December 14, 2017

Learn from Japan's Mistakes, China's Defence Budget is Already Three Times Higher Than India

“Do you foresee India fighting a full-scale conventional war in the near future?” is a question often asked of me during informal interactions. My reply is generally in the negative, and the next question which inevitable follows is, “Then why is the Indian military always clamouring for a larger defence budget?”

Taken at face value, there is some justification in this argument. India’s defence budget is the fifth-largest in the world, and military expenditure certainly impacts on development programmes which are aimed at lifting India’s 224 million people out of poverty. Under these circumstances, it is also politically expedient to suppress defence spending.

However, we must also consider the larger question of India’s future trajectory in the world order. To be recognised as a major global player, India has to maximise its national power. A state’s national power is a combination of military, economic, technical, demographic and soft power. These are all important for a nation, but as John J. Mearsheimer, the author of the offensive realist theory, points out, “In international politics...a state’s effective power is ultimately a function of its military forces and how they compare with the military forces of rival states.”

I am not underplaying the importance of economic strength because without wealth, military power cannot be built. But wealth by itself does not bring global or even regional dominance. Japan is a clear example. Despite being the second largest economy in the world, it was never considered an international power because of its small military and the outsourcing of its security to the Americans. On the other hand, Soviet Union, with its military might, was one of the two superpowers. Even today, Russia with a GDP which is less than one-tenth of the United States, is posing a challenge to the latter in Europe and Syria. China’s economic rise was seen largely as peaceful until the time it started significantly upgrading its military capability.

Military power is meant not only for fighting wars but also for deterring them. President Roosevelt called the U.S. Navy as, “an infinitely more potent factor for peace than all the peace societies of every kind and sort.” A strong military enhances international credibility and strengthens a country’s position in bilateral and international negotiations. It enables a country’s leader to impose his will on the adversary.

China has been India’s main rival and for decades has sought to undermine India’s influence. In his book, The Grand Chessboard, published 20 years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, “Geography is...an important factor driving Chinese interests in making an alliance with Pakistan and establishing a military presence in Burma. In both cases, India is the geostrategic target. Close military cooperation with Pakistan increases India’s security dilemma and limits India’s ability to establish itself as a regional hegemon in South Asia and as a geopolitical rival to China.”

Even as China has followed a remarkably consistent geostrategic approach, India’s security focus has remained inward looking, perhaps due to the many insurgencies which the country has faced since its independence. Therefore, the political and bureaucratic elite have tended to see the employment of Indian military power either for tackling internal conflicts, which is being successfully done, or for direct war fighting, which is today considered unlikely. The military leadership, isolated from decision making, has been unable to present a coherent and convincing plan on future force structures and capability development.

As a result, years of financial neglect have chipped away at India’s military capability. The problems in the three services are too well known to warrant a repetition here. Despite this, the prevailing view in the country’s leadership appears to be that the military will have to live with the current budgetary levels. This will seriously impact national security in the long run. The Border Roads Organisation could be transformed into the most efficient unit in the country but strategic roads to the Chinese border will continue to face delays unless the annual allocation of funds for roads is significantly increased.

China’s defence budget is already three times the size of India’s and is set to grow to four times by 2020. Unless measures are taken by India, this gap will continue to increase and disparity between the military capabilities of the two countries will become too large to be bridged. This disparity will obviously impact on the future of India-China strategic balance.

To be fair, the government is not completely to blame. The three services also need to take a hard look at their current force structures, new technologies and the changing nature of warfare. There is too much focus on numbers — of squadrons, ships, tanks, divisions — rather than capability. This has pushed up revenue expenditures, particularly in the case of Army which in the last budget had only 17% of its total allocation for capital purchases.

Manpower has become the main focus. The redeployment of about 57,000 officers and other ranks, as recommended by the Shekatkar Committee, is touted as a big and “far-reaching” reform process being initiated in the Army for the first time after independence. There is little visible action in the fields of information warfare, cyber warfare, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, and robotics, all of which will have a major impact on future wars. The American military is estimated to be funding approximately 80 per cent of all AI research in the United States. We are still struggling with providing a rifle and bulletproof jackets for the infantry soldier.

Joseph Nye developed the concept of soft power being as important as hard power but even he acknowledges that “military power provides a degree of security that is to order as oxygen is to breathing: little noticed until it becomes scarce, at which point its absence dominates all else.” The nature of India’s civil-military relations has prevented regular consultation between the military and political leadership for crafting of a comprehensive national security strategy. They must now come together to seriously work on a plan to build a future military in line with India’s global aspirations.


INS Kalvari submarine commissioned but Indian Navy’s sub-sea power is below par

INS Kalvari was commissioned into Indian Navy’s fleet on Thursday after a delay of five years but the country needs to push harder to meet the target of building 24 submarines by the year 2030.

Almost 18 years after the country cleared an ambitious submarine-building programme to scale up its undersea warfare capabilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned India-built INS Kalvari into the navy in Mumbai on Thursday.
It is the first conventional submarine to join the naval fleet in 17 years.
INS Kalvari is the first of six the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, under licence from French firm Naval Group, previously called DCNS. The submarine should have been inducted into the navy more than five years ago but problems relating to transfer of technology led to missed deadlines in the ~23,562-crore programme called Project-75.
The navy hopes to induct the remaining five diesel-electric attack boats by 2020.
Military affairs experts said the commissioning of INS Kalvari would be a significant milestone in the navy’s submarine-building programme but the country needs to push harder to meet the target of building 24 submarines by 2030.
The government set this target in 1999 to sharpen the navy’s underwater prowess.
The navy commissioned INS Sindhushastra in July 2000, but the Kilo-class submarine imported from Russia wasn’t part of the 1999 plan. INS Kalvari is the second submarine to roll out of MDL after the yard built INS Shankul, a German HDW Type 209 boat commissioned in May 1994.
“Project-75 has finally come to fruition and that’s great news. But we have a long way to go in terms of establishing undersea dominance,” said Sudarshan Shrikhande, a retired rear admiral.
According to him, modern submarines have high combat effectiveness compared to boats built in the ’60s and ’70s. “The navy would need several dozens of these boats in the coming decades and we need to move very fast.”
The Scorpene submarines are expected to become the mainstay of the Indian fleet, replacing the ageing Russian Kilo-class and German HDW vessels that are almost three decades old.
India operates a fleet of 14 conventional submarines, including INS Kalvari, nuclear-powered attack boat INS Chakra leased from Russia and INS Arihant, the homegrown submarine that can launch nuclear ballistic missiles.
The commissioning of INS Arihant last year completed India’s nuclear triad or the ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea.
The second Arihant-class submarine, called INS Arighat, was reportedly launched in November and is likely to join the naval fleet in 2021. Navy officials are not authorised to speak about the secret programme to build nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
India plans to deploy four Arihant-class boats to reinforce India’s strategic deterrent force at sea. This endeavour does not come under the 1999 submarine-building plan.
India’s sub-sea power is way behind China’s. The neighbour’s underwater capability is far superior with more than 60 diesel-electric attack submarines and a mix of 10 nuclear attack submarines and nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
It will not be easy for India to match the Chinese underwater fleet in the near future, said retired Commodore C Uday Bhaskar, the director of Society for Policy Studies.
“We have to focus on using our underwater capabilities in a more innovative manner to meet the desired political objectives,” he said.
The navy has set the ball rolling for building another six advanced conventional submarines in the country under Project-75I as part of the overall scheme to deploy a robust underwater force.
Under the Rs 60,000-crore programme, the vessels will be built by an Indian yard in collaboration with a foreign defence contractor under the defence ministry’s strategic partnership model. It seeks to bring high-end military technology into the country for manufacturing cutting-edge military equipment.
But the project remains on the drawing board, despite the defence ministry granting “acceptance of necessity” for the submarines a decade ago.
“The submarine fleet is well below desired levels. And that’s because of poor policies at the highest levels of the government,” Bhaskar said.
The navy sent a request for information to half-a-dozen foreign manufacturers this July seeking details to build submarines in India. With acquisition of weapons governed by a detailed set of standards, inking a final contract could take several years.
“As far as Project-75I is concerned, little progress has been made in the past 10 years. That’s the sad tale of weapon acquisition in India,” said a retired navy chief, who did not wish to be identified.
Bigger than the Scorpene, the Project-75I submarines will be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to increase their submerged endurance to nearly three weeks. Conventional submarines have to surface almost every second day to operate their air-breathing diesel engines, running the risk of detection.
The Project-75I boats will also have land attack missile capability.
At his annual Navy Day press conference on December 1, navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba announced that India’s plan to build nuclear-powered attack submarines was taking shape. “The process has started,” he said, without disclosing details.
The government approved the plan to build six nuclear-powered submarines in 2015, tweaking the 30-year submarine-building programme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.
That plan laid the roadmap for inducting 12 conventional submarines by 2012 followed by an equal number before 2030.
“Our priority is to have a fleet of 18 new conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered boats,” a senior navy officer said.
While Project-75 and Project-75I are expected to churn out 12 diesel-electric boats, six more submarines are planned under the yet-to-be announced programme Project-76.
“The best practices of Project-75 and Project-75I will dictate the design of the newest boats under Project 76,” the officer said.


Taiwan Responds Quickly to Chinese ‘Island Encirclement’ Drill

Taiwan is confident of its defenses and responded quickly to Chinese air force “island encirclement” drills this week, the self-ruled island’s government said, denouncing the rise in China’s military deployments as irresponsible.
China considers self-ruled and democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a wayward province under Chinese control.
Tensions have risen in recent days after a senior Chinese diplomat threatened that China would invade Taiwan if any U.S. warships made port visits there.
On Monday, Chinese jets carried out “island encirclement patrols” around Taiwan, with state media showing pictures of bombers with cruise missiles slung under their wings.
US port visits
And on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorizes the possibility of mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.
Such visits would be the first since the United States ended formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 and established ties with Beijing.
Taiwan presidential spokesman Alex Huang, speaking to Taiwan media in comments reported late Wednesday, said the defense ministry had kept a close watch on the patrols and responded immediately and properly.
Taiwan “can ensure there are no concerns at all about national security, and people can rest assured,” Huang said.
Both sides of the narrow Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from its giant neighbor, have a responsibility to protect peace and stability, he added.
“Such a raised military posture that may impact upon and harm regional peace and stability and cross-strait ties does not give a feeling of responsibility, and the international community does not look favorably upon this,” Huang was quoted as saying.
Soured relations
Relations have soured considerably since Tsai Ing-wen, who leads Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, won presidential elections last year.
China suspects Tsai wants to declare the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security.
Taiwan is well equipped with mostly U.S. weapons but has been pressing for more advanced equipment to deal with what it sees as rising threat from China. The United States is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.


December 13, 2017

Government considering developing own civilian aircraft: Official

The government is considering manufacturing civilian aircraft and would like to move ahead with the plan "very fast", a civil aviation ministry official said today.

The country's domestic aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world and has registered high double digit growth for more than two years.

Many airlines are embarking on ambitious expansion plans and authorities are working on developing new airports to cater to the rising demand as well as boosting regional air connectivity.

"We are considering manufacturing our own civilian aircraft... definitely, the concept is there and we are looking for smaller aircraft like a 20-seater which can be used within the country and this also is supported by our policy of Make in India," said Shefali Juneja, Director at the Civil Aviation ministry.

Currently, aircraft are imported or taken on lease from overseas lessors.

"Developing our own civilian aircraft is something we are considering... and is something which we need to move forward very fast," she said.

She was speaking at the 'ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit' here.

In efforts to strengthen air connectivity between India and ASEAN nations, a civil aviation task force is being developed to encourage consultations between the countries.

Under the ASEAN-India cooperation framework, a joint working group is being set up and it would initially focus on safety and security aspects, besides air navigation services.

The first meeting of the joint working group is to be held in January 2018, Juneja said.

At present, there are no air services between India and four ASEAN countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines and Lao-PDR.

Listing out the challenges in the India-ASEAN aviation market, Juneja also said there is "only one-sided operation by ASEAN carriers in India-Myanmar, India-Indonesia, India- Vietnam markets".

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has 10 members, including include Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei.

The summit was jointly organised by industry body CII and ASEAN India Centre.


‘Contract for 36 Rafales include weapons suite superior to the earlier case … higher capability more apt for IAF’

As a fighter pilot with long experience, do you think Rafale fully meets India’s operational requirements?

I had the opportunity to fly the F-16 in the US, Gripen in Sweden and Eurofighter in the UK during official visits to these countries as chief of air staff. I also flew the Rafale in India during ‘Exercise Garuda’ with the French air force. These fighter aircraft are very impressive in their performance, equipped with state-of-the-art systems and weapons to execute operational tasks. It is difficult to choose one from the other and only experts can evaluate their capabilities against well-formulated specifications.

Rafale is a multi-role aircraft which can fully meet IAF’s operational requirements in the configuration that has been ordered. It is one of the best aircraft in the world in its class and was selected after a very competitive bidding process and due diligence. India has been able to obtain many add-ons that will substantially enhance combat capability of the aircraft and provide the IAF with technological and combat edge.

Government has claimed that the deal for 36 Rafales is superior in terms of weapons suite and other capabilities than the one negotiated earlier. Do you agree?

The contract for 36 Rafales includes weapons suite much superior to the earlier case and to many contemporary fighters. The weapons suite includes Meteor and variants of MICA (a weapons system) beyond visual range missiles. Considering national security requirements, higher capability of Rafale aircraft ordered now is more apt for IAF.

How do the Rafales for India compare with aircraft supplied to French air force or other air forces?

The Rafales for IAF will have several India specific enhancements, which are not present in Rafales operated by other countries. These capabilities pertain to enhancements in radar performance, advanced electronic warfare suite and ability to operate from high altitude airfields – unique to our terrain and climatic conditions.

There are allegations of violations of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)? Can you tell us about this intergovernmental agreement (IGA)?

DPP clearly allows procurements under IGA from friendly foreign countries and many procurements have been through IGA. Rules require cabinet approval before entering into agreement. The procurement process in MoD (ministry of defence) is well established and all the details are documented. I am aware that due approvals were taken in this case too and the IGA was signed only after approval of the CCS (cabinet committee on security).

It has been alleged that the agreement to procure 36 Rafales has caused loss to the exchequer.

The most important task of the price negotiation committee (PNC), which is a multi-disciplinary body of professionals with domain expertise, was to achieve a final price which had to be better than the previous Dassault Aviation proposal. A very detailed study was conducted and the PNC bargained hard. Cost comparisons are very complex and these have to be compared at the same datum. Most of the misconception on costs has resulted from comparing them with different base years, as also not having taken into consideration the significant differences in the deliverables. The current procurement costs in the IGA are better than the previous proposal. There were upfront cost reductions, and the IGA catered for better maintenance and weapons package.

Government has been accused of promoting the interests of an industrial group. How did Reliance ADAG come to be associated with the procurement?

The IGA was signed between two sovereign governments and no private individual, firm or entity was involved in the process from the Indian side.

Could another vendor have been brought in to ensure a competitive environment for price discovery and cost negotiation?

In the original MMRCA proposal, MoD had gone through a very competitive bidding and selection process. MoD used the available data on prices and other variables to conclude an agreement in the form of an IGA for the same aircraft. This was perhaps the best way to address the immediate critical shortages of IAF though it fell well short of our requirements.

Can you tell us how the deal marks an improvement, besides price, over what was being earlier negotiated?

First, all 36 aircraft will be delivered in flyaway condition, as against 18, in a shorter timeframe. Second, advanced training to both air crew and ground crew will be conducted over and above the original offer. Third, enhanced period of industrial support for maintenance of the fleet has been catered for. Fourth, the performance-based logistics covers two squadrons instead of one and the period could be extended to 12 years. Fifth, the contract caters for complete maintenance facilities at two independent locations, taking care of various theatres of operations.


India puts forward new plan to buy helicopters after ending talks with Lockheed

After suspending negotiations with Lockheed Martin in April over the price of 16 naval multirole helicopters, India’s Ministry of Defence has mooted a fresh plan for acquiring 24 helicopters for about $1.87 billion.

A high-priority global tender will now be floated instead to source the 24 helicopters off the shelf to meet a pressing need within the Indian Navy, according to an MoD official.

Negotiations with Lockheed were terminated following expiry of the price bid in March, and subsequently the tender was withdrawn in April, he said.

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky S-70B was selected over NHIndustries’ NH90 helicopter in 2011 in a global tender issued by the Indian Navy in 2009 for 16 naval utility helicopters at a cost of $1 billion.

The service asked the MoD in July to consider procuring the helicopters from the U.S. under the Foreign Military Sales program, a senior Indian Navy official said.

However, the request was turn down because Indian procurement procedures do not allow for single-supplier preference but instead prefer global competitions through which weapons or platforms are selected based on lowest price.

Commenting on delays in India’s defense procurements, a CEO of a foreign defense company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “MoD must adhere to a strict timeline in selecting the platform and awarding [defense] contracts, otherwise it will lead to huge cost escalation and even the cancellation of the program itself.”

India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance is now kick-starting all major defense programs under the Strategic Partners policy, which is expected to enhance indigenization by cutting imports and boosting exports, according to a second MoD official.

Under this program, 123 naval multirole helicopters costing about $7 billion in the 9- to 12.5-ton categories will be manufactured by a domestic private company with technology transfer from an overseas helicopter original equipment manufacturer.

The helicopters will be built by a private company at a facility in India. The company will be selected though a separate, robust competition requiring technology collaboration with a foreign OEM.

However, no private Indian company has ever built a helicopter platform, but rather only supplied subsystems.

In the next three to four months, an expression of interest will be issued to several private companies including Bharat Forge Limited, Reliance Defence, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Aerospace, and Tata Advanced Systems. The company will be selected on its financial and technical merits, production track record, and infrastructure capabilities.

Likewise, one OEM will be selected based on the technology transfer offer and option for building indigenous technology, building an industrial ecosystem and providing training support.

Both the OEM and the strategic partner will be selected separately by the MoD.

The ministry has already received an initial response to an August request for information from foreign OEMs such as Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Russian Helicopters, the second MoD official said. The final selection will take at least three to five years, and the helicopters will be rolled out in about 10 years.


Sweden offers to produce and export Gripen fighters from India

Reiterating Sweden's commitment to partner with India, Swedish Defence Secretary Jan Salestrand on Tuesday hinted that Sweden may offer to export its state-of-the-art Gripen fighter to the world from India.

In an exclusive interview with Times Now, Salestrand said that in case of a strategic cooperation with India on the Gripen fighter, Sweden "plans" to set up facilities and recruit personnel, who in turn can manufacture the aircraft from Indian soil. Salestrand's comments are significant on the backdrop of a push to Make in India by the present day government.

"They (SAAB- manufacturer of Gripen) plan to build a new plant here in India. They plan and recruit new personnel and set up a full facility. And I think that could be a good idea because it is easier then to get going. Probably, the first planes will be built in Sweden and quickly, the production could be done more or less in India," Salestrand told Times Now.

"We have some Gripen customers already, which we are happy. Brazil is one major customer that we will deliver 36 aircraft to within some years and hopefully, there would be another batch later on. So the more we will be in a very expensive and a technically advanced project like this, the better it will be for everyone. That remains to be seen. I can see that there is a great interest from a number of countries," he further said.

While the Indian government is likely to roll out a Request for Information (RFI) early next year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has expressed an interest in the fighter which was in the competition to India's multirole fighter.

Sweden, it is learnt, has already submitted documents to the Defence Ministry reiterating its commitment to the project, Salestrand said that Sweden looks at India as a strategic partner and that the number of planes to be supplied is "totally up to India".

"As I understand, it is a matter of more than 100 planes in the longer run. That remains to be seen," he said. "We see it as equal level (partnership) and we will try to share as much as we can," he added when asked about the Transfer of Technology.


December 12, 2017

Wrapped In Secrecy: New Report Reveals India’s Push For Building A Nuclear Submarine Fleet

India’s costliest defence project — a Rs 90,000 crore push to develop and construct a fleet of nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines monitored directly by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval — has been making progress away from media glare.
The effort has borne fruit in recent years in the form of INS Arihant – India’s first indigenously built SSBN – a submarine that is powered by a nuclear reactor and is equipped with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. The second Arihant class submarine, INS Arighat, was launched by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a low profile ceremony at the Ship Building Centre (SBC) drydock in Visakhapatnam on 19 November, a report by Sandeep Unnithan of India Today has revealed.

A high-profile launch of Arighat, a move that could have helped the government given elections in Gujarat, was rejected by the Prime Minister’s Office to maintain a high level of secrecy, the report has revealed. Arighat would undergo extensive sea trials for three years before being commissioned into the Indian Navy.
Two other SSBNs, which are still unnamed, will be launched by 2020 and 2022. The two boats will displace 1,000 tonnes more than the Arihant class and will be equipped with eight ballistic missiles or twice the Arihant's missile load. The design was tweeted a decade ago to make space for additional missiles after the then finance minister P Chidambaram questioned the utility of having just four nuclear-tipped missiles on a boat worth billions.
The nuclear reactor for these submarines has been developed by the Atomic Research Centre, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to arm the boats.
It doesn't end here. On 1 December, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba revealed that a Rs 60,000 crore project to build six indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) had been kicked-off by the Navy. SSNs are conventionally armed submarines powered by nuclear reactors. Unlike the SSBNs, these boats do not carry nuclear-tipped missiles. Design work for the submarines, displacing around 6,000 tonnes, is currently underway at the submarine design centre in Gurgaon.
The Navy is also working on a new series of 13,500-tonne ballistic missile submarines. The boats, built under this project, will be capable of carrying 12 nuclear-tipped missiles, compared to four carried by the Arihant-class submarines. Submarines developed under this project, the report says, will be on par with those fielded by the five permanent members of the United Nations. To be built at least a decade from now, the submarines will have 80 per cent. indigenous component.
India is, therefore, working on three different nuclear submarine projects at the same time. Although the effort behind the projects is indigenous with 60 per cent of the component for the Arihant-class being sourced from local manufacturers, the Navy has benefited from close design and technical cooperation with Russia. New Delhi is currently in talks with Moscow to lease another Akula-class submarine to replace the existing INS Chakra after its lease ends in 2022. INS Chakra, having suffered damage in an incident earlier this year, is currently non-operational.
Another important development comes in the form of Project Varsha. The project involves the construction of a nuclear submarine base for the Navy, reportedly at the cost of Rs 30,000 crore by 2022. The base will have concrete pens to securely house one of India’s costliest and most-advanced defence platforms.
Induction of these submarines, many of which are expected to be in active service by the end of the next decade, will strengthen India’s nuclear triad – the ability to launch a nuclear attack from land, air and sea. Although the naval variant of the triad is currently operational with INS Arihant in service, it is not as strong as that of China’s. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has at least four SSBNs in service.
The push for nuclear submarines also assumes greater importance as India has reportedly decided to hold back on its plan to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. A platform that is powered by nuclear reactors can remain operational for an extended period without breaks. Therefore, if India decides to have a conventional aircraft carrier, its reach would remain limited. Nuclear-powered submarines will be the only platforms that would provide the Indian Navy with the option to reach far-off waters.
Additionally, nuclear propulsion helps submarines move faster underwater, making them difficult to locate and track.
While the platforms are being designed and built, India has also been working on the armament. The DRDO has made progress on the K-series missiles, named after former president A P J Abdul Kalam. As part of the series, DRDO has developed K-15 (also called B-05) missile with a range of 750-km. While the K-15 has entered series production, the next missile in the series – K-4 – is in the trial phase.The fourth test of the K-4, which has a range of around 3,500 km, is expected sometime in December, the India Today report says. This will be followed by tests of K-5 missile, a 5,000 km SLBM. Work on the fourth missile in this series – K-6 – began at DRDO's Hyderabad-based Advanced Naval Systems in February. The missile is reported to have a range of 6,000 km.


India-Russia Talks on S-400 Air Defence System at 'Profound Stage', Contract Anytime: Russian Official

India had announced in October last year a deal on the Triumf air defence systems from Russia, worth over $5 billion and collaborate in making four state-of-the-art frigates besides setting up a joint production facility for making Kamov helicopters.
 India and Russia are likely to sign a contract soon on sale of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence system, a senior Russian official said, describing discussions on the deal to be at a "very profound stage".

Presently discussions are going on the exact number of S 400 Triumf air defence systems that will be bought by India, according to Viktor N Kladov, director for international cooperation and regional policy of Rostec, a state-owned Russian defence and industrial group.

Asked when will the contract be signed, Kladov said, "As soon as they prepare the contract it will be signed...I cannot give you the time as I don't know but anytime in future because the two teams are working very hard".

"It is being discussed and it is still at a very profound stage. Technical details are being discussed. The two teams are working very hard on negotiations. It is a very sophisticated system, lots of technical details are to be looked into.

"It also includes pricing, training, transfer of technologies, setting up of command and control centers. Even if we supply it now you can't use it as it will take two years to train your personnel only then you can use it," Kladov told PTI.

India had announced in October last year a deal on the Triumf air defence systems from Russia, worth over $5 billion and collaborate in making four state-of-the-art frigates besides setting up a joint production facility for making Kamov helicopters.

The deals were announced following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit held in Goa last year.

The S-400 Triumf long-range air defence missile system has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.

India and Russia have been in talks for over a year for the purchase of at least five systems of S-400 that will be a game changer in the region. It is capable of firing three types of missiles, creating a layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets.

While talking about the India-Russia joint venture contract for production of 200 Kamov 226T helicopters for the Indian armed forces, Kladov said he is hopeful that Russia would start supplying helicopters by the end of 2018, if the contract is signed in the beginning of 2018.

"I hope you (India) start receiving the first batch of helicopters by the end of 2018, if the contract is signed in January-February of 2018. But if the contract is signed at the end of 2018, then you will receive it in 2019. People are asking us when the contract will be signed but it is no longer our business, it is the business of the joint venture team. It is the joint venture team which is looking into it, which is largely controlled by the Indian side," Kladov said.

CEO of Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginisky earlier this month had said the contract for 200 KAMOV 226T is expected to be signed in the first quarter of 2018.

Kladov also said that Rostec will participate in the tender exercise of 111 helicopters for the Indian navy and is "hopeful" of winning it.

While speaking on the civil helicopter sector in India, Kladov said the Indian civil helicopter market "is underestimated even as the demand is huge...We have several helicopters to offer for the civil helicopter sector".

He said Russia will start producing MI-17A2 civil helicopters next year and will target the Indian civil helicopter market.

Kladov said Russia is willing to cooperate with India in order to develop single engine fighter aircraft with India.

"Russia don't produce single engine fighter aircraft. We have only twin engine aircraft to offer. But if India chooses to develop its own aircraft and if India is looking for an international cooperation to design such an aircraft we are willing to cooperate," he said.

Kladov said the strategy of Rostec is to achieve 50:50 by 2025 in terms of military:civil cooperation with India.

"Presently the share of military-civil cooperation with India is 70:30 but by 2025 we plan to achieve 50:50 in military: civil cooperation," he said.


Chinese Diplomat: Expect War if US Sends Navy Ships to Taiwan

One of China’s top diplomats to the US warned Washington that Beijing would invade Taiwan should the US ever send a Navy ship to the island nation, which China considers to be a wayward province.
Li Kexin, a minister with the Chinese Embassy to the United States, said during an embassy event on Friday that he had told American officials that China would activate their Anti-Secession Law if US naval vessels were sent to the Taiwan Strait.
The law, passed in 2005, denies Taiwan's statehood and outlines Beijing's methods to make the unification of the two Chinas a reality. But the bill also mentions "non-peaceful action" (that being warfare) if China believes that all possibility of a bloodless unification has been lost.o Li, the deployment of US Navy vessels would signal just such a thing. "The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People's Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force," Li told Chinese media, referring to Taiwan's largest port.
His words were echoed in an editorial that ran in a Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, owned by the Chinese Communist Party and often used to informally express the views of Beijing. "The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Strait," the editorial read.
"Li's words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure 'Taiwan independence,' the PLA will undoubtedly take action."

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry slammed Li's words on Saturday, accusing China of using threats and coercion when they claim to desire peaceful reconciliation. "These methods show a lack of knowledge about the real meaning of the democratic system and how a democratic society works," the ministry wrote in a statement.
Formally speaking, Taiwan — the formal name of which is the Republic of China — and China are still one country, as Taipei considers the mainland to be wayward provinces just as Beijing sees the island as a renegade territory. However, an independence movement consisting of left-wing parties that want to declare Taiwan a de jure sovereign state continues to gain traction on the island.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that currently controls the presidency and unicameral legislature of Taiwan is one such party that supports de jure Taiwanese independence.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has made her support for something like an independence referendum ambiguous. She claims that her ideal is to maintain peace with China and the security of Taiwan, but she also has refused to affirm the 1992 consensus — a semi-official agreement between the two Chinas that there was only one undivided China, although unsurprisingly neither side could agree which China was the real one.

Tsai's refusal has led to a significant degradation of cross-Strait relations since she took office in 2016. In July, China entered Taipei's air defense identification zone with their sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Later that month, Beijing buzzed Taiwanese airspace with fighter jets.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has seen a strengthening of ties between the US and Taiwan, often a sticking point in Washington-Beijing relations. Trump was the first president since Jimmy Carter to directly speak with the Taiwanese president, and in September the US Congress passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act which authorized naval cooperation between the US and Taiwanese militaries.
In 1958 and 1996, the US deployed naval vessels to the Taiwan Strait to defend the island during periods of sky-high tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Neither incident ended in World War III.

India quietly launches second SSBN

Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the launch of the second indigenously designed Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) on order for the Indian Navy (IN).

Official sources told Jane’s that the launch of Arighat , which took place during a low-key ceremony held at the Ship Building Centre (SBC) at Visakhapatnam on 19 November, entailed flooding the dry dock housing the SSBN to enable it to float into the surrounding waters for additional fitment ahead of its commissioning in 2020-21.

India has already started groundwork to develop its next successor with the development of next-generation Ballistic Missile Submarine. Arighat will be succeeded in the dry dock by two similar SSBNs that have been temporarily designated S4 and S4*.

S4 and S4 will be armed with K-4 and K-5 SLBMs. They will be India’s Second line of SSBN by the time all 6 Nuclear Submarines are operational.


Government looks for tech to ground rogue drones

As India readies to allow use of drones in its skies, including for commercial purposes, the aviation ministry has started parleys with companies to identify a technology that can bring down rogue drones.

Aviation secretary RN Choubey held a meeting with technology solutions providers in the last week of November to discuss modes available to neutralise a drone in case it is not confirming to norms of flight, a ministry official said. "There is a technological solution available to neutralise drones," the official told ETon condition of anonymity.

"This solution blocks the link between the operator of drone on the ground and the drone, leading to immediate fall of the drone." Such solutions would be provided to the agencies tasked to secure airports and other vital installations across the country, the official said.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) early last month announced a draft policy for drones. It has categorised drones into five segments on the basis of weight — from 250 grams to over 150 kilograms.

Drones will not be allowed to operate within 5 km of airports and New Delhi's Vijay Chowk area, where several important government establishments including the Parliament building are located, according to the policy. Also, drones cannot also be operated within 50 km of international borders and within 500 metre radius of strategic locations notified by the home ministry and of military installations.

As drones are expected to be extensively used for commercial purposes, the global airline industry is also looking for technological solutions to neutralise drones.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) will release a document on anti-drone technology, identifying the options and sharing considerations early next year, according to Rob Eagles, the association's director for air traffic management and infrastructure.

"There are various different antidrone technologies, including detection and disablement of unmanned vehicles, available," Eagles told ET. "However, some anti-drone technologies disrupt the GPS signal of the unmanned vehicle and can also impact the aircraft's connectivity, which needs to be an assessed appropriately," he said.