May 31, 2018

India hits strategic milestone with successful test of surface-to-air missile

In a major breakthrough in missile technology, India on Wednesday successfully carried out the first test of a new surface-to-air missile with nozzle less booster making its mark as a military superpower in South East Asia region. Indigenously designed and developed by the country’s premier research agency - Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the fastest missile in its class is capable of neutralising fast moving aerial targets.

Defence sources said the missile, which is yet to get a formal name, was flight tested from launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast at about 12.05 pm. The missile, powered by Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR), was fired from a static launcher meeting all mission objectives.

The missile flew in its intended trajectory at a speed of Mach 3 (thrice the speed of sound) and performed as expected perfectly validating the new indigenous technology. “It was a booster phase test of the missile and the mission was a major milestone for the strategic missile programme. The nozzle less booster and SFDR were tested successfully. We can now master the technology which will boost several next-generation weapon systems,” a defence official told The New Indian Express over the phone from New Delhi.

All radars, telemetry and electro-optical systems deployed along the coast tracked and monitored the health parameters of the missile system that has faster reaction time. The data generated during the test are being analysed for future missions.

“It is indeed a great achievement for the Make-in-India programme. Several other components of the missile, including the seeker with advanced technology, will be put to tests soon. Though the range was not a matter during the maiden trial, the missile will definitely have a longer strike range than the existing similar systems in the arsenal,” the official said.

Even as India has surface-to-air missile systems like Akash, Break 8, QRSAM and all-weather beyond visual range air-to-air missile Astra, the indigenously developed SFDR will help the country master in the cutting edge technology which was secured by a few selected nations so far.

“The new technology will help both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles perform better and enhance their strike range making the weapons more lethal. Now India can have fastest long-range missiles in the two categories providing a full-fledged and multi-layered aerial protection from hostile attacks,” the official added.


In Nod To India, US Military Renames Its Pacific Command

The US military on Wednesday renamed its Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move underscoring the growing importance of India to the Pentagon, US officials said.

US Pacific Command, which is responsible for all US military activity in the greater Pacific region, has about 375,000 civilian and military personnel assigned to its area of responsibility, which includes India.

"Relationships with our Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability," US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in prepared remarks.

"In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command," Mattis said.

He was speaking during a change of command ceremony. Admiral Philip Davidson was assuming leadership of the command from Admiral Harry Harris, who is President Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to South Korea.

The renaming does not mean additional assets will be sent to the region at this time, but rather recognises India's increasing military relevance for the United States.

In 2016, the United States and India signed an agreement governing the use of each other's land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defence ties as they seek to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China.

The United States is also keen to tap into India's large defence market. It has emerged as India's No. 2 weapons supplier, closing $15 billion worth of deals over the last decade.
 Mattis has been pushing for a waiver for countries like India, after Trump signed a law last year which said that any country trading with Russia's defence and intelligence sectors would face sanctions.

"I think India and the relationship with the United States is the potentially most historic opportunity we have in the 21st-century and I intend to pursue that quite rigorously," Davidson, the incoming head of the command, said last month.

However, experts said the name change would mean little unless it was tied to a broader strategy.

"Renaming PACOM is ultimately a symbolic act ... (it) will have a very limited impact unless the US follows through with a significant array of initiatives and investments that reflect a wider aperture," said Abraham Denmark, a former deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia under President Barack Obama.


May 30, 2018

India's purchase of Russian S-400 to curb military cooperation: US

The US has serious concerns about India’s plans to buy the S-400 air defence system from Russia as it will inhibit ability of militaries from the two nations to operate together, chairman of the powerful US House Armed Services Committee has said. Concerns about India’s potential purchase of the S-400 have been conveyed to different levels of the government and the Russian system would also make it difficult for the US to share sensitive technology in the future, committee members who are in India said. “There is a lot of concern in the US administration and Congress with the S-400.

There is concern that any country that acquires the system will complicate the ability of interoperability (with US forces),” House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said in response to a question by ET.

Making it clear that the question of the S-400 purchase was beyond sanctions planned against Russia, Thornberry said that he hoped India will ‘take it’s time’ and carefully consider acquiring the system. India is on the path to acquire the air defence system from Russia for an estimated Rs 39,000 crore, with the deal to be signed by October.

US committee members linked the transfer of high-end technology for the Indian fighter aircraft production plan to the S-400 too.

“India wants to have more technology sharing and production like the F-16. The issue there is when you talk of technology and then there is the S-400...we do have some concerns that we have brought up to different levels of your government,” Democrat Congressman Harry Ceuller who represents Texas said.

Thornberry who heads the committee that oversees the Pentagon, all military services and all Department of Defense agencies including their budgets and policies also raised concerns about China’s ‘newly aggressive posture’ that has been creating new military bases in the Indian Ocean region and South China Sea.

“There is concern about China using debt to acquire bases and other sorts of things and then turn around to militarise them. That shows a newly-aggressive posture by China and that is an issue of concern,” he said.


India's purchase of Russian S-400 to curb military cooperation: US

May 29, 2018

Nirmala Sitharaman led DAC clears procurements worth over Rs 6900 crore

The Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here today approved acquisitions worth over Rs 6900 crore, including thermal imaging night sights for rocket launchers used by the Army and Indian Air Force. The DAC accorded Acceptance of Neccessity (AON) for two programs. An AON is the first step towards procuring a defence equipment.

A defence ministry statement reads that while focussing on indigenisation, the “DAC approved the procurement of Thermal Imaging (TI) night sights for a rocket launcher used by the army and air force under the ‘Buy (Indian) IDDM’ category through established Indian vendors.”

The Buy (Indian-IDDM) category of the defence procurement procedure refers to the procurement of products from an Indian vendor meeting one out of two conditions. First, the products that have been indigenously designed, developed and manufactured with a minimum of 40 per cent Indigenous Content (IC) on cost basis of the total contract value. Second, products having 60 per cent IC on cost basis of the total contract value, which may not have been designed and developed indigenously.

The TI sight for the 84mm rocket launcher will be used by troops in operations to facilitate accurate and continuous engagement of moving and static enemy targets and destruction of bunkers during complete darkness.

“The sight will enable troops to detect and recognize the movement of enemy tanks and soldiers during night and engage them with greater efficiency,” said the ministry.

Even, the effect of camouflage will be drastically reduced. “The RL detachments will be able to ascertain the location of the enemy taking cover behind foliage and thin walled constructions with greater ease,” the ministry added.

The DAC also gave approval for undertaking Design and Development of the Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI aircraft under ‘Make II’ sub category. The approval is also for the procurement of at least 100 IRSTs under ‘Buy (Indian–IDDM) category. The system will be able to operate in day and night conditions and will substantially enhance the capabilities of the aircraft.

The ministry added that in the last eight months the DAC has given approvals for procurement of equipment worth about Rs 43,844 crore. Out of this, Rs 32,253 crore would be made in India.


Def Authorisation Act provides 'flexibility' to countries like India that were likely hit by CATSA: US Congressman

The US National Defense Authorisation Act provides "flexibility" for countries like India who are dependent on Russia for their military purchases, but were likely hit by a 2017 US law to punish entities engaging in transactions with some sectors of Russia, North Korea and Iran, Congressman Mac Thornberry said today.

Thornberry is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the Pentagon's all military services and all Department of Defense agencies including their budgets and policies.

The Congressman, who is part of a delegation visiting India, red-flagged the Indo-Russia S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems deal, stating there was "concern" in the US, both in the administration and in the Congress, that it would "complicate our ability to work on inter-operability".

Recognising that the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSA), that was signed in August last year, "does not have much flexibility", he said the National Defense Authorisation Bill 2019, which was passed in the House last week, adds more flexibility.

"So, there is an understanding in the administration and the Congress that some additional flexibility in that law is needed. And it's not just India that's in that situation, there other nations in that," Thornberry told reporters.

Besides Thornberry, Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler and Carol Shea-Porter and Congressman Harry Ceuller are also part of the delegation.

The CATSA mandates the US administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of Russia, North Korea and Iran.

This also impacts India, which depends on Russia for its military supplies.

Thornberry added that the new bill allows the US Secretary of Defence some discretion to allow any concession if a country is willing to reduce its dependence on Russian equipment.

"Now, some of the (Indian) government officials with whom we have met, believe that the language (of the Bill) could be improved. And so, I am certainly willing and anxious to hear suggestions not only from Indian governments but also other governments who may be affected on this by improving the language," the Congressman added.

He noted that one of the provisions of National Defense Authorisation Act 2019 is to rename the US-Pacific Command to be renamed as Indo-Pacific Command.

India has recently concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs 40,000-crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force. The two countries are now trying to find a way out to evade the provisions of CATSA in regards to the deal.

"If there is concern that any country...it's not just India that is looking at acquiring it or any country that requires that system, it will complicate our ability to work on inter-operability together. So, that completely separate and apart from any sanctions, legislations. I hope that the (Indian) government will take its time and consider very carefully in acquiring that system (S-400) because of the difficulties it may present," he added.

Referring to muscling in of China in the Indo-Pacific, he said the islands Beijing is building in the disputed South China Sea were initially said to be meant only to help rescue stranded fishermen and that they would never put military capability.

"There is concern about using debt to acquire bases and other sorts of things in variety of countries and then turning around and militarising them which shows a newly aggressive posturing by China," Thornberry said.

He added that in Djibouti, China was to initially have a commercial port but it brought military capability there.


May 28, 2018

India, Russia conclude negotiations for S-400 Triumf deal

India has concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs 40,000 crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force, officials said.

They said the two countries are now trying to find a way out to evade the provisions of a US law that seeks to punish countries and entities engaged in transactions with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

"The negotiations for the missile deal have been concluded. The financial component has been finalised," a top official involved in the negotiations for the deal with Russia told .

The official said both Russia and India are likely to announce the deal before an annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October.

Two other officials said both sides are now looking at ways to insulate the deal from the sanctions announced by the US against Russia under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The issue is understood to have figured during Modi's informal talks with Putin in Sochi last week.

There has been mounting concerns in India over the US sanctions against Russian defence majors including Rosoboronexport as billions of dollars of military purchases may be impacted because of the punitive measure.

The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.

CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last month appealed to the Congress to urgently provide India the national security waiver, saying imposing sanctions under CAATSA for the S-400 air defence missile deal would only hit the US.

India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.

In 2016, India and Russia had signed an agreement on the 'Triumf' interceptor-based missile system which can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.

China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure the lethal missile system and Moscow has already started delivery of unknown number of the S-400 missile systems to Beijing.

The S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 systems. The missile system, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, has been in service in Russia since 2007.


May 26, 2018

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo pushes for CAATSA waiver so that countries like India aren't affected

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the Congress to provide the necessary waiver so that its sanctions on Russia under CAATSA does not impact countries for which it is not intended for.

Provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) threaten India and several other close friends and allies of the US with sanctions. CAATSA is a U.S. federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

India is planning to purchase five S-400 Triumf air defence systems for around $4.5 billion from Russia, which U.S. officials say could be considered as a significant military purchase.

“Will you make a commitment that you’ll help [Defence] Secretary [Jim] Mattis get the waivers that he needs in order to make sure that these sanctions don’t hit folks that were not intended to be harmed by these sanctions?” Pompeo asked Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

Mr. Pompeo was referring to the letter written by Mr. Mattis to the Congress in which he has sought waiver for certain countries from CAATSA legislation, which was signed into law by the U.S. President Donald Trump in August 2017.

Under this any significant purchase of military equipment from Russia would attract American sanctions.Mr. Mattis recently wrote a letter to the Congress seeking waiver for certain provisions.

“I know it’s not my day to ask questions, but it is my day to ask for things that I think we need,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Mr. Menendez, a strong advocate of CAATSA sanctions, urged Mr. Pompeo to go ahead with the sanctions. He remained non-committal to waiver move.

“I have to see the specifics of what Secretary Mattis wants,” said the Democratic Senator from New Jersey.

“I also have to say, if we’re going to allow countries that are sanctioned, because we believe in the sanctions policy, and they want to get off the hook because there’s some other benefit, well then we begin to erode the sanction policies and we pick and choose. And other countries will seek the same questions. I’m open to listen to it. But it has to follow, in essence, what our policy is trying to achieve,” Mr. Menendez added.


May 25, 2018

Navy’s minesweeper hunt gets response from Russia & Italy

The Navy’s hunt for a new class of mine-hunting warships has got responses from Italy and Russia, after a setback at the last minute with a South Korean firm not agreeing to terms for constructing a dozen vessels under an estimated Rs 32,000-crore ‘Make in India’ project.

With minesweepers being identified as one its most critical deficiencies, the Navy is also believed to be sending a team to Australia to examine a set of used vessels that are being upgraded to modern standards.

Minesweepers are specialised warships that are used to clear harbours and other critical areas of mines laid by enemy submarines and vessels. While the Navy had 12 of them in active service at one point, this strength is now reduced to the lone INS Kozhikode that is also scheduled for decommissioning soon.

India has been trying unsuccessfully since 2005 to find replacements, with its dealings with South Korean firm Kangnam hitting controversy at least twice. In the first instance, the Korean firm was dropped by the UPA government after allegations surfaced that it had appointed ‘consultants’ for the contract, in a violation of Indian procurement norms.

While the company was not banned from work in India, it managed to get back into the fray with the Manohar Parrikar-led defence ministry that decided to nominate the Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) for the contract. However, earlier this year, negotiations with the company – which was selected on a single vendor basis — broke down after it failed to meet technology transfer commitments.


Even as low bidder, Russia’s Rosoboronexport may still loose air defense program in India

Even though Rosoboronexport has emerged as lowest bidder in the Indian army’s $1.5 billion very short range air defense or VSHORAD program, the Russian company may loose the contract following serious complaints from the other competitors in the fray.

The Indian Ministry of Defence last week opened the commercial bids of the long pending VSHORAD program, in which Rosoboronexport was declared lowest bidder against Saab of Sweden and MBDA of France, a senior MoD official said.

“But the Russian defense company is not going to get [VSHORAD] contract any time soon and the program may face cancellation following complaints from one of the competitor,” he noted.

The Indian Army floated a restricted global tender for purchase of more than 5,000 VSHORAD portable systems to Saab of Sweden, Rafael of Israel, MBDA and Thales of France, Raytheon of United States, Rosoboronexport of Russia and LIG Nex 1 of South Korea. Rafael, Thales and LIG Nex 1 did not qualify after the technical evaluation and Raytheon did not participate in the bid. Only Igla-S by Rosoboronexport, RBS 70 NG by Saab and Mistral by MBDA were qualified for trials after completion of technical evaluation in 2012.

The Indian army conducted two rounds of separate trials before opening the commercial bids last week. A senior service official said the “Indian army discovered Igla-S system fielded by Rosoboronexport to be non-compliant and not-recommended for induction into the service because it failed missile locking and direct hit repeatedly during both separate trials.”

However, the Russian system was permitted and eventually approved by some officials within the service and MoD, despite the strict defense procurement guidelines that non-compliant systems should be rejected outright.

MoD is not expected to award this contact anytime soon, given the current funds crunch in India. Any award to a Russian company could also lead to U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act or CAATSA, another MoD official noted. He also pointed to plans for a thorough review before any decision is made to move forward or cancel this program.

Of the 5,175 missiles and associated equipment sought in the VSHORAD program, 2,315 missiles are to be bought in fully formed condition, 260 semi- knocked down condition and 1,000 missiles in completely knocked down condition and 600 missiles will be produced in India. In addition, Indian army is seeking other equipments including launchers, sensors, thermal imaging sights and command & control units.

An executive with the industry group, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry or FICCI, who requested anonymity alleged that the Russian company never followed the technology transfer norms in the VSHORAD program. Since the tender involved domestic transfer of technology, Saab teamed up with state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd and MBDA tied-up with private sector Larsen & Toubro Ltd, but Rosoboronexport chose to go alone.

“Indian defense forces including army and the air force have large requirements of short range air defense systems,” said Mahindra Singh, a retired army major general. “It makes sense to produce these systems in the country with full transfer of technology from suitable overseas original equipment manufacturers.”


May 24, 2018

After Rafale splurge, a sensible Jaguar upgrade

The Indian Air Force (IAF), after being criticised for spending $9.2 billion on 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, is closing in on a far more prudent deal — the rejuvenation of 80 ageing Jaguar fighters into highly capable, multi-role, combat aircraft for a mere $1.5 billion or so.

This long-delayed project, which was resurrected last month, involves replacing the Jaguar’s underpowered engines.

Separately, the uprated fighter will get state-of-the-art avionics for striking ground targets more accurately, hitting maritime targets far out at sea, and winning aerial dogfights with enemy fighters.

For a decade, the Jaguar upgrade proposal has remained stalled on the issue of cost. Honeywell was made responsible for “re-engining” the Jaguar, and the US firm quoted an unacceptable $2.5-3 billion for taking full responsibility for installing its new F-125IN engines in 80 Jaguars.

But now, breaking that logjam, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has been nominated the lead integrator, while Honeywell has stepped back to the more restricted role of engine supplier. HAL will buy F-125IN engines from Honeywell and install them in the Jaguars, replacing the current Rolls-Royce Adour 811 engines.

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Hitting Air Pockets ::
- Of the 145 Jaguars that HAL built for the IAF, only 119 are currently flying, comprising six IAF squadrons of about 20 fighters each
- IAF pilots joke that the Jaguar’s current engines are so underpowered that the fighter only gets airborne because the earth is round
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

HAL chief, T Suvarna Raju, claims his company can do the job more easily, and cheaply, than Honeywell, having built more than 145 Jaguars under license over the years. “Installing the F-125IN requires 10-12 relatively minor modifications. HAL can handle this easily,” he said.

“The earlier tender stands withdrawn. In its place, HAL will take a quote from Honeywell for its engines and, after adding its own expenses, submit a ‘total project cost’. Based on that figure, the defence ministry will sanction the project. The contract will now be between the IAF and HAL,” said Raju.

The HAL chief says there will be no time-consuming competitive tendering, since Honeywell is the only vendor. Rolls-Royce has declined to participate, since they do not have an engine that meets the IAF’s specifications for the Jaguar.

Honeywell will require 36 months for the F-125IN engines to start rolling off the production line, but HAL wants to go ahead with engine integration, using two engines that Honeywell had built earlier when it was to have the lead role.

Raju says he recently travelled to Honeywell’s facility in Phoenix, Arizona, to “ensure that we benefit from several years of work they have already done on integrating the F-125IN onto the Jaguar. We need to cut down on time and expense, and avoid re-inventing the wheel,” he points out.

Besides building two F-125 engines, Honeywell also bought a Jaguar airframe from the UK. It remains to be seen whether the US firm will cooperate with HAL for mutual benefit, or demand financial compensation for the work it did earlier.

The first indicator, say defence ministry sources, will be the terms that Honeywell demands for supplying two engines to HAL – sale, rent, lease or gratis.

Of the 145 Jaguars that HAL built for the IAF, only 119 are currently flying, comprising six IAF squadrons of about 20 fighters each. Since 39 of these would complete their airframe lives by 2025-30, the IAF considers it uneconomical to re-engine these. That leaves 80 Jaguars, whose service lives would be extended to 2035-40 with new engines.

With each of those fighters requiring two engines, and an additional maintenance reserve of 40 engines, HAL would require 200 F-125IN engines from Honeywell. Aerospace industry experts estimate a price of $5-6 million per engine, which would place Honeywell’s bill at a little over a billion dollars. The remaining cost would be incurred in integrating the engines onto the fleet.

With engine supply starting only three years from the contract date, substantial numbers of re-engined Jaguars would probably materialise only after five years, i.e. around 2024. IAF pilots joke that the Jaguar’s current engines are so underpowered that the fighter only gets airborne because the earth is round – and its curvature makes the ground drop away beneath the moving aircraft. With the Rolls-Royce Adour 811 engines output (25 kiloNewtons of dry thrust and 37.5 kN with afterburners) being replaced by the F-125IN (27.7 kN of dry thrust and 43.8kN with afterburners), Jaguar pilots believe they would have the last laugh.


May 23, 2018

F-16 production can make India fighter jet export hub: Lockheed

Global aerospace giant Lockheed Martin today said its proposal to manufacture custom-built F-16 fighter jets in India will make the country an export hub and give it access to an estimated USD 165 billion fighter aircraft market over the next few decades.

Eyeing India's lucrative defence market, the American aerospace major said F-16 production would place India at the centre of the world's largest fighter aircraft ecosystem, creating "unmatched" Make in India opportunities and export potential.

Vivek Lall, vice president, Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martinthe said F-16 Block 70 being proposed to India will be the most technologically advanced and capable F-16 fighter jet ever produced.

"F-16 exports could begin within five years of establishing production in India. Depending on when India makes its selection, more than 200 F-16s could be exported from India," Lall told .

The F-16 Block 70, he said, brings the most modern avionics, a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernised cockpit, advanced weapons, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) and an advanced engine with an extended service life.

Block 70 mission systems are completely new and leverage technologies from the F-35. Northrop Grumman's advanced APG-83 AESA radar on the F-16 Block 70 provides F-16s with 5th Generation fighter radar capabilities by leveraging hardware and software commonality with F-22 and F-35 AESA radars, he said in response to a question.

"F-16 production in India would indeed be exclusive something that has never before been presented by any other fighter aircraft manufacturer, past or present," he said.

Noting that there are approximately 3,000 operational F-16s flying today with 25 leading air forces, including the US Air Force, he said the demand for new production of F-16s remains strong.

"Many air forces are actively engaging with Lockheed Martin about the prospect of procuring new F-16s. We see F-16 production opportunities totaling more than 400 aircraft, including aircraft for the Indian Air Force," Lall said.

Lall said the worldwide demand for F-16 sustainment-personnel, maintenance, fuel, consumables, spares, repairs, and operations - totals an estimated USD 165 billion over the next 30 years.

Several hundred F-16s will remain operational through 2050 and beyond as structural and avionics modifications continually increase the capability and lethality of the F-16, he argued.

Noting that with the 'Make in India' initiative maximising the transfer of production hardware, it's reasonable to assume India will produce F-16 hardware spares, Lall said Lockheed Martin has already met with approximately 100 suppliers in India about potential F-16 opportunities.

It is continuing to engage with those companies and many other potential Indian industry partners, he added.

"In addition to reaching out to Indian suppliers we have not worked with before, we've also been closely engaged with our current F-16 suppliers, many of whom have extensive experience in India," he said.

Lockheed's F-16 industry partners include GE, Terma, Honeywell, Fokker, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, UTC, Terma, Eaton, Moog, and Parker.

"These are global industry leaders with international portfolios and industrial partnerships," he said.

Hundreds of Lockheed Martin products and technologies have been successfully transferred and co-produced in India through enduring international partnerships, he said.

Lockheed Martin has helped develop fighter industry ecosystems around the world-for the F-16 and F-35, he said adding that there is incredible possibilities for Indian private industry in this regard.

"The Lockheed Martin-Tata F-16 partnership is without equal. Only Lockheed Martin's global experience and success establishing defence ecosystems in six countries, combined with the strength and integrity of Tata, can deliver the advanced defence capabilities and industrial benefits to truly propel India's military and defence industrial base into the future," he said.


Modi tells Putin won’t go back on $4.5 billion defence deal, gets reassurance on Pakistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘will not walk back’ from India’s intention to buy the S-400 air defence systems from Russia, even as president Vladimir Putin assured the PM during his day-long visit to Sochi Monday that Moscow’s relationship with Delhi is far, far better than anything with Pakistan can ever be.

After spending six-and-a-half hours out of eight in ‘one-on-one’ conversations with the prime minister at his Black Sea resort, Putin capped his day-long wooing of Modi by coming to the airport to bid him goodbye.

“The meeting went off very, very well,” official sources told ThePrint, admitting that no one had expected this last gesture of friendship. They pointed out that the Russian president had not exhibited this kind of care with any of his foreign guests over the past week – neither Syrian president Bashar-al Assad, German chancellor Angela Merkel nor Bulgarian president Rumen Radev.

A thrilled Indian delegation is nevertheless weighing the Sochi outcome with care, aware that it is as much in Putin’s interest to signal renewed warmth with a nation of India’s size and economic strength.

Delhi’s determination to ignore the Trump administration’s sanctions on Russia, through the wordy Countering America’s Adversary Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) legislation which came into force in January and which threatens to sanctions all third countries – like India, Indonesia and Vietnam, who deal with Moscow in the intelligence and defence spheres — is certainly a big boost to Putin’s own strategy to diminish his former Cold War enemy.

India will pay $4.5 billion to Moscow to buy S-400 Triumf air defence systems – the agreement was initialled in 2016, but final price negotiations are still to take place.

“India has no intention of walking back from the commitment it has made to Moscow on the S-400,” the sources said.

Clearly, the Russian president went out of his way to lay the red carpet, even dispensing with interpreters on the boat ride with the PM. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted telling Tass news agency that the talks were “very intense.”

Putin realises that India slipped out of Moscow’s ambit as Washington wooed it with the nuclear deal over the last decade. He feels he has a chance to coax Delhi back into its embrace – even as Delhi appears unwilling to deal with the daily moodiness of Trump and unable to handle the invincible rise of the Chinese.

Delhi’s big concern, Russia’s growing intimacy with Pakistan, is also believed to have been addressed between the two leaders. Putin is said to have assured the PM that Moscow’s interest in Pakistan is limited to its influence with terror groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the hope that it can persuade them not to expand their activities in neighbouring Central Asia and Russia.

Modi and Putin are said to have discussed way to ‘work together to circumvent’ sanctions that the US proposes to impose on third countries who trade with Iran. Oil exports to India will be hit sooner than later, and both agreed that the mechanism of an Asian clearing house is temporary, just as it was last time around in 2012 when payments were made. Barter is being contemplated.

For the time being, Delhi hopes that the US will allow waivers on all Chabahar-related expenditure, because the port will become an alternative to Karachi port for Afghan goods. India is expecting to spend $500 million on the port.

Certainly, Putin has had a good week. Tomorrow he will receive French President Emmanuel Macron in Sochi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in St. Petersburg in a few days from now.

Modi returned Putin the compliment just before he took off from Sochi, telling a group of students, “I was with my friend for the whole day today. When he spoke about the kids he was emotionally involved. I saw dreams in his eyes. I saw a different person. I saw a Putin who was different from the president.”


Defence Ministry Okays Simpler Weapons Buying Process to Cut Undue Delays

In a major move, the Defence Ministry on Tuesday approved a series of measures to simplify procurement of military platforms and weapons for the three services with an aim to speed up their modernisation.

The decision to cut procedural delays in the procurement process was taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"To streamline defence procurement procedures and to reduce timelines so as to ensure timely delivery of equipment to the Armed Forces, the DAC discussed and approved various measures to simplify the defence procurement procedure," the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said the significant changes includes devolution of powers within the ministry and the service headquarters, concurrent running of the acquisition process instead of sequential stage clearance, deletion of repetitive processes and aligning of various documents with revised financial guidelines.

"These measures will go a long way in obviating undue procedural delays and will hasten activities besides shrinking procurement timelines," said the ministry.

The new measures will be incorporated in the latest defence procurement policy.

According to official figure, a whopping Rs 4 lakh crore worth of military procurement involving close to 135 proposals were cleared by the government as part of efforts to modernise the armed forces.

But most of them were yet to be implemented due to procedural delays.


China upgrading air bases closer to India

China has been swiftly upgrading its air bases closer to Indian border, a development that not only could facilitate sustained military operations but also protect Beijing’s assets such as fighter jets and ground equipment from aerial attacks.

Indian security agencies have apprised the government how major work was on at Hotan airfield in Xinjiang, just north of Jammu and Kashmir; at Lhasa and also at the base at Heping-Shigatse, both in Tibet. Already last year, Heping-Shigaste, located 220 km north of Doklam, the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, had been upgraded to have a second runaway.

At Hotan, several large hangars (concrete structures to house planes) have been built. Permanent hangars are also being built at Heping-Shigatse. At Lhasa, aerially just 330 north-east of Sikkim, a hangar built inside a mountain was almost ready and a new taxiway had also come up, Indian security agencies have said.

The first tip-off about military upgrade at Lhasa had come on January 25 this year when a US-based think-tank, Stratfor, released satellite images of air bases at Lhasa and Shigaste. Stratfor’s report, ‘Preparing for a rematch at the top of the world’, claimed build-up by China and India despite the end of the 73-day military stand-off at Doklam.

Besides Hotan, China has another airfield at Xinjiang in Kashgar. In all, it has a dozen airfields in Tibet, including the Ngari Gunsa, just 200 km east of Ladakh, or Nyingchi, just 100 km north of Arunachal Pradesh.

In response, India also has same number of Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG). In Arunachal Pradesh, Tuting, Waliong, Along, Passighat and Mechuka exist while in Ladakh, India has DBO, Nyoma and Fukche as ALGs and full-fledged airfields at Leh, Kargil and Thoise.

‘Gagan Shakti’ drill was on Dragon Radar ::
- Security agencies have told South Block that China monitored the recently concluded air exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’
- The exercise, one of the biggest in recent years, simulated fighting Pakistan and China almost simultaneously
- China put up its surveillance aircraft TU 154 MD; Beijing collected intelligence and more than normal flying activity was observed in Lhasa, Chengdu and Hotan airfields


U.S. may sell armed UAVs to India

The U.S. is close to selling armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to India and the legislative process for that is under way, a diplomatic source said. India has long sought the capability which could be used to target terrorist camps and launchpads across the border.

“A waiver is required to enable the sale of armed UAVs to India and the legislative process is under way. It is likely to be the big outcome of the India-U.S. two-plus-two dialogue to be held in July in Washington,” the source told The Hindu.

If the proposed sale of armed UAVs goes through, India would be among the rare few countries to be sold the high-end U.S. technology, even among closest US allies.

The dialogue, which got postponed, is likely to take place on July 6 and will be attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis.

A defence official said that this deal once announced would be a significant phase in the India-US defence cooperation and the highpoint of the Major Defence Partner (MDP) status conferred on India.

The US had earlier approved the sale of 22 Guardian unarmed long-range maritime reconnaissance UAVs after the Indian Navy expressed interest in them and made a formal request. The Guardian, which is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ-9 UAV, has a maximum endurance of 40 hours and a maximum flying altitude of 40,000 ft.

The wavier would enable India to go for the armed UAVs instead. However, the number of UAVs is expected to be slightly lesser. “It could be about 17 UAVs,” the source added.

President Donald Trump administration has recently approved a policy change simplifying the export of drones to allies.

The two-plus-two dialogue will also review the progress made on India signing the other two foundational agreements. The agenda for the two-plus-two dialogue is currently being finalised.


May 22, 2018

Decades after Bofors, Sweden-India look to revive defence ties

Almost 34 years after the Bofors scandal hit India and Sweden, the Scandinavian country is looking to revive the past ties as the country’s defense industry looks to tap into the world’s largest military spender-India. Leading this initiative is Saab -- Sweden’s largest weapons manufacturer that is offering Make in India, tech transfer and partnership with local companies.

“Saab is looking at the Indian Industry as our potential partner in product development for the world market. Our plans in India are based not just on selling products but on creating a defense eco-system, which would involve hundreds of Tier-1, 2 and 3 partners, vendors and suppliers”, said Jan Widerstrom, Chairman SAAB India in an email to ET.

"Saab would incubate partnerships between its global supply chain and Indian suppliers, besides fostering R&D partnerships for next-generation platform, system and sub-system design and development across the industry,"Widerstrom said.

In April this year, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Stockholm, it was a first visit by an Indian head of state in 30 years. The Bofors scandal in 1984 hit the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress party for allegedly receiving kickbacks over the sale of 410 field howitzer guns. This scandal had created a dent in the diplomatic relations between both the countries. However, the two-day trip by PM Modi was seen as an indication that both the countries have perhaps put the ghosts of the Bofors behind and looking at new beginnings in trade, specifically in areas of defense.

With the emergence of a new global world order, the alliances post the cold war have also seen a shift. For India that traditionally relied on Russia for its defense procurement, the cozying up of the former soviet country to China has meant that India scouts for new partner in the West. For Swedish defense industries, which is chained by the export policies that limits the countries where it can trade with, India, being the largest democracy in the world, becomes a convenient partner.

Saab is wooing India by offering to share technology to manufacture its latest range of its jets, the JAS 39 Gripen in partnership with India’s Adani Group.

SAAB plans to bid for the Indian Air Force’s recent Request For Information (RFI) for jet fighters. The IAF is looking to buy 110 fighter jets that will be made in India.

“A collaboration between Saab and Adani will combine the technical and product excellence of Saab and mega project execution capabilities of Adani with the intention to manufacture defence systems locally in India”, said Saab's Widerstrom . When asked about the investments, Saab said that the size of investments would depend on the nature of the fighter aircraft procurement order and the requirements of the government.

In search of new partners ::

Sweden, through Saab, has been looking to sell its jets in emerging markets like Brazil and South Africa where it offered attractive trade benefits and price. In Brazil, Saab has promised a fixed price, irrespective of any eventuality during the course of production. In South Africa, it has promised to buy as much or more than the price of the jets from the country, analysts say.

Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said this renewed eagerness towards trade relations with India is also due to its own domestic compulsions. “Sweden’s arms industry can no longer rely on the domestic market because it has decreased its defense budget since cold war, and hence exports has become a way to keep its defense industry alive”, Wezeman told ET. The combined size of Swedish defense companies is estimated to be around $10 billion, though much smaller than the US or other European counterparts, yet these companies are one of the largest providers of employment and revenue for the country with a 10 million population.

As development of large and sophisticated weapons becomes expensive, finding partners for future projects and future development is very important for Sweden, according to Wezeman. He adds that for such future projects Sweden has to have clear indications on where they can sell and needs preferably to know about the partners before they start developing or co develop the equipment, this is why India has emerged as important ally for Sweden.

In 2015 Sweden’s Inspectorate of Strategic products the government body that controls defense exports approved eight applications from Swedish companies to enter into agreements involving the granting or transfer of manufacturing rights outside Sweden. India, Brazil and United States were only three countries who received the transfer.

“Given the size of Indian defense market and being a democracy, India is a very important country to trade with for countries from Europe”, said Rajeswari Pillai, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank.

Between 2013-2017 SIPRI data shows that India was the world’s largest importer of major arms this accounted for 12 per cent of the global deal. Of these total imports, Russia accounted for 62 per cent of the country's arms imports. However, arms imports from the USA to India rose by 557 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17, making it India’s second largest arms supplier.

Pillai who specializes in Nuclear and Military studies said India’s attractiveness for global defense companies is also because the country has been diversifying on who it partners with for its defense procurement. Though Indian has traditionally relied on Russia for its military purchases, that relationship has gone through a significant change post 90s. According to Pillai this is because sensitivity from the Russian side towards India is waning. “India deployed MKI 230 jet from Russia in its borders surrounding China, but at the same time Russians have given out MKI 235 a better version of the jet to Chinese. So India has realized that it needs other countries whom it should rely on,” Pillai adds.

The other defense partners who are softening to India are companies like Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense corporation that in 2017 announced a JV with India's Tata to make their F16 jets in India specifically for the government need. This JV materialized despite the reluctance of American arms manufacturer to share their technology outside the country.

Robin Sukia who heads the Sweden India Business Council in Stockholm thinks that Swedish defense companies are not sharing their technology just because they are desperate to sell their aircrafts, but it is a strategy to co-develop products for future markets. “So something like this Saab started even before he government started talking about it. To co-develop in India, the technology transfer, understanding local engineering which can be used in other market”. Saab this year celebrated 40 years of partnership with India’s Armed Forces and Industry, through a technology partnership with the Ordnance Factory Board on the Carl Gustaf System- the company’s notable shoulder-launch weapon’s system.

Great incentives, but will the deal ever take off?

The desperation of companies like Saab to look for new markets, and Sweden’s own foreign policy of doing business with democracy such as India perhaps has a bigger roadblock than its past affairs like the Bofors scandal, experts feel.

The biggest deterrent in doing business in Indian defense experts say is the extremely slow decision-making process by the government officials that often drags for 10-15 years. Sukia of SIBC says that besides the large defense players, there many SMEs in Swedish defense space who are interested in India, but it is extremely expensive for them to enter because of the long-time frame.

“The main feedback from Sweden is that it takes too long to sell in India and that means if you look at from my perspective, if you look at other markets these companies who have great technologies they have to make a call on should I look at India in a 10-15 year period or shall I look at other market which has a 3-5 year period”, Sukhia said.

Airtarget AG, a Swedish SME that specializes in the Scoring technology that helps in precision shooting during combat said that it has learnt over the years that it takes patience to do business in India. “I am trying to convince my Board to set aside a separate budget only for India”, said Babak Hashemi who heads the sales for India and Middle East region.

Pillai from ORF however has a much more alarming view. She says irrespective of the country that we are dealing with, India’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) over the years has been extremely slow in procuring equipment’s. Once must look at the Rafale purchase to understand the tedious process, the agreement was officially announced in 2000 by the then Vajpayee government which was later signed in 2012 by the Congress government and the final agreement to acquire them came only in 2014 when Prime Minister Modi visited France.

“The red tape in defense procurement is high and folks in MOD have no clue on the urgency. This is a serious issue as it leaves India in a vulnerable position compared to countries like China or Pakistan," Pillai concludes.


12 minutes max to destroy Israel-Pak commander

Pakistan is capable of destroying Israel in under 12 minutes, a senior army commander said.

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, was quoted by AWD News, as saying, "If Israel tries to invade our land,we will raze the Zionist regime in less than 12 minutes."

General Mahmood Hayat is on record as saying that he was not an anti-Semetic and was candid enough to admit and acknowledge that there is a need fro Pakistan to change from within first, rather than worry about what other countries thought of it.

Speaking in support of the Palestinian cause, he said, "I don't agree that Jews are our (Pakistan's) enemies either. Zionism and Judaism are two very different concepts. To simplify things, all monotheistic beliefs are from the same maker which renders the fight over religion pointless; hate will only brew more hate. This is a fight for human rights who everyone has the right to defend."

He further said, "Pakistan itself has a tainted slate when it comes to human rights. But it wouldn't get any closer to making amends by forming an alliance with Israel either. And, as for improving Pakistan's image externally, well, maybe, we should focus on procuring a change from within first and then worry about what image others have of us, " the muslimcouncil.org.hk web site quoted him as saying during his interview to AWD News.

Historically, he suggested that Israel has always had a trust deficit with Pakistan, and to substantiate this view, he referred to an article appearing in the daily The Jewish Chronicle in 1967 in which Israel's Founder David Ben Gurion was quoted, as saying, "The world Zionist movement should not be neglectful of the dangers of Pakistan to it. And Pakistan now should be its first target, for this ideological state is a threat to our existence. And Pakistan, the whole of it, hates the Jews and loves the Arabs. This lover of the Arabs is more dangerous to us than the Arabs themselves. For that matter, it is most essential for the world Zionism that it should now take immediate steps against Pakistan."
Ben Gurion was further quoted, as saying, "Whereas the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula are Hindus whose hearts have been full of hatred towards Muslims, therefore, India is the most important base for us to work from against Pakistan. It is essential that we exploit this base and strike and crush Pakistanis, enemies of Jews and Zionism, by all disguised and secret plans."

This famous quote has never been verified and many Israeli academics dispute its authenticity.

However, it is a well-known fact that Israel is not favoured by Pakistan.

He said that over the years, he had heard many arguments regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict, but the point that needs to be noted is that "human rights violations are rife despite Israel portraying itself as the beacon of freedom in the eyes of the international community.

"Israel would have you believe that Palestinians are all terrorists and it's only defending its citizens from suicide bombers and Islamic extremists. The reality however is very different,"he added.

When asked whether it 'would it be in Pakistan's interest to recognise Israel, like countries who already have such as Egypt and Jordan?' General Hayat said, "I would have to say no; not because of the Muslims versus Jews debate, or the ties many people have to the third most holiest site in Islam, Al-Aqsa Mosque, but based more on a human level."

"We cannot let our names represent an apartheid regime and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. We should push for peace in one of the most complex conflicts of our time, and simultaneously hold Israel accountable for its actions - something which the UN repeatedly fails to do," he said.


India's first long-range artillery gun `Dhanush' set for trial this week

Dhanush, the first long-range artillery gun developed indigenously by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), will undergo trial in Jaisalmer’s Pokhran sometime this week.

The test of the first indigenous, 155 mm long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush' will be conducted at Jaisalmer's Pokhran field firing range in the presence of representatives of Indian Army technical officers and GCF experts.

Along with the trial of its long-range firepower, the performance of 'Dhanush' in the summer heat and other adverse conditions will also be tested.

'Dhanush' has been developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF). The trial of 'Dhanush' which was going on for the last five years had initially faced some major hiccups over the ammunition used.

Two years back, while the trial was going on, a shell had burst in the barrel owing to which further trials had to be stopped. The issue was, however, resolved after a successful upgradation in the Balasore range of Odisha.

Known as an upgraded version of Sweden's Bofors gun, more than 80 per cent of its parts are built indigenously. Bofors could hit targets at a distance of 29 km, while the Dhanush can hit the target at a distance of 38 km.

In comparison to Bofors, which works on hydraulic system, the Indian version operates under electronic systems. With the help of night vision device, it can hit targets in the night.

It uses 125-mm shells and can fire 5 to 6 shells in a minute. More than 400 Dhanush guns are expected to be acquired by the Army.


India plans to buy choppers from US

India is considering a $2-billion proposal to procure multi role helicopters for the Indian Navy through a direct government purchase from the US.

The proposal could go ahead given a critical requirement of the Navy for choppers that can undertake missions ranging from anti-submarine operations to fire support and early warning at sea. The proposal under the foreign military sales route is to purchase 24 of the advanced MH 60 ‘Romeo’ choppers that can be deployed from warships and is being considered as the fastest way to add the capability to the Navy, rather than a competition that could take years to finalise.

The last attempt to purchase these choppers was thwarted after nine years of efforts in 2016 after negotiations broke off with US manufacturer Sikorsky over differences in pricing.

The Navy requires at least 123 of the Naval Multi Role Helicopters (NMRH) and had released a global request for information for the same in August 2017. However, the proposal for 123 new choppers, has not progressed as fast as the Navy would have liked, leading to the consideration of the US offer for a direct government sale of the Romeo.

It is unclear on how this could impact the larger procurement of choppers. “An FMS procurement of MH-60R would provide the Indian Navy an expeditious avenue to obtain a proven, multi-mission maritime helicopter capability to the Indian Navy,” a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the choppers said in response to a query by ET.

The US company did not directly answer queries on the status of the procurement.

The NMRH are required to replace the Sea King fleet. The Navy has flagged helicopters as one of its most critical needs at several top-level presentations before the government.


May 18, 2018

Tamil Nadu to build India’s next generation defence aircraft

The Aeronautical Development Agency, which had conceived and designed the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, has set the ball rolling for building the next generation defence aircraft, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), by extending an invitation to private players in Coimbatore to build a technology demonstrator.  The proposal is not only the first time an indigenous military aircraft programme is seeing the involvement of private players, but it is also the first time a a defence plane development project is proposed to be executed outside Bengaluru.  The project — to be implemented in Sulur in Coimbatore district which may house the permanent base of the Tejas squadron — marks Tamil Nadu’s first major defence aircraft project.
Fifth generation aircraft may replace Tejas Talking about the fifth generation aircraft that may eventually replace Tejas, ADA programme director Girish Deodhar said: “We’ve only invited an Expression of Interest and received application from a few industries.
It’d be too early to reveal names or numbers as the project is in a preliminary phase and final clearance is awaited.”  The agency, created for the design and development of Tejas, has become relevant with the AMCA project and defence sources said the involvement of private players is in line with the Centre’s ‘Make In India’ programme and it could help with the project’s timelines.  “There’s a proposal to implement the project in Sulur and the decision is based on the fact that Bengaluru has no space for technology development. The HAL airport already has too much testing. We looked at Chitradurga but it was not feasible because there was a problem with the approach part of the field. Since Sulur has an airfield, it looks good,” Deodhar said.
According to ADA, private players will be required to manufacture, assemble and equip two fighter aircraft and for the first time the industry will be involved from the stage of developing a process plan, design and fabricate parts, manufacture both metallic and composite parts, prepare sub-assembly jigs, create subassemblies and transport them to the identified Flight Test Facility.

The Aeronautical Development Agency, which had conceived and designed the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, has set the ball rolling for building the next generation defence aircraft, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), by extending an invitation to private players in Coimbatore to build a technology demonstrator.

The proposal is not only the first time an indigenous military aircraft programme is seeing the involvement of private players, but it is also the first time a defenc ..

Post upgradation Tejas’ Mark-2 to become a medium weight fighter

India is redesignating the Mark-2 upgrade of the homegrown Tejas aircraft as a medium weight fighter due to its increased weight and weapon carrying capacity. It is also designing the plane to replace the Mirage-2000 fleet of the Indian Air Force.

Aeronautical Development Agency, the design agency of the indigenous fighter aircraft programme, has finalised the systems and is looking to freeze the design of the medium weight fighter in a couple of months, a top scientist told ET. It is expected to have a maximum take off weight of 17.5 tonnes with an improvement of over 85% in weapons and payload carrying capacity to that of Tejas, light combat aircraft (LCA).

Tejas, powered by a single GE-404 engine, is a fly-by-wire fighter that has delta wings and no tail. Fly-bywire technology enables a pilot to control the plane electronically through computers. It has a a maximum take off weight of 13.5 tonnes.

“The LCA was designed to replace the MiG-21aircraft, whereas the Mk-2 is being designed to replace the Mirage 2000,” Dr Girish Deodhar, programme director of ADA told ET. “It is being redesignated as a medium weight fighter.”

India bought Mirage 2000 planes from Dassault Aviation of France in the 1980s. In 2011, Hindustan Aeronautics signed a pact with Thales and Dassault to upgrade the Mirage-2000 with new avionics, radar and weapons. Dassault has shut its Mirage plant since then.

The Tejas aircraft, which first flew in January 2001, is short of completing its final operational clearance, even as it has met the initial requirements set by the air force. The IAF has inducted over six Tejas aircraft in its No 45 Squadron called the Flying Daggers that is based in Sulur, near Coimbatore. It has placed order of 40 Tejas with an additional request for information placed with Hindustan Aeronautics for 83 more planes with the GE-404 engines.

After the initial flights of the LCA, the IAF had expressed concern over the low power thrust of the engine and asked ADA, a unit of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for design changes and more powerful engine for the LCA-Mk2. India has finalised the GE-414 engine, a powerplant similar to the one that powers the F-18 aircraft of Boeing.

The Gas Turbine andResearch Establishment or GTRE, a DRDO unit in Bengaluru, has failed to deliver the indigenous Kaveri engine for the Tejas fighter after nearly two decades of development.


May 17, 2018

India's nuclear submarine INS Arihant fully operational with N-tipped K-15 missiles

Only four other countries - United States of America (USA), Russia, China and France - have submarines with nuclear missile capable of hitting targets 700 kilometres away. 

India has bolstered its second strike capability by operationalising submarine-launched nuclear and conventional missiles which can hit targets over 700 kilometres away. Only four other countries - United States of America (USA), Russia, China and France - have such a strategic capability at present. But with Indian Navy's nuclear submarine INS Arihant getting the K-15 Sagarika (B05) nuclear-tipped missiles in its arsenal, the country has joined a select club.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made the formal announcement about the same during the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) award ceremony in New Delhi on Monday. Sitharaman felicitated the two scientists A Joseph and M Ugender Reddy, who headed the team that developed the Sagarika nuclear missile and its land-based versions. INS Arihant and its sister submarines will carry the K-15 Sagarika missiles to give India the option of launching a counterattack in the event of a nuclear strike.
The citation of the award presented to Joseph and Reddy read, "It is an indigenous missile with several innovative designs and a unique mechanism. Numerous critical technologies were proved in the successful trials, which paved the way for developing other long-range strategic missiles and has the potential to be launched from submarine, ship, and land."

The 10.22-metre long solid-fuelled K-15 missile was tested for the first time from an underwater pontoon, mimicking a submarine completely submerged in water off the Visakhapatnan coast in January 2013.
INS Arihant is India's first indigenous nuclear submarine and was inducted into the Navy in October 2016. It is the first warship of the Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and is based on the deadly Russian Akula-1 class submarines.
Scientists are already working on the long-range submarine-launched ballistic missile, codenamed K-4, which is capable of hitting targets up to 3,500 kilometres away. The later ships of the Arihant class including the second indigenous nuclear submarine INS Aridhaman will carry the K-4 missiles too. The K-4 missile has been tested successfully three times from underwater pontoons. However, the K-4 test in December 2017 ended in a failure.


Rs 27,000-crore anti-aircraft missile deal hits hurdle

A mega deal to procure shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles for the Indian Army has hit controversy after competitors alleged that a Russian system was qualified even though it failed to meet technical requirements and could not fully demonstrate capabilities during trials.

The Rs 27,000 crore deal to procure Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) missiles was initiated in 2010 under the previous UPA government and has gone through several twists and turns over the years that has left the French, Swedes and Russians in the fray.

Sources have told ET that after the IGLA S system was qualified in January after five years of trials by the Army, competitors have approached the defence ministry with protest letters, alleging that the system did not meet specified requirements, contending that norms have been tweaked to favour the Russians.


The high value VSHORAD procurement has gone through a tricky phase since 1999, when the file was first moved to replace the Russian IGLA M systems that were being used by the Army since the 1980s. Despite the urgent requirement of a missile to take down aerial targets at a short range, the procurement process did not begin until 2010 when global tenders were floated.

Out of the four respondents, the Koreans did not make it but others, including SAAB’s RBS70 NG, MBDA’s Mistral and the Russian IGLA S were found to be compliant to requirements in January.

However, official complaints by the competitors are also being examined, given the scale of the deal. It is learnt that one point raised by competitors is that the IGLA S did not demonstrate low level target hits in desert environments during summer season and failed to lock into targets at long distance.


The particular test – to intercept a target at a distance of 500 meters, travelling 10 meters above ground – is alleged to have not been passed by the Russian system in the summer season, when the hot sand makes it difficult to track incoming aircraft.

It has also been alleged that the Russian side modified the sights of the IGLA S during trials by changing the optics and sensor, in a violation of rules that permit only minor alternations. And, that the Russian side did not turn up for trials ate least two times, in a violation of norms. Detailed questionnaires sent to the three competitors and the defence ministry by ET did not fetch any comments.


A critical milestone for the contract will be on Friday when commercial bids are set to be opened by the defence ministry. However, it is unclear how the Army will muster the funds needed to ink a deal of such value this year, given that it is extremely short on budget.

In a presentation to the parliament panel on defence in March, the Army had said that the VSHORAD procurement is likely to be impacted as it has been given Rs 17, 756 crore less in the annual budget than what it had requested. The Army had also named the light specialist vehicle procurement as a project that would be impacted, however a contract is believed to have been signed now with Force Motors for the same.


India issues an RFP for acquiring 200 Kamov helicopters from Russia

India has moved a step further and reached a milestone in its project of procuring and co-producing 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters worth Rs 21,000 crore from Russia for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force, defence ministry officials privy to the matter said.

The ministry, a few days ago, issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project to the manufacturer, Russian Helicopters, part of Russian corporation, Rostec. “The RFP for the 200 Kamov helicopters was signed and given a week ago to Russian Helicopters. This is a milestone in the process of procuring them,” said an official.

The RFP is an important document in the Indian defence procurement process and elaborates on the general requirement of the equipment, the numbers required, delivery timeframes, maintenance and support package.

Officials explained that the RFP was worked out in consultation with the joint venture setup between Russian Helicopters and Indian defence PSU, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Last year, Indian and Russian officials had met several times to sort out the RFP, including understanding how the program will unfold in India. The RFP makes clear the intent to procure 200 of the helicopters, which entails 135 for the army and 65 for the IAF.

“For the army, 40 will be in flyaway condition and the rest 95 will be co-produced with Russia,” explained an official, adding that the next step is for the manufacturer to respond to the RFP to take the process forward.

Andrey Boginskiy, Director General of Russian Helicopters Holding Company, at the Defexpo-2018 held in Chennai last month had explained to reporters that, “In the nearest time the Russian side is expecting the issue of the RFP for 200 helicopters, and it means that we have come very close to entering into the contract.”

Officials added that the contract is likely to be signed by the end of this year. The Kamov helicopters will replace the ageing Cheetah helicopters. For this, in 2015, India and Russia had signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the supply and localization of the helicopter production in India. In May 2017, a joint venture within the framework of the IGA was registered in Bangalore between Russian Helicopters and HAL.

As part of the project, India will procure 60 of the 200 helicopters in flyaway condition, which will be produced at the Ulan-Ude plant of Russian Helicopters, while the remaining 140 will be made in India under the joint venture. The joint venture facility will be located in the vicinity of Tumkur, near Bangalore.

Boginskiy explained that, “At least 140 helicopters will be assembled at the facilities of the joint venture with a gradual increase of the localization level. At first, components and technologies will be transferred and the provisions will be made for the organization of production in India, then production of components from the supplied materials and assembly of helicopters will begin, and, finally, complete assembly of the helicopters will be organized.”

He added that at the same time Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant is preparing at full speed to its part of work - production of 60 Ka-226T helicopters for India.


May 16, 2018

Boeing says F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet can help India grow its aerospace ecosystem

US aerospace major Boeing has said its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet can help India grow its aerospace ecosystem which can be utilised for its Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft programme.

Boeing's current F/A-18 production involves 60,000 jobs and 800 suppliers in 44 states in the US and this can be replicated in India, Thom Breckenridge, vice president, global sales, Boeing India, told PTI in an interview, as the company seeks to enterb India's fighter jet bidding process.

Eyeing the mega Indian Air Force's contract for 110 fighter jets, Boeing has recently tied up with Mahindra Defence System and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for producing F/A-18 Super Hornets.

Breckenridge said that the Super Hornet is a platform that is continuously evolving to outpace future threats.

"Every two years, Boeing and its industry partners along with the US Navy work on delivering new capabilities to the fighter. Critical mission systems such as the radar, mission computers and sensors continue to evolve to match up to the mission profiles of the future," he said.

As the most advanced and lowest cost fighter per flight hour, the F/A-18 Super Hornet will deliver next-gen superiority and survivability to India, he said.

"By assembling, testing, and certifying this aircraft at a state-of-the-art Factory of the Future in India, Boeing will help grow the country's aerospace ecosystem," he said.

Observing that Super Hornet brings the latest generation of technologies to the warfare, he said that with designed-in stealth and robust capability growth plan, it is the best aircraft to get to India's Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft programme.

"Boeing is also committed to expanding its partnership by producing Super Hornets in India, further developing the country's aerospace ecosystem. Boeing will work closely with Indian industry to ensure they have the very latest technologies, applying lessons learned from the current Super Hornet production line," he said.

Boeing, he said, is prepared to bring its global scale and supply chain, its best-in-industry precision manufacturing processes, as well as the company's unrivaled experience designing and optimising aerospace production facilities to both expand India's aerospace ecosystem and help realise the 'Make in India' vision.

He said that Boeing and its current industry partners are having robust discussions with suppliers in India about building Super Hornets.

"We have talked to over 400 Indian companies as part of our partner evaluation process for various systems and subsystems of Super Hornet," Breckenridge said.

Responding to a question on Boeing's partnership with Mahindra Defense Systems (MDS) and HAL, he said that this is to deliver affordable, combat-proven fighter capabilities with growth potential for the Indian warfighter and industrial capability to build India's aerospace industry.

"A Boeing-HAL-MDS partnership will transform India's aerospace and defense ecosystem by manufacturing F/A-18 Super Hornets in India and developing future technologies jointly, building on 'Make in India'," Breckenridge said.

"We have taken a dual approach of making equity and non-equity investments as part of our partner strategy for India. Boeing will continue to invest millions of dollars in supplier development, training, tooling and quality systems and skill development at our Indian suppliers," Breckenridge said.


HAL offers 40 more Sukhois at one-third of Rafale's cost

With the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter — the backbone of the air force fleet — nearing the end of its production run, its manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is taking up a case to build 40 more. If the defence ministry accepts HAL’s proposal, the inventory of the Russian fighter would be enhanced from the planned 272 to 312.

With HAL offering to price the additional Su-30s at just Rs 4.25 billion, the fighter will be barely one-third the cost of the Rafale. According to a Business Standard analysis, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is paying Rs 11.25 billion per Rafale, excluding the price of weapons and logistics.

HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju said: “We will offer a very competitive price. Since 2010, we have been delivering the Su-30 at Rs 4.25 billion. We can deliver another three squadrons at that same price.” So, the IAF will pay Rs 170 billion for 40 additional Su-30s.

However, that would involve buying the fighters in ready-to-assemble kits from Russia and putting them together in Nashik. “HAL has already absorbed the technology for building and supporting the Su-30s. Now, the aim is to build those three new squadrons as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible,” said Raju.

Rationalising the proposal for 40 additional Su-30s, Raju said they were needed to carry the BrahMos air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).

“We are required to modify 40-odd Su-30s to carry the BrahMos ALCM. Instead of upgrading older fighters, with a shorter residual lifespan, it would be better to build three more squadrons of Sukhois with the capability to carry BrahMos missiles,” said Raju.

The air-launched version of the BrahMos has been downsized to 8 metres and 2,560 kgs. Even so, mounting it on a Su-30 requires reinforcing the aircraft’s underbelly and installing a heavy-duty mounting station. After years of development, the BrahMos was successfully test-fired from a Su-30 in November.

Ministry sources indicate a proposal to build more Su-30s would be considered positively, given the shortfall of IAF fighter squadrons. HAL is currently building the last 23 Su-30s of the 272 it was mandated to build. The IAF’s first 50 Su-30s were built in Russia.

Even as HAL Nashik builds the last Su-30s on order, HAL and Sukhoi have negotiated the upgrade of the Sukhoi fleet. HAL officials said they wanted to be the lead agency, but Sukhoi has indicated it wanted a 50 per cent share in this lucrative contract to upgrade the fighter’s avionics, including radar, glass cockpit displays, electronic warfare systems, warning systems and jammers. “The IAF has already frozen its upgrade requirements. We are now waiting for the commercial proposal from Russia,” said Raju.

HAL estimates an avionics upgrade for the Su-30 would cost upwards of Rs 1 billion per aircraft, placing the cost of upgrading 312 fighters at Rs 312 billion. Officials said the upgrade would have two distinct parts. In Phase I, Sukhoi would take over some IAF Su-30s and use them as prototypes to install and certify new-generation avionics and weapons upgrades. HAL would install those upgrades in the entire fleet. Phase II, which would involve India-specific enhancements, would be designed and developed by HAL and also incorporated on to the fighter by HAL.


India Says Its Nuke-Missile-Carrying Submarine Fully Operational

The INS Arihant is India’s lone nuclear submarine equipped with a B-O5 Submarine Launched Strategic Missile (SLBM) having a range of 650 km. Indian scientists have been developing longer range SLBMs which will provide the country with a much-needed capability to take down long-range targets from underwater.

India has joined the league of select countries that have fully operational submarine-launched strategic missile systems capable of hitting targets with nuclear warheads at a range of 650 kilometers. Before this, such technologies were available only in the US, Russia, China and France.

A formal announcement of this achievement was made by Nirmala Sitharaman, India's minister of defense, who felicitated A Joseph and M Ugender Reddy, the two scientists who developed the missiles, during the annual award ceremony of the Defence Research Development Organisation in New Delhi on Monday.

Scientists have tested B05 missiles from a submarine after successful trials from an underwater pontoon off Visakhapatnam's coastline in January 2013. India has already deployed the submarine-launched version of the B05 at INS Arihant. Indian scientists are currently in the process of developing the land version of the missile.

"It is an indigenous missile with several innovative designs and a unique mechanism. Numerous critical technologies were proved in the successful trials, which paved the way for developing other long-range strategic missiles and has the potential to be launched from submarine, ship, and land," the citation of the award reads.

Indian defense scientists have also been testing longer-range K-series submarine-launched strategic missiles for the past few years. The long range (3,500 kilometers) K-4 missiles have so far been tested three times successfully from underwater pontoons, but the last test from a pontoon in December 2017 failed as the missile did not activate properly during the test.

India has also started working on the K-5, which has a range of 5,000 kilometers, as well as the K-6, with its range of up to 6,000 km, for nuclear-powered submarines.