April 29, 2017

India Needs More Aircraft Carriers But Not At The Cost Of Key Strike Elements

First the good news: the Indian Navy may soon tap the government for funds to build a second aircraft carrier. This would either be a 65,000-tonne nuclear-powered flattop or a 100,000-tonne supercarrier. The Navy’s move is significant because India is currently down to one carrier even as China has publicised its plan to develop six such vessels.

Now the bad news: According to Vice Admiral D M Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, the new carrier could come at the expense of other projects and weapons as it is a “very big-ticket item”.

Before we analyse whether India needs more aircraft carriers, let’s take a look at the consequences of spending on carriers while ignoring other critical areas of defence.

In 1963, T N Kaul, India’s ambassador in Moscow, asked Russian defence minister Marshal Rodion Malinovsky what sort of defence preparedness India needed against the Chinese threat. The Indian Navy’s official history ‘Transition to Triumph’ records Malinovsky’s response.

He replied that what India needed was a strong, mobile Army, Navy and Air Force, well equipped with the latest weapons. Instead of a prestigious, overhauled, old British aircraft carrier (which he called the fifth leg of a dog and an easy target), India should go in for a submarine fleet to guard her long coastline.
Malinovsky wasn’t the first geopolitical expert who scratched his head in disbelief at a poor country acquiring a large and expensive carrier while neglecting its defence against hostile neighbours. Six years earlier, when Second World War hero Marshal Georgy Zhukov had visited India, he had disapproved of the Indian Navy’s decision to acquire an aircraft carrier, saying India was only doing it in order to make Britain happy.

Both Malinovsky and Zhukov had made pivotal contributions to Russia’s defence, especially in the Battle of Stalingrad, and as such were masters of warfare. However, on both occasions, Nehruvian India disregarded the advice of the battle-hardened commanders. The consequences of fielding an under-equipped military were visible in the next three wars.

In 1962, when the Chinese waltzed through the Himalayan frontier, the Indian Army was completely unprepared, lacking even winter clothing. INS Vikrant, which had been commissioned the previous year, played no role in the war.

Again, during the 1965 war, while the Indian Air Force flew Second World War Mysteres and Vampires against Pakistan’s latest United States-gifted F-86 Sabres, the Vikrant did not go out to sea at all.

In early 1971, when the political leadership decided to go to war, the Vikrant had been rusting in the harbour for over three years with cracked boilers. The flagship was pressed into service in a semi-fit condition because the Navy feared the Vikrant would be called a “white elephant and naval aviation would be written off”. Fleet Operations Officer G M Hiranandani told the naval brass, “Vikrant has to be seen as being operational, even if we do not fly the aircraft.”

Pakistan, on the other hand, had acknowledged its limitations and, instead of going for expensive surface vessels, decided submarines were a better option. The Pakistan Navy acquired its first sub in 1963 – four years before India did.

Because of the threat posed by Pakistan’s long-range submarine Ghazi, the Indian Navy had to hide the Vikrant in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It was only after the Ghazi was sunk that the carrier started operations in the Bay of Bengal.

The case for more carriers ::

There is no doubt that India, which is poised to be the world’s third-largest economy and great power, requires more carriers. In a 2009 report titled ‘China’s Maritime Rights and Navy’, Senior Captain Li Jie, an analyst at the Chinese navy’s strategic think tank Naval Research Institute, declared, “No great power that has become a strong power has achieved this without developing carriers.”

Carriers are an essential element of sea control. According to India’s maritime doctrine, “Sea control is the central concept around which the Indian Navy is structured, and aircraft carriers are decidedly the most substantial contributors to it. This is because they possess ordnance delivery capability of a very high order, often greater than the balance fleet units in the Task Force. This is by means of their substantial integral air power, which provides integral, ubiquitous and enhanced combat power, with extended reach and rapid response capability.”

At a bare minimum, India should have three carriers – one for each seaboard, with a third on standby. India was without a carrier task force for six months in 2016 as its lone flattop INS Vikramaditya was undergoing maintenance.

Having three carriers on call is an ideal situation but is possible only if funds allow. If the Navy is prepared to sacrifice other platforms to divert funds to the second carrier, where does it propose to get money for the support vessels?

For, an aircraft carrier doesn’t travel alone. It usually operates with, and is at the centre of, a composite task force, including multi-purpose destroyers, frigates, submarines and logistics ships. The carrier task force is a self-contained and balanced force, capable of undertaking the entire range of operational tasks.

We do not want a situation like that in 1971 when a limping Vikrant was sent into battle along with only four light frigates (one of which lacked sonar) and a lone submarine to provide anti-submarine protection. In his book No Way But Surrender, Vice Admiral N Krishnan writes, “Even assuming that no operational defects developed, it would still be necessary to withdraw ships from the area of operations for fuelling. The basic problem was that if reasonable anti submarine protection had to be provided to Vikrant and the escort ships had to be in close company for this purpose, then how were 18,000 square miles to be kept under surveillance?”

The Navy had deployed the entire complement of the Vikrant’s aircraft in offensive operations against East Pakistan, leaving none for the carrier’s defence. It was a calculated risk that paid off. Had Pakistan been in possession of another long-range submarine, the story may have been different.

Don’t cannibalise the Navy ::

While aircraft carriers are symbols of prestige, the bits and parts needed to win wars must not be neglected. Sadly, this has happened. For instance, India’s submarine strength currently stands at 15 vessels and is behind Pakistan’s fleet of 17. Even North Korea, which can barely feed its population, has a fleet of 70 subs, which is why the United States carriers keep a safe distance from the Korean peninsula.

Submarines are the true predators of the deep and will allow India to wreak havoc on its adversaries during a war. A fleet of 24 subs (the sanctioned strength), but ideally 50 undersea vessels, can target every task force in the Indian Ocean. During the 1999 Kargil War, it was a submarine, and not a carrier, that was poised to deliver the first blow had India decided to escalate the conflict. INS Sindhurakshak was deployed very close to Karachi and had its torpedoes trained on the harbour installations.

As well as subs, India needs to spend on other less glamorous but critical weapons platforms such as missile boats, frigates, stealth ships, minesweepers, land and ship attack missiles, torpedoes, shore-based radar, close-in warfare weapons, electronic warfare suites and maritime satellites.

Former chief of naval staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat writes in Betrayal of the Armed Forces that after the 1971 war complacency had set into the force. For instance, the Indian Navy, which had devastated Karachi harbour with its Russian Styx standoff missiles (outside the adversary’s range) and thereby taken the lead in ship-to-ship standoff missile warfare, yielded space to Pakistan in two critical areas. “(Pakistan) acquired the wherewithal to become capable of standoff air-to-surface missile warfare in which they took a 15-year lead and sub-surface to surface missile standoff missile capability in which they took a 20-year lead, all in a 25-year tenure span,” Admiral Bhagwat explains.

The Navy as a force multiplier ::

India cannot – and should not – match China carrier for carrier, but it should emulate the Chinese strategy of shipbuilding to boost the economy. Admiral Bhagwat points out that the Chinese military and political leadership had declared as a matter of state policy that shipbuilding would be the springboard for China’s industrial development. For India, this is especially advantageous because it is hemmed in to the north and the northeast, and the only strategic space the country has to manoeuvre is in the oceans.

swarajyamag / Rakesh Krishnan Simha

April 28, 2017

Moscow, New Delhi Discuss Making Russian Weapons in India

Jaitley did not reveal the type of weapon being discussed to make in India. "We have future plans to set up manufacturing units in India and these are subjects of discussion which came up in my bilateral meeting with the Defense Minister and I am sure with the level of engagement we have, this relationship will continue to grow," Jaitley said.

The $1-billion program of joint production of Kamov-226T has taken off this month with the final approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin to set up Indo-Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd. Russia's Rostec Corp will own 49.5 percent stake while India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will own the remaining 50.5 percent in the joint venture. Under the deal for 200 Kamov Ka-226Ts, 60 helicopters will be received in fly-away condition from Russia while another 40 will be assembled in India and the remaining 100 will be fully built in India.

"Russia has been a true and trusted friend of India, which is regarded so by the people of India and there has been a much greater cooperation at the level of defense. It is a cooperation which extends to joint military exercises, training cooperation and also with regard to the supply of equipment which India purchases from Russia," Jaitley said.

India and Russia identified a total number of 485 lines for Transfer of Technology (ToT) to support Sukhoi-30 MKI fleet. Towards this, 20 Indian vendors have been introduced to the Russian OEMs to find out the feasibility of ToT in the fields desired by Indian vendors.

In March this year, HAL signed an agreement with Russian OEMs for the long-term supply of spares and rendering technical assistance for five years which do not cover any technology transfer. The agreement will enable HAL to procure required spares based on the price catalogs directly from OEMs for the Sukhoi fleet and boost after-sales service by reducing lead time in the procurement of spares significantly.


April 27, 2017

Final trials of BrahMos in Pokhran soon

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, seems to be picking up speed for its final induction in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

As per the highly placed official sources at BrahMos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture, the air launched version of the formidable missile shall be test-fired against a live sea-based target in second half of the May followed with a final test-fire against a live land target in Pokhran firing range in Jaisalmer by May last week or June first week. After the successful completion of these significant trials, the missile shall finally be ready for induction into the IAF .

On April 21, Indian Navy successfully undertook the maiden firing of BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile from Indian Naval Ship Teg, a Guided Missile Frigate, on a target on land. Its Anti Ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy . Majority of the frontline ships of Indian Navy , like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, are capable of firing this missile. Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile while enhancing the prowess of Indian Navy , provides Indian Naval Ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea.

Drop trials of this `fire and forget' missile have been carried out successfully from Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft earlier while achieving mission parameters regarding the release mechanism of launcher in addition to clearance from the aircraft in a copybook manner as per the officials.

"Further the data with respect to live sea target attack from air launched version would first be analysed paving way for the desert test fires of air launched version from the fighter aircraft against live land target in Pokaran at the most by first half of June", said an official adding that the test fires shall be conducted for a range of 300 kms at a speed of 2.8 Mach (almost three times that of sound).The release mechanism . of the launcher in addition to the clearance from the aircraft after the fire have already been evaluated paving way for the test fire of 2.5-ton BrahMos air-to-ground missile from the Sukhoi-30 aircraft. Air version of BrahMos is 500 kgs lighter than its Army and Naval versions.

Earlier on March 11 this year, an enhanced version of the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile with an Extended Range (ER), much higher range than the current range of 290 km and a supersonic speed of 2.8 Mach was successfully test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) Chandipurat sea in Balasore, off the coast of Odisha. This triumph empowered the Indian Armed Forces to knock down enemy targets far beyond a range of 400km as per a statement from Dr. Sudhir Mishra, CEO& MD of BrahMos Aerospace.

BrahMos lends the competence to all three wings of armed forces with its impeccable capacity to be launched from air, land, sea and sub-sea against deep, well shielded and hidden sea and land targets while evading the enemy air defence systems due to its variable trajectory.


After Desi Bofors, Jabalpur set to produce BrahMos missiles

After Desi Bofors (Dhanush 155mm gun), Jabalpur is likely to get the manufacturing unit for producing BrahMos, the indigenous supersonic cruise missile which is one of the world's fastest conventional missile.

A team associated with the BrahMos project visited Jabalpur on April 25, and surveyed some areas for feasibility of the project. A total of around 70 to 100 hectares of land is required for the unit, sources said.

District collector Jabalpur, Mahesh Chandra Chaudhary confirmed about the visit of officials to survey land.

"A senior officer connected with the BrahMos project visited the city. They need 70 to 100 acre of land for setting up a BrahMos unit in Jabalpur. They also surveyed some land but the exact spot for the construction of the factory has not been finalised. The final word depends on the project team and whether they find the place suitable," Chaudhary told TOI.

Sources meanwhile told TOI that setting up of the missile production unit at Jabalpur is almost a certainty. Geographically Jabalpur is located at the centre of the country and is also relatively safe from security point of view, added sources. Land for the project will also be finalised by next month, said sources.

What has tilted the BrahMos project in Jabalpur's favour is the presence of related units, like ordnance factory, central ordnance depot, gun carriage factory, vehicle factory, grey iron foundry, sources said.

The missile project if established in the district will generate around 10,000 direct and indirect employment, said sources.
BrahMos is considered to the fastest supersonic missile that can follow and hit its target with precision. It is a joint venture between India and Moscow and hence derives the name Brah (Brahamaputra and Mos- Moscow)

Senior leaders of the state are also taking a keen interest and are trying to get the missile production unit established in Jabalpur, said sources.Dhanush 155mm gun long-range artillery gun 'Dhanush', was showcased for the first time at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. It is manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) at a cost of about Rs 14.50 crore a piece.


April 26, 2017

Govt contracts needed to jump-start defence manufacturing in India: Airbus

Pierre de Bausset, Airbus India’s President and Managing Director, said the government has to start placing large-scale contracts to boost manufacturing in the defence sector. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said Airbus has offered 5,000 crore as potential investments which will come in when it obtains defence programmes from the government. Excerpts:

What is the update on your collaboration with Mahindra for military helicopters manufacturing?

We want to put India on the world map for military helicopter manufacturing together with Mahindra Defence. To that effect, our partnership with Mahindra envisages creation of a private sector champion in India for manufacturing military helicopters. This includes the Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH), Reconnaissance & Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) and Naval Multi-Role Helicopter (NMRH). When released, the chapter on ‘Strategic Partnerships’ under the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP), may also influence the contours of our collaboration and offering to India.

How is your proposal to build a final assembly line for the Panther helicopter in India developing?

We are proposing to set up a final assembly line in India and make it the global hub for Panther helicopters. The production line will fulfil the Indian order as well as meet export demand. The proposal will materialise if we are awarded the Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) programme.

What is the latest on the C295W programme?

The evaluation of our proposal to build the C295W in India with Tata is advancing. The part of the field evaluation trials we were involved in is over.

Tell us about the growth of your defence business in India?

‘Make in India’ is at the heart of our business strategy and you will see that our engagement with India goes beyond just sales. There is a lot of engagement on the industrial level. On the defence side, in particular, we are offering the C295W as a replacement for the Avro aircraft. As I just said, the proposal is advancing as per the DPP. Together with Tata, the programme holds out the promise of creating a world-class private sector aircraft manufacturing capability in India within an ambitious time-frame, and nurturing a widened supplier base with an increasingly skilled workforce.

I have already touched upon the partnership with Mahindra Defence to produce military helicopters in India. To add to that, even before we have a contract from the government, we have started working with Mahindra on an industrial level. Last year, we awarded a contract to Mahindra Aerostructures to make airframe parts for the Panther. These parts will be produced at the Mahindra facility in Bengaluru. They will be shipped to the Airbus Helicopter production line in Marignane, France, where they will be integrated with the rest of the airframe assembly and will form a critical part of the Panthers sold worldwide.

What is the status of the Coast Guard competition for 14 twin-engine Heavy Helicopters and are you are offering a MRO for the EC725 as part of the offer?

The EC725, now marketed globally as the H225M, has been selected by the Indian Coast Guard, and we are in the final contract stage with the customer. Yes, as part of our offer, a MRO facility to structure the Performance Based Logistics support package for these helicopters is proposed in Goa. All 14 EC725 will be re-assembled and flight-tested there. It is going to be a green-field project. The facility will include intermediate and depot level maintenance.

What happened to the mid-air tanker deal?

The outstanding RFP for the acquisition was withdrawn by the Ministry of Defence last year. We have no new information.

Are you on track to achieving a target of over $2 billion worth of procurement in India till 2020 covering both civil as well as defence?

We crossed $500 million in annual procurement from India in 2015 and had given the guidance of exceeding $2 billion in cumulative procurement in the next five years up to 2020. I can say that we are well poised to beat our own expectations.

You said last year Airbus’ investments into India could exceed 5,000 crore. How much of that has fructified so far?

The figure refers to potential investments across all the defence ‘Make in India’ and industrialisation programmes we are pursuing along with our partners in India.

How much of it fructifies depends on the programmes we receive from the Indian government. As I mentioned in my earlier responses, a number of proposals are in the pipeline. But these are not the only investments.

How do you read the several policy announcements made by the government in boosting manufacturing in defence?

What has been done is to lay the groundwork.

What is needed now is for the government to award a few large scale contracts to jumpstart Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and manufacturing activity as part of ‘Make in India’ in the aerospace and defence sector.


Russia working on new medium-calibre ammo

Russia has confirmed that it is working on what it calls "special shrapnel" ammunition for use by 30 mm and 57 mm cannons, with the latter likely developed with a view to engaging unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The work is being carried out by Russia's NPO Pribor research and industrial association, which is affiliated with Rostec subsidiary TechMash (Russia's largest ammunition manufacturer), and is still in its early stages, with no projected initial operational capability (IOC) as yet.
The new Russian 57 mm ammunition will probably be along similar lines to the Rheinmetall Air Defence Oerlikon AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction) 35 mm ammunition, which is used by a number of air defence weapons. AHEAD 35 mm is programmed as it leaves the weapon and contains a number of small submunitions that are ejected at the correct time of flight in front of the target.
The Russian 57 mm round would be for a new mobile air defence weapon that is currently being developed as the Derivatsiya - PVO anti-aircraft artillery system, or ZAK-57. This is based on a modified BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle fitted with a brand new turret.
The Derivatsiya's 57 mm cannon is probably the same as that installed in the ASU-220M Baikal remote-controlled turret (RCT), which has been developed by the Burevestnik Central Research Institute, part of the UralVagonZavod group. The ASU-220M RCT is also armed with a 7.62 mm PKTM co-axial machine gun (MG) and the weapons are coupled to a computerised fire control system (FCS), with both crew members provided with stabilised day/night sights incorporating a laser rangefinder.
The AU-220M turret has already been shown installed on a modified BMP-3 IFV hull and has been marketed to a number of countries overseas, especially in the Middle East.
Russian sources have confirmed that in addition to firing conventional natures of 57 mm ammunition it was also fire a guided 57 mm round to enable targets to be engaged at ranges beyond the 57 mm weapon's direct-fire range, which is quoted as 12 km when fired horizontally and up to 8 km when fired vertically.


'We are Indians, not Chinese': Arunachal Pradesh students slams China for renaming six places

Rebuking China for naming six places of Arunachal Pradesh on its map, the students union of the state on Monday held a protest rally against the move while criticising the state government for remaining silent on the issue.

The Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) reached the streets of China with placards and banners in their hands, while shouting 'anti-China' slogans. They also burnt an effigy of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

To take revenge of the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal, China has renamed six places of the northeastern state as its own. Upset from the move, students Union said Arunachal Pradesh has never been a part of China.

"Arunachal Pradesh has never been a part of China and Arunachalees hold strongest patriotism for India.

"Arunachal is an integral part of India and if we go by history, people of the state had participated in the country's freedom movement. People here have never been under the Chinese rule," AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said.

He added that state government needs to address the matter seriously.

Naming the remote parts of Arunachal on the official map of China, Beijing had said Arunachal Pradesh is part of south Tibet with close Buddhist links with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the Mainland.

China had said that the names were changed to show to India the “sovereignty” of the region.


April 24, 2017

Israel offers strike-capable drones to India

Israel has offered to sell India its armed unmanned aerial vehicles Eitan or Heron TP in order to enhance its stand-off strike as well as long-range strategic strike capability. The offer is still on the table, with South Block interested in bringing the unmanned weapon through “Make in India” route.

With the security establishment convinced that long range stand-off weapons would take precedence over direct engagement in future conflicts, New Delhi has been interested in acquiring armed medium-high altitude, long-endurance UAVs with payload capability in the form of laser-guided bombs or air-to-ground missiles. In this context, Indian military has been looking towards the US and Israel for acquiring Predators or Heron TPs.

While the US is expected to allow sale of General Atomics-developed Guardian UAV as a first step towards either the Predator or Reaper Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) to India, Tel Aviv has already made a formal offer for the Heron TP to the defence ministry. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron TP can fly at a height of 35,000 feet, has a flight endurance of up to 52 hours and carries a weapon payload. India has Heron UAVs in service with the air force already, where they are being used for surveillance as well as in the target acquisition and reconnaissance role.

South Block sources said while New Delhi is interested in the Heron TP, it wants the vehicle to be manufactured in the country through a joint venture with IAI under “Make in India” with total transfer of technology. “The decision on acquisition will be taken before the PM visits Tel Aviv in July on his return from the G-20 meeting in Hamburg,” said an official.


$5.8 Billion Indian Missile Deal Hangs By Thread, Decider In A Week

Later this month in the famed Pokhran weapons testing ranges in India’s western desert sector, French, Swedish and Russian teams will arrive for one of the most crucial field trials in their collective careers. The teams have weathered a meandering trial process that has stretched over seven years. But the sheer value of the prize at hand — $5.8 billion worth of air defence weaponry — makes it impossible for the teams to even contemplate cutting their losses and walking away.
It is, by far, India’s largest single deal for anti-air missiles. If uncertainty has raised its head more than a few times since 2010 when it all began, the Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORADS) programme, which looks to gear the Indian Army with 800 manned twin launchers and 5,000 missiles, stands at a precarious position that has flummoxed all three contenders in the race.
Before the end of this month, trial teams from MBDA, Saab and KB Mashinostroyeniya will take the now-familiar flight to Rajasthan, and then onto the Pokhran ranges bearing their products: the Mistral, RBS 70NG and Igla-S. India currently operates an early version of the Igla in a single shoulder-mounted launcher configuration. The systems India is looking to purchase will be twin launchers.
Army sources familiar with the final test phase spoke to Livefist about what will happen in Pokhran this month, providing an intriguing picture of a deal that stands buffeted by a paradox: it is imperative that a deal is concluded, going by the tactical air defence gaps that the Army highlights regularly. On the other hand, several blips in the process have pushed it out into uncertain territory. Livefist has the state of play:
For starters, the only system that will engage in any firing during the re-confirmatory trials this month is Saab’s RBS 70NG. While the Russian team has been asked to demonstrate the crucial act of target acquisition — an obvious pre-requisite before firing efficacy can even be gauged, the French team will be on site as observers, though the MBDA team has other non-compliance issues to set straight during the final round.
More interestingly, Russia is ‘back in the game’, in the words of a senior official with the Weapons & Equipment Directorate of the Army. Those words are significant, given that Russia simply absented itself from a handful of earlier trial rounds, and has failed to meet requirements a few times. While this has seemingly thrust the contest onto an uneven playing field, no punitive or procedural action appears to have been taken against Russia’s KBP. In case you’re wondering why MBDA and Saab haven’t thought of lodging formal protests with the Indian MoD, our best guess is that contenders rarely want to rock the boat and risk a full programme abort — something that has happened several times before in Indian contracting.
Army sources say while all three systems have had performance or technical compliance niggles since field evaluations began in 2012, the Russian Igla-S had the most significant issues: firing was deemed not successful during field trials, target acquisition continuously failed, and, to top it all, the Igla-S didn’t have a state-of-the-art sight during trials. To the likely consternation of the Swedish and French teams, the overpowering sense is that Russia isn’t at any apparent disadvantage going into the final test round.
Sources tell Livefist that Russia’s move to field the 9K333 Verba system in place of the Igla-S two years ago was principally because of the latter’s performance issues. However, replacing a product mid-course under an unusually strict set of targets charted out in the RfP was simply not an option, and would have meant an instant reboot to the contest. Russia was told the Verba couldn’t come anywhere near the race, and the VSHORADS contest would only test the Igla-S.
Livefist reached out to the three companies to get them on the record about the upcoming trial round. While KBP declined comment, Saab and MBDA did.
A spokesperson for MBDA said in a statement over email, “We have to respect the process and do our best to further convince the Indian customer that MBDA’s VSHORAD is the best solution for India’s requirements, both in terms of its operational capability and in terms of the industrial offer we are making – namely the manufacture of the Mistral missile under license, this includes ToT. We also stress the advantages of the Mistral missile being the same missile that will be arming the Rudra and LCH (the Mistral ATAM systems already integrated on Rudra and currently being integrated on LCH). We have successfully carried out FETs set by the Indian customer in the 3 environmental domains stipulated – desert, sea and altitude. Our Mistral MANPADS passed these tests including technical lab trials on time and on schedule to the full satisfaction of the Indian customer.”
In what can only be interpreted as an indication of the playing field thus far, MBDA’s statement concludes, “Because further FETs are now being sought by the Indian customer in a move to carry out and conclude the fullest evaluation of the competing options, the DPP requires that all the competing vendors are given a further and equal chance to prove their products’ capabilities to meet the Indian requirement.”
A spokesperson for Saab India said, “Saab never comments on ongoing trials, and we will fully, as always, cooperate with customer requirements. Furthermore, we are confident that Saab’s solution of the RBS 70 NG and the HARD Radar is the perfect system for the Indian Armed Forces’ requirement of a VSHORAD system. Besides being the world’s most modern system in this category, it will provide much more versatility and flexibility to India, at the lowest life cycle cost. What is also well-known is that we are already transferring technology to Indian companies for this program, and will have the best Make in India offer.”
History has shown an abort only ever a step away in any Indian arms acquisition process. As Livefist reported last year, there has been talk of simply scrapping the VSHORADS contest and starting it afresh. That would, by all accounts, be disastrous: it would belie the urgency of plugging India’s air defence gaps, the costs sunk into evaluating systems both by the government as well as the contenders as part of the  expensive ‘No Cost No Commitment’ stipulation. And finally, given that delays have almost never resulted in a better deal or savings for the country, it would cement India’s already shaky reputation for being a whimsical buyer.
While procedural back and forth is only to be expected in India’s defence contracting process, a question that has swollen over the last two-three years is whether decision-making has been hamstrung once again by a system unwilling to follow laid down rules and conclude the exercise. Has the subjectivity that has bedeviled scores of earlier contracting efforts afflicted this one too? Or, come the end of April, could the Army have everything it needs to make a final recommendation on its most significant air defence deal? We’ll be keeping a close watch.


April 22, 2017

Indian Navy Test-Fires BrahMos Missile; Joins Global Elite Club

Indian Navy today successfully test-fired the Brahmos land attack supersonic cruise missile in the Bay of Bengal, joining an elite club of navies to have capability to strike on land targets from sea. The long-range missile was fired from guided missile frigate Teg on a target on land and it yielded desired results, a top navy official said.

The BrahMos Missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its anti-ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy.

"This successful maiden firing of BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile has significantly enhances the prowess of Indian Navy and has placed India into the club of select few nations," Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said.Navies of the US, Russia, Britain and China have similar strike capabilities.

Majority of the frontline ships of Indian Navy, like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, are capable of firing the land attack supersonic missile.

Land attack variant of BrahMos missile provides Indian naval ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland and far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea.

Indian Navy is upgrading its weapons system and platforms as part of a major modernisation programme.

Last month, it had successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile for the first time from an indigenously built Kalvari class submarine, enhancing its "sub-surface" warfare prowess.

The weapon was fired from the submarine, the first of India's six Scorpene-class submarines which are being built under the Project 75.
 All the six diesel-electric attack submarines will be equipped with the anti-ship missile, which has a proven record in combat.
These missiles will provide the vessels the ability to neutralise surface threats at extended ranges.


India, South Korea ink pacts on artillery guns


This is the second major deal India has made in guns after the one with U.S.

India and South Korea on Friday signed two agreements to build artillery guns for the Indian Army and for collaboration in shipbuilding. One of them is an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the governments while the other is a manufacturing agreement between two private companies.
The Inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for defence industry co-operation in shipbuilding was signed by Ashok Kumar Gupta, Secretary Defence Production from India and Chang Myoung-Jin, Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea.
India has already nominated Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam while South Korea will designate their shipyard soon. The MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both sides, Defence Ministry said in a statement.
“The MoU will come into effect from the date of signature by both sides and will be initially valid for a period of five years and would be automatically extended for further successive five year at a time,” the statement added.
Contract with L&T
The two sides will identify specific projects to work on and this cooperation is expected to enable HSL to upgrade and modernise its facilities.
Indian engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Hanwa Techwin of South Korea signed a contract on Friday to manufacture the K9 Vajra-T tracked, self-propelled artillery guns for the Indian Army.
“The first of the guns should be delivered within this financial year,” said Jayant Patil, head of defence and aerospace, L&T. Deliveries would be completed in 42 months.


April 21, 2017

41 ships to join fleet soon in Indian Navy

Forty-one ships of different variants, including an aircraft carrier, and submarines, including the nuclear ones and Scorpenes, are expected to the join the Indian Navy in the next couple of years.

This was disclosed by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, here on Thursday.

He was interacting with the media after giving away awards and medals at the Naval Investiture Ceremony at the Eastern Naval Command here.

According to Admiral Lanba, the vessels were being built at different shipyards, that include government-owned and private enterprises at various places in the country. “The Indian Navy is in fine fettle and is a potent blue water force. And the induction of these ships and subs will definitely enhance its strength further,” he said.

Referring to a question on the impact of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), he said that it was already notified by the Indian government that it passes through some sections of India and we have taken note of it.

INS Viraat ::

On whether INS Viraat would be given to Andhra Pradesh, Admiral Lanba said,

“The aircraft carrier has been decommissioned on March 6, and it is now primarily the decision of the Ministry of Defence. But the Andhra Pradesh government had approached the MoD on 50-50 sharing basis, which I understand has been rejected by the MoD. The option is still open and it all depends on further negotiations.”