June 30, 2018

Denied information on high-tech fighter jet equipment, India develops its own

Any gaming aficionado would love it: A space age fighter jet cockpit with information on weapons locking systems, enemy planes and flight information flashing on the windshield.

This high-tech system is likely to be adapted soon for fighter aircraft in India with technology developed indigenously. The head-up display (HUD) has been developed by the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) in Chandigarh, a constituent unit of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).

The technology, which CSIO started developing from scratch after the UK,USA, France and Israel declined to share it with India, was first adapted for the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas, says director, CSIO, Prof RK Sinha.

Now, a plot display unit (PDU) similar to HUD is being developed for BAE Systems Hawk, a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft under licence manufacturing in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

A helmet mounted display for fighter aircraft and gun sight (enabling aiming of a gun accurately) for Dornier aircraft are also in the pipeline.

Dr Vinod Karar, chief scientist, optical devices and systems, heading the development of the PDU for the Hawk-i aircraft, said the CSIO was developing a customised low-profile unit.

Explaining why the technology developed for Tejas had an edge over its global competitors, he said it had multiple operational modes, including low visibility and standby sight mode if a mission computer failed to guide and aid the pilot, high display brightness, high contrast ratio with maximum display luminance, high degree of accuracy and precision, wide field of view and no forced air cooling or internal fan for the heat generated in the system, resulting in reduction in cockpit noise for improved pilot comfort.

A total of 68 such HUDs have been produced by CSIO Chandigarh and Bharat Electronics Limited, Panchkula.

“Since the HUD is the prime flight display viewed by the pilot from his or her seat, its technology was denied to India. Hence, CSIO made its design and customised it to multiple aircraft platforms, in the process achieving design excellence, bringing India on the select list of countries who can design and manufacture the complex technology of HUD,” said the CSIO director.

The indigenous HUD is cheaper by Rs 40 lakh when compared to offerings by others.

HUD variants had been developed for LCA Tejas for both the Indian Air Force and Navy and other aircraft. “Our design offers compact size, low weight and power consumption,” Prof Sinha added.

Understanding head-up display ::

Flying a fighter aircraft at supersonic speeds is no easy task. Unlike conventional cockpits with traditional styled analog dials which diverted a pilot’s attention as he had to take his eyes off the skies to monitor flight information, the glass cockpit eases his workload by providing flight, aircraft and weapon information in his line of sight.

The windshield glass has a unique coating with material or combination of materials so as to reflect green wavelength, to which human eyes are most sensitive, while allowing a clear view ahead.

Other technologies being developed ::

Gunsight for Dornier aircraft: CSIO is also developing a customised gunsight used for accurately aiming a weapon, for surveying and for sight setting on a particular range.

Helmet mounted display for fighter aircraft ::

The helmet mounted display is an advanced version of head-up display. It projects critical flight and aircraft information for the pilot through the helmet visor. Its proposed features and advantages include high off boresight (aligning barrel of a firearm with sight) capability for fighter aircraft, first-look, first-shoot, air-to-air visualisation, improvement in pilot situational awareness, faster target acquisition and improved system accuracy and less exposure time and better sensor cueing. CSIO is developing the technology in collaboration with a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab.


Missile test project clears a major hurdle

The Ministry of Law on Thursday in principle approved the amendment to Coastal Regulatory Zone notification 2011, permitting construction of a jetty in a creek in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary for the proposed Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Missile Test Launch Facility in the Gullalamoda area of Krishna district.

At a crucial meet held in New Delhi, the ministry gave the relief to the defence project as a special case, paving the way for construction of a jetty alongside the creek.

Confirming the the ministry’s decision over the phone, a highly placed source in the State government told The Hindu now that a major hurdle has been cleared, the project can be speeded up.

Vital facility ::

The jetty, a vital facility to transport all the necessary material required for the construction of the missile test launch facility, will come up adjacent to the existing lighthouse.

According to the 2011 notification, ‘tidal-influenced water bodies,’ including creeks, backwaters, lagoons and the like, shall fall in the CRZ.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has sought a ‘Wildlife Management Plan (WMP)’ from the DRDO to grant Stage II clearance for the project.

The WMP is needed to ensure conservation and protection of the wildlife in the sanctuary.


June 25, 2018

India-US strategic partnership set for new high with deals and drills

  • The UPA had stonewalled attempts by the US to ink the three so-called "foundational military agreements" during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would "compromise the strategic autonomy" of India
  • The NDA govt inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support - Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with India-specific safeguards in 2016.
The strategic clinch with the US is set to get even tighter, with India signaling its readiness to ink two more bilateral military pacts, procure helicopters worth $3 billion and participate in a joint tri-Service amphibious exercise for the first time.

Top government sources say “substantial progress” has now been made towards finalizing the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the two countries.

The previous UPA regime had stonewalled all attempts by the US to push for the inking of the three so-called “foundational military agreements” during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would “compromise the strategic autonomy” of India. But the NDA government went ahead and inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support -- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — with India-specific safeguards in 2016.

Now, the stage is being set for the other two, COMCASA and BECA, which the US contends will allow India more access to advanced military technologies and platforms with encrypted communications like Predator-B and MQ-9 Reaper drones, as was earlier reported by TOI.

“The broad contours of COMCASA have been finalized…only some text-based negotiations are left. The BECA draft is also under discussion. We have insisted on India-specific assurances, much like what was done in LEMOA, and a status on par with its closest allies,” said a source.

This comes ahead of the first India-US “two-plus-two” dialogue between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman with their American counterparts, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, in Washington on July 6.

Sources say the two countries have also decided to hold their first-ever mega tri-Service amphibious exercise to supplement the flurry of wargames they already hold every year from the top-notch naval Malabar (with Japan as the third participant) to the counter-terror Vajra Prahar and Yudh Abhyas between their armies.

This will be only the second time India will deploy assets and manpower from its Army, Navy and IAF together for an exercise with a foreign country, after the Indra wargames were held with Russia at Vladivostok last year.

The US, of course, remains keen to make further inroads into the lucrative Indian arms market, having already bagged deals worth $15 billion over the last decade. While the US hard-sell to set up a F/A-18 “Super Hornet” or a F-16 fighter production line in India in still in a preliminary stage, India has virtually finalized the acquisition of six more Boeing Apache attack helicopters for $930 million and 24 Sikorsky S-70B multi-role naval choppers with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities for around $2 billion.

The IAF, incidentally, is slated to induct 12 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in the 2019-2020 timeframe under the contracts inked for them, worth Rs 13,952 crore and Rs 8,048 crore respectively, in September 2015.

India, however, remains miffed about the new US sanctions regime called CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act) that targets countries buying weapon systems from Russia. As reported earlier by TOI, India and Russia are working to get around CAATSA because they have new defence projects worth over $12 billion hanging in the balance as well as the operational need to maintain the huge inventory of Russian-origin equipment held by the Indian armed forces.


LCA Tejas Gears up for Aerial Refuelling

The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is all set to commence its Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) flight trials. Aeronautical Development Agency has been carrying out various tests regarding the AAR for the past few months which have been successful.’

But, the process is a challenging one, and hence, it is very much important to make it flawless. All the simulated ground tests have been successfully completed as Tejas was refuelled by placing it at various attitudes.

The technical integration for AAR has been completed and the trials were commenced on the ground. We expect to make Tejas ready for air-to-air refuelling by May. Once Tejas achieves the operational aerial refuelling capability, it will help the fighter to extend its flight duration considerably, says Dr. Girish S Deodhare, Programme Director (Combat Aircraft) and Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Dr. Deodhare speaks with Aeromag about the latest updates on the LCA programme.

Dr. Girish S. Deodhare is the Programme Director (Combat Aircraft) and Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the nodal agency for the design & development of LCA. He did his B. Tech in Electrical Engineering (1984), M. Tech in Controls and Instrumentation (1986) both from IIT Bombay and Ph.D. (1990) in Control Theory from University of Waterloo, Canada. He has started his career in DRDO as Scientist in Centre for AI and Robotics (CAIR), Bangalore from 1990 till 2007. In March 2007, he has joined the Aeronautical Development Agency as Scientist ‘G’. He has been elevated to Outstanding Scientist/Sc ‘H’ in July 2012.

He is a Lead Member of the National Control Law (CLAW) team for LCA and is Project Director (CLAW) since 2016. In 2013, he has taken over as the Technology Director (Integrated Flight Control Systems), ADA and held additional charge of Associate Programme Director (New Programmes and Systems Engineering) from 2015. He is involved in the design and development of flight control systems for the Indian Light Combat Aircraft using both classical and modern control synthesis techniques. On April 28, 2017 he has taken over as the Programme Director (Combat Aircraft) and Director, ADA to lead the Tejas (LCA) programme.

1. Could you share the latest developments on the LCA Tejas programme?

The LCA Tejas programme is having a very fast progression. Currently, we are focusing on increasing the flying rate of the Mk1 aircraft to 60 flights every month. We expect to get the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for the Mk 1 by June-July 2018. Most of the tasks for the FOC are in the final stage and the rest will be completed soon. Some of the tasks under focus are the completion of integration of all FOC weapons including flight envelope expansion with the Derby BVR missiles. The software fine tuning for complete carefree manoeuvring is also in progress. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and ADA are working together to speed up the FOC activities. The experienced IAF/IN pilots of National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), who have been involved in flight testing the aircraft from day one, are continuously improving the flight capabilities with their inputs and suggestions.

Another important task we are working on now is the Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) of Tejas. We have been carrying out various tests regarding the AAR for the past few months and have been successful. But, the process is a challenging one, and hence, it is important to make it flawless. The technical integration for AAR has been completed and the trials have been commenced on the ground after initial carriage flight trials.

All the simulated ground tests have been successfully completed as Tejas was refuelled by placing it at various attitudes on the ground. This was to monitor the pressure at which the fuel is pumped into the aircraft. The aerial refuelling must be done without taking much time. We are very much careful about even minute things that should be considered during the process. We expect to make Tejas ready for air-to-air refuelling by May. Once Tejas achieves the operational aerial refuelling capability, it will help the fighter to extend its flight duration and endurance considerably.

Last year in December, HAL has confirmed the order of 83 aircrafts of Mk 1A configuration in addition to the earlier 40 aircrafts. From the 124thaircraft onwards, LCA Mk II will enter service. It will be a bigger aircraft with a higher capacity engine, higher range and payload capacity, improved aerodynamics etc. The Mk II project is in the detail design stage.

We have received the approval to prove unmanned technologies like auto take-off and landing on LCA for future uses. The unmanned version will sport Flush Air Data Systems technology for stealth feature. The design of the front also will be modified. The project will begin immediately after receiving the FOC for Mark 1.

2. Could you elaborate on the plans to upgrade the weapons capability and advanced technologies of LCA Tejas? What is the future roadmap for LCA Tejas?

We are planning to enhance the combat capabilities of the Mk 1A by integrating new weapons. Tejas has already completed precision bombing with laser-guided 1,000lb bombs and unguided bombs. The integration of Rafael’s Derby fire-and-forget missile will be completed soon, and it will serve as the Tejas’ initial medium range air-to-air armament. The integration of Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) radar is underway, and it is expected to be done soon. The AESA radar will improve air-to-air superiority and strike missions and to achieve long detection ranges and multi-target tracking capabilities.

The Mk II is being designed to sport an array of upgraded weapons system along with all sensors and will be capable of carrying all futuristic indigenous weapons. The major thrust of the aircraft will be its ability to carry missiles like Astra and BrahMos. It will have Software Defined Radios (SDR) and all equipment to wage electronic warfare. The Mark II will be much superior in terms of its combat capabilities and will belong to the Medium weight class.

3. Kindly share your thoughts on increasing the annual production of LCA Tejas to meet the requirements of IAF.

ADA is helping HAL in every possible way to increase the production of LCA Tejas. In fact, we conduct coordination meetings every day to discuss on accelerating the project and secure the FOC at the earliest. Meetings are also held with members of LCA Squadron to get suggestions from them regarding what should be improved in terms of design. HAL has opened its new assembly line and it will increase the rate of production.

In the case of MK II, it will be easier for HAL to manufacture it as ADA is making a production-friendly design for the aircraft. We are leveraging the experience got from the Mk 1 and Mk 1A. Now, the designers are familiar with the production processes and they know its challenges. Hence, we are focusing on a design for manufacture for the Mk II. Also, it will make the maintenance process easy.

4. Are there any further plans to promote the Make in India programme of the Central Government through the absolute indigenisation of more vital components of Tejas?

The indigenisation of the components of LCA Tejas is one the major thrusts at present. The production of Tejas is closely on the line of promoting the government’s Make in India programme. Initially, the idea was to develop a new light combat aircraft indigenously to prove the technology. Hence, in the beginning we had to rely mostly on proven imported components. But now, more than 60% of the LRUs of Tejas are indigenously made. We are also aggressively encouraging the vendors/developers who are ready to take up the development of the components. For the Mk II, we will provide completely upgraded Flight Control Systems, avionics, sensors etc. of which the indigenous development has already started.

5. Tejas is acclaimed as the lightest and smallest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft. How does Tejas outweigh its rivals in this segment?

LCA Tejas is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class. This highly manoeuvrable combat aircraft is designed for specific roles. Tejas is often compared to JAS 39 Gripen of Sweden, Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder etc. Every aircraft is built for a specific purpose. Hence, it is not easy to compare them with each other and reach on a conclusion on the better one. But, taking into consideration Tejas’s far superiority in terms of avionics, digital flight control systems, advanced digital cockpit and manoeuvrability, it is competitive enough to lock horns with any of the multirole aircrafts in its class.

6. The Naval Version of LCA for operation from Aircraft Carriers has successfully completed its test flight. What are the latest updates on this project?

The naval version of Tejas has completely mastered the ski jump, take-off from aircraft carriers, even at night time also. But, the arrested landing of the aircraft is still a challenge to be overcome. The hook for the arrested landing has been integrated and we are now progressing towards demonstration of arrested landing. We expect to prove Carrier Compatibility of Tejas by the end of the year.

7. Kindly shed more light onto the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project of ADA

The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is a 5th generation fighter concept. The feasibility study of the AMCA has been completed and a feasible configuration has been evolved. The design of AMCA will meet the requirements specified by the IAF. The AMCA will feature a twin-engine and single-seat layout. It will have inherent stealth mode and will be able to carry advanced weapons. Initially it is planned to build two Next Generation Technology Demonstrators (NGTD). These will leverage the existing technology of the LCA to achieve the target of first flight within five years.

8. What are the vision, goals and priorities you have set for the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) during your term as the Director? What are the new initiatives?

These are exciting times for aerospace industry. ADA is fully confident about developing the optimal design for aircrafts that will bolster the Indian defence sector. When we started the LCA programme the most often heard question was “Can you make an aircraft?”. But, we have proved the capabilities by presenting a fully operational LCA Tejas. Now the question is “How long will it take to make an aircraft?”. We are backing the HAL in the production of Tejas by providing design-friendly design and essential upgradations.

Our focus is currently on the LCA Mark II, along with giving equal importance to the production of Mark 1A. The development of AMCA is another priority. A lot of youngsters have joined ADA’s design team. We are focusing on transferring the rich experience of our senior designers to the younger generation to make them capable to take up the projects efficiently in future. ADA is also promoting the involvement of women scientists and more than 40% of the designers are women. The government policies are giving a huge impetus to aerospace industry in India. With the support of the government, we are confident to take the industry to further heights.


June 22, 2018

Russia Wants to Sell Its Missiles to U.S. Allies

Russia’s S-400 missile system has never been used in combat. Yet it’s already provoking fights around the world, as Russia searches for buyers in markets long dominated by American weapons makers. China’s neighbors are fretting as the country bolsters its military reach with Russian hardware, encouraging India to follow suit. Tensions between rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ratcheted up as both countries negotiate with Moscow on possible deals, while the recent decision by NATO member Turkey to buy the S-400 has drawn threats of U.S. sanctions.
With Algeria, Belarus, Iran, and Vietnam also likely customers, Russia could generate $30 billion in sales over the next 12 to 15 years, according to the Moscow Defense Brief, a leading publisher of Russian military information.
That’s all part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to use the Russian weapons industry not only to earn billions of dollars but also to drive a wedge between the U.S. and some of its key allies. “The S-400 has both commercial and geopolitical dimensions,” says Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat who’s now a foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “It creates an opening for Russian influence for years to come.”
The Russian weapon has a few advantages over the only other comparable missile system on the market, the MIM-104 Patriot, made by U.S. company Raytheon Co., according to defense research group Jane’s by IHS Markit Ltd. Both are surface-to-air systems designed to shoot down aircraft and ballistic missiles. But the S-400 has a longer range than the Patriot, 250 kilometers (155 miles) vs. 160 kilometers. An upgrade coming later this year is expected to stretch the S-400’s range to 400 kilometers. It also has a more powerful radar, can destroy targets moving twice as fast, and is quicker to set up. While both systems are mounted on trucks, the S-400 can be ready for action in five minutes, compared with an hour for a Patriot battery. The S-400 is also slightly cheaper than the Patriot, on a per-battery basis.
The S-500, an advanced version comparable to the U.S. Thaad anti-ballistic-missile system that’s capable of downing hypersonic cruise missiles, is expected to enter production by 2022. The S-400 is manufactured by the state-run company Almaz-Antey, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. over Russia’s military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Despite that, Almaz-Antey is opening two sites elsewhere in Russia to supplement its Moscow plant. The Russians don’t shy away from talking up the S-400 to potential buyers. It “has no equal,” says state arms trader Rosoboronexport’s spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko. “Russian air-defense systems don’t allow anyone to attack without paying a price.”
The Patriot has superior anti-ballistic-missile capability, says Omar Lamrani, senior military analyst at Stratfor Enterprises LLC, a Texas consultant. It can also be integrated into other U.S.-made missile-defense systems, increasing its effectiveness. The Patriot has a long and successful track record on the battlefield, having come to fame during the 1991 Gulf War. But its performance recently has come under scrutiny. In March video footage appeared to show a failed Patriot launch as Saudi Arabia intercepted a barrage of rockets fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. One missile did an abrupt U-turn and crashed into the ground in the Saudi capital, and another one exploded midair. It’s unclear whether the Patriots malfunctioned or the Saudi crew failed to operate them properly. Whatever the cause, it hasn’t stopped Romania, Poland, and Sweden from pursuing plans to buy them. Raytheon declined to comment on the misfire footage, and says that the Patriot’s “performance in testing scenarios and in combat speaks for itself.”
Russia has a history of producing strong air-defense systems, dating to the Cold War, when it needed to counter NATO’s air forces. In the early 1990s the U.S. paid Boris Yeltsin’s cash-strapped government $120 million for an air-defense launch complex to study the technology. Now the U.S. faces a growing threat from the sale of Russian advanced weaponry to its strategic rivals and erstwhile allies.
In 2014, China signed a $1.9 billion deal to buy 32 S-400 launchers, each equipped with four missiles, half of which were delivered last year, the Moscow Defense Brief says. New contracts with China may be in the pipeline, it adds; these acquisitions will allow the country to threaten aircraft in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a rebel province, as well as challenge Japan and neighbors in Southeast Asia for control of the skies in disputed areas. “It poses big challenges for the U.S., Taiwan—which it is obliged to protect—also for American allies and anybody who challenges Chinese territorial claims in the South China Seas,” says Alexander Gabuev, chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program.
India, which has had sporadic skirmishes with China since the countries fought a bloody border war in 1962, is in the final stages of negotiating a $6 billion S-400 deal. According to Indian media, the contract may be signed before an October summit between Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Turkey risks U.S. sanctions over its $2.5 billion deal, financed with Russian loans, to buy the S-400. Under a 2017 law, the White House has to penalize countries that conduct a “significant transaction” with Russia’s defense sector. A defense spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate on June 18 calls for a freeze in arms sales to Turkey in response to its S-400 purchases. The bill also calls for the removal of Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program, a multicountry, $400 billion plan to build and sell tactical jets to allies. Turkey was a key member of the program; it had ordered 100 F-35s and was slated to co-produce the jet. Some of its companies are the sole producers of essential parts in the supply chain. “The Turks have got to decide whether they’re going to be in NATO or aligned with Russia,” says Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican.
Despite the threats, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, says the deal to buy the S-400 is done. On June 13, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Russia may also co-produce the next-generation S-500. “Russia seems to have communicated to Turkey that it’s in their interest in one way or another to align with them,” says Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. “This is one of several ways in which they seem to be hugging their friends to the northeast.” The deal is a major milestone toward improving ties between the two countries after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near its border with Syria in 2015.
On June 21, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations passed an amendment attached to the annual Department of State funding bill that prohibits spending money to transfer the F-35 to Turkey until the secretary of state certifies that Turkey isn’t buying the S-400. “This provision makes it clear that if Turkey ignores the concerns of its NATO allies and moves forward with this partnership with Putin, it will no longer receive F-35s,” Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said in a statement.
Although losing Turkey as a customer would be a hit to F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp., there are concerns that Russia will gain valuable intelligence—insights into U.S. air defense and aerial capabilities—if the country remains in the program. Senior U.S. defense officials have said that if Turkey operates both the F-35 and the S-400, it could compromise the F-35’s security, including its stealth capabilities. “It is in the American national interest to see Turkey remain strategically and politically aligned with the West, and we believe it is also in Turkey’s interests,” Assistant Secretary A. Wess Mitchell said at a congressional hearing in April.
As for Saudi Arabia, the increasingly warm ties it’s enjoyed with Russia, particularly over coordination in the oil markets, have also provoked alarm in the U.S. President Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, David Schenker, said during his Senate confirmation hearing on June 14 that he would “tell Saudi Arabia not to do it” when asked about the kingdom’s talks to buy the S-400. During an historic visit by King Salman to Russia in October, Saudi Arabia agreed on other arms purchases, including antitank weapons and multiple-rocket launchers, and licensed Saudi production of Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Neighboring U.S.-allied states Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are also acquiring Russian weapons. The advanced Russian missile system has turned into a major bargaining chip in the region as rival powers seek to cement new relations with Russia to balance U.S. influence. In a letter to the French president, Saudi Arabia warned of “military actions” against Qatar if it buys the S-400, as Le Monde reported in early June.
The S-400 still has an element of “hype,” says Stratfor’s Lamrani. Still, “it has a very promising future—there are places where opportunities are opening up for Russia.”  


India, U.S. 2+2 Dialogue on July 6

The inaugural U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue will take place on July 6, both countries announced on Thursday.
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will host External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Washington, D.C., for the dialogue that “will focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defense cooperation as the United States and India jointly confront global challenges,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The new dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington D.C. in June, 2017. “The two sides are expected to share perspectives on strengthening their strategic and security ties and exchange views on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
The meeting takes place amid considerable divergence between the two countries on several strategic and trade issues. The Donald Trump administration has been reassuring Indian interlocutors that it will shield India from anti-Russia third party sanctions required by a U.S. law. How this will be achieved remains unclear, and this issue will be top of the agenda in the dialogue.
Tina Kaidanow, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, who visited India recently, asked New Delhi to desist from conduct that might invite sanctions. The U.S is pressing India to scale down its defence cooperation with Russia. There are visible contradictions within the Trump administration on its Asia strategy also, as trade nationalists in it have little patience for long-term strategic goals.
Negotiations on India’s proposed purchase of Guardian Avenger armed drones from the U.S. is dependent on the progress of talks on the Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) between the two countries. Both countries are exchanging notes on an India-specific agreement, according to sources familiar with the developments. India has found the text of the standard agreement that the U.S. signs with many countries too intrusive.


India set to clear $2 billion deal for US anti-submarine warfare choppers

Ahead of the crucial two-plus-two dialogue in Washington, the Narendra Modi government is expected to approve a $2-billion deal for the purchase of anti-submarine warfare helicopters for the Indian Navy from the US through the government to government (G2G) route, according to South Block officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bilateral negotiations on the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) have moved forward and the military communication agreement could be initialed later this year after basic Indian concerns have been addressed by the Pentagon, these officials added.
The foreign and defence ministers of India will meet their US counterparts in Washington on July 6.
South Block officials said the Defence Acquisition Council is scheduled to meet on June 30 to give a final approval to the purchase of US Sikorsky S-70B multi-role helicopters.
While the navy needs at least 100 such multi-role helicopters, the government has decided to go for the outright purchase of 24 anti-submarine warfare helicopters from US.
There is also the possibility of India placing a follow-up order for 12 more Boeing P 8I maritime surveillance aircraft at a later stage for the Indian Navy in a bid to boost its reconnaissance capabilities on high seas, the officials added.
Although preparations for the two plus two dialogue have begun in the earnest in Delhi, the COMCASA agreement will have to wait for later this year after the Indian side conveyed some concerns on the foundational agreement related to military operations. While both sides have broadly agreed to the text of the key foundational agreement, visiting senior Pentagon official Joseph Felter was briefed about India’s concerns and the way forward. The meetings on COMCASA took place on June 19-20.
Senior government officials did not rule out the possibility of US Defence Secretary James Mattis visiting India later this year to sign the COMCASA agreement.


June 20, 2018

Solar Industries India partners Eurenco for major artillery tender

On Tuesday, Solar Industries India Ltd (hereafter Solar), one of India’s fastest growing companies in defence manufacturing, announced a strategic tie-up with Eurenco, the European leader in high-energy materials for explosives and propellant technologies.

Announcing the partnership at the EUROSATORY 2018 defence exhibition near Paris, the two firms said they would bid jointly for a forthcoming multi-billion dollar Indian tender to manufacture artillery propellants – called the bi-modular charge system (BMCS).

“We have built a strong relationship with Eurenco and are working on a collaborative approach to set up infrastructure facilities under the 'Make in India' programme of the Government of India to fulfill the needs of the Indian Army,” said Solar’s chief executive, Manish Nuwal.

The Nagpur-headquartered Solar, India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of explosives and initiating systems, is highly regarded by the defence ministry. In January, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman handed it technology to manufacture solid propellant boosters for the Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missile –– a favour normally bestowed only on defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs).

Solar’s ambitious growth plans in the defence sector rest on the military’s increasing requirement of ammunition and propellants. Besides needing to make up a large shortfall in war reserve ammunition stocks, the military requires warhead explosives and propellants for indigenous weaponry like the Pinaka rocket launcher, the Akash, Nag, Astra, BrahMos and LR-SAM missiles, indigenous artillery guns like the Dhanush and the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), and a range of new artillery gun systems entering service, such as the M777 ultra-light Howitzer.

India currently imports 35 solid propellant boosters annually for the BrahMos cruise missile. In addition, the IAF will be inducting large numbers of BrahMos as an air-launched cruise mssile (ALCM), mounted on the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter. Solar would benefit directly from these orders.

In July 2016, Eurencoand Solar signed a preliminary agreement to “evaluate various cooperation options”. On Tuesday, that was translated into a “strategic partnership” for supplying “propellants, bombs, ammunition filling and modular charges technologies under the ‘Make in India’ policy for the private sector”, according to a Solar press release.

“This partnership agreement is at the heart of our strategy in India which is today one of the key markets that we aim for as part of our global export policy in Asia”, said Eurenco chief Dominique Guillet.

Solar said on Tuesday it is “willing to build dedicated infrastructure facilities with the technical assistance of Eurenco on its explosives and propellant facilities in Nagpur, India”.

Besides Nagpur, Solar manufactures at 24 locations in India and six locations abroad – in South Africa, Turkey, Zambia, Nigeria, Australia and Ghana – for a significant portfolio of American and European customers.

Since it was established in 1995, Solar has built facilities to produce sophisticated, military-grade explosives such as HMX, RDX and TNT. Solar also builds composite propellants, rockets, warheads, mines, tank ammunition, bombs and electronic fuses.

Besides serving defence requirements, Solar also manufactures explosives for the mining and infrastructure sectors, serving Coal India Limited,Singareni Collieries, Vedanta, Reliance, Jindal and other companies.


Tejas squadron to be shifted to Sulur air base in July

The Flying Daggers or the No. 45 Squadron which operates the indigenously developed supersonic fighter aircraft Tejas will be shifted from Bengaluru to the Sulur Air Force station based in Coimbatore in July.

With this, the Flying Daggers will become the first fighter squadron to be a part of the Southern Air Command of the IAF headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram. Highly reliable sources told The Hindu that the No. 45 Squadron, which operated in Bengaluru for two years after the induction of Tejas into it in July 2016, will be permanently moved to the Sulur Air Force station in the first week of July.

Flying Daggers was last equipped with MiG-21 Bis aircraft and the squadron operated from Nalia in Gujarat before it was shifted to Bengaluru in July 2016, when Tejas replaced the Russian-made interceptor under the Light Compact Aircraft (LCA) programme. Tejas has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The Sulur Air Force station is gearing up with various activities to equip itself to accommodate the wing. An LCA simulator to train novice fighter pilots to fly Tejas will be set up at the air base for which work has already begun, said sources.

The air force station is also gearing up for the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind next year. The President’s Standard will be presented to Air Force Station Hakimpet based in Hyderabad and 5 BRD (No 5 Base Repair Depot) based at the Air Force Station, Sulur, for their meritorious services.


L&T opposes plan to give submarine project to Mazagon Dock

With the government considering a proposal to move a Rs 60,000-crore project to build submarines to the public sector on a nomination basis, India’s top shipbuilder Larsen and Toubro has sought the Niti Aayog’s intervention, asking that it be reserved for the private industry as per the original plans.

The mega 'Make in India' project — named P75I — is for the construction of six conventional submarines with advanced abilities to stay underwater for extended periods with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). The project was picked up as the biggest under an ambitious strategic partnership policy in 2016 to promote private sector involvement in defence.

However, there have been recent moves by the Navy to nominate the government-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDSL) for the project, based on the argument that it’s the only shipyard in the country that has experience in constructing a conventional submarine. The matter is expected to be taken up at a defence acquisition meeting shortly.

An alarmed L&T has shot off a representation to the Niti Aayog for intervention.

The letter, which ET has seen, asks that the project be kept reserved for the private sector as the industry is “best prepared for this segment” under the strategic partnership model. Pointing to its successes on the nuclear submarine programme, the company made the point that it has considerable expertise to take on the project.

L&T is India’s most experienced submarine builder in the private sector that has worked extensively on the nuclear submarine project as well. The project would not only create thousands of highly skilled jobs but also augment falling force levels of the submarine arm of the Navy, L&T said.

The letter also raised the issue of a level playing field between the private sector and defence ministry owned shipyards.


Sources said the Niti Aayog is considering the matter in detail. It is also taking up the larger issue of stopping the blind nomination of government-owned entities for defence contracts and batting for a more competitive process that involves private industry.

Industry experts point out that on an average, government-owned defence units undertake less than 15% of real value addition on projects they are awarded, with the rest being imports. For this, they charge a profit of over 17%. In contrast, Indian private sector programmes have demonstrated up to 65% value addition on defence systems, which has even gone up to 85% in some cases.

Officials said that the Navy’s drift towards MDSL is due to a growing concern that the submarine fleet is dipping and needs replacements at the earliest. With MDSL already constructing the Scorpene class of submarines with the French Naval Group, the argument is that the yard is best suited to take on a new project with its trained manpower and existing infrastructure. The shipyard has also made representations to the government that it will shortly be out of orders after the Scorpene submarine are put to sea by 2020 and that it needs continued work to retain manpower.


In 2016, the defence ministry announced that it will prioritise high-value contracts — ranging from ammunition for the army, submarines for the navy and aircraft for the air force — under the strategic partnership (SP) model that will select private companies for long-term manufacturing projects.

The much-talked-about SP model is however yet to fully take off, with the ministry trying to firm up the modalities to select companies and award contracts. Foreign vendors have been sent a request for information for the submarine project, with responses coming from Russia, France, Germany and Sweden. However, formal tenders have not been issued yet, nor has the process to identify Indian companies for the project begun.


June 19, 2018

India, Russia weigh rupee-rouble trade for defence deals

Efforts to break the logjam over Russian defence deals because of US sanctions have zeroed in on a rupee-rouble transfer as the only way out but both sides are finding it difficult to find banking institutions through which such payments can be routed.

Financial sanctions by the US have hit India’s arms trade with Russia hard, with payments for weapons and equipment worth over $2 billion getting stuck, including those for critical projects such as the repair of leased nuclear attack submarine INS Chakra.

Senior officials told ET that after several rounds of consultations, it has become evident that a rupee-rouble transfer-–pegged on the exchange rate of an international currency—is the solution. As of now, India signs defence contracts with Russia for which payments are made in US dollars.

With US sanctions making this impossible, contract payments have been frozen since April. A top official said that a foreign currency-—say the Singapore dollar-—could be used as the benchmark and contract payments would be conducted directly.

Breaking logjam ::

However, the two nations are still struggling to find banks that would run the risk of facing US sanctions for transferring the money. Sources said that on the Indian side, the banks being talked to include Vijaya Bank and Indian Bank.

On the Russian side, its largest banking entity in India, Sberbank, was involved in talks. However, the Russian bank has not given any commitment on making the payments. A decision is still to be taken but the idea is to involve banks with the least exposure to American sanctions.

Other options that were looked at included payments to non-sanctioned entities in Russia after its flagship arms trading company Rosoboronexport came under sanctions by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

“This option was decided against as it would have opened up a lot of legal and audit issues, especially as defence deals are looked at very closely. No one wanted to take a chance,” a top official involved in talks to resolve the issue told ET.

US sanctions ban business ties with entities designated as Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). After fresh notifications in April named Rosoboronexport, Indian banks were pressured into freezing all lines of credit (LoCs) to Russian arms companies, resulting in all deals coming to a halt.

Payments worth over $100 million were blocked in less than a month with payments of over $2 billion facing uncertainty. This includes a payment of over $15 million to Russia that would have been used to repair the damaged INS Chakra nuclear submarine that met with an accident in late 2016.

Also impacted are ongoing submarine repairs besides purchases of missiles and ammunition. The signing of a $5-billion deal to purchase the S400 air defence system from Russia is also under a cloud.

The US has imposed sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and its actions in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.


Battle ready: Dhanush artillery gun clears final trials

The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army. Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.

“This was the third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formation from May 31 to June 7, 2018 at the Pokhran field firing range. A total of 301 rounds were fired from the six guns, including burst fire,” said Dr. Uddipan Mukherjee, public relations officer of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), in response to a questionnaire from this newspaper.

The first phase of trials were conducted between July and September 2016 at the Pokhran and Babina ranges and the second phase was conducted between October and December 2016 at the Siachen base camp with three guns. A total of 1,520 rounds have been fired in all the three phases.

Tested in all terrains ::

During the trials, the guns travelled extensively in towed/ self-propelled mode in desert and high-altitude terrains with each gun clocking over 1,000 km demonstrating their mobility.

Dr. Mukherjee said the next step was completion of general staff (GS) evaluation after which Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) will be accorded. The OFB already has an indent from the Army for 114 guns and will start supplying the guns on receipt of the BPC. “The OFB has already supplied six guns for battery firing during the user trials. Another 12 guns will be issued within a year on receipt of the BPC,” he stated.

The entire order of 114 guns is to be delivered within four years. To meet the requirement, the Board has undertaken capacity augmentation to manufacture over 400 barrels and 250 ordnances for large-calibre weapon systems, Dr. Mukherjee said, adding that the OFB was confident of producing eight to 10 guns per month within two to three years. As of now, the gun has over 80% indigenous content. The imported systems include the power pack, parts of the electronic suite, and some seals and bearings.


June 18, 2018

The UN’s Kashmir report is weirdly silent on Pakistan’s dreaded terrorist groups

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal are members of the UN Human Rights Council. India, with a brilliant record of upholding human rights, has no representation.

In a first, in its 49-page report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has focused on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
But, ironically, the report refers to Jammu and Kashmir as “consisting of the Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Ladakh regions and ‘Pakistan-Administered Kashmir’ (Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan)”.
Taking objection to the UN using terms such as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit-Baltistan” for PoK, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has rubbished the report saying “the incorrect description of Indian territory in the report is mischievous, misleading and unacceptable. There are no entities such as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’”.
The report appears to have gone far beyond its mandate by referring to India’s internal security concerns and anti-terrorism initiatives as being part of human rights violations. Not only are such references factually incorrect but they are highly inappropriate to be used by an official body of the UN, which is duty-bound to respect the sovereign rights and obligations of the largest democracy of the world.
There is a democratically elected government in Jammu and Kashmir, and New Delhi is committed to uphold the rule of law. The state and central government have taken serious view of the collateral damage and intrusions to civilians’ rights and freedom arising out of army action against terrorist outfits and acts of terrorism and violence sponsored from across the border.
The report is weirdly silent on dreaded terrorist outfits operating from Pakistani soil, fully supported, aided and abated by the ISI and Pakistan army. It is also silent on the inhuman excesses committed on the people of Gilgit, Baltistan and Balochistan, the genocide of freedom fighters in Balochistan and Sind, the mass graves of women and children in these areas, the forcible abduction of leaders who question the army excesses and the illegal occupation of areas by Islamabad.

Far from reporting the truth, the report ironically mentions the “killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani by the Indian army” and the resultant violent protests. The worst and unacceptable suggestion is the demand for an international enquiry into the army action and use of pellet guns in quelling violent protests.
Except for a brief reference to the “misuse of anti-terror legislation to persecute peaceful activists and quash dissent” by Islamabad, the UN report finds nothing amiss in a country that has scant respect for democracy and whose army was actually hiding Osama bin Laden at its headquarters.
In a rare use of strong words of condemnation of a UN report, the MEA has not only rejected the findings and suggestions of the report but has also raised a very pertinent point regarding an important constituent of the UN. The statement from the MEA says: “We are deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution.”

The UN Human Rights Commissioner is expected to be a person of eminence, highly knowledgeable on international affairs, and free from prejudice. It is nobody’s argument that the present incumbent Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan is unsuited for the post. But the OHCHR reports are supposed to be taken seriously by the world community because they are records with far-reaching consequences in resolving international disputes.
The least that the OHCHR could have done is to take stock of the ground reality and be judicious in its approach towards a problem that should jolt the international community that loves peace and progress.
Ironically, the earlier commissioner, a person of Tamil origin hailing from South Africa, came under severe criticism for her alleged biased and insensitive references to the dispensation in Colombo while being silent on the human rights violations of a terrorist outfit like LTTE, which had no compunction in using women and children as human shield. Of the 103 resolutions by this council, 56 are reportedly condemning Israel for human rights violation but not one mentions Hamas.
Adopted 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is probably one of those resolutions followed more in violation than compliance. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal are currently members (till 2020) of the UN Human Rights Council. India, with a brilliant record of upholding human rights and following the principle of looking at the world as ‘one family’ (vasudhaiva kutumbakam), has no representation in the council. New Delhi needs to be more pro-active in meeting with and sensitising the council on its viewpoint and ground realities.
Sadly, the OHCHR report has given a contemptible opportunity to India-bashers, a handful of despicable BJP-haters and candle-light brigade in India, who are dancing with glee over this biased lopsided report.
The last fortnight was witness to India’s increasing clout in the international arena – Prime Minister Modi rubbed shoulders with world leaders, he delivered an outstanding keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, India participated in the SCO summit. However, amid these headline-grabbing achievements, New Delhi should not overlook some of the warnings in fine print emanating from our immediate neighbourhood, be it Male, Colombo, Islamabad or Kathmandu.


US team of experts in Delhi to discuss key military agreement

AS PART of preparations for the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US in Washington next month, a team of specialists from the Pentagon will be meeting their counterparts on the Indian side in Delhi from Monday to negotiate the text of a “foundational” military communications agreement.

Official sources told The Indian Express that the US team, which will include lawyers, and policy and technical experts, is scheduled to meet the Indian experts from Monday to Wednesday. They said that the US officials will try and address Indian observations on the draft Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) submitted earlier.

The resumption of talks on COMCASA signals a breakthrough in the Indian stance. After signing a military logistics agreement with the US in 2016, the Indian government was not keen on signing the two other “foundational” agreements — COMCASA and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).

COMCASA essentially provides a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate “interoperability” between Indian and US forces — and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links. It was called the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) before the name was changed to reflect its India-specific nature.

Official sources said they did not expect the finalisation of the COMCASA text or its signing during the inaugural 2+2 dialogue. But an intention to sign the COMCASA in the near future could figure in the joint statement to be issued by both sides in Washington.

American officials contend that COMCASA is meant to facilitate the use of high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on military platforms being sold to India and fully exploit their potential. India’s military, they argue, is currently dependent on commercially available and less secure communication systems on high-end American platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft.But the need for signing COMCASA becomes mandatory if India is to get the armed version of the Sea Guardian drones from Washington. New Delhi has been intimated by the US officials that there is no possibility of India using the high-end drones, which is dependent on a secure data and communication system link, without signing the COMCASA.

Defence ministry officials have held reservations about signing the COMCASA as they fear American intrusive access to Indian military communication systems. They also fear that a large quantity of Russian-origin and indigenous Indian military platforms may not be compatible with COMCASA.

The US had granted India the status of a ‘Major Defence Partner’ in 2016 but no tangible benefits on military technology front have come to New Delhi so far. Issues of defence cooperation between the two countries will figure during the visit of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Washington next month for the 2+2 dialogue.


Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

The Indian government’s penchant for canceling or withdrawing tenders for defense equipment at the last minute is likely to hurt investor confidence in the country, experts said on Sunday.

New Delhi called off a $9 billion deal to co-develop with Russia a next-generation fighter aircraft, after the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said it would do the job in-house, Indian media reported this week.

Under the deal, a significant amount of the research would have been carried out in India. Russia had agreed to tailor the aircraft to Indian needs, and was to hand over all the technology, the Economic Times reported.

India is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment, and imports at least 90 percent of its equipment, including parts for assembly.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house.

But India lacks much of the high-end technology needed for such equipment, which is why deals where foreign partners agree to share technology are useful for its long-term plans, experts say.

When such deals are canceled, “it greatly reduces confidence in India,” said Saurabh Joshi, editor of StratPost Media Pvt Ltd., a defense news website.

“We can’t willy-nilly… accept arguments that a particular equipment can be developed and produced indigenously before such tenders are withdrawn,” he added.

“There should be an adequate test to develop and produce indigenously. Otherwise, we’re simply postponing an acquisition process by 10 to 15 years, and it’s the armed forces that have to go without critical equipment until then.”

Experts say one reason for the government canceling orders could be a lack of funds. The Russian deal is not the only one to be jettisoned recently.

New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company. The reason given for the cancellation was the same: To develop the missiles indigenously.

A tender was also withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner, experts said.

On average, it takes a tender at least six years to go through the various steps before the final purchase order can be placed.

Any company that loses a bid has to account for that time and investment to its head office and its board, Joshi said.


US Arm Twists India to Buy Patriot-3 Systems And Not Russians S-400

 Late last year, the Iran-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a Burqan-2 missile (a Scud variant) aimed at the international airport in Riyadh some 600 miles to the northeast. The missile got to its target alright but due to the strains in the metal canister induced by the flight, blew apart with the debris littering parts of the runway and the road outside the airport.

The Saudis, however, claimed that they had fired five Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) interceptor at the intruder and had destroyed the Houthi Burqan.

US President Donald Trump visiting Saudi Arabia not long after that event crowed, “Our system knocked the missile out of the air. That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”

Trump is a loud, less than, credible snake oil salesman at the best of times. As promoter of the PAC-3 he is eminently ignorable, as is any US official urging friendly countries to buy this air defence system whose worldwide publicity is far better than its performance.

Except, and this is a kicker, an analysis by air defence experts of the debris distribution and of the parts of the Burqan system that the Saudis proudly displayed days after the attack, came to the conclusion, as reported in the American press, that the incoming missile had come apart by itself at the end of its trajectory and, more shocking still to Trump Admin officials, the Pentagon, and Raytheon — the maker of the Patriot, that all the five PAC-3 interceptors the Saudis fired had missed the target!

Last month Tina Kaidanow, principal deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau, came to Delhi on a triple-pronged mission — to press Delhi to sign the remaining two “foundational” agreements — COMCASA and BECA as follow up to the LSA; and to prevent India signing up to buy the Russian counterpart of the PAC-3, the S-400, for $5 billion; and to persuade the Modi government to buy instead the American product, PAC-3, that doesn’t work.

While Kaidanow’s visit wasn’t reported by the Indian media, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement that India would go in for the Russian item even if it attracted US sanctions under the 2018 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was.

Apparently, the US State Dept official’s muffled threat of CAATSA did not work, nor did it “engender a willingness” on the part of the Indian government to think about the US PAC-3 system as replacement. And as regards COMCASA and BECA she was told nothing she could be reassured by.

“As a function of trying to move the defense relationship forward — and certainly the defense trade relationship — it is important that those foundational agreements are considered by the Indian government, they are acted on hopefully as expeditiously as possible,” Kaidanow told the Washington defence media. “Of course it is their sovereign right to decide on these things, but our hope is that we have presented to them some good options and some ways forward. Hopefully we can make some progress in that relatively soon.”
 And pertaining to the F-16 and perhaps also the PAC-3, she said “American defense product is great product — it is the best in the world. It’s central that countries really think about when they acquire these things — and particularly when we’re talking about important systems … — that they think about the quality and the interoperability piece and all of the things that we know come with the acquisition of American products.”

Kaidanow is right. Buying military goods from the US comes with lot of attached baggage and just too many do’s and don’t’s, inclusive of the uncertainty attending on the spares supply, which can be stopped at any time on Congressional whim and an Administration’s fancy. And worst of all, the PAC-3 does not work as advertised.

Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi is convinced about the cons outweighing the pros or not, the political scene at home tilting against him suggests his government is unlikely during the remainder of its first term at least to sign any accords, or buy anything big from America, let alone nix the S-400 deal, go in for the PAC-3, and permanently turn Russia into an enemy.


June 16, 2018

An Update on the Indian Navy: Submarine Modernization

On March 29 a chapter of Indian Navy’s flying prowess as part of its aviation arm, took a farewell bow as eight Tu-142MR (Tuploev) planes of the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 312 were decommissioned after proudly serving the Indian Navy for 29 long years. A poignant ceremonial fly past was held at INS Rajali, India’s premiere Naval Air Station in Arakkonam, as Tu-142s made their last flights.

At the expense of repetition, it needs reiteration that submarines form a vital part in the inventory of any large Navy’s three-dimensional ‘Order of Battle’ (ORBAT).

A conventional diesel powered submarine has less visibility in peace, because it is essentially a vehicle for war constantly working up when not in refit or self maintenance period (SMP), and executing arduous ‘war patrols’ fully armed with lethal torpedoes and missiles loaded in congested spaces with long periods under water.

In peace time submarines contribute to intelligence operations, and train the surface fleet and anti submarine planes and helicopters in Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) in exercises called CASEXES.

Nuclear powered submarines with potent missiles and torpedoes have endurance under water and are called SSNs as they are not easy to detect. The nuclear powered and armed with nuclear tipped under water launched long range missiles are vehicles for nuclear deterrence called SSBNs. Submarines with special under water kill torpedoes are also dubbed as Submerged Submarine Killers (SSKs).

India needs all these types in numbers as India has two partnering nuclear nations, Pakistan and China as its neighbors with increasing submarine ORBATs. Submarines pose threats in being. China also has ambitions to base ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in the long term with captive bases.

A submariner’s motto, is to ‘run deep and run silent’, and the underwater service is dubbed as the ‘silent service’. Submarines are referred to as manmade stealthy ‘sea-monsters’, requiring quality and well trained manpower, and the Indian Navy’s submarines are based on both coasts with a submarine training school INS Satavahna at Vishakapatnam and a new submarine base Varsha is coming up South of it on the East coast near Rombili.

This will decongest Vishakapatnam where nuclear submarines are based and constructed at the Ship Building Centre(SBC) in the Eastern Naval Command.

The Indian Navy’s submarine strength had risen to a healthy twenty modern boats in early 1990s with seven Foxtrots, nine new Kilos, two new Shishumars and nuclear powered INS Chakra which was completing its four year lease (1987-91) from the Soviet Union with highly trained crews.

But steadily the ORBAT has been falling with no orders till 2006, and is now down to fourteen conventional and two nuclear submarines which include the nuclear Akula INS Chakra on lease since 2012 from Russia and the nuclear powered home- made INS Arihant with 750-km K-15/B -05 nuclear tipped missiles.

The second of three home-made larger nuclear submarine Arighat with an additional plug to accommodate longer ranged 2000km K-4 underwater launched nuclear missiles is in advanced stage of construction, and Russian media reports another Akula is likely to be transferred on lease.

The current Navy’s detailed ORBAT stands at the aging nine imported Russian 2,400 ton Kilos with Klub missiles and CET-65 torpedoes. Unfortunately, INS Sindhurakshak was lost on 14th August 2013 with eighteen lives in an internal explosion in the Naval Dockyard Mumbai while she was preparing for a War Patrol.

The Indian Navy does not have long refit facilities for its 877 EKM Kilos and has to send them to Russia for the two year long refits where a submarine is stripped and upgraded at high cost.

INS Sindhukesari arrived at the Zvezdochka Shipyard in Severodvinsk near where INS Vikramaditya was refitted in mid June this year aboard the dock ship Rolldock Star, and it is reported INS Sindhuraj is slated for refit later. INS Sindhukriti was refitted and upgraded with Klub missiles at the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) but the refit took a decade as support in India and expertise was lacking. The exercise to refit 877EKM Kilos in India was given up.

The Navy’s ORBAT also includes four 1,800-tonne SUT-B torpedo firing HDW-1500 Shishumars, of which two were imported from Germany and two INS Shalki (S-46) and Shankul(S-47) were built in India at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDSL) Mumbai in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and are being fitted out with Harpoon missiles.

The first of six 2,000-tonne Scorpene submarine INS Kalvari built by MDSL and DCNS was commissioned on December 14, 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is fitted with the SUBTICs command and control and SM-39 Exocet missiles but it’s torpedo has not been selected. The Shishumar’s SUT-B torpedo was used in the trials.

However, it is of concern that eleven of the current fourteen conventional boats are over twenty-five years old. Their quality for war patrols has perforce begun to deteriorate, and nearly a third remain in refit or SMP.

In recent times Navies are fitting out plugs of autonomous Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems or Sterling Engines, to remain under water with internal breathing for longer durations to avoid coming up to charge batteries and evade detection.

Indian Navy plans to enter the AIP regime with its next set of submarines called Project 75 (India) for which and an RFI for six submarines has been issued and replies are expected by October 16. DRDO’s Naval Metallurgical Research Laboratory (NMRL) at Ambarnath near Mumbai and Larsen and Toubro (L&T) are currently holding trials for an AIP system named Marin with foreign help as AIP is inescapable for modern submarines.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved eight SSNs to be built in India under a strategic partnership but progress for even the RFI has been slow, though it is reported design work is in progress by Navy-DRDO and L&T in a facility near Gurgaon.

This then is a current submarine status report and there is a genuine lament that the Indian Navy’s submarine strength is at its lowest numbers and the reasons for the decline is because India’s inherent security postures since Independence have been reactive to threats, and not properly planned, and funds remain constrained, as there is no combined tri service appreciation of needs.

Government has set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) with the three Chiefs under National Security Adviser (NSA) Mr AK Doval to follow up.

Some essential acquisitions in the past have also been cancelled due to corruption charges, and India’s submarine plans have been the victims of these policies. The Government approved a 30-year two line twenty-four submarines plan as early as 1999 but it could only order one line of the six Scorpene submarines in 2006 called Project 75, with option for six more.

Fortunately, Indian Navy realised the need for nuclear powered submarines in the 1980s as inescapable vessels as they can remain underwater as long as supplies allow.

DRDO set up the Project Advanced Technological Vessel (ATV) now called Aakanshka under naval command, which has delivered INS Arihant as a Made in India submarine for nuclear deterrence in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) which was provided a full shed on lease at SBC.

Navy also set up a Very Low Frequency (VLF) communication facility in South India INS Kattaboman for communications with SSNs and SSBNs which carry the French Neriedes under water antennae, whose role is deterrence and indicates the importance of nuclear submarines in a nation’s ORBAT especially for a nation like India which has two nuclear neighbours Pakistan and China.

The PLA (Navy) has over ten nuclear submarines with long range missiles and is set to supply Pakistan with conventional and nuclear propelled submarines to be based at Ormara in the future.

The Pakistan Navy has operated three French Agosta-90B/Khalid and two Agosta-70 submarines built and modernized at Karachi, and refitted in Turkey. Pakistan Navy’s (PN) is set to acquire 6/8 double-hulled 6,000- ton Type Diesel S-041 and S-039 Yuan Hybrid AIP submarines. Construction of the boats has begun near Shanghai and the first is expected by 2020 at Ormara at PNS Jinnah where joint work has started with China as it has a naturally protected bay and inlet.

Ormara is 120 nm from commercial Gwadar, the other port China operates.

Co-operating with the United States and QUAD partners in ASW in the Indian Ocean will help enhance India’s ASW capacity as the Indian Ocean is witnessing China’s increasing activity and ambition in the region.

Submarines can shape the region’s security environment for deterrence and the Indian Navy faces a significant under water threat in the years to come but it is hoped with the speeding up of deliveries of the five Project 75 Scorpene submarines at one a year, and SSBN Arighat and another Akula joining, the Indian Navy’s silent service will look up.


June 15, 2018

Army may launch summer trials for towed guns

The Army, which has been looking for an Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), is likely to take a decision soon on whether to conduct summer trials on the ATAGS offered by the Kalyani group, sources close to the development said Thursday.

The Pune-based Kalyani group, whose flagship is Bharat Forge, had developed the ATAGS in association with the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), which is a part of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

According to the sources, the Army had completed the “winter trials” on the ATAGS earlier this year.

“The army prefers to conduct both winter and summer trials on new weapons systems, to ensure that they function as per the army’s specifications. The summer trials are likely to be held in Rajasthan,” the source said.

Apart from Bharat Forge, the DRDO also has a partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division).

“The tests have to be sought by the client, the Indian Army, or by the DRDO. The Indian Army will place orders only after the ATAGS pass the trials. The biggest challenge for the ATAGS is the stability and consistency of the gun barrels and breeches, which require precision engineering and the ability to fire consistently without melting or the barrel bending out of shape because of the heat generated in the barrel,” the sources said. More importantly, the sources, another area that was intensively scrutinized by the army, through tests, was the recoil of the ATAGS.

Besides the ATAGS, the Indian Army was also looking to buy another gun called the Bharat 52, a 155mm, 52-calibre gun similar to the ATAGS. The army had tested the Bharat 52 in Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh.

The Indian Army has been scouting for an ATAGS because the last major supplier of towed guns had been Bofors, back in 1986, when India purchased 410 guns from the Swedish arms supplier. The purchase later turned controversial with claims that Bofors had paid bribes to senior government figures to win the contract. The Bofors contract cost former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi a second term in 1989.

If the trials are successful, the government is likely tin instruct the Indian Army to procure up to 40 ATAGS to begin with. The procurement of the ATAGS is expected to cost the government well over Rs. 900 crore.

“ATAGS are a critical component of the Indian Army, which has not procured any new towed guns in over 32 years. I think the two Indian companies, Bharat Forge and the Tata group company, will probably be the first recipients of the contract for the purchase of ATAGS,” the sources said.


Corporate war stalls Indian Navy’s Rs 20,000 crore project

The Anil Ambani-led Reliance Naval & Engineering Ltd (RNEL) has filed a complaint with the defence ministry against a senior naval officer, alleging that he has been favouring its competitor, Larsen & Toubro, in a contract because his son is employed there. The complaint, on which an internal inquiry is now on, has stalled a Rs 20,000-crore ‘Make in India’ naval warship deal. The allegations include ‘favouritism and supplying of insider information’.

The contract to make four amphibious warships in India has been hanging fire since last year when L&T and RNEL were shortlisted by the defence ministry.

ET has learnt the RNEL complaint specifically states that the son of the top Navy officer works with L&T’s defence division.

The officer concerned, a vice-admiral, has also sent across his views on the matter after the defence ministry began a probe, officials told ET. In response to queries by ET, a spokesman for RNEL said: “Yes, we have filed an official complaint in the matter.” He declined to go into details.

When contacted, L&T officials denied the allegations. “Our company does not engage in such acts and the organisation’s ethos does not permit engaging in anything against our value system,” said a top L&T official. The Navy did not offer any comment.

The two companies have been fighting a bitter battle for the mega contract that can turn around the fortunes of the victorious shipyard.

The landing platform docks (LPDs), used to transport troops and equipment such as tanks and attack helicopters across sea, would be the largest warship to be built in an Indian private sector shipyard.

While RNEL had tied up with the French Naval Group for the contract, L&T’s technology partner is Spain’s Navantia Group. All four ships are to be built at an Indian yard with the help of a foreign partner who will chip in with design and technology.

The companies were shortlisted in 2017, but the next step in the procurement process — opening of commercial bids and determining the winner — has now been stalled.

Earlier, the selection process rejected a bid by ABG Shipyard, which is facing bankruptcy proceedings.

Concerns have been expressed recently after the report of an internal auditor raised doubts on RNEL’s ability to “continue as a going concern” due to current liabilities and loans being called back by lenders.

Meanwhile, a May 31 news report by PTI said independent auditors had raised doubts on L&T’s shipbuilding arm continuing as a ‘going concern’ due to liabilities after multiple years of losses.

“The company’s current liabilities exceeds its current assets as at the balance sheet date. These conditions indicate the existence of material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sharp & Tannan, the auditors, said in the FY17 balance sheet.

The Indian warship-building sector has suffered considerable strain over the past five years with few orders trickling to the private sector.

Almost all major contracts have gone to public sector shipyards that are currently saddled with orders beyond their building capacity.


June 14, 2018

US approves sale of Stinger missiles to India: Lightweight fire-and-forget weapon system a combat-proven technology

The US state department has approved the direct sale of powerful stinger missiles to India, along with six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles. Pentagon's defence security cooperation agency notified US Congress about the state department's decision. The sale is expected to pass through if no lawmaker opposes the notification, PTI reported on Wednesday.

However, the sale of Stinger Block I-92H missiles, if it takes place, will bolster Indian Army's short-range air defense network massively. The weapon prototype is widely popular among most US allies and NATO nations due to its compact size, mobility and multi-purpose usability as a air-to-air and surface-to-air strike weapon.

What is a Stinger missile?

Stinger missile is a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS), a shoulder-mounted weapon that can be used to shoot down helicopters UAVs, cruise missiles, and fixed-wing aircraft, both from land and sea. Besides this, it can be easily adapted to include air-to-air strike capacity that can be integrated into most rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, a report in the Economic Times said.

What increases its popularity is its portability; the light to carry and easy to operate Stinger missiles can be shoulder-fired by a single operator. In addition to this, the missile is quite accurate as it uses an infrared seeker to detect the heat being emitted from an aircraft engine's exhaust, and can hit nearly anything flying below 11,000 feet. According to The Diplomat, one variant of the missile also features an ultraviolet seeker that can distinguish between flares and jet engines.

According to Raytheon Missile Systems Company, which is the principal manufacturer of the missiles in the US, the weapon is deployed in more than 18 nations and with all four US military services. "Stinger is an immediate-response weapon of choice against a wide range of air threats, protecting both fixed sites and manoeuvre forces,” said Jack Elliot, Raytheon's Stinger programme director.

The combination of supersonic speed, agility and a highly accurate guidance and control system gives Stinger the operational edge against cruise missiles and all classes of aircraft. It's a lightweight, self-contained air defense system that can be rapidly deployed by ground troops and on military platforms. The missile is also used on Apache helicopters for air-to-air engagements, a company press release said.

In fact, Raytheon has entered an agreement with home-grown Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) to manufacture the missile's components in India, the Economic Times report quoted earlier said.

Stinger, a combat-proven technology ::

The Stinger missile weapon system has been used in combat in a number of major conflicts including the Afghan-Soviet War, the Angolan Civil War, the Yugoslav Wars, the Chechen War and the Falkland War, according to The Diplomat. Raytheon claims that it has shot down more than 270 fixed and rotary wing aircraft. It is also used by the US forces deployed in Afghanistan. Other nations purchasing and using the missile system include, South Korea, Taiwan, Latvia etc.

According to the US-based National Defence Magazine, the stringers had given a particularly tough time to Soviet aircraft in Afghanistan in the 1980s, where it had downed at least 250 aircraft and choppers. It is widely believed to be the major reason that forced the Soviets to withdraw its combat troops from Afghan soil in 1989. According to an article in The Diplomat, Congressman Charlie Wilson told The Washington Post in 1989, "Once the Stinger made their helicopters useless, that put the Russians on foot against the Mujahedin and there’s no one on Earth who can fight the Mujahedin on Foot." Even though, the claim could be termed debatable by several other experts, the Stringer's accuracy and speed remains widely undisputed. Because, notwithstanding the poor training of the Afghan Mujahideen fighters, most of the launches were reportedly successful. Besides this, Raytheon claims it maintains an over 90 percent success rate in reliability and training tests against advanced threat targets.


India Looks to Sikorsky MH-60R for Counter-Submarine Capability

Even as India launches stealth frigates and guided missile destroyers from its shipyards to patrol the Indian Ocean, the country has precious few modern helicopters equipped with sensors and weapons capable of detecting Chinese submarines patrolling its waters.
In this year's annual cooperative naval exercise called Malabar, the Indian navy will operate alongside and be exposed to modern U.S. and Japanese rotorcraft equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The exercise began June 7 and will run until June 16 in the Philippine Sea.
Chinese forces will be watching the exercise closely. One of the key elements of this year’s Malabar is the joint anti-submarine warfare (ASW) work-up, a growing concern for India as it faces potent submarines of the Chinese navy that regularly deploy in the Indian Ocean region.
Indian and U.S. Navy officials recently met at the highest levels, with Adm. Sunil Lanba, chairman of the Indian Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Naval Staff visiting the U.S. mid-March. A visit or two to the U.S. is part of every Indian naval chief’s tour of duty. However, coming in the run-up to Malabar, the visit timing was noteworthy for both countries.
Indian shipyards continue to roll out stealth frigates and guided missile destroyers with no helicopters to fill their hangars. Having commanded ships like the SNF-class destroyers, he is in a position to recognize his navy’s blunted anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.
In June 2017, after almost a decade of discussions, the direct commercial sale of 16 multi-role helicopters was withdrawn because the Indian Navy and Sikorsky — now owned by Lockheed Martin — couldn’t reach an agreement on price. Winds of "Make in India" and strategic partnership have swept ambitious plans for a naval multi-role helicopter and naval utility helicopter back into dusty files at the ministry of defense.
Even as the Indian navy’s integral ASW helicopter fleet shrinks, China continues to flex its undersea muscles in and around the Indian Ocean. News reports indicate Chinese forces shadowed the naval flotilla headed to Guam as it sailed through the South China Sea — a regular practice in waters to which China stakes a claim.
U.S. and Japanese helicopters will be on display again at Malabar, but while Indian naval pilots will get to see them in action, there is no active program that could introduce such advanced technologies to the Indian navy.
Officers who did not want to be named admitted that India’s naval integral ASW capability is at an all-time low. From past experience, the slight chance of present processes to deliver helicopters through the direct commercial sales (DCS) route within an acceptable timeframe is not lost on anybody at the ministry of defense (MOD).
During his visit to the U.S., Adm. Lanba was shown the Sikorsky MH-60R “Romeo” model Seahawk, which was on offer by Lockheed Martin as the Indian navy’s new multi-role helicopter. Sikorsky, before being bought by Lockheed, offered the S-70B Seahawk for the same program.
Because the Romeo offer was through a foreign military sale (FMS), the Indian MOD found it incompatible with the DCS case, and the Romeo was benched. Seven years down the road, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have merged. Though Sikorsky lost the S-70B deal, it looks like the MH-60R is back in play.
Few Indian helicopters have been successfully introduced through the DCS route. Most operational Indian navy rotorcraft were bought through the government-to-government route.
The Kamov-31 airborne early warning helicopters came with the Russian "Krivak" class stealth frigates. Six Sikorsky UH-3H utility helicopters came with INS Jalashwa, the former USS Trenton. The weapons for Indian Navy’s P-8Is that fly over Guam today came through a FMS contract. The sale of aircraft was through a DCS contract sealed with Boeing on Jan. 1, 2009.
During Malabar 2018, U.S. MH-60Rs will strut their stuff while the Indian navy stands-by with Chetaks, based on the 1960s-era French AĆ©rospatiale Alouette III for search and rescue.
The Indian military services and MOD have scored several self-goals by writing detailed procurement manuals and procedures that hang around their necks like millstones.
The navy would do well to have a close look at the Romeo’s performance this Malabar. Extrapolation of sensor performance in the Pacific to the tropical waters of Indian Ocean will not be flawless. But this is a fact the navy knows well from the 2011 field evaluation trials of the MRH, which included a demonstration on a U.S. Navy MH-60R at Patuxent River, Maryland.
Past and present Indian navy helicopter pilots who have stared at the bottom of the barrel for far too long hope the replacements come soon, whatever the make or route.
The incumbent government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a mandate to make tough decisions even though an election is looming. Recent reports indicate a sizeable number of Chetak/Cheetah likely will be replaced by Ka-226 helicopters from Russia. The Indian navy has not been a beneficiary of this program either, though the platform is meant for utility role.