April 30, 2018

Tough bargain may halt Rs 2,000 crore IAF deal of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer planes

A defence deal expected to cost over Rs 2,000 crore to buy 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer planes is likely to be called off by the Air Force as the negotiations for it have been stuck for almost three years now over steep price hike by the vendors.

The Air Force is also not interested in the upgrade of its fleet of over 120 Hawk planes that were inducted into service after a deal with Britain in 2004. The HAL is offering to upgrade the Hawk fleet of the Air Force to Hawk India jets by adding combat capabilities, government sources told Mail Today.

"The benchmark price of each aircraft was around Rs 90 crore but the initial price offered by the vendors including the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was more than double," the sources said.

"In the contract negotiations, the vendors have cut down the price but even now, the price offered is more than 60 per cent of what the defence ministry is willing to pay for the planes," they said.

Another reason over which the deal may be called off is that due to government's directive for utilising the funds optimally, the priority of the ministry is to buy more of war fighting equipment rather than go in for systems that do not fit that bill, the sources said.

On the newly-developed Hawk India jet showcased by HAL recently, sources said there was not much logic in going in for upgrade of IAF fleet of Hawk planes which have been inducted not long back. "The last of the Hawks were inducted only around three years ago in the force and the upgrades are not required at this moment," the sources said.

The IAF had moved the proposal to buy these 20 planes from a British firm during the UPA regime as it wanted to replace the Kiran Mk 2 planes with the Hawk Advanced Jet Training jets to be equipped with smoking pots to fly with the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT).

The contract for the last batch of 57 planes was done between India and the British firm in 2010 to help in the training programmes of the Air Force and the Navy to add to the existing fleet of 66 planes bought in 2004.

The deal for the 20 airplanes has gone through many problems earlier also as the file related to the procurement case had mysteriously gone missing from a department under the defence ministry in 2014 leading to a delay of more than a year in completing the lapsed process.


BrahMos missile will breach mach 7 barrier in next decade: Top official

Brahmos, the fastest cruise missile in the world co-developed by India and Russia, will be breaching the mach 7 barrier to become a 'hypersonic' system in the next decade, a top official said.

"We will require seven to ten years from now to become a hypersonic missile system," Sudhir Mishra, the chief executive and managing director of the joint venture company Brahmos Aerospace, told here over the weekend.

He said the missile, which currently travels at mach 2.8 or 2.8 times the speed of sound, will touch mach 3.5 soon and mach 5 in three years.

The current engine will have to be "tinkered" to achieve mach 5 and will have to be replaced to achieve hypersonic speed, he said.

The intent is to come out with a missile that will be able to deliver to the next-generation warfare, Mishra said.

He said Indian institutions including the DRDO, IITs and Indian Institute of Science are working on technologies which will help it achieve the goals and added that Russian institutes are also doing similar work.

He said the company, which has a majority 55 per cent holding by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the remaining with Russia, has an order book of over Rs 30,000 crore at present.

Over the years, the basic missile system has been modified in a such a way that it can be fitted on various platforms, including ships, submarines, the Sukhoi-30 aircraft as well as land, for launch, he said.

Sharma claimed at present the missile system is 5-7 years ahead of the nearest competition from a development perspective.

"Today, this is the fastest cruise missile in the world. Nobody including the US has such a missile system," he said.

Mishra said the engine, propulsion technology and seeker are developed by the Russians, while Indians do control systems, guidance, software, airframes and fire control systems.

Over 70 per cent of the components are manufactured using private industry's help, he said.

Mishra, however, also conceded that the missiles will be relevant for only 25-30 years and warfare will shift to newer tools like "high power lasers and high power microwave weapons" which will not require "kinetic weapon" systems.


Tejas moves closer to clearance after successful firing of BVR missle

The indegenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas achieved another milestone by successfuly test-firing an air-to-air beyond visual range (BVR) missle, bringing it a step closer to final operation clearance, the government said on Saturday.

Successfully demonstrating safe operation under the worst case scenario, the missile was launched by Tejas piloted by Wing Commander Siddharth Singh off the Goa coast.

"Integration of Derby, a BVR class missile, is one of the major objectives of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of LCA Tejas," a defence statement said.

Tejas has been designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) autonomous society - Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

The aircraft was tracked by two other Tejas aircraft in close formation to capture the firing event in the specially instrumented high-speed cameras for detailed analysis and comparison with the simulation model for validation.

"Based on the successful integration and demonstration, Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA), a unit of DRDO has cleared the series production aircraft of Squadron 45, to be equipped with Derby operational capability," a statement said.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman complimented the DRDO and other agencies involved for making LCA Tejas fighter jet, a world-class aircraft platform.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) had ordered 40 Tejas Mark-1 version. A request for proposal was issued to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by the IAF in December for procurement of another batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of around Rs 50,000 crore.


April 28, 2018

India’s Nag Finally Headed Into Army Service

The Indian Army will shortly begin inducting its first indigenously developmet anti-tank guided weaponry. The Ministry of Defence today cleared a $70 million for 300 Nag missiles and 25 modified BMP-2 ‘NAMICA’ carrier vehicles that will deploy the munition. For the Indian Army, which has operated off a staple of  license-built Russian Konkurs and French Milan anti-tank missile variants for decades, the inbound Nag is a major milestone.
In a statement today, the MoD said, “In a boost to indigenisation and in realisation of India’s growing technological prowess, the DAC approved procurement of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) designed and developed NAG Missile System (NAMIS) at the cost of Rs 524 crore. The system includes a third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile, the NAG, along with the Missile Carrier Vehicle (NAMICA). The NAG missile is a third generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night. This will give a quantum boost to the Army’s capability against enemy armour.”
In an exclusive comment to Livefist, Dr S. Christopher, chief of India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation which has developed the Nag weapon system, said, “The twists and turns the program has taken are part and parcel of R&D. Thanks to our colleagues in the army, they pushed us a lot, and that has resulted in us getting the best out of the weapon.”
The Nag’s development has been typically troublesome, with the most recent hurdles accumulating around seeker performance in the extreme temperature conditions of India’s desert sector where the missile has been trialed for years.
Speaking of the challenges during trials that have kept the Nag for years in a seemingly endless loop, Christopher said, “In summer, there tank engine heat versus environment heat in a desert setting. Engine heat is hardly above that especially when switched off. It was difficult, we were pleading saying that our technology needs two degrees temperature differential. We especially had a critical problem around mid noon, from 11am to 3pm, because sun is very high and ambient temperatures are at their peak. The Nag’s range at this time was seen to fall by a few hundred meters to 3.2 km as against 4 km. In winter, there was no such problem.”
A new indigenous seeker that has been fielded in Nag trials over the last 18 months has evidently solved the problems bedeviling tests.
The Indian Army is currently looking to upgrade nearly 700 BMP-2 infantry vehicles, with integrated anti-tank guided missile systems. The Army is also reported to be near concluding a deal for Israel-built RAFAEL Spike anti-tank missiles for infantry battalions.


Ministry of Defence clears military procurement worth Rs 3,687 crore, includes NAG missile, long-range guns

The defence ministry on Friday approved the purchase of 13 high-calibre guns from the BAE System at a cost of Rs 3,053 crore for the naval warships that are under construction in various dockyards.

The 127 mm calibre guns will be fitted on-board new destroyers and frigates for naval gunfire support operations to undertake surface engagements. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved the purchase of these guns — a long-pending proposal from the Navy.

The weapons have a normal range of 24 km, which can be extended further by using special extended range gun munitions.

“These guns would be procured from BAE Systems of the USA under the (Defence Procurement Procedure) category of Buy (Global) at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The apex acquisition council also cleared purchase of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) anti-tank Nag missile system for the Army at a cost of Rs 524 crore.

The system includes Nag anti-tank guided missile, along with its missile carrier vehicle.

Named after former scientific advisor to the DRDO, B D Nagchaudhuri, the homegrown weapon is a third generation anti-tank guided missile with top attack capabilities to effectively engage and destroy all known types of tanks during day and night.

Acquisition of Nag missile system, claims the defence ministry statement, would boost Army’s capability against enemy armour.

In February 2018, the DRDO claimed it completed the development trials of the indigenous missile with the successful targeting of two tanks in the Rajasthan desert. Development of Nag — one of the missiles under A P J Abdul Kalam’s integrated guided missile programme — began in the 1980s and took three decades to complete the development phase.

The DAC also reviewed the progress of the DRDO programme to develop indigenous Airborne Warning and Control System.


April 27, 2018

‘We are ready to manufacture the MiG-35 in India’

Ilya Tarasenko, Director General, JSC Russian Aircraft Corporation ‘MiG’ is looking to offer its latest MiG-35 warplanes under the Indian Air Force’s global tender to acquire 110 fighters for around $20 billion. In an interview to BusinessLine, Tarasenko said the company is ready to build the fighter planes here under the transfer of technology at a competitive price. Excerpts:
Are you going to respond to the global tender floated by the Indian Air Force to acquire 110 fighter jets?
Of course, we will participate in this tender under the aegis of Rosoboronexport. We have already received the request from the Indian side. Historically, it happened that we always find common grounds with Indian partners. During our several years of cooperation we managed to understand the philosophy, culture and real needs. MiGs are already operational in this country for more than half a century.
Will you be willing to offer the latest MiG-35? How competitive will it be compared to those offered by your competitors such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and SAAB among others?
We will present the newest MiG-35 fighter for the tender and will promote it in accordance with the requirement of ‘Make-in-India’ programme. It means that we will offer a big offset programme. Together, with our Indian colleagues, we will carry out several works directly in India. Such works are already being carried out under current contracts. Taking into account the open architecture of the aviation complex, we will offer the customers different variants of the avionics nomenclature. As a counterbalance to foreign analogues, our air-to-surface armament of MiG-35 systems makes its possible to use armament against targets that are illuminated by its own laser from new generation optronic systems, as well as against targets illuminated by external ground and air source. Aviation complex makes it possible to use the whole spectrum of weapons, both existing and perspective ones, Russian and foreign, including those, that are for heavy fighters. In addition, MiG-35 is an interesting offer to the Indian Air Force in respect to cost-effectiveness factor. The MiG-35 multi-role fighter price will be competitive. I think it is too early for a comparison.
What are your plans under ‘Make in India’ for Russian fighter jets, including transfer of technology?
India is one of our main partners. Therefore, we are ready to make and are taking big steps with the Indian government in the framework of this programme. Transfer of technologies is possible.
Why have you not come out with clear plan on ‘Make in India’ yet for the MiG-35 …
The principles of military and technical cooperation of the RAC ‘MiG’ with India were always based on the closeness of views on the problems of ensuring safety in the world, as well as the openness and confidence in mutual relations. As a result of the implementation of the long-term programmes in the sphere of military and technical cooperation, both sides are mastering advanced technologies, creating high-tech industries and modern types of aviation hardware. As a result of more than 50 years of fruitful cooperation, both sides have mastered the technologies of designing, manufacturing and operation of the aircraft of generations II, III and IV that facilitated the strengthening of the countries’ defence and development of the national defence industry. We are sure that at this stage the equal partnership should continue, which undoubtedly will ensure economic benefit for both countries.
Would you ever build the MiG-35s here in India?
Organisation of MiG-35 production in India is possible after delivery of pilot batch of the aircraft. We are ready to discuss it with the government.
So you are planning to set up a manufacturing plant here for MiGs?
At present, the MiG-29 has upgraded to the level of MiG-28 (UPG), the modified version, in Nashik. Besides, India has already produced MiG -21 and MiG -27 aircraft. The aviation complex MiG-35 is to become the logical joint work continuation. We will establish both production and servicing facilities. There will be several stages. The first stage will be modular assembly using mod kits, supplied by us. In future, jointly with India, there will be the extension of localisation up to full production cycle.
And you are ready for full transfer of technology?
We are ready to transfer technologies and perform personnel training, since it will create new workplaces. We are planning to involve Indian private capital to make it comfortable for India in terms of financial security. Thus, a new modern production facility will happen. This procedure may be revised in the course of work, on the basis of mutual interests within the paradigm of historically developed fruitful cooperation.
Are you expecting additional orders for the Indian Navy’s 57 carrier-based fighter jet programme post the delivery of the carrier-based MiG-29K/KUB for INS Vikramaditya in 2016?
Yes, certainly. At present we are completing the construction of service infrastructure for MiG-29 aircraft in close cooperation with the Indian Air Force, Navy and several big Indian companies. We are setting up a maintenance centre and consignment warehouse for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of MiG-29K/KUB aircraft. The works are being successfully performed in the framework of the Russian obligations and are completely in line with the initiative ‘Make-in-India.’


Mega boost to India's firepower likely as army looks to seal Israel missile deal

Amid ongoing efforts to further boost ties between India and Israel, the defence ministry on Friday will decide on an army proposal worth over Rs 2,000 crore to buy around 5,000 Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Tel Aviv, 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 high-level meeting of the defence ministry chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to discuss the army proposal on buying Spike missiles for the force," a senior government source told MAIL TODAY.
As per the proposal listed for the meeting, the government will also consider buying 500 launchers and around 20 simulators for the weapon systems which will be used by the infantry battalions for taking down enemy tanks, the sources said. The same meeting is also scheduled to discuss another army proposal to equip its armoured forces with 300 Made in India Nag anti-tank guided missiles in a proposal worth around Rs 300 crore.
These will also include around 30 NAMICA carriers based on the chassis of a BMP infantry combat vehicle. The government sources said the Spikes would be meeting the immediate requirement of the army, while the remaining largescale requirements would be met by the manportable ATGMs, to be produced by DRDO in future as was first reported by MAIL TODAY.
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 that 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.
In the earlier competition for ATGMs, India had also tried one American fire-and-forget ATGM, but that offer was rejected 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 Spike missiles are being procured by the army after an earlier tender for these weapons was withdrawn. After the NDA government came in power, extensive push is being given to 'Make in India' in defence sector for meeting requirements. The high-level defence ministry meeting is also likely to discuss a DRDO proposal to develop two indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), under which the major investment will be made by the research agency. The navy is also likely to move a proposal worth around Rs 3,000 crore for buying 127 mm naval warship guns for the surface vessels of the force.


US Should Not Sanction India Over Defence Deal With Russia: American Lawmakers

At an event on the Capitol Hill, experts and lawmakers warned that any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship and as such there is an urgent need to prevent that from happening. 

 Top American lawmakers and experts have warned that imposition of sanctions on India under a newly-enacted law if it buys the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia could be disastrous for the Indo-US ties.

Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was signed into law in August 2017 and went into effect in January this year, mandates the Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of Russia.

At an event on the Capitol Hill, experts and lawmakers warned that any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship and as such there is an urgent need to prevent that from happening.

"I do think, it (CAATSA) is a serious issue that needs to be dealt. There needs to be a dialogue between the US and India. Our goal is not to sanction India, Congressman Joe Crowley, House Democratic Caucus Chairman, said at the US-India Friendship event.

"But given the kind of destabilising activities Russia has been doing across the world in particular against democracies, it is important to slap sanctions against Russia," he said.

"But when it comes to those third-party agreements I think there has to be dialogue between the US and India; understanding the needs that India has as a nation for self-defence as well that has to be taken into consideration, Crowley said in response to a question.

India is currently in an advance stage of negotiations with Russia for five S-400 system worth an estimate USD 4.5 billion.

The S-400 Triumf long-range air defence missile system has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. The S-400 missile system can fire three types of missiles and simultaneously engage 36 targets, thereby creating a layered defence.

Flagging the issue, Nisha Desai Biswal, the former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and the current president of the US India Business Council said that CAATSA sanctions is something that members of Congress need to be "really critically aware" of and thinking through as they deal with the intention around the Russia Sanctions legislation.

"It is something that we are all mindful of and looking at very very carefully. But I do think that we need to acknowledge and address the continuing importance for India of its relationship with Russia and how we how we manage the way forward on that issue, Ms Biswal said.

CAATSA sanctions would "damage" US-India relationship, warned Keith Webster, who represented Pentagon in the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) in the previous Obama Administration. He is currently president of the defence and aerospace export council US Chamber of Commerce.

Observing that the purpose of this legislation is certainly not to target India, Benjamin Schwartz who leads the US-India Business Council's Defence and Aerospace programme, said one of the unintended consequences of two words significant transactions in that legislation is that it's exacerbated some of the concerns about the US as a reliable security provider.The legislation says that if a significant transaction takes place with the Russian defence or intelligence services that country or that entity is subject to potential US sanctions. There is a potential of a waiver to take place at the presidential level, Mr Schwartz said.

"I say this is unintended because the only country or at least the country that would benefit the very most from any type of sanctions from the United States on India would be Russia. So that was clearly not the intention of this legislation. I personally don't think that the US Congress or the US government would ultimately follow through with that kind of situation because that wasn't the intention of the legislation."

"But one of the challenges that we faced in promoting US India defence relationship is demonstrating that the US is a reliable partner of India. So all efforts should be on trying to eliminate any of the ambiguity or the uncertainty that that legislative language may be creating," Mr Schwartz said.


April 26, 2018

Keeping economy first: China urges Pakistan to keep tensions with India 'minimum'

China has asked Pakistan to engage with India to keep tensions between the two countries to a minimum in order to maintain a conducive environment for timely completion of various projects under the ongoing multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which forms a part of Beijing's ambitious transnational Belt Road Initiative (BRI).

An editorial published in Pakistan based English newspaper Daily Times read, "Keeping the economy first is a lesson that our state has yet to learn from its big brother in the hood."

The editorial also throws light upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi's informal talks, with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to take place on April 27-28 in Wuhan city, ahead of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in June.

According to it, "cautious" China's denial of constructing any hidden military base on the CPEC "could also be viewed through the prism of China's public reassurance to Islamabad that the Xi-Modi meeting scheduled for the end of this week will in no way dilute Sino-Pak friendship."

The editorial, however, expressing displeasure questions if Pakistan is playing its "due role," as the Editorial opines that the statement should have come from Pakistan.

"We appreciate the Chinese statement but cannot help wonder if the Pakistan Foreign Office and other policy quarters are playing their due role. For it is for Islamabad to keep its people and the world informed and manage the complex regional and international relationships," the editorial read.


April 25, 2018

Indian Air Force lacks squadron strength to tackle a two-front emergency war

With a skewed squadron strength and a limited number of fighter jets, the Indian Air force would be taking close to two days in shifting focus from Pakistan to China in case of an emergency two-front war situation. However, with a squadron strength of 42, the IAF can smoothly shift its focus from the northern frontier to the western frontier.
This lessons came after the recent Gagan Shakti exercise testing the Air Force's capability.
"With a full strength of 42, the Air Force can launch war within hours. But, the depleting numbers don't allow this. Mobilising resources from one end to another in less than 48 hours is a big achievement, even though we would ideally want this to be quicker," said an Air Force officer.
The Indian Air Force that is operating with only 33 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 will be further reduced to only 16 by 2032 and 19 by 2027.
As of now, the Air Force requires at least 45 squadrons but it is well short of the target. Each squadron has 18-20 fighter jets.
"During the exercise, we tried to maximise what we can do with our current capability. Quick deployment at a short notice was one of the key takeaways," said an officer.


Boeing's Make in India pitch for selling 110 jets to Indian Air Force

A strong ‘Make in India’ theme will be behind US aircraft maker Boeing’s pitch for the Indian Air Force’s order for 110 fighter jets. The order, worth around Rs 800 billion, seeks commitment from vendors to supply sensitive technologies as well to carry out a bulk of manufacturing in India.
For the current order, Boeing has tied up with Mahindra Defe­nce System and Hindu­stan Aero­na­utics Limited for producing F/A-18 Super Hornets. “The RFI (request for information) is much contemporary this time. It broadens the scope and competition. It focuses on the IAF’s real war-fighting capabilities. Our joint venture is an optimum mix of capability, cost and industrialisation,” Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India, said in an interview.
Kumar said the US government’s willingness to liberalise rules on transfer of technology (ToT) gave them a leg-up against competitors. “I don’t think ToT is an issue. It is not us but the US government is saying that rules will be more forward-looking. The US now recognises India as its ‘major defence partner’ and they are much more forward-leaning and sharing technology with India,” he said.
Recently, Kenneth Juster, the US ambassador to India, indicated the same. “The United States plans to offer India certain technology and platforms that we have offered to no other country in the world. We are going to be very forward-leaning in technology, the transfer of technology, and indigenous production that we can offer to India,” he had said.
Several foreign manufacturers have objected to ToT without a majority stake in a partnership. Under the current strategic partnership model, it is mandatory for an Indian firm to have at least a 51 per cent stake. Kumar said that having a public sector player as partner made their case of indigenisation stronger. “With a public-private partnership approach, I am bringing the best of public sector and private sector — the only two companies in India which have manufactured airplanes,” he said.

Boeing’s probable rivals in the process, Dassault, Saab and Lockheed, have chosen private players Reliance, Adani and the Tatas as their respective partners. “The only company which has achieved something in aircraft manufacturing is a public company. The industry I believe cannot suddenly ignore them and go for other, that’s not wise. We brought our industrial partners and spoke to almost 400 companies in the sector. We realised ignoring HAL is a bad idea,” he said.
After criticism that the new defence policy did not envisage any role for defence PSUs, the government is now mulling a change to allow them to forge joint ventures with foreign partners.
In terms of capability, Boeing will be pitching the latest design of F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, the most advanced and cheapest to operate. “We are capable of supplying aircraft to India that we are supplying to the US today. It brings advance capability that will be supplied to US defence forces in the foreseeable future. Cost-wise, it is much more affordable, having the lowest cost per flight hour than any aircraft in the US air force inventory,” he said. Recently, the US navy ordered 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets.
 Kumar also stressed that an order was essential to kickstart the defence indigenisation story and encourage global giants to invest in India. “In defence, it’s a monopoly situation. You have only one buyer. So if we don’t have that buyer with any order in near foresight, it’s too much risk to invest in capacity. The best way for the government to catalyse investment is to make orders. Not simple RFI and RFPs. We need actual orders,” he said.


Lockheed to Sweeten India Fighter Jet Bid With F-35 Technology

  • Radar used in fifth-generation fighter being offered to India
  • Lockheed cites export potential of jets from India plant 
     Lockheed Martin Corp. will provide latest combat jet technologies including a target tracking device aboard the F-16 aircraft that it plans to offer to India in its bid for the world’s largest order from the Indian Air Force.The global defense giant will offer jets equipped with the advanced radar which is fitted on its fifth-generation combat jet, the F-35, as well as a helmet-mounted tracking system and a new radio data link system, Vivek Lall, vice president for strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin said Wednesday.
    The bid also comes with an offer to shift its lone production line for F-16s from Fort Worth, Texas in the U.S. to India as it takes on competitors Saab AB and Boeing Co. The variant being pitched is the F-16 Block 70.
    “There are a lot of technologies that come into the F-16 from F-35 and F-22, including the latest radar on these platforms,” Lall said in an interview. “It is a contemporary, state-of-the-art platform.”
    Getting state-of-the-art fighters is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the South Asian nation faces increased risks from neighboring Pakistan and China at a time when the Russian MiG jet -- India’s mainstay -- is being phased out. As part of that plan, India sought proposals from global manufacturers for 110 combat planes, a deal worth at least $15 billion.

    Defense Modernization

    The jet order is an attempt to modernize the South Asian nation’s defense forces, a plan which could cost as much as $250 billion over a 10-year period ending 2025. And Modi wants a significant part of it to be done locally under his ‘Make in India’ campaign, which aims to promote domestic manufacturing.
    Lockheed Martin sees a huge export potential to provide over 200 F-16s to the global market if India chooses the aircraft, Lall said. The winner of the combat jet tender will be required to establish a production line within three years.
    ”We already see a global rise in the demand for F-16 from the 25 air forces around the world that already fly them. This export potential for the F-16s could be met through the exclusive production line we propose to put up in India,” Lall said.
    Lockheed Martin has received the request for information from India for the F-16s to meet its air force requirement, he said


April 23, 2018

Thales looking at role in India’s nuclear submarine project

French defence company Thales has said it is working on doubling its footprint in India by expanding its overall product portfolios with a major focus on India’s ambitious project to build a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Senior Executive Vice-President (International Development) Pascale Sourisse said Thales was in particular looking at supplying key components such as sonars for India’s nuclear-powered and other submarines.

India has been working on a secret project to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines which are expected to boost the Navy’s overall strike capabilities. The government had last year also begun the process to acquire six conventionally-powered advanced stealth submarines at a cost of around Rs 60,000 crore under project P-75 (I).

“We can equip any kind of submarines including nuclear-powered submarines. We are equipping nuclear submarines in France,” the senior executive of Europe’s largest defence electronics company told PTI in an interview.

Six Scorpene-class submarines are currently being built under ‘Project 75’ of the Indian Navy. The submarines, designed by French firm Naval Group, are being built by the Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai. The project P-75 (I) will be a follow-on for Project 75.

Sourisse said India was one of the top three priority markets for Thales and the company planned to double its footprint in the country in the next two or three years by ramping up its supply chain and building a sustainable ecosystem of partners.

Thales expected defence manufacturing in India to grow because of the government’s initiatives in boosting the production of weapons and military platforms, she said.

In particular, she referred to the government’s decision to raise foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing to 74 per cent for certain niche segments.

Sourisse said the Thales strategy was not only to support the government’s “Make in India” policy but also exports from India.

India is expected to spend close to USD 300 billion in the next five years in procuring defence equipment and almost all major global defence firms are eyeing a slice of it.

“We are in India for 65 years. Since 1953, we have been working with the Indian Air Force, the Navy and the Army,” she said, adding the company was looking to expand its product portfolio as well supplies to all the three forces.

When asked about the project to upgrade the IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets, Sourisse said it was moving along “very well”. Thales is a part of the project along with Dassault Aviation.

On the Rafale deal, she said it would be a “win-win” proposition for India. Thales will provide equipment and systems that are expected to account for about 25 per cent of the total value of each Rafale.

India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.

In the naval domain, Sourisse said Thales was ready to produce its premier Search Master radar in India under the “Make in India” initiative.She said the company was keen to produce various equipment and surveillance devices for the Indian Air Force as well and particularly mentioned the fire control radar solution.

Last week, Thales and India’s MKU Limited had joined hands for the development and production of optronic devices and F90 close quarter battle (CQB) rifle for soldiers.

The optronic devices and F90 rifles will be manufactured in India at MKU’s facilities in Kanpur.

Thales has been providing avionics and other equipment to the state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for over four decades and Sourisse said the company was now looking at expanding the association further.

Earlier this week, Thales set up a new office in Bengaluru as part of its plans to strengthening its presence in India.


India to Add Seven More Advanced Airfields Near Border With China

India will build seven new Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the border with China in Arunachal Pradesh for the Indian Air Force (IAF) apart from modernising the eight existing ones, Sputnik has reported.

The announcement came after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman witnessed air operations in Arunachal Pradesh’s Pasighat and Dollungmukh as part of the ongoing Gagan Shakti exercise.

“The Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) of the IAF in Arunachal Pradesh will be further built as part of the modernisation. We will develop all of them and even expand some in the frontier areas, that’s certain,” Sitharaman said.

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa confirmed this, “As part of the expansion plan, seven more ALGs will be constructed for military operations in Arunachal Pradesh in addition to the existing eight ALGs in the easternmost state.”

For the exercise, which began on 10 April, the IAF has mobilised more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft to conduct all terrain operations – desert, high altitude, maritime and special operations – in real time scenarios. Over 300 officers and 15,000 airmen have also been mobilised to participate in the exercise.

In the last few years, India has operationalised a number of ALGs along the border with China, mainly in Arunachal Pradesh including ALGs in Pasighat, Ziro, Along and Walong. The process of reconstructing ALGs along the border with China was started in 2009.

The IAF recently landed its C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft at the ALG located in Mechuka, a small town in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The ALG, operationalised in 2016, is located at an elevation of about 1830 metres.


India wants US to waive sanctions over Russia deal

India is likely to ask the United States for exemptions from sanctions to clear its way to ink a deal to procure S-400 air defence missile system from Russia.

New Delhi has been negotiating a contract with Russia’s state-owned Almaz-Antey Corporation to procure the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missiles. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu discussed the proposed deal when they met in Moscow on April 3 and discussed bilateral military cooperation.

Moscow’s envoy to New Delhi, Nikolay Kudashev, recently said that the negotiation on the contract might be concluded before Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit next October.

Sources in New Delhi told the DH that the government was also assessing if the deal would make India liable for actions by President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington DC under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The US Congress in July 2017 passed the CAATSA to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. Trump signed it into law in August 2017 and its scope was further expanded in October 2017.

The Section 231 of the CAATSA mandated secondary sanctions to any nation entering into high-value deals to procure military hardware from Russia. The proposed India-Russia S-400 deal is estimated to be worth about $ 5.5 billion (Rs 39,000 crore).

New Delhi and Washington already had some discussion on the possibility of the US granting India a waiver from the CAATSA sanctions, thus clearing the hurdle for it to ink the contract for procuring the missile system from Russia.

Sources said that New Delhi had conveyed it to Washington that India could not abruptly scale down its reliance on military hardware from Russia, given the decades-old history of defence cooperation between the two countries. It was also made clear that India-US strategic partnership, particularly the bilateral defence cooperation, might be at risk if the Trump administration did not assure New Delhi of the exemption from CAATSA sanctions, added the sources.

Russia claims that its S-400 air defence missile system is effective against offensive actions by US F-35 stealth multi-role fighter jets. What has of late prompted New Delhi to seek early conclusion of the negotiation on the deal are reports that Russia has already started supplying the S-400s to China.

India and Russia in 2016 inked an inter-governmental agreement for procuring the S-400 air defence missile system. Both sides have since been negotiating the contract.


April 21, 2018

Dassault Reports Rafale Progress in India

The training of Indian pilots and maintenance personnel in preparation for delivery of Rafale fighters is in progress in France, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier told AIN in describing progress with the Indian air force contract for 36 Rafale fighters. He also commented on the latest Indian request for information (RFI) for more new fighters while visiting India as head of a delegation from the French Aerospace Industries Association (French acronym: GIFAS). However, Trappier made only passing reference to the financial and legal troubles that have recently beset the Reliance Group, Dassault’s partner in India for the Rafale contract.

In addition to the training in France, India is preparing a hangar at the Reliance Defence facility at Nagpur, where parts for the Rafale are being made, with deliveries to start this year. Dassault Aviation has started looking for more offset partners. Major subcontractors to the French manufacturer that have already tied up with Indian companies include engine maker Safran and Dassault Systèmes, providing 3D modeling and product lifecycle management (PLM) software. Thales announced last year it would develop Indian capabilities to integrate and maintain the radar and electronic warfare sensors at the Nagpur facility along with an Indian supply chain for manufacturing microwave technologies and high performance airborne electronics.

Currently, the Reliance Group's flagship company, Reliance Communications, is embroiled in court cases brought by minority shareholders, and stemming from its inability to repay lenders. The group has debts of $18 billion. A senior official at the Indian MoD has questioned the status of Reliance Defence, since the MoD’s Defense Procurement Policy is very strict on the credit rating of vendors. However, a Reliance official at the Nagpur facility told AIN: “The legal case has nothing to do with Reliance Defence, which is a part of [a separate] subsidiary, Reliance Infrastructure.”

Trappier said that Dassault is busy responding to the recently released RFI for 110 more fighters. The request cites 75 percent of these as single-seaters and the remainder as two-seaters. A maximum of 15 percent of the aircraft would be delivered in a flyaway state, with the remainder to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency. The current RFI dropped an earlier stipulation that the new fighters be single-engine.
 But the Dassault chief declined to confirm that Reliance would be the partner in bidding for the 110 fighters. “There is a process of the RFI, and we will see at the time of the Request for Proposal…there is nothing as of now,” he said. “We need a variety of other suppliers [and] we are ready to transfer technology, because my government supports this and our own commitment to India,” he added.

Trappier also noted that the Indian Navy requirement for 57 carrier-capable fighters would be best met by the Rafale naval variant. However, the seaborne Rafale currently used by the French is built for CATOBAR operations (catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery). The Indian Navy's current aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the forthcoming Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 are designed for STOBAR operations (short takeoff but arrested recovery)


Shortage of funds delaying strategic roads along China border

While infrastructure development along the China border was the most important issue discussed in the bi-annual Army Commanders’ Conference, the issue of shortage of funds leading to delay in strategic road projects was also deliberated upon at the mega military event.

The matter pertained to the dearth of funds in the hands of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which in turn, is leading to delays in completing strategic roads along the frontier with China, officials said today.

As a response to the money crunch, funds meant for General Staff (GS) roads are being diverted for the higher priority India-China Border Roads (ICBRs). This is likely to affect the 200-odd GS roads that ensure inter-valley and inter-sector movement of troops and equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

On the other hand, the ICBRs are meant for much larger mobilisation efforts.

The inadequate budget for the strategic roads and infrastructure development along the northern borders has also been highlighted by the Indian Army’s Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand, who informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that the allocation for these tasks is falling short by about Rs 902 crore.

Speaking about the event, Lt Gen A K Sharma, the army’s Director General Staff Duties, said: “Senior commanders deliberated at length on the prevailing situations along the northern borders, the capacity building endeavours including infrastructural development and measures to provide them requisite impetus.”

Earlier this week, the BRO, which a primary construction agency for border infrastructure development, gave a presentation at the conference, providing an update on the work it has been carrying out along the northern borders, the funds it has received and how it is falling short of their requirement. “Only 60 per cent of demands for funds for all roads under the BRO are being met. This is not enough. Due to the shortage, all road projects, including of the 61 ICBRs and GS roads, will be delayed and cannot be completed on time,” said officials privy to the matter.

There are 73 planned ICBRs whose construction began in 1999. The BRO has been tasked to construct 61 of them, out of which 28 have been completed and the remaining 33 are expected to be completed by 2022.

The matter was also raised in one of the reports tabled in Parliament by the Standing Committee on Defence. The Director General Border Roads had flagged off concerns over the completion of road projects saying: “This year, we have made a slight policy change because these have a fixed timeline of 2022. Dedicated fund is being allocated for east ICBR out of my budget. While I understand this may affect the other GS roads to some extent, this is a criticality for the nation and we have taken this. So, we will be allocating the budget ICBR-wise first.”


Lack of funds trouble defence forces! Indian Army lists out weapon systems it can’t afford to buy

The Indian Army has listed out ammunition and spares that it cannot afford to procure despite the fact that the existing power of the arsenal would not be enough for even 10 days of war, reported IE. It is mandated that the Indian Army has enough ammunition to carry out at least 40 days of intense war. But, the stocks in the arsenal suggest that India can go on for mere 10 days. The Indian Army has listed out weapon systems such as smerch rockets, battle tanks and even some missiles. The army is also formally likely to accept that it was fewer resources for fighting 10 days of war.

After the recent DefExpo 2018, Ashok Leyland bagged the order to supply HMV 10×10 vehicles to the Indian Army. These will be used to carry smerch rockets. The smerch rocker is a Russian made multiple launch rocket system. It is used to target soft targets, artillery batteries and command posts. Another weapon system that the Army listed was the 9M113 Konkurs, the Anti Tank Guided Missile system and the T-90 battle tank. It was reported that the Indian Army did not have enough funds to procure more of these weapon systems, that are crucial for the intense war situation.

According to the Indian Army, the listed weapon systems are extremely expensive. The cost of one unit of T-90 battle tank is estimated to be around Rs 30 crore. Indian which already has around 40 smerch missile systems, is in no position to buy more of it, as it costs beyond the existing budget. It was reported that routine funds were being diverted for these procurements, resulting in a crisis where Indian army has been lacking required ammunition and spares.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 3,59,894 crore to the Ministry of Defence in this budget session. This budget allocation for defence is the lowest since past one decade. The budget allocation for defence had amounted only 2.3 per cent of India’s GDP. It was reported that the defence forces are in dire need of ammunition and is suffering from a shortage of funds.

This key issue has been constantly been pressed upon and has also been brought up in the ongoing Army Commanders Conference. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence had also highlighted the increasing needs of the Indian defence forces and CAG reports also spoke about the critical shortage of ammunition in the Army.Last year, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Sarath Chand had also termed, 65% of arms with India to be in ‘vintage category’.
 It was also reported that the army wishes not to spend its resources on sustaining its existing equipment, but would rather go for procuring new weapon systems. A month earlier, Army Chief Bipin Rawat had said that Indian Army can maintain preparedness and its active operational activities within the budget that has been allocated for the armed forces. However, he had also said that the army would have been happier if they were allocated more budget.


UVZ, Punj Corp tie up to service T-72, T-90 tanks of Indian Army

Russian firm UVZ and Punj Corporation Pvt Ltd (PCPL) have tied up to undertake repair and maintenance of T-72 and T-90 tank engines and radiators in India.

UralVagonZavod (UVZ), which makes main battle tanks, has also appointed PCPL as its sole representative to undertake the repair and maintenance work in India, the companies said in a joint statement today.

An agreement to this effect has been signed between both the companies in Chennai earlier this month, it said.

Indian Army and the Indian Ordnance Board would be able to meet the critical material and logistics supply gaps for T-72 and T-90 Tanks through Indian Rupee procurement.

Awadhesh Mishra, CEO of PCPL told that this agreement would result in an expected business of around Rs 1,000 crore every year as there is a big backlog of repair work of these tanks in India.

The UVZ has said that for all the maintenance and repair activities undertaken by the PCPL including supply of required spares, the UVZ would provide full technical support, personnel and ensure conformance to quality.

It said that India has over more than 4,000 tanks and its serviceability and maintenance has been a major cause of concern.

Igor Kolikov, the Deputy Director General of UVZ has said the requirement of a suitable and simpler mechanism to improve the serviceability of tanks has been a long pending demand of the Indian government. This has now been initiated through the participation of Indian private industry. Mishra said the establishment of a Private Service Centre is the first step in realisation of the Technical Service setup in India and reinforces the commitment by the UVZ to improve the overall serviceability of the UVZ products in India.

Suitable quality control and mobilisation of personnel as per OEM (original equipment manufacturers) guidelines shall be enforced to ensure timely delivery with greater degree of self-reliance, Mishra said in the statement.

UVZ and PCPL have also decided to cooperate in implementation of the "GOCO" (government owned, contractor operated) model for operation of the Army Base Workshops in keeping with the "Make in India" initiative of the government, it added.


Delegation assess Ka-226T helicopter’s performance in Russia

Representatives from the Ministry of Defence recently visited the Kamov Helicopter facility in Moscow and witnessed the performance of Ka-226T helicopters. Russian Helicopters which is a parent company of Kamov Helicopters has been chosen to deliver around 200 units of Ka-226T rotorcraft to India. Earlier, it was decided that the helicopters will be developed by Indo Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd (IRHL), a joint facility of Russian Helicopters and HAL in Tumakuru in Karnataka.

The officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Indian military officers took part in the demonstration flight of Ka-226T. This visit by the MoD officials comes within the framework of the procurement process. The delegation also visited prototype production facility and design bureau of the Kamov Helicopters.
The delegation also saw the digital models of Ka-226T, first digitally developed Russian rotorcraft.

The production of the same rotorcraft will be initially set up at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant of Russian Helicopters, and will later be transferred to the joint facility at Tumakuru, under the ambitious Make in India initiative. However, the Ka-226T that will be produced in India will bear a different technical configuration catering exclusively for the Indian defence forces.

The delegation level visit which was earlier discussed during Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Moscow has proved to be very beneficial. The delegates were allowed to assess the performance levels of the Ka-226T copters. They were also able to gauge the scientific and technical potential of this Russian helicopter. Director General of Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginskiy said that they were really enthusiastic about delivering 200 units of the Ka-226T.

The light utility Ka-226T copter features a coaxial main rotor system. It has a maximum take-off weight of 3.6 tons. It also has a transporting payload capacity of 1 ton. The Ka-226T can be attached to transport cabin, which can shelter up to 6 people. It has also reported being cost-effective with high-end state-of-the-art avionics suite.

The Government of Karnataka has already allocated over 600 acres of land for the development of the project in Tumakuru. The capital of the joint venture is estimated to be at Rs 30 crore, with HAL holding shares up to 50.5 percent. Russian Helicopter holding 42.5 percent of shares and the rest by Rosoboronexport.


April 20, 2018

$8.63-billion advanced fighter aircraft project with Russia put on ice

The proposal for India and Russia to jointly develop an advanced fighter — the eponymous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) — has been formally buried. Business Standard has learnt that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval conveyed the decision to a Russian ministerial delegation at a “Defence Acquisition Meeting” in end-February.

Doval and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, who attended the meeting, asked the Russians to proceed alone with developing their fifth-generation fighter. They said India might possibly join the project later, or buy the fully developed fighter outright, after it entered service with the Russian Air Force.

New Delhi and Moscow have discussed the FGFA since 2007, when they agreed that Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would partner Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau (Sukhoi) in developing and manufacturing the fighter. In 2010, Sukhoi flew the fighter, called Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii, or “Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation” (PAK-FA). Seven prototypes are currently in flight-testing.

Russia said the PAK-FA met its needs, but the India Air Force (IAF) wanted a better fighter. So HAL and Sukhoi negotiated an $8.63-billion deal to improve the PAK-FA with the IAF’s requirements of stealth (near-invisibility to radar), super-cruise (supersonic cruising speed), networking (real-time digital links with other battlefield systems) and airborne radar with world-beating range. In all, the IAF demanded some 50 improvements to the PAK-FA, including 360-degree radar and more powerful engines.

Defence ministry sources who played a direct role in negotiations with Russia say much of this money was earmarked for Indian production facilities for manufacturing 127 FGFAs, and for India’s work share in developing advanced avionics for the fighter. It also included the cost of four PAK-FA prototypes for IAF test pilots to fly.

Now, the IAF has backed away from the FGFA because it argues the PAK-FA — which Sukhoi has been test-flying since January 2010 — is not stealthy enough for a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Aerospace analysts who support the PAK-FA reject this argument. They point out that the US Air Force F-22 Raptor, was built with an extraordinary degree of stealth, but that proved to be counterproductive, since it resulted in high maintenance and life-cycle costs. Burned by that emphasis on stealth alone, US designers de-emphasised stealth while building their latest fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. Instead, they focused on building its combat edge through better sensors, highly networked avionics and superior long-range weapons.
 The cancellation of the FGFA project has far-reaching implications for the IAF, for which this was once its high-tech future fighter. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) defence minister AK Antony had ruled out buying the F-35 Lightning II, arguing that India would have the FGFA to meet its fifth-generation fighter needs.

Indian aerospace designers also cited the FGFA experience as essential learning for developing the indigenous fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is pursuing.

Now, the FGFA’s burial sets the stage for the IAF to eventually acquire the F-35 Lightning II, which comes in air force as well as naval variants. Indian military aviation, once overwhelmingly dependent upon Russian fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft, has steadily increased its purchases from America. On Tuesday, appearing before a US Senate panel for his confirmation hearings, Admiral Philip Davidson — nominated as the top US military commander in the Indo-Pacific, said the US should aspire to “break down” India’s historical dependence upon Russia.

The IAF has been split down the middle on the FGFA. Broadly, flying branch officers of the “French school”– whose careers have centred on the Mirage and Jaguar fighters — have tended to oppose the FGFA. Meanwhile, officers from the “Russian school”, their careers grounded in the MiG and Sukhoi fleet, have supported the FGFA.

Opponents of the FGFA have even argued that the project would duplicate and hinder the indigenous AMCA project. However, last July, an experts group headed by Air Marshal (Retired) S Varthaman, set up to consider this question, ruled that there were no conflict lines between the FGFA and AMCA. It stated that the technological expertise that would be gained from working with Russian experts would benefit the AMCA project.

In co-developing the FGFA, HAL was expected to deploy its experience in working with composite materials, which were to replace many of the metal fabricated panels on the PAK-FA. India was also expected to participate in designing the 360-degree active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In addition, the experience of flight-testing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft would be refined by flight-testing a heavier, more complex fighter.These challenges were expected to imbue Indian engineers with genuine design skills, of a far higher magnitude than the lessons learnt from licensed manufacture.

In addition, the FGFA’s foreclosure means the loss of $295 million that India sunk into its “preliminary design phase” between 2010 and 2013


Fund, ammunition shortage force Army to consider ending purchase of missile systems

In a desperate measure to compensate for a 15 to 20 per cent shortage of critical ammunition, spares and missiles, the Indian Army has proposed to cut down on the purchase of expensive items, as well as discontinue the purchase of spares for vintage platforms to save money.

Among the expensive items the army has identified for the proposal are heavy multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank weapons.

Top sources in the Ministry of Defence told India Today that the on-going Army Commanders Conference - a bi-annual conference of Army commanders chaired by the Indian Army Chief that decides on the future course of action - will discuss this grim situation.

However, even cutting down on purchases of expensive items and discontinuing the spares for vintage items will not be enough for the Indian Army, according to its own estimates.

The commanders will be told that by cutting down on buying expensive items and spares for vintage platform, the force will be able to save between Rs 600 crore and Rs 800 crore over the next three financial years.

But desperate measures will still leave them with a short-fall of critical ammunition requirement of about 15 to 25 per cent.

The Army commanders are likely to consider moving the government for additional funds, top sources indicated.

The three services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - were mandated to be ready to fight a 40-day war and, therefore, be equipped accordingly.

But faced with an acute shortage of funds, the government decided to cut down on the war reserves enough to fight short-intense war lasting not more than ten days.

The items that the Indian Army has identified to be expensive include heavy multiple rocket launchers that are used to destroy artillery batteries, command post of the enemy, anti-tank weapons and specialised mines used in battlefields.India Today is aware of the exact nature of the weapon systems but is not publishing the specifications for security reasons.

It must be noted that the stock of these items, currently, is not enough to fight a ten-day war. However, the Army commanders will be told to consider not to consider buying more of these items in order to save costs.

The Army commanders will also consider whether they should altogether stop buying spares for a certain type of air defence missile and certain type of high-mobility vehicles to transport machinery, which are considered to be vintage.

The shortage of critical ammunition and spares has been an issue of concern for the Indian Army. Recently, a Parliamentary committee had urged the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the allocations to the forces be suitably enhanced at the revised estimate stage so as to enable them to meet the requirements of highest level of operational readiness.


Chinese Nuke-Capable H-6K Bombers Spotted Circling Defiant Taiwan (Again)

Nuclear-capable bombers in China’s People’s Liberation Army-Air Force carried out a “sacred” military patrol encircling Taiwan, the military announced Thursday.
"The motherland is in our hearts, and the jeweled island is in the bosom of the motherland," pilot Zhai Peisong said in a statement published on the PLA Air Force's microblog, adding, "defending the beautiful rivers and mountains of the motherland is the sacred mission of air force pilots."
The statement indicated that H-6K bombers conducted another patrol mission around "the jeweled island" of Taiwan "recently."

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry confirmed Thursday that on Wednesday afternoon, a pair of PLA Air Force H-6K bombers traveled over the Miyako Strait to the north of Taiwan before looping south and passing over the Bashi Channel en route to base.
Taipei blamed Beijing for escalating regional tensions with military threats, though in the eyes of the Chinese government, the self-ruling island is Chinese territory.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told reporters that "independence separatist activities" presented the biggest threat to maritime security in the Taiwan Strait. "No force and no person should underestimate our resolve and strong ability to defend the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the office said Thursday.
 China has deliberately manipulated [the exercise] to pressure and harass Taiwan in an attempt to spark tensions between the two sides and in the region," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chiu-cheng told reporters the same day, adding that Taipei "will never bow down to any military threat or incentive."


Here Are the Details About the Rocket India Wants to Buy From Russia

Made-in-Russia weapons are much sought after in the world, with many countries keeping a close eye on what Russian armorers have on offer.
The S-8 OFP “Broneboishchik” rocket is capable of penetrating barriers without being destroyed on impact, the Techmach Corporation’s general General Director Vladimir Lepin told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
“What makes the S-8 OFP so special is that, depending on the detonator’s time setting, it can go off in front of an obstacle, when impacting it or after it has cut through it while still staying in one piece. We have never had such missiles before,” Lepin said.
He added that the Broneboishchik will be loaded on Su-25 ground attack planes and Mi-8 helicopters.The S-8 OFP, designed as a replacement for the S-8 80 mm unguided rocket from the 1970’s, is 3.2 feet long, weighs less than 37 pounds and has a range of 3.7 miles.
The state-of-the art rocket was presented to the broad public for the first time at the 2014 DefExpo held in New Delhi.
India has reportedly shown a great deal of interest in acquiring the Broneboishchik for the country’s armed forces.


India’s Defense Team to Visit Russia to Finalize AK-103 Assault Rifle Deal

Top officials of India’s Defense Ministry, along with representatives of the country’s defense industry, are visiting Moscow next week. They will be assessing the Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk so that the government to government agreement on the licensed production in India of the upgraded Kalashnikov AK-103 7.62x51mm assault rifles can be fast-tracked. The development was confirmed by an official of the defense ministry, as well as by industry sources to Sputnik.

The deal was discussed in detail during the Moscow visit of India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month.

“A group of officials from the ordnance factory board of Trichy and Rifle Factory Ichapore will be in Russia on April 24 to assess the Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk. Later on, a defense ministry official will visit Moscow to have detailed discussion with the Russians,” an industry source told Sputnik.

The proposal for the licensed production of AK-103 rifles by the Indian industry enjoys the approval of the Indian Army, which has been facing a longstanding shortage of more than 768,000 assault rifles. Earlier, in February this year, the Nirmala Sitharaman-led Defense Acquisition Council approved the purchase of 740,000 assault rifles for the three services of the Indian Armed Forces.

“These Rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorization of ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’, through both Ordnance Factory Board and Private Industry at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion,” India’s Defense Ministry informed the Parliament on 13 February.

Defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle says the AK 103 is a good option for the Indian Army, as the AK series of assault rifles have proven merit.

“The AK series is a proven combat weapon system which is simple to operate, does not have stoppages and also meets the specifications of the range of rate of fire required. This will meet the requirements in the short to medium term as the Army has been struggling to induct an assault rifle for some years now,” Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst told Sputnik.

“I expect that the deal will be signed anytime this year. I see a three year period for start of production after the contract is signed,” Bhonsle added.


India Could Acquire Killer Drones After Donald Trump Changes US Policy

India may finally be able to acquire armed drones from the United States that could transform the capabilities of the armed forces not just in strike operations against China and Pakistan over land and sea but also in operations against terrorists.

This comes after the Trump administration came up with a new policy on export of unmanned aerial systems that allows the use of drones to fulfill "'counter-terrorism objectives". The policy comes just a day after US President Donald Trump promised to short-circuit the long-winded process to sell the drones to its allies.

For India, it opens up the possibility of the use of drones in operations against terrorist launch-pads along the Line of Control if the centre were to go ahead with the purchase..

The policy does, however, require safeguards to ensure that partner nations who acquire US drones do not "conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations". It also says these can be used in operations only when "there is a lawful basis for resorting to the use of force under international law, such as national self defence".

Sales of these drones can now be made through Direct Commercial Sales from companies such as the US firm General Atomics, which has already been in talks with the Indian Navy for sale of 22 Predator B 'Sea Guardian' drones for maritime reconnaissance operations over the Indian Ocean.

While India was so far looking at unarmed versions of the Sea Guardian in a deal estimated to be worth approximately $2 billion, the new policy makes it possible for New Delhi to acquire variants for the Air Force and Army with weaponry including the AGM-114 Hellfire missile which has been used by US forces for precision strikes and targeted killings of high-profile terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 So far, Indian armed forces operate a host of Israeli made drones including a limited number of IAI Harpy systems, an anti-radiation drone that homes onto radio emissions which it then attacks in a suicide mission where the drone itself is destroyed after it crashes onto its target. The drones India is looking to acquire from the United States are larger, more heavily armed and significantly more capable.

The new US policy clearly states that the US will allow the transfer of drones for use "in situations where it will enhance those partners' security and their ability to advance shared security or counterterrorism objectives".

While the new US policy will be welcomed in New Delhi which has been looking to step up the offensive capability of its drone fleet, there may still be concerns on US "End-Use Monitoring and Additional Security Conditions".

The new policy requires the use of top of the line US-made drones ''shall require periodic consultations with the United States Government on their use".

Typically, this means India would have to allow the visit of US military advisors to military bases to verify how US-built drones are being used.

India has already let Washington know that it considers all End-Use Monitoring to be intrusive though New Delhi realises that US law mandates monitoring under certain circumstances.

For the United States, the Administration's new drone export policy will allow US firms to compete more effectively with foreign competition from strategic rivals such as China.

According to Dr. Peter Navarro, Assistant to US President Donald Trump for Trade and Manufacturing Policy, the market for drones could be worth more than $50 billion a year within the next decade.

"Already, we are seeing Chinese replicas of American [unmanned drone] technology deployed on the runways in the Middle East. In June, at the Paris Air Show, China's Chengdu Aircraft Group featured its Wing Loong II, a clear knockoff of [the] General Atomics Reaper," Dr Navarro said.


April 18, 2018

$2-Billion IAF Base Protector Gun Contest Begins Next Month

A $2 billion contest to purchase close-in weapon systems for the protection of Indian Air Force bases across the country is expected to begin May 15. Livefist can confirm that the Indian MoD is all set to issue requests for proposal (RFP) next month to a handful of Indian companies following a limited tender issued to them in January this year. The ‘Make in India’ program looks to acquire 244 guns, with four each populating 61 flights with 61 radars.
Close-in weapon systems (CIWS) provide a ‘final resort’ point defence layer to bring down inbound enemy missiles, aircraft or drones that have managed to evade and penetrate layers of outer air defence that protect a base, site or ship. Though not directly linked, the Indian MoD cleared the IAF’s requirement for CIWS two months after a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack on the frontline Pathankot air force base in Punjab which ended with eight Indians killed, including seven security personnel.
The Indian Air Force wants the guns to begin arriving no later than five years from now, Livefist has learned, according priority to the system.
“The program under Buy & Make (Indian) stipulates that 50 per cent of the deal value needs to be made in India. Of the 244 guns, 188 will be made in India,” says S.M. Shivakumar, Vice President – Defence at Bharat Forge Ltd, part of the Kalyani Group, a private Indian components major that has forayed aggressively into the weapons market. Bharat Forge will be responding to the Indian MoD RFP next month proposing a technology partnership with BAE Systems and Israel’s IAI (for the radar) to offer the Bofors 40 Mk.4 gun. The system was on display at DefExpo last week near Chennai.
A prospective list of seven entities stand to compete for the contract after they were issued a limited tender in January this year: Bharat Forge, Mahindra Defence, Punj Lloyd, Larsen & Toubro, Tata Aerospace & Defence, Reliance Defence and a combined proposal from India’s government-owned BEL-OFB. The firms will need to submit their bids by May 15 stipulating the contours of their foreign partnerships for guns and radars. The program, placed on a ‘fast track’ in view of an umbrella threat perception to military facilities in the country, could test the desired MoD paradigm for rapid import of technology for private armament manufacture.
Air defence duties for air force bases are currently carried out by Army Air Defence units that operate L-70 and ZU-23-2B guns, both systems on the market for their own upgrade programs. The new CIWS program looks to transfer the responsibility of ‘last layer’ air defence of air force bases to the Indian Air Force.


Door Opened To India For Deeper Striking M777 Guns

India’s first new artillery guns since the infamous Bofors Scandal of the eighties will enter service this September when two BAE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers (ULHs) are handed over to the Indian Army. Part of a $750 million deal for 145 guns concluded in November 2016, the first two guns arrived in May last year and have since been deployed at the Pokhran field firing range in India’s western desert sector to generate firing range tables for the Army’s artillery directorate. The two guns, reset to their factory settings and joined by three more guns that will arrive from the United Kingdom, will join the Army in September and begin a training phase with an artillery unit.
While in inquiry into a September 2017 barrel incident involving one of the M777s using local ammunition is still underway, Livefist learns that the gun has since resumed firing exercises for the Army’s range tables without a hitch, and will complete the committed requirement over the next five months.
While the first lot of guns are being supplied direct by BAE Systems, its Indian joint venture production partner Mahindra’s Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) facility opens on Delhi’s outskirts by end June and will begun to supply Indian-assembled guns at a rate of five per month starting March 2019.
Meanwhile, BAE Systems, which has been involved in a U.S. Army requirement to extend the range of current and future M777s with a longer barrel (from the current 39 cal to a new 55 cal barrel) has opened the door to the Indian Army to join up if its interested. BAE Systems showcased M777 and M777ER models side by side at DefExpo 2018.

Speaking to Livefist, Paul West, India Campaign Director – Weapon Systems at BAE Systems said, “It could be a simply logistics decision for the Indian Army if it is interested in the extended range M777.”
The M777ER is a set of six modules that can be retrofitted on existing M777 guns, doubling their effective range to between 54-70 km depending on the sort of ammunition used. The modules include a modified barrel, suspension and recoil system, and adds approximately 500 kg to the M777’s existing weight, though BAE Systems engineers are working to see if the modification can be effected with no change in the gun’s weight.
West is cautious, though — and for good reason. The M777 deal has had a long and troublesome birthing, with India concluding the deal after over a decade in delayed process, including several occasions when the contract appeared to be firmly on the familiar proverbial backburner.
“The discussion and the M777 extended range option isn’t meant to be disruptive or to interrupt the Indian build program. However, it is a safer way for India to modernise looking into the future,” West says.
With the BAE-Mahindra joint venture to begin churning out guns from later this year, the Indian Army has been briefed that it has the option of either retrofitting its M777s to the ER standard later, or modifying the Faridabad assembly line itself so that later tranches of the gun could be of the extended range version. The Indian Army has heard out the offer, though it remains very unclear how much manoeuvering room it may have with the existing deal considering intensifying budgetary pressures. The Army could conceivably understand the merit of advance planning on a modernised gun that it has fought hard and long for, especially with the attendant Make in India skin it will bear. But selling an additional cost on an existing deal at a time when other modernisation priorities tread water will be something else altogether.
BAE, though, is looking ahead. A more realistic option could lie beyond the current order of 145 guns. The current order is a bare 20 per cent of India’s known requirement of at least 700 ultra-light howitzer guns for its mountain divisions. West says an India-specific extended range barrel could be considered as part of work undertaken by BAE-Mahindra in India. The U.S. Army will get to fire six M777ER prototypes in 2020. The Indian production run of the M777 will be complete by June 2021.
“It would be a good idea for a three-way discussion to take place at this time between the Indian Army, the U.S. Army and us. There’s huge commonality between the M777 and the M777ER,” West says.
The Indian Air Force’s new Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavylift helicopters, which begin arriving in March 2019, will almost definitely count as one of their missions transporting underslung M777s to forward areas for training and exercises. The M777ER will also be Chinook-transportable, BAE Systems confirms.Competition to the M777 for further ultra-light howitzer orders from the Indian Army though could come from India’s Kalyani Group, which unveiled its own ULH offering at DefExpo this year. The
Being developed in two variants — conventional recoil and ‘advance hybrid’ recoil — the 155mm/39cal artillery weapon system weighing between 4.3-4.8 tons. A statement from the Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd this week said, “This breakthrough has been achieved through innovative design and use of special lightweight materials. A one of its kind variant designed in the world, this gun provides high field maneuverability.”
The Indian Army’s ambitious $8 billion field artillery rationalisation plan looks to arm over 160 artillery regiments with guns that span the full spectrum of howitzer technology. The first of 100 L&T-Hanhwa Techwin K9 Vajra-T tracked self-propelled howitzers begin deliveries this year to the Indian Army, with L&T to concurrently begin rolling out Indian-built versions from its Hazira facility in Gujarat. Prime Minister Modi was introduced to the first specimen at DefExpo on April 12.
        Apart from the high-visibility DRDO ATAGS and OFB Dhanush (an Indian-built Bofors FH-77), another gun that will likely compete for Indian Army orders, and unveiled at DefExpo, is a 155mm/52cal truck-mounted gun system developed and built by India’s BEML in collaboration with the Ordnance Factory Board and BEL.