January 20, 2018

Pakistan's ace in poker match with US: Afghan air routes

As bad as President Donald Trump describes US-Pakistani ties today, they can get far worse.

Over 16 years that included hundreds of deadly US drone strikes, Osama bin Laden's killing on Pakistani soil and accusations Pakistan helps insurgents that kill Americans, the reluctant allies never reached one point of no return: Pakistan closing the air routes to Afghanistan.

It's an action that could all but cripple the US-backed military fight against the Taliban. It could also be tantamount to Pakistan going to war with the United States.

Even if such a step is seen as unlikely by most officials and observers, Pakistan's ability to shape the destiny of America's longest war is a reminder of how much leverage the country maintains at a time Trump is suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance.

"There's some suggestion that we have all of the cards in our hands," said Richard Olson, a former US ambassador to Pakistan. "But we don't. The leverage is strong on the Pakistan side as well and arguably stronger than our side."

Trump's re-commitment of US forces to the fight in Afghanistan makes the stakes high for his administration. The top US diplomat for South Asia, Alice Wells, made a low-key visit to Islamabad this week, suggesting both sides want to prevent a breach in ties.

Pakistan's cooperation is needed not only to reduce violence in its northern neighbor. It's also critical to any hope of a political settlement with the Afghan Taliban after decades of conflict.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said the US doesn't expect Pakistan to cut off supply routes. Even so, the US is seeking out alternatives, a senior administration official said, without elaborating on what those routes might be.

The Pentagon wouldn't discuss the issue, citing operational security, other than to say military planners develop "multiple supply chain contingencies" to sustain their mission.

The administration official, who wasn't authorised to comment by name and demanded anonymity, said it would be "very difficult" but not impossible for the US to get military equipment into Afghanistan if the Pakistan route is shut down.

Restrictions limit what types of supplies can flow through the Northern Distribution Network in Central Asia, set up during the Obama administration amid concerns about relying solely on Pakistan.


January 19, 2018

Boost for NSG membership, India joins Australia Group

After gaining entry into two export control regimes - MTCR and Wassenaar, India today joined the Australia Group (AG), which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

"On 19 January 2018 India formally became the 43rd member of the Australia Group (AG), the cooperative and voluntary group of countries working to counter the spread of materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development or acquisition of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by states or terrorist groups," the AG said in a release.

India is now a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement and now the Australia Group, three of four non-proliferation regimes. The only one remaining is the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is stonewalled due Chinese objections.

Reacting to India's entry to the group, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Ravish Kumar said it would be "mutually beneficial and to help in non proliferation".

He said the AG membership will help in establishing India's credentials further.

Australian Group is a cooperative and voluntary group of countries working to counter the spread of materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development or acquisition of chemical and biological weapons by states or terrorist groups. In December, India gained entry into WA.

India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016 and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) last year.

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is a multilateral export control regime.


Russia begins delivery of S-400 missile systems to China

Moscow has begun the delivery of the S-400 Triumf air defense missile systems to China under the 2014 contract, a source close to the Russian system of military cooperation told TASS on Thursday.

"The implementation of the contract has begun, the first shipment has been sent to China," the source said.

According to the source, the shipment includes a control station, a radar station, energy and support equipment, spare parts, various tools and other elements of the S-400 system.

The source also said that the contact with China stipulated neither technology transfer nor licensed production.

In 2017, Russia trained a group of Chinese military servicemen to use the S-400 systems.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation has declined to provide any comments.
Contract with China

In November 2014, it was announced that Russia and China had signed a contract on S-400 supplies, and in November 2015, Russian Presidential Aide on Military Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin confirmed the contract. In June 2016, head of Russia’s Rostec State Corporation Sergei Chemezov said that the Chinese Army would receive the S-400 systems no sooner than 2018. On December 7, 2017, Chemezov said that the delivery would begin in the near future.

China is the first foreign purchaser of these air defense systems, while the second one is Turkey. In July 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that "certain documents" concerning the purchase of the S-400 systems had been signed. On September 12, 2017, Russia confirmed that a contract had been made. Turkey is the first NATO member state to purchase the S-400 Triumf systems.

S-400 system ::

The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 complex can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.

At present, only Russia’s Armed Forces are equipped with the S-400 systems. There are plans to supply them to four countries - China, Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia.


Jharkhand Offers Infrastructure For Manufacturing Of F-16 Fighter Aircrafts

Jharkhand has proposed to play a key role in setting up manufacturing units of US-based F-16 fighter aircraft in India. Chief Minister of Jharkhand Raghubar Das has offered infrastructure to facilitate manufacturing and maintenance units near Jamshedpur in the state.

In the backdrop of the recent accord between American manufacturer of F-16 Fighter Aircraft, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced System Limited to shift the production line of the fighter aircraft from Fort Worth in USA to India, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand has sent a letter to Chairman of Tata Sons, N. Chandrasekharan expressing his keen desire to provide infrastructure in the State for the purpose. In his letter, the Chief Minister has offered Chakulia and Dhalbhumgarh airfield complex under East Singhbhum district (Jamshedpur) to set up the assembly line and ancillary facilities for the F-16 fighter aircrafts in India. The two airfields were developed during World War II as air bases for the Royal Air Force and US Air Force.

The airport at Chakulia -- with two runways of 2.3 km each -- and the one at Dalbhumgarh -- with two 1.73 km runways – claim to have connectivity with Kolkata, Mumbai, Ranchi and Haldia port through rail and road transport. The Chief Minister has also written a similar letter to the former Chairman of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata to set up the Production Line of F-16 in the State, reminding him about major contributions by his company in the past for the development of Jharkhand.

If sources privy to the CM secretariat at Ranchi are to be believed, the Chief Minister recently held a meeting with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too to impress upon the US defence giant Lockheed Martin to set up its units in Jharkhand. Acting upon the CM’s request, the Defence Minister is said to have elicited Tatas’ views on the matter.

With a possible objective to bid for the $ 12-billion fighter jet deal that the defence ministry is contemplating, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) have signed an agreement for the joint production of the F-16 Block 70 fighter jet in India. In the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ endeavour, foreign aircraft manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Saab of Sweden have been left with no option except to forge tie-ups with Indian partners to obtain order for hundreds of aircraft required by Indian Air Force to replace decades-old Soviet-era fleet. Sweden’s Saab is the other contender that has evinced interests to supply the Indian Air Force, offering to make its Gripen fighter in India.

However, in order to ward off the possible wrath of US President Donald Trump -- who has been campaigning against US investments abroad and pressing for creation of jobs in USA instead -- Lockheed Martin and Tatas have come out with a press statement that shifting production line to India would still retain jobs in the United States. In a joint statement the firms said, “F-16 production in India supports thousands of Lockheed Martin and F-16 supplier jobs in the U.S., creates new manufacturing jobs in India, and positions Indian industry at the center of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world.’ The statement further said ‘This unprecedented F-16 production partnership between the world’s largest defence contractor and India’s premier industrial house provides India the opportunity to produce, operate and export F-16 Block 70 aircraft, the newest and most advanced version of the world’s most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter”.

Lockheed Martin has said that the agreement with TASL was prompted by the past performance of the company while manufacturing airframe components for the C-130J airlifter and the S-92 helicopter. In a press statement, Orlando Carvalho, Executive Vice-President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, claimed ‘Our partnership significantly strengthens the F-16 ‘Make in India’ offer, creates and maintains numerous new job opportunities in India and the US, and brings the world’s most combat-proven multi-role fighter aircraft to India.”

The US defence giant is, however, believed to be contemplating a major decision to move the production of its F-16 combat jets to India for want of substantial supply orders for the jets from the Pentagon as the US is learnt to have opted for fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike fighters.

To top it all, in view of receiving the accolade for setting up manufacturing units of the world famous F-16 aircraft that serve more than 35 countries with the production of new fleets and upgrading the existing fleet of over 3500 across the world as well, other States are unlikely to lag behind Jharkhand to rope in the defence giants. Telengana and Andhra Pradesh are reported to have initiated talks with the manufacturer and started lobbying in the corridor of powers with their claim to provide the best infrastructure for the production line of the aircrafts in their respective states.


Entire China could soon be within India’s N-strike zone

India is a step away from gate-crashing into the super exclusive club of countries with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the successful "first pre-induction trial" of Agni-V that, with a range of over 5,000 km, brings all of Asia and China within its nuclear strike capability.

The range of the missile places parts of Europe and Africa within reach but India's security concerns are closer home. Sources said India's most formidable missile will undergo one more pre-induction trial "within this year" before it is inducted into the Agni-V regiment already raised by the Tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with the requisite command and control structures.

Once that happens, India will rub shoulders with countries the US, UK, Russia, China and France. While a belligerent North Korea over the last six-seven months has rattled US with tests of its two new ICBMs - Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 - expert opinion is divided whether they are fully-operational and deployed as of now.

On Thursday, in its first pre-induction trial conducted by the SFC, the 17-metre Agni-V was launched from a canister atop the road-mobile launcher from the Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast at 9.53am. The three-stage missile zoomed to a height of over 600-km in its parabolic trajectory and then splashed down around 4,900-km away towards Australia in the Indian Ocean barely 19 minutes later.

The missile's canister-launch version makes it deadlier because it gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the missile from anywhere they want. "Since the missile is already mated with its nuclear warhead before being sealed in the canister, it drastically cuts down the response or reaction time for a retaliatory strike...only the authorised electronic codes have to be fed to unlock and prime it for launch," said a source.

India, of course, wants a credible strategic deterrent against an aggressive and expansionist China, which has a large arsenal of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The SFC already has regiments of the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-I (700-km), Agni-II (2,000-km) & Agni-III (3,000-km) missiles, which are mainly meant to deter Pakistan from any misadventure. The Agni-IV (4,000-km) and Agni-V (over 5,000-km), in turn, have been developed with China in mind.

Designed to carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear warhead, Agni-V has been tested four times in "developmental or experimental trials" earlier.

The missile was tested in an "open configuration" in April 2012 and September 2013, while it was test-fired from hermetically sealed canisters mounted on transport-cum-tilting launcher trucks in January 2015 and December 2016.

"The missile's flight performance was monitored by radars, range stations and tracking systems all through the mission. All mission objectives were successfully met. This successful test of Agni-V reaffirms the country's indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence," said a defence ministry official.

Though the DRDO has often proclaimed it can develop missiles with strike ranges of 10,000km to match the Chinese DF-31A (11,200km) and DF-41 (14,500km) missiles, the Indian defence establishment believes Agni-V is sufficient to take care of existing threat perceptions. There is, however, interest in ongoing DRDO work on developing "manoeuvring warheads or intelligent reentry vehicles" to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems, as well as MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) for the Agni missiles. An MIRV payload means one missile can carry several warheads, each for different targets.


China a disruptive force in Indo-Pacific region: US Pacific Command chief

US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris on Thursday called China a "disruptive force" in the Indo-Pacific region, while Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba pointed out towards increasing presence of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean.

Mistrust for China figured prominently at a multilateral diplomacy and defence forum here, with representatives from India, US, Japan and Indonesia pointing out towards the lack of transparency on China's part, and its growing attempts to change status quo unilaterally.

In a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue being organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) here, Admiral Harris said: "I believe the reality is that China is a disruptive transitional force in the Indo-Pacific. They are the owner of the trust deficit that we all have spent the last hour or so talking about."

He however added that China has also played an important role in humanitarian and disaster relief operations, anti-piracy operations as well as against terrorism.

"There are common threats in the region for sure. We can all work together to overcome them, including China.

"But how defensive Vietnam, is and rightly so when China sends a major oil research platform in Vietnam's legitimate exclusive economic zone..." he said, adding examples from nations like Malaysia and others where China has attempted to change status quo in terms of territory," he said.

Admiral Lanba said Chinese naval ships have maintained their presence in the Indian Ocean Region since last ten years.

"Since 2008, there has been a sea change in deployment of PLA Navy. They stepped out of the western Pacific, crossed the first island chain and have been operating in the IOR."

He said on an average, they have an anti-piracy group in the IOR which consists of a tanker, two frigates and three or four research vessels.

Lanba also mentioned China's overseas base at Djibouti, and port in Sri Lanka's Hambantota, adding: "There is no Chinese naval presence, that is what we have been promised. I think that is what the Chinese pattern is going to be in the near term."

Japan Self-Defense Forces' Joint Staff chief, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano said China was unilaterally trying to change the status quo.

"What we are concerned about is that in the East and South China sea, China has been neglecting international law and tries to change status quo unilaterally," he said, suggesting China be isolated if it continues in its ways.

"One Road, One Belt should be economic initiative but it has military aspects as well and I also think it may be difficult to change the Chinese policy which has been promoting its military action by neglecting international law.

"But if we create an environment that if China continues these actions, the country could be isolated... this is important thing I think," he said.

Dino Patti Djalal, Founder of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, said his country was uncomfortable with China's attempt to claim its waters.

"For the first time in Indonesia's history, China is claiming our waters and we are not very comfortable with that. How do we get China to build more trust and prove its good intentions?" he asked.

"(China should) comply with norms, don't treat your neighbours as you are the big brother, treat us as your friends, the region belongs to us," he said.

China's growing aggression in the South China sea and increased presence of its warships and submarines in the Indian Ocean have been a concern, with several experts fearing it could lead to rise of a global scale conflict.

Admiral Lanba had recently cited the presence of as many as 14 Chinese naval ships in the Indian Ocean around August 2016, and had also questioned China's stand of deploying submarines for anti-piracy operations.

economic times

January 18, 2018

India Successfully Test-Fires Agni-5 Ballistic Missile: All You Need To Know

India successfully test-fired nuclear capable surface-to-surface Agni-5 Ballistic Missile today, boosting indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence strength of the country. Agni-5 is the most advanced missile in the Agni series with a strike range of over 5,000 kilometres. Agni-5 was test-fired at about 9:54 am from launch pad number 4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island, off Odisha coast. During the test-fire, the sophisticated missile travelled for 19 minutes and covered 4,900 km. With the first testing of Agni-5, India had become a part of the super-exclusive club of countries with ICBMs or inter-continental ballistic missiles in 2012.
Here are 10 Facts about Agni-V Ballistic Missile:
  1. Agni-5 is most advanced missile in the Agni series with new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine. It has a range of over 5,000 km. 
  2. The redundant Navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reached the target point within few metres of accuracy, said an official of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
  3. After four successful developmental trials, this was the first user associate test of Agni-5 missile, sources said.
  4. Agni-5 missile has a high speed on-board computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus. Its path is precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system.
  5. The three-stage, 17-metre tall, two-metre wide Agni-5 missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes.
  6. The missile so programmed that after reaching the peak of its trajectory it will turn towards Earth to continue its journey towards the intended target with an increased speed due to the attraction of the earth s gravitational pull, DRDO official said.
  7. The first two successful flights of Agni-5 missile in 2012 and 2013 were in open configuration. Agni-5 has higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility.
  8. At present, Agni series missiles that India has in its armoury are: Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
  9. The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015 and fourth trial on December 26, 2016 from the same base.
  10. With testing of Agni-5, India had become a part of the super-exclusive club of countries with ICBMs or inter-continental ballistic missiles after US, Britain, Russia, China and France.

Defence ministry simplifies private firms’ role in developing weapons prototypes

In an initiative that is being welcomed by small private defence firms, Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday simplified the “Make II” procedure, which is a framework for defence firms to develop and build equipment the military has announced it wants.
The “Make I” procedure is aimed at large, expensive projects like the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle. It provides for private industry consortia to develop such platforms, with the ministry reimbursing up to 90 per cent of the cost incurred.
In contrast, “Make II” is an industry-funded initiative for small projects that do not incur a heavy development cost. It allows private companies to develop equipment that the military has publicly stated it requires, in a document called the “Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap” (TPCR), which is posted on the defence ministry website.
Now, aiming to make the “Make II” process more practical for private firms, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) announced it has “simplified the procedure to make it industry friendly, with minimal government control.”
“The salient aspects of the revised procedure will now allow Ministry of Defence to accept suo-motu proposals from the industry and also allows start-ups to develop equipment for Indian Armed Forces”, said the announcement.
The first change involves broadening the playing field and allowing more companies access. While the earlier “Make II” procedure provided for shortlisting only two vendors to develop prototype equipment, now multiple vendors can participate.
The second change involves relaxing the eligibility criteria for private firms to participate in prototype development projects. According to the ministry, “The minimum qualification criteria to participate in ‘Make II’ projects has been relaxed by removing conditions related to credit rating and reducing financial net worth criteria.”
Thirdly, the “Make II” procedure has been simplified and decentralised. “The vendor will not be required to submit Detailed Project Report. After accord of approval… [by the DAC], all clearances will be accorded at Service HQ (SHQ) level”, announced the MoD. 
To hand-hold small scale firms and start-ups that might be technologically gifted but managerial novices, “SHQs will now setup project facilitation teams to act as the primary interface between the SHQ and the industry during the design and development stage. These teams would provide technical inputs, trial infrastructure and other facilities as required by the vendor”, announced the MoD.
Service headquarters have now been given greater flexibility. “Even if a single individual or firm offers innovative solutions, the SHQ will now have the option to accept and process the vendor’s development initiative. SHQs will be allowed to hire domain experts/consultants from private sector to increase outreach and enhance awareness among the industry”, the DAC decided. 
Finally, the DAC addressed the biggest bugbear for private firms, which is that even successful design work sometimes does not bring in orders for the product they have developed. The DAC decided today: “Most importantly, there will be no foreclosure of project after the project is sanctioned, except on default by the vendor, to ensure that the successful vendor has assured orders.”
Private defence industry has welcomed these announcements. “These changes are in line with what industry has been requesting. We are hopeful the ministry will implement these changes quickly and kick off the first “Make II” project within a few months to build confidence within industry”, says Jayant Patil, who heads the heavy engineering division in L&T.

Defence ministry clears Rs 35.47 billion rifle buy under “fast track” process

The defence ministry has gone back to the start line in procuring a basic weapon for the army’s infantry battalions – the footsoldiers who make up the bulk of the army, defend or capture territory in war and carry out counter-insurgency duties in peace.
After an earlier procurement was aborted last year after years of fruitless trials, the defence ministry announced on Tuesday its go-ahead for re-starting the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines, worth an estimated Rs 3,547 crore (Rs 35.47 billion).
This is a fraction of the one million rifles and carbines that will be needed to re-equip the entire army. However, the ministry said it would “enable the Defence Forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders.”
The ministry’s apex procurement body, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, cleared this procurement under the “fast track basis”, which requires a contract to be concluded in less than six months and delivery of weapons within a year of signing the contract.
As this newspaper first reported (November 4, Infantry to get foreign rifles, others to get ‘made in India’), the army – struggling to make do with a strained procurement budget – decided against importing the army’s entire requirement of 800,000 assault rifles. Instead, it would cut costs by importing only 250,000 assault rifles for about Rs 200,000 each; and ask the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to design and build the remaining 550,000 rifles in the country. An indigenous rifle, it is estimated, would cost less than half the price of an imported one.
On Friday, army chief General Bipin Rawat explained that some high-quality assault rifles would have to be imported in order to “empower the infantry soldier”, who fights eyeball-to-eyeball with the enemy.
It is still unclear whether the remaining 1,77,600 assault rifles needed for frontline infantry would be imported, or manufactured in India with technology transferred by a foreign vendor. Rawat raised that possibility, stating: “Let us see if this imported weapon can subsequently be manufactured in India also by our own industry.”
Meanwhile, the DRDO is continuing perfecting the indigenous INSAS 1C rifle, and the OFB is separately developing another rifle it calls the Ghatak. These weapons are still to pass army trials.
Once these new weapons are introduced, the army will simultaneously juggle two different weapon philosophies. The frontline infantry’s heavy 7.62 x 51 millimetre rifle will be optimised for conventional war, with a longer range and heavier bullets that kill or completely incapacitate enemy soldiers that they strike. These rifles will also be equipped with reflex sights and modern night vision sights.
The indigenous weapons that will arm soldiers other than frontline infantry, will be lighter 5.56 x 45 millimetre weapons, optimised for counter-insurgency operations, with smaller bullets that soldiers can carry in larger numbers.


Scrapped $500 Million Missile Deal With India Back On Track: Benjamin Netanyahu

India will buy Israel's Spike anti-tank guided missiles, Israeli media today quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying, weeks after New Delhi scrapped the USD 500 million defence deal.

The deal was cancelled a few weeks ahead of Mr Netanyahu's visit to India and its renewal is considered to be a "major strategic achievement", the Jerusalem Post reported.

"India will buy Israel's anti-tank spike missiles," the paper quoted Prime Minister Netanyahu as saying after spending the day with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Netanyahu, who is on a six-day visit to India, said the final details and scope of the deal are still in the process of being worked out, the paper said.

Another leading Israeli daily 'Haaretz' reported that the deal is "back on the table".

Quoting Israel's National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, the paper said that current talks are trending in a positive direction, and more details will be disclosed later.

The Israeli arms firm, Rafael Advance Defence Systems Ltd, had earlier this month confirmed that India cancelled the deal and expressed "regret" over the decision.

As per the original proposal, India had planned to acquire the ATGMs for the Army at a cost of USD 500 million.

The Indian defence ministry has been strongly pushing for transfer of technology in procuring various weapons and other platforms from foreign defence majors as part of its broad policy initiative to encourage domestic defence industry.

Official sources in New Delhi had earlier indicated that the proposal to acquire the missile system faced hurdles when Israeli side apparently expressed reservations in ensuring full transfer of technology as per the provisions of the 'Make in India' initiative.

The company had recently inaugurated its facilities in Hyderabad where the project was to be executed.


India, US should finalise joint defence agreement: US think tank

Having designated India as a “major defence partner”, the US should launch a government-wide “strategic advantage initiative” focused on developing New Delhi’s defence capabilities as a premier security contributor in the Indo-Pacific, and to ensure India has the capabilities to prevail in contested domains, a US think tank has said in a new report.

This assumes significance as New Delhi and Washington are collaborating on “free and open Indo-Pacific” more closely in the wake of Chinese activities in the region. Led by former Foreign Secretary and India’s ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao and former US ambassador to India Richard Verma, the report was prepared under the aegis of Center for American Progress (CAP).

Titled the “United States and India: Forging an Indispensable Democratic Partnership”, the report prepared by the CAP task force on US-India relations said that India should finalise, in consultation with the United States, a “joint defence implementation agreement” that facilitates information sharing, interoperability, and technology transfers within the two countries’ comfort zones. “Indian leaders need to make a strong public case for a more efficient, transparent, and effective defense procurement process,” the report said.

It also called for creating a US-India Indo-Pacific Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) cell to plan, train for, and undertake joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the Indian Ocean region.

Stressing that India and the US must build an economic relationship that creates jobs and opportunities for the people of both nations, the report said that the United States and India must look not just at areas like hi-tech, but also at infrastructure, to expand the benefits of investment and trade to all sectors of societies.

“The two nations cannot divorce the future of the bilateral economic relationship from what each country does at home. Both India and the United States must invest in the building blocks of their own economies and middle classes — including health care and education — and continue to innovate new domestic policy solutions if they are to benefit from the bilateral economic relationship,” the report said.

Among its key recommendations in the economic arena was to make infrastructure a key shared area of focus by holding summits to educate institutional investors about the Indian infrastructure market, and hosting conferences and exchanges to share lessons about developing digital infrastructure.

On clean energy, the report said that as two of the world’s three largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and with intense and growing energy needs, both countries must take concrete action to develop clean energy solutions that can boost economic growth and prevent the worst effects of climate change.

In this context, it said that the US should remain party to the Paris Climate Agreement. It also said that both countries should cooperate in the International Solar Alliance (ISA) — “the United States should become a full member of the ISA”, it recommended.

The report also stressed on the need to strengthen democratic institutions at home and around the world. It suggested starting a US-India track 1.5 dialogue on democracy and technology to discuss internet governance, the impact of social media on democracy, and the intersection of big data and privacy.

The CAP team also recommended strengthening ties between Indians and Americans, as that is the backbone of the US-India relationship. In this context, it said that the US should facilitate market conditions that give incentive to more cultural and educational exchange programmes.


India wants advanced sub-hunting planes in response to China

India’s Navy is considering adding to its fleet of P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, as the country shifts its military posture toward its southern approaches out of concern about Chinese naval activity.

India’s Naval Chief Adm. Sunil Lanba told India Strategic magazine that aerial-surveillance capability was an important part of navy operations, and the country’s Defense Ministry has said the P-8I is able to provide “a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.”

New Dehli made its first purchase of the aircraft in 2009, not long after the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, during which attackers arrived by boat. India bought eight P-8I aircraft at the time, deploying them in 2013. It followed that with a purchase of four more in 2016, buying them at the 2009 price.

“A number of measures have been taken since ’26/11′ to strengthen maritime, coastal, and offshore security by the concerned agencies in the country,” Lanba said, including expanding maritime security forces’ capabilities, enhancing surveillance in maritime zones, and streamlining intelligence-sharing.

While Lanba did not say how many long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, like the P-8I, the Indian navy would ultimately require, his predecessors have said as many as 30.

The P-8I, which is India’s variant of Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon aircraft, has some of the most sophisticated anti-submarine-warfare technology available, including Raytheon and Telefonics systems that provide 360-degree radar coverage. The plane also has a magnetic anomaly detector, which searches for shifts in the earth’s magnetic field created by a submarine’s hull.

The aircraft can carry Harpoon anti-ship missiles, depth charges, Mk-54 torpedoes, and rockets. The Indian variant also has specific communications software and Identify Friend or Foe abilities, allowing it to interoperate with Indian naval and air force systems. They can also data-link with Indian submarines to share information about target vessels.

‘Our Navy is fully capable and ever ready’ ::

Anti-submarine warfare has become a focal point for the Indian military, and the U.S. and India have held talks about related technology and tactics. Both countries have become increasingly wary of Chinese naval activity, particularly Chinese submarines, in recent years.

China has also expanded its infrastructure in the region, including a presence at ports in Djibouti, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
India has been tracking Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since 2013, and a 2015 U.S. Defense Department report confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating there.
In mid-2016, Indian naval officials said they were sighting Chinese subs four times every three months on average.
“As a professional military force, we constantly evaluate the maritime security environment in our areas of interest. We lay a lot of stress on Maritime Domain Awareness,” Landa told India Strategic when asked about hostile submarines operating in the Indian Ocean.
“Accordingly, we are fully seized of the presence and likely intentions of all extra-regional forces operating in the Indian Ocean,” Landa said. “Our Navy is fully capable and ever ready to meet any challenges that may arise in the maritime domain.”

‘A tectonic shift’ ::

Some sightings of Chinese subs have taken place around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which sit near the Malacca Strait, through which more than 80% of Chinese fuel supplies pass.

New Delhi started deploying P-8I aircraft and spy drones to the islands in early 2016, with plans to develop enough infrastructure and maintenance capabilities there to support a division-level force of about 15,000 troops, a fighter squadron, and some major warships. Other reports suggest India is considering installing an “undersea wall” of sensors in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Growing activity in the Indian Ocean, as well as the ocean’s centrality to global trade and India’s own security, have led New Delhi to shift its focus to the country’s 4,700-mile southern coastline, where security and energy infrastructure are concentrated.

“This is a tectonic shift in India’s security calculus, that it has to protect its southern flank,” Brahma Chellaney, a strategic-studies professor at the Center for Policy Research, told The New York Times in July 2017, around the time of the Malabar 2017 naval exercises between the U.S., India, and Japan.

India has done naval patrols and anti-submarine warfare exercises with partners in the region — in November, India, the U.S., Japan, and Australia announced the creation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, defense partnership. New Delhi has also looked to expand its military, spending tens of billions of dollars on foreign fighter jets, armored vehicles, and naval vessels.

Subs have become of particular interest for India in light of growing Chinese naval activity in the region, according to India Strategic.

The Kalvari, the first of six diesel-electric attack submarines designed by a French firm and built in India, was commissioned in December. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Kalvari a marquee example of the “Make in India” initiative, which aims to develop India’s domestic arms industry through collaboration with foreign firms.

India has already contacted foreign shipbuilders about building six more nonnuclear subs.

The navy, citing concerns about China, has called for a third nuclear-powered carrier that incorporates U.S. technology and is pushing ahead with plans to acquire such a carrier at an expected cost of nearly $25 billion.

The plan includes a component of 57 fighter aircraft, for which U.S. F-18s and French Dassault Rafales are being considered. Aircraft acquisitions may push the price higher.

The expense of acquiring such a ship has given India’s Defense Ministry pause, however, though others have argued that aircraft carriers are the best way to counter threats around the region.

“As India does not have a policy of overseas basing, a carrier force remains the only suitable alternative for a regional power like India to conduct out-of-area contingencies,” retired Indian Vice Adm. Shekhar Sinha wrote in December 2016.

The Indian navy has one operational carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which is a Russian Kiev-class carrier-cruiser overhauled by Moscow for the Indian navy between 2004 and 2013. The Vikramaditya operates Russian-made aircraft, including MiG 29K fighters, which India has asked Russia to “ruggedize” for carrier operations. The INS Vikrant, which is India’s first domestically built carrier, is under construction.

In what appears to a sign of the Indian navy’s move toward the U.S. and away from Russia, American naval officials from a joint working group were invited aboard the Vikramaditya in late October to assess ways to transition Indian carriers to U.S. naval operational concepts, according to India’s Business Standard.