October 20, 2017

Indian Navy is commissioning warships by the dozen but are they battle ready?

Indian Navy may be on a warship commissioning spree, but they are actually ‘toothless’. Earlier this week, INS Kiltan-Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes joined the eastern naval command but without any offensive capability like the Active Towed Array Sonar (ACTAS) system, which is essential to detect enemy submarines.
Also, the Navy is yet to get six low-frequency ACTAS systems from German firm Atlas Elektronik - a contract which was signed in 2014. However, due to a new blacklisting policy, things are moving in the right direction, a naval official confirmed.
“ACTAS is still a distance away. We are hoping for Nagin, a similar system which is under development by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization),” said an official. The launch of stealth corvettes is with the aim of giving a fillip to India's anti-submarine warfare capabilities, keeping in view China’s dominance in the Indian Ocean Region.
According to naval sources, Indian ships currently use bow mounted sonar or hull mounted sonar, which is less effective.
The towed array sonar, on the other hand, provides observation of the sea space at ranges considerably above 60 kilometres, depending on the propagation conditions of the water. This gives the sonar an operational range that by far exceeds that of radars and the weapons range of submarines, making it not only ideal for hunting submarines but also for the wide-area reconnaissance of surface combatants.
Incidentally, INS Kamorta, another anti-submarine warfare corvette, which was inducted into the Navy in August 2014, is still floating without its striking capability.
The story is similar to the Navy’s submarine fleet as well. Kalveri class (popularly known as Scorpene submarines) was commissioned without the essential weapon of a submarine vis torpedo. But, the Navy desperately requires these torpedoes to be mounted on its already delayed six Scorpene submarines, which are under construction by state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in collaboration with French firm DCNS.
A naval official claim that without the heavyweight torpedoes, submarines are almost "toothless." The Navy is waiting for the next Kalveri class submarine—INS Khanderi to be inducted by next month.
It happened because Black Shark torpedoes, multi-purpose weapons designed to be launched from submarines (produced by a subsidiary of Finmeccanica called WASS (Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei)), was declared winner in 2014 after competitive bidding. But the contract could not be signed, as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government put a ban on signing the contracts in the wake of the probe into the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam.
Earlier this year, India had cancelled its contract to buy 98 Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes at an estimated cost of 200 million USD.
According to a navy official, the strength of the Indian Navy's submarines has dwindled from a total of 21 submarines in the 1980s to 13 conventional submarines plus one homemade Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease. While China, in comparison, has a strength of 65 subs, which "is a matter of concern,"
“What is the point of commissioning warships which are not ‘battle ready,’ questions a senior defence official.


October 19, 2017

French Defense Minister Set to Garner New Contract for Rafale Jets in India

Dassault Aviation has already expressed its eagerness to set up a manufacturing unit in India. The proposal will be taken up for further discussion during Parley’s meeting with India’s top officials who are likely to insist on the ‘Make in India’ model.

Aiming to bag an additional order of Rafale fighter jets from the Indian Armed forces, French Defense Minister Florence Parley is visiting India next week. He will be meeting top political figures and officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Parley will be accompanied by a delegation of defense officials and French defense industry representatives.

The French delegation is scheduled to meet with Indian defense ministry officials on October 26, when potential defense projects under Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative will be primarily discussed.

The discussion is expected to include a proposal by French firm Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale double engine fighter jet and Falcon 2000 business jets, about setting up a manufacturing unit in India.

Sources told Sputnik that the discussions will focus on clearing the hurdles in defense cooperation including technology transfer; primarily from Safran, to several long-delayed Indian projects.

"We are waiting for the final words on the jet engine program from the Indian side for a long time. It has not been moved as per our expectation," a French firm official told to Sputnik in New Delhi.

Safran, Thales, and several other French firms are expecting major collaboration with Indian counterparts on the approximately $4 billion Rafale offset contract. Safran hopes to bag a contract for its high-power Aneto engine from India’s state-owned HAL for its 12-ton multi-role helicopter program. Thales is also hoping to make a major push for its proposal to supply the $1.8 billion AESA radar systems for India’s Tejas light combat aircraft.

The Indian Air Force is also negotiating with France to procure 36 of its grounded Jaguar fighter aircraft to improve the serviceability of the six squadrons of the Jaguar deep penetration bombers which are in dire need of spare parts.

Parley’s visit will also mark a major precursor visit before French President Emmanuel Macron’s arrival in India on December 8 for a three-day visit.

During her stay in India, Parley will also launch Dassault-Reliance production facility in Nagpur which is part of India’s largest greenfield aerospace project. Apart from the Dassault-Reliance offset facility, the park is also home to the proposed facilities of Thales, DAHER, and Strata amongst others.


Uncertainty over last white-tail C-17 sale to India

The Indian Ministry of Defence has one month to decide if it wants to acquire the last C-17.
The impending sale of the last Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft to India has been under a cloud because of the reluctance of the U.S. government to extend the validity of the Letter of Offer and Acceptance beyond October 17.
In September, the defence ministry had submitted a request for an extension of the validity of the LOA by 120 days after the date of expiry, but the U.S. government is unwilling to consider a grace period longer than a month at this point, and has sent a letter issuing an extension of 30 days.
This is partly because U.S. government has been under pressure from other customers eager to buy the last white-tail C-17, some of whom are willing to move quickly and have a far more compelling business case, with a sale to them being tied to potential orders for other equipment. There are at least three countries keen on taking the last aircraft.
Meanwhile, the file for the acquisition case in India’s defense ministry has not seen any movement for the last two weeks.
The C-17 production line closed in 2015 and the Indian Air Force (IAF) has, so far, missed opportunities to acquire any of the remaining ten white-tail aircraft, to the extent that only one aircraft is now available. The IAF had an option for six C-17s as part of its original order for ten aircraft.
No one familiar with Indian defence ministry practices and timelines has any illusions that the acquisition case can be completed in these 30 days, but observers are optimistic that if robust progress on the case can be shown at the end of this period, the U.S. government could be persuaded to allow a further grace period on the basis of a foreseeable, imminent conclusion of the order.
But failing this, the U.S. government is in no mood to agree to any open-ended extension, with customers waiting in line for the aircraft. The value of the order is estimated to be around USD 350 million.
Of the last ten C-17 aircraft, two were purchased by Australia and Kuwait, each, one by Canada, and four were snapped up by Qatar.


Indian submarine contest down to four

The contest to supply the Indian Navy with its next batch of submarines has already lost two contenders, even before the competition has begun.
The navy’s Request For Information (RFI) had been issued to six manufacturers: Spain’s Navantia, the French Naval Group (formerly DCNS), Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), Sweden’s Saab Kockums, Russia’s Rubin and the Japanese consortium of Mitsubishi/Kawasaki.
As reported by StratPost, the deadline for responses to the RFI was extended to Monday, October 16.
It has emerged that two of the recipients of the RFI have not submitted responses. Mitsubishi/Kawasaki of Japan and Navantia of Spain have failed to submit the requested information for their Soryu and S-80 submarines to the Indian Navy.
The absence of a Japanese response is perhaps not entirely surprising, considering their institutional reluctance to commit to a process in a system with which they are unfamiliar, their wait for the culmination of a long-pending Indian order for ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft and their recent experience competing for an Australian order for submarines.
Navantia’s lack of participation is more unexpected, considering the S-80 is modeled on the French Scorpene, which are coming into service in the Indian Navy. The Spanish company has also been involved in a contest to supply LHD vessels to the Indian Navy.
At any rate, the absence of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who are not fully committed to the process will probably assist the navy in running a serious contest to build the Project 75(India) line of submarines, especially considering this project has to meet the exacting requirements of strategic partnerships under Chapter 07 of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
The Naval Group is offering the Scorpene; TKMS is offering the Type 214; Saab Kockums is offering the A26 and Rubin is offering the Amur submarine. The order is estimated to be worth around USD 10 billion.


Prior approval for sale of F-16 and F-18 in place: Keith Webster

Keith Webster , a 32-year veteran of the US Defense Department, has joined the newly launched US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) as senior vice-president for Defense and Aerospace. A big 'catch' for USISPF, Webster has dealt with all aspects of the India relationship, from technology transfer to export controls, from laying out new roadmaps to executing old ones. Few have his overview of the sprawling US bureaucracy and its intricacies. He talked to Seema Sirohi in Washington. Excerpts:

Where are we in the defence relationship?
For the past four years plus, the Pentagon has led the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative [DTTI]. It accomplished a couple of things – it was able to transform views on India and to treat India as a very close partner… as if we were allies in terms of capabilities, research and co-development. It was a historic period in the Pentagon, serving as a cornerstone for the contemporary relationship. Then on June 7, 2016, India was declared a major defence partner.

What’s on the horizon now?
We have very transformational offers for two advanced fighter jets – F-16 and F-18 in partnership with industry. The proposals have pre-positioned US government approvals for co-production and tech transfer, which is unprecedented for us. Previously, denials were automatic because India is not an ally but now we treat India as if it were. Normally approvals come after the request is made. But India said that was not helpful and challenged us to pre-position [pre-approve] and we worked for two years with both Lockheed Martin and Boeing to develop proposals for Make in India. I led the first briefing in April 2016. The Ministry of Defence asked very significant questions and we drilled down another level. This past February, I did another set of briefings. Now we are waiting for formal RFPs [Request for Proposals]. It can come any day now.

India was less than impressed with the US offer for the MMRCA [Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft] in terms of performance and tech transfer issues. What’s changed?
Those were fair concerns a decade ago. The DTTI was launched in 2012 – after the MMRCA. Today the proposals are completely different. They are far more forward-leaning than MMRCA. There is a fair mix of technologies on offer at various levels.

What about advanced technology?
Decisions on the most advanced capabilities will be incorporated over time… not immediately transferred to India. The US is conservative about sharing radar technology for national security reasons. I don’t believe there are any significant surprises in what will or not be transferred. It is a significant beginning as we continue to build trust.India hasn’t signed what were once called 'foundational agreements' but are now rebranded as 'enabling agreements'.The Government of India wanted a different term. They were part of the discussion in recent meetings. Secretary of Defence Mattis in a very subtle way showed he was aware of them and put some emphasis. We need to find a way to move forward on them at the right time… find innovative ways to work through them… when the time is right politically.

How does their absence impact the defence relationship?
The absence of these agreements is not ideal. Our industries can’t share classified industrial information with the government of India and its industries. That complicates timelines and our ability to move swiftly forward. We have to find workarounds, which are not easily available. Then there is the thoroughness issue. These issues are well understood by India. We have been successful in working around these obstacles but this will not be sustainable as we ramp up. It will become apparent if and when the F-16/F-18 programmes move together.

What if India doesn’t choose the F-16?
It would be a significant disappointment. Just to develop these Make in India proposals took two years of intense work, to demonstrate DTTI and move beyond MMRCA, to demonstrate this is a new relationship... It would begin fatigue in our prime industries, not only in Boeing and Lockheed. But that is speculation. We have had successes – Apache helicopters and M777 howitzers – but the programmes were extended 12 or 13 times. I don’t fully understand the decision-making process but I know there is incredible anxiety within the bureaucracy on making a deal.


IAI loses out to Raytheon on Indian ISTAR deal

Israel Aerospace's ELTA unit had been one of the favorites to win the $1 billion intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance aircraft contract.

India has handed a major blow to Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) unit ELTA, which had been hoping to win a $1 billion deal to sell two ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) aircraft.

IAI had been strong in the running to win the deal after receiving a restricted global request for information from the US government for the acquisition of ISTAR-capable aircraft in 2013. Thales of France, Raytheon and Boeing of the US, and the UK's BAE Systems also received the request. The Indian government has now awarded the procurement to Raytheon.

Defense industry sources had seen IAI as having a major chance of winning the deal due to IAI's strong presence in India. In recent years, IAI has won three major deals from the Indian government: Barak 8 naval defense missiles in two deals worth $2 billion last April and three Phalcon AWACS aircraft worth $1.1 billion in a deal completed in 2010.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's groundbreaking visit to Israel in July, several months after the Barak 8 deal was signed, was seen as a further sign that the two Asian powers were forming much closer defense ties. Modi had then declared the opening of a path of partnership with Israel and that India places great importance on Israel's advanced technology.

ELTA had been offering India an ISTAR aircraft similar to the Israel Air Force's Nachshon, which is based on a Gulfstream 550 platform – the executive jet produced in the US but adapted for ISTAR missions by ELTA. In addition to the Israel Air Force, ELTA has also sold such aircraft to Singapore, according to foreign media reports.

According to "US Defense News," India officially asked the Pentagon to go ahead with the Raytheon procurement in early October following the visit of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to New Delhi. The visit was designed to strengthen military cooperation between India and the US. In 2016, Barack Obama's final year in office, the US granted India the status of "major defense partner" in an effort to iron out bureaucratic obstacles to future US-India defense deals.


US defence proposals are potential game changers: Rex Tillerson

The US has offered a number of proposals to India in the defence sector that can be "potential game changers" for the bilateral commercial and military cooperation, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday.

The proposals forward by the US include sale of Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the future vertical-lift programme, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft.

"In keeping with India's status as a 'Major Defence Partner' – a status overwhelmingly endorsed last year by the US Congress – and our mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration has offered a menu of defence options for India's consideration, including the Guardian UAV," Tillerson told a Washington audience.

"We value the role India can play in global security and stability, and are prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities," Tillerson in his address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a top American think- tank, ahead of his visit to India next week.

He said the military proposals put forward by the US to India can be "potential game changers" for the commercial and defence cooperation.

Tillerson said even as the US and India grow their economic and defence cooperation, they must have an eye to include other nations which share their goals.

"India and the US should be in the business of equipping other countries to defend their sovereignty, build greater connectivity, and have a louder voice in a regional architecture that promotes their interests and develops their economies," he said.

"This is a natural complement to India's 'Act East' policy. We ought to welcome those who want to strengthen the rule of law and further prosperity and security in the region," he said.

Tillerson said that the increasing convergence of US and Indian interests and values offer the Indo-Pacific the best opportunity to defend the rule-based global system.

"But it also comes with a responsibility – for both of our countries to 'do the needful' in support of our united vision of a free, open, and thriving Indo-Pacific," he said.

The US welcomes the growing power and influence of Indian people in this region and throughout the world, he added.

"We are eager to grow our relationship even as India grows as a world leader and power. The strength of the Indo- Pacific has always been the interaction among many peoples, governments, economies, and cultures," he said.

Tillerson said the US is committed to working with any nation in South Asia or the broader region that shares its vision of an Indo-Pacific where sovereignty is upheld and a rule-based system respected.

"The fact that the Indian Navy was the first overseas user of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, which it effectively fields with US Navy counterparts, speaks volumes of our shared maritime interests and need to enhance interoperability," Tillerson said.

"The US military's record for speed, technology, and transparency speaks for itself – as does our commitment to India's sovereignty and security," he said, adding that security issues that concern India, concern the US.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that the world's two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries.

"I couldn’t agree more. When we work together to address shared security concerns, we don't just protect ourselves, but others," he said.

"Earlier this year, instructors from the US and Indian Armies came together to build UN peacekeeping capacity among African partners, a program that we hope to continue expanding. This is a great example of the US and India building security capacity and promoting peace in third countries – and serving together as anchors of peace in a tumultuous world," Tillerson said.


October 18, 2017

Fifth Generation Fighter deal. Can India cancel it?

The Narendra Modi government now has a problem on its hands. The Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Programme (FGFA) was planned about a decade ago and several billion dollars have been spent by both the countries for its design and development.

As far as the Indian Air Force is concerned, the FGFA was part of its future. But with the IAF giving the government its doubts about the project in writing, the Modi government will have problems on its hands. Will it accept the IAF's point and close the programme it has heavily invested in for years? This becomes tricky as the Russians are still India's closest military ally and a decision to not go ahead with it could strain ties. There will also, most certainly, be pressure from the Russians. Going ahead with it would also make the Air Force unhappy.

Along with a report by Air Marshal S Varthaman (retired), the Air Force has sent a note to the Defence Ministry. The note is written by Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans) Air Vice Marshal BV Krishna. But while the Varthaman report appears to support the project, the Krishna papers raise doubts. Naturally, the government will have to go by what the Air Force wants and at this point, the IAF does not seem very keen.

Arun Jaitley, the then defence minister, has already sat through a presentation on the subject. At a recent press conference, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa refused to speak about the subject, saying it was classified. But several points about the Air Force's dissatisfaction with the plane have emerged.

1. The radar cross-section surface area, according to the Russians, will be less than 0.5-metre square. The IAF isn't quite sure that will be the case. In any case, there is a belief it should be 0.2-metre square, comparable with the F-35, the American fighter plane. The higher the cross-section, the more visible the plane to radars, making it easier to track it down and fire missiles at it. A higher cross section makes it more vulnerable.

2. The IAF seems to have doubts about the performance of the engine. An engine is easier to maintain if it follows the "modular concept". There appears to be no certainty if that will be so.

3. There is also the issue of maintenance. The Russian aircraft are usually cheaper but they cost more when it comes to maintenance. The FGFA, however, has been an expensive plane to develop and it is still far from ready. Initially, it was felt the plane would be ready by 2017 and then, 2019. That seems unlikely now.

The note has come in the wake of the Varthaman report which has given the fifth generation fighter the go-ahead. The Air Force apart, the DRDO, the ADA and the HAL were part of the study.

Now, high-level sources said a political decision has to be taken.

India and Russia were close military-strategic allies and this programme was part of the future as far as the two countries were concerned. Russia has supplied India with a nuclear-powered submarine, a point its officials often make. But with the Air Force not very happy with the FGFA, it will be up to the government to do decide whether the deal goes through or not. The decision will also have to be taken at the highest level. There are some concerns about what happens if the deal falls through. Would the Russians play hardball on the S-400 air defence system deal? That is something India wants.


After 36 jets, Rafale to push for Make In India

After selling 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, French government is now pushing for a project to manufacture warplanes here in Indian soil to give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to encourage local manufacturing under ‘Make In India’. And to put Paris’s case strongly, its newly appointed defence minister Florance Parley is visiting New Delhi and will be meeting her Indian counterpart.

According to south block officials, Parly will be landing India with high level delegation on October 26 and on next day she is scheduled to hold series of meetings with Indian officials on issues related to defence cooperation between the two nation.

“Though the visit is aimed towards further strengthening defence cooperation between the two nations, but offering production line in India for Rafale jets is surely will be on cards,” said an official.

Incidentally, Florence Parly of France and Nirmala Sithraman are the only two women to head the Defence Ministry of nuclear-armed nations. Parly will not hold delegation level talks with defence ministry officials, responsible for acquisitions, she will also hold talks with Indian Air Force for better understanding of the force’s requirement. On October 28, she will travel to Nagpur to launch a production facility of Dassault aviation in Nagpur, which has tied with Reliance Defence for offset of over Rs. 20,000 crore.

Dassault Avaition, manufactures of Rafale jets had signed contract worth $11 billion to supply 126 Rafale aircraft and eventually won an order for only 36 planes last year. India had initially agreed to buy all the 126 jets under a long-delayed deal, even mandating Dassault to build some of them locally. But the 126 Medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, issued by the Congress led UPA government was cancelled by the Modi government. But now, IAF is desperate to increase its combat strength- -the key concern, which have been raised by the force on many occasions.

IAF at present operating with 32 squadrons and on the verge of losing out more squadrons as MiG 21 and MiG 27 fleeting is ageing and the Air Force would achieve its sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons by 2032. IAF will have 83 indigenous Light Combat Aircaft Tejas, 36 Rafale and 36 additional Sukhoi fighter jets by end of 2019.

Though, IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales to bridge the gap of it depleting combat fleet, but, they are now settling for lighter single engine warplanes. For this, the IAF is will start the process this month to acquire a fleet of single engine fighter jets which are expected to significantly enhance its overall strike capability. But, IAF has already maintained that requirement of twin engine is very much there.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, on the occasion of IAF Raising day has made it clear that there is absolutely a need for twin-engine fighter jets. And Rafaje is a twin engine jet.

Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 KM. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while still staying within India's own territorial boundary.

Pakistan currently has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India used a BVR of 50 km while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India's favour. Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.


China's Xi Jinping takes his first step to challenge Modi's rising clout in South Asia

Wednesday is an important day for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What makes it important is because of what's happening in neighbouring China.

While Modi is seen as a brave leader who can ignore checks and balances for bold reforms, he is also seen as a strong-arm leader outside India, especially after India’s surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India’s challenge to China during the Doklam standoff only amplified this persona.

On the backfoot after the border skirmish, Xi Jinping is trying to turn the page at the critical once-in-five years party congress of the top leaders of the Communist Party of China. Considered China's most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping or even Mao Zedong, Xi will try to use the congress to lay the foundation to stay atop the 89-million-strong party even longer than the normal 10 years.

That would break the unwritten two-term limit accepted by his immediate predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao -- who were by Xi's side at the congress -- and end the era of "collective leadership" aimed at preventing the emergence of another Mao.

The congress is expected to cement Xi's authority that will further strengthen his power to pursue an aggressive policy abroad. The 19th edition of the congress assumes significance for Xi as he will have a far greater ability to choose his colleagues than he had in the last congress held in 2012.

It is because of this the developments in Beijing will be closely watched in Delhi’s policy circles.

Another term for Xi does not augur well for Modi.

First, China has lately started asserting in the world economic sphere, especially with its One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) project. OBOR needles India as it passes through Indian territory occupied by Pakistan. A stronger and more confident Xi will not only find a new zeal to increase China’s global economic clout but can also flex its economic muscle in the region by investing in more infrastructure projects in the region, which will also give it strategic as well as diplomatic heft at India’s expense.

Second, a stronger and more confidant Xi can also escalate the border tussle with India. Xi wants to make China the number one global power by replacing USA but finds rising India a stumbling block. India’s growing alliances in Indo-Pacific region (Japan, Australia and Southeast nations such as Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia) and with USA to rebalance China’s aggression is viewed as an obstacle by the Chinese regime.

Xi would like to test India newly acquired confidence, especially with regard to Bhutan. India and Bhutan have a special security arrangement under which India will extend support whenever the Himalayan state faces a security threat.

Doklam may be over but China is not going to digest the humiliation that India posed to it. China may have pulled out of the border tussle due to the upcoming Congress. After the Congress, it can escalate tension with India. India’s Modi-led efforts to gain supremacy in the region will come under serious challenge with a stronger Xi. Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy can face strong resistance from China.

One positive for Modi is that with Xi growing stronger, there will be greater liking for stronger leaders in India. That will ensure he remains popular with the masses.


US to release EMALS technology to India for aircraft carriers

The US has decided to release the crucial Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System for the Indian Navy's future aircraft carrier, according to the Trump administration.

The decision comes ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to India. A formal date of the visit has not been announced yet.

The Trump administration has informed India of its decision.

India had sent a letter of request to the US government during the Obama administration for the Electromagnetic Launch System (EMLAS) built by General Atomics for aircraft carrier planned by the Indian Navy.

Due to its flexible architecture, EMALS can launch a wide variety of aircraft weights and can be used on a variety of platforms with differing catapult configurations.

The Trump administration sent a response to India on Monday about its decision to release this technology.

Aerospace expert Dr Vivek Lall, chief executive, US and International Strategic Development, of General Atomics had told earlier that General Atomics is planning to open an office in Delhi to support the Indian government's military requirements.

The Indian Navy plans to integrate the US-made EMALS catapults into its future supercarriers.

This gesture ahead of the Tillerson's visit is another indication of the strategic alliance US wants to foster with India, informed sources said.

Last month, the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis visited India.


Xi vows resolve, ability to defeat "Taiwan independence"

Xi Jinping said Wednesday the Communist Party of China (CPC) has the resolve, confidence and ability to defeat separatist attempts for "Taiwan independence" in any form.

The CPC stands firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never allow the historical tragedy of national division to repeat itself, Xi said while delivering a report at the opening session of the 19th CPC National Congress.

"We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China," he said.

Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and says that separatists are seeking to split the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang from the rest of the country.

"Recognize the historical fact of the 1992 Consensus and that the two sides both belong to one China, and then our two sides can conduct dialogue to address through discussion the concerns of the people of both sides, and no political party or group in Taiwan will have any difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland," he said.

The 1992 Consensus embodies the one-China principle and defines the fundamental nature of cross-Straits relations.

"We ... are ready to share development opportunities on the mainland with our Taiwan compatriots first," he said.

"We will ensure that over time, people from Taiwan will enjoy the same treatment as local people when they pursue their studies, start businesses, seek jobs, or live on the mainland, thus improving the wellbeing of Taiwan compatriots," he said.

People from both sides are encouraged to work together to promote Chinese culture and forge closer bonds between them, he said.