's vote was a disappointment while Bhutan's abstention was a source of happiness.

But gradually, Israel is getting to a place where it is leveraging strong bilateral relations for multilateral recognition. That will be interesting for India which, despite growing bilateral ties, is yet to change its international voting behaviour, although there have been some minor changes. Israel manages to hide its disappointment, saying India had moved from its position as the head of the Non-aligned Movement.


Doka La standoff exposed India's defence inadequacies: Why New Delhi must worry about its security apparatus

The 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam Plateau in June 2017 proved to be the biggest challenge for India’s military and diplomatic establishment. It also showed up the inadequacy of India’s strategic defence infrastructure.

IndiaSpend highlights five developments in 2017 that show why India must do more to fill the ever expanding holes in its security apparatus.

The Doka la standoff and why border roads are critical

The Doka La standoff began on 16 June, 2017, after Indian soldiers objected to China’s attempts at building a motorable road at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction near Sikkim. This is a Bhutanese territory claimed by Beijing. The road, if built, could give China a crucial strategic military advantage over India, altering the status quo.

The standoff proved that India needs better infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border, especially roads. These roads are crucial for the deployment of troops and the supply of resources in remote border regions in the event of conflict.

In 2006-07, India had approved the construction of 73 strategic border roads scheduled for completion by 2012. However, only 27 of these have been constructed by the Border Roads Organization, according to data tabled in the Lok Sabha on 4 August, 2017.

The deadline for the construction of these roads has been extended to 2020.

China, on the other hand, has constructed an “extensive network of railway lines, highways, metal-top roads, air bases, radars, logistics hubs and other infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region” bordering India, The Times of India reported on 21 August, 2017.

China has started “flexing its muscles” and is resorting to “salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner”, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat had said referring to the Doka La standoff. He also spoke of the need to “remain prepared for situations” which could result in conflict.


Nepal Rejects India's Offer to Jointly Re-Measure Mt Everest, Govt Sees China’s Hand

Nepal has rejected India’s offer to jointly re-measure the height of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, following the massive earthquake in 2015 and will carry out the exercise on its own, the top official of the Himalayan nation’s survey department has said.

Nepal will, however, seek help from India and China for getting crucial data for the exercise, Nepal’s Survey Departments Director General Ganesh Bhatta said.

Sources in New Delhi indicated that China could be behind Nepal refusing India’s proposal to jointly re-measure Mount Everest as the peak is on the Sino-Nepal border.

According to a statement by the Department of Science and Technology which comes under India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, after the 2015 "Gorkha earthquake" that jolted Nepal, various doubts were raised by the scientific community over the height of the peak.

The 7.8 magnitude quake in April 2015 had devastated the Himalayan nation, killing more than 8,000 people and displacing lakhs of others.

The Survey of India, a 250-year-old institute under the DST, proposed re-measuring Mt Everest as an Indo-Nepal Joint Scientific Exercise with Nepals survey department.

"They have not responded to our proposal. Now they are saying that they are not involving either India or China. They will be re-measuring Mt Everest on their own," Major Gen Girish Kumar, the Surveyor General of India, said.

Kumar said that a representative from India attended a meeting convened in Kathmandu, where surveyors and scientists from different countries including China were also present.

"There was a proposal from India to help us measure Mt Everest, but we are doing it on our own," Bhatta, who is in Nepal, told PTI over phone.

When asked whether China had also given a proposal to re-measure Nepal, he replied in the negative.

He noted that China had measured Mt Everest in 1975 and 2005 while Indian surveyors had carried out a similar mission in 1956. The SGI had also measured the Everest during the British era.

"India was the first country under Sir George Everest’s leadership as the Surveyor General of India to have declared the height of Mount Everest and establish it as the highest peak in the world in the year 1855," the Department of Science and Technology’s website states.

Bhatta said preparatory work has already begun on the project and they are gathering preliminary data crucial for this survey. The massive earthquake has "shook" even the basic parameters of Nepal, so data from other countries will be crucial, he said.

India is being requested to provide the levelling data while China has been asked to provide the gravity data. The data will be very important to determine the height of Mt Everest, Bhatta said.

"We won’t be crossing over into the Chinese territory for measurements. The work of summiting Everest will take place in 2019," he said.

Kusalaraj, a scientist at the Centre for Earth Science at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, said minor change in the height of Mt Everest may not have a direct impact on the lives of people immediately.


Armed forces facing shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel: Government

The armed forces are facing a shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel with the Army topping the list with over 27,000 vacant posts, the government said today.

According to the details provided by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha, the total shortage of officers in the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force is 9,259 while the number for below officer rank is 50,363.

Replying to a question, she said the total strength of the Army as on July 1 is 12.37 lakh personnel against the authorised strength of 12.64 lakh and the total shortage is 27,864.

The current strength of the Navy is 67,228 personnel and the number of vacant positions is 16,255.

She said the Indian Air Force is facing a shortage of 15,503 personnel against the authorised strength of 1.55 lakh.

The vacancies excluding personnel in dental and medical streams come to 59,622.

"The recruitment in the armed forces is a continuous process. The government has taken a number of measures to reduce the shortages," she said.

Replying to a separate question, Sitharaman said MiG fighter jets of the IAF were involved in 10 accidents since 2014-15.

"10 squadrons of IAF equipped with MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft are scheduled to retire by 2024 on completion of their total technical life," she said.

To another question, she said procurement of two more regiments of Akash missile system has been approved for the Army.


December 27, 2017

Japan signs for KC-46A tanker

Boeing has secured up its first international customer for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, with the announcement that Japan has signed up for a single aircraft.
The Foreign Military Sale (FMS) is valued at USD279 million and was announced by Boeing on 22 December. As well as one KC-46A, the contract covers support.
Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms. The sale of four KC-46As to Japan was approved by the US government in September 2016. The total value was given at that time as USD1.9 billion.
While the latest contract announcement did not provide a delivery timeline, the earlier KC-X announcement called for the first aircraft to be received by the JASDF in 2020. With delays to Boeing’s programme to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force (USAF), it is likely that this initial schedule will be pushed back.
The KC-46A is a 767-2C provisioned freighter with a 767-400 flight deck (this flight deck features the Rockwell Collins large format displays of the 787 airliner). Boeing is under contract to deliver 34 of the planned 179 tankers included in the USAF’s own KC-X programme, with the first set to be handed over in the coming weeks. Boeing may yet build hundreds more KC-46As as the USAF looks to replace about 400 Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and 59 McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender aircraft through the KC-X and follow-on KC-Y and KC-Z contracts.


MoD silent on Defexpo dates, global arms vendors on tenterhooks

Keeping the global arms industry on tenterhooks, India’s defence ministry has not yet announced dates for Defexpo 2018 – the full name of which is 10th Land, Naval & Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition – 2018. This is a major event on the calendar of corporations that sell defence equipment to India’s military – the world’s largest importer of weaponry.
The world over, organisers of major defence exhibitions like Defexpo 2018 announce their dates 4-6 months in advance. With just two months to go for February-end, when previous Defexpos were held, the defence ministry remains silent.
Exhibitors say they are already short of time to plan their displays, book exhibition space, ship equipment they will showcase – artillery guns, heavy vehicles, etc – from their home countries to India, plan the travel of VIPs like defence ministers, and book hotel accommodation and transport for the thousands of personnel who are requiired for participating in a defence exposition.
Last month, a top official from the Defence Exhibition Organisation (DEO), which organises Defexpo, informed defence firms that Defexpo 2018 would be held in Goa from February 21-24. But, on December 14, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, said in New Delhi that it was uncertain if the exposition would be held in February.
Since then, there is no word from the DEO. Contacted over the phone, a DEO official told Business Standard that dates would be intimated “when they are decided”. An email to the defence ministry seeking comments evoked no response.
Business Standard learns the decision is currently up before Sitharaman herself. But there are apparently “pressures” against holding it in Goa, including an army offer to provide the space to hold Defexpo 18 in New Delhi.
“India is trying hard to improve its ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index. Well, this sort of confusion and delay is exactly the wrong way to go about it”, complains a senior official from one of the world’s five biggest arms majors.
Similar confusion surrounded the last edition, Defexpo 2016, which then defence minister, Manohar shifted it from its traditional venue in New Delhi to his home state, Goa. Parrikar said the shift was taking place because the Pragati Maidan exhibition venue in Delhi was being refurbished. However, there were widespread allegations that Parrikar had done his home state a favour by taking big-spending defence corporations to Goa, effectively extending the tourist season there by a week.
In the event, Parrikar had to overcome heavy opposition from environmental activists in Goa over his written request (revealed through a Right to Information query) to his successor in Panjim, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, to allocate 150 acres of land along the coast, near Betul village, to create a permanent venue for holding defence expositions.
While Parrikar had his way, Defexpo 2016 was sharply criticised. Pointing out that a defence exposition involved creating an entire eco-system of access roads, exhibition halls, business facilities and service providers, defence journal, Force, noted after the show: “The defence minister himself admitted in his inaugural speech that trade exhibitions the world over take place in metropolitan cities. This is not a coincidence, Mr Minister. They happen in big cities because of their proximity to local industry, government organisations  and infrastructural facilities, none of which exist in Goa.”
However, Parrikar, now back as chief minister of Goa, declared in June that Defexpo 2018 would again be held in Goa.

Defexpo, which is held biennially every even year, is India’s premier land and naval systems show. The biennial Aero India, which is held on odd years, showcases aerospace systems. Defexpo 2018 is expected to attract 400-500 defence companies, including practically every major non-Chinese arms vendor. For now, they are all waiting for the dates.


India, Israel bilateral talks may give wing to the stuck aircraft deal

India and Israel are likely to discuss the deal to supply two new Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) 'eyes in the sky', worth Rs 7,000 crore. The deal has been stuck for over a year now due to steep price hike.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting India on January 13, 2018.

In the previous deal signed in 2003-04, India had acquired three AWACS systems in which the Russian Ilyushin-76 aircraft were equipped with Israel-made sophisticated radars at the cost of $1.1 billion (over Rs 7,035 crore) to carry out surveillance of enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles at ranges up to 400-500 km inside their territory.

"The price of the two new AWACS has been quoted to be over USD 1.25 billion (Rs 8,000 crore) by the vendors as they have asked for much more compared to the cost of the three planes bought earlier. It cannot be agreed to, and that is why the programme has been stalled," senior government sources told Mail Today.

"The main reason behind the steep jump in the price is the almost three-fold increase in the price of the IL-76 planes, on which the radars have to be mounted. The Israelis have also hiked their price much more than what is permitted due to inflation," official added.

The deal is now expected to be discussed during the meeting of the two Prime Ministers.

On several past occasions, the issue of acquiring AWACs has been coming up at meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is the apex body of the Defence ministry, to acquire new weapon systems for the armed forces.

With the deal stuck, both Pakistan and China have worked closely to get an edge over India in terms of the surveillance equipment as Beijing has more than 20 of such AWACS planes, both new and old.

Pakistan acquired four AEWC surveillance aircraft four to five years ago from Sweden, and has also started taking the Chinese AWACS planes in its force.

India also decided to develop its own AWACS as the DAC has given clearance to a proposal to acquire two Airbus-330 planes and build an AWACS, which can provide 360-degree surveillance like the Israeli radar.

The project would start with two planes, which are likely to take five to six years to be completed, and once successful, the DRDO would take sanction for six more aircrafts.

The trials of DRDO developed Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft is nearing its completion in Bhatinda.

These are smaller in size and have 240-degree coverage. After undergoing trials, they would be used for operational flying by the services.

The Air Force needs 15 AWACS and smaller AEWC planes with radars of different capabilities.


December 26, 2017

​New Delhi proceeds with deal for 83 Tejas fighters

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has received a request for proposal (RFP) for 83 Tejas Mk-1A light combat aircraft from the Indian air force (IAF).

On completion of negotiations, Hindustan Aeronautics is expected to receive a production order in late 2018.

India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the procurement of 83 Tejas Mk-1A aircraft in November 2016.

All 83 aircraft are to be configured to Tejas Mk-1A standard; a significantly modified version of the Tejas Mk-1 aircraft and one that is yet to fly.

India’s ministry of defence has contracted HAL for a total of 40 Tejas Mk-1s as part of orders placed in 2006 and 2010 for 20 aircraft respectively.

The first order for 20 IOC aircraft placed in 2006, comprised of 16 fighters and 4 trainers with deliveries to be completed by December 2011.

Only five aircraft have been delivered to the air force to date and deliveries of the remaining 11 fighters and four trainer aircraft will now be completed by 2020.

Hindustan Aeronautics and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) are rushing to complete development of the Tejas Mk-1A.

This is to ensure that Mk-1A production can start immediately after deliveries of the first batch of 20 aircraft in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) configuration are completed.

This will result in a Tejas Mk-1A production run of 103 aircraft and puts into doubt the future of the proposed Tejas Mk-2, as a competition for a new single engine fighter type is already underway. This is being contested by the Lockheed Martin F-16V and Saab Gripen E.

HAL will also increase Tejas production capacity from eight to 16 aircraft per year. This line will be configured for the Mk-1A and production is likely to commence only by 2020.

The Tejas Mk-1A will carry an Israeli Elta 2052 AESA radar, podded Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and Cobham in-flight refuelling probe. New air-to-air missiles and precision munitions are also being considered by ADA, in addition to the R-73 and Rafael Derby BVRAAM, already integrated on Tejas Mk-1 aircraft.

A recently released parliamentary report on India’s defence forces, states that the air force is now down to 33 active fighter squadrons as against the authorised strength of 42.

Alarmingly, the report quotes an air force reply, stating, “14 squadrons of MiG 21, 27 & 29 are due for de-induction in next 10 years, the present level of 33 squadrons will further go down to 19 by 2027, and may further reduce to 16 by 2032.”

The air force was to have inducted eight Tejas squadrons into service between 2012 and 2022.


India Interested in Israeli Systems for its New Combat Helicopters Fleet

India is enhancing its combat helicopter fleet. HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 15 Limited Series Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) from the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army. This comes close on the heels of HAL receiving RFP for the supply of 83 LCAs (Light Combat Aircraft) just days ago.

India has been showing interest in several Israeli systems for this helicopter, namely various pods and Spike anti-tank missiles manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

LCH is a 5.5-ton class, combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter.

According to the company’s statement on its website, the features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armor protection and low visibility features which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.

The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet pointed sight and Electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser Range Finder (LRF)/ Laser Designator(LD).

The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Countermeasures dispensing system.

Presently, four technology demonstrators are under flight testing. LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 5400 m above sea level.


December 25, 2017

US wants security pact for sharing technology with India’s private sector

In New Delhi, on December 4, an official from the US Department of Defence (Pentagon) displayed photographs that convincingly documented China’s theft of design information relating to America’s most secret defence systems – fifth generation fighter aircraft and advanced unmanned aerial vehicles.
His purpose: to explain to the audience of Indian and US military, defence ministry and industry honchos why New Delhi was being asked to sign an agreement binding the Indian private sector to safeguard information it receives relating to American defence equipment.
One such agreement, termed “General Security of Military Information Agreement” (GSOMIA), was signed on January 17, 2002 between the Indian and US defence ministers of that time, George Fernandes and Donald Rumsfeld.
GSOMIA of 2002 prescribes security standards and protocols for safeguarding information shared by the Pentagon with India’s defence ministry; as well as by US defence firms with Indian defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs).
However, GSOMIA does not cover the exchange of classified information with Indian private companies. Washington wants this covered, given New Delhi’s emphasis on the “strategic partnership” (SP) model of procurement, in which Indian private firms will manufacture defence equipment for the military, using technology transferred by global “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs).
Washington is not demanding a fresh agreement. It is asking New Delhi to sign an annexure to GSOMIA that would cover the Indian private sector. 
This, however, remains stuck in the Indian defence ministry’s decision pipeline. “It seems everything in New Delhi must be cleared at the level of defence minister, even prime minister”, complains a former Pentagon official, speaking anonymously.
“US companies are keen to partner Indian private companies designated as SPs, but sharing technical information, which is essential for a technical manufacturing partnership, requires India to extend the GSOMIA to the private sector”, says Ben Schwartz of the US-India Business Council. 
Schwartz explains how this works in practice. If New Delhi chooses two private Indian firms to competitively build, say a tank; and they want to partner a US company, the American firm currently cannot share any classified information with them. It could share information with DPSUs like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd or Bharat Electronics, but not with L&T, or the Tatas.
GSOMIA is not a public document. It is one of four agreements – initially termed “foundational agreements” by Washington, but recently toned down to “enabling agreements” – required by US legislation for facilitating deeper defence cooperation.. A second agreement, the Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that facilitates mutual logistical inter-dependence, was signed in 2016.
Two others are currently being negotiated. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which safeguards secure communications equipment, is at a more advanced stage. There is less progress on the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information and Services Cooperation (BECA), which lays down protocols for digital mapping and survey.
Washington values the formidable operational advantage its military gains from its advanced weapons technology and has enacted strong legislation to safeguard that. India, in contrast, has not traditionally safeguarded military technology.
In the American security establishment, personnel and entities are accorded security classification – like confidential, secret or top secret – which governs the level of classified information they are cleared to handle. This is strictly observed. When somebody cleared to handle “secret” information communicates with another person or entity that is cleared only to handle “confidential” information (one level lower), he or she must weigh each word to maintain the exchange at the “confidential” level and to ensure no “secret” information is inadvertently passed on.
US defence industry has similar security clearances. For example, an F-16 plant has some sections with a security classification of “confidential”, and others classified “secret”. Access to each section is governed by a visitor’s security classification.

New Delhi officials complain this is just an “American problem”, and that Russia never raises such demands. US officials counter that Russia ignores technology security because it simply does not have the highest-end technology. 

Ajai Shukla

December 23, 2017

HAL to build combat choppers worth Rs 3,465 crore, but order book remains thin

On Friday, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army initiated the purchase of 15 indigenously designed and built Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The IAF will take ten helicopters, and the army five.
Business Standard learns from HAL sources that the cost of each LCH will be Rs 231 crore, putting the overall cost of the order at Rs 3,465 crore.
These “limited series production” LCHs would be built in Bengaluru, at a facility that former defence minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated in August. Subsequently, HAL will set up a large-scale manufacturing facility in Tumkur to build the 114 LCHs the army has committed to buying, and the 65 the IAF has said it will take.
The cost of these 179 LCHs, at current prices, adds up to Rs 41,350 crore.
The need for a combat helicopter became apparent during the Kargil conflict, when Indian soldiers had to attack enemy position on 15,000 feet-high mountains with little fire support, except from long-range artillery guns and rockets. It was decided then to develop an attack helicopter to support high-altitude operations.
This resulted in the LCH, a 5.5-ton helicopter powered by two Shakti engines, custom-developed by French engine maker, Turbomeca, to drive helicopters up to altitudes above 6,000 metres or 20,000 feet.
Armed with a 20-millimetre turret gun, 70-millimetre rockets, and air-to-air and anti-tank guided missiles, the LCH can pour fire onto enemy positions, easing their capture by Indian infantrymen who can carry only limited weaponry in those rarefied altitudes.
“LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 5,400 metres [17,700 feet] above sea level. The helicopter participated in IAF's “Iron Fist 2016” exercise in March 2016 and displayed its rocket firing capabilities in its weaponised configuration”, said a HAL release on Friday
The LCH has a narrow fuselage, with two pilots sitting one-behind-the-other in an armoured cockpit that protects them from bullets and shrapnel. The LCH’s flying technologies were tested on the Dhruv “advanced light helicopter” (ALH), which is a mainstay of the army’s aviation wing. These features include a hinge-less main rotor, a bearing-less tail rotor, integrated dynamic system, crashworthy landing gear and an intelligent, all-glass cockpit.
This tender comes on the heels of another the IAF sent HAL on Wednesday, for the supply of 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft – an order worth some Rs 33,000 crore.
Even so, there is concern within HAL at its unusually slim order book. As Business Standard reported (August 21, “As Sukhoi-30MKI production nears end, HAL worries about future orders”), with the production of 222 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters – a cash cow for 15 years – nearing completion, HAL executives wonder what will follow.
HAL chief, T Suvarna Raju said HAL has just three years worth of orders, worth Rs 61,000 crore ($9.5 billion). Raju was concerned about what lay ahead for HAL’s 20 manufacturing divisions, built on 12,000 acres of land, and 30,000 skilled employees.
For almost two decades, HAL has enjoyed order book backlogs of Rs 150,000 – 200,000 crore ($23.4 – 31.2 billion), with assured orders for Jaguar fighters, Hawk advanced jet trainers, Dhruv ALHs, Tejas fighters combat aircraft and the Su-30MKI. Today, the company can rely only on Tejas fighter production and its helicopter manufacturing lines.

  Ajai Shukla

Russia delivers second batch of Su-35 fighter jets to China

Russia has sent the second batch of 10 Su-35 fighter jets (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) to China under a contract signed back in 2015, a source familiar with Russia’s military and technical cooperation with foreign states told TASS on Friday.

"Another batch of 10 aircraft has been sent to the customer. China will receive the remaining 10 aircraft in 2018," the source said.

The Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation has declined to comment on the report.

Earlier, a source close to military and technical cooperation told TASS that the first four fighter jets had been delivered in late 2016. In November 2016, Vladimir Drozhzhov, deputy director of the Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, told TASS Russia had started fulfilling the first phase of its contract with China.

Russia and China clinched a deal for 24 Su-35 fighter jets to the tune of at least $2 bln in November 2015. The contract also covers the ground equipment and spare engines.

The Su-35 is a Russian-made multipurpose generation 4++ super-maneuverable fighter jet equipped with a phased array radar and steerable thrusters. It can develop a speed of up to 2,500 kilometers per hour and has a flying range of 3,400 kilometers and a combat radius close to 1,600 kilometers. The fighter jet is armed with a 30mm gun and has 12 hardpoints for carrying bombs and missiles.


Slow Overseas Equipment Supply Causes Delay in India’s Destroyer Project

The first ship was launched on April 20, 2015 and was expected to join the Indian Navy by 2018, with the follow-on ships being delivered bi-annually. However, a delay in the supply of line shafts and gas turbines in Russia and Ukraine have pushed the project back by at least three years.

India's ambitious mission-ready deployment of naval assets in the Indian Ocean has hit a hurdle with Russia and Ukraine delaying the supply of critical equipment to be fitted on to four destroyers that the Indian Navy intended to induct by early 2018.

"There could be a delay of up to three years," India's Ministry of Defense has informed the parliamentary panel.

Under Project 15B, India's state-owned Mazgaon Dock Ltd. is constructing four destroyers at a cost of $5 billion with equipment sourced from Russia, Ukraine, and Israel. The delivery of the first warship of the class was expected by early 2018.

"The delivery of the first three ships of Project 15B scheduled in 2018, 2020 and 2022 needs to be rescheduled due to delay in supply of certain equipment sourced from Russia/Ukraine… and these are now expected to be delivered in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively," the Indian defense ministry said in the report it submitted to a parliamentary panel.

The parliamentary panel has asked the government to address these delays with due seriousness and find solutions.

The 7,334-ton Project15B warship, a ‘Visakhapatnam-class destroyer' is to be equipped with line shafts manufactured by Russia's Baltic Shipyard while the Zorya gas turbines of the ship are to be sourced from Ukraine.

These destroyers will be equipped with 32 Indo-Israeli anti-ship-missile defenses called Barak 8 and 16 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles that can sink ships or strike land targets at approximately 490 kilometers. It will have also heavyweight torpedoes that can destroy enemy submarines from a distance of up to 100 kilometers.

The manufacturer MDL also claims that it will be one of the most cost-effective destroyers in the world; it is being constructed at a cost of $159,750 per metric ton, versus the cost of the UK Daring class destroyer ($193,650/ton), KDX-III Sejong of South Korea ($203,720/ton) and US DDG-51 ($205,000/ton).


How Wassenaar Arrangement can help India enter Nuclear Suppliers' Group

After getting a step in at Wassenaar Arrangement, India is all set to seek membership of Australia Group as well. Officials monitoring the situation confirmed that India will move ahead on this. This is an informal group of countries, which work for harmonization of export controls to ensure that the export of critical chemicals don't lead to development of chemical or biological weapons. If India applies, the candidature will be discussed at the next plenary in Paris from June 4-8, 2018. India in last six months got into critical strategic multilaterals such as Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR and recently in Wassenaar Arrangement.

The memberships in these influential strategic affairs' groups, put India in unique position to bargain the entry into Nuclear Suppliers' Group, or NSG. In June this year, China blocked the NSG entry citing that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT. This was despite, the US along with 34 other members vouched India's credentials as a responsible nuclear empowered country. China is pushing that if non-NPT signatory country, like India's petition is to be considered, so should be of Pakistan. But most of the other NSG participants are not so confident of the track record of the Pakistan. The western countries, especially the US, accused Pakistan of supplying crucial technologies to North Korea and Iran.
India got membership of both MTCR and Wassenaar Arrangement, without signing the NPT. Along with this, in July 2017, India signed bilateral with Japan on nuclear civil co-operation. These enhance India's non-proliferation credentials, along with giving access to acquire some critical technologies. Along with this, Wassenaar Arrangement would also give India an opportunity to take leadership role in preventing these technologies going in hands of terrorists.

These developments make India's case much stronger in the next plenary session of NSG in June 2018. China may continue to block this, but now India has a lever to use these memberships as a bargaining chip. Although, Indian's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear that India will not do it, but those involved in tier-2 or tier 1.5 level deliberations say, China is very keen to be part of these exporters group. If nuclear energy is critical for restricting India's energy basket, and fulfilling the ambitious Intending National Determined Contributions committed at U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, Conference of the Parties, or COP21 in Paris to cut carbon emissions, then missile technologies are critical for Chinese exports and defence programmes. Chinese petition for MTCR entry is pending since 2004. With India's admission into MTCR, in last six months, India closed the deal of sale of BrahMos to countries like Vietnam.

Indian approach towards these multilaterals changed post 2008 signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Over the years, India continued to perceive many of these regimes as discriminatory. India started pushing for getting into these groups since then, but in last two years the push got accelerated, since suppliers of many high-end duel-use technologies are members of these groups.

China, because of its global plans, stonewalled NSG. Each of these multilateral require consensus. If China continues to use their veto power, India too is in level playing field. Since beginning of MTCR or Wassenaar Arrangement or evolution of Australia Group, the western world-which controls three multilaterals except NSG- remained suspicious of the communist block, especially (erstwhile) Soviet Union and China. Post collapse of Soviet Union, Russia joined these multilaterals, but suspicion on China continued. These western countries see China as a threat and as one of the "target" countries with which the MTCR members should strictly control their missile exports. India can help China in bridging this trust deficit, which will be a bargaining chip.

Obviously, getting China on same page is not easy, but India must accelerate diplomatic efforts to make China rethink its obstructionist approach.