May 24, 2018

After Rafale splurge, a sensible Jaguar upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

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Hitting Air Pockets ::
- Of the 145 Jaguars that HAL built for the IAF, only 119 are currently flying, comprising six IAF squadrons of about 20 fighters each
- IAF pilots joke that the Jaguar’s current engines are so underpowered that the fighter only gets airborne because the earth is round
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HAL chief, T Suvarna Raju, claims his company can do the job more easily, and cheaply, than Honeywell, having built more than 145 Jaguars under license over the years. “Installing the F-125IN requires 10-12 relatively minor modifications. HAL can handle this easily,” he said.

“The earlier tender stands withdrawn.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Defence Ministry Okays Simpler Weapons Buying Process to Cut Undue Delays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


China upgrading air bases closer to India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


U.S. may sell armed UAVs to India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In search of new partners ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great incentives, but will the deal ever take off?

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

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

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

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

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

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


12 minutes max to destroy Israel-Pak commander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


India plans to buy choppers from US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 18, 2018

Tamil Nadu to build India’s next generation defence aircraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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