November 23, 2017

Indian Navy Ready to Receive Multiple Maneuverable Warhead Tracking Vessel

The vessel’s X-band precision tracking radar can track the inbound flight trajectories of multiple maneuverable warheads apart from monitoring the trajectories of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
 The Indian Navy is expecting to receive its first missile-range instrumentation ship (MRIS), the country's most advanced and largest ocean surveillance vessel, in the first quarter of 2018. The rigorous trial of the 1000-ton ship named VC-11184 is currently underway on the eastern coast of the country. Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), a Vizag-based shipbuilder, is hopeful that it will be able to meet the delivery deadline of the twin 9,000 kW diesel engine ship.
"The ship is almost ready and once the trials get over, it will be officially handed to the Navy in 2018," an HSL official was quoted as saying by the Times of India.This 175-meter-long vessel, designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, has a specialized deck to house a 12-ton multirole helicopter. The MRIS can cruise at a speed of 21 knots with 300 crew members.
A second MRIS, smaller in size and meant to monitor the flight trajectories of subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles, is also under construction at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard Ltd and is expected to enter into service in 2020.The Indian government had asked its two state-owned shipbuilders to manufacture a specially designed ship that can monitor the flight trajectory of Indian intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles during test launches. However, the final product is an upgraded version that can also track the inbound flight trajectories of multiple maneuverable warheads.


Time to 'rescind' Pakistan's major non-NATO ally status: US expert

A top American counter-terrorism expert has urged the Trump administration to "rescind" the major non-NATO ally status given to Pakistan after a court in Lahore ordered to free Mumbai terror attack mastermind and banned JuD chief Hafiz Saeed from detention.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, carrying a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January this year.

The Trump administration yesterday said that Saeed is a terrorist leader designated by both the United Nations and the United States, hours after a Pakistani court ordered his release from detention.

"Nine years after 26/11, its mastermind still eludes justice. It is time to rescind Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally," Bruce Riedel, a top US expert on security, South Asia and counter-terrorism told PTI.

"In a word, the release is an outrage. Before long we will read news reports of Hafiz Saeed leading more rallies with thousands of people," Alyssa Ayres, former State Department official who is currently with the Council on Foreign Relations, said after the Lahore High Court yesterday ordered the Pakistani government to free Saeed.

Saeed is a UN-sanctioned individual terrorist who leads a UN-sanctioned terrorist organisation, Ayres said, alleging that Pakistan does not see fit to follow through on its obligations to uphold UN Security Council (UNSC) terrorist designations.

"Pakistan cannot credibly claim to be fighting terrorism while failing its most basic security obligation to UNSC designations," Ayres said.

According to Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center, one should not be surprised by this announcement.

"Pakistani legal authorities have frequently hinted they have insufficient evidence to justify his continued detention, so it was just a matter of time before this militant, who happens to be a critical Pakistani state asset, walks free.

"This news will certainly rankle US officials, who often point out that the dozens of casualties in the Mumbai terror attack included several Americans," Kugelman said.

Saeed's release will reinforce Washington's longstanding belief that Pakistan embraces a selective policy toward terrorism that entails coddling militants that help serve Pakistani interests, he said.

"All this said, we should not overstate the impact this move will have on US-Pakistan relations," Kugelman said.

For the Trump administration, whose policy towards Pakistan revolves above all around protecting American lives, the terror group of greatest concern in Pakistan is the Haqqani Network, which the US blames for various attacks on American and Western targets in Afghanistan.

"The LeT is certainly important for Washington, but compared to the Haqqani network it is presently a relative sideshow in US policy considerations," Kugelman added.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US, attributed this to the mixed messaging coming from the Trump administration in the last few weeks.

US officials were trying to signal to Pakistan that if it takes action against the Haqqani terror network, that could be seen as a positive move and "may thwart" tougher actions against Islamabad, as promised by President Donald Trump in his new South Asia policy, he said.

"In the process they (the US) may have inadvertently made the Pakistani think that the US only wants action against the Haqqani network and not against groups like the LeT that are acting against India.

"My fear is that mixed signals will lead to a situation in which Pakistan fails to take decisive action against Afghan-oriented and India-oriented terrorist groups," he said.

The United States, a State Department official said, is aware of media reports regarding Pakistan's ordered release of Saeed from the house arrest. In May 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.

Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 (UN Security Council Resolution) in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The LeT and several of its front organisations, leaders, and operatives remain under both State Department and Treasury Department sanctions, the State Department has said.

"The United States reiterates its stance that LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens," a State Department Spokesperson said.


BrahMos Missile In Combo With Fighter Jet Is Huge Boost: 10 Facts On Why

BrahMos, the world's fastest supersonic cruise missile, has been successfully tested for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The success means the Air Force will now have the ability to strike hostile warships hundreds of kilometres off the coast in just minutes once ordered. The missile is expected to have a range close to 300 km. A compact version of the missile was gravity-dropped from a Sukhoi-30 fighter. On being released from the fuselage of the jet, the missile's engine fired up, propelling it towards its target in the Bay of Bengal.

Here are 10 facts about the launch of the missile:

1. The Indian Navy and Army already operate different variants of the missile, which can strike targets up to 500 km away. So far, the missile has been deployed on Navy warships and with Army units which operate the ground attack version of the supersonic weapon.

2. The Indian Air Force variant test-fired today has significant differences. Unlike the Navy and Army version which are significantly larger in size and weigh three tonnes, the IAF version tested weighs 2.5 tonnes and has been adapted specifically for the Su-30 MKI fighter.

3. Given the still considerable weight of the missile, the Su-30 can carry only missile one per mission.For the armed forces, the availability of this missile adds a new dimension to their firepower.

4. The software development of the aircraft was undertaken by IAF engineers while HAL carried out mechanical and electrical modifications on the aircraft. Aligning the navigation sensors of the missile was done by DRDO. According to the IAF, "The integration on the aircraft was very complex involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications on aircraft."

5. A BrahMos armed Su-30 can fly 1,500 km in the direction of a hostile target out at sea.

6. Using a special targeting mode in its radar, the Su-30 can lock onto an enemy warship and launch the BrahMos from long ranges, before it can be countered by surface-to-air missiles fired from the warship.

7. Post-launch, the Su-30 would fly away while the air-launched BrahMos uses its own seeker to home in on the target.

8. Given its speed of Mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound), the BrahMos is extremely difficult to presently intercept by surface to air missiles deployed on leading warships around the world.

9. In simple terms, the combination of the Su-30 and BrahMos means that the Indian Air Force can deliver a knock-out punch in minutes if ordered, far quicker than a warship which may need to sail in the direction of a target out at sea.

10. The BrahMos missile is a joint Indo-Russian venture named after the rivers Moscow and Brahmaputra.


Eyeing jet deal, Saab offers full tech transfer to India

Swedish defence giant Saab Group said today it would ensure "full" technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet to India if the company gets the contract to supply a fleet of the single engine combat aircraft to Indian Air Force.

The company also said it will build the world's most modern aerospace facility in India, besides creating a local supplier base of ancillary systems, if it wins the contract for which US defence major Lockheed Martin has emerged as a major contender.

"Saab is committed to full technology transfer to India in connection with Indian procurement of Gripen-E," Saab India Chairman Jan Widerstrom said.

Eyeing the multi-billion dollar contract, Lockheed Martin has offered to set up a production line in India for its F-16 Block 70 fighter jets.

In September, Saab and the Adani Group had announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment and said the joint venture would produce Gripen military jets in India if it wins the single-engine aircraft deal.

The Gripen-E, an advanced version of the Gripen C/D, is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft fitted with advanced avionics.

"We will build the world's most modern aerospace facility and ecosystem in India. We will abide by the terms of the Strategic Partnership that would be set by the government for the single engine fighter aircraft programme and will undertake complete transfer of technology to the chosen joint venture partner," Widerstrom said in a statement.

His comments came as government is all set to start the process for procuring the fleet of single-engine fighters.

The fighter jets will have to be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently launched strategic partnership model which seeks to bring in high-end defence technology to India.

The Saab said it will work with its Indian joint venture partners to ensure that transfer of technology takes place in a manner that it not only ensures transfer of technology but also complete capability.
It said the company sees a green field operation where it will train people in India and in Sweden to be able to design, develop, manufacture and maintain its operations in India.

"There will be a lot of training in Sweden and in India, and industry-academia-government cooperation. In that way we can reach an indigenous capability to maintain, to sustain, to further develop Gripen in India," said the Saab India chief.

He said, "We will not simply move an assembly line. We will build development capability. We will design, produce, support, innovate in India."


Pakistan involved in Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, claims Shia Waqf Board chairman Wasim Rizvi

Syed Wasim Rizvi, chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board, on Wednesday claimed that there was a Pakistan hand behind the lingering Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: Shia Waqf Board's proposal - 'Temple in Ayodhya, mosque in Lucknow'

Speaking at a press conference here, Rizvi said Pakistan has been directly involved in the dispute from the start and this was one of the reasons that there has been no resolution to the issue till now.

“When Babri Masjid was demolished (on December 6, 1992), far bigger demonstrations were held in Pakistan than in India. Many temples were also attacked in Pakistan. This shows Pakistan's involvement in the issue,” the Shia Waqf Board chairman said.

“In 2005, terrorists had attacked the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya. This also shows Pakistan's involvement,” he added.
Earlier too, Rizvi had alleged that those creating hurdles in the settlement of the Ayodhya land dispute were working at the behest of Pakistan, which was trying to destabilise India by exploiting religious sentiments over the issue.

“This (Ayodhya) dispute is not getting addressed because Pakistan has the biggest hand in it. Those representing the Muslim community in the Supreme Court on the issue have direct links with Pakistan and want bloodshed to destabilise the country,” Rizvi had said.

Meeting people, holding talks: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Ayodhya dispute

The remarks came just two days after the Shia Central Waqf Board released a draft on the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, in which it argued that Ram Mandir be built at the disputed property while a mosque should come up in Lucknow.
The board has written to the Uttar Pradesh government for allotting land in Lucknow for the mosque.

The draft, which was released to the media by Rizvi and the priest of All India Akhara Council, Narendra Giri, has also been submitted to the Supreme Court.

Rizvi told reporters that it had been proposed in the draft that the name of the mosque should not be after an emperor, and it should be called Mosque of Peace or "Aman ki Masjid".

He said that the Board had written to the Uttar Pradesh government for granting land to Shia Muslims at a designated place for the mosque, which the board would construct through a committee by raising money at its level.

The Supreme Court would now decide on the draft, Rizvi said.

He added that Waqf would not stake any claim to the disputed Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid property and would not have any issue if Hindus built a temple there.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had suggested that an out-of-court settlement was the best recourse in the dispute.

The apex court will commence the final hearing of the long-standing matter from December 5, a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the medieval-era structure.

The Central Shia Waqf Board in August 2017 moved the Supreme Court challenging a 1946 trial court order ruling Babri Masjid to be a Sunni property. The Shia Board said that the fact was that it was actually a Shia noble in Babar’s court, Abdul Mir Baqi, who “created” the Babri Masjid with his own money and that the trial court failed to take that into account.

A report in The Hindu also says about the same Shia Waqf petition that: "The Board said there are “local affirmations that Babar came to Ayodhya in 1528 AD and halted there for a week and it was during his regime that the (Lord Ram) Janamsthan temple was destroyed and on its site a mosque was built using largely the materials of the old structure.”


November 22, 2017

India Successfully Test-Fires Supersonic Brahmos Missile From Su30MKI

The first ever air-launched Brahmos missile has hit a target at a distance of 280 kilometers in the Bay of Bengal. The missile was dropped from the Su-30 jet's fuselage, and the two-stage missile’s engine fired up and propelled it straightway towards the intended target.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — With the successful flight test of world's fastest supersonic cruise missile BrahMos from the Indian Air Force's (IAF)  Sukhoi-30MKI frontline fighter aircraft, India has given a major boost to its air attack capabilities. The Indian Ministry of Defense has said that the successful maiden test firing of the BrahMos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from a Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF's air combat operations capability from stand-off ranges.
"A BrahMos ALCM weighing 2.5 tons is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India's Su-30 fighter aircraft, modified by HAL to carry weapons. Brahmos, a world-class weapon with a multi-platform, multi-mission role is now capable of being launched from Land, Sea, and Air, completing the tactical cruise missile triad for India," India's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
 BrahMos is a joint venture between India's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's rocket design bureau NPO Mashinostroyeniya. Indian defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO and BrahMos for the outstanding accomplishment.
The IAF has signed a contract for the delivery of air-launched BrahMos cruise missiles from January 2018. So far three Su-30 MKI jets have been modified to accommodate the new cruise missile and in total it will modify at least 50 Su-30MKI aircraft to carry the nuclear-capable cruise missiles. The IAF plans to induct at least 200 BrahMos-compatible fighter jets in the coming years.

India tested the land version of the BrahMos missile in April this year, when it hit a target at a distance of approximately 450 kilometers (280 miles) in the Bay of Bengal. The Indian Navy too is equipping all its ships with the BrahMos missile system. Russia supplies 65% of the BrahMos' components, including its ramjet engine and radar seeker.


Indian-Israeli trade group warns nixing missile deal threatens relations

India’s reported plans to scrap a half-billion-dollar deal with Israel for anti-tank missiles will have negative repercussions not only on defense contracts between the two countries, but throughout the market, according to an Indian-Israeli commerce organization.

The large sale has been lauded by Israeli officials as a major milestone in trade and military relations with India, giving its reported cancellation extra significance, said David Keynan, vice chairman of the Federation of Indo-Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

“It is a very noteworthy deal. It will have an impact not only on defense trade, but on all trade,” Keynan told The Times of Israel Tuesday, speaking over the phone from Bangalor, India.

He noted that defense exports often act as a “catalyst” for further trade.

On Monday, Indian media outlets reported that the country’s defense ministry had decided to scrap a $500 million deal to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in favor of developing such missiles domestically.

The cancellation of the agreement has yet to be officially confirmed. A Rafael spokesperson said the company was continuing in its efforts as normal, until it is notified of a change.

The Spike deal was not just words on paper, but had already reached more advanced stages of implementation. Rafael had begun preparations for delivering the missile, opening a production facility in India in August with its local partner, the Indian industrial giant Kalyani Group.

The opening of the missile production facility this summer came weeks after a visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the first official visit to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister.

In a speech at its inauguration, Rafael CEO Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Har Even said the factory “is another expression of the strong cooperation between Israel and India in general and of Rafael as a strategic ally of India in particular.”

According to Keynan, whose organization facilitates trade between India and Israel, the reports that the massive deal will be called off sparked concern among businesspeople from both countries.

“I have already received dozens of calls about it,” he said.

Israelis expressed concern that the deal might indicate that agreements with Indian companies are not as solid as they seem. And Indians were worried that in the fallout, Israelis might indeed have those fears and be less interested in making deals in India.

Keynan, who has lived in India since 2003, noted that his commerce group is not government-affiliated and was not involved in the Spike agreement or any other defense deals.

While exports to India have increased over the years — New Delhi is currently Israel’s 10th-largest trade partner — they haven’t been doing so at the same rate as Israel’s exports in general, according to Keynan.

From 2015 to 2016 bilateral trade grew by 0.85 percent, according to the Indian Embassy in Israel.

“It’s slower than we’d like to see,” he said.

The exact value of Israeli exports to India is difficult to calculate as not all the figures are publicly available, notably defense exports, which make up a significant percentage of the total. However, Keynan estimated that in the past year Israel exported approximately $5 billion to India in goods and services, some $1.5 billion of that in defense trade.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel also ships approximately $1 billion worth of diamonds to India each year, along with approximately $1 billion in chemicals. The rest comes in the form of agriculture products, non-military technology, industrial products and other assorted goods and services.

According to the Indian Express news outlet, the cancellation of the Spike deal was done in order to protect the government’s Defense Research and Development Organization, which is working on creating its own anti-tank guided missile.

Indian military sources told the website that DRDO had already produced a few varieties of anti-tank guided missiles and that was “confident” it could produce one on par with the Israeli Spike.

The Indian army, which currently uses an inferior anti-tank missile that does not work well at night, reportedly expressed concerns that the decision to scrap the Spike deal would negatively affect its preparedness, and that there was “operational urgency” for the Israeli missile.

A spokesperson for Rafael noted the “Spike missile, which is in use in 26 countries, was chosen by India after a lengthy process, in which the system was inspected and successfully performed in a wide variety of scenarios.”

This year was a major one for defense cooperation between Israel and India. In May and April, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced two deals with New Delhi for missile defense systems, which were together worth over $2.5 billion.

Earlier this month, the Indian Air Force and special forces also took part in the Israeli Blue Flag air exercise, in what was seen as a sign of strengthening ties between New Delhi and Jerusalem. In June, a month before Modi’s visit, India helped sponsor the renowned Israeli Defense Expo in Tel Aviv.

And in May, three Indian Navy ships docked in Haifa for an official visit, marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two counties.


India extends deadline for naval UAV RFI

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has extended its deadline to 21 November for overseas vendors to respond to its global request for information (RFI) for 50 naval shipborne unmanned aerial systems (NSUASs) for the Indian Navy (IN).

First issued on 10 October the RFI states that the fixed-wing, catapult-launched NSUASs will be required to operate around the clock in low visibility conditions from ships and shore-based establishments to augment maritime domain awareness around an IN task force.

The systems' secondary roles will include reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition, and assistance in search-and-rescue missions as well as deployments in anti-piracy and anti-terrorist operations.


Rafale jets bought at 16% lower price than UPA deal

Rubbishing Congress' charges of wrongdoing in Rafale fighter jet deal, the government clarified that this is a fictitious assumption of a party which sat on the deal for almost a decade ignoring the important national security issues.

Top sources in the security establishment said that the cost of the government-to-government deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets was almost 16 per cent lesser than what the previous UPA government is projecting with better weapons and avionics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Paris in April 2015, announced that India would be buying 36 Rafale fighters from France in an inter-government deal. After five rounds of negotiations, the deal was finally signed by the two defence ministers in Delhi in September 2016 for 36 fighter jets for Rs 58,000 crore.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi terming this deal as a scam has been raising this issue and putting onus of asking questions on this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress' communications department head Randeep Surjewala had alleged that the government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale aircraft refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

He also alleged that the aircraft was being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government. Surjewala said the UPA government floated a tender on August 20, 2007 for purchase of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Air Force and, post negotiations, two of them — Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were shortlisted.

On December 12, 2012, Rafale was declared L1 vendor, the bidder whose quotation is the lowest, with base price of Rs 54,000 crore. "It was decided that of the 126 aircraft, 18 would come in fly away condition and the remaining 108 will be manufactured in India by HAL with transfer of technology," Surjewala said.

The government sources also said that the Indian Air Force will get the aircraft with far better long range missiles along with 75 per cent availability at all times as opposed to the present one,w hcih is only 50 per cent. There will also be a guarantee of getting spare parts for the fighter jets for 50 years. Time frame for supplying is also better. Sources added that since one squadron of Rafales as per the earlier tender had to be acquired in fly-away conditions, the govt decided that it would buy two squadrons to meet the bare minimum requirements of the force.

There are 16-18 planes in one squadron. The sources said that now with the Rafale coming in 2019, the Indian Air Force can buy more planes of global standards by doing proper due diligence. The deal made by the NDA government has also ensured that the French provide help for the programme for 10 years, the sources added.

Rahul Gandhi also asked why PM Modi bypassed experienced HAL and gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience. Reliance Defence said its subsidiary Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation formed a joint venture - Dassault Reliance Aerospace after a bilateral agreement between two private companies and "the Indian government has no role to play in this".

Reliance Defence claimed that the government policy of June 24, 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the defence sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval.

"No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid joint venture company under the automatic route," it said, brushing aside the Congress' charge that Prime Minister Modi promoted interests of a group.

Sources said that as of now there is a deficiency of fighter aircrafts and the gap needs to be filled. The government is not responsible for an offset contract between Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation as this is between private company and vendor.

Sources also justified the urgency to buy the fighter aircrafts as number of squadrons of IAF fighters had gone down to 33 instead of required 42. The Indian Air Force has repeatedly told the political establishment of requirement of at least 42 squadrons of fighter jets to protect its northern and western borders with China and Pakistan.

The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had flagged this issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently address the concerns of IAF commanders.

In another two years, IAF is going to lose another 14 squadrons of MiG 21s and MiG 27s. The IAF banks on British-made Jaguar and French-made Mirage 2000s, Su-30 MKI and MiG 29s. An upgrade of the Jaguar fighters being carried out by HAL has been delayed.


India’s most advanced missile-tracking warship to be handed to Navy in 2018

A naval vessel with a mystery name — VC 11184 — has been built at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) at a cost of ?725 crore under a classified project which began four years ago.

Like hush-hush construction of nuclear submarines, complete secrecy is being maintained by Navy and HSL on the missile-range instrumentation ship, which will be India's most advanced and largest ocean surveillance vessel that can track ballistic missiles.

Reliable sources in HSL and Navy told TOI the project is in trial phase and the warship will be handed over to Navy in a few months. The vessel would have a special team on board from the technical intelligence bureau (National Technical Research Organisation), which directly reports to National Security Advisor's office.

A highly-placed source in HSL said, "We bagged the prestigious project three years ago and began construction at our ship-building yard. The ship is almost ready and once the trials get over, it will be officially handed to the Navy in 2018. Secrecy has been maintained on the project which is being monitored by PMO ."

As per information from defence websites, the vessel, known only by its mysterious yard designation at Visakhapatnam, VC 11184, will be deployed for supporting India's strategic weapons programme.

After HSL bagged project in 2013, ship was to be delivered by August 2015, but it was stuck in logistical delays . The warship is 175m in length with a displacement of 10,000 tonnes.


‘Full transfer of tech in defence aviation is non-negotiable’

If India decides to buy F-16s, the first few planes need to be bought off the shelf, says Senior V-P of US-India partnership forum.

Keith Webster, Senior Vice-President (Defence and Aerospace), US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said while the Trump administration is excited about the $10-billion single-engine fighter jet deal, Lockheed Martin will not be going for full transfer of technology. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said if India decides to buy the F-16s, the first few planes will be bought off the shelf. Excerpts:

How concerned is the US with the single-engine fighter jet deal not taking off yet? There are even reports now that India may not place the order at all …

The US government has invested an incredible amount of time partnering with Lockheed Martin for F-16 and Boeing for F-18s. If one or both do not happen that will be a very big splash of cold water on our industries because of the amount of seriousness we gave into this matter and because of government time invested across multiple agencies. And this has happened across both the Obama and Trump administrations. There had been no review of decisions, no conflict between ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make in America’. We have reconciled all of that.

Do you think the real sticking point is transfer of technology (ToT)? Is it overlapping with the FDI and ‘Strategic Partnership’ policies?

Part of FDI is a challenge because OEMs need to protect their names, be it Lockheed Martin or SAAB or Rosoboronexport. You not only want to have an investment decision but more importantly you want to have a commanding say in tactics, techniques and procedures specific to manufacturing, especially aviation. This is a very serious matter to protect the certifications. For the aviation sector, the 51 per cent FDI is more about processes for manufacturing and protecting the OEM brand than it is control over technology. I think those issues are reconcilable. The big issue is resources, the money to do it. L1 is going to get you make in India. You will have to buy it off the assembly line in Texas.

So if India ever decides to buy F-16, the first ones will be bought off-the-shelf?

That is the requirement. Under the ‘Strategic Partnership’ model, 10-15 per cent can be procured from the OEM. So my understanding is, the way it will be structured is about 15-20 planes will be bought from the current production line and that will give you time to actually set up production in India and add capability to your forces.

But what about full ToT because under the SP policy OEMs cannot have 51 per cent share even if the FDI policy allows it?

It will never be full ToT. It is not in the national interest or industry’s interest. Certain technologies are not transferable to anyone in the world. Billions of dollars are spent over decades to make military-grade engines and what makes military-grade engines unique in the world is hot-sectioned technology and codings and those are crown-jewel technologies. No one is going to hand that over. So anyone who says they will is not being honest. They will not.

So how do you see a meeting ground in this with the Indian government because both Lockheed Martine and SAAB are competing for it?

I think there is a very rational understanding on what is reasonable and what is unreasonable and so the government has to decide which deal is the best deal. We are trying to meet the government’s expectation on ToT, not 100 per cent but ToT.

Coming to geopolitics, how do you see the Quadrilateral — India, US, Australia and Japan — shaping up and augmenting ties between New Delhi and Washington D.C.?

We have been talking under the radar, quietly about multilateral partnerships. So for this to go public is a very big step to me. To me it symbolises a couple of things. There is now also a real recognition that the China issue is not going to go away. Theoretically speaking, we have a more emboldened China today than it was a month ago. There has not been any demonstrative behaviour. So now we have a more open conversation about the desire to explore a possibility of a quadrilateral. We, in US, are excited about it. From the perspective of democracies, the potential of a quadrilateral is huge. But there is a willingness to have public conversation, which was not there some years ago. I think it is necessary.

But what is it that the Quadrilateral wants to achieve apart from sending signals to China obviously, which I believe the Malabar exercise has already been doing? What is the main objective of the Quadrilateral?

Initially it is about the optics, the messaging regardless of details behind it. Over time you could have a desire to see the four nations partnering in a non-operational way that is agreeable to enhance maritime domain awareness, which would be important to India considering the movements in the Indian Ocean.

On the US defence foundational pacts, is America upset that despite granting ‘Major Defence Partner’ status, India has not yet signed the CISMOA and BECA?

There is discussion going on now on how to proceed with the remaining enabling agreements, as there are now called, to move forward. This way it works for both governments. Both sides are trying to identify how to creatively approach these agreements, just like what we did in LEMOA and also how proceed in the talks under the ‘Make in India’ programme. So we are kind of bundling it.


November 21, 2017

Advantage Pak, Worries Army, As $500 Million Israeli Missile Deal Ends

Pakistani foot soldiers operate a locally-made variant of the Chinese HJ-8 missile that can strike targets almost twice as far away as the missiles currently operated by the Indian Army 

 The government's decision to opt out of a $500 million missile deal with Israel will leave Indian soldiers badly out-gunned by Pakistani forces, army sources told NDTV today. The bottom line is this: Pakistan has portable anti-tank missiles for its infantry soldiers which can strike Indian tanks and bunkers that are at a distance of 3-4 km; India's equivalent missiles have a range of just 2 km.
India has exited advanced negotiations to buy 1,600 Spike anti-tank guided missiles because it wants a similar missile, which would boost the army's firepower, to be developed and built at home as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to reduce the country's dependence on importing arms. Spike is a man-portable "fire and forget' missile that can hit moving targets such as a tank. It is versatile since the missile independently tracks the target upon being fired.  This allows the infantry soldier who has fired the missile to quickly move for cover. Spike is produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.
 Pakistani foot soldiers operate a locally-made variant of the Chinese HJ-8 missile that can strike targets almost twice as far away as the missiles currently operated by the Indian Army. Pakistan's infantry also operates the US-built TOW missile which can strike targets such as tanks and bunkers even further away.

The Chinese HJ-8, which Pakistan calls the "Baktar-Shikan", is designed to defeat the latest generation of explosive reactive armour mounted on the T-90, the spearhead of the Indian Army's tank formations. These missiles are meant to strike deep inside Pakistani territory in the event of a war. The Baktar-Shikan has a range of between 3 and 4 kilometres. Pakistani's TOW missiles, once the mainstay for US forces, can hit targets 4 kilometres away and has been extensively proven in combat.Last year, India concluded negotiations with Israel's Rafael for the Spike missile which was supposed to be built in India in a joint venture with the Kalyani group, which has already constructed a missile-manufacturing facility near Hyderabad. Now, however, in a strong endorsement of the PM's Make In India programme, the government has decided to back the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which says it can deliver a world-class missile within four years.

Sources in the army tell NDTV that the development cycle required for the missile will have a serious impact on infantry formations. They add that any delay in the development, testing and induction of the indigenous missile beyond four years would be unacceptable for the army.

In an interview to an Israeli newspaper, Ishai David, a spokesperson for Rafael said today, "Rafael has not been officially informed of any change in the decision to purchase missiles." The Kalyani group in India was not available for comment.