September 29, 2018

US-made rifle, UAE carbine to equip Indian Army soldiers

With a Russian AK-103 factory in the pipeline, India's rifle acquisitions could match its diplomatic priorities.


  • Indian army plans to spend Rs 3,500 cr on rifle acquisition
  • Army has cited urgent operational requirements for procurement of weapons
  • An official said the rifle procurement is a top priority for the infantry
A US-made battle rifle and a UAE-made carbine have emerged as the lowest bidders for the Indian Army's requirement for equipping its soldiers with a new rifle. The US arm-maker SIG Sauer's SiG 716 finished with the 'L1' or lowest quote for the army's fast track procurement of 72,000 new automatic rifles.
The UAE arms firm Caracal's CAR 816 close-quarter carbine finished 'L1' in a separate bid for 94,000 carbines, when price bids were opened this week.
The SIG weapon chambered for the 7.62x51 mm round beat two contenders, a Caracal battle rifle and a rifle from Israeli Weapons Industries. Caracal's 816 carbine chambered for the 5.56x45 round, priced out a competitor fielded by Thales-Australia.
The army plans to spend Rs 3,500 crore on these rifle acquisitions for which it had issued RFPs on 17 global arms manufacturers in February this year. It has cited urgent operational requirements for the procurement of these weapons. A senior army official called the rifle and carbine procurements a "top priority" for the infantry.
Contract negotiations with the vendor are expected to last over three months before a deal can be signed. The rifle makers have to deliver all their weapons within a year.
Significantly, these will be India's first major purchases of a US-made rifle. Apart from small consignments of M16 rifles for the SFF in the 1960s and M4s for the Special Forces over a decade ago, the Indian army has used European rifles, the FN-FAL, AK-47 type weapons and the indigenous INSAS rifles.
The new carbine will replace the 9 mm Sterling carbines which are being gradually phased out. The new battle rifle which chambers the heavier 7.62x51 round will replace the indigenous INSAS assault rifles which are to be retired soon.
The bulk of the Indian army will, however, be equipped with a new assault rifle chambered for the 7.62x39 round, the same as used by the AK-47 assault rifle. A Request for Information or RFI, the first stage in a lengthy procurement process was floated by the defence ministry last month.
SIG Sauer, a firm with origins in a Swiss-German weapons consortium, is headquartered in New Hampshire, USA. Carbine-maker Caracal is based in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Both countries are top diplomatic priorities for the Modi led government. These two FTP procurements are to be followed by a government-to-government deal with another diplomatic priority for the Modi government-Russia.
India plans to license-produce the AK-103 assault rifle in one of three Indian ordnance factories which have the capability to build assault rifle.
The AK-103 is a more modern variant of the iconic Russian assault rifle. Talks for the production line were initiated by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Moscow in April this year. The Russian rifle is expected to meet the requirement for the 650,000 assault rifles for which RFIs were floated recently.
Both the SiG and the Caracal carbine are based on the AR-15 rifle designed by legendary US designer Eugene Stoner in the 1950s. If acquired, it will be the first large-scale induction of short-stroke piston-based rifles.
The piston is a feature of gas-operated automatic rifles that use gases generated by a fired cartridge to fire other bullets. (The army's Para-Special Forces units use a small number of US-made M-4 rifles using a similar firing mechanism). The INSAS uses the long-stroke piston used by the AK-47 family of weapons.
The fast track procurements are the closest the Indian army has come to equipping its infantry soldiers with new small arms in over a decade.The process to replace the troubled INSAS rifle began over a decade ago but has muddled along as the army changed specifications for the replacement two times. It first wanted a rifle which could shoot two types of cartridges-an AK-47 bullet and an INSAS bullet -- then scrapped it for a modified INSAS rifle. This requirement too was scrapped in favour of a new 7.62x51 battle rifle which it now seems likely to acquire.


India, Russia may miss signing defence deals worth $8.5 b during Putin’s visit next month

With just a week left before the Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in India for the annual bilateral summit, there is still no clarity on the several high-profile defence deals worth around $8.5 billion that the two countries were expected to sign.

Some of the contracts that Russia has proposed to sign during the summit scheduled for October, 5 include five S-400 Triumph missile systems, four Project 11356 frigates, 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters and 200 Ka-226T helicopters. The inter-governmental agreements for the deals were signed in 2015-16.

However, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is yet to give its clearance, several independent sources close to the negotiations told BusinessLine. “Without CCS approval, no deals can be signed during this visit,” an official who did not wished to be named said.

With Indo-US 2+2 talks held in New Delhi earlier this month and continuing speculations over whether India will get a waiver from the US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) imposing sanctions on countries that engage in defence deals with Russia, chances that these contracts won’t be signed in October are high, sources suggested.

The request for comments sent to the Ministry of Defence and the External Affairs Ministry did not elicit any response.

India may now have one more reason to delay signing the above contracts as the US, last week, imposed sanctions on China for buying Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jets and S-400 systems.

“China’s reaction was clear. We will see what our Indian partners have to say,” the person quoted above said.

China has requested the US to remove the sanctions or “bear the consequences”, while Russia, which is considered to be the main target of the sanctions against China, said imposing sanctions had become sort of “national entertainment” for the US.According to Konstantin Makienko, Deputy-Director of Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), there are multiple reasons for delays in signing of the contracts. The US sanctions as well as issues with payments for ongoing defence contracts are just the tip of the iceberg, he suggested.

“There is an apathy in Indian bureaucracy’s decision-making which is somewhat aggravated by the declarative “Make in India” programme as well as using defence procurement issues in political campaigns by Opposition parties,” Makienko told BusinessLine.

“Another reason (why fresh contracts may not be signed) is that India’s Ministry of Defence just might not have enough financial resources. It has huge obligations for procurement of European defence systems, with only Rafale jets almost “eating up” the annual procurement budget of Indian Airforce for the next 5 years. And secondly, the cost of army manpower has escalated, especially with implementing of One Rank One Pension (OROP) formula,” the expert said.

He added that the volume of Russia’s defence sales and supplies to India has dropped from $4.7 billion in 2013 to just around $2 billion annually in the period from 2014 to 2017.

Payments stuck ::

While new contracts are uncertain, the payments for ongoing defence contracts have been pending since January, industry sources said, with no solution yet been practically implemented.

As BusinessLine reported earlier, Indian banks stopped processing payments worth billions of dollars, citing high risks due to US sanctions against Russia.“The problem was very serious in the first half of this year. The issue is not solved till today, but having lost hope in getting any solutions worked out at the government level, many companies have found some or the other ways to transact the payments,” a person working with leading defence supplier told this newspaper.

Rupee-rouble settlement ::

A defence official who did not wish to be quoted said the both countries have agreed to use rupee-rouble settlements instead of US dollars. However, implementing this in practice remains a problem.

“For payments to go through we need to rework all the contracts and recalculate the amounts, this obviously takes time as there are dozens of large contracts and the exchange rates are volatile,” he said.


September 28, 2018

Goa Shipyard to build two frigates with Russian technology

India has completed the price negotiations for the purchase of four advanced Talwar-class stealth frigates from Russia, two of which will be built at Goa Shipyard Limited, with the deal pegged at close to $2 billion, a source close to the developments said.

Defence ministry officials told TOI they expect the two countries to ink the agreement during the 19th Indo-Russian summit between Russian President Vladamir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 5.

"The price negotiations for Project 1135.6 are complete and broadly the price is around $1.75 billion, which includes the technology transfer to Goa Shipyard," a senior level official said.

Warships to have BrahMos missile system ::

While two stealth frigates will be bought directly from Russia's Yantar Shipyard, United Shipbuilding Corporation, which owns the Kaliningrad-based shipyard, has agreed to transfer the technology for the frigates to Goa Shipyard for an undisclosed price.

"The plan is to develop a strategic capability at Goa Shipyard so that another line is opened up in the country to indigenously build such warships. Almost 50% of the equipment will be indigenized. The BrahMos missile system will be integrated on the warship. The aim is to indigenously integrate the combat management system (CMS) which will be a challenge," the source said.

India inked an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia for the four frigates during a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 2016 BRICS Summit in Goa.
 Government official say that if the two nations finalize the deal this October, then construction of the two frigates can commence by 2020 and the first guided missile frigate can be delivered by GSL in 2025.

The curbs imposed by US through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) remains a wrinkle for the deal and India and Russia are still trying to hammer out a solution to bypass the US sanctions. "The payment method has not been finalized and the government at various levels is engaging in discussions," sources said.


Amid Rafale controversy, DRAL workers quietly make plane nose conesTOI

About 3km inside the Mihan-SEZ, a largely desolate area, 'DRAL' reads a signboard outside a fenced plot flanked by expanses of vacant land. DRAL stands for Dassault Reliance Aviation Limited (DRAL), the name linked with the Rafale controversy.

A shed spread over a 10,000 square feet area is the only workplace as of now. It houses the full workforce of around 50 persons engaged by DRAL. There are 8 to 10 personnel deputed from Dassault, the French joint venture partner of Reliance Aerostructure Limited (RAL), who are training the Indian staff.

The unit is initially making nose cones for Falcon, the business jet Dassault manufactures, which also makes the Rafale fighter. No work related to Rafale has begun yet, though the company has an approval to make spares for military planes as well, sources said. A month ago, letters of approval (LoA) had been secured from the ministry of commerce for two more units at the Mihan-SEZ. These include a Reliance-Thales joint venture, and another company — Reliance Components.

Thales is a French multinational, which has plans for a radar systems testing unit in Nagpur. Reliance Components is slated to pick up miscellaneous orders to make aircraft parts, a source said.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Aerostructure Limited (RAL) is under fire these days, for allegedly having been favoured against public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to implement the offset arrangement arising out of government's deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters from Dassault.

Manufacturing under the offset deal, pegged to be worth over Rs 30,000 crore, will take place at the Mihan-SEZ. RAL had been allotted 105 acres here in 2015, before the Rafale deal took place. The area is named Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park. Outsiders are not welcome. “We only allow those who have business with us,” replied a stern voice over the phone at the security booth.RAL has co-developer status, which means it can lease out plots to other entities. DRAL, the joint venture between RAL and Dassault, is the first lessee. It is learnt that a hangar is being built on an area of over 30 acres, where 'core production' will take place. DRAL has over 60 acres under it and once the hangar is built the commercial production of aircraft spares will kick off. As the French team trains the Indian workforce, production of spares has begun. With this, the countdown for DRAL to start earning foreign exchange under SEZ laws has also started.

Commercial operations, which means actual supply to Dassault, may start by next year, said sources involved in the developments. With approvals to make spares and assemblies for military aircraft too, DRAL is in position to make spares for Rafale in the future, if needed, but so far nothing has been announced, said sources. DRAL has five years to start earning foreign exchange, or else the approval will be cancelled.


PM Modi invited to Maldives, may go if transition process is smooth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the next President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, sources told The Indian Express.

Modi, who has not visited Maldives so far — his visit was cancelled in March 2015 due to the volatile political situation — is likely to go if the transition process is smooth, sources said. Maldives is the only SAARC country that Modi has not visited.

But, two days after Solih emerged victorious in the presidential elections, the Maldives Opposition alliance, in a fresh turn of events, said outgoing President Abdulla Yameen was working on ways to remain in power despite having conceded defeat.

According to media reports from Male, Joint Opposition spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof said on Wednesday that government officials claimed Yameen was planning to complain to the Election Commission of Maldives about how the vote was conducted and try to put pressure on it to delay the release of the final results, due on Sunday.

Mahloof said Yameen was also trying to get police officers loyal to him to prepare intelligence reports stating that the election process was flawed.

This came on a day that China said it was hurt over former Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed’s “irresponsible remarks” against Beijing. Nasheed had said that after the defeat of pro-Beijing Yameen, the country would surely rethink the Chinese deals and mend its ties with India. Nasheed also said that it was difficult for an authoritarian state like China to understand a democratic country like the Maldives.

“We are deeply confused and regret these irresponsible remarks made by certain persons. We reiterate that we will continue our cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will abide by the market-based rule,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said when asked about Nasheed’s comments.
“Whether the cooperation between the Maldives and China can work out or bring benefits to the two countries is all up to the people of the two countries, and it cannot be smeared by certain individuals,” he added. However, he said the polls were held “smoothly”, and congratulated President-elect Solih on his election.
 Geng said China respects the choice made by the people of Maldives and hopes that the island nation can “maintain stability and development”.Yameen, who lost to Solih, has been cosying up to China, much to Delhi’s concern. So, Beijing’s statement on Wednesday appears to be a rapprochement towards the next government.
 The results on Monday showed that Solih won with 58 per cent of the votes, getting 1,34,616 votes — the highest a candidate has received in a presidential election in the country. Once he assumes office, he will become the first Maldives President who is not native to the capital city, Male.“We are willing to work with Maldives to continue to cement traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation so as to deliver benefits to our two countries and two peoples,” said Geng.

“As to China’s projects and investment in the Maldives, the Chinese side always encourages Chinese enterprises to invest and start businesses in the Maldives in accordance with the market principles and play a positive role in promoting the Maldives’ socio-economic development. We hope that the Maldives can maintain the consistency and stability of relevant policies and create a sound business environment for Chinese enterprises’ operations there,” he said.

India has been concerned with the hasty manner in which the Yameen government passed the FTA with China.


HAL Lost Rafale Deal as it Quoted '257 Man-hours' For Job Dassault Said Could be Done in 100: Minister

Wading into the Rafale jets controversy, Union Minister Babul Supriyo Thursday indicated that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) lost on the deal because it quoted 2.57 times more man-hours to build fighter jets.

While HAL was to produce 108 fighter jets locally in a joint venture with French firm Dassault Aviation in the deal for 126 Rafale jets that the previous UPA regime had negotiated. The state-owned firm, however, was left out in the deal as the present government signed to buy 36 fighter jets in 'fly-away' condition from France.

Minister of State for Heavy Industries Supriyo, speaking at a conference on public sector enterprises organised by CII here, said HAL quoted "257 man-hours" for a job Dassault said could be done in "100 man-hours".

For the production of Rafale fighter jets, "when Dassault said they needed 100 man hours, HAL said they needed 257, so that is indeed a big factor," he said.

Stating that there may be political controversies over the issue, the minister said his limited point was about economics."I am just saying that we need to definitely look into why something that can be made in 100 hours would require 257 hours. Are we faltering somewhere. Can we bring it down? Can we negotiate on that? These are small areas that need to be looked into," he said.

"So that is the question that all of us need to answer and that is where the government is trying their very best to support and push those public sector enterprises which need that support by the infusion of funds or the right injection at the right time - be it funds or any R&D."

Later speaking to PTI, the minister clarified that his remarks were directed at the PSUs to assess how to match with their private peers in a time of globalisation.

HAL is a Bengaluru-based defence public sector unit and does not come under his department.


September 26, 2018

Rafale Deal Better Than One Negotiated Earlier: Air Force Deputy Chief

Air Force Deputy Chief Air Marshal R. Nambiar on Tuesday asserted that the deal for 36 Rafale aircraft by the PM Modi government was "much better" than the one negotiated earlier for 126 planes, contending that "people are misinformed" about the issue.

The remarks came in the backdrop of a mounting multi-pronged attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government by the Congress, with the party on Monday moving the Central Vigilance Commissioner seeking an FIR and seizure of documents pertaining to the Rafale deal.

Asked about the row over the offset partners chosen by Dassault Aviation, he said: "I believe people are misinformed. There is nothing like Rs. 30,000 crore to any one party. Dassault alone has offsets to the tune of over Rs. 6,500 crore. Nothing more than that.

"We have evaluated all the aircraft available to us in the past," R. Nambiar, who recently flew the Rafale in France, told the media.
All and all it was a very good deal, much better than what was obtained in 2008," the Deputy Chief Air Marshal said.

"We have looked at six platforms and Rafale has met all our requirements. It has been found the most technically capable as well as commercially viable from our point of view. That is how it has been selected."

Asked about a French media report that there was a push by the Indian government to include Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence in the deal, Nambiar said: "The commercial negotiations were headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff and he was responsible for completing the negotiations."

The official said the negotiations continued for "almost 14 months". "We believe we met all the directions of our leadership -- that was to get a better price, better maintenance terms, better delivery schedule and better performance logistic package."

Asked about his experience of flying the Rafale, he said: "It was an opportunity to... look at... the new capabilities on offer for the Indian Air Force. I think the aircraft is shaping up quite well... quite satisfied with the performance of all the systems on the aircraft."


DAC approves procurement of Rs 2300cr-worth engines for T-72 tanks

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval for the procurement of 1000 engines for fitment in T-72 tanks of the Army under 'Buy and Make' category at an approximate cost of Rs 2300 crore.

Post the transfer of technology, most of these engines will be manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB). The engines will enhance mobility, agility, and acceleration of T-72 tanks making them more versatile and effective in the battlefield.

In an effort to reduce timelines in defence procurements and streamline Defence Procurement Procedures, the DAC, in a meeting on Tuesday, also discussed and approved several amendments to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) -16, the manual governing the defence procurements.

The changes include limiting the time period for executing Repeat Order to five years after the date of completion of warranty of final delivery in the previous contract. Repeat Order provisions have also been extended to procurements by other services like the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

The amendments also include permissions to commence with benchmarking of cost for equipment immediately on receipt of the trial report in the Service headquarter, legislating provisions for Exchange Rate Variations when pursuing procurement with an 'Option Clause', providing clarity on guidelines for easing the provisions for imposition of LD Clause in upgradation or alteration cases, automatic incorporation of applicability of the latest legislation or changes or amendment of any act or law, rules or regulations.

The DAC also accorded approval for doing away with Bank Guarantee for Essential Parameters 'B' if the same are trial evaluated during the field evaluations trials. A direction was also given to include the names of Independent Monitors (IMs) in the RFP for defence capital acquisitions.


Unfazed by Rafale fire, France offers fighter for Navy

Undeterred by the controversy over the Rafale deal, France is pitching the fighter jet as a contender for the Indian Navy’s requirement of carrier-borne combat aircraft, with a top officer saying that it’s battle proven.

Pointing to operations against ISIS using the Rafale, the French Navy feels it will be suitable for India and can be easily integrated onboard the aircraft carrier under construction at Cochin Shipyard. “We have used the aircraft carrier in the fight against ISIS and have used sophisticated armaments from the Rafale that demonstrates that it works very well,” Rear Admiral Gilles Boidevezi, in charge of foreign relations for the French Navy, told ET.

“The Rafale can be integrated with non-French carriers.” Industry sources said several rounds of talks had taken place with Indian Navy regarding the Rafale offer for a requirement of 57 jets and that it hadn’t been impacted by the political controversy over the earlier deal for 36 planes. In fact, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to be in Paris from October 11 for a bilateral meeting, during which she is expected to be briefed on all ongoing projects, including Scorpene submarines and progress on Rafale production.


Beyond the 36 jets that the air force has ordered, the French side is confident about its prospects for a deal with the Indian Navy, which is trying to find new jets for the indigenous aircraft carrier under construction in Kochi. While the navy has used Russian MiG 29 K jets till now, it wants to progress to a new aircraft due to several technical problems with the fleet.

The tenders for the contract are expected to be issued shortly but it is likely to be a straight contest between the Boeing-made F/A 18 Super Hornet and the Rafale Marine. The French navy believes that it has demonstrated its ability to operate from foreign carriers. “The Rafale went to the US and was deployed on American aircraft carriers,” said Boidevezi. “The Rafale was perfectly integrated with the US carriers and has shown its capability to work with non-French platforms.”

Both the F/A 18 and Rafale Marine fighter jets have been operating from aircraft carriers but are rigged for catapult launches. This may pose problems for India as the navy uses the skijump system, which involves a runway that curves upward. Sources said that extensive tests and software analysis have been conducted by the French side on the Rafale to show that it can operate with a meaningful load from ski-jump carriers.

This data has also been shared with the Indian Navy that is currently drafting technical requirements for the new fighter competition. Boeing, which makes the Super Hornet, has also shared this data with the Indian Navy.

Once the requirements are firmed up and permissions obtained from the ministry of defence, tenders will be issued. It is still unclear how the Indian side will categorise the purchase — as a direct foreign purchase or with an offset clause that mandates a proportion of the manufacturing will have to be domestic. The MiG 29 Ks were bought fully built from Russia as the relatively small number would have made domestic production too expensive.


September 24, 2018

Boeing urges India to rewrite rules on buying foreign weapons

Boeing has called for India to rewrite its rules on buying foreign weapons as Narendra Modi’s government battles to contain the controversy surrounding India’s €8bn purchase of 36 fighter jets from France’s Dassault.

New Delhi on Saturday rebutted comments by François Hollande, the former French president, that suggested India pushed Dassault to sign a subcontract with the Mumbai-based tycoon Anil Ambani. The government said in a statement: “The government has stated earlier and again reiterates that it had no role in the selection of Reliance Defence [Mr Ambani’s company] as offset partner.”

But Pratyush Kumar, the president of Boeing India, has said India — the world’s biggest arms importer — should revamp its procurement system entirely, arguing the current rules are costly and self-defeating. He has argued that so-called “offset contracts”, which are subcontracts handed to local partners such as Reliance to boost the Indian economy, are not doing what ministers intended.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Kumar said: “The offset programme has not really worked, because of the way it has been administered. We think it needs to be reformed, rethought and reset.”

Offsets are used by 82 countries around the world as a way to force foreign defence companies to invest in their economies when selling weapons made abroad. Once an arms manufacturer secures a purchase from a government, it must then award local subcontracts that will generate economic activity worth a certain percentage of the original deal.

The worldwide market for such contracts is worth around $300bn and is forecast to grow to $425bn by 2021, with 40 per cent of them being signed with US companies.

But defence executives say the system has been especially problematic in India, where a lack of reliable local partners and heavy bureaucracy has made it difficult for companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Textron to fulfil their offset obligations.

According to Boeing, only $2bn worth of offset contracts had actually been certified as complete of a total of about $11.5bn signed across the industry.

Meanwhile, the system has also led to political controversies.

As well as the Rafale case, offsets were also involved in the AgustaWestland controversy in 2014, in which the Italian company was accused of bribing ministers at the top of the Indian government to win a $560m contract to supply luxury helicopters for VIPs. Investigators accused the company of siphoning off money from its offset fund to pay the politicians involved.

The company denied the allegations and an Italian court cleared two former executives of corruption charges earlier this year.

Some analysts say the opaque nature of the Indian contracting process makes it vulnerable to accusations of fraud.

“Part of the problem in India is that foreign companies have to second-guess what the government actually wants from its offset contracts — it isn’t made clear,” said Grant Rogan, chief executive of Blenheim Capital Services, which advises defence companies on offsets.

Mr Kumar said there were four specific problems — finding a reliable enough local partner, going through a two-year registration process for them to qualify as an offset partner, making sure they fulfil the contract and getting it certified as completed by the government.

“There is so much paperwork involved that on occasions the ministry of defence has had to hire special vehicles to carry all the documents,” he said.

Boeing was recently criticised by the national auditor for not fulfilling offset contracts worth $641m, despite having signed them in 2009, as part of a deal to sell eight P-8I aircraft to the Indian navy for $2.2bn. The company says, however, that the contracts have been completed but are awaiting final sign-off from the MoD.

Subrata Saha, the director-general of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, said: “Foreign companies have had issues because of the backlog with the ministry of defence — they should have been assigned their offset credits by now but many are still waiting for the documents to be signed.”

The MoD did not respond to a request to comment, though local reports suggest the government is considering rewriting its rules, for example by setting up a fund in which foreign companies can invest rather than awarding separate contracts.

Mr Kumar said India should look instead to the UK, where foreign defence companies are not obliged to award contracts to local partners, but if they do they are given credit for doing so in future bids.

“We need some more common sense in the whole process,” he said.


IAF Needs 126 Rafale Jets – So How Did Govt Go Ahead With Only 36?

As claims and counterclaims over the financial terms of India’s deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts from France continue relentlessly, the Indian Airforce (IAF) continues to be in desperate need of new fighter jets, as the asymmetric inequalities between the IAF and the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) are set to widen.

For the IAF to attain the combat capability to counter and fight any future war or conflict vis-à-vis the PLAAF, the acquisition of aircrafts like the Rafale will be crucial to expanding its air combat capability.

36 Rafale Jets Not Enough for IAF ::

The IAF has consistently insisted that it needs the Rafale aircrafts to shore up its dwindling depleting squadron numbers. It has projected a need for 42 fighter aircraft squadrons to be ready to fight a two-front war. That threat perception stems from a defence ministry directive. The Rafale with its India-specific enhancements, manoeuvrability, ability to super-cruise (fly at supersonic speed without using afterburners), and large weapons load, outclasses most combat aircraft that the IAF would have to face in the subcontinent.

The biggest mystery is how the government decided to go ahead with the procurement of 36 Rafale jets and not more, given the much larger requirement of the IAF.

The figure of 126 aircraft was arrived at after much analysis to replace older generation Russian jets that were set to retire. The most significant downside of the arrangement made by Prime Minister Modi was its preclusion of any option for a follow-on procurement of any additional Rafales by India at the same price agreed to in principle, since the contract the two countries signed on 23 September 2015 included no provision for any purchases beyond the 36 aircrafts already agreed to, meaning that any desired subsequent buy would have to be renegotiated at a new price.

While capability can’t be measured in numbers on a technology-intensive platform like the Rafale, 36 jets will not fulfil IAF’s requirement.

A Potential Short-Term Alternative ::

After setting aside some plans for maintenance and availability of parts and training requirements, only a few aircrafts will be available operationally. Additionally, given the poor serviceability which plagues the Su-30MKI and the disappointing delivery schedule of the indigenously-built Tejas, the struggle with a significant number of obsolete second and third generation aircrafts like the MIG-21 and 27, it seems intuitive that India needs to consider a broader range of options beyond the acquisition of just 36 Rafales.

The further acquisition of a single type of combat aircraft would have potentially reduced the number of aircraft types and improved affordability by reducing cost of acquisition, operating, integration, and training costs.

Unfortunately, the current political climate rules out this possibility for the IAF which was fairly confident of a follow-on order. The IAF’s original declared requirement for 126 to 200 new fighters to fill out its desired follow-on MMRCA inventory remains exactly the same now, as it was at the start of MMRCA requirement was first enunciated over a decade ago.

One potential short-term alternative is to acquire an additional mix of up-to-date Su-30 MKI and a second batch of Rafales, while accelerating the development of the indigenous Tejas with requisite enablers like air-to-air refuelers (AARs) and AEW&Cs.
The IAF should also prioritise updating existing fourth generation fighters with high-speed standoff weaponry and electronic warfare capabilities, all of which will be key to survivability and expanding capabilities vis-à-vis threats from Chinese combat aircraft and air defence systems.

A Troubled Procurement History for IAF ::

Whatever course of action the IAF and the Indian government may ultimately choose to take in this regard, the stakes have become unprecedentedly high at a time when the IAF sorely needs such a continued recapitalisation effort to get its fighter squadron strength back up to a more reassuring level.

While the Rafale is in the process of scripting a troubled procurement history, it should not obscure the fact that the IAF will soon possess one of the world’s finest multirole strike, air-superiority and reconnaissance aircraft.

The Rafale will fill a crucial gap left by diminishing combat mass, ageing legacy fleets and the late arrival of next-generation aircrafts.


India looks to procure Spike missiles

A deal to procure the Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel through the government-to-government route has been brought before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) for approval. However, some validation trials have to be held before the deal is signed.
“Validation trials of the infrared seeker (IR) are to be held. Once the DAC accords approval, the trials will be performed during the summer,” a defence source said.

Not up to the mark

The deal will feature on the agenda of the DAC which is scheduled to meet early this week. The deal is for 170 launchers, 4,500 missiles and 15 simulators.
Another defence source said the missile did not perform as desired in the previous trials during peak summer temperatures in the desert, and hence the need to validate its performance.
The earlier deal was cancelled in January after protracted negotiations, just ahead of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India. It was decided that the requirement could be met through the indigenous man-portable missile being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Off the shelf

However, as the Army is faced with a huge shortage of anti-tank guided missiles and the indigenous system missed development deadlines, it was decided that a smaller number will be procured off the shelf through the government-to-government route.
The earlier $500-million deal for Spike missiles was accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) by the DAC in 2009 and was approved in October 2014, but contract negotiations dragged on over cost and technology transfer. The deal was for 8,000-plus missiles and 300-plus launchers, along with technology transfer to build them in India.
Spike is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, man-portable missile manufactured by Israel’s Rafael.
In all, nearly 40,000 missiles are required to equip the Army’s 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised regiments.
The indigenous low-weight missile was successfully flight-tested twice by the DRDO from the Ahmednagar test range last week.

 the hindu

September 22, 2018

We chose Reliance Defence, says Dassault after Francois Hollande’s bombshell on Rafale deal

French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation has refuted the claims made by former French President Francois Hollande and said that it was Dassault who selected Anil Dhirubhai Ambani's Reliance Defence and not the Indian government.

On Friday, Hollande revealed that the choice to select Reliance Defence as the offset partner was made by the Indian government and France had no option but to go ahead with it. He said this in an exclusive interview to French journal Mediapart.

The revelation has triggered a major controversy in India with the Opposition mounting pressure on the Modi government. The government has been claiming that it had no role in the agreement between Dassault and Reliance.

Responding to Hollande's revelation, Dassault Aviation has issued a statement that effectively reiterates the Indian government's stand that Reliance Defence was selected by Dassault and not the Indian government.

"This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice," the statement reads.

It clarified that although the Rafale deal was a contract between the Indian and the French governments, it provided for a separate contract in which Dassault Aviation committed to making compensation investments (offsets) in India equivalent to 50 per cent of the value of the purchase.

The French aviation company also said that contracts were signed with companies other than Reliance, as part of the offsets contract under the Rafale deal.

"Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL. Other negotiations are ongoing with hundred-odd other potential partners," the firm said.


September 21, 2018

US Hits China With Sanctions For Buying Russian War Planes, Warns India of Implications

The Donald Trump Administration on Friday warned India that there could be “implications” for going ahead with the purchase of S-400 missile defence system from Russia, saying that it has the potential to trigger Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The warning came soon after the United States slapped punishing financial sanctions on a Chinese military unit for its purchase of the S-400 surface-to-air missile as well as the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets.

This was the first time the Trump administration targeted a third country with its CAATSA sanctions, designed to punish Russia for its seizure of Crimea and other activities.

The US State Department said it was applying the 2017 legislation against the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defence. At the same time, the State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist under the CAATSA rules.

"The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia," a senior administration official told journalists, insisting on anonymity.

"CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities."

However, the sanctions would mean that all property and interests in property within the US jurisdiction of the EDD and Shangfu have been blocked and the US citizens are barred from transacting with them, the official said."We want to stress that the legislative standard here is a significant transaction with an entity that appears on the List of Specified Persons. We took these actions because China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017, after the CAATSA statute came into force. It also took delivery of a batch of S-400 sometimes known as SA-21 surface-to-air missile systems or related equipment in January of this year," the official said.

Both these Chinese transactions from Russia, he said, occurred after the CAATSA sanctions statute came into force. The deal was negotiated between the Equipment Development Department and Rosoboronexport, which is Russia's main arms export entity, he added.

He declined to give a specific answer a question whether the US would be taking similar action against countries like India or Turkey that buy or are looking to buy the S-400 missile defense system.

"As to other potential recipients of the S-400, we haven't made any determinations yet with respect to what to do about those, but you can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be," the official said.

The defence deal with Russia had been a major sticking point during the recent 2+2 dialogue held between India and US recently in Delhi, with Washington signaling that it could give India a waiver considering its old relations with Russia. However, Friday’s sanctions suggest that it has changed its stance.

The official said the Trump administration has made it "very clear" to these countries that these systems like the S-400 are a system of key concern with potential CAATSA implications.


September 19, 2018

America's F-16 Fighter: Made in India?

President Trump wants to bring manufacturing back to American shores.

But that doesn't include the components of one of America's prime fighter jets. The F-16 Block 70 , the most advanced version of the Fighting Falcon, will have its wings produced in India. Lockheed Martin has partnered with India's Tata Advanced Systems to produce in Hyderabad.

Technically speaking, this will not cost any American jobs, because F-16 wings are currently made in Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries. On the other hand, it's hardly a victory for Trump's call for U.S. manufactured to bring their outsourced production back home.

"This strategic initiative positions Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to become the provider of wings for all future customers," said a Lockheed Martin statement. "This is a strategic business decision that reflects the value of our partnerships with India and the confidence we have in Tata."

Responding to speculation that the move is an incentive for the Indian Air Force to purchase the F-16, Lockheed Martin stated the "the planned F-16 wing production move to India is not contingent on the Government of India selecting the F-16 for the Indian Air Force."

Lockheed Martin spokesman told the National Interest that "it will take approximately two years for Tata to demonstrate this manufacturing capability and become a certified Lockheed Martin supplier. The opportunity for wing production occurs once that is completed, projected to be late 2020 or early 2021."

This isn't the only manufacturing change for the F-16 Block 70 (and the Block 72, a similar model with an engine made by Pratt & Whitney instead of General Electric). Lockheed Martin is moving F-16 assembly from Fort Worth, Texas to Greenville, South Carolina.

"The Block 70 and Block 72 both feature the same advanced avionics, APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, modernized cockpit, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, automatic ground collision avoidance system, advanced engine, and industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours," Losinger said.

The F-16 Block 70 scored its first sale in June, when Bahrain ordered 16 jets in a $1.1 billion deal, followed by a 14-jet purchase by Slovakia, which opted for the U.S. plane over Sweden's Saab Gripen.

"We are also proposing the F-16 Block 70 for the Bulgarian Air Force and we’re in discussions with numerous other customers about new production F-16s, and F-16V [the Viper version] upgrades," said Losinger. "We see F-16 production opportunities totaling more than 400 aircraft, including the potential F-16 Block 70 order for the Indian Air Force."

Which is good news for Lockheed Martin, and the United States, which will enjoy seeing former Russian clients like Bulgaria and India buying American aircraft to replace their MiGs. But the wings will still be made in India, which is good news for the Indian economy.

The F-16 is hardly the only aircraft that uses foreign-made components, noted Richard Aboulafia, an aviation industry analyst for the Teal Group consultancy. Aboulafia pointed to Boeing's F-15, which uses numerous foreign-made parts, including Israeli-made rudders and doors, and Japanese- and Korean-made components for jets used by those nations.

U.S. aircraft manufacturers need free trade to sell planes overseas, which puts them on a collision course with Trump administration's Buy America policy. "This is a risk all aerospace manufacturers face: the need to grow the market and live in a globalized industry while placating a nationalist administration that doesn't understand business," Aboulafia told the National Interest.


S-400 missile deal with Russia is in final stage, says Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Tuesday said that the deal to purchase S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia has "reached almost the final stage".

The S-400 missile deal is a contentious deal as the United States is opposed to it. The US has imposed military sanctions against Russia under stringent CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). This also extends to countries that engage with Russia in defence matters. US' stand effectively means that any country that engages in defence or intelligence sharing with Russia could also be subject to sanctions.

"The negotiation with Russia on the S-400 have reached almost the final stage, we'll have to see it if it's signed before the Russian President's visit. But the negotiations are almost complete," Sitharaman told media today.

During the 2+2 dialogue earlier this month, India told US that it would go ahead with the deal and sought waiver from sanctions.

On one hand, India wants these missiles to strengthen defence capabilities, but at the same time does not want to sour relations with the US. India would hope that the Trump administration grants the exemption to India under CAATSA. The waiver that India may seek will not be an easy decision for the Trump administration to make because of certain sections in the CAATSA legislation.

Section 231 the CAATSA legislation requires that the president impose sanctions on any entity that "engages in a significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation". With the value of the deal being almost Rs 40,000 crore, it definately falls under 'significant transaction' mentioned in CAATSA.

Good news for India is that some sections in the Trump administration want the waiver to be granted to India. Reports say that Secretary of Defence James Mattis is a strong proponent of granting waivers to India.


India's Home-Made Breathing Apparatus to Enable 45-min Deep Fording of T-90

The apparatus will enable T-90 tank crews to conduct deep fording for at least 45 minutes. State-owned defense lab DRDO is expected to transfer the technology to the private sector for mass production, following which they will be made available to the army starting 2019.

 Crews of the Indian army's T-90 tank are set to equip themselves with major war-fighting apparatus used while crossing rivers or water canals in the rough Himalayan terrain. The equipment will make them capable to operate submerged tanks continuously for at least 45 minutes during deep fording.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Tuesday accorded approval for progressing design and development of such equipment, known as individual underwater breathing apparatus (IUWBA), for T-90 tanks.

"Developed by DRDO Lab DEBEL, the IUWBA is used by the crew of tanks as a safety gear and is required by the tank crew for emergency escape when negotiating water obstacles while deep fording," a statement issued by the Indian Defense Ministry reads.

During deep fording, in the eventuality of the tank stalling mid-crossing, there is no alternative for the crew but to flood the tank to escape from the fighting/driver compartments of the tank and reach the surface of the water as per the enunciated emergency escape procedure.The Indian army has put forth an annual requirement of 2,000 units of underwater breathing equipment with effect from 2019-20, while in total it will purchase 6,628 units of such equipment. The state-owned defense lab DRDO is expected to transfer the technology to the private sector for mass production. Companies like Flash forge, Jyotech, Sure Safety (India) Pvt Ltd, Osho Corp Global Pvt Ltd, H&H Precision Pvt Ltd have positively responded to the proposal for mass production.

The IUWBA, which will be a separate apparatus, will weigh around 5 kg. The equipment will retain its efficiency when stored at temperature ranging from —5 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius.

The Indian Defense Ministry has also accorded approval for design and development of test equipment for guided weapons systems of the T-90 tank. At present, the equipment is imported from foreign firms.


September 18, 2018

Indigenous Akash missile defence system among Rs 9100 crore equipment cleared by Defence Acquisition Council

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday cleared the procurement of two regiments of Akash missile defence system. 

 The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the Defence Ministry's highest decision-making body on acquisitions, headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Tuesday, cleared procurement of military equipment worth Rs 9100 crore. Among the most significant proposals cleared was the procurement of two regiments Akash Missile systems under 'Buy (Indian)' category of the Defence Procurement Policy. 
"Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has approved procurement of equipment for the defence forces valued at over Rs 9,100 Cr. DAC approved procurement of two Regiments of Akash Missile Systems under 'Buy (Indian)' category," news agency ANI reported.
Defence Ministry sources told Times Now that this would be the latest version of the Akash missile defence system and added that the acquisition will provide the much-needed stealth as well as a 360-degree protection against aerial threats.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), the air defence (AD) system can engage targets up to a distance of 30 km and altitudes of 18000 metre. The system can engage and destroy incoming aerial threats such as fighter jets, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles. The system is already in service with the Indian Army as well as the Indian Air Force.
The DAC also accorded approval for progressing design and development of Individual Under Water Breathing Apparatus(IUWBA) for T90 Tanks. IUWBA is used by the crew of tanks as a safety gear and is required by the Tank crew for emergency escape when negotiating water obstacles.


Dead End for Spike-MR Deal: India Tests Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile

The successful tests of the man-portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM), developed by state-run DRDO, come less than a year after the Indian government scrapped a $500 million deal for the Israeli Spike-MR.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — Indian defense scientists have successfully conducted back-to-back tests of the new indigenously designed and developed man-portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM). The tests were conducted at the Ahmednagar test range in the western state of Maharashtra.
The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile which is fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead. The MPATGM reportedly boasts a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers. Eight static tests of rocket motor were conducted to achieve consistent ballistic performance last year.
 Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, after calling off the planned purchase of Israeli Spike-MR in November last year, had directed the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to deliver countrymade man-portable fire and forget guided missile.

"The two missions on 15 and 16 September 2018 have been successfully flight tested for different ranges including the maximum range capability," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
India had decided to settle for an indigenous MPATGM platform after a committee headed by a major general examined various aspects related to the Spike MR-deal and recommended developing a homemade anti-tank guided missile.

The decision was made despite the Indian army headquarters having highlighted "the operational urgency of the equipment," arguing that the Spike would give "a major capability impetus to troops deployed on the Line of Control (LC), especially in the current operational scenario." The deal included over 8,356 missiles, 321 plus launchers and requisite technology transfer to India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited initially. Spike-MR was chosen over the American Javelin, which had offered missiles having a range of four kilometers as a "Make-in-India" project.

Indian government sources told Sputnik that the first MPATGM prototype is expected to be handed over to the Indian army by the end of 2018 for user trials. Mass production of the missile is expected to begin in 2021.
Nevertheless, the Indian army is still pushing to acquire at least 2,500 Spike-MRs as a stopgap measure to quickly address the capability gap. The Indian army says it requires at least 40,000 anti-tank guided missiles in the next 20 years.


September 17, 2018

Pakistan action against terror funding not satisfactory: FATF body

Almost three months after Pakistan was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list for failing to curb terror funding, Pakistan’s recent action against terror financing, particularly on the “legal” front, was found to be “unsatisfactory”, according to a review by the Asia Pacific Policy Group (APPG).

The APPG examines cases of all countries on the grey and black lists and reports to the FATF.

Official sources said that a review held on September 11-12 in Jakarta observed that “not much has been achieved by Pakistan, especially on the legal side (like freezing of assets, attachment of funds, militant groups infrastructures etc).”

The APPG also reviewed Pakistan on its compliance with the 26-point action plan, which Islamabad, in February this year, had submitted to the FATF to choke the funding of militants groups, including Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its affiliates.

The development, officials said, comes as a major setback for newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was hoping that the inter-governmental body will be lenient in the review given Islamabad’s commitment to the 26-point action plan spanning over a period of 15 months.

APPG, according to official sources, will report the unsatisfactory performance by Pakistan to the FATF, at its plenary in Paris in October 2018.

Sources also said that another review for Pakistan will be held in December this year following which a final evaluation report will be prepared. “For Pakistan, the first deadline is January 2019 failing which they may face more heat. By then, Pakistan will have to publish updated lists of persons and entities proscribed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the UN-designated entities,” the official explained.

Being on the grey list may hurt Pakistan’s economy as well as its international standing as it faces the risk of being downgraded by multilateral lenders like the IMF, World Bank, ADB etc. And further, reduction in risk-rating by Moodys, S&P and Fitch, which may lead to a fall in the stock market, said the official.

The process to include Pakistan in the list began in February 2018 when the FATF approved the nomination for monitoring under its International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) commonly known as Grey List. The resolution against Pakistan was moved by the US which says Islamabad is not doing enough to comply with anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering regulations.

New Delhi has been lobbying hard with the US for the monitoring of Pakistan while highlighting the funding of terrorist activities. India in the past also shared dossiers and evidence regarding the involvement of Pakistan’s officials on deputation at missions in India and elsewhere in peddling fake currency and planning attacks on Indian assets on foreign soil.

“We had highlighted Islamabad’s complicity in funding foreign terror networks at various international fora,” said a senior government official.

Pakistan was on the watch-list between 2012 and 2015 as well but only for money laundering. FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.


India clears way for $2.2-billion frigates deal with Russia

Two weeks after India significantly upgraded its defence ties with the United States through the Comcasa (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement), the Modi government has cleared the way for one of the biggest purchases from Russia — $2.2-billion stealth frigates deal.

The agreement, which will allow India to procure from Russia four new warships for the Navy, will be signed during a summit between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Capital in October. Efforts are on to add the finishing touches to the contours of the deal.

The long-pending deal, to procure Project 11356 or advanced Talwar-class frigates, will involve building two of the ships at the Goa Shipyard, while the rest will be bought directly from Russia’s Yantar shipyard.

Sources have told ET that the clearance procedure before the signing is in the final stage and that India could make payments through the rupee-rouble route.

As reported by ET, financial sanctions by the US have complicated purchase of weapons from Moscow as Indian banks are unable to transfer money to defence companies in Russia. An alternative arrangement, to pay in Indian rupee instead of the standard US dollar, is being worked out to partly deal with the matter.

The deal is being processed as a ‘2+2’ scheme where technology will be transferred to Goa Shipyard to construct two of the frigates from scratch. The other two will be delivered faster — possibly within two years — as the hulls of the ships have already been fabricated for a Russian Navy order that got stalled following the Ukrainian crisis. The ship has been designed to work with Ukraine-made gas turbines.

While there were initial discussions to involve the Indian private sector to build two of the ships domestically, the government took a decision to nominate the stateowned Goa Shipyard as it had spare capacity at hand. The Indian-made warships are expected to cost 30-50% more than the direct Russian import due to the cost of building infrastructure and transfer of technology.

India and Russia had signed an intergovernmental agreement to proceed with the deal in October 2016, but price negotiations and technical consultations, which also involved the Indian shipyard, delayed the final clearance, which could be one of the big takeaways from the Modi-Putin summit that is scheduled to take place in Delhi on October 5.

India already operates six of the Talwar-class frigates, but these four to be ordered will be more advanced versions. The warships are to be fitted with the Brahmos missile system and will have significant changes from the older ships as the Navy will have several Indian-made equipment onboard, including sensors and communications. They will add to India’s muscle in the Indian Ocean region.

Among the immediate priorities for the Navy are minesweepers and multi-role helicopters that can be deployed on warships.


Submarine plan propels forward after delays

Defence Ministry to finalise guidelines for partnership

The Navy’s mega-deal for procuring six advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I and processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model is moving forward after being held up due to policy clarity. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has initiated the process to finalise specific guidelines for the project, estimated to cost over ₹60,000 crore.
“A meeting is planned with MoD in mid-September to finalise aspects relevant to submarine specific guidelines for SP model. Specific aspects requiring concurrence of foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are enumerated in the succeeding paragraphs,” the MoD said in a long communication issued to the OEMs in the end of August.
The communication details the desired project outcomes under broad heads like creation of industrial eco-system, the range and scope of technology transfer, indigenisation content, indigenisation of the pressure hull steel, research and development and skilling roadmaps which have detailed enclosures.

Compliance is key

The foreign OEMs have been asked to indicate compliance for each para and sub-paras listed and also for all the enclosures along with their observations and remarks and submit their responses by September 11.
“The meetings with MoD are likely to be scheduled in the week commencing September 17. Firm dates and timings will be promulgated at short notice,” the communication reads.

Four foreign OEMs have responded to the Navy’s Request for Information issued last year. However, further progress got held up as clarity was required on some aspects of the SP model. The contenders are Naval Group of France, Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau of Russia, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany and Saab group of Sweden.
From the Indian private sector only two companies, Larsen and Toubro and Reliance Defence, have shipyards and hence eligible to participate in the tender. Mazagon Dock Ltd, a defence public sector undertaking and the only Indian shipyard with experience of manufacturing submarines, is also expected to be considered.
The SP model, which is the last chapter of the defence procurement procedure, has four segments — submarines, single engine fighter aircraft, helicopters and armoured carriers/main battle tanks — which would be specifically opened up for the private sector. Under this policy an Indian private company would be selected in each segment which would tie up with shortlisted global OEM to manufacture the platforms in India under technology transfer. The ambitious policy came into effect in May last year but progress was slow due to lack of clarity.

End of July, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the general as well as project specific implementation guidelines for Naval utility helicopters.

the hindu

September 16, 2018

Info leak about Rafale weaponry can help China, Pakistan: Nirmala Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has refused to reveal the exact full price of each Rafale aircraft fitted with weaponry, saying that "information leaked about the weapon systems can ultimately help Pakistan and China."

Sitharaman, who appeared in 'Aap Ki Adalat' programme on India TV, said that 36 Rafale fighter jets being purchased by the government from France were nine percent cheaper than the price negotiated by the previous UPA government.

She even reportedly described as "white lie" the allegation made by the Congress that the approval of Cabinet Committee on Security was not taken for the Rafale deal.

"Saraasar jhoot hai (It`s a plain lie). The PM visited Paris in 2015, where a memorandum of interest was signed. There was no need for CCS approval for this. Only after the prices were finalized, the Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed in September 2016, and for this the final approval of CCS was taken in August that year," the Defence Minister said.

Asked what happened to assertions by BJP leaders that if the party came to power, it "will get 10 heads in reply to two be-headings (by Pakistan Army)", Sitharaman said. "kaat to rahe hain, display nahin kar rahen" (heads are being cut off, but are not being displayed).

To a query about why she was not revealing the full price for each Rafale aircraft as demanded by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, she said, "For whom is he worried? By leaking information (about weapon systems fitted on Rafale aircraft), whom is he trying to help? By demanding replies from us, who will ultimately benefit? This is what I am seriously asking. Is it Pakistan, or China? Those countries which keep an evil eye on us will benefit. Do we have to do this? I am sorry that the president of the oldest political party sitting in the opposition is demanding this."

She said the government had disclosed the basic price of Rafale aircraft in Parliament, but Gandhi was comparing the basic price of Rafale aircraft with the final price, which he believes is Rs 1,600 crore.

"I do not know from where he got this figure. Even a child can understand this. He should compare basic prices." Answering a query, she said, "We are very close to reaching "10i", meaning capability for 10 days intensive war.

Sitharaman said the talks for purchasing Rafale fighter aircraft began in 2007 during UPA regime and then they were put in cold storage for five years.

"In December, 2011 or January, 2012, it was announced that the basic price of each Rafale aircraft would be Rs 520 crore. Had the UPA government then purchased these aircraft at that rate in 2012, then the first of the 18 flyaway aircraft would have come by 2015 or 2016. By then, three per cent cost escalation per year would have come into force, and by 2015-16 it would have gone up to Rs 738 crore per aircraft."

On Rahul Gandhi`s charge that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was overlooked in offsets, the Defence Minister said that HAL was already overburdened and its production capacity was less.

She said the government has given Rs 22,000 crore worth orders every year to HAL compared to Rs 10,000 crore during UPA government and had also placed orders of 83 more Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

Sitharaman clarified that any offset deal with a private company was out of the purview of the Inter-Governmental Agreement and it was a commercial decision. "No company has been named in the IGA."

She pointed out that the Indian Air Force`s squadrons had come down from 42 to 33, and therefore, the deal was done at a fast pace.

"For 10 years they did nothing and sat on the files. Now when we have bought 36 Rafale aircraft to raise the operational efficiency of IAF, they are saying we have played with the nation`s security. Who really played with the nation`s security?"


September 15, 2018

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa's thumbs-up for Rafale jet has no relevance; no such thing as 'bad' fighter aircraft

The Indian Air Force chief's statement that the induction of the Dassault Rafale will give the fleet teeth is heartening, but is not a great revelation. Any fourth or fifth generation fighter like the Swedish Viggens,the American F16s or the Russian Sukhois, for example, would provide the much-delayed dental upgrade. Nobody makes bad fighter planes in what is a highly competitive category.
More importantly, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa's observation is mutually exclusive from the inordinate delay in getting the first 36 aircraft and also the dust that has been raised by the Opposition parties. Therefore, any effort to link the air chief's clean chit to sanitising the purchase of scandal is pointless.
Any military expert will confirm that if a four-star officer was to say the choice is a poor one, that would make news. Putting an in-house seal of approval after a three-year foot drag is not really a newsworthy initiative unless it comes as a diktat to quieten the uncomfortable questioning that intensified in August with Congress president Rahul Gandhi challenging Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in an unseemly and undergraduate fashion to respond to the accusations of malfeasance in the purchase. As a deflection, it's a fragile effort because one would jolly well hope the government and the air force chose correctly.
The unfolding of this saga is also reminiscent of the Bofors episode where its unquestionable worthiness as a shoot-and-scoot Howitzer was eclipsed by scandal and slander and an international manhunt that got nowhere.The risk is that the product and politics get so deeply intertwined that it all turns into a ball of wool. If it wasn't for Kargil and the tilt in our favour thanks to the Bofors gun, it would have been maligned as a dummy — which was exactly what was happening until the conflict.
We are way past the time for endorsements for the Rafale. The need of the hour is to appreciate that there is more than one enemy at the gate and our air force is relatively toothless. To address the issue, India must move to either lease jets from France till the supplies begin to arrive or find short term alternatives, because the luxury of leaving the gate unattended till 2019 and beyond is an indulgence that cannot be afforded.


Vajra hits target during Pokhran test

On Thursday, Army successfully test fired from indigenous advanced gun K9-Vajra-T (long range) which hit the target at Pokhran field firing range in Jaisalmer. The gun has a range to fire up to 40-50km.

On Thursday, 6 rounds were fired successfully from the Howitzer after the 13 modifications were done in the gun. Senior officers of army and L&T were present during the trial. The gun developed and built by developed by Larsen and Toubro (L&T). The gun has detection advanced system of chemical & nuclear weapon which has GPS and navigation system and automatic MO loading system.

The howitzer is specially designed for arid lands such as the desert areas western bordering Pakistan. Artillery of Indian army will soon get total 100 indigenous gun K9 Vajra-T(Thunder) 155mm/52 calibre to deal with new challenges it get from china and Pakistan. The fire power capability will improve more from the howitzer. Till now Indian Army receive 10 guns and soon Indian Army will get balance 90 guns, According to the official sources, the latest advanced version K9 VAJRA-T 155mm/ 52 calibre hit target in Pokharan field firing range in the presence of Army and L&T officials. Trials were done and it will undergo more trials in upcoming days.

The ‘Vajra’, a 155 mm howitzer was ordered by the Indian Army in April 2017 after a global competition that was won by Larsen and Toubro. The guns are being made in India with a partnership with Hanwha Techwin of South Korea with an initial order of 100 that is valued at Rs. 4500 crore which is to be supplied to the Indian army in 42 months. The gun will be deployed along the western border to take on a Pakistani battlefield edge in mobile artillery. The weight of howitzer is about 45 Ton. The speed of gun movement is 60-70km/ hour. A manufacturing unit is being set up at Hajiza Gujrat and 10 guns have already been delivered in last 10 months to Indian Army.

Source said K-9 Vajra-T tracked self-propelled howitzer meets the requirements of 21st-century warfare. The howitzer is capable of proving deep fire support with its longer firing range, has qualitative superiority to overcome a numerical inferiority with its higher rate of fire and accuracy along with effective and reliable fire support in all kinds of circumstances with its higher mobility and protection. 13 Modifications more has been done seeing the requirement of Indian Army. There is special system known as MRSI (Multiple round simultaneous impact) which fire 3 round in 15 seconds.

Source said it is specially designed for arid lands such as the desert areas bordering Pakistan. Mounted on a tracked vehicle, the K-9 Vajra is ideally suited for mobile tank warfare. This howitzer could be induct into its mechanized strike corps to offer close fire support during deep thrusts into enemy territory. With the howitzer a vehicle carry with it. Vehicle is known as KT-10 (Automatic Re-ammunition Supply Van) whose as capacity of 104 round.

Source said K9 VAJRA-T is a variant of the South Korean K9 Thunder which is considered to be the world's best 155mm/52 calibre self propelled howitzer in terms of the number of systems in active service.


September 14, 2018

Bought only 36 Rafale jets as back-end infra didn’t allow for more: Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the government chose to procure only 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France in 2015, instead of the 126 being negotiated by the previous government, as infrastructure and other technical requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) do not allow for greater induction.

“Every time you induct one squadron (standard fleet of 18 aircraft), there is a requirement for a lot of other paraphernalia to come in. Given a set of parameters, if you quickly want to induct, two is the ideal,” Sitharaman told The Indian Express in an interview.

“Air Force Technical Details will tell you, that for any emergency-based induction, it is always two squadrons and not more than that. So that justifies why we settled for two. Because in ready, flyway condition, that is all you can induct, otherwise you have to spend a lot more on creating other paraphernalia for bringing in,” she added, “at a time for us to procure, beyond two squadrons, infrastructure and other things would not have been possible, therefore we settled for two.”

The Defence Minister defended her decision to state at her first press conference in the Ministry last year that she would give the price details of the Rafale deal. She said that she meant only the basic price of the French aircraft (Rs 670 crore) which had been mentioned in Parliament.

“I have thought about it as I have been asked by a lot of people but I have not answered it, but I have thought over it several times,” Sitharaman said, “I asked the Defence Secretary to give the basic price…that was a conscious decision. I could not have answered so I made him answer.”

In response to a question about her likely reaction when Dassault informs her Ministry that it has chosen Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as an offset partner, Sitharaman said that all procedures will be followed as applicable for any offset discharge.

“Isn’t that a decision of a commercial enterprise to take on their own? I have nothing to do with it, I have not prompted them, not led him, not told them, I have not instructed them, so why am I be worried by what he would tell me? It may be A, B or C, it may be 70 different partners, it may be buying a product, they may be investing, it may be buying a service, so where am I in it? And how can I tell him you can say this and you cannot say that. Whatever he tells, and claims about obligation fulfilled, I have to hear them out,” Sitharaman said about Reliance Defence being chosen as Dassault’s offset partner.

The minister also dismissed the claim that asking Russians to not make rifles in India with the Adani group was a violation of the government policy to promote defence manufacturing in private sector.

“When it is an Inter-governmental agreement for us to have the production done here and I have the existing capacities for producing guns in India, through my OFBs (Ordnance Factory Board), I would prefer to have them produce it through an OFB. Over and above that if they want to produce with anybody, I have no issues,” she said, explaining her decision that all foreign rifle manufacturers would have to choose OFB as the partner.

Sitharaman also explained the Nepal Army’s decision to not participate in the BIMSTEC exercise as arising out of non-protocol customary things when a new chief takes over the Nepal Army.

“It is not a snub, only recently a person has taken charge (as Army Chief). There are some protocol and non-protocol customary things that I am told they do before they get into nitty-gritties and these are all fixed. As a result of that, he has legitimately excused himself,” she said.

Sitharaman also said that India is willing to consider the third defence foundational agreement, BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) with the USA and had asked the US government for its text. This was discussed during the recent 2+2 meeting where India signed the COMCASA pact with the US.

On China, the Minister said that notwithstanding the spirit of Wuhan, the troops are on alert on the China border. She said that she is hopeful about a military hotline between top headquarters of the two armies being established soon.


Congress opposes proposal to cut 1.5 lakh jobs in Army

Questioning the proposal to shed 1.5 lakh jobs in the Army to pay for maintaining the stock of weaponry, the Congress said here on Wednesday that it was a “cruel joke” that the government was ready to make mean-minded cuts while it had overpaid to buy the Rafale aircraft.

The Army is mulling over a proposal to cut 1.5 lakh jobs in the next few years to save between ₹5,000 crore and ₹7,000 crore to maintain and replenish the stock of weaponry that it currently held. The proposal has not yet been accepted.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the silence of the Narendra Modi government on the proposal spoke volumes.

“Are you, Mr. Modi, cutting 1.5 lakh jobs in the Army in the next few years? Are you doing it in a hidden and surreptitious manner, certainly without the complete consent, participation, informed understanding of our armed forces? Please answer. Your deafening silence tells its own story,” he said.

Mr. Singhvi said such mean-minded cuts will not go a long way in helping the Army. “Your government has spent ₹40,000-odd crore more to buy the Rafale aircraft; it is six times more than what you want to save in maintenance,” he said.

He said that during the campaign speeches, the BJP came up with fantastic figures, such as promises to bring in two crore jobs and now while in government, it was announcing job cuts.

“If the Modi Government can spend ₹5,000 crore in the last four- and-a-half years on the publicity of the Prime Minister, then why can’t it spend the same amount for weaponry and ammunition for our armed forces,” he asked. The Congress said ₹35 lakh was spent on the making of the Prime Minister’s fitness video and ₹60 crore was spent monthly for updating his pictures on government portals. “Is it not the worst kind of insult and slap on the face of the country and insult to our armed forces,” he added.


India meets all qualifications to be member of NSG: US

India has not been able to secure membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group because of China's veto, a senior Trump Administration official said Thursday asserting that the US will continue to advocate for New Delhi's membership in the elite grouping as it meets all the criteria.

India has been seeking entry into the 48-member elite nuclear club, which controls nuclear trade, but China has repeatedly stonewalled its bid.

While India, which is backed by the US and a number of western countries has garnered the support of a majority of the group's members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making India's entry difficult as the group is guided by the consensus principle. India is not a signatory to the NPT.

"Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a consensus-based organization. India has not been able to secure membership as a result of opposition from China," Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told a Washington audience.

"We have deemed that we're not going to limit our own cooperation with India based on a Chinese veto. Of course, we moved ahead with a STA One authorisation and we certainly believe that India meets all of the qualifications of the nuclear supplier's group and will continue to actively advocate on behalf of India's membership," Wells said in response to a question.

He said by granting Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA-1) status, the US has placed India in the inner circle of America's closest allies.

"It reflects just the intimacy of the strategic partnership," she said in response to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top American think-tank.

The senior State Department Official hoped that the nuclear deal with India would finally see light of the day with the approaching of its 10th anniversary. "With Westinghouse coming out of bankruptcy, we now have an opportunity to cross the finish line to really culminate in what was this historic process that began a decade ago to be able to have one of our premier companies provide in some of the safest and cleanest fuel that will benefit, tens of millions of Indian citizens," she said.

"It's a really another exciting chapter that hopefully we can close. Certainly, we will be supporting Westinghouse as it continues its conversations with India," she said.

US President George W Bush had signed the legislation on the Indo-US nuclear deal, approved by the US Congress, into law on October 8, 2008.